Monday, June 26, 2017

No one can pronounce my name by Rakesh Satyal

5 Star

In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. For some, America is a bewildering and alienating place where coworkers can’t pronounce your name but will eagerly repeat the Sanskrit phrases from their yoga class. Harit, a lonely Indian immigrant in his midforties, lives with his mother who can no longer function after the death of Harit’s sister, Swati. In a misguided attempt to keep both himself and his mother sane, Harit has taken to dressing up in a sari every night to pass himself off as his sister. Meanwhile, Ranjana, also an Indian immigrant in her midforties, has just seen her only child, Prashant, off to college. Worried that her husband has begun an affair, she seeks solace by writing paranormal romances in secret. When Harit and Ranjana’s paths cross, they begin a strange yet necessary friendship that brings to light their own passions and fears.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I have always loved books set in India and I also love books about the immigrant experience as I find both so rich and compelling, so as this book was about Indians who had immigrated to America, I suspected that I would love it. And I truly did.

The book is incredibly full of detail and each character is developed in such a way that it felt like I was reading about a friend or neighbor. I loved how attached I became to them and how I wanted them to succeed and be happy- these types of connections can make a good book great.

Harit and Ranjana are two very different people but still have ties that bond them and create their friendship. While I was reading about their somewhat unlikely tale, I kept thinking about how the smallest things can bring us together. In their case, their Indian heritage was enough to forge that link.

Harit is living his life, but barely, due to tragedy in his family. A tragedy that irrevocably changed the lives of those he loved and the pain they feel is palpable. It seemed like he was stuck in a vicious cycle of just surviving until he meets Ranjana, who has her own pain to deal with.

This story is complex, with so many threads, that all tie together. A wonderful tale about friendship and love and the human experience that I will not soon forget.

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

Connect with Rakesh Satyal:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

After You Left by Carol Mason

3.5 Star

You want to know what the worst thing is? It’s not the embarrassment, or the looks on people’s faces when I tell them what happened. It isn’t the pain of him not being there—loneliness is manageable. The worst thing is not knowing why.

When Justin walks out on Alice on their honeymoon, with no explanation apart from a cryptic note, Alice is left alone and bewildered, her life in pieces.

Then she meets Evelyn, a visitor to the gallery where she works. It’s a seemingly chance encounter, but Alice gradually learns that Evelyn has motives, and a heartbreaking story, of her own. And that story has haunting parallels with Alice’s life.

As Alice delves into the mystery of why Justin left her, the questions are obvious. But the answers may lie in the most unlikely of places… 

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

After You Left is a tale of two women's stories that merge into one. I confess that I didn't warm to Alice until the very end of the novel.  I think I could have used more time with Alice and her husband to truly get a feel for her. His leaving was abrupt, to say the least, but because I didn't feel invested in their marriage I found her floundering perplexing. This was likely intentional by the author.  If you felt attached to their marriage then his disappearance would have felt devastating and would have been hard for the reader to move past it- let alone Alice.  His reason for leaving is explained but it seems a flimsy choice to me. Though he obviously needed to refocus most of his attention for a period was their really a reason to leave his wife?

My connection came when we met Evelyn- a woman who is so lively and intriguing that you couldn't help wanting to know all about her. Through their emerging friendship I grew to like Alice more and was appreciative of the quiet strength and support they were giving each other.

The novel isn’t filled with rainbows and unicorns- there weren’t a lot of moments when I felt pure joy from either of our protagonists.  There was so much sadness and misunderstanding in both their lives, even as children I felt that they had been given a very subdued start to life.   And yet neither of them had really had a bad or difficult life, just perhaps not the one that could bring them joy.  Though I didn’t always love reading the novel it did linger with me as I thought about living for the sake of living and living for the joy of life.  

There was a twist towards the end that actually did come as a surprise to me. I certainly don’t want to give it away but it does a lot to explain both Alice and Evelyn.

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

Connect with Carol Mason:
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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Stranded...with Christine Nolfi

Please welcome Christine Nolfi, author of Sweet Lake as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Christine:

Some writers are gifted with an unusual life and I’m certainly one of those. I’ve lived in Ohio, Virginia, California, Utah and now South Carolina. In college I was featured on the front page of the Houston Post for a lark that erased all my debt. I met my four adopted children for the first time in the sweltering heat of the tropics. I helped build several companies and was lucky enough to earn a living doing what I love best–writing–in a PR firm I owned.

