Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taking it Off the Shelf: By Invitation Only

This month I chose a book that I had bought...sometime. I'm honestly not sure when I picked up By Invitation Only by Jodi Della Femina and Sheri McInnis. Two years ago? Who knows. All I know is that I thought the cover was pretty and it sounded like a cute read. It turned out to be an alright book...I didn't love it but it grew on me the more I read.

Here's the synopsis:
Toni Fratelli has a busy summer ahead.
After several setbacks in Manhattan force her to move home to East Hampton, her To Do list is full. She has to help her father run his popular Italian restaurant.  Start up her own catering company.  And plan, cater, and be the Maid of Honor at her best friend’s wedding on the beach.
Unfortunately for Toni, the groom’s mother is a competitive New York socialite who’ll stop at nothing to make sure her son doesn’t marry a local girl – especially on the family’s Southampton estate. The biggest caterer in the Hamptons is trying to run her fledgling business out of town.  And worse than anything, Toni seems to be losing her best friend to a circle of snooty bridesmaids.  Everything might be tolerable – if her dad could just stop treating her as if she was seventeen again.
At least Toni finds love.  When she meets a sexy surfer named Chris, it quickly turns into the most romantic summer fling of her life.  But there’s more to Chris than his vintage Mustang and used guitar … and he’s not sure Toni’s going to like the truth.  Before the end of the summer she’ll be forced to face her hopes – and fears – as trying to forgive becomes her biggest challenge yet.
I really disliked the book to start with but, like I said, it grew on me. (This is the reason I have such a hard time setting down books...what if it gets better??) My first, and biggest complaint is that there were too many characters. We got introduced to so many people to start off with that I wasn't sure who was who and who was important. It didn't help that Didi calls Hudson Sonny (Hudson and her son), Toni calls Layla Sully (Sullivan is her last name), and Chris's friends call him Johnson (absolutely no idea why). I also felt that it flipped back and forth between characters too much and the flow was all off. The chapters were too short and snapshot like and it didn't seem like a lot is happening.

I also found that the story relied too heavily on missed chances before Chris and Toni finally get together - Chris didn't see Toni's picture in the newspaper that the fisherman were using to wrap their fish or Toni didn't notice the Mustang with the surfboard when she went to an antique show. Why would they be paying attention to these things? It just seemed really silly.

Finally, I had a bit of an issue with Toni's disorder that she doesn't recognize faces (prosopagnosia) unless she knows someone well. I'm sure it exists but it seems way too easy to dismiss why she didn't recognize Chris at first. It could have been easy enough for her to recognize him but not be able to place him. She hit her head, after all. He still could have lied and said that no, he didn't recognize her because he doesn't want her to because he was so rude.

The book finally grabbed me at about halfway through. I didn't dislike it, necessarily, but all of the above issues really got on my nerves. I'm not sure what changed but I ended up enjoying myself for the second half of the book. Maybe it's because I got the hang of the characters or maybe I was just really invested in Toni's story. Either way, I was looking forward to a happy ending for everyone in the book. Well, almost everyone. There was one woman who totally got what she an interesting and totally surprising way (and I'm not yet sure if that's a good thing or if it took away from the other stories).

By Invitation Only by Jodi Della Femina and Sheri McInnis wasn't a bad read but it wasn't great one. I think it's a nice summer book but it's definitely best to read it in September because the book takes place over a full summer. I still have a full weekend of summer left (true summer before school starts for some people and everyone's back at work) but I'm already feeling sad that it's coming to a close. The book didn't really help! I still think it's a nice escapist read and think others could really enjoy it.

As for next month's pick...I'm not entirely sure which one I'll read. It might be Comfort Food or maybe The Romantics (and then I'll finally watch the movie!) or it might even be The Devil Wears Prada (nope, I've never actually read it!). It could also be something completely different and summery if I'm not ready to let this season go!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rereading Sarah Dessen: Along for the Ride

Welcome this month's edition 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. This month my BFF Sandy and I (along with all other challenge participants) read Along for the Ride. I realized this month that I reallllly wish I had read all the novels in order. It's starting to bug me that I can't pick up on cameos because I'm reading the books out of order. That didn't change my opinion of the novel though...I still liked it!

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
About the Story
Main  Character: Auden West
Age: 18
School Year or Summer?: Summer
Boy: Eli Stock
First description of the boy: "When I turned, I found myself facing a tall guy with longish dark hair pulled back at his neck, wearing a worn blue hoodie and jeans. He glanced at me quickly - his eyes were green and deep set - barely seeming to register my face." (page 41)
Crushable?: Yes.
Big Secret?:  No secrets, more just not being honest and not communicating well.
Heavy Storyline?: A little bit, maybe. Divorce/separation play a large role, as does the death of Eli's friend, Abe (which happened prior to this summer).
Parents Together?: No - divorced.
Sibling(s)?: Yes, an older brother, Hollis (20?) 
Takes Place In: Lakeview is where she grew up but she spends the summer in Colby.
Cameos: Several! Auden's prom date was supposed to be Jason (Macy's boyfriend from The Truth About Forever) and she mentions Jason's ex and the guy she started dating after him. She went to Perkins Day at one point and that's mentioned in another novel (Dreamland maybe?). She frequents the Last Chance Cafe. Esther, one of the girls who works at Clementine's, and Clyde, who owns The Washroom, both show up in The Moon and More. Heidi wears and sells key necklaces (Lock and Key...which I only remember from the first time I read it because we haven't yet reread this one).

About the Book
Released: 2009.
Epigraph?: No, but there is a map of Colby. A map! I love it!
Format (of the copy I read): Hardcover (and includes special features)
Own?: Yes. It's actually my second copy. I brought my first copy to the signing I went to two years ago but was able to get a free copy. I had Sarah sign my other one to my sister and this new one to me.
Signed?: Yes (see above.)
Read or Reread: Reread
Age when first read: 22.
New cover vs older cover: New (I don't think Auden ever would have worn that polka dot dress).

