7.5/10

Book Review: Riding a Strong Wind by Robertson Tait

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The Official Synopsis:

A collection of romantic short stories set in glamorous locations from Italy to the Caribbean, passing through Scotland and Santa Barbara. Nine fairy tales for grown-ups.

Villa d’Este: A handsome TV personality is bewitched by a mysterious young beauty.

Amsterdam: Walking home from his night-shift through the red light district, the last thing he expected was an offer of eggs and coffee.

Santa Barbara: “He landed in Tokyo, Japan with a great California tan, a lot of fitness and no shoes.”

Rain in Rome: The slippery slope of love in the Eternal City.

Barra: A remote Scottish island casts its spell on a troubled American movie star.

Florence – La Certosa: “In the distance a church bell peeled, perhaps from the Certosa itself, and the atmosphere seemed somewhat surreal … It looked so old, so ancient. It was not hard to imagine oneself to be back two or three hundred years, drinking wine and watching the dying sun burn the clouds into every kind of crimson.”

Montmartre: He pitched his song in Paris and found he made a hit.

Amalfi Coast: Poor but hopeful, two young lovers find joy and upset on the beaches of Southern Italy.

Tobago – Having Lost The Boy: Down and out on a tropical beach, there was one more thing he could salvage.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Light-hearted, sweet, and romantic.

This is a collection of short stories that takes you on a journey through life, love, and passion, and reminds us that sometimes things really do happen for a reason.

The prose is exquisitely descriptive. The characters are charming, appealing, and endearing. The plots are unique, although they share the standard contemporary romance, happy-ever-after ending. And the settings are magical, taking you to the luxurious beaches and vineyards of Italy, to the museums and landmarks of the City of Light, to the picturesque countryside of the Scottish Highlands.

This truly is a warm, easy read that is a nice way to spend an afternoon

Thank you to Robertson Tait, the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

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Book Review: Now That It’s You by Tawna Fenske

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The Official Synopsis:

Talented chef Meg Delaney hasn’t spoken to her cheating ex-fiancé, Matt Midland, for two years. Ditching him at the altar after blurting out “I can’t” instead of “I do” would sour any relationship. But now, just as Meg is finally ready to bury the hatchet, she learns closure is permanently off the menu. And the kicker? Matt’s brother, Kyle, is back in her life, stirring up feelings that are equal parts guilt and lust.

Meg was the best thing that never happened to Kyle. He couldn’t make a move on his brother’s girlfriend—even if Matt didn’t value her nearly enough. The situation is even more complicated now that Meg’s bestselling aphrodisiac cookbook has spawned a legal battle with the Midlands. Maybe he should stay away. But love, like family, plays by its own rules. And the one woman he shouldn’t want might be the only one who’s perfect for him.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Sweet, melancholic, and engaging!

This is an empathetic contemporary romance story that encompasses familial dynamics, love, loss, grief, guilt, and delicious food.

The writing is good. The characters are charming, troubled, and likeable. And although it gets a little bogged down with the constant focus on the unscrupulous behaviour and character of Matt, the rest of the plot flows nicely and is filled with a good mix of heartbreaking drama, character dialogue, and romantic liaisons.

Overall, this is a light, amusing, easy novel that is an enjoyable read.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Montlake Romance, for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

This story is due to be published on September 6, 2016. Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Tawna Fenske, visit her website at: http://www.tawnafenske.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @tawnafenske

Book Review: Sorrow Road by Julia Keller

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The Official Synopsis:

From the small towns of Appalachia they came, the young men who joined the fight for liberty in World War II. Now they are elderly, and some of them―like Harmon Strayer, father of prosecutor Bell Elkins’s former law school classmate―suffer from Alzheimer’s. When Harmon dies in an Alzheimer’s care facility from what appear to be natural causes, Bell confronts a mystery that brims with questions about memory, grief and the lethal cost of burying the past. During a winter of record snow and cold, Bell and the people of Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, face isolation and hardship―and the threat from a killer who preys upon the old and the sick and the helpless.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

This is an atmospheric, character-driven, murder mystery that reminds us that sometimes one reckless event can have long-lasting repercussions.

The plot is well developed, suspenseful, and tragic. The writing is well done and remarkably descriptive. And the characters are highly complex, damaged, and in some cases depraved.

