Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cover Reveal: Until It Fades

If you know me, you know that I am a HUGE K.A. Tucker fan. I've met her a few times over the last two years and she is so great! Because I absolutely adore her books, I'm thrilled to be a part of the cover reveal for her upcoming novel Until It Fades.

Here's what the book, which will publish on May 2, 2017, is about:
Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population three thousand outside of tourist season. And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling. Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time. But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust. Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

Gah. I cannot wait. 

I won't make you wait (or scroll) any longer. Here is the gorgeous cover of Tucker's Until It Fades!

You're hooked, aren't you? Good :)

Here are the all important pre-order links:

About K.A. Tucker 
K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.
She is the USA Today bestselling author of 14 books, including Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water, and her latest Adult Suspense novel, He Will Be My Ruin. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, and Publisher's Weekly.
K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.

Connect with Tucker

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook ** Novel Goodreads ** Author Goodreads ** YouTube ** Pinterest ** Instagram

Friday, December 2, 2016

Review: What Light

I haven't read Jay Asher's other novels (Thirteen Reasons Why, The Future of Us) so when I heard about What Light wanting to read it was based on the synopsis alone. In its favour? It's a contemporary YA (pretty much the only YA books I'll read these days) and it's set at Christmas! Plus, the cover is freaking adorable.

Here's the synopsis:
Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.
Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
I will read pretty much any Christmas book that even hints at a romance but most of the time (almost always, in fact) they're adult novels. Sometimes Christmas books hardly mention the holiday and sometimes it's all Christmas, all the time. What Light was a perfect balance and had just enough Christmas spirit. 

What helped a lot with the holiday spirit was that Sierra's parents own a tree farm and they sell their trees in California for a month or so before Christmas. They're such an integral part of Christmas for so many people and they absolutely love it. It sounds so cheesy, that they really look forward to seeing who their trees go home with every year, but I absolutely love that sentiment. The family isn't just trying to sell trees for a profit (in fact, Sierra thinks this Christmas might be the last one they are able to sell at their lot), they're trying to supply families and individuals with one important part of Christmas. 

I struggled a lot with Caleb's past and how I felt about it. I completely understood why all the parents in the story were concerned (is that a sign that I'm an Adult? Identifying with the parents in YA novels?) but I could also see why Sierra wasn't at all concerned. She felt that she could see the damage it had done to Caleb and how he was still trying to make up for it. But, once you met the other person involved in the event from the past (no spoilers here, folks!), you realize that it should be a non-issue at this point. Now, a few days after finishing the book, I think I've settled on feeling like Sierra's parents...concerned but with trust in Sierra to make sound decisions. 

What Light is one of those YA novels that adults can totally read and love (hello, I was thrilled with it) but there are those few moments that had me smiling and thinking, thank god I'm no longer a teenager. Heather, Sierra's BFF in California, is so distraught with her boyfriend situation (he's just so dull!) that she's determined to break up with him after the holidays. Grown women don't always know what they want in relationship but there's a certain adoreableness (yes, I'm making up words here) to this particular dilemma because Heather is still so naive. It was actually kind of a sweet reminder what it really was like to be a teenager in love. But no. I do not want to go back to being 17!

Jay Asher's latest novel is exactly the book to pick up this season if you love sweet and real Christmas stories. What Light is an easy read but it will make you feel a little bit of everything - happy, sad, nostalgic, romantic. The Christmas spirit is in every single one of these pages and I adored that. It's definitely a book for the Christmas and book lover in your life (and I won't tell if that's you!). 

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Penguin Random House Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review: Heat Wave

Karina Halle is, by far, one of my favourite contemporary authors. I'll read pretty much anything she writes and was thrilled when I heard what Halle's latest novel, Heat Wave, was all about. The good news was the story lived up to the synopsis!

Speaking of the synopsis, here's what this new novel is all about:
They say when life closes one door, another one opens.This door happens to lead to paradise.And a man I can never, ever have. Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica "Ronnie" Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it. The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:Logan Shephard.It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.What does matter is that he’s a grump.Kind of an asshole, too.And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else. But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating. There’s just one major catch. The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from. Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.
My absolute favourite thing about Halle's books is she features such real and flawed characters. Too many novels are all about pretty much perfect characters and that's kind of boring. Halle's characters have deep issues they need to work out over the course of the novel. 

Those flaws and issues make for a totally heart-wrenching read - especially in the case of Heat Wave. I don't usually enjoy feeling anxious (who does?) but the emotions I was feeling mirrored the characters' and that made my reading so much better. Halle does such an amazing job of really making you feel what her characters are feeling.

