Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lake Como by Anita Hughes

3 Star

Hallie Elliot has a perfect life. She is an up-and-coming interior designer in one of San Francisco’s most sought after firms, and has just recently become engaged to Peter, a brilliant young journalist. But when she stumbles upon Peter and her boss in what seems to be a compromising position, her trust in her perfect life is shaken.

So Hallie escapes to Lake Como, Italy to spend time with her half-sister, Portia Tesoro, an Italian blueblood dealing with the scandal of a public estrangement from her cheating husband. While staying in the Tesoro villa, Hallie falls in love with the splendor and beauty of Lake Como, and finds work designing the lakeside estate of a reclusive American tech mogul. The caretaker of this beautiful estate is a handsome man named Angus, and Hallie finds herself drawn to his charm and kindness, despite hints of a dark secret in his past.

But just as Hallie is beginning to find her footing on Italian soil, she uncovers a family secret that upends all the truths she’s believed about herself, and calls into question the new life she’s built in Lake Como.

Jen - 3 Star

Is there anywhere better to escape to than Italy? If I found myself at a crossroads in my life and had the option to disappear to a beautiful lake in the middle of Italy, I wouldn’t hesitate to take the chance. 

Lucky for Hallie, that’s exactly what happens to her in Lake Como by Anita Hughes. 
Hallie is a successful woman with a promising future as an interior designer and fiance to her boyfriend, Peter.

When Peter’s actions force Hallie to question their relationship, Hallie decides it is time for a change a scenery while she clears her head. She thought she just needed time away, but she got much more than she bargained for when she uncovers family secrets and discovers herself in a new light. 

My favorite aspect of Lake Como was the sense of adventure Hallie has. I don’t think I’d ever be brave enough to leave a fiance behind to go across the world. Not only that, when Hallie finds her mother’s diaries from before she was born, she doesn’t just read them. She sets out to answer the questions that appear on the pages before her. She leaves one story behind in the States and tries to find the happy endings to the stories of her family’s past and ends up potentially finding a different ending for her own story.

Something I missed while reading Lake Como was the descriptions. I wanted to feel like I was in Italy with Hallie but the writing fell a bit short. I wanted more details about the weather, about the sea, about the villa she was staying in. I thought I was missing a little too much of what Hallie was experiencing. I knew she had strong feelings towards to the people in her life, her family, her lover, but I couldn’t quite connect emotionally. 

There were a lot of characters in the book. I couldn’t get enough of their beautiful clothes. Anita Hughes must love fashion because she dressed the characters like fashion royalty.  That really helped me along in the story because the emotional side of the story was a bit boring. There was a lot of drama but that characters were too nonchalant about their situations for me to connect.

The premise is good. A beautiful location, a woman with a lot of questions to answer and several love stories intertwined. It was entertaining throughout, but I found myself asking for more detail. Maybe someday if my dreams come true and I take a trip to Italy myself, I can reread this with the scenery fresh in my own mind. 

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

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Love Is A Thief by Claire Garber

3.5 Star

Join the quest to take back what love stole! 

Kate Winters is an ordinary girl, with a not-so-ordinary mission: take back what love stole! 

Kate Winters might just be ‘that’ girl. You know the one. The girl who, for no particular reason, doesn’t get the guy, doesn’t have children, doesn’t get the romantic happy ever after. So she needs a plan. What does she like doing? What didn’t she get to do because she fell in love? What would she be happy spending the rest of her life doing if love never showed up again?

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

Love is a Thief’s main character has a voice like I’ve never encountered before. I started this after a historical fiction novel so it was like stepping out of pea soup fog into a room full of neon signs. Kate is as vibrant as the people around her and I immediately found her hysterically funny. My worry is that I think Garber’s initial few chapters could have used a bit of tightening up as the different people were floating around without being very grounded or attached to Kate. I would have loved to have the characters concretely linked together from the get-go so I could enjoy all the funny and not have to remind myself who the people were.

