Author: Lily B

Review: Home for Christmas by Lily Everett

Posted January 18, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: Home for Christmas by Lily EverettHome for Christmas by Lily Everett
Series: Sanctuary Island #4
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on October 6th 2015
Genres: Holiday, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Tis the season for family and love…
At least it's supposed to be. For Libby Leeds, however, the holiday season is just another reminder of things she'd rather forget. When she left Sanctuary Island as an orphaned child, she never thought she'd go back except in her dreams, dreams she's kept alive by writing monthly column of her fictional small-town life, until her publisher sends her back home for the holidays.
Owen Shepard is a fallen hero, wounded in action rescuing three of his fellow soldiers, but after a whirlwind of media attention, all this charismatic Army Ranger wants is to get back on his feet and make it to Sanctuary Island to be with his daughter in time for Christmas. What he didn't expect was to be put on a crash course with a columnist hiding her past. Will the magic of Sanctuary Island at Christmastime allow them to find healing together?

Libby Leeds has made a name for herself by sharing heartwarming stories of her perfect home life on Sanctuary Island as a world famous cook. Problem is Libby has not set foot on the island since she was a little girl, she Libby definitely isn’t famous, let alone can she cook. Libby needs money for her uncle who took care of her after her parents’ death because he is having an early case of Alzheimer’s and the places that is perfect, is also costly.

Owen Shepard is a wounded war hero who is returning to Sanctuary Island in over to recover from his injury and meet his daughter for the first time. Libby’s editor insists that Libby plays the part of the famous cook and cover the story of Owen Shepards long road back under false pretenses.

This was an odd story. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the premise as a whole. Libby pretends to be someone who she is not in order to get money for her uncle.She writes a letter to Owen saying she wants to host a Christmas dinner for him and his daughter at her home (Owen just happens to be a fan of Libby’s writing), but she doesn’t know how to cook or how she is going to pull this off.

Off the bat their relationship is built on a lie. I can’t understand the extend of damage this lie could really cause, but she was taking advantage of both Owen and his daughter – despite being a good of heart – that left me feeling a little questionable about the romance.

Owen would have been easy to like, but his determination to get back into duty and leave his daughter was again behind a little frustrating at times.

I wish that Nash had his own book, I felt like there was a lot more to his story, but his relationship with Ivy gets resolved fairly quickly in this book.

What I did enjoy is Libby’s grandfather and how misunderstood, he was as a person and who he really is, just an old man that wants his family together on Christmas – and the two do not seem to realize his loneliness for a while.

Overall, this was just okay. I had a hard time getting behind the romances and the characters. I understood that there were good intentions behind both Libby’s lies and Owen’s need to run off and leave everything behind, but it just didn’t completely work for me. It still ended up being a cute story, I just felt like It could have been better. The premise wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Author Spotlight Q&A

Posted January 16, 2018 by Lily B in Spotlight / 13 Comments

Howdy, Night Owl Book Café Readers!

We have a treat for you today. The good people at Pamela Dorman- Penguin Viking have invited us to participate in a Still Me Release Celebration for the third book in the JoJoMoyes’ Me Before You series.

We have a lovely Question & Answer with the Author, details about the new book, and best of all, the folks at Penguin have a giveaway opportunity for our US readers so stick with us through the end of the post.

First, the lovely Q&A:

In STILL ME, you bring Louisa Clark, the beloved character you created in Me Before You, to New York City. Why the transatlantic journey?

I really wanted to stretch Louisa in a place where she would be out of her depth. What’s one of the wildest, most metropolitan places you could land a small-town girl? The heart of Manhattan. I have spent a lot of time in the US over the past five years and most trips begin with some time in New York so I have long been viewing the city through alien eyes myself. It’s tough, exciting, challenging, and unforgiving and enormous fun. The perfect backdrop for Lou’s adventure.

NYC is far from Lou’s home in Stotfold, England—what was your research process for finding the places and experiences that Lou enjoys in the Big Apple?

As well as the time I spend on work trips, I came out in October and did a week’s solid research. I tried to do all the things that I put Lou through—except sleep in a horrible hotel with bedbugs! A friend got me into one of the really exclusive apartment buildings overlooking Central Park, which was invaluable, and the owner then put me in touch with a very experienced realtor who gave me chapter and verse on the realities of living in one of these places. It’s VERY specific, in the same way that it would be if you were a North or South Londoner, and it was important to me that I didn’t get things horribly off-key.


