Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Review: The Plus One

The Plus One, the debut novel from Sophia Money-Coutts, was an absolutely delightful, laugh out loud rom com for my generation. We're the ones who were a bit too young for Bridget Jones and Becky Bloomwood when each series started but read them anyway. Polly Spencer, Money-Coutts' heroine, is also English and gets herself in almost as many scraps as Bridget and Becky did. The result? A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Here's the synopsis:
The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none
Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.
But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…
I read this book in one day and the majority of it was read on a train on the way to and from a book event. Normally my train ride isn't too bad but I knew it would be longer than usual due to construction (ugh..the worst). I barely noticed. I was that engrossed in this story. 

Now, all that gushing aside, this is not the world's best book. The story is solid but there were times where I felt Money-Coutts rushed through scenes. For example, Polly and Jasper head to the country for a weekend. There were two significant and fleshed out scenes but the rest of the weekend was entirely skipped over. It was like, Arrival. Scene 1. Scene 2. Departure. With no mention of the in-between. It's a hard thing to explain and you probably can't totally understand but basically, the writing wasn't super smooth.

Polly was really unsure about her best friend's boyfriend from the start so, the reader was also unsure of him. But after the engagement it was like he wasn't an issue any longer (which I suppose I can understand because most people wouldn't say anything negative about a fiancé as the relationship then is a wee bit more permanent) and Polly stopped being wary of him and the relationship. It was odd and sort of unresolved in the end. 

As I said at the start, Polly and her life reminded me a lot of the good ol' days of chick lit. She had a lot in common with Bridget Jones which I really enjoyed. Probably because a lot of women have a lot more in common with Bridget than we think. Polly is smart and realizing her life has become a bit...stuck. She's not unhappy but she's pretty sure she could be happier. Somehow. And she's also a hot mess of a 30 year old and really enjoying getting pissed with her friends, even if the hangovers are way worse than when she was 20 (I'm also speaking from experience here...). She's close with her mum, which I loved, and has a really solid group of friends. But her life is missing some romance - which is the whole point of this story.

So. The romance. I thought I knew where Money-Coutts was going with it. Then I wasn't sure. I flipped back to the original thinking but then she change things up again. I loved it. I'm really glad the Happily Ever After wasn't completely obvious from the outset because it allowed me to be surprised right alongside Polly. I'm also thrilled with how it all ended up!

Chick lit fans need to read The Plus One. Sophia Money-Coutts has written a really enjoyable, fun, and smart rom-com, one which will really appeal to older Millennials like me. I'm looking forward to seeing what Money-Coutts' second novel is like.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Review: Until the Last Star Fades

I already knew Jacquelyn Middleton is wonderfully skilled at creating characters and stories that can find their way into your heart and stick there. I loved her London series (London Belongs to Me is the first and London Can You Wait?, which I reviewed here, is the second) and wondered if she could create even more characters I would fall in love with. Short answer? Oh, yes. She definitely could. Until the Last Star Fades is just wonderful.

Here's the synopsis:
Touching, heartfelt and passionate, UNTIL THE LAST STAR FADES blurs the line between slow-burn romance and women's fiction, and is a must-read for hopeful romantics, devoted daughters, and the moms they cherish.
In her senior year at NYU, Riley Hope appears to be on top of the world. With a loving mother who makes Lorelai Gilmore look like a parenting slacker, ride-or-die friends, and a long-time boyfriend destined for the National Hockey League, she puts on a smile for the world. But behind it, she’s drowning. Racked with fears for the future, she battles to stay afloat amid life in the shadows of a heartbreaking illness.
And then, Ben Fagan comes crashing into her life. Twenty-three-years-old, British, and alone in the Big Apple after a disastrous pilot season in LA, the struggling actor is looking for an escape: booze, mischief, sex—minimum commitment, maximum fun—anything to avoid returning across the pond.
As they form an unlikely bond, Riley keeps her reality from Ben so that he remains a happy refuge. But how long can she hold back the truth…and is Ben keeping his own secrets, too?
From the award-winning author of LONDON BELONGS TO ME and LONDON, CAN YOU WAIT?, comes a bittersweet story about love, loss, sacrifice, and the life-changing decisions we make.
I'm going to start with the one (and basically only) thing I didn't like about the book. I didn't like that Riley was dating someone else at the start of it. I don't care that she wasn't happy and wasn't (exactly) crushing on Ben when she first met him. It just left me with a bit of an icky feeling since I knew she'd somehow be ending up with Ben (that's not a spoiler - you know how a contemporary story like this is going to end from the get go) and I wasn't sure how it was going to go. Did everything go the way it was meant to? Yes, but that doesn't change how not-ok I felt knowing what would have to happen to get the soulmates together. Is it a deal-breaker? Absolutely not. It may even be a really personal thing but it's a thing I didn't love and I needed to mention it.

BUT. The rest of it? Oh so lovely.

Middleton really shone a light on depression in this book and I am so here for it. It's a necessary thing to talk about in real life and to read about in novels. I know some people got frustrated with Alex's anxiety in her other books which, in turn, frustrates me. We read, in part, to see things from other people's perspectives. And reading books where the main character has a mental health issue is so important.

To build on the above, I love that Middleton is able to create characters who are so real and are dealing with real issues. Until the Last Star Fades isn't a super lighthearted read - the synopsis doesn't mention one of the most heartbreaking parts of the story so I won't mention it either - but it manages to have so much love and hope that you can endure the really hard moments. None of the characters she created is having an especially easy time of it (quite the opposite, really) but they have each other. But oh my word. The emotional gut punches Middleton throws at you will have you reaching for your favourite people for a huge hug.

I wouldn't call this book a romance even though a major plot point in the story is Riley and Ben realizing that they've been stupid and should stop fighting their feelings because they totally belong together. (Ahem. I might feel strongly about this.) This book is about so much more than their love story. Both Riley and Ben had to figure out their own shit problems before they were going to be any good to each other and I think that's why the slow burn of their relationship totally works. They couldn't have hopped right into a relationship because it would have failed. Seeing the two of them evolve and grow as people is almost more satisfying than a romantic Happily Ever After. Almost. (I love me some romance.)

