Saturday, April 18, 2015

Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

4 Star

Daphne Mitchell has always believed in cause and effect, right and wrong, good and bad. The good: her dream job as a doctor; Owen, her childhood sweetheart and now husband; the beautiful farmhouse they're restoring together. In fact, most of her life has been good--until the day Owen comes home early from work to tell her he's fallen head over heels for someone else.

Unable to hate him, but also equally incapable of moving forward, Daphne's life hangs in limbo until the day Owen's new girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident. As Daphne becomes a pillar of support for the devastated Owen, and realizes that reconciliation may lie within her grasp, she has to find out whether forgiveness is possible and decide which path is the right one for her.

Kathryn- 4 Star

While I was reading Save Me I was surprised by the intensity of emotions that came off the page despite the easiness of the language.  I half-felt that some of the feelings came from an personal place or experience in some way and while I’ve no idea if this is true I have respect for the author’s ability to put across on paper these feelings without dragging the story down.

Much as I wanted Daphne to move on I also found myself empathising with her actions and reactions to her husband’s choices.  The honest truth is that despite what he’d done to their marriage it would be have been very hard to turn off the love she had for him and walk away completely. Her friends and family’s opinions were likely what one would expect but I respected that Daphne chose her own path through the grief.  I wonder how many people are stuck in the same sense of expectancy about their marriages as Daphne and Owen?  Lewis had one line which struck me “there is nothing pulling us forward and there hasn’t been for years, it’s like our feet are cemented in this fable of what we were supposed to be”.

The ending took me by surprise and once I got over being annoyed I actually think the author took the ending in the right direction.  It also surprised me that there was so much covered in a short period of time, I think the novel occurred over just a few weeks and a lot happened in that time in terms of personal discovery.

Despite the easy read this is a novel that made me ponder and I finished it with a sense of relief of sorts. Relief perhaps is not the right word, perhaps respect for Daphne’s decisions is a better description.

Thank you to Hachette Book Group for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Kristyn Kusek Lewis:
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Susan M Boyer Stranded on a Desert Island

Please welcome Susan M Boyer, author of Lowcountry Boneyard, as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Susan:

Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit.

Susan’s debut novel, LOWCOUNTRY BOIL (a Liz Talbot Mystery) is an Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient, a Macavity nominee, and a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. Lowcountry Bombshell (Liz Talbot Mystery #2) was released September 3, 2013. LOWCOUNTRY BONEYARD will be released in April 2015.

Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, and Relief Journal, among others.

Connect with Susan:

Susan M Boyer Stranded on a Desert Island

If you could only have one book with you, what would it be? 

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. No, wait…One Door Away From Heaven, by Dean Koontz. Or Georgia Bottoms, by Mark Childress. This is a big decision. Probably if I were stranded for any length of time I’d want my Bible with me.

What one luxury item would you want to be stranded with? 

 Well, now see, that depends on your definition of “luxury item.” I consider pinot noir a necessity, so I’ll say my memory foam bed, with all my pillows and lots of mosquito netting.

What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use? 

   A corkscrew.

Would you enjoy the solitude, even briefly, or would it drive you crazy? 

I don’t think I would enjoy it, as I would be too concerned about being rescued. I love natural beauty, but best enjoy it from a patio or deck overlooking said natural beauty. I’m not a camper unless we’re in an Airstream trailer. To enjoy solitude, I’d love a cottage on a remote stretch of beach with no internet access, but with a town an hour away, and a car with a full tank of gas.
If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be? 

 No doubts on this one—my husband, Jim. Him I couldn’t do without.

What modern technology would you miss the most? 

   My iTunes library and something to listen to it on.

What food or beverage would you miss the most? 

  Provided we had fresh, clean water, definitely pinot noir.

How many days do you think you would cope without rescue? 

  Maybe two.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued? 

    Take a long bubble bath.

What would be your first Tweet or Facebook update upon your return? 

  God Bless the U.S. Coast Guard!

Lowcountry Boneyard

Where is Kent Heyward? The twenty-three-year-old heiress from one of Charleston’s oldest families vanished a month ago. When her father hires private investigator Liz Talbot, Liz suspects the most difficult part of her job will be convincing the patriarch his daughter tired of his overbearing nature and left town. That’s what the Charleston Police Department believes.
But behind the garden walls South of Broad, family secrets pop up like weeds in the azaleas. The neighbors recollect violent arguments between Rivers and her parents. Eccentric twin uncles and a gaggle of cousins covet the family fortune. And the lingering spirit of a Civil-War-era debutante may know something if Colleen, Liz’s dead best friend, can get her to talk.
Liz juggles her case, the partner she’s in love with, and the family she adores. But the closer she gets to what has become of Rivers, the closer Liz dances to her own grave.