My Thoughts
When I started this challenge Along for the Ride was one of my favourite Dessen novels. (I say that a lot, don't I?) Like the others, I wondered if it would hold up. I'm not entirely sure that it did. I loved it and I enjoyed rereading Auden and Eli's story but I don't think I loved it quite as much as I did the first time around. Don't get me wrong, the book is still amazing and is still in the top three (we'll see if that changes by the end of this challenge) but I think I found it too similar to some of Dessen's other works.
I think the problem (if I even want to call it a problem) is that I've been reading all the books over a short(ish) period of time so it's a little easier to spot the similarities. Auden was sort of a combination of Macy from The Truth About Forever and Remy from This Lullaby. She was an overachiever who wanted to please her parents (especially her mother) and was more of an adult than a teen because that's what her parents had expected of her her whole life. This isn't a bad thing but I thought it was notable that there were fairly specific characteristics and plot points present in this novel that show up in previous Dessen novels.
As is typical of Dessen's novels, the romance isn't the main point of the story. It provides a really sweet secondary plot and it's great to see Auden blossom and Eli learn to open up again. But Auden's journey isn't about finding the boy. She's finding herself before going off to college and finally figuring out where she fits and belongs in her family. Her journey is a great one and it's made that much better by her finding someone to share her time and thoughts with. It also helps that Eli is set on creating a quest for Auden and helping her complete it. I loved that!
I loved spending more time in Colby. Whenever Dessen's novels bring us to the beach town I always wish it was real because I want to go there. I want to go to the Washroom and chat with Clyde and try some of his pies. I want to shop at Clementine's. I even want to go to Tallyho's to see why Leah loves it and the other girls hate it. And I must try those onion rings at the Last Chance Cafe. Dessen does an amazing job of really placing the reader in Colby and I love visiting it through the pages.
I love the idea of a summer changing you. Dessen is huge on summers and how those few months can alter you and pack more of a punch than the rest of the year combined. Auden's summer is no different as she shakes up her world and decides to spend the summer at the beach with her dad, step-mom, and new baby half-sister. Makes me wish that I had spent more time at the beach the summer before I went away to university! As I mentioned before, Auden has a journey to go on and changing her schedule and location makes that journey possible. She's able to see herself in a different way, meet new friends, and finally come to terms with her family. Auden realizes that people can change (no matter what her mother may say) as long as they allow themselves to be changed. With Along for the Ride Dessen once again proves that summer is the time to be transformed - and I love it.

Sandy's Thoughts
Along for the Ride is still my favourite Sarah Dessen novel. My second favourite has changed to The Truth About Forever and who knows, it could change again before this challenge is over. That is one of the exciting things about rereading fantastic books. Reading the same book at different stages in your life can give you a different feeling about the contents. As you change and grow so does your outlook and opinion, not only about books but about life as well.
This happens to Auden in Along for the Ride. She decides to live with her father and his new wife for one summer and it changes her forever. Auden has lived her whole life as the smart but distant girl. She thrives in academia but struggles with what others would describe as normal experiences, such as prom or having girlfriends. She has spent her formative years bowing to the expectations of her parents and ended up becoming the adult in her relationship with them. None of the aspects of a normal childhood or teenage experience have interested her, until now.
Until she goes along for the ride in Colby, she has lived her life on the periphery of friendship and relationships with people her own age. When Auden arrives in Colby, however, she is thrown into a secret world of girls and boys and true friends. She is lucky enough to find a group of girls who take her for what she is and not just what they presume her to be. Maggie, Leah and Esther eventually see through Auden’s holier than thou attitude towards them and try to teach her the value of friendship. Falling in with them allows Auden to be her own type of girl; strong, smart, quiet but determined. With this new discovery of herself Auden learns that she can live with academics and still have a life beyond.
During her summer in Colby, Auden learns that people are never what they appear to be at first glance. She is used to making snap judgements about her fellow teenage girls, teenage boys, her brother, her parents and even herself. Everyone has a deeper self and a story to share and now so will Auden. Auden finds her counterpart in Eli, a boy who has lived too much, or so it seems. Eli is sure to make her summer outside of her protective bubble a memorable one. He invents a quest that is as much about getting him out of his grief as it is about making sure Auden has a childhood before university. Together they embark on a quest not only to change Auden’s past, but to shape her future.
This novel made me smile. It is the perfect teen summer story, complete with angst and the growth of a somewhat sheltered heroine. A summer away from the influence of her parents allows Auden to grow into a more well-rounded version of herself. If only we all could have a summer as eye opening in our youth. But it is never too late.
One summer can change you. People are changeable if they just allow it, if they just go along for the ride. Just be sure to steer every once in a while.

Next month
Someone Like You, Dessen's second novel. I think I prefer the romance in the movie How to Deal than what actually happened in the book so I'm interested to see if I'm remembering this correctly.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bunch of Mini Reviews 4: Another Library Edition

I have another round of mini reviews for you! Once again, this features three library books...and they couldn't be more different. I've got a dystopian YA, a women's fiction, and a mystery that turns out to have been written by J.K. Rowling. It's always good to have a little variety in life, right? And happily, all three of these novels were really good reads!

Divergent - Veronica Roth (synopsis)
This is another one of those YA novels that's been on my radar for ages but I just didn't feel like picking it up. I didn't really think I'd enjoy it and I had all sorts of other (adult) books to read. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started reading it because I couldn't remember what it was about (I don't reread the synopsis before starting a book), I just knew that I wanted to see what all the excitement was about. Plus, the fact that it's being made into a movie helped make me finally read it.
The world we see in Divergent is similar to one that we've seen in other novels - a sort of post-apocalyptic/dystopian America that has found a new way to govern themselves, usually by separating the citizens into groups. In this book, we find ourselves in what used to be Chicago. I mention this because I enjoyed the little references that gave away the location. But we don't really know what the rest of the world (aka the US) is up to and how they're managing.
I really liked Tris. I don't know if I'd say she's a great female character (she's a little hard on herself when it comes to her looks, which I think is ridiculous and is a trend with these types of books) but she's definitely not the worst. She discovers a strength in herself that she didn't realize she had but she struggles with it too.
Was I completely obsessed with this book like so many others are? Not really. I didn't want to put it down, though, and I'm eager to read the next two books. I think it's probably best to go into reading this one without comparing it to any of the other, similar, series out there. Enjoy it for it what it is on its own. Divergent was a really enjoyable read and a great book to pick up if you're looking to start a new series.

