Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Good Woman by Jane Porter

Reviewed by Laura Kay

Meg Brennan Roberts is an oldest child, grew up being responsible for herself and her siblings. Now as an adult woman she still tries to juggle it all. She runs from her job (as a successful publicist for a growing winery), to her kids activities, cooking the meals and cleaning the house along the way. Her husband is consumed with his own job and not giving Meg much notice lately.

When she takes a work trip with her ruggedly handsome boss, Chad—Meg’s world is thrown off course after he confesses his attraction to Meg. At first Meg sticks to her marriage, but then gives into his inviting arms. Her world becomes a fantasy, but soon enough reality catches up with Meg and she finds herself having two choose between the two worlds.

I’ve read a number of Jane Porter’s contemporary fiction books and always really enjoyed them. I felt like The Good Woman, was a more intense novel than the other books I’ve read. It deals with some pretty powerful feelings. I could relate to Meg, as an oldest child and my sibling relationships and as a wife and mother who juggles it all. I couldn’t relate to the marriage aspect, but I can appreciate not all marriages are not the same. I think if Meg had shown hostility towards her husband, Jack, I could have been a bit more sympathetic to Meg.

With that said, I really enjoyed The Good Woman. The scenes between Meg and Chad were passionate; the emotional fallout of her affair was severe. I know my husband and I strongly believe in the importance of communication for a marriage and after reading The Good Woman, I felt like it was a great reminder of that.

I highly recommend The Good Woman! Just an fyi, The Good Woman is part of a trilogy (The Good Daughter out February 5, 2013). Also on Jane’s website you can read the first three chapters of The Good Woman!

Jane Porter 

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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kat Fight by Dina Silver

When Kats long time boyfriend, Marc, starts taking her for granted, Kat tells him to lose her number.  He replies fine.  Not quite the way Kat hoped the conversation would go.

After a couple months Kat starts to move on with a new boyfriend, Ryan.  Marc tarts coming around asking for another chance, swearing he has changes his ways.  This leads to an interesting love triangle.

I requested this book from Dina Silver and am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to read it.  It was quick, easy, and had me giggling out loud.    The story opened with Kat wanting a wedding and a family.  I knew this was a story for me.  I cheered for Kat and how she stood up to Marc, even when it would be easier to give in and go back to what is comfortable and known.  I giggled especially during the car chase and her quick witty texts to Adam, her best male friend.

I started this book just before bedtime and had to wake-up early to keep reading.  I just could not put it down.  Kat Fight is a definite must read and a must share.
Reviewed by Charlotte

Dina Silver of Facebook

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Becoming Clementine by Jennifer Niven

Let me start by saying books written about life during World War II are always a huge hit with me.  This book is now at the top of my World War II list.

Velva Jean, a courageous female pilot, is in the WASP program during World War II.  She manages to convince the military to use her in France as a pilot.  Her first flight does not go as planned and she crash lands and is rescued by the Resistance.  While trying to get to safety she experiences many horrors of the war and also experiences many uplifting moments.

Velva also has a hidden agenda in her journeys across Europe.  Her brother has been lost at war, or so she was told.  He was suppose to jump on D-Day and did not and there was no word from him since before that day.   With every town, village, or person she has contact with questions are asked concerning his where abouts.   Never did she dream she would learn the truth about what happen to him as she did.

Becoming Clementine had everything I love in a story.  There was romance with a French agent (oooo la la).   The history and truths in this story made the story seem all the more real to me.  The descriptions used through made you able to picture what Velva Jean was seeing and going through in her travels across England, France, and Germany.

This book had intrigue, history, and romance.  If you enjoy learning while you read a great book, this is definitely a book for you.

Reviewed by Charlotte Lynn

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sea Change By Karen White + Giveaway

I’m sort of odd. I get review requests and I don’t fully read what the book is about. I just read the first few sentences, look at the cover, author and take a leap.  I’m kind of the same way with movies—I just don’t want to know too much information. I don’t want to think about the end of the book when I just start reading. So when I was asked to review Sea Change I didn’t read anything about it. I had seen the trailer, loved the cover and knew I loved Karen’s last book, I simply said YES! I just love not knowing too much about a book before I read it, while I know other people who want to know a lot about a book before they decide to read it.

