Thursday, March 29, 2012

March Chick Lit Challenge Read: The D Word

I am going to start off this review with a simple statement:

I love chick lit.

Of course, if you're a regular reader of Books Etc. you'll already know that. And, if you took a look at the title of this post you'll realize that I read The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke for a chick lit challenge (hosted by the amazing Chick Lit Plus).

One of the first sites I found when I first fell into this wonderful world of book blogs a few years ago was Chick Lit is not Dead. Many of you will know that site as well (and if you don't, get your butt over there and check it out!) Liz and Lisa have all sorts of good stuff on their site - author interviews, reviews, giveaways. Not only do they run a rockin' website but, as it turns out, they're pretty stellar authors themselves. I really enjoyed reading their novel The D Word.

Want to know what this great book's all about? Here's the synopsis:

Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead, they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man.
As a spiritual counselor, newly single mother Jordan Daniels makes her living predicting other people’s futures. If only she could foresee her own. A year after filing for divorce from her husband, Kevin, he seems to be the one moving on effortlessly, while Jordan still can't bring herself to fill his old underwear drawer. But it’s not until Jordan’s polar opposite, Elle steals Kevin’s heart, that Jordan becomes convinced she’ll be replaced both as a wife and a mother to her five-year-old son, Max.
When Elle met Kevin, the last thing she wanted was another relationship. Especially not with a man with baggage-she already had enough of her own. She left her fiancĂ©, Chase right before their wedding to avoid the imminent D word, something she’s convinced runs in her family like a disease. But a year later, she’s no closer to becoming less skeptical about marriage. And despite her attachment to Kevin and his son, when Elle sees just how far Jordan’s willing to go to win Kevin back, Elle starts to question if she should have left Chase in the first place.
In The D Word you’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure.
I was expecting a good book but I found myself a great one. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the whole divorce thing but it ended up being a non-issue. You know when there are seemingly huge roadblocks thrown in the way of characters and you can tell they're just put there by the author to have some conflict and they really don't work with the story? Well, that doesn't happen with this novel. Jordan and Kevin's divorce added all the conflict needed for the novel which meant that there weren't any crazy antics created solely to amp up the tension.

I was hoping for a particular conclusion for pretty much the entire novel but I ended up having an ah-ha moment at the same time as Jordan and Elle. I knew, as they did, that things were going to turn out differently. And I was more than ok with that, just as they were. I found that interesting because I kept thinking about the possibility of another outcome and I didn't think I was going to like it. Fenton and Steinke managed to create a conclusion that totally satisfied me and I applaud them for that.

The multiple perspectives was a smart idea for this book. I loved being able to get into the minds of the two women. I also liked that every once and awhile we got an inside look at some of the other characters as well - if I remember correctly, that included Elle's mom, and Kevin, to name two. This was helpful because it allowed me to be unbiased and get both sides of the story. All of this helped me love Elle and Jordan even more. I was really invested in both of their lives and stories and loving a character is almost always necessary for me to love a novel.

I really liked reading The D Word and am really excited to get to the other novel written by these lovely ladies, I'll Have Who She's Having. It would be a safe bet to expect a review of that one later on this year for the challenge! Take note, fellow chick lit lovers. You should definitely add this book to your to be read list!

Happy reading :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Just Finished: I've Got Your Number

I'm a huge chick lit fan so it's no surprise that I jump on Sophie Kinsella's novels as soon as they're released. I was lucky enough to snag a copy of I've Got Your Number from NetGalley (thanks Random House!) and I devoured it over a weekend. Of course I'm a little behind the times as that weekend was over a month ago and since then I have gone on a trip and moved and started a new job. Oops. Either way, I enjoyed this book and think my fellow chick lit lovers will like it too.

Here's the synopsis of Kinsella's latest novel:

I've lost it. The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It's been in Magnus's family for three generations. And now, the very same day his parents are coming, I've lost it. The very same day. Do not hyperventilate Poppy. Stay positive!! 
Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry the ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her 'happy ever after' begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring but in the panic that followed, she has now lost her phone. As she paces shakily round the hotel foyer she spots an abandoned phone in a bin. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect! 
Well, perfect except the phone's owner, businessman Sam Roxton doesn't agree. He wants his phone back and doesn't appreciate Poppy reading all his messages and wading into his personal life. 
What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other's lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents... she soon realises that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

