Saturday, 31 January 2015

Review: A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor


In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.


Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher William Morrow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is February 3rd 2015.

Yet again words escape me and I do not know how to express my thoughts on this story.  I loved it, that much I know but how do I share my reasons why?

This was a heart wrenching and beautifully written story.  Set back in the later 1800's and early 1900's it tells the story of two girls a few decades apart.  From the tragic story of Florrie and the flower sellers of London's streets to the story of Tilly working with the afflicted flower girls who had been rescued from the streets of London.

I knew nothing of the story of the flower sellers in London and their tragic stories.  I do not know if they are still there as I have never been to London however I have seen them in other places I have travelled in Asia which made it all the more real to me.  To think that young children were living under such circumstance (and could still be) is absolutely heartbreaking.  I was glued to the pages of Florrie's story.

While the story of Tilly offered up no real surprises I was equally invested.  I wanted to find out what happened to her father and her sister.  I wanted to know if she would be able to find Florrie's sister.  Would she make it in London?

Although Gaynor does not really keep what happened to the characters a secret and you know throughout, I couldn't wait to see how it would unfold for the characters.  I had an emotional attachment to them and the outcome.  This is always the sign of a good book for me.

This is the second time I have read one of Gaynor's works.  Both times I enjoyed her writing immensely.  She is quickly rising on my list of must read authors and I am eagerly awaiting her next work.  For those who like historical fiction this would be a must read.

Random thought:  All stories I have read about London during this era depict a filthy and smelly city.  This does not match up with my current image of the city however must be accurate as too many have described it that way.  It is interesting how a city can transform it to the one we know today.  Perhaps there are still areas like this however it is not what we see I the media.  It is just interesting and not necessarily related to this book.



About The Author

Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer living in Ireland.

Her debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME (William Morrow/HarperCollins) was a USA Today and New York Times bestseller. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS will be published in February 2015.

Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was recently named as one of U.S. Library Journal's Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015.

Hazel also writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie. She also writes feature articles for the site and has interviewed authors such as Philippa Gregory, John Boyne, and Sebastian Faulks.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel has lived in Ireland for the past twelve years with her husband and two young children.


Website: 
Twitter:  HazelGaynor


Thursday, 29 January 2015

Review: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West's newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war.

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.


Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Putnam Juvenile 
Genre: Young Adult/ Mystery/ Thriller

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an ARC of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

I didn't know much about this book when I received it other than what the synopsis stated. I try to avoid reading reviews until after I've written one so that my opinion isn't clouded. Needless to say, I went into this book with an open mind and not knowing what to expect. All I really knew was that it is marketed for the YA genre and I was hopeful that it was one of those books that appeal to a larger audience. Technically I don't fit into that category and haven't for quite a few years.

The Conspiracy of Us was a quick and easy, fast paced story filled with mysterious and thrilling twists and turns. It was filled with power, danger and a little bit of confusion. For lovers of romance there is also some of that to be found as well. The story doesn't let up and therefore a 336 page book felt more like 100.

I want to discuss the characters for a few minutes. Specifically I want to talk about Jack and Stellan. I really liked both of them in different ways but at no time was I sure of their real intentions and secrets and if I could trust their motives. This added to the mystery and my enjoyment of the book and made me want to know more. I could understand Avery's struggle. Is there a love triangle? I'm not sure of a love triangle but there is a triangle. Find that confusing? You'll understand once you read it.

I should point out that there was some blood and gore within the pages but I did not find it excessive or inappropriate for the younger audience. The romance aspect of the story was sweet and pretty squeaky clean as well. I am pleased to say that I think this book will appeal to readers of all ages and not just the younger audience. It was very plot driven and had a little something for everyone. 

This book is part of a series and of course it ends with a cliffhanger and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one. I don't know when it is coming out but I want it!

On a side note, I do have two tiny and somewhat stupid complaints that don't impact the story at all. The first is in regards to the cover. The girl on the cover in no way, shape or form fits the description of Avery in the book. The second is more of a wish for the next book. I would really like to see Avery in something other than a dress every time she has to run from the bad guys. I appreciate fashion and a good pair of Christian Louboutins as much as the next girl but throw the girl some jeans and sneakers every once in a while.

In the end I really, really enjoyed this book and I think that others will as well.





