Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: On a Beautiful Day


Life can change in an instant. It's something we all know but tend not to keep at the forefront of our minds as we go about our day to day business. In Lucy Diamond's latest book, On a Beautiful Day, four friends watch a terrible car crash right in front of them and it makes each woman reevaluate where her life is heading. While the novel isn't groundbreaking, it's a sweet story of friends who try to deal with their issues alone and end up realizing they're so much stronger when they're together. 

Here's the synopsis:
It’s a beautiful day in Manchester and four friends are meeting for a birthday lunch. But then they witness a shocking accident just metres away which acts as a catalyst for each of them.
For Laura, it’s a wake-up call to heed the ticking of her biological clock. Sensible Jo finds herself throwing caution to the wind in a new relationship. Eve, who has been trying to ignore the worrying lump in her breast, feels helpless and out of control. And happy-go-lucky India is drawn to one of the victims of the accident, causing long-buried secrets to rise to the surface.
This is a novel about the startling and unexpected turns life can take. It’s about luck—good and bad—and about finding bravery and resilience when your world is in turmoil. Above all, On a Beautiful Day is about friendship, togetherness and hope.
As I alluded to at the start, each woman - Jo, Laura, India, and Eve - spins off into her own private battle after the accident. I don't think this is a spoiler, as anyone who  has female friends will know this, but no woman is an island. You can't handle everything on your own and it's ok to rely on your literal or figurative sisters if you're having trouble. 

The women in this book have to deal with a lot of things on their own but they kind of forget to allow their friends in. From a story perspective, I could understand that. From a structure perspective, I found that even though the women were supposed to be so close and such strong friends, I didn't really get that feeling except for a tiny bit at the start and then at the end when everything had been, for the most part, resolved. 

I sometimes struggle with stories that are told from multiple perspectives like this, with each chapter focusing on another friend. I was able to let that issue go for the most part but there were times when I wish the stories didn't seem quite so disjointed.

The women were interesting enough to read about though. They each had a distinct personality (though I bet their personalities could have shone more had there not been so many threads throughout the novel) and different family circumstances. Their dramas were similar (average issues for white females in their late thirties and early forties) but they each had a distinct problem to deal with, which kept things from being boring. 

While the details of this story will probably fade with time, the overall message Diamond wanted to get across will (hopefully) stick with me. It is important to seize the day because you never know when it might be your last. You should always trust those closest to you. They are there to help you when you need it and celebrate with you when you deserve it. Your close friends and romantic partners were chosen by you for a reason and you should know you can lean on them when times get tough. Do something you love every day. Let your friends know you're thinking of them even if you're not able to coordinate schedules to get together in person. Be kind to one another.

On a Beautiful Day was my second Lucy Diamond novel and, even though I wasn't super thrilled with it, I don't think it will be my last. She wrote a lovely story with a message that goes much deeper than the cover might suggest (side note: I'm so over the a woman's back on a cover aesthetic...especially when it's one woman and the story is about four...). This is one to pick up if you love stories about female friendships.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the distributor, Publishers Group Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Review: The Good Liar


I've been reading Catherine McKenzie's books for years. I've enjoyed all of them but her last couple weren't as high up on my "really good" books list as I would have expected. But then I read her newest, The Good Liar. And it's fantastic.

Here's the synopsis:
Can you hide a secret with the whole world watching?
When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.
A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.
Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?
I'm finding the whole twisted story told by an unreliable female character trope getting a wee bit old. But then a novel like The Good Liar comes along and reminds me that there are a lot of really great stories being told in that genre (whatever we're calling that genre these days). I wouldn't really say this book is a psychological thriller because it's not quite a thriller - but it's definitely a psychological story. It's also a bit deceptive because you may think you know how all of the twisted threads will be unraveled. But, let me assure you, you will not know. Not at all. And I loved that!

McKenzie starts dropping little clues to something being not quite right early on in the story. Some of them start to make sense quickly but others led to a complete shock for me. It's almost not until the last third of the novel that I start wondering who I should be trusting. Cecily seems fairly trustworthy but you know she's hiding something and when that's revealed first, you wonder what else she could be hiding. Kate's motivations seem simple enough on the surface but are they? And what about Franny?

I also really liked that it was a balance of a mystery with a family drama. I mean, it's all tied together really but both parts of the story were told so well. Cecily is trying to find out what really happened the day her husband and her best friend (along with 500 other people) died. But at the same time she's raising two teenagers. And trying to start a new job. And maybe start dating? All the different facets of the story were balanced and told so well.

The women are front and centre in this book. The men all play a secondary role to the females, which I thought was great. Even Teo, who is trying to weave his own narrative for his documentary, is never in the forefront of the story. 

I'm really excited for everyone to read The Good Liar. Catherine McKenzie is still one of my favourite authors and she's written an amazing novel. Can you do me a favour though? Once you finish it can you let me know so we can talk about that ending?

*An egalley was provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Blog Tour: The Swedish Prince


I love Karina Halle and all of her contemporary stories. But here’s the thing. I could not find myself loving The Swedish Prince. It was good, don’t get me wrong. I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads because I simply expected more from Halle. Maybe some people might find that unfair but sometimes even your favourite authors won't hit the highest note for you. All that aside, if you’re a romance lover and/or a royal lover, this is definitely a book you’ll like.

Here's the synopsis:
I never believed in fairy-tales.

Never held out for Prince Charming.

Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.

Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my dusty doorstep.

