Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourites of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

I love looking back at my year of reading. I'm lucky to have been able to read a lot of books (98 at the time of this post) and it's honestly really hard to keep track of them! So, these recap/best of posts are great to remind me of all the fabulous (and not so fabulous) books I read over the year. Thanks to my handy "read in 2014" list on Goodreads, here are my ten favourite books from the past year! Note: I was completely shocked that only two chick lit books (by the same author) made it on this list! I wonder if it's because I tried to branch out more this year? Because you'll also note quite a few YA books on this list! You'll also note that I've cheated a bit...there are two authors who have two books on my favourite list so I combined them! What were some of your favourites this year? Links lead to my review or Goodreads.

The Rule of Thirds - Chantel Guertin
Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins

The Orenda - Joseph Boyden

Burying Water and One Tiny Lie - K.A. Tucker
Hard Hats and Doormats - Laura Chapman
The Heiresses - Sara Shepard

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 New-To-Me Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

It's been awhile since I've done a TTT (it's been awhile since I've blogged, really. Damn new job getting in the way of, well, everything.) but I love end of year wrap ups and knew I had to set aside some time to figure out which authors were new to me over this past year. It doesn't mean that these are debut authors. These are (eleven) authors I hadn't read before this year. Did you discover any new authors in 2014?

Joseph Boyden: Can Lit master. I must read more of his books.

Gemma Burgess: I really like her series about 20-somethings living in Brooklyn and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Jenny Han: I hadn't read Han before this year and I really don't know why. I LOVED To All the Boys I've Loved Before.

K.A. Tucker: She is probably my favourite New Adult author - and she's Canadian!

Laura Chapman: I'm so proud of blogger-turned-author Laura. Her debut novel was amazing.

Marissa Stapley: Another Canadian makes the list! Mating for Life is more serious than I tend to read but it's amazing and Marissa is a total sweetheart.

Morgan Matson: Another YA author I had been meaning to read for forever. Since You've Been Gone was a lot of fun.

Sarah Jio: I can't believe this was my first Jio book. I cannot wait to read her latest, The Look of Love.

Sara Shepard: I don't really have any interest in Pretty Little Liars but The Heiresses intrigued me and I was hooked from the first page.

Tahereh Mafi: I blew through Mafi's Shatter Me series and I'm really glad I read them!

Terry Fallis: While No Relation wasn't my favourite book, I still really want to read the rest of Fallis' novels.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: The Reluctant Elf

I love Michele Gorman so I was so excited to have the chance to review a copy of her new holiday novella, The Reluctant Elf. It didn't quite live up to my (high) expectations but it's still a delightful read.

Here's the synopsis:
Meet Britain's Worst Innkeeper
Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.
When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.
But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas?
The thing I didn't love was that the story seemed so outlandish. I couldn't understand why Aunt Kate would agree to have a reviewer stay when the B&B was in such disarray (that was an unintentional, and not very good, rhyme!). I think if the place had only been slightly messy and/or run down I could have accepted it but that wasn't the case. 

Putting that negative out of mind (I wish it had been easier to do), made the rest of the story enjoyable. I loved Lottie's daughter (I think she could be described as precocious!) and reading about their little family. Single moms (and dads) have it tough and I liked that Gorman made sure to show both sides of that life. It's hard to raise a child on your own but the relationship between parent and child can sometimes be extra special because it's just the two of them.

And, of course, I loved the love story. Was it predictable? Absolutely. But that didn't make it any less fun to read about. Reading as Lottie and Danny learned more about each other was so great. They become strangers to friends to something more. The progression is quick but it totally made sense. It was just so sweet!

Finally - I'm in love with the cover. There's just something about it that would make me pick it up if I saw it in the store. I think it's the unique colours and that pop of red! What do you think of it?

If you like humorous and sweet stories, pick up The Reluctant Elf by Michelle Gorman. It's a great novella to ease yourself into Christmas reading since it's not over the top Christmassy but it still embraces the spirit of the holiday.

Happy reading!

