Thursday, 30 July 2015

Review: Stepdog by Nicole Galland

From the author of The Fool’s Tale and I, Iago comes a disarmingly charming and warm-hearted “romcom” about a woman, her dog, and the man who has to prove that he is good enough for both of them.
Sara Renault fired Rory O’Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—an Irish actor secretly nursing a crush on his beautiful boss—threw caution to the wind, leaned over, and kissed her. Now Sara and Rory are madly in love.
When Rory’s visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they’ve gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it’s all grand . . . except for Sara’s dog, Cody, who had been a gift from Sara’s sociopath ex-boyfriend. Sara’s over-attachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.
When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped by Sara’s ex—and it is entirely Rory’s fault. Sara is furious and broken-hearted. Desperate to get back into Sara’s good graces, Rory takes off and tracks Cody and the dog-napper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they’ll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them all across the heartland of America.
Stepdog is a refreshing and hilarious romantic comedy that asks: How far would you go for the one you love?


Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published August 1st 2015)  


Kristine's Thoughts:

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

Before I say anything there is something important that you need to know about me. I am a HUGE dog lover and I happen to be owned by a retriever similar in looks to the one on the cover but cuter. She is a member of my family and loved deeply. Did this impact how I felt about this book? Of course it did! I love dogs.

This story blends a contemporary romance with humour and an adorable four legged friend in a unique and attention grabbing way. I was pulled into the story immediately and enjoyed the ride from beginning to end. I won't deny that there were a few things that bugged me but it was still a most pleasurable read.

I could really relate to the way Sara was with Cody. I saw a lot of myself and other family members in the way she was with the dog. However, offering to get married after one night together was pretty dumb so that is where the similarities ended. It did make for some page turning moments with some laugh out loud moments. Rory was a different story all together. I had a hard time liking him and I really think it was because of my love for dogs. He did grow on me as the story went on but I never managed to fully like him.

In the end this was a solid read that lovers of animals and romance will be sure to enjoy. This was the first book by Galland for me but it won't be the last.

 


About the Author
Nicole Galland’s five previous novels are The Fool’s Tale, Revenge of the Rose, Crossed, I, Iago, and Godiva. A native of Martha’s Vineyard, she graduated from Harvard University and studied Dramatic Literature at UC Berkeley, then divided her time between California and New York City for many years, before returning to the Vineyard to stay (except for when she’s somewhere else, like Boston). She is the co-founder of Shakespeare for the Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse, and writes a cheeky etiquette column for the Martha’s Vineyard Times. She is married to actor Billy Meleady and owns Leuco, a dog of splendid qualities.


Connect with Nicole







Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Review: This Invisibles: A Novel by Cecilia Galante


In the vein of Meg Donohue and Jennifer Close, comes Cecilia Galante's adult debut about the complicated and powerful bonds of female friendship--a compelling, moving novel that is told in both the present and the past.

Thrown together by chance as teenagers at Turning Winds Home for Girls, Nora, Ozzie, Monica, and Grace quickly bond over their troubled pasts and form their own family which they dub The Invisibles. But when tragedy strikes after graduation, Nora is left to deal with the horrifying aftermath alone as the other three girls leave home and don't look back.

Fourteen years later, Nora is living a quiet, single life working in the local library. She is content to focus on her collection of "first lines" (her favorite opening lines from novels) and her dog, Alice Walker, when out-of-the-blue Ozzie calls her on her thirty-second birthday. But after all these years, Ozzie hasn't called her to wish a happy birthday. Instead, she tells Nora that Grace attempted suicide and is pleading for The Invisibles to convene again. Nora is torn: she is thrilled at the thought of being in touch with her friends, and yet she is hesitant at seeing these women after such a long and silent period of time. Bolstered by her friends at the library, Nora joins The Invisibles in Chicago for a reunion that sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will change each of their lives forever.

The Invisibles is an unforgettable novel that asks the questions: How much of our pasts define our present selves? And what does it take to let go of some of our most painful wounds and move on?


Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks


Terri's Thoughts

**I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review**

You know what happens when you are driving along on the highway and there is an accident which cause traffic to slow down?  And the reason it has slowed down is because everyone is straining to see if they can see what happened?  That is what this book reminds me of.  All of the characters are a complete train wreck.

I don't want to disclose any of the plot however you can guess from the synopsis that these girls have some serious emotional baggage stemming from their childhood circumstances.  This story picks up in their adult lives and the drama continues in a reunion of sorts with the girls.

Let me tell you.  You know how there is always the normal, stable friend?  Not in this case!  There is enough emotional scarring and unresolved issues among these four to keep me in designer shoes and purses for life if I were their therapists.  This was both the high and low points for the book.

I will start with the high point.  The fact that each girls had their own unresolved issues made you want to read on to find out what each was dealing with.  Why did one of them attempt suicide?  What happened that one night?  Although there are no real surprises you do want to see how it plays out.

As a low point it all sort of unfolded for me like a late night drinking confession-fest.  You know what it is like.  You and your girlfriends have had a few too many and you start trying to solve the world and each others problems.  No sooner did one issue appear and then we were on to the next one.  It was a little bit draining.

