Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Breaking the Rules by Cat Lavoie

5 Star

When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule’s best friend and roommate accepts a glamorous new job overseas, she expects their relationship to continue as it’s always been—carefree and easy—until they share a heart-stopping kiss moments before his departure. Overcome with mixed emotions, she fights the urge to over analyze the situation and resumes back to her normal life in New York City, working for an intolerable boss at a dead end job, creeping further and further away from her own dreams of becoming a professional chef.

While things become more complicated between her and Ollie, Roxy is sure that nothing can come between two lifelong best friends—not even mild jealousy over a thriving career or a silly little kiss that meant nothing. In fact, it was such a meaningless and forgettable kiss that she convinces herself that it’s not even worth mentioning to her fiancĂ©, although it is all she can think about.

Roxy’s already topsy-turvy life only gets more complicated when her sisters Steffi and Izzie suddenly become her roommates. Steffi is six months into a pregnancy she refuses to discuss and Izzie is in the throes of a premature midlife crisis. Roxy tries to take control of her career, her love life and her sisters – but can she really handle it all? And can the Rule family keep it together – or break under the pressure?

Sabrina Kate - 5 Star

I absolutely adored this book. From start to finish, Breaking the Rules had me hooked. I even stayed up late and got up early to continue reading about Roxy Rule. She seemed like a person who could be my friend, or could even be me! So many things resonated with me; the family issues, the work pressures and the tangled love situations.

The characters definitely seemed like people I knew or have known in my life. Everything, absolutely everything about this book was just so bang on that sometimes I wondered how we'd had parallel experiences. Perhaps the strength of this author is the fact that she wrote about universal yet not already highly utilized experiences. 

The story was extremely realistic and captivating and I loved the author's writing style. It really made reading the already enjoyable story even more so. I think that I read this book in less than two days! 

If this is a debut by Cat Lavoie, then I have to wonder where this wonderful author has been hiding all this time. Her prose, the vocabulary - all of it captured me and had me wanting to find out more as soon as possible. I can't help but wonder as well, has she written anything else and this is just the first that has been published? I really am looking forward to her next work or discovering anything that she's worked on before.

I can't recommend Breaking the Rules enough. It's exactly the type of book I crave on those days that I want a great story but nothing too complex or challenging. Just something engrossing that will leave me satisfied. 

Thank you to Marching Ink for our review copy!

Connect with Cat Lavoie here:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

4 Star

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.
For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.

Lydia - 4 Star

Finding oneself and one’s place in life, both as a woman approaching forty, and as a young adult feature prominently in Where We Belong and, as always, Emily Giffin provides an easy read, this one exploring the family bond and how we come to belong.

I’ve always enjoyed Giffin’s novels well enough, but she’s never been up there on my absolutely must read list. Maybe it’s the subjects she chooses – cheating and stabbing your best friend in the back don’t rank up there for me (even if I thought Darcy was over the top), so while Something Borrowed and Something Blue never sat well with me, they did make me think and somehow I ended up feeling more connected to the characters through understanding, which is a testament to Giffin’s writing. Where We Belong is no exception to this rule of a character that has made decisions I find perplexing, yet by the end I feel I understand the characters more and am able to have more empathy for them.

Marian, with her carefully crafted life in NYC as a television producer, dating the President of the company and living on 5th Avenue, took some warming up to. I’ve never led such a privileged lifestyle and her closed off attitude took some getting used to, but as she opened up and reevaluated her life, I grew to like her more. I liked Kirby’s character  better straight away as she was much more relatable with her confused teenage antics compounded by her sense of not belonging. And then there was Conrad, who was the shining star in this novel, but sadly his first scene was far too late in the novel.

Where We Belong is written from both Marian and Kirby’s point of view and I thought it was done well and was a wonderful way to convey the story from both angles. I didn’t always agree with Marian’s decisions, but I’ve always been an open book myself, and lying to two extremely important people in her life (her father and the baby’s father), and essentially living her life as a lie didn’t sit that well with me – from my pro-truth, anti-lie standpoint. I didn’t understand her explanation for the lies other than how shallow she really was that Conrad wasn’t going to be attending a college and that she was destined for bigger and better things and she threw away their love because of it. I wonder if the ending of the novel would have been different if Conrad’s life hadn’t gone in the direction it had?

Regardless of how I felt about these issues though, I still enjoyed Where We Belong. Even the ending which was left open, felt fine for this novel. All in all, an easy, enjoyable read.