Available at:
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One Wish by Maria Duffy

4 Star

When Londoner Becky Greene moved to Ireland, she was ready for a fresh start - and to leave her dysfunctional family far behind. But when she discovers that she's pregnant, after a one-night stand, all of a sudden she suddenly has more than herself to think about.

Fast-forward four years and now her daughter Lilly is asking questions about her father. While tracking down high-flying property developer Dennis Prendergast is the last thing Becky wants to do, she knows that Lilly has a right to know who her father is. But when Becky finally locates Dennis, she discovers that his life has taken a very different route. And finding out he has a daughter is definitely not in his five-year plan.

Can people ever really change? As Becky comes to know the person Dennis is now, and a little more about herself, she begins to think that maybe people can.

Kathryn - 4 Star

A new author for me, Maria Duffy immediately brought me into One Wish. I was fascinated by Becky’s story and couldn’t wait to find out where she’d come from.  As well as being interested in Becky’s life I was drawn to both her friends, Alice and Kate.  Each woman had their role in Becky’s story and ended up being a great support system for her as well as each other.  Their secondary story-lines were just as well planned and delivered as the main one and brought up several complex issues with simplicity and compassion.

One Wish didn’t just explore Becky’s role as a single mother but also delved into the life of Lilly’s father and I was impressed with Duffy’s portrayal of this man who ended up homeless as much by his own lack of forward thinking as the downturn in the economy. It was definitely frustrating that Becky spent so much time deceiving him about her intentions but I suppose that made for intrigue in the plot. Unfortunately, it also made Becky a bit of a pain as she was so entirely focussed on her own difficulties, but I liked the way that she became less obsessed about her job and started drifting into thoughts about Dennis- it made her realistic.

While the novel wasn’t filled with gossipy antics and sticky situations I still read it as I would have a lighter novel because it was written to be read with ease. I really enjoyed Maria Duffy’s writing style- can’t wait for the next one!

Thank you to Hachette Books Ireland for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Maria Duffy:
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

4 Star

Diagnosed with XP, a rare medical condition which makes him lethally sensitive to light, Tyler is a thirteen-year-old who desperately wants just one thing: to be normal. His mother Eve also wants just one thing: to protect her son. As Tyler begins roaming their cul-de-sac at night, cloaked in the safety of the darkness, he peers into the lives of the other families on the street-looking in on the things they most want hidden. Then, the young daughter of a neighbor suddenly vanishes, and Tyler may be the only one who can make sense of her disappearance…but what will happen when everyone's secrets are exposed to the light?

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I initially decided to read and review this book because of this author being compared to Jodi Picoult. Even though the book wasn't completely similar to her style of writing, it was close enough that I feel that fans of that genre would not be disappointed.

The Deepest Secret was a very emotional read, full of family drama that was written in a way that was very believable. This felt like a story I was hearing from a friend or in the news. Tyler's devastating diagnosis would no doubt leave any family reeling and I found myself wondering how I would react to suddenly having to deal with a child who had such a difficult life ahead of them.

The story escalates with the personal dramas of Eve, David and their troubled and troubling daughter Melissa. Not only do they all have difficulties within the family, but they all have their own stories to tell. 

The Deepest Secret alternates from character to character, adding layers to the story until everything finally clicks into place. Though it started off slowly, I enjoyed the way the story developed and it definitely kept my interest throughout.

Thank you to Random House for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Carla Buckley:

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Pink Pepper Tree by Muriel Bolger

3 Star

June Cusack has always enjoyed making plans - for her flourishing career, for exotic holidays with her closest friend Danielle, and for her future with Peter Braga, the love of her life.
But as Peter prepares for the grand re-opening of his fashionable restaurant The Pink Pepper Tree, June finds her boyfriend increasingly distracted. So when Danielle suggests a relaxing trip to Monte Carlo, she jumps at the chance.
However, while on holiday, the events of one terrible night change her forever and when June returns home, the life she and Peter had built together slowly starts to disintegrate.
Heartbroken, June forges ahead with new plans for her professional life. But she is about to discover that happiness and love come when you least expect it, and from the most unlikely places.

Kathryn - 3 Star

I was underwhelmed by this novel at first because I didn’t immediately bond with June’s voice. There was something a bit light about the way she interacted with her best friend Danielle as well as with long-term boyfriend Peter.  The dialogue came across as incomplete which didn’t lend to the character development. At first I didn’t even realise that they were all still in their 20’s?  However, I kept reading because I became interested in the girls’ trip to Europe and wanted to see how their holiday would reflect the route they’d had experienced as younger women.  While they didn’t end up re-creating that back-packing trip at all, the holiday was fun and gave me a better sense of their friendship.  It also propelled the plot into a more intriguing read…

The most significant part of the novel for me was actually June’s career in the wine industry.  I loved that Muriel Bolger took her all over the world for her education and I felt close to the experiences with her.  It wasn’t until well into the story that I remembered the first chapter and the strange scenario that played out.  I’d completely forgotten about the man we meet in that setting and once he was re-introduced I did become interested in finding out how June had ended up in that fateful scene.

