Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: "What Might Have Been" by Matt Dunn

Sarah, mourning the death of her jazz musician father and finding herself virtually alone in a foreign country, finds herself in a dive bar one night listening to the music played by Evan, a former international superstar currently flying under the radar. Evan and Sarah meet and their chemistry is undeniable. They spend one spectacular night together and then forces align to drive them apart. Evan leaves on a year-long overseas tour with the band The Police, and Sarah finds herself continuing with the unsatisfying relationship that she is having with her boss, David.

Fast-forward a year later and Evan has realized that Sarah is the love of his life and he is back in the UK to try to convince her of that. The only problem is that Sarah is engaged to be married to David- and the wedding is in a week! With the help of Sarah's best friend Grace can Evan convince Sarah that marrying David would be a monumental mistake before she walks down the aisle?

What Might Have Been had huge potential from the beginning, and as a fan of all of Matt Dunn's previous books I was expecting something great! Unfortunately the reality fell short of my expectations. I loved the plot, and I loved the character of Evan. He came across as sincere and funny and sweet and I loved his parts in the story. Even though he was a bit character I loved the scenes with Mel, Evan's friend and local bar owner, as well. I enjoyed the direction that Dunn took the book in and the conclusion worked for me.

What didn't work for me was the character of Sarah. She seemed indecisive and lacking any kind of opinion of her own. She dates her boss because he is persistent and she doesn't know anyone in the UK. Making matters worse, she marries him not because she loves him but because he asked her and she feels like her job could be compromised if she says no. The sad part is that she doesn't even like her job that much, she just does it because she's good at it! Then, when she lucks out and meets a man that she does have chemistry with, she lacks the self-respect to just go after what she wants, even though what she should do could not be more obvious to those around her. I had a hard time relating to Sarah, and I even actively disliked her at times, so unfortunately that took away from the book for me.

I love Matt Dunn and will continue to read anything that he writes, but What Might Have Been was not my favourite of his so far and that was disappointing. My thanks to the author and NetGalley for this review copy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spotlight: "Perfect Girl" by Michele Gorman

I am currently reading Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman and since it is being released tomorrow I thought that I would share more about the book with you, even though I'm not ready to review it yet!


Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the "W" in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humour and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man's world.

Watch the Trailer:

Buy the Book:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Talli Roland is giving away a Kindle Fire!

Talli Roland is one of my favourite authors without a doubt so I am thrilled that she will be releasing two new titles before Christmas: Marriage to Measure (Serenity Holland, Book 3) and Married by Midnight: A Christmas Story. To celebrate those upcoming releases Talli is giving away an Kindle Fire HD 8GB to one lucky person who lives in the US, Canada, Europe or the UK! It is really simple to enter and the contest ends on the day that Marriage to Measure is released, so don't wait and enter here!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman

Meet Ove. He's a grumpy 59-year-old, widowed and recently retired against his will. He misses his wife Sonja more than anyone will ever understand, and he's tired of living without her so he begins planning to take his own life so that they can be reunited. When a young family moves in next door, it throws a knife in Ove's carefully constructed plans. Heavily pregnant Parvaneh, husband Patrick and their two young daughters are friendly and strong-willed and are not about to leave Ove to die in peace despite his repeated attempts. Suddenly the new neighbors need their trailer reversed, despite the sign prohibiting motorized vehicles, and when Patrick falls off of a ladder they need rides to the hospital. Meanwhile Ove's best friend has dementia and is about to be moved to a nursing home against his will and he needs someone to protect him, and an ugly stray neighborhood cat needs a home. Apparently his suicide plans will just have to wait.

I loved the Disney movie Up. It tells one of the most beautiful love stories that I have ever heard of and I've watched it (and teared up while doing so!) countless times. Ove absolutely reminds me of the main character from Up, Carl. Both men are grumpy and just want to be left alone. Both men have spent their lives in love with one woman, and both have had her taken away. Both men have bigger hearts beating inside them then they would ever care to admit to.