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for our review copy! All opinions are our own.

Connect with Emily Giffin here:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Knit One Pearl One One by Gil McNeil

 4 Star

Knit One...
With the new cafe to run, a Stitch and Bitch group addicted to cake, her firecrackerbest friend Ellen launching a new television series, and imperious but lovable local film star Grace poised to announce some exciting news, life doesn't seem to begetting any calmer for Jo Mackenzie...
Slip One...
And as for romance, with her two boys and headstrong toddler Pearl keeping her very busy, Jo can barely work out what to make for supper, let alone what she wants to do with her budding relationship with Martin, the hapless but endearing local carpenter who can spend hours finding the perfect plank. And then Daniel, Pearl’s globe-trotting dad, turns up out of the blue...
Purl One...
But at least there are new ice cream flavors to taste at the cafe—who knew raspberry ripple could make such a difference on a stressful day? ...

Kathryn - 4 Star

I love this series and just couldn’t believe my luck when I found there was a third installment out there that I hadn’t read.  I had missed Jo’s fabulous children who are just as enchanting in this novel as they were in the first two and the addition of baby Pearl did not alter the boys’ characters one bit.  Pearl brought her own larger than life personality to the family and is utterly charming.

Jo is the mother I wish I could be (unfortunately I am just not that calm and relaxed). She takes the three kids, her business and the chaos of the small village and runs with it to create a peaceful life.  I’ve really no idea how she does it but reading these novels makes me calm and relaxed and I find patience in myself while reading about her life.

Jo is also very relaxed about her love life –unlike women in other novels of the genre.  She is entirely focused on her daily challenges and doesn’t put much thought into herself or her romantic interests. This novel tries to give her that part of her life back but the character of Jo just doesn’t allow for the interruption and it seems a refreshing change somehow.

I have one complaint about this third installment and that is that I found the backtracking and character explanation interrupted the flow of the story.  The people were either given too short a description that seemed to be shoved into the action or they were given no back story at all.  I think some of the people involved are could be a vague shadow of their original characters for those picking up this novel as a stand-alone book.

However I really enjoyed this installment by McNeil and would never hesitate in reading another- the children and Jo have captured my heart.

Connect with Gil McNeil here:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ten Girls to Watch by Charity Shumway

3.5 Star

Like so many other recent graduates, Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a roommate who views rent checks and basic hygiene as optional, and a writing career that’s gotten as far as penning an online lawn care advice column.

So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of
Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. After all, she’s being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women: once outstanding college students, they have gone on to become mayors, opera singers, and air force pilots. As Dawn gets to know their life stories, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. Most importantly, she’ll learn that while those who came before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to create our own happy ending.

Lydia - 3.5 Star

I enjoyed this novel, however I didn’t fall in love with it like so many seem to have. True to single girl chick lit, Ten Girls to Watch is a unique novel about finding oneself and following one’s dreams while frequently questioning the path taken.

Ten Girls to Watch hooked me quickly, but unfortunately it gradually unraveled for me. I enjoyed the portrayal of Dawn struggling as a writer and artist in New York City, as opposed to the glorification of this storyline as portrayed in some popular medium, although by the end…well.  Dawn’s luck seemed a little too unrealistic too me at times, however her constant questioning of whether she had made the right decisions resonated with me as I’ve been through the same process several times in my life.

Part of my difficulty stemmed from how much power and decision making Dawn was given considering her lack of experience. Even that she was so involved with the video production struck me as a little unusual. I also had difficulty believing that these women would open up and share their life story with a complete stranger on the phone, even though I know that sometimes confiding in strangers can be easier. It never came across to me that Dawn had great ‘interviewing’ skills and the personality to get these women to open up as was stated later. It just seemed that as soon as she got them on the phone, they began rambling. I also took a bit of issue that all their stories were so positive, with such sunny outcomes. I kept reading wondering when we would find one woman that wasn’t happy with her lot in life, which would have made the novel much more realistic for me.

I did enjoy the women’s stories, what their dreams were, whether they followed them and how they arrived where they are - although I had a difficult time keeping them all straight. I was disappointed at how they began to take over the story and how little was shown about how they impacted Dawn, as I was much more invested in Dawn than the women she interviewed.