At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.

But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.

Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.

He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.

Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.

I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.

When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?

Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?

The Swedish Prince is a standalone romance inspired by Roman Holiday.
There were times when I think I found this book too angsty. You see how the synopsis is all chopped up in quick sentences that are sort of meant to hit you right in the feels? I love a good angsty story as much as the next girl but this one sometimes delved too much into the characters’ feelings and it was choppy sometimes just like the synopsis. It's a really hard thing to explain but something didn't flow for me in this regard.

I also think the light-hearted nature of the royal-meets-commoner story didn’t quite jive with some of the really serious tones of the rest of the story. I don’t know why it didn’t work for me because Halle usually does that balance so very well.

Like I said, this was still a good book. The story was engaging and I kept turning the pages. I liked Viktor and Maggie – but didn’t love them. Maybe I didn’t really connect with them. They were lovely but I really didn't have much of a connection which is something I expect with Halle's books.

I’ll also admit I may not have been in the best place when starting this book. The ARC came in late and really close to the pub date, I wasn't really sure how it was going to relate to Roman Holiday, and I was leaving one job and starting a new one. Hello, lots going on. I really don’t think that had much of an impact on my feeling on the actual story and I've been doing the reviewing thing for a long time so I'm usually pretty good at realizing what could affect my reading. There is a teeny chance it affected me more than I thought so I decided it was worth a mention.

It totally sucks when a book doesn't meet your high expectations but that happens. I still think The Swedish Prince was a good story. It just wasn't a great one. It won't deter me from picking up Karina Halle's next contemporary read though and it shouldn't deter you from buying The Swedish Prince if you're at all interested.

*An eARC was provided by Social Butterfly PR in exchange for a review for the blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, March 22, 2018

New Release: The Swedish Prince


Swedish Prince AMAZON

The day is finally here! The Swedish Prince, an all-new emotional standalone by Karina Halle is now published! It's been a hell of a time getting it here with ARCs coming in late, as well as promo pieces, and some asshat who decided it'd be cool to upload part of the copy they were beta-reading to iBooks. Not to mention trying to get this post formatted and the book read while starting a new job this week! Phew! I always love having a new Karina Halle book to read but you'll have to check back next week to see what I thought of The Swedish Prince. For now, here's all the info you need to know about this brand new book.
I never believed in fairy-tales.
Never held out for Prince Charming.
Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.
Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my dusty doorstep.
At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.
But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.
Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.
He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.
Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.
I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.
When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?
Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?
The Swedish Prince is a standalone romance inspired by Roman Holiday.


Here's where you can find The Swedish Prince (and, psst, it's free with Kindle Unlimited.)
 


Connect with Karina Halle:

Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books. Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Teaser: The Swedish Prince


It's that time again...when I flail about having a new Karina Halle novel to read! I'm so excited to get my copy of The Swedish Prince - which will be out next week. In the meantime, please enjoy today's teaser post!
I never believed in fairy-tales.
Never held out for Prince Charming.
Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.

Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my dusty doorstep.
At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.
But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.
Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.
He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.
Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.
I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.
When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?
Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?
The Swedish Prince is a standalone romance inspired by Roman Holiday.


Be on the look out on iBooks and Nook for Pre-Order to go live on March 20th.

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2FU5oBC

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Review: My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York


It's not often I get to read a book that's set in the area close to where I live (even if the story did take place almost 150 years ago and, technically, in a different country). I've been in the Niagara region for six years now and have worked right in Niagara Falls in the office of a souvenir shop for the past three. To me Niagara Falls means lots of tourists, high prices, and a job. But every once and awhile, say when I read a book set in Niagara Falls, I remember that I'm pretty lucky to live so close to such an amazing sight. Reading Amanda Barratt's novel My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York was a really enjoyable experience. I decided to read it because of the setting and I kept reading it because I was interested and invested in the characters' story.

Here's the synopsis:
Journey now to Niagara Falls, New York, of 1870 where...
She avoids danger at all costs. He makes his living by rushing headlong into it.
Outwardly, Adele Linley’s trip to visit her American cousins is nothing more than a summer vacation. In reality, she’s the daughter of an English aristocrat with barely a penny to her name seeking a rich American husband.
Having grown up in an overcrowded orphanage, Drew Dawson is determined to make a name for himself. He’ll take any honest job to provide for his sister—even crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope.
On a sightseeing trip to the Falls, Adele meets several eligible suitors. Incredibly wealthy and pompous, Franklin Conway takes an immediate fancy to her. But Adele would truly like to marry for love. When she encounters the mysterious Drew in the garden, Adele is confused by her feelings for someone who is everything she is NOT looking for. Will they both stay the course they have chosen for themselves?
Adele and Drew were both very interesting characters. I was drawn into their stories and desperately wanted the best for them. I thought Adele had a lot of growing up to do (even with all of her "my life hasn't been easy and I missed out on the end of my childhood" talk). Nowhere is that most evident than the scheme she comes up with to keep Drew from walking over the Falls again and to set her brother on a better path. I. Was. Furious. But that's all I'll say. (No spoilers here, baby.)

Even though Adele was a tad frustrating at times, I still liked her. And Drew. And Hope (his sister). It was fun to read as they flirted (Drew and Adele, obviously...him flirting with his sister would be weird, duh. But the siblings' relationship was the sweetest and so heartwarming) and got to know each other. They were both smart and fairly aware of their situation and limitations. You couldn't help but root for them. 

