Thursday 30 November 2017

Review: The Black Falcon's Christmas by Kimberly Cates

The Black Falcon rides again... An English Heiress lost... A Devil's Bargain struck...

When English heiress Maryssa Wylder defied her father to wed an Irish patriot raider known as the Black Falcon, she thought she was ready for life as Tade Kilcannon’s wife and the mother of their son. But nothing her governesses taught her prepared her for tending a baby or being part of his large, boisterous family—a family that can’t forget she is the daughter of their greatest enemy.

Tade Kilcannon knows Maryssa is struggling after sacrificing a life of wealth and privilege for their great love. When he learns that her joyless father forbade celebrating Christmas, he dons the Black Falcon’s mask one last time to fight for their happily ever after. Can he give Maryssa a Christmas miracle?

Kindle Edition, 237 pages
Published December 5th 2016 by Kimberly Cates Books 
Series: Celtic Rogues
Genre: Holiday/Historical Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

I started reading this book because I wanted a nice festive story to help get me in the holiday spirit. I have just recently began trying out the historical romance genre.

The Black Falcon's Christmas is part of the Celtic Rogues series and is the continuation of Tade and Maryssa's story. You don't need to read the first book in the series in order to follow along. With that being said, I found myself more interested in the story that had already happened in the first book than the one that was happening on the pages in front of me. A lot of time was spent filling in the blanks as to how the two ended up where they were and I found that part, the back story, most intriguing. The plot within this book was, if I'm being honest, a little boring and slow. I felt like the same story could have been told with half as many pages and then I may have enjoyed it a little more. It wasn't horrible just terribly long winded.

This book did not really satisfy my Christmas craving however it did make me quite curious about Tade and Maryssa's original story. Although this can be read as a stand alone I think if I had followed their story from the beginning I might have enjoyed it more. It was just way too slow for my liking.

About the Author
Kimberly Cates lives in Illinois with her family.
Pseudonyms: Kimberleigh Caitlin and Kim Cates.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Review: Mischief & Mistletoe by Tanya Anne Crosby

'Twas the Week Before Christmas...

Suspecting he can never be the man Emma Peters wishes him to be, Lucien Morgen, the fifth duke of Willyngham, decides to break off their long-standing engagement...only to discover the innocent fiancé he set aside for years has unexpectedly blossomed into a passionate, irresistible woman.

When All Through the House...

As the family counts down to Christmas, everyone else seems to realize Lucien and Emma are truly meant to be--except the oblivious couple. With the help of some very mischievous children, Emma and Lucien are about to discover that a little mischief beneath the mistletoe might just open their hearts to love.

Kindle Edition, 78 pages
Genre: Romance/Historical Romance/Holiday/Novella
Kristine's Thoughts:

In my hunt for some Christmas cheer to get me in the Christmas spirit I decided to pick this novella up and give it a try. In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that I have never really been drawn to historical romance. I love historical fiction but tend to stay away from these types of books. I don't know why.

I have to admit that I enjoyed this novella more than I thought I would. At only 78 pages I can't really say too much about it but it succeeded in giving me some holiday feels. Who doesn't smile at love discovered during the holiday season.

If I had to dissect the story I would say that the characters were a little weak especially Lucien. A broken betrothal because he didn't feel worthy but with no explanation was a little unbecoming. Also the fact that his feelings changed three years later when Emma was more mature, beautiful and self confident was a little slimy. However, I adored Emma's family and their closeness and holiday traditions.

In the end this novella did entertained me for a short time and succeeded in putting me in the holiday spirit.

About the Author
Put a menu in front of me and I immediately don't know what I want. Fried green tomatoes with grits? Yep, OK. Fish? Sounds good, too. OK, so what are you having? I'll do that too. When it comes to shoes--forget it. I end up buying nothing because I can't make up my mind. Thank God I have a husband who has great tastes, or my closet might be empty. I'm one of those people who suffers from acute ambivalence given too many choices, but when it comes to what I wanted to do with my life, I've known that decidedly since the age of 12--and probably long before that. It all began once upon a time after a tonsillectomy, when the doc advised mom and dad they should reward me with anything I wanted (the key word here being anything). All I wanted was dad's typewriter. I got it, of course--a black, sporty Olympia I immediately set out to wearing the letters off the keys. So here I am all these years later, with sixteen books under my belt and a new one on the way ... still wearing the letters off keyboards ... and loving every minute.

