Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Updates and News - August 2010

Hi everyone!

Welcome to our redesigned blog! We hope you like it as much as we do!  We wanted to have a contest to launch it with, but our timing was faster than expected so, come back soon and we'll have one.  Promise!

In the meantime, browse around and drop us a line to let us know what you think. We have comment capability now and have loved hearing from you on facebook and twitter, so give us a shout out here too.

We'll be offering author interviews, guest blog posts and more updates and news than ever before in the future. You can follow the blog, share our reviews in various ways and will be able to get additional giveaway entries here too! 

Thanks for visiting!

Lydia and Kathryn

How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper

5 Star

Doug Parker has been a widow for just over a year. Not only trying to come to terms with the loss of his wife of two years, he struggles with his eccentric family, the troubled teenage son his wife left behind, and most days can barely leave his house. He still has neighbourhood housewives dropping by and bringing food, some of them lingering expectantly, and when his twin sister decides it's time for him to get back out there the results are hilarious and melancholy. 

Lydia - 5 Star

How to Talk to a Widower was equal parts hilarious, sentimental and touching. I loved it all, laughing out loud frequently during Doug's escapades, and grew emotional during his memories and depiction of life without his wife.

I couldn't wait to see how he'd extract himself out of situations and was routing for him to pull his life together as the story moved along at a rapid pace. I was absorbed after a few short pages and whipped through this novel in a few days and although told through narrative incorporated with flashbacks, his articles, emails, and an odd description of a date, it still managed to flow smoothly. Even the flashbacks didn't seem too intrusive (although I'm still not a huge fan of them).  

The ensemble cast was quirky, realistically flawed and impeccably well defined. I loved the father's character and observing their relationship held some of my favourite moments in this well crafted tale. 

Having been the first Jonathan Tropper novel I've read, I will definitely seek his books out in the future as well as any of his past publications. If they're anything like How to Talk to a Widower, I can't wait to read them all!

Kathryn - 5 Star

I almost stopped reading How to Talk to a Widower half way through because I found it so heartbreaking that I was constantly looking for tissues.  Tropper created such a sympathetic character that I found it hard to separate my thoughts from the book- Doug seemed to feel like anyone would feel, having lost their spouse so tragically, and it made me grateful and panicky all at the same time.

Now having struggled with my desire to finish the book I pushed through and at about halfway I stopped crying and started really laughing instead. Doug starts to put himself out in the world again by accepting the generous “sex with no strings” offer from a hot neighbour and letting his twin sister set him up with anyone she deems appropriate.  His sister is a welcome addition to the plot and made me laugh. Tropper also helps move Doug into a new phase by giving him the responsibility of his teenage stepson- Russ is dealing with his mother’s death by getting into trouble and seems determined that Doug, and not his biological father, be the one to get him sorted out.

I loved the honest voice Tropper gave us for Doug. I don’t know how well anyone copes with death and everyone is different I suppose, but I saw Doug’s ups and downs as very simply honest and I loved the way in which is was presented to the reader.

Connect with Jonathan Tropper:

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Truth About Delilah Blue by Tish Cohen

4 Star

At eight years old, Delilah Blue moved with her father from Toronto to Los Angeles. Told her mother didn’t want the responsibility of a child anymore, years pass and at twenty she becomes desperate to find her mother and show her she’s worthy of her love by following in her footsteps and becoming an artist. When her father refuses to pay for an art education, Delilah – renamed Lila Mack after her move – becomes a nude art model as a way to gain access to art classes. As her father’s memory starts failing, her mother returns to her life and brings with her a family secret that shatters everything she had come to know. 

Lydia - 4 Star

I enjoyed The Truth About Delilah Blue. I loved the thought provoking plot, the quirky characters and Cohen’s attention to detail, even though I didn’t become entirely absorbed into the characters as much as I would have liked.

The characters in this novel were so skilfully drawn - which I distinctly remembered from Townhouse – that I found each one interesting, quirky and flawed, and they came across as so human that I found myself wondering what I would do in each one’s shoes the entire way through the novel. The situation is not portrayed as good or evil or black or white. There’s a grey area which Cohen deftly flirts along, and I found this the most interesting aspect of the novel. I was not quick to judge her parents, although I did want to slap them both frequently.

Cohen’s prose is descriptive yet unobtrusive and I loved the coyote and art descriptions, finding them unique and interesting and Kieran’s character had me wanting to wrap my arms around her and take her to the park to play.  Interesting that my favourite characters in the two books I’ve read of Tish Cohen’s were the quirky young girls in each!

I did feel detached slightly from the main character and while I chuckled and cringed at times, I didn’t cry. I did want to smack her parents a few times though. I also wasn’t sure about the neat and tidy ending, even though everything didn’t quite turn out as I thought it might.

