Monday, November 30, 2015

The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock

4 Star

Jim Harrison is a test pilot in the United States Air Force, one of the exalted few. He spends his days cheating death in the skies above the Mojave Desert and his nights at his friend Pancho's bar, often with his wife, Grace. She and Harrison are secretly desperate for a child-and when, against all odds, Grace learns that she is pregnant, the two are overcome with joy.

While America becomes swept up in the fervor of the Space Race, Harrison turns his attention home, passing up the chance to become an astronaut to welcome his daughter, Florence, into the world. Together, he and Grace confront the thrills and challenges of raising a child head-on. Fatherhood is different than flying planes-less controlled, more anxious-however the pleasures of watching Florence grow are incomparable. But when his family is faced with a sudden and inexplicable tragedy, Harrison's instincts as a father and a pilot are put to test. As a pilot, he feels compelled to lead them through it-and as a father, he fears that he has fallen short.  The aftermath will haunt the Harrisons and strain their marriage as Jim struggles under the weight of his decisions. 

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

Another stellar debut novel, I have started feeling spoiled this year by all the great writing available out there. This one was not an especially happy book as it was quite a stressful life that Jim and Grace lived but it did have its sweet moments.

This book was set during a very exciting and interesting historical period of time in the United States and I found the story to be compelling based on that alone. The family life of the main characters just helped make it even more compelling as it created a human side to the historical aspect.

I felt like the author had really researched the story well as it was very detailed and the characters had great dialogue. The story flowed well and drew me in. The only thing that I could not absolutely agree with was the way the ending rushed ahead but it may be because Jim and Grace had grown on me and I did not want to say goodbye.

Often heart wrenching, this book should be celebrated for its triumphs. The triumphs historically happening with the space program and the triumphs of the characters who were able to overcome tragedy and move forward. 

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

Connect with Benjamin Johncock:

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Would you rather with Anna Mitchael and Michelle Sassa

Please welcome Anna Mitchael and Michelle Sassa, authors of copygirl.

Anna Mitchael:

Anna Mitchael is a Louisiana-born author who now lives and writes on a ranch in Texas. She is the author of Copygirl, Rooster Stories and Just Don't Call Me Ma'am. For five years she has been a columnist about the country life for Wacoan magazine. Read more of her work on

Connect with Anna:
Website   Twitter   Goodreads

Michelle Sassa:
Michelle Sassa is a freelance writer who has created memorable ad campaigns for brands like Coca-Cola, Reebok and New York Road Runners. She lives with her husband and three kids by the Jersey Shore, where she is an avid soccer player, rock music aficionado, and disciple of stupid humor. CopyGirl is Michelle's first novel.

Connect with Michelle:
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Would You Rather... 
with Anna and Michelle

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Anna - Big ole bowl o’ queso 

Michelle - The first two, together. Salty and sweet, baby!

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Anna- It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”  Bridget Jones.

Michelle - A little bit of all three, rolled up into one fabulous, go-getter woman.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Anna - We have a small vineyard on the ranch so wine.

Michelle - Vodka. Tito’s, with seltzer and three lemons.

Camping or spa vacation?

Anna - Camping with my boys, spa with my friends

Michelle - Spaaaaaah! 

Water or mountains?

Anna -  Both

Michelle - Both. We like our seasons here in Jersey.

Zombies or vampires?

Anna - Neither

Michelle - Zombies. I can’t do beauty make-up, but I paint a mean zombie face.

Dogs or cats?

Anna - Dog. One Eyed. As you can probably imagine, it’s a long story

Michelle - Cats. But my daughter is allergic.

Coke or Pepsi?

Anna - Diet Coke

Michelle - Diet Coke

Coffee or tea?

Anna - Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
 Michelle - Coffee. Through an IV.

Dine out or take away?

Anna - Cook, sigh, I live waaayyyy out in the country

Michelle - Either would be a welcome change.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Anna - Flip Flops in the car, high heels when I get out

Michelle -  Flip flops. Or better yet,  bare feet. That’s why I could never go back to an office job.

