Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Taking it Off the Shelf: Already Home

Another month, another Taking It Off...the Shelf post! I started this feature because I have a TON of books on my bookshelves that have been neglected over the past few years. You can check out my description post here. This month I tacked Already Home by Susan Mallery. I've had this book on my shelf pretty much since the day it was released in March 2011. I was still a new blogger at that point and saw that one of the first bloggers I followed had read and liked it. I ordered it, received it, placed it on my shelf, moved it to a new city, and here I am, over two years later, finally reading it.

Here's the synopsis:
After nearly a decade as a sous-chef in a trendy eatery, Jenna is desperate for a change. She's supported her ex-husband's dreams for so long that she can't even remember her own. Until she sees a for-lease sign near her parents' home and envisions her very own cooking store. Her crash course in business is aided by a streetwise store manager and Jenna's adoptive mother. But just as she's gaining a foothold in her new life, in walk her birth parents—aging hippies on a quest to reconnect with their firstborn.
Now Jenna must figure out how to reconcile the free-spirited Serenity and Tom with her traditional parents, deal with her feelings for a new love interest and decide what to do about her ex's latest outrageous request. In the end, Jenna will find that there is no perfect family, only the people we love.
Even though I hadn't read the synopsis in ages, I got pretty much exactly what I was expecting with this book just from knowing Mallery's work and that this was published under a Harlequin imprint. There was some romance, some drama (actually, there was a lot more drama than I had anticipated), family issues, and career struggles. At times I felt like there were just too many threads to the story but everything ended up working out fairly well. But be warned - the ending is sad! If you're clever, you'll figure out where the story is going and will be a little bit prepared but it's still a hard ending to read.

I realized after I finished reading the book that I was more interested in Violet's story than Jenna's. "Who's Violet?" you ask? She's the "streetwise store manager" mentioned in the synopsis. She had more spunk and personality and her backstory seemed more prominent than Jenna's. Maybe it's just because I liked her more...though neither woman really hit the spot on my "I love these characters and want to be their friends"-o-metre. It could also be that Violet was more colourful (no pun...ok, yes, pun intended) and Jenna was kind of vanilla. Wouldn't you be more interested in the more colourful character?

Already Home was a nice read, one that's perfect for a summer weekend. Susan Mallery wrote a really heartfelt story about family and while I may not have adored this one I'm sure many others would really enjoy it.

Next month I've chosen to read By Invitation Only by Jodi Della Femina and Sheri McInnis. It was a toss up between that one and The Island by Elin Hilderbrand. I was torn because they have similar plot lines - weddings in beach destinations (Nantucket and the Hamptons) - but as I *think* I'd like Hilderbrand's more (I've enjoyed another of hers) I'll wait to read The Island.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Touring My Bookshelves: Shelf #4

This is it, my friends. The final bookshelf tour post. Realistically, I could keep going. I keep accumulating new books and will need to put them somewhere but I need to end the tour at some point, right? I'm currently job hunting and it's likely a move will probably be in our near future so maybe I'll do a quick post when/if I have my books arranged in a way that actually makes sense. We'll see. For now, I will show you the pictures of my newest bookshelf.

I bought this shelf a few months ago from good ol' IKEA because I had piles and piles of books just hanging out on my living room floor. Not a good scene. We put the shelf together and I promptly filled it almost to bursting. 

This shelf features the paperbacks that I want to read sooner rather than later. As well as my LEGO mini-figure collection. Series 10 has a librarian that I desperately want but I have yet to find her. Since taking this picture I've found another ball player and a paintball player. But these figures are not the point of this post! Back to the books! This shelf also holds the most books that I've actually purchased. Two at full price (but with gift cards), three bargain, two used, and one on sale. The rest were won, given as review copies (I've got ARCs and finished copies here), or gifted. Are any of your favourites on this shelf? 

This started out as my hardcover shelf but I had to expand it to hold a few paperbacks as well. I purchased one book on this shelf - Revenge Wears Prada - and it was bought with a gift card and it was about 50% off. I've already read three on here (Crazy Rich Asians, Studio Saint-Ex, and The Heist) and as much as I'd like to dive into Perdita next (it takes place near Georgian Bay which I grew up by), I think Trains and Lovers will have to be read first.

On the left of this shelf are my non-fiction reads (the majority of them from when I was doing my internship at Random House of Canada) and to the right are some of my not-yet-read YA. Yes, I do own some young adult titles! I bought a couple but the others are from the Ontario Blog Squad Meet-Up from last fall. My sister bought me Judging a Book by Its Lover for Christmas and I still haven't read it. Must change that soon.

The vast majority of these books are ones that I've already read. Also, can you tell that I love Sarah Dessen? I own ten of her eleven books. The only books I haven't read on this shelf are Creeps (which has been getting good reviews and is out soon, I think), Losing It (won this one and am looking forward to seeing what the deal is with it), and the Beautiful Creatures series (another set I won because I wanted to see what the hype was about). Some excellent books are on this shelf: Emily Giffin's, Life After Life, and the first two Enchanted, Inc. books by Shanna Swendson.

So there we have it. I hope you've enjoyed taking a peek at my bookshelves over the past several weeks!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: My Pen, My Voice

I want to be honest about two things right up front. 1. Author Vanessa Grillone is a fellow blogger, and friend, who I met while we were both interns at Random House of Canada. 2. I don't usually read poetry. I felt like these were two big things to get out of the way before starting the review of Grillone's work, My Pen, My Voice. Now that we've taken care of that, let's move onto the review!

Here's the summary of this collection:
Every girl has secrets. Every girl experiences things she is afraid to talk about. And every girl has her own outlet. For Vanessa Grillone, that outlet is writing."My Pen, My Voice" artfully records the trials and errors one girl endures in order to become an independent and strong young woman. Through a mixture of prose and poetry, Grillone digs into the heart of the often difficult teenage years, when emotions are high, changes are fast, and life is all-consuming.Grillone's entries encompass the turbulent range of teenage angst. From struggling to understand her need to go her own way to trying to come to terms with her frequent mood swings, her poems reveals with painful intimacy the confusion and heartbreak of growing up. Her vivid language and heartfelt words convey not only her honesty, but her fragility. With a keen eye for the human heart, "My Pen, My Voice" offers compelling compositions. Journey with Grillone on her path to self-discovery, one that ultimately offers insight into the female mind during its most fragile years
The way Grillone put this collection together was really interesting and, in my opinion, wise. The book was broken up into three parts and each piece was read in chronological order. Part One, "Emotions at an Awkward Age", was aptly titled. The poems start from age twelve and end at seventeen. I know I have poems from that time period that I wouldn't want anyone to read so I commend Vanessa on including these works. This was probably the hardest section for me to read because I think I wanted a different structure for some of the poems. That didn't mean they were bad poems. It's just that my non-verse reading brain wasn't used to the way the poems were written.