I didn’t completely love Dawn, although I liked her well enough. I cringed at many of her decisions regarding her ex-boyfriend and found her to be a bit too woe-is-me at times, and not entirely willing to pick herself up and move forward. Not always easy, I know, but sometimes I want a bit more of that than having events and circumstances just happen to a character.

Ten Girls to Watch is an easy read (minus the aggravating delays my ipad took loading each chapter because of the photo profile of the top women it included to start each one). I liked the ending as there were a few surprises and not everything turned out as I expected, but I think it fit the story well. Overall though, I really enjoyed Shumway’s voice and writing style and will definitely read another.

Thank you to Atria Books for our review copy!

Connect with CharityShumway here:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting over Mr Right by Chrissie Manby

3 Star


Have you ever had your heart broken? How did you get over it?

If a pint of ice cream cheered you up and you were able to delete his number and start again then . . . You’re a weirdo and this book is not for you.

But if you reacted with denial, begging, or a spot of casual witchcraft, then you’ve come to the right place. This is one woman’s journey from love to lunacy and back again. If you ever recall past heartbreaks with acute embarrassment and an urge to go into hiding, this will make you feel better. Sure, you may have sent his new girlfriend a bunch of dead roses, but did you spend a grand on psychic hot-lines and a voodoo curse?

Kathryn - 3 Star

At first I thought Getting Over Mr. Right was going to be a bit of the same old chick lit story- being dumped, being devastated and getting through the heartache with some wine and good friends- and although the plot doesn’t deviate much from the norm I found something interesting in Ashley (the one dumped).

Ashley is a little (no- never mind- a lot) obsessed with the man she’s been left by and from the outside reader’s perspective of course you just want her to see how useless and unpleasant a human being he has been. It’s frustrating to have your main character lose herself entirely in her loss and destroy the rest of her life in the process and Ashley takes this to the extreme.  I think I got a bit depressed when she started buying “how to get your man back” tools on the internet at vast cost and borrowing money from family for voodoo tricks.  On the other hand her extraordinary lengths did make for some really funny moments.

Somewhere along the line (I think it was when Ashley ends up at a heart break support group) I found I liked her- despite thinking she was nuts.  She also took a turn for the better for me when we were introduced to her parents and younger brother- they really added something to Ashley’s depth of character and the brother in particular was linked in realistically by Manby.  I loved that their relationship solidifies as adults by the end of the novel too.

Ashley’s best friend Becky was also believable and not just there for endless support- she had opinions and a life of her own- perhaps that’s what makes this tale different- the friend is there and supportive but it’s her family that really helps push (literally in her brother’s case) back to reality.

I liked Getting Over Mr. Right and it delivered what I expected although I’m still unsure about the romantic possibility we’re left with for Ashley at the end?

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

Connect with Chrissie Manby here:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Place in the Country by Elizabeth Adler

3.5 Star

Fifteen-year-old Issy, and her newly-single mother, Caroline Evans, are struggling to find their way alone, as well as together.  At thirty-eight, Caroline is coming to terms with this new life, even though she has little money and all the responsibility for the two of them.   When she decides to leave their well-off lives in Singapore (and her cheating husband and his long-time mistress and powerhouse),  she ends up living in an English village pub, cooking dinners to earn enough to get by on; meeting unexpectedly quirky people, and making friends.  But Issy still adores her father and secretly blames her mother for their change in life. When Caroline’s dream of restoring an old barn into a restaurant finally begins to come true, her chance at happiness hangs in the balance as whispers of murder and vengeance find their way to her.  When Issy, hovering in that limbo between girl and young woman, begins to make some dangerous choices, the stakes are raised even higher.

Kaley - 3.5 Star

I knew right away that A Place in the Country by Elizabeth Adler was going to be an emotional novel.  Divorce? Check. Single mother? Check. Temperamental teenager? Check. Moving to another part of the world? Check. Any of those things would be enough to rattle me, but all of that and more? Whew. It was interesting to read about Caroline and Issy’s journey and find out how they handled all these changes.

There was so much happening in this book that it almost felt like it was a bit over the top. There was also a very serious issue (the dangerous choices that Issy makes that is alluded to in the synopsis) that is glossed over. The only people Issy tells are her best friend (another teenager who is ill prepared to deal with such a situation) and her grandmother. And grandma doesn’t do anything! I don’t want to give anything away so it’s hard to really talk about this issue. Just know that there should have been a better discussion about what happened. It was not an OK situation and if a teen read this they wouldn’t realize that.

