Tag Archives: Contemporary

Review: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery cover

About Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery

A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own.

My Review

Such a charming story. Mount Polbearne and Neil stole my heart. I admire Polly for pursuing her true passion even through hefty challenges. Thrilled Polly’s romantic life took a turn for the better, although I didn’t feel the connection with Huckle, chemistry was absent but the love clearly present. Malcolm was frustrating and Polly managed him wonderfully. The scrabble of a fishing village was well depicted and the problems faced plausible. The interaction and the village made this a joy to read despite its foretelling. I swear the aroma of fresh-baked bread wafted as I turned the pages. Absolutely delicious read, perfect to escape every day monotony, simply lovely.

About Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 22, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, March, Review

Review: Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte

Private Citizens cover

About Private Citizens

Capturing the anxious, self-aware mood of young college grads in the aughts, Private Citizens embraces the contradictions of our new century—call it a loving satire, a gleefully rude comedy of manners, Middlemarch for millennials. The novel’s four whip-smart narrators—idealistic Cory, Internet-lurking Will, awkward Henrik, and vicious Linda—are torn between fixing the world and cannibalizing it. In boisterous prose that ricochets between humor and pain, Private Citizens follows the four estranged friends as they stagger through the Bay Area’s maze of tech startups, protestors, gentrifiers, karaoke bars, house parties, and cultish self-help seminars, washing up in each other’s lives once again.

A wise and searching depiction of a generation grappling with privilege and finding grace in failure, Private Citizens is as expansively intelligent as it is full of heart.

My Review

I’m not remotely close to being a millennial thus causing a disconnect with Tulathimutte’s stellar achievement.

Tulathimutte’s writing is energetic and feral. He nails satire perfectly as well as delving into his fully developed characters with what appears to be effortless. Hailing from San Francisco, a Stanford alum I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and references, ambiance is felt. If you’ve never visited San Francisco you will be more than familiar from the comfort of your preferred reading nook. The ending made up for the wide berth I felt with the book.

I had no connection with the protagonists or plot. I was a different breed in a different more prosperous time. The struggles of the millennials was plausible, their troubled pasts commonplace, their history haunting their present, their future in bondage. Sex was prevalent and a bit too bawdy for my taste, I’m from the school less is best in sexual descriptions.

Curious to explore future writings from Tulathimutte his writing is appealing worthy of at least another go, hopefully I won’t feel like an outcast.

Tony Tulathimutte APAbout Tony Tulathimutte

Tony Tulathimutte has written for VICE, AGNI, The Threepenny Review, Salon, The New Yorker online, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Stanford University, he has received an O. Henry Award and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. He lives in New York.

Find out more about Tony at his website, and connect with him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Published by William Morrow Paperbacks (February 9, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, February, Fiction, Review

Review & Guest Post: In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson

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About In Another Life

It is January 1208 and in a village on the border between Provence and Languedoc, a monk whispers a benediction over the body of a slain papal emissary. The Cathars—followers of a heretical faith—are blamed for the assassination. The Pope declares a holy war and Languedoc is forever changed.

Eight hundred years later, historian Lia Carrer returns to southern France to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Instead of finding solace in Languedoc’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, the woman trying to heal risks love, and loss, again.

Reincarnation is familiar ground for Lia—an expert in the mystical beliefs of the ancient Cathar faith—but to reconcile the truth of that long-ago assassination, the logical researcher must accept religious fantasy as historical fact. Three lost souls enter her life, each holding a key to the murder that launched a religious crusade in the heart of Europe.

In Another Life is set amidst the medieval intrigue of thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris, intertwined with Lia’s modern quest to uncover the truth of an ancient murder and free a man haunted by ghosts from his past.

AMAZON |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Thank you Julie Christine Johnson for taking me on such an amazing reading journey. Exploring the Languedoc region of France and Catharism penned by your exquisite writing as you deftly threaded Science Fiction, Fantasy with love, religious persecution, loss, redemption.

