Friday, June 30, 2017

Cover Reveal: Things to Do When It's Raining

I read Marissa Stapley's debut novel, Mating for Life, almost exactly three (!!!) years ago. I absolutely loved it - you can read my review here. Since then, I've been (im)patiently waiting for her next novel. She's been busy writing book reviews for The Globe and Mail (I'm seriously envious of her for being able to do this...maybe someday that'll be me...) and, happily, working on her second book, Things to Do When It's Raining. The novel is being published in February 2018 and I cannot wait! I've been fortunate enough to see Marissa at several book events over the past couple of years (I actually just saw her on Wednesday night at K.A. Tucker's launch!) and she is just oh so lovely. So, since I love her work and her as a person, I'm thrilled to share her cover with you today!

But's what this upcoming novel is all about:
When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lily and George. A childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up and got over her heartbreak, and started a life for herself in New York City.
After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay by separate forces. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline and their past unravelling around her. A lifetime of secrets that implicate Gabe and Mae’s family reveal a version of the past that will forever change Mae’s future.
From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a poignant generational story about family and secrets. With honesty and heart, Marissa Stapley reminds us of the redemptive power of love and forgiveness, and that, ultimately, family is a choice.
How good does that sound? I can't wait to curl up with it and a hot chocolate when it's released next year! (Though it's odd to think of drinking a cozy hot beverage when July is tomorrow...)

So...are you ready to see the cover? Of course you are!

I adore the blue and the red together (though...may I ask why the sky is blue when I think it should be raining?). I'm also a big fan of the simple font. I love me some handwritten titles (think Until It Fades, Tucker's book that I just reviewed this week) but the block letters just looks so crisp and lovely.

Go ahead and add Things to Do When It's Raining to your Goodreads shelf and mark your calendars for February 2018. Hopefully you're just as excited for Marissa Stapley's upcoming novel as I am!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Blog Tour: Until It Fades

Until It Fades was my first five star, holy-crap-everyone-and-their-sister-needs-to-read-it book of 2017. I shouldn't have been surprised because K.A. Tucker is one of my favourite authors and I'd probably enjoy anything she writes. Until It Fades, though? Hands down my favourite of her novels. It had everything I love in a story and that, paired with Tucker's excellent writing skills, meant I could barely put the book down. Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Atria Books for allowing to be part of the blog tour!

Here's the synopsis (via Goodreads):
Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.
And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.
Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.
For a time.
But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.
Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?
I was really looking forward to Until It Fades because Tucker hasn't really written a novel that's so suspense-free. I adore those twisty books, don't get me wrong, but going into a book knowing there aren't any murderers to track down or mysteries to work out was kind of nice. I may read a bit out of my comfort zone every once and awhile but I am a slave to Happily Ever Afters. Of course, Tucker put her own stamp on the story. This book might be lighter than her others but that doesn't mean it's without drama or surprises (if you're like me, you won't have everything figured out, which was a nice change for me, actually), which added so much more to the story. 

I can't resist a good story that involves athletes. It's no surprise that Tucker, a Canadian, would write about an NHL player. (Also, minor spoiler alert if you read between the lines, if I was writing a story about hockey players I would probably give a certain team a fairy tale ending too.) If you're not into the sportsing, don't worry. Madden's identity may be incredibly entwined with his profession - which means a lot of hockey talk from him - but the games and the lingo won't get in the way of your enjoyment of the novel if you don't like hockey. After all, Catherine barely understands the game and she gets along just fine with Brett.

I think I've mentioned before that I read when I'm doing cardio at the gym. Because of a bit of a messed up back, I do most of my cardio workout on the recumbent bike. Bonus: it's a great machine for reading. The day I started this book I went to the gym after work for a 30 minute session and I honestly did not even notice the time passing. I was so incredibly engrossed in this book that I just pushed myself on the bike when the intervals required it and kept reading. I couldn't figure out why I felt so tired after my workout until I realized that I was working myself so hard because I was so into the story and I just didn't even realize it. 

Catherine was a fantastic character to read. She's tough and resilient because of the scandal she was involved in seven years earlier. (The book opens in 2010 and has flashbacks so you really get a sense of what happened and how Catherine was feeling at the time.) All she cares about is making sure her daughter, Brenna, is looked after. It's almost impossible to put yourself in her shoes but somehow Tucker made me feel every single thing Catherine was feeling. 