Bonus: those who have read Middleton's other novels will love that Mark and Alex make a cameo in this novel!

Until the Last Star Fades is one of those books that my review just won't do it justice. I recommend picking up Jacquelyn Middleton's latest novel - just out today! - and diving into a story that will pull all your heartstrings and leave you thinking about it long after you finish it. It will make you laugh, swoon, and probably cry but that's ok. The best books are those that make you feel all the feels and Middleton's latest is no exception.

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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Review: Whiskey in a Teacup

If you had told me 17 years ago if the woman on screen playing a sorority girl turned law student would write a book I would then read, I would probably doubt you. But Reese Witherspoon has done it. Whiskey in a Teacup is a lifestyle book that celebrates her Southern roots and gives readers a glimpse into her life.

Here's the description of the book:
Academy award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon invites you into her world, where she infuses the southern style, parties, and traditions she loves with contemporary flair and charm.
Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea always said that a combination of beauty and strength made southern women “whiskey in a teacup.” We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.
Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids—not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair (in these pages, you will learn Reese’s fail-proof, only slightly insane hot-roller technique). Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favourite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks.
It’s easy to bring a little bit of Reese’s world into your home, no matter where you live. After all, there’s a southern side to every place in the world, right?
I feel the need to start by saying I am a Reese Witherspoon fan. I enjoy her movies (Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama are two movies that I will have to sit and watch if I happen to come across them on TV) and think she's a decent person from what I can tell from my perch as a normal human (compared to her celebrity status). This book is very clearly going to be for people who like her and her work as I think the charm of the book would be totally lost on someone who doesn't know much about her or care about her and her work.

You have to wonder why, exactly, it was decided that Witherspoon needed to write a book. The really cynical part of me knows it's simply to make money. Witherspoon is having a bit of a comeback after her early acting success. She has a retail brand (Draper James), a production company (Hello Sunshine), and a kick-ass book club (most of her picks are great and varied) so she has a strong brand to make a lifestyle book a success. Plus, she's adorably Southern and proud to be so which seems to be a bit different than most of the Hollywood stars these days.

The book isn't super well written but it's more conversational so you don't really notice that it's not the best writing you've ever seen. (Of course, I may be a pot calling a kettle black because I'm sure as hell not the best writer sometimes.) I also have to admit that when I think to myself, "Why did she think she could write a book?" I have an image of Elle Woods saying, "What? Like it's hard?"

This book is very much like a perfectly curated Instagram account. Everything is so shiny and picture-perfect. For example, I, like many others of my generation, know that Witherspoon was married to Ryan Phillippe and it....didn't end well. I also know she had a bunch of films that also didn't do well (during the same time period. I doubt that's a coincidence). But all of that is glossed over in the book. The only time she references anything that was less than perfect was when she was discussing her wedding and mentions how, "real talk" she's had two. Does it matter that the book is shinier than real life really is? No, I don't think so. I don't read books like this because I think it perfectly represents real life. We like seeing pretty things and focusing on the good in life and reading this book was a fun little escape for me.

My favourite part? When Witherspoon discussed her love of books and her book club. I really think she's helping bring the stories I love into the spotlight and helping many authors get some much-deserved recognition. What can I say? I have a soft spot for my fellow bookworms. I also think I'll be investigating the book club recipes a bit more closely than some of the other recipes in the book. (And yes, I'm aware the below aren't really "recipes" but they're most excellent components for a great book club meeting. I'm also not a fan of cooking so easy = key!)

Whiskey in a Teacup was a fun escape and a glimpse into the life of a Hollywood starlet. Reese Witherspoon has written and compiled a book that allows her Southern charm and personality to shine. Her fans will love flipping through the pages and learning more about her.

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cover Reveal: Be the Girl

If you're a long time reader of this blog (thanks!), you'll know K.A. Tucker is one of my all time favourite authors. I've read almost all of her 17 novels and have met her on several occasions (the most recent being a couple of weekends ago that saw me driving over two and a half hours to a lunch and event with her and a few other equally wonderful authors...I take my book obsession seriously). She's a lovely person on top of being a fantastic writer. Seriously/ Her last book, A Simple Wild, is one of my top books of 2018. (You can read my review here in case you missed it.)

Tucker started out self-publishing her books and that was how Ten Tiny Breaths got noticed by her traditional publisher (Simon & Schuster Canada and Atria Books) many years ago. She's had a ton of success being publishing traditionally (which isn't something that happens for everyone) but she has had a story she's needed to tell for awhile now and has decided to go back to the self-publishing route so the world will be able to read Be the Girl.

Here's what the novel, which is to be published January 21, 2019, is all about:
From the national bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths series and The Simple Wild comes a poignant story about a girl trying to change her future while evading her past.Almost-sixteen-year-old Aria Jones is starting over. New postal code, new last name, new rules. But she doesn’t mind, because it means she can leave her painful regrets behind. In the bustling town of Eastmonte, she can become someone else. Someone better.
With the Hartford family living next door, it seems she will succeed. Sure, Cassie Hartford may be the epitome of social awkwardness thanks to her autism, but she also offers an innocent and sincere friendship that Aria learns to appreciate. And Cassie’s older brother, Emmett—a popular Junior A hockey player with a bright future—well … Aria wishes that friendship could lead to something more. If he didn’t already have a girlfriend, maybe it would.
But Aria soon finds herself in a dicey moral predicament that could derail her attempt at a fresh start. It is her loyalty to Cassie and her growing crush on Emmett that leads her to make a risky move, one that earns her a vindictive enemy who is determined to splinter her happy new world.
Doesn't that just sound spectacular?

Now, if you follow Tucker or any of her fans, you've probably already seen the gorgeous cover. But since I already had a cover reveal going up yesterday (how does that happen all at once?), I'm sharing it with you a day later.

Ready for it?

