Friday, April 28, 2017

A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

4.5 Star

Zoe Saldivar is more than just single-she's ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it's up to her to stop living in isolation.

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated-her first new friend is Jen's widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen's brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe's own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam's flustered, Jen's annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think "alone" doesn't sound so bad, after all.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

I entered this story laughing out loud (but trying not to) with poor Zoe stuck in her attic when her cat accidentally closes the trap door to the exit.  The image stuck with me throughout the novel as a part of Zoe’s personality. She is forced to assess her life and the fact that she’s lonely just by this small event and it propels her on a journey to change her daily and long-term existence.  She’s tired of working from home, not having a partner and becoming more distant from her friends who are moving on.

While Zoe’s journey is fairly straightforward (barring exes who won’t go away, a slightly out-there father and a tricky new love interest) but this first scene really made me like her.  Zoe’s quest to balance her life forces her to try and get back into the life of her best friend.  Jen has a baby now and has become more than obsessed with him. At first you want to shake her and make her see sense but it soon becomes apparent that there is more to her focus, there are more difficult issues for Jen to deal with that are causing her fixate on her son.  

Meanwhile Zoe reconnects with Jen’s mother and finds in her a maternal figure that she is missing after her own mother’s death.  It hasn’t been long since Zoe’s mother passed and one of the things she’s searching for is a person to rely on.  The connection between Zoe and Pam is so sweet and I was really pleased for Zoe to find someone who could help her gently on her voyage.  However, their friendship adds complications to the bond between Jen and Zoe and Jen and her mother.  To make matters more complicated Zoe finds herself very much attracted to Pam’s son (Jen’s brother) and Pam ends up dating Zoe’s father.  Confused?  Yes, the novel is tangled, however none of it is complicated when you’re reading it!  All seems to slot perfectly into place in the end and the title, A Millions Little Things, seems fitting when you’re putting all these relationships together.

I really enjoyed the novel, there are some important issues addressed with Jen and some self-assessments that made me think with all the other characters.  A great read!

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

Connect with Susan Mallery:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

4 Star

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark... 

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

Sabrina-Kate - 4 Star

I am not typically a person who enjoys historical fiction, but sometimes when it is more modern, it can appeal to me. This book was one of the most enjoyable books of that genre that I have read. That may have been in part due to the fact that it alternated between modern and war time, telling the story of several war brides. 

I found it quite interesting how the author used ghosts and the paranormal in her book. At first I was not entirely sure why or what it added to the story but by the end of it, it all made complete sense and everything was brought together.

I truly adored the different love stories that this book spoke about. Especially since they were all so different but all showed great resilience and dedication! It was also eye opening about some of the things that people had to go through during wartime just to survive. Everyone's story was unique and touching in their own way and a few things happened that I was not at all expecting.

This was a great book, full of emotion and a bit of intrigue but very much realistic and down to earth, even with the paranormal factor. I enjoyed this book a lot and read it quite quickly.

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

Connect with Susan Meissner:
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stranded....with Carol Mason

Please welcome Carol Mason, author of After You Left.

Carol Mason:


I am the author of The Love Market, Send Me A Lover, and The Secrets of Married Women, which will be re-released in June 2017 with Amazon's Lake Union imprint. My latest novel, After You Left, will be out April 1, 2017.

You can keep up to date with developments by making me your friend on Facebook. I'll try my best to entertain you. I'm on twitter too. 

I always enjoy getting comments about my books (prefer nice ones!), and am always willing to attend your book club or do a phone conference if you'd like to have me. 

Connect with Carol :
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with Carol Mason

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

Rodale’s Synonym Finder. Without it, I probably couldn’t write. And if I couldn’t write, I’d probably happily lie down at the shoreline and pray to be eaten by a shark.

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

My wonderful fiery red Mulberry handbag. You’d be shocked how much pleasure I get from staring at it, touching it, smelling it, rubbing the leather against my cheek. And then… repeat. This could keep me entertained for days! 

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

A pair of tweezers. I might be cast away, but I don’t want to end up looking like Tom Hanks.

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

I would love the solitude. I’m a loner more than a people person, though a friendly sociable loner at that! But then when meal time rolls around it’s always nice to have company for dinner. Or, in this case, to catch dinner.