Overall this was a story about friendship, overcoming adversity and self discovery.  Although the characters were messed up, their bond was not and they were there for each other when it mattered.  It really is a positive message to give.







About the Author





Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Review: The Ambassador's Wife by Jennifer Steil

From a real-life ambassador's wife comes a harrowing novel about the kidnapping of an American woman in the Middle East and the heartbreaking choices she and her husband each must make in the hope of being reunited.

When bohemian artist Miranda falls in love with Finn, the British ambassador to an Arab country, she finds herself thrust into a life for which she has no preparation. The couple and their toddler daughter live in a stately mansion with a staff to meet their every need, but for Miranda even this luxury comes at a price: the loss of freedom. Trailed everywhere by bodyguards to protect her from the dangers of a country wracked by civil war and forced to give up work she loves, she finds her world shattered when she is taken hostage, an act of terror with wide-reaching consequences.

Diplomatic life is a far cry from Miranda’s first years in Mazrooq, which were spent painting and mentoring a group of young Muslim women, teaching them to draw in ways forbidden in their culture. As the novel weaves together past and present, we come to see how Finn and Miranda’s idealism and secrets they have each sought to hide have placed them and those who trust them in peril. And when Miranda grows close to a child who shares her captivity, it is not clear that even being set free would restore the simple happiness that once was hers and Finn’s. Suspenseful and moving, The Ambassador’s Wife is a story of love, marriage, and friendship tested by impossible choices.



Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2015 by Doubleday 
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! **

This was a beautiful story. In fact it was quite stunning. Steil pens a thought provoking and engaging story that touches on many different feelings and emotions. Told from different perspectives and different times, it weaves an intriguing story about a different culture and way of life. It touches a lot on the culture of Muslim women which I found quite fascinating. It also deals with terrorists and kidnapping which we hear about far too often in the news. I really liked the angle that this book took to tell the story and I really liked the characters who's story it told.

If I had to critique it at all I would have to say that there were a few times that it got long winded and followed a few rabbit trails. Not to worry though, the rest of it more than made up for those parts.

Sometimes less is more and this is one of those cases. I think the story will do better to speak for itself and there isn't a whole lot that I can say otherwise. It was an incredible read.





About the Author
Jennifer Steil is the author of the memoir The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, about her experience as a journalist living in Yemen. Before moving to Yemen in 2006, she was a senior editor at The Week, which she helped to launch in 2001. She currently lives in Bolivia, where her husband is European Union ambassador.


Connect with Jennifer


 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Review: Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman


From internationally bestselling author Kimberley Freeman comes a captivating new novel about a scandalous attraction, a long-forgotten secret, and a place where two women’s lives are changed forever.

It’s 1926 and Violet Armstrong is a waitress at the grand Evergreen Spa Hotel, where Australia’s glitterati are spending a winter vacation. Among the guests who remain are Sam and Flora Honeychurch-Blacks, a wealthy brother and sister ensconced in the hotel for an extended stay. Violet and Sam have an attraction that is as passionate as it is forbidden as the hotel closes down for the winter season. When a snowstorm moves in, trapping them all, no one could have imagined what would unfold. The group must let their secrets be buried by the snow, but all snow melts, exposing the truth beneath…

Eighty-eight years later, Lauren Beck takes a job at a café in the Blue Mountains, built as the first stage of the Evergreen Spa Hotel’s return to grandeur. There she meets Tomas, the Danish architect overseeing the project. As their budding relationship grows, Lauren discovers a series of passionate love letters dating back to 1926 that allude to a whirlwind affair—and a tragic secret. Lauren begins to unravel this long-forgotten mystery, but will discovering the truth finally make her brave enough to take a risk that could change her entire life?

Inspired by elements of her grandmother’s life, Kimberley Freeman has created a complex tale of mystery, heartbreak, and love that will keep you guessing with every twist until the very last page.


Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2015 by Touchstone
 
Terri's Thoughts
 
**I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Touchstone via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 4th 2015**

This was the second book that I have read by Kimberly Freeman.  The first one was several years ago when I read Wildflower Hill.  I enjoyed it immensely and therefore I was pretty excited to have the opportunity to read another one of her stories.

I was not disappointed.  This story delivered exactly what makes me favor this genre.

Normally I always prefer the storyline that takes place in the past.  This time around I enjoyed both the present and the past equally.  I think it was because there was just enough mystery within both storylines and the parallel similarities between the characters was noticeable.  Both Lauren and Violet were extremely naïve with the ways of the world and this impacted both of their stories.  Both were away from home for the first time trying to find their way in life.  Both wanted the experience of a passionate first love.  Both declared love after what felt like thirty seconds.

While Violets story was all about a passionate love affair, I did have a difficult time being swept up or swept away in the story of her and Sam.  I think this is because I am analyzing the story as the person I am, logical and knowledgeable, and not from Violet's perspective.  She was young, naïve and not very educated in the ways of the world.  I do feel that this was the whole point of the story.  The fact that she did not recognize or know addiction when she was faced with it set up the framework for what you know could not turn out very well.  So while I wasn't to stuck on Sam, I needed to know how this was going to turn out and I was in Violet's corner the whole way.