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Sunday 26 November 2017

Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

Hardcover, 286 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Dutton Books for Young Readers 
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Kristine's Thoughts:

This book has been reviewed thousands of times so I'm not going to re-tell the story. If I'm being honest, I'm not sure I could anyway. Instead I am just going to write down my thoughts on Turtles All the Way Down.

I thought the way John Green captured Aza's anxieties and compulsions were spectacular. The way he penned her thought process and lack of control over those thoughts really showcased how difficult it is for someone living with those ailments to cope. Early on I thought that I was in for a deeply moving and serious story about mental illness.


I was completely underwhelmed with the rest of the story. Perhaps it was because this book came on the heals of The Fault in our Stars which was amazing but it felt more like Green was trying too hard. Reviews are great for this book so I am definitely in the minority but I can't help but wonder if  readers were blinded by who the author is and their loyalty to his much loved novels of the past.

Why did I feel this way?.

The story line was crappy. The entire billionaire disappearing story was boring and odd. The only good thing about Aza's interactions with Davis was the showcasing of her OCD about germs when they kissed. There was no emotion to be felt otherwise.

The story was also all over the map. Aza's difficulties, her relationship with Davis, his disappearing dad, a best friends fan fiction, and a moms never ending worry left me questioning what exactly was going on. Not to mention that there was endless quoting throughout the entire book that irritated me tremendously. First of all, no teenager talks like the characters in this book or goes around quoting people all of the time. No adult does either. It was seriously never ending in this book.

It made me so sad that I was so underwhelmed but I am just being honest. I truly feel like the ratings for this book are simple because of Green's past work and not fully on the merit of this particular work.


About the Author
John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska, won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award presented by the American Library Association. His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines, was a 2007 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next novel, Paper Towns, is a New York Times bestseller and won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for Best YA Mystery. In January 2012, his most recent novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was met with wide critical acclaim, unprecedented in Green's career. The praise included rave reviews in Time Magazine and The New York Times, on NPR, and from award-winning author Markus Zusak. The book also topped the New York Times Children's Paperback Bestseller list for several weeks. Green has also coauthored a book with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, published in 2010. The film rights for all his books, with the exception of Will Grayson Will Grayson, have been optioned to major Hollywood Studios.

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Saturday 25 November 2017

Review: The Sisters of Glass Ferry by Kim Michele Richardson

Spanning several decades and written in an authentic voice both lyrical and wise, The Sisters of Glass Ferry is a haunting novel about small-town Southern secrets, loss and atonement, and the unbreakable bond between siblings.

Glass Ferry, Kentucky, is bourbon country. Whiskey has been a way of life for generations, enabling families to provide and survive even in the darkest times. Flannery Butler's daddy, Beauregard "Honey Bee" Butler, was known for making some of the best whiskey in the state, aged in barrels he'd take by boat up and down the Kentucky River until the rocking waters turned the spirits smooth and golden. Flannery is the only person Honey Bee ever entrusted with his recipes before he passed on, swearing her to secrecy as he did so.

But Flannery is harboring other secrets too, about her twin sister Patsy, older by eight minutes and pretty in a way Flannery knows she'll never be.

Then comes the prom night when Patsy--wearing a yellow chiffon dress and the family pearls--disappears along with her date. Every succeeding year on the twins' birthday, Flannery's mother bakes a strawberry cake, convinced that this is the day Patsy will finally come home. But it will be two tumultuous decades until the muddy river yields a clue about what happened that night, compelling Flannery to confront the truth about her sleepy town, her family's past, and the choices she and those closest to her have made in the name of love and retribution . .

