Sunday, February 26, 2017

Frosted Cowboy by Charlene Ross

3 Star

A sassy heroine, a frosty drink and a new chance at love-what could possibly go wrong?
Laney Delaney was living the dream. She had a fabulous fiance and a career as a couture wedding dress designer. But after catching her (not-so-fabulous) fiance 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

Kathryn - 3 Star

Frosted Cowboy was exactly what I was hoping it would be.  Sassy straight shooting woman off to make her own life and gain back some independence.  I liked the premise and it suited my mood when I was reading it.  I liked the drama of the break-up. It wasn't super sickly sweet, which worked with Laney's personality I thought.  It was most unfortunate though that having lost her fiancée she shortly after loses her job- even if it wasn't her dream career it did throw her off her game somewhat. She wallowed though for a reasonable amount of time and then took the advice given to her by family and friends and tried to start her own business.  Good for her!  

I found her support system a bit lacking- her sister, though busy with her own life, was really unhelpful and her mother even worse.  I really didn't feel a family connection and though we were given some explanation of a complicated upbringing I felt there wasn't enough information there to warrant their lack of interest.  It would have made a better novel for me if her family could have taken a bigger part in the plot.

Laney does have some colourful friends and co-workers though which made up somewhat for the lack of input from her relatives. On the whole Frosted Cowboy was fun and light-hearted and I enjoyed it.

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

Connect with Charlene Ross:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Name 3 Things with Isabella Louise Anderson

Please welcome Isabella Louise Anderson, author of Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop, as she lets us into her life with our Name 3 Things interview!

About Isabella:

Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She focuses her time on featuring other writers on her blog, Chick Lit Goddess, along with organizing Goddess Book Tours, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

She lives in Dallas with her husband, enjoys spicy Mexican food, margaritas, gin on the rocks (with a splash of lime). She loves spending time with family and friends and cheering on the Texas Rangers. Not only is Isabella an author, she’s also a Scentsy consultant and hoarder.

Isabella is the author of The Right Design and Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop. Her short story, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright. She’s currently working on another book. 

Connect with Isabella:
 Website      Facebook     Twitter   Goodreads

Isabella Louise Anderson on Name 3 things:

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

 In your fridge

Eye drops, duck fat, and Buffalo Wild Wings HOT BBQ sauce
In your purse

A Kate Spade mini cell phone charger, a bag of pencils and a small sharpener, and a picture of my brother.

In/On your bedside table

 Afrin, old Christmas cards, and the first draft of “Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop”

In your car

Dry shampoo, gloves, and a paperback book
On your desk/writing spot

Gift receipts that need to be thrown away, books I’ve already read that need to go on the bookshelf, and a Dallas Stars hockey puck
In the "junk drawer"

“Signed by the author” stickers, tape, and and take-out menus

In your closet/garage/storage room

Holiday wreaths, old home telephones, and winter jackets

In your music or movie collection

The Best of Guiding Light, Micki & Maude, and....

On your bookshelf

 Self-improvement books, children’s books, and a baby name book

Cards from Khloe's Flower Shop

As the owner of a successful florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and friends, but after being betrayed by her last love, she's kept herself at arms’ length from romance. When dashing entertainment attorney Derek Thomas walks into her store, Khloe’s interest is piqued. What at first seems like a business relationship quickly turns into romance, and Derek slowly plucks away the petals she’s been hiding behind. Just as Khloe lets down her guard, she discovers that Derek may not be worthy of her love after all.

Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man named Walt, thinking that by sending herself flowers from him she’ll feel less out-of-place with the “mean girls” she works with. When she comes face to face with her possible prince charming and thinking she might have a happy ending, when a truth is revealed, she wonders if she’ll ever have a Cinderella story.

A recently widowed senior, Gabby Lewis, isn't ready to give up on love—which means releasing herself from survivor's guilt and taking a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up for an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise, she’s matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man, who quickly eases himself into her heart. Will Gabby take the leap of falling in love again, knowing it’s possible to have two loves of her life?

As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe's shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.

Available at:
Kindle   Kobo   Nook 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Leopard at the door by Jennifer McVeigh

5 Star

After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion—a strange, intolerant woman—has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites.

As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal. One man knows her secret, and he has made it clear how she can buy his silence. But she knows something of her own, something she has never told anyone. And her knowledge brings her power.

