Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Whole Package by Cynthia Ellingsen + Giveaway

Money problems? Love life in the dumps? Just lost your job? Then sit back and relax with Jackie, Cheryl and Doris in The Whole Package. These three fantastic ladies know exactly how you feel, but these are not just any three ladies, no. These three are best friends who are not about to let life kick them to the curb, they  are going to show  the world how women roar!

Jackie was the beautiful and popular high school cheerleader who married a man she loved who happened to have tons of money. But after her husband Robert dies, she took off to Paris to restart her art career. When Robert’s best friend, George, sends word to her letting her know the money is gone she hightails it back to the arms of her best friends.

Cheryl is a high powered career women playing hardball in a male dominated profession. At the top of her game, until the game knocked her out—literally. After an accident at the racket ball club, her boss walks off with her blackberry and all the juicy secrets she has kept filed away on it. When she shows up to work a few days later she got her walking papers.

High school sweethearts Doug and Doris married when Doris found out she was pregnant, letting go of all her youthful dreams. Only Doris finds herself married to a man who needs to ‘find himself’ and raising an ungrateful teenage daughter. Instead of finding what would make her happy she reached for the chocolates.

When these three get together, they decide no longer to play by the men’s rules but to make their own! While enjoying drinks and male dancers they come up with a plan to open a restaurant serving great food and sexy eye candy!

The first few chapters sets the story up. Once the friends get together the story starts moving right along. I enjoyed the dynamics of their friendship and like all friendships they have their ups and downs. Personalities come out and those hidden thoughts kept buried deep are exposed. I very much enjoyed the book. The biggest drawback for me was really silly things like getting the whole restaurant opened so quickly, the focus more on the theme than the food…little things like that. My personal thoughts about a restaurant with scantily clothed men didn’t seem like a great idea to me, but I will admit I loved how it all ended! This is a fantastic testament to the resilience of friendship. A definite recommend! 

Get to know more about Cynthia Ellingsen by visiting her website:

I’m very excited to offer someone a chance to win a copy! That’s right I have one copy of The Whole Package to giveaway to one lucky follower! All you need to do is be A Novel Review follower and post a comment below with your email address. The giveaway closes October 5th at midnight EST and is for US/Canada residents. The winner will be picked by and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their address. Good luck!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

In Dessen’s most recent novel, What Happened to Goodbye, we follow Mclean Sweet as she follows her dad, Gus, from state to state. To Mclean, her old life was perfect. Her parents were happily married and successful restaurant owners, she had a lot of friends, and she loved her simple yet chaotic life. Then, when Gus’s favorite team switches coaches everything goes downhill. Mclean’s mom, Katie, leaves Gus for the new coach and finds herself pregnant with twins. The restaurant closes and Gus gets a new job as a restaurant consultant, where he travels to different restaurants. Mclean finds herself extremely unhappy with the circumstances and realizes how bitter she is with her mother, now called Katherine. Mclean decides to take action and live with her dad, but not without a fight.

As the story progresses, we see Mclean slowly forget who she is. With each move she becomes a different girl, from a preppy cheerleader to a drama queen. But, when she lands in Lakeview she finds becoming someone else is nearly impossible. But who is Mclean Sweet? When she meets Dave she seems to figure it out…or so it seems. Will Dave help Mclean find herself or will she be stuck as someone else?
I thought Dessen did a great job. I could relate to every character and the unique struggles they go through.  As a young teen, I find it hard to know who I am and who I want to be.  Everything changes so quickly and I often lose my feet in the mix. This story was a little slow at the beginning, but then soon picked up as Mclean yearns to be herself. The ending was also predictable but it didn’t make reading it less exciting. I would recommend this book to teens and moms because of the different perspectives help everyone understand each other better. Kudos to Dessen!

To learn more about Sarah Dessen you can visit her at her website:

Make sure you order your copy of What Happened to Goodbye today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Introducing Guest Blogger: Alyssa Kay

I have always loved reading and writing and hoped my children would too. My oldest daughter Alyssa recently finished the newest Sarah Dessen book, What Happened to Goodbye. I convinced her she should write a review for my blog and she agreed! I'll be posting her review tomorrow.