While I enjoyed reading about Drew and Adele, I really liked that it was set in Niagara Falls (even if it was Niagara Falls, New York, not Ontario, Canada where I am). As this book illustrates, there is a long, long tradition of tourists flocking to see the wonder. These days there's a very distinct difference between the attractions on Clifton Hill and the natural beauty of the falls themselves. I definitely giggled when I read the description of Drew and Adele's date to the falls. Keep in mind the book is set in the late 1800s as you read this passage:
The outing had been her idea and, he grimaced to think of it, her treat. An afternoon to renew their friendship and see a part of the Falls she hadn't yet viewed. Of course, Drew could never have afforded such a trip for the two of them - the fare for the public horse car service and the entrance fees at the Falls. A hundred years ago, the view before them would've cost no more than the effort required to get to it. Today, no sight of the Falls was free. There might as well have been dollar bills floating down the rapids instead of water.
Things have not changed much since 1870, let me tell you. Even though there's a fair number of cheesy destinations on the streets surrounding the Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Parks and various other organizations have done a pretty stellar job of keeping as much of the natural beauty intact as they can. I'd like to see more done because it's pretty jarring to be staring into the falls and a few minutes later end up in a loud, even more crowded spot. Of course, everyone has their own tastes and a lot of other people love that kind of stuff. I just want the natural wonder of Niagara Falls stay,  you know, natural.

Speaking of personal tastes, I have to mention that this novel would be classified as Christian fiction. I didn't realize that going in and even though I probably would have still read it had I known...there's a small part of me that would have considered, well, not reading it. It's not a bad thing, necessarily, it's just...a thing. And something I feel like I should bring up because everyone has their own reading tastes.

It's absolutely insane to think that people used to cross Niagara Falls by walking across on a rope. While I don't believe Drew was a real person, he had to have been based off some of the young men who braved the Falls. I read some articles on the history of "funambulists". There's one from the Smithsonian Magazine on Charles Blondin, probably the most famous tightrope walker. History also has a list of various daredevils - I had no idea people went over the Falls as late as 1995. And back in 2012, Nik Wallenda crossed the Horseshoe Falls (well, very close to it) and it was televised around the world (you can watch a video on YouTube that shows the last bit of his crossing). I'm not surprised that Barratt would have been inspired to write about a young daredevil.

Considering Niagara Falls is such a huge tourist attraction, there aren't an awful lot of books set here. In fact, I can only think of two, both are historical, and one is the book this review is about. The other is The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan which I really should get around to reading. And, actually, rereading the synopsis of that one makes me realize these two books are fairly similar. Interesting. My point is, I'm wondering why there aren't more books set in tourist destinations such as Niagara Falls. Maybe because it's not a place you would uproot your life and move to, not like places such as Paris or London or New York City. Am I just thinking too much about this? I might be. 

It still still sometimes shocks me that this is 20 minutes from my house.
My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York was a sweet, intriguing story. Amanda Barratt wove a story of history and romance that historical fiction lovers will really enjoy.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review: Surprise Me


I love Sophie Kinsella and have been reading her for years. Her 2017 release, My Not So Perfect Life was one of my favourites of last year (you can read my review here if you missed it). Because I adored it so much, I had really high expectations for Surprise Me, which was released last week. I don't know if it was my high expectations, my mood (it wasn't great when I was reading it), or the book itself but...I did not like this book. 

Here's the synopsis:
After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other's sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected "until death do us part" to mean seven decades.
In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.
Obviously I'm a big reader and I read quickly. Otherwise I wouldn't have a blog nor would I make it through almost 100 books every year. Surprise Me though? Took me over a week to get through because I just didn't feel like getting back to it. I wasn't invested. Not a good thing for the book but I persevered because it was Kinsella.

I think my big problem with the book was I was bored. The story got itself set up and then...boredom. It just seemed like the same sort of things were happening. Sylvie and Dan tried to surprise each other and it went totally wrong. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. There was nothing new being added and it seemed like it was, dare I say it, sloppy storytelling.

I was also really frustrated with Sylvie and Dan. It reminded me of how I'd get annoyed with Becky in the Shopaholic series (and why I stopped reading them awhile back). I love chick lit and contemporary stories so humourous and awkward scenarios are common. Maybe it's just me but it drives me up the wall when the character is just so incredibly clueless and can't see what she's doing is totally bonkers.

That's not to say I disliked Sylvie and Dan. I really did like them. I'd love to have Sylvie as a friend and Dan seemed fantastic. But I just couldn't see why I was reading about them. They were just another couple facing a little bump in the road of marriage.

I did finally get interested at about 80% of the way through the story. Finally things were actually happening and Sylvie was becoming the woman I was sure she could be. Did the interest I had in the last part of the book make up for the boredom during the rest of it? No, not really. I'm happy with the way the story ended, I can say that much.

I'm so bummed I didn't love Sophie Kinsella's new book but my dislike of Surprise Me won't dissuade me from reading her books in the future. Have you read Kinsella's latest? What'd you think? I'd love to hear that other people disagree with me!

*An advanced copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Penguin Random House, via NetGalley. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spotlight: A Week to Be Wild


Earlier this month Harlequin launched a new imprint - DARE. It features strong, independent women and sizzling hot heroes. DARE delivers riveting, irresistible romance stories featuring highly explicit sexual encounters, making it the publisher’s sexiest series ever. There will be four new titles to look forward to each month.