I do love that Caroline was able to make an attempt at realizing her dream of owning her own restaurant. It wasn’t an easy process by any means but she definitely had a great support system, which helped her immensely.

I’m not sure what was needed for me to enjoy this novel more. I’m not a fan of moody teenagers, particularly ones who are acting out against their single mom so Issy wasn’t really an endearing character for me. She came around a bit by the end but I have to admit that she is probably what kept me from loving this book.

Overall, I liked A Place in the Country by Elizabeth Adler. I didn’t love it but I do think others might. If you like emotional stories, particularly ones involving families, this one’s for you!

Thank you to St. Martin's Press for our review copy!

Connect with Elizabeth Adler here: 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

5 Star

Summer seemed to arrive at that moment, with its mysterious mixture of salt, cold flesh and fuel.

 Nick and her cousin, Helena, have grown up sharing sultry summer heat, sunbleached boat docks, and midnight gin parties on Martha's Vineyard in a glorious old family estate known as Tiger House. In the days following the end of the Second World War, the world seems to offer itself up, and the two women are on the cusp of their 'real lives': Helena is off to Hollywood and a new marriage, while Nick is heading for a reunion with her own young husband, Hughes, about to return from the war.
Soon the gilt begins to crack. Helena's husband is not the man he seemed to be, and Hughes has returned from the war distant, his inner light curtained over. On the brink of the 1960s, back at Tiger House, Nick and Helena--with their children, Daisy and Ed--try to recapture that sense of possibility. But when Daisy and Ed discover the victim of a brutal murder, the intrusion of violence causes everything to unravel. The members of the family spin out of their prescribed orbits, secrets come to light, and nothing about their lives will ever be the same.

Lydia - 5 Star

Tigers in Red Weather is an absorbing and entrancing read and was completely different from anything I've read recently. With a heavy Gatsby feel, these dysfunctional characters leap off the pages and the setting sparkles. A novel full of love, deceit, and family secrets carried along with a subtle creepy vibe, this one kept me riveted.

This book felt like summer. Humid, sweltering days hung in the air, just like the suspense that kept me gripped throughout this novel. The description in this novel floored me. It was sparse, sprinkled in between dialogue, and yet it was perfect. The heat was palpable, the summer home and parties held there stunning and decadent and the town’s glamour and inhabitants portrayed with such ease that you feel like you’re right up beside them. Anyone interested in writing needs to study this one. I took time to marvel at it as I was reading, and not just for the description, but the characters and dialogue.

With swift, deft characterizations via brief description, dialogue, and actions, we are treated to some intriguing characters in Tigers in Red Weather. I didn't really love any of them, but I was so mesmerized by them, by their complexity that I tore through the pages, desperate to find out why they do what they do, and then what they're going to do next.

Tigers in Red Weather is written from five points of view, describing in part some of the same events from different perspectives which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a fascinating reminder of how every person present at an event can perceive it so differently, especially when such different personalities are involved. The psychology major in me loved this, as it did the complex characters.

I did wish there was a bit more to Ed's story in the end. Maybe I'm a bit morbid - or just fascinated by psychology - but I wanted more insight into his mind, not just being told what you can already guess and I wanted this section longer. I wanted to know about boarding school and the years in between where he learns how to channel his desires. I realize this could have been another book in itself, and maybe that's the reason for the brevity, but I felt something was missing from this section. I completely appreciated though how each character becomes complicit in his outcome by not acknowledging the situation.

This family draws together to defend each other, but also tears each other apart, sometimes by protecting one another. Tigers in Red Weather is a fascinating read on family dynamics, peeling off the layers to reveal the good, the bad and the ugly and how the words we speak and especially the ones left unspoken, can help or hurt us. Pick this one up today if you’re looking for an intriguing, compelling, character driven read with a hint of chilling suspense.

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

Connect with Liza Klaussmann here:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Can I be your Lover When I'm too Busy Being Your Mother by Sara Dimerman & J.M. Kearns

Do you feel like your partner has become your child?

Do you find yourself being his maid, his cook, his manager?

Have romance, respect, fun—and sex—been drained out of your relationship?

In How Can I Be Your Lover When I’m Too Busy Being Your Mother? Sara Dimerman and J.M. Kearns lay bare an essential problem: the woman who finds she’s turned into a mother to her man instead of the equal and intimate partner she once was.

