Sunday, October 30, 2011

Samantha Smythe’s Moden Family Journal by Lucy Cavendish

5 Star

Let me introduce you to the Symthe household - there’s me Samantha, my husband, John the Second and our two children, Bennie and Jamie. And then there’s my eldest son Edward from my first marriage. I love my family to bits but I do sometimes wonder if a non-nuclear family can ever be a "real" family. Every now and then I lose my cool and start shouting like a mad woman until John has to take me upstairs and calm me down.

Being a mum is never easy and last summer it all got a whole lot more complicated when my ex-husband John the First, turned up at our house for the first time in three years. The real reason for his unexpected appearance was Edward. John wanted to get to know him better and Edward in turn thought it was marvellous that he now had two dads living with him. I on-the-other-hand, began to feel that I was slowly disappearing out sight.

Suddenly, our chaotic but loving home was teetering on the verge of collapse.

Kathryn - 5 Star

I picked this book up in the sale section at the bookstore and honestly had no idea what it was about but kind of liked the title and the cover. I actually do (frequently in fact) get sucked in by a cover- it’s true.
I didn’t know that the novel was English and for me this just added to the charm of the characters. The realities of living in a village with the ins and outs of everyone knowing everyone else’s business, from marital affairs to how many loaves of bread your family gets through in a week, were perfectly delivered.
The most interesting aspect though was seeing into the life of another family with some of the same challenges I’m sure many people face. I laughed so many times about things just because they were so familiar and it reminded me of the positive aspects of little ones instead of being bogged down in the daily monotony of trying to wrangle your little people into submission. Sometimes it’s just a much better idea to laugh and read a good book when your toddler prefers to sit in pee than use the potty!
Cavendish’s characters are flawlessly creative, kids and adults alike. I loved her blended family concept being seamlessly the norm and the way she brought back in father number one to throw a wrench into her main character’s daily chaos. I particularly loved that husband one and husband two had the same name! Samantha’s lists were hilariously accurate and her relationship with her husband mirrored my own in many ways. I giggled and felt better about myself all throughout the story!
I absolutely was not disappointed by this book, I liked it so much that I wanted more and luckily for me I believe Cavendish has written a sequel which I will be seeking out as soon as possible.

Connect with Lucy Cavendish here:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Michele Gorman Stuck on a Desert Island!

Michele Gorman's novel Single in the City is available today in the US and she was kind enough to play along with our Desert Island challenge.

Check out how she would fare...

Read our review
Buy for an Incredible $3.99 from Kindle!
Buy for Kobo

Buy from Barnes and Noble

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

 Is there a book called How to Build a Seaworthy Boat? If not then I’d probably have one of John Irving’s books, like A Prayer of Owen Meany. He’s my favourite author and I never tire of rereading him.  

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

The best pillow on the planet. It’s one thing to play Robinson Crusoe but I love my sleep and would be very put out to have to lay my head on coconut leaves.  

3.  What is the one practical item you would want to have with you to use? 
I suppose I should say a knife, though I’m not much of a hunter.  

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

I would absolutely enjoy the solitude, for awhile. Assuming there was no risk of death, or spiders, I’d love exploring a deserted island. 

5.  If you could be stranded with one other person, who would you want it to be? 

My boyfriend. He’s also my best friend so it’s a two-for-one deal there. Though I’d hope that he’d also get asked that question and would bring someone practical, because between us we’re ill-equipped for survival. We’d have fun as we starved to death though. 

6.  What modern technology would you miss the most? 

I should think a refrigerator. 

7.  What food or beverage would you miss the most? 


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

I’d be panicked within the hour and talking to myself within a week.  

9. What is the first thing you would do when rescued? 

Thank my rescuer. 

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

“That’s the last time I fly a budget airline”               

You can find Michele Gorman out & about on the web as follows:

Twitter: @expatdiaries

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman

4 Star

Emma, a prima ballerina in London, is at a crossroads after an injured knee ruins her career. Forced to rest and take stock of her life, she finds that she's mistaken fame and achievement for love and fulfillment. Returning home to Australia, she learns of her grandmother Beattie's death and a strange inheritance: a sheep station in isolated rural Australia. Certain she has been saddled with an irritating burden, Emma prepares to leave for Wildflower Hill to sell the estate. 

Beattie also found herself at a crossroads as a young woman, but she was pregnant and unwed. She eventually found success—but only after following an unconventional path that was often dangerous and heartbreaking. Beattie knew the lessons she learned in life would be important to Emma one day, and she wanted to make sure Emma's heart remained open to love, no matter what life brought. She knew the magic of the Australian wilderness would show Emma the way.

