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!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: SOLO by Jill Mansell

Jill Mansell has written the perfect book to curl up with on a dreary January day. Thanks to publisher Sourcebooks, this title, previously published in the UK but not available in the US or Canada, is now available for our reading pleasure, and trust me, the pleasure is all ours!

Playboy Ross Monahan is well-known for both his charm and his wicked ways. Tessa Duvall, a very practical struggling artist, is completely without expectations when she follows a whim and follows him in to bed. Completely content to carry on with her life after their one-night stand, she is shocked when she discovers she is pregnant by him but she is more than happy to carry on as a single mother. After all, she has pretty much always been alone and she's okay with that.

However, Ross unexpectedly wants to be involved in both Tessa and his baby's life, much to her surprise. But will having Ross in her life be more than Tessa can handle?

SOLO is entertainment at its finest. I always enjoy Jill Mansell books with a cup of tea and a blanket and there is little that is more comforting than that! Her plots are always entertaining, and there are always several characters that I am cheering for! In this case, not only was I hoping for a happy ending for Tessa, but for her immature but lovable friend Holly. There were no slow spots in this story and it was a page-turner from beginning to end.

I can't help but give this one five stars. Entertaining, comforting, and at times laugh-out-loud funny, every women's fiction fan should pick this one up!

Make sure you enter to win a copy of SOLO courtesy of Sourcebooks! There are three days left to enter and you can find the link to the giveaway here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

SOLO by Jill Mansell- Spotlight Tour and GIVEAWAY!!!

I am a longtime fan of Jill Mansell and I truly have enjoyed every one of her books. They provide me an escape from this horrible Canadian winter weather (I really was meant to live somewhere warmer and sunnier!). I'm thrilled that Sourcebooks is working to bring her earlier UK releases, previously unavailable here, to the US and Canada. The latest book that Sourcebooks has brought here is SOLO, a deliciously fun romp showing that even the most wicked playboy can choose to settle down if the timing is right. Fill out the Rafflecopter form here and you will be entered to win 1of 5 copies for yourself!

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Title: Solo
Author: Jill Mansell
Pub Date: January 3, 2017
ISBN: 9781492632429

It all starts at a party, as these things often do…

· A one-night stand with far-reaching consequences
· Momentarily enamored guests going home with all the wrong people
· An unfaithful wife struck by jealousy and getting a dose of her own medicine
· A shocking family secret revealed at the worst possible moment

One fling follows another, and now the whole community is embroiled in a great big web of deceit, the untangling of which will charm you, amuse you, make you laugh and make you cry.

Whatever’s going on in your life, Solo by Jill Mansell is the perfect distraction right about now…

With over 10 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny, poignant and romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England. Website | Twitter | Facebook

Buy Links:

QUESTION
Do you have a designated writing spot?
I have two. If I'm writing in bed I have a brilliant view over the sports field behind our house, so there are games of football, rugby, tennis, cricket and hockey going on. We've just started having American football matches here too, so that's fun. It probably distracts me from my work, but I'll put up with it!
My other favourite place to write is in my gorgeous crimson living room, sitting on my reclining sofa with the TV on. Because I write by hand with a fountain pen, I can write easily in either of these places.

EXCERPT

I must be drunk, thought Tessa, kicking off her shoes and sinking into a sitting position on the edge of the vast, canopied bed. When a man like Ross Monahan urged you to spend the night at his place and assured you that you were quite welcome to the bed—he would be happy to sleep on the settee—you knew you were playing with fire.

Either drunk or crazy, she told herself as she pulled her dress over her head, threw it in the direction of a large, red-velvet chair and wrapped herself in the dark-blue toweling robe he had left for her.

But she knew she wasn’t that drunk. She was enjoying the game which had begun so many hours earlier. The challenge had been thrown down and she couldn’t resist it. She was going to seriously enjoy being the only woman in the history of the world to have slept in Ross’s bed…alone.

His suite of rooms on the top floor of the hotel was as sumptuous as she had imagined, particularly since seeing the rest of The Grange earlier. Like stowaways, they had remained closeted in the conservatory until the early hours of the morning when the last guests had departed, either roaring off into the night in their smart cars or retiring to their rooms in the hotel.

Then, taking her hand, Ross had given her the full guided tour, showing her the elegant sitting rooms, the restaurant, the squash courts, the superb gym and the spectacular indoor swimming-pool built inside a second, even larger, conservatory, illuminated by underwater lighting and surrounded on three sides by more tropical vegetation. Ross was as proud of the hotel as a new father. Tessa had been touched by his enthusiasm. But if he was under the impression that she would be so overwhelmed by this display of his success that she would leap into bed with him, he was going to be disappointed.

Saying no was much, much more fun.

Firmly securing the belt of the far-too-big robe around her waist, she threw back the bedcovers and slid between cool white sheets, just as a cautious knock sounded at the door.

“It’s OK, I’m decent.”

“Pity,” said Ross lightly. He was still dressed, and carrying a folded blanket over one arm.
Tessa gestured at the bed. “This is awfully kind of you. You’ll probably have a terrible time trying to sleep on that settee.”

“Probably.” He gave her a mournful look, then grinned. “But I’ll survive.”

She watched him fling the blanket over the narrow leather Chesterfield. “And it’s four thirty now. Nearly time to get up again anyway.”

“Don’t remind me.”

“I’m very grateful.”

“Absolutely no problem.”

Tessa pulled the covers up to her chin and smiled at him. “You’re a true gentleman.”

“I believe you,” said Ross. “Thousands wouldn’t.”

She watched him hover for a few seconds beside the sofa, wondering no doubt if she might change her mind. Then, giving him one last big smile, she plumped up her pillows and turned over. “Mmm, well, thanks again. Good night.”

Tessa didn’t know what time it was when she shifted in her sleep and first realized that she was no longer alone in the bed. Her bare leg was resting against another bare leg, definitely not her own. 

Sleepily, almost subconsciously, she stretched out her hand and encountered a smooth, warm back. She became aware of the very faint scent of aftershave and toothpaste, and the quiet, regular breathing of someone deeply and peacefully asleep.

To her great surprise, Tessa was neither shocked nor annoyed by this invasion of her privacy. It was, after all, his bed and a narrow, slippery leather Chesterfield was about as conducive to a good night’s sleep as a tin bath.

In fact, she realized drowsily, she had forgotten quite how nice it felt to lie next to another body, accidentally brushing against an arm or a hip, sharing each other’s warmth and enjoying the primal instincts of simply being together.

With a guilty start she came properly awake. For the way her fingertips were trailing down Ross’s spine wasn’t in the least bit accidental. And, without even realizing it, her own left leg had managed to fit against the curve of his right one with all the snugness of a missing piece in a jigsaw.

This was taking the enjoyment of sharing each other’s warmth a little too far.

Regretfully easing her leg back to her own side of the bed and removing her hand from his back, she closed her eyes and attempted to distract her mind from its traitorous wanderings. She had always believed that physical intimacy—not just sex—was something like a video recorder or a Magimix: what you didn’t have, you didn’t miss, it just faded from your mind and became unimportant.

It had been almost a year since her last relationship had ended. At first, of course, she had missed the hugs and the kisses—and the sex—but certainly not enough to go rampaging round Bath in search of males, any males, with whom to satisfy the need for physical contact.

And pretty soon she had become used to being and sleeping alone once more. The withdrawal symptoms had been mild. Because hugging and kissing and sex weren’t physical addictions like heroin. They were something that was nice but also quite possible to live without.

On the other hand, a year was a long time.