Thursday, March 31, 2016

Name 3 things with Libby Cudmore

Please welcome Libby Cudmore, author of The Big Rewind, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!






About Libby:

Libby Cudmore worked at video stores, bookstores, and temp agencies before settling down in upstate New York to write. Her short stories have appeared in PANK, The Stoneslide Corrective, The Big Click, and Big Lucks. The Big Rewind is her first novel.



Connect with Libby:
 Website     Twitter    Goodreads

Libby Cudmore on Name 3 things:


Name three things one wouldn’t normally expect to find…

 In your fridge

– Evaporated Milk.  I use it for my coffee.
– Daifuku
– A magnetic Hall/Oates 2012 bumper sticker

  
In your purse

– A tiny triceratops named Valerie
– A St. Christopher medallion.  
– A vintage compact mirror with a mother-of-pearl finish

In/On your bedside table

– A signed photo of actor Jay Karnes as Dutch Wagenbach in The Shield.  
– A plush Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
– American Girl Grin Pins.  


In your car

– A vintage red prom dress from a photo shoot
– A crow skull
– A half eaten pack of protein chews we got as a free sample, but we keep forgetting to throw out

On your desk/writing spot

– A framed 1951 ad for that reads "I Dreamed I Was a Lady Editor In My Maidenform Bra."  
– The poster for Sideways
– A portrait of my friend Jenny, taken by her sister Heather, holding up a sign that reads, "It's Art, Stupid"

  
In the "junk drawer"

– A program from Danny Elfman's Tim Burton Tribute at Lincoln Center
– A keychain blowtorch
– A handheld massager 


In your closet/garage/storage room

– A messenger bag made out of a chicken feed bag
– A Doc Martens polish kit
– A dinosaur hoodie

In your music or movie collection

– Ke$ha's Animal on vinyl 
– The Brothers Solomon.  
– Nightwish, Wishmaster


On your bookshelf

 – Papercraft books.  I made all my own journals and I start most stories in longhand, so I'm constantly looking for new ways to create the perfect writing space.  
– A Mexican-inspired shrine, with bride and groom cacalas that were my husband & I's wedding cake topper. 
– Eric Powell's The Goon
  




The Big Rewind

Listening to someone else’s mix tapes is a huge breach of trust. But KitKat was dead . . . and curiosity got the better of me.
When a mix tape destined for her friend KitKat accidentally arrives in Jett Bennett’s mailbox, Jett doesn’t think twice about it—even in the age of iTunes and Spotify, the hipster residents of the Barter Street district of Brooklyn are in a constant competition to see who can be the most retro.
But when Jett finds KitKat dead on her own kitchen floor, she suspects the tape might be more than just a quirky collection of lovelorn ballads. And when KitKat’s boyfriend, Bronco, is arrested for her murder, Jett and her best friend, Sid, set out on an epic urban quest through strip joints and record stores, vegan bakeries and basement nightclubs, to discover who the real killer is. However, the further Jett digs into KitKat’s past, the more she discovers about her own left-behind love life—and the mysterious man whose song she still clings to. . . .


Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo Nook 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Too close to home by Susan Lewis

5 Star

Jenna and Jack Moore have moved their family to Wales for a fresh start. For vivacious, happy-go-lucky fifteen-year-old Paige the future is full of promise.

But suddenly everything changes. Paige becomes more and more withdrawn. The closeness she once shared with her mother a distant memory.

It then becomes clear that Jack has secrets too. Preoccupied with her younger children, her husband’s fidelity and their fledgling publishing company, Jenna doesn’t realise the extent of her eldest daughter’s unhappiness until the unthinkable happens.




Kathryn - 5 Star

Susan Lewis completely took me by surprise with Too Close to Home. At first I was just happy to be enjoying the life of this family in their new country- the area and landscape jumped off the pages and I was entranced by the idyll. I was lulled into an apparently false sense of security by the description of their home and their family which was likely the same feeling Jenna had when their lives started to unravel. 

The novel was intense, the characters were perfectly described and their positions were believable. I couldn’t put the book down.  I think part of it was the speed at which Paige’s situation became so catastrophic and the fact that my seven year old asked me that same day for her own phone was a smack of reality about the world we now live in.