Alternating between past and present with gripping characters searching for answers made for an enthralling read. The languid pace intensifies with the turn of every page as the story unrolls, I caught myself holding my breath as the adventure and excitement continues.

I felt such empathy for Lia. Lia is a woman stricken with sorrow and grief finding herself caught between the past and the present, sucked into the past through another’s life and thrust into the present with an answer to a question lingering in history. Incredibly three-dimensional you sense Lia’s turmoil and calm as she pieces everything together.

Memorable story leaving you lost in thought for quite a while. Impressive ambitious debut from a very talented authoress. Anxiously awaiting Johnson’s next undertaking. You’ll be left breathless and measured simultaneously, enigmatic.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Julie Christine Johnson. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Julie 

Guest Post

The Soundtrack of a Novel: In Another Life

by Julie Christine Johnson

I write to music. A low murmur in my headphones to cancel out the chatter around me if I’m in a public place, or a soft swirl of sound at home to break the silence. Typically I write to mellow, dreamy tunes without words or too much of a beat: chillwave, ambient, the gentler side of classical—Albinoni, Chopin, Debussy.

That’s what I write to.

But each of my novels has a soundtrack, music that puts me inside the characters’ souls so that I feel their longing, confusion, joy, anger, passion, wonder. Certain songs wrap tendrils of emotion around my heart and squeeze, until I gasp a story onto the page, releasing the pressure of characters struggling to be heard.

Are you familiar with the Welsh word hiraeth? How about the Portuguese saudade? German’s Sehnsucht? Words that have no direct translation in English, but each expresses an essential longing of the soul, homesickness for a place never visited, a melancholy that sinks so deep, you gasp in pain while your mouth waters in pleasure; an unrequited longing for the ghost of a dream, castles built in clouds.

It is this sense of longing that I most wanted to convey through In Another Life, where a woman loses her beloved husband and wanders lost, without love or a sense of self. The sirens of hiraeth call her back to her spiritual home, the southern French region of Languedoc, but melancholy follows in her wake.

For In Another Life, the song that most evokes the novel’s emotional core, the song I think of as Lia’s song, came years before the novel. I heard it years before I would dare call myself a writer. But this song became the genesis of a character, a woman aching with longing that she can barely allow herself to express: Tori Amos’ “Sleeps with Butterflies”, from her 2005 album The Beekeeper.

I’m not like the girls that you’ve known
But I believe I’m worth coming home to

They are the words a woman offers tentatively to a new love, wondering, ‘Is it me you want?’

Are you having regrets about last night?

It is a subtle dance between confidence about who she is, what she wants, but uncertainty—in these early days of new and delicate love—if her lover reciprocates the same intensity of feeling.

If you don’t know the song, bring it up on iTunes or Spotify. Imagine this is Lia singing, the morning after her walk with Raoul in the frozen wonderland of vineyards buried under snow, remembering their first kiss, their shared longing and hesitation. Imagine this writer waiting for just the right story to bring that woman, in all her longing and hesitation, to life.

Other artists that form In Another Life’s soundtrack: French folksinger Francis Cabrel, who sings in both Spanish and French; Damien Rice, Sarah McLachlan, David Gray, M83, The Swell Season.

What about you—writers and readers—what are the songs that make your skin tingle with emotion, your solar plexus reverberate with feeling, fill you with inexplicable longing?

About Julie Christine Johnsonimage004

Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, and the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs.

Her second novel, The Crows Of Beara, a finalist in the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, has sold to Ashland Creek Press for publication in fall 2017. In this work of women’s fiction, a struggling American PR executive and an enigmatic Irish artist face off over the development of a copper mine in rural Ireland, finding love and redemption amid the rugged, mystical land.

A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.

Find out more about Julie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, February, Fiction, Guest Post, Review

Review & Interview: No Ordinary Life By Suzanne Redfearn

About No Ordinary Life

A story about a young mother’s fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children’s lives.

