Thursday, February 20, 2014

Would You Rather with Portia MacIntosh

Please welcome Portia MacIntosh author of Between a Rockstar & a Hard Place.

About Portia:

When she was fifteen-years-old, Portia MacIntosh fell in with a bad crowd… rockstars. 

After disappearing on tour and living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle for a few years, Portia landed a job in the music industry – but only so that she didn’t have to join the real world just yet.

Now in her twenties, Portia is ready to spill the beans on the things she has witnessed over the years. Well, kind of. If her famous friends knew that she was borrowing their lives to inspire her fiction, they would stop inviting her on tour and banish her from the inner circle. Then she really would have to rejoin the real world, and she’s still not ready.

Portia only started writing novels to share her secrets, but then she realised she actually quite liked writing – maybe even more than she likes living on a bus with a bunch of smelly boys – and has since tried her hand at writing about other things.

Connect with Portia:
Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Would You Rather... with Portia MacIntosh

Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

Without a moment's hesitation, chocolate.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

I love Carrie. I think I probably have the most in common with her too.

Wine, beer or vodka? 

Vodka! All the prettiest and yummiest alcoholic drinks are vodka based.

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa, for sure. I would not do well with camping - sleeping on a tour bus is as rough as I'll go.

Water or Mountains?

Water - so long as I'm on it, and not in it.

Zombies or Vampires?

Zombies. I love films, books and TV shows about zombies, and if push came to shove, I feel like they'd be easier to contend with. The media has prepared me for an apocalypse [laughs].

Dogs or Cats?

Dogs are my favourite.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. Lana Del Rey has sort of ruined Pepsi for me...

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. The kind that takes a really long time to order in Starbucks.

Dine out or take away?

Dine out. I'm not big on take away food.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops

Heels, every time. Unless they're sneakers with a heel, they're the best of both worlds.

Physical book or ebook?

I love both. ebooks are great because you can carry so many around with you, but if I fall asleep reading one on my iPad it hurts more when it hits me face. You can't beat physical books though really, they're beautiful. 

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback. Again, it hurts less if you fall asleep reading one in bed.

Pen or Pencil?

Pen. I'm hardcore.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad may well be one of the greatest TV shows ever made.

Drama or Comedy?

Comedy, I love to laugh.

Twilight or Hunger Games? 

I haven't actually read either. Twilight makes me think of Robert Pattinson, though. He's handsome.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick? 

Lipstick. Although I get through a lot of all three.

Facebook or Twitter

I adore Twitter. I use it too much.

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

A healthy mixture of both.

Between a Rockstar and a Hard Place

Being best friends with a mega-star has its perks and Nicole Wilde, music journalist, laps them up. But when said friend, Dylan King, gorgeous lead singer of The Burnouts, has zero sense of self-preservation – once a drop of alcohol hits his blood stream ‒ and an inability to keep ‘little Dylan’ in his pants, it also comes with responsibilities. 

Now, Nicole has to track down Dylan in time to play a charity gig tomorrow. Half a dozen groupies, a haunted hotel, a tattoo parlour, a reality show runner-up and a crazy bed-hopping, sleepless night later – will she find him before the tour bus leaves town? And when she does, is it time to head home? Or to jump on the tour bus and go along for the ride!

Available at:
Kindle Kobo

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove

5 Star

Alternating between a woman’s childhood in a small town and as an adult in the city, this novel traces a Jehovah Witness family’s splintering belief system, their isolation, and the erosion of their relationships. As Emily becomes closer to her closeted Uncle Tyler, she begins to challenge her upbringing. Her questions about the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ insular lifestyle, rigid codes of conduct, and tenets of their faith haunt her older sister Lenora too. When Lenora disappears, everything changes and Emily becomes obsessed with taking on her sister’s identity, believing that Lenora is controlling her actions. Ultimately, Emily finds release through self-mutilation.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I loved everything about this book. I am quickly becoming a fan of ECW Press as they publish quality and unexpected gems like this one. The book intrigued me from the beginning as who hasn`t had a Jehovah`s Witness come to their door and I did know a bit about their faith so I thought this would be an interesting somewhat inside (although fictional) look into what it would be like to be part of them.