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Notting Hill Press, in exchange for review consideration.*

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Very Bookish Cyber Monday Sale

Looking for great deals on some amazing books this Cyber Monday? You're in luck! Below you'll find links to titles that are priced at 99 cents or lower - get them quick before the sale ends! From chick lit to women's fiction to romance and more, we have something to keep everyone happy for this holiday! To keep this from being one mammoth post, I've tweaked things a little bit. The titles will link to the Amazon page and "synopsis" will link to the book's Goodreads page. You should also know that I've read (and enjoyed) half of the titles listed here (more if you include the bundled books!) and I plan on reading a few more! You'll find a special tweet at the end of each description - please help us spread the word about these amazing deals.

Chick Lit

Pie Girls – Lauren Clark
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: PIE GIRLS by @LaurenClark_Bks is just #99cents! #chicklit for your ereader! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/1omATqP

Dancing Naked in Dixie- Lauren Clark
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: #CyberMondayReads - get DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE by @LaurenClark_Bks for only #99cents! #chicklit #booksale http://amzn.to/10dXICb

The Dr Pepper Prophecies – Jennifer Gilby Roberts
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: #ChickLit Sale! THE DR. PEPPER PROPHECIES by @GilbyRoberts is only #99cents! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/ZLDdvT

French Twist – Glynis Astie
Original Price: $.99 Sale Price: FREE
Tweet: Who doesn't love FREE #chicklit? Grab your copy of FRENCH TWIST by @GlynisAstie now! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/10dZnaM

French Toast – Glynis Astie
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: Get #chicklit for just #99cents! FRENCH TOAST by @GlynisAstie #booksale http://amzn.to/1yS3vLZ

In Need of Therapy – Tracie Banister
Original Price: $1.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: IN NEED OF THERAPY by @traciebanister is just #99cents for #CyberMondayReads! Get #chicklit for your eReader! http://amzn.to/1DsNPi0

Limoncello Yellow – Traci Andrighetti
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: LIMONCELLO YELLOW by @TAndrighetti is just #99cents for a limited time! #CyberMondayReads #chicklit http://amzn.to/1zhY8Xo

Prosecco Pink – Traci Andrighetti
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: Get #chicklit for just #99cents when you grab PROSECCO PINK by @TAndrighetti during #CyberMondayReads! http://amzn.to/14djjw6

Breaking the Rules – Cat Lavoie
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: BREAKING THE RULES by @Catenabi is just #99cents for #CyberMondayReads - fun #chicklit! #booksale http://amzn.to/1umGCxm

Zoey & The Moment of Zen – Cat Lavoie
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99 A
Tweet: Grab ZOEY & THE MOMENT OF ZEN by @Catenabi for only #99cents during #CyberMondayReads! #chicklit http://amzn.to/1EBDcKl

When Girlfriends Chase Dreams – Savannah Page
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: FREE
Tweet: FREE #chicklit from @Savannah_Page when you grab WHEN GIRLFRIENDS CHASE DREAMS! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/1tAt3dC

When Girlfriends Collection, Books 1-3- Savannah Page
Original Price: $7.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: Get 3 titles from the WHEN GIRLFRIENDS series from @Savannah_Page for only #99cents! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/1s92x6C

Women’s Fiction

Toronto Collection Volume 1 – Heather Wardell
Original Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: Get 4 titles from @HeatherWardell for only #99cents during #CyberMondayReads! http://amzn.to/1r1aY3g

Toronto Collection Volume 2 – Heather Wardell
Original Price: $9.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: Four titles for one low price of #99cents from @HeatherWardell! #booksale http://amzn.to/1t2uVvs

Redesigning Rose – Lydia Laceby
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $0.99
Tweet: REDESIGNING ROSE by @lydialaceby is only #99cents for #CyberMondayReads! #womensfiction http://amzn.to/ZLDwXi

The Holdout- Laurel Osterkamp
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: Get your copy of THE HOLDOUT by @LaurelOsterkamp for only #99cents! #CyberMondayReads #womensfiction http://amzn.to/1sGHNWl

The Next Breath – Laurel Osterkamp
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: THE NEXT BREATH by @LaurelOsterkamp is only #99cents! #booksale http://amzn.to/1FrbFfP

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda – Tara Lee Reed
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: Interactive fiction for only #99cents! Get COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA by @DoorflowerCo! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/1vCDaie

A Questionable Friendship – Samantha March
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: A QUESTIONABLE FRIENDSHIP by @SamanthaMarch23 - only #99cents during #CyberMondayReads! #booksale http://amzn.to/10W3WGk

