Sleeping with the Enemy by Tracy Solheim

  • sleeping with the enemyTitle:  Sleeping with the Enemy
  • Series:  Out of Bounds #4
  • Author:  Tracy Solheim
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  September 2015 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  Dot-com millionaire Jay McManus is discovering that owning a pro football team like the Baltimore Blaze isn’t easy. An anonymous blogger is out to destroy his reputation, and now his team is being sued by its own cheerleaders. If Jay’s not careful, he could lose big—and not just financially.

Bridgett Janik’s brother may play for the Baltimore Blaze, but she’s not thrilled to be defending Jay McManus, the man who broke her heart. It’s bad enough she has to mingle with Jay during games, but working beside her former lover may be too much for her body—and her heart—to resist.

Jay’s determined not to let Bridgett slip away from him a second time. But, as the two follow the mysterious blogger’s trail, secrets—both past and present—are revealed, and Jay and Bridgett must decide if their relationship can be something more than just sleeping with the enemy.  (publisher)

My take: This is the first book by author Tracy Solheim I’ve read and the fourth book in the Out of Bounds series. Happily, it can stand alone because Solheim provided enough information about previously featured characters who make appearances in Sleeping With the Enemy.

If you like confident (some might say arrogant) alpha characters you’ll probably like Jay McManus. Equally confident but more sympathetic is Bridgett Janik, the lawyer Jay wants working on the case against him and his organization. These two have a history and Bridgett is determined to keep their contact strictly business. Jay wants business with benefits. So, does Bridgett have the resolve to keep things above-board or will she let her emotions rule – and will they ever talk about what happened all those years ago?

The plot took a couple of turns that drew me in which is good because at first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book. However, I thought Solheim brought all issues to a satisfactory conclusion and she had me wondering if there is going to be a fifth book in the series. I would read it.

If you like a contemporary romance about rich and famous characters with sports and second-chance-at-love themes I think you’ll enjoy Sleeping With the Enemy.

I read Sleeping With The Enemy as part of the BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge 2015



The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore

  • The AdmissionsTitle:  The Admissions
  • Author:  Meg Mitchell Moore
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  September 2015 – Doubleday
  • Source:  BookSparks

Description:  The Hawthorne family has it all. Great jobs, a beautiful house in one of the most affluent areas of northern California, and three charming kids with perfectly straight teeth. And then comes their eldest daughter’s senior year of high school . . .
     Firstborn Angela Hawthorne is a straight-A student and star athlete, with extracurricular activities coming out of her ears and a college application that’s not going to write itself. She’s set her sights on Harvard, her father’s alma mater, and like a dog with a chew toy, Angela won’t let up until she’s basking in crimson-colored glory. Except her class rank as valedictorian is under attack, she’s suddenly losing her edge at cross-country, and she can’t help but daydream about the cute baseball player in English class. Of course Angela knows the time put into her schoolgirl crush would be better spent coming up with a subject for her term paper—which, along with her college essay and community service hours has a rapidly approaching deadline. 
     Angela’s mother, Nora, is similarly stretched to the limit, juggling parent-teacher meetings, carpool, and a real-estate career where she caters to the mega rich and super-picky buyers and sellers of the Bay Area. The youngest daughter, Maya, still can’t read at the age of eight; the middle-child, Cecily, is no longer the happy-go-lucky kid she once was; and the dad, Gabe, seems oblivious to the mounting pressures at home because a devastating secret of his own might be exposed. A few ill-advised moves put the Hawthorne family on a heedless collision course that’s equal parts achingly real and delightfully screwball.
     Sharp and topical, The Admissions shows that if you pull at a loose thread, even the sturdiest of lives start to unravel at the seams of high achievement.  (publisher)

My take:  This is a story about a family with hopes and dreams…and secrets. It’s about what happens when their secrets become known to others and how each person deals with it.

It’s also about how we view others – our perceptions and the actual reality of what we think we know. Does that family next door really have life by the tail? How can they be so lucky when I’m not? It’s about the expectations we feel or place upon others and the intense anxiety that almost always follows. Anyone who went to college, played a sport in school or participated in a competitive group or had kids who did the same will recognize some of the emotions felt by one or all of the characters in this novel.

There’s foreshadowing from page one but as the author revealed events I was second-guessing myself in what I thought was going to happen. Meg Mitchell Moore’s novel is a warm, entertaining and addictive read that left me missing this family after turning the last page. Recommended.