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Redfearn did a marvelous job exploring every scenario Faye faced with her daughter’s catapult in to stardom. Every trial faced seemed plausible and added multilayers to the narrative.

Characterization ruled this story. Faye, Molly, Chris along with the entire ensemble drove the narrative. A motley of personalities, motives, positions created an array of entertainment supporting the subject matter.

I was conflicted over Faye. I felt for her situation but her passiveness, stubbornness, helplessness and weakness was very unappealing. I understand why Redfearn took this direction with Faye, nevertheless I wasn’t a full on fan. Her choices left me shaking my head on more than once occasion, her stupidity floored me, needless to say Faye left me exasperated and frustrated. I prefer my female protagonists possessing strength, smarts and independence, none demonstrated by Faye.

I was very uncomfortable with Redfearn’s handling of Emily’s traumatic event. For something as supercharged as that incident it should have been addressed and resolved, as is it serves as a terrible message. A pet peeve of mine is introducing a heavy and fragile incident and leaving it messy and glossed over, wrong in so many ways.

Great glimpse into life of a child star and the machinations of Hollywood et al along with its impact on family, siblings and life in general. I enjoyed the book but the incident and improper handling of Emily’s tragic event marred my reading enjoyment.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Suzanne Redfearn. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Suzanne

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is always starting, sitting in the chair and putting words on the page when I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I knew I wanted to write about a child star and the fascinating world of Hollywood, but I didn’t want to tell a train wreck story like the ones written about constantly in the tabloids, and I didn’t want to write a mommy dearest story. Faye introduced herself to me first, then I discovered Molly, and through them, I figured out I wanted to tell a story about a family, not an individual, to focus on what celebrity does – not just to the person who is famous but also to those around them.

How do you want readers to view Faye?

I hope they like her and sympathize with her. She is a young single mom doing the best she can and who finds herself in a dizzying world that would be difficult for anyone to navigate. She is presented with impossible choices, having to decide what is best for the family as a whole as well as weighing the welfare of each of her children against each other. She is also forced to choose between her compassion for others as opposed to her need to buffer her children from the insanity of the world in which they have found themselves. She evolves throughout the story, is forced to become stronger and more resilient. Hopefully the readers understand her transformation and identify with her journey.

Emily’s traumatic event, why did you handle it the way you did considering its seriousness?

It was important to drive the point home of how dangerous the world of celebrity can be. Access to excess doesn’t come without its hazards. Emily’s trauma is not made up. Unfortunately, many young stars and those around them suffer at the hands of their handlers, their fans, or as a result of not having anyone looking out for them and protecting them. One of the most disturbing parts of my research was discovering how many former child stars were sexually abused as kids.

What secret talent do you have?

It’s not much, but I can sing all the words to the theme song of Gilligan’s Island.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Are We There Yet?

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently working on a story about two moms on the run together from the police and their husbands. It’s a road trip story, which I have always wanted to write, and so far I am having a lot of fun with it.

Thank you, Raven Haired Girl, for the great questions!

About Suzanne RedfearnSuzanne Redfearn Headshot

Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

 

Connect with Suzanne:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Goodreads

 

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, Interview, January, Review

Spotlight & Giveaway: Night Hawk by Lindsay McKenna

Lindsay McKenna Shares What It Means to Be A “Tumbleweed Writer”

I’m what I call a “tumbleweed writer.” In the first eighteen years of my life, my parents moved us twenty-two times and in six different Western states. That’s being a “tumbleweed” where I come from (a Western saying). We moved, roughly, every nine months. My father was in WW2, a sailor in the US Navy. He was blown off a gun turret on the USS Fletcher in the Pacific, and suffered horrendous injuries and PTSD. PTSD was not called that at the time. Back then, it was “battle fatigue.”