The flashbacks didn’t interrupt as much as I sometimes find they do. I thought they were well timed, although knowing what was happening before the characters figured it out lessened some of the suspense for me.

If you’re looking for a novel with a bit more substance than lighter chick lit and want something that will make you think, pick up The Truth About Delilah Blue.

Kathryn - 4 Star

The Truth About Delilah Blue certainly covers some tricky heart issues but I was a little disappointed that I didn’t really get my own heart involved much with the characters.   While I could understand intellectually that there were emotions involved between them I just didn’t really love them enough to be right there with them.

I did struggle with whom to side with (and probably most people would be able to see the side of both of Delilah’s parents) but it was probably Delilah herself that I found hard to empathize with until the very end. Perhaps because of the way she was brought up she seemed very unemotional and I constantly wanted her to ask for more from her parents. Although you could tell she loved each parent and was struggling to find a balance in her life I just kept on wanting her to demand more for herself, not only from them but also for her art and her education and even from her boyfriend. Delilah came alive to me towards the end when she started to feel some protectiveness towards her little sister- I felt some warmth from her and anger for the way she’d been lied to throughout her life which made her more real to me.

Tish Cohen is a fantastic writer and I’ve found that she has an ability to deliver an easy read while managing to give the difficult subjects their due attention. She makes you think and challenge yourself. 

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for our review copy! All opinions are our own.

Connect with Tish Cohen:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Updates and News

Hi everyone!

We're making some changes...again!  We'll be converting our reviews here over the next little while, so if you're inundated with posts, our apologies!

Eventually, once everything is flipped, we'll convert this blogspot page over to www.novelescapes.com so there won't be a change to our website name.  Hopefully we'll get this done soon and that you'll enjoy our newly redesigned site complete with interaction and more potential for other fun posts.

Stay tuned!

Lydia and Kathryn

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro

4 Star

Cate returns to London from New York to live with her aunt. Sent to value the contents of an estate, she comes across a mysterious shoebox containing a delicate pair of shoes, a photograph, a dance card and a Tiffany bracelet. Intrigued by the contents, Cate attempts to decipher their meaning, uncovering the story of the Blythe sisters, two famous debutantes of their time. The youngest, Baby Blythe, went missing, never found and Cate wonders if the shoebox holds clues to her mysterious disappearance. With a potential love interest and her intrigue with the shoebox, will Cate be able to overcome her own dark past as it catches up with her? 

Amazon Kindle Kobo Nook 

Lydia - 4 Star

The Debutante was the first novel by Kathleen Tessaro that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. It was full of intrigue and mystery that kept me entertained and flipping pages until the very end wondering how the story would unfold.

After a bit of a slow start, I became immersed in this story and loved the rich, but not overwhelming detail. Initially, I wasn’t sure about Kate, but grew to like her and care about her story as much as I was interested in finding out the fate of Baby Blythe.  I loved the Blythe sister’s story, which was told mainly through Baby Blythe’s letters interspersed throughout the novel and thought Tessaro’s pacing to reveal both their dark histories, as well as those of the main characters, perfectly timed.

Besides the love interest predictability, I wasn’t sure where much of the rest of the novel was going which kept my interest and I was satisfied with how it all wrapped up and loved the lack of predictability with the rest of the story.

The Debutante had some grit and was a bit heavier than light chick lit, with mystery and history adding another aspect. I’d definitely pick up another of Tessaro’s novels in the future and loved her author’s notes on how she came up with the idea of a shoebox.

Kathryn - 4 Star

I was thrilled when I found that there was a mystery being woven into this story as at first I found the read a touch slow and I didn’t connect initially with the characters. It is a good story though and I urge those finding it slow at first to keep on reading.

The appeal for me was the interwoven stories from the present and the past and the fact that the present was seemingly being influenced by past events. Although there is no physical connection between the past & present characters the items that are discovered illuminate details about the mysterious “disappearance” of debutante Baby Blythe.
Cate is a bit of an odd principle character as she’s quite jaded and her true personality is hidden from the reader for most of the novel. It was a bit hard to warm to her and for me she was mostly interesting as a way to learn more about the mysterious Blythe sisters. Jack also comes across as sad and even he feels he’s not living his life to the fullest.  When they meet there is chemistry but it takes the whole novel and Cate working through her obsession with Baby Blythe for them to work out if they have any chance together.

Having said the above it seems as if I didn’t enjoy the novel, but in fact, I did, very much.  I think that it would be hard to have such an intriguing mystery with initially happy characters so I appreciate Tessaro’s writing immensely.  My only complaint was that The Debutante ended too quickly and I would have liked a few more details - seemed a bit abrupt an ending for me.

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for our review copy. All opinions are our own.


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