The thread of the novel got pulled too far away from Kate at times as there were a few too many people pursuing their own ambitions while leaving Kate's on the side-lines. While bumbling around helping others find their lost dreams, Kate also manages to start falling for her childhood friend, Peter. Conveniently enough he also seems to find her appealing but they’re both quite useless at getting this sorted out. It might come off as frustrating to some, but I enjoyed their hesitation (for the most part-sometimes I wanted to bang their heads together!) and actually found it realistic for people who’d known each other for so long.  There are also some peculiar things from their past that slow down their getting together- but I won’t get into that! 

The concept of love having stolen your ambitions or your dreams is great and I really thought a lot about Garber’s intentions with that idea. Garber isn’t trying to put down love but open us up to remember things we’d wanted for ourselves.  I love this and so should everyone else. 

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

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Would you Rather... With Heather Wardell

Please welcome Heather Wardell, author of The Toronto Series, starting with Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo which is FREE on Amazon. 

Here's a bit about Heather:

Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go, nearly all in e-book form on my Kindle.

I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.

This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.

I succeeded, and the first draft of "Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo" was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven't looked back since!

In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet, take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Trinity, and play drums and clarinet. Generally not all at once.

Join Heather on November 7th for BookBuzz Toronto where she will join ten other fabulous authors for bookish mix and mingle.

Would you Rather... with Heather Wardell

Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

Dark chocolate, the darker the better!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

Bridget Jones, no question - such a wonderful funny and touching book, her diary!

Camping or spa vacation?


Water or mountains?

Water with a view of mountains. :)

Coffee or Tea?

A whole-milk latte - nothing but espresso and milk and deliciousness!

Dogs or cats?

I grew up with golden retrievers (my parents have been breeding them since before I was born - but now I'm a cat person.

Dine out or take away?

Depends on my mood - dine out when I want to see people, take away when I want to cocoon at home

High heels, sneakers and flip flops?

I wear skirts every day, so heels for sure. (I don't own a single pair of jeans!)

Physical Book or ebook?

Ebook 99% of the time, physical book for if I plan to make tons of notes

Paperback or hardcover?

Paperback all the way - easier to carry around!

Drama or comedy? 

Comedy for sure - there's too much drama in the world without watching it in movies too!

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick, the other stuff just feels too sticky!

Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter and I have agreed we aren't meant for each other.

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants? 

Plot the big details ("Kate wakes up naked in bed with a stranger") but have fun making up the little ones ("What does the stranger look like?") as I write

Waking up with a strange man is scary. Realizing you lost fifteen years of your life overnight? That's terrifying. 

With her memories from seventeen to thirty-two gone, Kate has no idea who she is and where she belongs. As she begins to fall for the man who found her, she wonders if she forgot those years for a reason. 

Should she keep trying to retrieve her original self, or start a new life?

Connect with Heather:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

5 Star

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry.

Lydia - 5 Star

Crazy Rich Asians is a fun, fast paced and fascinating read. I learned a lot, I laughed a lot, and I was riveted by the portrayal of the culture. And I got hungry. Often!

The glamour! The food! The decadence! The glutinous amounts of money spent! My head spun around and around during the exploration of this secret world. I felt like a voyeur much of the time, and in addition, I learned a lot about the culture, the intricacies of their relationships, and even new terminology like ABC (American Born Chinese). 

I did find the beginning a little slow with trying to figure out who was who and how all the characters were related, but once I grasped the connections and characters I became thoroughly immersed in this crazy ride! And a crazy ride it was full of nosey, gossip mongering family circles, outrageous family politics, and incredible extravagances. I had a hard time believing everything and was astounded when I read that Kwan was asked by his publisher to tone down the antics and stories.

I did often wonder about Rachel’s naiveté, but the story wouldn’t have been possible without it, and at times I enjoyed her character contrasted against the family. It was Nicolas that aggravated me. He should have told his girlfriend about his family’s wealth and not let Rachel walk into such a crazy scene with scandals and showdowns occurring around every corner. It was like leading a lamb into a den of wolves. How he thought she wouldn’t be eaten alive baffled me. But again, that made the story.

The antics of Nicholas’s family, their friends, and everyone involved fascinated me. Their rude and snobby behavior  -which I found abhorrent much of the time - and the fortunes they have amassed and spend like it’s a nothing was comical at times, shocking at others.

For a purely escapist read that offers a voyeuristic look into another world - and quite a few laughs - pick up Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan today!

