Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Degrees of Love by Lisa Slabach

5 Star

Like the shiny new BMW parked in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two boys, Susan Sinclair exudes confidence and style. Newly promoted to a prestigious Senior Vice President position at her firm, Susan is the picture of personal and professional success.

Yet appearances are deceiving. With each advance in Susan’s career, Matt has grown more distant. But he refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had, forces herself to play along.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. She and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time, Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is.

In a moment of weakness, friendship becomes something more. Now, unable to stomach the fa├žade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream. 

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this debut author late last year. The synopsis of her book and the cover both appealed to me, so I picked it up to give it a try despite never having heard of this author before. I certainly did not regret this as it was one of the books I enjoyed the most last year and identified with perhaps the most.

This is the story of Susan Sinclair, a woman who finds herself accepting a new position as a high powered executive which leads to more responsibilities and travel with her attractive boss. Living through difficulties in her marriage, it isn't long before Susan finds herself falling for her boss and trying to resist the temptation.

Finding herself trying to be a good mother, employee and wife but with her heart all over the place, I found myself empathizing with Susan. Which any of us could do if we had ever gone through relationship troubles.

Some of the events and dialogue in this story really resonated with me and felt like something that had happened to me. The great strength of this author was to create a character that spoke to me so strongly despite different circumstances but similar feelings.

I loved this book and read it in a day, almost in one sitting as it was that compelling and captivating. I can't wait for more from Lisa Slabach.

Thank you to iRead Book Tours for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Lisa Slabach:
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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

5 Star

In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Isabel Allende has such a unique and strong voice and the stories that she tells are like no other. Therefore, I was so pleased to receive this surprise in the mail as I have been looking forward to reading it since I first heard about it and saw its gorgeous cover.

Again set in a place I love, her descriptions of New York, but especially Brooklyn, brought me back to that city in a heartbeat. Part of her immense talent is her ability to do that without being overly descriptive but creating a feeling that I can remember all to well.

This story is one that I was not quite ready for or exactly expecting. And what I mean by that is that I could not imagine living these events. The synopsis does not prepare you for all of the things that Richard, Lucia and Evelyn face, either past or present.

I love stories that build up by going back and forth from different times and perspectives and this book was a masterful telling in this fashion. Set in many countries and with different experiences, there were so many heartaches and trials that these three relived while dealing with a very difficult situation.

Possibly one of my favorite books of this year, I have not stopped pondering it since I put it down and I certainly cannot wait to pick it back up!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Isabel Allende:
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Taste of Air by Gail Cleare

4 Star

A simple phone call disrupts Nell Williams’s well-ordered life. Her mother, Mary, is in a hospital in Vermont. But her mother is supposed to be safely tucked away in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, so Nell can’t fathom why she would be so far from home.

After notifying her sister, Bridget, Nell hops on a plane and rushes to her mother’s side. There, she discovers that her mother has been living a second life. Mary has another home and a set of complex relationships with people her daughters have never met.

When Nell and Bridget delve deeper into their mother’s lakeside hideaway, they uncover a vault of family secrets and the gateway to change for all three women. 

Kathryn - 4 Star

I sat on this novel for a long time before being able to read it- and I wish I hadn’t deprived myself!
The title actually evokes the feelings I remember from the book- the escape by the ocean is so airy you can taste the breeze and the need for that air is also essential for those who are seeking it- a good title for the overall feel of the book.

Nell’s family life is put on hold when she receives a phone call that her mother is in serious condition in a hospital a long way from the retirement home she thought her mother was living in.  It starts a whole series of discoveries for Nell about her mother’s life and her own family history.  When her sister Bridget is able to join her near the ocean at their mother’s beach house they really begin to realise that their mother spent a good portion of her life making her own happiness.  I think it actually helps them both to realise that they must seize their own joy – even if Nell didn’t realise she was missing any and Bridget knew she needed more.

I found the relationship between the sisters to be honest and thought provoking as well as their personal relationships with men and on the whole what we eventually know about their mother was heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the same time.  The novel really explored family relationships as well as individuality.

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

Connect with Gail Cleare:
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Friday, January 12, 2018

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

5 Star

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

Sabrina-Kate - 5 Star

Rarely do I read books of this type as I am not particularly interested in the paranormal and magic in general, but I fell in love with the Owens family and the children whose story this book told. The second book in a series, this book is a prequel to Practical Magic which I have not yet read but certainly will after reading this one.