Big Girl Panties - Stephanie Evanovich (synopsis)
I was looking forward to reading this novel because I wanted a good, sort of light, funny read. I was worried though because a fellow blogger tried to read this book and couldn't get past the first few chapters. Happily, I found that Evanovich delivered what I was looking for and I really enjoyed reading this book.
I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that Logan's friend Chase played baseball for the New York Kings. Not the Yankees but the Yankees. Confused? I know baseball and I know the AL East well since I live in Canada and that's the division our only team is in. What I can't understand is why the author named the Blue Jays and the Red Sox but decided to rename the Yankees. My first thought was that there's some sort of copyright situation and she'd have to pay a bazillion dollars to use the name. If so, naming them the Kings? Is that because she truly believes the team to be the King of the MLB? Because if it is, I feel like I should dislike her and her book on principle! ;) Or is it because she was writing about a fictional player she thought she should rename the team? All I know is that I'm way too interested in this aspect of the novel. I NEED TO KNOW!
Thinking back on it, there were some aspects of the novel (mostly characteristics of Holly and Logan) that were a tad...irksome, let's say. It frustrated me that Logan was being so stupidly shallow and I thought she deserved better than that. She was doing so well and moving on with her life and I was worried Logan would end up being a world class jerk and hurt her. I could see that they had chemistry, though, and they were good when they were together so I was rooting for them to figure out their problems.
I think you'll enjoy this novel if you go in expecting exactly what it is - a humorous women's fiction novel. It's so much more than the romance between Holly and Logan. It's about being good to yourself and figuring out what you want in life. It was sweet, not too heavy, and quite funny at times. In fact, I was reminded of Jennifer Weiner at times while reading this book. Mostly because Weiner has written about heroines who have weight issues but also because of the tone of the novel itself. Big Girl Panties should be on your end of summer reading list!

The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (synopsis)
Once the news broke that this novel was actually written by J.K. Rowling I hopped on over to my library's site and reserved it. I was lucky as I was twelfth in line. A few days later the requests were up past 80! They only had one copy though so I had to wait patiently for my turn with this book.
I had no idea what to expect with this novel. I don't read a lot of  mystery/detective stories but I told myself that since I enjoy movies like that every once and awhile, I would probably like the book. Turns out I was right. The novel was fabulous.
I think the best part was the mystery itself. If you've read Harry Potter you know that Rowling gave tons of little hints throughout the series that you didn't realize were hints until you finished the last book. This novel was like that too. I had no idea who could be the murderer and I was anxious to figure it out. I, for one, was surprised to find out the truth at the end. It was great! Er, as great as things could be when there are possible murderers hanging around...
I must say that it did take me a little while to read this book. It's not slow, exactly, but there's a lot of investigating that needs to be done that I think slows things down. All the info that's uncovered is interesting but you have no idea how it fits into the overall story.
If you're at all interested in the story pick up The Cuckoo's Calling. It was a really well told and interesting detective story and I hope Rowling continues with the series. I'd like to see what Strike and Robin get up to next!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Blogger Girl

I was so excited when author Meredith Schorr asked me to be a part of her launch for her new novel Blogger Girl. I wrote a guest post on her blog back in July, shared the cover reveal earlier this month, and today I'm finally sharing my review! I was really looking forward to reading this novel and it happily exceeded expectations. I loved it!

Here's the synopsis:
What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.
A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, "Pastel is the New Black," has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that "chick lit is dead" once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.
While Kim's day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that's turning heads--and pages--across the land. It's also popped into Kim's inbox--for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim's coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.
I couldn't wait to read this one and not just because I've enjoyed Schorr's previous work. I was excited about this novel because I couldn't wait to learn about the main character, Kim. A heroine who's a chick lit book blogger like me? Sounds amazing! I think I definitely could have been friends with Kim. We have a love for the same genre, both write blogs while working in a job that's not so exciting (ok, well, I'm not currently working but when I was my blog work was usually more enjoyable than my day job), we're very close in age, and she just seems like an awesome person. The only thing we may not be able to get over is the fact that she's 4'11" and I'm 6'. That and the fact that she's fictional. :) Kim was a fabulous heroine. She was just flawed enough to make her likeable and her flaws were completely normal and believable. She has qualities that I think every reader can identify with, especially if they're trying to figure out what it is they love to do. I really liked that Kim struggled with her jealousy of Hannah because it (and Nicholas) forced her to face her hidden desire and goal. Kim felt incredibly real and that made her a great heroine. She also had some fabulous friends and they all made for solid, and entertaining, secondary characters.

The romance in this novel was great. I knew Kim would probably end up with Nicholas but I wasn't sure how or when it was going to happen and what sort of obstacles they might face. The issues that did come up were relatable and nothing was over the top. I was rooting for Kim and Nicholas and I hoped they would have a happily ever after.

I liked that Schorr included tweets and bits of reviews in the text. It wasn't too much so it was nice to see these parts of Kim's online life and it helped show what kind of reviewer Kim was. I found it amusing that two very popular chick lit authors were mentioned...sort of. Schorr cleverly changed the names but it was still pretty obvious who she was referring to. I also liked that Kim was a defender of chick lit - the genre and the label. A lot of people hate the term "chick lit" and refuse to use it. I don't see a problem with it and I think we should embrace it. I also wish that people would stop judging others based on their reading tastes. Everyone likes what they like and no one should be made to feel lesser because of what the cover of their book looks like. 

I adored Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr. I think it's a fabulous novel that celebrates all things chick lit. Of course, I probably loved it a little bit more because Kim is a blogger like me but I think this novel is one that all chick lit lovers will enjoy. I loved it so much that I was still thinking of it days after I finished it. Hey, about a sequel? I think there's lots you could do for a second (or third) novel about Kim! :) Blogger Girl is funny, sweet, a little sexy, and so so good. Read it! You won't be disappointed.

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

CLP Blog Tour: His Fantasy Maid

Welcome to the first stop on the CLP Blog Tour for His Fantasy Maid by Susan Blexrud! I was looking forward to reading this one because I like to occasionally read romances and this book sounded like fun. Unfortunately, I didn't end up loving the book and was glad that it wasn't very long. I loved the fact that the plot was different than anything I had read before but the book didn't really thrill me overall.

Here's the synopsis:
On the eve of Jake Sinclair’s bachelor party, his best man surprises him with a fantasy maid named Amy. Clad in a bikini, she cleans his house and jump starts his heart. She's beautiful, smart, and compassionate. Why is a woman like this working as a fantasy maid? A few days later, his thoughts still distracted by the enigmatic Amy, Jake crashes his car and wakes in the hospital emergency room where his fantasy maid is now wearing scrubs and wielding a stethoscope. Is she a hallucination, or is his fantasy maid a doctor?
I think it's important to know going in to reading this book that it's actually more of a novella (I think there were around 95 pages). This meant that things happened really quickly and there may not be satisfactory explanations or results. While I knew something like this could happen, the fact that things were moving speedily along made it seem far fetched and it was hard to get over that fact.