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

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Would You Rather... with Samantha Stroh Bailey

Please welcome Samantha Stroh Bailey, author of Finding Lucas.

Samantha Stroh Bailey is a mom, author, journalist and professional writer/editor with her business, Perfect Pen Communications. She was a Kobo Writing Life writer-in-residence at BEA 2013 and is the co-founder of “Book Buzz,” a promotional author event held in New York City and soon, Toronto. She has a Master of Education that looks great on her wall (okay, in a box in her basement), and when not writing, she can be found curled up on her couch reading until the wee hours. Finding Lucas is her first novel.

Join Samantha on November 7th for BookBuzz Toronto where she will join ten other fabulous authors for bookish mix and mingle.

Would you Rather... with Samantha Stroh Bailey

Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

Can I choose chips and cheese? This might be disgusting, but I like to put slices of cheese on chips and shove them in my mouth.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

Oh, this is a hard one! I love them all, but I’d have to say Carrie Bradshaw because I often get mistaken for Sarah Jessica Parker because of my hair and height. And tapping away on a laptop in a NYC walk up is the epitome of being an author to me. I loved her friendships, flaws and fantastic clothes, and I could watch every episode of Sex and the City repeatedly.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Vodka! With a spritzy, fruity mixture added.

Camping or spa vacation?

If I wanted to sound cool, I’d say camping. And though I love the outdoors, a spa sounds so good right about now. Total relaxation, massages and nothing to do but be pampered. If I have my BFF with me, even better!

Water or mountains?

Mountains. I love hiking, and though I enjoy looking at water and being near it, I’m not the best swimmer in the world.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee, coffee, coffee. It is rare to find me without a cup of coffee plastered to my lips.

Dogs or cats?

Definitely dogs. I’m severely allergic to cats, and they know it so they like to follow and taunt me.

Dine out or take away?

Ooh, it depends. I adore being in my comfy clothes and inhaling some great Indian, Thai or Italian food. But, I also love going out for dinner, having someone else serve me (and the kids!) and laughing with my nearest and dearest.

High heels, sneakers and flip flops?

I’m barely five feet tall so I should be wearing heels more often. And until I had kids, I don’t think I ever wore sneakers or flip flops unless I was going on a long walk. But, now, two kids later, I am always in sneakers and flip flops. Damn, where did my purple Converse go?

Paperback or hardcover?

I will always love my paperbacks and one of the best days of my life was seeing Finding Lucas in print. But, being able to take a book in my purse and not lean to one side because of the weight is amazing. And, I love buying books immediately from my Kindle. Expensive and addictive, but so fun!

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick? 

Lipstick. I have tried almost every gloss on the market, and they all disappear from my lips and into strands of my hair within seconds of putting them on.

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants? 

I am such a pantser. I always get my plot ideas late at night and then the second I can, I run to my laptop and start typing. I let my fingers fly until I can’t write any longer and then go back and develop.

Can you ever really go back to the past?

After five long years of living with Derek, her former bad-boy-turned-metrosexual boyfriend, Jamie Ross finally reaches her breaking point. She's had enough of his sneering disdain for her second hand wardrobe, unusual family and low-paying job as the associate producer of Chicago's sleaziest daytime talk show. When her new boss plans a segment on reuniting lost loves, Jamie remembers Lucas, her first love and the boy she'd lost ten years earlier. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, Jamie goes on a hilarious, disastrous and life changing hunt to track Lucas down. But are some loves best left behind?

Connect with Samantha:

The Affair by Colette Freedman

5 Star

After eighteen years of marriage, Kathy Walker has settled into a pattern of comfortable routines—ferrying her two teenagers between soccer practice and piano lessons, running a film production business with her husband, Robert, and taking care of the beautiful Boston home they share. Then one day, Kathy discovers a suspicious number on her husband’s phone. Six years before, Kathy accused Robert of infidelity—a charge he vehemently denied—and almost destroyed their marriage in the process.

Now Kathy must decide whether to follow her suspicions at the risk of losing everything, or trust the man with whom she’s entwined her past, present, and future. As she grapples with that choice, she is confronted with surprising truths not just about her relationship, but about her friends, family, and her own motivations.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I actually got The Affair while shopping one day. Usually I don't just pick up a book and buy it when I am not out in a bookstore itself but something about this cover spoke to me even though the design itself is quite simple.