My favourite section was Part Three, "A New Chapter, A New Beginning". I'm sure part of that is because most of it is in prose, not poetry, but it's also because it felt more real to me. There were more feelings in this work instead of trying to conform to the structure of a poem.

What I really liked about this collection was that Vanessa's feelings came through on every page, in every piece. I felt her confusion, her heartbreak, her happiness. The honesty and realness is what makes this a compelling read.

I'm really glad I got the chance to read My Pen, My Voice by Vanessa Grillone. I had already known she was a real and heartfelt writer from reading her blog of the same name but being able to read her words in a book I could hold in my hands was a really great experience. If you like poetry and an honest, diary like approach to writing, definitely check this one out.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rereading Sarah Dessen: That Summer

Hosted by I Eat Words
Welcome the sixth month of the I Eat Words Sarah Dessen Read/Reread Challenge! Check out this post that explains the details about the awesomeness that is this challenge. We're going way back in time with this month's read. That Summer was Sarah Dessen's first novel and it was very interesting to read it after reading her latest. Read on to see what Sandy and I thought of this one.

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She's nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley's reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.
About the Story
Main  Character: Haven
Age: 15
School Year or Summer?: Summer
Boy: Sumner Lee
First description of the boy: "He was skinny and smooth, with black curly hair and bright blue eyes that almost didn't seem real. He lad a long, lazy Alabama accent and wore tie-dyes and beat-up Converse hightops that thwacked when he walked." (page 310)
Crushable?: Possibly but that's not really the point of this novel.
Big Secret?:  There's a secret but it wasn't meant to be a secret and it only matters to Haven.
Heavy Storyline?: It's not heavy, exactly, just a ton of things happening that are the End of the World when you're fifteen.
Parents Together?: No - divorced.
Sibling(s)?: Yes, an older sister, Ashley (21) 
Takes Place In: Lakeview
Cameos: None, since this was Dessen's first novel. Though you'd recognize Lakeview Models from Just Listen.

About the Book
Released: 1996.
Epigraph?: No, but there is a poem. "At Every Wedding Someone Stays Home" by Dannye Romine Powell
Format (of the copy I read): Paperback AND it's the How to Deal double book that also has Someone Like You. (If you didn't already know, That Summer and Someone Like You were put together to make the movie How to Deal from 2003 starring Mandy Moore)
Own?: No. This is the only one I don't own and I was a very good girl and didn't spend my money on it because my sister owns it.
Signed?: No. 
Read or Reread: Reread
Age when first read: Not really sure...15 maybe?
New cover vs older cover: New.

My Thoughts
This was the second Sarah Dessen novel I ever read which means I read it eons ago. I always like to think that I started reading Dessen super early on but then I remember that four of her books were already published before I stumbled across Someone Like You when I was 14 or 15. Clearly I'm not as ahead of the game as I like to think I am!
I went into reading That Summer expecting not to like it. I had this idea in my head that it wasn't any good but I was wrong. Sure, it's not as good as her later novels but that's because, by now, she's had a ton of practice publishing excellent YA novels. That Summer reminds me why I love Dessen. It's not because her books are full of teenage romance, like other amazing contemporary YA novels. It's because her characters are real and they deal with things that make them grow up and continue on their teenage journey. The books are about finding yourself - as much as you can when you're a teen.
Haven is one of the youngest Dessen characters you'll encounter, if not the youngest. At fifteen she hasn't really experienced much but she's had a bit of a brutal year. We know right from the first page that her parents are divorced and her father is getting remarried - to a woman just five years older than her sister. That same sister is getting married herself later in the summer and the five year age gap between Haven and Ashley seems very pronounced. She's also reconnected with Sumner, a boy Ashley dated five years ago. Haven thought he was the best and always thought her sister made a mistake by breaking up with him. Of course, you never know the full story of a relationship unless you're in it and Haven has a lot to learn about love.
A couple of quick, interesting to note, type things. First, I like that this book took place in Lakeview - the setting of so many of Dessen's other novels. It feels more cohesive this way. Second, there were a couple of instances where I was reminded that this book was written in the '90s with very amusing and dated references (Walkman, anyone?).
I remembered right away that I really identified with Haven when I first read this book. I was around her age when I read it, also had parents who were divorced (though I was much younger when my dad got remarried), and was just as tall. Haven had just reached 5'11" when the story starts. I hit that height around fifteen or sixteen, too (I stopped growing a year or so later after I hit 6'0") and can remember feeling pretty awkward, just like Haven. I was all angles and felt like I didn't fit anywhere (sometimes I literally didn't fit places). Luckily for me, I was a basketball player and it's good to be tall in that world. I can also remember thinking everything was a Very Big Deal when I was that age and Haven reflects that.
Finally, I have to share the opening paragraph of That Summer. I think it's just perfect (and also helped me mark off another Reading Bingo square!):

I'm happy that I ended up liking That Summer more than I thought I would. Now I don't think I'd have a problem telling people to just start at this one, her first, and work their way through chronologically. It's the best way to read them, really, because you pick up on all the cameos that I love!

Sandy's Thoughts
Another Dessen novel down and another smile on my face. That Summer was Dessen’s first novel and it sets the tone beautifully for her tenure into Young Adult fiction. Every line is quotable and the writing is fantastic. From beginning to end it is the quintessential coming of age tale. Our heroine is Haven, a fifteen-year-old girl struggling with the changes one particular summer is bringing to her life. Her dad is with another woman, her sister is getting married, and a boy she thought she knew reappears to prove otherwise. It is one change too many for Haven to handle so she loses herself in memories of a happier summer from her past. Everything in her life begins to lead back to that summer and the boy that brought her family together. Sumner is an amazing character and though I found myself really having to focus on not calling him Summer I enjoyed the confidence and daring that he brings out in Haven.
Because she is so tall, Haven feels like she should hide herself, not garner any more attention than she already gets just because of her height. When Sumner comes back into her life he changes her perspective of everything as he had when she was eight. She remembers the sister of her childhood, before the bride, her father before his second marriage, and her mother before the divorce. She also remembers herself and how it felt to be just a kid sharing some time with family. In the summer before her, all of that familiarity seems to be disappearing.