My father was also part Eastern Cherokee and he had the wanderlust in his genes. We seemed to move at least once or twice a year whether we needed to or not. I was born in San Diego, California (a great Navy city), but also saw states such as Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Idaho along the way. For a writer, this is a great boon because I got to see a lot of different people of different mindsets and beliefs. You had the Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico, Mormons in Idaho, ranchers in Montana, timber folks in Oregon and so on. I went through schools like people go through a revolving door. I learned a lot of different lingo, slang and heard a lot of different vocalizations, depending what state we lived in. All of this, of course, helps me craft my characters, so it was a good thing.

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About Night Hawk

After losing his comrade, Sergeant Gil Hanford thought a visit to the man’s widow would be the decent way to honor his late friend. But Gil found more than comfort in Kai Tiernan—he had always secretly desired beautiful Kai, but a sudden, mutual passion helped assuage their grief…until duty reared its head, removing him from her arms, seemingly forever.

Four years later, Kai is starting over at the Triple H Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Born a rancher, she is looking for a new beginning—but her new boss is unforgivably familiar. Kai has tried to move past the memory of what happened between her and Gil, even though she’s never forgiven him for leaving her. But even as they begin their journey toward something new and oh-so-uncertain, a shadow emerges, determined to claim Kai for itself.

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Lindsay McKennaimage004

Lindsay McKenna is proud to have served her country in the US Navy as an aerographer’s mate third class—also known as a weather forecaster. She was the creator of the military romance subgenre and loves to combine heart-pounding action with soulful and poignant romance.

True to her military roots, she is the originator of the long-running and reader-favorite Morgan’s Mercenaries series. She does extensive hands-on research, including flying in aircraft such as a P-3B Orion sub-hunter and a B-52 bomber. She was the first romance writer to sign her books in the Pentagon bookstore.

Today, she has created a new military romance−suspense series, Shadow Warriors, which features romantic and action-packed tales about US Navy SEALs.

Connect with Lindsay:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Wolf Haven by Lindsay McKenna. Open to US/Canada residents). Ends 1/30/16.
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Filed under 2016, Fiction, January, Spotlight

Review: Whistling Women by Kelly Romo

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About Whistling Women

Life went terribly wrong for Addie Bates in San Diego, and she’s been running from dark memories ever since. For fifteen years, the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony has provided a safe haven for Addie to hide from the crime she committed. But when the residents pack up to go on exhibit at the 1935 world’s fair in San Diego, Addie returns and must face the thrilling yet terrifying prospect of reuniting with her estranged sister, Wavey.

Addie isn’t the only one interested in a reunion. When her niece, Rumor, discovers she has an aunt, Rumor is determined to bring her family together. But it’s not so easy when the women are forced to confront family secrets, past and present.

Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the devastating consequences of a single impulsive act.

My Review

I really loved the characters Romo created. Rumor was my favorite, her curiosity, smarts and stubbornness was entertaining. Addie was as enjoyable as well, her history affecting. Every character served a role with purpose in such a weighty narrative addressing serious subject matter. Daisy and Mary balance out the cast, Sal too. Papa Jack felt unfinished, his presence was powerful but dismissed far too easily.

The narrative was clever, appreciate the fact Romo dug into history and went with the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony, very original, nice touch in the historical fiction genre. The secrets were plenty, intense, however, I felt after the secrets were disclosed the plot weakened along with the ending. Romo took the easy route and speedily wrapped everything nice and neat which is not surprising given her neophyte status. Nothing wrong with Romo’s portrayal, it just wasn’t my preference or to my expectations, too many loose ends with no real solid valid resolution. Also the plot dragged, it took quite a while to reach the apex, I prefer a faster plot sans unnecessary details merely filling space.

Romo is an authoress I will read more of, fabulous debut, lovely creative eye. Definitely looking forward to her next project.

About Kelly RomoUnknown1

Kelly A. Romo currently lives in Oregon with her three children where she teaches writing, literature, and social studies. She loves the outdoors; hiking, kayaking, and camping. Kelly grew up in California running around with all her thrill-seeking cousins and siblings; jumping off cliffs into the Colorado River, exploring caves on the beaches of Mexico, riding dirt bikes, water skiing, and snow skiing.