Today I'm featuring A Week to Be Wild by JC Harroway.

Here's what the novel is all about:
A daring game of temptationShe’ll play his game—but only by her rules!Alex Lancaster is an adrenaline junkie. He’s also a sexy British billionaire who should come with his own warning signs. When Libby insists she’s done with men who live on the edge, Alex coaxes her out of her comfort zone—professionally and very, very personally. Libby’s taking a high-stakes gamble, but the payoff could win her everything…
If you're intrigued, you're in luck because I have an excerpt for you! Enjoy!

The man occupying her thoughts swept up beside her on a cloud of freshly showered deliciousness, his hand taking a proprietorial hold of the back of her barstool and his smoky, heavy-lidded smile stripping her naked.

Alex.

‘Hi.’ Libby closed her slack-jawed mouth and swivelled to face him, turning her back on the stranger, never one to pass up a golden opportunity. She hated rudeness, but if Beer Breath was too stubborn or thick-skulled to take the hint...

Alex kept his stare on her, his smile genuine and warm enough to melt her underwear clean off, and then signalled the waiter with a flick of his wrist.

Libby sensed the moment when Beer Breath slinked away, and the hairs on the back of her neck settled—but only temporarily, because Alex hadn’t taken his eyes off her. In fact, he was looking at her as if he was seconds from devouring her whole.

She shivered, delicious tendrils snaking to all her erogenous zones. ‘What are you doing here?’ Libby took a slug of her previously untouched drink, the burn calming her enough to meet his bold stare with one of her own.

‘I came to invite you out for a late supper. I was on my way to Reception and then I spotted you here.’ His hand slid from the back of her stool, and he settled into the one next to her, passing his order to the waiter before returning his disconcerting focus to her.

She stared back, lost for words and missing the proximity of his hand on her chair. He was close enough that his warmth traversed the space between them, but far enough away that she battled her body’s urge to sway closer. And keep on swaying.

‘What?’ One corner of his mouth kicked up. ‘What kind of host would I be if I left you to fend for yourself on your first night in a strange city?’

She couldn’t help the snort that left her. ‘The non-stalker kind...?’

He took the jibe with a cocksure arch of one brow, sipping wine while his poised stare flicked over her face from feature to feature.

Libby flushed hot all over. The ‘stalker’ comment had been beneath her. He hadn’t once touched her, hadn’t bought her drink, hadn’t tried to grab her phone, hadn’t even chased away her unwanted admirer—he had simply given her the out she’d wanted. The rest was all her.

What was wrong with her? Rudeness to a generous host and influential employer? All because he’d awoken needs within her? Needs too long dormant. Needs she’d never had before. Needs threatening to overwhelm her in their intensity.

Hardly his fault.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads

Available at: Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Connect with JC: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Learn more about the new imprint:


To celebrate the launch, Harlequin is offering one (1) lucky winner a $50 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:



Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: An American Marriage


I'll be honest. I have absolutely no idea how to start this review for An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Other than telling you I don't know how to review it. Did I find myself thinking of it often when I wasn't reading it? Yes. Was I emotionally invested? Yes, if my breaking heart was any indication. Was it good? Yes...I think so? Did I like it? Well, you've got me there. I don't actually know if I could say that I liked it. See my problem with reviewing it? Oh, and in case you missed it last week when the novel was released, Oprah has picked this book for her next book club pick!

Let's get to the synopsis while I try to gather my thoughts:
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
The part of the book that takes place while Roy is in prison is written entirely in letters. Mostly between Celestial and Roy but also between Roy and other characters. The thing with the letters is that you know you're not getting the whole story about any of the characters. You can sense Celestial is drifting away and that Roy isn't telling her what it's really like for him in prison. I think that this works, for the most part, because it sort of makes it seem like time has stopped. For Roy it essentially has. So, when he gets out and the story goes back to alternating first person points of view, it's jarring to realize that time has not stopped and many things have changed. 

I found myself getting a bit frustrated with Roy, which is probably really unfair. I don't know what it's like to be in prison. I can imagine it's really hard to remind yourself that nothing will be the same as when you went in no matter how many visits and letters you've had with your loved ones. Roy couldn't grasp that. He expected Celestial to walk back into his arms like nothing had happened just because she was his wife. As if the bonds of marriage could withstand five years of one partner being in prison for something he didn't do. He placed a lot of hope in tiny gestures (or non-gestures) and it drove me a bit crazy because I knew it would end in heartbreak for him. 

Celestial, for her part, did not have it easy. She was so conflicted and that really came through in Jones' writing. Could she abandon her husband who was in prison? Wouldn't that be just another blow to his already broken down soul? Did she have to go back to him when he was free just because they were still married? Was what she was feeling with Andre convenience or the real thing? Was it ever real with Roy? I bet you're confused just reading that. That's just a fraction of the pain I was feeling for Celestial and that was only a fraction of what she would have been feeling. (It's no joke when they say readers are empathetic!) 

You might spend a good chunk of the time you spend reading An American Marriage wondering what you'd do if you were in Celestial and Roy's positions. It's easy to stand back and preach when it's not your life. I liked that Jones had many of the other characters (family of Celestial and Roy for the most part) have dissenting opinions. I don't know if any of them really stood 100% behind any of the decisions the couple made, not from before they got married to during Roy's incarceration to after he was freed.

An American Marriage was a good read even if I'm not sure I liked it and it was a difficult storyline. Tayari Jones' latest novel is a worthwhile read - perhaps for your next book club meeting!