About the Author
Maggie Hall is a traveling, decorating, champagne-drinking, USC-football-watching YA author. She is currently traveling the world for an indefinite amount of time with her husband, which means right at this moment, she might be on a beach in Thailand, drinking wine in Paris, or anywhere in between.

Her debut novel, a YA international thriller, is coming from Putnam/Penguin in 2015.

She is represented by Claudia Ballard at William Morris Endeavor.

  
Connect with Maggie


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Review: What Burns Away by Melissa Falcon Field


One woman's life is about to explode into flames-but she's the one lighting the match

Upon relocating to snowy Madison with a distant physician husband, New England native Claire Spruce is besieged by a dark past when her first love finds her again. Breaking decades of silence, old flame Dean offers an intoxicating, reckless escape from motherhood's monotony. Enchanted by his return, while yearning for her own mislaid identity, she agrees to repay a favor that could incinerate her marriage and her child's well-being. What Burns Away is a story of loyalty, family and the realization that the past is nearly always waiting for us in the future.


Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by Sourcebooks Landmark
 
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Sourcebooks via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 27th, 2015.

I have mixed emotions about this story.  I will start with the part that I struggled with.

Characters - I had a hard time identifying with any of them.  I could not understand Claire's depression and grief.  It seemed very juvenile to me.  Yes I can see how she was frustrated with her husband and her new living conditions but it was evident her grief was deeper than that.  It was the ghosts of her past I couldn't understand.  Miles her husband - I was indifferent to him.  He worked to much and didn't pay attention to his family as he should but aside from that I have no opinion

Dean deserves his own paragraph.  There was nothing remotely likeable about him.  Not in his adult version nor the version that fourteen year old Claire fell in love with.  I go back to when I was fourteen and I still would have seen nothing but a deadbeat.  He was practically an adult and taking advantage of a fourteen year old girl.  This was creepy and I couldn't get past it.  He continued with the same behavior as an adult.  I just could not see how someone like him could lead Claire astray the way he did.

This is where I can talk about the deeper themes at play in the story.  This is a story about guilt, depression, family and loss.  It could be argued that these were the driving factors for Claire's actions and not an old love from when she was still a young girl.  I get this, I really do.  It doesn't make the story sit any easier for me.  I can easily see how this book could be discussed at length in a book club as there are many parts with deeper emotion than is displayed on the surface.

For me at the end of the day the story was an ok read.

 
 
About The Author     


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together

The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.

Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.


Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks 
Genre: Fiction/Coming of Age

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

The Grown Ups is definitely a coming of age story and a really good one. Some coming of age stories can be boring and unsatisfying but that isn't the case with this title. It's told through multiple narratives which I adore and begins at the age of fifteen into adulthood. We hear from childhood friends Sam, Suzie and Bella.

It showcases how the decisions and actions of parents, friends and loved ones can really impact the lives of others and shape who they become. All three characters have families that are dysfunctional in one way or another and as the reader we get to see how this affects their relationships and lives. It also showcases the power of friendship and how everything always leads back to it. Each point of view held my interest and kept the pages moving. Some of Sam's choices did get on my nerves but I found myself routing for all three characters and hoping they would all get their happy endings.

The story really comes full circle. It begins when Sam, Suzie and Bella are all teenagers and their lives are changed by the actions or circumstances involving their parents. As time goes on they take on the roll of caregiver to those same parents. It truly is a beautifully written and powerful story of family, love, loyalty and friendship. It is definitely one of the better coming of age stories that I have read in a long time.

Robin Antalek is a new author to me and now I can't wait to read some of her other work.






About the Author
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. Her nonfiction writing has been published in literary journals and in several collections, including The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review, and Literary Mama among others. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.



Connect with Robin


Monday, 26 January 2015

Review: This Is the Life by Alex Shearer


Even when you have received a death sentence, you still have to live…

“Life just seems like a big party sometimes, at which we all gradually get edged to the door, and then we are out in the cold. But the party continues without us…”
This is the story of Louis, who never quite fitted in, and of his younger brother who always tagged along.
Two brothers on one final journey together, wading through the stuff that is thicker than water.
Tender-hearted, at times achingly funny, This is the Life is a moving testimony to both the resilience of the human spirit and to the price of strawberries.


Hardcover, 248 pages

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Atria via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is February 3rd 2015 although Goodreads indicates that it has already been released which suggests it is a re-release.

