Monday, January 18, 2016

"Come Away With Me" by Karma Brown

I can admit that Come Away With Me has been in my TBR pile for some time now. I had heard fantastic things, and my blogging friend Melissa Amster had also recommended it to me. Our reading tastes are freakishly similar, so I knew that I couldn't go wrong. However, it wasn't until Come Away With Me appeared again and again on many bloggers "Best of 2015" lists that I knew that I had to pick this one up right away, and am I ever glad that I did!

Come Away With Me is the story of Teagan and Gabe Lawson, who are on the brink of having it all until one night and one patch of black ice changes their lives forever. Reeling from the loss of the baby that they wanted so much, Teagan falls into a deep depression. Unable to sleep, function or work, Teagan becomes a shadow of her former self. When taking a handful of pills lands Teagan unresponsive in the hospital, Gabe and her family decide that it is time for her to begin trying to heal. Gabe suggests that they take an unforgettable trip across the globe to fulfill several items on their "life experiences" wish list. Although Teagan is wary, she agrees to go, since a small part of her wishes to live her life again.

What follows is Teagan's journey to forgiveness and to healing, with the realization that these things will only come when you are least expecting them.

Even though someone out there in blogger land spoiled a key plot point for me *cue fist shaking*, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. In fact I celebrated a little since Karma Brown's writing and plot reminded me a little of the books that I've read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, who just happens to be one of my favourite authors. It's fantastic to know that there is another author out there who touches me in the same way, and now I have even more books to look forward to reading!

Even though Come Away With Me is Karma Brown's debut, you would never be able to tell. The writing is sharp and the plot spot-on. I was hooked from the first word until the last. Brown's characters are sympathetic and her plot is whip-smart. She described the places that her characters visit in a way that brought me along with them. At times it felt like a travelogue and a book about overcoming grief all rolled into one, and that's a very good thing. Come Away With Me is being described as a fictional version of Eat, Pray, Love, but I'm here to assure you that even if you didn't love that book (it was just okay for me), you will still love this one, so don't let that comparison scare you away!

Come Away With Me is the first book that I've read in 2016 that I read for my personal pleasure only. Most of the books that I read, I read wearing my blogger hat. I'm analyzing and taking notes while I read and thinking about what I'm going to write about them. That's definitely not a bad thing, but with this book, I just read it, and I thoroughly enjoyed that. If you haven't had a chance to pick this book up yet, I highly recommend that you do so. I know that you won't regret one moment that you spend reading this book! Karma Brown, I can't wait to read what you come up with next!

Friday, January 15, 2016

"Match Me If You Can" by Michele Gorman

Friends Sarah, Catherine and Rachel are living together in London and it's a mystery why they are all still single. Catherine owns her own business with her ex-husband and current friend, Richard. Sarah is a stellar baker, a creative greeting card designer and she's a fantastic sister. Rachel is an architect with fabulous ideas and a desire to find Mr. Right. Catherine convinces her two friends to sign up for her dating company RecycLove, a site where you sign up with your ex so that you can learn more about yourself as a partner before you emerge back into the dating scene, so that they can hopefully find fabulous partners and happiness in love.

Dating in London is definitely more than any of them bargained for. Searching for chemistry and a viable potential partner proves to be a task in and of itself, and the women go on their share of interesting and disastrous dates. However at the heart of this story is the women themselves. We find out why Sarah is so introverted and cautious with her heart, and we discover more about Rachel and the complicated relationship that she has with her ex. Catherine is stuck dealing with her ex-husband's new fiancee and we find ourselves rooting for Catherine to find her own happy ending.

I honestly think that this may be my new favourite novel by Michele Gorman. I have enjoyed her previous books, but Match Me If You Can sucked me in from the very first pages. What I loved the most was the characters. They came alive on the page and despite the fact that they were all so different from one another their chemistry as friends truly worked. The supporting characters contributed to how much fun it was to read this book. I especially enjoyed the scenes involving Sarah's sister and Catherine's ex-husband's new love interest, Magda, They lent their own sparkle and defined style to these pages.

Gorman has brought strong female characters who certainly don't need a man to swoop in and save them to life in these pages, which made me love Match Me If You Can even more. I found myself interested and rooting for these ladies to find whichever happy ending suited them most, and while Gorman stuck within the confines of the chick-lit genre her premise was fresh and interesting. This is the perfect read for a chilly, overcast day and it is sure to bring a smile to your face! My thanks to the publisher for providing me with this novel for review.

Friday, January 8, 2016

"Peri in Progress" by Cat Lavoie- Review, Giveaway and Interview!

I've happily read every one of Cat Lavoie's books and I can say that Peri in Progress is my favourite so far! I immediately loved the premise of the book- a woman whose life is not everything that she had hoped for vows to change it for the better, and it was the changes that Peri strived to make that kept this fresh and interesting for me.