The main character, Emily, was wise beyond her years in some ways yet so sheltered in others. The story goes between past and present and the present left me feeling somewhat unbalanced yet wanting to know more. I loved the way that the story flowed and kept me intrigued to know more and eventually figure out what was going on. The parts from the present were much less straightforward than the parts set in the past so at times I found myself somewhat confused but eventually I got that this was probably also a facet of her mindset. The author was able to create two very distinct personalities in the same character and you could clearly see the changes that time and circumstance had wrought on Emily.

The story was not conventional by any means and that as definitely part of its appeal to me. Not only was Emily raised as a Jehovah`s Witness, there was also her closeted uncle and her rebellious sister that added their own personal elements to the story.

I am definitely looking forward to the next novel by Jennifer as I cannot imagine what she could possibly write to top this one but I am sure that based on her fantastic descriptions and the very fact that she was able to come up with something so interesting that she will find a way to.

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

Connect with Jennifer Love Grove:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Cursed Existence of Jessalyn Bell by Katie Johnson

3 Star

Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go right? 

Well, every day is like that for Jessalyn Bell. Falling victim to a streak of extremely bad luck, Jessalyn can rarely go a day without encountering a disastrous occurrence. Her parents’ divorce, her inability to meet quota at her sales job, and the incident in which she’s mistakenly arrested are just the beginning. There’s also the fact that every single date with her boyfriend Kyle goes wrong. 

Unpleasant surprises wait around every corner, but through her various misadventures Jessalyn comes to realize that every cloud has a silver lining, that friendships can develop in the most unlikely places, and that love and romance are every bit as spontaneous and unpredictable as a bout of bad luck.

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

The Cursed Existence of Jessalyn Bell was a light and easy read so it was enjoyable in that sense but I really always felt like something was missing. The character definitely has a bad case of karma happening or at least the worst luck and the situations were often somewhat humorous.

The character seems like a somewhat lost young adult who is trying to find her way in the world. Fair enough. But maybe because I am past that phase of my life, or at least I like to think so, I found it hard to identify with all of the problems or situations she found herself in. And I have had my own bouts of bad luck and soul-searching yet something just felt a bit off.

I think that one of my issues with this novel was that the dialogue often seemed forced to me or at least somewhat unnatural. I suppose that perhaps some people interact that way yet I find it difficult to believe as it seemed too staged, too fake.

Each situation or occurrence also seemed to be wrapped up somewhat tidily and then the story moved on to the next thing without there seeming to be many connecting dots.  I don't think that anyone's life is necessarily that compartmentalized.

The ending of The Cursed Existence of Jessalyn Bell also felt rushed, like the story was just being brought to a conclusion because it had gone on long enough, at least in the author's perspective. But the real indication to me that I couldn't rate this story more was that when I went to write this review, the story didn't immediately come to mind. I actually had to re-read a bit to start bringing it back. And for me, that isn't a good sign.

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

Connect with Katie:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Doubting Abbey by Samantha Tonge

3.5 Star

Swapping downstairs for upstairs… How hard can it be!?

Look up the phrase ordinary girl and you’ll see a picture of me, Gemma Goodwin – I only look half-decent after applying the entire contents of my make-up bag, and my dating track-record includes a man who treated me to dinner…at a kebab shop. No joke! 

The only extraordinary thing about me is that I look EXACTLY like my BFF, Abbey Croxley. Oh, and that for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve agreed to swap identities and pretend be her to star in the TV show about her aristocratic family’s country estate, Million Dollar Mansion. 

So now it’s not just my tan I’m faking – it’s Kate Middleton style demure hemlines and lady-like manners too. And amongst the hundreds of fusty etiquette rules I’m trying to cram into my head, there are two I really must remember; 1) No-one can ever find out that I’m just Gemma, who’d be more at home in the servants quarters. And 2) There can be absolutely no flirting with Abbey’s dishy but buttoned-up cousin, Lord Edward.

Aaargh, this is going to be harder than I thought…

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

Doubting Abbey holds all the things we like in a lighthearted read with a little twist of the upstairs/downstairs very popular with programs like Downton Abbey at the moment.  I’m sure I’ve already mentioned that I haven’t actually seen the TV series yet- it’s on the shelf of things to watch, but I’ve visited enough country manors and castles in my life to be just as fascinated by the concept as those who’ve watched the program.  Samantha Tonge has taken an every-day girl and stuck her in this crumbling manor where she has to pretend to be her best friend and help win a reality TV program.  She takes all our guilty pleasures and wraps them in one good read.

