Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Letter to My Mom by Lisa Erspamer

3.5 Star

Including letters from Melissa Rivers, Shania Twain,, Christy Turlington, and Kristin Chenoweth 

Just in time for Mother's Day, the next book in the A Letter to My series (after A Letter to My Dog and A Letter to My Cat) takes on mothers, with celebrities and civilians writing letters of gratitude and admiration to the women who raised them, alongside gorgeous, intimate photos. 

Sabrina-Kate - 3.5 Star

A cute and sweet little book that was easy to read, A Letter to My Mom was an interesting read of personal letters written from children to their mothers. It was a mix of celebrity and non-celebrity tales which made for a nice mix. 

Some of the letters were short and sweet, especially those written by children, which I found was a nice addition, and some of the letters were somewhat heartbreaking. It centered around a nice theme of gratitude and appreciation which was nice to see. It was also a revelation to see just what some mothers would do for their children.

As a mom, I found this book a nice little reminder that this is a common and wonderful experience but that there are hardships and trouble that everyone goes through. It truly is how you act that shows who you really are.

This book was fun but something that I found myself having to go back to little by little as I wasn't obsessed with reading on through pages and pages of letters in one sitting.

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

Connect with Lisa Erspamer:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Would you rather...with Ruby Preston

Please welcome Ruby Preston, author of Starstruck.

Ruby Preston:

Ruby Preston is a young Broadway producer currently working on several new musicals on the Great White Way. She couldn't be more thrilled to be living her dreams in the Times Square trenches of Manhattan.

Connect with Ruby:
Would You Rather... 
with Ruby Preston

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Cheese – no contest!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Carrie Bradshaw – I’m a devoted and loyal Manhattanite.

Wine, beer or vodka?


Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation.

Water or mountains?

Both…or neither. Give me an urban escape any day.

Zombies or vampires?

Vampire all the way.

Dogs or cats?


Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi – though I prefer other beverages over soda (see answer to #3).

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in NYC, tea in London. I spent a lot of time in both places.

Dine out or take away?

Dine out. Though a cozy night in bed with a book and chinese take away is always a treat.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Oh please, high heels. Are there any other kind?

Physical Book or ebook?

I love a good physical book but since I travel a lot, ebooks have been a revelation.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback – better for reading on a beach somewhere.

Pen or pencil?

Do those still exist? Kidding. Pen. I’m willing to commit.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

That’s a tie between Mad Men (when I’m feeling cynical) and Downton Abbey (when I’m feeling romantic).

Drama or comedy?


Twilight or Hunger Games?

Twilight (see answer to #6). I’m a shameless vampire fan.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick. The redder the better.

Facebook or Twiter?


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

I plot my novels in advance but inevitably my characters lead to make different decisions as I go along.

With her Broadway opening night a few weeks away savvy young producer, Scarlett Savoy, is finally ready for her brand new musical to take center stage. Only two major things stand in her way - the beautiful but mercurial Hollywood diva she's cast in the lead and a handsome familiar face from her past who flies back into her life. From high stakes rehearsal rooms, to paparazzi fueled scandals, to the star-studded red carpet of opening night, Starstruck is a page-turning journey behind the scenes of Broadway, all set against the glittering back drop of Manhattan. Will Scarlett make it to opening night before the curtain falls on her dreams?

Available at:

Amazon  Kindle 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Recipe For Disaster by Stacey Ballis

5 Star

To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess—her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Anneke’s life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fiancé who cooks like a dream.

Until Anneke’s charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustration—and what little savings she has—into finishing the renovation.

But at the first step into the house’s overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Gemma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the house’s original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Emma’s life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, she’s been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all along…

Kathryn - 5 Star

There isn’t a detail left out in this thoroughly engrossing read. I was hooked immediately by Anneke’s unusual upbringing and the solid relationships she now seemed to have in her life.
There were so many yummy food descriptions and equally yummy house-reno descriptions that for the first time (in ages) I actually read every single word of a book.  Though the author does go into detail there was a flow with it that seemed both natural and necessary.

I adored Anneke’s quirky habits, loved and hated that crazy dog and every one of the men in her life was warm, intriguing and immediately entrancing. I became attached to them all-even those we weren’t meant to. I wanted to move right on in to the mayhem of construction and feel their energy and their warmth for myself. I was especially pleased with the slow development of Emily and Anneke’s relationship. They obviously both needed something from each other and it added another level to the story that the men could not.

