Thursday, July 19, 2018

Cover Reveal: Until the Last Star Fades

I've read Jacquelyn Middleton's London novels (my review of London Belongs to Me is here and London, Can You Wait? is here) and adored them. Because I liked them so much, I'm really excited for her upcoming novel, Until the Last Star Fades. It sounds amazing and I get to share the cover with you today! Plus, a little bit of info about the novel. Enjoy!

From Jacquelyn Middleton, the award-winning author of London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait?, comes Until the Last Star Fades, a friends-to-lovers contemporary romance set in New York City. Until the Last Star Fades features plenty of angst and sexy times, but it also tells the tale of an unbreakable bond between a mother and her daughter.

Here's the synopsis:
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 romance about love, loss, sacrifice, and the life-changing decisions we make. UNTIL THE LAST STAR FADES will be released by Kirkwall Books in paperback and ebook on November 8, 2018. 
Ready for the cover?

Whee! I'm so excited.

Now that you've seen the cover and read what it's all about, you should add it to your Goodreads TBR list. And don't worry - pre-order links will be coming soon enough.

I don't want to wish the summer away but I sure am looking forward to the release of this novel in November! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: The Start of Something Good

I'm a broken record when it comes to talking about romance novels. I've said time and time again that I love reading really good romances and don't care that I know the basic formula of the plot going in. I argue that many romance readers read them specifically because they know they're going to get a satisfying ending. A lot of us read to "escape" our lives for a little while and if a sweet, sexy, fun Happily Ever After novel isn't a good escape, I don't know what is. My point? I just read The Start of Something Good by Jennifer Probst which I was downright thrilled to read even if it wasn't the best book I've ever read in my life. I read it because I wanted to see a couple fall in love and ride off into the sunset and Probst gave me that. And for that, I say I really enjoyed the book.

Here's the synopsis:
When Ethan Bishop returns to the Hudson Valley, his body and spirit are a little worse for wear. As a former Special Forces paratrooper, he saw his fair share of conflict, and he came home with wounds, inside and out. At his sisters’ B & B and farm, he can keep all his pain at a safe distance. But quiet time isn’t easy when a fiery woman explodes into his life…
It’s business—not pleasure—that brings Manhattan PR agent Mia Thrush reluctantly to the farm. Tightly wound and quick tempered, Mia clashes immediately with the brooding Ethan. Everything about him is irritating—from his lean muscles and piercing blue eyes to his scent of sweat and musk.
But as the summer unfolds and temperatures rise, Ethan and Mia discover how much they have in common: their guarded histories, an uncontrollable desire, and a passion for the future that could heal two broken hearts. But will their pasts threaten their fragile chance at a brand-new future?
Of course, as much as I enjoyed my time reading this book there were a few things that sort of drove me bananas. The first was Mia's job. Well, not the job itself as, spoiler alert, I actually work in PR myself and am just a year older than Mia is. Our differences is Mia started her working life in PR whereas I've only recently jumped into the field. Even though my position is very different (I'm a bottom rung of the ladder, grunt work kind of girl right now), I can still see what it would be like for Mia in an organization such as the firm I work for. Sort of. I find novels, romances in particular, tend to stereotype jobs a little bit and I found Probst did that with Mia and PR. Even though Ethan eventually realizes his assumptions about her were totally off  (once she set him straight), I just found the shiny veneer on Mia's job kind of...fake and unsettling. I guess my problem is with the romance genre in general making PR professionals only work in the big city and that it's "giving up" if they do the same work in a smaller town. OK. Ending my nonsensical rant about PR in romance now. (Maybe there's a potential for a bigger story there though...)

I also found that I sometimes wanted more showing instead of telling. Ethan and Mia have to have a big conversation at some point but...I didn't get to "listen in" on it. Mia recapped it and I felt a bit jilted. And bored. It happened a few times throughout the novel and it was weirdly difficult to tell how quickly (or slowly) time was going.

But overall? I totally loved the story and the idea behind it, even if it wasn't always executed as well as I thought it should have been. I really liked diving into Mia and Ethan's story and found it hard to leave both when I was reading and had to put the book down and then especially as I finished it.

I think what made this book so special for me wasn't even the romance. It was actually how Mia and Ethan both took Chloe under their wings, in different ways, to help her realize she is wanted and she is smart and talented. It was just so amazing to see how everyone at the farm pulled together to help Chloe, Mia, and Ethan realize what they really needed in their lives.

Which brings me to my next point...I'm so glad this is the first book in a series. I wasn't sure if I'd want to read the next ones because from a "is this book actually good?" perspective I was hesitant. But from a "is this story really good?" perspective, I cannot wait for book two. (I feel like that comparison will only make sense to voracious readers like myself!) Ophelia's story, A Brand New Ending, is being published in October.

Also - when can I book my stay at Robin's Nest B&B? I need some of Ophelia's scones.