I just adore the colours. So beautiful. I also shouldn't be surprised that I love it. It's designed by Hang Le who's done the majority of Karina Halle's recent covers, which have all been stunning.

The book will be available in e-book format (pre-order links are below for you eager beavers), paperback the day after release at online retailers, and will eventually be released as an audiobook as well.

Here are the pre-order details - and you'll want to pay attention because Be the Girl will be available for a special pre-order price of only $2.99 for the e-book and the price will increase shortly after release (which, again, is January 21, 2019). (That's $2.99 for all you Americans. For my Canadian friends, it looks like it's $3.90)

Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook

And don't forget to add it to your Goodreads

Author Bio
K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge.

She is the USA Today bestselling author of 17 books, including the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series, He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. Her books have been featured in national publications including USA Today, Globe & Mail, Suspense Magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. Ten Tiny Breaths was a finalist in the 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards.

K.A. Tucker currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her family.

Author Social Media Links 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Cover Reveal: At the Mountain's Edge

It seems like I've been gushing over Genevieve Graham's books for ages but I've only been reading her novels since July 2017 (when I posted my review of Promises to Keep). But since then I've also read Tides of Honour (which was published back in 2015) and Come from Away (I reviewed that one too) and Graham has found herself firmly on my "must-read" list. She writes these stunning historical novels that are just amazing. She tells such a good story and shares pieces of Canadian history that a lot of us have either forgotten (due to not paying attention in booooring history class) or never known. It's a remarkable talent and I urge all of you to check out her books.

But why am I gushing about her now? Because she has a new book coming out in April 2019 *flails* At the Mountain's Edge is her first novel to be set outside of Nova Scotia and I'm really looking forward to experiencing another part of Canada's history through Graham's characters.

Here's what the novel will be about:
From bestselling author Genevieve Graham comes a sweeping new historical novel of love, tragedy, and redemption set during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.
In 1897, the discovery of gold in the desolate reaches of the Yukon has the world abuzz with excitement, and thousands of prospectors swarm to the north seeking riches the likes of which have never been seen before.
For Liza Peterson and her family, the gold rush is a chance for them to make a fortune by moving their general store business from Vancouver to Dawson City, the only established town in the Yukon. For Constable Ben Turner, a recent recruit of the North-West Mounted Police, upholding the law in a place overrun with guns, liquor, prostitutes, and thieves is an opportunity to escape a dark past and become the man of integrity he has always wanted to be. But the long, difficult journey over icy mountain passes and whitewater rapids is much more treacherous than Liza or Ben imagined, and neither is completely prepared for the forbidding north.
As Liza’s family nears the mountain’s peak, a catastrophe strikes with fatal consequences, and not even the NWMP can help. Alone and desperate, Liza finally reaches Dawson City, only to find herself in a different kind of peril. Meanwhile, Ben, wracked with guilt over the accident on the trail, sees the chance to make things right. But just as love begins to grow, new dangers arise, threatening to separate the couple forever.
Inspired by history as rich as the Klondike’s gold, At the Mountain’s Edge is an epic tale of romance and adventure about two people who must let go of the past not only to be together, but also to survive.
Does that not sound delightful? Except for the whole "catastrophe" part. That doesn't sound so delightful. But the rest of it? Oh, it'll be so good.

Are you ready for the whole reason of this post? To share the gorgeousness that is the cover? Thought so.

Pretty stunning, isn't it? The mountains are definitely both majestic and dangerous.

What I (and Graham) love is that the cover designers are sticking with a similar theme with her books. They all have the same feel and look but they're all quite different as well. You'll notice either uniforms and/or the background to showcase the unique characters and nature of each book.

I don't know about you but I'll be counting down the days until this one is released. And if you want to preorder or find the book and Graham around the interwebs, I've got you covered.

Find details on Simon & Schuster Canada's site and check out Graham's shiny new website as well.

If you haven't picked up Genevieve Graham's books, do it. You have plenty of time to work your way through her backlist before At the Mountain's Edge releases in April.

Happy reading!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: A Brand New Ending

Like most romance readers, I have tropes I enjoy and tropes I don't. A Brand New Ending, the second book in Jennifer Probst's Stay series, hit so many of the tropes I love and I so enjoyed my time spent reading it.

Here's the synopsis:
Ophelia Bishop was a lovestruck teenage girl when she and Kyle Kimpton chased their dreams to Hollywood. Kyle’s dreams came true. Ophelia’s did not. When Kyle chose his career over their relationship, Ophelia returned home to rural New York to run the family’s B & B—wiser, and more guarded against foolish fantasies. Now Kyle has come crashing back into her life, and all her defenses are down.
Kyle can’t think of a better place to write his latest screenplay than his hometown. After all, that was where he met the heart of his inspiration—his first love. He knows the damage he’s caused Ophelia, and he wants a chance to mend their relationship. If anyone can prove to Ophelia that happy ever afters aren’t only for the movies, it should be him.
As much as Ophelia’s changed, she still has feelings for Kyle. But her heart has been broken before, and she knows that Kyle could run back to Hollywood at any time. She gave up her dreams once, but maybe she can dare to change her own love story…one last time.
I have two favourite tropes and I can't decide between the two which I love more. Luckily, Probst gave them both to me. Small town and second-chance romances are my jam so it's no surprise I adored Ophelia and Kyle's story. These are also cliches that can, well, become just that if they're not done well. I already knew Probst would nail the small-town charm because I fell in love with the Robin's Nest B&B in the first book of the series, The Start of Something Good (you can check out my full review here if you missed it). Part of what made the setting so delightful in the first book was Ophelia's charm, which came through even though the first book was about her brother. In her story, you realize how big her heart really is. Sometimes those kinds of characters can be a pushover but Ophelia has spunk and I adored her. (It's also why her brother, Ethan, calls her Tinkerbell - she has the same sass as the fairy.) She's just such a wonderful person - and kudos to Probst for writing such great characters - that you cannot help but root for her and hope she gets the Happily Ever After she deserves.

