Monday, 30 June 2014

Review: Em And The Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto


In a one-bedroom-hall-kitchen in Mahim, Bombay, through the last decades of the twentieth century, lived four love-battered Mendeses: mother, father, son and daughter. Between Em, the mother, driven frequently to hospital after her failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the father, trying to hold things together as best he could, they tried to be a family.


Paperback, 224 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Penguin Books
Terri's Thoughts

I won a copy of this book as part of a giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

I was excited to read this as I have a fascination with all things related to India after spending some extended time there for work.  The fact that this book mentions Goa and Bombay was particularly interesting to me as I have spent time in both places.

I have to admit that it was a little bit of a let down for me as the main focus was on Em's mental illness and less focused on where the story occurred.  That being said I will forgive that as the story never advertised to be about India.

This story is about how a family copes with the mental illness of one of it's members.  It was at times funny with the some of the unfiltered thoughts coming from Em however most of the time it was depressing.  It was told from the point of view of the son with his curiosity about Em & Big Hooms past and the weight of responsibility of being a caretaker to his mother.  The emotions felt real and honest.

My only real criticism is that the story was too short.  I felt it skimmed over the issues instead of digging further in to story and I felt like I was reading the Cliffs note version of a really serious issue.  While Pinto was able to portray the strong family bonds and the mark mental illness leaves on its members I was left wanting more.

Overall a pleasant read.


About the Author


Jerry Pinto is a Mumbai-based Indian writer of poetry, prose and children's fiction in English, as well as a journalist. His noted works include, Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb (2006) which won the Best Book on Cinema Award at the 54th National Film Awards, Surviving Women (2000) and Asylum and Other Poems (2003). His first novel Em and The Big Hoom was published in 2012.



Sunday, 29 June 2014

Review: Home to Seaview Key by Sherryl Woods

Falling for a handsome stranger on the very morning they meet is hardly what recently divorced Abby Miller planned for her return to Seaview Key. Hoping to mend an old friendship and to give back to the community she loves, Abby's definitely not looking for love.

For ex-soldier Seth Landry, Seaview Key seems like the perfect place to heal a broken heart…eventually. And when he rescues a beautiful woman on the beach, his nightmares about the past are eclipsed by daydreams about the future.

Neither Abby nor Seth are looking for forever, but powerful love has its own timetable. And taking a chance on the future will test their courage in ways neither of them could possibly have anticipated.


Paperback, 384 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

For anyone who has read any of Sherryl Woods other work you will find that this book follows the same formula. You have a man and a woman with an attraction to each other but pasts and complications that interfere with the progress of a relationship.

First I have to say that I enjoyed reading about Seaview Key. There is something to be said about a small town atmosphere and the sense of community within it. I could picture myself being right at home sitting on Abby's porch, baking at the inn and eating fish sandwiches at the restaurant.

I enjoyed how Abby and Seth's relationship developed but at times I wished that it would speed along a little. It was understandable that there were doubts and insecurities because of their pasts but at times I felt like they analysed a little too much. It was a little frustrating at times. I also didn't understand Hannah's insecurities when it came to Abby being back in town. Yes she dated her husband but it was back when they were teenagers. There were marriages and children after that so her insecurities seemed a little extreme. It would have been nice to read a little bit more about their re-connection.

All in all it was a cute story about two people who discover that it is never too late to get the things in life that they desire. This was the third book by Woods that I have read and I'm sure it will not be the last.







About the Author

Author of more than 100 romance and mystery novels, Sherryl Woods grew up in Virginia. Over the years she had lived in Ohio and Florida, as well as California. Currently she divides her time between Key Biscayne, Florida and Colonial Beach, Virginia, the small, river-front town where she spent her childhood summers.

A graduate of Ohio State University School of Journalism, Sherryl spent more than ten years as a journalist, most of them as a television critic for newspapers in Ohio and Florida. For several years she also coordinated a motivational program for the more than 8,000 employees at the University of Miami-Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Her first book, RESTORING LOVE, was published in 1982 by Dell Candlelight Ecstasy under the pseudonym of Suzanne Sherrill. Her second book, SAND CASTLES, under the pseudonym of Alexandra Kirk, was published later that same year by Bantam. She began using her own name when she moved to the Second Chance at Love line at Berkley Publishing. In 1986, she began writing full-time and also began her long career at Silhouette Books with the Desire title NOT AT EIGHT, DARLING, set in the world of television which she covered for so many years.

In addition to her more than 75 romances for Silhouette Desire and Special Edition, she has written thirteen mysteries — nine in the Amanda Roberts series and four in the Molly DeWitt series.