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the distributor, Thomas Allen & Son, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, February 9, 2018

Blog Tour: About That Kiss


About That Kiss might just be my favourite Heartbreaker Bay book (so far). Is that OK to say? Am I allowed to play favourites? I've read three others (two of which I reviewed, here and here) and all three were Christmassy themed - usually something I absolutely love. But there was just a little something about Jill Shalvis' latest book that put it above the rest.

Here's the synopsis:
When love drives you crazy . . .When sexy Joe Malone never calls after their explosive kiss, Kylie shoves him out of her mind. Until she needs a favor, and it’s a doozy. Something precious to her has been stolen and there’s only one person with unique finder-and-fixer skills that can help—Joe. It means swallowing her pride and somehow trying to avoid the temptation to throttle him—or seduce him.
the best thing to do . . .No, Joe didn’t call after the kiss. He’s the fun time guy, not the forever guy. And Kylie, after all she’s been through, deserves a good man who will stay. But everything about Kylie makes it damned hard to focus, and though his brain knows what he has to do, his heart isn’t getting the memo.
… is enjoy the ride.As Kylie and Joe go on the scavenger hunt of their lives, they discover surprising things about each other. Now, the best way for them to get over “that kiss” might just be to replace it with a hundred more. 
I think what I liked more about this novel than the others in the series I've read so far is that the other storyline (and by that I mean not the romance) was really strong and interesting. Of course I wanted Kylie and Joe to get together because clearly they had crazy strong feelings for each other. But I was just as invested in them getting to the bottom of the mystery. 

The mystery - and the scavenger hunt they have to go on - has more than a hint of danger and that helped amp up the emotions the characters were having (and, if I'm honest, that I was having too!). I liked that I really had no idea who was behind it and the ending came as a surprise. That being said, I'm not sure if I love who the culprit was...there didn't seem to be enough of a connection made. I understand it but only because I think I filled in the gaps Shalvis didn't quite do herself.

Kylie and Joe were both such genuinely good people (even though they would both disagree with that statement). You can tell by the way they treat those closest to them, whether it's friends or family. And they treat those people extremely well. They're just super hard on themselves and part of that comes from their respective childhoods. Neither of them had it easy and you can also tell that they worked hard to get where they are today. You have to admire and respect that. Plus, Kylie is totally kickass and a strong woman and I loved her.

About That Kiss had a little bit of everything - drama, romance, mystery, and even some literal laugh out loud moments - which made it an entertaining read for me. Jill Shalvis writes romances well and this series is a great one to pick up if you want to jump into a series. You don't have read them in order though. Feel free to hop into any Heartbreaker Bay book that catches your eye...but you'll probably want to read them all and get to know the great group of friends Shalvis has created!

About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

Connect with Jill
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Pinterest * Tumblr * Goodreads *

Buy About That Kiss
Amazon * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * iBooks * GooglePlay

*An eARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: Things to Do When It's Raining


I always love finding Canadian authors who write the kinds of stories I like to read (ie not the old guard Canlit that doesn't interest me very much) so when I read Marissa Stapley's first novel, Mating for Life, almost four years ago I was thrilled (read my review here if you missed it). Finally, another Canadian author who writes well and tells a wonderful story. Fast forward a few years and I was impatiently waiting for Stapley's next novel - after meeting her at several bookish events over that time period. She's as wonderful a person as she is a writer (I'm always so happy when that turns out to be the case). As for her second novel, Things to Do When It's Raining? I didn't want to put it down.

Here's the synopsis:
When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?
Mae Summers and Gabriel 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, Lilly 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, 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. 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 stand in the way of this unconventional family’s happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?
From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a powerful story about guilt, forgiveness and the truth about families: that we can choose them, just as we choose to love.
If you've read Stapley's first novel, you'll know that she writes family dramas really, really well. Her second novel solidifies that. This story isn't just about Mae and Gabe. Nor does it focus solely on Lilly and George. It weaves a tale of two families with issues and secrets just like any other. OK, maybe they're not just like any other but I suppose that's what makes this story more interesting than others could be. Gabe and Mae didn't have the most ideal childhoods - for two totally different reasons - but they had each other, as well as Mae's grandparents, who were doing the best they could after their daughter and son-in-law died.

This isn't the easiest story to read because there's a lot of heartbreak throughout the pages. Most of the heartbreak comes from many characters being abandoned - either because of a death or because another character had (or "had") to leave. At the beginning, these characters don't handle the abandonment well at all. And you can't really expect them to either. Grief is a process and Things to Do When It's Raining allows the reader to work through the characters' grief right along with them. That's sometimes uncomfortable and I didn't always love it but I know that's what makes this book so good.

Some people may find they can't connect to the characters in this novel or that they just plain don't like them. I actually had that thought flit through my head as I was reading it. I quickly dismissed it because I think connecting with a character can look very different depending on the book. And I think readers, women reading women especially, are still conditioned to believe that we have to like every character we read. But guess what? We don't. We certainly don't like every person we come across, do we? But just because there might be a so-called connection lacking doesn't mean it's not a good character. Stapley's characters are going through a lot and, as someone who just lost her grandmother recently, I know it is not easy to be likeable while you're grieving. These characters are all deeply flawed but they are real.

Things to Do When It's Raining was a well-written and captivating family drama. Marissa Stapley has proven herself to be a master in the genre (if we want to call it that and I think I will) and I already can't wait for her next book.