I know this review is all over the place but here's what you really need to know: if you enjoy romances, you should definitely read The Start of Something Good by Jennifer Probst. The characters are fantastic (Mia is wicked smart and feisty), the setting is delightful (those who love small town tropes, like me, will fall in love), and the love story is so sweet and real.

*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, July 10, 2018

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird

Dear Mrs. Bird is in turn both heartwarming and humorous. AJ Pearce's debut (I still can't believe it's her first published novel) presents a heroine who will stay with me for a long time and a story that is equally as memorable. This novel was such a delight to read and I couldn't bear to put it down or see it end.

Here's the synopsis:
London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.
Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are gutsy and spirited, even in the face of a terrible blow. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.
I've realized recently that, while I don't read a great deal of historical fiction, the ones I read the most of tend to take place somewhere between 1900 and 1950. Basically, a lot of stories set during or around two major wars. You'd think it would get dreary but I've been lucky in finding stories that are practically perfect and are utterly absorbing. Dear Mrs. Bird is another example of a World War II set novel I've read in recent months that I absolutely adored. For your interest and further reading, the others include Jennifer Robson's Goodnight from London, Kate Quinn's The Alice Network, Ellen Keith's The Dutch Wife, and Genevieve Graham's Come from Away. (I just did a count and I've read 8 historical novels in 2018. 5 of them take place during or just after WWII and another was set in WWI.) It actually felt like Pearce had written this book in 1940 because the phrases she uses and the scenes she set felt so incredibly realistic. Of course I don't know what it was like to be in London during WWII but I feel like I've read enough books and watched enough movies set in that time to get a sense when something doesn't feel right.

I've been seeing Dear Mrs. Bird compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (which, incidentally, I've only just recently read and loved to bits. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend the audiobook.) and I think that comparison needs some clarity. Both novels take place in and around London in the 1940s. Mrs. Bird occurs in 1940, right in the thick of the Blitz, and Guernsey takes place in 1946, after WWII is over. Both novels have absolutely delightful heroines who have a wonderful group of colleagues and friends. But where things get tricky is when readers are led to expect in Mrs. Bird the kind of letter writing Guernsey gave us. It's so not the case. I wasn't expecting that so I wasn't surprised or let down but I know other people have been. Such is the danger of comparing books - especially when one is so well known for something special (like Guernsey is with it being such a perfect example of an epistolary novel).

But let's talk about Emmy. She was an absolute gem. She was sweet and funny and sometimes horribly awkward and a bit misguided. But I really thought her heart was in the right place throughout. And what a heart she had! She was such a kind person - I don't know how anyone could think otherwise - and so desperately wanted to do her bit for the war efforts. I loved that she had spunk and I worried about what her life would be like after the war when women would start to be forced back into the home. Her friendship with Bunty is so precious and Pearce did such a wonderful job of writing about it that I really wanted to be friends with them too.

One thing that blows me away with novels such as this is the reinforcement of the "keep calm and carry on" mentality people in London had during the war. I am constantly amazed when reading these stories that the people were able to persevere and go about their lives as normally as possible during months of nightly (or near-nightly) bombings. I know there's not much else to do but buck up and go about your business I'm not sure how easily I would have been able to carry on with my daily life.

The actual narrative of the novel is a good one but, I've realized this while writing my review, it's not what's going to make Dear Mrs. Bird memorable for me. I loved that it gave me a glimpse into the lighter side of a period of time that we so often think of only in terms of how awful it was (don't get me wrong, a world war is hella awful). This novel was more than the plot for me, even if it was really well written and had a good pace (until the end...I do feel the end was a tad rushed).

I could go on and on about Dear Mrs. Bird - about how it will tug at your heartstrings while also making you laugh out loud, about the wonderful characters, and more - but I really want you to find out how wonderful AJ Pearce's debut novel is for yourself. Buy it or borrow it from a friend or the library but get your hands on a copy if you're a historical fiction fan. I really don't think you'll be disappointed.

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

Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: Dirty Exes

What you see (or read) is what you get with Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken. Which, depending on your mood, could be good or bad. It was great for me because I was in the mood for a romance with some humour and heart and Dirty Exes, the first book in a new series, totally delivered.

Here's the synopsis:
Blaire has never quite gotten over Jessie Beckett, the ex–NFL star whose kisses were hot enough to ignite the entire Eastern Seaboard. When he chose work over her, Blaire was left brokenhearted. Why else would she have married a skeezy two-timer, just to divorce him less than a year later?
Now Blaire is getting even by becoming one half of Dirty Exes, a PI firm fully committed to humiliating cheating jerks. If only the new jerk she’s been hired to uncover wasn’t Jessie Beckett himself.
Exposing Jessie isn’t going to be easy, especially when she still daydreams about his sexy smile. Further complicating matters is Colin, Jessie’s best friend. He’s gorgeous, a little bit cunning, and willing to help Blaire get the inside scoop on Jessie—for a price.
Now caught between two men—one totally right and the other totally wrong—Blaire will need to decide just how much she’s willing to risk…and whom she’s willing to risk it for.
Was Dirty Exes the best rom com I've ever read? No. But did it give me exactly what I hoped it would (which was some swoons and some laughs)? Yes, absolutely. I love romance novels because I know just what I'm going to get with the story but I especially love the ones that are really well written and provide a great story line along the way to the Happily Ever After.