When she's not writing or reading, Sherryl loves to garden, though she's not at her best on a riding lawn mower. She also loves tennis, theater, and ballet, even though her top spin has long since vanished, she's never set foot on a stage, and she's way too uncoordinated to dance. She also loves baseball and claims anyone who's ever seen Kevin Costner in "Bull Durham" can understand why.





Saturday, 28 June 2014

Review: Crimes Against My Brother by David Adams Richards


A brilliant, heartbreaking novel from a Canadian icon that tackles the theme of debt, and what we owe each other, through three unforgettable characters. This is Richards' best and most complex work since his Giller-winning Mercy Among the Children, and a fitting companion to that novel.
     Howard, Evan and Ian are inseparable as boys--so much so that one night, abandoned in the forest by the careless adults around them, and raging against society and the uncaring gods others worship, they seal their undying brotherhood with a blood bond. But soon after, a horrific accident scars each of them in a different way, testing their bonds and leaving each with a debt to be paid. As adults, seeking to rise above debt and advance in life, each man decides upon a very different path--but over time, all three discover they are tied to each other in intricately tangled, sometimes violent, and surprising ways that none of them has been wise enough to foresee.
     In Crimes Against My Brother, literary legend David Adams Richards is at his finest, reprising some of his most complex and beloved characters (such as Sydney Henderson from Mercy Among the Children), introducing unforgettable new ones (such as the beautiful but fatally foolish Annette Brideau; and the wily, charming, money-hungry manipulator Lonnie Sullivan), and weaving a tale of such force, gravitas, complexity, universality, and compassionate understanding that he reaffirms his status as a master storyteller who has, book by book, used his rare genius to create an entire, teeming universe alongside a river in a small northern part of the world.


Hardcover, 416 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Doubleday Canada

Terri's Thoughts

I won a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.  I was thrilled as I am always looking for an opportunity to be introduced to a new (new to me) Canadian author.

I am at a loss to describe my feelings about this book.  While very interesting it certainly was a depressing read.  I would not recommend this story to those who are looking for an uplifting happy read as this book does not deliver this and should be targeted towards those who appreciate a subtly tragic story.

Centralizing around three "blood brothers" this story depicts the life of poverty and broken dreams in a dead end town.  The reader experiences the downward spiral of all three boys as they become men and the ripple effect of their actions.  I found myself identifying somewhat since I come from a small town and have seen much the same occur.  Rumour become reality while the truth is never accepted.

There was a large cast of character throughout this story and almost all were unlikeable with their personal agenda coming before all.  No more did I dislike than Annette who I thought was garbage from the beginning.  Yet she never really had a chance and that I think was the point to the whole story.  Sometimes circumstance has the ability to determine ones future whether good or bad.

I will say that I am glad that I read this story and I enjoyed the message it conveyed but I do find myself a little depressed after reading it.  I can not iterate enough that this story is not for those who want a happy or even somewhat happy story.  This is for those who have the ability to think a little bit deeper than the words displayed on the page and the ability to see the message it conveys. 


About the Author

 David Adams Richards (born 17 October 1950) is a Canadian novelist, essayist, screenwriter and poet.

Born in Newcastle, New Brunswick, Richards left St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, one course shy of completing a B.A. Richards has been a writer-in-residence at various universities and colleges across Canada, including the University of New Brunswick.

Richards has received numerous awards including 2 Gemini Awards for scriptwriting for Small Gifts and "For Those Who Hunt The Wounded Down", the Alden Nowlan Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Canadian Authors Association Award for his novel Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace. Richards is one of only three writers to have won in both the fiction and non-fiction categories of the Governor General's Award. He won the 1988 fiction award for Nights Below Station Street and the 1998 non-fiction award for Lines on the Water: A Fisherman's Life on the Miramichi. He was also a co-winner of the 2000 Giller Prize for Mercy Among the Children.

In 1971, he married the former Peggy MacIntyre. They have two sons, John Thomas and Anton Richards, and currently reside in Toronto.

John Thomas was born in 1989 in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The Writers' Federation of New Brunswick administers an annual David Adams Richards Award for Fiction.

Richards' papers are currently housed at the University of New Brunswick

Friday, 27 June 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #34

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...
 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

This week's question is...

Post a photo of your favourite coffee mug (or mugs if you can’t choose just one).