I was invested in Lauren's love story.  While she was thirty years old she read as a girl much younger than that.  I feel that this was intentional and was a result of her sheltered life due to her brothers illness and her mothers smothering.  Her journey of self discovery was as fascinating as watching the rest of the story unfold.

Yes I felt some aspects were a little unrealistic.  Both girls handed over their heart too early, anyone falling for Sam seemed impossible...but it didn't matter.  Packaging the whole story together it really worked.  The twist and turns were easy to see and guess but that also didn't matter.  This was a fascinating story and I really enjoyed it.  One of my favorite reads so far this year.

 
 
About the Author
 

Kimberley was born in London and her family moved back to Australia when she was three years old. She grew up in Queensland where she currently lives.

Kimberley has written for as long as she can remember and she is proud to write in many genres. She is an award-winning writer in children’s, historical and speculative fiction under her birth name Kim Wilkins. She adopted the pen name Kimberley Freeman for her commercial women’s fiction novels Duet and Gold Dust to honour her maternal grandmother and to try and capture the spirit of the page-turning novels she has always loved to read. Kim has an Honours degree, a Masters degree and a PhD from The University of Queensland where she is also a lecturer. She lives in Brisbane with her young family.


Website

 


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Review: One Night with her Bodyguard by Noelle Adams

He offered her more than his protection...for one hot night.

As the daughter of a Hollywood mogul, introverted Claire Kenyon is used to being forced into the limelight, no matter how she tries to live a quiet life. When her father receives a threat aimed at her, he surrounds her with security--including sexy Michael Lyle, who offers her very close protection.

Michael has always been professional and unemotional with Claire, so she isn't prepared for the depths he's been hiding. But he's her bodyguard, and there are lines he will never cross. The more irresistible she finds him, the more he plans to resist.

But then everything changes in only one night...


Published: (first published December 31st 2012) 
Series: One Night Novellas #3
Genre:Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

This was instalment three in the One Night Novella series and another quick and easy read. In this one we meet Claire who is painfully shy and the man that has been working to protect her family for years.

The plot follows the typical formula of a contemporary romance but it does so in a short amount of pages. Within the few pages you will find everything from romance to some hot and steamy action. In other words, a great read for fans of contemporary who don't have a lot of time on their hands to commit to a much longer story.

I have slowly been working my way through all of the novellas in this series when I need a quick reading fix. So far I have not been disappointed. I could really relate to Claire in this instalment because I too suffer from extreme shyness and a bit of social anxiety. I felt like I really understood her.

I look forward to reading more from this author when I get the opportunity!





About the Author
Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn't stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she teaches English, reads any book she can get her hands on, and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.


Connect with Noelle

  

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Review: Mrs. Sinclairs Suitcase by Louise Walters


Forgive me, Dorothea, for I cannot forgive you. What you do, to this child, to this child's mother, it is wrong...

Roberta likes to collect the letters and postcards she finds in second-hand books. When her father gives her some of her grandmother's belongings, she finds a baffling letter from the grandfather she never knew - dated after he supposedly died in the war.

Dorothy is unhappily married to Albert, who is away at war. When an aeroplane crashes in the field behind her house she meets Squadron Leader Jan Pietrykowski, and as their bond deepens she dares to hope she might find happiness. But fate has other plans for them both, and soon she is hiding a secret so momentous that its shockwaves will touch her granddaughter many years later..


Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2015 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
 
Terri's Thoughts
 
I won an advanced copy of this book as part of a giveaway on Goodreads.  In exchange I will offer my honest review.

I find myself having some mixed emotions on this one.  While it is my favorite genre and the story is interesting enough, I just couldn't get on board with Roberta or Dorothy.  It's not that they were necessarily bad characters, it was just that they seemed a little cold.  No, maybe it is socially awkward.  They just didn't seem to think or see outside of themselves at any point of the book.  My issue with this is that I don't know if that was by design or just how I interpreted the writing. Many of the actions of each of the characters didn't add to their likeability factor either.  Roberta with her affair and Dorothy freezing out her husband (well before he deserved it).

That aside Dorothy's story was interesting and I couldn't wait to find out how it was going to play out.  I interpreted the clues along the way however it didn't make me want to stop reading.  I obsess with wartime stories and wartime love stories so I was invested in this storyline.  even if I was invested more for Jan than Dorothy.  Roberta's story I will be frank and say I couldn't have cared less about it.  it all goes back to how she rubbed me the wrong way.

This is a nice easy read for fans of historical fiction.  While I would not rate it as epic it is entertaining and of a good length that not too much commitment is required.

 
 
About the Author
 

Website
Twitter





Friday, 24 July 2015

Review: How to be a Grown-Up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

From bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus comes a timely novel about a forty-something wife and mother thrust back into the workforce, where she finds herself at the mercy of a boss half her age.

Rory McGovern is entering the ostensible prime of her life when her husband, Blake, loses his dream job and announces he feels like “taking a break” from being a husband and father. Rory was already spread thin and now, without warning, she is single-parenting two kids, juggling their science projects, flu season, and pajama days, while coming to terms with her disintegrating marriage. And without Blake, her only hope is to accept a full-time position working for two full-time twenty-somethings.