Connect with Kelly:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Filed under 2015, December, Fiction, Review

Review: Lone Star by Paullina Simons

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About Lone Star

Falling in love was the easy part . . .
Chloe and her three best friends are weeks away from finishing high school and beginning their new grown-up lives apart from one another. They have been friends since they were kids, their families and lives intertwined, but this is their last summer together. They plan a magical trip to sun-drenched Barcelona, with its possibility of adventure and passion. But first, Chloe has an old family promise to keep, and the four of them must detour through historic Eastern Europe.

In this fledgling post-Communist world, Chloe meets a mysterious American vagabond named Johnny, who carries a guitar, an easy smile, and a lifetime of secrets. From Treblinka to Trieste, from Carnikava to Krakow, the unlikely band of friends and mismatched lovers traverses the Old World on a train ride that becomes a treacherous journey into Europe’s and Johnny’s dark pasts—a journey that jeopardizes Chloe’s plans and all she ever thought she wanted.

The ties that bind Chloe to her friends and her future are about to be put to the ultimate test. Whether or not they reach Barcelona . . . their lives will never be the same again.
A sweeping, beautiful tale of old friendships and new love that mesmerizes and enchants, Lone Star will linger long in the memory even after the final page has been turned.

My Review

Simons possesses a true talent for lush and vivid descriptions of historical events matched with place and time. She creates such a rich atmosphere for the reader truly marking the reading journey. Traveling through the Baltic region as Simons serves as tour guide was affecting, providing for a halting reading experience.

Simons depiction of Treblinka will bring tears to your eyes, such explicitness as she revisits a horrific and devastating time in history. Her strong writing captures the pain and suffering of those lost, the emotion present. Poland is fully explored through culture, tradition, people, food in such detail, you feel you’re traveling with the protagonists.

I wouldn’t consider Lone Star an epic romance, it’s more a coming of age story. Also I found the protagonists to be very young, lacking maturity, their behavior very juvenile bordering stupidity. Clearly this novel is directed towards a specific audience. The characters were difficult to build any sort of emotional attachment, they weren’t developed enough to feel any warmth, and the childishness of their actions and behavior monotonous. Being a mature reader I was unable to relate to the cast, I was once young and carefree but I possessed common sense unlike the characters. Blake was the one character with smarts, a smidgen of maturity.

The narrative is sedentary, you turn the pages but you haven’t made progress, it took me quite a bit of time to find my rhythm. Omitting 100-200+ pages would definitely speed up the pace you’ll yearn for. The plot and ending were predictable, no surprises for this reader.

Admittedly I was expecting something different and that’s my fault. Had I know this was truly a very young adult romance/coming of age story with the characters Simons penned I would have passed. Despite this being out of my taste range it was an enjoyable read. Young adult fans, no doubt, will find Lone Star very appealing.

About Paullina Simons

imagePaullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman. She was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.
Find out more about Paullina at her website, follow her on Twitter, and connect with her on Facebook.

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, November, Review

Review: Life and Other Near Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

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About Life and Other Near Death Experiences

When Libby Miller learns that she has a rare form of cancer, she naturally assumes it is the worst news she could possibly get that day—or ever. So when she arrives home and her husband blurts out a startling confession that makes their long and (she thought) happy marriage a sham, Libby is pushed to her breaking point. On an uncharacteristic impulse, she quits her job and heads to a small island in Puerto Rico. Just when Libby thinks nothing else could go wrong, a near-fatal plane crash triggers a new adventure, and she begins to fall in love with Shiloh, a pilot who has his own philosophy on life—and how Libby can best cope with her disease. But that’s only the beginning.

A poignant, uplifting novel that examines just what it is that makes life worth living.

