General Fiction

#BookReview
The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
@PenguinRandomCA

Synopsis:

A beautiful, life-affirming novel about a remarkably loving man who creates for himself and others second chances at happiness.

A moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.


Book Rating: 9/10

Powerful, poignant, and charming!

The Story of Arthur Truluv is a touching novel that reminds us that life should be lived to the fullest and that family can be any unit created by love and not limited to those related by blood.

The story is told from three different points of view; Arthur, a kind-hearted widow whose loneliness is palpable and who spends the better part of his days at the graveside of his late wife; Maddie, a troubled teenager, struggling with bullies at school and an apathetic father at home; and Lucille, a retired school teacher who has spent most of her life pining for a lost love.

The prose is eloquent and reflective. The characters, including all the supporting characters, are strong, multi-layered, and endearing. And the plot is a compelling tale of friendship, happiness, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, honesty, humour, unconditional love, growing old, and the true meaning of family.

The Story of Arthur Truluv is a moving, delightful story that will make you laugh, make you cry and is hands down one of my favourite reads of the year.

 

About the Author:

Photo by: Joyce Ravid

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including Open House (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures, as well as the short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. She adapted The Pull of the Moon into a play that enjoyed sold-out performances in Chicago and Indianapolis. Berg’s work has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and three of her novels have been turned into television movies. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a quality reading series dedicated to serving author, audience, and community. She teaches one-day writing workshops and is a popular speaker at venues around the country. Some of her most popular Facebook postings have been collected in Make Someone Happy. She lives outside Chicago.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Elizabeth Berg visit her website at: elizabeth-berg.net

#BookReview
The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox
@VFoxWrites @HarlequinBooks

Synopsis:

Something terrible happened here…Hollywood, 1975: Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti, and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister, and learns that her new husband’s past holds dark secrets.

Tuscany, Present day: Everyone in London is searching for Lucy Whittaker – so Lucy needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa. And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…


Book Rating: 9/10

Heartbreaking, romantic and utterly alluring!

The Silent Fountain is an incredibly absorbing and emotive novel about love, life, loss, deception, infidelity, friendship, family, jealousy, obsession, and tragedy.

There are two main memorable characters in this novel. Vivian, a starlet from the 1970s who moved to Italy with the love of her life until one day everything she held dear was taken, shattered and destroyed. And Lucy, a young woman who fell in love with the wrong man and is now hiding from the public and media revile being cast her way.

The writing is eloquent and expressive.  The plot is well crafted and uses a past/present, back-and-forth style to create suspense and emotion as it subtly unravels all the histories, personalities, relationships, and motivations within it. And the characterization is well done with a cast of characters that are distressed, raw and endearing and a setting, Castillo Barbarossa, that is a character itself with its dereliction, isolation, and multitude of secrets.

The Silent Fountain is truly a clever, haunting, atmospheric novel that swept me away to a city touched by both cruelty and love and immersed me in a poignant, moving story that certainly had me shedding a few tears. This was the first novel I’ve read by Victoria Fox but I can guarantee you it won’t be the last.

 

About the Author:

 

Victoria Fox lives in Bristol with her husband and young daughter. She used to work in publishing and is now the author of seven novels. 

Victoria’s favourite things are blustery walks, golden retrievers and Argentinean red wine.

 

 

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Victoria Fox, visit her Goodreads profile at: VictoriaFox

or follow her on Twitter at: @VFoxWrites

#BookReview
House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick
@NicolaCornick @HarlequinBooks

Synopsis:

The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House–a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of romance, deceit and destiny…

1662–A queen

Bound by sex and birth to live for everyone but herself–and to love always in secret–Elizabeth Stuart entrusts a pair of arcane artifacts to her faithful cavalier to keep safe for her rightful heir. But fate will not be generous to the Winter Queen, throwing the question of succession into turmoil, the aftermath of which will resonate through the generations.