A day out of b-school, these girls think they know it all and have been given the millions from venture capitalists to back up their delusion—that the future of digital media is a high-end “lifestyle” site—for kids! (Not that anyone who works there has any, or knows the first thing about actual children.) Can Rory learn to decipher her bosses’ lingo, texts that read like license plates, and arbitrary mandates? And is there any hope of saving her marriage? With her family hanging by a thread, Rory must adapt to this hyper-digitized, over-glamorized, narcissistic world of millennials…whatever it takes.



Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2015 by Atria Books 
Genre: Womens Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

I thought that this was a cute story about a woman starting over and her struggles to make things work. Everything from being a single parent to understanding the lingo and workings of a company and employers that are almost half her age.

There were a few things that stopped me from loving the book and giving it a higher rating.

I understand that the lingo and language of Rory's younger employers were meant to confuse her and in doing so be humorous to the reader but it was just plain confusing not to mention a little annoying. I also understand that I am not in that age demographic but do people actually use those words? I certainly have never heard of some of them.

That brings me to my second thought. Although there were definitely humorous moments in the story I do feel like some attempts at humour fell flat leaving some awkward gaps in the flow of the story. I was really hoping for more laugh out loud moments than what I got.

Don't get me wrong...even with the above points I thought it was an enjoyable book that was fun and easy to read. It provided me with a few good hours of solid entertainment and I look forward to reading more from these authors.



About the Authors
My partner, Nicki, and I have been writing together for 12 years. We're obsessed by what makes a satisfying story. I'm excited to hear from our readers what does it for them -- and what doesn't. As a working mom, the only book time I manage to steal these days is right before bed. I'm not the girl who can watch SVU and go to sleep with a smile. Ruling out kids/the economy/the world in peril as subject matter leaves sweeping Wharton epics or swift funny observations. The best is when a book makes you feel like you're still talking in the whee hours with your best college friend.   




Kraus graduated from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She met Emma McLaughlin while both were attending New York University, and working as nannies. She lived as a child at 1000 Park Avenue, whose residents she claims inspired some of the characters in her fiction.

Connect with Emma & Nicola






Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Review: Truly Sweet by Candis Terry


"When the one you've always wanted "

At sixteen, Annabelle Morgan hoped her crush on Jake Wilder was just a passing phase. Now she's twenty-nine and nothing has changed except Jake. The once-carefree marine has come home with a giant chip on his shoulder. He insists a single mom like Annie deserves more than he can offer. Yet no matter how gruff his gorgeous exterior may be, Jake's toe-curling kisses convince her that this attraction is definitely mutual.

"Becomes the one who wants you back "

Butting heads with feisty Annie was always a thrill. Add other body parts to the mix, and Jake is in serious trouble. He can't be a forever-and-family guy and Annie's not a friends-with-benefits kind of woman. But love has a way of changing the best-laid plans, and surrender has never been so tempting.

"The outcome is truly sweet."


Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2015 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 July 28th 2015**

This is the second book in this series that I have read and I must admit that I have not read it in order.  I read the third book Something Sweeter and then this one which is the fifth book (with a few novellas thrown in between).  These stories can be read as stand alones however there is mention of the previous characters and storylines as the series focuses on a group of brothers, each with his own story.

I must say that there must be something in the water in Sweet Texas to have such a group of good looking, I'll say it hot, men.  I can't imagine what that would do for the productivity of a small town with so many woman daydreaming about these hot men.  I am sure the morale would be great with the odd cat fight thrown in as the woman battle for their affection.  I digress.

I find that Terry's writing never leaves me disappointed.  She builds strong likeable people in both her male and female characters which makes it easy to be invested in the story.  In the case of Annie and Jake, the way they constantly butted heads had me smiling.  It reminded me of my husband and I.  We never fight but we are constantly challenging each other and get in to the best debates.  Same goes here.

Warning...you kind of know how the story will end up.  Let's get real, this is the last story of the series, there is a theme here.  What you don't know is how it will get there and that is where you buckle up and enjoy the ride.

I enjoyed this story, as well as the others from the series I have read and I would recommend it.  Since I enjoy her writing style I will venture to see some of Terry's other works.



 
 
About the Author
 


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Review: Between the Tides by Susannah Marren

A debut novel following the fortunes of the happy-on-the-surface Morris family as it slowly comes apart after making a move from New York City to an affluent suburb

Lainie Smith Morris is perfectly content with her life in New York City: she has four children, a handsome surgeon husband, and good friends. This life she has built is shattered, however, when her husband Charles announces he has accepted a job in Elliot, New Jersey, and that the family must relocate. Lainie is forced to give up the things she knows and loves.

Though Charles easily adapts to the intricacies of suburban life, even thriving in it, Lainie finds herself increasingly troubled and bored by her new limited responsibilities, and she remains desperate for the inspiration, comfort, and safety of the city she called home. She is hopelessly lost—until, serendipitously, she reconnects with an old friend/rival turned current Elliot resident, Jess. Pleased to demonstrate her social superiority to Lainie, Jess helps her find a footing, even encouraging Lainie to develop as an artist; but what looks like friendship is quickly supplanted by a betrayal with earth shattering impact, and a move to the suburbs becomes a metaphor for a women who must search to find a new home ground in the shifting winds of marriage, family, career, and friendship.


Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: July 21st 2015 by St. Martin's Press 
Genre: Contemporary

Kristine's Thoughts:

**I received an advanced readers copy through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.**

I didn't love this book and I didn't hate it either. It is these middle of the road books that I often have the hardest time discussing my thoughts about. There is really no need to re-tell the story as the synopsis gives a pretty accurate description of what the story is about.

Here are a few thoughts worth mentioning...

1. I was indifferent to all the characters in the book. There wasn't a person that I could say that I loved or that I was routing for throughout the entire story. In fact, I disliked quite a few of them.

2. If it was the authors intention to portray Elliot as a horrible place to live then she was more than successful. It was like the hierarchy of high school for grown ups without the barriers of the walls. It was so pretentious that I could easily see why Lainey was struggling.

3. The story alternated between Jess and Lainey's voice, a style that I really like, but the story was somewhat stale and anti climatic. I think I was suppose to like Lainey more than Jess but they each had so many flaws that it was hard to take either one of them at times. Perhaps this goes back to the pretentious lifestyle but I felt that they were both terrible mothers and both guilty of not so nice things.

4.  The ending was slightly disappointing and if anything proves my above point.

This book had some good moments and some not so good moments making it one that I didn't mind reading but probably won't remember it a few months from now.





  

Monday, 20 July 2015

Review: Perfect Touch by Elizabeth Lowell


Beneath the majestic Teton Range, a former soldier turned rancher and a beautiful designer and art appraiser must race to stop a vicious killer—and quench a blazing passion that burns deep in their hearts—in this beguiling thriller from perennial New York Times bestselling author and queen of romantic suspense Elizabeth Lowell

An art dealer and owner of her own design studio, Perfect Touch, Sara Medina travels the world to find the ideal artwork for her clients. Her sophisticated, comfortable life in San Francisco is light-years away from the poverty of her family's dairy farm. Sara worked too hard to get out of the rural countryside to want to go back again for more than just a brief visit—even for someone as enticing as her new client, Jay Vermilion, a man with dozens of fine-art paintings that could kick her career up into the stratosphere.

Jay recently inherited Vermilion Ranch, a working ranch near Wyoming's breathtaking Tetons—and the estates of the rich and restless. While Jay was fighting in two wars, his father tried to keep the homestead running, until illness stole his fight and then his life. Jay is determined to restore Vermilion Ranch—the fruit of generations of his ancestors—but first he's got to settle a vicious battle with his scheming former stepmother and greedy half-brother over the paintings that belonged to his late father, a collection of works by a talented yet often overlooked artist named Armstrong "Custer" Harris. The last thing on Jay's mind is finding a wife and creating a seventh generation of Vermilions.

When Jay and Sara meet face to face after months of intimate phone calls, it's love at first sight—a mutually inconvenient attraction that is soon complicated by a double murder at the edge of the ranch and a potential betrayal even closer to home. Working together to unmask a murderer, Sara and Jay are powerless to resist the intense heat between them. While Jay's waited a lifetime for someone like Sara—a strong, smart, sassy woman as comfortable in the saddle as she is in stilettos—he knows the life he offers isn't what she wants. And Sara knows she's the wrong woman for Jay, even though the fire between them feels so very right.

Then the killer targets Sara. And suddenly, Jay, the war-weary soldier, finds something he's once again willing to die for . . .


ebook, 368 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2015 by William Morrow

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 July 28th 2015.

This story delivered exactly what I expected to.  A little bit of romance and a little bit of suspense. 

I liked the fact that there was a backstory to the love instead of instant chemistry...because really does that exist, instant lust maybe but not instant love.  The fact that Jay and Sara had been talking on the phone for months before meeting actually put some substance to their relationship.  Too many times stories head straight to the bedroom scenes and you are left scratching your head and asking if they even got each others names.  In this case there was a certain element of realism to their relationship which was refreshing.

For a story that is centered around a murder and some suspense I did fond that it was a little slow moving.  You need to look no further than the horse ride with the cattle to Fish camp.  This was very long and I swear it lasted half of the book.  I just wanted them to get there.  The story starts to move after this point so you need to hang in for a while before there is any momentum. 

I have to admit that this story held no surprises for me.  I figured out what was going on and who the "villain" was pretty early on.  It was still fin to see how it would play out.

Overall this was a satisfying read for me.




About the Author

Individually and with co-author/husband Evan, Ann Maxwell has written over 60 novels and one work of non-fiction. There are 30 million copies of these books in print, as well as reprints in 30 foreign languages. Her novels range from science fiction to historical fiction, from romance to mystery. After working in contemporary and historical romance, she became an innovator in the genre of romantic suspense.

In 1982, Ann began publishing as Elizabeth Lowell. Under that name she has received numerous professional awards in the romance field, including a Lifetime Achievement award from the Romance Writers of America (1994).

Since July of 1992, she has had over 30 novels on the New York Times bestseller list. In 1998 she began writing suspense with a passionate twist, capturing a new audience and generation of readers. Her new romance novel Perfect Touch will be available in July of 2015.


Website




Sunday, 19 July 2015

Review: Love Lies Beneath by Ellen Hopkins

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Collateral comes a gripping novel about a woman caught in a love affair that could be her salvation...or her undoing.