Set in the sixties mostly in New York City and Massachusetts, this book tells the story of siblings Jet, Franny and Vincent whose lives were all unique but who shared many family secrets and abilities which made them close despite separations they faced over the years.  I loved hearing about this magical family and the suffering they faced due to their unique lives and the parents who tried to protect them at all cost. Facing many trials and tribulations, these three show their tenacity throughout this story which spans from childhood to adulthood and their own families. Multi-generational, the story speaks of a legacy that is everlasting and calls upon many characters throughout to weave together the story of the Owens.

A truly heartfelt story, which tugged at my heartstrings, I enjoyed getting to know this family and learning about one of my favourite cities during a fascinating time period. Alice Hoffman shows again what a master storyteller she is.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

Connect with Alice Hoffman:
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Monday, January 8, 2018

Hanna Who Fell From The Sky by Christopher Meades

3 Star

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets Daniel, an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. Then her mother tells her a secret--one that could grant Hanna the freedom she's known only in her dreams. As her world unravels around her, Hanna must decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she's ever known? Or is there another option--one too fantastical to believe?

Kathryn - 3 Star

This was a strange book and not only because of the internal working of a cult content but because I felt as if it was incomplete.  Hanna is almost 18 and gives a voice to the confined world in which she's been brought up.  She is about to be married off to an elder in the fold who already has several wives and is at least 30 years her senior.  The entire story covers the short period of time leading up to her arranged marriage but there is also some back story interwoven into the present.

Hanna is more aware of her surroundings and her situation than her siblings appear to be, she’s unsure about the way her future is looking and seems to be edging towards finding a way out.  She’s also having a hard time reconciling herself to leaving her younger sister behind- she fears that no one will be able to care for her the way she can.

I wish this novel explored a longer time frame so that we had more of a feel for Hanna’s family dynamics- we had snippets, but I didn’t grasp the whole.   I feel also that there should have been more links for Hanna within the community that she could have leant on- as it was she only appeared to be close with the one sister and occasionally her mother.  She then meets Daniel who seems to give her the boost she needs to explore other options- but then she backtracks again and decides she will have to remain in Clearhaven.

I think I was frustrated because I felt this novel could have been more powerful and that the bones were there but not complete?  I enjoyed it and wanted more but am now also really curious to read other books by this author.

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

Connect with Christopher Meades:
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Thursday, January 4, 2018

To Provence with Love by T.A.Williams

4 Star

Struggling writer Faye Carter just can’t believe her luck. She’s off to Provence to write the autobiography of a famous film star and she’ll be staying in the stunning chateau!

So when she meets charming (and completely gorgeous) lavender farmer, Gavin, she knows that she’s made the right choice – even if glamourous, elderly Anabelle seems to be hiding something…

But when the sun is shining, the food is delicious and the air smells of honey, anything seems possible. Will the magic of Provence help Faye finally find a happy-ever-after of her own?

Kindle    Nook    Kobo

I was again enchanted by this novel by T.A Williams which is wonderful- perhaps it’s because this novel returns to the warm countryside where romance can flourish amongst the scents of summer and majestic countryside?  Or perhaps I just related to Faye easily so everything fell into place? 

I loved that Faye upped her life and moved in with a mysterious stranger to write a memoir.  It was a pretty gutsy start to the novel and I was intrigued by her strength and determination- luckily for her she’s set up in a lovely apartment above the stables or garage or some other outbuilding and lands on her feet helping a famous film star write her story. 

All of the people who work for and with the glamourous Annabelle are charming and delightful so she’s not lacking for company either, despite the chateau’s isolation. There’s even a lovely dog to accompany her on her walks and force her outside when she needs a break from writing.

It seems almost superfluous to her joy to also be intrigued by the handsome (but a bit broody) lavender farmer next door.  A lavender farmer with a past though makes for some romantic plot twists for us and I appreciated their slow connection.  I was equally charmed by the villagers Faye meets and her father who comes to visit.

Entirely charming and sweet this novel will have you wanting to hop on a plane and discover your own slice of lavender and chateaus.

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

Connect with T.A.Williams:
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