Reading STILL ME is like catching up with an old friend. How did it feel to revisit the story of Lou Clark and some of the other familiar characters, such as Treena and Ambulance Sam?

I absolutely love writing Louisa. By now shedoes feel like an old friend. It’s really hard sometimes to find your way into a character, and with her it’s like slipping on your favorite clothes. I know her. I know how she would react to any given circumstance. She’s genuine and funny and a bit daft. But what was fun in this book was to really push her forward a bit. She grows up a lot, especially in the last third of the book. I think like many of us she is really still working out who she is.

One character remarks that New York suits Lou. What is it about Lou that makes you want to take her on new experiences? Why do you think she resonates with readers?

I think Lou is very identifiable for a whole raft of people. In Me Before You, it was about being aware that life had somehow slipped away from you and reaching an age and finding yourself leading a very small life—and not being entirely sure how you got there or whether you even wanted to be somewhere else. But in After You a lot of readers seemed to identify with her grieving process—the difficulty of everybody else expecting you to move on and be cheerful and outgoing when you really don’t feel like that at all. Most importantly, Lou is someone who really tries to do the right thing—but often does the wrong thing—which I think makes her like an awful lot of us…

Class divide is a major theme in your books—Lou often finds herself in circles far different from her working-class upbringing, with employment to the Traynors in Me Before You and the Gopniks in STILL ME. Why is this dichotomy important to you and in your writing?

I think in this book it’s much less class than money. All good narratives thrive on tension, and if you push together rich and poor or upper and working class then you have an inbuilt tension in your story. It’s a growing issue in society—the polarization of money and opportunity—and for most people we will only ever have our noses pressed against the window.

At the same time, I think a lot of us now have the lives of very rich people broadcast to us daily—whether they be Kardashians or movie stars, on Instagram or via other social media, which makes that difference more obvious. With Lou, I wanted to ask how it would feel to step into one of those lives.

There is a thread in STILL ME about a public library on the brink of closing in Washington Heights. What significance does the library play in your life and why is it important in the story?

I am passionate about libraries—they are one of the few cost-free resources that offer people not just shelter but the chance to entertain or improve themselves. I spent some time at a library in a very mixed area of Washington Heights where I saw quite how many different functions the public library performed—from a learning opportunity to a safe place, to somewhere people could make job applications, or just escape from their lives for a while. It really worries me how hard libraries are being squeezed in both the UK and the US. There are so few places that don’t require a financial transaction, that really are just about the joy of learning. Once they are gone we won’t get that resource back again.

Another prominent theme in STILL ME is the struggle for women to “have it all.” Louisa finds herself between the pull of New York high society and her life in England; Mrs. De Witt was torn between her fashion career and family life; Agnes struggled to maintain her old friendships after marrying into wealth. Why is a woman’s unique balance to play many roles in life while staying true to herself important to discuss?

When I was a girl I assumed I was the equal to any boy and that I would be treated the same as an adult. For the most part that was the case—until I had children, at which point I discovered that there is always a choice to be made, always a compromise, and that in most cases that belongs to the woman. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who supports my work and does his best to be an equal partner in all ways—but I am a rarity. I know elderly women who had to give up their careers to follow their husbands, and I know younger women who gave up their jobs because their partners couldn’t be home for the children. I hope that one day we can find a way to make this a little more equitable. It’s good for men, too!

Fashion is a significant element in Lou’s story, notably the red dress and bumblebee tights in Me Before You. In STILL ME, Louisa becomes involved with an East Village vintage emporium, and Mrs. De Witt is revealed as a former fashion magazine editor. What is your interest in this world?

Well, most of my friends would laugh at the idea that I was massively interested in fashion. My default uniform is shirt, jumper, jeans, boots. I rarely wear anything else. But it feels like such an integral part of Louisa’s character, and over the past few years I have discovered a love of vintage clothes. I have a number of vintage outfits—and suppliers—and I find them so much more enjoyable, both to buy and wear, than just a chain boutique. It’s partly textural—the work that goes into some of these older clothes—beading, cutting, stitching—is just beautiful. Even I can appreciate it!

In a couple of your books, including STILL ME, you created dogs that, much like your human characters, have distinct personalities and quirks. Why do your animal characters receive such prominent roles?