Ava Whalen Frazier has just gotten married. Her mother is none to happy. She barely knows her husband, Matthew and to top it off she is moving to St. Simons Island. And here is the thing, Ava is deathly afraid of the water. Her mother is so upset she won’t even come out to say goodbye to her only daughter. But Ava is in love, feels such a deep strong connection to Matthew. Ava’s family is so tightly knit. She seems to be the adventurous one.

After arriving on the Island, Ava meets her new home. Matthew’s home is an ancestral home filled with the past, and with secrets. Before she even gets her feet on the ground Ava begins to find out just how little she knows about the man she has just married. Like he was married before and there are questions about his wife’s death. Ava begins digging into the past to find out what she can, but ends up becoming obsessed with the past.

The novel mostly focuses on Ava, but you will also read about Pamela. Pamela is in the past, but her story moves forward filled with mystery. White also has chapters of Ava’s mother Gloria. It’s hard to figure out how and where all these story pieces are going, but when it comes together! OH MY GOODNESS! I was SHOCKED! Just SHOCKED!

This is the only time I’ve ever said this, but I wish I could read SEA CHANGE again for the first time. Loved it!

Karen's Website

This giveaway is for US residents only (sorry!) NO PO BOXES!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway

Galilee “Gal” Garner isn’t the typical protagonist. I’ll just be honest—I didn’t like her. She was so rough and thorn like. She came off hard and callous. The truth is she’s had a rough go of life. I liked that she didn’t sit around and feel sorry for herself. Gal has kidney disease; she spent her days teaching high school science and most of her evenings sleeping at the hospital. She kept a strict schedule and strict diet. There were very few relationships with people in her life; she liked to keep people at arm’s length. She moved through her entire life with the knowledge that she could land in the hospital or die if she got sick. How sad to be burdened with knowing you could bring despair and loss to someone if you opened yourself up to loving them and letting them love you.

Gal put all her passion and energies into something safe…her roses. Gal is obsessed about creating a new variation of a Hulthemia Rose. Her green house and her roses are her life, love, her baby. Gal seemed perfectly content with how things were, but her world gets turned upside down when Gal’s sister sends her daughter to Gal to watch. Riley is a young girl who shows up unannounced and with lots of her own ‘baggage’. Riley grew up being tossed around from her mother (who is an addict), her grandparents to her father (who is now remarried and no longer around).

They seem to be exactly what the other one needs. Gal’s mothering instincts start to kick in and Riley begins to let Gal in—finding a safe spot.

For me, I found this to be a special book. I don’t think it would be easy to write about such an unlikable person. And at the same time there is this very slow peeling away of the old Gal, but Dilloway never strays too far. Gal always seems the same just better. I slowly began liking her the more or moreso I understood her more and wanted more for her. I loved Riley and felt bad for Riley. I loved how Riley grew.

I can’t say I put this book down and said “wow it was amazing,” but it was uplifting. Like I said, special. It felt real, like you were glimpsing into Gal’s life. It’s not a love story, but a story about the human spirit. It’s a novel I hope you will read. Take your time with it. Savor it.

Margaret Dilloway

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Sarah Jio

Sarah Jio has written three amazing books; The Violets of March, The Bungalow, and Blackberry Winter. She is also a magazine writer and the health and fitness blogger for Glamour magazine. Sarah is married and the mother of three young boys. Sarah and her family reside in Seattle. I am a HUGE fan of Sarah's books and am over the moon excited to have her here on A Novel Review! So let's get to know...


WHO? Who are you besides a writer?

I am a mother (to three rambunctious and adorable little boys), a wife, a doggie mama ( Paisley the golden retriever is 10), a gardener, a coffee-addict, a runner, a reader, a sister, a friend, a daughter, a dreamer, and a very imperfect child of God.

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

I like to cook, run (my one true escape!), watch old movies, garden, and hang with my family. My idea of a perfect day is to spend at home on my back deck with my husband watching our boys play.

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

From birth. No, really, though—I can’t NOT remember a time in which I didn’t want to be a writer. I have always loved stories—telling them and reading them. My father was an amazing storyteller (still is), and I think his creativity inspired me.

WHERE? Where do you write?

In my little office off of the playroom in our house. This way, I can keep an eye on the kids while I’m working away. It’s not ideal, but it works now that we have such young children. I also love that I can see the moon out my office window at night.

WHY? Why do you write?

Because I have to! Really, I can’t imagine a life without writing. And, when my characters start chattering at me (especially the ones that are persistent and loud), I have to write their stories. It’s as if they actually exist and it’s my job to get their words down on paper. I’m chronically “plagued” by new ideas and characters.