As the cover notes, it is a spicy read. I have no problem with that but I found the word usage odd. At times Blexrud was explicit and used proper (or at least proper slang) terms, other times she used phrases like "down there" and that made the story and scene seem kind of silly. It just didn't work for me, unfortunately.

As I mentioned, the main plot was something that I hadn't ever come across. It made things fun and it was kind of entertaining to read as Amy tried to lie about what she's really doing with her spare time. I liked that Amy was strong willed and determined to pay for her school debts on her own without the help of her brothers. She was a good character to read about and I enjoyed getting to know her a little better throughout the story.

All in all, His Fantasy Maid by Susan Blexrud fell a little flat for me. The main story really wasn't bad but there were too many issues (pacing, word choices, secondary characters that were mildly ridiculous and evil, cover, title...) for me to really love it. I'm sure others could love it but it just wasn't for me.

Happy reading :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Favourites: Reading Things

Photo credit La Mariniere
My friend, fellow blogger, and author Lydia Laceby has started a fun Friday Favourites feature on her blog. I'm a little behind the times, since today is Saturday, but I wanted to take part in this week's list! You can check out her favourite reading things on her site here.

Like all book bloggers, I love to read. I'm pretty basic when it comes to what I need to make my reading experience a good one but there are a few things that can make it particularly fantastic.

Comfy spot. My favourite is my couch but I’ve been reading quite a bit outside on my new lounge chair this summer. Note: make sure you remember sunscreen when you read outside! You could get so into your book that you don’t know how much time has passed. No, this absolutely did not happen to me…

Tea. Since it’s the summer I haven’t been able to indulge in tea drinking and book reading too much (too hot!) but I love curling up with a mug of tea and a book.

Goodreads. I love marking what I’m reading and seeing if any of my friends have read it as well. I don’t keep track of my page progress though. Takes too much time away from actually reading!

Library. I’ve always been a library girl but I’ve recently gotten back into visiting frequently. Free books? I’m there.

Blogs. There are a lot of bloggers out there who I trust to give me excellent recommendations. If I'm not sure I’d like a book I’ll see what some of the bloggers thought of it and make my decision then.

Snacks. Since I never read in bed (I have no willpower and would stay up until the wee hours of the morning reading if I could), I don’t have to worry about crumbs in awkward places. I don’t always need to eat while reading but if I do I need something that I can eat one handed and shove in my mouth without having to take my eyes off the page. Popcorn works well!

Friday, August 23, 2013

An Ode to Sex and the City

As some of you know, I'm currently unemployed. This means that I have a lot of time on my hands! While I have been spending a lot of my time reading (there's a shocker) and hunting for jobs, I decided early on that it would be a great time to start watching my lovely box set of Sex and the City DVDs. And watch I did. According to Get Glue, I watched the entire series (six seasons, 94 episodes) in 28 sittings. I must say that I impress myself. I found it fitting that I watched the series this year as 2013 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the show's premiere (it started in 1998). I saw a number of articles floating around online a few months ago about how much the show did for television and for women and I thought I'd throw my two cents into the ring. Why did this show resonate with me and with so many women?

I didn't watch Sex and the City live. For starters, I didn't get the channel. The main reason though? I was only 11 when it debuted and still in high school when it aired its final episode in 2004. Not quite the target audience. Once I was in university, where I had access to cable, I started watching reruns. I realized as I watched the episodes in order that I had seen quite a number of them at least once through reruns - other than the final season. In all the years since the show ended, I had only seen the finale once...and I couldn't remember the specifics. I loved recognizing some of the more famous episodes (the one with the Rabbit, for example) and remembering how I wrote an article on the Absolut hunk for my advertising class in university. Seeing the fashion and hairstyles change was really interesting, not the mention the way the show was filmed and structured. And watching how the women themselves grew and matured was great too and I think their evolution was well done and written well.

Let's get the big (ha) question out of the way...which of Carrie's boyfriends did I like the most? Usually you'll find that fans are either Team Big or Team Aidan. Of course, there's the odd person who really liked Berger (that post-it note break-up will live on for a long time) or maybe even the Russian (I didn't like him at all), but mostly it's just the two camps. So who do I root for? That would be Aidan. I think I have a pretty good response for whenever someone groans and asks how I could like him more than Big (as I'm sure some of you are right now). I think my problem with Big came from the fact that the first few episodes I ever watched were ones where he's a huge ass. I didn't see him in a good light for ages and I suppose that coloured my judgement. What about you? Are you happy that she ended up with Big in the end or do you wish that she had had a third chance with Aidan?

I finished watching the series a couple of weeks ago but I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the movies yet (which are also included in my pretty set). I loved the first one. I saw it in theatres with my mom, her friend, and my best friend, Marisa. We both teared up and leaned into each other when Charlotte starts yelling at Big because she's so upset with how he's treating Carrie. The second movie though...ugh. I'm pretty sure I saw that one in theatres too but I've blocked it from memory because it was just so damn ridiculous. And that's why I don't really want to watch the movies right away. The end of the series was just so perfect that I don't want to ruin it with the movies. I'll get to them another month or so.

Watching the entire series in order over a fairly short period of time was fantastic. I was so into these characters' lives and I didn't want to leave. Their friendship is one that I, and millions of other women, want for ourselves. How many of you have tried to determine which of your friends are which SATC character? This past May, three girlfriends and I met up for a birthday brunch as three of us have May birthdays. We realized going in that it was going to be a very Sex and the City type brunch (the city was my super small hometown and the mimosas were tea) and we inevitably started discussing who would be who. "Miranda" and "Charlotte" were assigned right off the bat, which left Marisa and I deciding who was "Carrie" and who was "Samantha". In the end, it was my curly hair and love of writing that had the girls declaring that I was "Carrie". Of course, everyone has a little bit of each woman in them. Just as the characters realize throughout the show. They're all so different but they're really similar, too.

I must admit that I was quite sad when I put in the final disc. I didn't want the magical time to end! I can't imagine what the actresses must have been feeling when they filmed the final episodes. (Actually, the special features give a good insight and definitely made me tear up.) As I pressed play on "An American Girl in Paris: Part Une", I found myself hoping that my boyfriend wouldn't come home from work early as I was sure I would find myself crying at some point before I finished the show. I did tear up a few times but he came home after I finished "Part Deux", thankfully. The first scene that set me off was the dinner the four friends have before Carrie leaves for Paris where she says:
Today I had a thought. What if I had never met you?
What if, indeed. Can you imagine not having your best friend(s) in your life? I can't. Nor do I want to!