The story is told from three perspectives - Blaire, Colin, and Jessie - and each is first person. I liked how that worked because you got a sense of what each character was really thinking and feeling. This was especially useful in this story because there were so many secrets between the three of them that it would have been really hard to figure out Colin and Jessie's motives had the story only been told from Blaire's perspective.

The first person narrative also created a very informal, conversational type of storytelling. Lines and thoughts were sometimes choppy which can be a bit weird to read but if you think of it more as though you're following along with the character's train of thought it usually works. For example, this little excerpt shows how Blaire is working through a revelation about Jessie (it's not a spoiler because you learn these details early on through Jessie's POV):
Vanessa was living with him.
Living. With. Him.
And he was flirting with me. With his wife still under his roof.
My phone buzzed again.
I grabbed it and checked my messages.
You see what I mean? It's odd to see that all written out but it's exactly as you would be saying it either to a friend or inwardly as you worked out the issue.

I had a hard time really getting to know Blaire because she had so many walls up. I couldn't really see how she fell for Jessie the first time and why she was so crushed when he left. I also didn't see any glimpse of the woman who would have run straight into the arms of a "nice guy" who ended up being an ass who also broke her heart. She was angry and bitter and I really needed to see her let those feelings go. She was a complicated character whose layers weren't quite as fleshed out as I would have hoped for.

I really wasn't sure how the Happily Ever After was going to work out. I hadn't reread the synopsis before diving in so I had forgotten that I wasn't supposed to be sure who Blaire would end up with. I was sure it would be Jessie but then I realized she was starting to fall for Colin too but, wait, does she actually still love Jessie more? It was a back and forth that kept me on my toes.

All in all, Dirty Exes was a fun read for me. I liked meeting all the characters Rachel Van Dyken created and I'd definitely like to catch up with some - or all - of them in the next book, Dangerous Exes.

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

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Blog Tour: Matchmaking for Beginners

You need to suspend your beliefs ever so slightly when reading Maddie Dawson's new novel, Matchmaking for Beginners. If you can do that, accept the magic of matchmaking, and open your heart to some quirky characters...well, you'll probably fall in love with this story or, at the very least, find yourself being charmed and entertained throughout.

Here's the synopsis:
Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.
When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.
And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.
This book was, in a word, delightful. It isn't perfect but it still found its way into my heart and my head. I found it hard to put down and would think about it when I was supposed to be busy doing other things. 

I loved Marnie. I felt like I really identified with her, even though I don't think we're that much alike. Maybe she's just one of those people that you can't help but be drawn to and want to be friends with. She's adorably unsure of herself and determined to get the life she thinks she wants. Problem is - that life isn't exactly what she needs. Blix knows what Marnie needs and works her particular brand of magic to make sure it works out - even once Blix is in the after-life. 

The magic I speak of isn't really magic. I wouldn't really call this book magic realism but there's a hint of supernatural in Blix and Marnie's matchmaking capabilities. Blix had a few "spells" she worked on people. It was like she could pass on love and good feelings to anyone she wanted to. Marnie saw sparkles when she was matchmaking and I kind of wished I could see them too. 

This book would not be what it is without the cast of supporting characters. They are the most eclectic bunch of wonderful oddballs and I loved them all. It was no wonder Blix and Marnie did too. Jessica was the perfect best friend for Marnie and I'm so glad they had each other. Sammy, Jessica's son, was too cute and my heart broke for him because he just wanted his parents to get back together. I loved reading as Marnie slowly - and awkwardly - brought Patrick out of his shell. And Lola, Blix's best friend, was a hoot. They really brought so much colour and life to the whole story and I had so much fun meeting all of them.

And that cover! I adored it. Though, if I have to find a fault, I'd say it's with the dog. He just doesn't fit. I was also very concerned there wouldn't even be a dog but, after finishing the book, I can see why he was put on the stoop with the couple. But I just love the colours and the art so much. 

If you're feeling down, Maddie Dawson's Matchmaking for Beginners is sure to bring a smile or three to your face. It was a quick read for me that was perfect for reading on the park bench on my lunch break.

Psst - I have some good news! Thomas Allen & Son is giving away a hardcover copy of Matchmaking for Beginners to a lucky Canadian reader. Fill out the Rafflecopter below and they'll notify the winner via email when the giveaway ends on July 13th at 11:59 pm EST. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Maddie Dawson
Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of five previous novels: The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal.