In 2004 I made the wisest and most irrational decision of my life–I began writing fiction full-time. All those years of hard work pay off daily in sweet notes and comments by readers. Please continue the mail, tweets and comments on FaceBook, GoodReads and other sites. I cherish your support and love chatting with readers. 

Connect with Christine:
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Christine Nolfi Stranded on a Desert Island

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

Sweet Lake, my February release. Since it is the first book in my new series, many of the characters I’ll feature in upcoming books were mentioned in the pages. I’m sure I’d use the time alone on the island to finish work on the third book in the series.

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

Lots of paper and purple gel pens. I could survive island life without electricity or my iMac, but I’d go nuts if I didn’t have paper to write!

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

Well, if we’re being practical…may I have my computer and Internet access? I love chatting with readers on Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.

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

Career novelists learn to cherish the solitude needed to bring a cast of characters to life. In fact, we’re never alone. Once we’re deep into the writing of a new novel, we’re happily ensconced with compelling new friends!

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

My husband, absolutely. Barry would have me laughing on a daily basis, and he’d work out the kinks of making fire and catching fish for dinner.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

Internet access. During the development of a novel, I FaceTime with my editor, share email with my agent—and let’s not forget all those readers with whom I chat on a daily basis. Plus I’d miss the Facebook parties, which allow me to interact with readers from around the world.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

A dirty martini, like they make at my favorite Charleston, South Carolina restaurant.

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

I’d probably wish for rescue at the six-month mark. By then I would’ve completed the third Sweet Lake series novel, and run through my writing supplies!

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Take a long, hot bath. With a dirty martini for company.

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

“Guess what? I’ve finished another Sweet Lake book, and my publisher has set the release date!”

Sweet Lake

Linnie Wayfair knows just how many people are counting on her. But knowing doesn’t make doing any easier.

Everyone in Sweet Lake, Ohio, wants her to muster all her business sense and return the Wayfair Inn to its former glory. Her parents hope she’ll forgive her scoundrel of a brother and reconcile the family. The eccentric Sweet Lake Sirens want her to open the inn—and her heart—to new possibilities. And her hilarious lifelong friends Jada and Cat are dropping none-too-subtle hints for her to ignite a romance with Daniel Kettering, the sexy attorney who’s been pining for her for years…

Now a shocking turn of events will open old wounds and upend the world Linnie has carefully built. She has to make changes quickly—and the results, though not entirely what she expected, might be what she’s been yearning for all along.

Available at:
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Change Room by Karen Connelly

4.5 Star

Eliza Keenan is the mother of two young sons, the owner of a flower studio that caters to the city's elite, and the loving wife of a deliciously rumpled math professor named Andrew. She's on the move from dawn until her boys are in bed, and after they're asleep she cleans her house. Her one complaint about her life is that the only time she has for herself is her twice-weekly swim in the local community centre pool, where sunlight shines in through a tall window and lights up the water in a way that reminds her of the year she spent as a footloose youth on an island in Greece. Then one morning into this life that is full of satisfactions of all kinds except sexual (because who has the time or the energy once the kids are asleep?) comes a tall, dark and lovely stranger, a young woman Eliza encounters at the pool and nicknames 'the Amazon.' The sight of this woman, naked in the change room, completely undoes Eliza, and soon the two of them are entangled in an affair that breaks all the rules, and threatens to capsize not only Eliza and her happy family, but her lover's world, too. And yet the sex is so all-encompassing, so intimate, so can it be bad? Be ready to be shaken up, woken up, scandalized and deeply stirred.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

I eyed  this book for a while before requesting it for review. The cover kept drawing me back though something about the blurb had me worried that the story would either be too trite or too high brow.  In the end I asked to read it because of the plot synopsis...I was intrigued!

I needn't have worried- I had no trouble relating to Eliza and fell into step with her chaotic life of motherhood, business and marriage. I followed her through her exercise plan, her moments that were just her own and was unsurprised at what felt like a natural first liaison with "the amazon" in the pool change room. The sexual nature of the story, though intense and explicit, does delve into a much more common set of problems faced in marriage and in many relationships. The lack of nurturing (physical or mental)  will allow for discontent and eventual discord. 

