Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review Round-Up!!!!

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Hello Love

From the bestselling author of The Long Way Home comes a charming novel about loss and the faith that restores broken lives.
A year after the death of his wife, Christine, Dan is barely holding on. But one thing gets him through the long, lonely nights and that is his cherished dog, Anni. When she is stolen from his front yard, Dan and his daughter, Lindsay, are devastated. Meanwhile in another part of town, Andrea Keller is recovering from the heartbreak of a messy divorce. After she rescues a defenseless dog from an abusive tenant, her life changes in ways she never could have anticipated.
Dan and Andrea cross paths again and again, only to keep missing each other and the opportunity of a lifetime. As Anni works to find her way home, can she bring together these two lost souls desperately in need of a second chance at happiness?
Mrs Mommy Booknerd's Review:
McQuestion knows how to capture the heart of dog lovers and lovers of a sweet love story that is both original and complex.  I adore how McQuestion makes you root for the underdog, for the love of love and for good to prevail over heart ache.  Another great by one of my favorite authors!!!  4 stars
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Channeling Harrison, Book One

This book is a true account of the ongoing and mind-blowing experiences between David Young, a multi-talented musician/producer artist, and former Beatle George Harrison. What David Young, who plays two flutes at one time and has sold over a million CDs, has documented is verifiable, real, and astounding. Every time he questioned his direction, he was (is) guided by one of the most loved, respected, and spiritual musicians of all time. The story abounds with seemingly impossible synchronicities, lined up one after the other in perfect time, all of them helping him to rise above his life s challenges, and not only evolve as a musician, but as a spiritual being as well. George entered David s life during a time of devastating heartbreak. This intervention was just the beginning of over forty incredible experiences. George s musical genius began to channel through David s own music. After recording forty instrumental CDs, David spontaneously wrote and recorded twenty-five vocal songs in thirty days! songs with depth and rich production values like the Beatles, in a rock-with-soul style he had never done before. What is George trying to communicate, and why has he chosen David? This incredible story proves there is lifeafter death or better yet, life after life.

The book comes with a free download of three of these songs as well as three spiritual instrumental tracks."
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The Last Breath

From a remarkable new voice in suspenseful women's fiction comes an emotionally searing drama about a woman who risks her life to discover the devastating truth about her family… 

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt. 

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope. 

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated…
Mrs Mommy Booknerd's Review:
What a great twisty, turny wild ride through a families life with all its secrets.  Amazing.  I did not see much of what was coming.  With a switch between time; past and present, the story has many levels and depth.  A great pick for winter and a great choice for book clubs!
4 stars
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Jex Malone

A famous case. A missing girl. If they find her, will they be heroes? Or dead?

Bored out of her mind during a summer with her police detective father in Las Vegas, Jessica (aka "Jex") Malone starts doing what she does best--snooping. When she meets three new friends who share her passion for crime, from the geek to the fashionista, suddenly, the stifling desert days don't seem so long.

Her dad is never around, just like when her parents were married. But Jex's crew, the Drew-Ids, take the pledge of eternal secrecy and then get down to the good stuff--digging through the cold-case files in Dad's home office.

One of them, the thirteen-year-old case of Patty Matthews, is still a mystery. Finding Patty, who vanished into thin air, became such an obsession for Jex's father that it destroyed the Malones' marriage. So not only is this a big deal, it's personal.

Jex is determined to find out what really happened, and her excitement is contagious. Soon her friends are all on board and so is the missing girl's brother, the hunky Cooper Matthews.

But as they dig up more and more troubling information--more than the cops ever did--they also get the clear message that someone out there wants to prevent the truth from coming out. That somebody is also prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to prevent it.

Jex isn't afraid; after all, she's a cop's daughter. But maybe she should be.