This is one of those stories that I do not think I will be able to express my thoughts on.  On the one hand it is a moving story about a brother dealing with the illness of his sibling and remembering moments throughout their life.  It is about grief, survival and acceptance.  On the other hand I struggled with the dialogue between almost all of the characters.

I will start with my struggles.  Do you ever read a story and all of the conversations sound funny in your head?  I am not sure how to describe it but all of the conversations sounded a bit robotic and pretty much everyone talked the same.  Perhaps someone out there can identify and elaborate for me because I simply can't describe it.  This made the story a little difficult for me, almost like bad actors in a play.

On the other hand I appreciated how eccentric the characters were particularly Louis.  It made the story worth reading for me.  Also I am not sure if it was intentional or not but I saw a lot of dry sarcasm throughout which I can always appreciate.

Essentially this story had some flaws for me but deep down there was a moving story, albeit random, for me.  I am curious what others think of it.






About the Author


Alex Shearer started his writing career as a scriptwriter and has had great success in that field. His credits include The Two of Us, the 1990s sitcom starring Nicholas Lyndhurst. More recently he has started writing for children. His Wilmot stories have been adapted for TV by Yorkshire television, and his children's novel, The Greatest Store in the World, was screened as a feature length TV film on Christmas Eve 1999 by the BBC. Alex's recent novel 'The Speed of the Dark' was shortlisted for the 2002 Guardian Fiction Prize

Alex Shearer lives with his family in Somerset. He has written more than a dozen books for both adults and children, as well as many successful television series, films, and stage and radio plays. He has had over thirty different jobs, and has never given up trying to play the guitar

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Review: Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

The author of Conversations with a Fat Girl—optioned for HBO—returns with the hilarious and heartfelt story of a woman who must learn how to be the heroine of her own life-a journey that will teach her priceless lessons about love, friendship, family, work, and her own heart

An account executive in a Mad Men world, Anna Wyatt is at a crossroads. Recently divorced, she’s done a lot of emotional housecleaning, including a self-imposed dating sabbatical. But now that she’s turned forty, she’s struggling to figure out what her life needs. Brainstorming to win over an important new client, she discovers a self-help book—Be the Heroine, Find Your Hero—that offers her unexpected insights and leads her to a most unlikely place: a romance writers’ conference. If she can sign the Romance Cover Model of the Year Pageant winner for her campaign—and meet the author who has inspired her to take control of her life—she’ll win the account.

For Anna, taking control means taking chances, including getting to know Sasha, her pretty young colleague on the project, and indulging in a steamy elevator ride with Lincoln Mallory, a dashing financial consultant she meets in the hotel. When the conference ends, Anna and Lincoln must decide if their intense connection is strong enough to survive outside the romantic fantasy they’ve created. Yet Lincoln is only one of Anna’s dilemmas. Now that her campaign is off the ground, others in the office want to steal her success, and her alcoholic brother, Ferdie, is spiraling out of control.

To have the life she wants-to be happy without guilt, to be accepted for herself, to love and to be loved, to just be—she has to put herself first, accept her imperfections, embrace her passions, and finally be the heroine of her own story.


Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks 
Genre: Women's Fiction/Chick Lit

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from William Morrow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book "Marpled" me! You have to read the book to understand what that means. In other words, it was unassuming and caught me off guard. Out of nowhere it surprised me and blew me away.

This is the first book by Palmer for me and I am excited to say that I think I found a new author to enjoy. I loved her writing style and thoroughly enjoyed the humour that she used in her story telling. The plot and the characters were well developed and engaging and I was in Anna's corner every step of the way.

The story isn't just about Anna and her career but her journey of self discovery. It is about her learning to be comfortable in her own skin, relinquishing her tight control on everything and figuring out how to be truly happy. Throughout her journey there are many missteps and comical errors that had me giggling out loud. The Romance Conference was a favourite part of the story for me. There seemed to be a perfect balance between the serious and not so serious to keep the story interesting without losing sight of the big picture.

I don't think that I can put my thoughts on this book into words and do it justice. What I have written above and even the synopsis did not capture all that this book is in my opinion. It was serious, funny, sad, unique and empowering all wrapped into 384 pages. This book was like a breath of fresh air when I really needed one. I loved every minute of it and will be reading the rest of Palmer's books.





About the Author
Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl, Seeing Me Naked, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents, More Like Her, and Nowhere But Home. An Emmy-nominated writer, she lives in Los Angeles, and is hard at work on her next novel and several film and television projects.