Gemma was animated and likeable and her honest desire to help her friend was admirable. I can’t imagine many people would be willing to give up their identity to help strangers and certainly not in an environment completely unfamiliar to them.  Her antics are unpredictable and made the whole thing move along at a quick pace. Tonge also made certain to give the other characters (from staff to TV crew) developed plot lines and identities which I sometimes find lacking in other novels with such a large cast. I got a bit attached to a few of them which was nice!  The British slang took a little getting used to and for the first few pages the dialogue between Gemma and Abbey was utterly confusing, but I did soon get used to it and it definitely got easier once Gemma was settled into her new personality.

At times I have to admit that I wished Edward was less of a pain in the backside but all in all I really enjoyed Doubting Abbey and gobbled it up in a few nights reading.

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

Connect with Samantha:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles

4 Star

Ronnie, a hairdresser with a history of recklessness, feels stifled by the predictable, comfortable life laid out before her with her live-in boyfriend. Charlie is an anxiety-ridden award-winning writer, burdened by his literary success and familial responsibility, including a bread-winning wife and a child with autism. When the unlikely pair meets, a filmic affair begins on office desks and in Toronto hotel rooms, creating a false reality that offers solace in its secrets. Two very different people, trapped by everyday expectations, take pleasure in destroying those expectations together. Their relationship, with all its differences and failings, with all its pleasure and pain, calls into question our rigid and limiting definitions of right and wrong, and what it means to be a partner, parent, lover, and human being.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

There were so many things that I loved about this book but a few times I felt like a little too much detail was given for no apparent reason making the book drag on a bit. But I would recommend reading it as I feel like it was a great portrayal of the complexity of life and love and everything in between, including infidelity.

The story was almost dizzying at times with all that was going on and the confusion on the parts of the people taking part in the infidelity. Was it love or just a convenient way to escape life? The motivation was not clear for the characters themselves which I think is probably often the case with infidelity anyway.

I truly liked how the characters were flawed and so very human. You didn't feel like they were anything but extremely human and very much just living their lives the best way they knew how, even if that wasn't very good at all. Infidelity also showed adeptly how things can happen in life quite by chance at times.
The way that this book was shown to be set in Toronto was just fantastic. It wasn't underdone or overdone which is often the case when setting the scene. Just enough detail to make it obvious but not too much for no reason.

Infidelity is definitely a strength in the Canadian literary scene though due to its subject matter, I wouldn't suggest it for everyone. You really have to be prepared for what you are getting into.

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

Connect with Stacey May Fowles:
Website     Twitter     Goodreads

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Would You Rather with Susan Buchanan

Please welcome Susan Buchanan, author of The Dating Game, Sign of the Times, and The Christmas Spirit .

About Susan:

Susan Buchanan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony and baby daughter, Antonia. She is the author of three novels in the contemporary fiction and chicklit genres. Her fourth novel, What If, is expected to be released summer 2014.

Connect with Susan:
Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Would You Rather... with Susan Buchanan

Chips, chocolate or cheese? 

It’s got to be chocolate, although chips and cheese is a known wonder combination where I am from, particularly as you leave the nightclub!  Classy!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw? 

Definitely Bridget! We have been compared many times, albeit I am a non-smoker!

Wine, beer or vodka? 

Wine and it’s got to be Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I’m not fussy...

Camping or spa vacation?

I’ve done both, but as mum to a 10-month-old baby , right now a spa vacation sounds wonderful!

Water or Mountains?

Difficult one. I love the mountains in Scotland, but I used to live near the sea. OK, mountains. 

Zombies or Vampires?

Not taken with either to be honest, but vampires wins (Lost Boys, Twilight) over zombies, which I can’t stand and give me nightmares!

Dogs or Cats?

Dogs. Until recently I was terrified of cats, so much so I have jumped up on a chair whilst at a dinner party when one brushed up against my leg - in Egypt!

Coke or Pepsi?


Coffee or tea?

Hmm, it’s got to be coffee, although  these days I am mainly drinking decaff latte.

Dine out or take away?

Dine out - I love eating out - Italian and Scottish traditional restaurants (usually fish-oriented) are my favourites.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops

Oh God, no way to high heels - I am rubbish. Sneakers all the way. 

Physical book or ebook?

