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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I'LL TAKE YOU THERE by Wally Lamb

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Let me start by clarifying that I am a big fan of Wally Lamb's writing in general. I have eagerly devoured all of his books to date and have enjoyed them all. I was less keen on WISHIN' AND HOPIN', his novel released in 2010, but I still enjoyed it. I'LL TAKE YOU THERE is a story of the adult Felix Funicello, whose 10-year-old self was the main character in WISHIN' AND HOPIN'. Felix is an adult now, divorced from his ultra-feminist wife and the father of Aliza, an educated woman making her way in the world. He teaches the history of film at a local college and he also runs the Monday night film club at a local resurrected theatre. When a ghost appears to him one night at the theatre prior to his film class he believes that there is something wrong with his head. Perhaps he's lost it? However, the ghost, Lois, who was a female pioneer in the film industry, appears to him several times and takes him back in time to when he was a child and shows him how the women in his life shaped who he has become today.

I'll start with what I liked about I'LL TAKE YOU THERE. The writing, as it always is with Wally Lamb, was impeccable. I simply enjoy reading the words that he puts on the page. I also enjoyed the overall theme of the book. Lamb writes about women and the pressures of society on them and how these pressures shape feminism. The theme was clever and timely.

Despite the excellent writing and interesting theme, I had a lot of issues with this book and I almost quit reading it several times. First of all, the timeline can be confusing. It is all over the place. First we are in present day, then we've been taken back in time. Since the story uses flashbacks as a tool, much of the book is based on Felix's personal experiences and I had a hard time figuring out what the relevance of these reminisces were. Some of the relevance was made apparent later in the book, but they lost me at first. There are a lot of film references made throughout the book that went over my head since I'm not a film buff myself. If you are into classic films, you may enjoy those references more than me. Certain parts of the book just ended abruptly and I wondered if those parts could have been expanded on more.

If this is your first foray into reading Wally Lamb I would recommend you try one of his other books first. This is my least favourite of his releases. I really hope that he returns to his other style of novel for his future releases as this one was, overall, a disappointment.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

HUNGRY HEART by Jennifer Weiner

I have long been a fan of Jennifer Weiner's fictional work. Her earlier novels, including my personal favourite GOOD IN BED, spoke to me, and I have eagerly read everything that she has written since. HUNGRY HEART, though a departure from her usual works of fiction, was no exception to my rule. This collection of non-fictional essays promises to reveal parts of Jennifer previously unknown to the public, including her memories of growing up an overweight child, her abandonment by her father, her traumatic birth experience, and how she found her way to writing fiction. I picked it up and devoured her stories from beginning to end.

HUNGRY HEART toyed with my emotions- but in a good way! I especially related to her essays about weight and hunger. These are feelings that I have struggled with my whole life, and if I'm being honest it was a big part of what attracted me to this book in the first place. I long to 'know' people who feel the way that I feel, even if it is through the pages of the book. I cheered as I read about her successes (such as having her first book published- yay!) and I felt sympathy for her as she experienced some really low lows. There were a few of the essays that didn't particularly interest me and I found myself skimming them but overall I found HUNGRY HEART to be a unique and relevant memoir that reflects on the many facets of being a woman, a person, a mother, and an author.

I didn't know that it was even possible but I found myself liking Jennifer Weiner even more after I read her memoir. Each essay is short enough that you can read through the book in bite-sized pieces without losing the plot, which is perfect for busy people, and there are many parts of her memoir that I found myself going back and reading through again. Weiner has written a unique memoir that may not appeal to all, but will truly resonate in some way or form, for many. I, luckily, am one of the ones that it resonated with an I am happy that I had the opportunity to read it. I can't recommend it enough to any of Weiner's fans who have ever wondered about the woman behind the book.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

AND EVERY MORNING THE WAY HOME GETS LONGER AND LONGER by Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman has been on my "must-read" list since I read (and adored!) "A Man Called Ove". Since then I have eagerly picked up everything that he has written, and I was so excited to get my hands on this novella.

This 40-page novella was not even originally intended for release. Instead the author wrote it as his way to deal with personal circumstances in his life. I am so glad that it was published, as it is an absolutely touching story of a man who is saying good-bye to his son and beloved grandson as Alzheimer's and old age slowly take over his mind.