Although this is not an extremely fast-paced thriller, it is definitely entertaining and an enjoyable read.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on August 23, 2016. Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Julia Keller, visit her website at: http://www.juliakeller.net/

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

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The Official Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author comes the much-anticipated fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio thriller series.

Damaged finds Mary DiNunzio, partner at the all-female law firm of Rosato & DiNunzio, embroiled in one of her most heartbreaking cases yet. Suing the Philadelphia school district to get help for a middle school boy with emotional issues, Mary ends up becoming the guardian ad litem of her minor client. As she goes up against Nick Machiavelli, her opposing counsel and the dark prince of South Philly lawyers who will use any means necessary to defeat her, she becomes more and more invested in the case—and puts everything, including her engagement to her longtime boyfriend, on the line.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Intriguing, suspenseful, and entertaining!

This story begins with a seemingly simple case of a special needs child who has fallen through the cracks, and quickly evolves into a highly complex story involving an in-depth look into the educational requirements of those suffering from dyslexia, the rights and legalities surrounding foster care, abuse, corruption, and, ultimately, murder.

The writing is well done. The characters are determined, intelligent, and empathetic. And the plot, as well as the numerous subplots, are multi-layered, compelling, and captivating.

Overall, this was an enjoyable story, and even though it is the fourth book in the Rosato & DiNunzio series, it can definitely be read as a standalone novel.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on August 16, 2016. Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Lisa Scottoline, visit her website at: http://www.scottoline.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @LisaScottoline

You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

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The Official Synopsis:

What happens when the one that got away comes back?

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart.

It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

If you love David Nicholls and Lisa Jewell then this is the book for you. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

This is a heartwarming, charming, funny story about friendship, love, and life.

For me what resonated throughout this novel is that timing is everything.

The main character, Rachel, is determined, conscientious, and likeable. And the supporting characters are imperfect, quirky, and interesting. 

And although the plot seems to drag slightly during the middle, it has enough heartbreak, romance, and entertaining dialogue to keep you intrigued until the last page.

Overall, this is an engaging, easy read that I enjoyed.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Mhairi McFarlane, visit her website at: http://www.mhairimcfarlane.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @MhairiMcF

After She’s Gone by Lisa Jackson

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The Official Synopsis:

In this explosive new thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson delves into the deep bond between two sisters and their shared dream that becomes a harrowing nightmare of madness, hatred and jealousy…

Cassie Kramer and her younger sister, Allie, learned the hazards of fame long ago. Together, they’d survived the horror of a crazed fan who nearly killed their mother, former Hollywood actress Jenna Hughes. Still, Cassie moved to L.A., urging Allie to follow. As a team, they’d take the town by storm. But Allie, finally free of small-town Oregon, and just that little bit more beautiful, also proved to be more talented—and driven. Where Cassie got bit parts, Allie rose to stardom. But now her body double has been shot on the set of her latest movie—and Allie is missing.

Police discover that the last call to Allie’s phone came from Cassie, though she has no recollection of making it. Instead of looking like a concerned relative, Cassie is starting to look like a suspect—the jealous sister who finally grew sick of playing a supporting role. As the tabloids go into a frenzy, Cassie ends up on a Portland psych ward. Is she just imagining the sinister figure who comes to her bedside, whispering about Allie—a visitor of whom there is no record? Is someone trying to help—or drive her mad? 

Convinced she’s the only one who can find Allie, Cassie checks herself out of the hospital. But a sudden slew of macabre murders— each victim masked with a likeness of a member of Cassie’s family—makes Cassie fear for her safety and her sanity. The only way to end the nightmare is to find out what really happened to Allie. And with each discovery, Cassie realizes that no one can be trusted to keep her safe—least of all herself…


Book Rating: 7.5/10

This book takes you on a roller coaster ride of murder, mystery, jealousy, revenge, and familial secrets.

The first half of the story, for me, started off a little slowly, and seemed to drag just a little bit. 

However, the second half of the novel was much more action-packed, suspenseful and the twists and turns were definitely captivating.

There is a reason that Lisa Jackson is a best seller in this genre, and even though I don’t think this was her best, the writing is well done, the characters are strong, complex, and flawed, and overall it was still an enjoyable read.

This is the third book in the Northwest series, and although it can definitely be read as a standalone novel, we were introduced to some of the characters in the first book of the Northwest series, Deep Freeze.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Kensington Books, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on July 26, 2016. Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

For more information on Lisa Jackson, visit her website at: lisajackson.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @readlisajackson

 

The Moment of Everything by Shelly King

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The Official Synopsis:

In the tradition of The Cookbook Collector comes a funny, romantic novel about a young woman finding her calling while saving a used bookstore.