I accidentally answered this question last week so I apologise to anyone that is reading this post twice. When work gets in the way of my blogging I schedule my post in advance and then have my daughter put in the link for me. By the time I realised that the question had changed, my post had already been up for hours so I didn't bother changing it. So here it is again. :)

Kristine's Answer

I found this mug at Indigo when I was browsing for books and fell in love with it. No matter how I look or feel in the morning my mug will always tell me I'm beautiful. It isn't just the saying that makes me love this mug so much though. Believe it or not, I am very picky when it comes to my mugs. It is all about the handle. A mug can be cute but if the handle isn't to my liking I will never use it. I like a big mug for a big cup of coffee so it can't have a dainty handle. The handle has to be large enough for me to wrap my whole hand through it and thick enough to withstand the weight of the cup when filled with coffee. The handle is way more important to me than what is on the mug. I am serious about my coffee and serious about my mugs. A girlfriend from work always brings me back a mug when she travels so I also have mugs from all around the world.

Terri's Answer

 Need I say more?  Until I have had two of these in my system don't even try to talk to me!  I am with Kris though...the handle is the most important.

What is your favourite mug?


 

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, email, facebook and/or twitter.
   

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Review: Harder by Robin York

In Robin York’s provocative new novel, two young ex-lovers find themselves together again in the shadow of tragedy—and an intense, undeniable attraction.

Caroline still dreams about West. His warm skin, his taut muscles, his hand sliding down her stomach. Then she wakes up and she’s back to reality: West is gone. And before he left, he broke her heart.

Then, out of the blue, West calls in crisis. A tragedy has hit his family—a family that’s already a fractured mess. Caroline knows what she has to do. Without discussion, without stopping to think, she’s on a plane, flying to his side to support him in any way he needs.

They’re together again, but things are totally different. West looks edgy, angry at the world. Caroline doesn’t fit in. She should be back in Iowa, finalizing her civil suit against the ex-boyfriend who posted their explicit pictures on a revenge porn website. But here she is. Deeply into West, wrapped up in him, in love with him. Still.

They fought the odds once. Losing each other was hard. But finding their way back to each other couldn’t be harder.


Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by Bantam 
Genre: New Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Bantam in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Let me start off by saying that this is the follow up book to Deeper and the conclusion to Caroline and West's story. I absolutely loved Deeper, giving it 5 stars, and could not wait to read more about Caroline and West. You can find my review for it here. It left off with the two being separated when West had to leave to take care of his sister and Harder tells the story of what happens next.

I'm not going to get into much detail because this is a sequel and I don't want to give any spoilers. I'll start off by saying that it caught me by surprise. The story did not begin how I thought it would or even how I wanted it to. In fact I found myself angry at times. West was not the same character that I loved so much in the first book and I actually hated him for a good portion of the book. Caroline also made me angry. I wanted her to scream or yell and to stop being so forgiving.

But...

This is a story. It may not have been pretty at times and it angered me a lot but that is life. Love isn't always easy and uncomplicated and sometimes it can be down right messy. That is the case with Harder. Caroline was screwed up in the first book and West was there to save her. This time Caroline was there to save West when he was screwed up and in trouble. This was not your fairy tale love story, it was not even close. It was not clean and tidy and things happen that most of us would find unforgivable. As I was reading I kept thinking of the connection and beauty from the first book and I think that is what saw me through the ugly parts of this book.

It is imperative that you read these books in sequence. If you do not then I can almost guarantee that you won't like Harder. If you do, you will enjoy it so much more. Even with the unforgivable indiscretions you can at least understand the complexities of the relationship and the the things that some people will do or overcome to save someone they love.




About the Author
Robin York grew up at a college, went to college, signed on for some more college, and then married a university professor. She still isn’t sure why it didn’t occur to her to write New Adult sooner. Writing as Ruthie Knox, she is a USA TODAY bestselling author of contemporary romance, including RITA-finalists About Last Night and Room at the Inn. She moonlights as a mother, makes killer salted caramels, and sorts out thorny plot problems while running, hiking, or riding her bike.
  


Connect with Robin


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Review: The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer


Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.

Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.


Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Putnam Juvenile
Terri's Thoughts
 
I received a copy of this book by entering and winning a Goodreads giveaway.  In return I will give an honest review.
 
 
This story is marketed as a middle grade tale however I think that by doing so that there is a greater population of readers who may miss out or skip the opportunity to read this gem.  The theme of love, loss and home reaches a far greater audience then the younger readers.  These themes are common to all people regardless of age and I know this story will be enjoyed by older readers as I enjoyed it.
 
 
The story details Grace's journey of finding her place in the world and finding herself in the aftermath of the death of her mother.  We are along for the journey as she struggles to define what home means to her and learns how to let people in to her life.
 
 
I won't detail the plot of the book as I feel the synopsis explains it well.  I will say that it is a touching and emotional story that I really enjoyed.  Also Holczer's writing flowed easily and made it a nice relaxing read despite its somewhat heavy topic.  I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a nice understated coming of age story.