It’s always disheartening to come across a heroine who should have had all the support of a loving family and instead was dealt a deck with a lot of missing cards but I think we needed to know about Anneke’s history to really understand how far she came throughout the novel. The choices she made were entirely based on the history of her own life and though we wanted everything to end up rosy sometimes it’s nice when it takes a lot of hard work to get to that point.

Though the romantic aspect of this story was slowly paced it was put forth exactly the right way. In fact everything about Recipe for Disaster was paced and placed perfectly- there was nothing I would have left out and nothing more I needed from the author to make the picture complete.  I loved it.

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

Connect with Stacey Ballis:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Inside The O'Briens by Lisa Genova

5 Star

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

Kathryn - 5 Star

This novel is understandably intense. I read it with purpose from the first few pages, completely engrossed in the life of this family. Lisa Genova is a talented writer, of this there is no doubt.  Her ability to create characters that are warm and relatable while dealing with heart-wrenching issues is just so impressive.

I was hooked on the O’Briens by page 7. My immediate attachment to Joe came from the ease of writing and the utter appreciation for his love for his family, his pride in his work and his obvious dedication to both. We are only introduced to two voices during the novel- Joe, the father of the family and Katie, his youngest daughter.  While each family member is represented in dialogue with these two it was nice to only have the two voices to contend with. You could feel each of their stages clearly enough and their ruminations and actions expressed the heartache of the family, the anxiety and stress quite well enough for them all.

I’ve said it was heart-wrenching to read. How could it not be?  Huntington’s has no cure yet and it’s a somewhat rare disease that can be diagnosed before symptoms appear. The internal turmoil of Katie and her siblings to find out if they carry the gene was almost worse than reading about Joe’s symptoms and the more imminent fatality of his own life he is now facing.

The story of the O'Briens covers all the bases, the feelings of the parents, Joe’s feeling toward his own past, their crippling worry for their children and grandchildren as well as the children’s own worry, paranoia and anger.

The novel is brilliant- for anyone who has yet to read anything by Lisa Genova you must absolutely pick up any one of her novels. Her ease of writing brings forth so much education and shines light on hope within hopelessness.

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

Connect with Lisa Genova:
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade

4 Star

In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City’s Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave her disfigured, Rachel suffers years of cruel harassment from the other orphans. But when she turns fifteen, she runs away to Colorado hoping to find the brother she lost and discovers a family she never knew she had.

Though Rachel believes she’s shut out her painful childhood memories, years later she is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge, and pay for, her wrongdoing. But each passing hour Rachel spends with the old doctor reveal to Rachel the complexities of her own nature. She realizes that a person’s fate—to be one who inflicts harm or one who heals—is not always set in stone.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

This book was not my usual fare though I felt myself compelled to keep reading and very much drawn into this novel based on actual events. I have always been a person interested in the psychological aspect of life and specifically how our childhoods shape us, so this book greatly interested me as it showed how the main character, Rachel developed over time.

The story bounces back and forth as does a typical story of this genre, which I enjoy quite a bit since it gives a good perspective on things. The story was easy to follow along despite the back and forth which I felt was the only way that this story could have been told properly in my opinion.

Having learnt that this was based on actual historical events broke my heart somewhat as I cannot imagine being an orphan and also having to go through what Rachel and the other children did. I find it amazing how resilient humans are and what they can accomplish despite great tragedy which this book strongly illustrated.

A heartwrenching, captivating utterly compelling book, I could not put it down and would recommend it to anyone who has a heart and doesn't mind shedding a tear or two.

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

Connect with Kim van Alkemade:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Miss Carter's War by Sheila Hancock

4 Star

It is 1948 and Britain is struggling to recover from the Second World War. Half French, half English, Marguerite Carter, young and beautiful, has lost her parents and survived a terrifying war, working for the SOE behind enemy lines. Leaving her partisan lover she returns to England to be one of the first women to receive a degree from the University of Cambridge. 

Now she pins back her unruly auburn curls, draws a pencil seam up her legs, ties the laces on her sensible black shoes, belts her grey gabardine mac and sets out towards her future as an English teacher in a girls' grammar school. For Miss Carter has a mission – to fight social injustice, to prevent war and to educate her girls. 

