Saturday, August 29, 2015

How To Be A Grown-Up by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

3.5 Star

Rory McGovern is entering the ostensible prime of her life when her husband, Blake, loses his dream job and announces he feels like taking a break from being a husband and father. Rory was already spread thin and now, without warning, she is single-parenting two kids, juggling their science projects, flu season, and pajama days, while coming to terms with her disintegrating marriage. And without Blake, her only hope is to accept a full-time position working for two full-time twenty-somethings.

A day out of b-school, these girls think they know it all and have been given the millions from venture capitalists to back up their delusion that the future of digital media is a high-end lifestyle site for kids! (Not that anyone who works there has any, or knows the first thing about actual children.) Can Rory learn to decipher her bosses lingo, texts that read like license plates, and arbitrary mandates? And is there any hope of saving her marriage? With her family hanging by a thread, Rory must adapt to this hyper-digitized, over-glamorized, narcissistic world of millennials whatever it takes.



Kathryn - 3.5 Star

There were many parts of How to be a grown up that I was immediately drawn to. The Rory that was the mother was endearing and natural and her alternating between so loving with her kids and wanted to throttle them was an honest portrayal of motherhood (at least from my own perspective!). I also liked that the authors gave a voice to both stay at home parents and working parents, gave us an idea of both their existences and at one point even said the world would not function in today’s society without having both. (We really need to stop beating ourselves up!).

I found the relationship between Rory and her husband really frustrating though. I never really got a good feel for them loving each other in the past and his selfishness was so infuriating I wasn’t sure why she didn’t just lose her mind at every turn.  He just removed himself from his marriage and fatherhood with zero explanation and didn’t get any repercussions to speak of- not a single person gave him a hard time or tried to get him to come back to his kids or even call them with a cause.  I would have liked his mother to step up and make him be responsible at least.

Rory picks herself up and re-inserts herself back into a career (luckily she’s a very strong creative business person and found a niche to create financial stability). I loved her job and all the descriptions of her work but she seems to go back to the working world without so much as a blink- it’s as if she’s completely unfazed by her husband’s desertion?  I found their separation emotionless.

The kids were perfect- I’ve always found Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin can portray children well so I found myself promptly rooting for them to come out of the fray as unscathed as possible. 
I always enjoy novels by these authors but there were some questions for me as the emotions seemed to be lacking.

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

Connect with Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin:


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Would you rather...with Jen Cumming

Please welcome Jen Cumming, author of Ms.Conception.

Jen Cumming:

 
Jen had two dreams: to be a mother and a writer. The first, it turns out, was much harder to accomplish, but it gave her plenty to work with for her second dream. Now she’s realized both and traded drug cocktails, injections and early morning line-ups at the fertility clinic for juice boxes, playdates and evening PTA meetings. Jen lives in Toronto with her husband and their two children.


Connect with Jen:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Jen Cumming

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chips – hmm, unless it’s with wine…then cheese for sure.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones – Have been to “smug married couples” dinners many times before marrying.  Plus I love everything British.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Wine (or something bubbly).

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation (my idea of roughing it is “no room service,” although my kids and husband would love to go camping).

Water or mountains?

Water.

Zombies or vampires?

Vampires.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs, hands down.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke (I rarely drink carbonated drinks – but I’d grab a Diet Coke first).

Coffee or tea?

Tea – chai tea every morning, or a London Fog as a treat.

Dine out or take away?

Take away – I can relax and enjoy at home.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Truthfully, flats.

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical book.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Hardcover.

Pen or pencil?

Pen.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey – my absolute favourite these days, my British love affair continues.

Drama or comedy?

Comedy.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

 Lip-gloss.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook.

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

100% plotter – even in life I can’t fly by the seat of my pants.