I've read all of Sophie Kinsella's novels and even a couple of her Madeline Wickham novels as well - even though I don't like those ones as much, weird. I always read her newest novels as soon as I possibly can's the kicker...I always find her protagonists mildly irritating. But I still keep going back for more! There's something about Kinsella's main characters that just sometimes bug me. I usually find that her characters lack common sense and it takes awhile for them to work through their issues, but they always do.   I think that's why I always go back to Kinsella because because things always work out in the end. Don't know what that says about me or Kinsella, but there you have it. Her characters annoy me but they're still loveable enough for me to enjoyt her books. Figure that one out :)

I found that this novel had an different sort of plot to it. Yes, there was the typical romance and the issues that come along with that (this one was focused on having to choose between two very different men) but the other part of the story ended up focusing on a corporate scandal that Poppy ends up helping to solve. Don't get me wrong, it was pretty interesting and fun to see how the characters would sort through the PR nightmare, but for some reason it came as a surprise because it was in a Kinsella novel. I can't exactly explain it and I feel kind of bad as I feel like I'm stereotyping her. I do think she may be trying to get into slightly different kinds of stories, remember Twenties Girl? I found that one to be quite different than her previous novels. Not bad, just different.

I didn't loooove I've Got Your Number (I could tell because I didn't immediately tell my mom she needed to put her name on the reserve list at the library and that's usually what I do when I read a book that I think needs to be read by the rest of the world) and it's not my favourite Sophie Kinsella novel (that honour goes to Remember Me?). However, I know chick lit lovers will want to read it and I think they should. I don't think they'll be disappointed and I think most will end up really loving this one. It's a happily ever after story which is why I will continue to go back to Sophie Kinsella, time and time again.

Happy reading! :)

Buy from or

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Excerpt: Children of the Gods

Good news everyone! I finally have internet at home so you'll be hearing from me a little more regularly - yay! Nothing like surgery, a vacation, a move, starting a new job, and over a week without internet (during which I was busy unpacking and trying not to lose my mind) all within a couple of months. Helping me get back into the swing of things is hosting a stop on the CLP Blog Tour for Monica Millard's novel Children of the Gods. If you think the following excerpt sounds interesting, make sure you  keep checking the reviews on the CLP site to see what others thought of the book.

Happy reading! :)

A hush fell over the crowd, but that was not what jarred me back into the present. I felt it when the Halorans stepped from their glowing pedestal onto our soil. It was like the earth was warning me, sending a current of energy up through my feet. It had never happened before. 
I wiped this and all other thoughts from my mind. I imagined dried corn, sterile fields, and barren deserts. Then I tried to become one; unwelcoming and inhospitable as I could be. 
The Halorans had come to us hundreds of years before, when our City was just a village. They promised life free of hunger and poverty to a starving people. In exchange, the offering of a few healthy teens every twenty or thirty years, so a God might inhabit and co-exist inside their body, did not seem such a high price. Back then, they thought starvation was the worst thing anyone ever had to endure. 
In the years before the first Choosing, under the protection and care of the Halorans, our meager village blossomed into a thriving city, their city. It became known to all as The City of the Gods, and anyone who lived within came to be known as The Children of the Gods. 
After the first Choosing, the Halorans closed our borders. Generations later, we are captives of a choice we ourselves did not get to make. 
I am not sure who I was more angry with, our elders for bartering their children’s and our lives so easily or the Halorans themselves. 
Quickly, I forced my mind to return to the images of the desert and my skin being covered over by the hostile winds of my own private sand storm. No one would choose such an unfavorable host body. I hoped.
I looked at my bare toes as they approached. After a long moment, I could feel the tension of every held breath. Not even the wind seemed to be blowing. I looked up to see that the Halorans were stopped in front of my row, the Sari looking expectant. A smile teased the corners of his lips as he made eye contact. In anyone else, his actions might seem flirtatious. But he was not anyone else. 
With his guards not standing next to him, I was struck by just how tall this Sari really was. His young features belied his extensive years. If I did not know better, I could believe he belonged in line next to Niko. The innocence associated with their perpetually youthful appearance may also have been what led to our ancestor’s easy trust of them. When they began to move again, I did not let the breath I was holding free. I was not safe. In fact, I was probably in more danger than before. The Halorans thrived on the dramatic. They also chose each of their mates new hosts. If the Sari was choosing, and it appeared he was, then it was no longer Niko I had to worry about. 
My head began to swim. It would do me no good to faint. Fainting would not stop them if I was Chosen. It had happened before. The guard just collected the girl, tossed her over his shoulder and carried her to the pedestal. My breath was like the wind, dancing in the hair of the girl before me as I exhaled. Oddly, her swirling golden hair sounded like wind chimes. It took me a moment to realize the chimes I was hearing were from the decision bell. I knew before I looked up. 
A single finger pointed in my direction. The guard stood by the girl in front of me. The Sari shook his head and the guard brushed her aside. The Sari’s white teeth gleamed in the sunlight as a smile spread across his horrid face. “This one?” The guard gestured at me. 
He nodded. 
The Luna, his mate, looked almost sympathetic. It could not be. She must be too sick to smile. They felt no sympathy for the lives they stole. If anything, the Choosing was high entertainment for them. 
Several guards came close, surrounding me. I bowed my head, showing my acceptance. The Sari turned and walked away. The guards all tensed. The Halorans no longer turned their backs on us after choosing. Not since a girl plunged a dagger in the back of her Sari. 
We all knew they were not really gods as they claimed. In the beginning, everyone was eager to be Chosen. They were told, by allowing a god to inhabit their body, they would also become gods.  After the first generation of Chosen came back to choose, the truth was obvious. But it was not until a generation ago, when a girl, Lennie, stabbed the Sari who chose her, that we knew they could die. 
The guards took a step forward. I held my hands out to show I did not have any weapons. I was searched thoroughly before entering the courtyard, but if a person wanted it enough, they could find a way to bring a weapon in. The guards relaxed, but not by much. I took a step forward, my eyes searched for Niko as I turned to make the walk. He caught my eye and raised his hand like he was reaching out for me. Mercifully, those around him restrained him. It was an unfair thing I had done to him.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Author Post: Kathleen Kole

Welcome to another stop on the CLP blog tour for Kathleen Kole's novel Favorable Conditions. I reviewed it earlier in the week and absolutely loved it (you can check out the review here).

Kathleen was kind enough to write a post for Books Etc. that talks a little bit about what made her decide to finally start focusing on her writing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The catalyst to my taking the plunge and paddling toward becoming a published author.

I believe the catalyst that prompted me to finally take the plunge and give this writer/author path a “go” was a simple one:  Timing.  And by that I mean, I’d come to a point in my life where circumstances had lined up in a manner that allowed for the time and attention I would have to give to this journey. 

What were those circumstances?  First, and most importantly, my young family was no longer quite so young.  As a stay-at-home Mom, that was a big deal.  I actually had a solid pocket of my day where I could focus upon my novel/s and not feel I was taking time and attention away from where it was more needed.  Again, a big deal. 

And, second, I believe within that sweet spot of timing I hit a “now or never” moment.  I knew I had the dream to create my own novels and it was time to find out if I could.  I felt I’d had enough life and learning under my belt to have something to say and it was time to find out if the dream was one worth pursuing...  Or time to move on and discover other goals and dreams. 

I’m grateful every day that I gave it a “go” and found out.  Now I’m just traveling the path and enjoying the moments; present minded and present focused. 
A quick thank you, Kaley, for inviting me to add a guest post to your blog.  As well, a smile of gratitude for giving of your time to my latest book/blog tour.  Cheers!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour: Favorable Conditions

I'm getting right back into the swing of things and have a great book to review for you all. Since I've read  Kathleen Kole's  first two novels (Breaking Even reviewed here and Dollars to Donuts reviewed here) I eagerly signed up for the Chick Lit Plus organized blog tour for Kole's latest - Favorable Conditions. I enjoyed her other books but I LOVED this one and I think you will too!

Here's what the novel is all about, courtesy of Goodreads:

Can you imagine being forty-five, your last child has moved on to college and the time is ripe for you to blaze a new trail into your future? Pat Keegan can. Well, except for the tiny detail that all her preconceived notions about how that future was going to shape up are completely out the window.  
Join Pat as she jumps feet first back into the world outside her door, takes on a new business venture, is pursued by a much younger man and has to muddle her way through more emotions that she knew she had - all to finally attain her goal of rediscovering who she is and what she wants from the next phase of her life.
I was actually a little surprised that I ended up loving this novel of Kole's instead of her others. That may sound a little strange but bear with me as I try to explain... Since I'm a twenty-something year old I tend to relate more to characters who are not yet married and don't have kids. That's not to say that I don't like reading about women who are married with older children, because I do, it's just that it's rare for me to love those books and characters. Can you follow that? My point is that I loved reading about Pat even though she's at a totally different stage in her life than I am. 