I've always wanted to go to Hawaii and this book did not help my wanderlust! :) Hawaii and Moonwater are almost other characters in this novel. I loved picturing where the characters were and it didn't matter that I've never been to Hawaii. Halle sets the stage so well so I really did feel like I was there with Veronica and Logan and the rest of the Moonwater crew. Speaking of the Moonwater crew...I adored the whole idea of making your own family. The group at the hotel were so great. They really were ohana.

I can't end a review about a Halle novel without discussing the romantic relationship. She's written steamy scenes before but, holy monkey, I don't think I've read anything that steamy from her before. *fans self* Of course, the relationship between Veronica and Logan is more than just sex and Halle is able to make the reader see what it is that makes the pair drawn to each other despite the massive obstacles in their way.

Overall, Heat Wave was a fantastic read. I'd definitely recommend it to every contemporary reader - especially those who love books set in travel destinations. Read it! Meanwhile, I'll be over here not-so-patiently waiting for Karina Halle's next novel!

*An eARC of this novel was provided by the author and publicist in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

On Blogging for Six Years

It still hasn't really hit me that today is my sixth blogiversary. Maybe because blogging is such a part of my life that it doesn't register that I've been doing it for so long. Or maybe it's because I haven't been a very good blogger over the past year. Or maybe it's because I tend to want to skip over November...usually it's crummy weather and there isn't much going on in Canada except snow prep and Remembrance Day. But no matter what the reason my anniversary snuck up on me actually is, the fact remains that on this day in 2010 I hit publish on my first Books Etc. post. And that is still so crazy to me.

The past year has been really great and really hard all at the same time. Last year's blogiversary post was scheduled well in advance because I was busy cruising on the ship my sister was working on. Coming back from that vacation set in motion a crazy few months (or year, actually...). I came home to a broken laptop and it took ages to get it sorted out. Being a blogger without a laptop is pretty much impossible. With the Christmas season came a third job as I worked at David's Tea throughout the holiday (I love the company which helped as I gradually began to remember how hellish working in retail at Christmas is) on top of my office job at a souvenir shop and a local library. 2016 brought two of those jobs to an end but I did get full time at the souvenir store in March. Finally! But summer is crazy busy where I work (Niagara Falls) so I felt like I didn't have any time to breathe let alone write. I also review books for a magazine which gets me a bit of extra money but also means about 12 books a year are dedicated to Niagara Life and not Books Etc. Add in visiting the gym as much as possible to make sure my back doesn't get messed up again, weddings, vacations, binge watching various TV shows (Gilmore Girls, baby!!!), and trying to spend time with friends and family, and, well, blogging has took a very sad back seat.

Are these excuses for not blogging nearly enough over the last year? A little bit. I get frustrated at myself almost every day for not taking the time to sit my ass down and write some reviews. I have been reading a lot - I've read 87 books in 2016 so far and read 110 in 2015. Doing cardio on a recumbent bike is super helpful for my back and reading time! It's just putting the time into writing about those books that seems to be hard. I don't know if it's because my brain is so tired by the time I get home from work and the gym that I just want to spend the three-ish hours I have left in my day doing nothing (along with eating and showering and looking after my rabbit). I haven't been able to find that groove of working full time and blogging, if I ever had it to begin with.

One of the things I've been struggling with when it comes to my lack of blogging is how it affects my relationships with publishers and authors. It's not good. I've finally managed to cut down on the number of books I request but that also means a few months could go by when I don't ask for anything from a certain publisher. Have I completely dropped off their radars? I used to have an amazing relationship with one publisher but over the last three years it's been harder and harder to keep a relationship going due to turnover there. And forget face to face events because I never get invited to them any more. (Indulge my "poor me" stories for a bit, ok?) I live just over an hour outside of Toronto. It's easy to get to but I have to really want to make the effort and spend the money to get there. A launch for a book I only kinda want to read or haven't had time to get to yet won't be something I make that effort for. A preview for the upcoming season? Hells yes, I'd go into the city for that. The really insecure part of me sometimes wonders if no one thinks my blog is any good and I suck as a blogger and I'm so rude for not reviewing books on time. (I get it publishers - trust me. I am so mad at myself.) But the other part wonders if it's as simple as they don't invite anyone outside of a certain geographical area. It can be kind of lonely being a book blogger in Niagara these days.

And all of these crazy thoughts don't even include what's happening with book blogging in general. There always seems to be some kind of drama unfolding on social media but it's usually involving the YA side of things which I'm not involved in (and which I sometimes think is why my blog isn't "bigger" than it is). I don't like getting into the drama online so I stay the hell out of it. There are almost always very valid points but they get lost in the knee-jerk reaction tweets that can sometimes make bloggers look petty and unintelligent. (Related: I'm hoping like hell I'm not coming off that way in this rambling post!)

