Tag Archives: novels

Back from the….(reading update and more!)

Hi everyone!

I’m finally back to writing on my blog and it’s been a LONG time! I had high hopes for the New Year but then found myself in a reading drought. Have you ever had one of those? As a Librarian, it drives me batty when I can’t either find the time to read or I’m just not in the mood (usually that translates to tiredness). I ended up getting sick on Boxing Day (December 26th for those who don’t have that holiday) and that continued for five more months. With 3 kids and working full-time, you can imagine what that does to somebody. Even now, I’m fighting a two week chest cold. Ridiculous!
Anyway, when I finally did get around to reading again, I started slowly and with some tried and true reads, by focusing on my favourite cozy lit mystery series. Both Jenn McKinlay’s ‘Library Lovers’ and ‘Cupcake Bakery’ series came to the rescue and I believe I’m all caught up with both. I love those series so much!
During the last five months I also read ‘Where they Found Her’ by Kimberly McCreight and ‘The Widow’ by Fiona Barton. I really loved ‘Where They Found Her’ but found that ‘The Widow’ was a tough read being a mom to young children. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have read it if I had read a review or the synopsis more carefully. But, that’s not to say it was a bad novel – it’s received a lot of praise so check out Goodreads if you’re so inclined.
I also re-read (I never do that!) a book by Wendy Corsi Staub; while I know some of her books are part of trilogies, I didn’t realize that this particular book “Live to Tell” would be good to read again since I own the next book “Scared to Death”. So, I have that one in my pile of books to read this summer.
Right now, I’m currently reading the second book of ‘The Clifton Chronicles’ by Jeffrey Archer, as well as ‘How to be a Grown-up’ by Nicola Kraus and Emma McClaughlin. Talk about a difference in genres! I’m enjoying both and I love discovering new series to read.
Finally, I picked up quite a few books from garage sales this year (already!). So, those will travel with me to the beach and other weekend getaways this summer. However, I always have high hopes to read more on these getaways, but really, with 3 kids six and under you can imagine how much reading I actually accomplish.
I’m also going to be reviewing Amy Avanzino’s latest “Wake Up Call” books called ‘From the Sideline’ which will be published later this month (which is when my review will be posted, too). I have a few other books to review that I’ve been tardy in posting, so those will be forthcoming as well.
And that’s my update! I read more than just the books mentioned, but honestly I can’t remember them all. There are always books to read and I wish I had more time – so many great books…ahhh…how I love reading 🙂
Maybe this post will give you some new titles to check out!

Advertisements

Snowflakes on Silver Cove – Holly Martin {book review} #bookoutureXmas

bookoutureI have another book to feature on today’s #BookoutureXmas – be sure to follow along with that hashtag on Twitter to be up to date on all the bloggers’ features for the event.

Today, I’m showcasing “Snowflakes on Silver Cove” by Holly Martin. I adored this book and to me, it was the epitome of a feel-good Christmas read. I’ve included an excerpt (extract) for your reading pleasure, as well as my review.

Enjoy 🙂

SnowflakesSnowflakes on Silver Cove – Excerpt

Come and spend a picture perfect romantic Christmas at White Cliff Bay Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…
Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance. As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.
But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas? Snuggle up with a piece of Christmas cake and mulled wine, and spend the festive season at White Cliff Bay.

My Review:

Well, what can I say? ‘Snowflakes’ was the perfect book for me to review for this #BookoutureXmas event! I was caught up within the first few pages and adored George and Libby from the start. The Christmas coziness of the novel shone through, and all I wanted was to curl up with this book in front of my fireplace drinking some hot chocolate with a candy cane floating on top. But alas, I have three children and they don’t allow me such luxuries. But, I was able to escape reading this book! Boy did I ever! I fell in love with Libby and George from the very first pages, encouraging them with my reading to “get together for goodness sake!” The cutest couple for sure.
Holly Martin’s writing is engaging from the start and it draws you in to the Christmas spirit.
The love that Libby and George surely have for each other (and hopefully will discover soon) is contagious and I wanted them to fall into each other’s arms for real; not just for the sake of these make-believe dates they’re on. In typical starcrossed lovers fashion, Libby and George need an extra push to see that they are smitten with each other. The setting of this novel was perfect for this romance with its small village bedazzled in Christmasey, twinkling lights…ahhh…magic!
The back story with Amy and Seb was also enchanting and I couldn’t help but root them on.
All of the villagers were a great addition to the story, and it was so much fun getting caught up with their antics against the backdrop of this charming village.
This is definitely a heartwarming book to devour this Christmas season!