And Kyle? Definitely deserves her. I would say he was mostly to blame for their relationship imploding (not to say Ophelia was innocent but he was in the wrong) but Probst, again, wrote him so well that you couldn't hate him. He had his reasons and they make sense when you remember he was a 20 year old guy trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood. That's not an easy thing to do. (I assume. Since I've never been a 20 year old guy nor have I even been to California.) Another thing that's not easy? Realizing when you're in the wrong and working your ass off to fix the problems you created. Kyle takes a little while to figure out why Ophelia was so hurt and why she left him but once he does? He works hard to make sure she realizes he's sorry and refuses to fall into the same trap again. Plus I just loved that he's a writer. (A third trope I enjoy!)

Kyle and Ophelia really fought their attraction. Actually. That's not strictly true. Ophelia fought it. Kyle was pretty open with his plan to seduce her. (Another thing I loved? He didn't push her in a skeezy way. He respects her so much.) But once she realized she still had some sort of feelings for him? Hoo boy. Fireworks. Probst knows how to write sweet and sexy. My favourite.

A Brand New Ending, which just published this week, was such a lovely read. Jennifer Probst has written a story full of heart, heat, and hope. It's the perfect book to pick up when you need a pick-me-up and will have you swooning and falling in love, just like the characters in this story.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Review: Marilla of Green Gables

Like most Canadian girls, I love Anne of Green Gables. I've read the books (multiple times), watched the Megan Follows movies (multiple times), and have been watching Anne with an E, the newest TV adaptation, as well. So when I heard Sarah McCoy had written a novel about Marilla, I was excited. Cautious but excited. I try to go into adaptations and the like with an open mind but of course I'm always a little worried about what a new person (whether it be an author, actor, director) will do to the original work. Marilla of Green Gables isn't perfect - because nothing can be perfect - but it was enjoyable and, I think, a worthy addition to the world of Anne.

Here's the (extremely long) synopsis (which I didn't even bother reading before requesting this book because I knew I'd want to read it no matter what):
A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness
Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.
In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.
Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.
McCoy does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Green Gables and Avonlea. Her Marilla was quite similar to Montgomery's Anne (not too surprising since the novel starts with Marilla at about the same age as Anne was when she first came to Green Gables) which, for the most part, was lovely and seemed true to the Marilla we all know and love. I did find myself sometimes wondering if she really would have been that imaginative or outspoken. It was hard to reconcile younger Marilla with older Marilla. She became a bit more recognizable after a heartbreaking event (which I did see coming but that doesn't make it any less devastating) because she loses her innocence. As she gets older, though, she finishes her schooling and stays up to date with politics - even voicing her opinion at a town hall. That didn't really feel familiar but it was enjoyable to read nonetheless.

Speaking of the politics, those parts of the story are really what made me recognize that this wasn't a Green Gables story written by Montgomery. Further, that this wasn't a book written during the 1800s. It's a historical novel written in the present day and reads as such. I don't recall Montgomery ever really noting what was happening in Canada or the world as Anne was growing up. There may have been passing mention of a Prime Minister or something of that nature, but Marilla was very clearly living and engaging in her time. This wasn't a bad thing...it's just a thing that makes it a McCoy novel instead of anything else. Does that make sense? Related to the history - I was amused when it was revealed that Izzy, Marilla's aunt, lived in St. Catharines because that's where I live. It wasn't until much later that you realize the importance of this.

I did really like that McCoy peppered the story with familiar names and faces. Meeting a young Rachel Lynde (née White) was way more fun than I thought it would be. It's hard to relate to Rachel in Anne of Green Gables but I think I like her even more now. In any other prequel, I think it would have been odd to have the same families show up but this is Avonlea after all. Most people never leave so of course the same names (Andrews, Sloan, Barry, just to name a few) would carry on from Marilla's youth to Anne's.

McCoy notes in her Author's Note that the book all started when she couldn't stop thinking about a line from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 37 (emphasis is McCoy's):
"What a nice-looking fellow he is," said Marilla absently. "I saw him in church last Sunday and he seemed so tall and manly. He looks a lot like his father did at the same age. John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau."
Anne looked up with swift interest.
"Oh, Marilla - and what happened?"
I'm sure I thought the same as Anne and McCoy throughout the years but the difference between me and McCoy is she had to do something about it. Marilla of Green Gables is her answer to Anne's question. What did happen between Marilla and John Blythe? I think this is where McCoy shone. She tells the story of young love so wonderfully that my heart was full and aching through the entire book because I, of course, knew how things turned out for Marilla and John.

Finally, I have to share a quote from page 159 that Anne fans will love because it really shows the connection between Marilla and Anne plus how well McCoy knows and understands Montgomery's work:
Never mind today, she thought. There was no undoing the mistakes in it. But tomorrow was new with time a-plenty to make things right.
Love love love.

I could probably discuss and pick apart this novel until the Cuthberts' cows came home to Green Gables but I won't. I'll simply say this: Anne of Green Gables fans should be thrilled with Sarah McCoy's Marilla of Green Gables. It captures the heart of Marilla and Green Gables and should find it's way to every Anne lover's bookshelf.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter

Kate Morton is a wonderful storyteller. She can take two (or more) time periods and characters within them and weave an incredible story. The Clockmaker's Daughter showcased her talents once again. But...I didn't completely fall in love with it as I had hoped to. It's a great novel, don't get me wrong, but I think I expected more.

Here's the synopsis:
My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing, and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.
Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing a drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.
Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?
Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery, and thievery, of art, love, and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.
I can't quite put my finger on what it was about this novel that prevented me from loving it. It might have been the number of points of view (there are so many that I honestly couldn't tell you all of them). Or it could have been that Part One only had two POVs and switching to others in the following parts made me miss Elodie. She played such a huge part in Part One and barely showed up in the whole rest of the book.