It was easy to love A Man Called Ove. This book truly had it all- a love story to rival all love stories, a main character that I couldn't help but love despite his prickly exterior, an abundance of laughs, and an equal amount of tears. It comes as no surprise to me that this book was a bestseller in Sweden and is now being released in other counties. I love how we meet Ove, who is grumpy and set in his ways, and then his background and past experiences are slowly revealed to us. As layer after layer of his personality is revealed we begin to love Ove even more than we initially thought possible! This is not a man who is grumpy for the sake of it, but a man who has been through so much and who is from a generation of men who puts our current generation to shame. He believes that the world is black and white, and he firmly believes in right and wrong.

I found myself laughing out loud and tearing up in equal measures while reading A Man Called Ove. It truly tells a magnificent love story and this book is definitely one of my favourites of 2014 (currently joined by After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Never Google Heartbreak by Emma Garcia). If there was a way for me to make everyone read this book I would absolutely do it, but for now I will settle for singing its praises here. If you have the opportunity to read A Man Called Ove I urge you to do it, and I know that you won't regret it. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: "The Banks of Certain Rivers" by Jon Harrison

After a tragic accident left his wife, Wendy, in a permanent vegetative state, Neil Kazenzakis has been working on making the best out of his circumstances. Several years after the accident his son Chris is well-adjusted, all things considering, Neil is a popular high school teacher, and he is even managing to have a secret yet loving relationship with one of the nurses that takes care of his mother-in-law. His carefully ordered life manages to fall apart all at once as a student posts a questionable video of him on YouTube, his son finds out about Neil's girlfriend in the worst way possible and Neil begins to receive malicious calls and e-mails. What follows is the heartening story of how Neil copes with everything that has been thrown his way while attempting to protect those that he loves the most.

Harrison's debut novel is truly a joy to read. Despite the fact that our protagonist Neil has had more than his share of bad luck The Banks of Certain Rivers is an uplifting and encouraging story of a man who refuses to let life get him down for long. Right from the beginning the reader wants Neil to find his personal happy ending. This is a man who refuses to give up despite the fact that he lost his wife in every way that counts tragically and at a young age. He continues to hold his head high and, by all accounts, seems to be doing a fantastic job raising his son. When Neil has more trouble heaped on him than one man should have to handle I was on the edge of my seat hoping for a positive conclusion. I appreciated that the story line always felt realistic and never overdone.

The Banks of Certain Rivers is well-written and eloquent with a bevy of characters both well-rounded and sympathetic. What I took from the book is that life is rarely black and white and that when we are handed more than we think that we can handle we need to hang in there while we try to achieve our own personal happy ending. The subject matter could potentially have been depressing, yet it managed to be both uplifting and encouraging. The Banks of Certain Rivers is one of those stories that you won't forget about after you finish the book and if you haven't read it yet I strongly encourage you to do so!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Review and Giveaway! "A Hundred Pieces of Me" by Lucy Dillon

Gina Bellamy is starting over. Fresh from her divorce from a man who was always good to her, until he cheated on her, Gina is faced with all of the "stuff" from her previous home and her previous life. Surrounded by boxes and boxes of unknown items, Gina decides to sort through them one by one and to keep only one hundred things that have significant meaning to her. The task seems monumental but as Gina begins to sort through her boxes and come to terms with some difficult events from her past, she begins to realize that perhaps it isn't the "stuff" that has meaning for her, but the memories that her things represent. Helping to make her task manageable are two new friends and a very dear old one, not to mention a dog named Buzz that finds his way into her heart and her home.

I think that the first thing that attracted me to A Hundred Pieces of Me was the great concept. I'm sure that it would be a very welcome feeling to narrow your non-essential possessions down to only one hundred things! Each thing in your home and in your life would have significant meaning in some way, and I think that would lead to each day becoming more meaningful as well! I enjoyed reading about the things that Gina was keeping, and why she decided to choose them over different items.