Laced with humor, toughness, and real CSI investigation techniques, Jex Malone could be the Nancy Drew for a new generation--but with a chilling twist. These wannabe detectives are on the brink of finding out the fate of poor missing Patty. But will they disappear without a trace, too?
Mrs Mommy Booknerd's Review:
A great YA read that anyone would enjoy!  It is a great mystery that will engage the reader, entertain the reader and leave the reader craving more.  I found this book to be an absolute delight!!!  I feel so excited that our young adults have such amazing books to read.  It is books like these that create young, life time readers!  5 star
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SheReads Blog Network: Review: THE SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain


She Reads


I am part of the amazing SheReads Blog NetworkWhich means that I am fortunate enough to partner with some of the most savvy, talented, and intelligent book bloggers in the business. Every month we wonderful women read our selections and review them on our personal sites. We are kind and witty and love books more than air. We would love for you to visit each of us online and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t want to miss all the book goodness we have to offer!  
The Books of Fall
Three months ago we decided to make a major change in the way we announce our book club selections. For five years we’ve been picking one book per month. And that format worked really well. But our goal has always been to focus on conversation, community, and connection. This is a safe place for book lovers to gather. You may have noticed over the years that we don’t post negative reviews. We don’t trash talk authors or novels. Our goal is something else entirely: to support the things we love. And since She Reads is five years old this month we decided that this was the perfect time to pursue that goal in earnest. So instead of announcing our book club picks month by month we’ve decided to announce them seasonally
“The Books of Fall” are THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN by Lisa Jewell, THE DISTANCE by Helen Giltrow,THE SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain, and THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS by Ariel Lawhon. (And yes, for those who remember, we did feature this book in February, but we’ve decided to add it as the bonus paperback this time around as well)
Why the change? We found ourselves running a bit frantic each month picking the books and getting the details in order. Doing it this way allows us to slow down. To focus. To really have a conversation about each novel. It allows room to build relationships between authors and readers. And that, my friends, is valuable. Because we’re all in this together.
This format also allows us to provide a little something for everyone. This time around we have women’s fiction (THE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN), we have a thriller (THE DISTANCE), we have a contemporary suspense (THE SILENT SISTER), and we have historical (THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS). So there’s no reason for anyone to sit out in case our selected book isn’t quite their up of tea. However, if you’re anything like us, you may just love each and every one of them. We certainly hope you do.We chose these novels carefully and couldn’t put them down as we read. And we are excited about spending the next three months discussing these books and getting to know the authors. We truly hope you’ll join us.
To celebrate this new way of doing things, we’ll be giving away five complete sets of our “Books of Fall,” starting with one today. (See entry below for details)
And now, for the fun part, a bit about each of the novels we’ve selected as our featured book club selections this fall:

The House We Grew Up InTHE HOUSE WE GREW UP IN by Lisa Jewell

“Clever, intelligent…wonderful” — Jojo Moyes, New York Times bestselling author of ME BEFORE YOU.
Meet the Bird family. They live in a simple brick house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching just beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together each night. Everybody in town gushes over the two girls, who share their mother’s apple cheeks and wide smiles. Of the boys, lively, adventurous Rory can stir up trouble, moving through life more easily than little Rhys, his slighter, more sensitive counterpart. Their father is a sweet gangly man, but it’s their mother, Lorelei, a beautiful free spirit with long flowing hair and eyes full of wonder, who spins at the center.
Time flies in those early years when the kids are still young. Lorelei knows that more than anyone, doing her part to freeze time by protecting the precious mementos she collects, filling the house with them day by day. Easter egg foils are her favorite. Craft supplies, too. She insists on hanging every single piece of art ever produced by any of the children, to her husband’s chagrin.
Then one Easter weekend, tragedy occurs. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass and the children have become adults, found new relationships, and, in Meg’s case, created families of their own. Lorelei has become the county’s worst hoarder. She has alienated her husband, her children, and has been living as a recluse for six years. It seems as though they’d never been The Bird Family at all, as if loyalty were never on the table. But then something happens that calls them home, back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.
Delving deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the gripping story of a family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.