Website:     
     


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Review: Thirty Sunsets by Christine Hurley Deriso

To Forrest Shephard, getting away to the family's beach house with her parents and her brother, Brian, is the best part of every summer. Until this year, when her mother invites Brian's obnoxious girlfriend, Olivia, to join them. Suddenly, Forrest's relaxing vacation becomes a mission to verify the reality of Olivia's rumored eating disorder. But the truth behind Olivia's finicky eating isn't at all what Forrest expected. And over the next thirty days, Forrest's world is turned upside down as her family's darkest secrets begin to come to light.

Paperback, 240 pages
Expected publication: July 8th 2014 by Flux 
Genre: Young Adult
Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Flux via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
This is the story of Forrest, a 16 year old girl, who is not popular, has no experience with boys and who dislikes her older brother's girlfriend Olivia. When she finds out that Olivia will be spending the month with her family at their beach house she thinks her summer is doomed. She soon finds out that things aren't always as they seem. Secrets and events happen in those thirty days that leave Forrest questioning the things she thought she knew and re-evaluating the things she didn't.

There are a few very relevant and important topics discussed in this book that many teens unfortunately have to deal with. I won't discuss them because I don't want to give the story away but I thought the author touched on them in a way that young teens will relate to in a very easy way. Although they are serious topics, the book did not come across too heavy and depressing but got the point across all the same.

Thirty Sunsets is a very quick and easy book to read that I think will really appeal to the younger of the young adult fans. It is a cute story of family and relationships. When deciding what to rate this book I thought back to my young teenage years and asked myself if I would have liked it and the answer is yes.




About the Author

Christine Hurley Deriso, a resident of North Augusta, South Carolina and a 1983 graduate of the University of Georgia College of Journalism, has written professionally for more than twenty-five years. She began her career as a reporter for The Augusta Chronicle. Christine has written feature articles, humor columns and inspirational essays for magazines including Ladies’ Home Journal, Parents, Family Circle and Child. She has overseen editorial standards for Georgia Health Sciences University since 1988 and was The Augusta Chronicle’s restaurant critic from 1998 to 2005.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Review: Something Sweeter by Candis Terry



Seattle event planner Allison Lane is an expert at delivering the perfect wedding—even if she might not exactly believe in the whole "'til death do us part" thing. When her father decides to tie the knot with a woman he barely knows, Allison heads to Sweet, Texas, to make sure his new honey is the real deal. What she didn't expect to find at the local honky-tonk was a sexy Southern man as bent on charming her pants off as he is on blowing her "true love doesn't exist" theory all to hell.

And they always promise . . .

Veterinarian, former Marine, and Sweet's favorite playboy Jesse Wilder takes one look at Allison and knows she's a handful of trouble he can't deny. But even after a sizzling kiss and obvious mutual attraction, it seems Allison has no such problem. When Jesse uncovers her sweet side, can he crush his playboy image, melt her cynical heart, and change her mind about taking a trip down the aisle?


ebook, 384 pages

Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Avon
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is June 24 2014.

I did not realize when I requested this book that it was the third book in the Sweet, Texas series.  I was able to read this as a stand alone however I do feel I missed out on the stories of the other Wilder brothers.  I will need to go back and read them.

This story does not stray from the formula that typically defines this genre.  Boy meets girl...instant physical attraction....they can't be together for various reasons that make sense to only themselves....yet they can't stay away from each other. This is what I expected from this story and this is what I got.  Delivered as promised.

Terry does a great job with the chemistry between Allison and Jesse.  It sizzles off of the page from their first meeting and continues to build momentum as the story continues. 

I must spend a little time talking about Jesse.  The description of Jesse was downright drool worthy.  He had the perfect eyes, the perfect chiseled body and a personality that put his amazing looks to the background.  This is how I know this was fiction as I do not think such perfection is achieved in real life.  He did have one downfall to put him among us mere mortals.  He had long hair.  Seriously who does that anymore?  I think this fad went out in the nineties and it certainly isn't attractive.  Then again maybe there are those out there that appreciate it so he would be perfect for them. 

Allison was the typical description.  Short....why are they always short?... long hair and a body that is every mans dream.  That is about all I remember as I had my focus on Jesse ;-)

There are some steamy scenes in this story that should be enough to satisfy those who crave it.  There was also a lot of more substantial parts that explored the family bonds of both Allison and Jesse.  This was probably the best part in my opinion.  The bond between the brothers is what made me really wish I had read the first two books.

I enjoyed this read and I plan on exploring the rest of the Sweet, Texas series.  I look forward to reading about the other droll worthy Wilder brothers!