I am truly glad that I did decide to get it - one impulse purchase that I can honestly say I do not regret one bit! This story had me from the first page with the excellent dialogue both inner and outer. I loved how the three main characters each told their version of events for about a third of the book with everything getting tied up together at the end. I found this was a great way to tell a difficult story because there are always many sides to a story after all.

This novel was very heartfelt and difficult to read at times because I could imagine each person's point of view so intensely that I would get caught up in the emotion, no matter who was narrating at the time. This doesn't often happen as one character usually sticks out in a story for me to empathize with, but the writing in this book was so utterly gripping that I felt that I could even identify somewhat with the husband though I am sure in real life I would have been very upset at him.

I literally had trouble putting this book down. The Affair was the best of what I deem "true fiction" - a story that could happen in real life, almost a story a friend would tell you.

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

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Friday, October 25, 2013

The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms: How One Man Scorched The Twentieth Century But Didn't Mean To by Ian Thornton

4 Star

Johan Thoms is poised for greatness. A promising student at the University of Sarajevo, he is young, brilliant, and in love with the beautiful Lorelei Ribeiro. He can outwit chess masters, quote the Kama Sutra, and converse with dukes and drunkards alike. But he cannot drive a car in reverse. And as with so much in the life of Johan Thoms, this seemingly insignificant detail will prove to be much more than it appears. On the morning of June 28, 1914, Johan takes his place as the chauffeur to Franz Ferdinand and the Royal entourage, and with one wrong turn, he forever alters the course of history.

Blaming himself for the deaths of the Archduke and his wife, Johan hastens from the scene, and for once his inspired mind cannot process what to do next. Guilt-ridden, he flees Sarajevo, abandoning his friends, family, and beloved in the fear that he has caused them irreparable grievance. He watches in horror as the Great War unfolds, every death settling squarely on Johan’s conscience. Turning his back on his old life, Johan does his best to fade out of memory.

But the world has other plans for Johan Thoms. As each passing year burdens Johan with further guilt for his inaction, he seeks solace in his writing and in the makeshift family he has assembled around himself. With everyone from emperors to hooligans at his side, and pursued by the ever-determined Lorelei, Johan winds his way through Europe and the Twentieth Century, leaving his indelible mark on both.

Rebecca - 4 Star

Picking this book off the shelf and reading the back cover, I was concerned I might be about to read ‘Forrest Gump does Europe’. You know the type of thing where the protagonist ludicrously manages to be a player at every major event in modern history. Thankfully it was nothing of the sort, being far more nuanced and less predictable. This is almost a fantastic book. It’s an intriguing premise and Thornton clearly can write stunning prose and can capture some very human moments; I found Johan’s death scene beautiful (don’t worry that’s not a spoiler). At times his writing is also very funny, gritty and Thornton’s ability to convey a sense of place is superb. He evokes the end of the world-ness of wind swept Sagres (at the southern tip Portugal) to perfection. But ultimately the story doesn’t all quite pull together in the end.

It could be argued that we’ve become unrealistic in our expectations; every film and novel must come full circle and mean something, when real life simply isn’t like that. However this narrative has many strands painstakingly set up, but then seems to peter out and lose momentum. I couldn’t help wondering if the problem is that it took Thornton seven years to write this his first novel. I had the impression I was reading many different books in quick succession and having the story punctuated by passages of Johan’s own literary offerings bored me.

If you have an interest in Canadian literature then you should definitely read this book, as Thornton is a literary talent worth watching. I just hope somebody pokes him frequently with a large stick to make him write his next offering at a swifter pace.

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

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thirty-Two Going On Spinster by Becky Monson

4.5 Star

Julia Dorning is a spinster, or at least on the road to becoming one. She has no social life, hates her job, and lives in her parent’s basement with her cat, Charlie. 

With the arrival of Jared Moody, the new hire at work, Julia’s mundane life is suddenly turned upside down. Her instant (and totally ridiculous) crush on the new guy causes Julia to finally make some long-overdue changes, in hopes to find a life that includes more than baking and hanging out with Charlie. 