The resentment she feels over all of the changes being forced upon her finally comes to a head and Haven finds herself growing up rather quickly. She is no longer that innocent eight-year-old and the world is no longer innocent either. Everything changes in that summer and Haven will never be the same again. She learns that things don’t always turn out the way you expect them to (a common Dessen theme), but that isn’t always a bad thing. Change is good. Change is healthy. Letting things go, moving on and being comfortable with yourself is a valuable lesson of adolescence. 

Next month: Up next is Along for the Ride. I'm really excited about this one because it's one of my favourites.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: Studio Saint-Ex

I don't read nearly as much historical fiction as I'd like so when an interesting novel that meets that description directly crosses my path, I usually give it a try. Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado caught my attention because it's written by a Canadian and I had heard good things about it. Two solid reasons to read a book, right? :) I ended up enjoying this novel a great deal but there was just something about it that kept me from devouring it in one go.

From the Penguin Canada site (because Goodreads erroneously says Quebec City when it should be Montreal), here's the synopsis:
In the Glittering world of Manhattan's French expats and 1942 Quebec, a twenty-two-year-old fashion designer on the cusp of launching her career is swept away by the charms of French writer and war pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ... and enmeshed in the schemes of his beautiful, estranged Salvadoran wife, who is determined to win back her husband—at all costs and seductions.
With Paris under occupation by Hitler's troops, New York's Mayor LaGuardia vows to turn his city into the new fashion capital of the world—and Mig Lachapelle leaves Montreal for New York to make her name. She finds herself pulled into a fiery romantic triangle in which ambitions, creativity, and passions catch a literary giant between two talented, mesmerizing women and imperil the fate of his work-in-progress, The Little Prince—a poignant tale of a young boy's loneliness and love among the stars, one of the best selling and most beloved novels of all time.
After a few days of thinking about what kept me from loving this book I've come to the conclusion that it didn't have anything to do with the writing or the way the story was told. Szado did an amazing job of describing the world Mignonne and Antoine lived in and the writing is really well done. I think my issue is that the characters didn't excite me. Their story did (because I knew nothing about the author of The Little Prince and haven't even read the book myself) but Mig, Antoine, and Consuelo (Antoine's wife) themselves didn't engage me.

The world Szado created/embellished was so interesting. (I say embellished because, while it references history, it's still a work of fiction.) Reading about the art, fashion, and literary worlds in New York City during World War II was enlightening. Finding out a little bit more about the man behind The Little Prince was great, too. I never had to read this book in French class but I know others who have and I could also tell you what the cover looks like. That was about the extent of my knowledge of that book. I liked the other historical events that were mentioned in this novel such as Expo '67 in Montreal and some of the subtle commentary on Canadians and Americans in World War II. This is one of the lines that stuck out for me:
"But the Canadians weren't defeated - not the ones in Mother's Anglophone neighborhood or the Francophone friends I had drunk with in Old Montreal. After two and a half years of sacrifice, Canadians still beleived in the cause that drove the war and took their sons." - page 15
As a bonus, the undercover of this book is just gorgeous. I don't often take the dust jacket off the books I read (let's be honest...I don't read a ton of hardcovers anymore either) but something compelled me to take the cover of Studio Saint-Ex and I was so pleased to see this loveliness:

Studio Saint-Ex is more than a historical novel and it's more than a love triangle. It's a fabulously written novel about an interesting point in history from a unique perspective. Ania Szado has written a great book that I think history fans in particular would love.

*I received a copy of this novel from the publisher, Penguin Canada, in exchange for an honest review.*

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Sweet Thing

When I was asked to review Sweet Thing by author Renee Carlino I was expecting a romance/women's fiction type story. What I ended up getting was a novel that's more new adult than anything else - but I think that's what made me love it.

Here's the synopsis:
Mia Kelly is a twenty-five-year-old walking Gap ad who thinks she has life figured out when her father’s sudden death uproots her from slow-paced Ann Arbor to New York City’s bustling East Village. There she discovers her father’s spirit for life and the legacy he left behind with the help of an old café, a few eccentric friends, and one charming musician.
Will Ryan is good-looking, poetic, spontaneous, and on the brink of fame when he meets Mia, his new landlord, muse, and personal heartbreaker.
A story of self-discovery and friendship, Sweet Thing shines light on the power of loving and letting go.
You're probably looking at the cover and synopsis and wondering how I didn't figure out that the book might fall into the new adult category. You see, there was a different cover when Carlino first emailed me and it just screamed women's fiction. I'm so happy she changed the image because I think the new cover better reflects the story and Mia.

I love reading stories about characters who are close to my age, their mid-twenties, and still trying to figure out their life. This, to me, is new adult. The book had all the elements I love about women's fiction and romance with the added twist of not really knowing who you are and what you want out of your life.

I do have to say that sometimes I found the characters to be a little more angsty than they should be at 25. I suppose I should allow for some more drama as artists (musicians, in this case) are usually more sensitive but that's a major stereotype assumption to make. However, Will, the more angsty of the two, was almost 30. I felt like the way he (re)acted to some things made it seem like he was 20, not 30. It wasn't a huge deal but I did have to remind myself that I was reading about adults, not teenagers.

While Mia had a major life journey to go on and many issues to work through in her professional and family life, the romance in this story was what gave me all the feelings. A lot of people will talk about the sexiness of new adult novels and this book wasn't much different. There was so much sexual tension between Will and Mia and it was so dramatic - in the best possible way. I was constantly worried they wouldn't get their act together because I knew they'd be perfect for each other. The uncertainty created even more drama (and feelings) and made the story that much more of a page turner.

Getting back to Mia's journey...I think she handled all the curveballs life threw at her exceptionally well. Her family life is not conventional and she found out some details about her parent's relationship that really threw her. That being said, I don't think that story line was given enough presence. It was revealed and then sort of swept under the rug and not really dealt with. It was amazing to see her grow as a woman over the course of the novel and I think that's part of why I really enjoyed the story.

I would definitely recommend Sweet Thing by Renee Carlino. Sure, there were some bits that didn't thrill me with the writing and plot but overall I adored this story. I didn't want to put it down! If you're a women's fiction lover looking to see what new adult's all about or into young adult novels and want something a little more grown up, check out this book. It's a great read!

*A copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Bunch of Mini Reviews 2

It's time for another batch of mini reviews! There were a few books I've read lately that I enjoyed but just didn't have the time to devote a full review post to. I hope you enjoy these mini reviews! Title links lead to the Goodreads page so you can check out the synopsis if you're interested.