I've already talked about the friendship but what about the other reason this show resonated with so many women? The fact that they were completely frank and open about everything and discussed so-called taboo subjects with each other. Threesomes? Check. Vibrators? Check. Grooming? Check. These sorts of things weren't really discussed on television before and it was great to see how they continually pushed the envelope throughout the series.

In the end, I had to watch the final episode and I had to say goodbye. I teared up and sighed in happiness as the screen faded to black. Is that overdramatic? Maybe. But I think that's the mark of a good show. When they go out on top with a great finale that makes you so happy you were a part of it, somehow. Even if it was years after the premiere (and finale) and through DVDs, not live TV. Sex and the City was a special show and I think it's right that it's lived on in the hearts of so many women. There's so much more I could say but I think I'll end it here. Let's talk about this show. What do you think of it? What's your favourite episode? Are you happy they ended it when they did or do you wish it had kept going?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: Trains and Lovers

Trains and Lovers was my first Alexander McCall Smith novel, if you can believe it. It seems like I've always been aware of him but I just never read any of his books. I had mixed feelings going into this one as I have always heard great things of him but I hadn't heard rave reviews of this book. Turns out I still have mixed feelings! The book was alright but it wasn't anything all that special.

Here's the synopsis:
The rocking of the train car, the sound of its wheels on the rails...there's something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation. Which is just what happens to the four strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, they entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives. A young, keen-eyed Scotsman recounts how he turned a friendship with a young woman co-worker into a romance by spotting an anachronistic train in an 18th-century painting. An Australian woman shares how her parents fell in love and spent their life together running a railroad siding in the remote Australian Outback. A middle-aged American arts patron sees 2 young men saying goodbye in the station and recalls his youthful crush on another man. And a young Englishman describes how exiting his train at the wrong station allowed him to meet an intriguing woman whom he impulsively invited to dinner--and into his life.
I liked the idea of the story. I think everyone's probably struck up a conversation with a stranger before simply because of proximity. In the case of this train journey, the characters had their destination in common and an intimate conversation sprung from that. I like the idea of being able to tell a story to complete strangers that you may not tell your friends. There's something a little freeing about that. It's not that these characters are giving away their darkest secrets but they don't have to worry about any preconceived notions that they would have with friends.

I think my problem was that the stories did not have equal weight in my head while I was reading the book. I was most interested in Andrew's story and always wanted the focus to go back to him whenever another character was telling their story. Perhaps it's because he was really the first that we're introduced to and the first to speak in the train car or perhaps it's just because I liked his story the most. I suspect it's a combination of the two. David's story, the middle-aged American, just seemed like a throwaway and it didn't stick with me. Kay, the Australian woman, had an interesting historical story but I wished it had been her story, not her parent's. Finally, the Englishman, Hugh, doesn't get a chance to tell his story until well past halfway through the book. I suppose it makes sense that it was unbalanced because this way everyone gets their chance to tell their full story during their trip but I just wish it the stories were told in a slightly different way.

Trains and Lovers was a really fast read at 240 pages (it's also a small book, not your average hardcover size). Even though I didn't love it, it hasn't turned me off reading more of Alexander McCall Smith. I'd like to see what some of his other novels are like before deciding whether or not I like his writing. I'd recommend this novel if you're looking for a quick read that will make you think about the people you meet and what their stories are.

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Finding My Happy Pace

I've mentioned several times on the blog that I'm a huge fan of Heather Wardell. I've loved every single one of her books and Finding My Happy Pace was no exception. I've been trying to catch up on her novels but she's just such a fast writer and I have a bazillion other books to read so I'm still behind. I've also gotten myself out of order! She has a Toronto Series that's not really a true series but some of her previous characters appear or are mentioned in subsequent books. Since I've already read the next book in the series, I'm now only behind by three books. Not bad!

Here's the synopsis of Finding My Happy Pace:
If thirty-year-old Megan were any more of a doormat, she'd have footprints on her back. She helps anyone and everyone, no matter the cost to herself, and she's always been that way. Even the thought of withholding her assistance makes her feel sick. Worse, it makes her feel like she's a bad person, selfish and unkind. She takes up running purely to avoid gaining weight, but as she trains with her cute but heartbroken coach Andrew she becomes more able to do things she'd never thought she could, both physically and emotionally. The day before she runs her first marathon, though, her best friend's demands result in the biggest challenge yet to her developing assertiveness and Megan must decide: cave in as she always has before or stick to her new-found 'happy pace' in running and life.
Usually I give Heather's books a five star rating on Goodreads because I adore them so much. This time, though, I couldn't quite justify it. I loved the story but I hated how much of a doormat Megan was. Because of that annoyance I couldn't quite love it as much as I'd like. It was tough because I really did like Megan and she's a great person and character but reading about how she constantly gave into her so-called BFF and her mother was frustrating. Oh, and speaking of her mother...the family dynamics in this one drove me up the wall. Though it's a testament to Heather's writing that I felt as frustrated as I did. Sure, I was constantly yelling at Megan to stand up for herself but I could also see exactly why it was so difficult.

I'm so happy that Andrew featured prominently in this novel. He was in Planning to Live (funnily enough, the only other book of Heather's that I gave four stars to. You can read my review here) and I always wondered what he got up to afterwards. It was great to see that he was trying to move on with his life and was open to, well, opening up to someone else. It's hard to say too much without giving away the ending of Planning to Live! He's a great guy, though, and I'm really happy he and Megan were able to connect.

I really liked the marathon/running aspect of this novel. I always think that Heather has really interesting and unique ideas and activities for her main characters. Training for a marathon isn't a very unique thing, you're right, but I don't think I've personally read any novels about it before. It was interesting and made me think about my running obsessed friend, Heidi. We all tease her but I'm also so incredibly proud of her for being so dedicated and running so many races. This line made me think of her and made me giggle:

Once again, Heather Wardell delivers a winner with Finding My Happy Pace. It's not my favourite of hers but I think everyone would enjoy it. I can't wait to move onto her next one! Hopefully I'll be all caught up by the end of the year!