I'm hoping today's blogiversary is the kick in the ass I need to finally get around to writing long overdue reviews and maybe, just maybe, completely overhauling the blog. Books will be the main thing of course (they're my most favourite thing and since I apparently can't find a paying job that allows me to play with them all day, I have to have the blog!) but I'm thinking of expanding a bit. Of course this means research into hosting and designs and budgeting but it's something I've wanted to do for awhile now. A refresh is in order, I think. (And tips are so very welcome!)

Thank you for sticking around until the end of this post and for reading my reviews over the years. I know I am incredibly lucky to be a book blogger and it is so much fun to read books and then flail about them (or, on the rare occasion I hate a book, warn people off it) here and on social media. I'm going to continue reading what I love even if they are genres that get slammed all the time (women's fiction, romance, chick lit, anything contemporary that's not YA) and I will really try to not be bothered that some other blog is getting more books/more invites/more anything because, hello, we're not in high school any more and blogging really shouldn't be a popularity contest. There are enough of us out there (and yes, maybe there are too many of us) that we should embrace what we really love because that will come out in our writing. Again, thank you. And happy reading!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review: Sunset in Central Park

I told you I'd have the review of Sunset in Central Park done in a more timely fashion! This is the second book in Sarah Morgan's From Manhattan with Love series (the first is Sleepless in Manhattan and you can read my review here) and it was just as delightful as the first. (So, pretty delightful!)

Here's the synopsis:
In the chaos of New York, true love can be hard to find, even when it's been right under your nose all along…
Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents' divorce, she's seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that's strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race…
Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he's known forever and doesn't want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset? 
As with most series like this - where each book follows a different couple - I was worried that I wouldn't like it as much as the first. Happily, I really enjoyed Frankie and Matt's story. It's been interesting that both couples have been very similar - in personality, work ethic, and so on. I have a hunch that Eva, the third friend who will get her Happily Ever After, will be matched with someone very different. Perhaps a certain favourite author of Frankie's? (PS I just read the synopsis of the third book...score one for me.)

As I mentioned in my review of Sleepless in Manhattan, I like that I get to see how the couple in the previous book was doing after their story wrapped up (ie once they realized they wanted to be together forever and got engaged). What I especially like about this series is it kind of ties into Morgan's Puffin Island series (I've only read and reviewed one story of the three but really liked it because, hello, small town romances are my favourite). I didn't notice it as much with book 1 but in this book, Matt and Frankie actually head back to Puffin Island, where they grew up, for a wedding. Whose wedding? The couple from First Time in Forever, the first book in the Puffin Island series. How fun is that?

Just like in Sleepless in Manhattan, there is a lot of history between the main characters, with one, Frankie, carrying a heck of a lot more baggage. I liked getting to know Frankie more as Matt did. I, like Matt, knew she had her issues but had no idea they ran so deep or affected her so much. I appreciated that Matt wasn't trying to "fix" her, he just wanted her to be her best self and to acknowledge and deal with her problems.

Even though I have the follow up to Sunset in Central Park, and the final book in the From Manhattan with Love series, I'm trying to hold off reading it. I want to have some time to really enjoy Frankie and Matt's story and also because Miracle on 5th Avenue takes place around the holidays. Must exercise great willpower! It's hard though because I really enjoy the characters Sarah Morgan has created and the big city world they live in. The romances are so sweet and real that I just cannot wait to read Eva's story. Romance lovers, take note of this series!

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: Sleepless in Manhattan

Sleepless in Manhattan is the first book in a new series from Sarah Morgan. This one actually published back on May 31 and even though I read it before the pub date, I just never wrote a review. Which was silly because I totally adored it! Since the second book in the From Manhattan with Love series is now out (Sunset in Central Park, released August 30 and also lovely - stay tuned for a slightly more prompt review), I figured I should get my book reviewing butt in gear!

Here's what the first book is all about:
Cool, calm and competent, events planner Paige Walker loves a challenge. After a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, she's now determined to prove herself—and where better to take the world by storm than in the exhilarating bustle of Manhattan? But when Paige is let go from the job she loves, she must face her biggest challenge of all—going it alone.
Except launching her own events company is nothing compared to hiding her outrageous crush on Jake Romano—her brother's best friend, New York's most in-demand date, and the only man to break her heart. When Jake offers Paige's fledgling company a big chance, their still-sizzling chemistry starts giving her sleepless nights. But can she convince the man who trusts no one to take a chance on forever? 
I've read a lot of series that focus on a group of friends and has each book follow a different male or female as they get paired up. Some may say it's an overdone trope but I quite enjoy it. It makes me feel like I'm a part of their group, like I'm one of their friends. I also like it because it allows me a new couple to learn about in each book but I also get the chance to see how the other couple(s) are doing after their story has sort of concluded.

