Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review: Pie Girls

I've read and enjoyed many of Lauren Clark's novels in the past so I was really happy to read Pie Girls, a light hearted women's fiction novel that was released last year. It was just as I expected from Clark's novels: fun, entertaining, and full of great characters.

Here's the synopsis:
Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.
But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.
Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.
Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.
Oh, Searcy. When we first meet her, she's the kind of woman you love to hate. She seems to have it all together and has no problem flaunting it. She has the husband, the money, the lifestyle everyone (for the most part) envies. But then it all comes crashing down around her and she has to face some hard facts. Has she really been living a life that should be envied?

The best thing about these kind of fall from grace stories is when the character is genuinely trying to figure out her life and make changes for the better. I could tell that Searcy's journey was going to be one I would be happy with, even if she did struggle mightily at times. I was rooting for her the whole way through and I kept my fingers crossed that she'd get the Happily Ever After she deserved.

One of the things I loved about this book was the small town feel. I liked getting to know the characters in Fairhope and seeing how they rally behind Searcy, her mother, and Pie Girls.

Pie Girls is a lot of fun. Lauren Clark is fantastic at balancing a light hearted storyline with moments that have a lot of depth. I definitely encourage you to check out her previously published novels!

*A copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

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.

Tomorrow is the first official day of fall! Can you believe it? As much as I love fall clothing, I am not looking forward to cooler weather and Canadian winter! The books I've included in this week's Top Ten Tuesday are a mix of titles. Some of them are not released yet so I'm looking forward to reading them as soon as they're released. Others are for events, book clubs, blog tours, or just because. What are you looking forward to reading this fall?

Racing the Sun - Karina Halle
This is a bit of a cheat as I just started it yesterday but I need to have it done before the weekend so I can pass it (and another of Halle's) onto a friend I'm seeing on Sunday!

Surviving Ice - K.A. Tucker (publication date: October 27)
I'm so excited for this last book in the Burying Water series! More than I thought I would be, actually. I'll admit that I'm still not sure if I'll love reading about Ivy but I love Tucker so I know it'll be a good story.

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
This is a book I've been thinking about reading and I always decide not to because it's so not my usual fare. However, the time has come for me to dive in because I'll be leading the discussion for next month's Beer and Books event the library I work at holds every month. Can't run a meeting without reading the book first!

Avelynn - Marissa Campbell
This will be a read for the magazine I review for. Apparently it will appeal to fans of Outlander!

Smoke - Catherine McKenzie (publication date: October 20)
Catherine is one of my favourite authors. I actually have a signed ARC from BEA that I've been holding off on reading. I think I just wanted to wait until closer to the publication date (it feels like a fall book) plus I know as soon as I read it I'll have to start waiting all over again for her next book!

Anne of Ingleside - L.M. Montgomery
I've gotten back into the swing of things with the Green Gables Readalong. This one is October's read.

Poles Apart - Terry Fallis (publication date: October 20)
I've still only read one of Fallis' novels but I'm going to rectify that soon with his upcoming book. I have an ARC (that the boyfriend has already devoured) that I'm really looking forward to reading!

A Sister's Place - Savannah Page
I've read and loved Page's other works (the When Girlfriends... series) so I'm excited about this one. I have to have it read before November for a blog tour.

The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah
This one will be next month's book club pick. I just had my first meeting last night and put the book on reserve at my library. 23 holds. Gulp.

The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance - Kirsty Greenwood
I've received a few books from publishers in the last little while and this is the one I'm most looking forward to diving into. It seems like it'll be really different and fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Review: Finding Audrey

I've been reading Sophie Kinsella books for a long time now. When I heard she was writing a Young Adult novel I was immediately intrigued. I wasn't really sure what to expect from Finding Audrey...literally. I didn't even read the synopsis before requesting a review copy. That's how much faith I have in Kinsella!

Here's what this novel is all about:
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey's daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother's gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she's never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
This was a super fast read for me. I sat myself down at my patio set in the backyard (I read it back in June) and did not move from the chair until I was done. Part of this was due to the fact that it was an easy read. The other was that I was 100% in and would not rest until I found out how Audrey's story ended up.

I talked with my friend Natalie, of Browsing Bookshelves, a day or so after I finished the book. She too had finished the book quickly and could not put it down either. We also both had the same reaction when we were done. We realized there's a lot of merit in a book that we could not stop reading but...does that mean it actually was a really good read? Because we did have some issues with this book. (You can read Natalie's review here.)

I was a little unsure about the way Audrey's anxiety disorder was approached. I loved that Kinsella wrote a book about a girl who isn't your typical YA heroine. But...I was a tad hesitant about how Audrey was eventually able to deal with her anxiety. I felt like it made it look too easy and gave too much importance to certain relationships. Now, I don't have an anxiety disorder. I don't know anyone who does, at least not like Audrey. I'm no doctor. So I'm not really sure what would help someone with a disorder like this. Does Kinsella, really? I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and hope that she did a lot of research before writing this book.