Happy reading :)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Here Comes the Bride

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.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday has us listing our favourite books with a certain setting. My first thought was to do a geographical location and pick Canada but then I realized I could have a little more fun and make my list more abstract. I decided to list ten of my favourite books that feature weddings! It is wedding season, after all. ( everyone else's Facebook timeline exploding with wedding pictures and engagement announcements right now? Or is it just me because I'm 26 and at the age where everyone is getting married?). Anywho. I picked these ten books because I've read them (there are obviously many others out there). I've reviewed almost all of them so the links lead to my reviews. Did I miss any of your favourites?

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

Bride Quartet - Nora Roberts
This is probably my favourite all about weddings book. I loved loved loved this series. It was sweet and fun and I loved reading about the four friends that planned weddings. And the covers are gorgeous, too!

Wedding Season - Katie Fforde
I adored this book that features a wedding planner.

Nearlyweds - Beth Kendrick
I loved this book about three couples that weren't technically married. Talk about a paperwork screw up!

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger - Beth Harbison
This is another one where the main character doesn't actually get married but she does work in a wedding dress shop and designs and creates dresses. And she does attend a wedding at the end.

When Girlfriends Chase Dreams - Savannah Page
I love the When Girlfriends... series and I liked reading about Claire and was happy she was finally getting married.

Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan
Anyone who knows this book is probably wondering why I put it on the list. The wedding isn't really the main point of the story but it is the reason Nick brings his girlfriend Rachel to Singapore. Plus the wedding (and bachelor/bachelorette parties) are so ridiculously extravagant that it's so much fun to read about. Amazing novel.

Arranged - Catherine McKenzie
One of my favourite books ever, Arranged takes a different look at a wedding as the main character ends up using an arranged marriage service. This is a fabulous novel that I highly recommend.

All At Sea - Heather Wardell
In this novel, the main characters are to marry on a cruise ship after only a few months of dating. But what happens when the bride to be has already dated the groom's brothers?

Wedding Night - Sophie Kinsella
Imagine getting married and then having anything and everything go wrong so you can't enjoy your wedding night to the full extent? I'm sure that would be quite frustrating. This novel is classic Kinsella and so much funny ridiculousness ensues.

The Wedding Beat - Devan Sipher
I'm sure you're familiar with the movie 27 Dresses, yes? So you know the character played by James Marsden, The New York Times wedding beat reporter. Turns out he's based on a real guy - Devan Sipher. This novel is loosely based on his experiences and follows a wedding reporter on his various adventures.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cover Reveal: Blogger Girl

The release date still might be a ways away but I'm still really excited about reading Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr. I'm also excited to have taken part in her Celebration of Bloggers back on July 30th (you can check out my post here) and, finally, I'm excited to share the cover of this upcoming novel with you!

First up, check out what the book will be about:
What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.
A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, "Pastel is the New Black," has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that "chick lit is dead" once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.
While Kim's day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick-lit scene with a hot new book that's turning heads--and pages--across the land. It's also popped into Kim's inbox--for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim's coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.
Now, without further ado, I present to you the cover of Blogger Girl!

Doesn't it look like fun? I can't wait to read it!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bunch of Mini Reviews 3: Library Edition

It's time for another round of mini reviews! I've been using my local library a lot lately because I'm trying to cut back on spending (on everything, not just books) and I already own a bazillion books that I haven't read yet. At one point this summer I think I had nine books reserved! Here are three I've read recently. Enjoy!

Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walters (synopsis)
I had heard so many good things about this novel since it was released last summer. I thought it sounded alright but wasn't too sure how I'd feel about it. After it came across my path a few times recently I decided to request it from my library.
I have to say that I was disappointed in this novel. It's not like I had high expectations for it, I just was surprised that there wasn't more drawing me in. The characters didn't do anything for me - and there were a lot of them. I was annoyed by the constant change in time, too. There are scenes from 1945, '62, '67, '78, '07, '08, and "recently", with most taking place in 1962 and recently. There was also a movie pitch chapter (about a guy in the 1800s), and two book chapter chapters. It was just too fragmented for me.
What I did like, however, was the film history aspect of the novel. The parts in 1962 are occurring because of the epic Cleopatra so it was fun to think about what it would have been like if this was true.
Beautiful Ruins wasn't a bad novel and I can see why it received so much praise. It just wasn't for me.
Now, here's something that doesn't really have much to do with the story but I want to note it. Take another look at the cover of this one, note the author's name, and read the synopsis here. I will wait. *hums tunelessly* Would you be surprised to learn that Jess Walters is, in fact, a man? I was. It's sort of a reverse genderflip (see this article for a crash course in what I'm talking about). My point is that we're so used to seeing bright colours and rounded, almost cursive, script on covers of books by women that even I assumed that this book was by a female (though, to be fair, I don't know a single male Jess). I just found it interesting and wanted to share!

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger - Beth Harbison (synopsis)
I've always heard good things about Harbison in the chick lit world (and even have one of her previous books on my shelf) so I reserved her latest at my library to see what she was all about.
I read this one in one day and it was sweet and fun. However, it's not super amazing and I wonder what her fans think of this book compared to her others. I think I was expecting a little more and, while I did enjoy reading this book, it's kind of forgettable. Does that sound harsh and negative? I suppose it does. There just wasn't anything about this story that really stood out for me. I had the ending pegged from the start. I can usually look past that predictability within my favourite genre if there's a really good journey or twists but this book didn't quite have that.
I think one of my favourite parts was the challenge Quinn's best friend, Glenn, set up for her. He gave her a task every day that was something out of her comfort zone (going commando day and day drunk day had some amusing results).
I also really liked the small town aspect of this novel. I loved that Quinn owned a bridal shop and designed and sewed custom wedding dresses and that Glenn worked right next door at a wine and cheese shop ( may have been just a cheese shop..). The connection Quinn has with Frank and Burke's grandmother's farm is really great, too.
I still think that this book a good read overall. I enjoyed Quinn's story and I think others would too.