Follow Maddie
Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads  

*A copy of this novel was provided by the distributor, Thomas Allan & Son, in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: Golden Hour

It seemed like I had been waiting forever for the next book in Chantel Guertin's Pippa Greene series. But now that Golden Hour is finally here, I'm a bit sad. It's the fourth and final book in the series and I'm not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to Pippa.

Here's the synopsis:
It’s senior year, and the college countdown is on. But instead of getting accepted to Tisch’s photography program, Pippa’s been waitlisted. Without a backup plan, and with the pressure from everyone around her to live up to her father’s legacy, Pippa sets out to prove herself worthy of the program by doing the opposite of everything she did to try to get in. But when she runs into her ex, and first love, Dylan McCutter, Pippa has to finally decide if she should follow her head or her heart.
Written with the same humor and heart that made Chantel Guertin’s first three Pippa Greene novels instant favorites, Golden Hour offers a fresh and charming perspective on friendships, family, and first love.
The book had a bit of a Jenny Han feeling to it. I think it reminded me a lot of Always and Forever, Lara Jean because Pippa and Lara Jean aren't too different in character. Also, both of the final books in each series had the main characters figuring out what life after high school was going to look like. So, basically, what I'm saying is: if you like Lara Jean and Jenny Han's books, you'll also like Pippa.

Pippa is a smart girl but she's still a teenager so she makes some questionable choices. I put myself into a mindset of a grade 12 student (a senior for you Americans) and went along for the ride. She knows what she should be doing but that doesn't necessarily mean that's what she wants to be doing. Pippa figured out a lot about life in this one and how being true to yourself is going to make for such a better life than trying to be someone or something you think you should be.

I kind of laughed at myself when I realized I was questioning the motivations of the adults and wondering where the hell they were when they didn't realize that Pippa had only applied to one college. But then I remembered that I'm supposed to be an "adult" and I probably would have trusted Pippa too and moved on to worrying about my own life. But, seriously, Pippa? One school?

I almost wish Dylan hadn't reappeared because I wanted Pippa to focus on her own life and figuring her stuff out. I know that's not what life is like sometimes (hello, I started dating someone two weeks before graduation and decided to try the long distance thing so clearly I was doing both the romance and life figuring out at the same time. We're still together, btw.) but I do wish that novels didn't always have to have some sort of love story. Is it really necessary to sell books?

All in all, I liked Golden Hour. I adore Pippa and kind of really want to find out what she'd be like as an adult because I'm pretty sure we'd be friends. I'm looking forward to whatever Chantel Guertin writes next even though I'll be missing Pippa for awhile. Now that the whole series is out, it's a perfect time to read all of them back to back. And they'd make a great gift for any teen readers in your life for a summer reading project!

PS Definitely check out my friend Jess' review of this book as well over on her blog, The Paper-Trail Diary. She has a lot of the same thoughts I did and puts them together much better than I think I did.

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

Monday, June 11, 2018

HarperCollins Meet and Greet: Joanna Goodman and Ellen Keith

Last month I had the chance to attend a meet and greet event at the new HarperCollins Canada offices in downtown Toronto. I live outside of the city so I can't often make it in to evening events on a weekday. However, I have a new job and we have a Toronto office so I made plans to work there for the day so I could walk a few blocks over to the event after work. Win all around!

I was excited for the event for all sorts of reasons. One was that I hadn't seen the new HarperCollins offices yet. A few fellow YA bloggers had been to a Frenzy event and I was a bit envious of the views they had. I settled myself into a window seat at the event, not really thinking about my fear of heights. Probably not the wisest decision as this was the view:

Pretty incredible though, right? I just kept telling myself not to look all the way down (after I had snapped this shot, of course) which was easier said than done as the windows were floor to ceiling. Amazing but a bit fear inducing for me!

The authors being featured at this event (which took place on May 2) were Joanna Goodman and Ellen Keith. Both women had recently published historical fiction novels. Joanna's, The Home for Unwanted Girls, released on April 17th and Ellen's, The Dutch Wife, on April 24th. The books were new but I had read both for Niagara Life, a magazine I review for. I really enjoyed both of them so I jumped at the chance to hear them speak and get signed copies of both books.

Check out the synopsis of each book on Goodreads:
The Home for Unwanted Girls
The Dutch Wife

I wasn't the only one who enjoyed these books either. Both women debuted on The Globe and Mail bestseller lists. Joanna at number 1 the week her book came out and Ellen, a week later, at number 2. How amazing is that?