I read The Admissions as part of the BookSparks Fall Reading Challenge 2015


Blog Tour and US Giveaway: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid


After-I-Do-Blog-Tour-Header copy


  • Title:  After I Do
  • Author:  Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2014 – Washington Square Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes. Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after. (publisher)

After I Do (July 1)


My take:  This gem of a novel explores what happens to a relationship when the shine wears off. Lauren and Ryan have gone from being completely gaga over each other to a resentment that you can almost taste. The author paced the unfolding of their story perfectly and it was impossible to not feel for these two. They took a bit of an unorthodox way of trying to figure things out and make a go of it. I pulled for them all the way and enjoyed every page of the book.

I loved Taylor Jenkins Reid’s first novel Forever, Interrupted and wasn’t sure what to expect from After I Do. I loved it just as much as the first and have already thought of a few people I’ll buy it for. Do yourself a favor and read this book! You don’t have to be married to appreciate it. You can be married a long time (like me) and enjoy it. I think engaged and newlywed readers will learn from it. Highly recommended.

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Giveaway (US)

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Praise for the book: “Moving, gorgeous and, at times, heart-wrenching. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes with wit and true emotion that you can feel. Read it, savor it, share it.” – Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of The Violets of March

Buy the book

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About the author:

taylor-jenkins-reid-author-writer (1)

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Media Studies. Her first novel, Forever, Interrupted, was named one of the “11 Debuts We Love” by Kirkus Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit.

Connect with the author:


Blog tour: The Memory Child by Steena Holmes


Synopsis:  The story of a married couple, Diane and Brian, that learn they are pregnant with their first child has come at an unfortunate time.  Brian is thrilled with the news since he has patiently waited for twelve years to become a father, however Diane is unsure of her excitement.  With her family’s dark past, her recent promotion, and Brian being called away to London for work parenthood has arrived unexpectedly.  When a year has passed and Diane is completely head over heels in love with her precious baby girl, Grace, Brian has still not returned from London.  Diane’s dark past collides with her mysterious new life and the surreal family drama is unveiled.


the memory child

  • Title:  The Memory Child
  • Author:  Steena Holmes
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  March 2014 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher/Book Sparks PR

My take: The Memory Child is the first book by Steena Holmes I’ve read. Holmes kept me guessing and turning the pages to find out what was going on in this story. That’s saying a lot because character driven novels aren’t always my cup of tea. Not so with this one. It quietly got inside my brain and didn’t let go until I turned the final page.

My opinion of the characters changed more than once as the story progressed.  I liked that the novel wasn’t predictable and played with my brain a bit.

It’s an eerie and emotional story. If the publisher’s synopsis and my take make it seem like a novel you’d like to read then go get a copy! I’m glad I had the chance to read The Memory Child.


Steena Holmes grew up in a small town in Canada and holds a bachelor’s degree in theology. She is the author of image001eleven novels and novellas, including Finding Emma, for which she was awarded a National Indie Excellence Book Award in 2012. She currently lives in Calgary with her husband and three daughters, and loves to wake up to the Rocky Mountains each morning.

A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci

Title:  A Girl Like You

Author:  Maria Geraci

Genre:  Chick Lit

Published:  August 2012 – Berkley

Trade Paperback – 320 pages

Synopsis:  Emma Frazier is smart, hardworking, and loves her job as a journalist for a Florida lifestyle magazine. Emma knows she’s no great beauty, but she’s pretty certain she has a shot with her handsome new boss, Ben Gallagher—until Emma overhears a mutual acquaintance refer to her as the “ugly friend.” In an effort to reclaim her battered self-esteem, Emma decides to impress Ben at work by promising an exclusive interview with NASCAR legend, Trip Monroe.

Emma and Trip went to high school together and although it’s been fourteen years since they’ve spoken, Emma is certain she can score an interview with the elusive super star. But connecting with Trip turns out to be harder than Emma imagined. Her quest for the interview leads her back to her tiny hometown of Catfish Cove, where old secrets and a new romantic interest shake up Emma’s views on life and teach her that maybe the key to finding true love is as simple as accepting yourself for the person you were always meant to be.

My take:  I’ll just go ahead and start by saying A Girl Like You is the most enjoyable Chick Lit I’ve read in a long, long time. Whether you’re in the genre target age or not (I’m clearly not) Emma Frazier is a character most female readers will find relatable. She doesn’t consider herself perfect (in beauty, weight, etc.) but she has a fairly good sense of herself that I found endearing and made me want to cheer for her as she navigates the path of relationships.

