Friday, August 31, 2012

The Burning Star by Jessie Lane

Kay and her mom, Carli, move to Asheville, North Carolina to find treatment for her terminal cancer diagnosis.  The first day there Kay goes for a walk and is thrown into a world of werewolves, fairies, goblins, and many other mystical creatures. 

Kay has never had a boyfriend and has never been kissed.  When she moves to her new home she meets not one, but two teenage boys who want her attention.  Ryan saves her from a monster dog and makes a date for the very next morning.  Nick comes to install the satellite for their TV and is instantly attracted to her.  Who will she fall for in the end? 
The Burning Star grabs you before the end of the first chapter.  This book has mystery, romance, and mystical creatures.  Everything I love in books.

Although I really liked Ryan, I am definitely cheering for Nick, the underdog.   The antics between the two boys for Kay’s attention bring back many teenage memories.  Nick chooses to leave his home and his family to travel with Kay and my heart soared, true teenage infatuation. 

I truly loved Kay.  At 17 she learns her whole life was a lie and yet it doesn’t bring her down.  She barely misses a step.  She manages to return to the life she was born to live and still stay strong and brave.  A young girl I can hope my daughter to grow up to be, minus all the mystical stuff. 

I have already passed The Burning Star on to my teenage daughter and made my sister read it.  Book two of this series cannot be written and printed soon enough.  It has been a long time and lots of books read since one has captured my attention and heart this much.

A note from the Authors:Melissa andCrytal want to do something BIG after doing all of that hard work on the re-edit of The Burning Star. So, in honor of Melissa's birthday (9/10), we are going to be giving away free ebook copies through B&N, Amazon, Smashwords and All Romance/OMNI Lit starting 9/1/12 to 9/10/12.   However, when the giveaway is over, on 9/11/12, we will go back to the original price of $1.99.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Little Sacrifices by Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott captured the feelings of the South, mainly Savannah, leading up to the civil rights movement.

Little Sacrifices follows May and her parents move from the North to the South.  Mays parents make the move difficult for May due to their outspokenness for Negro rights and other controversial beliefs.  May finds herself struggling to hold onto her beliefs and still fit in with her peers.

I felt that this is a story a friend would tell me and many times had to remind myself that it was just a story, an amazing story.  I could picture what Savannah was like, from the sweltering heat to the layouts of the streets.

Jamie Scott did a great job showing the the different characters felt about growing up in the South during the civil rights era.  Most of the characters who grew up Southern felt that Negroes were extremely lucky with all the rights they have been given already.  The Northerners, or Yankees, felt Negroes had been short changed and deserved more, but by stating these ideas were put as outcasts.

I would recommend Little Sacrifices to all my friends and look forward to more books from Jamie Scott.

Reviewed by Charlotte

Monday, August 27, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Barbara Taylor Bradford


I am Barbara Taylor Bradford. I’ve written 27 novels to date, all bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic. I write stories for women – stories about generally ordinary women who go on to achieve extraordinary things.  Before my career as a novelist, I was a syndicated journalist in the US and in the UK. I wrote articles on decorating, relationships and other items of interest to women. I’ve been married to my husband, Robert Bradford for 48 years. We have no children, but one white fluffy dog. We live in New York City, where we enjoy and active social life. We are also heavily involved in a number of charities in our “spare” time.

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?

I actually love to read. Biographies are probably my favorite books to read. Anything on English history, especially about monarchs of the past will grab my attention. I’m also a great fan of modern fiction. Some of my favorite authors include Daniel Silva, Mary Higgins Clark and Patricia Cornwell. Travel is another favorite pastime of mine. I love to explore historic cities and tour the ancient historic sites. Some of my favorite destinations include Istanbul, St. Petersburg, and Paris.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was an avid reader as a child. I grew up in the North of England near where the Bronte sisters lived and wrote their novels. My mother force-fed me the classics when I was maybe six, or seven years old. Dickens. Shakespeare and the Brontes. At age eight, I wrote a short story about a little girl who wanted to get a pony. My mother submitted it to a magazine in a contest. No, I never did get the pony I wanted, but instead, my article won the contest and was published a few months later with my name in a bi-line. It was then that my fate was sealed.