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

My husband. He’s the person I most enjoy talking to, and he’s always said he would take the bullet for me, so I figure this could come in handy. If he wasn’t available then Kyle Chandler. In fact, let’s think about that for a moment…

6. What modern technology would you miss the most?

My electric toothbrush.

7. What food or beverage would you miss the most?

A cup of tea. A really good homemade steak pie with hot water pastry. 

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

Thirty days. Not a day more. Not a day less.

9. What is the first thing you would do when rescued?

Hit the bar. 

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

A photo of my cat wearing a pirate patch. 

After You Left

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…

Available at:

Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Always by Sarah Jio

4.5 Star

While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister. 

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants. 

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

I love Sarah Jio.  Since the first novel I read of hers I've been hooked on her in-depth characters and thoughtfully planned plot lines. 

This story dug into something deeper ‎than a regular romance. There were social issues that took precedence over the romantic nature of the plot and while it obviously affected the characters it also affected the reader. I wasn't in love with Ryan as Kailey’s partner and though we were assured repeatedly that he was a good guy and he never stepped out of line, I just didn't love him for her. I suppose this was obvious to most of us reading the book, as well as those people around her in the book. I felt much empathy for him though despite being unsure of their partnership, he was a bystander in the “real” couples’ life. 

What made me turn the pages was the mystery behind Cade’s memory loss. How had he ended up there? What had gone wrong? What had happened with his business partner? In the end all is made clear but I was uneasy about his business partner and worried about their friendship. Somehow, if there had been any guilt at the time you would think that he would have spent more time looking for his friend. They had been close since childhood so you’d think this would have superseded any issues with the business?

Always puts a spotlight on homelessness. It puts a focus on basic human compassion and it puts a light on being aware of those around you- in person, not just via an email or a text.  The novel was thought provoking while still maintaining the warmth that I’ve come to expect from this author’s work.

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

Connect with Sarah Jio:
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

4 Star

A New City A New Start. Same Old Demons.

Your flight is now boarding! Join Alex Sinclair for a life-changing, trans-Atlantic journey. London Belongs to Me is a coming-of-age story about friendship, following your dreams, and learning when to let go … and when to hang on.

Meet Alex, a recent college graduate from Tallahassee, Florida in love with London, pop culture, and comic cons. It’s not easy being twenty-one-years-old, and Alex has never been the most popular girl. She’s an outsider, a geeky fangirl … with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar, but never visited. Fleeing America after a devastating betrayal, she believes London is where she’ll be understood, where she belongs. But Alex’s past of panic attacks and broken relationships is hard to escape. When her demons team up with a jealous rival determined to destroy her new British life, Alex begins to question everything: her life-long dream, her new friends, and whether London is where she truly belongs. 

Kaley- 4 Star

London Belongs to Me is exactly the kind of New Adult story I’ve been looking for. Too many books in the category are full of angst and danger. I want more stories of early 20somethings just out of college in a world that I live in. Jacquelyn Middleton delivered a sweet, funny, heartfelt, and real novel with a main character I immediately identified with.

I was 1000% invested in Alex’s life from the very first second I met her. I felt everything she was feeling and I was rooting for her all the way. I liked that she was smart and driven but she was also human and therefore flawed. It was so hard for her to accept help and let go of the past and I loved reading as she slowly worked through those issues. I also totally loved that she was a fangirl. There aren’t enough books about twentysomethings who are unapologetic nerds.

There were some times where I found myself wondering what on earth some of the characters were thinking but I had to remind myself that 21 is not the easiest time, especially when you’re in a new country and everything seems to be going wrong.

Some of the secondary characters weren’t as well developed as I would have liked. For example, I know Olivia is the antagonist but I’d rather have more insight into Lucy, Alex’s best friend, than Olivia. Or Mark! I wanted to know more about him. He still remained so much of a mystery even by the end of the novel. The pacing was just a little slow as well and I sometimes had trouble figuring out what month it was since the story does take place over a year and some odd months.  I’m glad it did take place over such a long period of time because it was much more realistic but it wasn’t always immediately easy to follow.