That said, the night she overhears someone refer to her as “the ugly friend”  – meaning she makes her other friends look better, she starts to question herself. She goes home where her moms (yes she has two moms) give her unconditional love and support. She also runs into a former classmate whom she’d had a crush on back in high school. He does a lot for her self-esteem. Emma goes back to her apartment and job a few hours away where she still has a crush on her boss. In hopes of impressing him she offers to get the interview of the year with another former classmate who has hit it big on the NASCAR circuit. He’s almost impossible to track down so Emma has her work cut out for her. Will she be able to get the interview, impress her boss, and maybe fall in love? You’ll have to read to find out 🙂

Maria Geraci has a new fan in me! I read this novel in just a few hours because I couldn’t put it down. Her writing style is so easy and smooth (addicting, some might say). And I liked the humor she injected along the way. Like I said earlier, I was cheering for Emma all the way – and I wasn’t even sure how it would or should end. Geraci threw in a few small twists that kept me wondering. I liked that.

So, if you like Chick Lit and you’re looking for a good book to read anywhere, I can enthusiastically recommend A Girl Like You!

Disclosure:  I received a review copy from the publicist for the blog tour. I was not compensated for my review. Please see sidebar for full disclosure policy.

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Maria Geraci’s website; Facebook; Twitter

About the author:

Maria Geraci was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised on Florida’s Space Coast. Her love of books started with the classic Little Women (a book she read so often growing up, she could probably quote it). She lives with her husband and their three children in north Florida where she works as a part-time labor and delivery nurse by night and a full-time romance writer during the day.

Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

Title:  Blood Orchids – The Lei Crime Series

Author:  Toby Neal

Genre:  Crime fiction; series

Published:  November 2011 – Amazon Digital Services

About:  (Goodreads synopsis) Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.
Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.
Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

My take:  Blood Orchids is definitely outside my reading comfort zone but I’m glad I gave it a try.  Lei Texeira is a deeply wounded character. She’s also very brave.  She survived a horrible childhood but never truly worked through her issues which has resulted in her being a bit of a loner. She avoids romantic relationships. Her abuser called her DG (for damaged goods) and that’s what she’s carried with her since that time. Lei relies on coping mechanisms to get through the times when her past comes to the forefront. Thankfully she has a great friend in her Rottweiler Keiki who offers her security and unconditional devotion.

When the case she’s working on shows possible similarities to what happened to her she vows to find the murderer and bring him to justice. Detective Michael Stevens is just as determined to solve the case as Lei. In addition, they are attracted to each other. She knows a relationship would be doomed so she tries to discourage him. He had a tough childhood as well and is determined to show Lei he’s willing to wait until she’s ready. Together they work on finding the murderer.

I loved the pace of the story. I found myself looking forward to picking the book up each day which is saying a lot since the book involves gruesome crimes. Neal is a native Hawaiian as well as a mental health therapist which came through in the novel. At one point Lei is ordered by her chief to attend counseling sessions. That is when she begins to address her childhood abuse. I liked the understated and compassionate therapist and wonder if she’ll appear in future books.

While not completely surprised by the identity of the murderer (there were a few possibilities) I was absorbed in the novel right through to the exciting conclusion. I recommend Blood Orchids and look forward to the next book in the series.

Source:  BookSparks PR.

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

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Raised on the island of Kauai, Neal uses her native knowledge and first-hand experience as a therapist to create realistic settings and experiences, complex characters and an all around chilling crime thriller.

For information about Toby Neal and Blood Orchids, visit Neal’s website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook and  Twitter .

J’adore New York by Isabelle Laflèche

Title:  J’adore New York

Author:  Isabelle Laflèche

Genre:  Chick Lit

Published:  April 2010 – HarperCollins

About:  When Catherine Lambert accepts a transfer from the Paris office of the Edwards & White law firm to their Manhattan base she doesn’t know what she’s in for. Sure she’s used to working long hours but she wasn’t ready for the cut-throat office politics at the firm’s headquarters. Catherine aspires to be a partner in the firm but what will it take to reach her goal? And is she willing to do what it takes?

My take:  Isabelle Laflèche’s fast-paced novel is filled with entertaining characters. Some are larger than life, some are stereotypes, and a few are understated and relatable. The attorneys are type A, power hungry, ‘get out of my way’ people who pretty much make Catherine’s life a living hell. Her flamboyant assistant Rikash provides the comic relief and always has her back.

Catherine’s days are spent trying to reach her quota of billable hours, juggling contemptible clients, and if she’s lucky she may find time to sleep. A personal life? Forget about it! Unless it’s mixed with business, she rarely gets out. Catherine starts to wonder how long she can keep this up. Is this really what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

J’adore New York made me a bit anxious while reading about Catherine’s work pressures but, in the end, I enjoyed it. Most of all, I liked Catherine. She’s on a roller coaster ride to finding a fulfilling life and it was fun to be along for the ride. I look forward to more from Isabelle Laflèche.

Source:  BookSparks PR

Disclosure Policy:  see sidebar

Blog Tour: The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Title:  The D Word

Authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Genre:  Chick Lit

From the book description: There are always two sides to the story, especially when it comes to divorce. Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man. In The D Word you’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure.