WHERE? Where do you write?

I have an office in my apartment where I do all my writing, research and thinking. I’m usually up at 6am each morning. I head into this room, which is decorated with the framed covers of all my previous novels. I have two desks inside. One has a computer where I do my research and proofreading. The other is a little typing desk where I sit and type my novels on an electric typewriter. Old-school as this may sound, I actually find it comforting to type my novels this way – the same way I have created all others going back to A Woman Of Substance back in 1979.

WHY? Why do you write?
If I didn’t write, I’d sure go mad from all the characters floating around in my head who just need to get out and onto paper. Writing keeps me feeling youthful, energetic and invigorated. It’s what I’ve always done since I was a young girl, and what I will continue to do for as long as I love and breath.

Barbara Taylor Bradford's Website

Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review! It was such a pleasure getting to know you. 
Make sure to check out Charlotte's review of Barbara's newest book Letter From a Stranger

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Letter from a Stranger by Barbara Taylor Bradford

A letter postmarked from Istanbul arrives at Justine Nolans mothers’ house in Connecticut.  Knowing that it will be months before her mom, Deborah, returns, Justine opens the letter.  Little did she know how the letter will change her life.

The letter is written by Justine’s grandmother’s best friend asking for an end to the estrangement between Deborah and Justine’s grandmother, Gabrielle.  The letter begs Deborah to let Gabrielle meet her grandkids before it is too late.  Justine shares the letter with her fraternal twin, Richard, and it is decided that Justine should travel to Istanbul and find her long lost grandmother.

Letter from a Stranger was different than any other Barbara Taylor Bradford book I had read.  Although it still has a female main character.  The descriptions of Istanbul were amazing.  I could truly see the scenes as they were told in the story.   I could see myself walking the streets of Istanbul during World War II.

The little bit of romance in the book made it impossible for me to put down.  This is definitely a great read and I would easily recommend it to any fellow book lover.

Reviewed by Charlotte

Barbara Taylor Bradford

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman

Having gone off to school in Michigan, Ruth Wasserman is returning home for the summer. Walking right back into the life she left, she believes everything and everyone will be just the same as she left them. But she begins to notice things are ‘different’ with her parents, and then her brother, “the golden boy” David gets high during his shift at the pool. Having always felt second to her brother, while she hung out with friends drinking, parting, and obsessing over her weight and he was a soccer star and Mr. Popularity. The tables suddenly turn when a little girl gets in the pool on David’s watch and it’s Ruth who pulls her out!

The pool incident isn’t the only thing that’s different. Everyone is making off handed remarks about her extreme weight loss. Even one of mom’s at the pool asks Ruth to help inspire her daughter Kaki into losing weight. Ruth is getting mixed messages from friends and family about her loss.

Saving Ruth touched on serious topics such as prejudice and anorexia. I need to begin with the eating disorder. In my opinion, Fishman discussed it in a very realistic way. When most people think of eating disorders they think of those extreme cases, but eating disorders don’t happen overnight. She also mentions how Ruth wasn’t throwing up, therefore it couldn’t be anorexia—so not an eating disorder. All the while, she was getting noticed and by many in a positive way. And those who were worried about her said little to nothing.

I feel Saving Ruth is a great book for both Mother’s and teenage girls, truthfully this story could be used as a tool for a mom to talk to her daughter about weight issues if they are looking for a way to open up dialogue.

Great story enjoyed the characters. I was a little disappointed when it came to Ruth saving Tanisha. I suppose in all truthfulness most people would be worried about being sued, but to me it really overshadowed the great job Ruth did.

A great book to throw in your beach bag this summer, I’m recommending Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman.