Tara is gorgeous, affluent, and forty. She lives in an impeccably restored Russian Hill mansion in San Francisco. Once a widow, twice divorced, she’s a woman with a past she prefers keeping to herself.

Enter Cavin Lattimore. He’s handsome, kind, charming, and the surgeon assigned to Tara following a ski accident in Lake Tahoe. In the weeks it takes her to recover, Cavin sweeps her off her feet and their relationship blossoms into something Tara had never imagined possible. But then she begins to notice some strange things: a van parked outside her home at odd times, a break-in, threatening text messages and emails. She also starts to notice cracks in Cavin’s seemingly perfect personality, like the suppressed rage his conniving teenage son brings out in him, and the discovery that Cavin hired a detective to investigate her immediately after they met.

Now on crutches and housebound, Tara finds herself dependent on the new man in her life—perhaps too much so. She’s handling rocky relationships with her sister and best friend, who are envious of her glamour and freedom; her prickly brother-in-law, who is intimidated by her wealth and power; and her estranged mother. However perfect Tara’s life appears, things are beginning to get messy.


Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: July 21st 2015 by Atria Books 

Kristine's Thoughts: 

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

I wanted to like this book so bad and I really, really tried. From the synopsis it sounded like it was going to be a page turning thriller filled with suspense but with only 20 minutes left in the book I was still waiting for something to happen. At that point I knew that no matter what was written on those last few pages that it wouldn't make up for what was on all of the pages before it.

The thing that I struggled with most was Tara. I could not stand her from the very first page. There was absolutely nothing about her that I liked, related to, or wanted to know more about. It was so bad that I was anxiously waiting and wanting a twist that would have her in crisis that never happened.

Unfortunately I couldn't find it within myself to enjoy the love story that unfolded because of Tara. I didn't care if Cavin was good or bad because either way he was still too good for Tara. She was just that unlikable.

The story was extremly slow moving but for readers that like a twist I can assure you that there is one. You just have to wait until the last few sentences of the book for it and by then any impact is long lost.




About the Author
Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven young adult novels, as well as the adult novels Triangles, Collateral, and Love Lies Beneath. She lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada, where she has founded Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit youth housing and resource initiative.


Connect with Ellen


 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Terri's Thought of the Day


I don't have a review to go up today.  Life has gotten in the way of reading and I am behind in my books and reviews.  This got me to thinking about my massive to be read pile and how there are always books that I am anxiously waiting for that have not yet released.  Two of them are part of a series and one is by an author I absolutely adore.  There is nothing worse than discovering a series at the very beginning when you have to wait for the subsequent stories to be written and then released.

I thought I would share which ones I must read!

The first one is by the author Lucinda Riley and is part of the Seven Sisters series.  Any fans of historical fiction or Lucinda Riley simply must read this.  I absolutely loved The Seven Sisters (see review here  )and I have been not so patiently waiting for the next one to come out which I believe will be titled The Storm Sister.  I had thought it was due out in November and it was not until writing this now that I realized that it may not be until March!  What will I do!!  Now Goodreads does say November and March by two different publishers so lets hope it is the earlier of the two.  There is at this time no book cover to share.

The second one surprised me a little.  For anyone that follows the blog and my reviews they will know that historical fiction tends to be my favorite however I am open to all sorts of genres.  This one would be in the YA/NA genre.  It is the sequel to CJ Duggan's Paradise City .  I believe it will be called Paradise Road and it is due out in November.  I can't pinpoint what I liked so much about this story other than the fact that the promise of where it could go is endless and I simply must be along for the ride.





Lastly, is Kate Morton's newest book which will be titled The Lake House.  Kate Morton is simply my favorite author hands down.  She has a way of doing historical fiction unlike anyone else I have read, or at list consistently.  This is due out in October and I will be first in line for it.  I have read and own all of her other work to date and I intend on owning anything she puts out in the future.  I am one of those people who has gravitated towards reading digitally however in this case I will own the paperback and it will make it on to my coveted bookshelf.  Only books with top honors make the shelf.



What is everyone else looking forward to?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Review: Dare to Dream (The Maxwell Series) by S.B. Alexander

Bad boy Kade Maxwell knows all too well the pain and loss of the death of a loved one after his sister’s death tore his family—especially his mother—to pieces. He longs for the day his mother can heal from the mental anguish and return home to live with her family again. He prays every day that God will keep his brothers safe and that his father will one day be reunited with his wife. He doesn’t dream of his future. In fact, he had nightmarish glimpses of what his life would’ve been like as an adult until he met Lacey. She’s a light that cuts through his darkness. Her beauty, her determination, and her dedication in overcoming her own tragedy energizes his belief that maybe—just maybe—he can dream again.

Lacey Robinson has suffered tragedy at the hands of a killer who took away her sister and mother. After a change of scenery and a new life, her PTSD is on the mend. With the love and strength from Kade Maxwell and the help of her psychiatrist, she’s been able to work on the triggers that cause her panic attacks and blackouts. With a clear head and a clear road to the future, Lacey dreams of three things: She longs to find the person who killed her family. She wants to play baseball for ASU so bad she can taste it. And she wants a future with Kade Maxwell. But with several roadblocks thrown in her way, she may not get everything she wants. A trip to California opens a door that could expose the killer. Aaron Seever is up to his psychotic, bullying antics, and Kade has his own path for the future, one Lacey isn’t sure includes her.