Connect with Liza


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Review: This Side of Home by Renee Watson


Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

In her inspired YA debut, Renée Watson explores the experience of young African-American women navigating the traditions and expectations of their culture.


Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is February 3rd 2015.

The synopsis provided for this story pretty much captures the essence of this story (too funny that one of the characters names is Essence!).  This story is about two sisters who are experiencing changes in their environment and how they deal with it differently.  It addresses the need to stay true to their ethnic and cultural identities while learning how change impacts them and who they are.

Ultimately it is a story of acceptance without compromising your identity and values.  Written in an easy to read style this results in a pretty quick read.  This would be an ideal read for those who enjoy the YA genre but are not really looking for the sappy romance.  It addresses some real cultural situations (although somewhat glossed over) and is more a coming of age type of drama.

Overall an easy and enjoyable read.


About the Author
      Renée Watson is the author of the children’s picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, June 2010), which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction by The Independent Children's Booksellers Association.

Renée’s one woman show, Roses are Red, Women are Blue, debuted at New York City's Lincoln Center at a showcase for emerging artists. Her poetry and articles have been published in Rethinking Schools, Theatre of the Mind and With Hearts Ablaze.

When Renée is not writing and performing, she is teaching. Renée has worked in public schools and community organizations as an artist in residence for several years, teaching poetry, fiction, and theater in Oregon, Louisiana, and New York City. She also facilitates professional development workshops for teachers and artists.

One of Renée’s passions is using the arts to help youth cope with trauma. She has facilitated poetry and theatre workshops with young girls coping with sexual and physical abuse, children who have witnessed violence, children coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and children who relocated to New York City after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Renée graduated from The New School, where she studied Creative Writing and earned a certificate in Drama Therapy.

Renée currently lives in New York City.


Friday, 23 January 2015

Feature and Follow Friday #59

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.


Question of the Week: Do you post your reviews anywhere besides your blog? Where else do you post reviews? - Suggested by A Great Read

 

We both post our reviews on Goodreads. We each have our own account and only post the reviews that we have done on our accounts. If it is requested by an author or a publisher we will post reviews on Amazon as well but we tend to only do that when they ask us to. On Facebook and Twitter we post the link to our reviews.

 

How about you? Do you post anywhere else?

 

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, 22 January 2015

Review: Teardrop Lane by Emily March

In Emily March’s beloved new novel set in Eternity Springs, a woman who has given up on dreams of a family meets a man who needs her to complete his own.

Town physician Rose Anderson hides a well of sadness behind her cheerful and capable professionalism. Heartbreak has only reinforced her belief that marriage and children aren’t in her future. Yet she’s a woman with a pulse—and when sexy, brooding artist Hunt Cicero shows up at her office with his young nephew, the sheer physical attraction he ignites in her is both exciting and unsettling.

Hunt has an artist’s passionate temperament and a bachelor’s lifestyle. So when he becomes guardian to his sister’s children, he’s riddled with conflict—and in way over his head. Without Rose and her warm maternal instincts, he’d be lost. Still, she’s a woman who guards her own heart, and he’s a novice when it comes to commitment. Can the healing magic of Eternity Springs shine on this patchwork family and allow Hunt and Rose to trust that love is the fabric holding them together?


Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by Ballantine Books 
Genre: Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from Ballantine Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Teardrop Lane is the ninth book in the Eternity Springs series by Emily March. I haven't had the opportunity to read all of the books but I did read Dreamweaver Trail, the one that comes right before it. This book can be read as a stand alone but you will understand all of the secondary characters a lot better by reading the previous stories.

I think I enjoyed this one a little more than the last one in the series. Cicero was first introduced in Dreamweaver Trail and gets his own story in Teardrop Lane. I must admit that I was a little unsure before I started reading because I wasn't a huge fan of his. It's amazing how your opinion can change once you get to know a character. I really liked him in this instalment.

This story follows the typical formula of a good romance. Both Cicero and Rose have pasts that haunt them, both are fiercely independent, both have secrets and both are not looking for anything serious. With the unexpected addition of Cicero's young nieces and nephews there are many complications and twists to the plot that keep the pages turning. I really liked the story line where the children were concerned. It made it more than just a typical romance and provided more depth.