I guess because animals are such a fundamental part of my own family. We joke that if we didn’t have our animals we’d have nothing to talk about. All our animals have distinct voices that we use for them (for some reason Eric, our shorthair cat, has a Spanish accent, whereas BigDog, our rescue Pyrenean, has a more lugubrious tone). I think anybody who has close contact with an animal knows that they have just as much personality and just as many expressions as humans do.If I’m writing one into a story, I can’t see why it shouldn’t have a fully formed character in the way that a human does.

Your books always evoke a wide range of human emotion—on one page, you leave readers laughing out loud and on the next, reduce them to tears. Is it a difficult process to combine such an accurate portrayal of the comedies and tragedies of life? How do you create such deep characters and storylines?

Thank you! I consider that an enormous compliment. I guess it comes from the fact that I try to write the books I like to read—and if a book can make me laugh or cry then that author earns my undying loyalty. The key to writing them, I think, is that both laughter and tears have to come from a place that is honest—something that feels true to the character. If I know the character then as I write their experiences I feel what they are feeling—it then becomes easier to translate that emotion onto the page.

What was the Me Before You movie experience like? If you were to cast STILL ME, who do you see playing some of the new main characters?

Writing and being part of the filming of Me Before You was, without doubt, the best—and most challenging—experience of my professional life. I was on the steepest learning curve and I worked flat out for months. But I loved the cast and crew and the director, producers and I are still good friends, so it never really felt like work.

If I were to cast STILL ME I would obviously want Emilia Clarke to return as Lou. And having Sam Claflin as Josh would be a lovely way of bringing him back in! I have no idea who would play Margot—but I always saw her as looking a little like Iris Apfel, the famous NY society fashion icon.

What’s next? More adventures for Lou?

I’ve been saying no, as I would hate to be seen flogging her to death. But when I think about never writing her again I feel ridiculously sad. Maybe a short story?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JojoMoyes is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of After You, Me Before You, Paris for One and Other Stories, The Horse Dancer, One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, Silver Bay, and The Ship of Brides. She lives with her husband and three children in Essex, England.

 JOJO MOYES WILL BE TOURING IN THE FOLLOWING CITIES:

New York, NY (1/30) ▪ Portsmouth, NH (1/31) ▪ Madison, CT (2/1)
Cleveland (Parma), OH ▪ (2/2) Dallas, TX (2/3)

Denver (Parker), CO (2/5) ▪ Seattle (Lake Forest Park), WA (2/6)

STILL ME

JojoMoyes ▪ Pamela Dorman Books / Viking ▪ $27.00 ▪ On-sale January 30, 2018 ▪ ISBN: 9780399562457 

jojomoyes.com▪  jojomoyesofficial▪ @JojoMoyes▪  JojoMoyesAuthor

 

About Still Me:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world. 


Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In
Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

 

 

Giveaway Opportunity:

Penguin-Random House is hosting a giveaway US Only for a print copy of Still Me. To enter, must be a US resident and fill out the Rafflecopter. Winner will be contact to confirm and will need to provide mailing address that will be shared with the publisher at Penguin. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

Posted January 8, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review: A Week of Mondays by Jessica BrodyA Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Series: standalone
Published by Straus and Giroux on August 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 463
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars


When I made the wish, I just wanted a do-over. Another chance to make things right. I never, in a million years, thought it might actually come true...

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!
As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?
From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having the worse kind of Monday. She gets a ticket for running a red light, takes a really bad school picture, fails at her softball try-outs and her class election speech, and to top of the day, her boyfriend Tristan dumps her with a lame excuse.

Defeated Ellison thinks she can do better and wishes for a do-over, what she doesn’t expect was to experience the same day over and over again with a chance to make it better for herself.

This was cute and a bit of a reminiscence of groundhog day. I liked the storyline a lot and that the author chose to use that kind of inspiration in a young adult novel not only to grow her character but also to teach a less.

Be yourself and do what makes you happy and hopefully everything falls into place.

Ellison was a bit frustrating at first, but she was a teenage girl who gets dumped by her popular rock star boyfriend and she has no idea why. Suddenly, when presented the chance to fix her day, Ellison seems to think that the only way she can break this cycle is if she can keep Tristian from breaking up with her. While doing that, she forms a rocky relationship with her best friend Owen when she tries to focus so hard on getting what she thinks she wants, versus what she really wants.

I liked that Ellison grew as a character, despite the little flop in the end that made me grate my teeth a little – but I loved the way things turned out and how she used the day not only to better herself but to also help fix her family life and her relationship with Owen.