I also really enjoy books about event planners. I actually took an event management post-grad course and have worked a few events at various jobs I've held over the years. So, it's something I understand and enjoy. I liked that Morgan had the girls make lemonade out of lemons and launch their own planning company after the company they worked for had cutbacks. Their niche was an interesting one. They called their business Urban Genie and essentially want to make their client's every wish come true, whether that's arranging for doggie daycare or throwing a bridal shower. Neat, eh?

But we have to get back to the romance! It wasn't hard to see who Paige was going to end up with but I wasn't sure how Morgan was going to get Paige and Jake together because there seemed to be so much in the way - family, history, their stubbornness. Their relationship is steamy, it's sweet, it's so perfectly them. I loved reading about Paige and Jake!

Sarah Morgan has come up with fun, smart, wonderful women who deserve their own Happily Ever Afters. Sleepless in Manhattan had me hooked on their stories and diving into the rest of the From Manhattan with Love series will be such a delight. If you're a fan of sweet and easy romances, you definitely want to check out this series!

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, September 30, 2016

Readalong: Stop in the Name of Pants! & Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?

It's well past time to share my thoughts on the final two Georgia Nicolson books but the tail end of summer was busy! (More about the challenge and why I'm rereading the series here at The Paper Trail Diary.) Stop in the Name of Pants! and Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? were typical Georgia madnosity that had me giggling and shaking my head. Sometimes at the same time.

The synopsis of Stop in the Name of Pants! is here on Goodreads and Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? is here.

This is a totally delayed and random observation that I'm finally remembering to share because it's in the synopsis of Pants: I need to start working the term "nip-libbling" into my conversations. Simply because it amuses me. Though I really have no idea how that's going to work out...

It's a bit of a sad state of affairs when I'm trying to write a review on two books and I don't have many thoughts. After eight other reviews of the same kind of book...what else is there to say? Georgia is still pretty awful to her parents and her friends. There are still questionable comments made about gays and lesbians. She's still incredibly self-absorbed (but what teenager isn't, I suppose). And she can't figure out that she's not meant to be with Robbie or Masimo because she's not true to herself with them like she is with Dave. Who, as it turns out, is a bit of an annoying dude. Which is a shame. I always loved Dave the Laugh.

The only real thing of note in Stop in the Name of Pants! happened with Angus. This will be a spoiler but it doesn't exactly spoil the overall story. If that makes sense. Angus is a loony toon cat (and I love it) and he, as Georgia's mum says, loved to chase cars because he "thought they were big mice on wheels." And those big mice got him. Yes, Angus gets hit by a car - but don't worry! The crazy cat survives! The scenes where Georgia is so worried about him are heartbreaking and is one reason I can't say I dislike Georgia. She's just a teenage girl but, deep down in her hormonal heart, she knows what's most important in life.

Everything gets wrapped up nicely in Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? There aren't any loose ends and all the characters are set on the paths that are best for them. Of course, I do have to say that it's, as Georgia would say, vair vair annoying that the book ended when it did. I needed more of that last scene so I could see how it all worked out! I also have to say I wish Georgia had come to her final realization about Dave and Masimo and who she "belonged" with differently. It's not like she really chose one over the other. It was sort of like one made a decision that prevented her from being with him so she decided, why not, and ended up with the other. I know that's the way of teenage girls (hell, I'm pretty sure I did something similar when I was a teen) but it's still a tad frustrating.

As always, there were funny moments throughout the books. Georgia has a way with words that is well and truly unique. She's kind of completely bonkers but she's usually pretty quick with a retort or joke. Thank goodness because if I didn't find some humour in these books I may not have been able to finish them.

So, there we have it, friends. Our Georgia Nicolson Readalong is complete. I've been lucky with a lot of the books I've reread in the last while because I still adore them. The Georgia books, though? Jessica and I agreed they may have been best left in the early 2000s when we were still teenagers. I am glad I finally got the chance to finish the series though and see the HEA (as "ever after" as things can be when you're a teenager!) I wanted for Georgia. I'm sure I haven't convinced anyone to pick up these books but what can ya do? Are there any books you read as a teen that you've reread and wondered what your younger self was thinking? I think Georgia and her Ace Gang were great for when I was a teen but these days there are better role models out there for young girls. Of course, not many of them talk about a mad cat name Angus and snogging! Thanks for following along with our readalong!