Thursday 27 February 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #17

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are... 

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

This week's question is...

Change the Plot. If you could, what book would you change the ending or a plot thread? Go ahead and do it...change it. 
If I had been asked this question right after I finished Gone Girl I may have chosen it. I thought I hated the ending but then the more I thought about it the more I kind of thought it was genius. A messed up story and two messed up characters should rightfully have a messed up ending. In the end I decided that I actual love how it played out and had to go back and change my rating on the book.

The one book that comes to mind that I hated the ending to was My Sister's Keeper by Jody Picoult. Both Terri and I threw the book across the room when we finished it. I would change it to the same as the movie ending. Although it was still sad, it was an ending that I could live with. What book would you change?

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, facebook and twitter.

Review: Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck

Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgemental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future.…

That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparallelled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will.…

Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life.

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by NAL Trade 
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

This book tells the story of fictional character Laura Kelley and the real life poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Each Chapter begins with Laura's story from her point of view and ends with Vincent's from hers. Although each story is separate they intertwine as the book progresses and a relationship is built.

I thoroughly enjoyed Laura's story as she found herself in a situation that marks her in her small town community and leaves her ostracised and struggling to make ends meet. She struggles to keep her dress shop in business and pay bills when the community members refuse to give her business. Although I enjoyed her character and sympathised with her struggles, I did find her story to be a little slow at times. What I really wanted to know about Laura's story was not revealed until the final few chapters and it felt a tiny bit rushed and anti-climatic by that point.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to Vincent's story. Although I sympathised with her sadness I didn't overly like or enjoy her character. I found her to be selfish, unstable and felt that she brought a lot of her pain on herself. If I'm honest I have to say that the pages written in her point of view were a bit of a bore and I found myself skimming the paragraphs. As the story progressed and interactions between Vincent and Laura began I felt a disconnect from them. I couldn't really feel the bond that they were creating. I did however really like Vincent's husband Eugen.

I always enjoy historical fiction because I can experience what it was like to live in a different time where views, morals and judgements were so different from what I know. This story does not disappoint in that sense. Although not a perfect story it was an enjoyable read.

About the Author
ERIKA ROBUCK self-published her first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING. Her novel, HEMINGWAY'S GIRL (NAL/Penguin), was a Target Emerging Author Pick, a Vero Beach Bestseller, and has been sold in two foreign markets to date. Her novel, CALL ME ZELDA (NAL/Penguin), was released on May 7th, and was a Southern Independent Bookseller Bestseller for multiple weeks. Her next novel, FALLEN BEAUTY (NAL/Penguin) features the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and will be released on March 4,2014.

Erika writes about and reviews historical fiction at her blog, Muse, and is a contributor to fiction blog, Writer Unboxed. She is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Hemingway Society, and the Millay Society.


Wednesday 26 February 2014

Review: Happily Ever After: A Novel by Elizabeth Maxwell

At forty-six, Sadie Fuller's life isn't exactly romantic. She's an everyday mom in many ways, a little overweight, over-committed and struggling to raise an eleven-year-old girl as a single parent. But Sadie has a secret, while the rest of suburbia sleeps, she makes a living writing erotica under the pseudonym K. T. Briggs. Though her own sex life is nothing worth noting, she's fabulous at creating steamy fantasies with perfectly waxed, incredibly fit, scantily clad characters.

But everything changes when she encounters a strangely familiar man during a routine visit to Target. Is Sadie losing her mind, or has her latest hunky character wandered out of her manuscript and into reality? As Sadie tries to negotiate this bizarre new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking . . . places where happily ever after might not be so far-fetched after all.

Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: March 18th 2014 by Touchstone (first published March 4th 2014)
Terri's Thoughts:  

I received an advanced readers copy of this novel from the publisher Touchstone via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is March 18th 2014.

This was a very odd read for me.  If I were to compare this book to a song, it would be a mash-up where multiple genres come together to create one piece of work.  From the synopsis of this story I thought this would be chick-lit read however right from the opening chapter I was proven wrong. The story opens as an erotica read as you are reading the story that Sadie is creating as an author erotica novels.  Then it plunges in to contemporary fiction as you learn about Sadies life.  For a while the two genres are interwoven and then all of a sudden throw in some paranormal.The result is an eclectic read that gives a little something for fans of each genre.

While at times I felt the multiple genres didn't work together I thought it was interesting how Maxwell wrote it.  It is written from the perspective of an author (Sadie) and gives a little bit of insight in to the world of a writer and the formulas and expectations that go along with it. Although I do not know how close to reality these tidbits are I would think that they are pretty close.  By having Sadie acknowledge the mixture of genres Maxwell is also acknowledging that she is mixing things up with this read.