My thoughtsWhat struck me first about The D Word is that Jordan and Elle made the decision to leave their relationships and then spent a lot of time second guessing themselves. Jordan thought she was moving on until Kevin, her ex, dates Elle – a woman who is Jordan’s complete opposite. She starts to wonder if maybe they could make it work after all and she certainly doesn’t want another woman taking her place in her young son’s eyes. Jordan pulls out all the stops – even dates a nice guy to make Kevin jealous.

Elle called off her wedding a month before the big day. She lost her fiancé and his sister (Elle’s best friend) in one shot. She’s just trying to move forward and concentrate on her job as a free-lance writer. Elle is covering a singles’ event at a park when she meets Kevin who just happens to be walking his dog through the park but not attending the event. They are immediately attracted to each other and start to date soon after.

Of the two women I found it easy to sympathize more with Elle. Yes she has baggage but for the most part she’s just a nicer person than Jordan who at times is like a grown up ‘mean girl’. She seems to have it all and then wants what isn’t hers anymore. Of course this gives the characters opportunity to grow throughout the novel. Without giving spoilers I was satisfied with how the authors took the two characters down that not-so-straight path of personal growth. I think fans of Chick Lit will enjoy The D Word.

Source:  BookSparks PR

About the authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been friends for over twenty years. They both  attended Cal Poly Pomona University and each graduated with a degree in Communication. They co-wrote their previous novel. I’LL HAVE WHO SHE’S HAVING, in 2009. Liz also blogs as the Drama Mama for while Lisa contributes frequently to Barnes & Noble’s Unabashadly Bookish blog and Mall of America’s Fashion Sense blog. Liz is married with two children, and Lisa is married and gave birth to a daughter in January. Liz resides in Long Beach, California, while Lisa lives in Chicago.

For more information visit or follow Liz and Lisa on Twitter

I’ll Have Who She’s Having by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Title:  I’ll Have Who She’s Having

Authors:  Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Genre:  Chick Lit

My thoughts:  I’ll Have Who She’s Having is a fast-paced and entertaining tale of two sisters who are not happy with the way things are. The story is told alternately by the sisters with the occasional added perspective of a few others – this worked to flesh out more than the two main characters.

About to turn thirty-three, Kate is single and tired of listening to her friends talk about their perfect lives with their husbands and babies. Kelly, two years younger than Kate, is married with one toddler and hasn’t felt remotely attractive for a long time. She loves her husband and little girl but misses her job and interaction with adults. In other words, Kate wants what Kelly has and Kelly would love a little bit of Kate’s life.
Kelly gets Kate to take a volleyball class and then a singing class with her. That’s where the novel takes off. Without giving spoilers I’ll just say sibling rivalry, moral conflicts, and issues of insecurity are major themes that Fenton and Steinke explore as Kate and Kelly struggle to move forward in their lives.
There were times when I laughed out loud but also times when I thought “oh for pete’s sake” in disbelief of the sisters’ actions. That said, the authors did a great job giving each sister her distinct voice. I think fans of Chick Lit will enjoy I’ll Have Who She’s Having.
Source:  BookSparksPR
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Stop back next week for my review of The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Spotlight on HOTEL NO TELL by Daphne Uviller and a Q&A with the Author

Hotel No Tell features the return of Super in the City‘s beloved Zephyr Zuckerman. On the verge of 31, Zephyr is now a junior investigator with New York City’s Special Investigations Commission (SIC). She’s undercover as a concierge at the Greenwich Village Hotel, trying – and failing – to track down a missing hundred grand. Her detective boyfriend has moved out because of their disagreement about reproducing (he wants kids, Zephyr doesn’t), and she’s left with her Holland Lop bunny named after a famous atheist, an old friend who’s married and miserable in suburban motherhood, and one new friend who’s a wedding planner in dire need of an exorcist.

It soon becomes clear that the trouble at the hotel goes much, much deeper than a little old-fashioned laundering. Before Zephyr can master the reservation system, she is yanking at the threads of a multi-million dollar egg donation scandal and re-examining her own motives for opting out of parenthood.

About the author
A former Books/​Poetry editor at Time Out New York, Daphne’s reviews, profiles, and articles have been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Newsday, The Forward, New York Magazine, Oxygen, Allure, and Self, for which she used to write an ethics column.

Super in the City, her debut novel, is available in paperback and Kindle editions, and still getting rave reviews! Click on the right side of the screen for more information.

Daphne also co-edited, with Deborah Siegel, the acclaimed anthology Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo. Available in paperback and Kindle editions.

A third-generation West Villager, Daphne lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two children.