Ms.Conception

Abigail Nichols has tried everything from rash-inducing herbal creams to acupuncture in a desperate, last-ditch effort to get pregnant. Wedged into her iPhone schedule among new business pitches and rebranding design meetings is Abby’s ovulation cycle, along with potential opportunities for illicit afternoon quickies. With all of their hopes and savings on the table, Abby and her husband Jack enter the whispered world of fertility clinics. Along with a meddling mother-in-law, competitive pregnancies, and constant obligatory sex, Abby’s baby-track mind conspires to ravage her career, her marriage, and her sanity. One thing she knows for sure: a healthy sense of humor (and the occasional glass of red wine) is the best coping strategy. One thing she wishes she knew: whether it will be enough. 




Available at:

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Things you've inherited from your mother by Hollie Adams

3 Star

Everyone deals with grief in their own personal way. Take Carrie, for example. To get over her mother’s death from ovarian cancer, she launches a passive-aggressive war with her fellow office workers, embarks on a campaign designed to let her ex-husband know she’s over him (which naturally only pushes her teenage daughter farther away), and plots to rid herself of her mother’s overweight cat, all the while consuming heroic quantities of red wine, spiked coffee, and coffin nails. Nobody’s perfect.

Situated at the midpoint between booze-soaked mayhem and middle-aged ennui, Things You’ve Inherited From Your Mother is a riotous assemblage of found objects, Choose Your Own Adventure-style in-jokes and useful facts about mice. In her startlingly funny first novel, Hollie Adams takes the conventional wisdom about “likeable” literary heroines and shoves it down an elevator shaft. 



Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

Having recently been through loss myself, the idea of this book appealed to me because as it says, “Everyone deals with grief in their own personal way.” I thought that this book would be a little bit more serious about the topic but it turned out to be much more of a humorous oeuvre instead. I suppose that this preconception of mine changed what I thought about it somewhat. I did enjoy the book for what it was though I found the characters very strange and hard to feel for or like at times.

Carrie appeared to be spiraling out of control following the loss of her mother, which is something 
that anyone who is touched by grief probably feels at some time. The extremes she went to though are what I found a little difficult to appreciate or understand. As the mother of a teenage daughter, I would have hoped she would be able to hold it together a little bit more for her child.

The writing style was unique and the story was like none other, but I am not sure that it would be a story that would have mass appeal unless you like a story that is unapologetically unique and very zany. Not necessarily my cup of tea, especially when dealing with such a serious topic, though the comic relief might be just what some are searching for.

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



Connect with Hollie Adams:


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Memory House by Bette Lee Crosby

3 Star

Ophelia Browne knows the answer is yes. She knows because she’s been granted the unique gift of finding and caring for those forgotten memories. But now she’s nearing ninety, and Browne women seldom live beyond ninety. 

Before time runs out Ophelia must find a successor. Someone who can take hold of the gifts and keep the memories from fading. 

When broken-hearted Annie Cross shows up on the doorstep of The Memory House Bed and Breakfast, Ophelia knows she is the one. The two women forge a bond of friendship as they sip magical dandelion tea and share stories. When Annie starts to sense the memories Ophelia is delighted, but then a thread of violence begins to unravel and Ophelia fears things have gone too far.



Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Kindle    Nook    Kobo


Kathryn - 3 Star

I was intrigued by the concepts in this novel from the very start and have always had a fascination with things like energy transference. Not sure I’m entirely a believer, until it happens to me it’s hard to truly get on board…but this book lends itself to an understanding of the possibility while accepting the possibility of scepticism.

I enjoyed Bette Lee Crosby’s writing style, it’s the first novel of hers that I have read, and I appreciated her ease of words.

My dilemma with the book is that I wanted more. I’m not sure what the intention was in this particular publication- from the author’s notes at the back each object in The Memory House can be linked to another one of her novels which is interesting but doesn’t actually give any closure in this book if this is the only one that you’ve read.

I felt like there was so much left unsaid and un-done to be able to give this novel the review stars I wanted to give it.  The subject was fascinating, the writing was lovely but the entity of this as a “novel” seemed so incomplete that I couldn’t give it the rating I feel it would have deserved.  I would advise perhaps reading one of the author’s other novels first and then picking this up as an accompaniment perhaps?