I was with Jenna all the way through, I felt every emotion, shock and bit of resilience and would like to think I would act with the same level of dignity and poise she did.  Frankly I don’t think I would have done but I suppose with small children you can’t completely lose your cool.  I did really like though that Susan Lewis gave her moments of reality- there were monumental lows and states of utter disbelief and panic that made Jenna someone I could really relate to.

I appreciated that the author also put a fairly complicated character in for Jenna’s mother. She had some attachment issues that were interesting given that she jumped into help with the children with both feet when Jenna needed her. It was a little detail that gave the story more depth. I was also not entirely unsympathetic towards Jack. I really disliked him for his role in the unravelling of the family and his utter disregard for other people’s money but I somehow followed the train of how he got there and realised that though horrific his intentions weren’t likely unethical. I could see how Jenna was unsure of their future at first.

On the whole the novel is very well plotted with enough raw emotion to have you on the edge of your seat but at the heart it’s a novel about family and about each other.

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

Connect with Susan Lewis:
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Would you rather....with Aimee Bealer

Please welcome Aimee Bealer, author of Pronouncing Enzo.

Aimee Bealer:


 
Aimee had a hard time staying in one place after she traveled to France as an exchange student at seventeen. She has lived in Baltimore, Hartford, Cincinnati, East Anglia, Seoul, and London. In London she clubbed a hot Brit over the head and dragged him home to America. Now the mother of two dual citizens, Aimee lives with her husband and children in Maryland.



Connect with Aimee:
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Would You Rather... 
with Aimee Bealer

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chocolate every time. Except when there’s no chocolate on offer, and then it’s cheese.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Bridget! That goofy girl cracks me up, makes me cringe, and touches my normal-girl heart.

Wine, beer or vodka?

Okay, confession: I have the palate of a five-year-old. I don’t care for wine and beer – they taste gross to me, sorry! But vodka mixed with juice would be okay.

Camping or spa vacation?

I’m a mom, so spa vacation please!! It only happens a couple times a year, but I love going with my little sis for the manicure/pedicure treatment and laughing/dishing about everything while we sit in the lap of luxury.

Water or mountains?

Mountains…the hills are alive! But seriously, I’m an active person and love to hike, kayak, and bike with my husband and children. Or anyone who will come with me.

Zombies or vampires?

Sultry, sensual, sexy vampires. So intense, smoldering with passion. You just know a vampire would be a fabulous date, as long as you don’t go home with him.

Dogs or cats?

Don’t tell my dog, but totally cats. Because my husband and daughter have cat allergies we got the dog for the kids, and I do really love her. She’s a mini Whoodle and as close to a cat as a dog can pretty much get.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke with Malibu  - a throwback to my junior year in college spent abroad in Norwich, England. I haven’t had it in about a decade!

Coffee or tea?

I love the smell of coffee…and if I add enough cream and sugar it’s really good (palate of a five-year-old). But because my husband is English, he got me hooked on tea eighteen years ago.

Dine out or take away?

Oh, please somebody take me out to dinner! I love it…mainly because I almost never get out of the house unaccompanied by children, but also because dining out means I won’t be cooking, re-heating, or washing up after. And restaurants are great for people-watching and conversation-eavesdropping. I love spotting people who would make great fictional characters.

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Sneakers! I’m all about comfort. But every once in a while I go to DSW and try on high heels and walk around feeling sexy. Until they hurt, and then I put them back and go home.

Physical Book or ebook?

This one isn’t quite fair because I’ve never actually read an ebook. I love physical books, but lately I’ve been finding myself feeling ebook-curious. There might be a Kindle in my future.

Paperback or Hardcover?

Paperback because it’s lighter and I can stash it in my bag for whenever I get a minute. Mostly waiting for a kid to get out of dance class or soccer practice.

Pen or pencil?

Pencil for my date book because things might change. Pen for letter-writing and colored ones for marking manuscripts.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

I don’t watch any because I just don’t have time for TV anymore. Sigh. But I suspect it would be Downton Abbey, dahling.

Drama or comedy?

I go through phases depending on where I am in my life. Right now, comedy. Laughter feels so damn good.

Twilight or Hunger Games?

 Hunger Games! Though I won’t let my kids read it till they are thirteen.

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Tinted chapstick. I recommend Burt’s Bees.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook, but only because I’ve never tried Twitter and I’m kinda scared of it. My daughter has promised to teach me when I’m feeling brave.