As I mentioned in my review for the last book I again have to say something about the community of Eternity Springs. It isn't just a setting but a character in itself. I loved reading about it and loved the closeness and sense of community between all of the residents. I could really picture myself there and loving it.

Teardrop Lane was a solid read that I am glad that I got the opportunity to read. I can't wait to see who the next instalment will be about!





About the Author
EMILY MARCH is the New York Times bestselling author of the Eternity Springs series including Angel's Rest, Hummingbird Lake, Heartache Falls, Lover's Leap, Nightingale Way, Reflection Point, Miracle Road and Dreamweaver Trail. She is also the acclaimed author of eighteen novels and two novellas under the name Geralyn Dawson. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she sits on the national board of directors of the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation.


Connect with Emily

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Review: Just The Way You Are by Beverly Barton


Mary Beth Caine has always been the good girl in her small Mississippi town. But when a big, protective, shamelessly sexy stranger offers to console her on the night of her disastrous engagement party, Mary Beth lets him—only to discover that Parr Weston also happens to be the older brother of her fiancé, Bobby Joe.

Parr left Mississippi after years spent holding his family together. Now that he's back, he can't steal Bobby Joe's woman, and he sure can't offer Mary Beth the tidy happily-ever-after she deserves. But everything about the petite beauty—from her flame-gold hair to her artless sensuality—makes him crave her more. Love or lust, right or wrong, all he knows is that nothing has ever felt like this before, and walking away will be the hardest thing he's ever had to do.


Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 3rd 2015 by Zebra
 
Terri's Thoughts
 
I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Zebra via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is February 3rd 2015.
 
This story was just ok for me.  It failed to seem realistic to me and there was no real substance until the halfway point of the story.
 
It was a story of instant attraction and love at first site.  Simple enough in concept.  Then you add the piece that Mary Beth is engaged to the brother of the person she falls for.  To me this story was a little too close to the line of cheating to be comfortable.  It seemed Parr had no disregard for his brother Bobby Joe and kept getting himself in situations where he and Mary Beth could (almost) succumb tot heir attraction.  Don't get me wrong, Bobby Joe did not deserve any allegiance however he was family.
 
The chemistry really wasn't there for me and I had a hard time cheering for Mary Beth and Parr.  For those that like their stories hot and steamy this story will also fall short.  It starts to go there but doesn't follow through.  If I had felt the chemistry a little more than this strategy may have worked.
 
At the end of the day this story was a distraction from my everyday routine however will not go down in my lasting memory of a standout.  Odds are I will forget it by the time I am done my next read.
 
 
 
 
About the Author
 

Beverly Marie Inman was born on 23 December 1946 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, USA. Daughter of Doris Marie and Walter D. Inman Jr. A born romantic, she fell in love with The Beauty and the Beast epic at an early age, when her grandfather bought her an illustrated copy of the famous fairy tale. Even before she learned to read and write, her vivid imagination created magical words and fabulous characters inside her mind. Movies fascinated her, and by the time she was seven she was rewriting the movies she saw on television and at the local theater to give them all happy endings. By the age of nine she'd penned her first novel. She wrote short stories, TV scripts, poetry, and novels throughout high school and into college.

After her marriage to Billy Ray Beaver, the "love of her life", and the births of her two children, Beverly continued to be a voracious reader and a devoted moviegoer, but she put her writing aspirations on hold until her children were teenagers. At every age of their lives, from infancy to adulthood, the children had been a true joy to her. She devoted herself to her husband and children and considered herself one of the many selfless "supermoms" who put their family's needs first. She believed she had had it all, just not all at the same time.

In her mid-30s, Beverly returned to her former passion — writing — as a hobby, but before 40, she decided that she wanted to make writing a full-time career. And when she rediscovered an old dream — of becoming a published writer — no one was more supportive of her aspirations than her family. Her children were her greatest cheerleaders and her husband was her biggest supporter. After writing over 40 books and receiving numerous awards and nominations, as well as having books on the USA Today list and consistently on the Waldenbooks bestseller list, her career was indeed a dream come true. Having a fantastic family and fabulous friends, as well as making a living doing the one thing she had loved doing since childhood, she considered herself truly blessed. Beverly died suddenly of heart failure on 21 April 2011.


Website: 


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review: Surrender by Violetta Rand

Welcome to the Devil’s Den, a Texas strip club where the air is heavy with desire—and sometimes dreams come true.