Altogether the result is a quirky albeit slightly odd read that had me entertained for a couple of hours.  There is a bit of everything in here to satisfy fans of most genres however perhaps not enough to satisfy those who do not stray from one genre to another. Warning that there is some graphic language and scenes of a sexual nature.

About the Author 

Elizabeth Maxwell lived for a long time in the east until one particularly snowy February when she couldn’t take it anymore, packed up her angry cat and moved west. She’s been hanging out in the Northern California sunshine ever since. (well, except for a decade in San Francisco where it was foggy all the time but the restaurants were really good so there was that.)

Elizabeth currently lives in Davis, CA with her husband, two kids and the same angry cat (who is now 97 cat years old.)


Twitter:  maxwellwrites


Tuesday 25 February 2014

Review: The Seeker by R.B. Chesterton

When graduate student Aine Cahill uncovers a journal proving that her aunt Bonnie was an intimate companion of Henry David Thoreau s during his supposedly solitary sojourn at Walden Pond, she knows that she has found the perfect subject for her dissertation.

She decides to travel to Walden Pond herself to hunker down and work on her writing, but it quickly becomes clear that all is not as it seems in Thoreau s woodland retreat. The further Aine delves into Bonnie s diary the more she finds herself wondering about her family s sinister legacy and even her own sanity is there really a young girl lurking in the woods?

As tragedy strikes a nearby town and suspicion falls on Aine, she scrambles to find the truth behind Thoreau s paradise.

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 6th 2014 by Pegasus Books
Kristine's Thoughts:
* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*
My feelings were mixed when it came to this book. It started out quite slow but at the same time it was extremely busy. There were so many different plot points that it was hard to keep it all straight and determine what the book was actually about. There was the Cahill curse, the Bonnie and Thoreau connection, murder and a paranormal twist. It made it difficult to follow along and I found myself skimming paragraphs on numerous occassions. The story didn't really start to pick up until around the 70% mark for me. The characters in the book I could take or leave. I didn't fully connect with any of them.  The story leaves you hanging at the end which indicates a sequel but I'm not to sure that I am interested in reading the rest. Having said that, I probably will because I always feel the need to know how a story ends.

The sentences were well written with beautifully descriptive phrasing but it was the story itself that fell a little bit short. I am guessing that perhaps the next book will be a little more exciting as the ending of The Seeker held my interest more than the rest of it.

About the Author
R.B. Chesterton is the pseudonym for Carolyn Haines, who was the 2010 recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing, the 2009 recipient of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence, and the 2011 RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. She is the author of more than sixty books in a number of genres. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of South Alabama where she teaches fiction writing. 

Monday 24 February 2014

Review: The Island of Doves by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Vivid and enthralling, Island of the Doves tells the story of a courageous woman who is desperate for freedom and of those who will risk everything to help her…

Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffalo’s finest mansions, but her monstrous husband makes the home a terrible prison. When a local nun offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamship headed for Mackinac Island and a chance at freedom.

Magdelaine Fonteneau has seen her share of tragedy—a husband murdered before her eyes, two sisters lost—and she sees offering Susannah refuge in her island home as atonement for her many regrets. This act of kindness changes Susannah in ways she never could have imagined as she finds solace in the company of others who carry their own secrets and scars. Only together can they untangle their pasts—and find a future bright with the promise of new life.

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2014 by Berkley Trade
Terri's Thoughts:
I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This was a haunting story of two women who are trying to cope with the cards dealt to them.  One trying to find a new life and one who did not know she was in need of healing and how when brought together they teach each other how to heal.

Susannah's journey was particularly interesting as you see how she learns to grow and find independence through each page and to put her past behind her.  As the reader you are cheering for her to succeed.  While not as obvious, Magdelaine's journey is similar however she is learning how to accept love and learn that it will not break her.

If you like a story about strong women and learning to forgive the past then this is a good read to pick up.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

About the Author

Kelly O Connor McNees is a former middle school English teacher and editorial assistant. Raised in Michigan, McNees currently lives in Chicago with her husband. For further information about the book and the author, visit"


Sunday 23 February 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love  
 As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux 
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

I'm not going to re-tell the story because you can read the synopsis to know what this book is about. What I will tell you is that I adored this book. Lately it seems like the young adult genre has been giving me everything that I need in a book. I use to avoid books that were grouped in this category but I have since realised that you don't need to be young to enjoy them. I'm so glad I came to my senses otherwise I never would have picked this book up.

