Sunday, March 19, 2017

Waiting for Ethan by Diane Barnes

2.5 Star

When Gina Rossi was in junior high, her best friend’s psychic grandmother got everything right—from predicting that Gina would break her arm and travel to Italy, all the way to leading police to a missing neighborhood child. The one time Gina didn’t listen to her, she almost got herself killed. So when she says that Gina will marry a man named Ethan—but she will have to wait for him—Gina believes her, and waits…

Now thirty-six, Gina’s Mr. Right is nowhere in sight—until the day she’s stranded in a snowstorm, and rescued by the last type of Ethan she expected. It’s very romantic, yet surprisingly not. This Ethan is sexy, and clearly her hero. Still, instead of her “Aha” moment, Gina’s confused. And when Ethan is happy to discover she’s single, does Gina dare tell him, It’s because I've been waiting for you? But the bigger question is, does she dare question destiny—by taking it into her own hands? And is she brave enough to handle what happens once it’s time to stop waiting—and start living? 

Kaley- 2.5 Star

I’m all for heroines who need to learn and grow over the course of the novel. I get that. I’m sure if someone wrote a book about me they’d sometimes think, “What are you doing that for? Are you sure about that?” It’s easy to judge and say someone, like a character in a novel, should do something when you’re not living their life. It’s hard to see past certain things…such as a prediction from someone you trust. I read this and can clearly see Gina does not belong with Ethan. But, she can’t see that. She’s desperate and is so sure this is the Ethan she’s supposed to be with. Girl, take a look at how you’re feeling and how he’s treating you. Got that? Now leave him.

All that being said, I suppose I can see why Gina is holding onto this prediction. She truly thought Ajee was always right and continued to think that because she was thinking like the child she was. We all know how important things are to kids sometimes so it makes sense that she refuses to let go of this last prediction. It’s not only a super strong belief that this will come true but also a way for her to hold onto a part of her life when she was supremely happy.

Gina was an interesting character, even if she was, at times, na├»ve and frustrating to me. It was easy to imagine her as a friend or co-worker, which isn’t always the case so I commend Barnes for that. I was drawn to her and maybe it’s because I liked her so much that I was so upset with how completely wrong Ethan was for her. She allowed the prediction to overpower the red flags she should have seen and that scared me a little bit. Ethan wasn’t a bad man – he just had a lot of unresolved issues that meant Gina was better off far, far away from him.

Waiting for Ethan had potential but, in the end, it kind of let me down. I did love that there was a Happily Ever After, as you’d expect from books like this, so that helped my overall feelings of the book become a little more positive. (I’m a sucker for a great HEA!) I’m sure I got too stuck on how closely Gina was holding onto Ajee’s prediction and others may not have the same issues with it that I did. If that’s your kind of story, then you should definitely check out Diane Barnes’ novel. 

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

Connect with Diane Barnes:
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Reunion by Roisin Meaney

4 Star

It's September 2015 and sisters Caroline and Eleanor Plunkett receive invitations to their twenty year school reunion. But for both, the invitation takes them back to a time they'd rather forget ... 

For Caroline, it's a reminder of a night she's never told anyone about - and the traumatic consequences she had to face on her own.

While for Eleanor, who has spent the past fourteen years trying to get over the death of her young daughter, the school reunion is a stark reminder of life before grief. 

As the reunion approaches, both sisters face choices and decisions about their lives. Caroline, a successful knitwear designer living in England must choose between love and honesty. Eleanor, who long ago removed herself from the restaurant she started with her husband, must finally make a decision to choose the man she married and the son she has forgotten for so long. 

Kathryn - 4 Star

The Reunion took a number of tricky family dynamics and put them together in a novel that covered two time period in sisters' lives.  Their teenage years were mostly focused on Caroline and an event that shaped her future and for Eleanor her present day story as an adult is monopolized by a recent part of her history.  An invitation to their high school reunion opens up Caroline's past and makes Eleanor consider her commitment to her family. 

I found the connection between the two women interesting.  As teenagers Eleanor wasn't able to comprehend the horror of what had happened to Caroline and yet she still felt that her sister had been neglected by their mother by her blatant lack of support.  Despite years of unease there was still a tenuous bond as sisters and mothers that brought them back to helping each other. My feelings for their mother were probably pretty obvious but what made her behaviour more inexcusable was that their father seemed to grasp the damage that was being done in pushing their child out the door and she refused to relent.  Having been sent to England, to not bring disgrace on the family, Caroline was lucky to be given warmth and support by distant cousin Florence.  Their relationship was built on respect and understanding which just highlighted her conflict with her mother. 

Eleanor's story of loss was raw.  The loss of their child was visible in her marriage and her relationship with her teenage son, he had also lost his mother by default. I can’t imagine how the guilt weighed on her but
felt myself only partially accepting her ways of coping with her tragedy as her son’s needs were so very visible to her.

