Friday, August 11, 2017

REVIEW: "Best Friend For Hire" by Mary Carlomango

From the Publisher's Website:

Jersey Girl Jessie DeSalvo has her dream job at one of New York’s top publishing companies. After ten years of hard work the day of her big promotion has arrived. Unfortunately, her company has other ideas. Instead of a corner office, Jessie is handed her pink slip.
Left with little more than her cell phone and an unusable contact list, Jessie retreats to less-than-fashionable Hoboken, New Jersey, to figure out her life—and deal with the attentions of her loving but inquisitive Italian-American family. Then she accidentally stumbles into a career as a professional best friend—by helping friends and strangers straighten out whatever is wrong with their lives. Her jobs include planning the New Jersey wedding of the year and saving a bankrupt rock club in town. Soon, things get complicated when she falls in love with the club manager—and promises an appearance by Bruce Springsteen.
In the end, Jessie realizes that not even “The Boss” can make things right—and that she needs to become her own best friend to be truly happy.

My Review:

If you're looking for a light and entertaining book to read on the beach or poolside this summer, look no further! Best Friend For Hire is the story of spunky Jessie DeSalvo, a woman who loses her job instead of getting the promotion that she was working towards. She retreats to her childhood town in order to figure out what her next move should be and accidentally becomes a best friend for hire! I loved the character of Jessie, and since I read this book right before I actually lost my own job, I could relate to her in so many ways! I also loved her larger-than-life Italian-American family. The scenes with them in it were definitely among my favourites.

An uplifting, funny story about finding oneself among the chaos, this was exactly the fun yet thoughtful read that I was looking to immerse myself in this summer. If you're a fan of women's fiction and humour, don't wait- pick up Best Friend For Hire right away!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: "My Sister's Bones" by Nuala Ellwood

Kate Rafter, an investigative reporter, has spent her whole life trying to escape the small town that she grew up in. When her mother dies she finds herself returning to Herne Bay, the place that she's tried so hard not to return to, in order to clear up her mother's affairs. Her sister, Sally, who has never left the small town, is unable to help Kate. Drowning herself in alcohol while trying to deal with tragedy of her own, Sally is shut off from Kate and her pain.

When Kate starts realizing that there is something not quite right about the neighbors next door, she tries to convince her sister and her sister's husband to check in to it, but they both brush her off, blaming Kate's time in war zones and possible post-traumatic stress. Is Kate out of her mind or is there something more sinister lurking beneath the surface of the neighbors next door?

I thoroughly enjoyed this work of psychological fiction. Fans of the unreliable narrator technique used in The Girl on The Train and The Woman in Cabin 10 will enjoy this story about one woman and her battle against her own mind. I personally enjoyed the twists and turns, and alternated between being convinced that Kate was experiencing post-traumatic stress and that there was indeed something going on with her neighbor.

Kate, a strong character, was difficult to empathize with at first since she had built a hard shell around herself and this is evident from the beginning. As she slowly reveals her soft side we as readers become more enamored with her and become sympathetic to her plight.

While the pacing of this story was a little slow to start with, the second half of the book picks up and I was engrossed! It was definitely worth hanging in through the first half for.

My Sister's Bones is a worthy debut from author Nuala Ellwood and I'm looking forward to finding out what she has in store for her readers next! My thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me along on this tour!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: THE PARTY by Robyn Harding

Hannah Sanders is turning sixteen. A good child, studious and generally obedient, her parents Kim and Jeff present her with her birthday gift, order pizza, and then leave her and her girlfriends to their own devices in the basement while they go to sleep on the eve of her sixteenth birthday. When Hannah wakes them up, crying and with blood all over her hands, they have no idea what is about to transpire, and that their carefully ordered lives are about to be turned upside down.

As the next months unfold and Hannah and her parents deal with the aftermath of what has happened, their dark secrets are revealed to the world and the people around them discover that not all is as it appears in the Sanders home.