Kestrel and Arin should not like each other, should not be friend, should not even talk to each other. Arin is a slave and Kestrel is the daughter of the General. What makes it so wrong for these two to be together is what makes it so right in my opinion. All the things working against them and their total denial of feelings make for some pretty amazing reading. I found myself routing for them and hoping but at the same time thinking it was impossible. Major lies are told and ultimate betrayals committed and I just couldn't see how anything could possible work out in the favour that I desired.

The book takes place in a time that is different from what we know but not so different that it is not believable. I appreciated this fact because I find some books are just too "out there" to grasp. It is a world where woman have to join the military or get married but is reminiscent of kingdoms and battles of our past. It is a battle of good against evil but shows that things aren't always black and white and that good and evil are in the eye of the beholder.

My only complaint is that I didn't get enough Kestrel and Arin and this book is the first in a trilogy so I have to wait to find out what happens to them. I went on Goodreads to put the next two books on my tbr list to find out that they are both untitled! Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!! Does that mean that they are not finished yet? How long am I going to have to wait to finish their story? I can't take it because there is still so much story to be told.

A very good read for people of all ages who want to get lost in a few hours of forbidden love. I really enjoyed it!

About the Author
Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She usually lives in New York City with her husband and two sons, but she and her family  lived in Paris for the 2012-2013 academic year. 

Saturday 22 February 2014

Review: Beauty by Frederick G Dillen

As a corporate undertaker for a mergers and acquisitions firm in New York, Carol MacLean travels from factory to factory, firing blue-collar workers who remind her of her father and the kids she grew up with. She hates her job. But Carol has been biding her time: her boss has promised that one day, after she has paid her dues, Carol will get to run a company instead of having to bury it.

On what is supposed to be her last assignment, Carol travels up the coast of Massachusetts to a desperate fishing town where the late lobster and day boats cluster around the inner harbor, the blue steeples of the Portuguese church stand tall on the horizon, and the last remaining fish processing plant is in its death throes. That's when she learns that she's about to be fired.

To save the town and herself, Carol becomes determined to rescue the factory she's under orders to shut down. With the help of the townspeople and a roughly charming local fisherman, and by the force of her own resolve, Carol throws herself into transforming the company but is soon faced with increasingly difficult decisions. Must she choose between the job she has always wanted and everything else?

Beauty explores the ways in which one woman will risk everything; her savings, her reputation, and even a chance at love in pursuit of her dream

Hardcover, 256 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Terri's Thoughts:

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  Its expected publication date is March 4th, 2014

This is the kind of story you want to pick up when you are looking for a feel good read with some likeable characters mixed in.  The journey that Carol took from the first to the last page is a true underdog finds her way type of theme.  Add in a love story to the mix and it is a true recipe to raise one's spirits.

While the book was uplifting it was not without its flaws.  I found that there were several run-on sentences in the story and at times there seemed to be some grammatical errors.  This could be because I was reading an ARC and perhaps these flaws will be worked out when the book is officially published.  I was able to overcome this and enjoy the read nonetheless.

I would recommend this read to anyone who is looking for an uplifting story to raise their spirits on those days where a needed boost is required.  This is a fast easy read that satisfies the needs of someone looking for a happy escape.

About the Author     


Thursday 20 February 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #16

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are... 

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

This week's question is...

What was the last book that made you cry?
Terri's answer


Kristine's answer

I love a good cry when reading a book but have not read many lately. What book made you cry?

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, facebook and twitter.

Review: Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

Mary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired and round, she worships her beautiful blonde sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgemental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by William Morrow 

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

Two Sisters is the story of more than just two sisters. It is the story of Muriel's struggle to accept and understand why she was always an outsider and disappointment to her entire family. It weaves back and forth between her present and past and paints the picture of her less than perfect life. It also tells the story of her parents and how they ended up together which plays a very important role in how her life plays out.

This book is definitely a family drama and details Muriel's insecurities about growing up with a perfect sister and a mother who doesn't love her. She coped with her past by avoiding her family until her perfect sister delivers shocking news that has her re-evaluating her childhood and questioning everything she thinks she knows. Can things be fixed and is it possible to repair her relationships with her family? Can she learn to love herself when it seems that no one else can?

Hogan writes in a beautifully honest way and captures Muriel's emotions perfectly. I loved the way she wrote what the characters were thinking in their heads, what they wanted to do in any given situation versus what they actually did. I related to her style because I often do the same thing. Who hasn't wished that they could sneak out a bathroom window instead of dealing with something unpleasant?

This book is a somewhat sad and depressing story of a dysfunctional and complicated family. If you are looking for something fast paced and filled with action, this is not the book to read. If you are looking for an honest family drama about family, mending fences and forgiveness I think you will find this book to be an enjoyable read.

Mary Hogan
Mary has published seven young adult books and Two Sisters is her first adult novel.