Alyssa is a Sophomore in high school, where she is taking 4 honors classes and she is a varsity cheerleader. She enjoys hanging out with her friends, music, playing with her little brother and sister and writing. Alyssa is a fantastic daughter and I couldn't be more proud. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The American Heiress By Daisy Goodwin & a Giveaway

Years ago I toured the Vanderbilt mansion in Newport, RI. I was blown away. Seriously. I’ve never seen anything more impressive and beautiful in my life. The American Heiress begins in Newport where the family home “dwarfs” the Vanderbilt’s summer mansion, The Breakers. The story is set during the Gilded age (1890). Cora Cash is an Heiress to the largest fortune in the United States and has her heart set on Marring Teddy Van Der Leyden, whose family wealth is much less than hers. Teddy cares for Cora, but wants to travel to Paris to paint. Leaving her to deal with her overbearing mother, Mrs. Cash who wants to “keep up with the Jones” by having Cora marry someone with a title. After a bizarre accident, Cora leaves with her mother to England.

Cora comes across as a very strong young woman who is not about to marry someone just to please her mother. She is very much her own woman. It is in this spirit, Cora takes off riding into the English woods where she has a nasty fall and wakes up in the home of the very handsome and single Duke of Wareham. Shortly there after, to Mrs. Cash’s excitement the Duke proposes to Cora. Mrs. Cash is thrilled to be getting exactly what she wanted, but Cora too is thrilled because she is marring for love.

When Cora becomes the Duchess of Wareham she believes she’ll need to learn a thing or two about royal etiquette, but she is up for the task. What Cora soon realizes is the new life she has married into is filled with secrets and deception. Once the dishonesty comes to light she is no longer sure her marriage had been for love and must decide her own future.

Daisy Goodwin’s writing is as beautiful as the cover of The American Heiress. She describes everything in stunning detail. While I was reading I felt like I was there in the 1890s. It was interesting to read how the super wealthy were in the lime light, as our celebrities are today. I really enjoyed reading The American Heiress.

I would read it for awhile and would enjoy it, but not till the end did I feel like the story really grabbed me where I wanted to know what happens next. I enjoyed the numerous characters and how we got glimpses into some of their thoughts, but never enough to really know what was going on in secret. I would add there were a number of things that could easily have been kept out of the story which would have shortened the length of the story without losing content. I will tell you for me I really wasn’t sure how the book was going to end. There really seemed like two possible outcomes and truthfully I wasn’t really sure which one I was hoping for! I very much enjoyed The American Heiress and recommended it.

I’m very excited to offer someone a chance to win a copy! That’s right I have one copy of The American Heiress to giveaway to one lucky follower! All you need to do is be A Novel Review follower and post a comment below with your email address. The giveaway closes September 29 at midnight EST and is for US/Canada residents. The winner will be picked by and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their address. Good luck!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Q&A: THE FIVE W’S Of Daisy Goodwin

 Today I’d like to introduce to you, Daisy Goodwin. I will be reviewing Daisy’s newest book The American Heiress on Thursday with your chance to win a copy! Thank-you so much for joining on here at A Novel Review, Daisy! Now let’s get to know:

THE FIVE W’S  Of Daisy Goodwin 

WHO? I find it very hard to describe myself as I do lots of things but my most important role is keeping up with my two gorgeous daughters who are 20 and 10 and both light years ahead of me. I also have a husband and three dogs. I make tv programmed by day and I am a lot shyer than people think. 

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time? I love reading best. Books raised me as a child and some books are still my best friends. I love cooking, and crafty things like quilting and knitting. I will watch any movie with Bette Davis in it. 

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer? I still don't call myself a writer even though I have had two books published. I have wanted to write a novel since I was a little girl but never quite had the nerve until I was in my forties. So it is never too late to achieve your childhood dreams. 

WHERE? Where do you write? I write wherever it's quiet on my laptop. My top tip is to buy a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Means you can work anywhere. 