I also wasn't a huge fan of how the book ended. I was reading along and knew it would be done soon because I could tell things were being wrapped up and all the little clues and hints were coming together into an almost satisfying conclusion. Then I realized I only had about 35 pages left of the book. How could it all come together in a great ending in only 35 pages? Turns out it couldn't. Not totally. That being said, there is resolution. And we, as the reader, do know the full story (and I do kind of appreciate Morton assumes intelligence of the reader and allows us to make some final connections). I think I just wanted (needed) to see all the characters finally realizing the full story too. (Wow, it's hard to write about the final pages of a novel without giving anything away.)

Even if I wished the ending had played out a bit differently for the characters, I was reminded how great Morton is at bringing seemingly unconnected threads together to form a full picture. I never know exactly how things are going to be connected but I trust that Morton has a wonderful story in store for me. There's nothing better than exclaiming "Ohhhhh!" as you realize how something that seemed insignificant earlier on was actually the key all along.

The setting of this novel was absolutely magical. It's no wonder Elodie, as her mother before her, was entranced by the fairy story and the house in the country. I could easily picture the house and the landscape as I was reading - and definitely wanted to visit even if the house is likely haunted.

The art nerd in me loved the art history aspect of the story too. It was really neat to read as Morton imagined what it would have been like for artists at the time gallivanting off to make art and how they worried about making pieces to satisfy those wealthy folks who were paying them.

While The Clockmaker's Daughter wasn't as amazing as I wanted it to be, I was still hooked and completely invested in Kate Morton's newest novel. It's mysterious, historical and contemporary, and really well written. It's also a beast at 400+ pages so make sure you have the time to commit once you start because you likely won't want to stop.

*An eARC of this novel was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, October 12, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Last Resort

There are a few authors I've read over the years who immediately go on my "must read" list no matter what they write. Some of them I've been lucky enough to meet in person and it only confirms my desire to support them in everything they do. Marissa Stapley is one of those authors for me. She's a fantastic author and an even better human. She revealed the cover of her new book, The Last Resort, yesterday and, because I find it so damn swoonworthy, I asked her if I could feature it on my blog so all of you could swoon over it too!

Here's what her new book - which is out June 4 in Canada and June 18 in the US - is all about:
From bestselling author Marissa Stapley comes a gripping novel about marriage, loyalty, and the deadly secrets that unravel over the course of a two-week couples’ therapy retreat in Mexico.
Miles Markell is missing, and everyone is a suspect.
To the guests at The Harmony Resort, Doctors Miles and Grace Markell appear to be a perfect power couple. They run a couples’ therapy retreat in a luxurious resort in the Mayan Riviera where they help spouses deal with their marriage struggles.
Johanna and Ben’s relationship looks great on the surface, but in reality, they don’t know each other at all. Shell and Colin fight constantly—Colin is a workaholic, and Shell always comes second.But what has really torn them apart is too devastating to talk about. When both couples begin Harmony’s intensive therapy program, it becomes clear that Harmony is not all that it seems—and neither are Miles and Grace. What are they hiding, and what price will these couples pay for finding out their secrets?
As a powerful hurricane descends on the coast, trapping both the hosts and their guests, confidences are revealed, loyalties are tested, and not one single person—or marriage—will ever be the same.
A gripping exploration of relationships and trust, The Last Resort is a propulsive read about all the big truths we hide, even from ourselves.
You're intrigued, aren't you? Good.

Ready for the stunning cover?

Isn't it gorgeous? Even though you can see the hurricane coming to shore. I think it perfectly captures the essence of the story with beauty but underlying menace.

Head to Marissa's website to find all the pre-order links so you can get a copy of your own from your favourite retailer.

If you're really interested in Marissa and what she's written before (check out my reviews of Mating for Life and Things to Do When It's Raining) and are in GTA-ish area next weekend, make sure you check out the event being held at the L.E. Shore Memorial Library in Thornbury. And bonus: KA Tucker, Joanna Goodman, and Ruth Marshall will be there too! (So will I and I'm SO EXCITED.)

Happy reading (and pre-ordering), everyone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: The Witch of Willow Hall

As much as I adore the Harry Potter novels, I usually like my witch stories to be a little more historical (think The Witches of New York) and/or feature more discreet magic (think Practical Magic - the book, not the movie). I was intrigued by The Witch of Willow Hall, Hester Fox's debut novel because it seemed like it would tie into the Salem Witch Trials and feature magic that was more, for lack of a better word, realistic than wand-waving. The magic that did show up was just what I wanted but I needed a lot more of it.

Here's the synopsis:
Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.
New Oldbury, 1821
In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.
The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.
All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…
While I know some readers absolutely adored this novel, there was something was a little lacking for me. And I think it was the witchcraft - or lack thereof. Lydia has no idea what's happening to her. She doesn't know why she's seeing things that shouldn't be there or why things seem to happen without her meaning them to. She doesn't recognize it as magic and she fights it for the majority of the novel which means there really isn't much witchcraft in the book. It reads more like a Gothic ghost story than a story about a witch.

While there was a lack of witchcraft, there was an abundance of sibling rivalry. The drama between Lydia and her older sister, Catherine, took over the story. This would be fine if it hadn't been for the expectation that the story would be more about witches than two sisters sniping at each other for 300+ pages. 

The girls (I say girls but they were actually, I think, young ladies. Lydia is mentioned as being 19 and Catherine was older but I definitely wasn't sure and kept thinking of them as much younger for some reason) were also competing for the attention of a young (maybe he wasn't young? I apparently didn't do well on paying attention to the ages of these characters) man. Catherine had a reason (completely and totally messed up but a reason nonetheless) to snag herself a husband and she wasn't being picky. Lydia, on the other hand, was experiencing love that she was certain was unrequited. For a storyline that wasn't mentioned in the synopsis, these romantic (and not so romantic) entanglements take up a lot of the novel. (I'm sorry for all the brackets.)

As hard as I may be on the story, mostly for lacking the witchcraft I really wanted, the story was a good one. I was invested and needed to keep reading to find out how things would end up for Lydia. I felt the ups and downs and whatever else she was feeling right alongside her and hoped she would find a Happily Ever After, or as happy as it could be considering the circumstances.