Wednesday 19 February 2014

Review: Sacred Tears by Roderic Grigson

1982 and Sami is far from home, trapped in war-torn Beirut, a city under siege by the Israelis. All he wants is to go home to his family in Sri Lanka but in order to stay alive he must learn to kill. David, a captain in the Sri Lankan army, is sent to the steamy jungles in the north of the country as punishment for an indiscretion and is thrown into the brutal insurrection by militant separatist Tamil Tigers. As civil war erupts in Sri Lanka and tears this once peaceful nation apart, David's love, the beautiful Priyani makes a difficult choice and the paths of these two men cross on opposing sides of the struggle. They must plumb the depths of their courage and question their beliefs about right and wrong. Sacred Tears, the first in a trilogy, is a powerful and evocative depiction of Sri Lanka's great beauty and recent tumultuous history. It will take you inside the story of this ancient nation and into the heart of a gripping human struggle.

Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 25th 2013 by Authorhouse
Terri's Thoughts:     

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

Upon initially starting the book I did not know what to think.  I know very little about Lebanon and Sri Lanka and their struggles and this is what the book centralizes around.  I found it difficult to keep track of the individual groups and causes.  I also struggled with the multiple combat scenes.


Good things come to those who wait.  As I progressed through the story I found that it was less about the conflicts and combats and more about the circumstances that cause people to travel down the paths they take.  I liked the fact that Grigson did not focus on whose cause was right or wrong or force the reader to choose a side.  He focused on the personal story of Sami and David and how sometimes their choices are not their own.  Although Sami and David were on opposing sides they were both extremely likeable characters.  I was drawn in to the story and my initial doubts were soon forgotten.

This also gave me an opportunity to learn more about a region that I am not well educated on.  Although the story is fictional it still created a backdrop on which to learn.  I am glad I had the opportunity to read this story and knowing that it is a trilogy I look forward to the next installment.

About the Author

Roderic Grigson was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and lived there until he was twenty-one. Rod’s family were Burghers, descendants of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonials who ruled the island nation for 450 years. His Scottish grandfather worked for the British before independence and was responsible for managing all Government-owned guest houses in the country.

Rod felt he had no prospects in a country which had become a socialist state run by Sinhalese Nationalists. With the help of a distant cousin, he left Sri Lanka and with ten dollars in his pocket entered the United States on a tourist visa. In New York he obtained a short term job at the United Nations Headquarters, processing documents on the night shift for the Annual General Assembly Conference. Later, with his visa about to expire, was offered a permanent job in the UN Department of Conference Services, where he worked for the next twelve years.

After studying at New York University he joined the UN Technological Innovations team developing French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese language programs on computers and implementing office information systems in UN offices around the world. For a two-year period in the late 1970s he volunteered to join the UN Peacekeeping Forces serving on the Suez Canal during the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty and in South Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War.

Soon after returning to New York from the Middle East, Rod met and married a Tamil girl from Jaffna who worked for the UN Conference on Trade and Development. In the late 1980s Rod and Menaka left their jobs at the UN in New York to migrate to Australia. The year they arrived in Melbourne, they bought a home in a leafy south-eastern suburb of Melbourne where their son Eric was born and where they still live.


Tuesday 18 February 2014

Review: The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh

This mesmerizing coming-of-age novel, with its sheen of near-magical realism, is a moving tale of family and the power of stories.
   After their mother's probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia—who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights—is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother's unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest.
   Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.

Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Crown 

Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House Crown via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*

The Moon Sisters is a truly unique story about two sisters who are both struggling after the death of their mother. Worlds apart in their way of thinking the two sisters struggle to understand each other and their actions. Olivia sets out on a journey to find the place that was the setting of her mothers unfinished novel in the hopes of finding peace and Jazz reluctantly accompanies her in order to keep her safe. The journey takes a wrong turn and a series of events happen that neither one of them could imagine. It turns from a physical journey into a journey of self discovery, family, survival, hope, secrets, friendship, relationships and understanding.

Walsh weaves a wonderful story that bounces between Jazz and Olivia's point of view with letters written by their mother Beth to their grandfather that disowned her when she left him to get married and have a family. In doing this, the reader is able to get into both Moon sister's head as well as their mother's and understand the struggles they have after losing her. It was really very well done in my opinion and made the story flow almost magically and quickly. The characters are raw, real and easy to connect to.

This is a beautiful story of love, loss and the ties that bind us that I won't soon forget. I enjoyed every minute of it! I have found a new author to enjoy.

About the Author
Therese's debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was published in 2009 by Shaye Areheart books (Random House). Her second novel, The Moon Sisters, will be published by Crown (Penguin Random House) in March 2014.