Something Yellow – Laura Templeton
Original Price: $3.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: SOMETHING YELLOW by @Laura1264 is only #99cents for #CyberMondayReads! #womensfiction http://amzn.to/1pYp70V

Romance & New Adult

The Right Design – Isabella Louise Anderson
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: Get THE RIGHT DESIGN by @ILA121209 for only #99cents for your eReader! http://amzn.to/1wjP26U

Laurel Heights – Denise Moncrief
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: LAUREL HEIGHTS by @dmoncrief0131 is on #sale for #99cents during #CyberMondayReads! http://amzn.to/1CLjLMe

Chez Stinky – Susan C Daffron
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: Get your discounted copy of CHEZ STINKY by @susandaffron for #99cents! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/1sQOh4P

Hard Hats and Doormats – Laura Chapman
Original Price: $2.99 Sale Price: $.99
Tweet: HARD HATS AND DOORMATS by @lmchap is only #99cents during #CyberMondayReads! #newadult http://amzn.to/1GPd5l9

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Blitz: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Welcome to the book blitz for The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Marie Landry. This book blitz is hosted by Jessica Sankiewicz and Marie Landry. I'm a sucker for Christmassy books so I was definitely getting involved with this blitz!

Here's what the book is all about:
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, right? At least that’s what twenty­year­old Ginny Bailey’s grandmother always told her, and Ginny believed it until Grama died. She even put on a brave face the following two Christmases, carrying on Grama’s traditions and decorating her house and cafĂ© with Grama’s favorite decorations.
But Ginny can’t pretend any longer. When she finds out she’s going to be alone for the holidays this year, her Christmas spirit goes out the window, along with her luck. Everything that can go wrong does, and Ginny just wants to spend the holidays hiding under the covers...until Dean Riley comes back into her life. With a shared past, old feelings begin to resurface almost immediately, and Ginny thinks Dean might just be the Christmas miracle she’s been waiting for to help her remember why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
Here's a little teaser for you, too:

Buy The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for just 99 cents

The final piece of exciting  news...there's a giveaway happening!
From Jessica: An amazing prize pack of goodies, including an adorable snowman mug, Kahlua­flavoured coffee, a chocolate cookie bar, and mini bookmarks from Marie’s Angel Island series ~ open US/CAN

From Marie: Don’t worry international friends, you’re not being left out! 1 international entrant will win a $5 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Author Interview: Petit Four Collection

Yesterday I shared some info on the newly published short story collection Petit Four: Four Stories, Frosted with Love. I'm happy to have been a part of the Chick Lit Plus blog tour blitz because it gave me the chance to ask the awesome authors a few questions. I hope you enjoy the answers as much as I do!

Books Etc: What is your favourite occasion for cake? Other than days ending in y!
Sue Watson: When I write the first sentence of my new novel, I have to stop for tea and cake… then again when I finish a chapter, or a large paragraph.  Oh, and if I make it through a whole day’s dieting I always reward myself with a cake. I mean what’s a girl meant to do? Starve? And it’s so lovely to get to the end of a hard day’s writing and celebrate with a delicious slice of cake and a cup of hot chocolate! Mmm I suppose my answer is – I celebrate every day with cake! And why not?
Joel Zlotnik: Birthdays ... because not only is there cake, but also wishes and presents, too!
Cindy Arora: I love having a cake with a friend, just for those moments when we are catching up after a long week! Much like Olivia in my short story "Cake Therapy", I really do think that sitting down with a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and a friend is one of the best occasions to really connect with someone --while also getting to eat your favorite piece of cake.
Lucie Simone: I love having cake at family gatherings. I don’t get to see my family very often as they live on the other side of the country, but when we get together (usually for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas), a banquet table full of desserts is a must! And hopefully there is a chocolate cake in there somewhere!