I absolutely adored Audrey. I was her biggest fan the entire time I was reading this book. I think what helped this feeling was how the novel was told. I felt like I had just sat down with Audrey and she was telling me all about her life. It was totally conversational and I loved it.

I also loved Audrey's family. She has two brothers, one is a bit older (who is giving her mother absolute hell because he's, in her words, addicted to computer games) and one is much younger (he's just the cutest thing). Her parents were her biggest supporters and you can tell they are trying so hard to fix the world for their daughter.

All in all, I was really happy with Finding Audrey. I think Sophie Kinsella has done well with her first foray into Young Adult and I'd definitely recommend it to others. Have you read this one? I'd love to hear what you thought of it!

*A copy of this novel was provided by Doubleday Canada (Penguin Random House Canada) in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Saturday, September 12, 2015

BEA 2015: Touristing + Leaving NYC

Saturday was my last full day in New York City. Since I had never been to NYC before, I knew I needed to add some sightseeing time into my trip. I also knew I wouldn't have a ton of time to see things because I didn't feel super comfortable wandering around on my own and I was already pretty booked up before I even got to BEA.

Ciara (Lost at Midnight) and I decided we would spend the morning together and meet up with Katherine (Ms Lady Critic) later in the day. We wanted to see as much as we could so we picked a lot of things we could sort of do walk-by stops at. First up: the M&M's and Hershey's stores in Times Square.

Oh my gosh, guys. So much chocolate. It was so cool just looking around M&M's World because there were colours everywhere. Look at those M&M dispensers! Because I didn't have a ton of money and am trying to not eat as much junk, I walked away from both stores empty handed. (Except for the free chocolate at Hershey that ended up melting and then I forgot it when I was packing up anyway. Fail.)

Ciara decided we could cut through Times Square before heading to Bryant Park. This was when she learned that I hadn't actually been to NYC before and immediately stopped and made me stand in front of the iconic buildings for a typical tourist picture. We ended up walking the wrong way, I think?, off the subway but it was an excellent move because we found ourselves in front of the New York Public Library. You know...the one with the lions out front! So we took a selfie, as one does. Bryant Park was lovely (I didn't get a great picture!) and it was nice to have a brief break in the shade. It was so hot outside! I had spotted the HBO Store down the street and we decided to make a quick stop. I picked up an Eastbound and Down shot glass for my boyfriend's brother, a Sex and the City magnet for me, and a Newsroom coffee mug for my boyfriend. The guy at cash (who had visited Toronto, naturally, because everyone we met had been there) told me that the building across the street, the Bank of America Tower, was used for the media building in the Newsroom. They just used CGI to put the fake media corporation name on it in post-production. Neat!

Left: Look, Ma! I'm in Times Square! | Middle: Making new friends with the lions.
Right: Can't believe that building is in The Newsoom!

We battled slow/delayed subways and large crowds and powerwalked our way down (up?) Fifth Avenue (Tiffany's!) to make it to FAO Schwarz and Katherine. The three of us definitely wanted to go to the iconic toy store because we knew it would be closing in July. It was so freaking cool. So many toys and things to play with! If you've never been, employees are stationed throughout the store showing off different toys. We happened upon one guy who had the coolest Melissa and Doug game (it was similar to Jenga). We started playing and he asked us where we were from. We answered generally: Ontario, Canada. He was all, "No way, I'm from Brampton!" Cue the jaw dropping. Just kidding! He actually wasn't (I think he was from Montana or something) but the fact that he knew Brampton and could kind of tell us where it was totally made our afternoon. After spending way too much time playing the game (and all of us wishing we could afford to buy it) we carried on to our next destination: Central Park!

Top left: I wanted that Barbie so bad. | Top middle: The Big piano!
Top right: The closest I got to the Statue of Liberty.
Bottom: The main store signage. I was there!
Of all the things to do in Central Park, I really wanted to see the Alice in Wonderland statue. Katherine and Ciara wanted to ride the carousel, which I was totally down for. It was classic, nostalgic, and a lot of fun. We wandered through the Mall and Literary Walk (spotted Robert Burns and had to take a picture for my grandma. We're Stewarts, after all.), found Hans Christian Andersen, and then came upon Alice. Ciara and I scrambled up for a picture (thanks, Katherine!). I, as a bunny owner, snuggled up to the White Rabbit and Ciara nearly burned her butt sitting on the mushroom. Totally worth it! :) We walked through Bethesda Terrace (I foolishly didn't get a picture. It was so beautiful though.) and saw the Loeb Boathouse and the pond that are featured in so many movies. Again, beautiful.