Physical Book or ebook?

Anna - I want a physical book to slide into my book shelf when I’m done. (Unless it’s Rooster Stories, my new Kindle Single, then I want it in e-book!)

Michelle - Physical book

Paperback or Hardcover?

Anna - Paperbacks are so much easier to toss in your purse.

Michelle  -Paperback. On the beach. With #1 and#3.

Pen or pencil?

Anna - Pen. Red. Felt tip. I like that ‘Teacher giving you a grade’ feeling, keeps me on my toes.

Michelle - Pen

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Anna - #madWOmen #madWOmen #copygirl

Michelle - Mad Men, of course.

Drama or comedy?

Anna - Comedy

Michelle - Dramedy

Twilight or Hunger Games?


Michelle - Hunger Games.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Anna - Whatever I dig out of my mess of a makeup bag

Michelle - Burt’s Bees liptint.

Facebook or Twiter?

Anna -  Zappos

Michelle - Facebook.

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

Anna - Seat of my skirt.

Michelle - Both. At the same time. That’s the beauty of being part of a writing team—one mind can freestyle while the other plots.


Kay Carlson is a talented young writer living in New York City for the first time and working alongside Ben, her good friend from ad school and secret crush. But she feels inadequate at work and in her NYC life, while her older brothers always have her parents’ attention for their successes and girls who fit the ideal “It Girl” persona—fun, flirty, and looking like fashion bloggers and real-life Pinterest pages—always seem to overshadow her. Instead of being the girl who parties every night, Kay has a creative side project: “Copygirl,” a series of short videos she makes using homemade dolls in which she skewers the vapid personalities she sees around her.  “Don’t be a Copygirl” her characters warn, a theme Kay struggles with herself as she feels the pressure in every area of her life to be like other girls—the girls who get more attention at work and from the boys.  The videos start out as an escape from her day-to-day struggles, and she sends them to her best friend Kellie overseas—until Kellie sets up a website using the videos and lets them go viral.  While the website gains international fame, Kay stays anonymous, focusing her energies on winning a big campaign for a major new client—and the affections of Ben in the process.

But Kay is much more talented than she gives herself credit for, a fact that Kellie—and other unexpected allies—notice long before she does, while people she thought she trusted are quick to switch sides. And her quiet rebellion against being like everybody else proves to be her strongest asset.

Available at:

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cocktails at Le Carmen by Isabelle Andover

3.5 Star

When job cuts at Chloe Saddler’s London communications firm result in an unexpected transfer to Paris, she finds herself leaving behind her friends, family, and boyfriend Scott to start a new life in the City of Light. Getting to grips with La Vie Parisienne and keeping a long-distance relationship afloat is not made any easier by the culture shock. Committing the odd French faux pas and inadvertently indulging in a few too many flirtations with her very sexy (and very taken) boss, Jean-Luc, is just the start of it. Factor in her bridezilla of a sister’s wedding (the hottest event of the year in the Saddler family’s social calendar), an unexpected session of hot, naked yoga, a slightly psychotic stalker, and one incredible kiss at an infamous Montmartre nightspot, and Chloe can say au revoir to her old, safe London life and bonjour to the romance, splendour, and glamour of Paris.

A delightful debut that harks back to the early days of Chick Lit when heroines were flawed, funny, and forever battling for love and happiness. With quirky characters and classic comedic charm, Cocktails at Le Carmen is pure fun from page one.

Kathryn- 3.5 Star

I’m always happy to read a tale of justice and happiness. Is there anything better than the girl getting her comeuppance and finding herself with the world at her feet?  I think not.

This lovely novel was told from Chloe’s perspective- a twenty-something career woman who finds herself posted to Paris for a year contract when others around her are facing redundancy. She’s a bit unsure about leaving behind boyfriend Scott but he seems to be encouraging about it so why not?  Off she goes to Paris where things at home fall apart, of course, and she has to make a new life for herself in France- rather more permanently than she’d anticipated.