I had been seeing reviews and buzz about this novel and when I saw it sitting on my library's shelf, I knew I had to read it. I wasn't totally in love with Hannah's story but I was interested in it and her and did enjoy reading the novel.
Hannah's life gets turned upside down when she and her boyfriend break up. I thought it was for the best because I could see that he was stifling Hannah and her creativity but, as is common in rom-coms, Hannah didn't see it that way. I felt for her as she tried to figure out how she would live without him (not just emotionally but financially) and how she could move forward and do what she really loves.
There are tons of crazy mishaps and entertaining scenes throughout this book, particularly surrounding her new venture, and I think chick lit lovers (and foodies) would really enjoy reading this one.

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins
Remember how I gushed over Anna and the French Kiss when I finally read it? It turns out I love Lola and Cricket more. Sure, reading a great novel set in Paris is awesome but characters play a huge role and the characters in Lola won out. I did, however, love that Anna and St. Clair made appearances in this book.
Lola had a lot more spunk than Anna but that actually made me worry about her a little bit more. She's very sure about herself, which is great, but she's still a teen with very teenage issues and emotions.
I think Cricket may now be my top book boyfriend (sorry Ron). I even texted my friend saying that I knew he was fictional and 18 and that I have a boyfriend but I still wanted Cricket. That's how much I love him, haha! He was a genuinely good guy (and even when he wasn't it wasn't totally his fault) and I couldn't wait for him and Lola to get it together and finally start dating.
I'm really glad I finally got around to reading this series though I'm now just as anxious as everyone else for Isla and the Happily Ever After to be released. Unfortunately, we now have longer to wait. Earlier this year Perkins wrote a blog post explaining that Isla will now be published sometime in 2014. I suggest you read this post that explains everything. I think she was incredibly brave to talk about the issues she was having.
All that being said, I love this series and highly recommend it!

Sex, Life, & Hannah: Volume 3, Summer Season - Dorota Skrzypek
I had been meaning to read this book for an embarrassingly long time. I read Volumes One and Two way back in 2012 (links lead to my reviews) and finally got around to the third book this month.
For some reason I thought this was the final book in the series even though there are four seasons in a year. The fact that I was expecting Hannah's story to be wrapped up made for a bit of a disappointment but I got over it. The thing is that I don't adore this series but I need to know how things end up for Hannah. Will she get back together with The Ex? Will she go through with the engagement that occurs during this book? Will another guy show up and cause some drama in the final volume? And what will happen in her professional life? Not only do I have all these questions but I'm not sure when they'll get answered! There's still no date for the Autumn volume.
One of the things I don't love about this series, and something I've mentioned before, is the tell all nature. Hannah and her friends don't hold anything back and sometimes I find that to be a little much. Think of the most outrageous conversation the Sex and the City gals had and multiply it by about ten. Funny? Sometimes. That's what kept me reading.
Basically, what you need to know is that I want to read the final instalment in this novella because I've grown to care about Hannah. I want her life to fall into place and I want to see what sort of craziness will happen before she gets to a stable place. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Author Interview: Savannah Page

Today is my third and final stop on the When Girlfriends Chase Dreams CLP Blog Tour. It's been so much fun taking part in this tour because I just love the When Girlfriends... series by Savannah Page. Today's post is a Q&A with Savannah. I hope you enjoy it!

Books Etc.: What drew you to writing a series about a group of girlfriends?
Savannah Page: I have a dear group of girlfriends from college, and even over the years, as the physical distance grows (we’re all spreading out—I’m all the way in Berlin now!), and no matter how eclectic a group we are, our friendship is really amazing and strong. I was thinking about this special friendship one day when I was drawing up the theme for my When Girlfriends… collection. I thought, How neat would it be to have a group of women, each with their own, unique story, come together throughout a collection of novels? I wanted to write about female friendship and how strong the ties that bind can be no matter the challenges, the differences, etc.

BE: What did you like about writing a series?
SP: Getting to work with the same characters over and over—really allowing myself to get to know them intimately—is the best part! Honestly, I feel like Sophie, Robin, Lara, Claire, Emily, and Jackie are all real women.

BE: Do you ever find characteristics of yourself or your friends and family creeping into your characters?
SP: Naturally, as the writer, I think characteristics of myself sneak in there. It’s unavoidable. But I always stress that while I may be inspired by actual events and experiences, my fiction is fiction. However, I can definitely say that Sophie’s need for organization, or Emily’s penchant for travel, or Claire’s sugary sweet nature, or some of my male characters’ traits or actions were definitely created with some particular people in mind.

BE: What kind of writing schedule do you have? Do you like to write at a certain time of day or in a certain place?
SP: I write during the weekdays, and usually throughout the afternoon in my home office. I prefer writing between lunch and dinner because that’s a large swathe of quiet time I can just plot and pound away on the keys.

BE: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
SP: Reading’s probably my number one hobby. In line at the grocery store, riding the subway, on the treadmill, before bed…I can’t read enough. I also like Pilates, watching far too much TV-on-DVD, traveling, crafting, and doing wedding flower blogging (my other day job).

BE: What’s your favourite genre to read? Is it the same as your favourite genre to write?
SP: Chick lit’s got to be the winner. It’s definitely my favorite to write. I like to read just about anything, though. Right now I’m reading a memoir, a travelogue, a chick lit, a sci-fi, and an Austen classic.

BE: What inspired you to become an author?
SP: I’ve aspired to be a writer since I was a little girl, and today, one of the things that keeps me writing is the desire to write the book I really want to read. I’ve got so many story ideas that I want to share and further explore, so many characters I want to get to know and places I want to visit. Writing’s a perfect outlet and I adore getting to share my stories with others.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Guest Post: Savannah Page

Welcome to my second stop on the CLP Blog Tour for When Girlfriends Chase Dreams! Today author Savannah Page has been kind enough to write a guest post for Books Etc. When I was reading the series I wondered what drew her to writing a series about such a dynamic group of friends so I sent along this prompt/question: Each book in the When Girlfriends… series features a different girlfriend. Did you always plan to alternate perspectives? And did you find that you had favourites? (I know that’s probably like asking a mother which child is her favourite!). I hope you enjoy Savannah's response!

In the earliest conceptualization stages of my When Girlfriends… collection I knew two things without a shadow of a doubt: 1) That I wanted a group of best friends from college to star in a friendship-themed set of novels, and 2) That each girlfriend would get her own story (and maybe, just maybe, two).