I had so many unanswered questions…did Annie take over where Ophelia left off?  Did Annie end up having a relationship with Oliver? Edward?  What happened to the apothecary shop?  How much time did Ophelia and Annie have together?  Too much was left undone for me to feel satisfied and while I realise this was intended as a first book in a series I was still left frustrated.


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

Connect with Bette Lee Crosby:




Thursday, August 20, 2015

Would you rather...with Sidney Halston

Please welcome Sidney Halston, author of Laid Out.

Sidney Halston:

 

USA Today bestselling author, Sidney Halston lives her life with one simple rule: “Just Do It” Nike, and that’s exactly what she did. After working hard as an attorney, Sidney picked up a pen for the first time at thirty years old to begin her dream of writing. Having never written anything other than very exciting legal briefs, she found an outlet for her imaginative romantic side and wrote Seeing Red, among four other novels currently in the works, including the sequel to Seeing Red. That first pen stroke sealed the deal and she fell in love with writing.

Sidney lives in South Florida with her husband and children. She loves her family above all else, and reading follows a close second. When she’s not writing you can find her reading and reading and reading… She’s a reader first and a writer second. 



Connect with Sidney:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Sidney Halston

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

CHIPS! Although Cheese Puffs are my favorite. Would that fall into chips or cheese catagory?

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Carrie Bradshaw. Sex and fashion, baby!

Wine, beer or vodka?

Neither, scotch.

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation.

Water or mountains?

Water.

Zombies or vampires?

Vampires (True Blood!)

Dogs or cats?

Dogs.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Tea is ewww.

Dine out or take away?

Take away.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

High Heels.


Physical Book or ebook?

Ugh. I want to say physical book BUT I haven't purchased a physical book in years. I want my books NOW and eBooks are so easy. Instant gratification!

Paperback or Hardcover?

Hardcover.

Pen or pencil?

Pen.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Oh. Hmm? Mad Men or Breaking Bad? Do I have to choose? Breaking Bad.

Drama or comedy?

Comedy.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Twilight.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick. Red lipstick.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook.

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

Fly by the seat of my pants.
I'm still hung up over Breaking Bad and Mad Men!

Thanks for having me today!

Laid Out

Growing up an Army brat, Violet Channing could never meet her dad’s high expectations. But in the eyes of her best friend, she could do no wrong. He even insisted that he should be her first kiss. Now Cain Sorensen is all grown up, hardened by years in special ops and always looking for a good fight. Tall, with striking blue eyes and impossibly blond hair, he’s a modern-day Viking warrior. Of course, Violet’s all grown up, too, and she’s ready to surrender to his every command.

Cain knows he’s bad for Violet. His work is dangerous, and his hobbies are downright deadly. As a private mercenary and a mixed martial arts fighter, he could never let such an innocent soul into his world. And yet his most grueling combat training is no match for Violet’s killer curves, hot touch, and suggestive glances. Now all of Cain’s most explosive fantasies are coming true—but once they cross the line between friends and lovers, there’s no turning back.

Available at:

Kindle   Nook    Kobo


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

5 Star

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia's gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn't need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother's leaked "fake" wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia's father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she's not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well? 




Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Anyone who has read the Princess Diaries knows that they are very addictive. Even though they are considered YA, I have obviously read, and loved, them. So I was quite pleased to discover that there would be the first adult installment in this series and I was not disappointed.

This story is the next logical step in the series, which brings Mia to the next step in her life, marriage. I loved catching up with the characters in this book and seeing where life had brought them. The best part though? Reading that they were still very much themselves, just older and perhaps a bit wiser.

Another great thing about this book is that even though you should read the rest of the series because it is just SO GOOD,  this book can definitely stand on its own with appropriate reminders and small descriptions of things from the past books so you never feel lost. It was almost like a tiny nostalgic trip at times when Mia would reminisce or remember something from one of the previous stories which also made it even more dear to me.