With a host of lovely friends- ones who are really actually very helpful for life crisis moments and ones who are there to pick out a great outfit Cocktails at Le Carmen moves swiftly from girl-in-love to girl-discovering- what-she-wants for herself.

The boyfriend characters are to be expected but that sort of makes the plot regardless of us being able to predict their flaws!  What I liked about the novel was the ease with which I became attached to Chloe. I quite liked her from the beginning and despite her being  blind to Scott at first and despite her letting her sister walk all over her I think she only needed a bit of confidence to be herself.
I’d actually be interested to see how Chloe’s life is in about ten years!

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

Connect with Isabelle Andover:
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Food Whore by Jessica Tom

5 Star

Food whore (n.) A person who will do anything for food. 

Fresh out of college, Tia Monroe has every intention of taking the New York City restaurant scene by storm. But after a coveted internship goes up in smoke, Tia’s suddenly just another food lover in the big city.

Yet everything changes when Michael Saltz, a legendary New York Times restaurant critic, lets Tia in on a career-ending secret: he’s lost his sense of taste. Now he wants Tia to serve as his palate, ghostwriting his reviews. In return he promises her lavish meals, a boundless cache of designer clothing, and the opportunity of a lifetime. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Tia agrees.

Within weeks, Tia’s world transforms into one of glamour and luxury: four-star dinners, sexy celebrity chefs, and an unlimited expense account at Bergdorf Goodman. Tia loves every minute of it…until she sees her words in print and Michael Saltz taking all the credit. As the veneer of extravagance wears thin and her secret identity begins to crumble, Tia is faced with what it means to truly succeed. In a city where “making it” is the ultimate goal, Tia will have to decide: how far is she willing to go for the life she craves?

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

As a self-proclaimed foodie, I suspected that Food Whore would be a novel that I would love. 

Written about something I love, the food industry, and set in a city I love, New York City, I immediately did fall in love with Tia Monroe and the somewhat crazy story that came to life.
Having been closely involved in the food industry in Montreal in the several past years, many of the things that happened in the book rang very true. Of course, there were elements that could only belong to my beloved NYC but that obviously had their importance in regards to the story.

I think that I loved this book so very much because I could see a younger me being like Tia and falling into some of the places she found herself. The food industry is somewhat volatile and very du jour so many of the events didn't surprise me at all. I wondered though how much had the author taken from her own life? Hopefully only the good parts but I suspect some of the difficult ones as well.

I absolutely could not put down this book and I really hope and crave that the author writes more because her style was imminently enjoyable and utterly captivating.

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

Connect with Jessica Tom:
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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Three Girls and a Baby by Rachel Schurig

3 Star

Ginny McKensie's life is spiraling out of control. 

Finished with college, she should have been planning her wedding. After all, Ginny and Josh were made for each other—everyone said so. Except the love of her life didn't agree. 

Now Ginny is back in her hometown, unwillingly single, and stuck in a dead-end job. When she discovers she's pregnant, Ginny is convinced her life is ending. Instead of planning a future with Josh, she's learning the truth about morning sickness, juggling bills, and seeing just how far designer jeans can stretch.

Her life-plan never included dating again (not even with her too-hot new boss), or being a single mother at 23. Now, with the help of her best friends, Annie and Jen, Ginny must try to re-imagine—and rebuild—a life she never wanted.

Kathryn - 3 Star

This novel was sweet and endearing and I loved it.  The main attraction for me was obviously the bond between the friends as they were so entirely committed to helping each other and making things work for Ginny.

I had a couple of quibbles with the plot line. For example the relationship with Josh was frustrating because you knew that he hadn’t been given the right information by his mother - the author tried to make this fact appear plausible but it was entirely unrealistic to me that he wouldn’t have gotten in touch again. Josh and Ginny seemed to have such a bond that I hoped he would come around before he did. 