Q&A with Daphne Uviller, author of Hotel No Tell

Q: You used to work for a New York City law enforcement agency. How much of Zephyr’s adventures in Hotel No Tell come from your actual experience?
A: I worked for a watchdog group that investigates crime and corruption in the public school system. None of the cases that the fictional SIC handles is identical to any real one I worked on. But, certainly, I drew on the hubris of our perps and the astounding ability of people to deny to themselves that they’re committing a crime. For instance, I make mention of a school principal taking kickbacks, which was the theme of more than a few of our cases. I also borrowed from the enormous and enormously entertaining personalities of my former colleagues. One thing that is completely true: most of the investigators were named Tommy.
Q: Zephyr’s investigative skills could use a little honing. Is this the right career for her?
A: She’s definitely not the smooth, gun-slinging, clear-thinking cop of so much popular fiction. She fails to catch last names, she can’t describe what people look like, she’s a little rash in a lot of her actions. But she’s nosy, genuinely curious, and innately caring. She gets people to talk to her. I wanted to capture the reality of people having unusual talents, not uniform ones, of showing how people can have skills that can’t be described on a resume. She’s learning on the job and I love that about her. She’s who a lot of us would be if we were thrown into her position.
Q: Zephyr is adamant about her decision not to have children, so much so that, at the beginning of the book, she and Gregory have broken up over it. You have two kids; are you worried what they’ll read into this?
A: First of all, I hope they’ll remember that I’m not Zephyr. Fiction is many things for a writer, including an outlet for exploring paths not taken. I felt very strongly that Zephyr not go the mommy route. I’m living it; I don’t want to read about it, let alone write about it. (That said, I shoveled some of my darkest feelings onto Lucy, and doubled it by saddling her with twins.) So I started there – my lack of interest in making her a mother – and then went further. Why not have her struggle to make peace with her child-free status be her personal challenge, as the quest for professional identity was in Super? Let’s examine the societal assumption that we’re all supposed to have kids, when the truth is that parenthood is tough, so tough that at some point, all parents wonder why they took it on. Without children there would be, as Zephyr says, more time, more money, less stress, more sleep, more growth of the mind. But by the end of the book I was more convinced than ever that I had made the right decision for myself and that Zephyr had made the right one for herself.

Q: Which is quite an accomplishment, given that Zephyr is often plagued by a lack of resolution to her problems.
A: One of Zephyr’s stumbling blocks is her belief that you need to tie up loose ends in order to move on to the next stage of life. By the end of Hotel, Zephyr is accepting the discomfiting fact that you can’t wait for certain unknowns to resolve – both in the criminal case she has mostly solved, and in her personal struggle with potential parenthood – in order to move forward. Wait forever and you’ll never grow up.

Q: But wouldn’t you say the book itself has an almost comical number of closures in the final chapter?
A: It’s true – in the plot itself, I love not only to tie up loose ends but to provide delicious and, I hope, funny and satisfying and surprising connections – perhaps as an antidote to those pesky loose ends. E.M. Forster’s directive [“only connect”] can be applied to storytelling as much as to real life.

Q: Right after Super in the City was published, you, like Lucy, were unwillingly transplanted to the suburbs. How has it been living away from the city while writing so intimately about it?
A: When we first moved away, I complained so much that a friend of mine who’s a lit professor rolled her eyes and promised to list me on her syllabus for Writers in Exile, right next to Salman Rushdie. Friends had lofty hopes for my situation, suggesting that it could be some deep new angle from which to view my city. It hasn’t been. What it has been is a great way to keep living there in my head, even as I live somewhere else. In fact, continuing to write about the city may contribute to my current identity problem: I still haven’t managed to say “I live in the Hudson Valley.” I say, “We’re living in the Hudson Valley, but we still own my childhood apartment in the Village.” It’s juvenile, I know.

Q:How did you come up with the idea of an egg donor scam?
A: Close friends were going through the process of selecting a donor and asked my opinion of the three finalists. It’s not like I didn’t know about egg donation, but watching people I loved go through the process — and getting to have a small voice in selecting the seeds of my future niece or nephew — really set my mind racing. I remembered seeing ads in my college newspaper recruiting egg donors, and I’ve always wondered why society treats it as a much bigger deal to give eggs than sperm.

Q:Other than the invasive process (and because of that, the money), why is it a bigger deal?
A: I don’t think it is. I think it’s all a huge deal. In fact, I wonder whether the boys I knew when I was nineteen who were donating to get some beer money now have any regrets. It has repercussions: imagine learning that your husband donated when he was younger, that your children have biological half-siblings you don’t know about.