I loved Owen in this book and wish there would have been more of him, but their relationship just ended up being so cute and heart-melting that it made it a stronger enjoyable part of the book.

Overall, this is a sweet, cute, YA Contemporary that I enjoyed from page one till the end and I am glad it teaches a lesson about discovering who you are and what really makes you happy and not just letting people influence you.

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Guest Review: Paris For One and Other Stories by JoJoMoyes

Posted January 7, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 18 Comments

Happy 2018 Everyone! I know it’s a couple of days too late, but it’s been a long month in general. But, now that the holidays are over lets try and get back into the swing of things shall we? Today we are kicking off with Sophia Rose and her review of JoJo Moyes new book, enjoy!

Guest Review: Paris For One and Other Stories by JoJoMoyesParis for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
Series: standalone
Published by Penguin Books on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You and After You, Paris for One and Other Stories is an irresistibly romantic collection filled with humor and heart.
"A vicarious jolt of Parisian romance. . . Delightful." -People Magazine
"An old-fashioned, feel-good love story. . . It's as if Moyes has booked a vacation and is taking us along. To Paris. Amour!" -USA Today "Dreamy escapism, a book you can curl up with and easily finish over a weekend, with or without a glass of wine." -Miami Herald
Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away--to anywhere--before. Traveling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up for their mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone--including herself--wrong. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, Paris for One is quintessential Jojo Moyes--as are the other stories that round out the collection.
From the Hardcover edition.

This was my first encounter with JoJoMoyes writing and I have to confess that I was somewhat reluctant after reading all the angsty and teary-eyed reviews of Me Before You. I’m a chicken about really heartwrenching stories so I held back. But then I spotted this short story collection and thought it might be safe enough.

Well, I made a good call I think, but not because Paris For One was devoid of angst. No, this was a fantastic collection that gave me an idea of the writing gift the author displays, her talent for going deep in an economy of pages, and gave me so many lovely story gems all in one volume. I might just be brave (read greedy for more, there) enough to pick up more of her books.

So… Paris For One and Other Stories.

There were nine stories total including Paris For One which is a novella and the others as short stories. Each showed a different facet of love and life all from each heroine’s perspective only: a young woman ditched by her boyfriend to do Paris alone, rekindling the romance for a middle-aged couple, a new chance at the road not taken (aka former lover vs husband), a woman finding her mojo when she finds some killer shoes, shop girl flirts with robber during hold up, finding contentment in a material world, an infidelity accusation backfires, a two-week pretend life for a bored woman, and a woman who sees her life clearly while on a hunt to fulfill her Christmas list.

They were all good in their own ways and I could see the appeal hitting me differently if I read these in different moods because they hit all facets of women’s lives and feelings. I enjoyed the most, Paris For One as a girl who never took a step without making a list learns to take chances now and then and finds her confidence, but also thought Hold Up was a hoot, Crocodile Shoes made me root hard for the heroine and Last Year’s Coat resonated with me the most, I think, because this woman struggled hard with every day issues.

And, I think that was the appeal of each story. All these gals were every day women that I recognized in myself or others I know. They were familiar, but yet they had new experiences. This book brought out my emotions, but also left me musing afterward.

All in all, I was well satisfied with this collection of shorts and definitely want to try her novel-length books. These are definitely for those who enjoy women’s fiction and chic lit.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange of an honest opinion.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Guest Review: Favour of the Gods: A Frewyn Novel by Michelle Franklin

Posted December 19, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 25 Comments

Morning everyone! Hope everyone has their cup off coffee, or a choice of drink because this morning the lovely Sophia Rose is back on the blog with another wonderful review!

Guest Review: Favour of the Gods: A Frewyn Novel by Michelle FranklinFavour of the Gods: A Frewyn Novel by Michelle Franklin
Series: standalone
Published by Self-published on October 22nd 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 276
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A story about Gods and children, love and friendship:

Every child in Frewyn is taught that they were created by the Gods, and that every Frewyn is therefore considered with the same affection and given the same attention as everyone else.

This is somewhat untrue.

Aoidhe Dreen is a Gods' Son, a child thought to have a Frewyn God as a parent. While the birth of such a child is not common in the kingdom, and often goes unproven, the divine parentage of Aoidhe Dreen is accidentally discovered by Cgnita, a young cleric at the Kileen monastery, who suddenly finds himself the victim of the God of Japes and Justice, making him very sorry to have received the Favour of the Gods.