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

A mixture of both. It starts with an idea, like ‘What if this happened…?’ Then when I get a ways in and know my characters I start outlining like mad. Though the outline morphs as I go.


Pronouncing Enzo

Hester Hastings is the best dialect coach in Hollywood. The hottest actors pay her top dollar to help them master accents that will wow the critics. She would never offer free lessons to an ex-con from South Central L.A. and let him live in her pool cabana…until her best friend challenges her to a crazy bet. 
In only three months, Hester must transform the ex-con so he can dazzle Hollywood royalty posing as an up-and-coming British actor. 
Enzo Diaz just got out of jail. He is determined to get a good job and turn his life around. But with a criminal record and an accent straight from the streets, his job prospects aren’t looking good. When Hester offers to polish his English and give him a place to stay it’s a no-brainer. Enzo is desperate for a chance at a better life. 
Hester didn’t count on finding out Enzo’s rough exterior hides a heart of gold. But just when she starts to fall for him, she discovers his shocking secret. 
Forget winning the bet. Does Hester have the courage to win at love? 

Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle


Monday, March 21, 2016

What the Waves Know by Tamara Valentine

4 Star

The tiny state of Rhode Island is home to even tinier Tillings Island—which witnessed the biggest event of Izabella Rae Haywood's life. For it was there, on Iz's sixth birthday, that her father left...and took her voice with him.

Eight years later in the summer of 1974, Iz’s mother is through with social workers, psychiatrists and her daughter's silence. In one last attempt to return Iz’s voice, the motley pair board the ferry to Tillings in hopes that the journey will help Izabella heal herself by piecing together splintered memories of the day her words fled.

But heartbreak is a difficult puzzle to solve, and everyone in Tillings seems to know something Iz does not. Worse, each has an opinion about Izabella's dreamer of a father, the undercurrents of whose actions have spun so many lives off course.

Now, as the island's annual Yemayá festival prepares to celebrate the ties that bind mothers to children, lovers to each other, and humankind to the sea, Izabella must unravel the tangled threads of her own history and reclaim a voice gone silent…or risk losing herself—and any chance she may have for a future—to the past.


Sabrina-Kate  - 4 Star

Having grown up on the east coast, I am well aware that there are people who live on secluded islands and it has long been something that fascinates me. I cannot imagine being so secluded yet it also seems like it would be a magical place to grow up. 

Reading the story of Izabella Rae Haywood, I was brought back to the magical aspect of such a place and truly found myself falling in love with the small town on the island. Each person was a great character and the story developed seamlessly into one I very much cherished. 

The story was very emotional and devastating and hopeful, all at once. Having lost her voice after losing her father, Iz's return to Tillings is exactly what she needs in order to get her voice back, in every sense. I was reminded of the resilience of the human spirit while reading this book and that no matter what troubles we face, how the human spirit can endure.

An ultimately uplifting and heartening story, I feel truly blessed to have read about this wonderful island and having met the people who live there. 

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

Connect with Tamara Valentine:
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Friday, March 18, 2016

The things we keep by Sally Hepworth

5 Star

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. 



Kathryn - 5 Star

I read Sally Hepworth’s novel last year The Secrets of Midwives and really enjoyed her different female voices in that story so I was happy to embark upon this new novel.  Once again I was treated with several strong women and Hepworth brought each of them out in a wonderful way.

This novel is different as it covers the voice of a young woman with early onset Alzheimer’s.   Anna is only in her late 30’s and I found her story very upsetting initially but I was engrossed in the way her voice came across as she gradually lost more of her memory. It was undeniably sad but also gave some insight into her expectations and experience. I thought it was very well plotted and explored especially with the interactions with her brother and his family.

I found the daughter Clem most intense- though I think her thought process seemed a bit beyond 7 years old at some points. Her pain and hurt was so tangible and I was frustrated for her especially with the parents of the children in her school.  They were of course entitled to be angry but should have been more mature than to express that to their own children who would pass it on to Clem.  I wanted to jump into the book and shout more than once.

The novel weaves the story of Clem and her mother with the patient, Anna, in the care home. Not a natural or previously used plot line I think so it was original and very well done. I delved into new thought processes and really enjoyed the difficult topics in the novel- there was hope and happiness amongst the sadness.