About the Author




     

 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Review: Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

Colleen O'Rourke is in love with love... just not when it comes to herself. Most nights, she can be found behind the bar at the Manningsport, New York, tavern she owns with her twin brother, doling out romantic advice to the lovelorn, mixing martinis and staying more or less happily single. See, ten years ago, Lucas Campbell, her first love, broke her heart... an experience Colleen doesn't want to have again, thanks. Since then, she's been happy with a fling here and there, some elite-level flirting and playing matchmaker to her friends.

But a family emergency has brought Lucas back to town, handsome as ever and still the only man who's ever been able to crack her defenses. Seems like maybe they've got some unfinished business waiting for them—but to find out, Colleen has to let her guard down, or risk losing a second chance with the only man she's ever loved.


Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Harlequin HQN 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Waiting on You is the third instalment of the Blue Heron series. I have read other books by Higgins but none from this series. I could easily follow along and would venture to guess that a few of the secondary characters were from the first two instalments.

I want to start out by saying that I was taken by surprise with this book. I was expecting a typical chic lit love story but this book was so much more. There were some seriously funny, laugh out loud moments in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the humour and sarcasm throughout.

Colleen and Lucas were a real treat to get to know. Higgins gives you the perfect blend of past and present in order to fully understand their relationship and how deep their connection was. Colleen was a spitfire, flirt and extremely sarcastic woman who prided herself in making love connections for others in her community even when one was lacking in hers. Lucas was the boy that broke her heart and she could never quite get over. He was the hunky, strong, silent type with piercing eyes that I'm sure most women would have a hard time recovering from. They were not without their faults though. Colleen came off as a little conceited at times and Lucas was ever so slow in making decisions where they were concerned and lets not forget that he was also the one that married someone else after getting her pregnant.

As much as I enjoyed the second chance romance aspect of this book I think it was the humour and sarcasm that really won me over. Without saying too much I have to say that the Paulie and Bryce story and Colleen's mom were real treats to read about. With thneeds, painting hairy nude men and the menopausal support group it was really quite funny.

I really enjoyed this story and plan to check out the rest of the Blue Heron series to see if they are similar in humour and sarcasm.






About the Author
I live in a small Connecticut town with a beautiful library, a great agricultural fair, nice people and not much else. I have two lovely, entertaining children and a brave firefighter for a husband, who is, perhaps more importantly, a fantastic cook. Digger from Fools Rush In is inspired my very own Digger, our cheerful Lab mutt. We also have two cats and grieve for an occasional, short-lived beta fish.

I worked as a copywriter until I had kids and started writing fiction when my children graced my life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, I surmised, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so I started my first novel. Before long, I had finished Stalking Joe, whose title was later changed to Fools Rush In. Catch of the Day followed, winning the 2008 Romance Writers of America's RITA© award, which just thrilled me to my toes. Then came Just One of the Guys (August 08), Too Good To Be True (Feb 09), The Next Best Thing (Feb 10), and All I Ever Wanted, summer 2010. More books are in the pipeline.

I love to write books about relationships, since the search for love and security is one of the driving forces of life. And I try to focus on an aspect that’s common, if not universal, hence the “stalking” in Fools Rush In and the crush on the unattainable man in Catch of the Day. People ask if I’ve ever stalked a guy. Of course not! Jeez! Come on! It’s fiction! They also ask if I’ve ever had a crush on a priest. Of course not! Jeez! Come on! It’s fiction! As far as being crazy about one of my brother's friends, which is the plot of Just One of the Guys, well, yes to that one. But I'm not naming names. Dating a fictional man, like Grace does in Too Good To Be True? Um...can I take the fifth on that one? Whether it's my own experience or not, I try to find something we can all relate to.

When I’m not writing, I like to be with my kids, goof around with my husband, read, watch baseball, ride my bike and bake. I suffer from chronic bedhead and an unhealthy (and completely understandable) obsession with Derek Jeter, shortstop for the New York Yankees. Like Millie Barnes, I run, which provides the neighbors with some real entertainment.

We spend as much time as possible at our family home on Cape Cod, swimming in the Atlantic, shivering on the beach, swatting horseflies and watching fish evade my lure at Higgins Pond. It’s as close to heaven as it gets.
Connect with Kristan
 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Review: The Arsonist by Sue Miller


From the best-selling author of While I Was Gone and The Senator's Wife, a superb new novel about a family and a community tested when an arsonist begins setting fire to the homes of the summer people in a small New England town.

Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for 15 years, Frankie Rowley has come home-home to the small New Hampshire town of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. On her first night back, a house up the road burns to the ground. Is it an accident, or arson? Over the weeks that follow, as Frankie comes to recognize her father's slow failing and her mother's desperation, another house burns, and then another, always the homes of summer people. These frightening events, and the deep social fault lines that open in the town as a result, are observed and reported on by Bud Jacobs, a former political journalist, who has bought the local paper and moved to Pomeroy in an attempt to find a kind of home himself. As this compelling book unfolds, as Bud and Frankie begin an unexpected, passionate affair, arson upends a trusting small community where people have never before bothered to lock their doors; and Frankie and Bud bring wholly different perspectives to the questions of who truly owns the land, who belongs in the town, and how, or even whether, newcomers can make a real home there.



Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Knopf
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Knopf via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is June 24 2014.

I will admit that I was slightly confused at first with this book.  It is not yet released however it takes place during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal which as we all know what quite some time ago.  I thought maybe this was a re-release however I can not find any evidence to support that.  Perhaps it was a work that Miller did previously and is just now publishing.

While the synopsis given for this story is pretty accurate I feel it is not really what the book is about.  Yes there were a series of arsons in the small town and yes Frankie and Bud start a passionate relationship but it is not really the true story behind the story.  Both of these events are occurring at the same time however the true story is about self discovery and learning about yourself.

The story of Frankie's ailing father was actually detailed and more impactful than the story of the arsons.  Her relationship with her parents, their home and finding where she belongs is really what this story was about.  If someone was looking for a suspenseful read about a serial arsonist than they may be left less than satisfied with this read.  If someone is looking for an epic love story...ditto.

Ultimately while I enjoyed this read I found that not a lot happened throughout the story which made it feel a lot longer than it was.  I understand that this story was more about Frankie returning home and trying to learn what the feeling of home and belonging really is and therefore I was able to still enjoy the story.  It was just a bit on the slow side.

As a last point those who like stories to be wrapped up neatly by the end should not read this. Without divulging what occurs. I found that all of the plots within this story were left open ended.  While I feel that a strategic open ending can be genius I thought there was just too much in this one.  All of the storylines felt unresolved at the end to me and just left me with a question mark.



Sue Miller (born November 29, 1943 in Chicago) is an American writer who has authored a number of best-selling novels. Her duties as a single mother left her with little time to write for many years, and as a result she did not publish her first novel until 1986, after spending almost a decade in various fellowships and teaching positions. Since then, two of her novels have been made into feature films, and her book While I Was Gone was an Oprah's Book Club pick in 2000.


 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #33

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...
 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

This week's question is...

Post a photo of your favourite coffee mug (or mugs if you can’t choose just one).

Kristine's Answer





I found this mug at Indigo when I was browsing for books and fell in love with it. No matter how I look or feel in the morning my mug will always tell me I'm beautiful. It isn't just the saying that makes me love this mug so much though. Believe it or not, I am very picky when it comes to my mugs. It is all about the handle. A mug can be cute but if the handle isn't to my liking I will never use it. I like a big mug for a big cup of coffee so it can't have a dainty handle. The handle has to be large enough for me to wrap my whole hand through it and thick enough to withstand the weight of the cup when filled with coffee. The handle is way more important to me than what is on the mug. I am serious about my coffee and serious about my mugs.

Terri's Answer

  
Need I say more?  Until I have had two of these in my system don't even try to talk to me!  I am with Kris though...the handle is the most important.

What is your favourite mug?

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, email, facebook and/or twitter.
 

Review: Fake It by Jennifer Chance

As her sizzling new series continues, Jennifer Chance sparks some serious combustion between a sexy biker and a corporate go-getter who’s ready to let her hair down.

New grad Anna Richardson works hard—so hard that she’s given up having a romantic life. Anna has even convinced her friends that she’s dating an amazing guy—who they’ve simply never met. But now Anna has a wedding to attend and needs to produce the hottie she’s been lying about for the past six months. Enter Jake Flynn, her infuriating, motorcycle-riding, jaw-droppingly gorgeous neighbor, who’s more than willing to fake it for a weekend. In fact, Jake won’t be satisfied until things get real.

Though Jake is only playing the role of adoring boyfriend, he’s starting to feel the heat, and judging by Anna’s sweet blush, so is she. Letting chemistry this intense go to waste would be a real shame. Soon, though, the thin line between fantasy and reality fades. Jake may not be what every buttoned-up fast-tracker wants, but he’s sure as hell what Anna needs. And if she takes a ride with him, their adventure never has to end.


ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance/New Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank You!

Fake It is the second book in the Rule Breakers series but can be read as a stand alone. Each book covers the story of different characters and you do not need to read the first book to follow along.

I thought that this was a cute story about a make believe relationship where chemistry blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. Anna needs a fake boyfriend to be her date for a friends wedding and Jake, the hunky neighbour that she has been eyeing, happens to be more than willing to fill the role for her. When the weekend away turns out to be more than either of them ever dreamt of things get complicated and feelings get dangerous.