Top left: Hello from the carousel! | Top middle: Robbie Burns! | Top right: carousel details.
Bottom left: Chilling with Alice and her friends. | Bottom middle: The Ugly Duckling + Hans.
Bottom right: Beautiful scenery. 
We made it out of Central Park, a tad reluctantly, and set off in search of food. Specifically, the Shake Shack. When in NYC, right? We walked past the Met (oh, I cannot wait until I'm back in NYC and can spend a full day there) and dragged our weary, hungry selves into the bustling Shake Shack (I don't remember the last time I've been so happy to see food!). The milkshake was definitely necessary. I had finally admitted to the girls the night before that I had never actually had a macaron (despite being strongly opposed to/annoyed by people using macaroon when they mean macaron) so they were adamant that we stop at Ladurée. (And if you were wondering what my first experience tasting a macaron was like, don't worry, Katherine instagrammed a video of it. You're welcome.) I don't know if I can have any other macarons since Ladurée is kind of a big deal. Mmm. Yum.

After Ladurée we made our way back to the apartment because we had agreed to go to a Paper Lantern Lit party in Brooklyn that Jess (Read My Breath Away) had been invited to later that night. While I'm happy we went and it was fun to be with everyone (Tiff and Sarah included), it almost wasn't worth it. We were already late leaving and certain subway lines weren't running so that made us even later and we missed the games and most of the fun at the party. We did get drinks and candy so that was a plus. I was a super fancy lady and had some Rosé (in my plastic cup) while others tried the punch (it had basil in it and I leave the basil to my rabbit). I classed it up even more and ate a candy necklace as well. I also turned down the free ARCs that were being handed out at the end of the evening. They weren't books I really wanted to read and I was super conscious of suitcase space!

I also couldn't help but think of all the things I didn't get to see in New York City. I didn't see the Statue of Liberty. I wasn't able to make it to the 9/11 Memorial (a fact I'm really dwelling on today, 9/11, as I write this). I didn't get up the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock. I wish I could have made it on The High Line too (something I didn't even know existed until I was there). I am happy with what I did get to see and I know I was there for BEA but I can't help but wish I had done just a bit more sightseeing.

While at the publishing party, Tiff, Katherine and I arranged to get to the airport together, which lead us to packing as soon as we got back to the apartment. But even the fact that Emilie needed to leave at the crack of dawn to drive back to Ottawa didn't stop us from staying up too late and enjoying our last night in New York City together. Katherine and I quickly regretted it the next morning when we both overslept and had to throw crap in our suitcase and hope we weren't overweight. We made it to the car service (which was early, of course) and realized all three of us were going to different terminals in Newark. Of course. Why can't things be simple? Once I was dropped off, a very  nice United employee got to work checking me in. Then disaster struck. Again. Yep. My flight was cancelled. Again. I was super lucky that I was early so the woman got me all set up on the next flight, just 45 minutes after my original flight. It still meant I had a lot of waiting to do in the airport. But, bonus, both suitcases were underweight! I was so happy I went the suitcase within a suitcase route! At long last, I made it back to Buffalo, got off the (tiny) plane in the pouring rain, gathered my (wet) luggage, made my way to my parked car, and went off towards the border and my country. This was where I was very worried. I had heard horror stories of people being charged duty and given trouble for going over the border with ARCs they had received at BEA. Luckily I made it through without incident. Finally, about an hour after landing, I was home sweet home. I was exhausted and exhilarated and I couldn't wait to unpack all of my lovely new books and start planning for BEA 2016.

Stay tuned for my haul post where I will share everything I brought back with me from BEA. I can sum it up in one word: insanity.

In case you missed it...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cover Reveal: Butterfly Ginger

I'm really excited to take part in today's cover reveal (organized by Jen Halligan PR) for Stephanie Fournet's upcoming novel, Butterfly Ginger. As soon as I read what it's about I knew I wanted to get involved because it features one of my favourite subjects for romances and contemporary novels: a second chance love story!

Before I share the cover, here's what the book is all about:
Butterfly Ginger is the story of first love getting a second chance. The summer before freshman year, Nate Bradley and Blythe Barnes meet and fall hard. Even with plans to attend college in different cities, they’re convinced that nothing can tear them apart—until everything does. Now, six years later, life in South Louisiana is giving them the chance to put the pieces back together.'s the cover!

It's sweet, isn't it? Make sure you add the book to Goodreads! It will be published on November 3.

About the Author
Stephanie Fournet, author of Fall Semester, Legacy, and Butterfly Ginger, lives in Lafayette, Louisiana—not far from the Saint Streets where her novels are set. She shares her home with her husband John and her daughter Hannah, their needy dogs Gladys and Mabel, and an immortal blue finch named Baby Blue. When she isn’t writing romance novels, she is usually helping students get into college or running.  She loves hearing from fans, so look for her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and and

Oh, and guess what! There's a giveaway! 

Blog Tour: When Girlfriends Find Love

I can't believe Savannah Page's When Girlfriends series is over! I've read all but the first so when I saw CLP Blog Tours was hosting a tour for When Girlfriends Find Love I immediately signed up. I've grown to love the six friends featured in this series and I knew I had to see how their stories would be wrapped up in the seventh and final book.

Here's the synopsis:
Sophie Wharton is in control. Whether life is going according to plan or throwing her for a loop, Sophie is determined to remain calm and in charge. It's no wonder she's the successful owner of one of Seattle's most charming cafés, The Cup and the Cake. Her lemon meringue cupcakes, petite French treats, and cappuccinos always leave customers coming back for more. Naturally, her camaraderie of college girlfriends are still thick as thieves a decade later. And it should come as no surprise that she has her own cozy apartment in the hip part of town and grand goals for her future.
Of course Sophie has had her share of rough times, and recently some unexpected surprises have emerged. Her best friend Claire has moved across the state, the demands of her café are mounting, and some major changes among her circle of friends are shaking things up. But it's nothing Sophie can't handle.
When it comes to her love life, however, Single Sophie's at a loss. She approaches it the way she does nearly everything in life--by trying to call all the shots. But love doesn't work that way, and as Sophie examines her past relationships--thinking back on romantic trysts in Paris; college mistakes; the relationship responsible for the Year of Heartbreak--she must come to accept that love is an unpredictable, untamable, and often unexpected force.
This is the witty and heartwarming conclusion of the When Girlfriends collection, a novel about examining the past, moving forward, and following your heart. It's a story about friendship, relationships, acceptance, and learning to love again. About what happens when girlfriends find love.
Because I've read (most of) the other books in the series, I already had a feeling I knew who Sophie would end up with. I didn't have a problem with that, exactly. My annoyance came from Sophie herself. She was resisting her feelings so much and I wanted to reach through the pages and shake her! I think my issue was that I couldn't understand why she was so hesitant to get into a relationship that she so clearly wanted. They were in their late twenties and by this point you should be able to talk about your feelings. (I can say this as someone in her late twenties.) This wasn't exactly a huge deal but I kind of did have the "ok, let's get this show on the road" feeling and may have turned the pages a bit too fast so I could just get to the conclusion. I was actually really happy with the romantic conclusion for Sophie (and Lara too!) and there was a twist thrown in that I was only sort of expecting. Yay, Sophie! :)

What I did really have a problem with was that Page seemed to repeat herself. A lot. I lost count of the number of times Sophie mentioned how she and Robin had had the hardest friendship test but Sophie forgave Robin because their friendship was worth more to her than her past romantic relationship with Brandon (quick recap: Brandon and Robin slept together when he was still with Sophie and Robin got pregnant.) There were other instances where Page told the same information again and again (and not in any new ways), plus Sophie was a broken record in regards to her feelings because she couldn't possible make a relationship with him work! Bah. I think this was a case of the novel needing one more edit and, unfortunately, it negatively coloured my feelings on the overall story.

All that being said, I did enjoy reading this book! I read it in one day (essentially in one sitting, actually!) because I was so into and invested in the story. I really like "hanging out" with these characters because they're all around my age and I can relate quite well to their stories and issues. I have to commend Page on really nailing the inner workings of the minds of late twentysomethings. 

As I said, I can't quite believe When Girlfriends Find Love is the final book in the When Girlfriends series. I really came to love the girls in this series (some more than others, of course) and it was hard to say goodbye. It was made better, however, because I really felt that Savannah Page wrapped things up exactly as they should have been. Check out this series if you haven't yet!

*A copy of this novel was provided by CLP Blog Tours in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Make sure you check out the reviews by the other bloggers taking part in this blog tour. And don't forget to enter the giveaway (link here, widget below).

About the Author
Savannah Page is the author of the seven-novel When Girlfriends collection, heartfelt women's fiction that celebrates friendship, love, and life sprinkled with drama and humor. When she isn't writing, Savannah enjoys a good book with a latte and jazz tunes, Pilates, and exploring her home of Berlin as an American expat.

Connect with Savannah Page

Buy Links:
Kobo (US)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blog Tour: Leading Lines

Welcome to my stop on the ECW Press blog tour for the latest Pippa Greene novel, Leading Lines. I haven't reviewed the first two of Chantel Guertin's YA series on the blog (though I did write a review for book two, Depth of Field, for Niagara Life Magazine), I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. I jumped at the chance to be a part of the tour for the third book in the series. Not only did I really like the book, but I also loved the chance to ask Chantel a few questions.

Here's the synopsis:
After two drama-filled weeks in Manhattan, Pippa Greene is back. Despite a romantic reunion with boyfriend Dylan, she can’t seem to shake the emotional aftermath of New York. As she navigates parental drama at home and her charged dynamic with Ben Baxter at school, Pippa finds that Dylan is more wrapped up in his post-high-school life of bands, shows, and new friends than in their relationship. Will it survive?
I absolutely flew through this novel. It's not very long but the story still packs a punch that will keep you turning the pages until you're done (which, in my case, was just a couple of hours). Don't you just love those kinds of books?

I found that this one, compared to the first two books, focused more on Pippa's romantic relationships. It's not necessarily a bad thing but I really liked how the other titles had Pippa exploring herself a little bit more. The latest book was less about her family and figuring out her path in life and photography, and more about her relationship problems. Like I said, it's not a bad thing. I like romantic storylines as much as the next girl, but part of what I really loved about this series was the nice balance of life and love Guertin had created.

This is a really great YA series for the teen in your life, plus those YA adult readers who like good stories. That being said, if you sometimes struggle with younger protagonists, this one might not be for you. Pippa is just 16 years old and she acts like it. This is both awesome and a tad annoying. It's awesome because Guertin completely nails what it's like to be a 16 year old girl. I found myself remembering what I was like when I was 16 (that was a trip down memory lane...thanks, Chantel ;) haha) and the feelings I had were oh so similar to Pippa's feelings. Of course, I'm no longer 16 and it's hard, sometimes, to tell my 28 year old brain to really immerse myself in the teenage brain.

I'm really excited there's going to be one more novel in this series. I really do love reading about Pippa and getting the chance to go back to Spalding is always fun. Leading Lines was such a delightful addition to the series and I already can't wait for the final book!
A huge thank you to Chantel for answering a few questions for me!

Books Etc.: How did you come up with the Pippe Greene series?
Chantel Guertin: I wanted to write a story that blended sadness with funny moments--one of my favourite types of novels. The idea of a girl whose father had died came to me from experience, as when I was about Pippa's age, my own mom died of cancer after a lengthy battle. That balance -- of dealing with death and trying to be a normal teenager with your own life became the starting-off point for the series, and then with each book, I thought "Now What would Pippa Do?" 

BE: Pippa is really interested in – and skilled at – photography. Is that a hobby of yours or did you have to do a lot of research to be able to use appropriate terminology?
CG: A few years ago I was looking for another creative outlet so for my birthday I bought myself a Canon Rebel camera (same as Pippa!) and hired a photographer to teach me how to use it. My new hobby inspired me to create a character who liked photography. 

BE: You've written chick lit in the past – my favourite genre! What made you want to try your hand at writing for and about a younger crowd?
CG: My publisher for my chicklit novels went out of business right after they had promised me that they'd publish one of my books every year (a novelist's dream!). I had a very bad year of feeling sorry for myself, eating ice cream, and having no confidence in my writing. Then one day I started writing again, but I wanted a change. I'd read YA books my whole life, and I thought it would give me a fresh start, to write in a new genre. That first book I wrote became The Rule of Thirds, which my new, amazing publisher ECW bought, and then expanded the deal to a four-book series as well as buying my two chicklit books and re-releasing them so that readers could buy them once again. Things couldn't have turned out better. 

BE: What's it like writing for the YA market (I don't want to say teenagers since so many people read YA, yay!) compared to adults?
CG: I love how honest YA books can be--and how you can explore scenarios (like a love triangle!) that in YA can be so exciting and awesome, whereas were it a novel for adults, there would be some moral ramifications to deal with. Not to say that writing about a love triangle (or reading about one) in an adult book isn't exciting, but it needs to be treated in a very different manner.  

BE: What's your writing process like? Do you like to write at a certain time of day or in a certain place? Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?
CG: I have a varied schedule because of the other things I do (I teach magazine writing to post-grad students at a local college, am a beauty expert on the Marilyn Denis Show, and I have three children who have various activities after school and in the evening), so I've had to throw any sort of writing schedule out -- which has been a good thing. I write whenever and wherever I have time. Sometimes that means while sitting in the car before a soccer game is about to start. I like that because if I'm not writing, there's no one to blame but myself. As for plotting vs pantsing, it depends on the stage I'm at. Some of my best and favourite scenes are ones where I've been inspired by an idea or event and I let myself write that scene out in detail even if I don't know where it's going to fit into the book. But at some point before I get too far into the book, I plot it out to make sure there's a real point to the book.  As a result, some of those earlier scenes will make the cut, and sometimes they won't. 

BE: Finally, now for something completely different: What's your favourite treat? Cupcakes? Candy? Something alcoholic? 
CG: Jujubes. 

Check out the other reviews that are part of the tour...there are even some giveaways happening!
September 5: Tour kickoff, Review, and Giveaway, Booking it with Hayley G
September 6: Giveaway, Chapter byChapter 
September 7: Review, Books Etc (that's me!)
September 8: Review, Read my BreathAway
September 9: Review, One More PageReviews
September 10: Review, Sukasa Reads
September 11: Guest Post, DearTeen Me
September 12: Review and Excerpt, Brains Books and Brawn
September 13: Review, Musings of aWriter
September 14: Review, Ramblings of aDaydreamer
September 15: Review and Giveaway, TheBook Bratz

*A copy of this novel was provided by the publisher, ECW Press, in exchange for a review for the purposes of this blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, September 4, 2015

BEA 2015: Day Three

This is it, friends. The final day of BEA. *sobs* I couldn't believe it was already Friday! I felt like I had barely scratched the surface of the event.

The day started early for me and Katherine. I wanted to get an autograph line ticket for Meg Cabot and she wanted tickets for Jennifer L. Armentrout and another author (I think?). Tickets were handed out starting at the ridiculous hour of 7:00 AM. These tickets weren't for all authors, just the ones that would have a really large crowd. So, we woke up at 6:00, stumbled out of the house at 6:15, arrived at Javits at 6:30, got our tickets just after 7:00, and stumbled back home for breakfast (and tea for me). While we sat in line, I finally read one of the show guides. Um. Why hadn't I been reading that every day? So many tidbits! We also shook our heads in amazement at the group already lined up to get into the show, which, by the way, didn't open for another two hours.

Everyone else in the house left early because there were important books to be had but Katherine and I took our time and wandered back to Javits together. We got more Litograph tattoos (this time it was "The Tell-Tale Heart") and I remembered there was a print I wanted to get from an upcoming picture book. Finding Winnie is about the real Winnie the Pooh. As a Canadian and a Winnie fan, I had to have it!
Left: How cute is this illustration? | Right: How cute is Beth? :)
While wandering I also found a copy of Everybody Rise, which I had I wanted to pick up but missed out on. How lucky is that? Also, after hemming and hawing all week, I finally picked up the Litographs Anne of Green Gables print I've been lusting after for ages. This way I wouldn't have to pay the obscene shipping cost to Canada. Win! Another notable moment was getting a picture with Beth (Fuelled by Fiction), though I didn't want to say goodbye because she lives so far away!

Friday was all about quality over quantity. I got a bunch of signed books (of the nine I picked up that day, five of them were signed) which was amazing. (Stay tuned for the haul post where you can see each and every title I received!) I had planned on getting Sandy Hall's new one, Signs Point to Yes, because I adored A Little Something Different (review here). Not anticipated was the new Abbi Glines novel, Until Friday Night. She had two signings that day but that one was the only one that fit into my schedule.

Lunch was with Katherine at the little healthy grocery store down the street from Javits. I was in desperate need of vitamins and nutrients so I loaded up on Greek salad and a ton of fruit. SO needed and delicious!

Finally it was time for the main event of my BEA: Meeting Catherine McKenzie! I was standing in line, quietly hyperventilating, when Katherine came up behind me. I had been gushing about McKenzie all week so Katherine wanted to see what it was all about. Of course, now she'd be present for my fangirling and she was finding way too much pleasure in that. I don't know why I was so worried about meeting Catherine ("what if she doesn't know who I am?") because as soon as I came up and she saw the sticky note with my name on it, she lit up and immediately gave me a hug. She even introduced me to her agent ("Kaley's been reviewing my books since 2010!")! I ended up being quite happy Katherine was there as she took this picture of Catherine and I. I wanted to keep chatting but I knew there were others in line. I walked off clutching my signed ARC of Smoke and wearing, I'm sure, a stupid, huge grin on my face. Whee!

I lined up in the unofficial Meg Cabot line quite early (I had learned the ropes quickly, plus I didn't have anything else pressing to see) and when we moved to the official pre-line, I was about fourth or so. I knew there would be some people jumping the line (you could purchase passes that allowed you to have a line jump at an autograph session), such as Emilie, but I was still pretty excited about how close to the front I was. I made friends with a woman behind me (who is friends with the woman who got bit a few years ago! She was so amused that so many people had heard that story. Her friend? Not so amused.). This new friendship with Kate worked out very well for me because I was able to hop over the the K.A. Tucker signing line, which I didn't think I'd be able to make! I was totally thrilled that Tucker remembered meeting me in Toronto last September and that I had reviewed Burying Water for the magazine I write for. After a lovely, fangirling (on my part) meeting, I hopped back over to the Meg Cabot line. It's been years since I've read a Princess Diaries book, but I was so excited about Royal Wedding. Cabot asked if it was for me and I said how I had thought about having her sign it to my sister but she said that was silly and I needed it for me! (Sorry, dude!) Also, did I mention Cabot was wearing a tiara? Amazing!

By this point most of us roomies had met up and we decided to do one last lap before trudging home. Emilie and Jess got some travel books (pro tip: wait until the last day and sometimes the publishers will give you things that had previously only been on display. This is how Ciara got the mini light up TARDIS I was going to give to my sister until I found out she already had it. I just politely asked at the end of the day if I may please have one of the mini books.) Katherine and I each picked up a cute picture book for the kiddos in our lives (niece/nephew on my end). After a quick couple of pictures of the venue (why hadn't I done that before?) and the Pengin Book Truck, it was time to say goodbye to Javits and BEA.

Left: SO many posters for BOOKS! | Right: I saw the Penguin book truck in person!
We dumped our books and made our way to the blogger dinner Tiff had planned at Bourbon Street Bar and Grille. It was nice to see some other bloggers buuut...we really didn't have the chance to mingle. We ended up getting there last so it was basically just us roomies at the table and those of us at one end of the table couldn't hear a thing at the other end because the restaurant was so loud.