WHY? Why do you write?  My day job is in tv so the great joy of writing is that it is completely solitary. Just me and my imagination. It always surprises me what will come to my mind when I sit down and write. My subconscious just seems to take over. I will read stuff back the next day and have no memory of having written it. Alchemy. 
I want to thank Daisy for joining us here at A Novel Review! Make sure to come back on Friday to see what I thought of The American Heiress and your chance to win a copy!!!

To get to know a little more about Daisy you can visit her at her website:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Orphan Sister By Gwendolen Gross

Finding the path to one’s own identity is a story in and of itself, but to be one of three brings about a number of additional complexities. Gwendolen Gross writes a multifaceted story of Clementine Lords’ journey in finding her own path. Clementine is a singleton who was born a triplet with identical twin sister’s Odette and Olivia. She is one with them and yet she is different and not the same as them. She is the odd sister out.

When Clementine’s father goes missing she is pressed to deal with her long standing family issues. A father she loved, hated, wanted his approval, rebelled against, didn’t trust and longed to trust. A mother she felt who hide herself away in her husband’s shadow not fully living up to the strong, smart, independent woman Clementine believed she could be. Her identical twin sisters, who she longed to be one with and at the same time wanted to be different than. While dealing with these numerous family emotions, she is also dealing with finding peace and moving on after losing her ‘other half’.

As Clementine moves forward in finding out where her father went, she has flashbacks of her childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. These flashbacks allow the reader to gain a deeper and greater understanding to the complexity of Clementine. She has a deep need for acceptance and wants to know she is just as much a part of the family as the rest of the ‘flock’. Clementine learns you become your own woman when you no longer look for acceptance from others, but from yourself and to not let other peoples’ lives dominate ours.

Truthfully, the only thing in regard to The Orphan Sister I didn’t like was I didn’t have someone to talk to about it! I’m so glad I can share some of my book love with you! Gwendolen Gross is an amazingly smart writer! She writes beautifully! The book is in a constant state of movement diving into the complexities of family. Even though I’m very different than Clementine I could really relate to her desire to feel safe and accepted. Her relationship with her father (though different) made me reflect on my own relationship with mine. I’d love to go on and on discussing the end of the book, but I do not want to spoil the story for any of you.

I absolutely recommend The Orphan Sister and if you are in a book club this is a must read! So please go out and buy a copy, read it and I would love for you to come back and tell me what you think of it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GIVEAWAY: A Rather Remarkable Homecoming

I'm so excited to be able to offer you A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by C.A. Belmond. Released just a few days ago. 

Join the fun and frolic with American heiress Penny Nichols and her English hero Jeremy Laidley, as the adventurous couple sets off for more elegant travel and delightful sleuthing together!

Penny and Jeremy are just returning from their honeymoon, only to be greeted by eccentric friends of Prince Charles bearing a rather royal request: to rescue a historical village on the coast of Cornwall, England. A property developer is bulldozing his way across the countryside to build a monstrous new development, and he's heading straight for Grandmother Beryl's old homestead where the newlyweds first met long ago as kids. Can Penny and Jeremy solve an ancient puzzle in time to save Grandma's house-and the entire village-from total destruction?

On the romantic rocky cliffs of Cornwall, amid Celtic lore and tales of Shakespeare, smugglers, and shipwrecks, Penny and Jeremy must contend with a rakish cast of local characters: a bird-watching earl, a famous TV chef, a vain actor, a New Age farmer, a pair of thuggish real-estate tycoons, a rebel rock-and-roller, and a band of determined "eco-warriors." Following a trail of cryptic clues, Penny and Jeremy's new caper takes them to the lush island of Madeira and the legendary castle of Tintagel, in a race against time to find the astonishing truth... before the wrecking ball strikes.
With her trademark wit, wisdom, and verve, C.A. Belmond's newest novel in her beloved "Rather" series provides a perfect armchair voyage of Europe's glamorous locales, with plenty of mystery, history, food, wine, love, and life's little pleasures. (synopsis from Goodreads).

To win a copy of A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by C.A. Belmond, just be A Novel Review follower and post a comment below with your email address.  The giveaway closes September 28 at midnight EST and is for US/Canada residents. The winner will be picked by and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their address. Good luck!!!