There is a ton of chemistry between Jake and Anna and it doesn't take long for the pages to heat up. The "fake" relationship is every girls fantasy come true and what dreams are made of. Jake shows that he isn't just a motorcycle riding bad boy but a man that knows how to please a woman in more ways than one. Unfortunately both characters have issues from their past and completely opposite lives in the present which complicate things and prove that chemistry isn't always enough.

Considering that the book isn't very long I found that there was a sufficient development between the characters and that I liked both of them. Anna could get a bit annoying at times but I do believe that was the authors intent in order for the plot to flow as it did. It was not a unique story but entertaining none the less and I really enjoyed it. I will be sure to check out the first book in the series and will follow any that come after.





About the Author

Jennifer Chance is the award-winning author of the new adult Rule Breakers series. A lover of books, romance, and happily-ever-afters, she lives and writes in Ohio.

Connect with Jennifer
 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Review: Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning


An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.

Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.

Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .


Paperback, 340 pages
Published January 29th 2014 by Beltor
Terri's Thoughts

I received a copy of this book directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you.

This was a truly touching story.  Take an autistic boy, an elderly woman who has unfinished dreams and add in some dogs the result is a story about learning about yourself and your capabilities.  How Benny and Bess helped each other to change their current reality was magnificent.

The fact that this story centralizes around dogs touched upon a weakness of mine.  Although I am of the same opinion as Benny in the story and I don't consider poodles "real dogs" and would take my golden retriever any day, I do know about a humans love for a dog and vice versa.  This story captures that and McCreery's actions towards the end of the story was heartwarming.  I do also believe that dogs have the ability to heal and shed perspective on things all without being able to speak.  I loved this aspect of the story.

Ultimately this was a story about loss and loneliness and overcoming these by finding your own passions.  Its a story about going for your dream or just discovering what your dream is.  This was an easy read with an uplifting topic and will be sure to please most audiences. It is clear that Manning has done some research on show dogs and has a passion for dogs herself. I am glad I had the opportunity to discover this book.


About the Author


Diane Daniels Manning was raised in Redding, Connecticut, the setting for her novel ALMOST PERFECT. As a youngster, she rode her bike up and down former cow paths to the Mark Twain Library where she plundered the children's shelves and fantasized she'd grow up to a famous writer like Samuel Clemens.

Inevitably she was educated, taught English and reading in Connecticut, and earned a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H. from Harvard. She climbed the tenure ladder and served as Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities at Tufts University. There she became convinced that special needs children are best helped when equal attention is paid to their emotional and their academic lives. Her Standard Poodle, Bel Tor Mandy, accompanied her to work daily and taught her the therapeutic benefit of animals.

Following an appointment in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard School of Public Health, she moved to New Orleans where she served as Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane and became certified as a child and adult psychoanalyst by the American Psychoanalytic Association. In 2005, she moved to Houston and co-founded The New School in the Heights (www.newschoolheights.org) , a therapeutic school for bright children with social and emotional challenges. She continues to serve as Executive Director.

Diane's writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and a Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition. She learned the workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a past President of the Poodle Club of America. When not at The New School in the Heights, she and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty.



Website:     







Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Review: Have Mercy by Shelley Ann Clark

Rock diva Emme Hayes already broke up one band after sleeping with the lead singer, and she swears she won’t let sex screw things up again. The problem is, her new bass player—a lean, muscular, tattooed mystery man who makes her want to demand his absolute attention—has her so worked up she can hardly carry a tune. Emme promises he’s off-limits. She just doesn’t know how she’ll be able to confine the heat to her love songs.

The moment Tom McKinney lays eyes on Emme strutting around the stage of his blues bar—all curves, eye liner, and teased blond hair—he knows she’s one of a kind. So when she offers him a two-month paid gig to tour with her band, Tom can’t say no, despite family troubles and the bar’s precarious finances. Onstage and off, the music they make thrums in his soul, but Tom has too much going on to get involved—even if he burns to let Emme play his body like a fine-tuned instrument.




ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by Loveswept 
Genre: Contemporary Rmance/Erotica

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group- Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is July 1, 2014.

I am going to keep my thoughts short and simple on this book. Have Mercy is Clark's debut novel and it is a good start. I can see her work getting bigger and better but...