The DistanceTHE DISTANCE BY Helen Giltrow

“Fast, hard, and very, very good.” – Lee Child, internationally bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers
A dark, ultra-contemporary, and relentlessly paced debut thriller about a London society woman trying to put her secret criminal past behind her, and the hit man who comes to her with an impossible job she can’t refuse.
Charlotte Alton is an elegant socialite. But behind the locked doors of her sleek, high-security apartment in London’s Docklands, she becomes Karla. Karla’s business is information. Specifically, making it disappear. She’s the unseen figure who, for a commanding price, will cover a criminal’s tracks. A perfectionist, she’s only made one slip in her career—several years ago she revealed her face to a man named Simon Johanssen, an ex-special forces sniper turned killer-for-hire. After a mob hit went horrifically wrong, Johanssen needed to disappear, and Karla helped him. He became a regular client, and then, one day, she stepped out of the shadows for reasons unclear to even herself. Now, after a long absence, Johanssen has resurfaced with a job, and he needs Karla’s help again. The job is to take out an inmate—a woman—inside an experimental prison colony. But there’s no record the target ever existed. That’s not the only problem: the criminal boss from whom Johanssen has been hiding is incarcerated there. That doesn’t stop him. It’s Karla’s job to get him out alive, and to do that she must uncover the truth. Who is this woman? Who wants her dead? Is the job a trap for Johanssen or for her? But every door she opens is a false one, and she’s getting desperate to protect a man—a killer—to whom she’s inexplicably drawn. Written in stylish, sophisticated prose, The Distance is a tense and satisfying debut in which every character, both criminal and law-abiding, wears two faces, and everyone is playing a double game.

The Silent SisterTHE SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain

“Chamberlain’s powerful story is a page-turner to the very end. A must for all mystery lovers and those who like reading about family struggles”. — Library Journal
In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she’s in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain.

WMM Paperback2THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS by Ariel Lawhon

“Inspired by a real-life unsolved mystery, this mesmerizing novel features characters that make a lasting impression.”–People Magazine
“More meticulously choreographed than a chorus line. It all pays off.”– The New York Times Book Review

They say behind every great man, there’s a woman. In this case, there are three.
 Stella Crater, the judge’s wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge’s bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband’s recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city’s most notorious gangster, Owney “The Killer” Madden.
On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge’s involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?
After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge’s favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks—one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale—of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.
With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

My fall selection:
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I am a HUGE fan of Diane Chamberlain.  She is really one of the best out there.  In her newest novel, The Silent Sister, Chamberlain captures the essence of family in a book that is not only hard to put down, but one that causes the reader to think, process and engage in the story.  She creates readers who live in the story along with the characters.  There is nothing better than being fully immersed in a novel due to beautiful writing, interesting characters and brilliant story.  Chamberlain has perfected this and for that i give this novel 5 stars!!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Blog Tour with #GIVEAWAY: The Tantalizing Tale of a Bitter Sweetheart by Jessica Ashley Dafoe



Follow the tour HERE



Successful, lucky in love, taking the world by storm?.....not quite. Portia Delaney is down on her luck, disgruntled in a dead end, mind- numbing career with little prospects and is not even close to finding a stimulating romance to take her mind off her lack-luster situation. Her defeatist attitude and unmistakable idiosyncrasies don't help much either. But with rock bottom comes a choice, lie down and enjoy the cold and barren ground beneath, or climb that ladder of success to the top. Portia finally sets out to do just that. With a fantastic group of friends and a bit of fateful circumstance on her side, she begins her trek up and out of the despair filled trenches. But Portia soon finds out that with success, often comes hardships and unwelcome competition.