Ever since her mother kicked her out, twenty-year-old Robyn Gonzalez has been working the poles at the Devil’s Den, saving up to finish college and travel the world. With only her wits and her gorgeous body to rely on, Robyn has learned to be independent—fiercely independent. She’s never been tempted to let a man distract her from her dreams . . . until she meets the dead-sexy Garrick Dempsey.

The club’s new head of security, Garrick had walked away from a career as a mechanical engineer to return to his roots in Corpus Christi. He hadn’t planned on getting to know someone like Robyn, with her sinfully sweet combination of vulnerability and strength, at the Devil’s Den. She acts tough, but only because she’s been hurt. Soon Garrick knows he will do anything to win Robyn’s trust. And if that means surrendering to the red-hot chemistry between them, all the better.


ebook, 240 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by Loveswept 
Genre: New Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! The expected publication date is January 27, 2015.

This is definitely one of those new adult reads where it is heavy on the hot and steamy. Fans of new adult with a lot of sex will surely enjoy this book.

Although I enjoyed it, there were a couple minor issues that I feel the need to address...

I felt that Robyn and Garrick's relationship developed too quickly. There wasn't enough of a build up for me as the reader to feel their connection. It made their first night together fall more than a little flat. The emotional bond just wasn't there for me yet and what should have been a big deal considering Robyn's romantic history wasn't. As the story went on I did start to find their relationship and feelings a little more believable but the overwhelming need for me to see them succeed as a couple wasn't as strong as I would like in a story.

The second thing that I struggled with was Garrick's feelings. When he was first introduced and saving Robyn at the beach I was thinking that he was the kind of book boyfriend that I could get behind. He then went all alpha male too quickly, in my opinion, which made him come across a little more possessive, controlling and needy than I think was intended. It made him a little less attractive. There is a fine line between what is sexy in a man and what is over the top and he was at risk of the latter.

Although I personally didn't find any new book boyfriends or characters to love, it was still an enjoyable and easy book to get lost in for a few hours.




About the Author
Raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, Violetta Rand spent her childhood reading, writing, and playing soccer. After meeting her husband in New England, they moved to Alaska where she studied environmental science and policy as an undergraduate before attending graduate school. Violetta then spent nearly a decade working as an environmental scientist, specializing in soil and water contamination and environmental assessments.

Violetta still lives in Anchorage, Alaska and spends her days writing evocative New Adult romance and historical romance. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, she enjoys time with her husband, pets, and friends. In her free time, she loves to hike, fish, and ride motorcycles and 4-wheelers.
  


Connect with Violetta


Monday, 19 January 2015

Review: One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis


An intricately plotted, thoroughly addictive thriller from a major new voice in suspense fiction--a mesmerizing and powerful novel that will keep you guessing to the very end

It's funny how easy it is, when it really comes down to it, to get up from your life and begin a new one. All you need is enough money to start you off, and a resolve not to think about the people you're leaving behind."

A happy marriage. A beautiful family. A dream home. So what makes lawyer Emily Coleman--a woman who appears to have everything--get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start again as someone new?

Deliberately losing herself in London, Emily quickly transforms herself into Cat. Along with her new name, she finds a new home in a shared house in North London teeming with an odd assortment of flatmates, and a new job as a receptionist at a hip advertising agency. Finding easy kinship with the fun-loving Angel, her savior and new best friend, Cat begins to live on the edge, giddy with the euphoria of freedom and release.

Cat has buried any trace of her old self so well, no one knows how to find her. But she can't bury the past--or her own painful memories. As the days turn to months, thoughts of all she's left behind begin to consume her. She cannot outrun the ghosts that haunt her, no matter how hard she tries to elude them.

And soon, she'll have to face the truth of what she's done--a shocking revelation that may push her one step too far . . .

Filled with wonderfully complex characters, brilliantly plotted to ratchet the suspense, and exploring themes of family, secrets, and the choices we all must make, One Step Too Far is a mesmerizing thriller that tantalizingly illuminates just how far we may go to try and forget our sins.


Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by William Morrow & Company

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher William Morrow via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 27th 2015.

OMG...what a train wreck.  And by train wreck I do not mean the story, I mean the lives of the characters within the story.  It was a train wreck in a what the heck is going to happen next, page turning, can't eat or sleep until I finish the story kind of way!