BE: What do you like about writing short stories?
SW: I don’t write many short stories, I’m usually too busy with novels, but I so enjoyed writing my story for Petit Four.  I found the short story so much more manageable than a huge novel and could see the light at the end of the tunnel far sooner. And as it was about two of my favorite subjects: love and cake, it was a pleasure.  To write a novel you have to remember what has gone before, and it can be time consuming going back over the parts you’ve already written and trying to keep everyone in character. A novel can be an unwieldy thing to control and keep track of, but a short story is so much more manageable.  That said, the short story is an art form all of its own, and one has to be succinct and make every word count. I see a novel as a lovely big chocolate fudge cake to work my way steadily through, whereas a short story is like a delicious cupcake, and each mouthful has meaning!
JZ: I've always loved reading short stories because of the way you get quickly drawn into a world and its characters, and then you get to follow it to its conclusion relatively fast. I rarely get the chance to read for hours and hours and finish a novel in one or two sittings. So it's great to be able to invest a short period of time with a story and get rewarded with seeing it through to the end. I think the same thing is true when it comes to writing short stories. 
CA: I like that you have to find the heart of your story right away. You have less time and space to create a character that the reader will know, so every sentence counts and every moment matters.
LS: I like writing short stories because it allows me to explore different subject matters and even genres before launching into a full length novel. In fact, “Aprez Vous” marks my first foray into Women’s Fiction (as opposed to Chick Lit). It was fun, but challenging to find the right voice for that particular story.

BE: Where do you find your inspiration?
SW: I find my inspiration from daily life. I write from home, and I spend much of the day alone at my desk so rely on friends and family who are always a great inspiration.  We laugh a lot, and I often find myself jotting down lines they say and situations we find ourselves in, and then they turn up in one of my books. My recent Christmas novel, Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake, was inspired by two friends of mine who are both sisters and celebrate Christmas in very different ways. I also take inspiration from TV. I LOVE reality shows, and I think the wannabe actress in me likes to get inside people’s skins and imagine other, very different lives.
JZ: I'm constantly finding inspiration from the people and experiences I encounter in my life. I've also always been someone who has a natural curiosity and very active imagination and if you mix that in with my love and talent for daydreaming, I have no problem coming up with ideas. The bigger issue for me is finding the time and having the discipline to follow through on them. 
CA: I find my inspiration from life. My life, reading articles in magazines, talking to friends or overhearing a conversation somewhere.  It's endless!
LS: I daydream all the time. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been filling the quiet moments of my days with a very vivid imagination. While brushing my teeth, cooking dinner, or folding laundry, you can bet my mind is busy dreaming up fictional storylines and new characters to explore. But sometimes I’m inspired by my own life and the people who populate it. My first novel, Hollywood Ending, was very much taken from my own experiences living in Los Angeles. My second novel, Picture Perfect, however, originated solely in my imagination.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spotlight: Petit Four

Welcome to my stop on the Petit Four blog tour! This blitz is being hosted by Chick Lit Plus and I'm so excited to share a little bit about this awesome new short story collection.

Petit Four: Four Stories, Frosted with Love was published earlier this month by Simon and Fig. The collection, edited by Lucie Simone, features stories by Cindy Arora, Sue Watson, Joel Zlotnik, and Simone herself.

Here's the description of the anthology:
Cake is often a major part of life’s celebrations, both big and small. From birthdays to wedding days, cake, in all its delectable concoctions, marks joyous occasions with a sweetness that can’t be beat. But even better is the love that is shared when two people connect over a sweet confection. Maybe it’s a cute new guy wreaking havoc on a broken heart, or a beautiful woman testing the limits of love, or an old beau stirring up long lost desires. Whatever the circumstances, cake can always be relied upon to save the day when it comes to affairs of the heart. In this collection of short stories, cake is the delicious center around which each tale unfolds and romance blooms.When single mom and journalist, Olivia, sets out to find romance in Cindy Arora’s “Cake Therapy,” she gets a little help from her friends and more than a few slices of cake to coax her off the couch and into the arms of a truly great love. Lucie Simone’s “Aprez Vous” finds success-driven Tara in Paris reminiscing of her long lost love, Jean Marc, and her niece bound and determined to reunite them. In “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson, cake enthusiast, Milly, meets her match in the kitchen, and other places, when new owners take over the tea rooms where she works and her talents and her heart are put to the test. And Scott, mayor of a small seaside community, flirts with political suicide in Joel Zlotnik’s “Her Charms” when he falls for new-in-town Nicole, an entrepreneur with a passion for cupcakes, and whose latest venture proves a little too sexy for the sleepy beach town.
From San Francisco to Paris, from small towns to tea rooms, this anthology tempts readers with humor, style, romance, and the powerful aphrodisiac that is cake. Petit Four is four stories, frosted with love. 
Like I said, I am so crazy excited to read this collection. I don't have a review date set for it yet but I do have a Q&A with the authors coming up tomorrow!