But when the biggest and most unexpected change comes, will the new and improved Julia be able to overcome it? Or will she go back to her spinster ways?

Lydia - 4.5 Star

This book made me laugh! A lot! Thirty-Two Going on Spinster is a fun, easy read full of laughs, heart and hope. Anyone stuck in a rut or approaching an age where love is beginning to seem impossible will enjoy this tale.

Julia is stuck. She’s living in her parent’s basement, working at a job she loathes, and has no man in sight. She fears she’ll become a crazy old spinster with a thousand cats when an attractive new employee, Jared, starts working for her firm and slowly - oh so slowly - things start to change. I loved Julia's progression over course of the novel and thought it was handled really well. She's smart and funny and very relatable and I really enjoyed reading her story, even though her antics made me cringe from time to time.

We’re given a detailed look into her job, which Julia not only finds boring and uninteresting, but is one she loathes. She feels greatly under-appreciated as many of us do, and Monson paints an accurate picture of her issues at work so it’s easy to see why she hates it. We also see her life at home, which is boring and uninteresting – and oftentimes, hilarious. Watching Julie flounder, it’s easy to root for her to change her life. It also helps immensely that she’s so funny and self-deprecating at times.

I loved her best bud at work, Brown, whose gossip sessions were always amusing. The love interest, Jared, was great, and the way she meets him for the first time is absolutely hilarious. It might win the best first meeting ever. In fact, all of the characters in this cute novel are fabulous. 

There was a little repetition, particularly the term spinster and the cat references, but I’m particularly sensitive to this because I read so quickly. Overall, I loved this book. It's fast paced, and although somewhat predictable, the journey is still enjoyable.

Anyone stuck in a rut or anyone that worries about the future will love this one. I look forward to more from Becky Monson!

Thank you to Becky Monson for our review copy. All opinions are our own. 

Connect with Becky Monson:

Grounded by Angela Correll

3 Star

New York City flight attendant Annie Taylor is grounded, putting a halt to weekends in Rome and her jet-setting lifestyle. Soon her noncommittal boyfriend’s true nature is revealed, and to top it all off, she loses her apartment.

With nowhere else to go, Annie leaves the city for the family farm in Kentucky, a place she’s avoided for years. She finds a shotgun-wielding grandmother, a farm in disrepair, and a suspicious stranger renting the old stone house.

The country quiet haunts Annie with reminders of a past that can’t be changed. She tries persuading her grandmother to sell the farm, but is met with stubborn refusal? Yet in the midst of her crashing life, Annie sees a glimmer of hope for a second chance.

 Jake Wilder is contemplating jumping off the corporate ladder to follow his passion for sustainable farming. He’s almost ready to propose to Camille, a girl who wants more, not less. Annie believes Jake is about to make a terrible mistake, but does she have the right to tell him?

As the summer heats up, so do Annie’s unexpected feelings for Jake and her interest in the land. When a sudden phone call comes from New York, Annie is forced to choose between coming to terms with her past or leaving it all behind.

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I had so much trouble getting through this book which really made me sad because I felt Grounded started out so promising and intriguing. I loved the cover, for one, and yes that does matter to me. Gorgeous cover art, like this book definitely has, is something that will always appeal to me.

The idea of the story as well did appeal to me, and the first few chapters were definitely well written and interesting to me. Great descriptions and dialogue set the scene well for what was to come. Or at least I thought so.

This story, unfortunately, made me feel like I was spinning my wheels. It seemed to go nowhere fast while things were still happening if that makes sense. Basically, things were happening but nothing that seemed that important most of the time yet time was still going on, albeit quite slowly.

I also felt quite frustrated by the fact that Annie didn't seem to know what she wanted, and the fact that she didn't have a final confrontation with her boyfriend just seemed unrealistic to me. I know not everyone is the confrontational type, but it still seems to me that you would want to have some sort of closure.

Either way, this book just had so much promise at the beginning and I unfortunately just felt unsatisfied by the end of it despite what many would say was a happy ending.

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

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Would You Rather... with Lydia Laceby

Please welcome Lydia Laceby, author of Redesigning Rose

Lydia Laceby is the co-founder of Novel Escapes, a chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction review website. Since 2009, she has read and reviewed as much women’s fiction as humanly possible while designing, organizing and expanding the website from two reviewers to seven.