Thanks-you Sarah for joining us here on A Novel Review! I've loved reading all of your books, so please keep being "plagued" by new characters!!!

Enter giveaway for BLACKBERRY WINTER

If you don't follow Sarah Jio you really should!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BLACKBERRY WINTER by Sarah Jio + Giveaway

A crazy snowstorm blankets Seattle in May, but it’s not the first time. A fluke snowstorm fell in May of 1933 too and the editor of The Herald wants Claire Aldridge to write a feature article about the May storms—about Blackberry Winter.

During Claire’s research of the storm of ’33, she finds a newspaper article about Vera and her three year old son who went missing. Vera was a young maid at a high end hotel and had left her son home alone at night while she worked. Authorities believed her three year old, Daniel, ran away during the snowstorm. Claire doesn’t believe it for a minute and wonders what happened to Daniel? Were mother and son ever reunited?

Claire’s own life is in shambles, but this story seems to ignite a fire in her she thought was gone. Can she solve the mystery? Can there be a happily ever after? Can Claire find her way again?
Once again Sarah Jio proves she has the amazing ability to transport her readers into not one, but two stories in two different times.

I fell in love with poor Vera. A young mother alone in the world struggling to make ends meet. As I read along, I was cheering Claire on wanting her to hurry and solve the mystery of Daniel. I wanted a happy reunion! It wasn’t just me who wanted the mystery solved, but it was as if Mother Nature herself was demanding resolution with the return of the Blackberry Winter.

Claire too has suffered a devastating loss. Her marriage is on the brink. For the first time in a long while, Emily begins to come alive but it just might be too late for her old life.
If you read Sarah’s first book The Violets of March, you’ll be as thrilled as I was to learn Emily and Jackson make an appearance in Blackberry Winter.

While reading, I had numerous “goosebump” moments! Love those. By the end of Blackberry Winter I wasn’t crying…I was sobbing. I was truly touched. Not only is Blackberry Winter my new favorite book by Sarah Jio, it’s my new all time favorite book. I love how I felt so connected to these characters. I really can’t imagine someone not loving this book. I wish I didn’t have so many other books to read, because I want to sit down and read it again.

Due out September 25, but don't let that stop you order your copy today!

If you have a US address (no PO Boxes) you can sign-up for a chance to win a copy of Blackberry Winter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*FTC Disclosure: I was given a copy of Blackberry Winter from Penguin to review. I received no compensation and the review is my own thoughts.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chances by Jackie Collins + Giveaway

I was asked to review this book in celebration of the re-release of Chances for ereaders.
Chances is the first book in Jackie Collins Lucky Santangelo series.  This book literally has everything you can ever want in a story.  There is family drama, mystery, murder, suspense, romance, and a lil comedy.

The story starts with Gino Santangelo as a young boy.  Continues telling his story with his wife, Maria, their 2 children, Lucky and Mario, and many of their thug like friends.

My favorite story line is of Lucky, even though she is a female, taking over Gino’s empire when he is forced of the country by the IRS.  To see Gino’s daughter grow into a very tough, hard, core woman made me envious.  She truly made it to the top of a man’s world in a time that women mostly were stayed home and behind the man.

The side story of Carrie, a young lady, who grew up as a hooker and drug addict intertwined perfectly with Gino and Lucky’s story.  It kept me curious as to how the stories were going to mesh together over and over again.  I loved how Carries son, Steven, and Lucky met and cannot wait to see where that story heads.

Usually I am a fast reader with Chances I slowed way down so that I would not reach the end too quickly.  Now that I am finished I want to read it again and again.  I definitely will read the next book in this series.

You can learn more about Jackie by visiting her website, twitter and on facebook.

Now here is your chance to win an ebook copy of CHANCES by Jackie Collins

Friday, September 14, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Jane Porter

Jane is an award-winning novelist with over 5 million books in print (in over twenty languages!).  She grew up in central California , graduated from UCLA and holds an MA in writing from the University of San Francisco. Porter writes full time and lives in southern California with her surfer husband and three active boys. Jane has been a four time RITA Award finalist: 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2010. Now let's get to know...

WHO? Who are you besides a writer? 
A mom.  I love being a mom.

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
I read and travel, and love to read about travel, too.  I also collect books....have a huge library in my home and it relaxes me to go in there and dust books and rearrange them by author or subject.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in grade school.  But I also planned to be an actress and dancer as well.  I gave up ballet in high school, and acting in college, so writing it is.