Therese is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of fiction. Before turning to novels, she was a researcher and writer for Prevention magazine, and then a freelance writer. She’s had hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online.

She has a master's degree in psychology.

Aside from writing, Therese’s favorite things include music, art, crab legs, Whose Line is it Anyway?, dark chocolate, photography, unique movies and novels, people watching, strong Irish tea, and spending time with her husband, two kids and their bouncy Jack Russell.

Monday 17 February 2014

Review: The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson

A heartfelt, funny, and all-together human novel about the best mistakes a person can make

   Jonathan and Rosie have been together so long they finish each other’s sentences—so when he (finally) proposes and asks her to move across the country with him, everyone is happily surprised.
   But when things suddenly unravel, Rosie sends Jonathan packing and moves back home with Soapie, the irascible, opinionated grandmother who raised her. Only now she has to figure out how to fire Soapie’s very unsuitable caregiver, a gardener named Tony who lets her drink martinis, smoke, and cheat at Scrabble.
It’s a temporary break, of course—until Rosie realizes she’s accidentally pregnant at 44, completely unequipped for motherhood, and worse, may be falling in love with the sentimental, troubled Tony, whose life is even more muddled than hers.
   It’s not until Rosie learns the truth about her mother’s tragic story that she wonders if sometimes you have to let go of your fears, trusting that the big-hearted, messy life that awaits you may just be the one you were meant to live.

Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: March 11th 2014 by Broadway Books
Terri's Thoughts:

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This was a story of what happens when certain life events occur on an life plan that has already been mapped out.  What results is emotional, heartwarming and comedic mixed in with a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters.

I must admit that I was not a fan of Jonathan from the get go however I do believe this may have been by design.  Putting him aside there were plenty of characters to invest in and enjoy.  From the eccentric Soapie who cracked me up, the supportive George and the cute Milo.  Most of all there was Rosie and Tony.  I felt that I could identify with Rosie from beginning despite the fact that I am (ahhum) much younger than her character.  Her journey had me invested from the first to the last page.

I must dedicated a paragraph alone to Tony.  I do not think anyone reading this book could not help falling in live with him.  From his misuse of words to the his outlook on life he was the perfect man in my opinion.  In fact if you were to measure him up to reality I do not think there would be many men who could come close to measuring up.  His love for his son and his outlook on the wonders of pregnancy were some of the highlights of the story.  I could not get enough of him!

At the end of the day this is a story about taking new directions, embracing the unexpected and realizing that life has more planned for you than you thought.  Along the way there is enough drama, laughter and emotional roadblocks to keep you entertained.

I would definitely recommend this book.  Dawson was an author who was unfamiliar to me however I will be sure to check out her other works.

About the Author     

Twitter:  maddiedawson1    

Sunday 16 February 2014

Review: Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell

Vienna Nocturne tells the story of the turbulent life and brilliantly successful career of young British opera singer Anna Storace, a child prodigy who is taken by her parents to Italy at age thirteen to advance her career. In love with life and wildly ambitious, Anna wants everything--to be famous, to be loved--and this leads her to make some fatal choices. We watch her turn from a carefree young girl to a passionate young woman, and it is during this transformation that her affair with Mozart blossoms. The story of their love, no less powerful for being forbidden, is reminiscent of the passionate thwarted romances described in Loving Frank and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Written in melodious prose by a young author studying opera at Yale, Vienna Nocturne is dramatic story of a woman's battle to find love and fame in an 18th-century world that controls and limits her at every turn.

Hardcover, 256 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2014 by Bond Street Books
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

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

This book is a very easy read. The chapters are all very short and I was continuously telling myself "just one more" and before I knew it I was done. It is a fictional story about Anna Storace and Mozart and although some of the facts, names and timelines are real, the story of Anna and her relationship with Mozart are the work of the authors imagination based on the music he wrote for her. I have to say that Shotwell has a beautiful imagination and the story she created was incredible.

The story itself is filled with hardship, love, lust, heartbreak, friendship and tragedy. I found myself emotionally invested in Anna's character and her struggles as a rising opera singer in the 18th century. So many things happened in her life that I kept forgetting that she was still so young. There were parts in the story (I won't say which ones) that had me teary eyed which is always a good indication that I am enjoying a story. Even though I knew what the outcome would be for Anna and Mozart it didn't stop me from routing for them or shedding a few tears when it came. There was something so tragically beautiful about the way it ended that it will stick with me for a long time.

I knew little about 18th century opera before picking up this book but now I am fascinated with that bit of history. It was a truly pleasurable book for which I am thankful I had the opportunity to read.