Maggie Duprès, recently “involuntarily separated from payroll” at a Silicon Valley startup, is whiling away her days in The Dragonfly’s Used Books, a Mountain View institution, waiting for the Next Big Thing to come along.
When the opportunity arises for her to network at a Bay Area book club, she jumps at the chance-even if it means having to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a book she hasn’t encountered since college, in an evening. But the edition she finds at the bookstore is no Penguin Classics Chatterley–it’s an ancient hardcover with notes in the margins between two besotted lovers of long ago. What Maggie finds in her search for the lovers and their fate, and what she learns about herself in the process, will surprise and move readers.

Witty and sharp-eyed in its treatment of tech world excesses, but with real warmth at its core, The Moment of Everything is a wonderful read.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

This was a book club read for me this month, and I have to say I enjoyed it.

To me this story is a journey of finding one’s self, discovering what makes you happy, realizing that sacrifices are not really sacrifices when we make them for love, and friendship. 

The setting is a wonderful juxtaposition, where on the one hand we have a quaint used book store. A store seeped in history and the past, right down to the musty shelves and the crinkled pages. And on the other hand we have Silicon Valley, the epitome of the future, all things new, better, faster and electronic.

The story flows nicely. The prose is subtle but lovely. And the characters are quirky, interesting and engaging.

It is a nice, heart-warming story that was a pleasure to read.

Sweet Resolve by Jill Sanders

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The Official Synopsis:

Amy Walker is steps away from her perfect job. The day she makes partner at her real estate firm will be the happiest of her life, second only to the day in junior high when her tormentor, Logan Miller, finally moved away. But fate has a warped sense of humor, because Logan is back. In her town, in her office, gunning for the same promotion. Worse, the man is sinfully hot. But that won’t keep Amy from exacting the revenge he richly deserves…

Logan had reasons for acting wild in his youth, but he still regrets the way he treated Amy. Especially once he’s sharing an office with the smart, self-controlled beauty. For one thing, she’s got a wicked sense of payback. For another, he’s realized there’s something he wants much more than a promotion. And that’s to melt the ice he helped form around her heart all those years ago and to prove that loving thine enemy can be the ultimate happy ending.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

This is a nice contemporary romance story.

It is the second story in the Lucky Series, but can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel.

The writing flows easy. The characters are sweet and engaging. And the plot has humour, romance, and a little twist to create a bit of suspense.

Overall, although predictable, this is a cute, light-hearted read, that is certainly not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Montlake Romance, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book is due to be published on June 7, 2016.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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The Official Synopsis:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

I have seen this book many times but it wasn’t until I recently saw it on a “Books Becoming Movies in 2016” list that I decided to give it a try.

I actually thought from the picture on the front cover of this book that it might be a horror story, but boy was I surprised.

This is actually a highly imaginative tale about those with extraordinary abilities. It takes place in the present, and the past during the height of WWII.

I have to say, there are elements of this story that remind me a little of such classics as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and Harry Potter. Similar to those stories, the children, themselves, are the protectors and heroes against the monsters that hunt them, and they use portals for time travel between the present and the past to survive.

The writing is simple but effective. The plot is creative, suspenseful, and magical. It truly is a very unique story.

Keep in mind, there are two other novels in the series, Hollow City and Library of Souls, where the battles and adventures of these “peculiar children” continue.

Also, the movie for this first book is set to be released in theatres in September 2016.

 

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Official Synopsis:

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems. 

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

I enjoyed this story and I felt it got better as it went along.

For me what resonated throughout this novel is the ideology that “money is the root of all evil”.

The characters, in the beginning, are selfish, greedy and materialistic. They feel entitled and lack the ability to take responsibility for their own actions. And throughout the story as the plot develops, these characters each undergo a form of introspection to recognize what is truly important in life to them.

The story is well written. And the plot is full of drama, denial, deception, anger, heartache, loneliness, and acceptance. It is definitely captivating and a little sad.

It is a good, engaging, debut novel and I look forward to reading more from this author.

And from a book club standpoint, this novel is perfect. It is very thought-provoking and I think different perspectives will definitely lead to some great discussions.

 

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