My Review

Pagán did a wonderful job with the main protagonist Libby. Libby carries herself with such grace as her world crumbles. Her reaction is plausible, even more so as her history is revealed. Despite her decisiveness I was happy she was receptive and embraced what she originally dismissed. The secondary characters were colorful and charming in their own way adding to the story and to Libby.

Perfect amount of humor and romance balancing the hard-handed subject matter. Witty and snarky repartee left me smiling quite a bit.

Libby as well as her story is compelling, I quickly turned the pages to find out what would happen next, easy to do with such a rapid pace plot. The ending was pleasant, more or less what I was expecting, not disappointed by any means.

Pagán recreated a plot that has been written time and time again, however Libby and her stellar attitude and personality more than compensated. Will definitely seek more from Pagán. Would welcome a check in on Libby down the road, she’s memorable and endearing.

A wonderful story serving as a reminder to enjoy every moment of life, hope, love and family.

About Camille Pagánheadshot_books_190

Camille Pagán’s work has appeared in dozens of publications and on websites including Forbes,Glamour, Men’s Health, Parade, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, WebMD.com, andWomen’s Health. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

Connect with Camille:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, November, Review

Cover Reveal: Hot Stuff: Surfing Love by Carla Caruso, Maria Lewis, Alli Sinclair, Tess Woods

Hot Stuff-Surfing Love Cover image

Hot Stuff: Surfing Love
by  Carla Caruso, Maria Lewis, Alli SinclairTess Woods
Publication Date: AUS Impulse (January 1, 2016)

PREORDER:
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About Hot Stuff: Surfing Love

Hot sun, warm bodies, tight skin, electricity on the air … four top romance authors give you their take on summer.

From Carla Caruso – A chance meeting with a pro-surfer on an island getaway …
From Maria Lewis – The world of women’s surfing throws two recent bedmates together …
From Alli Sinclair – A world-famous performer finds her heart and a way to fight her demons in Rio de Janeiro …
From Tess Woods – A Cornish beach retreat proves a full reawakening …

About the Authors

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollinsCarla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, in between writing romantic comedy novels, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. Her books include the ‘Astonvale’ rom-com mystery series (kicking off with A Pretty Mess), Starcrossed, and Unlucky for Some. Visit www.carlacaruso.com.au, ‘Carla Caruso Author’ on Facebook, or her blog, www.theunitalianwife.com.

Maria Lewis is a journalist and author based in Sydney, Australia. Having spent a large part of PastedGraphic-1her teens touring Australia as a sponsored surfer, she leapt at the opportunity to be part of the Hot Stuff sexy surfer anthology – because abs *grunts*. Getting her start as a police and crime reporter at a local newspaper, Maria soon transitioned into writing about film and entertainment for publications such as The Daily Mail, New York Post, The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Empire magazine, Penthouse, Junkee, WHO Weekly, Huffington Post and many more. A journalist for over a decade, she also regularly appears as a pop culture commentator on television and radio. She’s the co-host and producer of the Eff Yeah Film & Feminism podcast. Her debut novel – urban fantasy series Who’s Afraid? – is set for release on January 12 in Australia through Hachette and worldwide on July 14 through Little Brown Books and Piatkus Fiction. She can be found tweeting too much at @MovieMazz, on Facebook at Maria Lewis Writer and online at marialewis.com.au.

7791056Alli Sinclair is a multi award-winning author who spent her early adult years travelling the globe, intent on becoming an Indiana Jones in heels. She scaled mountains in Nepal, Argentina, and Peru, rafted the Ganges, and rode a camel in the Sahara. Argentina and Peru became her home for a few years and when she wasn’t working as a mountain or tour guide, Alli could be found in the dance halls dancing the tango, salsa, merengue, and samba.

All of these adventures made for fun storytelling and this is when she discovered her love of writing. Alli’s stories combine her passion for exotic destinations, the quirks of human nature, and the belief that everyone has an adventure waiting to unfold.

Alli’s next releases will be Under The Spanish Stars, available in February, 2016 (Harlequin MIRA Australia) and Midnight Serenade (Kensington Publishing) will be available in July, 2016.