I believe this is actually as Kaiti announced Ellen debuting on
the bestseller list. I love seeing how happy Joanna is for her.
One of the best things I learned from the talk was that both women fell down a bit of a research rabbit hole while working on their books. Joanna knew she wanted to tell a story of a woman giving up her baby in 1950s Quebec and Ellen wanted to give a Nazi a chance to tell their perspective of WWII. Ellen had done some traveling in Germany and wondered how they were being taught the history of the war compared to what we may be told over here in North America. Both women's vague ideas were made so much richer by the research they found. Joanna's research led her to Duplessis Orphans (check out Wikipedia for a brief overview). Ellen learned about what happened in Argentina during the Dirty War plus about the brothels at prison and labour camps during WWII.

Joanna said that she'd been working on this book for "half her life" and found it very difficult to find first-hand accounts of the orphans. She said it wasn't surprising because the children would not have received a formal education so their literacy would be limited. She did find one instance where a child had put together her story and talked to a journalist who, in turn, published an article. Joanna said that it was so helpful finding that book because it confirmed the perspective she had of the orphans.

Ellen answering a question either from Kaiti (right) or the audience.
The women were asked if there was a pressure to tell their historical stories "correctly" and they both responded with a strong yes. Ellen said she was terrified that someone would come and tell her that she got it all wrong. Joanna agreed. Joanna was less concerned with the factual errors or inconsistencies than with the emotional ones. She just didn't know exactly how the orphans would have felt. Ellen has a history degree and found herself getting too focused on getting every little detail right and she didn't know how to handle the gaps in the research. In the end she learned that the novel should be more about the heart and essence of what you're trying to communicate than cold, hard facts.

The authors also went into more detail on how, exactly, the first seeds of their story were planted. Joanna's novel was kind of her mother's story and Maggie was written almost entirely as her mother (apart from the giving up a baby part of the novel). It was bittersweet for Joanna as her mom passed away before the book was published. Ellen wanted to write an homage to her grandparents who lived in the Netherlands during the war. While Marijka is spunky just like Ellen's grandmother was, Ellen's heroine is not really based on anyone in particular.

As is inevitable at events such as this, someone asked what advice the women would give to aspiring authors. Ellen said to never, ever give up. She also suggests finding other people who love reading and writing and have them read your work. That really helped keep her going. Joanna absolutely agreed and added that you need to have a thick skin as you'll have to learn to ignore every rejection. She also said that writing workshops have been the best thing for her career. Both women shared stories that showed how finding people you trust can be the best thing for your writing as they have more distance from the work itself and can sometimes provide a better perspective.

The authors graciously signed all of our copies.
It was a wonderful evening and I'm very thankful HarperCollins Canada allowed me to take part in the event. We all got a copy of each book and had the chance to have them signed by Ellen and Joanna. It was nice to have a quick moment to chat with each other where I could tell them I really enjoyed their novels. Joanna also let me know, once she learned where I was from, that she should have a couple of events in Niagara in the fall so I'm looking forward to that!

Two more signed books to add to my collection.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: The Wild Heir

The Wild Heir AMAZON (1)

About two months ago I read Karina Halle's The Swedish Prince (you can read my review here in case you missed it). It was a lovely addition to royal fiction and I enjoyed it. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the book she was planning next, The Wild Heir, which was going to feature Magnus, the Prince of Norway (not the real prince...all her royals are fictional). Don't tell Prince Viktor but...I loved Magnus and his story so much more. It was really enjoyable - and timely since Royal Wedding coverage was everywhere as I was reading it.

Here's the synopsis:
At first glance I probably seem like any good-looking guy in their late twenties. I have an obscene amount of confidence, a tattooed body sculpted by the Nordic gods, and I love the ladies as much as they love me.
If I’m not BASE jumping or car racing, I’m chasing other devious thrills with the woman of the week. And that’s fine if you’re the average single guy.
But I'm not the average single guy.
I’m Crown Prince Magnus of Norway and my latest scandal just landed my entire royal family in hot water.
Now the only way the monarchy can save face is for me to smarten up – publicly. If I don’t, I’ll no longer be heir apparent to the throne. So it’s either I abdicate my future role as King or… I get married.
To a blue-blooded stranger.
Enter Princess Isabella of the tiny country of Liechtenstein.
Quiet, intelligent, and uniquely beautiful, Ella doesn’t like this arrangement any more than I do and she’s not afraid to show it. She says I’m a womanizer, that I don’t take anything seriously, that my ego should be taken down a few pegs, and I think she aims to make me miserable for the rest of my life.
But even as our arranged marriage becomes a war of wit and words, I’m determined to break through Ella’s prim and proper façade to find the wild, sexual and risk-taking woman underneath. I want to uncover the Queen inside her.
The only question is – will she let me?
Like many of Halle's books (actually, I think it might be all of them but can't say for certain), the story is told from two perspectives. In the case of The Wild Heir, readers hear from both Magnus and Ella. I like having both main characters represented because the story always feels so much more in depth and richer for it. I also like that it doesn't always alternate evenly. A chapter may end with Ella but instead of automatically switching back to Magnus, Halle might stay with Ella because her thoughts and part of that story isn't finished yet. Halle knows how to tell her characters' stories so well which is one of the reasons I love her books.