I wished that Eliza's trip to Greece had been given more than a passing glance- it felt as if it had more of an effect on her than the novel allowed and that it could have rounded out her character a bit more to have that part of her life more voice.  I was also frustrated by Andrew's brother and parents (mostly mother)- they didn't do much for me or the plot except to add an element of tension in Andrew and Eliza's marriage and they filled me with something close to rage I'm afraid.

I easily accepted all the couple combinations though and felt that each of them was the right fit in their own way. Their meeting and merging was interesting and in the end I'm not convinced I was satisfied with the outcome for any of them- I suppose it couldn't end up perfectly for everyone in the end?

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

Connect with Karen Connelly:
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Friday, June 9, 2017

One good thing by Wendy Wax

4 Star

Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships. 

Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and dealing with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, nor can she trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached. 

But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

A feel good novel where you suspect that the characters will triumph, despite it all, I enjoyed this book by Wendy Wax. I haven't read any of the other books in the series, but that did not matter as this book also works on its own.

A story of friends, this is a book that shows the power of friendship, love and believing in yourself. The book definitely teaches some important lessons to those whose story it is, but it also made me reflect on my own life. Sometimes the trials of the characters were a bit insane, but in the end, I guess these things really could happen to anyone. Of course if those anyones were dating or involved with famous people or had been somewhat famous themselves.

I would equate this with the Steel Magnolias genre and feel that it could appeal to many different age groups as the characters themselves do. This is definitely a good summer read!

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

Connect with Wendy Wax:
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Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Fallout by Tamar Cohen

5 Star

Dan and Sasha are Josh and Hannah's closest friends, and lately they all seem to spend more time with each other than they do apart. But cozy weekends together quickly dissolve into a bitter game of tug-of-war when Dan utters three treacherous little words: I'm leaving her. 

Dan fully expects Josh to defend his choices—and that includes welcoming the sexy young model he's suddenly dating. Meanwhile, Dan's soon-to-be-ex-wife Sasha is devastated—dangerously so—by his betrayal, and she leans heavily on Hannah for support. Though Josh and Hannah try desperately to avoid the fallout of their friends' battle, they're quickly engulfed by the poisonous fog of attack lawyers, ugly accusations and untimely revelations. Soon they're suffocating in Dan and Sasha's secrets…and their own. 

Kathryn - 5 Star

I found myself absolutely fascinated reading this novel. A little like that disturbing innate need to look at an accident - The Fallout was difficult to read but you needed to know the final outcome.

At first the author lulled me into a familiar tale of friendship and marriages with some scattered tension and then... so slowly I didn't see it coming, we were in the middle of a nasty, heated and twisty divorce. For Josh and Hannah they found themselves trying not to take sides but obviously being forced to take sides by the nature of the friendships and then that put tension on them so they were also trying to keep their own marriage steady while supporting their friends' battle.  My loyalties kept changing with each party as a new voice took over and while I had a fair idea of who was eventually going to be "in the wrong" I wasn't sure how they would all be able to come out the other side.

Some moments were funny and I laughed out loud more than once but the novel took a dark twist for me when the safety of the children was suddenly at stake. 

On reflection The Fallout (aka The Broken) was probably the most surprising book I've read in a long time. I was thrown off not only by the plot twists but also by the intensity of the feelings I had for and towards each of the people involved. 

Very intrigued by this author. I believe this is an older novel of hers and am certain to seek out her newer titles.

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

Connect with Tamar Cohen:
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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff

3 Star

Young Adelia Monteforte flees fascist Italy for America, where she is whisked away to the shore by her well-meaning aunt and uncle. Here, she meets and falls for Charlie Connally, the eldest of the four Irish-Catholic boys next door. But all hopes for a future together are soon throttled by the war and a tragedy that hits much closer to home. 

Grief-stricken, Addie flees—first to Washington and then to war-torn London—and finds a position at a prestigious newspaper, as well as a chance to redeem lost time, lost family…and lost love. But the past always nips at her heels, demanding to be reckoned with. And in a final, fateful choice, Addie discovers that the way home may be a path she never suspected.