This book fell a little short for me if I am being completely honest. Although it was entertaining for a few short hours it lacked any real staying power and I will easily forget it. I felt that the story was slightly underdeveloped and the characters were extremely underdeveloped as far as their relationship went. As much as I wanted to get behind Emme and Tom I was indifferent. I could not feel the attraction and chemistry. Even the erotic scenes lacked the "sexy" that I was expecting. You read about what she is thinking of doing and then she does it. It was a little too robotic which in the end made for a little boring. Perhaps my issue with the sex was that Emme was the dominant one while Tom was the submissive. I guess I just found her a little too dull to be dominant. She wasn't very convincing in the role and at times a little annoying. Although Clark was on the right track, the "hot and steamy" was a little more like "warm and foggy."

If nothing else it is entertaining and I look forward to seeing what Clark comes out with next.




About the Author
Shelley Ann Clark's third-grade teacher told her that one day she'd be a romance novelist. It probably says something about her that, at age eight, she thought that was a compliment of the highest order.

Shelley now holds an MA in creative writing, a masters of library and information science, and has worked in public libraries for over a decade. A Southerner by birth, she lives in Chicago.
  

Connect with Shelley


Monday, 16 June 2014

Review: The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White



A haunting and beautifully written debut novel by an exciting new talent. When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can't forget the girl, can't ignore the strange behaviour of her neighbours, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart. 'The Qualities of Wood' is a stunning novel from an exciting new writer. Perfect for readers of Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.

Paperback, 370 pages
Expected publication: June 17th 2014 by HarperCollins Authonomy
Terri's Thoughts
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper Collins Authonomy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!  The expected publication date is June 17, 2014.
 
I have started and stopped writing my thoughts several times.  I am really struggling with my opinion on this read.  It is easy to pen my thoughts when a book is outstanding or when it is terrible.  This one was neither and hence I do not know what to say.
 
The writing style was easy to read and flowed well.  My main issue was that nothing really happened in this story.  I am still left wondering what it was about.  Was it a mystery?  Was it a story about self discovery?  I don't know.  I feel like the story and its meaning was underdeveloped which made its 370 pages feel very long.  I sense that the message that was meant to occur failed to materialize for me.
 
While the book was filled with interesting characters you only got a sample of each.  The reader never really learns anything about them with the exception of Vivian.  I have the feeling this was intentional however it really didn't work for me.  I wanted to know about Stokes, Lonnie and Dot.  Perhaps learn more about Nowell's story.  This was an unexplored avenue that really could have been interesting.
 
 
All in all this was not a bad read.  Just a little on the disappointing for me as I feel it had so much more potential then it delivered.  This will not discourage me from reading more work by Vensel White as I do feel that she shows potential.  This book was just average for me.

About the Author


Mary Vensel White was born in Los Angeles and raised in Lancaster, California. She graduated from the University of Denver and lived for five years in Chicago, where she completed an MA in English at DePaul University. Her short fiction has appeared in The Wisconsin Review and Foothills Literary Journal. The Qualities of Wood is her first novel.

Vensel White currently lives in southern California with her husband and four children. She is working on another novel set in the Midwest, a place that flourishes in her imagination despite her sunny surroundings, and a collection of interrelated short stories.


Website:  http://www.maryvenselwhite.com

Twitter:  mvw888    





           


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Review: Future Tense by L.J. Cohen

In the ten years since his parents died in a fire he predicted but couldn't prevent, seventeen year old Matt is trying to stay out of trouble, biding his time until he ages out of foster care. All he wants is for the world to leave him alone so he won't be tortured by seeing someone's future he's powerless to change anyway. But his plans for keeping himself aloof fail when he interrupts a vicious attack on Amara, a girl he recognizes from school. Despite his best attempts to push her away, he can't ignore the connection they've formed. That's when glimpses of Amara's dangerous future start to invade the present — a future he fears is his fault. Now Matt has something to lose again . . . and something to fight for.


Paperback, 290 pages
Published February 5th 2014 by Interrobang Books 
Genre: Young Adult


Kristine's Thoughts:


I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

The premise of this book was interesting and the story was easy to read with its simplistic writing style. Readers of any age will be able to get through it quickly.

The plot had an interesting concept with Matt seeing bad things before they happen but having no control or ability to change the outcome. I did find that the story dragged in places and some key parts to the story were skimmed over. Matt's self loathing did get on my nerves after a while and I wanted to reach into the pages and give him a shake. I understand that he had a rough life and that seeing things that you don't want to can be overwhelming but he spent way too much time thinking negatively.

The story between Matt and Amara was a little under developed in my opinion as well. It would have been nice to read more about their developing relationship and connection. I feel it would have been a much more realistic story if more time was spent on it.

Over all it was a cute story that I think young readers will enjoy.




About the Author
 LJ lives outside of Boston with her family and dogs. Her writing spans the gamut from poetry, essays, short stories, and novels. LJ has a secret love of reading and writing YA books. She is represented by Nephele Tempest of The Knight Agency. 








Connect with L.J. Cohen