Paperback, 272 pages
Expected publication: November 28th 2017 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

I was drawn in to this story as I wanted to find out more about Patsy's story and what happened to her.  The story slowly unfolds as it goes between the past and the present (although the present is still in the past).  The reader finds out about the dynamic of each member of the Butler family while waiting to find out what Patsy's fate was.

Although I found the story overly descriptive at times in my need to find out what happened, it was told in a way that allows the reader to really know each of the characters, the town, and the era in which the story takes place.

To be honest, at first I thought Patsy's fate was revealed too soon.  I wondered how there could be so much book left once the secret was revealed.  I didn't think there would be enough to hold my interest.  Then....bam, something else happened and more secrets were revealed.  I then began invested again.

While overall I was conflicted with the character of Flannery, finding her perhaps not as strong as she was intended to be portrayed, I still enjoyed the story.  As a twin myself, any story revolving around twins tends to be of interest to me.  While not an overly fast moving story, this was an enjoyable read to me.

About the Author

Kim Michele Richardson resides in Kentucky mostly, and part time in Western NC. She is a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, and has also partnered with the U.S. Navy globally for domestic violence abuse awareness and education.

Liar’s Bench is her first novel. She is also the author of the bestselling memoir The Unbreakable Child. Kim Michele is a contributor to the Huffington Post. Her second novel, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field is out in stores Spring 2016. Her third novel, The Sisters of Glass Ferry arrives in bookstores November 28, 2017.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Review: The Secret Child by Kerry Fisher

Just for a moment, I was young and invincible again, back before I made the decision that changed the rest of my life…
Susie did something that she knows she will always regret: giving her baby son up for adoption, to keep her infidelity secret from her family.  

Louise, Susie’s daughter, feels the effects of that decision echoing down through the years – her mother has always been difficult, too strict with her but not strict enough with her sister Grace, who is wild and out-of-control. And Danny, Susie’s husband, adores her, but has always sensed something wrong at the heart of their marriage. 
When tragedy strikes the family, and a chance discovery threatens to bring the truth to light, the sisters’ relationship is put to the test as they are faced with an impossible choice…

Kindle Edition, 354 pages
Expected publication: November 29th 2017 by Bookouture 

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

I literally just finished this book and I am at a loss for words. The Secret Child is the perfect example of how a traumatic event can shape and follow a person throughout the rest of their days. It is about how one moment in time can change every single part of who someone is and who they want to be. It is about family, it is about sacrifice and above all it is about love in its many shapes and forms.

The Secret Child began with Susie in a Mother and Baby home with her newborn son Edward. It showcased her struggle and her unconditional love for the boy that she would be giving away. From the very beginning it gutted me. I was emotional drawn to the story and desperate to know more. Why was she giving him away? How was it possible that her husband didn't know she was pregnant? What brought her to that point? I was mesmerised and hooked after just a few pages.

This book literally followed Susie's life from the time she gave her baby up for adoption into her golden years. It detailed her family life and the impact that her decision and lies had on her life. Every emotion was on display both within the pages and with myself as the reader. There was sadness, anger, frustration, depression as well as love, guilt and indecision.  I was a roller coaster of emotions as I turned each page but I couldn't put it down. I felt like I was an invisible part of her family and as if I was going through everything with them. For me, it is a sign of a really great book if it really makes me feel and it certainly did.

The Secret Child was a beautifully written family drama that swept from the 1960's when things were much different to present day. I don't want to say much more because I feel the less you know the better with this story. All I know is that it is going to stay with me for a very long time. It was a very emotional and thought provoking story. I would highly recommend it. This was the first book by Kerry Fisher for me but it won't be the last.

About the Author

Connect with Kerry

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Review: Balancing the Scales (Brits in Manhattan 1) by Laura Carter

A Hotshot Manhattan Attorney.
Drew Harrington knows exactly who he is—a legal shark with a love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude that works just fine in his cutthroat world. He’s on the cusp of promotion to named partner, but only if he can prove to his colleagues that he has a more human side.