This was a compelling read, and one that I had a hard time putting down! First of all, this is one of the best written books that I have read in a long time. Robyn Harding truly has a way with words. The dialogue, the transitions between scenes; all were flawless. This book was so well-written that it made me want to go back and read all of her previous releases.

The themes within these pages- ones of culpability, responsibility, popularity, and bullying, were all very appropriate and fresh themes to examine. I especially appreciated how Harding took a rich family and delved in to their true lives behind the big house and fancy car, revealing that not all is as it seems. This seems representative of what could truly happen behind the closed doors of the mansions that we may drive by every day.

Overall, THE PARTY is a must-read for any fans of reading domestic drama. I couldn't put this down, and was surprised yet pleased with the ending. It left me with a lot to think about.

My thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for inviting me on this book tour. Check out the widget below for a chance to win your own copy!


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BEARTOWN by Fredrik Backman

I fell in love with Fredrik Backman's writing when I first read A MAN CALLED OVE. After reading that book I knew that I had found a new author for my top ten list of my favourite authors. At that time, I truly felt that he wouldn't be able to write another book that I loved as much as that one, but I was wrong. BEARTOWN is powerful and moving, beautiful and genuine and incredibly sad at times. It is a book that made me "feel all the feels'. I couldn't stop bookmarking phrases and pages as I went along, excited to go back to them and reread them a second and then a third time. Backman's writing is truly beautiful, even when the subject matter is not.

BEARTOWN is the story of a small town in Scandinavia, where hockey is king. All of the boys grow up playing hockey, whether they are good at it or not, and all the girls grow up watching their brothers play or wishing that they had boyfriends on the team. Even if you don't like hockey, it's impossible to not be affected by it in some way when you live in Beartown.

Beartown's junior team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and winning could finally put Beartown on the map. It could bring in a hockey school and more businesses to rescue their ailing town. Everything hinges on Beartown's team bringing home the victory.

One night, a young girl's life is changed forever. But will Beartown's residents do what's right, or will they do what's right for the team?

Despite the fact that I'm not a huge hockey fan (very un-Canadian of me, I know), I was riveted by these pages. This story is about so much more than hockey. It's about small towns, the difference between right and wrong; it's about being brave and standing up for your beliefs and it is about parenting and marriage. I couldn't stop re-reading certain phrases and sections of the book. Backman's writing and thoughts are so profound, and this is one of the rare books that I plan to read over and over again.

I feel that my words can not adequately do this book justice. All I can say is that if you can only read one book this year, read this one. BEARTOWN is sure to top my list of favourites of 2017.

Friday, April 14, 2017

THE PERFECT STRANGER by Megan Miranda

Description (By The Publisher):

In the masterful follow-up to the runaway hit All the Missing Girls, a journalist sets out to find a missing friend, a friend who may never have existed at all.

Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?

My Thoughts:

I'm fairly new to the genre of psychological fiction. I've only been reading it for about a year now, and somehow I managed to miss reading Megan Miranda's ALL THE MISSING GIRLS, a novel that I've heard that many have loved. I started reading THE PERFECT STRANGER with a fresh perspective. I didn't have any previous knowledge of the author or of her previous book to rely on.

That being said, there are a few things that I look for when reading a psychological thriller. The first thing that I'm looking for is an author that keeps me guessing. If there is a plot twist or an aspect of the story that keeps me in suspense, then I consider the novel to be a success. THE PERFECT STRANGER definitely kept me guessing. Leah Stevens, our protagonist with a less-than-perfect past, is determined to find her missing roommate Emmy, who has disappeared, seemingly without a trace. However, as the novel goes on, we the reader start to wonder if Emmy even exists outside of Leah's mind. That aspect alone, the "does she or doesn't she" aspect, kept me reading on.