Speaking of characters...there are so many amazing secondary characters in this novel. Lou and Leroy were lifesavers for Catherine right after she left home (Gilmore Girls fans - think of how Mia stepped up for Lorelai and Rory), as was Keith. An aside: I really want Keith to get his own HEA. And Jack. And Misty. Point is...I loved reading about all of the people in Catherine's life.

And that cover? It's so ridiculously simple and doesn't tell you much of anything but I love it. 

I often find that some of the hardest reviews to write are for the books I love the most. Until It Fades is one of those books. I don't feel I can do it justice so I'm going to end this sort of rambling review quite simply: read K.A. Tucker's latest book (out tomorrow). It really doesn't matter what genre you're into. If you want a good, interesting, well written story, you've got it. And then can we please talk about it because I need to gush about it some more!

Find KA Tucker online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Want a copy? You can buy one at all these locations:
Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Books-a-Million * IndieBound * Walmart * Apple * Google * Kobo
Already have a copy and want a little something extra? You're in luck - the publishers are giving away FIVE signed copies of Until It Fades. And great news for my fellow Canadians, you are eligible! Good luck :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for a review as part of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Lost and Found Sisters

If you're a romance reader, you'll know Jill Shalvis. You may know her work even if romance isn't your go-to genre. I've read a few of her books before and always found them lovely so I was looking forward to her latest book, Lost and Found Sisters. While it wasn't a bad book, it didn't thrill me or live up to my expectations.

Here's the synopsis:
They say life can change in an instant…
After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?
The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.
On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.
As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.
I wish I could put my finger on why I didn't really like this one. Like I said, it's not bad. It's sweet but it's very two dimensional. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities for really expanding on the story and building up the characters. This novel - and the series - is supposed to be more of a "women's fiction" story than a contemporary romance. And maybe that's the problem? Not to say that romances can't be deep, but there's usually more meat to a women's fiction than a romance. I'm saying this as a romance reader who loves that they follow a certain formula and don't mind as long as they have an interesting journey in the middle...but this one wasn't as interesting or well developed as it should have been. I could also really tell that Shalvis was setting this up to be a series (side note...are there really that many women's fiction series out there?). It seemed like the characters that would be showing up in the next books were plopped into Quinn and Mick's story simply because they had to be...and not necessarily because they added anything to the story.

I did really like Quinn. I wanted her to be more three dimensional, but she was sweet, funny, and an all around good person. She knows her flaws and is trying to work on them but it's hard for her. I can't blame her because I am sure the death of a sister would be an awful, terrible thing to go through and it would definitely screw you up for awhile.

I thought Mick was really right for Quinn. He had his own stuff to sort through (I totally get the not wanting to move back to his small hometown, though mine isn't nearly as teeny as Wildstone) but he and Quinn just seemed to fit. He supported her and tore down the walls she put up after her sister's death. And he didn't really push for more than what she was willing (or able) to give. He understood that creating a relationship with her new sister was the most important thing in her life and he helped her work on that relationship.

I love stories set in small towns so I enjoyed that aspect of this novel. There were many quirky (and nosy) characters in town. Wildstone was hit during the recession and hadn't quite found a way to bounce back, despite many townspeople trying their hardest to succeed. These issues actually play a part in Mick's backstory and I really wish the first hurdle - and a very big problem - hadn't been resolved between the end of the story and the epilogue. I felt a bit let down by not seeing how Mick succeeded. (Vague, I know, but I don't want to give anything away.)

Overall, Lost and Found Sisters is a cute read but Jill Shalvis' latest wasn't anything special. I wouldn't really consider it a women's fiction novel and really wonder why it's being pushed as such. Despite not being wowed, Shalvis did enough to keep me interested in Wildstone. I want to make sure everyone I met in this first story is going to be ok and get their own Happily Ever After.

*I received a copy of the novel from the publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Blog Tour: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Like many avid readers, I love finding that book that grabs hold of you from the beginning and refuses to let you go. It's that story that you want to finish because you love it so much but know you're going to be devastated when you turn the last page. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid's latest novel, was that kind of book for me. I. Loved. It.