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Snowflakes-Silver-Cove-feel-good-Christmas-ebook/dp/B014T4W7BM

Disclaimer: I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley – thank you Bookouture!

holly_Martin

About Holly Martin – Holly Martin emerged onto the chicklit scene by winning the Belinda Jones Travel Club short story competition – and has not looked back since.
Her adult fiction debut The Guesthouse, hit number 5 on Amazon chart and she has now written three books with Bookouture: Fairytale Beginnings, Christmas at Lilac Cottage, and Snowflakes at Silver Cove.

Up To I Do ~ Samantha March {book review & excerpt – book tour}

Today, I’m am pleased to be showcasing a book excerpt and review as part of Chick Lit Plus (CLP) Blog Tours! ‘Up To I Do’ Samantha March is a wedding tale about what happens when a wealthy girl plans her wedding.

Hotel heiress Emerson Sinclair is all set to marry her childhood friend, Logan Worthington. Bringing two prominent families together obviously means that a seamless and perfect wedding has to be pulled off. Both sides of the family are counting on Emerson, but as details become more and more complicated, Emerson can’t help but wonder whether a big affair is all worth it. After all, isn’t it about being in love and being happy on your wedding day, instead of trying to fit an ideal that is expected of you?

I fell into this book so fast! Truly, I can’t remember the last time I read a chicklit book that revolved around a wedding. I used to read them all the time, WAY back in the day, but since I was married many years ago and all of that was behind me, I just hadn’t ventured into wedding lit genre as of late. But, before I knew it, I was checking back in with Emerson and her friends and family, to see how the wedding details were progressing. With an interesting cast of characters – my faves were Grams (Emerson’s maternal grandmother, Pearl) and Emerson’s intellectual sister, Milly. I really liked how the characters in this novel had faults, including Emerson, and they lived up to them. First and foremost, family was paramount and everyone wanted to make Emerson and Logan’s day special for them.

I enjoyed the writing style of this book, a lot! I think that’s why I kept gravitating toward the book. I knew I could read and read and then put it down for a while, and get right back into it. The entire book flowed with ease and I picked this up from the start. Just when I thought a detail might be forgotten, it was mentioned again and all was well. I can really appreciate a conscientious writer. But most of all, the book was fun! It was a blast to be emersed in wedding details, read about stylish dresses of today – I could envision them – what rings the bride and groom should choose, and all the other aspects that are important to a wedding. I loved how Emerson included her Grams a lot in the sentiment of the wedding, culminating in one final surprise that made you cheer on the entire family.

As a name fanatic over here, I adored so many of the names used in this book. I especially liked that Grams’ name was Pearl – a name and a gem – which was used as a symbol for many items in Emerson’s wedding plans.

If you’re looking for current wedding lit (or chicklit) to indulge in, then Up To I Do would be a perfect pick for you!

Check out the amusing excerpt below – one of the best scenes in the book and definitely a time where I thought “I’m glad that isn’t me!”

Up To I Do (Marching Ink, 2015)
Chapter Nine

MyWeddingPlans.com Status Update: Nearly lost a bridesmaid today. #needaredo #redhotmess

The day of the bridesmaid dress appointment felt similar to picking out my wedding dress. Once again, Mom, Grams, Milly, Sienna, and the rest of the bridesmaids gathered at the house for breakfast. Delilah had even made the trip down once again, and we were going to have a sleepover at Milly’s that night with the three of us. I couldn’t wait.

Once we were finished eating, we were off in the limo once again to the bridal shop where I had purchased my dress. I had to put my foot down on this. Evie (and also Honor and a tad bit of Tatiana if I’m honest) pushed for a New York trip to find the bridesmaid dress, throwing out all these top-notch shops filled with designer dresses. But . . . if I couldn’t have a designer dress, why would my maids wear one? I had finally come to terms that I had my dream dress and it just happened not to be a big name designer. I couldn’t handle if the other girls had one. The men were wearing Vera Wang for God’s sake. Cut me a little slack here.

Once we arrived at the store and were greeted warmly by Sandra, the owner, she ushered us to the back and I sat on the throne—a big fluffy red chair reserved for brides. Milly handed me scorecards that she had made so I could rate each dress from 1-10, and Sandra explained what would happen. We had fifteen minutes to walk around the store and grab dresses, then the fun would begin. Pretty simple.

On her mark, the lot of us scattered like marbles on a wood floor, on the hunt for the perfect bridesmaid dress. I managed to pull two, getting overwhelmed quickly by all the choices. How would I ever find one? Maybe each girl could wear a different dress in the same color. Would that be too busy? Did I care? Why was I here? Couldn’t I have made Katrina handle this on her own? But no, she probably would have been sucked into going to New York as well. It was better I was here and in control.

