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:
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Goodreads

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:
 Website      Facebook    Twitter     Goodreads

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:
Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

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.

Available at:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Kindle Kobo Nook 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The lost daughter of liverpool by Pam Howes

5 Star

Can she save herself, her marriage – and her daughter? 
It’s 1946 and the war is over. In Liverpool, the blackout blinds may be coming down, but one family is about to face devastating misfortune… 

Dora Evans is finally marrying the love of her life, Joe Rodgers, and her dreams of opening a dressmaking business look as if they might come true. With twin daughters on the way, Dora has everything she’s ever wanted.  

But then tragedy strikes: one of Dora’s babies dies in infancy, and a catastrophic fire changes their lives forever. Dora is consumed with grief, struggling to get through each day and Joe is suddenly distant, finding solace in his colleague, Ivy.  

With Ivy watching and scheming, and Dora battling against her own demons, can she keep her family together? 

Kathryn - 5 Star

This book reminded me of an author I haven't read in awhile called Pamela Evans who mainly focused her stories in London. I liked the Liverpool focus as I have a family link to the city. Though the era of the novel is post world War two I still felt the same warmth of the people of the area that I have when I visit today.  

I actually was surprised that though the story has a gentleness in its telling there are is an underlying agenda regarding postpartum depression. I was surprised by this tact and the author did a wonderful job of exploring the issues while remaining in the time period. Dora was very lucky I should think to have an empathetic doctor who recognised that her recovery would be best accomplished with people who loved her rather than in an institution- which was the norm at the time. 

I was really impressed with the way the characters were all described, their lives explored and developed before the depression which arrived after birth.  Dora’s sewing business was also well placed for the time period and the social standing of the family- it was quite fascinating to see her determination to make her own business work. 

There’s a lot more to this novel than you would expect and I certainly don’t want to give anything away but I will say that I’m very keen to find out what happens the next parts of the trilogy!

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

Connect with Pam Howes:
Website     Facebook     Twitter     Goodreads

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My not so perfect life by Sophie Kinsella

4.5 Star

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway? 

Kathryn- 4.5 Star

Truly this novel delivers what you would expect from Sophie Kinsella: loads of laughs and cringe-worthy moments with the emotion sitting right there for the taking.  

My not so perfect life has 20-something Katie desperately trying to make her life as fantastic as her social media accounts are portraying.  Our current society seems to have us vying for the best life and Katie has fallen into that trap. At the heart of it all though Katie is just trying to attain the career she really wants.  She’s put herself through school, moved to London and is still living like a student trying to get herself in the door of a branding company so she can start her career.  She’s determined, resourceful and full of intensity and I would imagine she represents many a 20 year old currently trying to use their education to get a good job in their own field.  I was rooting for her and had so much empathy for her.

Katie’s nightmare of a boss, while thoroughly amusing for the plot, turned out to be much more in depth a character than I was anticipating. Kinsella gave her a backstory and a future and we were given a lot of detail about her life.  While I wanted to hate her I couldn’t continue the charade once I knew more about her.  She represents women who are trying to balance career, motherhood and being a wife which I related to myself on a few levels. 

With these two women navigating their jobs and lives there are also some wonderful side-characters- Katie’s father and stepmother for example whose farm came alive and added a nice change of pace to the plot.  I really felt relaxed during those parts of the book when we were glamping in the British countryside!   The one thing I felt was missing was a confidante for Katie (apart from her parents because she is quite determined to shelter them from her truth).  Not having that one friend though only served to highlight how much we can add fictitious sparkle and glitter to our lives when we’re only relating to others online and how much in person relationships really do matter.

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

Connect with Sophie Kinsella:
Website     Facebook      Twitter     Goodreads


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