Written in the same classic writing style, Royal Wedding was a book that captured my heart, made me dream and entertained me with the usual flurry of activity and intrigue surrounding Mia and her fairytale life. So if you have read the rest of the series, you won't be disappointed and if not, maybe you should discover something new and wonderful!


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

Connect with Meg Cabot:
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Time For Friends by Patricia Scanlon

4 Star

When are the boundaries of friendship pushed too far, and when is it time to stop flying over oceans for someone who wouldn't jump over a puddle for you? There comes a time when Hilary Hammond has to make that call.

Hilary and Colette O'Mahony have been friends since childhood, but when irrepressible Jonathan Harpur breezes into Hilary's life and goes into business with her, Colette is not pleased.

After their first encounter, Colette thinks he's a pushy upstart; while he thinks she's a snobby little diva. And so the battle lines are drawn and Hilary is square in the middle.

But as the years roll by and each of them is faced with difficult times and tough decisions, one thing is clear: to have a friend you must be a friend.




Kathryn - 4 Star

A multi-generational tale of friendship that spanned decades A Time for Friends was an engrossing read. I may have found it took a few chapters to get everyone straightened out but in the end the relationships were solidly portrayed and you knew who they all were.

It was interesting to get a perspective on the friendships through the generations. I wish we’d been given a preliminary chapter or two about the two mothers, Sally and Jacqueline, in addition to the prologue. Though we know that essentially Sally was called upon to babysit it would have been interesting to see how this came about as a weekly occurrence. Their mixing in the same “circles” seemed unlikely during their adult lives? Perhaps they were themselves childhood friends as we know Jacqueline worked very hard to become a solicitor?

I was really frustrated by Colette-   I understood that she had a reputation to maintain and could even accept that she was used to having things her own way but what annoyed me was her insistence that Hilary remained her friend when they clearly had nothing left in common.  The jealousy was obvious every time they were together and Hilary really didn’t need the relationship any more either. It was apparent that she had everything she needed in Jonathan and other acquaintances so why insist on putting up with Hilary’s antics?

One of my favourite aspects of the novel was the reflection of the various marriages in the friendships. Patricia Scanlon touches on several marital issues while still keeping focus on the friendships being examined as the main focus.

The novel was really easy to read, the characters were natural and I really enjoyed the novel.


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

Connect with Patricia Scanlon:


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Stillwater Rising by Steena Holmes

3 Star

After losing her son in an elementary school shooting that devastates the tight-knit community of Stillwater Bay, Jennifer Crowne finds herself unable to settle back into her role of perfect stay-at-home mom and committee organizer. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mayor Charlotte Stone, struggles to keep the town together, and Charlotte’s husband, the school principal, may not be the hero everyone thinks him to be.

As they try to heal from this irrevocable trauma, Jenn and Charlotte find themselves at a crossroads—within the town and within their friendship. For Jenn, broken and grieving, there is no going back, and she demands that the school be closed so that she can bury the past. Yet Charlotte is equally desperate to hold the town together, fighting the school closure and helping the shooter’s mother regain her place in the community. Jenn and Charlotte’s relationship is put to the ultimate test as each weighs her own interests against the bonds of their friendship. 



Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

The initial premise of this book was very appealing to me as it is exactly the type of story that I like. A terrible and tragic event and the aftermath of it seems to draw me in. School shootings have become more common so I thought it would be interesting to read a book about what happens afterwards. I have often thought about those left behind and how they cope, especially the other children and families of the victims.

Sadly, even though this book appealed to me, it was not one that I particularly enjoyed. Some of the reactions and characters made perfect sense to me, but not all of them. There was the character of Jenn, who was basically raging and angry (and who wouldn't be?) and that part I truly felt like I could understand yet other things about her character did not ring true to me. Something felt contrived or maybe just not realistic enough? Hard to pinpoint what I could not identify with but there was definitely something off.