Through deep friendships and love lost and found, from the peace marches of the fifties and the flowering of the Swinging Sixties, to the rise of Thatcher and the battle for gay rights, to the spectre of a new war, Sheila Hancock has created a powerful, panoramic portrait of Britain through the life of one very singular woman.

Kathryn- 4 Star

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Miss Carter’s War and I don’t think what I read was at all what I’d envisioned the novel to be.  Initially I thought we were going to explore Marguerite’s resistance through World War II and how it impacted her subsequent teaching life after being one of the first women to receive a degree from the University of Cambridge.  Instead we followed her from that root all the way through her adult life into retirement and there was a good deal to keep up with throughout the novel. 

The basic plot line and friends and relationships was simply laid out- Miss Carter didn’t have a lot of chances to make friends as a teacher (which I imagine was likely the case for many women in her position) but the friends she did make were invaluable to her life. The friendship with Tony was obviously her life love, though their relationship was not a love affair. I found it interesting that a woman with so much conviction, confidence and clarity would never find the right person to share her life with.

The novel went zipping through from the 1940’s to the 1990’s with an emphasis on the changing political climate in the UK following the war- the education system, the breaking down of class systems and the demand for equal opportunities .  There was a huge amount covered in one novel and to be quite honest I may have missed a few important bits!  The story was written in such a way as to make you want to follow Miss Carter’s life - the history lesson just slid alongside her story nicely.

To watch the decades unfold so quickly in the novel actually made it clear just how much times had changed in that 50 year period- it was a bit strange to read about it as it mirrored my mother’s own lifetime and to see just how much had changed from her childhood was fascinating and daunting.

Miss Carter’s War was fast paced and, on occasion a bit too informative for me (!), but I enjoyed it and raced through it to hopefully find a satisfying conclusion for this woman’s fascinating lifetime.

All opinions are our own.

Connect with Sheila Hancock:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Would you rather...with Leah McLaren

Please welcome Leah McLaren, author of A Better Man.

Leah McLaren:


Leah McLaren is a novelist and journalist who is a longtime columnist for Canada's national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, and the Europe correspondent for Maclean's magazine. In 2013, she won a gold National Magazine Award in the long features category. Her first novel, The Continuity Girl, was published by GCP  in 2007. She lives in Toronto and London, England, where she shares a home with her husband and two boys

Connect with Leah:
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Would You Rather... 
with Leah McLaren

Chips, chocolate or cheese?


Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?


Wine, beer or vodka?


Camping or spa vacation?


Water or mountains?


Zombies or vampires?


Dogs or cats?


Coke or Pepsi?


Coffee or tea?


Dine out or take away?

Dine in.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?


Physical Book or ebook?

Physical book.

Paperback or Hardcover?


Pen or pencil?


Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Breaking Bad.

Drama or comedy?


Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?


Facebook or Twiter?


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

A bit of both, as needed.

A Better Man

Maya wants
Nick to come home earlier
To engage with their children
To engage with her

Nick wants . . .
A divorce

Having decided that their marriage is over, Nick is determined to leave quickly and with dignity. But when he looks into the financial realities of splitting up, he realizes that more of his hard-earned income than he can handle will go to Maya. 
Then a mutual friend proposes that Nick improve the marriage in order to end it amicably, because the better father and husband he is, the more self-sufficient Maya becomes and the cheaper his pay-out will be at the end. 

But as Nick sets out to be a better man, he starts to feel like one. Time with his kids, dinners with his wife, fewer hours in the office has the strange effect of making him happier. As Maya starts to feel appreciated by her husband again, she starts to blossom, to unclench her fists from the parenting reins and start to do things for herself. 

Nick and Maya feel like they are falling back in love. How odd, how funny, how serendipitous. But if Maya knew what had promoted this marital metamorphosis? Then it would be war.

Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Nook  Kobo 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Secret Of Magic by Deborah Johnson

3 Star

Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.

As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.

Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past.

Kathryn - 3 Star

I found the trails of the story in The Secret of Magic a little complicated- there were a number of characters and the names seemed to get muddled for me. I also found the many descriptions of places (and the novel within the novel) to be a bit too much detail so the story ended up lagging a bit while I tried to envision the town and characters.

I didn’t really warm to Regina, although the points where she was thinking or describing the relationship with her mother and deceased father made her more alive for me. I wish we’d had a bit more time with her mother and seen the relationship between them. Ida obviously felt her daughter deserved the highest education she could afford and there seemed to be a mutual respect between them- I wish we’d had a chance to see them together. I was also interested in her step-father as he seemed to also be a sympathetic figure.  If I’d had a bit more of Regina’s background I think I would have become more solidly invested in the rest of the characters. The one person I really felt warmth for in this novel was Joe Howard and I wonder if this is because it was loosely based on feelings the author had for her own grandfather?

