The Wake Up Review & Giveaway

The Wake Up

New From: $7.48 USD In Stock

I have been lucky enough to be asked to review the last three of Catherine Ryan Hyde’s novels.  While I enjoyed Say Goodbye For Now (my review) and Allie and Bea (my review), this was definitely my favorite.  The setting had a Nicholas Sparks-type feel and I was pulling for the characters.

We meet Aiden Delacorte, a 40-year-old cattle rancher who begins to feel extra empathy for the animals on his ranch.  While his staff and neighbors are quick to dismiss his change of heart, his new girlfriend, Gwen, and her two children, Elizabeth and Milo, wonder what may be the cause.  With the help of a therapist, Aiden digs into his past.  Not only does it help him sort out his feelings, but it helps him relate to Gwen’s son, Milo, who appears with trouble of his own.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but picture Parenthood’s Max Burkholder in the role of Milo.  I know he is too old for the character, but he was the only fully formed Hollywood actor in my head.  Given that I’m bingeing the series for the first time, I see a lot of similarities.  It’s possible Milo does have a form of autism, but it wasn’t mentioned in the book.

I loved following the developing relationship between Aiden and the kids.  It was really interesting to read how Aiden’s childhood allowed him to forge bonds in a way that wasn’t expected.  There’s a lesson (or two) in here about compassion and patience.  This heartwarmer is perfect for fans of Amy Hatvany and Nicole Baart.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:  Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of thirty-three published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture, made the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list and was translated into more than two dozen languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Her novels Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow List; Jumpstart the World was also a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards and won Rainbow Awards in two categories. The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in many journals, including the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and the Sun, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts, as well as the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her short fiction received honorable mention in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest, a second-place win for the Tobias Wolff Award, and nominations for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have also been cited in Best American Short Stories.

Hyde is the founder and former president of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. An avid equestrian, photographer, and traveler, she lives in California.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oliver Loving Review & Giveaway

Oliver Loving: A Novel

New From: $13.50 USD In Stock

I tend to avoid a lot of literary fiction because I am a reader who prefers a fast-paced story with a plot that moves and characters that leap off the page.  This is not that story.  However, it is beautifully done and patiently unravels the truth behind a small town tragedy.

It is wordy.  I will be the first to admit that.  But underneath lies this compelling tale of a family, one trying to piece together the broken fragments of their past so they can become whole.

Oliver Loving was a high school student when he became a victim of a school shooting.  He has been in a coma for the past 10 years, while his family has struggled to come to terms with their survival, as one of their own is incapacitated.  Father Jed is an alcoholic.  Mother Eve is a shoplifter and no longer parents her other son, Charlie, a struggling writer trying to survive in Brooklyn.  The story takes turns being  told from everyone’s point of view, including Oliver, which I felt was a unique approach.

For those interested in neurological science, there are scenes from this book that are utterly fascinating, as everyone is trying to communicate with Oliver.  Each character is fleshed out so well that I felt like I knew the Lovings personally and was spending time with them.  The setting has a Friday Night Lights feel, small town Texas where everyone knows everyone.

Usually when you read about a tragic event, you read a story about that event.  I really loved how this book was the aftermath of that and how everyone was coping (or not).  It takes a talented writer to keep a reader interested when a story is so much about its characters.  Block proved he is that talent.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Texas. His first novel, The Story of Forgetting, won Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas. The Story of Forgetting was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre and The Center for Fiction. The Storm at the Door is his second novel. He lives in Brooklyn.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


At Wave’s End Review & Giveaway

Seeing how the weather has been nothing but frigid in Chicago these past couple weeks, it was a nice escape to head to the beach town of Wave’s End on the Jersey shore in Patricia Donovan’s newest novel.  While a hurricane displaces homes and people, New York City-based chef Faith and her mother, Connie, step in to do what they can to provide food and shelter at their inn, The Mermaid’s Purse.

Relationships between many are broken apart, forged tighter, and even discovered in this women’s fiction novel.  I loved following the different storylines of all the characters that ended up at The Mermaid’s Purse.  Since they all come from different backgrounds and phases of life, you will easily relate to one or more.

And for those looking for hidden secrets, I can promise you a surprise here and there.  One of the best parts of this novel was the food and cooking descriptions as Faith prepared meals at the inn.  Don’t read while hungry because you’ll be constantly licking your lips and wishing the book came with a taste.

While the hurricane left a path of destruction in the town, this sweet story of a town banding together is sure to warm your heart and put a smile on your face.  A great read to start 2018 off right.

My thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Patricia Perry Donovan is an American journalist who writes about healthcare. Her fiction has appeared at Gravel Literary, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable and in other literary journals. The mother of two grown daughters, she lives at the Jersey shore with her husband, with whom she has fond memories of raising their young family abroad in France.  Learn more at

Thanks to the author, I have one signed copy to give away to a lucky reader. U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Perfect Imperfections Review & Giveaway

Perfect Imperfections

New From: $11.85 USD In Stock

If you’re looking for a sweet story wrapped up in white paper with a red bow and sprig of lavender (read it and you’ll see what I mean) to get you through the holiday season, you’ll want to pick up this debut.

It’s the story of Sarah Lewis, who after a crisis, flies back to her hometown in South Africa to room with her best bud, Katy.  We don’t know what caused Sarah to leave everything in London and move, but Katy and her brother, Edward, are there to comfort her with open arms.

As we discover much later on what triggered Sarah’s move, I ached for a happy ending for her given what she had so recently suffered.  Even so, this delightful story reads quickly and is light enough with just a touch of romance and adventure to be the perfect read to wind down the year.

I loved how the setting for this novel was South Africa.  It is such a unique spot and one I rarely read about so it was wonderful reading the descriptions and just built up my wanderlust to try to visit it one day.

My one grievance with this book was sometimes I’d be reading a chapter and all of a sudden the point of view changed to a different character in the middle of a page and then back again.  It threw me for a loop given that it came on without warning.  The whole story is narrated by Sarah but then we’d get one paragraph of another character’s feelings as explained by that character.  I wish we were given that in a new chapter or with a new heading so it didn’t disturb my thought process.  I also found the ending to be a bit rushed given Sarah’s feelings throughout the book but appreciated that we want her to have her happy ending.

My thanks to the publisher and author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:  I write novels that have a mixture of Love, Mystery, Adventure and overcoming adversity. My influencers include writers such as Karen Swan, Sidney Sheldon & Enid Blyton.

I love hearing from readers and I always respond. I can be contacted in the following ways:

Twitter   Instagram   Facebook

I live in South Africa, with my Husband, Son and two Cocker Spaniels .

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best Books of 2017

It has been such an amazing year for books that I decided to do a little something different this year.  Instead of my short list, I am separating my favorites into categories.  This way, if you’re looking for a specific type of book or want to give a gift, it’s easier to sort through the choices.  I wish I had time to read everything, but these are my favorites from what I did read.

You can click directly on the book images to get to their Amazon page.
















































































I’d love to hear your thoughts on these if you read them and your favorites of 2017.  Leave me a comment.  Here’s to a healthy 2018 filled with loads of good reading!

The Trick Review & Giveaway

The Trick: A Novel

New From: $7.00 USD In Stock

For those of you who enjoy circus stories, there is a large element of that in Bergmann’s debut.  Combine that with magic, WWII, and a present day story of a family in crisis, and you have The Trick.

The Great Zabbatini was best known for his illusions and spells.  He will be the first to tell you he wasn’t a magician, but rather a mentalist.  And that’s just the kind of magic Max Cohn needed to put his family back together.  When he sets out to find the man, they are both in for a rude awakening in trying to mesh their personalities.  If you remember what a curmudgeon Ove was in Fredrik Backman’s story, A Man Called Ove, you get the idea.

I loved reading the history of Zabbatini’s character, even though it was fictional.  It had the feeling of listening to the life story told by a relative.  So I can imagine this book would sound great on audio.  For Max’s modern day story, I felt the dialogue was a little basic and amateur.  I’m not sure if he did that because of the age of the character, but I didn’t think it was necessary.  That’s why I loved jumping back into the history.  And I always enjoy getting a new perspective on WWII, one I haven’t read before.

Surprisingly, a nice little twist wrapped this book up nicely.  If you’re looking for historical fiction with a light touch, try this one out.  No heavy duty angst and agony here.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews and more chances to win!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. or Canada only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Last Mrs. Parrish Review & Giveaway

The Last Mrs. Parrish: A Novel

New From: $11.63 USD In Stock

At 400 pages, this was a longer read for a thriller, but I raced through it.  When I started this book, I didn’t read any synopsis because I wanted to see where the story took me.  And to be honest, even halfway through I wasn’t sure where the story was going, but it was an addicting page-turner and still took me by surprise.

The tag line for this book and written across the cover is “Some women get everything.  Some women get everything they deserve.”  And with two reliable narrators of this story, you don’t know who specifically this is referring to.  Is it Amber, a young woman with a hidden past whose main goal in life is stealing the husband of her new friend, Daphne?  Or is it Daphne, so used to wealth and privilege as a Connecticut socialite?