Inferno - Dan Brown (synopsis)
I put myself on the massive waiting list for Brown's latest (well after the fact...not really sure why I didn't request it the minute I knew it was being released) and waited patiently for it to be my turn. I probably could have read it in one day but there were parts in the middle that really dragged for me and I found myself putting it aside for chunks of time. I think my problem was that I let all the negative talk about Brown get into my head. Since I've been paying more attention to the literary/publishing/bookish world in the last couple of years I've seen how some authors get slammed because they don't live up to some sort of standard. I know this is silly and that these books can be really enjoyable but it still affected me. Annoying, I tell you.
I did eventually get past it and I was reminded, close to the end of the book, why I enjoy Brown's novels. He does a good job of completely surprising you. I thought things were all wrapped up and all the surprises were revealed. Nope. Not even by a long shot. Things were cleverly hidden and I would have kept reading to find out exactly what happened had it not been close to midnight.
I found it incredibly irritating that Sienna was constantly being referred to as pretty. I swear, every other description of her included "pretty" or "attractive". It was kind of ridiculous. We know Langdon always solves the mystery with a hot girl, we get it. Let's move on!
I think the other thing I didn't like as much about this one was the mystery (and is probably also the reason I didn't love the last book) itself. I like history but I really like art history and I think that's what I enjoyed about the first two books. Learning about Dante in this book was really interesting but the scientific and villian aspect didn't excite me. In fact, it was kind of terrifying because of the biological things that could happen that we may not even know about.
Overall, Inferno was a good read. Was it my favourite Langdon novel from Brown? No. But it's exactly what you'd expect from him - fast paced, mysterious, and enjoyable.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A to Z Bookish Survey

Created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner

Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner has done it again. She's created another really fun bookish survey! On Friday Jamie revealed this A to Z survey for anyone looking to shake things up with their blog. It's a great idea because it gives us something else to do and talk about other than a review. Hopefully it'll create some fun discussions around the blogosphere! (And my personal hope is that it won't all be about YA). 

Here goes!:

Author you’ve read the most books from:
My first thought was Sarah Dessen then I checked my “most read authors” list on Goodreads…turns out it’s Sophie Kinsella!

Best Sequel Ever:
Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares. This was the final book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and I think it was perfectly done. It broke my heart and I know a lot of others thought it was unnecessary but I thought it was amazing. 

Currently Reading:
As I write this, nothing. But I will probably start Trains and Lovers tonight. 

Drink of Choice While Reading:
Tea, for sure. I may be slightly addicted to David’s Tea…

E-reader or Physical Book?
I’ll always love physical books but e-readers definitely have their uses (gym, traveling, while eating).

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:
Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door.  This is a recently discovered book boyfriend so that’s probably why he’s top of mind. While I was reading it I texted my friend something like this (I no longer have the actual text):  “I know he’s fictional, and 18, and that I have a boyfriend but I need Cricket in my life”. He’s a bit nerdy and shy, as well as tall, and is exactly what I’d go for when I was in high school.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
The Hunger Games. I know, I blew it off for years and finally read it before the movie came out. Amazing.

Hidden Gem Book:
Breaking the Rules – Cat Lavoie

Important Moment in your Reading Life:
Starting this blog was pretty huge as was going to my first author signing (Sarah Dessen, two years ago - reaction post here) but I think the two internships I did this year (one at Random House of Canada - wrap up post here - and the other at Project Bookmark Canada - wrap up post here) were pretty big moments.

Just Finished:
Finding My Happy Pace – Heather Wardell (one of my favourite authors!)

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
Horror. I am the biggest scaredy cat.

Longest Book You’ve Read:
Using the nifty trick of sorting my Goodreads list by number of pages…seriously? Breaking Dawn is 756 pages? Yikes.

Major book hangover because of:
There are probably several but the first I thought of was The Hunger Games series. Didn’t want to think about starting anything new after that.

Number of Bookcases You Own:
I have two, tall stuffed ones at my own house and another tall full one in my room at my mom’s plus a bunch that are on a few of her shelves in her living room.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
Harry Potter. Oh, one book? ;) Ummm…I got nothing. I haven’t reread books in ages, other than all the Sarah Dessen books I’ve been rereadingthis year for a challenge.

Preferred Place To Read:
On my couch. Or any couch, really. As long as it’s long enough to fit me (I’m tall and couches don’t always like to accommodate my tallness!)

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:
There are probably several but I took a picture of this one from Dreamland by Sarah Dessen that really affected me:
“I stood in front of my mirror and turned slowly, watching the skirt twirl up and fall around my knees. I wanted to be a girl that could wear a dress like this. Instead, the girl in the mirror looked back at me, and I hardly recognized her. She was just some strange girl who’d tumbled off a pyramid, falling into a dream, and now waited, in the a beautiful dress, like some princess in a forgotten fairy tale, for someone to come save her.”
Reading Regret:
Not reading more Canadian literature until this year.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):
Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson. The final (I think) book was just released earlier this year (again, I think) and I have yet to read it! Part of that is because I haven’t discovered it in a store yet and I want the physical copy because I own the rest and my mom’s read them, too.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:
Arranged – Catherine McKenzie
The Truth About Forever – Sarah Dessen
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Unapologetic Fangirl For:
Catherine McKenzie. I love that she’s Canadian and I love all her books. She’s a huge supporter of other authors too, which I think is great. She’s always been so nice when I’ve emailed her and I hope to someday meet her in person!

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
Longbourn – Jo Baker. Think Downton Abbey but with the Bennet’s servants. Yes, the Pride and Prejudice Bennet’s. I’ve been hearing about this one since January when I was at Random House of Canada and I NEED IT.

Worst Bookish Habit:
Skimming. I’m a fast reader but sometimes I find myself skimming and not noticing things because I just want to get to the good parts or the end.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
Comfort Food – Kate Jacobs.

Your latest book purchase:
The Week Before the Wedding – Beth Kendrick. I had a gift card and a 25% off coupon! Win!

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
Oh man. Um. I’ve been very good lately and haven’t gone to bed with a book. I have no willpower so I would keep reading until I was done. I don’t know what the last one was but I do know that I stayed up past midnight on a Wednesday or something (ie a “school” night) to finish Catching Fire last fall. 

Cover Reveal: Lying to Meet You

I'm so excited to share the cover of Anna Garner's new novel, Lying to Meet You. I've read a few of her novels under the name Libby Mercer and I've loved them. This new novel sounds fabulous and I can't wait to read it!

First, here's the synopsis of this upcoming novel:
Does being in a relationship make you a hot commodity in the eyes of would-be suitors?
Chloe Lane is about to find out. When her childhood pal, Ethan Webster, asks her to play the part of his girlfriend in order to test this theory, she reluctantly agrees. As a work-crazed fashion designer, boutique owner and soon-to-be reality show judge, Chloe has no time for a real boyfriend, but being part of a faux pair will do just fine. Not that she has any intention of trying to attract someone else.
Opportunity unexpectedly knocks when Chloe meets fellow reality judge, William Shannon. Super successful and super sexy, this high-powered entrepreneur inspires Chloe to test Ethan’s theory herself. Now, on top of keeping her fashion business productive, carving out a new role as a television personality, maintaining a fake relationship and attempting to lay the groundwork for a future relationship, she’s lying to William, lying to her friends, lying to her family and quite possibly lying to herself. Will Chloe be able to keep it all together, or are things about to explode?
Now...the cover!