Here's the synopsis, from Goodreads:
From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.
Reid's novels are always well written and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, while a bit different from her other stories, was no exception. Her characters jump off the page, the story flows, and you can perfectly picture yourself in the setting of the novel. Which, seeing as half of the book took place in the past, is quite impressive.

The entire book is told in first person - but that first person actually changes. The story starts with Monique (actually it starts with an "article" that gives just enough information about Evelyn Hugo so the reader fully understands her star power) but when Evelyn and Monique are working on the memoir, Evelyn's memories are told in first person as well. That sounds confusing but I didn't even notice it until I started working on this review. That's how seamless it was.

This novel has all of the best kind of drama that really helps the story grab you. There are family issues (Evelyn's upbringing left a lot to be desired and Monique's father died when she was young) and career struggles (Evelyn had to work to prove herself and Monique's journalism career isn't going the way she'd hoped). Relationship problems seem to be at the heart of the story (seven husbands, duh) but as Evelyn discusses her marriages you realize the husbands really aren't the point of the story, or her life.

I loved reading about Evelyn's career. Old Hollywood is so interesting (and always makes me wish I had taken more film courses in university). Reid balanced just enough historical details - what it would have been like when actors had contracts with studios, for example - without bogging down the overall storyline.

Evelyn fought for pretty much everything in her life. She's strong. She's unapologetic about using whatever tools she has at her disposal to get what she wants. She's not entirely likeable but she's captivating and a character I still haven't been able to get out of my head.

Monique was sort of a secondary character in the novel but I think Reid did a great job of showing her growth throughout the novel. Monique started out in a supporting role - in her life and against Evelyn - but as the story went on, and as she learned more about and from Evelyn, she began to turn into the leading actress of her own life. (Yeah, that's a bit cheesy but, come on. The story is about a famous actress. I couldn't not make those comparisons :) ) Evelyn changed Monique's life, and not just because of certain stories that come to light, but also by knowing and learning from this strong, formidable woman

I really wasn't sure how the whole story was going to play out. Reid kept me guessing and I actually gasped in a few places, and I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped too. The twists added a whole new, and wonderful, dimension to the story.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was the first book in a long time that gave me an immediate book hangover. I didn't know what to do with myself after I finished Taylor Jenkins Reid's newest novel. I wanted to reread it and also thrust it upon every other reader (and non-reader) I knew because it's just that good. This is a novel you are definitely going to want with you this summer and it's one that just might be my favourite of 2017.

Make sure you check out the other reviews that have already been posted as part of this blog tour. We were all in love with Evelyn and this novel!

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for a review for the purposes of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: New York, Actually

It's been just over a year since Sarah Morgan published the first book in her series, From Manhattan With Love. I read (devoured) the first three books and thought that was that. They each followed a different friend and the trio was complete. Or so I thought. I was so happy when I realized there would be another book in the series, even if it wouldn't really feature the three women I had come to love in the first three books. New York, Actually may focus on new characters but it still has the sweet, sexy, and funny feel I had come to love in the first few books. (You can read all my reviews on the first books here.)

Here's the synopsis:
Meet Molly
New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.
Meet Daniel
A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…
Molly and Daniel think they know everything there is to know about relationships…until they meet each other that is…
As I said, New York, Actually introduces some new characters into the series. Daniel is the brother of the twins who own a dog walking company that Urban Genie (the company run by the three women featured in the first three books) uses regularly for their clients. Follow that? Basically, as is typical with these types of romances, there's a link between the sets of characters but not a very strong one. It was a little weird to be in the same series and barely see the other characters from past books (and it was only Eva, the heroine in Miracle on 5th Avenue). But, at the same time, I was really happy to get back into this world and see where Morgan is going to take the next few romances. I figure the next book will focus on Fliss, one of the twins, and then the next will be Harriet, the other twin. But that's just my guess! 

*checks Goodreads* Would you look at that. I'm right! Holiday in the Hamptons will release later this month and Moonlight Over Manhattan is being published in October. Yay! More books!

But back to the story! Some people don't like to read romances because they think they're too predictable. I always say that's exactly why I love romances. Yes, I know the two main characters will get together in the end and there will be several bumps in the road before they can finally commit, but it's that journey to the Happily Ever After that is always different. Not every author or story offers a good journey but Morgan always writes an extremely satisfying romance with a swoonworthy HEA. 