WHERE? Where do you write? 
Preferably somewhere brightly lit, quiet, calm, and free of people (meaning husband and kids).  I love my crew but with three sons and a surfer/skateboarder husband they’re high energy and the house hums with testosterone when they’re home.

WHY? Why do you write?
I have to.  Since I was four I’ve been writing stories down.  They’re in my head.  I have to get them out.

Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review, Jane!

Jane is one of my very favorite authors, so it was especially exciting to have her visit! Jane's newest book THE GOOD WOMAN was released earlier this month. I've already started reading it (and loving it). I will have my review up later this month!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Jane Heller

I’m a nice Jewish girl from the NY suburbs who grew up watching “I Love Lucy” and, later, reading Susan Isaacs and Nora Ephron and have always loved funny women. That’s why, whenever I get comments from readers telling me my books made them laugh out loud, I’m a happy author. I try to write about subjects we can all relate to – from sibling rivalry and mother-daughter struggles to marital conflicts and career problems. I always say, “My novels are romantic comedies but they aren’t about how to get a guy. They’re about an ordinary woman with a problem and in course of solving the problem she finds true love.” Speaking of true love, after two divorces, I’m about to celebrate my 20th anniversary with Husband #3 (the third time’s the charm), and he’s such a good guy that he doesn’t mind when I use him for material.  We lived in CT early in our marriage (my first two novels, CLEAN SWEEP and THE CLUB, are set there), then decided we were tired of cold weather and moved to FL (two of my other novels, INFERNAL AFFAIRS and SIS BOOM BAH, are set there). Then, as more and more of my books were sold to Hollywood (nine of them have been optioned for movies and television), we took our act to CA (THE SECRET INGREDIENT, LUCKY STARS and SOME NERVE are set there). We live up in the hills of Santa Barbara with a view of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains and feel very lucky to be surrounded by beauty, along with the occasional rattlesnake, bobcat and mountain lion. (I carry a little canister of pepper spray when I go for a walk, but am convinced I’d spray myself by accident and have never used it.)

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Last year I started doing yoga and I’m totally into it; after a day sitting at the computer writing, it feels great to move my body. I love afternoon walks too, either near my house or down by the beach. I’m a baseball fanatic and as a former New Yorker I follow the Yankees obsessively. In fact, my first nonfiction book was CONFESSIONS OF A SHE-FAN about my passion for the boys in pinstripes. I read a lot – mostly at night and mostly fiction by and about women. And I’m in love with movies. We have a great film festival in Santa Barbara and get to see many of the Oscar contenders at screenings before the films are released, plus visits from the actors for Q&As. I’m still in a daze that George Clooney came to the screening of his movie “Ides of March.” He was everything you’d want a movie star to be. I only hope one of my books will finally make it to the screen. One of them, AN EX TO GRIND, is in development at Fox now to star Cameron Diaz and Benecio Del Toro.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a writer. It never occurred to me that I could write books – not even during the 10 years I was working with authors as publicity director at several New York publishing houses. I was perfectly satisfied being behind the scenes. And then one day I got an idea for a story. Just like that. It was about a woman who loses all her money in the terrible economy and then her husband dumps her and then her house is about to go into foreclosure. She swallows her pride and answers an ad for a maid – only to have her employer get murdered and the police think she did it. I wrote a few pages each night and when I got to page 200 I said, “Hey, look, Jane. You’re writing a novel.” I found an agent, she sold the book (CLEAN SWEEP) and I’ve been writing ever since – 15 books later.

WHERE? Where do you write? 
I have an office in our house. I work on an iMac and sit at a real desk in a real chair and approach my writing as seriously as if I were clocking in at a real job.

WHY? Why do you write?
I love making people laugh, as I said, but I also love telling stories about women. I think we lead such rich lives – our dating experiences, our heartbreaks, our marriages and divorces, our climbs up the career ladder, our issues with our families. The storytelling possibilities are endless, but for me the trick is to find the “funny” in it all. I write comedy, even in my nonfiction. My next book is called YOU’D BETTER NOT DIE OR I’LL KILL YOU and it’s a survival guide for caregivers that features my personal essays about being married to a man with a chronic illness. It demonstrates that even in the grimmest times – especially in the grimmest times – we need to laugh. And now that all my novels are available in new ebook editions, I’m hoping a lot more readers will be laughing along with me.

Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review, Jane! It was wonderful getting to you! Oh and once I had pepper spray in my purse and it must have leaked and got on my hands--I rubbed it on my eye and thought I'd go crazy! I no longer carry it!

I've added a widget with Jane's books--now available as e-books! Just click the link and you can make a purchase!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Five W's of Kristyn Kusek Lewis

We are so excited to have Kristyn Kusek Lewis joining us here today on A Novel Review! Kristyn has written for numerous magazines including; New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Reader’s Digest, Glamour, Self, and Redbook. Yesterday, I shared my review of her debut novel HOW LUCKY YOU ARE.  Let's get to know

The 5W's of Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Like most women I know, I have lots of titles: I’m a mother to two girls, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a fiercely loyal girlfriend. As a writer, I’m interested in 
exploring the ways that women navigate those roles in the midst of our everyday lives—how our dreams measure up to our reality, how we fight for what we want, how we get ourselves across the finish line at the end of each day.

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Hanging out with my kids. Yesterday we spent 20 minutes watching a caterpillar in our front yard. It also happened to be my book release day, but what was important, in that moment, was whether the caterpillar could get over the stick that my four-year-old held in front of it. I know, it sounds thrilling, but it’s really those tiny, everyday moments that sustain me. 

I’m also a runner. I love watching baseball with my husband. And I rarely turn down the opportunity to have dinner with a girlfriend. 

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything else. (Okay, maybe there was a time during my early childhood when I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer and/or Sandy in “Grease.”) It’s honestly the only career I ever considered. 

WHERE? Where do you write? 
In my home office in the morning while my girls are in preschool and in a favorite local café. I live in a college town, so I’m often surrounded by students when I work away from home. It feels like study hall (and it’s fun to eavesdrop on their conversations!). 

WHY? Why do you write?
Because I have to! I know that sounds hokey, but it’s an essential part of who I am.   

Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review, Kristyn! I, too wanted to be Sandy from Grease, lol. It was wonderful getting to you and we wish you much success on your novel, HOW LUCKY YOU ARE!

Kristyn's website
Kristyn on Twitter

Monday, September 10, 2012

How Lucky You Are by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Waverly owns a sweet little bakery, but is secretly struggling to not lose everything. Here she is at 35 trying not to lose her business, her house and not able to share the information with anyone. She struggles with feeling like a failure—she and her long term boyfriend aren’t even married. Her best friends have it so together. Amy is just as sweet as they come and is married to a doctor, lives in the ‘white picket fence’ house on a cul-de-sac and has an adorable little girl, Emma. Kate is a knock-out with the world at her feet. Born into wealth and power, gave up her job as a successful travel writer to marry the man of her dreams Brendan. Not only is Brendan the man of Kate’s dreams he is running for governor of Virginia—how is that for picture perfect?

Waverly is the anchor of their friendship. She begins to see a slow unraveling of their friendship, Waverly puts herself out there crossing some friendship lines and what she finds makes her stop and realize how lucky she is. Realizing looking at someone’s life from the outside you can assume they are the lucky ones, but you don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors—not even your best friends. How Lucky You Are, is a testament to the power of friendship and a story of finding happiness is being true to yourself and not living the ‘life’ others think you should.

How Lucky You Are is read through the eyes of Waverly. I’ll be honest and really wasn’t sure about this book. It’s a new author and I’ve read so many books on friendship lately, I just wasn’t really excited. What a mistake that was! I loved this book! I believe the topics in the novel are relevant! This looked at friendship in a way I believe is so real, not we tell each other everything—but real. We want our friends to think we have it together. We open up to each other this much, but maybe not all the way. Keeping part of ourselves hidden. And the power of getting real.

I related to Waverly in a way that surprised me. I’m very open and honest with my husband, whereas Waverly holds back from her boyfriend, Larry. Where I connected with her was some of those underlying feelings she faces when dealing with the effects of having lost her parents. I know since losing my mom there is a huge part of myself I keep very guarded with other women. I don’t want to open myself up to lose someone again. I really got that about her and could see the issues it causes her. The ending leaves itself open to come back and see these characters again (hint, hint Kristyn!).