I wanted to alternate perspectives because I knew right away that each girl would grow on me and would have her own fab story to tell—they all just had to have their own novel. But I also did it as a way to flex my pen and better hone my craft. I had the main theme of friendship, and I had a solid set of characters, so with those things fixed I felt like I had a good chance to play with things that could be changed from book to book, like voice, tense, and POV. I knew before I even started that I didn’t want every single novel to have the same exact style. Similar, yes, so they can all be tied together as a family, but some differences here and there so I could show and practice versatility.

One of the toughest things, five novels in, has been to keep to my own distinct chick lit author voice, while at the same time have each character stand out as her own person and have her own way of telling her story. With each When Girlfriends… novel I want readers to feel like they’re still reading within the series/from the same author, but that they’re getting something new. Like they’re picking up a new diary.

As for a favorite girlfriend/novel? That’s a tough one! Definitely like asking a mother which child is her favorite. I really enjoyed writing When Girlfriends Chase Dreams because my day job is wedding-related (I blog for a wedding florist), and it was my NaNoWriMo baby. It was a blast to write, and Claire’s an endearing character. She’s full of so much energy and she’s just a sweetie (when she isn’t freaking out over planning her big day).

My latest release, When Girlfriends Take Chances, just might be my favorite. Emily is definitely an adventurer and free-spirited character. She inspires me and even reminds me to live each day to its fullest—take chances.

But, having said that, I still think that I’m most proud of When Girlfriends Make Choices. That novel made me push the envelope a bit and do something in both theme, style, and tense that I’ve never done. It took me longer than usual to write that one and I think the amount of time I invested, the constant rewrites, and the fact that I really wrote the book that was in my heart, make …Make Choices one of my absolute faves. Funnily, though, my favorite character just might be Sophie (When Girlfriends Break Hearts), but probably because I’ve been gathering ideas for her second book for a long while now. She’s been on my mind a lot!

Thanks for inviting me to guest post today, Kaley. I’m glad you could be a part of the tour!

Readers, don’t forget to enter the fabulous CLP When Girlfriends Chase Dreams Tour Giveaway. One lucky reader will win a 1 year subscription to the “Martha Stewart Weddings” or “Martha Stewart Living” magazine (print or digital). Details are at the CLP tour page.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Redesigning Rose Giveaway

Exciting news! Remember when I shared my review of Redesigning Rose by my friend and fellow blogger Lydia Laceby? My review is here if you need a refresher on what I thought of this fab debut novel. Since Lydia's book baby is now a month old she's decided to hold a giveaway. You can check out her site and main post here for the nitty gritty details but the main point is taking a picture of yourself reading her book. I'm not just sharing this giveaway info with you today. Nope. I am also providing ideas for interesting photo opportunities!

You could take a picture at the zoo:

In your backyard:

With your pet:

At a concert:

While on a boat:

At a baseball game:

See, tons of options!

As for me, I've already read and loved Redesigning Rose but if I were to read it right now my picture would look like this:

You see, I have a summer cold which I have determined is the worst kind of cold. Hence the Kobo covering up my poor red nose!

So what are you waiting for? Go get your copy of Redesigning Rose (,, Kobo) and snap a photo! Make sure you read all the rules over at Lydia's site and good luck! :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

CLP Blog Tour: When Girlfriends Chase Dreams

Today is my first stop on the CLP Blog Tour for When Girlfriends Chase Dreams by Savannah Page. I was so excited to take part in this tour because I loved the previous When Girlfriends... books that I had read (see my other reviews here and here) and looked forward to reading Claire's story. I ended up not loving this one quite as much as the others but it was still a really fun read.

Here's the synopsis:
Claire Linley is finally a bride! After nearly ten years with her college freshman sweetheart, Claire is going to become Mrs. Conner Whitley. She's got her bridal magazines, is the biggest Martha Stewart fan, and subscribes to all the major wedding blogs. She's been dreaming of this moment for years! How could planning her dream wedding be anything but perfect?
The easy-going and bubbly type, Claire will obviously have a blast planning, and with her fantastic group of girlfriends-made-bridesmaids she just can't go wrong. Whether it's wedding gown shopping, makeup trials, or cake-tasting, Claire's friends are there in a pinch.
But how big does the pinch get? All Claire wants to do is get married, but at every turn something seems to go awry and she's starting to lose it. How is a girl supposed to remain cool and collected when the pricey dream wedding planner isn't turning out to be so dreamy? When DIY projects and the perfect venue are going up in smoke? How is Claire supposed to marry Conner when the special day that's supposed to join them together, forever, is slowly tearing them apart?
This is the charming story about how sometimes the biggest events in life are defined by the smallest acts of kindness and love. It's a love story about dreaming large, loving deeply, and, in the end, truly having the happiest day of your life, no matter what happens (or doesn't). About what happens when girlfriends chase dreams.
I've probably said it before but I'll say it stories make for great chick lit novels. There's so much going on and so many elements to a wedding, and planning for one, that can really make for an entertaining story. I was thrilled that Claire was finally getting married (she had been nagging her boyfriend for awhile) and wondered what sorts of things could happen in the planning process. Little did I realize that Claire was going to have one hell of a time trying to plan her wedding. I felt so sorry for the poor girl! I swear, everything that could have went wrong, did. Disagreements with her parents (who are paying for the wedding...lucky girl), DIY disasters (oh the hilarious imagery in a scene with her dog), constant fighting with the groom, dress issues, a car that's constantly having problems (not really a wedding issue but it was a problem that came up way too often), and a wedding planner who's more interested in looking flashy than actually doing any work. And therein lies my issue with the book. There were just too many things going wrong. I understand a few hiccups here and there but I think there were just too many issues Claire had to face that really took away from the story.

Claire herself was another little nuisance for me. I couldn't understand why she was putting so much stress on herself about certain things, especially when it came to all the crafts she just had to do for the wedding. Full disclosure: I've never planned a wedding so I don't know exactly what it's like but after reading this book I'm considering eloping when it's eventually my turn (and if my boyfriend is reading this: keep breathing and focus on the word eventually!). There were also times when she seemed to be completely clueless to the needs of Conner, her fiance, and nags at him instead of trying to find ways for him to be involved. She also constantly bothered Sophie, one of her girlfriends and also her maid of honour, about Chad, Conner's best man and friend to all the girls. The two had hooked up years ago and Claire just couldn't stop pestering Sophie about whether or not they were getting back together. I mean, I do think they eventually will once the series is concluded but to always bring it up to one of your best friends who clearly doesn't want to talk about it? Irritating. Claire really is a sweetheart though and I was rooting for her even when she was annoying me - a lot like how I feel about Sophie Kinsella's characters.