Q: Zephyr’s newest friend, Macy St. John, is a lovable but cursed wedding planner whose company is called No Divas. Fess up: were you a bridal diva?
A: I can safely say I was not. I err in the other direction, which has caused my husband to declare me so low maintenance that I’m high maintenance. I came up with the idea for a business for no-frills clients after our caterer tried to schedule a two-hour meeting about our wedding cake. I declined and told him to make it white and make it taste good. A similarly non-diva friend who was planning her wedding at the same time came up with the name of the imaginary company that, years later, would find its way into this book.

Q: But you didn’t wear $13 sandals from Payless on your wedding day, the way Macy’s client does.
A: Yes, in fact. I did.

Q: Why another book about Zephyr?
A: I considered doing an entirely unrelated book, but suspected that any protagonist I created would be Zephyr again, with a different name. I was preoccupied with my recent exodus from the city and new status as mother of two. I inflicted both these states onto Zephyr’s good friend Lucy, which then freed me up to write about Zephyr and the life I was fantasizing about – still in the city and childless. It was clear to me that, if these were my preoccupations, it would be natural to keep writing about Zephyr. That said, it’s definitely a stand-alone book, too — you don’t have to have read Super to enjoy Hotel.

Q: Will this be a trilogy?
A: I doubt I’m done with Zephyr, but I plan to take a break from her and first write something completely different. I’m toying with historical fiction, something I swore I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot cursor.

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All materials provided by BookSparks PR

Here, Home, Hope: A Novel by Kaira Rouda

Title: Here, Home, Hope: A Novel

Author: Kaira Rouda

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis)  Kelly Mills Johnson becomes restless in her thirty-ninth year. An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her middling middle-American existence and her neighbors’ seemingly perfect lives. Her marriage to a successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding. But Kelly’s own passions lie wasted. She eyes with envy the lives of her two best friends, Kathryn and Charlotte, both beautiful, successful businesswomen who seem to have it all. Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife makeover plan.

My thoughts: Kaira Rouda’s debut novel tells the story of how one woman figures out how to take control of her life and help others at the same time.  Kelly is at a point where her two sons don’t need her like they did when they were little boys. After a health scare Kellly feels a nagging pull to change things but she’s not sure what or how. She starts a T2C list – Things to Change. Her list is written on Post-it notes which are strewn around her kitchen and car to remind her of specifics to change such as:

  • Capitalize on skills
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Don’t forget the care and feeding of friends
  • Take it one day at a time

She soon discovers that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere – her friends’ lives aren’t as perfect as they seem. One day a realtor friend asks Kelly, who is known for her exquisite decorating, to help stage a house she is selling. Kelly agrees to help her friend and the house sells immediately. She realizes this could be a new career and starts the wheels in motion. Although I thought it all came together a bit too easily I was cheering for her as things fell into place.

I think Here, Home, Hope would be a great book club selection. Any woman will be able to relate to Kelly and her friends on some level and might even want to use Kelly’s T2C list as a template for making changes in her own life.

Recommend? Yes, I enjoyed it and look forward to Kaira Rouda’s next novel.

Source: BookSparks PR

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Title: Skipping a Beat

Author: Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Fiction

About: Skipping a Beat is the story of a marriage. Julia and Michael meet under unusual circumstances and fall in love while still in high school.  After graduation they head toward their future without so much as a backward glance.  After college they follow their dreams and enjoy the rewards of their hard work – to a point.  It seems that somewhere along the way Michael lost sight of what was once so important – Julia and their relationship.  He’s forced to take a new look after he has a near-death experience. Julia isn’t sure what to do with the new Michael. She’s grown accustomed to their ships-in-the-night marriage and hasn’t expected anything from him in a long time.  She’s certain that her perspective of some events in their marriage is the actual truth. Since they rarely have time for meaningful conversations Michael has been unaware of her perspective. He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to join him in a second chance at their life.

My take: Sarah Pekkanen gave Julia a true and believable voice. I found it very easy to relate to her. And Pekkanen didn’t stop there. She also shaped Michael as a real guy. I totally bought his perspective and his driven personality.
In any marriage only the spouses know the intricacies of the relationship. So while Michael and Julia appeared to have the perfect power marriage, only they knew the actual imperfections and how fragile their relationship really was. Michael let the chase of his dream take over and Julia felt the security of their love for each other slip away.
I liked the secondary characters. Julia’s best friend Isabelle and a young boy named Noah both figure prominently in the story. I also enjoyed the opera references throughout and how Julia compared specific ones to aspects of her life.
Like most operas, Skipping a Beat depicts the drama and emotions of life.  I found it to be an emotional and wonderful novel. It would be a great book club selection.

Recommend? Yes, definitely!  I also recommend having a box of tissues at hand (trust me on this).