A Sweetheart of a British Patisserie Chef.
Becky Fletcher is running from her past, so the last thing she’s looking for is love. What she does want is a friendly face in a cold city. Her sunny outlook is the sweetness Drew never knew was missing from his life.

One fateful meeting at a bagel cart.
They sound like a match made in heaven—or is it a car crash? If they have any chance of finding happiness, Drew and Becky are going to have to rethink their life plans. Until then, is there really any harm in having some fun between the sheets?

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: November 21st 2017 by Kensington Publishing, Lyrical Caress

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

When I started the book it was written from Drew's perspective and I thought it would go back and forth between Drew's point of view and Becky's.  This was not the case.  The majority of the story is told from Drew's perspective and the reader only gets snippets of Becky's story as the plot unfolds.  I really enjoyed this strategy.  As the reader only gradually learns about Becky's history, it gave the story an extra layer of depth.  It also left you eager to find out what brought Becky to this point in her life.

The chemistry between "British" Becky and Drew was apparent from the very beginning.  The quick wit and banter was well written and funny at times.  For those who like their stories steamy, this book delivers in spades when the two finally succumb tot heir attraction.  What I liked is that for the most part the story didn't just focus on the physical as there was an emotional current throughout the entire story.

This leads me back to what I mentioned earlier.  I really liked how Becky's story was only given in small snapshots and the reader had to wait to really know what was going on in her life.  This made me read the story faster as I was eager to find out what made her tick.

This appears to be the first in a series.  I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the next installment as I truly enjoyed this story.  

About the Author

Laura Carter is the bestselling author of the Vengeful Love series. She writes from her beach home in the Caribbean where she lives with her husband and (gorgeous) dog. She loves all things romance, including paper hearts, flowers, chocolates and champagne (not necessarily in that order). If she isn't writing or hanging around on social media, you can probably find her watching a romcom with a tub of Ben and Jerry's.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Review: Hope for Christmas by Stacy Finz

This Christmas in snow-capped Nugget, California, the gift of a second chance is all anyone can wish for . . .

Sparkling lights, sugar cookies, a fragrant tree—Emily McCreedy is checking off her list for a perfect holiday with a new baby on her hip, two adorable stepsons hunting for presents, and her husband’s love shoring up the life she rebuilt after the unbelievable tragedy of losing her young daughter to abduction seven years ago. 

But the merriment dims when Emily receives a strange note alluding to her daughter’s disappearance. Emily’s sure Christmas miracles are only for TV movies, but with each new communication, she finds herself face to face with the one thing that matters most—hope.

Kindle Edition, 110 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Lyrical Shine 
Series: Nugget #10
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Holiday

Kristine's Thoughts:

Hope For Christmas is the 10th in the Nugget series by Stacy Finz but it can be read as a stand alone. I have not read any of the series and I could follow along but I do feel like I might of appreciated it more if I had read Emily's original story. Also, there was a lot of name dropping and interactions with characters that I did not know and can only assume were from the previous instalments of this series.

For only 110 pages I can say that this novella was full of love, family and most of all hope. I thoroughly enjoyed the realistic approach that the author took to the situation at hand because it made it more believable. However, there was some glazing over of key and important parts to the story which I had a hard time overlooking. I don't want to get into specifics because it would give portions of the plot away.

In the end I thought Hope for Christmas was worth reading but I do think that it would have been better served as a full length novel. There was a lot crammed into those few pages that could have been developed on that would have given it the impact that a story like that deserved.

About the Author
Stacy Finz is an award-winning former newspaper reporter. After more than twenty years covering notorious serial killers, naked-tractor-driving farmers, fanatical foodies, aging rock stars and weird Western towns, she figured she finally had enough material to launch a career writing fiction. She is the author of the Nugget Romance series (Kensington/Lyrical Press) about a small mountain town that has a strange way of giving people unexpected reasons to start over--and find the most irresistible chances to fall in love. Look for her Garner Brothers series (Zebra) in 2017.

Connect with Stacy

Sunday 19 November 2017

Review: A Very Merry Princess by Susan Mallery

Celebrate the season with this warmhearted charmer from #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery...