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

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Introducing Harlequin DARE


Harlequin has launched a new imprint - DARE! It will feature strong, independent women and sizzling hot heroes. DARE will deliver riveting, irresistible romance stories featuring highly explicit sexual encounters, making it the publisher’s sexiest series ever. Look for four new titles each month.

Sexy. Passionate. Bold.


Here are the details for the first four books being published by the new imprint today. And make sure you scroll all the way down to the end of the post - you'll be rewarded!


Legal Seduction by Lisa Childs is a Contemporary Romance and is part of the Legal Lovers series.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads

Available at: Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Connect with Lisa: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Off Limits by Clare Connelly is a Contemporary Romance.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads

Available For FREE at: Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Connect with Clare: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Ruled by Anne Marsh is a Contemporary Romance and is part of the Hard Riders MC series.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads

Available at: Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Connect with Ann: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


A Week to Be Wild by JC Harroway is a Contemporary Romance.

Add to your TBR list: Goodreads

Available at: Harlequin | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Connect with JC: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Check back on Tuesday, February 13 as I review one of the four titles, A Week to Be Wild by JC Harroway. It sounds like a perfect pre-Valentine's Day read!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: Now That You Mention It


I've been struggling with how to review Kristan Higgins' latest novel Now That You Mention It. I really, really enjoyed it and sometimes that makes reviews really hard to write! This novel also has a lot of layers and I think I'm still working my way through all of them.

Here's the synopsis:
One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.
Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.
With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.
But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.
First things first. I absolutely freaking loved that Nora was a Potterhead. And that she was a thirty-something Harry Potter fan. I'm turning 31 this year, am an unapologetic Hufflepuff, and don't care if anyone thinks I'm too old to still be in love with the Harry Potter series. So, it was amazing to read a story where the main character was so much like me in that regard. Plus, it was really amusing how Higgins wove in references throughout the book (even if the Voldemort reference was heartbreaking).

There are two things that I have to bring up even though it really has no bearing on how I felt about the overall story. One is that I have absolutely no idea what the title and cover are referring to. I can figure out that the little yellow bird is Nora's mom's bird, Tweety. But as for the rest of it? I'm lost on the connection to the story. The other is getting back to Nora's love of Harry Potter. From what I gathered from the story, she's a Gryffindor but after reading this I'm pretty convinced she should be Hufflepuff. I mean, she is hella brave (as evidenced by the Big Bad Event) but she's also extremely loyal (to her friends and family) and dedicated (again, to her friends and family but also to her job).

If you were judging this book strictly by its cover (I know, back to that cover again!), you'd probably expect a super light and fun book. There are a lot of those elements in this book (which I loved) but the story goes so much deeper than the bright colours suggest. And that is why I liked it so much. I hate that Nora has had so many speed bumps and hardships throughout her life (some way more serious than others) but she is so incredibly strong and I really admired her.

Speaking of hardships, I had a feeling I knew what the Big Bad Event was but I was hoping I was wrong. I kind of was, actually, as it was almost worse than I imagined. And I had a lot of time to imagine it as it took just a little too long for Shalvis to expand on what Nora had alluded to on a number of occasions.

The story jumps back and forth from past to present. I think that strengthened the story because you really got a feel of what it was like for Nora in high school. You also got to see what other characters were like then as well. And it reminded me how glad I am not to be in high school any more and that I don't live in the small town I grew up in!

Like I said, Now That You Mention It was a hard one for me to review because it was so enjoyable for so many reasons. So, I'll just leave you with this: pick up Kristan Higgins' latest novel because you're probably going to enjoy it just as much as I did.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Review: Keep Her Safe


Do you ever get tired of me saying that I absolutely adore K.A. Tucker and her books? Because I'm going to say that again: I love her and her novels. Keep Her Safe is her latest and is an interesting (and well done) mix of suspense and romance. I didn't want to stop reading!

Here's the synopsis:
Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that's been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family's life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.
Gracie Richards wasn't born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it's all she knows anymore. At least here people don't care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive...until a man who clearly doesn't belong shows up on her doorstep.
Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department's dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.
I was expecting Keep Her Safe to be especially twisted but I didn't find I was on the edge of my seat as much as I was with He Will Be My Ruin (my review is here). That doesn't mean it wasn't suspenseful though. I had a pretty good idea of what happened to Abe - Grace's father - but (and this is an important but) Tucker threw in a twist at the end that I didn't really see coming and, holy cow, does it ever deliver an emotional sucker punch. I found that it was in the end that you realize how dark and messed up the story really was. 

I was drawn into the story from the start and hated putting the book down. (Which is especially hard when I started reading it at lunch at work and only have half an hour to eat and dive into a story.) It was a well-written, riveting story, and had characters that I really liked and cared about.

Speaking of characters, Gracie was awesome. She has such a tough outer shell because of how she had to grow up - in a trailer park, with no father, and a mother who's a drug addict. She's understandably wary of Noah (who is also amazing and he is my first book boyfriend of 2018) but isn't so completely hardened that she can't realize how their feelings for each other are changing. She was such a fascinating character and wicked smart and I wish I could read more about her.

I think this book is being marketed as a romantic suspense and I hope that neither romance nor suspense fans are turned off by the categorization. It's not a cheesy, forced romance and it's a really good mystery. I think fans of both genres would really enjoy this one because I think it's a perfect balance of the two.