Source: Atria Books and BookSparks PR

This review is being submitted to the Simon & Schuster Skipping a Beat Sweepstakes

The House of Six Doors by Patricia Selbert

Title: The House of Six Doors

Author: Patricia Selbert

Genre: Fiction

About: Mama takes thirteen-year-old Serena and her sister to the US in search of fortune, leaving behind their multicultural family, stability, and the colors of the Caribbean. After driving from Miami to Hollywood, their money and luck run out and a 1963 Ford Galaxie becomes their first American home. Guided by the memory of her native Curaçao and the words of her wise grandmother, Serena confronts unimagined challenges and grows up quickly. What gifts will this new country bring, and at what price?

My thoughts: Isn’t that a lovely cover? (click on it for a closer look)  That’s what drew me to the book and then Patricia Selbert’s characters took over from there. We experience everything through Serena’s eyes.  Her mother is chasing the dream of being rich and doesn’t understand why her children don’t share that dream. Serena and her sister would just like to follow their own dreams but instead end up trying to please their mother by doing whatever she asks/demands from them.

No matter how many times I told Mama that I loved her, she didn’t believe me.  Mama believed love was something that could not survive without money.  Her willingness to distance herself from her family in order to chase prosperity around the world baffled me. She thought she could only be loved if she were rich. (p. 240)

Serena transforms from an innocent girl to a young woman learning about life.  She overcomes obstacles in her education and works through the results of some poor decisions.

My favorite parts of the book are those when Serena remembers lessons her grandmother, Oma taught her:

Serena, your mother is taking you away from Curaçao in search of happiness.  She thinks happiness is found in prosperity somewhere out there, but happiness is found only here – in our hearts.

…You can travel the entire world, win the lottery three times over, and still never find happiness. (p.145)

I enjoyed Patricia Selbert’s novel.  I found the story to be strongest in the parts that take place on Curaçao.  The setting and people came alive for me – just like the beautiful cover.

Recommend? Yes, to fans of coming-of-age stories.

Source: BookSparks PR

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz Review and Giveaway

Author: Julie Metz

Genre: Memoir

About: (book blurb) Julie Metz’s life changes forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapses on the kitchen floor and dies in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old is the young widow in a bucolic small town. And this is only the beginning. Seven months after Henry’s death, just when Julie thinks she is emerging from the worst of it, comes the rest of it:  Henry had hidden another life from her.

Thoughts: Perfection is the story Julie Metz tells of finding out her recently deceased husband was a habitual cheater most of the time she knew him.  He was a master of manipulation. At one point Julie says she ignored red flags in his behavior that should have warned her.  He was often critical of her and at times downright mean.

The story of their marriage and his cheating unfolds through Julie’s memories as well as emails found on his computer after his death and subsequent phone conversations with some of the other women.  I was amazed that the women were willing to talk to Julie about their relationship with her husband.  What results is a story that I found disturbing and depressing.

I understand that Julie Metz needed to know what made her husband strive for his idea of perfection or whatever it was he was searching for.  I admire that she was able to survive such a nightmare of betrayal and move forward with her life.  I wish her all the best.

Source: Voice

Why I Chose: BookSparks PR invited me to participate in the blog tour.

Recommend? It was a tough read for me but ultimately Julie Metz proves that one can experience incredible betrayal and then move forward.  Her inner strength is inspirational.

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About Julie Metz
Julie Metz is a graphic designer, artist and freelance writer whose essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Hemispheres, Glamour, and more. Julie received a MacDowell Fellowship in 2008 where she completed work on Perfection and began work on a novel. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.



You can read more about Perfection on the Website and the Facebook page.


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Voice is offering one copy of Perfection

to give away to a reader (US or Canada)

Click here to fill out the form.



Spotlight on: Dark Moon of Avalon by Anna Elliott. Blog Tour/Giveaway

(The following is a synopsis, not my review): The young former High Queen, Isolde, and her friend and protector, Trystan, are reunited in a new and dangerous quest to keep the usurper, Lord Marche, and his Saxon allies from the throne of Britain. Using Isolde’s cunning wit and talent for healing and Trystan’s strength and bravery, they must act as diplomats, persuading the rulers of the smaller kingdoms, from Ireland to Cornwall, that their allegiance to the High King is needed to keep Britain from a despot’s hands.

Their admissions of love hang in the air, but neither wants to put the other at risk by openly declaring a deeper alliance. When their situation is at its most desperate, Trystan and Isolde must finally confront their true feelings toward each other, in time for a battle that will test the strength of their will and their love.

Steeped in the magic and lore of Arthurian legend, Elliott paints a moving portrait of a timeless romance, fraught with danger, yet with the power to inspire heroism and transcend even the darkest age.