Lydia - 4 Star

Although I found Wildflower Hill had a bit of a slow to start, once immersed, I looked forward to seeing what would unfold. A story about starting over that skips a generation and binds a young woman and her grandmother, this novel is steeped in family secrets, bold women and familial love. 

Unconventional, determined and decidedly stubborn, Beattie made for a fascinating character as she was undoubtedly different from many in her time. I couldn’t wait to see how her story would end and grew frustrated when the story flipped back to Emma, but then I would get into her present day story and get upset when going back to Beattie, only to remember how much I wanted to find out what would happen with her in the first place!  Thankfully the flips between narratives were relatively infrequent, which was a pleasant surprise! 

Both women intrigued me. I wasn’t sure about either at first as both seemed quite self absorbed initially, but over time as I grew to know the characters and seeing their decisions and changes, I grew to love each of them. I enjoyed watching them learn and grow from their various predicaments and particularly enjoyed the differences spawning the decades separating their story lines. 

I loved storyline of Emma and Mina. It brought a tear to my eye towards the end and I almost threw the book across the room at one of Emma’s more ridiculous decisions, of which there are a few.  I cared for all the characters, even the secondary ones, who were well drawn and just as enjoyable as the main characters. 

I haven’t read many novels with an Australian setting and would definitely be interested in reading more of them. Not having traveled there (yet!), I loved getting the sense of the land and area, both decades ago and in the present day. 

I will definitely be on the look out for more from Kimberley Freeman!

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for our review copy! All opinions are our own.

Connect with Kimberley Freeman:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Novel Escapes Needs Another Reviewer!

Do you love to read?
Do you love books?
Do you live in Canada or the United States?

And most importantly…

Do you love Chick Lit?

You may be an ideal candidate to apply! 

Novel Escapes needs to add at least one chick lit lover for reviews!  Life is changing a bit for both of us, and in an effort to keep our site active, fresh and new, we are seeking at least one more reviewer - for now.  Although not a paying position, there is the opportunity to make some industry contacts, showcase your reviewing talent and receive some advance review copies from time to time. 


Must be able to read and review at least three novels per month.
Must be able to write a negative review without being scathing.
Must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently via email.
Social Media junkies most welcome.

If you’re interested, email us a quick review of the most recent book you’ve read (no more than 300 words for this one) whether you loved or hated it to Include your name, where you live and a little blurb about yourself. 

Deadline:  October 31st, 2011
We will notify the new reviewer by the middle of November.

*** This is a non paying position. The opportunity for some review copies does exist.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

4 Star

As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship—and her family—safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.

Lydia - 4 Star

I picked up The Soldier’s Wife a few weeks ago after the cover drew me in and the story had me adding to my pile. Having loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I had high hopes for this novel and wasn’t disappointed. The writing itself was stunning as was the depiction of Guernsey and the story stole a bit of my heart. The Soldier’s Wife will definitely sit on my shelf to be reread. 

What stood out most for me was how astounded and left in awe I grew at how Margaret Leroy strung the words of this novel together so poetically and lyrically. This captured my attention even more than the story itself! I reread passages, studied the words and wondered at them the entire way through this novel.  It has been a long time since I have read something so stunning and beautiful.

I didn’t become as absorbed by the love story as I would have thought which surprised and saddened me. If I had, this story would have blown me away. Because of their distant and seemingly forced relationship, I grew fascinated instead with the small details about the island and life during occupation. Vivienne’s character drew me in and I loved watching her discover what kind of woman she is and how far she will go to protect and provide for her daughters as well as the compassion and kindness she has for others. Her character felt intensely real to me and I was loath to have her story end.

Vivienne’s two daughters provided an interesting perspective on the occupation.  First, I loved the younger daughter who was so spunky and stubborn and boisterous and left me on the edge of my seat wondering what trouble she might fall into. Then there was the young teenage daughter’s story, which I was left wanting more of. Teetering on the verge of adulthood during such a precipitous time when all the men had left and only German soldiers remained, Leroy touched on the issues with her character, but I would have loved more.

I loved the depiction of Guernsey and particularly loved the intricate details about the struggles during occupation from the lack of material for dresses to the food shortages and how they survived by stretching out portions, having to turn into their lands into vegetable gardens and needing to find new foods to enjoy. 

I will definitely seek out Margaret Leroy novels in the future, and look at some of her previous works.

Connect with Margaret Leroy:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...