She has a day job just like he does, yet at home she finds herself doing most of the housework, running the home, and being in charge of the child-rearing, which makes her his boss in the one place they spend most of their time together. This leaves her feeling angry and resentful—hardly conducive to being lovers. Dimerman and Kearns boldly confront the issues, allowing both sexes to vent in a no-holds-barred exchange that ranges from hostile to hilarious. They deconstruct the problem using real-life examples and lay out a step-by-step path that will enable any couple to get back to being equal partners again.


We were asked to review this self-help book and although I think this is the first of its kind for us I admit that it may fit in kind of nicely with some of our followers.  I’d like to first point out that I’m not generally one for self-help books , probably because I’m not that in tune with myself that I can see if I need some guidance and because I’d rather immerse myself in fiction when I have time to read.

How Can I be Your Lover When I'm Too Busy Being Your Mother was really eye-opening for me on the benefits of getting some guidance. Initially I was pleasantly surprised that the authors really did their utmost to make this an easy read - it’s light in the right places, has some truly funny anecdotes and yet manages to make you feel like you’re in the same boat as many and there are things that can be done to bring you & your partner back to a place of balance and respect.

Each chapter is clearly defined and explained and although occasionally repetitive I found this comforting and in my case realised that my complaints about my own partner are mostly petty and should be shelved.  I’m lucky enough to not have to hold down a full time job as well as be parent, housekeeper and chief organiser and hats off to the many, many mothers and fathers who wear all these hats all the time.  Not to say that I don’t feel stay at home parents sometimes get the short end of the stick but although I couldn’t always relate to the issues in the book I did find myself really thinking about what was really important in my own little world.

I think How Can I be Your Lover When I'm Too Busy Being Your Mother is helpful and intelligent with the right balance of humour and realism.  If the title appeals to you even a little I think it’s worth a read and it’s worth also mentioning that there is both a male and female contributor so the opinions and situations are well balanced. Also important to mention - my husband picked up this book a few times and this novel has made its way into the hands of a male friend who thought it sounded interesting. So, its not necessarily just for the ladies. 

Thank you to Simon&Schuster Canada for our review copy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson

 2 Star

At twenty-three, Saba Tarcan knows her only hope of escaping the clamor of Cardiff Bay, Wales, lies in her voice. While traveling Britain, singing for wounded soldiers, Saba meets handsome fighter pilot Dom Benson, recovering from burns after a crash. When Saba auditions to entertain troops in far-off lands, Dom follows her to London. Just as their relationship begins to take root, Saba is sent to sing in Africa, and Dom is assigned a new mission in the Middle East. As Saba explores Cairo’s bazaars, finding friendship among the troupe’s acrobats and dancers, Dom returns to the cockpit once again, both thrilled and terrified to be flying above the desert floor. In spite of great danger, the two resolve to reunite.

When Saba learns that her position makes her uniquely qualified for a secret mission of international importance, she agrees to help the British Secret Service, concealing her role from Dom. Her decision will jeopardize not only her safety but also the love of her life.

Sabrina-Kate - 2 Star

I really wanted to like Jasmine Nights. One of the main characters, Saba, is quite endearing at the beginning of the story but not long after it begins, this story starts to drag. And it also has a lot of scenes that I find would be quite unbelievable or at least quite fantastical. For example, a woman running around unescorted in Cairo, Egypt in the 1940s? I don't think that is something that probably easily happened back then, and when she stays over with her lover? Equally as unbelievable.

The story seemed quite over the place and didn't segue from one place to the next easily or in a way that was always evident even. Sometimes it was confusing to follow what was going on where at the beginning of a new chapter.

The book felt like a long bad episode of someone's longings that really didn't give me anything that I wanted to share or rave about. I love reading a good story and then telling others about it. I dreaded having to pick this book up every day and felt like it was basically a chore that I had to slog through to the bitter end in order to get this done. That, to me, is not a good story. Not a story that flows or inspires so unfortunately I wouldn't really recommend Jasmine Nights unless you are a great historical fiction fan and even then, I warn you that it lacks in details and imagination. 

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

Connect with Julia Gregson here:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer

4 Star

L.A. is no place for widows. This is what forty-four-year-old Hannah Bernal quickly discovers after the tragic death of her handsome and loving husband, John. Misery and red-rimmed eyes are little tolerated in the land of the beautiful. But life stumbles on: Hannah’s sweet three-year-old daughter, Ellie, needs to be dropped off at her overpriced preschool, while Hannah herself must get back to work in order to pay the bills on “Casa Sugar,” the charming Spanish-styled bungalow they call home.