I finished AND EVERY MORNING THE WAY HOME GETS LONGER AND LONGER with tears unashamedly streaming down my face. What a truly, truly beautiful ode to our memories, our families, and who we become in old age. I encourage absolutely everyone to pick up this story and read it, and I have already recommended it to everyone that I know. This is a gem that will help us come to terms with how aging can rob us of our memories, but never of the love we feel and have had the privilege of feeling over the course of our lifetime.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pre-Order "Skipping Midnight" by Laura Kenyon and Win!


I can't wait for SKIPPING MIDNIGHT, the latest book in Laura Kenyon's Desperately Ever After series to come out. I love the characters and the fairy tale touches, and I adore this gorgeous cover! If you're as excited as I am (and you should be!) pre-order the upcoming book and enter for your chance to win! It's that easy!

Blurb:

One part Sex and the City. Two parts Desperate Housewives. Three parts Brothers Grimm.

For the women of Marestam, “happily ever after" has always come with a grain of salt. Be it infidelity or aging, deferred dreams or lost love, or even the pressures of raising a family, they have always seen each other through life’s trials with laughter, wine, and a brand new take on old-fashioned chivalry. But when rage and treachery take over, everything they hold dear comes under attack. 

Suddenly, the monarchies are crumbling, Cinderella is missing, Belle is harboring the secret of all secrets, Rapunzel is facing the one dilemma she spent her whole life trying to avoid, and Dawn could lose everything she’s finally learned to love. In order to save everyone and unmask the wolf in their midst, this iconic group of friends must follow a dogmatic fairy no one trusts, invoke a magic no one understands, and face a past they thought they had buried long ago.

Rapunzel, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and the rest of Marestam’s favorite females return in this third and final novel in Laura Kenyon's Desperately Ever After series, which takes a whimsical look at our most beloved fairy tale princesses several years after true love’s kiss. 

At heart, it’s a tale of ordinary women coming to terms with how their lives have turned out. They just happen to live in castles.

---

The final chapter in the Amazon #1 bestselling Desperately Ever After series (women’s fiction fantasy, women’s fiction humor, and paranormal fantasy). Says New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Evanovich: “Laura Kenyon makes happily ever after desperately delicious!"



Author bio:

LAURA KENYON is an award-winning journalist and the author of three novels, Desperately Ever After, Damsels in Distress, and Skipping Midnight. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, and online publications. The Boston College graduate does not live in a castle, but has been blessed with a heroic prince charming, two beautiful princesses, and a noble steed.

To learn more about Laura, visit her website at www.laurakenyon.com and sign up for exclusive updates. She also loves connecting with readers on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook. And for a peek at how she envisions Marestam, check out her Desperately Ever After board on Pinterest.



Links:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2elUrbS


Purchase links:
Desperately Ever After (Book One) - http://amzn.to/2ewbxHS
Damsels in Distress (Book Two) - http://amzn.to/2elVIjj
Skipping Midnight (Book Three) – http://amzn.to/2dKeH5g



Pre-order Giveaway!

Pre-order a copy of Skipping Midnight between now and November 15, and you could win one of two enchanting prize packages inspired by the Desperately Ever After series!


Prize Pack 1
(US only):

A signed paperback copy of all three novels in the series: Desperately Ever After (Book One), Damsels in Distress (Book Two), and Skipping Midnight (Book Three)

A stunning “Live like there’s no midnight” charm bracelet, custom made by My Initial Charm and inspired by the Desperately Ever After series

An assortment of treats for your next girls' night in (sorry, rampion not included!)

A snazzy memory box to ship it all in ;)



Prize Pack 2
(Worldwide!)

This fantastic set of six wine charms, handcrafted by Etsy artist Sarah VandenBrink (specifically for this giveaway!) and representing each of the six main characters: Belle, Rapunzel, Dawn, Penelopea, Snow White, and Cinderella

To enter, please e-mail your proof of purchase (a screenshot will do) to laura (at) laurakenyon (dot) com by midnight November 15, 2016. Be sure to include your mailing address so you’re entered into the right contest(s). One winner will be selected via random drawing for each giveaway on November 16. Good luck!

Pre-order link: http://amzn.to/2dKeH5g