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

Connect with Sally Hepworth:
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Name 3 things with Pauline Wiles

Please welcome Pauline Wiles, author of Secrets in the Sky, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!





About Pauline:

British by birth, Pauline Wiles is now a contented resident of California, although she admits to an occasional yearning for afternoon tea and historic homes. Her first novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and a number one Kindle bestseller. The stand-alone prequel, Secrets in the Sky, was published last year. When not writing, she can be found getting the steps wrong in a Zumba class or calculating how many miles she has to run to justify an extra piece of cake. Her ambition is to sell enough books to cover the cost of flying herself and a reader to London for tea.



Connect with Pauline:
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Pauline Wiles on Name 3 things:


Name three things one wouldn’t normally expect to find…

 In your fridge

-Nail polish: I read somewhere it keeps it from getting gunky and unwieldy.
-6 boxes of cooked baby beets. I stock up whenever I visit Trader Joe's.
-Multiple boxes of 100-calorie chocolate sticks, also from Trader Joe's. If the beets are a healthy habit, these innocuous little packs are my downfall.

In your purse

-Multiple chap sticks. I get panicked if I'm without one
-A book on punctuation (Eats, Shoots and Leaves). I decided to brush up on my abuse of the Oxford comma.
-Local train and bus schedules. I know they're all online, I just like the comfort of paper.

In/On your bedside table

-An alarm clock. I mention this because so few people seem to use them any more. I don't trust my phone!
-A notebook in which I'm supposed to write down all my clever bookish ideas... I rarely do.
-Sturdy shoes and work gloves. We live in an earthquake zone and one is supposed to be able to undertake self-rescue clad only in PJs.

In your car

-A CD to learn Spanish. I never listen to it because I always have a more interesting audio book on the go.
-Toilet paper. It's part of my in-car earthquake kit (see above).
-A stack of grocery bags. I'm not sure that's unusual these days, with so many of us bringing our own bags to the store.

On your desk/writing spot

-A jar of pebbles. I can't remember how it got there but it's a terrific book end.
-Mints. I love to nibble.
-A USB stick containing photos of our trip to glow worm caves in New Zealand.
  
In the "junk drawer"

-Vitamins, 
-Hand weights 
-A pair of cheap binoculars.

In your closet/garage/storage room

-A pair of rollerblades, which instill fear every time I glimpse them.
-A gift-wrapped nutcracker, which I plan to re-gift to someone I don't much like.
-A set of peacock feathers. Every girl needs those, right?

In your music or movie collection

(I am skipping the DVD/music question as my collection is so boring!)

On your bookshelf

-A stumpy tree branch which looks a lot like a reindeer head.
-A clock face with no hands. I like clocks, even the ones which serve no useful purpose.
-A fig-scented candle from Kew Gardens, London, which I may never burn. 



Secrets in the Sky

No-one ever accused Sophie Campbell of being a coward. From caving trips to rooftop pranks, it appeared nothing could hold her back, especially once she landed a dream job promising travel all over the world. But Sophie’s jet-setting lifestyle is not what it seems and she’s been spending more time in the quiet English village of Saffron Sweeting than she cares to admit. When her beloved Great Aunt Wol dies suddenly, Sophie loses one of the few people who truly know her. As friends, family and an old flame gather for the funeral, questions soon follow. Worse, Sophie finds herself increasingly attracted to the man most likely to expose her secrets. Can she manage to guard her past, yet finally follow her long-held dream?





Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

5 Star

Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with Southern Oral Tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birthname Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding her own secrets, the intense bond they once shared was fractured.

These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that Karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a cryptic letter. “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.”

Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own.




Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I have always liked Joshilyn Jackson's books for their humanity and originality but this one was by far my favorite. Her characters are so unique and so broken that you cannot help but find them endearing for their unapologetic neurosis. 

Paula Vauss is no exception to this rule as she has lived an interesting and even difficult life with her free spirited mother, Kai. Having been estranged for years though, Paula was not at all prepared for what turn her life was going to take and this is what the novel is all about. A story with lots of surprises, it was one that I could not have dreamed up myself and I am in awe of Joshilyn's talent, once again.

This story was like no other I have ever read, yet the central theme of family and what it means is what really appealed to me. It truly grabbed a hold and did not let go. A story with lots of lessons to impart, this book was truly a gift and one that you must read. 