Fortunately, Hannah has her “Grief Team” for emotional support: earth mother and fanatical animal lover Chloe, who finds a potential blog post in every moment; aspiring actress Aimee, who has her cosmetic surgeon on speed dial; and Jay, Hannah’s TV producing partner, who has a penchant for Mr. Wrong. But after a series of mishaps and bizarre occurrences, one of which finds Hannah in a posh Santa Monica jail cell, her friends start to fear for her sanity. To make matters worse, John left their financial affairs in a disastrous state. And when Hannah is dramatically fired from her latest producing gig, she finds herself in danger of losing her house, her daughter, and her mind.

One night, standing in her backyard under a majestic avocado tree, in the throes of grief, Hannah breaks down and asks, “Why?” The answer that comes back—Why not?—begins an astounding journey of discovery and transformation that leads Hannah to her own truly extraordinary life after death.

Lydia - 4 Star

I had yet to crack one of her novels, but Gigi Levangie Grazer has been continuously making me giggle with her hilarious Facebook and Twitter updates, so when the opportunity presented itself, I snatched up The After Wife without even knowing what it was about. I frequently read novels without a clue to what lies within when I am familiar with an author, or sometimes I just plain forget because so much time has passed since agreeing to review a novel and then receiving it and finally reading it. Also, I kind of like the surprise, and detest spoilers. That said, I really wish I had read the synopsis on this one first or had picked it up at a different time in my life due to several recent losses in my family, but maybe there isn't ever a good time to read about losing the love of your life and being made a widow at such a young age.

I wasn't disappointed though, Levangie Grazer's humour translates well into fiction, even with the depressing subject matter. She somehow entices some small chuckles which become guffawing laughter as the novel progresses and I found this novel reminiscent of Jonathan Tropper's How To Talk to a Widower in that they are both able to find humour after a certain point in their situations, probably because they are able to laugh at themselves. The main difference between the two novels is that with The After Wife, we are privy to the loss as it occurs, not months later, and Levangie Grazer handles this gracefully and is equally adept at showing Hannah's devastation which is palpable and heart-wrenching.

Being thrown right into Hannah and John's love affair straight from the first page was refreshing to read as so many novels are about spousal angst and some stories about heroines dealing with losses only leads to uncovering secrets, deceit and transgressions. None of this is present in this novel. Their love is tender, sweet and real. I blushed a few times at their tenderness and affection and even more so at their attraction. I really loved this about the novel. And it really made John's death all the more tragic and heart breaking.

I enjoyed Hannah's quirky cast of friends and even though slightly predictable, I still enjoyed the ride. I do wish we had seen a bit more of her daughter though.
I will definitely seek out more from Levangie Grazer!
Thank you to Random House for our review copy! All opinions are our own.

Follow Gigi Levangie Grazer here:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

 5 Star

Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.
Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

Kaley - 5 Star

I had been anxiously awaiting Shadow of Night’s release since I finished reading the first book in the All Souls Trilogy back in April 2011. I fell in love with the world author Deborah Harkness created in A Discovery of Witches. It was like the best of Harry Potter and Twilight all rolled into a magnificently huge (ie almost 600 pages) novel. I don’t think I ever questioned whether book two would be able to compare. I was right to trust Harkness as she delivered another spectacular novel.

Almost the entire novel takes place in the 1590s, which I found really interesting. I thought it was pretty neat to see what Harkness thought Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh, among others, were up to. I always like to see what authors think could have happened in historical situations – especially when they have obviously done their research. There are always gaps in history so it’s fun to see how writers fill in the blanks. Like adding in a few vampires and a couple of witches!

This novel is not for the faint of heart. I’m a fast reader but this one slowed even me down – not that this was necessarily a bad thing. I think it took me longer to read because there was so much detail to sort through, both in the historical and descriptive sense. I must admit that I did get a little confused at points because there were so many characters to keep track of. Not to mention trying to remember who was human and who was a creature. Harkness did have a list of all characters but it wasn’t very convenient for me in my ebook format.

All in all, I loved Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. It continued the fantastical storyline I learned to love in the first book of the All Souls Trilogy and gave me so much more historical background on Diana and Matthew, as well as history in general. I’ll now be counting down the days until the third and final installment is released!

Thank you to Viking for our review copy

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