Despite my lack of attachment to the main characters I found that the plot itself, the injustice and the seeking of justice were intense and made real by the author’s detailed accounts. I eagerly read the author’s notes at the end of the novel to try and place which pieces were true to fact or may have happened.  The time period was horrific for many reasons but there was a glimmer of hope brought out by this novel that made it inspired.

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

Connect with Deborah Johnson:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Necessary End by Holly Brown

5 Star

Thirty-nine-year-old Adrienne has tried before to adopt a child, but this time, nothing is going to get in her way.

Sure, her husband, Gabe, is ambivalent about fatherhood. But she knows that once he holds their baby, he'll come around. He's just feeling a little threatened, that's all. Because once upon a time, it was Gabe that Adrienne wanted more than anything; she was willing to do anything. . . . But that was half a lifetime ago. She's a different person now. There are lines she wouldn't cross, not without extreme provocation.

And sure, she was bitten by another birth mother—clear to the bone—and for most people, it's once bitten, twice shy. But Adrienne isn't exactly the retiring type.

Enter Leah. At nineteen, she bears a remarkable resemblance to the young woman Adrienne once was. Which is why Adrienne knows the baby Leah is carrying is meant to be hers. But Leah's got ideas of her own. If Gabe and Adrienne let her live with them for a year, they get the baby, free and clear. All Leah wants is a fresh start in California, and a soft landing. Or so she says.

It seems like a small price for Adrienne to pay to get their baby. And with Gabe suddenly on board, what could possibly go wrong?

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Unbelievably, this seems to be the first book by Holly Brown that I have read, but I definitely was sucked in from the first page. The story was completely riveting and her writing was so addictive that I stayed up really late one night charging through this book because I could not bear to not know what was going to happen.

Adrienne was the main character and at some times I found myself truly empathizing with her difficult situation and yet at other times I almost hated her because she could be really annoying. Her desire for a child was almost disturbing at times but I guess that sometimes not being able to have something makes it all the more appealing. I found the relationship displayed with her husband to be something that would have made me personally doubt the possibility of its longevity- but that may also have fueled her desire for a child all the more.

The entire book had many different twists that just made it become increasingly intriguing and I probably would not have expected the ultimate unveiling that happened at the end which just made me love this book more. I definitely loved Holly Brown's writing style and cannot wait to read her previous work.

This book is a definite must for anyone who loves a great story with a lot of heart pounding moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you wanting more.

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

Connect with Holly Brown:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

It's You by Jane Porter

3.5 Star

In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.

What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.

As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.

Kathryn- 3.5 Star

The story in It’s You revolves initially around Ali who is struggling to push through her grief and unanswered questions about her husband’s suicide.  There’s nothing about his death that is explained to her or us and it was really difficult to read her thoughts. I can’t imagine such a tragedy not affecting you for the rest of your life and I was immediately drawn to her unease. It was poignant that she was trying to connect with her father, especially as her mother had also recently passed, and I was initially frustrated with her father’s lack of warmth.  In his own way though, there was reason for his attempt at being distant. The gentle pushing away was trying to push Ali towards a life of living rather than a life of the past.

I was initially surprised by Edie’s diary section because it was unexpected, intense and emotional. There was so much information and history packed into those little diary snippets of the woman’s life.  I found the first connections between Edie and Ali a bit stilted and honestly left me a bit confused but I did come to realise that Edie was there to help Ali move into the present, to look at life worth living and to come out of her grief, slowly and with purpose. 

One thing that struck me as odd during the reading of It’s You was Ali’s lack of friends. While we are aware that she has no girlfriends we are not given any reason why there was a lack of relationships for her to draw on. It is implied that due to the years of study to become a dentist she grew close to only her husband but it would have added more depth of Ali’s character for me if we had been given some more characters in the story for her to relate to.  She seemed so alone and it didn’t quite work for me whereas I felt a big connection to Edie because of the relationships outlined in her segments.

I enjoyed this novel by Jane Porter and if I’d had a little more padding around Ali’s personality it would have been even more impactful.

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

Connect with Jane Porter:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

4 Star

In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple are about to open the island's most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city's façade of glamour and success, tension is building.