Kathryn - 5 Star

At the beginning of the novel I was mostly concerned with Rachel and her plans for her future. I held her in my heart as a parent for a child and also as a child yearning for connection again with her parent. Her early childhood had been filled with idyllic happiness which was abruptly broken by the death of her mother so her sense of abandonment was clear and understandable.  I was nervous about the way her return would affect her and was unimpressed with her father and even more unimpressed with his new fiance.  

Quite apart from Rachel's story there was full thread of narrative around the uprising in Kenya that gradually took over the story.  I felt torn as Michael, Rachel and I'm sure, Rachel's father, felt. Of course I wanted her family and friends to be safe and for the atrocities against other humans to stop- but at the center of the issue was an immense empathy for the Africans trying to regain their heritage, their land and their people. 

I'd like to think that mos‎t expats feel they are sharing a space with those who were there first but perhaps this is a concept only available to a few generations past the ones in this story. I did feel that Rachel's father had respect for the land and the people he was living on but his relationship with Sara seemed to have changed him from the man he had been with his first wife. The author doesn't really address her father's grief of losing her mother which gives us little insight into his thought process.

I did appreciate the descriptions of places, sounds and colours- the connection to the land and the places helped connect me also with the characters.  Leopard at the Door was engrossing- very difficult to read in many places but that should be expected.  

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

Connect with Jennifer McVeigh:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor

3 Star

Ingrid Palamede never returns to the places she's lived. For her, "whole neighborhoods, whole cities, can be ruined by the reasons you left." But when a breakup leaves her heartbroken and homeless, she's forced to return to her childhood home of Fresno, California. Back in the real wine country, where grapes are grown for mass producers, Ingrid must confront her aging parents and their financial woes, soured friendships, and the blissfully bad decisions she made in her past. But along the way she unearths her love for the land, her talent for harvesting grapes, and a deep fondness for and forgiveness of the very first place she ever left.

Sabrina-Kate - 3 Star

I loved the cover from the start so was very hopeful the story would follow suit. Sadly that was not to be the case. Although I can appreciate the returning home to fix your life and make good aspect of the story, the actual writing did not always captivate me. Sometimes I found certain sections to drag on and other times the story was witty, funny and quite entertaining. When books seem to be 'off balance' that way, it makes it tedious for me to read through them as the story does not flow well.  

There was a lot of talking in the book between the characters which helped to resolve issues and make the story evolve, but at one point, I just got so anxious for something to happen and for things to move forward. They did, sort of at least, but not a lot actually happening in the grand scheme of things, so I can't say that the story was well developed. 

What I did find interesting was an insider's look into working on a vineyard and all the different aspects of it. From the day to day, to the politics involved, I think these intricacies was what the book really excelled in, if nothing else. 

For a second novel, after a celebrated first oeuvre, I found this book to be sadly lacking something. I wouldn't recommend it if you are expecting a busy plot line, but if you are curious about Fresno and the agricultural community there, then this may very well sate your curiosity in an entertaining way.

All opinions are our own.

Connect with Katherine Taylor:
Website      Goodreads

Friday, February 10, 2017

Days like these by Sue Margolis

4 Star

Recently widowed, Judy Schofield jumps at the chance to look after her two grandchildren for six weeks, while their parents are out of the country. After all, she’s already raised one set of children—and quite successfully, if she may say so herself. But all it takes is a few days of private school functions, helicopter parents, video games, and never-ending Frozen sing-a-longs for Judy to feel she’s in over her head.

As weeks become months, Judy feels more and more like an outsider among all the young mothers with their parenting theories du jour, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the school’s snooty alpha mom. But finding a friend in another grandmother—and a man who takes her mind off all the stress—almost make it worthwhile. She just needs to take it one food allergy, one incomprehensible homework assignment, and one major meltdown at a time...

Kathryn - 4 Star

A novel by Sue Margolis rarely fails to make it into my heart. I had laughed more than once and cried before I even got to page 40 in this one which says an abundance of things about the ability of the writer to bring you immediately into a new world and relate it to your own.

Margolis’ ability is in bridging multi-generational situations to make one story a reality-without seeming trite. She’s expressive and honest about the main character’s current stage of life and the language is such that you wouldn’t know what age she was until you’re told or the other characters around her put an age on her.  I suppose I’m of the generation of Judy’s daughter but I see a lot of myself in Judy as well as my own mother and many “aunties” I am lucky enough to have around me.