Halle is always very clear that her books are standalones even if they play off each other. I'm a pretty big series purist so I always recommend reading all the previous books before because then you won't be spoiled or missing out on any particular storylines. But this one? Totally can stand on its own. Viktor shows up for one fun weekend plot point but Maggie is really only mentioned in passing. So, if you want a royal marriage, pick this one up, dive in, and don't worry about feeling left out. 

I had an idea of Magnus in my head after reading The Swedish Prince and it was not unlike what Ella thought of Magnus before she got to know him. It was a lesson to both of us (and I'm sure many other readers as well) that you should never assume you know what someone is really like, especially when they're in the public eye. I know Ella was happy with the man she got to know over the course of the novel and I was too. Magnus also really grew as a man which was really great to see and I liked that Halle didn't make it too obvious. She never veered away from his true character. I would really like to read another book about Ella and Magnus in part because I'd like to see how Ella grew and evolved after their marriage. And I just really want to read more about them!

The slow burn of their relationship was perfection. The whole arranged marriage thing could have been done so badly but Halle did it well. I loved reading as Ella and Magnus slowly (oh so slowly) got to know each other. Ella seemed like a skittish colt but she was a strong woman who wasn't about to get pushed around by some brutish prince. 

The Wild Heir was a delight to read - it was funny, deep, and sexy - three things I always look for in my romances. I'm fairly certain you're going to fall in love with Magnus and Ella once you read their story. So what are you waiting for? Get your own copy and discover Norwegian royalty for yourself!

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

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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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: Still Water

I had heard of Amy Stuart's novel Still Mine when it was released back in 2016 but never did get around to reading it. (So many books, so little time.) But when I heard Still Water was being published I thought I should give it a try. And am I ever glad I did. I didn't want to put this book down and I'm sure you won't either.

Here's the synopsis:
How do you find the truth in a town full of secrets?
Clare has to find them.
Sally Proulx and her young boy have mysteriously disappeared in the stormy town of High River. Clare is hired to track them down, hoping against all odds to find them alive. But High River isn’t your typical town. It’s a place where women run to—women who want to escape their past. They run to Helen Haines, a matriarch who offers them safe haven and anonymity. Pretending to be Sally’s long-lost friend, Clare turns up and starts asking questions, but nothing prepares her for the swirl of deception and the depth of the lies.
Did Sally drown? Did her son? Was it an accident, or is their disappearance part of something bigger?
In a town where secrets are crucial to survival, everyone is hiding something. Detectives Somers and Rourke clearly have an ulterior motive beyond solving the case. Malcolm Boon, who hired Clare, knows more about her than he reveals. And Helen is concealing a tragic family history of her own. As the truth surges through High River, Clare must face the very thing she has so desperately been running from, even if it comes at a devastating cost. Compulsively gripping and twisty, Still Water is a deep dive of a thriller that will leave you breathless.
As I hadn't read the first book about Clare, I was especially paying attention to how Stuart would recap (or not) Still Mine. I think she did a great job of giving background information a new reader would need but that I don't think would bore a reader who already knows Clare's history. I definitely think you can dive into Still Water (er, no pun intended) without having read Still Mine but I think you'll have an even richer reading experience if you read both.

I was pretty much addicted to this story. It's really fast paced with all sorts of twists and turns. I found myself thinking of it often when I wasn't reading it and couldn't wait to see how it would all turn out. I really had no idea how Stuart was going to have things end up. I loved that.

There were a lot of secrets in this novel. As I said, I wasn't sure how the story would end because I really wasn't sure who to trust and who was telling even part of a truth. No one was who they seemed which made fitting the puzzle pieces together so difficult. Once I neared the end of the book I realized how easily it all came together which I think is a sign of a great mystery.

Clare was a really interesting character. I had only met her well after she had run away from her husband so I'm not totally sure of what kinds of abuse she really suffered. What I do know is that many people are and were doubting her because of her past history with drugs. It was so frustrating that so many people - including a close friend - had this bias. Almost like they thought that because she did drugs, she deserved what she got.That she wasn't totally lucid and should have been so she could fight back. And then there's the fact that her husband is telling a totally different story. It's terrifying to think that women are in these situations all the time and face so many issues when they try to tell the truth and get help.

But back to Clare. She's a smart woman who has a whole boatload of problems she's never been able to deal with properly. I think in this book she's realizing how she can take control and is sort of facing her demons head on. She still has a lot of work to do so I'm really hoping Stuart is working on another story for Clare. I'm totally invested now.

I'm hoping Still Water is a book we'll see everywhere this summer because it's so good. I was a little bit obsessed with it and Amy Stuart's writing. Pick this one up the next time you're in a bookstore or download it to your e-reader. Seriously. It's a well-told, gripping thriller that I think so many other people will love.