About the Author

Vivien Shotwell is a classically trained singer with degrees from Williams College, the Yale School of Music, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. As an undergraduate voice student at Williams, Shotwell first sang the beautiful aria “Non temer, amato bene” (“Don’t fear, greatly beloved”), which Mozart wrote for and performed with the young soprano Anna Storace, and knew she had to tell their story. A daughter of independent booksellers, Shotwell was born in Colorado, raised in Nova Scotia, and now divides her time between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New Haven, Connecticut. This is her first novel.




Saturday 15 February 2014

Review: The Girl Who Came Home: A Titanic Novel by Hazel Gaynor

Inspired by true events surrounding a group of Irish emigrants who sailed on the maiden voyage of R.M.S Titanic, The Girl Who Came Home is a story of enduring love and forgiveness, spanning seventy years. It is also the story of the world’s most famous ship, whose tragic legacy continues to captivate our hearts and imaginations one hundred years after she sank to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean with such a devastating loss of life.

In a rural Irish village in April 1912, seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy is anxious about the trip to America. While the thirteen others she will travel with from her Parish anticipate a life of prosperity and opportunity - including her strict Aunt Kathleen who will be her chaperon for the journey - Maggie is distraught to be leaving Séamus, the man she loves with all her heart. As the carts rumble out of the village, she clutches a packet of love letters in her coat pocket and hopes that Séamus will be able to join her in America soon.

In Southampton, England, Harry Walsh boards Titanic as a Third Class Steward, excited to be working on this magnificent ship. After the final embarkation stop in Ireland, Titanic steams across the Atlantic Ocean. Harry befriends Maggie and her friends from the Irish group; their spirits are high and life on board is much grander than any of them could have ever imagined. Being friendly with Harold Bride, one of the Marconi radio operators, Harry offers to help Maggie send a telegram home to Séamus. But on the evening of April 14th, when Titanic hits an iceberg, Maggie’s message is only partly transmitted, leaving Séamus confused by what he reads.

As the full scale of the disaster unfolds, luck and love will decide the fate of the Irish emigrants and those whose lives they have touched on board the ship. In unimaginable circumstances, Maggie survives, arriving three days later in New York on the rescue ship Carpathia. She has only the nightdress she is wearing, a small case and a borrowed coat, to her name. She doesn’t speak of Titanic again for seventy years.

In Chicago, 1982, twenty-one year old Grace Butler is stunned to learn that her Great Nana Maggie sailed on Titanic and sets out to write Maggie's story as a way to resurrect her journalism career. When it is published, Grace receives a surprising phone call, starting a chain of events which will reveal the whereabouts of Maggie’s missing love letters and the fate of those she sailed with seventy years ago. But it isn't until a final journey back to Ireland that the full extent of Titanic’s secrets are revealed and Maggie is able to finally make peace with her past

Expected publication: April 1st 2014

Terri's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this novel from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is April 2014.

I was eager to read this book as I have a fascination with all things associated to the Titanic.  I was curious to see what kind of spin would be put on the tragic tail of the events that occurred on the Titanic.  For those who have any knowledge of the Titanic or seen the movie for that matter you will be familiar with the descriptive passages regarding the ship and it's demise.  Although I am by no means an expert the descriptions seemed accurate to all other accounts of the event that I have been exposed to.

At first I thought that there would be some risk of this story being too similar to the tragic love story depicted in the popular movie depiction of the event however it gladly was not.  Although there was a love story, it did not occur on the decks of the boat.  It occurred off of the boat.  It was tragic and touching.  I loved how the innocence of the young love was depicted through memories, letters and journals.

This story was well put together using the present (1980's) to unfold Maggie's story that occurred seventy years prior on her journey to America.  Through Maggie's words, telegrams from the boat, letters and journal entries the story wrapped together in to one finely wrapped story.  Learning about the lives of the fourteen people who left small town Ireland to journey to America on the mighty Titanic added to the emotional factor of this read.  Their journey and fates made me become invested in what would come.

The characters were also well written.  I enjoyed the character of Maggie with her young shyness, Peggy with her youthful bold outlook on life and Harry whose heart was so genuine you just wished you knew someone like that in real life.  These three carried the story for me and were wonderfully written.

I will not divulge the plot of this story however here is one spoiler.  The boat sinks!  It is story that Gaynor creates before, during and after that makes this a winner.  I will be recommending this read and will look for future work from Hazel Gaynor

About the Author

Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer living in Ireland. 'The Girl Who Came Home - A Novel of the Titanic' is her first novel and will be published in the US by William Morrow Books in April, 2014 and in the Uk/Ireland by Harper360.