One of my favourite parts of this book actually didn't have much to do with Claire. I was so happy to read that Sophie was finally opening her own cafe. The scenes that took place in The Cup in the Cake helped me feel like I was really there. What also helped was the fact that all the design elements were detailed as the decisions were being made - paint colour, china patterns, seating, and so on. Now I really want to find a little cafe like this in my city!

I know it may seem like I wasn't overly thrilled with When Girlfriends Chase Dreams but I did like reading Claire's story and getting to know all the girls a little bit more. I'm excited that Savannah Page will be writing Emily's story next because her story could take us places other than Seattle. So much potential! If you're looking for a good and fun series about a group of fabulous girlfriends, make sure you check out book one (unlike me who unknowingly read book two first), When Girlfriends Break Hearts!

Check back on Thursday for a guest post from Savannah, and Friday for the Q&A I did with her.

Happy reading :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: The Golem and the Jinni

I had been seeing a lot of good buzz about Helene Wecker's debut novel Tales from the Laundry Pile leading up to its release so I decided to put myself on the list at my library. Fast forward a month or so and I finally had the book in my hot little hands. I decided to make it my hundredth read of the year and I finished it over the long weekend. It was a riveting and magical story that was slow to grab me but grab me it did.

Here's the (super long) synopsis:
Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.
Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.
Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
If that sounds kinda crazy, it's because it is. But it totally works! I was worried at first because it took me awhile to really get into the story. I think it's because it was a good ways into the book before the Golem and the Jinni even meet. The background that I was given prior to that was important but I just wanted to hurry things along so they could meet each other and the story could really get moving. Once they did meet they began interacting on a regular basis and I think that's finally when I got hooked on the story.

There was a lot more history in this novel than I was expecting. We get a sense of Ellis Island and what immigrants had to face when they arrived in New York City in the 1800s. There was an interesting mix of fantasy and history in this novel and I think that's what makes it so unique and captivating.

I was really invested in the characters' stories. Chava, the Golem, was so careful to avoid any behaviour that would arouse suspicion of what she is. Ahmad, the Jinni, on the other hand, was much more reckless even though he knew that he should be cautious. I wanted both of them to stay safe from the ordinary dangers - someone spotting that Chava doesn't actually need to breathe or that Ahmad could melt metal with his fingers - as well as the supernatural. I really liked how things ended and I think Wecker did a good job of wrapping things up.

Helene Wecker's The Golem and the Jinni is much more than a fantasy novel. It's also a look into different worlds, different religions, different beliefs, and how they all came together in 1800s New York City. I think my favourite part of the novel was getting a glimpse into the lives of the immigrants and how geographically divided the cultures were, even when they were in the same city. If you're looking for a really great story with  a healthy dose of magic, check out this novel. It's a great read!

Happy reading :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Review: Skinny Bitch in Love

Raise your hand if you've heard of the Skinny Bitch cookbooks. Keep your hand up if you think that a novel written by one of the authors would be super enjoyable. Surprise! It was! I ended up absolutely loving Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin.

Here's the synopsis:
Clementine Cooper is a born vegan, com­mitted in every way to the healthy lifestyle she was raised with on her father’s organic farm. But how bad could a little butter be? Bad enough to get the ambitious and talented sous chef fired when an influential food critic discovers dairy in Clem’s butternut squash ravioli with garlic sage sauce. Though she was sabotaged by a backstab­bing coworker, Clem finds herself unceremo­niously blackballed from every vegan kitchen in L.A.
Like any vegan chef worth her salt, however, Clem knows how to turn lemons into delicious, cruelty-free lemonade cupcakes. She launches the Skinny Bitch Cooking School in hopes of soon opening her own café in an empty space near her apartment. But on the first day of class, sexy millionaire restaurateur Zach Jeffries puts a fork in her idea with his own plans for the space—a steakhouse. Clem is livid. For a carnivore, Zach is more complicated than she anticipated. He’s also a very good kisser. But could dating one of the most eligible bachelors in the city—and a meat-eater—be as bad for Clem as high-fructose corn syrup? Shouldn’t she fall instead for a man who seems to be her perfect match in every way—like Alexander Orr, a very cute, very sweet vegan chef?
You know those books that you get totally sucked into and don't want to put it down for anything? Plans with friends, eating, sleeping, you know, the other important things in life. Skinny Bitch in Love was one of those books for me. I could have had it finished in one sitting if I hadn't gone to my boyfriend's baseball game - and I seriously considered either not going or reading during the game. As it was, I didn't go out afterwards and went straight home so I could finish the book before bed. I was that invested in the book and Clementine's story!

I loved Clementine. I want to be friends with her - and not just because she could cook me food! It helps that she's my age, twenty six, and trying to figure out what to do with her life, just like I am. Though, she is much more of a go-getter than I am and didn't let anything get her down. She's also the kind of person who attracts great friends. Her best friend and roommate, Sarah, is awesome and provides some great spunk and sass to Clem's life. She also has a great friend in Ty (I really hope it's Ty...I didn't write down his name and my eARC has since expired! Eep!) who understands how brutal the restaurant business can be and is always championing Clem.

I really liked the food aspect of this novel. It was an important part of the story but it wasn't told in a way that would confuse the readers. There are a lot of cooking and restaurant scenes and vegan food and terminology. I liked that Clementine really explained veganism and how you can be healthy while living that lifestyle. Personally, I could never do it full time (my family did for a bit and I had several very tasty meals when I visited on weekends) but I liked living in Clementine's world for a little while. I liked that she butted heads with Zach but he was willing to work with her and didn't judge her for not eating meat (in fact, I think it Clementine was doing more judging of Zach!). Anyway, the point is that Clementine's lifestyle made for a very interesting and enjoyable read.

The romance part of this story was great. I was just as torn as Clementine on whether she should date Zach, the oh so bad for her guy, or Alexander, the sweet and vegan guy. I wondered who was truly being sincere and who would be best for her. There are sweet scenes and sexy scenes, and everything in between. I really liked how things turned out for her in the end.

Skinny Bitch in Love is a great summer read. Kim Barnouin's novel will suck you in and you'll want to finish it in one sitting. So, pack up the book, your sunscreen, snacks, and refreshments and park yourself by the pool or at the beach - and enjoy!