For both sisters the loss of a child shaped their present though their losses occurred very differently. Despite the painful subject matter I was engrossed in their stories all the way through.

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

Connect with Roisin Meaney:
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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Walk into silence by Susan McBride

5 Star

When Patrick Dielman shows up at Detective Jo Larsen’s desk insisting that his wife, Jenny, is missing, Jo wonders if it’s a case of a bored housewife running away.

But as she digs deeper into Jenny’s life, Jo learns that Dielman keeps a stranglehold on the family finances, down to the last nickel, and that Jenny’s first marriage dissolved following the death of her young son. By all accounts—including her doctor’s—she never recovered from the loss. Between a controlling husband, a tragic past, and a callous ex-husband, Jo can’t be sure if she should suspect foul play or accept that the woman may have wanted to disappear.

For Jo, whose own demons are shadowing her every step, finding Jenny becomes more than the typical protect-and-serve.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

A great police detective movie, I really enjoyed this book about Jo Larsen and am so very pleased that it is the first of what promises to be many more!

This book was just the perfect winter read. A fast paced detective story with a lot of mystery thrown in, I read it probably far too quickly as I was sad when I was done and really wanted more. It seems like the intention of the author is to have other books about this quirky, damaged detective which is a consolation of sorts.

I know that this author used to write chick lit and the approachability of the characters translates through into this new genre. From learning about the character's pasts, to their current hopes, dreams and fears, I found like I got to know a lot about the main protagonist and in a very intimate way.
Headstrong and determined, Jo would be the exact type of detective I would want looking for me if I had disappeared. She did not let anything stand in her way, from her own past to her current fears, her desire to find missing Jenny and make things right won out every time.

I could not have guessed the ultimate ending, even if I had tried and that is one thing that I truly appreciate in a book. I am very much looking forward to the next installation in this new series!

Thank you to Thomas & Mercer for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Confessions of a wedding musician mom by Jennifer McCoy Blaske

3 Star

Stay-at-home mom Heather Hershey hadn't thought about playing the piano in years. After what happened in college, she could barely bring herself to learn the theme song to Millie Mallard's Pond of Fun to amuse her kids. 

When she ran into an old college acquaintance at the grocery store things began to change. You were the piano player kept reverberating through Heather's head. She couldn't shake the idea, and she decided to take a leap of faith. 

Acting on suggestions from her patient husband, a zany neighbor, and even her out of control kids, Heather dives head first into the quagmire of starting her own business. In the beginning, it didn't seem as hard to get prospective clients as she'd imagined. It soon became obvious that sealing the deal was the problem . . . 

Will Heather realize her dream of becoming a professional pianist, or will it just be misstep after misstep yet again? 

Kathryn - 3 Star

This is a quick and easy read which does right what it says on the box. The novel delves into the stay at home mum life of Heather and her desire to get back a little bit of herself while trying to bring in an income. Her natural talent for music and her training seems to lend itself to being a part time wedding musician and with her husband's support she starts up her own business- or tries to... children make anything with a need to focus infinitely more challenging of course.  

I found the author did a great job creating the loving but slightly chaotic life of a stay at home but part time working mother. The kids were natural and their interactions seemed to flow. I also enjoyed her attempts at finding business and they were also naturally occurring and came with some giggles. All in all the frustrations came through the pages.

I'm not sure though if the novel in its entirety came across with all the pieces. Perhaps it was too short? I just finished it feeling like it wasn't quite resolved. I wished also that there had been more scenes with the husband to round out the family dynamic a bit more. 

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

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Travels with my father by Karen Jennings

2 Star

Travels with My Father is a beautifully written autobiographical novel. Written from the point of view of a young woman, daughter and writer, it is a frank, yet delicate and moving, account of her relationship with her father and his influence on her own life.

In the footsteps of her father, the author travels the world. Yet, key scenes are set in Plumstead, a suburb of Cape Town, where her father lived most of his life.

The relationships and divisions between members of a family that does not wear its heart on its sleeve, and some of whom are real eccentrics, are sensitively recorded. It all adds to an intricate picture of a changing South African society.


Kathryn - 2 Star

I was a bit disappointed though in how the novel played out. At times it felt like she was writing their history only for herself. She didn't seem to always consider that the book had to transcend and be interesting for the reader.  While there were moments that captured my attention, for instance, his teaching career, I was mostly confused about the flow of the "story" and questioned many times why certain things had been included.
I'm perhaps judging harshly which I am loath to do as the book is inherently personal. However when a book is offered to bloggers for review or a book is personal but trying to be marketable you need to consider the reader more and whether there is anything they will take from it. 

While I found the purpose of the novel lacking there were certainly moments of interest, I just wish it had had a better outline that more people could enjoy.  I know that the author has written other novels with acclaim so it seems likely that I chose to read the wrong book first- I shall have to go back and read one of her earlier books!

Thank you to Holland Park Press for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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