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

Connect with Joshilyn Jackson:
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Would you rather with Charlene Ross

Please welcome Charlene Ross, author of Frosted Cowboy.


Charlene Ross:

 

Charlene Ross, a Los Angeles suburbanite, is co-author of The Making of a Picky Eater and has been featured in Skirt! Magazine and on NPR’s This I Believe series. Before life in the suburbs she backpacked through eighteen European countries, lived in London, worked in the music industry, and became engaged on stage at a U2 concert in Verona, Italy. (Bono even kissed her!) Now she drives carpool, embarrasses her children by dancing “in the pit” at free cover band concerts, and works hard at keeping the spark of her 20-year marriage alive.




Connect with Charlene:
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Would You Rather... 
with Charlene Ross

Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Chips, chocolate or cheese? Cheese - the stinkier the better.

Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Oh, this is a tough one. I do love Carrie Bradshaw, so, so much, but my heart will always belong to Bridget Jones.

Wine, beer or vodka?

If I have to choose, I guess I’d choose wine. (Sorry, vodka - you know I love you too.)

Camping or spa vacation?

I am not a prissy girl and actually love camping, but seriously? Spa vacation, hands down.

Water or mountains?

I love the mountains, but if water means beach, then definitely beach.

Zombies or vampires?

Well, vampires are definitely sexier, but I have to go with zombies.

Dogs or cats?

I love that cats are so low maintenance, but they make the roof of my mouth itch. Plus, seriously? Dogs!!!

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke (Or better yet, Tab. I’m totally aging myself, but Tab was the Diet Coke before Diet Coke.)

Coffee or tea?

Coffee (with lots of cream).

Dine out or take away?

Dine out (but I’d happily take either if it means I don’t have to cook!).

High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

I really wish my answer was high heels, but alas, it is flip flops.

Physical Book or ebook?

Physical book.  (I love the smell and the weight and seeing when I’m halfway done and, just everything.)

Paperback or Hardcover?

Trade paperback. (And I admit, I am not very kind to the spine. I like a book to look like it’s been devoured.)

Pen or pencil?

Pen.

Mad Men, Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad?

Downton Abbey.

Drama or comedy?

This is another near-impossible choice. I write funny and I love to laugh more than anything, but I love, love, love sad books. Ack! Um… Comedy. (I think.)


Twilight or Hunger Games?

Hunger Games

Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Again, I wish it was lipstick or even lipgloss, but I am never ever without my chapstick.

Facebook or Twiter?

Facebook. I think. Um… yes definitely Facebook. (I think.)

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

Yay! An easy one. Definitely by the seat of my pants.

Frosted Cowboy

Laney Delaney was living the dream. She had a fabulous fiancé and a career as a couture wedding dress designer. But after catching her (turns out, not-so-fabulous) fiancé cheating and being accused of upstaging one of her brides at a wedding, Laney finds herself with no boyfriend, no job and no plan.

After some serious soul searching, Laney is determined to start over. She embarks on a design career that takes her from a Rodeo Drive boutique to a flea market stall, but it’s worth it—even if it means she has to suck up to her childhood nemesis for help.

At the same time, three very different men vie for her attention: a masseuse/screenwriter with an unfortunate reputation, a stable fireman who just doesn’t spark a romantic flame, and the fireman’s ridiculously hot co-worker whose illicit under-the-mistletoe kiss still burns Laney’s lips.

Professionally and romantically, Laney is on the verge of reinventing her life and finding her true passion—but can she learn to trust again and believe in herself?


Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle


Monday, March 7, 2016

After You by Jojo Moyes

4 Star

11 hours, 6 minutes

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.


Kathryn - 4 Star

I was told to read Me Before You before I read After You which makes sense really as the second follows the story in the first.  The trouble is that I was absolutely taken in by the raw emotions in Me Before You so when I started After You I was expecting the same level of tension and I didn’t find it quite the same.  The reality is that there is an element missing in the second novel that is present in the first that just cannot be replicated by nature of the story itself.

It’s very difficult to review After You without giving anything away about the first novel so I’m going to try to stick to the feelings I had for After You as if it was an independent novel. I love JoJo Moyes, I really do. She draws me in and makes me feel things just by her words on the page. It’s amazing how she does this and I felt the same immediate attraction to the characters in After You as I had done in other novels of hers. The relationship between Louisa and her parents and her sister were completely realistic and I loved the attraction between her and Sam- he was perfectly imperfect for her life.