A charming gently-paced, fantasy tale of the Frewyn gods when they secretly defy the father god’s rule and dabble a little in the lives of their people. Each in their own way misses walking among and directly caring for their people and find ways to bestow aid where they will. I was delightfully engaged in this easy and light ramble that mostly follows the antics of the colorful, whimsical, and at times volatile, Aoidhe, as he responds to the needs and prayers of his people in his own brand of care.

The story takes place in the fantasy land of Frewyn made up of humans who are most akin to the earth though the greater world include other lands full of other peoples and magics. In time past, the gods retreated from their world and the people are left with some having faith they exist and care for the people and others in doubt.

The world is well drawn and elaborate so that I felt I could be reading of another culture’s real mythology. The people of Frewyn worship a pantheon of gods whose mythology will have familiar traits though apportioned differently perhaps such as Aoidhe who is a god of passion, fire, trickery, and justice or Fuinnag, a god of sky, weather, birds, and hope.

The plot is gentle, but steady in pacing. It has a high fantasy tone to the writing and employs older language and obscure words that solidify the feel of something of a slightly foreign, spicy flavor.

Part of the story follows the life of two Frewyn church brothers, Cgnita and Brudha- one a healer and the other the leader of the monastery like compound- who separately find themselves with an intimate encounter with the trickster Aoidhe and his brother gods in their turn. Cgnita needs a little help finding love which he cautiously accepts along with Aoidhe’s teases and Brudha is bemused at having a god for a friend.

And beyond this pair, there is a larger tale of Aoidhe and his fellow gods sometimes clashing and sometimes agreeing about how they can get around the edict that was set by the father of gods to stay out of the people’s lives so they can truly care for and help the people where they are called upon. I enjoyed each new encounter and had a good time with the lusty, down to earth Aoidhe as he negotiates matters to his satisfaction. It was fun to see him interacting with his brothers and the other gods. I have a soft spot for the ‘moper’, the god of earth and mountains, Menor.

In the end, I was delighted for the last scene to bring things full circle to an old familiar certain irascible farm woman, Baba Connridh. While, this story is a standalone, I definitely got more out of this final scene by having already read the earlier released, Baba Connridh novella.

I would recommend this book and others in the Frewyn world if you appreciate High Fantasy with a classical flavor and particularly if you enjoy good strong world building and mythology.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Winter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. Chace

Posted December 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Winter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. ChaceWinter in Wonderland by J.S. Drangsholt, Tara F. Chace
Series: Ingrid Winter Misadventure #2
Published by AmazonCrossing on February 1st 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 234
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Professor Ingrid Winter seems to have it all. But she can’t help feeling like everything’s crumbling around her—just like the roof on her family home.
Now she and her husband are on the hook for repairs they can barely afford, and lack of funds means her husband must cancel his dream trip to Italy. Their three daughters are growing up too fast, her latest batch of students are more disaffected than ever, and there’s no one that she’s not disappointing. To top it all off, Mr. and Mrs. Perfect have moved in right next door.
Overwhelmed and anxious, Ingrid’s ready to take a hike. And the whole family, including Gramps, is coming along. A staycation in the mountains of Norway may be just what the Winters need. But will tromping through nature help Ingrid find the right path or send her deeper into the woods?

Ingrid Winters is a professor that seems to have it all, until things starts to fall apart around her.

Now Ingrid and her husband are on the fence because of the repairs they can barely afford on their home, and has put a wedge into her husband’s dream vacation to Italy. Her latest batch of students at the university are distracted and disinterested and to top everything off, a new couple Mr and Mrs Perfect move in next door.

This was….

I don’t know how to rate this book.

Ingrid was… An interesting character enough. I know people rated this book poorly in the past because they found Ingrid not very related, and a very unlikable character. I actually did not complete hate her. To me, she seemed real, and very much someone I can relate to. Motherhood isn’t perfect and neither is marriage, we get caught up in things we should not and we deal with things differently, sometimes with just the heat of the moment. I think because of translation, there was probably a bit of cultural disconnect, or people don’t feel comfortable admitting that there is a part of us in someone like Ingrid.

Ingrid wasn’t perfect. She got frustrated with her husband because of the roof incident and him not being able to work on it and she had every right to, especially when he decided to take the project on himself instead of paying for the contractor. There was a definite strain on their relationship to the point where Ingrid was questioning rather the two are going to get a divorce, but their marriage prevailed when both parties realized their short comings and maybe there was some truth in how Ingrid felt about the situation.