Reviewed by Laura Kay

Get to know Zoe Fishman:
and you can listen to a great interview:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Sweet Life #6 Bittersweet + Giveaway for the entire ebook set of The Sweet Life

A few years after Elizabeth and Jessica graduate high school, we catch back up with them and their lives.  Jessica and her husband, Todd, have separated.  Jessica, being Jessica, has been playing around with a hot young star.  She has her son find themselves in danger.  Will true love save the day?

Elizabeth turns her back on Bruce Patnam when he is accused of rape.  Realizing that all may not be as it seems, Elizabeth puts her reporter skills to work and tries to find out the truth and save Bruce’s reputation.  Will it be enough and in time for them to become a couple again?

I own all of the Sweet Valley High books and have read them many times over.  I could not pass up the changes to read the rest of the series.  I was not disappointed.  Jessica and Elizabeth are still incredibly close.  Elizabeth is still the responsible twin.  While Jessica seems just a little more wild., but definitely not as wild as in the Sweet Valley High books.

Anyone who has read the original Sweet Valley High series has to read the Sweet Life Books.

Reviewed by Charlotte

Follow Francine Pascal on Facebook

Here is your chance to win the entire e-book series!!!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Twelve Months by Steven Manchester + Giveaway --Reviewed by Charlotte Lynn

Leave More Than You Can Take....

Don DiMarco is happily married to the love of his life, Isabella.  Together they have a grown daughter Riley, who is happily married with two amazing children.  When Don starts not feeling so well he goes to the doctor and finds out he has stage 4 cancer.  From the minute of his diagnosis he knows that he needs to live his life to the absolute fullest.

Don lives out his dreams.  He choses to mend some friendships he had let fall to the side.  Don's biggest challenges and most important are showing his wife how much he loves and treasuers her and giving his granchildren amazing memories.

Twelve Months made me open my eyes and heart to how quickly the direction your life is heading can change.  This novel will teach you how to live your life with everything you possibly can.
I quickly put myself in Riley's position.  Feeling as she did if it was my father.  I loved how supportive, never telling her dad how crazy his idea may be, always telling him to do it, to live it.  I do wish her life hadn't been so busy and that there would have been more time for Don and Riley.  More memories for them to share.

Anyone who loves a heartfelt celebration of life has to read this novel.  I smiled at the fun and living that Don and Isabella did.  I was envious of Don's will to live and his strength in doing so.  I cried at his struggles and pain in living his dreams.

And now you have a chance to win a copy! The copy is for US residents only (sorry!) Make sure you leave us your email address, so we can let you know if you are the lucky winner!

Reviewed by Charlotte Lynn

Monday, August 13, 2012

Free Gift with Purchase by Jackie Pilossoph

Emma, a widow with a young daughter, has not accepted her husbands death or that the last words she said to him were “I hate you!”  She has been a stay at home mom since Sam died in a car accident after their fight.  Her stress relief is make different types of salsa,which becomes important later in the novel.

Laura, a successful doctor with a grown daughter, is married to a cheating husband, Alan.  Alan soon files for divorce to marry his much younger girlfriend.  This forces Laura to move in with Emma. Laura also starts going out on dates with many interesting men.

Laura and Emma’s dad is cheating on their mother.  Their mother soon moves into Emma’s also to take a break from their dad and find out if she can forgive him or if the marriage is over.

All three ladies are suddenly single.  They all start dating diffent types of men hoping to find someone to make them happy.  The differences between Laura and Emma, as they both become single parents in their fourties, are so fun to watch.  They are truly best friends and have each others best interests at heart.

Free Gift with Purchase is such a different story than Jackpot! But just as captivating.  Although I’m not a widow, I could relate especially to Emma who went on dates with so many “bad apples”, while already knowing the man she who can make her happy.  Many of the “bad apples” made me smile and giggle, as I could relate.   Laura’s men are not so much “bad apples” but men that did not have the same life goals as she did.  I loved how the sisters and their mother all supported each other with each failure or success they had.   That made me really appreciate my sister and mom, who also support me daily with everything I do, whether they agree or not.