I'm so happy that there's another K.A. Tucker book out in the world and I hope those who haven't discovered her books yet will with Keep Her Safe. This one will definitely be on my list of books to push on people for the rest of 2018!

*An ARC was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Blog Tour: Hot Shot


Thank goodness Karina Halle writes - and publishes - quickly because I don't know how much longer I could have waited for Hot Shot! It's the third book in the North Ridge series and we finally (finally!) get to see Fox and Delilah get together. I couldn't wait to dive back in to the world of the Nelson brothers and, once I did, I didn't want to leave.

Here's the synopsis:
Delilah Gordon has a secret.
She’s been in love with her best friend and the boy next door, Fox Nelson, since she was six years old.
And while most of her friends and family know about her unrequited crush, the one person who remains oblivious is Fox himself. To Delilah, it’s better this way. She’d rather pretend that they’re just friends, even though her feelings for the moody rugged mountain man are anything but tame.
Fox Nelson has a secret too.
As a wildland firefighter or “hot shot,” Fox parachutes into danger every day he’s on the job, risking all to fight wildfires that threaten ranches, forests and thousands of lives. But while Fox’s job is only for the brave, inside he feels anything but. The more he grapples with his raging demons, the more he realizes Delilah is the only one who can put out the flames.
As the two friends grow closer – and more intimate – than ever before, the more complicated their relationship becomes.
And Delilah has one more secret to reveal.
A secret that will change both their lives…forever.
I mentioned that this book is part of a series but I always want to note that Halle's series don't require you to read all the stories in order. That being said, I'm a series purist and always need to start from the beginning. This way you're not being spoiled by any little details. The big details - who ends up with who - are pretty easy to figure out so skipping a book isn't really going to be the end of the world. 

Wild Card (which I reviewed here) was really dark and heavy. Maverick was more lighthearted (and a tad steamier!). Hot Shot was somewhere in between. No one way is better than the others and I think it highlights how well Halle can write both light and dark. 

I don't know if it was just the mental headspace I'm in right now (see my post earlier this week about my favourite 2017 reads to get an idea) or what, but the emotional punch Halle almost always delivers in her books was particularly hard this time around. I always get so incredibly invested in her characters that my emotions are soaring and diving right alongside theirs. It's intense for an empathetic reader like myself. It's great because it shows how freaking amazing Halle is at writing these stories but it's also hard because some of the emotions are so hard to deal with.

Even though I knew Fox and Delilah were probably going to finally get together in the end, it was agonizing (in a weirdly good way) for me to read as they slowly realized that what they assumed the other was feeling might not actually be the case. They had buried their feelings for so long that it was hard to face them. Fox, in particular. His were so far buried that he almost seemed shocked when he realized he might want Delilah as more than just a friend. (Jeez, boys are dumb sometimes!) 

But, Fox had a lot of issues to work out before he was ready to commit to Delilah. And I am so glad that she knew what she deserved even if it was breaking her heart. It made the ending so much sweeter.

One final note - I absolutely loved the squirrel in this story. He wasn't a major plot point but he provided lighthearted moments (I literally laughed out loud when a chapter opened with Delilah's mom telling her that her squirrel was trying to drink her coffee) as well as deeper moments when Delilah realized some parallels (can't get too spoilery here!). It sounds a bit weird, I know, but I just loved that little guy.

I think I might be in denial that the series is over but Karina Halle gave us readers the most delightful epilogue so we know what all the Nelsons are up to and where their lives are heading next. Hot Shot, just like the rest of the North Ridge novels, was an absolute delight to read (even when it was ripping my heart out) and I highly suggest everyone pick up this series!

*An eARC of this novel was provided by the author and Social Butterfly PR in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Find (and buy!) Hot Shot
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon CA * iBooks * Nook * Kobo
Add to Goodreads

Meet Karina
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

Connect with Karina
Facebook * Amazon * Instagram

Monday, January 8, 2018

Favourite 2017 Reads


Can you believe we're already a week into 2018? I don't know about you but 2017 was a rough year for me. I've been so busy and have had so many major life things happen (especially over the past few months) that I haven't really been blogging too much. I didn't even get a post up in November to celebrate my seven year blogiversary! And clearly I'm on top of posting this "best of", too!

Without going too much into my year (but would I be a blogger if I didn't talk about myself a little bit?)...I got in my first ever car accident (I was fine, my car was kind of fine, and the bus was definitely fine), found out my rabbit needed surgery (she's ok but it's a recurring issue), and had to buy a new phone (mine took a major tumble at the grocery store). And all of that happened within about 4 days right at the start of the year. In the spring I found out my grandma was sick and she got progressively sicker until she passed away in August. That was the hardest thing to deal with this year and it's not something you get over easily. Then, just to make the year even more ridiculous, in September I found out via Facebook and small town gossip that my estranged father died in a car accident. How does one deal with that?

But even with those big, massive, awful things...there have been some bright moments. I met Jenny Han and Sophie Kinsella. I went to a wonderful afternoon tea book launch for author Karma Brown and my friend and I got to sit at Karma's table. I turned 30 in May! The biggest things - and some of the best things - happened right at the end of the year. In November I went to Australia for the second time and it was amazing. Then, two days after we landed back in cold, snowy Canada, my boyfriend and I got the keys to our first house. December was insanely busy with painting and moving and just trying to process all of the feelings I've been having this year.