Alli volunteers as an author role model with Books in Homes, promoting literacy and reading amongst young Australians.

To find out more about Alli, please visit www.allisinclair.com

Tess Woods is a physiotherapist who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, 13563118one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. Her first novel, Love at First Flight, released by HarperCollins in April 2015 received worldwide critical acclaim and hit the best-seller charts in Australia, being nominated for Book of the Year in the AusRom Today Reader’s Choice Awards and Tess being nominated for Best New Author. Her short story, Destiny in Day, will released in the HarperCollins anthology Hot Stuff: Surfing Love in December 2015 and Tess is currently writing her second full-length novel, Flat White with One. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys chatting with her readers online, reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch. You can learn more about Tess on her website www.tesswoods.com.au

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Review: Food Whore by Jessica Tom

Food Whore (398x600)About Food Whore

food whore (n.): a person who will do anything for food

Fresh out of college, Tia Monroe has every intention of taking the New York City restaurant scene by storm. But after a coveted internship goes up in smoke, Tia’s suddenly just another food lover in the big city.

Everything changes when Michael Saltz, a legendary New York Times restaurant critic, lets Tia in on a career-ending secret: he’s lost his sense of taste. Now he wants Tia to serve as his palate, ghostwriting his reviews. In return he promises her lavish meals, a boundless supply of designer clothing, and the opportunity of a lifetime. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Tia agrees.

Within weeks, Tia’s world transforms into one of glamour and luxury: four-star dinners, sexy celebrity chefs, and an unlimited expense account at Bergdorf Goodman. Tia loves every minute of it . . . until she sees her words in print and Michael Saltz taking all the credit. As the veneer of extravagance wears thin and her secret identity begins to crumble, Tia is faced with what it means to truly succeed. In a city where “making it” is the ultimate goal, she will have to decide: how far is she willing to go for the life she craves?

My Review

Tom seduced me with her sensual, erotic and lush descriptions of food and fashion. Every morsel and dish described left me salivating, pangs of hunger waving in my stomach. If that wasn’t enough, this self-proclaimed fashionista was drowning in the clothing and designers attached, her evocative prose kept my attention. Tom knows her food and high-end clothing designers without a doubt, her finger was on the pulse of both. Tom isn’t a stranger writing about food, her blog is proof and this book is a testament to both knowledge and talent. Outstanding job, I could almost taste and feel every item she was describing and it was delightful, a sensory journey.

Tia was appealing. Her continual struggle with her conscience, questioning her choices, her romantic issues, moments where she is reveling in her new position all felt plausible. If she didn’t have a conscience I know I would have felt differently towards her. Bottom line, Tia is human not immune to flaws or missteps which validates her authenticity. The way she owns up to the truth, outs herself, her remorse is the best. Saltz was manipulative, a user and slimy, not a fan yet that’s how wonderful Tom fleshed out this loathsome character, when you strongly dislike a protagonist you know you have truly succeeded as an author. I related to Tia and if in her shoes I’m sure I would have followed with reservations.

I felt the ending was too predictable and tidy, but given Tom’s neophyte status I’ll say I was satisfied.

Foodies, fashionistas or otherwise will want to chomp into this read, quite a page turner and worth your time. Looking forward to more from Jessica Tom.

Jessica Tom APAbout Jessica Tom

Jessica Tom is a writer and food blogger living in Brooklyn. She has worked on initiatives with restaurants, hospitality startups, food trucks, and citywide culinary programs. She graduated from Yale University with a concentration in fiction writing and wrote the restaurant review for the Yale Daily News Magazine. Food Whore is her first novel.

Find out more about Jessica at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. See what she’s pinning on Pinterest, and follow her photos on Instagram.

Happy to be included in the tour for Food Whore by Jessica Tom. Be sure to click on the TLC banner to check out the entire tour schedule. Thank you TLC!

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, November, Review