“Time!” Sandra stood in the middle of the floor, and I realized then that we were the only people in the store, which I had to think was unusual for a Saturday morning. I wondered if Mom had reserved the space solely for us. That was sweet and a necessity I hadn’t even thought of because I wasn’t sure I could concentrate if a bunch of other bridesmaids were traipsing along the aisles.

After handing my choices over to Sandra and taking a seat at the throne, I waited anxiously for the girls to come out. Each was coming out first in a pick of their own, and I was curious to see what each girl’s style was going to be. Milly was the exception. Since she was my maid of honor, I was going to let her off the hook for trying dresses on. I figured we had enough girls around. She had thanked me profusely that morning for the favor.

“Got your scorecards at the ready?” Sienna asked me, her eyes bright. As the countdown to the big day got closer, Sienna seemed to be more and more in her element. I think Mom was relieved she was taking some of the pressure off her, especially with the pageant taking up more time than she expected it to.

I held up the thick cards that Milly had clearly put a lot of time into. “Ready to roll!”

Sandra cleared her throat and started listing off the designer names and the dress features. Honor was in a strapless dress that fell to the knee, with a belted waist and crumb catcher top. Delilah’s dress also featured a crumb catcher top (these two were so alike it could be scary) but hers had no belt and was less structured than Honor’s. Tatiana had a long strapless dress with a keyhole in the chest area—a little too risqué in my opinion. Evie . . . Evie. Evie was in a short hot pink dress that dipped low in the back, nearly to her crack, and her boobs were pushed up so high I was sure a nip slip was going to happen in the store. How in the world that was a suitable bridesmaid dress for anyone was beyond me. I couldn’t even look at her.

“Gabby’s dress is my favorite out of this group,” I said, my eyes immediately going to her soft chiffon dress with delicate straps and a ruched bodice. It fit her well and looked so pretty and feminine. And to be honest—a crumb catcher scared me. Even the name was just plain weird.

“You have a little diversity here with styles and even lengths,” Sandra said, standing by me. “Let’s focus on Honor and Delilah first, since they are similar. Do you like the crumb catcher top?”

I held up a scorecard with a 4 on it. “Sorry, ladies. I think those tops are weird.”

“Emerson!” They both screeched, looking at one another and laughing. Milly joined in from her perch on the chair next to me.

“I bet this would look great in your wedding,” Delilah said, patting Honor on the arm, who I think turned a little pale at that. “Or yours, Milly. And I can’t wait to hear all about this Miles tonight!”

Milly blushed as we all—even Grams and Sienna—hooted at her. “Yeah, yeah, let’s get back to the task at hand. So nothing fashion forward for the bride. No crumb catcher. Got it.”

“How about Tatiana’s? What do you think of a long dress?” Sandra asked.

I flipped through my stack and held up a 7. “I like this one more, but I’m not sure about long. Most of the pictures I’ve been pinning are short.”

“Long tends to work better for more formal weddings,” Mom said as her cell phone started to ring, piercing through the quiet store. “My gracious, my apologies. I thought I turned the ringer off.” She fumbled in her Prada for her phone, looking at the screen and frowning. “It’s the pageant. Again. Third call this morning. I’m sorry, let me just step outside quick and I’ll be back in a shake.” She rushed outside without even grabbing her coat, and I stared at her retreating back, frowning. For someone who was donating her time and efforts to the pageant cause, she sure was pretty invested in that event.

Shaking my head, I focused again at the task at hand. “Let’s keep it long then,” I said. “I like the idea of a more formal wedding, so if that will help with the pictures, let’s do it. And it’ll be September, so not like the girls will be overheated or anything.”

“Long it is,” Grams confirmed.

“Let’s move to Gabby’s,” Sandra suggested.

“I thought you didn’t want chiffon,” Milly said, remembering a conversation we had in the past about bridesmaid dresses.

“I didn’t think I did, but seeing it on her, it looks really good. I especially like how it’s tight in the middle. I think it would be really flattering on everyone.” I eyed the dress, liking it more with each passing second. I held up a 9. “This is a serious contender.”

Sandra cleared her throat. “And how about . . . Evie’s?”

Everyone was silent. “No,” I said simply.

Evie stomped a foot. “But, Emerson, this color is gorgeous! And not to diss any of these other top-notch dresses, but this one really is the best.” Her tone dripped in sarcasm.

I raised a brow. “No,” I said again. “I’m not even going to touch on how hideous that dress is—no offense, Sandra—or how inappropriate it would be for not only my wedding, but the majority of weddings that take place. Now go back, pick a dress that is actually suitable, and come back. Or leave. I honestly don’t care which.” I folded my arms and stared at her.