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

Monday, April 30, 2018

Blog Tour: My Oxford Year

Sometimes I pick up a book expecting one kind of story and end up with another one entirely. That's not always welcome but, in the case of My Oxford Year, I was happily surprised with the story I finished. I thought Julia Whelan's debut novel would be good and enjoyable but there was a much deeper thread woven through the story than I had anticipated. It broke my heart a little bit but I was glad it was there because it made the book so much better than it otherwise would have been.

Here's the synopsis:
American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day. When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret. Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.
As you can see from the synopsis, I probably should have picked up on the serious plot line. But how many times have you read the back of a book and been told something major happens and it ends up being nothing at all? (I also blame Chris Harrison and his constant refrain of "the most dramatic season EVER of The Bachelor.") 


Ella was just as unprepared as I was for the big revelation but she did not back down. She realized what was most important in life and held on tight. 

I read this book in a day. I started it on my lunch break and continued reading it after I got home from work (glass of wine in hand...which I highly recommend). I just didn't want to put it down. The story grabbed me and the characters were so real. It was like I was really there in Oxford with Ella.

Speaking of Ella, I thought she was awesome. She was a hard-worker (probably worked too hard sometimes) but she understood that you cannot sustain an "all work and no play" kind of life. She was a kind friend and wicked smart. She had hopes, dreams, and fears just like the rest of us and I'm glad Whelan allowed Ella to be vulnerable.

And Jamie? I adored him as well. He was also incredibly smart - which made him a perfect match for Ella - and had a dry, witty sense of humour that I loved.

I loved how Whelan was able to find a balance so her novel wasn't too serious or too flippant. It's a coming of age story even though Ella is 24. She had a good life before Oxford - one she has worked hard for - but what happens when she's there made her realize exactly what was missing from her life and what she needed to do moving forward. A lot happens in this book and Ella grows up during it. All the seriousness could have gotten too heavy but there are so many light-hearted moments throughout. The novel is sweet, sad, uplifting, and funny. Just like life.

And that cover? I love it. The colours are lovely and the design really fits with the story.

My Oxford Year will probably be one of my favourite books of the spring. I hope everyone picks up Julia Whelan's novel because they'll find a story that's both uplifting and heartbreaking that reminds us that life is sometimes too short so we should make the most of it while we still can.

Psst...head over to my Instagram and you could win a copy of My Oxford Year for yourself courtesy of the publisher!

About Julia Whelan
Julia Whelan is a screenwriter, lifelong actor, and award-winning audiobook narrator. She graduated with a degree in English and creative writing from Middlebury College and Oxford University. While she was in England, her flirtation with tea blossomed into a full-blown love affair, culminating in her eventual certification as a tea master.

Connect with Julia
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads *

Buy My Oxford Year
Amazon * IndieBound * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * iBooks * GooglePlay *

*A copy 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.*

Friday, April 27, 2018

Review: Come from Away

I've read three of Genevieve Graham's historical fiction titles now and every time I finish one I'm amazed at how well she brings the stories of our country's past to life. Her latest novel, Come from Away, revisits characters we fell in love with in Tides of Honour - Danny and Audrey - and introduces us to their daughter Grace. I was so happy to see how the Baker family was doing and so worried as well because this novel takes place during World War II - and we all know that wasn't an easy time to live through.

Here's the synopsis:
In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking in the deep waters along the shores of East Jeddore, a stone’s throw from Grace’s window. As the harsh realities of war come closer to home, Grace buries herself in her work at the store.
Then, one day, a handsome stranger ventures into the store. He claims to be a trapper come from away, and as Grace gets to know him, she becomes enamoured by his gentle smile and thoughtful ways. But after a several weeks, she discovers that Rudi, her mysterious visitor, is not the lonely outsider he appears to be, but someone else entirely—someone not to be trusted. When a shocking truth about her family forces Grace to question everything she has so strongly believed, she realizes that she and Rudi have more in common than she had thought. And if Grace is to have a chance at love, she must not only choose a side, but take a stand.
Come from Away is a mesmerizing story of love, shifting allegiances, and second chances, set against the tumultuous years of the Second World War.
First things first. For those who aren't aware, "come from away" is a term used by those in the Maritimes to refer to someone who has moved to the area from elsewhere. The term actually can be used to refer to Graham herself as she moved to Nova Scotia from Alberta. 

What I love about Graham's writing is that you can tell she is so passionate about telling Canada's stories. She brings the past to life in such a way that makes the reader interested and submersed in the time period. Come from Away is a World War II novel but it still feels fresh. An even more incredible feat when you consider how many novels are set in that time period. Oftentimes war stories (whether books or movies) don't give the perspective of what it was like on the home front, especially in Canada. Our country was geographically so far removed from the actual war. Or was it? In this novel Graham focuses on the U-Boats and how close they really got to our coast line. 