Overall, even if the writing could have been cleaned up ever so slightly, the story in London Belongs to Me completely won me over. I hope Jacquelyn Middleton writes another contemporary novel soon!

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

Connect with Jacquelyn Middleton:
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Friday, April 7, 2017

The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn

4 Star

In 1914, despite the clouds of war threatening Europe, Pearl Gibson’s future is bright. She has secured a position as a lady’s maid to a wealthy Northumberland aristocrat, a job that will win her not only respect but an opportunity to travel and live in luxury. Her new life at Lady Ottoline Campbell’s Scottish summer estate is a whirlwind of intrigue and glamour, scandals and confidences—and surprisingly, a strange but intimate friendship with her employer. 

But when violence erupts in Europe, Pearl and Ottoline’s world is irrevocably changed. As the men in their lives are called to the front lines, leaving them behind to anxiously brace for bad news, Pearl realizes she must share one final secret with her mistress—a secret that will bind them together forever... 

Kathryn - 4 Star

One of the best things about historical fiction is the reader’s journey to a time gone by. I was immediately immersed in the time period surrounding World War I in this novel by Judith Kinghorn and her writing eased me into a new world.  I’ve seen Downton Abbey of course and visited some country houses during travels but even without these personal aides I believe the writing transports you there.  

We follow Pearl through her early years as she tries to determine a career for herself in a changing world. We are also given her story through scenes from the past and this back and forth is done seamlessly to bring the woman’s persona and past all together. I felt really connected to Pearl and loved her habit of pretending to be someone else- this humour and personal quirk made her come to life.  When she’s hired as Ottoline’s personal maid I was even more intrigued by their relationship and Ottoline’s own story.  She’s immediately someone you’re drawn to and slightly apprehensive about. I was so glad that not only was Pearl’s story explored to the fullest but that Ottoline’s was given a rounded conclusion also- I would have been so disappointed to not have closure on her also.

On occasion the choices of the characters are perhaps completely different from what we would now choose in modern times but The Echo of Twilight manages to bring empathy between not only the women but also those who were their house-keepers, butlers and other staff. There were genuine bonds between them and this made the story so plausible for me as the reader.

There are fantastic scenes outside with life like descriptions of the surroundings- you could feel the air move in across the open spaces and the stillness of the moments with Ralph.  The Echo of Twilight transported me through the past and gave me characters that will stay with me.

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

Connect with Judith Kinghorn:
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Monday, April 3, 2017

Perfect Weddings by Lynda Renham

4 Star

Every bride wants a perfect wedding and that includes Georgina Winters. Amy Perfect is the crème de la crème of wedding planners so who best to plan Georgina s wedding... except the man Georgina plans to marry is the same man who jilted Amy three years ago. Will her plan to give Georgina the most imperfect wedding backfire on her? Is this the chance for Amy to win back the love of her life, or will insufferable Ben Garret put a spanner in the works? Arab princes, spoilt brides and wedding catastrophes make Perfect Weddings a page-turning romantic comedy that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Kathryn - 4 Star

Perfect Weddings had all the elements of a romantic comedy with just enough to make you ponder.  I was disheartened at first by Amy’s own wedding fiasco and felt so badly for her that it put me on the right track to want the best for our heroine.  

Amy’s transformation to Amy Perfect, expert wedding planner, was glossed over in terms of the process it took to get her there but I didn’t really miss a beat in believing in her new persona. Somehow it seemed fitting that she took that rage, confusion and hurt and turned it into something positive for herself and for others.  There are a slew of confusion and hilarious situations in the book, times when Amy needs to navigate bridal tempers and keep shows on the road.  All of these were really funny and balanced with her situation with ex Greg’s wedding to the lovely Georgina to create the impression that she was actually managing her business while dealing with her own personal crisis- the juggling was real. 

I wish she’d been able to confess to Georgina earlier- that would have made her life much less stressful but on the other hand without Georgina’s wedding Amy would not have met the crushing and yet dashing Ben.  The novel would not have had such hopefulness without Ben so we needed Georgina, you see?  

While the novel always has a slight tinge of the bittersweet to it there was also the balance of humour which made the pages turn quickly.  On the whole the book made me laugh and kept me interested and I liked Renham’s writing immensely.

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

Connect with Lynda Renham:
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