Books definitely helped me through the tough times and I read a lot of really great ones last year (even though I read fewer books in 2017 than I have in years - "just" 87, which is fitting as I was born in 1987). These are ten of my absolute favourites. 9 of the 10 were 5 stars (and the one that was 4 stars probably should have been 5 now that I think back!) and just so great to read. There were also oodles of other four star books that I wish I could talk about too but I have to narrow it down somehow. I can't really choose favourites among the favourites so I've listed them in the order I read them. If you want to see all the books I read last year, you can check out my Goodreads year in review.

My Not So Perfect Life - Sophie Kinsella (Review here)
Kinsella's latest book is probably now my favourite of all of hers. I don't know exactly why I adored it more than her others. Maybe it was the heroine (she's close to my age). Maybe it was her job (communications/branding). Maybe it was just that the overall story was funny, quirky, and sweet. I associate those adjectives with most of Kinsella's books but this one reminded me why she's one of the queens of chick lit.

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Until It Fades - K.A. Tucker (Review here)
I've been devouring Tucker's books for years and while I love her work and how twisty they can be, I was really happy to hear that her 2017 release would be a bit lighter and more romantic. I loved it and that the hero was a professional athlete. I also loved that it was, as with all of Tucker's books, well written and completely captivating.

Kim vs. the Mean Girl / The Boyfriend Swap - Meredith Schorr (Reviews here and here)
I had the chance to beta read Kim vs. the Mean Girl so I was excited about the release well before it was actually, well, released. One of the things I loved about it was that, because it was a prequel of Schorr's Blogger Girl series (one of my favourites), it featured a teenage Kim. The fun part? She was a teen around the same time I was so it was a cool blast from the past.
As for The Boyfriend Swap? I could not put it down. I just love all of Schorr's heroines and her latest book had a little bit of festive flair that I really enjoyed too.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean - Jenny Han
This is one that slipped through my reviewing queue (sorry, Simon & Schuster Canada...bad blogger) but I really loved it. It was such a great way to wrap up Lara Jean's story. Especially when we weren't expecting a third book! While I wish I could see how Lara Jean does in college, I'm glad we got a bit more of a resolution to her story than we would have. Thanks, Jenny! (Oh, and who else is super excited for the upcoming movie?)

Once and For All - Sarah Dessen (Review here)
Summers are so much better when Dessen has a new book out. I savoured this one on my 30th birthday and it was absolute perfection. This book was set during the summer after Louna graduated high school and I can still remember my own summer before university. This was a great read about a girl who needed to learn to live and love again and it was so sweet.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid (Review here)
OK, OK. If I had to pick a favourite, this would probably be it. It was definitely the one I recommended the most to people this year. I loved it because it hit all sorts of high points and genres. It was historical fiction but woven with a strong, secondary contemporary story. And the historical part of it started in Old Hollywood which seems so glamorous and full of intrigue. There was also a romance that you don't see coming. Jenkins Reid wrote a novel that was nothing like I'd ever read before and I freaking loved it.

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
This was, hands down, the hardest book I read this year. And also the most necessary. I am SO glad this book exists for teenagers. And adults, really. I finally got to read it when my book club chose it as one of our reads for this year (it may have been strongly pushed by myself and another member). And, as a club full of white women, it was good for us to read it because as enlightened as we may think we are, we don't have the first clue what it's really like to be a teenager in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement. Read this one if you haven't yet.


Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
I hadn't done a reread of the series in a couple of years and I was getting the urge to revisit Hogwarts. Then my grandma started to get really sick. I dove in to these books and I barely came up for air. It was familiar and comforting during a time I needed it most.

Baseball Life Advice - Stacey May Fowles
I don't read a ton of non-fiction and I definitely don't buy much but this book was on my to-buy list as soon as I found out it was going to be published. I've followed Stacey May on Twitter for awhile now (as well as subscribe to her newsletter) so I kind of knew what her book would be like - a bit of a love letter to baseball from a fan who knows it inside and out and loves the good, the bad, and the ugly. My favourite thing about reading this book was that I was constantly agreeing with what Fowles was writing. It was like she was inside my head and feels just the same way about the sport that I do. She also has some very smart and important points about females in the world of sports and how much we have to prove ourselves to the male fans. You definitely need to read this if you're a baseball fan.


Wild Card / Maverick - Karina Halle (my review of Wild Card here)
Halle started another sort-of-but-not-really series in 2017 featuring three brothers living in western Canada. Wild Card was a deep, emotional rollercoaster of a book and so good. I didn't know how Maverick could even compare. It can't, not really, because it's more lighthearted but it's just as amazing. (And a perfect vacation book as you can see from the pic - I miss Australia!) The conclusion of the "series", Hot Shot, is out tomorrow (and my review will be up on Wednesday)!

And there you have it! My top ten books of 2017. It's not surprising that they're all by women - I only read 4 books by men in 2017. My goal for 2018 is to read more diversely as I clearly have the "read more females" thing down pat. That will include more geographically diverse authors too...this list features two women from Great Britain, three from Canada, and five from the US. Not bad but I could do better. I also would like to just plain read more in 2018. I didn't even hit 90 books in 2017 and I know that's an insane amount and I'm so not comparing my number to anyone else's but...I could do better. There are just so many books out there and read as many as possible! I'm going to try to put myself on a more set book buying ban. I did well this year, only splurging on a few, but it'd be good for my budget and my bookshelf space to cut back even more. Stay tuned to see how that goes!

Happy New Year, friends. And here's hoping 2018 treats us well.