The story is simple and basically follows Ingrid as she navigates her life, parenting, and marriage. It’s not always pretty, there is strain, she ignores her middle child at some point because of the amount of stress she is already under. What I mean by ignores is that she forgot about her middle child’s play in school while she tried to deal with the fact that their house has a hole in the roof, her husband refusing to acknowledge the fact that the neighbor who promised to help, isn’t, the school is giving her problems because her rating is low among the teachers, her youngest child is being bullied in school and the list goes on. People did not like that, I found it realistic, especially when you take into the account everything that was going around Ingrid. We all want to be the perfect mothers, but we are also humans and I found her short comings very human, even if they are not favorably viewed and frowned upon.

Overall, I found this a quick read. There is a lot going on at the same time not much happens because the whole book is just about Ingrid navigating her life. There are cultural differences that get lost on anyone not living in the same part of the world.

Also, there is a bit of rambling, but that could be part of how it was translated.

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Guest Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Posted December 13, 2017 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Hey Lovelies! Hope you December is going great! Our has been super busy, so reading is a bit slower. Today I have Sophia Rose on the blog with a review, hope you enjoy her opinion on The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living and leave her some love.

Guest Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise MillerThe City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
Series: Standalone
Published by Penguin Books on November 7th 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"Mix in one part Diane Mott -Davidson's delightful culinary adventures with several tablespoons of Jan Karon's country living and quirky characters, bake at 350 degrees for one rich and warm romance." --Library Journal
A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home--and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn't even know you were looking
When Olivia Rawlings--pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club--sets not just her flambeed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of--the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country's longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.
Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn's property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired--to help Margaret reclaim the inn's blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.
But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee--or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected--it could be even better.
From the Hardcover edition.

A gentle nostalgic, heartwarming piece showcasing a woman’s slow transformation from bright lights and big city to country charm. It’s a New England fairytale that brings into play all that a person can imagine of the best and quirky parts of country living.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a combination of women’s fiction and contemporary romance. It focuses on Livvy’s personal growth, her friendships, her adjustments to a new lifestyle, and a bit of a slow burn romance.

I enjoyed the ambience and tone, the pacing and all the little details of this ideal nostalgic country life that teetered on the line of real and fantasy (not in a paranormal sense), but more wishful thinking. It was a Normal Rockwell setting and people come to life, if you will. I think if one goes in expecting this then it will work better. Livvy is snooty about it at first and is always making comparisons until she sees that there is value in both lifestyles after she settles in.

I only had one real niggle with the story. In the beginning, Livvy was ‘the Other Woman’ in an affair with a married man. There were a few other little things, but that one just stuck. I think it set the tone for me and I never completely connected with her even if I could keep reading and appreciate the rest of the book.

This is definitely a foodie’s book, too. I spent most of the book with my mouthwatering as Livvy worked her baking magic in the Inn’s kitchen or talked food with Chef, Margaret, or shopped in the market. Thankfully, her apple pie recipe is included in the back of the book.

I think the highlight for me was Livvy’s friendship with irascible Margaret. At first, they seem at odds, but then slowly Livvy learns more about her and sees the true Margaret and Margaret opens up a little.

It was not a quick reading experience, but one to pick up and curl up under a throw with me tea and appreciate. I found it a lovely reading experience all in all. I would recommend it to light women’s fiction lovers who appreciate a more soft-glow country life, a gentle romance, with a foodie as the main character.

I understand Louise Miller’s second novel, The Late Bloomers’ Club, is forthcoming from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Posted December 11, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah MorganMoonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love #6
Published by Hqn on November 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:two-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

She'll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle...
Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list--dealing with Madi's temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.
Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi--how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple--he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there's nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.
Ethan's kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all--letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

Harriet Knight has lived a lifetime in shyness, when she finally decided to conquer her fears, she challenges herself to do one thing a day in December until Christmas that scares her. That includes online dating, which ends in disaster when the man that showed up at a date is much older than he said he was, a climb out the bathroom window to escape, and a hospital visit due to an injured ankle.

Ethan Black is a workaholic, a doctor that is rough around the edges and has already gone through one miserable relationship. He didn’t count on the fact that he will be sitting his sister’s dog, or that the dog will try and destroy his apartment. So he asks his dog sitter to move into his apartment temporarily, not expecting the explosion in chemistry that follows.