In reading the author bio at the back of the book, I learned Fox had a background in history and worked as a collections maintenance technician at a museum. That love of history came through as I really felt like I was in 1821. Sometimes historical novels can seem too much like a history textbook but Fox sets the scene without making it seem like she's trying to teach the reader anything. You're completely absorbed in the world she creates.

The Witch of Willow Hall was a good book to read on a Fall weekend (even though we had unseasonably warm temperatures this past Thanksgiving weekend). Even though I wish Hester Fox had given readers more witches and fewer ghosts, I think this is a perfectly Gothic novel to read in the lead up to Halloween.

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Blog Tour: The Christmas Sisters

I love Christmas stories with a (heavy) romantic undertone. Just absolutely love them. Curling up by the lit up Christmas tree, fireplace burning, and glass of wine beside me while reading a holiday love story? Sign. Me. Up. I have great news for anyone who feels the same. The Christmas Sisters, Sarah Morgan's latest novel, was holiday perfection in my books.

Here's the synopsis:
In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…
Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…
As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?
There are so many things to love about this Christmas story. Honestly. That being said...there was a little something that kept me from giving it 5 stars on Goodreads. (Why haven't they come up with 1/2 stars yet? Or maybe I don't want them too...that'll just give people more to complain about "Why didn't I get that extra half star? They must have hated the book if they only gave it 3 1/2." OK, so that's a rant for another day...) This is such a solid story though that I'm not going to look too closely at why I left off that last star (it's very likely just because I have extremely high standards for 5 stars). I'll just talk about all the lovely things about the book. Sound good? Good.

This book is perfectly Christmassy. It is so rare to read a Christmas story (I'll admit most of my holiday reading are romances because I am a sucker for them) that actually has such a focus on Christmas. There were the traditional and concrete Christmas elements - buying and giving presents, trees and decorations, baking and eating - as well as the feeling and essence of Christmas - family, love, a dash of stress. Those magical Christmas feelings wrapped themselves around me and I almost felt like I was cozied up in front of the fire at Suzanne and Stewart's with the McBride family all around me. Which, I admit, was a really weird feeling to have at the end of September when I read the novel. If I can make one suggestion, it's that you wait until December or, at the very least, after Thanksgiving - Canadian or American, take your pick - to read this one. I think the magic of the season will make the story that much more powerful for you.

I recently read (and reviewed) Sarah Morgan's last book, How to Keep a Secret, which was her first foray into "women's fiction" (instead of true romance). I didn't really think it was too much of a departure from her usual romances because she always has such strong characters and a solid storyline. This one though? Even though there were relationships and lovers all over the place, it felt more contemporary fiction than contemporary romance. (This might be a really hard thing to understand if you're not a romance and contemporary reader but I read a good amount of both so, I guess I'm an expert?) The storyline was a bit heavier (not to say romances must always be light and fluffy) and all the feelings of all the characters were explored, not just the romantic feelings. It was as much a family story as it was a romantic one.

The characters were all, somewhat surprisingly, quite fleshed out. I say surprisingly because there were a lot of them to get to know. The POV cycled through Suzanne, Posy, Beth, and Hannah and Morgan really managed to make each woman shine. Not only that, each of their husbands/love interests (Stewart, Luke, Jason, and Adam, respectively) had strong personalities as well (and I don't necessarily mean Alpha male personalities, just well developed ones). It was so lovely to read such great characters. Even Beth and Jason's daughters were delightful and their little personalities came through the pages as well.

And it takes place in Scotland. I LOVE THAT. I'm a Stewart. Of course I do.

I could likely gush about this heartwarming tale all day so I'll just say this: if you only read one Christmas novel this year, make it Sarah Morgan's The Christmas Sisters. It was such a delight and already has me looking forward to the holiday season.

And good news for any Canadian and American readers out there...if you've finished reading this post and thought, "Boy, I wish I had a copy of this book for myself." you're in luck! The publisher is holding a giveaway, just enter the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Just in case you don't win, you can buy the book in all these places:

And check out and follow Sarah Morgan all over the Internet!

*An e-galley of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for a review for the purposes of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, October 1, 2018

Pumpkins and Pages Hop

Fall is so pretty, but aside from Halloween, there isn't much going on. (Unless you're Canadian like me and are looking forward to Thanksgiving this weekend and all of the food that comes with it.) 

The ladies at Chick Lit Chat HQ decided to create their own Fall fun to tie together all the great elements of the season - the rich colours, the pumpkins (and pumpkin spice lattes for those who indulge), wearing sweaters, walking through crunching leaves, curling up by the fire with a good book. 

Chick Lit Chat HQ is continuing its tradition of hosting killer hops for Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy fans with their PUMPKINS AND PAGES FACEBOOK HOP to get this season started right. 

From October 1st through the 7th, more than 50 Chick Lit and RomCom authors are banding together to bring you their most awesome event yet. Along with individual author prizes, they'll be giving away grand prizes of a beautiful fall wreath by Twoinspireyou valued at $160* and THREE gift bags full of pumpkin-scented goodies from Bath & Body Works. 

PSLs, chunky sweaters, and crunchy leaves ain't got nothing on this week-long party, so don your scarf and mittens and head on over to Facebook and join the CLC HQ events group to hang with authors and readers, find your next great fireside read, and enter to win all sorts of fabulous prizes. 

Hope to see you there!
*The Grand Prize fall wreath giveaway is open to US residents only. (I know, I know...I can't even enter it myself but I know I have some American readers and wanted to share.) However, all of the individual author giveaways and the grab bag giveaways are open internationally.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Review: A Nordic King

I feel like royal stories are becoming a dime or dozen these days (thanks, Harry and Meghan) but when they're as well told and as engrossing as Karina Halle's are, I don't mind one bit. A Nordic King is Halle's latest book in a sort-of-but-not-really-at-all series she's been writing about Scandinavian princes and kings. The new book (just published today) is all about King Aksel, who we met briefly in her two previous books, The Swedish Prince (review here) and The Wild Heir (review here). The books have been getting better and better (to me, personally) and this last one totally swept me off my feet.