1801–A courtesan

Lavinia Flyte wanted so much more from life than to be a courtesan at the mercy of the cruel Lord Evershot. He has brought her to Ashdown, the home of his ancestors, for reasons he guards greedily. But the maids’ whispers of hidden treasures–a pearl with the power to foretell the future–consume her with a curiosity she confides only to her diary, unaware of the misfortune that threatens.

And the mystery that binds them

Alarmed to hear her brother has gone missing at Ashdown Park, Holly Ansell is inexplicably drawn to the clues contained in the journal of a Regency courtesan who was living at the historic home when it burned to the ground two hundred years ago. Lured by the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s search leads her not only to the truth about Lavinia, but deeper into her own connection with the Winter Queen.

For fans of Kate Morton and Barbara Erskine comes an unforgettable novel about the power one lie can have over history.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Romantic, fascinating, and exceptionally absorbing!

In Cornick’s latest novel, House of Shadows, she immerses us in an incredibly intriguing historical time-slip tale of love, life, duty, honour, friendship, family, passion, desire, and mystery.

The writing is fluid and vividly descriptive. The characters, in all time periods, are complex, independent, and strong. And the blended plot is a captivating, sometimes dangerous journey, from the Winter Queen’s exiled court in The Hague to the beautiful, wooded countryside of Sussex, England.

Overall, House of Shadows is a well written, exceptionally researched, entertaining novel that highlights Cornick’s knowledge and passion for history in a tale that interweaves historical facts, compelling fiction, suspense, and romance effortlessly and I can’t wait to read what she publishes next.

 

About the Author:

International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes romantic historical mysteries and witty and passionate Regency romance. She studied History at London and Oxford and was awarded a distinction for her dissertation on historical heroes. It was a tough study but someone had to do it. Nicola has a “double life” as a writer and guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House. Nicola lives near Oxford and loves reading, writing, history, music, wildlife, travel and walking her dog. She also loves hearing from her readers and chatting to them on her blog

 

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Nicola Cornick, visit her website at: nicolacornick.co.uk

or follow her on Twitter at: @NicolaCornick

#BookReview
The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
@D_Chamberlain @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel

In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?


Book Rating: 10/10

Poignant, candid, and insightful!

The Stolen Marriage is predominantly set in North Carolina during WWII and is the story of Tess, a young woman who finds her life unexpectedly turned upside down after one night of irresponsibility and the choices and sacrifices she must then make to survive and ultimately find fulfillment, happiness, and unconditional love.

The writing is precise, captivating and fluid. The characters are multi-faceted, genuine, and endearing. And the plot is a sweeping saga filed with family, loss, secrets, determination, self-discovery, faith, discrimination, racial segregation, as well as an in-depth look at the devastating polio epidemic of the 1940s.

The Stolen Marriage is a wonderfully written novel by Chamberlain that grabs you from the very start and does an exceptional job of blending historical facts, suspense, and a little paranormal into an incredibly fascinating story.

Thank you to St. Martins Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Diane Chamberlain, visit her website at: dianechamberlain.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @D_Chamberlain


#BookReview
Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree
@jamieraintree @HarlequinBooks

Synopsis:

Yes is such a little word…

Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her longtime boyfriend, Cooper, gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?

For too many years, Dylan’s been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempt to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner and perfect doctor hasn’t been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister’s death—and the role no one knows she played in it.

Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a future together. But when Cooper makes a startling confession of his own, can Dylan find the courage to define her own happiness before her life becomes perfectly undone?

Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.


Book Rating: 8/10

Emotional, vivid, and relatable!

Perfectly Undone is an engaging tale that takes us into the life of Dr. Dylan Michels, a woman who finds herself quickly unraveling as she tries to not only live with the responsibility and guilt she secretly harbours, but also balance a successful career, intimate relationship, and familial obligations.

The writing is descriptive and genuine. The characters are diligent, compulsive, and tenacious. And the plot is an intriguing tale full of heartache, loss, grief, betrayal, infidelity, relationship dynamics, family, romance, and love.

Overall, I think, Perfectly Undone is a fantastic debut for Raintree that does an excellent job of highlighting the importance of forgiving one’s self, moving on, and living life to the fullest.