Aside from that, I also seek out psychological thrillers that are well-written with well-developed characters. I enjoyed author Megan Miranda's writing style very much, and I also liked her main character Leah. The ending of the novel could have been stronger, more daring even, but it was still mildly satisfying. There was a lot going on throughout the novel- a missing roommate, a potential love interest, secrets hidden in the past, and perhaps those aspects could have been simplified to focus more on the missing roommate, which I assume was intended to be at the heart of this story, but I still enjoyed these forays in to various other aspects of Leah and her surrounding environment.

Overall this was a satisfying read with enough twists and turns to keep me on my toes. Since that is the single most important thing that I look for when reading a novel in this genre, I can say that it was a success in my eyes and I can recommend it to someone who is looking for a read that will keep them guessing.

I voluntarily reviewed this novel. My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME by Amy Hatvany

Amber and Tyler have been friends since they were kids. Both had difficult issues to deal with growing up- Amber struggled with anorexia despite a solid home life and Tyler had to deal with a demeaning father whom he was never good enough for- and when times were tough they leaned on one another.

As they grew older Tyler began to have feelings for Amber, feelings that he confessed but weren't reciprocated. Both wanted to continue being friends, but things were awkward.

Coming home after her college graduation, newly engaged and just a little unsure about how fast things were moving in her life, Amber finds herself turning to Tyler for comfort. One night, fueled by her own uncertainty and the addition of alcohol to the mix, Amber finds herself kissing Tyler. What happens next will destroy both of their worlds.

This is, no doubt, a hard book to read. The subject matter, rape, is not one that is easy to read about, however author Amy Hatvany has handled it with sensitivity and grace. This story isn't about rape between strangers, but rape between friends, so the subject is even more difficult to read about. Rape between friends changes so many things in your day to day life, and after a rape like this occurs there is so much aftermath to deal with.

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME brings up a really important issue, the issue of consent when it comes to sexual activity. When does "no" mean "no"? What about the events leading up to the rape? Does what a person wears or how a person acts translate into unspoken consent? Hatvany delved in to this topic, and she did such a great job examining it from all angles. She wrote this story from alternating perspectives and presented a well-rounded version of the story. I appreciated this. It may have been easier to write this solely from the female's perspective, but Hatvany didn't take the easy way out and she presented this from both points of view.

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME is poignant and thought-provoking. It brought some delicate issues to life on the page and it made me consider how I would deal with a similar situation should it arise. Well-written and timely, IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME is a must-read for women everywhere that will have you thinking about it well after you've closed the book.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE by Sophie Kinsella

The reigning queen of chick lit is back with this fun-filled tale that ponders the question- is life as perfect for everyone as they make it appear on social media? Katie Brenner, originally from Somerset, is in London trying to live her dream of working and living in the big city, far from her country roots. She particularly admires her boss Demeter Farlowe, whose life appears to be in perfect order. Perfect job? Check! Perfect husband? Check! Perfect children? Check! Perfect home? Check! When Demeter fires Katie, she returns home to help her family start up their new glamping venture while she regroups and tries to figure out what she'll do next.

When Demeter unexpectedly arrives on Katie's family's farm, Katie is not thinking that she will catch such an honest glimpse at what Demeter's life is really like behind the facade that she presents and Katie will see that Demeter's perfect life is not so perfect after all.

I devoured this book in a few short sittings. I loved the character of Katie Brenner and what she stood for, and her big heart shone through on the pages. I couldn't help but want a happy ending for her! Kinsella has a knack for creating lovable and relatable characters and MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE is no exception to this.

What I loved even more than the exquisite character development was how relevant the plot was to the day and age that we live in. So often we present our everyday lives in a certain light or with a certain filter online in the hopes of making everyone believe that our lives are more perfect than they truly are. I think that it would be so interesting to see those moments before or after those perfect pictures are taken, to see behind the front.

Kinsella has written yet another terrific book that is well-written, relatable, and compulsively readable. Pick this one up as soon as possible if you're looking for a light yet meaningful read!