Difficult one - depends on the circumstances. I like to read my Kindle in bed and when I am eating, as I don’t have to keep the pages open with a coaster and there’s no constant balancing act to juggle. But you can’t replicate the smell of a real book, nor how great the cover is!

Paperback or Hardcover?

Hardcover if I can’t wait, but they’re a nightmare to read in bed!

Pen or Pencil?

Pen, in fact, laptop - my writing is terrible!

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad

You may have to be sitting down for this, but I’ve never seen Mad Men or Breaking Bad, although I’ve heard of them. AND, I would never have seen any of Downton Abbey if it wasn’t for the fact an Austrian friend who was crazy about it, came to stay with me when I was pregnant and made me sit through 4 episodes! That said, I quite enjoyed them, although I haven’t watched any more!

Drama or Comedy?

Difficult again - drama I suppose - especially crime, forensic science and legal.

Twilight or Hunger Games? 

Haven’t read/seen Hunger Games, although I’ve heard good things about it. I did like Twilight, though.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick? 

Chapstick. Hate lipgloss and rarely (ie twice every five years) wear lipstick, under duress.

Facebook or Twitter


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

Plot most of my novel, about 80% and fly by the seat of my pants the rest of the time!

The Dating Game

Workaholic recruitment consultant, Gill McFadden, is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her. Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert. 
She realises she has to act, as work keeps piling up and at this rate she will have retired before she has time for a relationship.
Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency. She quickly discovers men are like buses. They all come along at once. Unsure what her type is, Gill decides to keep her options open. Soon she has problems juggling her social life as well as her work diary. Will she ever strike the right balance?
Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love? But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.

Available at:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This Child of Mine by Sinead Moriarty

3 Star

Sophie is a happy 18-year-old living in London with Anna, her Irish mother. Anna has devoted her life to Sophie. It may be just the two of them but Anna has more than enough love to give. Sophie has everything she could ever need.

Laura is a not-so-happy artist. She too has a daughter, Mandy. But Laura is haunted by the loss of her first child, Jody. Happy-go-lucky as she is, Mandy lives in Jody's shadow and wonders why her mother can never let go.

Both mothers carry secrets and cannot forget the day their paths crossed. But a chance discovery is about to bring everything into the open and mothers and daughters, love and lies, past and future, will spectacularly collide.

Kathryn - 3 Star

This Child Of Mine delved into a myriad of ethical questions and while I appreciated the challenges and understood them I was a bit frustrated by the slow pace of the book. I wish it had been a little bit faster on the action and a little less repetitive on the feelings.  The constant recapping of emotions (which were already obvious to the reader) made the flow of my read stop altogether in more than one spot.

At the beginning I found that there was humour interspersed with Anna’s troubles - the children she taught were funny and engaging and Moriarty gave Anna personality by dealing with the strange things the kids’ would say; Her love and empathy for these children, who struggled so much with their home lives, was touching.  However, once Anna moved to London most of the humour I enjoyed at the onset was gone. Though there were a few quirky personalities that injected some lightheartedness into the rest of the book (Laura’s houseguest for one!), on the whole I found the second half of the novel less engaging a read. While I grasp that from London onwards there was a serious nature that wasn’t really all that amusing - I wished there had been some lighter moments here or there.  If we’d been given more of Sophie’s life growing up with Anna then we would have felt the warmth between them even more and Sophie’s upcoming struggle would have been clearer. My other dilemma was that I didn’t care for Laura. I struggled to find empathy for her and found her relationship with daughter Mandy quite cold and off-hand. Laura’s immediate doting of Sophie was frustrating and I sincerely wished for Laura to open her eyes and see Mandy’s needs as well.

While I enjoyed Sinead Moriarty’s writing, and was happy to keep reading to see how the whole thing would turn out, I was fascinated by the premise much more than the characters involved. I wouldn’t hesitate to read another Moriarty novel though, despite my concerns about this one.

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

Connect with Sinead Moriarty:

Monday, February 10, 2014

The First True Lie by Marina Mander

3 Star

Meet Luca, a curious young boy living with his mother, a taciturn woman who every now and then tries out a new father. Luca keeps to himself, his cat, Blue, and his favorite toys—words. One February morning his mom doesn't wake up to bring him to school, so Luca—driven by a deep fear of being an orphan—decides to pretend to the world that his mom is still alive. At first it's easy. Luca dresses himself for school, makes sure Blue gets his dinner, and manages to avoid nosy neighbors. He and Blue camp out in the living room and embark on imaginary expeditions to outer space, and Luca dreams about marrying his school crush, Antonella. Soon, however, the laundry starts piling up, the fridge emptying—and the smell of Mama's decaying body begins to permeate the apartment. 