The venue is sparkling with what appears to be waterfalls of white twinkle lights, cascading from all sides. As I peer up through the triangular shaped glass roof, dusk is setting in and the faint appearance of stars in the sky are peeking through to become the natural back drop of this fateful event. Suddenly Michele Gagnon catches my eye. He is no longer the scruffy character I met yesterday; he has traded in his t-shirt and ripped jeans for a three piece suit with coat tails and a top hat to suit. My matching 18th century inspired ensemble and his choice of wear settles my nerves because it is clear that this night is truly meant to be. We are a dynamic duo, prepared to take on the cat walk.
Gagnon takes notice of me and swiftly walks towards me, his arms outstretched as he approaches. “Portia! You are perfection; a true complement to my collection and the season.” He wraps me in his affectionate embrace and I can’t help wanting to pat myself on the back for taking the time to learn about his new line.  “Come, come. I will show you around the location and then we will begin to make the most magnificent show. You will be my behind-the-scenes-star.”
We amble through the venue where I see all the stark white seats set in stringent rows, so orderly and perfect awaiting Paris’ who’s who of fashion. My stomach does a little flip and I take a deep breath to inhale the calmness of the space at this moment. We continue through to the backstage area and I am completely taken aback by the scene. “Calmness” is definitely not the word to describe it. Models are scurrying all over the place, half dressed with rollers in their hair. Hair and makeup stylists are applying powder and hairspray with such thoroughness that there is a cloud caused by the mixture of beautifying products hovering over the whole area.
At this moment I see only female models and begin to wonder at what point I will be able to see Guillaume.
 I am quickly thrust out of this train of thought as Michele takes my hand and rushes me into a curtained off area, just next to the runway. An overwhelming sensation at what I behold consumes me. Before me stands what I would equate to be on par with the holy grail of a runway stylist’s career. Three full walls of the most lavish jewelry are glimmering and shimmering like the stars above. Diamonds, emeralds and pearls as far as the eye can see; gold, brushed silver, rose gold, and every type of additional gem stone one could possibly fathom embedded in the necklaces, bracelets and rings from which I will be selecting. This is a dream; I’m living a truly magnificent dream. I casually turn to Michele and say “It will do. I can work with this.”


To Use a Pen Name or Not to Use a Pen Name? That Was the Question…
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Very true, Juliet, very true. However, I am becoming more and more aware that names are much more important to humankind than to the flowers we select to accent our houses and our gardens or to demonstrate affection for a loved one with.
Our given name is such an integral part of our identity and attached to every important document, every earned certificate and recognized success, every introduction (granted honest information is provided) etc.
I struggled initially trying to determine whether or not to write under an alias. I guess what I mean is 'pen name'. I'm no spy or criminal, believe it or not.  The final decision to do just that was not an easy one. I'm bound to my name and a part of me truly wanted it to be my given name that was printed across the cover of my novel and future writing projects. I've worked hard for the end result so isn't it only right that me as me is displayed for full recognition?
I love my last name, passed on quite obviously by my wonderful dad. It's a strong name, one that I've signed proudly whether on students’ report cards or at the courthouse when fighting one of the 300 parking tickets I've acquired in the city of Toronto (grrr). It's who I am. So why write under a pen name? For a couple of legitimate reasons; the main reason being that Jessica the educator is far removed from Jessica the author. I'm not saying that I have a split personality, I’m simply stating that wearing two hats brings forth associative expectations. I suppose it's not the easiest to explain my reasoning, but it's the decision I've made and I'm sticking with it.
The last name I finally decided on after contemplating which of my relatives and ancestors' names best suit the 'Jessica Ashley' of my own, is 'Dafoe' after my great grandmother who was a woman to be admired and who will always be remembered for her loving and enduring spirit.
'Jessica Ashley Dafoe' it is and although it's not my own I suppose it does smell (or perhaps I should write 'sound') as sweet. It is, after all, a part of my heritage. I have begun to get practice in signing it during the launches and when writing messages to those who have ordered copies directly from me, but sheesh, it feels like I just perfected the signature of my given name.






Author Bio:
Jessica Ashley Dafoe resides in Toronto where she is an educator by day and a literary enthusiast and writer by night. She attained her BA in English Literature at The University of Ottawa and her B Ed at Brock and Queen’s University. 

When Jessica does not have her nose in a book or is not scribbling out her ideas for her newest tantalizing tales, she's most likely keeping busy trying out various exciting activities and delicious cuisine that the great city of Toronto has to offer or planning her next getaway to her immediate destination of choice. The travelling bug bites her often.