I was sad about Ginny’s upbringing and wished her family had been explored a little bit more in the story but it made perfect sense that her attraction to Josh (and his stability) came from the feeling that she wasn’t what her parents were expecting as a child or a teenager. 

However much I wished things were different between Ginny and her parents or Josh the fact was that the novel was created based on her bond with her friends- who were delightfully involved in the arrival of the baby, helping their friend and being aunties to the new arrival.  The friendship was the focus for me and I loved them together. I felt as if I was introduced to some new friends in Three Girls and a Baby and am very tempted to seek out the next books with the same characters- I believe there are a few of them!

All opinions are our own.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Would you rather with Jennifer Scott

Please welcome Jennifer Scott, author of The Hundred Gifts.

Jennifer Scott:

Jennifer Scott is the national bestselling, award-winning author of Second Chance Friends, The Accidental Book Club, and The Sister Season. Her acclaimed YA novels under a pseudonym, Jennifer Brown, have been selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA Perfect Ten, and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

Connect with Jennifer Scott:
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Would You Rather... 
with Jennifer Scott

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chocolate. Specifically, Christopher Elbow bananas foster truffles.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Wine, wine, wine! Especially if its Glenora Concrete Egg Pinot Blanc, and I’m sipping it while sitting outside with my husband on a warm late summer evening overlooking the Glenora vineyard and beautiful Seneca Lake.

Camping or spa vacation?

Oh, gack—never, ever camping! I’m a spa girl.

Water or mountains?

Mountains, but only by a hair.

Zombies or vampires?

Vampires, because they can be sexy. Zombies are just kinda…decayed.

Dogs or cats?

Cats. I have two elderly long-hair cats (George and Gracie) who completely run my life.

Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi, but only if it’s decaffeinated, and only a few times a year.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Dunkin Donuts coffee. Every day. All day if I could.

Dine out or take away?

If it’s just the Hub and me, dine out. If I’m dragging the kids along, take away.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Sneakers—brightly colored Nikes or cool print Vans.

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical book. I’ve never owned an ebook.

Paperback or Hardcover?


Pen or pencil?

A nice, sharp pencil.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Breaking Bad, hands-down. Even talking about it right now makes me want to start the series over and watch it all again.

Drama or comedy?

Drama. The more you make me cry, the better!

Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipgloss. But I also keep Chapstick pretty much everywhere (purse, cabinets, car, etc.) for Napoleon Dynamite-esque lip emergencies.

Facebook or Twiter?


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

I am a total pantser! I love to let my characters say where the story is going!

The Hundred Gifts

With the holidays around the corner, empty-nester Bren Epperson realizes that for the first time in decades, she has no large family to cook for, no celebration to create.  To fill the void, she starts teaching a holiday cooking class, and it’s a huge success—until Virginia Mash, the old lady who lives in the upstairs apartment above the classroom, bursts into her class complaining about the interruption.  Rather than retaliate, Bren suggests that the class shower Virginia with kindness—and give her one hundred gifts.  Together, they embark on a plan to lift the old woman’s heart.  Along the way, amidst the knitting and the making and the baking, they discover that family extends far beyond blood, the best gifts can’t be bought, and that family celebrations can be reborn and new traditions established.

Available at:

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kindle  Nook  Kobo

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Expect a Miracle by Jenny Long with Bob Der

3 Star

Jenny Long's young life tipped into chaos at age 12 with the death of her mother. By 18, she was a high school dropout, pregnant, and married to a convicted felon. But with the birth of her son Conner, Jenny vowed to end the vicious cycle and make a better life for her new family. 

Two years later, Jenny's second son, Cayden, was born with spastic cerebral palsy. Undaunted by the doctor's recommendation to place her disabled son in an assisted living facility, she made the courageous decision to raise him at home. Similarly unfazed by Cayden's disability, older brother Conner developed a loving relationship with Cayden, engaging and respecting him with a grace and determination that belied his young age. At age 7, Conner, determined to share his love of athletics with Cayden, entered the Nashville Kids Triathlon, pushing and pulling Cayden every step of the course. The two brothers crossed the finish line together, and their thrilling and emotional race captured the hearts of millions and earned both boys Sports Illustrated Kids's SportsKids of the Year award

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

This biographical story was not the usual type of thing I read yet I do enjoy a good true story so I agreed to try it out. I wasn't disappointed as it wasn't a very long book and the story itself was fairly interesting but I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn't more about Jenny's children, as the synopsis led me to believe.