Kade vows to love and protect Lacey even if that means his life for hers. Lacey vows to push through her demons and show Kade and her family that she has what it takes to rise above tragedy, even if she has to run into the arms of a killer to save a loved one.


Strong language. Sexual content. Violence. Intended for audiences 18 years and older.

Paperback, 268 pages
Expected publication: July 17th 2015 
Series: Maxwell #2
Genre: New Adult/Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

**I received an advanced readers copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

This book is the second book in The Maxwell Series and continues Lacey and Kade's story. To fully appreciate this book you need to read Dare to Kiss first which is the first book in the series and one that I personally really enjoyed.

I don't even know where to begin. This instalment had a much different feel than the first book. Dare to Kiss was mostly about the budding relationship between Lacey and Kade mixed with a bunch of major issues and problems. Dare to Dream took on all of the major issues specifically the murder of Lacey's mom and sister. Although the romance was still there, this book was more suspenseful and action packed.

So many things happened in this book but I don't want to mention them and give anything away. Lets just say that if it were a movie there would be more than a couple eye covering moments. Not only does Lacey have to worry about her PTSD, budding baseball career and relationship but also mobsters, bodyguards, bullies, robbers and murderers. It is way more intense which says a lot because the first book definitely had its moments.

Throughout all of the chaos and drama the characters really developed and grew and even though I was already in their corner, the feeling solidified for me. I also can't forget to mention that I got more of the Maxwell triplets as well. What can I say about them? Athletic, good looking and extremely protective and loyal will have all readers wanting more and I still hold out hope that they will each get their own story.

This was another job well done by S.B. Alexander and I enjoyed it as much as the first but for completely different reasons. I can't wait to see what direction this series goes in next! Perhaps Kelton's story?

Check out my thoughts on Dare to Kiss here.


Book Trailer


About the Author
S. B. Alexander’s passion for writing began when she read her first Stephen King novel, The Shining. Over the years she kept telling family and friends she was going to write a book. Fifteen years later, on the advice of a friend, she sat down and wrote her first novel. Her books are targeted toward the young adult and new adult markets.

Her young adult series, Vampire SEALS, includes three books, On the Edge of Humanity, On the Edge of Eternity, and On the Edge of Destiny, which have garnered high praise from readers.

Dare to Kiss, the first book in the Maxwell Series claimed the #1 bestseller spot in Amazon UK’s sports fiction category. The follow up, Dare to Dream, will be released on July 17, 2015.

Alexander’s career has been colorful—a former navy veteran, high school math teacher and college professor, sales consultant, coach, and manager. She loves baseball, especially the Boston Red Sox, white powdered donuts, and handbags. Her husband calls her the bag lady. She enjoys playing golf, is moved by music and great stories, and will go out of her way to help people.

She believes words are the key to opening the door to extraordinary places with amazing characters that tell a great story.


Connect with S.B. Alexander
 
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Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Review: When the Moon Is Low by Nadia Hashimi


Mahmoud's passion for his wife Fereiba, a schoolteacher, is greater than any love she's ever known. But their happy, middle-class world—a life of education, work, and comfort—implodes when their country is engulfed in war, and the Taliban rises to power.

Mahmoud, a civil engineer, becomes a target of the new fundamentalist regime and is murdered. Forced to flee Kabul with her three children, Fereiba has one hope to survive: she must find a way to cross Europe and reach her sister's family in England. With forged papers and help from kind strangers they meet along the way, Fereiba make a dangerous crossing into Iran under cover of darkness. Exhausted and brokenhearted but undefeated, Fereiba manages to smuggle them as far as Greece. But in a busy market square, their fate takes a frightening turn when her teenage son, Saleem, becomes separated from the rest of the family.

Faced with an impossible choice, Fereiba pushes on with her daughter and baby, while Saleem falls into the shadowy underground network of undocumented Afghans who haunt the streets of Europe's capitals. Across the continent Fereiba and Saleem struggle to reunite, and ultimately find a place where they can begin to reconstruct their lives.


Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: July 21st 2015 by William Morrow
 
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 July 21st 2015**

I was pretty excited for this read.  I had read Hashimi's previous novel The Pearl That Broke it's Shell (review here ) and loved it so my expectations were set high for this book.  I can say I was not disappointed.

I won't re-hash the story as I feel the book synopsis does a good job describing the plot.  As Hashimi's previous novel did, this story educated me more about a region that I honestly know little about.  I am going to assume that some of the background information is historically accurate.  I did not know that women in Afghanistan used to have the same liberties as I currently know.  I had assumed that it had always been the way we know if now where woman are not treated as equal.  When Fereiba described her outfit of a pencil skirt I was initially confused until the story described the transition of the Afghanistan of old to the new one.

I am not sure why stories that take place in this geography fascinate me so much.  Maybe it is because it is so different from what I know, or maybe because it is almost always tragic, I don't know.  I am really not going to analyze it to much.

Back to the plot...a little bit.  I could not even imagine going through what this family went through in order to try to escape their reality.  Does it ever put things in to perspective when I am sweating the small stuff.  My reality is a dream compared to theirs.