In her spare time, she knits cute baby hats, would pick cheese over chocolate–if she had to choose–and regularly cheats on her allergy free diet.

Lydia has always wanted to write and began her career writing a soap opera at the tender age of thirteen. It never aired. Redesigning Rose is her first novel.

Join Lydia on November 7th for BookBuzz Toronto where she will join nine other fabulous authors for bookish mix and mingle.

Would you Rather... with Lydia Laceby

Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

Cheese! Forever and always. Except moldy cheese. Cause that’s just wrong. 

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

Bridget Jones all the way. She was my first chick lit love. And I’m not much of a shopping and shoes kind of girl, although I like Carrie and Becky well enough.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Vodka and soda. Preferably raspberry vodka. 

Camping or spa vacation?

Can I have a spa vacation at a reclusive cabin with plumbing? 

Water or mountains?

Water. I’m a Pisces. As soon as I approach a body of water I can feel my body physically relaxing.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs – I’m desperate to get another dog again. Hopefully one day soon. 

Zombies or vampires?

Zombies. I never would have thought it, but it’s true.

Coffee or tea?

Tea – unless it’s first thing in the morning when you’ll find me gulping coffee to wake up.

Dine out or take away?

This is a tough one. I’m normally pretty casual so the opportunity to get dressed up to go out is fun. But so is being lazy and curling up in front of the TV with cartons of prepared food. I’d have to say it depends on my mood.

High heels, sneakers and flip flops?

Flip Flops. Or anything flat. Heels and my feet do not get along. 

Physical Book or ebook?

Ebook. It didn’t take long to convert me 

Paperback or hardcover?

Paperback – Hardcovers hurt my wrists.

Pen or Pencil?

Pen – particularly purple ones for editing. Red makes it all too serious.

Drama or Comedy?

Dramedy. Give me something that makes me laugh and also tugs at my heartstrings and makes me cry and I’m a happy camper.  

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick? 

Chapstick/Lipbalm. I use it endlessly! My addiction started in high school with the little pots of strawberry Body Shop lip balm. My friends and I were so addicted it became a thing and ended up in our graduation year book blurbs. “Lip balm anyone?” 

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Neither. Is that wrong?

Facebook or Twitter

I’m going to have to say Facebook because my none of my family is on Twitter.   

Plot your entire novel or fly by the seat of your pants? 

I fly by the seat of my pants – it means more work on the end side with editing, but I love it when my characters surprise me! 

Rose Parker’s husband has been lying. About everything.

When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. But it is only when she shoves her belongings in her SUV and drives off that Rose realizes just how far from perfect her life actually was. She has nowhere to turn.

While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements–her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude–Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home.

As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance and especially wine, comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself.

Connect with Lydia:

Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison

4.5 Star

Ellis Garrett is dumping her critical boyfriend, opening a plus-size clothing store, and starting a blog—all to spread the word that fashion shouldn’t require a size-two body, and happiness should allow for the occasional cupcake. Or two. But is indulging fantasies about her sister’s long-ago ex, the still-hunky Michael Edwards, biting off more than she can chew?

Mike must be losing his detective’s touch. He doesn’t recognize Ellis when he bumps into her at Size Me Up, and he certainly doesn’t remember his ex-girlfriend’s outspoken sister being so irresistible. Her curves are indeed dangerous—and so is her wit. Could it be that Ellis is his Perfect Fit? One thing’s for sure: Mike will make it his sworn duty to find out…

Amazon Kindle Kobo Nook

Lydia - 4.5 Star

Dangerous Curves Ahead is a charming, cute, romantic, and funny read! I loved it and found myself grinning from ear to ear frequently and giggling along to the antics of these two lost souls. Mike and Ellie were truly a pleasure to read about, even when I wanted to knock their heads together in Three Stooges style because they were being so silly.

Every woman should read this novel. So many of us need to learn how to be loved for who we are and not who we think we should be, whether that’s thinner, or smarter, or sexier or more funny – for whatever reason. This book is for any woman that has ever been disrespected, mistreated, harshly judged, and put down by a man – or a woman!  regardless of whether for weight or beauty or intelligence. Although this novel focuses on weight, its lessons can be translated across the board of reasons why we may not feel good about ourselves even though we’re trying to be okay with what we feel are our shortcomings like Ellis is. 