When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I really enjoyed this book since it addressed a historical period of time that I had previously known nothing about. The island of Cyprus is a beautiful setting and the events of 1974 were so intense as were the relationships in the eye opening novel. I found it hard to connect with the characters but that may be perhaps in part that I found it took me awhile to get them all straight in my head and remember who was who. Once that happened, about a third of the way through, the story became much more intricate and intense quickly and I found myself overpowered by the story.

This story was heartbreaking but I am very glad that Veronica Hislop was able to tell us about a period in time that should not be forgotten. I found it refreshing that I was reading a novel about a modern historical event and what is probably a very important one. It seems like this had a great impact on history and I later learnt that the city itself is still closed off after so many years.

The story did drag on a little bit in the beginning as it was setting the scene with the development of Famagusta, it was hard to see where things were headed as I felt that it could perhaps have been done a little bit more quickly. Maybe I was just impatient for the action to start?!

A fantastic tale with a great historical value, The Sunrise was a shocking yet wonderful read full of lots of factual events coupled with a fictional story to bring it all together. I will definitely be picking up some more of Hislop’s writing in the future.

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

Connect with Victoria Hislop:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Secrets by Jane Green

4 Star

June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge. 

Kathryn- 4 Star

Summer Secrets is a very simple title for the depth of what was inside this novel.  The last Jane Green novel I read was Promises To Keep and it was powerful and insightful and though heartfelt, it was also heartbreaking.  Summer Secrets also has a fair amount of sadness but there was also an air of positivity about it which was lovely to read. Although the subjects in these two novels are incomparable, Jane Green has shown insight into family dynamics with sweet delivery in both books.

Cat is a conflicted character through much of the novel but we are given a thoroughly honest portrayal of her admitted problems and short-comings which made her relatable, even if you’re not in the same position of addiction that she is.  I warmed to her immediately and was also enchanted by her mother. I loved that we were given her mother’s story from her own perspective but that it morphed into Cat’s story by the end.  The fluidity of the mother child relationship, their histories blending together was beautiful.

It’s almost as if the two lives were continued in each other. I’m not really sure how to explain it but I couldn’t separate Cat’s current situation from her mother’s past life. The parallels were there and yet their realities were opposing. Cat’s addiction obviously had to do, in some part, with her biological father and Cat’s mother lost much of herself by the choice to marry the man she did. Both women spent a portion of their lives not living the lives they could have done.

I loved the thread between all the women in Summer Secrets. The burgeoning deep connection of Cat and her daughter was also sweet and I read the novel with hope, despite the trials each person faced.

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

Connect with Jane Green:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Song for Issy Bradley Carys Bray

3 Star

The Bradleys see the world as a place where miracles are possible, and where nothing is more important than family. This is their story.

It is the story of Ian Bradley—husband, father, math teacher, and Mormon bishop—and his unshakeable belief that everything will turn out all right if he can only endure to the end, like the pioneers did. It is the story of his wife, Claire, her lonely wait for a sign from God, and her desperate need for life to pause while she comes to terms with tragedy.

And it is the story of their children: sixteen-year-old Zippy, experiencing the throes of first love; cynical fourteen-year-old Al, who would rather play soccer than read the Book of Mormon; and seven-year-old Jacob, whose faith is bigger than a mustard seed—probably bigger than a toffee candy, he thinks—and which he’s planning to use to mend his broken family with a miracle.

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

After reading this book, I could not figure out exactly why the title was chosen. Which bothered me. A lot. Although Issy Bradley was one of the characters of the story, the story did not entirely focus on her nor did it explain what a song for Issy Bradley even really meant.

The story did have its merits and the characters were fairly interesting however I kept waiting for something more to happen and sadly nothing ever really did. I understand that it is a story about a family grieving and trying to muddle their way through that but it also seemed to just plod along without much really happening.

The part of the book that I found interesting was the Mormon aspect of it. I liked that I came to understand this religion a little bit more and even some of the misconceptions were cleared up by the author like how Mormons are sometimes confused with Jehovah's Witnesses. This is a religion that I definitely don't know much about but that I find interesting in its own way. It was also interesting to see an English family being Mormon as I had never considered that they existed outside of North America.

This story did have its moments but I was sadly disappointed though I am not quite sure where I expected it to go. I just expected it to go somewhere, anywhere from where it started off really.

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

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