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Jamie Raintree visit her website at: jamieraintree.com/for-writers/

or follow her on Twitter at: @jamieraintree

#BookReview
Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand
@elinhilderbrand @littlebrown

The Official Synopsis:

Raise one last glass with the Quinn Family at the Winter Street Inn.

It’s been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that’s about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they’ve experienced in years. And Bart’s safe return isn’t the family’s only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she’s finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn’t be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love–and some of the things we endure–about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.


Book Rating: 8/10

Affecting, heartwarming, and romantic!

Winter Solstice is a sweet, unexpected surprise that gives us one last chance to check in with the Quinns and savour their special moments, new loves, old loves, and heartbreaking losses.

The prose is clean and crisp. The characters are lovable, engaging, and genuine. And the plot is a compelling tale about life, love, family, acceptance, loss, sorrow, friendship, growing up, growing old, and moving on.

Winter Solstice is ultimately an emotional ending to a charming series that will make you laugh, make you smile, and at times even make you cry. A true wintry delight!

If you haven’t had a chance to read my reviews for some of the other novels in the Winter Street Series, be sure to check them out here:

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Little, Brown and Company, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                        

For more information on Elin Hilderbrand, visit her website at: elinhilderbrand.net

or follow her on twitter at: @elinhilderbrand

#BookReview
The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann
@SimonSchusterCA @simonschuster

Synopsis:

Sweeping between Prague during World War II and modern-day Los Angeles, this deeply moving debut follows a young Jewish man in 1934 who falls in love and joins the circus as the country descends into war. Decades later, a young boy seeks out the now cynical, elderly magician in the hopes that his spells might keep his family together.

Prague, 1934: The fifteen-year-old rabbi s son Moshe Goldenhirsch marvels at the legendary circus magician known as the Half-Moon Man. Unexpectedly, he falls madly in love with the magician’s delightful assistant, spurring him to run away from home to join the circus, which is slowly making its way to Germany as war looms on the horizon. Soon, he becomes a world-renowned magician known as the Great Zabbatini, even sought after by Adolf Hitler. But when Moshe is discovered to be a Jew, only his special talent can save him from perishing in a concentration camp.

Los Angeles, 2007: Ten-year-old Max Cohn is convinced that magic can bring his estranged parents back together before they divorce. So one night he climbs out of his bedroom window in search of the Great Zabbatini, certain this powerful magician has the power to reunite his family.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Quirky, sweet, and humorous!

The Trick is set in both 1930s Prague and twenty-first century Los Angeles and centres around two main characters. Moshe Goldenhirsch, or more famously known as the great Zabbatini, a Jewish survivor of WWII who learned from a very early age the true power of magic. And Max Cohn, a brave, determined 10-year-old on a mission to uncover the love spell he’s confident will fix his parent’s marital woes.

The prose is witty and emotive. The characters are stubborn, unique, and endearing. And the plot is a captivating tale of life, love, heartbreak, family, friendship, and survival.

The Trick, overall, is a well-written, amusing story that ultimately reminds us that magic is a set of tricks, tools or suggestions that give us the freedom to see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available September 19, 2017.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

#BookReview
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
@jesmimi @SimonSchusterCA

Synopsis:

A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Haunting, atmospheric, and powerful!

Sing, Unburied, Sing is an incredibly moving novel about life in small-town Mississippi where life is constantly inflicted by ravishing hurricanes, enduring poverty, rampant opioid availability, and racial prejudices.

The prose is eloquent and descriptive. The characters are tormented, fragile, and raw. And the plot takes us on a heart-wrenching rollercoaster ride full of love, violence, hatred, addiction, biracial tension, incarceration, abandonment, death, loss and the spirit world beyond. 

Sing, Unburied, Sing is ultimately a poetic tale woven with a supernatural thread that reminds us that strength, compassion, and kindness is the base of humanity that transcends skin colour, socioeconomic status, and the deepest, darkest realities.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

                                            

For more information on Jesmyn Ward visit her website at: jesmimi.blogspot.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @jesmimi

#BookReview
Killer Affair by Rebecca Chance
@MsRebeccaChance @PGCBooks

Synopsis:

A shocking betrayal deserves a wicked revenge . . .