Her story is as compelling as her children's because she has been through a lot and definitely faced down some demons and made it through hard times. The story was written in a very interesting and enjoyable way, with the beginning of each chapter setting the scene through a flashback of Jenny's life then quickly starting over with the present day. I really liked that way of writing and that each chapter was fairly short therefore giving me a good perspective on past and present and the complete picture.

Again though, the story was really mainly about Jenny and much less about her children and the race so although I enjoyed it, I feel like it was portrayed incorrectly and that is why I could not rate it higher.

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

Connect with Jenny Long:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

4.5 Star

Island of a Thousand Mirrors follows the fate of two families, one Tamil, one Sinhala as they straddle opposite sides of the long and brutal Sri Lankan civil war. Narrated by the eldest daughter of each family, the story explores how each woman negotiates war, migration, love, exile, and belonging. At its root, it s a story of a fragmented nation struggling to find its way to a new beginning.

Michelle - 4.5 Star

Island of a thousand mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera was a compelling and heart wrenching novel.   The content was heavy and serious so if you are looking for a feel good book with a happy ending, this novel is not for you.  I knew after only a few chapters that Island of a Thousand Mirrors was going to be a hard read, but it was at the same time gripping and educational.  It deals with the Sri Lankin civil war that took place between the Tamils and Sinhalas, a topic I admit, I knew very little about.  The novel focuses on two families, one Tamil and one Sinhala.  Narrated  by  the eldest daughters of each family, the novel takes us on a journey that no one wants to go on.  Nayomi Munaweeras writing is so descriptive and real it compels you to read more, even when you are not sure you want to know what happens next.  The novel takes you on a journey back in time to a country simmering with unrest and introduces us to these two families on opposite sides of the conflict, yet whose lives are so intertwined one can only imagine how things will change once the conflict becomes a full out civil war.  I felt the author did a good job of portraying both families in a similar light, making me feel empathetic towards both families equally.   I was not rooting for one family to prevail over the next.  I found myself holding on to some naive hope that perhaps these two families would be able to overcome the hatred and prejudice placed upon them simply because of their beliefs or backgrounds, while at the same time knowing that would never happen.  

As hard as this novel was to read, I think it was important.  It was heartbreaking and emotional, while at the same time educational.   It didn’t just tell a story, it taught me about a very dark period in time and I definitely finished the novel much more informed and aware then when I began.   

It tugged on my heartstrings and opened my eyes to something I had little knowledge of, while at the same time telling a beautiful story so descriptive about such interesting people, I could not put it down.    

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

Connect with Nayomi Munaweera:
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tremarnock by Emma Burstall

4.5 Star

Tremarnock is a classic Cornish seaside village. Houses cluster around the fishing harbour. It has a pub and a sought-after little restaurant. It is here that Liz has found sanctuary for herself and her young daughter, Rosie - far away from Rosie's cheating father.

Liz works all the hours God sends. First thing in the morning she's out, cleaning offices. At night she is waitressing in the village restaurant, while friends and neighbours rally round and mind Rosie. But trouble is waiting just round the corner.

As with all villages, there are tensions, secrets - and ambitions. Emma Burstall's wonderfully engaging first novel about Tremarnock is the story of what happens when one shocking turn of events sweeps a small community.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

Emma Burstall’s storytelling instantly transported me to Cornwall and the coastal village of Tremarnock -I was immediately ensconced in the character of Liz and her daughter Rosie.  The story was compelling and became more heart-wrenching than I’d been expecting part way through. It reminded me of a cross between Maeve Binchy (because of the inter-weaving lives of the locals) and Jill Mansell (because of the personalities of the characters). Their lives were full of hard work and some tests and trials but I wasn’t expecting the terror Liz went through regarding Rosie’s medical condition and found myself reading late into the night more than once so I could reach a point where I could relax.