Molly was an interesting character. The reader learns pretty early on that she writes a relationship advice blog under a pseudonym and she hides her identity because of something that happened in the past. That something isn't revealed in its entirety until much later in the book and it's one of the reasons I kept turning the pages. I sometimes find with romances that it's really easy to see what the main characters should or shouldn't do. In the case of New York, Actually, I couldn't understand why Molly was so hung up on the past and was so scared of letting anyone know what had happened. Of course, it's easy for me to say when I haven't been in those (kind of ridiculously insane) situations. If romance novels have taught me anything, it's to just be honest and talk to the person you're dating.  

Daniel seemed to be a perfect fit for Molly, even if Molly didn't realize it at first (she actually fought against it pretty hard). He's a nice guy and very successful, plus being good looking didn't hurt. But he wasn't quite as swoonworthy as some of the other heroes I've read in romances, and in Morgan's in particular. I think it's partly because I just saw this story as Molly's. She was a much more interesting and dominate character and Daniel was there to finally allow her to let go of the past and break down her (many) emotional walls. 

I'm so happy Sarah Morgan continued on with her From Manhattan with Love series and wrote New York, Actually. If you're a romance readers, I definitely encourage you to pick these ones up! It doesn't really matter if you read them in order and New York, Actually is a great place to start the series if you want to keep up with the latest books since they're sort of all new characters. Enjoy!

*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Once and for All

It is a happy, happy summer when Sarah Dessen has a new book out in the world. I've been reading her novels for about half my life now (!!!) and I will continue to read them as long as she continues to write. I love her storytelling, how her stories focus on a life-changing moment for a teenage girl, and how so many of her novels are set during the summer. Once and for All, Dessen's thirteenth novel, is out today and it is absolutely lovely.

Here's the synopsis:
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.
Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.
Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.
I'm always thrilled when Dessen's novels return to Colby, a little beach town that makes frequent appearances in her books. It might just be because I grew up in a town surrounded by beaches but I just adore the feel of Colby. The town is where Louna meets Ethan, her first love that ends so tragically. Even though we don't really see much of the town - they only spend one night together - I think it was a perfect place for them to fall in love. Plus, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to Along for the Ride that I absolutely adored.

Speaking of Ethan...the reason their relationship ended is completely heartbreaking. I don't want to give it away because Dessen reveals the details of the relationship in stages and I thought that was really well done.

Maybe it's just because I'm getting older but I liked that Louna had just finished high school and was going to be going away to college in the fall. That summer is such an interesting one...with all sorts of changes coming and opportunities for the future.

Like any author of numerous books, Dessen has had her ups and downs. I've enjoyed some books more than others but I've loved every single one. I thought Saint Anything (which came out in 2015) was a return to some of her best work (think The Truth About Forever and This Lullaby). I was hoping this new one would be as spectacular as the others - and it is - but it's not going to take over the top spot in my ranking of Dessen novels. Don't get me wrong though...this is still a really, really good book.

And just as an aside...I did receive an ARC of this one but I always buy a copy of Sarah Dessen's books. I can't not. I have all of them, plus a UK edition of Keeping the Moon that I found in an indie bookstore in Australia. The one benefit of having an ARC was being able to read a new Sarah Dessen novel, before it even came out. Now that is a great way to spend a birthday. 

Finally - can I make a plea to Penguin Random House Canada to try and get Sarah to Canada for a tour stop? It's been almost six years since she's done a public event here and I'd love to see her again!

Reading a Sarah Dessen novel is one of my all time favourite things. I know I'm going to get a wonderful story with a teenage girl heroine who is really struggling with something, whether it's her parents' divorce, a past love gone wrong, or something more serious, like sexual assault. These girls are real and they're flawed and such a delight to read about. Dessen's books are often categorized as romances but they are so, so much more. Once and for All is another really well done novel and I'm already sad that I've finished it. OK, if we're being honest, I'm sad the second I read the last word. Dessen's books are never going to be long enough for me. If you want a really great read (and who doesn't?) Once and for All should definitely be on your summer reading list.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Review: Just Like Family

I first met Kate Hilton back in 2013 at BookBuzz Toronto, an event I helped run. She was one of ten authors taking part in the event and, this is the embarrassing part, the only author I hadn't read. *cringe* I've been following her writing career since then though so when I got the chance to review Just Like Family as part of HarperCollins Canada's First Look program, I was thrilled. I had this book done in two days and it was such a great read. Take a look at this link to see what others thought of this novel.