How many bloggers can you fit in one picture?
The evening took an upswing when we decided to go back to The Strand that night instead of working it into our busy Saturday. I knew I wanted to get myself a shot glass to add to my collection and get as many postcards as I could for my sister to add to her collection. I was a really good girl and just bought souvenir type things and didn't get any books or totes or anything totally unnecessary. Yay, me!

Once we got home we decided it'd be a brilliant idea to drink, eat more food, and watch The Princess Diaries. As you do when a few of the roommates met Meg Cabot that day. (Yes, we know the books and the movie are very different.) It was probably the best way to end the day and I am so glad the girls didn't mind me quoting the movie constantly. I've only seen it a bajillion times. :) Then, to bed to prepare for a day of touristing in New York City! Whee!

In case you missed it...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Blog Tour: Love Comes Home

I know I've mentioned it before on the blog but I'm a sucker for sweet, second chance love stories. Kristi Rose's new short story collection, Love Comes Home , delivered exactly what I love about those kind of stories! I smiled, laughed, and teared up as I read the five short stories included in this collection. It's a must-read for romance lovers!

I know there's a lot of text included in this post but make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of the review...there's a giveaway included in this blog tour!

Here's the description of the anthology, courtesy of Goodreads:
A collection of five sweet, heartwarming contemporary romances about forgiveness, second chances, and loving through difficult times. 
Perfect length books to satisfy your need to read when time is limited. Great for carpool, waiting in line, running kids to practice or lounging on the beach.
Second Chances- Book 1: A fourteen year old heartbreak is the only thing that stands between a second chance at love and happiness for Cole Williams and Lorelei Parker. 
Once Again- Book 2: When old flame Grady Duke moves in next door to workaholic Evie Barker, she realizes there's more lacking in her life than down time. 
Reason to Stay- Book 3: Rising songwriter Shea Barker is driven toward one thing- her career. Until she meets sports writer Leo Marshall and discovers that maybe her lyrics aren’t the only place where love is found. 
He’s the One- Book 4: Melinda Bane is putting her eggs into the sperm bank basket. When a house fire puts her dreams on hold, her oldest friend Jared Calhoun just might have a solution.
Kiss Me Again- Book 5: Andee Swift's ten year marriage has lost its spark and, whether it’s costume play or couples therapy, she’ll do whatever it takes to reignite the flame. 
I think my favourite thing about this collection was how all the stories were connected. All the characters in the stories were either friends or knew each other from their small town of Lakeland. I liked finding out what the characters from the previous story were up to! That being said, I found the connections a wee bit lacking in book four, "He's the One", which featured Melinda. It seemed like she just popped out of nowhere and I couldn't quite see how she fit in. Truthfully, she didn't come out of nowhere as she was a part of Grady and Evie's story, but in that one she was someone I kind of didn't like. It took a lot to reconfigure my thoughts about her. This was really the only negative I had with the entire collection though, so, yay!

I liked that, even though all of the stories had a "second chance" theme, they all had a different storyline. It wasn't the same thing written five times with five different couples. How boring would that have been? Granted, books one and two did feature old flames but the situations were quite different, both then and now. All of the stories were fresh and kept me excited about reading the next one.

This collection is exactly the kind of romance I like to read (though I sometimes like reading ones that are a little steamier...this one is, well, tame for a lack of a better word). It was sweet and featured characters I really cared about. Even though the romantic relationship was the main point of each story, every character (both the heroines and heroes) had an interesting life and Rose made sure to share that. I don't like when the characters don't have any personality or a life outside of trying to land a partner so I was thrilled that each character was developed and interesting. It made me want to move to their small town to hang out with all of them!

Overall, Love Comes Home was a total winner for me. Kristi Rose has become one of my romance authors to watch. I think every other romance lover will enjoy this collection as well. The stories are a perfect length so you can read it in snippets over a week or devour the whole collection in one day. Perhaps by the pool before the summer is over?

Want to own a copy yourself? (Yeah, you do.) Here's where you can purchase Love Comes Home:

See what other bloggers had to say about this sweet romance collection. The list of other tour stops is here.

About the Author
Kristi Rose was raised in central Florida on boiled peanuts and iced tea. She’s been lucky enough to travel the world but now, a wife and mother, she's resigned to traveling to the grocery store. No matter where she is, she enjoys watching people and wondering about their story. That’s what Kristi likes to write. Stories about everyday people, the love that brings them together, and their journey getting there. Kristi is a member of RWA.

Good luck! :)
Grand Prize: One signed ebook or paperback, two fun diner signs (pictured below), and $25 gift card of choice (US or FPO/APO address only). 
1st Prize: One digitally signed LOVE COMES HOME ebook, $15 gift card of choice  (international).
2nd Prize: One digitally signed LOVE COMES HOME ebook, and $10 gift card of choice (international)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*An eARC was provided by Jen Halligan PR for this blog tour in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BEA 2015: Day Two

Happy birthday to meeeeee! That's right...Thursday was Day Two at BEA and my champagne birthday! I was thrilled to be celebrating my 28th birthday in New York City and completely surrounded by books.