Kathryn - 3 Star

I was immersed instantly into Addie’s story as she arrived in America from Italy during WW2.  She’s just a child when her parents send her to her uncle to save her from the war they are living through at home and she’s obviously confused and worried about them as well as being unsure about her new life.  Finding the loud, happy family of boys next door to her aunt and uncle’s holiday home at the beach adds a level of excitement to her worry and helps to make her feel settled.

Following their return to the city after that first summer there is a natural relationship that forms between Addie and each of the brothers. Quickly though, things seem to turn for the worse and the family is devastated by the loss of one of their children- the Connally’s and Addie’s lives change irrevocably.

Addie is lost and spends the next period of her life running away when anything starts to feel like commitment. I just didn’t get the impression that she was all that invested in anything she was pursuing (except perhaps helping the displaced children she meets in London). The men seemed to feel love and passion but Addie just appeared to drift along beside them.  
I was also so disappointed that her aunt and uncle didn’t have more impact on her upbringing. Though perhaps a bit strict and unused to raising children they obviously loved her and she seemed determined to turn her back on them which didn’t fit with the way she was raised by her own mother. 

On the whole I enjoyed the book while I was reading it but part three really did add a twist that I wasn’t expecting and made me question how I’d viewed Addie all along.

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

Connect with Pam Jenoff:
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Friday, May 26, 2017

Confessions of a domestic failure by Bunmi Laditan

4 Star

There are good moms and bad moms—and then there are hot-mess moms. Introducing Ashley Keller, career girl turned stay-at-home mom who's trying to navigate the world of Pinterest-perfect, Facebook-fantastic and Instagram-impressive mommies but failing miserably. 

When Ashley gets the opportunity to participate in the Motherhood Better boot camp run by the mommy-blog-empire maven she idolizes, she jumps at the chance to become the perfect mom she's always wanted to be. But will she fly high or flop? 

With her razor-sharp wit and knack for finding the funny in everything, Bunmi Laditan creates a character as flawed and lovable as Bridget Jones or Becky Bloomwood while hilariously lambasting the societal pressures placed upon every new mother. At its heart, Ashley's story reminds moms that there's no way to be perfect, but many ways to be great.

Kathryn - 4 Star

I wish this book had been written a few years earlier so I would not have felt so crazy at home with my kiddies. Also I'd like to point out that my lack of putting on proper clothes would have been justified, or at least less accepted perhaps by my mother. Not that she judged of course...but my reasoning that there was no point in putting on nice clothes just to get spit up on may just have been conceded as a valid point had this book been available as my evidence.

I was sure this novel was going to be a meandering trip through Ashley’s musings and I settled in happily to agree with her, laugh with her and cringe with her.  I loved her confusion, I loved her reality checks, I loved her love for her daughter and I appreciated her utter chaos.

Then Ashley decided it would be a good idea to join a group of women who were trying to do motherhood “better”. The group was cleverly named “Motherhood Better” and was run by a holier-than-thou mommy that Ashley seemed to idolise.  I couldn’t get on board with the plan. I was lost and wanted to pull Ashley back to the real world and explain that this TV persona did not really have it all- no one did!  I felt her getting sucked in and I just couldn’t follow her.  

I still liked her and laughed a lot but the Ashley she wanted to become was not the one I wanted to be my friend towards the middle of the story.  However, I'm looking forward to reading another novel by this author- her writing is wonderful and her humour incomporable.  I laughed all the way through despite losing faith in Ashley's mom'spirations.

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

Connect with Bunmi Laditan:
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Would you rather with Laura Barnard

Please welcome Laura Barnard, author of Excess Baggage, as she tackles our Would you rather interview

About Laura:

Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or 'chick lit' as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She's a real fan of the power nap and of course READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

Connect with Laura:
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Would you rather....with Laura Barnard

1. Chips, chocolate or cheese?

Definitely chocolate!  I have a serious problem, I'm like a heroin addict.

2. Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood or Carrie Bradshaw?

Becky Bloomwood all the way!  I adored the shopaholic series and Sophie Kinsella is one of my all time favourite authors.

3. Wine, beer or vodka?

Vodka.  I like wine too, but it's loony juice for me.  One drink and I'm bladdered!

4. Camping or spa vacation?

Spa vacation - I am not the type of girl to pee in a bucket.

5. Dogs or cats?

Dogs.  I have a one year old flat coated retriever, Sadie who is my third dog.