Now I realize that this was set in a small town but it still did seem like the characters were almost at times caricatures of themselves. The typical small town hero types that are conflicted yet venerated. Never something I have thought realistic, having come from a small town myself. 

I did enjoy parts of the book and it certainly showed me different reactions and points of view yet something about it just left me feeling unsatisfied unfortunately. There is no doubt though that Steena is a talented author despite my reservations about this particular book so I would definitely read other work of hers.

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

Connect with Steena Holmes:
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Dare to Rock by Carly Phillips

4 Star

Avery Dare lives a quiet life in Miami as an online fashion/makeup video blogger. She has good friends, a close, large family and if her love life is lacking, she likes it that way. But when she receives an invitation to one of her ex's concerts along with an invitation to meet him back stage, she decides to take the risk… and comes face to face with the reality of his rock star lifestyle - the press, the crowds, and the half naked groupies. 

At eighteen, Grey Kingston left everything he knew and loved behind to seek fame and fortune as a rock star, and he found it as the lead guitarist and singer for the band, Tangled Royal. Fans adore him, women throw themselves at him, and he can afford everything he couldn’t growing up. Yet at the height of his career, he’s ready to walk away and return home to a simpler life… and the woman he left behind, if he can convince her to give him another chance. 

Except moving on isn’t as easy as Grey would like. When Avery is threatened by a stalker, it becomes evident Grey’s fans not only don’t want him to retire, they don’t want Avery in his life either. And Avery isn’t sure she wants the pressures that are part of Grey’s life… but she doesn’t want to lose him again, either. Can their recently renewed love survive the fallout? 




Kaley- 4 Star

I had been craving a good and entertaining romance novel for awhile and Carly Phillips' Dare to Rock delivered just what I was looking for.

Dare to Rock is actually the seventh book in Phillips' Dare series. I haven't read the others but I didn't really feel like I was missing out on much. Sure, I may have enjoyed knowing what some of the previous characters had done prior to this book but this installment in the series can definitely be read as a standalone.

While I did give this book four stars, I do think there were some parts of the story that could have been explored more fully. There was a lot of buildup to the stalker and the danger Avery seemed to be in due to Grey's lifestyle. I felt like that whole part of the storyline – the stalker and a few other things pertaining to the rock and roll life – was solved much too quickly. Almost like it was being brushed under the carpet. I wanted that extra story on top of the romance to be a good one because I need more than just the love story to really enjoy romance novels.

Speaking of the romance, I really loved that Avery and Grey had a past. Second chance love stories are some of my favourites. I enjoyed reading about how they remembered each other and as they learned how their feelings and personalities had subtly changed over the years. The romance was both sweet and hot (though not too explicit if you're concerned about that) and I was totally rooting for a Happily Ever After.

I really liked Avery. I enjoyed that she was a strong woman, despite the crazy emotional rollercoaster her childhood had been. She's aware of her weaknesses and is determined not to think of them as such. She wants to be rid of those feelings and insecurities. I liked that Phillips didn't make it seem like Grey was the one who "fixed" her. I also totally loved that she's a lifestyle blogger and is able to make a living on doing exactly what she loves (alas, that's not going to happen for us book bloggers!).  It shows that she knows what she wants to do and works her ass off to make it happen. Girlboss, all the way!

If the Dare series intrigues you, I'd probably suggest going back to the beginning (Dare to Love) and reading your way up to Dare to Rock. I really liked Carly Phillips' approach to romance and will definitely be reading more of her books in the future!


Thank you to to Rock Star Lit for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Carly Phillips:

Stepdog by Nicole Galland

4 Star

What's the difference between puppy love and dogged devotion?

When Sara Renault fired Rory O'Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—Irishman, actor, musician, reformed party-boy— impulsively leaned over and kissed her . . . she kissed him back. Now, as Rory's visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they've gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it's all grand . . . except for Cody, Sara's beloved dog from her troubled previous relationship. Sara's overattachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.