I encourage anyone who likes to read about the plight of people in real places to pick up this book.  Both books actually.  They are eye opening, compelling, well written and simply entertaining.  I look forward to discovering any future work by Hashimi.

In closing I have to say that I felt the ending to the story was completely appropriate.  Symbolic in a way.  For anyone who has read this I would love to know if you agree.

 
 
About the Author
 

Website
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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Review: Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas

LET ME EXPLAIN YOU begins with a letter: Stavros Stavros Mavrakis-Greek immigrant, proud owner of the Gala Diner, having had a premonition of death and believing he has just ten days left to live, sends an email to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters in which he lays out his last wishes for each of them. He then sets about preparing for his final hours. With varying degrees of laughter and scorn, his family and friends dismiss his behavior as nothing more than a plea for attention, a mid-life crisis of sorts, but when Stavros disappears without explanation, those closest to him-particularly his eldest daughters Stavroula and Litza-are forced to confront the possibility of his death and the realities of their loss.

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: July 14th 2015 by Scribner 
Genre: Fiction


Kristine's Thoughts:


**I received an advanced readers copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Every now and then a book comes along that makes you go "ok". This was one of those books for me. It made me think, it made me question and it made me ponder. These are all things that I do when I really like a book.

I'm not going to re-tell the story but instead I will try to describe some of the things I felt as I read it. The synopsis gives a good general idea of what the story is about.

First I have to begin by saying that some of the characters are not very likeable. In fact, from the very beginning it is very easy to hate Stavros Stavros Mavrakis and his daughters. As the story progressed I wouldn't say that I liked the characters any better but I did get a better understanding for them and where they were coming from. There were cultural and language barriers as well as an extreme amount of pride and stubbornness that shaped the people and plot of this story. It was about family, loyalty and misunderstandings and it made for some very interesting reading.

The story began in the present with the email but went back to before Stavros came to America. As is the case with most books, I found myself drawn to the past story a little more than the present one. It was not the fastest moving story but an extremely thought provoking one in my opinion. It will definitely stick with me for some time to come.

I thought that the writing was very well done and I even found myself reading parts of it with a Greek accent. The story was engaging and unique. This was the first novel for Annie Liontas but I don't think it will be her last. I would definitely read another book by this author and hope that I get the opportunity to. I really enjoyed it.



About the Author
A graduate of Syracuse University’s MFA program, Annie Liontas writes fiction and poetry. Since 2003, Annie has been dedicated to urban education, working with teachers and youth in Newark, Philadelphia, and Camden, NJ. Let Me Explain You is her first novel. She lives with her wife in Philadelphia. 

Connect with Annie




 

Monday, 13 July 2015

Review: A Time For Friends by Patricia Scanlan


When are the boundaries of friendship pushed too far, and when is it time to stop flying over oceans for someone who wouldn't jump over a puddle for you? There comes a time when Hilary Hammond has to make that call.

Hilary and Colette O'Mahony have been friends since childhood, but when irrepressible Jonathan Harpur breezes into Hilary's life and goes into business with her, Colette is not pleased.

After their first encounter, Colette thinks he's a pushy upstart, while he thinks she's a snobby little diva. And so the battle lines are drawn and Hilary is square in the middle.

But as the years roll by and each of them is faced with difficult times and tough decisions, one thing is clear: to have a friend you must be a friend.

Paperback480 pages
Expected publication: July 14th 2015 by Atria Books


Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Atria via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is July 14th 2015.

If you are looking for a story about friendship, then this is a good pick.  If you are looking for a story about one sided friendships, even more so.  Essentially this book tells the story of two friendship.  Hilary and Colette who grew up together and then Hilary and Jonathan who meet as adults.  One is a dysfunctional friendship while the other is the type of friendship that will never die.

Hilary - She was the type of person we all aspire to be however lets be honest are really too selfish to emulate.  The perfect friend, wife, mother and professional.  I am having a good day if I can get ready for work and my outfit fits on the first try meanwhile Hilary juggled everything.  Although throughout the story she showed signs of being human she was selfless for the most part.  The way she tolerate Colette was infuriating yet admirable and the way she was at Jonathan's side was heartwarming.

Colette - Could you find a more selfish person!  From the way the story starts you expect that Colette will redeem herself at some point in the story but in my opinion it never happened.  The way she took advantage of Hilary's friendship and used her to boost herself up was disgusting.  If a friend ignored me for years and then all of a sudden expected me to drop everything and fly to the other side of the world, I would tell them exactly where to go!  I could go on and on and ask the question why friendships are almost always one sided but I decided not too go too deep with this one.  I choose to dislike this character...strongly.

Jonathan - I'm not going to say much but he was a character that made me smile.  I really liked everything about him and would love a friend like him.

Ultimately this was a story where not too much happens however you see the lives of these characters over the span of many years.  Occasionally the writing would switch to the point of views of a secondary character which was a little odd however not a deal breaker.  If you enjoy a story that delves in to the topic of friendship then this just may be the one for you.



About the Author
Patricia Scanlan was born in Dublin, where she still lives. While working as a librarian she started to write, and now has a full-time career as a bestselling author.