Here's the synopsis:
When I first applied for the job I thought it would be like all the others: working as a nanny for an aristocratic family.
Then I got the job and found out how wrong I was.
Now I’m the new nanny for two adorable little girls who happen to be princesses.
Their father is the widowed King of Denmark.
And my new home? The royal palace in Copenhagen.
Adjusting to my new life isn't easy but the hardest part hasn’t been the girls who still grieve over the loss of their mother.
It’s their father.
Cold, mysterious and moody, with an icy stare that seems to penetrate your soul, King Aksel may have hired me to take care of his daughters but he wants as little to do with me as possible.
Yet the longer I share these palace walls with this man, the more that I’m drawn to him. His chiseled face and sexual swagger are only part of the package. It’s in the long, intense glances at the dinner table, the way we’ll brush up against each other in the halls, the rare glimpses of the man deep inside, like the sun passing through clouds.
But no matter how I feel about him, we can never be together.
You think it's bad enough being in love with your boss?
Try falling in love with a king.
I hadn't realized I have a problem with romances involving a couple with one person in a position of power over the other. That is, until I read a really, really good one. Obviously King Aksel has all of the power in this novel. Not just over Aurora but over the whole of Denmark. But he doesn't use that power for evil (sorry, lapsing into fairy tale speak here). Sure, he and Aurora joke about it in the bedroom but they're doing so in a safe space. Plus, Halle makes it extremely clear that Aurora wouldn't put up with any of that nonsense - and Aksel knows that. A strong heroine makes all the difference (plus having a man who's, you know, not an asshole. Though she does call him King Asshole on occasion!).

On a personal note, I loved that Aurora was Australian. I've been to that marvelous country twice (her hometown, Windorah, is just a mere 14 hour drive from where I stayed) and I love when contemporary stories feature Aussie characters.

As I mentioned, this is the third book in Halle's royal sort-of series. You can read any of these books in any order. Trust me! Aksel only flits through the first two and readers of those books likely got the same first impression Aurora did - that Aksel was unhappy, cold, stand-offish, grieving. But unlike Viktor and Magnus, the princes featured in the other books, Aurora actually tries to figure out what makes Aksel tick and she truly wants to help the family, Aksel and his two adorable daughters, heal after their loss. (To be fair to the princes, they had their own issues to deal with that didn't involve figuring out what was happening with the king in a neighbouring country.) Even though this isn't a series, you'll probably still want to read the other two for a great dose of royals and romance.

Halle's books are always super emotional and will always deliver a few gut punches and heartbreaks. But there's always a Happily Ever After waiting at the end and it's never cheesy. Her books are real (even with the whole "falling in love with a royal" thing) and that means there are highs (lots of laughs and sexy times) and lows (lies and sorrow). She strikes such a good balance and I know when I dive into her books I'll be feeling all the feels. I can't think of another author who does that so well.

I experienced a major book hangover when I finished Karina Halle's A Nordic King. The story - and  characters - burrowed right into my heart and soul and I fell in love with it. I can't wait for everyone else to read it too. It's one to pick up (immediately!) if you love love and really well told stories.

Download A Nordic King today! 
FREE in Kindle Unlimited * Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon CA * 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 * Website * Join her Reader Group
Stay up to date with Karina by signing up for her newsletter here

*An eARC was provided by the author via Social Butterfly PR in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: How to Keep a Secret

I've been reading Sarah Morgan's romances for a long time now and they're always so enjoyable. Like many romance authors in recent years, Morgan has just published a women's fiction novel, How to Keep a Secret. Personally, I think there's a lot of cross-over between the genres and the different marketing sometimes really frustrates me because they (publishers) really only do it because some idiots people turn their noses up at romance novels. *breathes* But that's a rant for another day. Today I will gush about the loveliness that is Morgan's latest book!

Here's the synopsis:
When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise
Lauren has the perfect life...if she ignores the fact it's a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.
Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it's... Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she's determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.
Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?
Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha's Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, the rewards could be infinite...
Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan's brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women. 
I do have to talk about the difference between this book and Morgan's usual romances (not rant-y, I promise). How to Keep a Secret isn't so much about the love stories (there are three of them) but more about the four Stewart women and their relationships with each other. The familial relationships are way more complicated and problematic than the romantic ones and I appreciated the balance between the two. It was actually quite refreshing because I haven't read a book like this in a little while and it was so well done.

The only thing I didn't really like was, funnily enough, the secrets that were being kept. I had a feeling I knew what Lauren and Jenna were keeping from their mother, and vice versa, but the girls' reasoning just didn't sit well with me. It was a sound reason at 11 and 8 ish but once they grew older? Not so much. I guess I just didn't understand why they wouldn't try to work past it. Maybe they thought the relationships were too damaged to try and repair them. This secret also caused a blow-up between Jenna and her husband that didn't seem very realistic but I think it was more a "last straw" than the actual problem. (Yeah, that's vague but spoilers must be avoided!)

I was worried that the story might get a bit confusing with all the points of view but Morgan managed to keep everything together well. I do think I wanted more time with/background of/interactions between the characters but it's hard to do in a story like this sometimes. I liked all the different viewpoints and how you could see as the story went on how the women were starting to trust each other more and become closer.

Oh my gosh. And the setting? I could totally picture The Captain's House and the lovely scenery Morgan painted for the reader. Made me crave a beach vacation or perhaps a visit to my hometown on Georgian Bay.

Finally, I have to share how exciting it was to see a character with the same name as me! She was minor (so minor she's only mentioned in passing) but I've only encountered this in two other books and twice in real life (the actress doesn't count).

How to Keep a Secret may not be a traditional Sarah Morgan romance but it has all the things readers look for when picking up one of her books - and more. Someone looking for a really light-hearted story would be disappointed (my recommendation is change your viewpoint/expectation and read it anyway) but anyone who wants a great story about family and love will be so pleased with Morgan's latest book.