I am definitely recommending How Lucky You Are! I will also be waiting to see what Kristyn Kusek Lewis writes next.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Wanted to share

As most of you know, I don't share to too much about myself on here. I keep it pretty much for book reviews, but I had mentioned awhile back my dad was found to have cancer. He isn't doing very well. To help lift his spirits and his stress my brother decided to organize a benefit. It really has given my dad a focus and to be honest the man loves being on stage...really he's a musician! Well, one of his good friends growing up was Robin. Robin Zander of CHEAP TRICK and when he found out my dad was sick he got in touch with my dad. I won't go into all the details, but Robin did some pretty special things. When he heard we were going to have a benefit for my dad, he got the band together and sent autographed t-shirts for auction. Then he set up an eBay auction for an autographed guitar. I am beyond words. I just wanted to share this with you. I know this is going to mean so much to my dad.

Chasing Pavements by Neha Yazmin

This is a story of two people with many secrets who end up helping each other get by those secrets and fall in love.

Meet Jamie.  Jamie comes from a privileged family.  When the love of his life, Sarah, publically humiliates him, he becomes somewhat of a recluse.  Jamie pretty much stops living, doing just enough to get by.  He even suffers from writer’s block, unable to write his beautiful lyrics and music.  That, is until he meets Mutki.

Mutki has her own secrets.  Being a middle child she feels her family, except her younger sister, ignore her.  When her university boyfriend invites her to a party things do not go as planned and her life is shattered.  She is not considered damaged and feels she will never lover again.

Mutki gets a new job and starts taking her lunches outside by the needle.  This is where Jamie and Mutki first meet and start their friendship.

This is not your typical chic lit book.  There is no sloppy romance and no mushy words.  This is truly a one of a kind book.

I loved how Jamie and Mutki’s secrets were not told at the beginning of the story.  Little by little the story was told to me and it was told perfectly.  Jamie started out being the character I was not sure I would ever really like or understand, of course I ended up truly loving him.  I mean how could you understand someone who would not communicate with anyone, even when asked a direct question.

Mutki was a character I felt sympathy for.  I felt sorry that her family ignored her and did not offer her the support she needed and deserved.  But I also was in awe of her strength.  Even with no encouragement from Jamie she refuses to stop hoping to see him every day at lunch.  Rain, snow, sleet, ice, nothing kept her away from the needle every day.

I cannot believe this is Neha’s first book.  It is perfect.  This is definitely a must read.

Neha on Twitter & Facebook

*Disclosure: Charlotte received this book from the author for a honest review.

Friday, September 7, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Debra Ginsberg + Giveaway

Oh dear, how much space do we have? I could fill quite a bit of it with possible answers to this question! But seriously, much of my identity—both as a writer and as a woman—is tied up in my role as a mother. I’ve been mother to my son for exactly half my life; a long time. My life and my writing took a sharp turn after he was born. In fact, his first five years were the only ones (save for my own first five years) when I didn’t write anything at all because all my creative energies were tied up in him. When I did start writing again it was with a completely new perspective and as he grew older and we confronted many challenges together, that perspective changed yet again. So, being a mother has absolutely informed my writing as well as every other aspect of my life. We’ll have to discuss my days as an international double agent another time!

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Baking! This has become an absolute passion of mine over the last few years; so much so that I’ve actually had cakes commissioned for special events. I started easy about ten years ago with pies and simple cakes, but then I got really ambitious and started experimenting with flavors and especially with design. This is how I came to make, among others, an Angry Birds Cake, a Stonehenge Cake, an Algebra Cake (to celebrate my son getting through a particularly difficult course), and an Artists Only Cake with a paintbrush, fruit, and canvas all made out of candy. It’s an expensive hobby; I have spent untold sums on things like disco dust and now actually own a cake airbrush kit (I know, it’s out of control), but I love it. These cakes are an amazing outlet for me; a creative puzzle I get to solve that takes far less time and uses different muscles than writing. You can see many of these cakes at my Facebook page at in the photo album “Sweet Process.”

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always wanted to be a writer. I’m quite sure I was born this way. At five, I started dictating stories to my mother because she could write faster than I could and it took too long for me to get my ideas down on paper. Then I made her type them out because I wasn’t allowed to use her typewriter and I wanted my writing to look professional. I was always a big reader as well, which my parents encouraged by letting me have as many books as I wanted and never censoring my choices. So I spent a lot of time in bookstores and my desire to be published was born in me at almost the same time as my desire to write. I have always written for an audience—even at the age of five.