When Princess Bethany’s father, the king, sells one of his best stallions, she insists the animal get the royal treatment. Disguised as Beth Archer, a mere stable hand, she takes him to Happily Inc, California, a quaint wedding destination that’s especially sparkly over the holidays.

Rich women have no place on Cade Saunders’s ranch. He wants a down-to-earth girl-next-door type—like Beth Archer. After a few cocoa-flavored kisses by the Christmas tree, Bethany begins to fall for her irresistibly handsome host. But will Cade still want her when he discovers she’s more familiar with a crown than a cowboy hat?

Kindle Edition, 101 pages
Published November 1st 2017 by HQN Books 
Series: Happily Inc #2.5
Genre: Romance/Novella/Holiday 

Kristine's Thoughts:

I picked this novella up when I was looking for a quick story to get me in the Christmas spirit. A Very Merry Princess is #2.5 in the Happily Inc series but it can be read as a stand alone. I have not read any of the other books in the series and I was able to follow along.

This book had a fairy tale feel to it with a King and Queen and of course a Princess. It also had a somewhat familiar and predictable storyline. A Princess pretending to be an average person so that she can be treated like everyone else. While pretending to be someone she is not, she falls for the handsome cowboy and things get complicated. Sound cute? It actually was but the problem I had was I kept thinking Bethany was much younger than 26 years old. I'm not sure if it was because of the fairy tale feeling I got from the story or if her character was just a little immature for her age.

I was looking to get the holiday feels from this novella and although it was cute it lacked the Christmasy vibe that I was looking for. Christmas was mentioned a few times and a tree was purchased but it wasn't really a key part of the story. That disappointed me slightly.

A Very Merry Princess was a quick, easy and entertaining story. It lacked the festive spirit that the title and cover eluded to but I enjoyed it all the same.

About the Author

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.

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Thursday 16 November 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway: An Ex For Christmas by Lauren Layne

She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com.

When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.

Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: November 7th 2017 by Loveswept 
Series: Love Unexpectedly #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

I absolutely adored An Ex for Christmas! This book was Lauren Layne at her very best. It had all of the things that I love best about her writing with the added bonus that all of the feels were wrapped in some holiday cheer. I have read and enjoyed all of the Love Unexpectedly series but there is something to be said about the addition of some over the top Christmas spirit. It made it feel more sweet, sexy and magical.

Lauren Layne is one of the best at writing quirky, witty and sarcastic characters in the romantic comedy genre and Kelly Byrne was one of her best. A believer in horoscopes, magic 8 balls and all things superstitious, Kelly was a hoot to get to know. Heading home from work for the holidays she had an encounter with a stranger who told her that she had already met her one true love. She couldn't wait to tell her neighbour, co-dog owner and extremely hunky best friend all about it. At the same time she made a list of all her ex boyfriends in order to track them down before Christmas so that she could spend the holiday with "the one" instead of alone. She didn't understand why Mark, her biggest supporter, wasn't behind her with her grand plans.

I have to interrupt my thoughts for a minute and talk about Mark. Trust me when I say that he needs his own paragraph. Mark Blakely is official my new favourite book boyfriend of 2017. There was nothing that I didn't like about him besides the fact that he was a fictitious character inside a book. He was the strong, silent type who was an amazing and loyal friend. Did I mention that he owned a business and a home and co-owned a dog? He was completely drool worthy and his commitment, patience and loyalty where Kelly was concerned sealed the deal for me. I couldn't get enough of him.

You can probably guess the direction that this story was going. With all of the tree cutting, snowball fights and holiday magic, the chemistry between the two was jingling all the bells! I love a friends to lover story and this was no exception. I was yelling at Kelly to quit decking the halls and notice the present that was right in front of her. The anticipation was killing me but anticipation is half the fun and when things did heat up it was more than hot.

If you are looking for a fun holiday read with lots of humour, great characters and a ton of Christmas cheer I highly recommend picking up An Ex for Christmas. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face and put you in the holiday mood.