When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped—and it is entirely Rory's fault. Desperate to get back into Sara's good graces, Rory tracks Cody and the sociopathic dognapper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they'll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them through the heart of America. 


Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect when I read the synopsis of this book. It seemed interesting enough if a bit far fetched yet since I like dogs a lot, I thought I would give this book a try. The cover itself also appealed to me so I didn't hesitate to pick it up right away once I had received it.

At first I can say I remained a bit skeptical since the plot line seemed like something utterly impossible but I am so glad that I gave this book a chance. The story was pretty crazy but highly entertaining and was written in such a way that I couldn't help but believe that it was actually entirely possible. The plot was a little bit out there for sure but not once did I question anything after I had started reading.

I really liked the characters and how they interacted with each other and of course with Cory (the dog). The story was a rollicking tale with no time to waste as it sped along quite quickly much like Sara and Rory's very new relationship.

A highly enjoyable and utterly captivating story, Stepdog was the perfect summer read with a great escape into a story that pulled me in one hundred percent.

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

Connect with Nicole Galland:


Friday, August 7, 2015

The Island Escape by Kerry Fisher

2.5 Star

Can one woman’s marriage survive her best friend’s divorce? Fans of Veronica Henry and Erica James, this is the next book to add to your reading list.

It’s time to get back to where it all began…

Octavia Sheldon thought she’d have a different life. One where she travelled the world with an exotic husband and free-spirited children in tow. But things didn’t turn out quite like that.

Married to safe, reliable Jonathan, her life now consists of packed lunches, school runs and more loads of dirty washing than she ever thought possible. She’s not unhappy. It’s just that she can barely recognise herself any longer.

So as Octavia watches her best friend’s marriage break up, it starts her thinking. What if life could be different? What if she could escape and get back to the person she used to be? Escape back to the island where she spent her summers? And what if the man she used to love was there waiting for her…? 




Kathryn - 2.5 Star


I really enjoyed my last Kerry Fisher read, The School-Gate Survival Guide, so I was interested to see if this next novel would capture my interest as much.  While the writing was just as easy to breeze through I wasn’t as enraptured with the main characters as I had hoped. The novel was split between the narrative of two best friends, Octavia and Roberta. I found their voices both relatable and easy to navigate. The story was fairly simple and the women were also “typical” but I did like their dipping into each other’s lives through the two voices.

The men in the novel didn’t give me as much food for thought as I’d been hoping either- there weren’t any unexpected moments and the ending for Roberta was what I’d predicted from near the beginning. It’s sometimes nice to read something that’s got a happy ending but usually I like to be surprised along the way with the characters or their situations.  It would have been nice to also have the perspective of one of their older children perhaps- this might have made the novel more equitable in terms of ideas and thoughts. Upon reflection the climax of the story happened in the first few chapters and then the rest didn’t live up to the excitement of the outset.

Unfortunately I wasn’t really blown out of the water by The Island Escape like I had been with The School-Gate Survival Guide. It wouldn’t stop me from reading another Kerry Fisher novel but I would hope that the quirky characters I know she can create would be more apparent in the next one.


Thank you to Harper Collins UK for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Kerry Fisher:


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Would you rather...with Lucy Clarke

Please welcome Lucy Clarke, author of The Blue.

Lucy Clarke:

 

Lucy Clarke is the author of Swimming at Night and A Single Breath. She and her husband, a professional windsurfer, spend their winters traveling and their summers at their home on the south coast of England. 


Connect with Lucy:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads


Would You Rather... 
with Lucy Clarke

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

CHOCOLATE.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

In my mind, Carrie Bradshaw. In my family’s mind, Bridget (the Bridget with egg on her cardigan.)

Wine, beer or vodka?

Wine. A chilled bottle of Sancerre, if you’re buying.

Camping or spa vacation?

Camping. Fresh air and a good dose of nature revive me every time.

Water or mountains?

Water.

Zombies or vampires?