As I only give honest reviews it is with great shame that I admit that I did not guess the twists and turns on this one.  I pride myself on being able to figure even the most complex plots out and yet this one alluded me.  I'm not sure if I was off my game or if the subtle way the plot evolved kept me in the dark.  Regardless, kudos to Seskis for doing it.

One of the fascinating aspects to this story is the fact that it is about identical twins who are complete opposites and the jealousy between them.  Ok, it was more one sided however it was an important aspect to the storyline.  As a twin I cannot even fathom not being close to my sister as we are best friends.  The competiveness and jealousy doesn't even enter in to our lives.  Ok maybe we fought over a boy when we were thirteen (I think) but that is the extent of our conflict.  We are nothing but supportive with each other and I couldn't even imagine not being happy when my sister has some kind of life success.

I simply cannot discuss the plot on this one.  I feel I may accidentally give something away and I want readers to discover this story on their own to see if they are caught off guard like I was.  Was it me or was the writing simply that good?

The way the story is told from multiple perspectives and alternates between the present and what came before allowed the story to flow easily and for pieces of the puzzle to fall gradually in to place. I would recommend this story to people who enjoy a good story with characters whose actions spiral out of control. For me I will admit to a couple of moments of uttering curse words (rarely happens) which strangely is the sign of a good book.

About the Author

Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, the daughter of an airline engineer and a sales representative. She studied business at the University of Bath and then worked for over 20 years in marketing, advertising and online, with varying degrees of success.

Tina wrote the first draft of One Step Too Far in 2010 and then wrote her second novel A Serpentine Affair in autumn/winter 2011. Her latest novel (working title The One) is due for completion in 2014.

One Step Too Far has been an international bestseller and has sold to 15 publishers worldwide.

Tina lives in North London with her husband and son.


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Review: Too Hot to Handle by Katie Rose

Katie Rose’s Boys of Summer series returns for a delicious double-header—with the story of total opposites who are drawn to each other like moths to a flame.

Nikki Case is no fan of baseball. Her ex gambled away a fortune on the sport, and now her PR firm has tasked her with cleaning up the league’s most notorious bad boys. The New Jersey Sonics are known for wild womanizing and booze-fueled brawls, so Nikki expects the worst. Her first stop in the battle to win hearts and minds is star hitter Jake Baldwin—a legendary ladies man so smokin’ he threatens to melt her tough-girl armor.

Although his teammates prank her without mercy, Jake admires the way Nikki gives as good as she gets. She may be the queen of frost, but there’s kindling beneath those sultry curves—and he’s just the man to ignite it. But when a PR nightmare lands the Sonics in headlines across the country, Nikki is ready to walk. Only then does Jake realize how important she is to the Sonics’ success—and that winning the love of a good woman is no game.


ebook, 240 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by Loveswept 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! The expected publication date is January 27, 2015.

Too Hot to Handle is a typical story of opposites attract. Nikki is a no nonsense business woman who is essentially sent to clean up and Jake is the fun-loving and womanizing heart of the baseball team. There is instant chemistry when the two meet and the battle to pursue or ignore begins. On top of that there is a bet that is bound to cause all kinds of angst when Nikki finds out.

The story is not an original one and it is somewhat predictable but entertaining all the same. The pages definitely heat up and it is nothing short of sexy. I did enjoy the fact that it wasn't just about sex and that there were serious story lines to go with it. From injuries to troubled kids, there is a little bit for everyone.

Readers that are looking for an entertaining book to get lost in for a few hours will enjoy this one even if it is predictable.





About the Author

Award-winning historical author Katie Rose makes her contemporary debut with the Boys of Summer novels, Bring on the Heat and Too Hot to Handle, which combine Katie’s true loves: baseball and romance! When not watching baseball, Katie is at her lake house in New Jersey, hard at work on her next book.

**Colleen is the bestselling author of twelve historical romance novels published under the names Colleen Quinn and Katie Rose.**

Connect with Katie
 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Review: Still Life by Christa Parrish


A tragic plane crash. One woman who lost her husband. Another who gave up her seat for him.

Adah spent her first twenty-five years with her family as part of a fringe religious sect. Her only contact with the outside world was through customers at their farm store. Then she met Julian, a photojournalist who'd come to document their lifestyle. They eloped mere days later and Adah was thrust into a completely new life as a wife, city-dweller, and an individual allowed to make her own decisions. But she has no idea who she is.