This is a novel that anyone with a sister or mother should read.  It shows how a family, even when being put through trials, can and should stick together.  The laughs and tears shared are truly uplifting.

Reviewed by Charlotte

other books by Jackie!

You can follow Jackie Pilossoph

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hangers, Shoeboxes, and Love by Zizi Sadie

Abby’s life is to this point is all about fashion and partying.  She has been dating a married man, Kess.  At the club one night she meets Sesan, Kess’ son, who happens to fall for her.  To make things more complicated it seems Abby’s younger sister is falling for Sesan.  To further complicate things, Abby and Kess’ wife meet each other at a party and Abby experiences the taste of scourn from a married woman.   Will Abby manage to get her life back in order and off the rollercoaster?

I loved Abby’s carefree outlook on life.  Her party today deal with the outcome tomorrow attitude is a way of life many of us should incorporate into our everyday life, just maybe not to the extreme that Abby does.

I do feel that Abby is self centered.  She admits to not knowing anything about her friends’ personal lives.  Especially evident when her friend tells her she is pregnant and Abby did not even know that there was a boyfriend in her life.  Yet Abby seems to have no real problem calling them at any hour and bringing them into her life and problems.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy read, check out Hangers, Shoeboxes, and Love by Zizi Sadie.

You can buy a copy of Hangers, Shoeboxes, and Love by Zizi Sadie at Smashwords

You can follow Zizi Sadie on Facebook

Reviewed by Charlotte

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Elise Allen + Giveaway of Populazzi

Elise Allen has written Young Adult and Childrens' fiction, television and features. Her books include the Young Adult novel Populazzi and she co-wrote on Hilary Duff's Elixir series. I'm so excited to have Elise here on A Novel Review today and we are lucky enough to be giving a copy of Populazzi (now out in paperback) away! Now let's get to know:

The 5 W's of Elise Allen

I’m a roiling mass of ecstatic passions, neurotic quirks, and manic energy.  At the risk of angering Queen Kinehora, I will honestly say I’m deliriously happy with my life… and yet if my high school self could see me, she’d be slack-jawed in stunned disbelief.  

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Hanging out with my daughter and having outdoor adventures.  (I love doing that with my husband too, but he’s busier than Miss M, so he’s often at work when we’re playing.)  My favorite days are when she and I go bike riding, or head to the beach… anything that gets us out of the house and exploring.  

Oh – I totally include going to Disneyland in the category of “outdoor adventures.”  We’re annual passholders, and completely buy in to the Magic of the Mouse.  Sometimes we’ll go just to hang out and feed the ducks.   

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  In sixth grade I wrote a series of short stories starring my cat Sousa as a hard-boiled detective; in 7th and 8th I collaborated on a romance novel featuring the torrid exploits of my BFF and I with Wham!’s George Michael (yes, I know, but I still thought I had a chance) and Andrew Ridgeley (I just Googled him – he’s bald now!); and in college I co-founded a spectacularly awesome mystery party business where we wrote customized characters for every single guest.
And all that time, I never once considered a career as a writer.  

I was going to act.  Check that – I was going to be a star.

Oh, sure, there was the slight issue of me freaking out whenever a camera was in my face… plus my complete inability to immerse myself in a character without feeling like a red-faced buffoon… but other than that, it was a slam-dunk career.

It wasn’t until I was working as a receptionist at… wait for it… Saved by the Bell: The College Years that I saw people making a living – and a really good living! – doing what I had always done simply to amuse myself and my friends.  I teamed up with a partner and wrote my first spec script, was hired to write my first produced script (a Saved by the Bell: The New Class) soon after, and have been at it ever since. 

WHERE? Where do you write?
Wherever I can!  I’m not precious about it.  I juggle too much.  If I get the chance and I have my computer (I can’t read my own handwriting – not even kidding), I write.  When I was with my daughter in Scotland recently, I waited until she went to sleep, then sat cross-legged on the floor of the hotel room’s giant shower, plopped my computer on the shower bench, and wrote.  The only place I can’t write is a plane, which is a bummer because it seems like such a perfect chunk of uninterrupted time.  I think it’s because space is so constricted; I need a little breathing room to create.