6. Coke or Pepsi?

Neither!  I'm not a mad fizzy drinks person and at most I'd suffer lemonade...when mixed with vodka.

7. Coffee or tea?

Tea.  I drink SO much sometimes I get the caffeine shakes, but it keeps me going.

8. Dine out or take away?

Takeaway.  Anytime I can eat at home in the comfort of my pyjamas with my hair scraped back and no make up on is a win.

9. High heels, sneakers or flip flops?

Sneakers.  I fall down a lot.

10. Physical Book or ebook?

Ebook purely because I don't have enough storage in my house.

11. Pen or pencil?


12. Drama or comedy?

Comedy.  Everyone likes a good drama, but I love a good laugh.

13. Lipstick, lipgloss or chapstick?

Lipstick.  I'm old school.

14. Facebook or Twitter?


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

Plot my entire novel.  It will always change, but I need a rough guide to begin with.  

Excess Baggage

Stuck in a dead-end relationship, Erica Bennett finds herself daydreaming of her first holiday romance. She was fifteen, it was exciting, new and full of possibilities…and Jack Lawson was hot as hell. That kind of thing leaves a mark.

So when her friends suggest a girls holiday to Luna Island, it’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off things. What she doesn’t expect is to spot Jack – a much older, hotter version of him – across the hotel lobby.

Their attraction is still there and it isn’t long before sparks fly, but fifteen years is a long time. They aren’t the same people they were back then and besides, it’s only a week, right?

Is it a second chance at something real or will their excess baggage ruin their shot at love after they leave Luna Island?

Available at:
Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kindle  Nook  Kobo

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Riches & Rags by Camille Nagasaki

4.5 Star

Lane Carson is used to getting her own way—apart from throwing hissy fits and pulling outrageous stunts to attract her workaholic husband’s attention, Lane lives a seemingly perfect life. But things are seldom as they seem…

Lane is blindsided and her charmed and pampered existence uprooted, when her shattered husband, Micky Capello, breaks the devastating news: he’s lost the family fortune and is leaving on a quest to “find himself.” The most daunting part is they’re losing the nannies—and the children Lane barely knows will live with her.

Without the leisure to wallow in misery and self-pity, Lane is catapulted into an adventure of a lifetime that’s filled with outlandish and often emotionally charged escapades of trial and error, all with her ├╝ber supportive—albeit dysfunctional—family in tow.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

An easy read with a bit of a twist on the usual rags to riches story this novel got my attention fairly early into the read. Lane is presented at first as a spoilt rich wife who neglects her children by leaving them to be raised entirely by the hired help.  I didn't care for her much of course but it didn't take long for her circumstances to change and her heart to catch up with her. She took on her challenges with minimal fanfare and I liked her attitude. Yes it was a 180 from the start but when we're given her back story it's not surprising that common sense and purpose became her norm again. I wish we had had a bit more of her history. What we were given was enough to fill in the blanks but I was missing some of the relationship with her mother.  

The best friend/cousin role was solid. I loved him and I loved their bond, it's not a common close relationship so that was refreshing.  By contrast her girlfriend, that ends up helping out with the kids, came a bit out of nowhere for me, where was she at the start of the story? 

The admiral was darling- I just loved him and his role in the novel. He was just the kind of tough love she needed and everyone should be so lucky to have a soul like that around to keep us straight.  I was also thrilled by her dad and her "stepbrother", that was ridiculous and hilarious! 

There is a love interest and he's perfect of course but he added to the plot for me and didn't control it. I really enjoyed this read, it's different enough to feel like I read something new.

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

Connect with Camille Nagasaki:
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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Public Relations by Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini

5 Star

Young PR star Rose Reed is thrown into the big leagues when her boss leaves town the day of the firm's meeting with Archie Fox, a young, hot, internationally famous British singer-songwriter. The meeting is going badly until Rose suggests a staged romance with up-and-coming, young indie star Raya. He'll do it, but only if Rose becomes his publicist. 

As the faux-mance begins to rehabilitate Archie's faltering career, Rose finds his herself having unexpected, inconvenient and definitely unprofessional feelings for the crooner. But do late night texts and impromptu burrito binges mean he feels the same? In the end, Rose will have to decide whether to let her fantasy crush go, or to risk her reputation to be with the charming, handsome, scoundrel-y but sweet pop star she's grown to love. 