Happy reading :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review: The Search Angel

I love when I get completely invested in a story. So much so that I'm not aware of time passing and end up getting a sunburn when I'm reading outside. OK, maybe not the sunburn part. I read The Search Angel by Tish Cohen last weekend in essentially one sitting because I was so into it. And yes, I got a bit of a sunburn because I was paying too much attention to this amazing book and not enough attention to the sun! :) I really wasn't expecting to love this book but I really did. The story grabbed me and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen. 

Here's the synopsis, courtesy of the novel's page on HarperCollins Canada:
As the owner of the upscale children’s boutique Pretty Baby, Eleanor Sweet is surrounded by gleaming strollers, organic cotton onesies and roundbellied expectant mothers. It’s a serene atmosphere of new beginnings—but for the graffiti-splattered record shop next door and Eleanor’s fierce desire for a baby of her own. Her wish is finally granted in the form of Sylvie, an orphaned baby en route from earthquake-stricken Baja California. But when Eleanor’s husband unexpectedly gets cold feet and backs out, her dream of adopting Sylvie is at risk.
Adopted herself, Eleanor has always been reluctant to search out her birth mother, afraid of what she might find. But she is determined to save the adoption and to give Sylvie the family she deserves. Eleanor hires Isabelle, a search angel, to find her birth mother. What Eleanor discovers about love and family isn’t what she expects, but it gives her a new understanding of what it means to be a mother.
Reading about Eleanor was so enjoyable as she was a fabulous character. Even though I think having a baby right now is more of a nightmare than the dream that Eleanor thinks it is (hey, I'm only 26), I could still relate to her and her story. She's wanted a baby for so long that, like many women in her situation, she has become focused on a baby and only a baby. That need really came through the pages and I hurt for her when her ass of a husband (he really wasn't an ass overall but I hate that he hurt her like this) pulls out of the adoption and leaves her. I was just as anxious as she was when she was trying to find her birth mother even though I can't personally know how emotional and tumultuous that would be for someone.

I can't remember ever hearing of search angels before and I think it's a wonderful idea and it was an interesting part of the book. It didn't hurt that Isabelle was a really great character as well! She had an awesome personality but also had her own issues with adoption that were explored as well. Her story complemented Eleanor's and I'm glad we really got to know Isabelle. I kept my fingers crossed that she would be able to find Eleanor's mother and that everything would work out for the best.

I really loved reading about Noel and Eleanor. Noel owns the "graffiti-splattered record store" next to Eleanor's Pretty Baby store and immediately rubs her the wrong way. It's clear what would eventually happen, right? But I loved seeing how their relationship evolved. I could tell where things were likely going to head between the two of them but I found myself conflicted because I didn't feel like there was a clear separation between Eleanor and her husband.

As a fun aside, I loved that Eleanor owned a great dane and I also loved that his name was Angus. My first beta fish was named Angus and my best friend has a great dane so I know what they're like. Every scene with Isabelle and Angus cracked me up because she really didn't like him and compared him to massive things, like a buffalo or UPS truck. As a fun extra, here is a picture of Tron, my BFF's great dane. He's just over a year old now!

Photo courtesy of Marisa's Instagram
Isn't he beautiful? :)

I thought The Search Angel was an amazing and emotional story and I think everyone would enjoy it. I hadn't read any of Tish Cohen's books before this one but she's on my radar now. I loved this book and I definitely recommend it. But, as a word of caution, make sure you put on sunscreen if you start reading this one outside. You don't want to end up with a sunburn! :)

Happy reading :)

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins Canada, in exchange for an honest review.*

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Post: Kathleen Kole

Welcome back for another stop on the CLP Blog Tour for Kathleen Kole's novel Tales from the Laundry Pile. I reviewed the enjoyable novel on Monday (the review is here if you missed it) and today Kathleen is here with a fabulous guest post. As I mentioned in my review, I was looking forward to seeing what characters from previous novels would pop up in this one so I wanted to know if the cameos were always a planned thing or if the characters just demanded more attention. I loved this post and I hope you do, too! 

Cameos... The Who, What, Where, When and How

When I wrote my first novel, I must admit I didn’t have the thought of allowing my characters to have cameos in later books.  I was writing that story, so that was where my thoughts centered.

It was in my second novel, Dollars to Donuts, that the idea of allowing my characters to have cameos began to blossom.  I had become very fond of them and it seemed only right to allow them to flit in here and there in following Boxwood Hills based novels, adding their charms where applicable.

In my next book, Favorable Conditions, the first cameos came to light.  The story was a perfect fit for a certain vivacious twosome to story-hop, as well as a few other characters my readers would recognize (no spoilers!).

All of that being said, I can assure you I chose who comes and goes in each novel.  My characters are “very good listeners” and do what they’re told! Haha!

As for how I choose who, what and/or where a character might make a cameo, that depends completely on the story at hand.  As each new novel is created and the Boxwood Hills universe expands, former characters and their lives and personalities just fit in where they would naturally be.  Sounds odd, I’ll admit, but hopefully that makes sense.

So, there we have it.  The who, what, where, when and how my characters find their way into each other’s stories.  The Boxwood Hills universe is alive and well in my thoughts and nothing brings me more joy than to continue to write new tales and introduce my readers to more and more of the residents and their stories.

That being said, I sincerely hope Claire’s story in Tales from the Laundry Pile is embraced with as much kindness and openheartedness as have my other three.  I am blessed beyond measure to have such fantastic, loyal readers.

Thank you, Kaley, for allowing me the privilege of writing this guest post and thank you for doing me the honor of being a part of the blog tour.  Your support throughout my journey has been stellar and means more than words can say.

Blogger note: *blushes* 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: The Heist

I'm a Stephanie Plum fan and have been for years. Because of that I've read and enjoyed a few of Janet Evanovich's other novels. I jumped at the chance to review her latest, The Heist, which she co-authored with Lee Goldberg. It was just what I was expecting - funny, a little sexy, and full of action.