When she isn't writing historical fiction, Hazel writes a guest blog for national writing website for which she has also interviewed bestselling authors such as Jo Baker, Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Mary Beth Keane.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children and an accident-prone cat.

Hazel is represented by Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management, New York.
Twitter: HazelGaynor

Friday 14 February 2014

Review: The Violet Hour by Whitney A. Miller

The voice inside me is breaking free. I can't stop it.

Some call VisionCrest the pinnacle of religious enlightenment. Others call it a powerful cult. For seventeen years, Harlow Wintergreen has called it her life.

As the daughter of VisionCrest's patriarch, Harlow is expected to be perfect at all times. She must be considered a paragon of integrity by the other Ministry teens and a future leader in the eyes of the world.

Despite the constant scrutiny Harlow is keeping a dark and dangerous secret, even from her best friend and the boy she loves. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with violent and bloody visions. It commands her to kill. And the urge to obey is getting harder and harder to control....

Paperback, 312 pages
Expected publication: March 8th 2014 by Flux 
Genre: Young Adult/Sci-fi/horror
Kristine's Thoughts:
* I won an advanced readers copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.*
I have to start out by saying that this book was not what I thought it was going to be when I first started reading it. After reading the synopsis I was thinking it was about a girl with schizophrenia. A logical deduction (or so I thought) when I think of voices in your head. Boy was I wrong! Instead I soon found out that it was more of a Sci-fi, horror story with a side of cult religion and a dash of teenage romance. Was I disappointed? Not really...perhaps a little sceptical but as I turned the pages I found I needed to know what was going to happen.
This book is geared to the young adult audience and is written in a language that they can easily relate to. The characters are also easy to relate to and likeable (with the exception of gashing out eyes) and it is a quick and easy read. There is some descriptive gore but no sexual content (beyond kissing) which makes it appropriate for the younger readers of this genre.

The book really picked up steam in the last few chapters with a lot happening and ended with me screaming "WHAT". I am hoping that it is not subject to interpretation and that it indicates that there will be a sequel in the making. Although I am sometimes reluctant to pick up this kind of book I found myself liking it and wanting to know what happens next. If there is a sequel planned for the future I will probably buy it. I think younger readers will probably love this book.


About the Author
Whitney A. Miller lives in San Francisco with her husband and a struggling houseplant. She's summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, ridden the Trans-Siberian rails, bicycled through Vietnam, done the splits on the Great Wall of China, and evaded the boat police in Venice, but her best international adventures take place on the page!  

Thursday 13 February 2014

Review: The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal

Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?

There’s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who’s looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn’t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.

ebook, 400 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Bantam 
Genre: Womans Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Random House Publishing Group- Bantam Dell via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I was drawn to this book because it is about a bunch of bloggers and although I am nowhere near the blogger that the women in this book are I could relate to their passion.

This book is about four different women, all with blogs, who connect through their online passion and call themselves the Foodie Four. All of them are at different stages of their lives, struggling with different demons and trying to figure out their paths. They are all getting together at Lavender's farm to celebrate her 85th birthday. It is about friendship, love and the journey of self discovery as these women prepare for the festivities.

O'Neal tells the story in an interesting and unique way, going from woman to woman, using blog posts, recipes and emails along the way. She does an incredible job of describing the landscape and the workings of the farm. You can tell that she did her research by how detailed the entire story was.

The All You Can Dream Buffet is not a fast moving story but it is so rich in feeling and emotion. The bonds of friendship are beautifully captured within the pages. The struggles are so hauntingly realistic that as a woman I felt so much empathy for each and every one of the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed every step of their journey and the little bit of magic (or should I say spirit!) along the way.

About the Author
Barbara Samuel (also known as Barbara O’Neal) is the bestselling author of more than 40 books, and has won Romance Writers of America’s RITA award an astounding six times. Her books have been published around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, and Australia/New Zealand, among others. One of her recent women’s fiction titles, The Lost Recipe for Happiness (written as Barbara O’Neal) went back to print eight times, and her book How to Bake a Perfect Life was a Target Club pick in 2011.

Whether set in the turbulent past or the even more challenging present, Barbara’s books feature strong women, families, dogs, food, and adventure—whether on the road or toward the heart.

A native of Colorado Springs, Barbara lives there with her partner, Christopher Robin, an endurance athlete, along with her dog and cats. She is an avid gardner, hiker, photographer, and traveler who loves to take off at dawn to hike a 14er or head to a faraway land, or curl up with the animals in the garden and read. She loves to connect with readers and is very involved with them on the Internet.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Review: My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner

Nancy Turner burst onto the literary scene with her hugely popular novels These Is My Words, Sarah’s Quilt, and The Star Garden. Now, Turner has written the novel she was born to write, this exciting and heartfelt story of a woman struggling to find herself during the tumultuous years preceding the American Revolution.