This was cute, it was a decent read. I can see why people loved it.

For me? It didn’t get interesting until about 58% into the book. I felt it dragged until then, I was bored, and had a bit of a hard time. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it, I just did not find myself really invested and was really bored. It took me 13 days to read this, ouch.

Harriet was sweet, the relationship, once it got to that point, was cute.

Ethan makes a dumb mistake, realizes he makes the dumb mistake and fixes it… All within a few last pages of the book.

Felt same old.

Also, this takes place in NYC and snows a lot right before Christmas. I lived in NYC for like 15 years and I wish there was this much snow before Christmas…Happens, but not as often and wonderfully as this book made it timing wise.

Overall, romance lovers will enjoy this one. It’s sweet, it’s got winter, good characters and good writing.

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Weekly Wrap up #17 – Slow Reading

Posted December 3, 2017 by Lily B in Recap, Wrap Up / 21 Comments

Weekly Recap

 

I’ve had a mixed reading week. It’s been a bit slow going ever since I read AN EX FOR CHRISTMAS BY LAUREN LAYNE. I really enjoyed it and it started my Christmas reading kick, unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like it’s going so well. A lot of Christmas books that I enjoy are romances, but for some reason Romances have not been working for me lately, so I am feeling a bit stuck.

I own about 127 Christmas books. You know what that makes me? A Christmas book Hoarder, heh.  So I will try and power through them.

Have you guys read anything really interesting lately? Looking to see what are your five star reviews this week/month.

Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? We are getting our tree soon, so that is exciting. I’m probably going to update the layout today or tomorrow, so hopefully I can start getting into the spirit myself.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer

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Review: An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne

Posted November 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review: An Ex for Christmas by Lauren LayneAn Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne
Series: Love Unexpectedly #5
Published by Loveswept on November 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Christmas
Pages: 218
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:three-flames

She’s making a list—and checking it twice. But is there a nice guy among all her naughty exes? The New York Times bestselling author of Blurred Lines returns with a charming friends-to-lovers rom-com.
When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.
Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along.
Lauren Layne’s USA Today bestselling Love Unexpectedly series can be read in any order
This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

When a psychic tells a superstitious Kelly Byrne that she had already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with tracking him down so she isn’t alone for Christmas. Kelly makes an “Ex List” and starts contacting her old boyfriends to try and figure out which one of these guys are her true love that she has passed up on. But, Kelly never expected that this Christmas sparks might be flying with someone else.

Mark Blakely has been Kelly’s best friend forever. He has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart and isn’t really looking forward watching, or experiencing that again. Plus, Mark has been sitting on the sidelines long, and is ready to move on to something more. All he has to do is convince the woman who is looking elsewhere to see what is in front of her.

YES! This is exactly the type of romance I adore and always on the look out for. Kelly and Mark were so perfect together in this book. It’s been a while since I have enjoyed or read a romance, so when I picked this one up and was unable to put down, I knew I had a winner.

I enjoyed the humor and the romance. I totally love best friends to lovers tropes, so I was sold on this right away. Plus, Layne has a way of building up romances that are both adorable, tension filled and steamy. I really liked the build up, I loved when sparks flew between the two with both became aware of each other.

I loved that they co-own a dog and how wonderful and protective their friendship/relationship was. Turning the pages both warmed my heart and made me giggle. Layne does a great job of lacing humor into her books.

If you love Christmas, this really brings romance and holiday to the table as Kelly is a complete Christmas junky.

I did like Kelly, I liked her spunk and her personality, but her belief in the Sight and superstition turns into a gospel she lives by and feels a little crippling at times. When she was starting to discover her feelings for Mark, she never took the time to sit back and think about the woman’s words, what they meant, and that maybe, just maybe she didn’t have to live by them. It was especially exasperating when she mentions that she always wanted to feel like that about someone, as she does for Mark.

Mark totally won the story for me, I wish if she author was going to put one chapter from his POV in it that maybe there would have been more. I’d really liked to get into his head and find out his thoughts on Kelly’s process and how he felt about it, because it felt like Mark had a big role in what kept happening to Kelly and her Ex’s.

There was a bit of unnecessary drama thrown into the end, I honestly did not expect Kelly to actually get through her list and I would have been fine with that, especially with the way she felt for Mark.

But this was a totally cute, totally feel good Christmas romances that just melts your heart. I think it’s perfect for the holiday season.

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