When Peri is stood up at her 31st birthday party by her non-boyfriend from work, Peri re-evaluates the direction in which her life is headed and decides to change things for the better. Her house is a do-it-yourself disaster, her recent job promotion means that her co-workers don't even like her anymore, and her boyfriend refuses to admit that he is her boyfriend. Peri figures that 31 it is time to get it together already and she starts to make changes, except that they may not all be for the best! When Peri's best friend's estranged brother enters the scene things do begin to change- but will they change in a positive way or will Peri be even further behind in life than she was in the first place?

Peri in Progress was a quick and entertaining read! I was rooting for Peri to make the necessary life changes that she needed to make in order to feel like she was on the right path again. We all have something about ourselves that we want to improve, right? This book is the perfect read for this time of year when most of us have made resolutions for the new year in order to become the best versions of ourselves!

I enjoyed the romance in the book and I appreciated that there was a plot twist that came just when I wasn't expecting it. Fun, flirty, lighthearted and inspiring, Peri in Progress was a pleasure to read! My thanks to CLP Blog Tours for inviting me along on this tour! I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Now join me in welcoming Cat Lavoie, the author, who was kind enough to answer a few of my questions!

1. Happy New Year! What was your favourite read of 2015?

Happy New Year, Jonita! Thank you so much for having me on your blog today.

What a tough question… I read a lot of good books in 2015 and I can’t really pick a favorite—but THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins stands out because it’s so different from what I usually read and I was hooked from the first page until the very end.

2. What authors have inspired your writing journey?

Sophie Kinsella is the first name that comes to mind because CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC is the book that made me realize I was a Chick Lit writer. 

3. Name one thing on your bucket list.

Visit Scotland.

4. How do you feel about New Years Resolutions? Do you make them? Why or why not?

I don't take them too seriously—I always make New Years Resolution with the best intentions, but I'm not at all surprised when I break one or two a few days into the New Year.

5. What book coming out in 2016 are you looking forward to the most?

Can I choose two? Meredith Schorr's NOVELISTA GIRL comes out on January 6 and Laura Chapman's GOING FOR TWO is going to be published on January 27. Can't wait for both!

6. What do you do when you're not busy writing?

If I'm not reading or writing, I'm watching TV or catching up on social media (which often involves watching makeup tutorials on YouTube and posting silly pictures of my cat, Abbie, on Instagram!)

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Short Story Saturday

It's almost Christmas and almost everyone that I know, including myself, is incredibly busy. There's no snow where I live yet, so combine being incredibly busy with there being no snow on the ground, and I'm looking for ways to get in to the holiday spirit! That's where short stories come in for me. I love being able to sit down with a cup of tea by the Christmas tree and enjoying a bite-sized story, which I can devour in one sitting. Two of my favourite authors have released holiday stories this season, and it's not too late to enjoy both of them! So, treat yourself this season to one of the following stories and enjoy! Merry Christmas!

It's not a secret that I love Talli Roland's novels and short stories and I'm pleased to say that I have devoured each and every one as soon as they are released! Christmas at Cranberry Cottage is a sweet and uplifting story about Jess and her grandmother. When Jess returns home for Christmas she discovers that her grandmother's house is going to be demolished in order to make way for a new railway that will speeding its way through town. Jess is appalled- where will she come for Christmas if her childhood home isn't there? Jess is determined to fight to stop the demolition, but no one in the town, including her grandmother, seem to be that upset. Can Jess stop things in time?

I sat down with a cup of tea and I finished Christmas at Cranberry Cottage in one session, and I loved it! It definitely got me into the Christmas mood! I loved reading about the relationship between Jess and her grandmother and the introduction of Tom Cleary into the mix was definitely fun! I loved all of these characters so much that I would love to read a full-length novel about them! This is a short, sweet, fun read and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to take a few minutes to read it.

I really enjoyed reading The Curvy Girls Club when it released in 2014, and I was definitely looking forward to the release of book 2, The Curvy Girls Baby Club, which is a short story at about 146 (print) pages long. It was great to catch up with some of the original characters, Ellie, Katie and Jane, and- surprise!- they are all pregnant! The rest of the story follows these women as they experience the joys and frustrations of pregnancy and impending motherhood.

I loved the fact that author Gorman chose to write about the great and the not-so-great aspects of pregnancy, rather than just presenting it in one glowing light. Pregnancy and motherhood can be amazing, but they can also be incredibly confusing and frightening! The story is quite far-fetched at times, so you'll have to be willing to suspend your disbelief while reading, but all together it was a light and fun read. I would have loved to have seen this one become a full-length novel- there were lots of topics worth exploring! My thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"The Status of All Things" by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Kate is a 35-year-old who is obsessed with social media and with portraying the perfect version of herself online. When her fiance Max breaks up with her for her friend- on her wedding day, no less- she is devastated, but is it because she's losing Max or is it because she doesn't want to look less-than-perfect online?