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Chick lit at it's finest! I am so glad this duo teamed up to write books and am looking forward to many more collaborations.

Rose Reed was a lovable main character who reminded me a lot of many young women that I know, including myself at that age. Maybe I was not reminded of myself because of the career path she found herself on, but because of the utter messes she found herself in, including at work and with love.

This story was a very compulsive read - I certainly did not want to put it down! I loved how the short chapters kept me intrigued and reading forward, hoping that everything would turn out in the end, and wondering how it would. I could not help but want Rose to succeed, in work and in love both especially since they were intertwined in her case!

A feel good love story, I could see this book easily being made into a movie and one that I would love to see. I am sure that I am not alone in loving just how happy this book made me and how it made me relive my younger days in my mind.

Being set in NYC, which is one of my favorite places, also gives the book extra points in my opinion.

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

Connect with Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini:

Katie:    Website    Twitter     Goodreads
Arianna:   Website     Twitter    Goodreads

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stranded...with Romalyn Tilghman

Please welcome Romalyn Tilghman, author of To The Stars Through Difficulties as she tackles our Desert Island Interview!

About Romalyn:

Romalyn Tilghman is a freelance writer and consultant in arts management. She earned BA and MS degrees from the University of Kansas and has studied writing through UCLA’s Writers Program. To the Stars through Difficulties is her first novel, inspired by her work as Executive Director of the Association of Community Arts Councils of Kansas, and then as Regional Representative for the National Endowment for the Arts. Since then, she has consulted with private foundations, government agencies, and performing arts groups, and served on national boards and panels. She lives in Southern California. Find her online on her website or FaceBook.

Connect with Romalyn:

Romalyn Tilghman Stranded on a Desert Island

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

A Day in Provence. I waited out Hurricane Iniki in a hotel ballroom and envied the man sitting in a beach chair, deep in its pages, as winds pounded outside and chandeliers swung from the ceiling. He was in a sunnier place, full of colorful flowers and delectable tastes.

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

Jo Malone‘s orange blossom body cream, so luscious in texture as well as fragrance. I buy it to celebrate, the way another woman might buy champagne, meaning my most wonderful saleswoman is now a dear friend who’s shared my life’s highest points.

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

A case of water. It’s the most essential thing, right? And my knitting, with a LOT of multi-colored yarn.

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

I could take the solitude. I love solitude. The forced fact of it might drive me crazy. Funny how solitude can become claustrophobic if there are no options.

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

The world’s best lover, most interesting storyteller, and Eagle Scout able to purify water, wrestle snakes, and build a fire without matches. Fantasy Man.

What modern technology would you miss the most?

No cellphone?! Even with an extra battery pack?! I live on my phone: email, Sudoku, Facebook, texts with an interesting guy, google everything from how strippers make tassels go in opposite directions to the historical significance of Purim. With Audible, I could listen to every book ever recorded; with Netflix, I could binge Grace and Frankie; with Mapquest, I could make my way off that island. Oh yes, with a phone, I might also be able to call for help.

What food or beverage would you miss the most?

McConnell’s double peanut butter chip ice cream. Which I no longer allow myself to eat.

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

Two, maybe three if I knew help was on its way.  But we survive, right? I’d expect to sink into my imagination, think up happy endings, endure the endless wait.

What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Take a long hot bath! To wash away fear, sorrow, and frustration as well as island dust. To make a fresh start!

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

Miss me? I’m alive, safe at home. But my, do I have a story to tell you…

To The Stars Through Difficulties

Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th century―but it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women's baseball games to buy books to fill them. Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father's hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in town―Traci as an artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center and Gayle as a refugee whose neighboring town, Prairie Hill, has just been destroyed by a tornado. 

The discovery of an old journal inspires the women to create a library and arts center as the first act of rebuilding Prairie Hill after the tornado. As they work together to raise money for the center, Traci reveals her enormous heart, Angelina discovers that problem-solving is more valuable than her PhD, and Gayle demonstrates that courage is not about waiting out a storm but building a future. Full of Kansas history―from pioneer homesteaders to Carrie Nation to orphan trains―To the Stars through Difficulties is a contemporary story of women changing their world, and finding their own voices, powers, and self-esteem in the process.

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