 A romantic comedy addict to the core, she enjoys all things silly, frivolous and emotionally endearing which is the reason she writes stories that encompass all of these qualities. 


Connect with Jessica!







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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Highlight: Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

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Lizzy and Jane never saw eye to eye. But when illness brings them together, they discover they may be more like Austen’s famous sisters after all.

Lizzy was only a teenager when her mother died of cancer. Shortly after, Lizzy fled from her home, her family, and her cherished nickname. After working tirelessly to hone her gift of creating magic in the kitchen, Elizabeth has climbed the culinary ladder to become the head chef of her own New York restaurant, Feast. But as her magic begins to elude her, Paul, Feast’s financial backer, brings in someone to share her responsibilities and her kitchen. So Elizabeth flees again.

In a desperate attempt to reconnect with her gift, Elizabeth returns home. But her plans are derailed when she learns that her estranged sister, Jane, is battling cancer. Elizabeth surprises everyone—including herself—when she decides to stay in Seattle and work to prepare healthy, sustaining meals for Jane as she undergoes chemotherapy. She also meets Nick and his winsome son, Matt, who, like Elizabeth, are trying to heal from the wounds of the past.

As she tends to Jane's needs, Elizabeth's powers begin to return to her, along with the family she left behind so long ago. Then Paul tries to entice her back to New York, and she is faced with a hard decision: stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane, or return to New York and the life she worked so hard to create?

Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay has lived all across the country and Europe and has just moved with her family to Chicago. She is a writer, wife, mom, runner, and, most randomly, a tae kwon do black belt. Her debut novel "Dear Mr. Knightley" (ThomasNelson/HarperCollins) was be released last November. It is a contemporary story with a dash of Jane Austen and other nineteenth century writers thrown in for the fun of it. Her newest novel, Lizzy & Jane, released October 2014.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: The Lodger: A Novel by Louisa Treger

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The first biographical novel about Dorothy Richardson, peer of Virginia Woolf, lover of H.G. Wells, and central figure in the emergence of modernist fiction

Dorothy exists just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist's surgery and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie as he is known to friends.

Bertie appears unremarkable at first. But then Dorothy notices his grey-blue eyes taking her in, openly signalling approval. He tells her he and Jane have an agreement which allows them the freedom to take lovers, although Dorothy is not convinced her friend is happy with this arrangement.

Not wanting to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house—striking unconventional Veronica Leslie-Jones, determined to live life on her own terms—and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of the militant suffragette movement, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.

The Lodger is a beautifully intimate novel that is at once an introduction to one of the most important writers of the 20th century and a compelling story of one woman tormented by unconventional desires.

Louisa Treger

Born in London, Louisa Treger began her career as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher.

Louisa subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a PhD in English at University College London, where she focused on early twentieth century women’s writing.

Married with three children, she lives in London.




I love when debut authors get their first book right. Set in early 20th-century London, The Lodger tells the story of Dorothy Richardson. Louisa Treger’s novel follows the story of Dorothy during her time at a lodging house in London. It's a powerful story.  It is quite fascinating, well written and the characters are both vibrant and believable.  Historical novels can either be a hit or a miss in my book.  I felt like The Lodger was a hit!  I feel like this is has the makings of a great book club pick.  4 stars.






Highlight: Outrageous Optimist by Lyne Noella, Sylvie Snyder

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Outrageous Optimist is the story of family, friendship, romance, failure and fresh starts. Lisette Latour shutters her San Francisco marketing agency and returns to Playa Tiempo to regroup after over-investing in Silicon Valley startups. While applying for work, Lisette discovers that her San Diego County hometown has blossomed in her absence, with citizens as creative and unorthodox as those she left behind in San Francisco. An exploding microbrewery scene, a handsome but elusive attorney, clean skies and intrigue beguile Lisette, making it difficult to choose between family and friends in Playa Tiempo and the opportunities and lifestyle of the big city.

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