Liz was honest, true and someone I would have liked to have met and Burstall also portrayed Rosie with an uncanny ability to create a child who was both modern and old-fashioned. I think growing up in a village can make you either value the older customs or rebel and you could tell that Liz and Rosie’s bond was unbreakable, that they only needed each other and the outside world held very little influence.

There are many lovely characters in Tremarnock- fans of Binchy and Mansell will appreciate them and their quirky nuances. I just loved that they all rallied around each other for support, love and even child-care. It feels like this is a concept from a by-gone era but I certainly hope it isn’t and that places with this much community spirit still exist.

My only quibble was with Rosie’s father and grandfather- I know it helped the story along to have them be distant in Rosie’s life but I felt as if they either should have been “gone” completely or more involved. It seems so bizarre to me that Rosie’s dad ends up having another child but there’s no connection for Rosie to make with him or the baby?  It didn’t sit quite right with me but that was the only thing that left me questioning the plot and I will be looking out for Emma Burstall's next novel.

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

Connect with Emma Burstall:
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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Mystics of Mile End by Sigal Samuel

4 Star

“This is not an ordinary tree I am making.

“This,” he said, “this is the Tree of Knowledge.” 

In the half-Hasidic, half-hipster Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, eleven-year-old Lev Meyer is discovering that there may be a place for Judaism in his life. As he learns about science in his day school, Lev begins his own extracurricular study of the Bible’s Tree of Knowledge with neighbor Mr. Katz, who is building his own Tree out of trash. Meanwhile his sister Samara is secretly studying for her Bat Mitzvah with next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Glassman. All the while his father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism, is a non-believer.

When, years later, David has a heart attack, he begins to believe God is speaking to him. While having an affair with one of his students, he delves into the complexities of Kabbalah. Months later Samara, too, grows obsessed with the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life—hiding her interest from those who love her most–and is overcome with reaching the Tree’s highest heights. The neighbors of Mile End have been there all along, but only one of them can catch her when she falls. 

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I was really excited about reading this book as it is set in one of my favorite neighborhoods in my city, specifically Mile End in Montreal. It is an eclectic mix of people who inhabit this neighborhood and I was curious to see how this new author would pay it justice. I could get a good sense of the neighborhood but that is only because I know it well I think. It wasn't overly described and in fact, the focus of the book was on the characters and not the setting.

The characters took some getting used to as they were all very distinct and in fact, the book is split up between the characters narrating it. I found that this made it a little disjointed but in the end, it worked fairly well. It is always interesting to have varying perspectives in a story after all.
The story itself was a bit strange but definitely made sense to me for the typical story I could believe being true of my fair city. Montreal is nothing but full of interesting characters and I found myself musing over many famous and artistic people who have hailed from that area such as Leonard Cohen and Mordecai Richler. So all that to say that this is not the first author to have been inspired by Mile End and I am sure it won't be the last either.

I enjoyed the story despite finding it delving a little bit too deeply into Judaism at times for my liking. Perhaps because I don't know it in a lot of detail though I like to think that I know it better than most. I had also hoped for a little bit more scene setting with places that I know and love but alas I was to be sadly disappointed there.

All in all, it was a distinctly different but very Montreal style novel with a cast of unforgettable characters who I grew fond of.

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

Connect with Sigal Samuel:
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Totlandia: The Onesies Book 1-Fall by Josie Brown

4 Star

The Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club is the most exclusive children’s playgroup in all of San Francisco. For the city’s ultra-competitive elite, the club’s ten annual spots are the ultimate parenting prize.