WHERE? Where do you write?
My writing space is at home—a small area between the kitchen and dining room that is cordoned off by two paper screens from Cost Plus. The screens are important because before I put them up, the people in my house would talk to me, interrupt me, and just generally assume I wasn’t working even though I had my head down and was pecking away at the keyboard. Once I put the screens up and they could no longer see me, it suddenly became a private space. We call it the Cone of Silence, even though it is not remotely cone-shaped and looks more like one of those outdoor showers.

WHY? Why do you write?
I write because I am compelled to. Writing is simply what I do. That may sound a bit precious, but it’s true. What I didn’t say earlier about knowing I wanted to write from the age of five was that this is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because there is a great deal of joy in it for me and knowing what you want to make your life’s work tends to make your direction pretty clear. But it’s also a curse when it doesn’t work, when you feel as if you won’t be able to do it any longer because it won’t pay the bills, or when you think you couldn’t possibly be good at anything else and maybe you aren’t even so good at it anyway. Ultimately, though, writing is as much a part of me as my DNA. After one particularly happy cake session wherein I produced three theme cakes in a short period of time, I told a friend that maybe I could have a crack at baking for a living. “Sure,” she said, “but you’re always going to write.”  This is true.

Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review, Debra! I wished I'd 'met' you a few months ago as I frantically called everyone in the city looking for someone/anyone who could make an Angry Birds cake for my five-year-old's birthday party! :) So you not only write, but bake! I did look at your facebook page and your cakes are amazing!

Now I'm not able to giveaway on of Debra's cakes, but I do have a copy of her book WHAT THE HEART REMEMBERS up for grabs! This giveaway is for US residents only (sorry!) NO PO BOXES!

Here is Charlotte's review of WHAT THE HEART REMEMBERS

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What the Heart Remembers by Debra Ginsberg

Eden Harrison has just become engaged to Derek when she develops a heart disease severe enough to need a heart transplant.  When she receives a heart from an unknown donor her whole life changes.  She is no longer in love with Derek, like different foods, and does not want to live in Portland any more.  What does Edie do?  Leave her fiancée, Derek, and move to San Diego.

After moving to San Diego Edie meets Darcy.  Darcy is a Stepford Wife, of sorts, to her controlling, wealthy, older husband Peter.  Darcy fears Peter has found out about her affair with Adam, a musician.  Eden and Darcy meet and become instant friends.  Eden knows she must find out the story behind her new heart and her new friend, Darcy.

I really enjoyed how each chapter is narrated by one of the main characters, Eden, Derek, or Darcy.  This really allowed me to see into the characters heads.  As things kept happening and secrets kept being told, I just kept wanting to know more and more.

What the Heart Remembers caught me from the first chapter.  If you are looking for a book that has romance with a twist and a little supernatural this is definitely the book for you.

Debra on Facebook

Make sure to come back tomorrow to learn The 5W's of Debra Ginsberg and a giveaway!

*Disclosure: Charlotte was given a copy of WHAT THE HEART REMEMBERS from Penguin Group for an honest review. She received no compensation.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March

Charlotte's Review of THE MERYL STREEP MOVIE CLUB by Mia March

This is the September Book Club Selection!

A cousin and two sisters grew up together, barely speaking. A family member, Lolly, becomes sick with cancer and calls them all back to the inn they grew up in to tell them the news.  Isabel, June, and Kat are all shocked, but decide to stay on at the inn and help Lolly fight her battle and keep the inn running.

Lolly declares it Meryl Streep movie month.  Each Friday the girls get together and watch a different movie starring Meryl Streep.  During these movies they find themselves sharing secrets and questioning love, life, and each other.  This story is about strong women who get to know each other again while watching movies. 

Mia March wrote a perfect summer read.  The friendships between Isabel, June, and Kat are the perfect example of how cousin/sister relationships should be.   The fact that each person in this book is dealing with their own personal issues, infidelity, single parenthood, cancer, enriches this book so very much.  Anyone who read this should connect with at least one character if not all characters.  The references to Meryl Streep had me laughing and smiling throughout the story, even though I am not a huge movie fan I was familiar with all the movies mentioned in the book. 

I loved how this book told the stories of each woman from her own point of view, yet was still easy to follow as each chapter was labeled with who was narrating that part.  It was so easy to truly understand and feel for each woman and her struggles in her life.  I found it easy to cheer for each character to have a happy ending.

This was a fun and easy read.  Although there was some sadness, out of that sadness came compassion, love, and a true sense of family.  Meryl Streep Movie Club is perfect for the beach, the couch, or your book club.

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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.