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review: One More Moment

One More Moment is the latest book in Samantha Chase's "Band on the Run" series. I haven't read any of the other books featuring the guys from the band Shaughnessy but I knew this was one of those series where I could hop in anywhere and enjoy the ride. This romance was fun and sweet and I enjoyed it.

Here's the synopsis:
Julian Grayson is taking a break
...from his cheating fiancée
...from his band
...from his life in the spotlight
Charlotte Clark is devoted to her work
...to save the world
...to help the homeless
...to get a broken man back on his feet
When Charlotte Clark offers to pay for Julian Grayson's coffee, the world-famous drummer assumes she wants something from him. But Charlotte has no idea who he is, and Julian can't resist keeping up the charade—being incognito is a novelty and a relief. He'll have to tell her...eventually. But as Charlotte cheerfully undertakes to transform his life, Julian realizes there's something about her that gives him what he hasn't felt in years: hope.
I have to admit that, even though I really enjoyed the romance between Julian and Charlotte, I wasn't feeling at all swoony towards Julian - and I think that really impacted my overall feelings with this book. Warranted? Who knows, but that's what I think. I found him to be somewhat arrogant, completely clueless, and unwilling to accept his part in his predicament (terrible last relationship, blow out at the wedding that wasn't, everything with the band). What saved this story for me was Charlotte. She was having none of that nonsense and was trying to get him to see that he needed to fix himself and his life and everything else would sort of fall into place.

I think my favourite thing about this book was actually Julian realizing how great it felt to give back to the community. Sure, he started doing it for Charlotte but you could tell he was eventually doing it for himself. He realized how he could take all the money and fame he'd worked hard for and use it for something good. I think a lot of people need to realize that they have a lot of themselves to give to causes (something I need to remember myself). A small amount of your time or money can go so far in the right place.

While this book is mostly a romance, there's a lot more to it. In fact, Julian (especially) and Charlotte both had to work on themselves before a relationship could move forward. Charlotte needed to realize that, as noble as it is, she can't save the world. Not on her own and especially not when she's not looking after herself. I liked that Julian helped her realize she needed to slow down a little bit and relinquish some control (even if I felt that he was being an asshat about it sometimes. Charlotte's not going to quit working just because you have a lot of money, you knob. Hm. I think I have more problems with Julian than I realized.) Julian, for all his faults, did eventually realize them and tried to work on himself.

One More Moment was a romance with a lot of heart and characters who will draw you in (for better or for worse). Samantha Chase will be going on my list of authors to keep an eye on - especially when I need a fun and sweet romance to get lost in.

*An eARC of this novel was provided by InkSlinger PR via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Blog Tour: Counting on You

I will read anything Laura Chapman writes. And *checks Goodreads* so far I have read everything she's written. Her books are always fun, sweet, a little sexy, realistic, and so well-written. Counting on You (just released today!) was no exception and I just loved it.

Here's the synopsis:
Is love worth the risk?
Math teacher Haleigh Parde has no desire to change her single status until she receives an invitation to her high school reunion. With her ex spreading rumors she needs a date and fast. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Haleigh finds herself meeting a blind date at a neighborhood bar called Amarillo Sour . . .
After watching Haleigh crash and burn, app developer Ian Henning makes her a proposition. If she'll provide honest feedback on his new dating app, he'll guarantee her a date to knock the socks off her former classmates. Even better, he—and the other Amarillo Sour regulars—will help her navigate the rocky road of dating.
Through setups ranging from awkward to absurd, Haleigh discovers her matchmaker might just be better than the matches. And Ian wonders if she's the answer to everything he's worked for professionally. Or is she something much, much more . . . 
Counting on You is the first book in a new series by Chapman which is excellent because she's created a really fun world at Amarillo Sour (which, incidentally, sounds like a bar I would totally have a beer or three at). The next book will feature another character but Haleigh and Ian will make an appearance so I can find out what they're up to now.

One of my favourite things about Chapman's books is she always creates characters I could be friends with and their worlds could easily be mine. This means I'm that much more invested in those characters and their lives. I know we, as readers, should try to read outside our comfort zone every once and awhile - and I try to do that - but I just really enjoy stories where I can connect and/or identify with the characters. Haleigh, like all of us, has her struggles and getting to know her as the book goes on, and as Ian also gets to know her, was so  great. I think I fell a little bit in love with her too.

I read this book immediately after finishing The Kiss Quotient and I realized there were a lot of similarities. Not enough to be boring or be considered exact carbon copies of each other but the basic storyline had a lot of similarities: a woman who's not great at dating using a stranger to help her date. Stella (from The Kiss Quotient) has Aspberger's and Haleigh has anxiety problems which also parallels. This comparison is a good thing, trust me. If you loved The Kiss Quotient (like I and every other rom-com lover out there), you must pick up Counting on You.

Reading as Haleigh went on so many (terrible, failed) dates was hilariously cringe-worthy. She was determined though and I loved that about her. Ian, as you might expect, took his job as coach and protector pretty seriously and it was fun to read as they slowly started to realize the feelings they had for each other. I don't think I really loved how things eventually blew up between them - it felt a tad too forced and/or convenient - but it was a minor thing. I was rooting for them the whole way through the novel and was really hoping for a Happily Ever After.

I would keep writing about Counting on You but I'll either give something away or flail nonsensically. Laura Chapman continues to be one of my favourite writers and you should definitely give her books a shot if you haven't yet. I can't wait for the next book in the Amarillo Sour series!

For you lucky readers in the US, there's a Rafflecopter giveaway happening for the duration of the tour (until September 2). Sorry to my fellow Canadians :(

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author
Laura Chapman is the author of sweet and sexy romantic comedies. A born and raised Nebraska girl, she loves watching football, traveling, crafting, and baking. When she isn’t writing her next story, she is probably working at a museum by day and binge-watching Netflix with her cats Jane and Bingley at night. So, basically, she’s living large.

You can find and contact Laura Chapman here:

You can buy Counting on You here:
* Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Google Play * iTunes *

*An eARC of this novel was provided by the author and Lola's Blog Tours for the purposes of a blog tour in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.*