As Luca grapples with what to do, we ultimately witness something much more poignant than the morbid circumstance—a young boy's journey to the point at which he can say: “I am no longer an orphan. I am a single human being. It's a matter of words.”

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I think that The First True Lie was somewhat of an almost genius-like idea, but I personally did not care for the subject matter and almost felt like it was somewhat disturbing so can`t feel I can rate it higher than I did. That's not to say that it wasn't a great book as far as what the author was most likely trying to portray; it just isn't a book that would be for everyone and was certainly not for me.

The First True Lie is somewhat confusing and illogical but I believe that was done to portray the main character's age and maturity level. It was probably quite realistic in that sense but it wasn't easy to always grasp what was going on so I feel like it took away from the general story somewhat.

It was somewhat interesting to see the survival skills of a young child faced with an almost impossible situation and the resilience that a child can demonstrate in the face of tragedy. I don't have any personal experience nor have I been around a child that has faced such loss, but I would imagine that the author had researched this so it was definitely interesting to me in this sense.

The First True Lie reminded me of the writing style of Emma Donoghue's Room but with a much different story line. However if that book was something you enjoyed I would think that this might also be something you`d like to give a try.

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

Connect with Marina Mander:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay

5 Star

On a Boston street one warm spring day after a long New England winter, Hazel and Remy spot each other for the first time in years. Under ordinary circumstances, this meeting might seem insignificant. But Remy, a gifted violinist, is married to the composer Nicholas Elko-once the love of Hazel's life.

It has been twenty years since Remy, a conservatory student whose ambition may outstrip her talent; Nicholas, a wunderkind suddenly struggling with a masterwork he cannot fully realize; and his wife, beautiful and fragile Hazel, first came together and tipped their collective world on its axis. Over the decades, each has buried disappointments and betrayals that now threaten to undermine their happiness. But as their entwined stories unfold from 1987 to 2007, from Europe to America, from conservatory life to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, each will discover the surprising ways in which the quest to create something real and true--be it a work of art or one's own life--can lead to the most personal of revelations, including the unearthing of secrets we keep, even from ourselves.

Rebecca - 5 Star

It has been a long time since I’ve been this entranced by a novel. If I could give Sight Reading six stars I would. In the three days it took me to guzzle this book I started carting it around with me everywhere so that if the chance presented itself I could read a few more pages on the sly. Usually I’m one of those slightly embarrassing mums heard yelling at their offspring on the pitch sidelines during soccer practice, but this week I was far more subdued, huddled over my book relishing the few minutes of relative uninterrupted reading time. 

It’s hard to unpick exactly why I found Sight Reading so delectable. Both the bare bones of the plot and the characters are not I suppose that profound or unusual but they are beautifully executed. Kalotay’s ability to capture a thought, a feeling or a moment had me mentally exclaiming ‘that’s exactly it!’ too many times to count; I could almost feel myself strolling around Boston on a spring day with Hazel or in the concert hall alongside Remy.

My only reticence in saying that everyone should read this book is that it’s unifying theme of classical music is written about in great technical detail which I wonder if you have no interest or experience of might be daunting.  That said I think Kalotay’s words manage to convey the essence of and passions that music evokes to perfection, which is quite a feat given that the written word and music are poles apart on the sensory spectrum.

This sumptuous book is Daphne Kalotay’s second novel; I have already ordered her first book, and so unfortunately the next book on my ‘read-to-review’ list will just have to wait. I may have just found myself a new favorite author.

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

Connect with Daphne Kalotay:

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jessica Soffer Stranded on a Desert Island

Please welcome Jessica Soffer, author of Tomorrow There Will be Apricots, as she braves our Desert Island Interview.

First, a bit about Jessica:

Jessica Soffer earned her MFA at Hunter College. Her work has appeared in Granta, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Vogue. She teaches fiction at Connecticut College and lives in New York. Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is her first novel.

Connect with Jessica:
Website   Facebook   Twitter   Goodreads

Jessica Soffer Stranded on a Desert Island!