The second half of the book had elements reminiscent of Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, filled with tension.  There were also parts which reminded me of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.  So if you enjoyed either of those books, I recommend picking this one up.

I think the story will be more enjoyable if you go in without reading much about it first, which is why I didn’t regurgitate much of the plot here.  The night I finished, I still had a third of the book left but refused to sleep until I finished, eager to find out how it ended.  I can’t wait to see what this writing duo comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:

Liv Constantine is the pen name of sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. Separated by three states, they spend hours plotting via FaceTime and burning up each other’s emails. They attribute their ability to concoct dark story lines to the hours they spent listening to tales handed down by their Greek grandmother. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH is their debut thriller.

Thanks to the publisher, I have a copy to give away to a lucky winner.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Hanna Who Fell From the Sky

Hanna Who Fell from the Sky: A Novel

New From: $9.50 USD In Stock

From the back cover:

A magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl’s struggle for liberation

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. And when her mother reveals a secret—one that could grant her the freedom she’s known only in her dreams—Hanna is forced to decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?

With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

About the author:

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including THE LAST HICCUP, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mothers and Other Strangers Review & Giveaway

Mothers and Other Strangers

New From: $6.59 USD In Stock

This book grips you with its first sentence and never lets go: “My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

As the book continues, we are on Elspeth’s journey with her, as she comes to terms with her mother’s death and all the family secrets that are ready to bubble to the surface.  She most eagerly is trying to figure out her mother’s connection to the Seekers, a cult-like religion that is reminiscent of Scientology.

This novel does not let you off easy.  We are dealing with rape, murder, betrayal, and family dysfunction in such a way you will be extremely thankful for your own mother.  In fact, it’s easy to think this could be a memoir in the way the timeline is handled and how real these characters act.

Sorell writes beautifully, but it’s not a case where you will get bogged down in the language.  It’s a fast read, and you’ll want to race through to reach its conclusion.

Sign me up for any future books from Sorell.  I know the prose will be fluid and the story convincing, if it is anything like her debut.  My thanks to Goldberg McDuffie and Prospect Park Books for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Gina Sorell now resides in Toronto, and lives in a world of words. Some of those words are: writer, namer, creative director, artist, daughter, sister, wife and mother.
After two decades as a working actor of stage and screen in NYC, LA, and Toronto, Gina decided to return to her first love–writing, and graduated with distinction from UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Gina likes to balance out the long solitary hours of novel writing, with her work as a Creative Director of Eat My Words, a SF based branding firm, where she collaborates all day long with innovators and entrepreneurs whose identity she establishes with only one word, their name.

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eden Review & Giveaway

Eden: A Novel

New From: $10.66 USD In Stock

I was delighted to get a chance to read Eden, a story many of my blogger friends were raving about.  I didn’t know much before reading, but if you are a fan of the family saga, keep reading.

Eden tells the story of Becca Fitzpatrick, matriarch of her extended family and living in Eden, the beach house her father, Bunny Meister, built at the beginning of the century.  Her daughter lives with her currently, along with her granddaughter Sarah who shows up to announce her pregnancy.  When Becca finds out her deceased husband has misspent all of their savings, she’s despondent that it might be her last summer at Eden, so she works to get the family together one last time.

The book alternates between the present, leading up to the family weekend, and the past, long before Becca is even born.  It is a story of four generations.  And while there are lots of family members, it is easy to follow their stories and connections.  If you do have trouble, the author included an easy-to-follow family tree in the beginning for reference.  I loved traveling back in the past and learning about how Eden came to be along with all the historical events like the Stock Market crash and the 1938 New England hurricane.

There is something about a family saga that is so endearing.  You quickly become attached to characters since you follow them throughout their lives.  The Meister family experienced many hardships and they all made choices I did not agree with.  But I was eager to see how they played out.  And I love that the Eden house became its own character in the novel, one that also endured many ups and downs.  I look forward to what Jeanne writes next.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Jeanne Blasberg is a voracious observer of human nature and has kept a journal since childhood. After graduating from Smith College, she surprised everyone who knew her by embarking on a career in finance, making stops on Wall Street, Macy’s and Harvard Business School, where she wrote case studies and business articles. A firm believer that you are never too old to change course, Jeanne enrolled at Grub Street, one of the country’s pre-eminent creative writing centers, where she turned her attention to memoir and later fiction. Eden is her debut novel. Jeanne and her husband split their time between Boston and Westerly, RI. When not writing, she can be found playing squash, skiing, or taking in the sunset over Little Narragansett Bay. For book group questions and to learn more, please visit

Thanks to the author, I have one signed copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway