Sunday, June 29, 2014

Reread: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I was both looking forward to and dreading reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I wanted to do the reread because I knew how much information was given in this book and I couldn't remember all the hints. I didn't want to reread it because of the death in this one. (I'll mention it later so go away if you don't know who I mean!) For more info about this challenge and the idea behind it, visit Just a Lil' Lost's sign up post. Check out Twitter and Instagram if you'd like to follow along with our #HPreread tag. A reminder: if you haven't read this book, or even finished the whole series, please beware of spoilers. If you don't want parts of the story or series ruined for you, stay away until you finish the books!

I remembered early on how many deaths there actually are in this book. We met Amelia Bones in Order of the Phoenix and then, in the first few pages of Half-Blood Prince, we find out that she was killed. Sad! Of course, it's not just deaths that occur but serious injuries as well (see: Bill). There are a lot of minor characters that have popped up throughout who become more important as the series progressed. It's another nod to Rowling's excellent storytelling.

I never really saw the appeal of Draco Malfoy the first time I read the series. I didn't dislike him any more than the average person but I didn't like him either. I know a lot of people love him and I now understand it. My heart hurt when he confronted Dumbledore and explained what he had to do and why. And when he was crying to Moaning Myrtle right before Harry cursed him? Oh, so sad. I imagine this feeling of..empathy, I guess? a result of knowing how the series ends and what else Malfoy goes through. This feeling also applies to Snape and my feelings about him. Going into the series the first time all we know is that he's such a villain in Harry's eyes so what happens in the end is so surprising. Knowing the final ending makes rereading this book even harder because you can tell that Snape is struggling with his duties.

And let's just talk about this for a second:

Ah, young love. I love that Harry and Ginny become a couple and I love that Ron and Hermione eventually get it together and realize they should be together, too (though that's in the next book. Expect another page shot of that scene). Speaking of Ron and Hermione...reading about two sixteen year olds who are struggling with their feelings for each other? It's definitely sweet, yes. But also quite funny. Makes me glad I'm not a teen anymore :)

I had forgotten that the novel opens with the British Prime Minister and the visits from Fudge and Scrimgeour. I especially liked when the PM says, "But for heaven's sake - you're wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out - well - anything!" Scrimgeour replies, "The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister." (page 24) This sort of sets the tone of almost helplessness that the magical community has as well as making you realize how much the Muggle world is being affected by Voldemort's return.

Finally, it's time to talk about Dumbledore. I was dreading the end of this book so much. I hate that he dies. I hated knowing going into it that he dies. All the clever little quips and thoughtful pieces of advice...all stabs to the heart. Of course, knowing that Dumbledore knew he was going to die makes a lot of things clearer. All the lessons with Harry, the knowledge he tried to impart, and so on, it was all done with a purpose. But reading as Harry had to deal with the death of his mentor...oh, it was just so hard.

For more thoughts and random quotes that I enjoyed, check out the Storify link for this month's reread.

I can't believe next month is the last book! Ah! Where did the time go? It's going to be hard to finish the series (again) but I'm looking forward to it. I've only read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows once so I can't recall some of the tinier details like I can with some of the others. Final note: is anyone else planning on bingewatching all of the movies in August like I am?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: In Accord

I have very mixed feelings on Kristin Chambers' novel, In Accord. I didn't dislike it but I didn't exactly like it either. The story didn't quite grip me enough and I couldn't quite connect with or understand the characters but there's something there. Something that I think many other readers could enjoy more than I did.

Here's the synopsis:
It's October in Buffalo as four long-time friends, The In Accord Book Club, gather around a fireplace while a fierce windstorm amasses strength outside. They are deeply disappointed with the unfaithful characters and lackluster resolution of the novel they've met to discuss. When they agree to each write a richer, more satisfying conclusion in lieu of their next month's selection, none has any idea of the tempests about to erupt in her own world. Their intertwined lives and personal journeys, by turns humorous, sad, touching, and inspiring, furnish the raw ingredients for the new epilogue each writes.
At times I found myself wondering what, exactly, the point of the novel was. There is so much more going on in this book than the synopsis even begins to hint at. And it sort of meanders. I suppose you could say that it was very much like real life, that all sorts of things happen just the way they happen in the book but I like when my novels have a purpose. There was also a weird timing shift at the beginning that threw me off. There's one chapter, a sort of prologue I suppose, and then the second chapter takes place a few years later. I also thought the events of chapter one would play into the rest of the story but it doesn't. It was so out of place. The synopsis also mentions humour...I don't remember laughing much, if at all, while reading this book. I don't need all books to be all fun, all the time but I can't handle it when there aren't many light moments to speak of.

Part of the meandering feeling came from the fact that every character had at least one chapter told from their point of view (but still third person). And I mean every character. It made sense for the women to each have their own chapters but hearing from their children, spouses, and others, was sort of odd. All that being said, Chambers does an amazing job of weaving it all together. As weird as it was to hear from these characters, it didn't feel out of place for the overall story. Does that make sense or am I just contradicting myself? Basically, I appreciate that Chambers could tell the story well from multiple perspectives but I wonder if it was necessary to have so many perspectives.

I sort of wondered, when the women were talking about how much they disliked the ending of the novel they had read for book club, if I would end up being disappointed in the ending of In Accord. I kind of was. It wasn't so much how everything turned out for the women; I'm happy with their choices and that they seemed to be getting the lives they needed. My issue was more with how the ending was written. Everything was wrapped up but the last thing that Chambers wrote was actually an ending rewrite from one of the women. It just felt weird to have a fake novel's fanfiction (because, really, that's what it is) be the last thing that's read of In Accord. I don't know how else to make this make sense, it's hard to not give the ending away, but I just didn't like it.

I liked that all the women were very different. Of course, that made me wonder, at times, why the hell they were all friends. Honestly, the things they held back from each other were so odd. And sometimes it really didn't seem like they even liked each other. I know that no friendship is perfect but even though these women had been best friends for eighteen or so years, I wondered what really kept them together and staying friends.

I know my review of In Accord seems quite negative. It was a hard one for me to write because, like I said, I didn't actually dislike Kristin Chambers' novel. It was quite possibly a personal thing that kept me from liking it too much and I do think others would like it. Good writing can go a long way and I found Chambers to be a good writer, which is probably what helped me not hate the book. If you're intrigued by this one, check it out.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.*

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Review: Love and Chaos

Love and Chaos is the second novel in a series by Gemma Burgess. I enjoyed the first, Brooklyn Girls, and even though I didn't looove it I still looked forward to reading the next book in the series. The girls made an impression and I really wanted to see what they were up to. I felt about the same with book two as I did the first but I enjoyed the time I spent reading this book.

Here's the synopsis:
Wild child and secret romantic Angie wakes up in a hotel room with $3,000 and no memories of the night before. Her best friends aren’t talking to her, she can’t get a job in fashion, her parents are divorcing, and she’s about to turn twenty-three. And life is about to get much worse.
Brooklyn Girls: Love and Chaos continues the story of our five favorite grads sharing a brownstone and starting out in New York City through Angie’s eyes. On a journey from private jets and yacht parties to dirty subways and hipster bars via crazy storms, flash floods, and retail jobs from hell, Angie discovers who she is, what she wants, how she’s going to get it —and a crazy little thing called true love.
Meanwhile, her roommates lives are imploding, too. Coco’s self-medicating and self-loathing, Pia’s breaking up and cracking up, Madeleine’s finding her voice and Julia might—just might—have met someone she can actually date.
Brooklyn Girls is the hilarious, inspiring Gemma Burgess series every twenty-something has been waiting for that tells you that whatever you do, whatever mistakes you make, everything is going to be okay. All you need is a little luck, a little work, and your best friends.

I didn't know if I'd really like Love and Chaos because I wasn't a huge Angie fan when I read Brooklyn Girls. I vowed to keep an open mind, though, and I'm glad I did because I ended up really liking her. She was an absolute mess when the book opened – drinking, drugs, sleeping around – but once she had a wakeup call she started to turn her life around. She became more of a person than the ice queen caricature that had been portrayed in the first book. I loved that she was into fashion and was desperate to find a job. She worked hard and I appreciated that. Honestly, I was a little jealous of her. I wish I knew what I wanted!

The crazy drama in this book wasn't quite as far-fetched as the first and, for that, I was glad. I had a feeling I knew what the issue with Sam was going to be and I thought that storyline played out very well. Actually, I pretty much loved everything about their relationship. I was also happy to see how things worked out with Angie's history and the problems she left behind at the beginning of the book. It was some crazy shit, there's really no other way to describe it, but she faced it and it worked out, thankfully.

Once again, I really loved the friendship aspect of this book. I love reading about a group of girlfriends, especially when they're in their twenties. Even though it makes me miss my own friends! I'm a few years older than the girls in the book but I feel like I'm at the same place in life (what does that say about my generation?). This makes me really relate to their issues and life and I love that.

Gemma Burgess' series is a great one to pick up if you want a lighter read with a lot of heart. I don't think you necessarily have to read the first book before diving into Love and Chaos, but I'd recommend it. Get to know Angie and the girls from the start and learn to love them like I have!

*A copy of this novel was provided by distributor Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.*

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Mating for Life

Declaration time! I have found a new Canadian author to love after reading Mating for Life. Marissa Stapley's debut novel was so good and I enjoyed every second I spent reading it.

Here's the synopsis:
Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child who proudly disdained monogamy, raising three daughters, Liane, Ilsa and Fiona (each by different fathers) largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her—and while she's fearful of losing him, she’s equally afraid she’ll betray everything she's ever stood for if she goes through with it.
Her youngest daughter, Liane, has just ended her own tepid engagement, and is in the heady early days of a relationship with the love of her life. But he has an ex-wife and two daughters—and her new role as “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist (and classic middle child), has broken away from a bohemian past and is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and her painting is suffering as a result—and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there's Fiona, the eldest sister, who has worked tirelessly to make her world pristine. When she discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, her own past becomes harder to ignore, and Fiona loses her tenuous grip on happiness. To get it back, she must face some truths that she’d rather keep buried,
and alter the impossibly high expectations she’s been holding everyone – including herself – up to.
Interwoven with these narratives are glimpses of the lives of the women that surround Helen and her daughters: the first wife of Liane's great love; the girlfriend of a man Ilsa is drawn to; the young woman that Fiona's husband has kept a secret. Through these alternating perspectives, and with pitch-perfect honesty and heartwarming humor, Stapley explores sex, marriage, and how the many roles that women play are often at odds with each other. Ultimately a celebration of the redemptive power of love in all its forms, Mating for Life is a stunning, memorable debut.
I had received an ARC so long ago that I had forgotten what the book was really about, let alone that it was written by a Canadian. There are oodles of amazing Canadian authors out there. Some of those authors have written really great women's fiction. What I lack in my reading life (which, let's be honest, is my entire life) is women's fiction set in Canada. It just doesn't often happen. So, I was thrilled when I realized (remembered?) that Mating for Life was set in Muskoka and Toronto. This may not mean much to anyone else but ever since interning at Project Bookmark Canada (and, actually, I think there are some awesome Bookmark opportunities with this one) I've been trying to read more CanLit and it's hard when one of my preferred genres isn't represented. So, thank you, Marissa , for writing just the book I wanted to read.

I really loved the relationships in this novel. Stapley did an amazing job of capturing the nuances of the relationships between a mother and her daughter and between sisters. Because, as much as the marriages and other romantic relationships played a part in this novel, that's really what the story was all about - Helen and her three daughters and they way they interacted and felt about each other. I liked that even if you had a good relationship with your own mother or sister, as I do, you could still identify with Helen, Fiona, Ilsa, and Liane. You knew where they were coming from even if you couldn't understand, for example, how Liane didn't mention her engagement to her sisters, or even to her mother (those would be my first two phone calls should I ever get engaged). The family dynamic was just so real. I don't know how else to really explain why I liked the female relationships in this book...they were just really well done and I felt connected to their story and their lives as I was reading.

If you follow me on Goodreads you may be wondering why, if I'm obsessing over this book so much, I didn't give it five stars (if you don't follow me on Goodreads, I gave this one four, and only because I can't do halfs on the site!). This was purely for a personal reason. It is very common for me to not like a book when it switches perspectives. I like being in the head of one character (sometimes two is ok) but I'm not usually a fan of books that switch between three or more characters. Mating for Life switches between many characters but...I was pretty much ok with it. It still bothered me because I wanted to know what was happening in one character's life but then the chapter would end and it'd be onto someone else's world. It worked, totally, but it made me wish for more time with certain characters. It's also worth it to note that there were usually gaps in time between chapters and you're sort of left scrambling and playing catch up as you try to figure out what had happened with a character since you last heard of them. Again, this really worked with the way the story was being told but it was a little something that I didn't totally love. 

A small thing to note but I liked it so I wanted to share: each chapter started with the name of an animal (fox, squirrel, seagull) and a description of their mating behaviour. And I am pretty sure the name of that animal is mentioned within that chapter. I missed a few of them but I definitely caught others. So neat! Here's an example:

I'm a bunny owner. Of course I picked the rabbit one!
I don't know what else I can say about Mating for Life except: read it. Seriously. Marissa Stapley has written an absolutely wonderful novel and I think so many others would love it too. You can bet I'll be pushing this one on almost every reading woman in my life. If you're looking for a well written, emotional, real women's fiction novel (an added bonus if you want a Canadian to have written it), Mating for Life should be your next read. It will be released, appropriately enough, on July 1. Buy it, devour it, and then let me know what you thought of it!

*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for an honest review.*

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR Pile

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

Ah, summer reading. There's something particularly awesome about the books you read in the summer - even when the season no longer means a vacation from school. A lot of great books are published in the spring and summer and the longer days with more sunlight allow for a lot more outdoor reading. That's really the best thing about summer reading, in my opinion. Being able to read in the backyard, on the beach, at the park...the opportunities are endless. For this week's list I've put together the ten books I'm most looking forward to reading this summer. Some are new releases, some aren't even out yet, and others are just finally making it to the top of my To Be Read pile. If you're wondering why I don't have Landline, Rainbow Rowell's upcoming adult novel and one of the most anticipated summer books, on this list it's because I was lucky enough to snag an e-ARC and I've already read it. (You should's awesome.) What books are you looking forward to reading this summer? Links lead to Goodreads.

Open Road Summer - Emery Lord (April 15)
I don't have a copy of this one, nor does my library, but I've heard really good things about it. I should find a copy since it sounds so cute and awesome!

Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson (May 6)
This is another YA one that I've heard a lot about and I just can't wait to read. Luckily, I have a copy from my library just waiting for me to get to it before it's due back next week!

Goodnight June - Sarah Jio (May 27)
Confession: I haven't read a Jio book. I follow her on social media and she's just amazing so I can't wait to dive into this one!

Just One Night - Gayle Forman (May 29)
I freaking loved Just One Day and Just One Year so I was SO excited when I learned there was going to be an extra novella about Allyson and Willem. I just have to get myself a copy!

All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner (June 17)
Weiner is amazing so of course her novel is going to make it on here. It's out today AND she's going to be in Toronto next Monday - for the first time in FIVE years! I'm so pumped.

The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith (June 17)
I really really liked The Cuckoo's Calling and I'm so excited that Rowling, er, Galbraith is continuing with the series.

A Single Breath - Lucy Clarke (July, in North America)
This will be a great rainy day book. I read Clarke's debut novel, Swimming at Night, and adored it so I cannot wait to read this one. (Review will be up July 3!)

Breathe, Annie, Breathe - Miranda Kenneally (July 15)
I haven't read any of Kenneally's books (yet) but this one looks so good.

The Book of Life - Deborah Harkness (July 15)
If this was in order of "most looking forward to" instead of release date, this would be number one. I freaking love the All Souls series and I cannot wait to find out how Harkness concludes the trilogy. Only problem is, it's been SO long since I read the last one that I can't remember every detail. I'd love to reread both books buuut...they're huge! It's a dilemma!

Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins (August 14)
SO FAR AWAY. Ahhhh. I think once this one is released I might treat myself to a nice box set!

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Cover Alert: Blogger Girl

Most of you know that Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr is one of my all time favourite novels (and probably top on the chick lit list). I got an email from Meredith a few weeks ago letting me know that she has a brand spankin' new cover for Blogger Girl! I love a good cover so I was more than happy to share the new look with all of you. For those of you who can't remember what the old cover looked like, check out my review here (this is also helpful if you don't know what the book is about!).

Without further ado, here's the new cover:

What do we all think? I like it more than the previous cover. I also really like that you can see the covers of Meredith's other novels (Just Friends with Benefits and A State of Jane) too! Very sneaky :) I think the vibe is better. This cover focuses on Kim and her life in the city, with a book in her bag, of course, instead of her computer screen and love interest.

Congrats on the new cover, Meredith. Now, can I have that Blogger Girl sequel yet? ;)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Review: Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched

I read Kim Barnouin's first novel, Skinny Bitch in Love, last summer and absolutely adored it. I was thrilled when I learned there was going to be a second book in the series. I finally got around to reading Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched last week (well after the publication date of  May 6) and I loved it. I think I liked the first one more but this second installment was really enjoyable.

Here's the synopsis:
For the second time in just a few short months, Clementine Cooper's professional reputation hinges on one restaurant review. Clementine's No Crap Cafe is poised to score the Holy Grail of publicity - a mention in the New York Times Sunday travel section - if Clem's veggietastic lasagna can bowl over the food critic.
Clem has no time for distractions. Or surprises. But when her meat-eating millionaire boyfriend Zach Jeffries shocks her with a sweet and romantic marriage proposal, of course she says yes! Now she has to plan the most important menu of her life while fending off her domineering future mother-in-law's extravagant plans for the wedding.
As if there wasn't enough on her plate, Clem decides to open a second restaurant on her parents' farm,Clem's No Crap Outpost, against Zach's advice. Just when she needs his support the most, Zach grows distant. The only person who really seems to understand is Clem's friend and biggest competition, the cute vegan chef Alexander Orr. Putting out fires in the kitchen is easy, but in her relationship? Suddenly, her time with Alexander feels...hotter...than usual, and Clem starts to wonder if the charming carnivore she's engaged to is really the man she should spend her life with.
One of my problems with this book was that it seemed like Simon & Schuster really rushed it to publication. On the minor end: there was one word that were only half italicized (perhaps because there was emphasis on the one part but why have the whole word be italicized in every other mention of it?) and another that had missed the first letter being italicized. There were other, more troublesome, issues, too. There seemed to be quite a bit of repetition. I expect there to be some information given in the second book of a series that I already know because I read the first book. But what I don't expect, or want, is that information told to me again...and again. There was something to do with Alexander (silly me didn't note the page number) that was mentioned at least twice throughout the novel in almost the exact same way. Finally, I had a really hard time following the time line of this novel. Sometimes it was very clear when weeks went by but other times (especially for the epilogue), I had zero idea when it was taking place. I think that contributed to the rushed feeling I had. Those are some specific(ish) examples but, as a whole, I felt the story to be a bit rough and I think the author and editor(s) needed to spend more time on it.

Enough negativity! I really did like this book. I liked it because it's full of a great cast of characters. Clem, our heroine, isn't going to be for everyone. Not just because of her personality (she can be stubborn and mouthy) but because of her age, which, I suppose, plays a large part in her personality. She's, I think, 25 and I know some people might find that they can't relate to her (just like I can't really relate to the mom characters I read). I like that her BFF, Sara, was still very involved in her life. As much as I wanted to strangle Dominique, Zach's mother, I liked that she was a good match for Clem. They're a similar type of woman, strong and used to getting what she wants, and I'm happy with how their relationship ended up. I adored Keira, Zach's step-sister. She was around 19 or so, and had a great personality and was just so much fun to read about. I'm also glad Alexander was around a little bit in this book (even if I'm not totally sure it was necessary) as I have a bit of a soft spot for him! Oh, and I loved Aunt Jocelyn just as much as Clem did. She was the older, wiser, confidante Clem needed and she had a fabulous personality.

I liked the behind the scenes look at the restaurant industry in this book. It was fun to read about Clem working in and running her restaurant's kitchen (though, my god, do I hate the name Clementine's No Crap Cafe). I suppose I liked it, in part, because I always enjoy reading about jobs and such that I have no experience with. I hate cooking. I can make enough so I don't die but I just don't enjoy it (though I will happily make a cake or muffins) so reading about a bunch of characters who live to make food for themselves and others was neat.

Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched was a really fun, perfect for summer, chick lit novel. Kim Barnouin has written a great second novel in her series that was enjoyable, even if I liked the first one more. If you like food, weddings, and chick lit, check this one out!

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourites of 2014...So Far!

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly meme created by the lovely folks at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they're "particularly fond of lists" and since I also enjoy lists, I've decided to participate in this fun feature.

It's been a looong while since I've done a Top Ten Tuesday post. It's not because I haven't wanted to. I just haven't had time. See, I was in Australia for two weeks and I was without wi-fi at both the places I stayed (oh, the horror) so I just didn't get around to doing the posts. Will an adorable koala picture help you forgive me?

I'll  have a full recap post (for those who are interested) eventually. But for now, say hello to Carmella. So cute! Anyway...back to TTT! Can you believe it's almost halfway through 2014 already? Man, where has the year gone? It's been a crazy one for me but I've managed to get a lot of reading done. This list could include all of the Harry Potter books I've reread so far this year (1-5) but that would take up some valuable list real estate so just know that I've been rereading them and it's been awesome. I've read a lot of great books this year but I took the easy way out and listed the books I gave five stars to on Goodreads. Happily, there were ten (other than HP). Easy, peasy! Five stars for me may not mean it's the most amazing work of literature. It means that I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading the book and it left me feeling awesome (other than The Orenda but that is a damn fine novel). Links lead to my review where applicable.

Just Friends With Benefits - Meredith Schorr
The Orenda - Joseph Boyden
To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han
I Don't Know What You Know Me From - Judy Greer
Hard Hats and Doormats - Laura Chapman

Don't Even Think About It - Sarah Mlynowski
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
My Life with the Walter Boys - Ali Novak
What Nora Knew - Linda Yellin
One Tiny Lie - K.A. Tucker

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review: The Never Never Sisters

The Never Never Sisters, the second novel by L. Alison Heller, was just the kind of women's fiction novel I like. It had a balance of light and heavy moments and the darker parts of the novel weren't dismal (I don't like being depressed when I read!). It was a good read.

Here's the synopsis:
Sometimes you just need to get away….
Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.
As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?
I really liked Paige. I was a little wary when I realized she was a marriage counsellor since most characters in that profession can be sort of insufferable. Thankfully, though, Paige wasn't at all annoying. She was real and, just like real people, was about to hit a real rough patch in her marriage. I liked how Heller approached Paige and Dave's issues. They weren't having your stereotypical problems and that made it fresh – though still sad to read about! They seemed like a really solid couple and I wanted things to work out for the best.

Paige and Dave's relationship could have been the only part to this novel but Heller wove in a really compelling story with Sloan – Paige's estranged sister. As much as I enjoyed reading about the sisters, I do think it could have been a little stronger with just a few more connections. I couldn't quite see how the two were bonding so well (though I was very happy they were!).

I found to be sort of odd that Paige's mother had her own chapters throughout the novel. It was confusing, especially when I got to the first "Vanessa" chapter heading and couldn't remember who that was. I suppose it was nice to get her viewpoints but I really didn't think those chapters added any value to the overall story. I found Vanessa's journal entries, from when Sloan was in rehab, more enlightening.

I think the best thing about the book was how Heller managed to surprise me with the ending. I really wasn't sure what was going to happen in the end and I loved that. There were surprises with Paige and Dave's relationship, his work, and Paige and Sloan's relationship. I'm really happy with the way things turned out – even if it may not have been the outcome I expected.

Overall, The Never Never Sisters was an enjoyable read. I think many others would really enjoy L. Alison Heller's novel but it wasn't one that will necessarily stick with me forever. It wasn't bad but it didn't stand out. I still think that you should check this one out if women's fiction is your go-to genre.

*I received a copy of this novel from Wunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review.*

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Promo: Jennifer Weiner is back!

By now I'm sure you've heard that the fabulous Jennifer Weiner has a new book coming out this month. If not, well, you're in the right place! Weiner's latest is titled All Fall Down and it releases on June 17.

Here’s a little bit about the book:
Allison Weiss got her happy ending—a handsome husband, an adorable little girl, a job she loves, and a big house in the suburbs. But when she’s in the pediatrician’s office with her daughter and a magazine flips open to a quiz about addiction, she starts to wonder whether her use of prescription pills is becoming a problem. On the one hand, it’s just prescription medication, the stuff her doctors give her. Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different than a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class…or after your husband ignores you?
Back in the car, with her daughter safely buckled behind her, Allison opens the Altoid tin in her purse and slips a chalky white oval underneath her tongue. The pill unties her knotted muscles, erases the grime and ugliness of the city, soothes her as she frets about the truth of her looking-good life: that her husband’s becoming distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father’s early Alzheimer’s is worsening and her mother’s barely managing to cope. She tells herself that the pills let her make it through her days…but what if her ever-increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?
All Fall Down is the story of a woman’s slide into addiction and struggle to find her way back up again. With a sparkling comedic touch and tender, true-to-life characterizations, this tale of empowerment and redemption is Jennifer Weiner’s most poignant, timely, and triumphant story yet.

You can read the first chapter here. And, most importantly, you can preorder it at,, and Indigo.

*I will be receiving a copy of this novel for review from Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for sharing this promo.*