WHY? Why do you write?
I love that you asked me this question, because oddly enough, I never sat down and examined it.  It helps that you asked “when” first, because it reminded me how my greatest joy in things like the mystery party characters was the reaction I’d get from my business partner.  I’d write the characters knowing she’d read them and laugh out loud, and that got me so giddy and excited, I’d laugh out loud just imagining it.  Actually sending them to her left me jumping in my seat, waiting for her reaction. 

That’s what’s addictive to me.  I’m not the kind of person who writes in a vacuum, and would find great satisfaction in simply getting my creations on paper, whether or not they ever saw the light of day.  I write because there’s no greater high than the shared experience between writer and reader.  When worlds and people that didn’t exist before I created them come alive for readers, that to me is the ultimate thrill.  

What great questions!  Thanks so much for the interview, Laura, and for featuring Populazzi on A NOVEL REVIEW!!!

You can get to know Elise more by follwing her: 

 POPULAZZI by Elise Allen

WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you had the chance to erase your past and reinvent yourself as the person you’ve always wanted to be?  Would you grab it?  Would you stick with it, no matter what the consequences?

Cara Leonard always wished she could be one of  those girls: confident, self-possessed, and never at a loss for the perfect thing to say.  One of the Populazzi.

It always seemed impossible… but now could be her chance.

When Cara moves to a new school just before junior year, her best friend urges her to seize the opportunity and change her life… with the help of The Ladder.  Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms herself into the perfect girlfriend for guys higher and higher on the Popularity Tower, she can reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi, the most popular girl in school.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment — a straight climb up — but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted.  And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

Sounds like such a great book, doesn't it!?! Well here is your chance to win a copy! This giveaway is for US only (sorry!) and 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Where We Belong By Emily Giffin Reviewed by Laura Kay

An 18 year old Kirby Rose loves her family, but often feels like an outsider.  After years of wondering who her birth mother is—who she is, she is now legally old enough to receive the information.

Marian Caldwell is a successful television producer in New York. She’s been dating Peter for a few years and she is ready for marriage and babies. Her life is perfect or so she thinks. When the daughter she gave away 18 years ago shows up on her door step late one night, Marian begins to realize her new life has been built around lies.

Where We Belong gives a back and forth perspective on this mother and daughter, it also includes flashbacks to Marian when she was 18. As the two get to know one another and the lives they lead, they also embark on a journey of self discovery and while trying to right the wrongs of Marian’s past.
By far my favorite Emily Giffin novel to date and I have loved every one of her books. I really related to young Marian. In the early 1990’s (and in N.IL-ha!), I was faced with a teenage pregnancy. Even though I choice the option to parent, I have also wondered what if I had decided adoption instead. How would my life, his life been different—better? Worse?

The only criticism I would have of Where We Belong, is I would have liked to see a deeper side to Marian. The subject matter was so serious and over such a long span of time it would have been nice to see some deeper emotions. I felt Kirby was so very well written! She was dealing with all this crazy adult stuff and sometimes she seemed so grown-up, but then her teenage personality would come out (so very much like a teenage girl!).

I’d say this is a beautiful story of the love of adoption…the gift of life. Where We Belong is a believable story. Kirby’s mother, wanting to support her daughter’s search, while holding back her own pain and fears. Marian is dealing with so many confused and mixed feelings, while Kirby tries to figure it all out plus figure out her future. They are all struggling to find their place.

Where We Belong…is what everyone wants to know.

So do I recommend it? Ummm YEAH!! It’s almost Friday, so make sure you download it or go buy at your local bookstore! I loved Where We Belong it was so worth the wait! I just can’t believe I have to wait for Emily’s next Book! Or movie!!!
Want to get to know Emily Giffin better? 

Have you read all her books? If you haven't make sure you do!