Here's the synopsis:
From the nationally bestselling author of The Hole in the Middle, a witty, insightful new novel about juggling the demands of three husbands—a work husband, an almost husband and an ex-husband—and figuring out the true meaning of family.
Avery Graham has built a life that anyone would admire. She has a brilliant career as chief of staff to Peter Haines, the charismatic mayor of Toronto. She has a devoted partner in Matt, her live-in boyfriend of 14 years. And she has a loving family and deep friendships that stretch back to childhood summers at the cottage.
But when Matt proposes, Avery’s past threatens to engulf her present. Can she contemplate a lifetime commitment to Matt after her disastrous first marriage to Hugh? And is Matt really the love of her life, when she has spent so much of it by Peter’s side? Avery could use some good advice from the women who know her best, but her closest friends, Jenny and Tara, have drifted away over the years.
When a scandal erupts at city hall, Avery must overcome her deepest fears about love and loss, and discover what it means to be a family.
One of the things that really drew me to this story was where it took place. The novel is set in Toronto and too often Canadian authors don't place their novels (especially contemporary/women's fiction ones) in Canada. Part of that is, I think, because for some reason readers in other countries (cough America cough) don't want to read any books set in Canada. Which is, in my humble opinion, stupid. I want to read stories that take place in my own country and set in my own time. While I don't live in Toronto, I'm close enough that I visit quite often and I even interned in the city for four months a few years ago. Because of this, I could picture City Hall - Avery's workplace - quite clearly. I also loved that there was a secondary setting of a cottage in, I'm assuming, Muskoka. I grew up in southern cottage country so I have a soft spot for any cottage set books. 

Also, a fictional story about a mayor of Toronto involved in something that is not more scandalous than the situations the actual former mayor of Toronto found himself in a few years ago? You can't help but laugh. (Just Google Rob Ford if you don't know what I'm talking about.)

Speaking of which, Hilton managed to find a great balance of absolute ridiculous scenarios (an older councillor bounces, quite literally, off another, much larger councillor and flies through the air) and realistic dramatic scenes. If she wasn't such a masterful writer, this could have been a completely different novel (I'm thinking Sophie Kinsella...a favourite author of mine but who is known for more outlandish storylines.)

And the drama! I was so invested in Avery and finding out why she was the way she was. She went through a lot at a younger age and hadn't quite dealt with everything appropriately. And let's be real - who actually deals with problems well in your early twenties? Avery was a really interesting, multi-layered character and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story.

The story takes place in 2017 with flashbacks throughout. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about the flashbacks. I was sometimes annoyed to go back to 1989 or 1999 when I just wanted to see how present day Avery was faring. I eventually realized there was no other way to tell this story. Hilton uses the flashbacks to reveal more about Avery, her life, and the people she lost along the way. Those revelations made the present make so much more sense (like realizing why Jenny isn't in Avery's life much and what really happened with her ex-husband).

I have to note my favourite scenes, and probably the most powerful ones in the whole novel. I knew as soon as I saw the subheading of September 2001 for one of the flashbacks that we were going to head into some intense moments. Hilton wrote the scenes about 9/11 so well and it had such an impact. It was one of those times where I had no idea what else was happening around me because I was so completely drawn into the story. (And this is saying something because I was reading this part in my office on my lunch break.) Gah. Just...amazing scenes. Heartbreaking but so well done.

Rereading the synopsis as I wrote this post made me realize that Just Like Family is about so much more than what the synopsis suggests. It's not just about the scandal at City Hall or Matt proposing or even about her friendships. Kate Hilton's novel is about a strong, modern woman whose life is going completely off the rails, as it has done in the past. Through Just Like Family and Avery's story, we learn (or are reminded) that your past shapes your present but it does not have to define your future. Kate Hilton's new book is definitely one you're going to want to add to your To Be Read list!

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins Canada, in exchange for a review for their First Looks program. All opinions are honest and my own.*