On her twenty-sixth birthday, Julian plans to fly home from an assignment to give her her first-ever birthday present. He's thrilled when Katherine Cramer gives up her seat so he can make the flight. But the plane crashes and everyone on board is killed, including Julian.

Adah is completely at a loss, with no friends and no marketable skills. When Julian's last photographs are published, her life errupts into chaos. She begins travelling--with Julian's camera for a companion--searching for answers to who she is and what she really wants.

Meanwhile, Katherine must live with the knowledge of "why "she gave up her seat--to extend her affair one more night. She recognizes her survival as a second chance to save her marriage. But is it too late?

When Adah's and Katherine's paths cross, they discover that there's still life ahead for both of them.


Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by Thomas Nelson

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is January 27th 2015.

I literally just set this book down and I am wondering if it is a good idea to pen my thoughts right away or if I should put some space between expressing my opinion.  If I have to describe how I feel about it at this moment it would be frustrated.

The concept of the story was really good as it alternated between Adah and Katherine's stories.  Both woman are living with the aftermath of a tragic accident.  One as the wife left behind and the other as the woman who gave up her seat to someone else.  Independently both stories were well written and interesting.  I found myself particularly drawn to Adah's story.

Where the story went downhill for me was the overdose of religion and spirituality in this story.  It sneaks up on you.  Not really evident at first until it reaches the point that you want to skip pages so that it can get back to the plot.  At first it was ok.  Since Adah had essentially escaped from a "religious" cult it actually made sense and this aspect of her life interested me.  By the second half of the book almost every character was referencing religious passages and to be honest it just didn't seem realistic.  A fourteen year old boy who has never bothered with the bible doesn't all of a sudden start sharing it with others.  Yes it can happen over time however it does not happen instantly

While I am not opposed to religion in the stories I read I do feel it has to be done a certain way.  It can't be forced upon the reader and to be honest it felt forced in this story.  It actually seemed surplus to the story in many ways and therefore made it distracting.  If it would have been limited to Julien's beliefs It would have had a much larger impact.

So here I am conflicted.  What essentially could have been a really compelling story ended up being a story that got lost with all of the surplus script.  On the flip side it was a moving story about learning how to carry on after the loss of a loved one.

Fans of Christian fiction may enjoy this read and although I have read a lot of Christian fiction I simply found this a little too much for me.  It just wasn't quite as advertised.


About the Author     
Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of four novels and founder of Breaking the Sea Ministries. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, pastor and writer Chris Coppernoll, and they have four children in their blended family. When not writing, she is creative director of Concentric, a contemporary "arts-based" worship service, co-leads her church's youth ministry, and produces a weekly radio show. She's at work on her fifth novel, and is now also slightly obsessed with baking wild yeast bread.


Friday, 16 January 2015

Feature and Follow Friday #58





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.


Question of the Week: Do you own any doubles of your books? What led to getting that second...or third or fourth...copy? - Suggested by A Great Read

 

Neither one of us own any doubles of our books. My daughter has a few because when she loves a book she always buys the hard cover version.

 

How about you? Do you own any doubles?


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, 15 January 2015

Review: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun Hutchinson

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.

Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hands out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.

Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.

But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.

A partly graphic novel.


Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: January 20th 2015 by Simon Pulse 
Genre: Young Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! The expected publication date is January 20, 2015.

I was really excited about reading this book. Much love from numerous peers on Edelweiss and a high rating on Goodreads left my expectations high. Did it meet my expectations? Unfortunately not. There are some books that appeal to a wide range of readers regardless of the intended genre but I don't think this is one of them. I feel like a younger audience than myself would get more enjoyment out of it than I did.

I didn't hate the book but I didn't love it either. If I had to choose a word to describe how I felt I guess it would be indifferent. The characters were all right but the only ones I really cared about were Trevor and Lexi and perhaps Arnold. As much as I tried to love Andrew I just couldn't. He just lacked personality (good or bad) and came across quite dull. The plot was unique but a little slow, transparent, and predictable. I was always craving just a little more than what I got. As far as dark reads go it was average at best.

Early reviews for this book are great so I encourage everyone to pick it up and form your own opinion. I wish I had enjoyed it as much as others but I have to be honest. It is just not a book that I will remember.




About the Author
Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of The Deathday Letter, fml, and the forthcoming The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. He currently lives in South Florida with his partner and dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.

Connect with Shaun