I actually ended up spending the majority of the day at the show on my own. It was actually kind of nice because I was able to stop where I wanted, when I wanted, and stay as long as I wanted. I knew one of the things I had to do was the tattoo chain from Litographs. The basics: they take a poem, chop it up, and make temporary tattoos. I got the second last piece of the day for "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot. I told the guy taking the pictures that I wanted to do this that day because it's something fun to do on my birthday. He wished me a happy birthday and said they "just happened" to be having a birthday special and I got to pick out a tattoo to take home with me! (Stay tuned for my haul post where you'll see which one I picked!) How nice was that?

Left: Colouring books are all the rage (yay!) and there was a board to colour!
Top: My Litographs tat and the photos of the chain.
Bottom: The craziness that was the Harlequin romance signing.
I was getting the hang of signing times and such and I learned that Harlequin was going to be doing three signings throughout the day. I went to the romance one in the morning (I think that was the morning one) and the women's fiction in the afternoon. I skipped the insanity that was the YA signing. Harlequin did things a bit differently: you met and got signed books from about six authors all at once. It was nice because it cuts down on the number of lines you have to wait in but it's also tough when, at the end of the day, you have twelve novels to lug home and you're not sure if you want to read all of them! I ended up giving two of them away to two of my roommates and another got left behind since I knew I wouldn't read it. Suitcase space was precious! It was great to chat with the ladies at Harlequin (I loved seeing all the badges from Canada!) and meeting so many of their authors.

Orphan Black was for my mom. Hexed is
signed. And yes, that is Lumberjanes!
Katherine (Ms Lady Critic) and I met up at some point and wandered around together. We ran into someone who told us that there were Saved by the Bell comic books up for grabs. Since we didn't have any authors to see in the next little while, we headed on over to the graphic novel area. Boy, did we do well! We got chatting to a few of the vendors who were more than happy to hand over some titles for us since we're fairly new to graphic novels. A huge thank you to all of them for these goodies!

Lunch on day two was at a diner down the street from Javits. After a crazy huge meal (that was cheaper than eating at the centre), the roommates went home (happily taking my signed Sandra Boynton print with them so I wouldn't damage it - thanks, ladies!) and I went back to the show for the Harlequin women's fiction signing and a few other authors I wanted to see. I had promised my friend Natalie, of Browsing Bookshelves, I would try to get something for her. I ended up having time to get After the Red Rain signed by Barry Lyga for her, yay!

By a happy coincidence, I ended up in line behind Melissa (Chick Lit Central) at the women's fiction signing at Harlequin. Samantha Stroh Bailey came by to say goodbye to Melissa (who was leaving at the end of that day). Melissa wanted a pic of all three of us and, in more "the world is so small", the person taking our picture ended up being Beth of Fuelled by Fiction, a fellow Canadian blogger! The day before Giselle of Booknerd Canada had mentioned me, Katherine, and Beth in a tweet so it was a crazy coincidence. I absolutely adore Beth and I'm so glad I got to meet her in person. I just wish we didn't live in different provinces!

After a long day, I scurried home to change before my big birthday night out. While I was planning for the week, I had mentioned to Tiff (Mostly YA Lit) that I didn't have Thursday night plans. She and Sarah (You Should Read this YA) were planning to see Finding Neverland after dinner out that night. Did I want in? Um, hells yes. Dinner was at The Marshal, an amazing local place where I ate the best mac and cheese ever and the most scrumptious strawberry shortcake. Mmm. Bring me back.

3 ladies out on the town - I loved that the menu had the date on it!
A delicious New York rose cide - Birthday Dessert #3
Next stop: Broadway! I was so pumped for the show and was so pleased that Finding Neverland ended up being beyond amazing. There was laughter and tears (from Tiff...she just couldn't hold it together ;) ) and a great time had by all. (Seriously, see it if you're in New York!)

After the show was birthday dessert #4 (if you're keeping track) - donut ice cream sandwiches! Yep. Such a thing exists. Tiff, who discovered the shop and bought my dessert for me (thank you!!), was a champ and finished hers while Sarah and I had to admit defeat. I just couldn't finish my birthday cake ice cream between a coconut topped donut! But, boy, was it ever good. (Not so good? The guy who decided to start chatting us up. Sarah was too nice, I ignored him, and Tiff, at the other end of the table, was oblivious. Thank you to the shop owners for kicking him out before things got too awkward!)

Left: In front of the sign outside the theatre. Middle: I'm at a Broadway show!
Right: Posing with my gigantic dessert.
I don't think I could have asked for a better birthday. Thank you to everyone who made it such a special day!

Make sure you check out Tiff's day two recap post because she's got some more great pictures and details of our evening out.

In case you missed it...