Judy’s grandson, Sam, is having a hard time at school and there are a few situations that crop up which develop into very serious consequences.  Judy is attempting to address his concerns as a grandparent but also as a temporary parent and she navigates the line as best she can without putting on full mama bear mode.  I actually felt her holding back her need to protect him as she had to keep a line of composure as the grandmother and not destroy her daughter’s relationships at the school.  A very fine line indeed…   

Throughout Days Like These there is the bond between Judy and her own mother that is explored tentatively – it seems that they haven’t always known each other very well.  Despite their ease and teasing of each other there was a lot explored about their bond in the story as well.  Days Like These covers every possible relationship between these four generations and I laughed and cried along with it.

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

Connect with Sue Margolis:
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Monday, February 6, 2017

Gaga by Leslie Tall Manning

3 Star

Monty is ready to rock. Funny thing is, she doesn’t know it yet!

When her husband releases her from a stagnant marriage, forty-five-but-looks-thirty Monica Reese Taylor, freelance writer for Home & Goddess Magazine, gets the career opportunity of a lifetime. All she has to do is leave her daughter behind, change her name, dress like a crazed groupie, and for one month follow a comeback rock band as they tour the eastern United States.

But that’s not all: Monty has to spend time with the famous lead guitarist in order to get her story. A hot musician whose poster she kissed every night in her bedroom back in the eighties!

With her undisclosed agenda well hidden beneath Aqua Net, Maybelline, and leather, Monty plays the part of groupie with finesse, never suspecting that her rocker crush has a few tight-lipped secrets of his own…secrets that make hers seem like child’s play…secrets that could change Monty’s life forever.

Michelle - 3 Star

This book took a while for me to get into.  I had to put it down for a while and then pick it up later and give it a second go round. Once I was able to change my mind set and accept that GaGa was a simple, fun read, which at times would make me accept that which was hard to accept, I was able to get into the book and actually enjoy it.

When Monty’s husband decides to end their marriage she is presented with, what many would say, is the adventure of a lifetime, the opportunity to be someone else.  To be a thirty something groupie (even though she is in her mid-forties), and follow your teenage crush on the road and get paid to do it! 

I do appreciate Leslie Tall Mannings desire to present to us a character, Monty, who through her experience transforms from a mild, non-adventurous character, to a woman who really explores who she is and what it is that she is capable of, independent of her husband and her status quo everyday life. 

I would have enjoyed this novel more if it had been a little more relatable and realistic.  Many times when you read a novel you find a way that connects the main character to yourself, whether it be through experiences they have that are similar to ones you have gone through, or you share the same religion or family background.  In GaGa it was hard to connect to the main character and I think this made it hard to initially get drawn into the book. 

I would give this book 3 stars out of 5 as it was light, entertaining and didn’t require a lot of time or emotion to be invested into it.  It did start out slow and at times seemed repetitive and mundane, but got more realistic and somewhat more relatable the more it went along.

All opinions are our own.

Connect with Leslie Tall Manning:
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

4.5 Star

When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired—to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
 With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy  comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.
 But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee—or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected—it could be even better.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

I was engrossed by a number of aspects of this novel. The pie, first and foremost, was as engaging as a pie you can’t actually eat can be.  That the author is a pastry chef is apparent from every ingredient to every described morsel. I was fascinated by all parts of the actual baking in this book.  However, apart from the baking there was a host of likeable characters in this story. 

First, Livvy herself was quite charming. I found her to be realistic and had high hopes that such an inn in Vermont did actuallyo exist with Livvy in the kitchen. This hope was coupled with my attachment also for the owner of the inn, Margaret, who was a touch prickly at first but her heart was shown early. You could not help but love her deep (and sometimes hidden) desire to see her staff succeed. I also respected Margaret’s sense of her business and her dedication to the area in which she grew up. There was also a sweet romance unfolding between Livvy and neighbour Martin and it added to the idyllic nature of their surroundings.  I became attached to Martin’s family and the home he grew up in, every new family member of his that we were introduced to (and there were many, many of them) just endeared me more to the town, the family and the whole book.

There were of course a number of frustrations to make you want to smack some sense into people (particularly between Martin and Livvy) which made the novel a little bit long for me. On the whole though, I completely lost myself in the beauty of this small town in Vermont and the baking I could almost taste.

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

Connect with Louise Miller:

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