She wavered under my glare—I saw it. “Fine.” She flounced away and everyone stood frozen to their spots, not sure of what to say.

Sandra cleared her throat. “Well, um, a successful first round. Let’s head back into the dressing room and I’ll do one of your picks, Emerson, along with picks from the others in the group.” Sandra ushered my maids away and I leaned back in the chair, replacing all the score cards and gearing up for round two.

______________

NOTE: Thank you to CLP Blog Tours for the complimentary ebook of “UP TO I DO” in order to participate in this book tour (review).

UpToIDo_blog tour

CLP Tours has a giveaway going on now, so be sure to enter below:
HTML Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9d17395a195/?

http://www.clpblogtours.com/2015/09/book-blitz-up-to-i-do-by-samantha-march.html

About Samantha March

Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and celebrity related. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and has three published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

Keep In Touch with Samantha March:

https://instagram.com/marchbooksbeauty/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDnb5YAcjk7pnu25YckVL6g
https://www.facebook.com/samanthamarchauthor
https://twitter.com/BySamanthaMarch

Book Links

http://amzn.to/1QECZvH
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/up-to-i-do-samantha-march/1122377630?ean=2940150767386
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/up-to-i-do

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26007111-up-to-i-do

Author birthday spotlight: Happy Birthday to…

In honour of my birthday yesterday, I thought it would be fun to host a birthday spotlight on some fabulous authors. This birthday theme will be an occasional post that will fit in with fun dates in my life, favourite authors or books of mine, anniversary dates of author’s first publications, that sort of thing.

Incredibly fitting selections today, as there are TWO authors I have to focus on. We are all the same age and our birthdays are just a day apart.

happy-birthday-image-3

Please wish Nicola Kraus and Giuliana Rancic a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY Continue reading

Getting back into the groove….of blogging AND reading

Hi Readers!

It’s been a long while since I posted or blogged here, but life’s been busy. Basically, any time I had for reading got squashed by family and life demands. If I did have time to read, then I didn’t have time to blog. It’s a vicious cycle! I wish I could be one of those moms who used their evening hours to blog, but unfortunately I don’t have a “go to bed and sleep” kind of crew. It requires a lot more hand-holding, and this mama usually just ends up falling asleep. It’s sad.
But, anyway, I’m back and I have some fun things lined up. I AM participating in this month’s “New Release Giveaway Hop” which means – a GIVEAWAY!! – and that is happy news! Look for it around August 15th. In September, I’m participating in a blog tour for a chicklit novel called “Wake-Up Call” by Amy Avanzino, so that should be a lot of fun!

Mostly, I’ve been making my way through my to be read (TBR) pile. To give you an idea of how far behind I am in reading books, I’m currently reading “Bitter is the New Black” by Jen Lancaster (published in 2006). It’s probably just books on my own bookshelves that are far behind, as I do read new releases quite often. Jen Lancaster actually has a new book coming out this week (fiction), so be on the lookout if you like her style. The new release I’m reading now is “The Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll. Have you heard of that one? It’s drawn me in already, and I hope to get a review up soon. So, you can see that’s part of the problem, too – I read more than one book at once! Good idea, or bad idea?
In other book news, I’ve won a few including “Grey” by E.D. James and “Ru” by Kim Thuy. The latter was the 2015 Canada Reads winner – can those two books be any further apart in their style? I have to confess I haven’t read the ‘Grey’ series so I’ll probably be reading ‘Ru’ first. I also have review copies of two chicklit books that look like a lot of fun.

Nowadays, I read more children’s books than anything; my toddler loves all the dinosaur books it seems, and my boys go back and forth between Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Luckily, we are avid library borrowers, so there are plenty of other books (non-themed) that come into this house.
Magazines also play a part in my everyday reading time, as their quick, snappy articles are easy to absorb while on the go.

And that’s my update! Happy Reading everyone!

Be sure to comment below and let me know what you’re reading right now. How’s your TBR pile? Out of control or manageable? I’d love to hear all about it!

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins {book review}

GirlTrain

**NO SPOILERS**
This debut suspense/psychological thriller by Paula Hawkins created a ton of buzz before it was published. It was immediately compared to ‘Gone Girl’ (Gillian Flynn) and ‘Before I go to Sleep’ (S.J. Watson) and quickly became the must read of the year. Or so it seemed. Naturally, I wanted to know what the hype was all about and an ecopy was soon sent my way.* Having just recently read ‘Gone Girl’, that book was fresh enough in my mind that I couldn’t help but make comparisons. Obviously, these books aren’t exactly the same, so is it a fair assessment to like one over the other? I don’t know. However, I love this genre. It takes seemingly everyday people and places them in events where the truth is murky, and as a reader you’re not sure who to believe. Naturally, when you’re introduced to a “main” character, that’s whose story you want to believe. At least that’s what I tend to do.