Stunning, charismatic Lexy O’Brien is the reigning queen of British reality TV. Her life in front of the camera is planned and manipulated as successfully as any military assault.

But success breeds jealousy. When you’re on top, the only way is down and there’s always someone standing by to give you a shove . . .

Dowdy Caroline Evans, a part-time blogger and writer of erotic fiction, is brought in to chronicle Lexy’s life. Being taken under Lexy’s wing is a dream come true for Caroline. But sampling the star’s lifestyle is like tasting the most addictive of drugs, and it’s not long before she is craving what she can’t possibly have – or can she?

And as Caroline and Lexy’s lives and loves become increasingly entwined, it’s only a matter of time before the hidden rivalry becomes a powder keg waiting to explode . . .


Book Rating: 8/10

Scandalous, salacious, and outrageously entertaining!

Killer Affair is an alluring novel that takes us into the lives of the rich and famous and reminds us that everything that glitters is not gold and often behind the shiny facade and quintessential social media postings is an abundance of power, obsession, envy, deception, betrayal, infidelity, and revenge.

The writing is well done. The characters are ambitious, self-indulgent, and vain. And the plot is a clever, captivating mix of humour, drama, action, and sex.

Overall, I have to say Killer Affair is truly a scintillating, enjoyable treat that’s perfect for anyone who loves all the backstabbing, glamour, gossip, and sexual hijinks of reality TV. It will make you smile, laugh, and at times even leave you at a loss for words.

Thank you to PGC Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

For more information on Rebecca Chance, visit her website at: rebeccachanceauthor.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @MsRebeccaChance

 

#BookReview
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
@gabriellezevin @PenguinCanada

Synopsis:

From the author of the international bestseller The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry comes another novel that will have everyone talking.

Aviva Grossman, an ambitious congressional intern in Florida, makes the mistake of having an affair with her boss–and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the beloved congressman doesn’t take the fall. But Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins: slut-shamed, she becomes a late-night talk show punch line, anathema to politics.

She sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. This time, she tries to be smarter about her life and strives to raise her daughter, Ruby, to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, Aviva decides to run for public office herself, that long-ago mistake trails her via the Internet and catches up–an inescapable scarlet A. In the digital age, the past is never, ever, truly past. And it’s only a matter of time until Ruby finds out who her mother was and is forced to reconcile that person with the one she knows.

Young Jane Young is a smart, funny, and moving novel about what it means to be a woman of any age, and captures not just the mood of our recent highly charged political season, but also the double standards alive and well in every aspect of life for women.


Book Rating: 8/10

Clever, humorous, and highly entertaining!

Young Jane Young is an engaging, satisfying tale that reminds us that the internet although an invaluable source of information and a blessing is also often a curse where mistakes are never forgotten.

The story is divided into multiple sections and told from various perspectives; Rachel, Aviva’s mother whose attempts at online dating is dismal at best; Jane/Aviva, a young events planner who has successfully carved out a new life and identity after falling in love with the wrong man; Ruby, Jane’s inquisitive and direct teenage daughter; and Embeth, the congressman’s forgiving and supportive wife.

The characters are strong, female, and resilient. The prose is smooth, fresh, and exceptionally witty. And the plot interweaves and unfolds effortlessly using unconventional, unique writing styles, such as emails and “choose your own adventure” to keep you intrigued and absorbed from start to finish.

Young Jane Young is ultimately a lighthearted, warm, enjoyable story about empowerment, survival, feminism, shame, acceptance, adultery, politics, scandals, and the unfair sexist stigma that still surrounds women and their sexual behaviour today.

If you haven’t already checked out my review for The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, one of my favourite books from last year,  be sure to check it out here:

 

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and Goodreads Giveaways for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Gabrielle Zevin, follow her on Facebook at: gabriellezevin.com

or on Twitter at: @gabriellezevin

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