Here's the synopsis:
FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare is known for her fierce dedication and discipline on the job, chasing down the world’s most wanted criminals and putting them behind bars. Her boss thinks she is tenacious and ambitious; her friends think she is tough, stubborn, and maybe even a bit obsessed. And while Kate has made quite a name for herself for the past five years the only name she’s cared about is Nicolas Fox—an international crook she wants in more ways than one.
Audacious, handsome, and dangerously charming, Nicolas Fox is a natural con man, notorious for running elaborate scams on very high-profile people. At first he did it for the money. Now he does it for the thrill. He knows that the FBI has been hot on his trail—particularly Kate O’Hare, who has been watching his every move. For Nick, there’s no greater rush than being pursued by a beautiful woman . . . even one who aims to lock him up. But just when it seems that Nicolas Fox has been captured for good, he pulls off his greatest con of all: He convinces the FBI to offer him a job, working side by side with Special Agent Kate O’Hare.
Problem is, teaming up to stop a corrupt investment banker who’s hiding on a private island in Indonesia is going to test O’Hare’s patience and Fox’s skill. Not to mention the skills of their ragtag team made up of flamboyant actors, wanted wheelmen, and Kate’s dad. High-speed chases, pirates, and Toblerone bars are all in a day’s work . . . if O’Hare and Fox don’t kill each other first.
When I chose to read The Heist, I was looking for an easy and fun read - and I got it. I was interested to see how Evanovich worked with another author and how the story would read (see the next paragraph for my thoughts on that). I was also interested in these new characters and I ended up really liking Kate and Nick. I loved the chemistry between them and thought they played off each other perfectly. There was just enough action to keep things exciting without overpowering the intricacies of the con. There were also many laugh out loud moments that kept me entertained, like this one:

The one sort of negative I have is that it read a little too much like an Evanovich novel. I wanted more of Nick to come through in the story but his personality and secrets were overpowered by the action of the novel and Kate's personality and goals. I feel like he has a really great backstory but we didn't get the chance to learn it. There was a hint of it when he was on his way to Singapore (vague but I don't want to give anything away) but I was disappointed when that was really the only solo Nick portion of the book.

It's not often that I cast a novel but I have to make an exception in the case of The Heist. Why? Because right from the get go I was picturing Sandra Bullock as Kate. I know a lot of people see Bullock as Stephanie Plum but I never really got that. I think the reason Bullock came to mind first, apart from the physical description, is because she's played FBI agents in previous roles that I think are similar to Kate (see: Miss Congeniality and The Heat). As for Nick...well, I struggled to cast him but I ended up picturing him as Ryan Reynolds. The physical description of Nick - brown hair, brown eyes, height(ish), body - were all qualities that Reynolds shares. Plus, I did enjoy Bullock and Reynolds in The Proposal (not the best movie, I know, but I'd give them a second shot at the whole sexual tension thing). If you've read this book let me know how you would cast the film!

The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg is a perfect weekend read. You can get sucked into the story and finish it within a day or so and fully enjoy yourself while reading it. I'm excited that this is going to be a series and I look forward to reading the next book!

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Random House of Canada, in exchange for an honest review*

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Adaptations

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.

Ah, book adaptations. This is something book lovers can debate for hours, I think. I know books and movies are two separate things. I understand when things need to be changed, adjusted, or altered. What works in a book doesn't necessarily work in a movie. I get it. What I don't like is when the strangest things are changed or the overall feel of the story is changed. I've done a combo list this week and have included some of my favourite and least favourite adaptations. A note on the least favourite: I did enjoy the movies but I just felt like they were lacking in some way, which I've tried to explain. What are some of favourites or least favourites when it comes to book to film adaptations?

Don't forget to check out their blog for a full list of everyone participating this week!

Least Favourite (in no particular order):

The Last Song/Dear John
I didn't like that some important (in my eyes) details were left out of The Last Song and I really didn't understand why they felt the need to change the ending of Dear John.

The Time Traveler's Wife
Amazing book, not very good movie (sorry Rachel McAdams).

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
I like the movie, I really do. But. Trying to combine three books into one movie? How do you decide what's left out and what's included?

Angels and Demons
To this day, this is the only movie that I've come out of saying "WTF?" in terms of what was changed. It was just odd.

Confessions of a Shopaholic
Why oh why did they have to put her in the US? The movie still could have worked with her in London. See: Bridget Jones's Diary.

Favourite (again, in no particular order):

The Notebook/A Walk to Remember
I like these two way more than the books. The eye candy doesn't hurt either.

The Princess Diaries
Ditto. Besides: Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews? Amazing.

The Hunger Games
I thought this was a really well done adaptation. Here's hoping Catching Fire will be just as good!

Under the Tuscan Sun
This was another one that I liked more than the book. It's also very different. But I will willingly watch the film over and over again but it took me ages to read the book. That says a lot, I think.

The Help
Another adaptation that I thought was really well done.

Final Fun Fact: I own all of the above movies except for Angels and Demons!

Monday, July 8, 2013

CLP Blog Tour: Tales from the Laundry Pile

I couldn't be happier to be kicking off the CLP Blog Tour for Kathleen Kole's novel Tales from the Laundry Pile. I've read and enjoyed all of Kole's previous novels and I'm happy to say that I really liked her latest as well!

Here's the synopsis:
Claire Jamieson has moved back home to Boxwood Hills... And, she's not alone. Trailing behind her overworked laundry basket is her husband and their energetic twin boys.
Claire had always thought that once she'd left the nest, she'd never return. Now that she has, she's wondering what type of bird that makes her... Cuckoo?
When she has a moment to pause and catch her breath, she'll let you know.
I was really looking forward to the fact that this book would be set in Boxwood Hills because I was sure characters from previous novels would make appearances. Happily, I was right! Claire becomes good friends with Jessica (from Dollars to Donuts) and Thomas (who, I believe, appears in a couple of books) plays a hilarious role in the story. I couldn't wait for Thomas and Josephine (Claire's mom) to meet because I knew the result would be amusing. I also loved all the scenes with Thomas and Claire's twin boys. He's such a rough-around-the-edges character that it was sweet and funny to read as he interacted with four and a half year old boys.

I felt like I was constantly giggling throughout this novel. There were so many scenes that were ridiculous (in a good way) and had me laughing out loud. That being said...the novel was all fun and games. Claire had a lot of issues to work through that all stem from needing to be perfect and have everything in order. She has an incredibly judgemental mother in law (ugh, that woman drove me up the wall. I wished I could give her a talking to on behalf of Claire.) and her own mother appears to be flighty and unconcerned about appearances and consequences. Claire had a great support system though. Jake seems like a fabulous husband and father and Jessica turned out to be an amazing friend. I have to say, though, that it was sometimes hard to read about how uptight Claire was in the beginning. Maybe it's because I just couldn't understand how she'd demand perfection when she has twin boys. This was a minor issue though and I really liked reading about how Claire changed herself for the better.

Tales from the Laundry Pile was a really enjoyable read. It's not my favourite of Kathleen Kole's (that honour goes to Favorable Conditions) but I still liked reading it. Check back on Thursday when Kathleen stops by with a great guest post!

Happy reading :)