As I walk, I check the weather app on my phone, delighted to see that while it’s nothing but rain today, there’s a chance of a snow shower tomorrow. Nothing says Christmas break like snow.
I just miss my train, but there’s a decent-ish voice singing “White Christmas” nearby, and the platform’s not too crowded, so waiting’s not as bad as it could be.
My eye catches on a middle-aged woman who’s set up camp under one of the stairwells. It’s not unusual to see all manner of people under the streets of New York, although this one’s better dressed than most. She’s wearing a blousy red shirt, jeans, and ankle boots, and is sitting cross-legged on a plaid blanket. She’s got twigs of what seem to be fake roses in her hair.
None of that’s the weird part.
What’s weird is that she’s watching me. Intently.
We make awkward eye contact, and I give a quick smile before turning my attention back to my phone.
But I still feel her eyes on me.
Not in an unfriendly way, not in the way that makes me mentally catalog whether or not I saw any cops on my way down here who would hear me if I scream. She doesn’t seem eager to push me onto the train tracks either, and since that’s every New Yorker’s secret fear, that’s a plus.
Still, the focus is unsettling. I glance up again, and her eyes lock on mine. Her dark gaze is clear and focused, and I can’t decide if that’s more or less disturbing than if she seemed sort of hazy.
Then she smiles right at me. “Kelly.”
I get immediate goosebumps for reasons that have nothing to do with the winter weather. She knows my name.
“Come.” She beckons. “Come. I see.
Now you’re thinking, Hell, no. Run!
I should be thinking the same, and on some level, I am, but . . .
There are a couple dozen people around. None are paying attention to me, but it’s not like I’m all alone in a dark alley.
And look, we’ve already established that I believe in fate expressing itself through a Magic 8 ball and horoscopes, and though I haven’t mentioned it yet, I totally avoid black cats, the number thirteen, and walking under ladders.
I also believe that there’s such a thing as sight. I know, because my grandma had it.
Grandma Shirley was one of those delightfully batty old ladies that most people dismissed as quirky, but nobody can deny that she seemed to know stuff. She knew when I’d win my soccer game, and by how many points. She knew when her cat’s litter of kittens would be born, down to the minute. Once she’d even predicted an earthquake, even though
they’re really rare in New York.
She’d passed away when I was in eleventh grade (she’d predicted the when and how of that too), and though I didn’t inherit her talents, I’ve never stopped believing that some people see and know things that they shouldn’t. I call it the Sight.
I step closer, and the woman grins and beckons me even nearer.
I stop a healthy few feet away. I’m superstitious, not crazy.
The woman leans forward. “You seek love.”
Huh. Color me unimpressed. I mean, don’t most humans seek love? Sure, I’m recently single, and I don’t particularly want to be. And maybe I sometimes try a little too hard to find my forever guy.
But I’m not hearing anything other than generic lucky guesses from this lady.
“Sure,” I say, already starting to back away.
She holds up a hand. “The one you seek? Your forever guy, the love of your life . . .”
I freeze, because her phrasing echoes my thoughts almost exactly. A coincidence? Maybe. I don’t move away just yet, willing to hear her out.
She smiles again. “You’ve already met him.”
I blink. “What? I think you may want to recheck that crystal ball. I’m single.”
Her smile merely grows. “I didn’t say you weren’t single. I said you’d already met him. You just let him go. He’ll come back to you before Christmas.”
Whoa whoa whoa. This is . . .
“You’re telling me that the love of my life is one of my exes?”
She extends both of her palms as though to say, There you have it!
I stifle a little surge of disappointment. Clearly she hasn’t met my exes. There are some decent ones in the mix, but mostly they’re duds, and none of them make my heart beat faster. Well, maybe—
Nope. No. Do not go there.
Thankfully, I feel the rumble of an oncoming train, and a glance over my shoulder tells me my ride outta here is approaching.
“Thanks very much,” I say with a strained smile. “Merry Christmas.”
“Happy holidays,” she says with a nod, standing and gathering up her blanket. Apparently she’s taken a cue from Madison Meyers and is sticking close to the PC route. Fair enough. 