While the story does have a happy ending there wasn’t a lot of joy in it for June throughout. I found myself very sad for her despite her wonderful support system.  It’s not as light a novel as I’d initially expected and upon reflection now I actually got a lot out of it.  I wish my relationship with June had been established earlier so I could have really gotten the most out of the book. I would definitely read another novel by the author, there was much that I respected in her writing.

Thank you to Hachette Books Ireland for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Muriel Bolger:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

5 Star

Reeling from her recent divorce, Gina Bellamy suddenly finds herself figuring out how to live on her own. Determined to make a fresh start—with her beloved rescue greyhound by her side—Gina knows drastic measures are in order.

First up: throwing away all her possessions except for the one hundred things that mean the most to her. But what items are worth saving? Letters from the only man she’s ever loved? A keepsake of the father she never knew? Or a blue glass vase that perfectly captures the light?

As she lets go of the past, Gina begins to come to terms with what has happened in her life and discovers that seizing the day is sometimes the only thing to do. And when one decides to do just that...magic happens.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Lucy Dillon is one of my favorite authors and A Hundred Pieces of Me just confirmed why I love her so much. The entire concept was inspired, to say the least. I truly loved the idea but also how she pulled it off. What a novel concept of paring down your possessions to only the most precious items-  I know that I could stand to eliminate quite a few items and not even be close to reaching the goal of one hundred things left.

The concept of having to choose which items were your most precious and the reasons why had me contemplating the importance we place upon material goods. I also found myself pondering which items I would select. I certainly found it easy to name the first few but then found it more difficult to continue forwards.

I loved everything about this book. The characters, the writing, the story and yes even the ending. I am a reader who is often disappointed in the ending but everything about this book is just wonderfully done. The story gave me hope, made me cry and made me laugh – everything that is essential in a great book was there without exception. Just writing now about A Hundred Pieces of Me makes me want to read it again!

Gina was a fantastic character, full of life and love, hopes and dreams. Her determination to “fix” her life and start over is nothing short of inspiring. To be so self-assured, while making majors changes, is a rarity but nothing about this story seemed fake- only utterly realistic.

A Hundred Pieces of Me is one of my favorite reads of the past year for sure – a must read for anyone who loves a great story!

Thank you to Berkley Trade Paperback for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Lucy Dillon:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Best Supporting Role by Sue Margolis

4 Star

When her gambling addict husband died, Sarah Green was left penniless—and with two children to raise. Since then, she’s been desperate to keep her professional and personal lives on firm financial footing. And what could be safer than dating an accountant and working at a non-emergency crime help line?

But then Sarah’s aunt dies, leaving Sarah her once famous—now flailing—lingerie shop. With her fashion background, Sarah reluctantly decides to make a go of it, even if that means breaking up with her too-prudent boyfriend over the risk.

Suddenly Sarah finds herself falling for Hugh, the handsome struggling actor she hired to renovate her new boutique, and entering a prestigious lingerie competition. Taking chances has never been her forte, but the built-in support of family and friends could give her the boost she’s been looking for....

Kathryn - 4 Star

Best Supporting Role began with a slightly dry voice for Sarah, I didn’t relate to her at first. Perhaps this was due to the position she was in at the beginning of the story.  She’s in a state of angst, dealing with her husband’s growing gambling addiction, and I didn’t immediately warm to her.  She then finds herself a single mother and through supporting her children I began to relate to her more and more.  In the end, I’d wondered why I’d found the beginning so tough.

I liked the details Sue Margolis gave about the children, the constant watching of the same movie and their anger and nervousness about the changes they had been through.  It was all very honestly portrayed and gave another aspect to Sarah’s character.  Much as she ends up trying something new with her personal and professional life there was still that feeling of wanting to protect her family first.

I adored her aunt, who leaves her the failing lingerie shop.  Feisty and quick- witted I was so disappointed we didn’t have more time with her. Luckily Sarah also inherits two professional seamstresses who fill the role of surrogate aunties to perfection. Each has their own idiosyncrasies to remind Sarah of her aunt and the trust she had in passing the shop over to Sarah.  Best of all though was the introduction of Sarah’s neighbour- I loved her to pieces and wanted to seek her out to be my own friend! And, much as the love interests are not unexpected they were both well thought out and played their roles in her development.

Best Supporting Role started off stiffly for me but became a story I was completely absorbed in. Although no big surprises were to be found I still enjoyed the people and found the plot to be original.

Thank you to Penguin Group for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Sue Margolis:
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