We meet Pat at a pretty low point in her life. She's newly divorced, her beloved dog passed away not long after the separation, and she now has a very empty nest. We get just enough of a taste of the depressing nature of Pat's situation before Kole smartly and quickly starts to turn things around. A chance encounter with a real estate board results in a new business venture (side note: this is the second book I've in recent months that has a main character who owns a the universe trying to tell me something or do I just want to think that it's telling me something...? :) hehe) and things start to go well from there. Kole even seemed to know precisely the right moment to introduce Ian, the love interest. Their meeting and first few encounters are sweet, funny, and darn near perfect. I loved reading about their romance and learning more about their relationship, bumps and all.

To those of you who have read Kole's other novels - did you catch the fact that some of the characters from those books made cameos? I absolutely loved that. It wasn't too obvious and it adds a little bit of fun for those people who have read Breaking Even and Dollars to Donuts

This book had me laughing out loud at numerous parts. One memorable scene involved Pat's college freshman daughter coming home unannounced and finding Pat and Ian in a...well...compromising position. I burst out laughing as I read this part and could not stop. After the giggles subsided I started feeling so bad for all parties - can you imagine that happening to you? Eek. Still, it made for one hilarious scene.

Pat has an amazing support system of friends who are there for her every step of the way. They are not only great friends to her but they are excellent supporting characters for the novel. Gerry and Travis provide tons of comic relief and Pat's best friend Melanie is just amazing. She's the best friend every girl wants - fiercely loyal, lots of fun, and willing to do almost anything to make sure her friend is happy (including buying the world's most adorable kitten). I would love to be part of their group...except for the small issue that I'm about 20 years younger than most of them... :)

Overall, I loved Favorable Conditions. So much so, that I need to look into purchasing a hard copy (I read this on on my Kobo) for my mom because I think she'll love it too. For you readers out there who are like me and in your 20s and think you might not enjoy this one because you won't relate to the main character - give this book a shot. Trust me. You will not be disappointed. 

Happy reading :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Have you been wondering where I've been?

So you may have noticed that I've been MIA for the last little while. This is where I've been...

And we (my sister and I) didn't just get to go on a cruise to the Bahamas, we also went to Universal Studios...


You may notice that I used the phrase "get to go." This awesome trip - a 4 day cruise and 3 days at Universal - was a gift from our equally awesome grandmother. We know, we know - we're totally spoiled and we're totally appreciative. My sister's been thinking that she'd like to work on a cruise ship and since we're both Harry Potter nerds my grandma decided to combine the two and surprise us with a trip.

Since I've been absent from this blog I decided I owed you an explanation and a few photos! They might make you jealous but I still wanted to share them with the world :) (or at least my few loyal followers, hehe)

Not only was this the first cruise my sister had been on, this was actually the first time we had ever been out of Canada. Needless to say, we were pretty excited. 

After a bit of a bumpy start on the ship, we had a great time on the cruise. Above you'll see a picture of us after our morning of playing with dolphins, a shot of the Atlantis Resort (my sister's wanted to go for the past 10 years or so, ever since we saw Holiday in the Sun which features none other than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen), the signature whale tail of Carnival cruise line (we were on the Sensation) and the water slides on-board, and me enjoying my ridiculously overpriced drink (it was good but stupid expensive so it was my only drink I had on the ship. Sigh.) 

Once the cruise was finished we made our way to Universal Studios. Since we're huge Harry Potter fans we were especially excited for the Wizarding World area and rides. That part of the park was just beyond awesome - the shop fronts, the train, the Butterbeer (yum!). Just...amazing.

I found one of my giraffe friends by one of the stores in City Walk (and I was probably a little too excited...), the flying Ford Anglia from the HP books, my sister was very excited to get a picture with Curious George, and this is me with two of the dancers from the luau we went to at our hotel on our last night.

Overall, we had an amazing time. Not only was it a great trip but it got us out of Canada where our area got a dumping of snow and looked a little like this...

(Amusing side note...I checked out for a photo from the week I was away. This pic was actually taken by the mom of one of my best friends. What are the chances??)

Pretty? Yes. Cold? Also yes.

I'd much rather be back here...

Thanks for checking out my vacation recap post! I'm going to try to be better with my posts and reviews but I'm actually moving and starting a new job this week, so please bear with me if I disappear again. I promise to come back! :)