I enjoyed the focus on Gina's female friendships in this book. Portions of the book were (understandably) dedicated to dealing with Stuart, Gina's ex-husband, but the focus of the book, socially, was on Gina's long-time best friend Naomi and on Gina's new friend, charity shop owner Rachel. Both women were there to support Gina on her new path, and their unwavering support was both uplifting and refreshing. Even Gina's budding romance took a backseat to the place that her friends had in her life.

I can say with certainty that my favourite parts of the book were when the author focused on Gina's budding relationship with her new dog, Buzz. I won't tell you how Gina came to have Buzz in her life but I loved the parallels between Gina's emotional healing, and Buzz's. Dogs are such wonderful, loving animals and I loved how Buzz and Gina healed each other!

Some may say that the ending of this book was not uplifting, or that it was disappointing because it left things open-ended. I would say that the way that this book ended simply left it open to interpretation, and there is nothing wrong with that! Although the potential for sadness is there, so is the potential for hapiness, and as readers we get to choose our own ending for this story.

A Hundred Pieces of Me was an emotional read in many ways. It alternated between being sad and joyous, uplifting and uncertain. It was beautifully written and the underlying message is one that we can keep with us; things are just things, it is the people and the moments that we keep with us that truly matter. My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book for review. Be sure to enter the giveaway below (open to US only)!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: "Fallen for Rock" by Nicky Wells

Buttoned-up, opera loving banker Emily broke up with her boyfriend Nate after one too many nights of listening to him pursue his rock-star dreams by playing his guitar in her apartment. The only problem is that now that she's kicked him to the curb she's realized that he was the right one for her after all and now she can't find him. When VIP tickets to an upcoming MonX concert land on her doorstep, courtesy of Nate before they broke up, Emily knows that the band will be her ticket to winning him back and she attends the concert, even though rock music isn't something that she knows anything about.

Once at the concert she discovers that rock music isn't what she assumed it to be and she develops a new respect for it. Especially appealing is front man Mike. Not only is he talented but he's incredibly sexy and Emily suddenly finds herself playing the role of a rock band groupie, touring with the band from place to place while she takes a short vacation from her job. While on tour Emily discovers a side of herself that she never knew existed, and she surprisingly finds that she likes the new Emily a lot.

After her week of touring like a rock star, Emily returns to work only to find herself unexpectedly unemployed. Suddenly her neatly ordered life has been turned upside down. She has no job, there is still no sign of Nate despite her increasingly frantic attempts to find him, and making things more complicated is the fact that Mike shows up on her doorstep one night desperate for a place to stay away from the relentless paparazzi. However despite the complications Emily finds that she is finding this version of her life far more fulfilling than her old life ever was, and she isn't eager to return to it.

Fallen for Rock was a fast-paced, fun book to read! I really appreciated the character of Emily and how she changes and grows over the course of the story and I felt that her conversion from uptight banker to rock fan was believable. The supporting characters were great too, and I especially enjoyed getting to know Mike. His character was the perfect combination of sweet and sexy, and I loved him. I also appreciated that the story didn't go exactly how I thought that it would. I often can predict the outcome of a book when I start reading it and while parts of it went how I thought that they would, others didn't and I appreciated the surprises! There were some really steamy scenes between a few of the characters and those were well-written and most definitely hot!

The only issue that I had with the story was that a few things came together too neatly for my liking towards the conclusion of the story and that felt unrealistic. I absolutely love it when things come together for the characters in the books that I'm reading but when everything seems to fall into place without any issues it makes that portion of the story feel forced to me.

Fallen for Rock was a story that drew me in right from the beginning. I enjoyed getting to know the characters in a way that made me feel connected to them and I rooted for all of them to find their happy endings! The story was well-written and it flowed well, and I appreciated the insight into the life of a rock star. It was clear to me how much author Nicky Wells loves rock and roll! My thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review!