Friday, November 15, 2013

Sisters In White Book Blast

Book Three in the Snow Sisters Series! Check out the post for Book Two Sisters in Bloom!

Danica and Kaylie Snow are about to celebrate the biggest day of their lives—their double wedding—on an island in the Bahamas. But no wedding is complete without a little family drama. The two sisters aren’t ready to face the father they haven’t seen since he divorced their mother and moved away to marry his mistress, and live with Lacy, the half sister they've never met.

While Danica has exchanged letters and phone calls with Lacy, Kaylie has fervently tried to pretend she doesn't exist. Lacy is sweet, fun, and nearly a mirror image of Kaylie. To make matters worse, not only is Lacy looking forward to meeting her sisters, but she idolizes them, too. As the countdown to the wedding date ticks on, their parents are playing a devious game of revenge, and there’s a storm brewing over the island, threatening to cancel their perfect wedding. The sisters are about to find out if the bond of sisterhood really trumps all.

Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of four International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary CafĂ©. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on  Fostering Success. Melissa is also a community builder for the Alliance for Independent Authors. She has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.
Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.
Visit Melissa on The Women’s NestFostering Success, or World Lit Cafe. Join Melissa and the YaYa Writer Girls at their annual in-person event. Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Before I Met You

Before I Met You
Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell
Visit the author's website HERE
Goodreads Summary:
Having grown up on the quiet island of Guernsey, Betty Dean can't wait to start her new life in London. On a mission to find Clara Pickle - the mysterious beneficiary in her grandmother's will - she arrives in grungy, 1990s Soho, ready for whatever life has to throw at her. Or so she thinks... 
In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette - Betty's grandmother - is starting her new life in a time of post-war change. Beautiful and charismatic, Arlette is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But less than two years later, tragedy strikes and she flees back to Guernsey for the rest of her life.
As Betty searches for Clara, she is taken on a journey through Arlette's extraordinary time in London, uncovering a tale of love, loss and heartbreak. Will the secrets of Arlette's past help Betty on her path to happiness? 
I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Find if for your Kindle today for $10.38 (11/8/13).

My Thoughts:
I feel the need to be very frank and upfront first:  The one redeeming quality about this book were the 'flashback' scenes about Arlette, set in the 1920s. I feel this needs to be said first to get it out of the way, the rest of this review will take the long way around to point out this simple fact. Read this statement and check out the 'recommend' for at the end, and you are good to go.

So. 'Before I Met You' is mostly a story about Betty, a Guernsey girl trying to find her way in London in the 1990s. She spent most of her teenage and young adult life taking care of her elderly and dying grandmother, Arlette. Upon Arlette's death, a mysterious beneficiary named Clara Pickle is to inherit a substantial amount of money. Betty sets off to find Clara, and in turn discover more about her late, grumpy grandmother. 

As Betty makes her way and begins to taste life, we also get to glimpse Arlette's life, set in the bohemian 1920s of London life. Arlette, as well, is working on finding her own life and discovering who and what she is made of. Betty's boring life of a dingy flat, job flipping burgers, and even the most exciting thing about her: nanny-ing for a rock star, completely pales in comparison to the rock-and-roll lifestyle that Arlette experiences. Arlette is making weird, artsy friends, falling in love with a 'colored' man (giant gasp for that time period!), hitting up the jazz clubs, and running into some huge, disappointing surprises. The mystery of Clara Pickle truly unfolds here. I found myself constantly wanting to skip over boring Betty to jump back into the glitz and glam of her grandmother. 

Betty's story is nothing special. She leaves behind her boring island to try and find some glitz and glam of her own. She drinks and smokes a lot, falls into the lap of recently divorced rock star and becomes his childrens' nanny. Along the way she slowly, and quietly falls for a 'normal boring' boy who sells records outside her building. Wow. That sounds a lot cooler than it turned out to be.

This bland coming of age story only served to remind me why I am drifting away from 'adult' fiction. The writing is too arbitrary, too descriptive over silly details trying to pull in all my senses, yet keeping me distanced from the characters. Also, I really stumbled over a lot of the vocabulary. The time period verbiage, the fact that it is a British novel, and the author trying to use 'literary words' made for a lot of stumbling points for me. 

Officially rated as 2.5 stars. Recommended for fans of coming of age-esque stories, 1920 jazz age historical love stories, and people who don't mind a slooow read. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Talent for Trouble

A Talent for Trouble (Ladies of Distinction #3)
A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano
Visit her website HERE
Goodreads Summary:
Miss Felicia Murdock firmly believed her destiny was to become a minister's wife. When the minister on whom she had set her sights marries another lady, Felicia is forced to take a close look at her life and comes to a few uncomfortable conclusions. Determined that something needs to change--and soon--Felicia discovers she is finally ready to spread her wings and embrace life the way she's always wanted. 

Grayson Sumner--or Lord Sefton, as he's officially known--has had more than enough of spreading his wings and only hopes to settle into the life of a normal, respectable New York gentleman. Prompted by some well-meaning friends to lift the spirits of the disappointed-in-love Miss Murdock, he is surprised to encounter a young lady who seems to have become quite adventurous and quite determined to get herself into all sorts of troublesome situations. 

Intent on remaining independent, Felicia is reluctant to accept Grayson's help, especially as she finds herself developing feelings for him. However, just as Grayson decides he's had quite enough of her antics, his past comes back to haunt him and his presence in her life has endangered Felicia. Will Grayson and Felicia decide they want to spend the rest of their lives keeping one another out of trouble?/
I received this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. Find it on Amazon in paperback for $9.81 (11/8/13)

My Thoughts:

A Talent for Trouble is a fun Historical Christian Romance.

Felicia is a fun loving, crazy, impulsive girl who has spent the last four years of her life pining after a Reverend who happily marries someone else. What ensues next is her 'awakening' to the fact that she was pretending to be someone else for 4 years and now has to discover who she is and what she really wants. 

Grayson is a rich (of course) Lord from England with a complicated and shady past. This past of course, tries to keep him from developing his feelings for Felicia. I might add that his story is probably the only part of the book that gives us a historical glimpse of America and New York at the time. Let me hint at the larger pieces: Chinese, opium, and stolen gems. Intriguing, no?

The secondary characters are fun and well developed, each having a past of their own (this is the third in the Ladies of Distinction series by Turano. No need to read the previous books to enjoy this one however)or will soon have a book written for them I am sure. Felicia's mom is loving yet meddling, her brothers are protectors yet distant, and all her friends are loyal, loving, and willing to let Felicia be Felicia. 

I really enjoyed Grayson's past; it was truly a little sketch. I also liked the pace of the book, not too slow but not too fast. Some scenes seemed unnecessary at first, yet upon further thinking the book was really about Felicia's development into her true self. With this perspective the scenes made more sense. The tension between Grayson and Felicia was not over the top to the point of annoying, so it was fun to watch them finally develop and admit feelings for each other. 

One of other things I enjoyed about this novel was the touch of humor. The circumstances the characters get into and some of the misunderstandings had just the right nuances to make it truly a fun read. Dialogue between characters was quick, witty, and delightful. 

My biggest hang up with 'A Talent for Trouble'?? Sadly, the main character, Felicia, herself. She was waaay too over the top crazy and weird for the time period given (1880s is my understanding). Some of her actions would have seriously landed her in the looney bin for this time period and she was too abrupt and seemed to have no stopper on her mouth. I found it incredibly hard to believe this story wasn't set in at least the mid 1900s. It was also really hard for me to relate to Felicia at all. It seemed she was too purposeful about finding mayhem, a bit childish even, and honestly annoyed me. There is fun-loving, and then there is rude and childish. Felicia was definitely in the latter category.

I think it is a bit telling about a novel and it's author when I don't like their MC, so I am not sure I will read more from Turano. From reading other reviews, it sounds like the first two books in this series are highly similar to this one in plot and character personality. If I ran across another Turano book, I might read it, but I won't go looking for one. 

Yet, after reading that little warning, let me note that this book is worth picking up at the library! The plot and pacing were great, the secondary characters fun and full of live, and Grayson is truly gentleman-ly. This mixture of 'blah' and 'yay!' are what earned this book a 3 star rating from me!

Recommend for lovers of the genre who also enjoy strong female characters who have a serious talent for trouble :)