I didn’t feel immediately attached to Louisa though and if I hadn’t read the first novel immediately prior this would have been perhaps difficult to overcome.   Likely because of the state of mind she’s in, she’s very detached, literally and emotionally from everything.

Despite the fact that the novels really cannot be read independently from each other I was still attracted to the story and the way it was written. All in all my recommendation is to read Me Before You before After You and you’ll have a really good sense of the power of JoJo Moyes’ storytelling abilities.

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

Connect with Jojo Moyes:
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Friday, March 4, 2016

Suzanne Davis Gets A Life by Paula Marantz Cohen

3 Star

Suzanne Davis lounges around her tiny New York City apartment in her pajamas, writing press releases for the International Association of Air-Conditioning Engineers, listening to the ticking of her biological clock, and wondering where life is taking her. As her 35th birthday looms, Suzanne embarks on a wrong-headed, but very funny, quest—to find Mr. Right and start the family she hopes will give meaning to her life.

Her quest plunges us into the world of her Upper West Side apartment building, a world of overly invested mothers, fanatical dog-owners, curmudgeonly longtime residents, and young (and not so young) professionals. All are keenly observed by Suzanne, whose witty self-deprecation endears her to us even as it makes us want to shake some sense into her.




Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I loved the idea of this book and I also loved that it was set in my favorite city, New York City. I am a big believer in making your own opportunities and fixing what is broken in your life, so Suzanne Davis was a woman after my own heart. However, I did not love the style of writing and I am sick to death of authors relying on other authors as part of their own story. If I never read another book with Jane Austen in it, I wouldn’t mind to be honest.

I didn’t really like Suzanne that much though I appreciated certain aspects of her character. However after some time, I did find myself warming up to her or at least just getting used to her ways I suppose. The story did somewhat drag on at the beginning but then found its stride partway through. Interspersed with heavy topics like cancer but peppered with some very humourous bits, the book ended up being a fairly enjoyable read showing just how we can change and grow when we need to most.


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



Connect with Paula Marantz Cohen:



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Outback Promise by Maggie Bolitho

4 Star

Can Ros and Grady move on from the past, or will their pain drive them apart? Six years ago, the Balfours lost their son Cadel to a hit-and-run driver. A few months ago, Ros discovered Grady's affair. With their marriage fast disintegrating, they decide to take a three-month camping trip into the heart of Australia to try and mend deep wounds and rekindle the fire that once fused them close. This trip will decide the fate of their relationship: do they have enough strength and enough love left to accept what life has put them both through? But trust and forgiveness don't come easily, and Ros and Grady have to navigate not only the wilderness of the Outback and the challenges of other travellers, but also the chasm of grief and bitterness they have sunk into over the last six years. Their only hope for survival lies in facing the secrets they have both tried to keep buried ...
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Kathryn - 4 Star

This one took me by surprise, I didn’t read the blurb very carefully and I’m sort of glad I didn’t. It’s a challenging read emotionally but so full of promise in moments that I was engrossed and riveted until the very end.

The novel focusses on Ros and husband Grady. There are other characters but they’re there to move scenes or give a bit of background. Usually bit players without much focus make me question their relevance and cause me frustration but in Outback Promise, though they hover in the background, Bolitho had them be supportive to the main plot. This is the first novel of Maggie Bolitho’s that I’ve read and I really enjoyed her writing. There wasn’t a moment where I was questioning anything which is always a great treat when you’ve picked up something new.  I loved the plot lines of the novel, the past and present chapters were perfectly placed and paced the novel with the right information at the times when you needed it and I also loved reading about the places on the road trip and the intricacies of the caravan/camping parks along their route.

I wish we’d had a bit more history for Ros and her mother- there were things hinted at and explained but I wish we’d had a bit more information there. It obviously greatly influenced the way Ros saw herself.

The story line is tragic, it’s hard to read and, at times, it’s emotionally draining. There are scenes of such anguish that I found myself reading through tears and many a moment I carried with me into the next day- when I looked at my kids and when I thought about those I’ve lost. Though heart-wrenching Outback Promise also manages to live up to its’ title- the promise to another person and the promise of a fresh start became uplifting and they sorrow somehow forces you to take stock and not take for granted what’s right in front of your nose.


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

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