I'm going to be reviewing A Rather Remarkable Homecoming in December and would love to hear from all of you about what you think of Belmond's newest novel!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Q&A With Gwendolen Gross

Today I'd like to introduce to you, Gwendolen Gross. She is the author of four books; Field Guide, Getting Out, The Other Mother, and her newest release The Orphan Sister. I've had the pleasure of chatting a bit with her on twitter, facebook and through emails and she is just a very sweet person. I'm so excited to introduce to you:

THE FIVE W’S  OF Gwendolen Gross

First of all, while I’m GG, my nickname is Wendy, so I’m pretty W-happy. I used to hate how you had to make them round in cursive, like, well, buttocks, but now that I can make my Ws pointy as I please, well, I love Ws. Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog!


I’m like you. I can’t not write. I’m a mom, and I have too many pairs of shoes (though not high heels—I have a bone graft in my ankle—someone else’s bone is in there! Thank you that someone! I wrote the family. It had no marrow when it was grafted, but I still wonder, sometimes, whether bone has cellular memory) and I walk the dog a lot to think. My best ideas come at times inopportune for writing, like when I’m at a kids’ school orchestra performance, or when I’m driving to the dentist, or when I’m wearing a pair of earplugs and a set of sound-blocking headphones because we’re having a window replaced so winter won’t howl into the living room, but it’s summer, and too hot for all this ear-protection, and the phone is ringing and I’m afraid it’s the camp nurse.
Also, I gathered adventures when I was younger, and still do now, though in a gentler, more mom-friendly way. I used to belong to an Explorer’s Post, and we went backpacking and ice climbing and got lost in caves. Oh, and I worked at a science museum and delighted my stepbrother by lighting the transparent woman every which way in a darkened auditorium. And I did some research on Spectacled Fruit Bats in the Australian rainforest. I wrote about these things in my first two novels, because the details were too wonderful not to pluck specifically for fiction.


Time is never spare. Sometimes it runs, and sometimes it creeps between the slats of the fence like a thief—or an escape-bunny. I think when I’m living too quickly, and not slowing things down in the parenthesis of written words, I start to feel as though I’m losing something. Does that happen to you? I get those ordinary pangs of nostalgia, watching my kids grow, but I also relish their expanding capabilities and freedoms. I am in a very parenthetical mood today, when this interview is bracketed by those terrific journalistic questions. I hope I’m not boring you.
I’m obsessed with sewing, a new skill, and with knitting, an old one (for me; they’re both old, of course), with making three-dimensional things out of pieces—yarn, fabric, thread. I’m also horse-crazy, for which I happily blame my daughter, because I’d put a hat on that when I was a teen, but now she loves horses, so I go ride and groom and daydream about having our own someday with her. I also sing with a wonderful chorus. I used to sing with an opera chorus and still have not recovered from learning that there’s a wig dresser’s union.


I used to keep a journal both as confessional and necessity. I wrote a lot of poems, and when I was little, wrote musicals, using unorthodox and completely unintelligible musical notations of my own. I suppose I’ve always made things, and once I started to take writing more seriously (rather than almost a visceral need but not the need to bring the products of that process out into the world) I couldn’t stop. I was working in publishing in San Diego, also singing in an opera company, and I saw a little ad in the paper for a Brown Bag writing practice group at the San Diego Writer’s Center, which has a different name now. It was run by Judy Reeves, who has written some magnificent books on writing practice. I wrote about 100, 000 poems over those lunch hours and moved on to characters who demanded stories. It was wonderful, even if it meant missing out on nightly body-surfing from time to time.


Usually at cafes. I find home is very distracting. I have love notes from the children and photos of my husband in triathlons and bills and funtak and leather wipes and books to read and glasses that need to be cleaned and a battery charger and The Best of Threads Volume One and a home serging DVD and chorus music on my desk. So it’s best to go somewhere with a laptop. Sometimes I use the hammock in the back yard, and sometimes I go to our amazing public library.