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

 The Worst Case Scenario Handbook. 

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

A fully-functioning and world-communicating iPad. 

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

My boyfriend, who they don't call MacGyver for nothing. 

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

If I could write and sleep and I wasn't cold, I'd love it. Cold is the worst for me: can't write or sleep or be happy in it. 

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

Someone who could get me off the island. Am I cheating on every answer? 

What modern technology would you miss the most?

My Mini Cooper. She's my favorite thing. 

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

Tea with milk. I'm sounding very British! 

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

It all depends on the weather. And if there were avocados and coconuts on the trees. If so, you could just leave me there. The Omega-3s and good electrolytes would keep me happy. 

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Apologize. I'm always apologizing. 

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

Sorry if you've been trying to contact me. And if I smell. 

Tomorrow There Will be Apricots

This is a story about accepting the people we love—the people we have to love and the people we choose to love, the families we’re given and the families we make. It’s the story of two women adrift in New York, a widow and an almost-orphan, each searching for someone she’s lost. It’s the story of how, even in moments of grief and darkness, there are joys waiting nearby.

Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks, making croissants and chocolat chaud, seeking out rare ingredients, all to earn the love of her distracted chef of a mother, who is now packing her off to boarding school. In one last effort to prove herself indispensable, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mother’s ideal meal, an obscure Middle Eastern dish called masgouf.

Victoria, grappling with her husband’s death, has been dreaming of the daughter they gave up forty years ago. An Iraqi Jewish immigrant who used to run a restaurant, she starts teaching cooking lessons; Lorca signs up.

Together, they make cardamom pistachio cookies, baklava, kubba with squash. They also begin to suspect they are connected by more than their love of food. Soon, though, they must reckon with the past, the future, and the truth—whatever it might be. Bukra fil mish mish, the Arabic saying goes. Tomorrow, apricots may bloom.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Hole in the Middle by Kate Hilton

5 Star

Sophie Whelan is the epitome of the modern super woman. When she operates at peak performance, she can cajole balky employees, soothe her cranky children, trouble-shoot career disasters, throw a dinner party for 10, and draft an upbeat Christmas letter—all in the same day.

But as Sophie’s 40th birthday looms, her seamless life reveals disturbing web-like fractures. Conflict with her boss, blossoming jealousy of her husband’s femme fatale business partner, and her feelings of hopeless inadequacy as a mother and daughter, are cracking the edifice of her life.

Rescue may be at hand when Lillian Parker, a wealthy widow who befriended Sophie during her university days, makes Sophie an irresistible offer. Why, then, does Sophie hesitate? The answer is the reappearance of Lillian’s nephew, Will Shannon, the great unresolved love of Sophie’s life. As she remembers the vivid drama of their college romance, Sophie confronts the choices she has made in life and in love and looks for the one answer that has always eluded her: what does she really want?

Kathryn - 5 Star

Kate Hilton’s novel was completely engrossing and all consuming- I felt like she was talking directly to me. I won’t pretend that I’m half as busy with a career as Sophie and I don’t have to negotiate some of the things she had to with her husband. But even without an office to go to I do find that the negotiation of timing regards to child care with your spouse takes over your life even more than the children themselves invariably do. 

I loved that Sophie was a force to be reckoned with at her job and wished for her that she could take a little space to enjoy the amazing things in her life.  Her mother’s little probes into her taking care of herself rang so true with me too- every parent has to balance their responsibilities with their family time and The Hole In The Middle really explored every aspect of this while remaining incredibly funny.  Sophie’s internal rating system to prioritize an action was hysterical- I don’t think I have the head space (even on a good day) to add up those numbers and come up with an action plan!  It just goes to show how many things run through women’s heads!  The most intense stress is obviously with Sophie’s husband but it’s so far down on the totem pole of things to deal with that it doesn’t become clear until the end of the novel that they’re not even aware of the other’s stresses. That easily happens in my house so I’m sure we’re not the only ones getting buried beneath our own “stuff”.

I laughed out loud a lot reading about Sophie’s life (and then got worried about the stress we’re all under!) - I am so pleased I read it and should probably re-read it every year as a bench mark on how we’re all managing our loads in our house. With all the joy in the things we do there should be an equal moment to sit back and enjoy it.

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

Connect with Kate:


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