Don’t hate me, but …. neither.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke.

Coffee or tea?

1.       Tea: English Breakfast, of course.

Dine out or take away?

1.       Dine out.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Flip flops.

Physical Book or ebook?

      Physical book. I like to sniff them.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback. Weak wrists.

Pen or pencil?

Pencil, always and forever.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Breaking Bad, yo.

Drama or comedy?

Drama.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

See answer to no.6. Again, sorrrrrry.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Chapstick. I worry that lipstick makes my teeth look yellow. There, I said it.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook.

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

Plot, plot, plot.

The Blue

A group of friends. 
A yacht. 
And a disappearance-at-sea that turns paradise into a chilling nightmare. 

Lana and her best friend Kitty leave home looking for freedom—and that’s exactly what they find when they are invited onto The Blue, a fifty-foot yacht making its way from the Philippines to New Zealand. The crew is made up of a group of young travellers bitten by wanderlust, and it doesn’t take long for Lana and Kitty’s dream of sea-bound romance to turn into reality.

Both women fall under the hypnotic spell of The Blue, spending their days exploring remote islands and their rum-filled nights relaxing on deck beneath the stars. But when one of their friends disappears overboard after an argument with another crewmember, the dark secrets that brought each of them aboard start to unravel.

At turns gorgeously scenic and entirely haunting, The Blue is a page-turning thriller about friendship, freedom and wanting to leave the past behind.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

When The Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi

5 Star

Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.

Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.

Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives. 




Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

This book is one that is going to stick with me for a long time. Days after finishing it, I have still found myself contemplating it multiple times a day and reliving certain scenes in my mind.

The story of the Waziri family and the terrible situation they find themselves in, this is also a story of ultimate triumph despite almost impossible circumstances. I cannot imagine what being a true refugee must be like, but this book gave me a good idea. I have never had to give everything up and fight just to survive but I could almost imagine it given the rich and detailed descriptions in this book.

Each character has their own very intense emotions about what they are going through and I feel that it helped created a more complete picture about the refugee experience because the perspective between one person to the next would vary and sometimes quite a lot. I felt like this was a realistic and very true approach to describing what they were going through.

If I can suggest one important book to be read this year, I think this book would have to be it. It gave me a broader view of the world we live in and made me think about a lot of important issues facing us today.


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

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

5 Star

Allison Weiss got her happy ending: a handsome husband, an adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician's office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder: Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class, or if your husband ignores you? She tells herself that the pills help her make it through her days; but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that's becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?





Kathryn - 5 Star

I am always interested in reading Jennifer Weiner’s novels.  She writes stories about women and they usually delve into subjects that aren’t on the beaten path.  All Fall Down was no exception. The novel is dark but manages to be light just by the power and skill of Weiner’s writing. She keeps the plot of the novel moving with appropriate dialogue and easy language so although you are reading something with a lot of emotion and intensity you still read quickly and never feel bogged down. 

If you’re going to tackle something like addiction, and keep it relevant to the everyday reader, then you must create a character that is relatable and could be anyone.  Alison could be any parent. In those very first few pages, when you’re immediately introduced to her daughter, you connect with Alison.  She has a lot going on: there are schedules to juggle, people to please and a constant list of things to do. Most parents feel overwhelmed at some point and Alison’s gradual increase of her pain-prescribed meds almost feels natural?  I liked the slowly explained increase of the amounts she taking and then the sudden heart-pumping moment when she tallies the money spent/pills consumed and the subsequent rapid downfall and unravelling of her life. The pace of the novel is perfect.

Alison’s relationship with her parents obviously takes a place in her history but I actually liked that Weiner didn’t blame her history on her present. Though a pre-disposition to addiction was hinted at we’re actually mostly left with the notion that the path Alison has taken or ended up on is due to her own decisions.

Obviously the novel isn’t supposed to be light- however, given the subject matter Jennifer Weiner has written a story of intent without it feeling depressing.  All Fall Down is a definite must-read.



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

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