When changing her Facebook status results in changing her life for real, Kate realizes that she has received an amazing gift. She gets a second chance to get things right with Max! But when her status updates begin to backfire on her and nothing goes as she plans Kate starts to wonder if she really does have the ability to change the future, or if it is up to fate in the end.

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke are definitely my favourite writing duo. The Status of All Things has a timely theme, because who among us doesn't think twice before posting that status update on Facebook, or who doesn't go through dozens of filters on Instagram before choosing one? The story drew me in from the beginning, and I found myself loving Kate from the very first page. Sure, she has some growing up to do, but don't we all?

You need to suspend your disbelief while reading this book, because being able to change your life just by updating your status is not reality, but I often read to escape, and that's what I did here. Every time I picked up the book to read I found myself transported into Kate's life as she desperately tries to make her second time around with Max more successful than the first.

What I enjoyed most about The Status of All Things (other than the very satisfying conclusion) was the underlying theme debating fate and the role that it plays in our lives. It raised many questions: what role does fate play in our destinies? Can we change things just by willing something to happen or will things happen in a certain way regardless?

Those who enjoyed Taylor Jenkins Reid's Maybe in Another Life or Kamy Wicoff's Wishful Thinking will definitely enjoy The Status of All Things. I appreciated the engaging writing and thoughtful themes throughout the book, and I enjoyed getting to know Kate and her friends as they came to some conclusions about their lives. I'm already looking forward to Liz and Lisa's next release, titled The Year We Turned Forty: A Novel which releases in April 2016!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blog Tour: "The Precious One" by Marisa de los Santos

About the Book:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Belong to Me, Love Walked In, and Falling Together comes a captivating novel about friendship, family, second chances, and the redemptive power of love.

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary—professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter, Willow, only once.
Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister—a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Told in alternating voices—Taisy’s strong, unsparing observations and Willow’s naive, heartbreakingly earnest yearnings—The Precious One is an unforgettable novel of family secrets, lost love, and dangerous obsession, a captivating tale with the deep characterization, piercing emotional resonance, and heartfelt insight that are the hallmarks of Marisa de los Santos’s beloved works.

My Review:

Unfortunately I've been caught up with work and the holidays lately and I'm not quite finished reading yet! It's not fair to anyone reading this if I were to give an inaccurate or incomplete review so I will save my thoughts for later on this week after I've turned the last page. I can tell you that I have loved what I've read so far! Stay tuned!

Purchase Links: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: "Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceipt" by Jessica Tom

Tia Monroe is fresh out of college and ready to experience all that graduate school and New York have to offer. She's aware that adjusting to New York will be a challenge, but she's willing to take it on, especially with loyal college boyfriend Elliot by her side.

Tia is lusting after an internship with her long-time food idol Helen Lansky, and she will do just about anything to get it. Or so she thinks. When she is approached by New York Times food critic Michael Saltz she can't imagine what he wants from her, but she is about to find out. Michael has lost his sense of taste completely and needs a "ghost taster" of sorts- someone like Tia who knows food and would be able to help him to write his reviews. The job comes with the lure of free designer clothing, expensive meals out, and the possibility of working with her idol full-time once Michael has an experimental surgery to get his sense of taste back. Although Tia knows that it's risky she can't help but be sucked in by the lure of Michael's promises. Seeing her words in the New York Times will almost be payment enough!

As her new secret career launches, Tia finds herself losing the things that once meant the most to her including her integrity, her coveted grad school scholarship, her friendships and her boyfriend Elliot. Suddenly she finds herself needing to evaluate if it's worth it or not. After all, does anyone's career ever start out at the top?

I love food, and I love food TV, so picking up Food Whore was a no-brainer! For me, it started out slow. Michael Saltz is a despicable character so it's hard to root for him, and I found all of the elaborate food descriptions a tad pretentious. At that point in the book Tia is treating her boyfriend and friends as if they are disposable, so it was hard to like her as well.

It wasn't until about two thirds of the way through the book that Food Whore became more interesting to me. The plot certainly thickens, there are some interesting turns of events, and Tia starts to realize the person that she is allowing herself to become. I'm glad that I stuck it out that long, since reading the last third of the book was enough to make up for the slow first part. Suddenly the story had it all- romance, deception, drama. I loved it!

The conclusion of Food Whore was exactly the type that I enjoy the most! Things did not end up how I expected them to, but the ending that the author came up with was even better than the version that I had in my head! It was the perfect conclusion, an honour that I bestow on very few books. It kept me on my toes and wanting more!

Despite a slow start, Food Whore emerged a winner in the end! Even though I wanted to scream at Tia throughout much of the book she ended up being quite likable and - alas- human. The conclusion was exciting, and I found myself feeling satisfied as I turned the final pages. This novel about finding oneself in a new city while following your dreams is an admirable debut by author Jessica Tom.

My thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me along on this tour!