Dangerous Curves Ahead blurred the line between chick lit and romance novel. A bonkbuster romance novel isn’t really my thing, and there are definitely some very sexy scenes in this book, but I still really enjoyed this one even though I don’t normally read this kind of thing! It wasn’t the focus of the novel (the sex and the love - in fact the two characters tried so hard to avoid it I wanted to shake them at times), so that was probably why. But there are definitely many more detailed sex scenes than in a typical chick lit novel, so if this isn’t your thing you may be offended. Just a heads up.

While I absolutely loved this book, there was a bit of repetition that grated on me. I realize that their thought processes were real to life. Living through a hurtful relationships and then learning how to trust again is one of the most difficult challenges to a new relationship, and I know that it was portrayed realistically, however I wanted a bit more ‘showing’ and not ‘telling’. I also really wanted her to stop calling Ellie ‘soft’ whenever he touched her. I didn’t think it was necessary. But maybe it was just me.

Overall, I adored this cute, sweet and sexy novel! And I’d definitely read another!

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

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Monday, October 14, 2013

You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert

3 Star

Best friends forever… until life got in the way. Katherine Hill left her small New England hometown in pursuit of a dream. Now, twelve years later, she’s a high-powered cosmetics executive in Manhattan and a much glossier version of her former self, unrecognizable to her family and old friends. Not that she would know—she hasn’t been home in over a decade.

Laney Marten always swore she’d never get "stuck” in Manchester, Vermont. No, she was destined to live out her glamorous big-city dreams. Instead, she wound up a young wife and mother. That was when her best friend ran out.

When Katherine receives word of an inheritance from former neighbor Luella Hancock, she reluctantly returns home to the people and places she left behind. Hoping for a second chance, she’s met by an unforgiving Laney, her former best friend. And there’s someone else who’s moved on without her—someone she once loved.

Tethered to their shared inheritance of Luella’s sprawling Victorian mansion, Katherine and Laney are forced to address their long-standing grudges. Through this, they come to understand that while life has taken them in different directions, ultimately the bonds of friendship and sisterhood still bind them together. But are some wounds too old and deep to mend?

Jen - 3 Star

I love a great story about friends. I have lifelong friends who are testament to the fact that a true friendship can stand the test of time, distance and most importantly, circumstance. 

You Knew Me When introduced me to a friendship that was once as strong as those I enjoy in real life. The book opens with Devil Wears Prada-esque Katherine. I loved her sassy, in control character. Even though she was a bit of a bully, I was impressed with her no nonsense attitude and success as a cosmetics executive. 

I loved Laney too. She’s just like me. She’s stuck in a small town, a young mom and alone. I connected with Laney the most out of the two characters. I could really relate with Laney’s reluctant jealously that Katherine got to go on to the big city dreams that Laney once had and left her behind. 

I loved the storytelling style that alternated between the past and the present. The story always ends up seeming more dimensional to me.

Emily Liebert did an amazing job writing about a true friendship. Katherine (Kitty) and Laney grew up with only one house in between them. That house belongs to Luella, who is a great literary character. I love her Victorian house, her clothes, her jewelry and her legacy. 

When the womens' lives take them both in opposite directions, they drift apart and circumstances that weren’t entirely clear at first stand between them, keeping them on nonspeaking terms for a decade. When Luella dies and leaves her Victorian house to the women, they are forced back together. Their journey back into each other’s lives and what they learn about both the people they were and the women they have become is a great story. I loved digging into their past to find out who, what and why their friendship hadn’t survived their adulthood. I felt like I had gotten hold of some juicy diary entries from years passed. 

Though each character frustrated me at times because of the vague-ness of the story line and their past, I still enjoyed the book. I wanted it to move a bit faster than it did, which may have been because of the different time periods switching back and forth. 

If I had to sum of You Knew Me When into one word, I would say “endearing.” Endearing because friendships are truly more like a family when they are true and you can alway bet something as true as Laney and Kitty’s relationship will always have a happy ending. 

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

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