The year is 1729, and Resolute Talbot and her siblings are captured by pirates, taken from their family in Jamaica, and brought to the New World. Resolute and her sister are sold into slavery in New England and taught the trade of spinning and weaving. When Resolute finds herself alone in Lexington, Massachusetts, she struggles to find her way in a society that is quick to judge a young woman without a family. As the seeds of rebellion against England grow, Resolute is torn between following the rules and breaking free. Resolute’s talent at the loom places her at the center of an incredible web of secrecy that helped drive the American Revolution. Heart-wrenching, brilliantly written, and packed to the brim with adventure, My Name is Resolute is destined to be an instant classic.

Hardcover, 608 pages
Expected publication: February 18th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books      
Terri's Thoughts:
I won this ARC as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.  The expected release date is February 18th.
I will start by sharing a little bit of how I have been introduced to Turners works.  For many months her other novel These is My Words kept appearing in my recommended list on Goodreads based on other novels I had read and rated.  I finally purchased the book and I had enjoyed it immensely.  When I saw that she had another novel that was being released and that there was a chance to win it I jumped at the chance.  I was beside myself when I found out that I had indeed won an ARC of the book.
I will not be discussing the plot of this story in my review.  I am not an eloquent enough writer to be able to put in to words just how complex and moving this story was or how it affected me so I will not even try.  This story was truly a masterpiece in my eyes which is tough to achieve in my books.  To witness the story of Resolute from a naïve and privileged  eleven year old to a grown woman with the strength of character to be rivaled by none was captivating.  I fell in love with her and I was truly invested in her journey which I might add was not an easy one.
It is clear by the content in this book that Turner has a passion for this era and that a lot of research went in to the writing of this story.  It is also clear that she has a vivid imagination as I do not think I could come close to dreaming up all of the things that Resolute went through on these pages.  If someone advised me that I would love a book that had pirates, religious fanatics, Indians and the American revolution all wrapped up in one I would have thought them crazy.  Turner managed this and it worked
This is my must read for 2014 so far.  Fans of historical fiction will love this story and I would not be surprised if this book makes the best novel list for this genre for 2014.  I had discovered Nancy E Turner by accident and after reading this story I will be purchasing all of her future work.  She has easily made it to my list of favorite authors.  I thank her for letting me get lost in her work, this book will be staying with me for a long while.

About the Author

(from her website)

Nancy Elaine Turner was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Southern California and Arizona. She began writing fiction as an assignment for a class at Pima Community College and completed a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts Studies from the University of Arizona in 1999 with a triple major in Creative Writing, Music, and Studio Art. She lives in Tucson with her husband and Snickers, a dog rescued by F.A.I.R. She has two married children and four grandchildren. She also enjoys the outdoors, theater, movies, and antiques



Tuesday 11 February 2014

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

An edgy, realistic, and utterly captivating novel from an exciting new voice in teen fiction.

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: April 1st 2014 by HarperTeen (first published February 25th 2014)
Genre: Young Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received an advanced readers copy from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in  exchange for an honest review.*

There is so much going on in this book that I don't even know where to begin. Faking Normal is a gut wrenching story of one girls struggle to cope after the unthinkable happens to her. Not only is it about her struggle to lead a normal teenage life but the power of trust and friendship in the healing process.

First I have to say that Steven's does an incredible job at describing the turmoil going on inside Alexi. The way she pens her thoughts and emotions are so real and believable. Everything from the way Alexi thinks about "him" and how she is unable to say "r" speaks to how messed up she is inside. The way Alexi blames herself, her hurt, her anger, sadness and her efforts to "fake" a normal life so that nobody knows what happened are spot on. The teenagers in this book are very believable as well. Their conversations and actions are what you would see in any high school on any given day. It was very honest.

What can I say about Bodee? The relationship between Alexi and Bodee was stunning. It wasn't the typical boy to the rescue then jump into bed story that is so typical these days. It was a beautiful and heartwarming story of friendship and mutual understanding between two equally broken people. Bodee, dealing with the unthinkable himself, was the only one that could truly see Alexi and the hurt that she was so desperately trying to hide. He was also the only one that she could trust and help her to see that she couldn't continue to live the way that she was. I enjoyed this aspect of the story line tremendously.

I won't go any deeper into the story, you'll have to read it to find out what happens! All I can say is that fans of this genre are going to love this book. I think we are going to hear a lot about this book in the coming months.

About the Author
Courtney C. Stevens grew up in Kentucky
and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is
an adjunct professor and a former youth