Oh. Why? Because we like you. (What is that? Mr. Rogers?)
Because when I was growing up, books were friends. They didn’t replace the real friends, but augmented them—the characters in books were full of observations, truths, mistakes. I write to explore what I have to share, what I’ve learned, what I don’t know yet. I write because I can’t not write. I write because it’s a chance to blither on, uninterrupted except by myself, and then I can go back and pick out anything that matters, anything I want to hold up and show people: true! True! We actually do love each other! Now, time to hack out all the extra words, time to get closer with metaphor and senses.

I hope everyone has enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn more about Gwendolen 'Wendy,' as much as I have! Come back on Thursday to read my review of her newest release The Orphan Sister

I want to thank-you, Gwendolen so very much for joining us here at A Novel Review! I loved getting to know you better. It's been an absolute pleasure! Thank-you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday by Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel’s newest novel, Happy Birthday, follows three individuals marking milestone birthdays. Valerie Wyatt is top notch in the business of home d├ęcor and weddings. She has written numerous books and hosts her own television show and this year she is turning sixty.  Jack Adams is a former NFL superstar and now anchors a sports show at the same network as Valerie. He is turning 50 this year and realizing his fast lane lifestyle is no longer working for him. Last, April Wyatt who owns and operates a successful restaurant in New York. She is turning the big 3-0 and is taking stock of her life.

Over the course of 6 months, the three characters face a number of life changing events. Valerie is held hostage by terrorists who take over her network and realizes life is about living on purpose. Jack realizes it’s time to slow things down and find a meaningful relationship. April finds she is pregnant after a one night stand and has to decide how to proceed. For all three characters they start their milestone birthdays leading them down a new path in life and finding age is just a number.

I love a story where the characters embrace life and learn to walk through doors, which offer them new opportunities. And Happy Birthday was all about that. There were a number of twists and turns for the characters and even though things with Valerie and Jack come across as a little obvious I still really enjoyed reading about it. I was definitely more interested in April’s story and how it would end. One thing I have found from reading Steel is the happily ever after her characters end with has more to do with the development of the characters. I guess what I mean by that is they learn to find happiness.

This was the first Danielle Steel book I’ve read in over a decade. My mom and I were avid Steel readers and would take turns buying her newest books. Ten years ago my mom lost her battle to breast cancer. Over the years I’ve seen a number of Steel’s books come out and stop and think how I believe my mom would have really liked this one or that one. My mom and I both loved to read and Danielle Steel was her favorite author. Happy Birthday is now one of my favorite books by Ms. Steel. I’m really glad I decided to read Happy Birthday.  My two favorites by Danielle Steel are Mixed Blessings and Heartbeat (and loved the movies too).

I would recommend this book!

I am so excited to kick off A Novel Review's birthday celebration with Danielle Steel's Happy Birthday!!! I am giving away 2 copies of Happy Birthday! That's right 2!!! This is also an International giveaway, so all A Novel Review followers can enter! Make sure you are a follower and post a comment leaving me your email address. The giveaway closes September 21 at midnight est. The winners will be picked by and the winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their address. Good luck!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Celebrating six months of blogging book reviews! I can’t believe the last six months have gone by so quickly. I have absolutely loved blogging. Thank-you to everyone who is following my blog! This has been a really exciting adventure. I’ve met some really incredible people since I’ve started this blog. There are so many bloggers, authors, publishers and followers who have helped me along the way. I’m looking forward and excited to see what new opportunities the next six months bring. Thank-you to everyone!

Make sure to come back often this month for a number of giveaways!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

VIDEO GUEST BLOG By Cynthia Ellingsen

I am so excited to introduce, Cynthia Ellingsen, to A Novel Review! Cynthia is the author of the newly released novel The Whole Package. She has been gracious enough to put together a video guest blog for us today.  

The 5 W's of Cynthia Ellingsen:

I want to thank Cynthia so much for putting this together and for joining us here today at A Novel Review!

Make sure to stop back and read my review of The Whole Package September 29th for your chance to win a copy of this fabulous book! Can't wait to read it? Just click on the image below to purchase your copy!

To learn more about Cynthia Ellingsen you can visit her website:

FTC Disclaimer
As of December 1, 2009, According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), product reviewers on blogs must disclose whether they received products for free or received payment for their review.

The books we review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to us by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. We never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are our own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.