I loved Grace. I admired her for so many things, especially wanting to help during the war. Graham wrote her so well that I completely understood how helpless she felt "just" running a shop in town when her brothers, and so many other young men, were off fighting in Europe. She was smart and kind and someone I would have loved to know. 

Grace and Rudi's relationship was an uphill battle from the beginning. Rudi wasn't being forthcoming about who he really was and then, when all was revealed, Grace and her family had to decide what they should do. I know I'm being a bit vague but when the synopsis doesn't give anything away, I don't want to either. Even though the pair had their struggles, you could tell they had that certain special something that all strong relationships have. Their romance, while not perfect, was so sweet and wonderful to read.

Come from Away is a must-read for pretty much everyone. I think if you're Canadian, especially, you should definitely read this book. It doesn't matter if you're usually a historical fiction reader or not. Genevieve Graham has written such a wonderful story that deserves to be loved by everyone. It's smart, it's sweet, it's heart-wrenching. It's just so good. You don't have to read Tides of Honour first but I suggest you do because you'll love the characters even more and you'll get to read more of Graham's work. It's a win-win.

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: Bridal Girl

Finally! A new Blogger Girl book from Meredith Schorr! I absolutely adore her series (and, honestly, everything else she writes) and was thrilled when I found out she was publishing another story about Kim Long. Last we left the pint-size chick lit blogger turned author she was engaged to Nicholas and I was excited to see how the wedding planning and actual ceremony would go. That's what happens in Bridal Girl, and oh my word, everything that could go wrong does in a sweet and hilarious chick lit story from one of my favourite authors.

Here's the synopsis:
Sassy book blogger-turned-author, Kim Long, thought her life couldn’t get any pinker when she received a two-book publishing deal and a marriage proposal in the same night. The wedding plans are coming together seamlessly, from the catering to the flowers to her much-coveted appointment at the exclusive and world famous Kleinfeld Bridal. Her debut novel is flying off the shelves to celebrated reviews, and her second book is practically writing itself.

If only the above wasn’t a big fat lie.

If only Kim could drown out the conflicting opinions of her overzealous bridal party, most notably, her sister and future sister-in-law, who haven’t stopped bickering since day one.

If only everyone would adore her first book—or she’d take Nicholas’s advice and stop reading reviews—she might not second guess every new word she writes.

If only Nicholas’s past would remain there rather than threaten their future.
The pressure is on, the clock is ticking, and in walks Hannah Marshak.

Will the former “mean girl” lend a helping hand or make things worse? Will Kim ever write “The End” on her sophomore novel? And, will she and Nicholas make it down the aisle to say those two precious words: I do?

We’ll never tell. So, put on your reading glasses, fill your champagne flute/cup of tea and prepare to laugh with (and sometimes at) Kim as she rewrites her happy ending until it’s worthy of five pink champagne flutes.
If you've ever attended or planned a wedding, you know there are about a bazillion things to look after. Which means there are about a bazillion things that could go wrong when planning the wedding. Poor Kim and Nicholas. All those things did go wrong for them. It almost got to be too much but, like any good romantic comedy writer, Schorr found the right balance and kept the story from being too over the top. I always say that weddings lend themselves well to rom-coms because of all the elements to it. Romantic relationships are front and centre, obviously, but there are potential issues with family and friends as well as details with the dress, the food, and the parties. The possibilities are endless for amusing, cringe-worthy, and really sweet moments and I'm so glad Schorr used them all to her advantage.

One of the reasons I love the Blogger Girl series is because Kim is a book blogger like me. She wanted to write a book - and did - so the last two books have been less about the blogging and more about trying to become an author and producing a second novel. While blogging took a backseat, I still loved how much Kim's love for chick lit came through. She started to doubt herself and the genre (the plot of her second novel took a turn that I was really anxious about) and had to find ways to pull herself out of the spiral of defeat she was caught in. It was hard to read just as it would have been hard for Nicholas and Kim's friends to hear and see. There were many times I caught myself thinking that Kim was being so silly and why was she doing such idiotic things? But then I remembered how easy it is to get blinded by your own problems and not realize there's a way out. Even though Kim was going bananas, that meant Schorr had set the scene for some really sweet moments between Kim, Nicholas, and the rest of her friends. It was a reminder that Schorr can write some amazing characters and relationships.

I always find it so incredibly hard to review Schorr's books because I love them all so much. I want to just write READ THE BOOK AND BE HAPPY BECAUSE IT'S SO GOOD but that's not exactly how it works on book blogs! It's also hard with this one because I really don't want to give away any of the surprises Schorr has in store for readers in this book.

Like all of Meredith Schorr's previous novels (and there are several so start reading her backlist if you've never read her before), Bridal Girl is charming and witty with a cast of characters you can't help but fall in love with. I was so glad to spend more time with Kim and am really hoping we'll get even more books in the Blogger Girl series.

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

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.

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