But not everyone is PHM&TC material. The club's founder, Bettina Connaught Cross, adheres to strict membership rules: Moms only. No single parents or working mothers allowed. Membership is an arduous commitment. And there’s no room in the club for scandal, bad behavior, or imperfection...from tots or their moms.

In a world of power and prestige, no one has more than Bettina. And as every mom in Pacific Heights knows, you simply cannot cross her. But this year’s admissions process is more rigorous than ever, pitting prospective members against each other to prove their mettle.

Can these hopeful moms keep up appearances long enough to outlast the competition? Or will their chances—and their private lives—go up in flames?

Kathryn - 4 Star

I loved this fast paced novel- I’ve seen the series popping up all over the place lately and thought it sounded like a fun read. It was certainly fun but there was an undercurrent of seriousness that I hadn’t been expecting.  It could be considered a commentary on our current preoccupation with perfection in society. Not only for ourselves but for our offspring- the right friends (even at age one) make the right connections later in life so we can all achieve as much as humanly possible?

Despite the stress of trying to get into this exclusive playgroup we follow these probationary members into the secrets of their real lives.  The lives they are trying to keep quiet so they can get their children on the “right” path. I’m not one to embrace this “right” path myself but was fascinated by the process and mindsets of the parents.  The children are obviously entirely oblivious but the parents are full focussed on the outcome.

Josie Brown brings together a collection of voices that merge seamlessly- the novel is quick and witty and I really enjoyed it. So much so that I’m sure I’ll be seeking out the next part and it may become a little bit of a reading addiction- I already want to know what happens in term two!

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by this book- though if you look too deeply you could be a bit depressed I think the overtone was funny enough to make fun of its self?  Perhaps we should all try to take a step back and not take ourselves too seriously?

All opinions are our own.

Connect with Josie Brown:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Would you rather with Lisa Becker

Please welcome Lisa Becker, author of clutch: a novel.

Lisa Becker:


In addition to her new book, clutch: a novel, Lisa Becker is the author of the Click Trilogy, a contemporary romance series comprised of Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click.  She’s written bylined articles about dating and relationships for “Cupid’s Pulse,” “The Perfect Soulmate,” “GalTime,” “Single Edition,” “Healthy B Daily” and “Chick Lit Central” among others.  She lives in Manhattan Beach, California with her husband and two daughters.  

Connect with Lisa Becker:
Website    Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads

Would You Rather... 
with Lisa Becker

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

CHOCOLATE!  Like there was really ever any doubt.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget Jones.  I like a girl with a little meat on her bones, like me.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Wine – Chardonnay if you have it, but only one glass.  I’m a sleepy drunk. ;)

Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation and soon, please.

Water or mountains?

Water.  I live less than 2 miles from the beach.

Zombies or vampires?

Neither sounds like a great option, but I guess I’ll go with vampires.  Those movies make them seem kinda hot.

Dogs or cats?

Neither.  I’m not a pet person.

Coke or Pepsi?

Neither.  I try to avoid genetically modified foods where possible.  If I go for a soda, it’s something with cane sugar.

Coffee or tea?

Tea.  I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life.  I tried a sip once and didn’t like it, so I never tried it again.

Dine out or take away?

Dine out whenever possible.  The less I have to clean up, the better.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Flip flops.  See #5 above.

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical books are always preferred, although I now tend to read more on my iPad mini.

Paperback or Hardcover?


Pen or pencil?

Pen – a thin black Sharpie if possible.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Mad Men all the way.  Love, LOVE, LOVE! me some Don Draper!

Drama or comedy?

Comedy.  Life’s too short (and sad) not to have a good laugh when you can.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

I’m not familiar with either of these franchises.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lip gloss.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook.  Twitter requires brevity and I tend to be long winded.

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

Plot your entire novel.  I usually know the beginning and end and sometimes the middle surprises me.  
clutch: a novel

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit story that chronicles the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer, who goes through a series of unsuccessful romantic relationships she compares to various styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc.  With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to stand up for the handbag style that embodies what she ultimately wants – the “Clutch” or someone to hold onto.  

Available at:



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