Fun, isn't it? I think it really captures how torn Chloe is feeling. The novel will be released next month and I'll have a review for you too.

About Anna:
Born and raised in the Midwest, Anna Garner's adventurous spirit kicked in after graduating from high school, and she's since lived in Boston, NYC and London. For several years, Anna worked in fashion--first as a journalist and then as a shopkeeper, and for a while she dabbled in design. Although chick lit was her first love, Anna started writing quirky romances, and her first one, Fashioning a Romance, was published in May 2012 under the name of Libby Mercer. This was followed by two more quirky romances: Unmasking Maya and The Karmic Connection. Since Lying to Meet You is written in old school chick lit style and isn't a clear cut love story, Anna decided to publish it under her real name. She currently lives in San Francisco and spends most of her time cranking out more stories.

Finally, thanks to A Tale of Many Reviews for organizing this cover reveal tour!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Kissing My Old Life Au Revoir

When author Eliza Watson asked me to review her novel Kissing My Old Life Au Revoir I read the synopsis and was hooked by the first two words: event planner. After my undergrad I did a diploma in event management and have since planned a few events so I was interested to see what Samantha's life was like. The novel was enjoyable, if a little dramatic at times.

Here's the synopsis:
Event planner Samantha Hunter is prepared for a few challenges when escorting a group of good ole boy beer distributors to Paris, the city of haute cuisine and fine wines. However, she doesn’t foresee being passed up for a promotion because she is too professional and doesn’t knock back beers with her clients.
Her focus soon switches from landing the well-deserved promotion to finding her free-spirited sister, who lives in Paris and has disappeared, leaving behind family secrets to be uncovered. A sexy puppeteer helps Samantha search for clues to her sister’s whereabouts and teaches her to embrace her inner child. And a funeral-crashing psychic demonstrates the importance of living life to the fullest. It takes Samantha’s life spiraling out of control for her to finally get a life.
I know I was looking forward to reading this one because of the event planning aspect but I was happy that this didn't take centre stage. Samantha's not really working for the good majority of the book but it is clear from her personality that she's a planner. She's totally an A-type personality, which is great for event planners (and probably why I'm not actually working in events, haha), and is so focused on her work that she hasn't had a life. I don't think there are enough novels about planners and that's a bit of a shame. Yes, there are many wedding planner books but there are other options. I think this is an untapped source because, like weddings, event planning provides lots of built in drama. One of the first things I learned in school was that something always goes wrong! :)

There were a few things in the book that I felt could have been cut out. There was one unnecessary bit of drama around a situation that is not mentioned in the synopsis and I won't mention it either because it's a surprise in the book. (Confused yet?) Let's just say it involves two men and not knowing how they're involved in things. Moving on! There was also this crazy painter that was obsessed with getting paintings back from Libby and Samantha had to deal with him. I have no idea what the point of this was.

I liked that there was some intrigue in this novel. I think that, in part, helped the novel move along and made sure the story didn't stall or get boring. The family secrets that are uncovered were really interesting and it added more depth to the overall story. I'm really happy with how things turned out, family wise especially, for Samantha and Libby. I also liked that I didn't quite know how the story would end. I had some guesses but I really couldn't predict exactly what would happen.

Overall, Kissing My Old Life Au Revoir by Eliza Watson was enjoyable but there was sometimes too much excess to work through that the main story got a little lost. I'd still recommend this one to women's fiction lovers who are looking for a little something different.

Now, time for the info about the giveaway the title of this post references! Eliza has been kind enough to offer an autographed print copy of her book to a US/Canada winner or an ebook gifted from Amazon, B & N or Smashwords if the winner is international. Entry will be super duper easy. Just leave a comment and let me know why you'd want to travel to Paris (or your dream destination if Paris isn't your cup of tea) or what made you want to travel to Paris (if you're one of those lucky people who have visited). Make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. Since this review is part of a tour, I'll have the contest open until the last day - August 23rd. You'll have until midnight EST to enter. I've had some people have issues with comments before so if you're unable to comment, tweet me @KaleyS23 or send me an email books.etc.blogger AT gmail DOT com. Good luck!

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

Congrats to Steph (from Steph the Bookworm) for winning the contest! Thanks to those you entered :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Gimme More!

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 almost a month since I've done a Top Ten Tuesday and when I saw this week's topic I knew it was time to get back in the game. The topic this week is: Top Ten Books I Wish Could Have Had Sequels (they were complete stories but you just could have read more and more about these characters or set in that world). Every bookworm has had the feeling of "Whyyyyyyyyy is this oooooverrrrrrrrr?" once they've finished a great book (or series). I approached this topic by looking through my Goodreads read list and thinking about which story I wasn't ready to saw goodbye to. As it turns out I had different reasons for wanting more and I've given a quick line explaining each choice.

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

First, the obvious choices: Pride and Prejudice (or Persuasion) by Jane Austen because I wanted to know what happens after the happily ever after and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (duh. I just can't get enough of this world).

Breaking the Rules - Cat Lavoie
Quite simply, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to these characters.

The Bone Cage - Angie Abdou
What happened at the Olympics? What happened after? I want to know these things!

Forgotten - Catherine McKenzie
I really want a story about Stephanie, the main character's best friend.

Where We Belong - Emily Giffin
There's so much more that can be explored and I'm hoping Giffin does decide to write the sequel (which she's hinted at).

The Space Between Us - Jessica Martinez
I'd love to see how Amelia did in university and what her life was like and how her relationship with her sister was repaired.

The Inn Boonsboro Trilogy - Nora Roberts
Yes, this was a series but I was hit with such a strong "Nooo, don't make me leave this world and these characters!" after finishing The Perfect Hope, the final book.

The Single Girl's To-Do List - Lindsey Kelk
This one was just so much fun that I'd love to see what adventures happened next.

Elly in Bloom - Colleen Oakes
This is a bit of a cheat because there will be another book but I didn't know it when I finished this one! Elly grabbed me, unexpectedly, and I can't wait to see where her story goes.