I lift a hand in a wave and move toward the train, but her next words give me a fresh wave of new goosebumps.
“Tell your parents happy anniversary. Thirty’s going to be a magical year for them.”
I whip my head around. “How did you—”
The woman is gone.
Like vanished gone.
Leaving me to wonder . . .
If a woman I’d never met was right about my parents’ anniversary, was she also right about other stuff?
Have I already met my one true love?

About the Author
Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen romantic comedies.

A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career.

She lives in midtown Manhattan with her high-school sweetheart, where she writes smart romantic comedies with just enough sexy-times to make your mother blush. In LL's ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Review: A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay

From the author of the highly acclaimed The Railwayman’s Wife, called a “literary and literate gem” by Psychology Today, comes an emotionally resonant and profound new novel of two families, interconnected through the house that bears witness to their lives.

When Elsie Gormley leaves the Brisbane house in which she has lived for more than sixty years, Lucy Kiss and her family move in, eager to establish their new life. As they settle in, Lucy and her husband Ben struggle to navigate their transformation from adventurous lovers to new parents, taking comfort in memories of their vibrant past as they begin to unearth who their future selves might be. But the house has secrets of its own, and the rooms seem to share recollections of Elsie’s life with Lucy.

In her nearby nursing home, Elsie traces the span of her life—the moments she can’t bear to let go and the places to which she dreams of returning. Her beloved former house is at the heart of her memories of marriage, motherhood, love, and death, and the boundary between present and past becomes increasingly porous for both her and Lucy.

Over the course of one hot Brisbane summer, two families’ stories intersect in sudden and unexpected ways. Through the richly intertwined narratives of two ordinary, extraordinary women, Ashley Hay uses her “lyrical prose, poetic dialogue, and stunning imagery” (RT magazine) to weave an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: November 28th 2017 by Atria Books 
Genre: Literary Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

A Hundred Small Lessons told the alternating story of two different women of different generations who lived in the same house. After reading the synopsis I knew I had to read it because it was exactly the type and style of book that I tend to enjoy most.

I really wanted to love this book but I just didn't. Unfortunately I found it terribly dull and hard to stay focused. The thoughts and stories of the two women in this book were so scattered and random but above all they were mostly boring. I kept waiting for it to grab me but it never really did. It was hard to stay focused and I found myself nodding off on numerous occasions. I am an avid reader and tend to get through a book quickly but this one took me days. Often I considered not finishing it but I plugged away in the hopes that it would eventually pull me in. It didn't happen.

Other early reviews for this book are quite good so I don't know if it was just me or if I was having a bad week. It just didn't do anything for me.

About the Author
Ashley Hay’s new novel, A Hundred Small Lessons, was published in Australia in April 2017 and will be published in the US in late 2017.

Set in her new home city of Brisbane, it traces the intertwined lives of two women from different generations through a story of love, and of life. It takes account of what it means to be mother or daughter; father or son and tells a rich and intimate story of how we feel what it is to be human, and how place can transform who we are.

Her previous novel, The Railwayman’s Wife, was published in Australia, the UK, the US, and is heading for translation into Italian, French and Dutch. It won the Colin Roderick Prize (awarded by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies), as well as the People's Choice award in the 2014 NSW Premier's Prize, and was also longlisted for both the Miles Franklin and Nita B. Kibble awards.

Her first novel, The Body in the Clouds (2010), was shortlisted for categories in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the NSW and WA premier’s prizes, and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. It will be published in the US in mid-2017.

Her previous books span fiction and non-fiction and include Gum: The Story of Eucalypts and Their Champions (2002), Museum (2007; with visual artist Robyn Stacey), and Best Australian Science Writing 2014 (as editor)s

A writer for more than 20 years, her essays and short stories have appeared in volumes including the Griffith Review, Best Australian Essays (2003), Best Australian Short Stories (2012), and Best Australian Science Writing (2012), and have been awarded various accolades in Australia and overseas. In 2016, she received the Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing.  

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