The protagonist of “The Girl on the Train” is a commuter in London named Rachel. She is introduced to us as a lonely, down on her luck kind of a woman, who drinks too much and is still pining for her ex-husband, Tom. Along the way we learn that Rachel is still obsessed with Tom and has had a few run-ins with Tom and his new wife, Anna. This whole scenario doesn’t make for a happy person, so it’s no surprise that Rachel has become enamoured with a couple who she only knows by passing their house on the commuter train. The couple whom Rachel names “Jason and Jess” appear to be the ideal version of wedded bliss. As the story unfolds, “Jess” disappears and Rachel feels she has the answers about what happened, but they are clouded after a night of drinking. Soon, the mystery becomes an obsession.

After a bit of a struggle getting into this book (I don’t know why as I’ve read many British books in the past), I finally got to the point where I just couldn’t put it down! I can’t say that any of the characters were too likeable – I’m still not sure how I feel about Rachel. But, I appreciate her perseverance in learning the truth and finding a way to crawl back from her bleak life. I think she had to be this way in order for the story to unfold.

For me, this book was another one that had me thinking long after I put it down. It’s just so hard to believe – yet, I’m sure it happens – that people really act like this. There’s a lot of cheating, deception and malice to be found in psychological thrillers, and “The Girl” does not disappoint. Do I like that about this genre? Yes and no. Maybe it’s the whole point. It’s like a car accident you come across while driving – you can’t help but turn your head and look. I think most people want to know why others act so unseemly – what drives them to it? What’s their motivation? Are they truly bad people? So many questions, and with books like these, you don’t always get the answers. You’re left to come to conclusions yourself, good or bad.
It sometimes makes you want to scream. Or, you get yourself to the nearest book club, online forum, or wherever else people might be chatting about this book, and start talking! Share ideas! It’s *that* kind of book. So compelling, that I can’t help but recommend it.

Have you read “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins? How did you feel about it (without revealing any spoilers)? Did it compare, in your mind, to either “Gone Girl” or “Before I go to Sleep”?
And finally, what did you think of the conclusion? I will say now that I liked the conclusion more than I was expecting. It was interesting and *somewhat* satisfying. Not entirely, but I’ll take it.

I hope we see more books from Paula Hawkins, especially in this genre. I’m sure we will.

*Note: I looked at borrowing a copy from my local library system, but well over a 1000 holds had been placed. That’s the sign of an anticipated book!

Blogging it (or how to be a book blogger)

I’m on the hunt for a cuter blog. There’s nothing wrong with WordPress and I can still keep them as my host, but little did I know there were so many options out there! As I do my research, I see that there is a lot I still need to learn about creating, running and owning a blog. Wow, is there a lot! But, for now, I’m all about the appearance. I want it to be pleasing to both the readers and myself. I want my reviews to stand out and not seem like there’s just an endless stream of information. As a Librarian, I learned along the way that when you want to create or change something in your library, you generally research like-minded institutions: other libraries. My main sources of information are other book blogs to see how they’re created, how they stand out and get the readers. And guess what? I found a few that have tutorials or guides on how to create a book blog just for you – unique and appealing.

Here are some of my faves:

The Newbie’s Guide to Book Blogging, by BookNerd – great information mapped out in nine different parts. I’ve been reading through each part as they become relevant to me, keep coming back to different parts…a must-have resource if you’re new to the blogging scene with a focus specifically for book bloggers. BOOKMARK!

Blogging Tips, by the Mile Long Bookshelf – I like how the information presented here is slightly less about the design, and more on the blogging. That’s helpful to me. I’m not getting contradictory advice from different places, it’s relatable. There are helpful tips on avoiding scammers (like I would know otherwise?!?) and general blog tips. BOOKMARK!

My Favourite Things about Blogging, by Jenny in Neverland – a current narrative on how to enjoy blogging. Actually, this blogger published her post today and I discovered it while reading an earlier post on the same topic (book blogging tips). I wanted to make sure I included tips from bloggers who are still blogging. Great, useful tips with feedback from social media followers. BOOKMARK!

But, don’t let that stop you from sharing your tips with me. Are you a blogger, book blogger or a reader of blogs in general? What do you think makes a good blog? Be sure to comment below as I like to read feedback from my readers.