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About the author:

The daughter of two English literature Ph.D.s, Anna Elliott grew up in Wilton, Connecticut, in a house filled with books. She is a longtime devotee of historical fiction and fell especially in love with Arthurian legend and Celtic history while at university.

Anna was expecting her first child when she woke up from a vivid dream in which she had told her mother that her next book project would be about Modred’s daughter, Isolde. She was very grateful to her daughter for being an excellent sleeper even as a newborn and allowing her the time to turn her dream into a finished trilogy.  The trilogy comprises Twilight of Avalon, Dark Moon of Avalon, and the upcoming Sunrise of Avalon.

She now lives in the Washington, D.C. Metro area with her husband and two daughters.

Anna Elliott’s links:




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Giveaway has ended

Stephanie at BookSparks PR sent one copy of Dark Moon of Avalon

to give away to one of my US readers.

Please click here and fill out the form.

Giveaway ends 6pm (eastern), Monday, November 22


What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir by Alice Eve Cohen

Title: What I Thought I Knew

Author: Alice Eve Cohen

Genre: Memoir

About: (Back of the book) Alice Cohen was happy for the first time in years.  After a difficult divorce, she had a new love in her life, she was raising a beloved adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming.  Then, she started experiencing mysterious symptoms.  After months of tests, X-rays, and inconclusive diagnoses, Alice was sent for an emergency CAT scan that revealed the truth:  she was six months pregnant.

Descriptive Words: Medical diagnosis mistakes; Memoir.

Thoughts: This slim memoir is informational as well as inspirational.  Ms. Cohen’s story is shocking and she seems to hold nothing back.  Told with honesty and humor, the matter-of-fact style makes reading about the difficulties in this part of her life easier than one might expect – although there was one instance that was extremely hard for me to read.

I liked the occasional use of a list, a re-cap of sorts, that seems to remind the author as well as the reader what has happened to that point.  It’s a clever device.

The author is fortunate to have loved ones (older daughter and husband) who raised the bar when it comes to patience and unconditional love and support.  They are truly special.

I can only hope that what happened to Ms. Cohen doesn’t occur often.  However, I have a feeling it does so her book serves as a cautionary tale to everyone with the lesson being: trust your gut instinct.  If what you’re being told doesn’t feel/sound right, keep seeking answers.

Source: Penguin Books via BookSparks PR

Recommend? Yes, to fans of memoirs.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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About the author:
Alice Eve Cohen is a solo theatre artist, playwright, and memoirist. Her memoir, What I Thought I Knew (Viking, 2009) won the Elle’s Lettres 2009 Grand Prix for Nonfiction. She has written for Nickelodeon, PBS, and CBS. Her plays have been presented at theatres throughout the country, and she has toured her solo theatre works internationally. Her writing about arts in education has been published in nine languages. The recipient of fellowships and grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, she holds a BA from Princeton University and an MFA from The New School. She teaches at The New School in New York City.

Alice Eve Cohen is on Facebook and Twitter.



I’d like to pass my gently-read copy to one of my readers.  If you’re interested please click here for details.


She’s Gone Country by Jane Porter

She's Gone Country

When Shey Darcy’s marriage ends she takes her kids home to Texas where they’ll be surrounded by her family.  Problems don’t magically disappear with the move and she finds herself facing new issues.  Her oldest son wants to go back to New York and his old school.  Her middle son is fighting depression and her youngest wants to learn how to ride bulls.  And if all that isn’t enough she sees a lot more of Dane – the guy who used to be her crush more than twenty years earlier.

I thought Jane Porter did a good job addressing the usual concerns of a family going through divorce.  While not delving real deep she didn’t gloss over them either.  Her characters are real – they have flaws and struggles.  The supporting characters (Shey’s brothers and mother) have a lot going on in their lives as well.  Porter gives enough glimpse into each that it’s easy to understand their motivation relative to Shey.

I enjoyed the story and the pace.  It was a quick read and an entertaining novel.  This is the first book by Porter that I’ve read and I look forward to reading her backlist.  I recommend She’s Gone Country.   A reading group guide is included.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

Georgia’s Kitchen by Jenny Nelson

Georgia's Kitchen

When Georgia Gray finds herself without a job and dropped by her coke-head fiancé she calls in a favor.   She lands on her feet in Tuscany at the not-yet-open restaurant of a chef she worked with while in school.  She finds the job description doesn’t match her expectations but she has no other prospects on the horizon. Thankfully  she has interesting and, for the most part, decent co-workers who welcome her to their kitchen.  Georgia is able to pour herself into doing what she loves most while  keeping in mind that her ultimate goal is to someday open her own restaurant  in NYC.  Her grammy always told her to “stay true to yourself and work hard enough so that you never have to ask what-if.”  There are obstacles but she won’t let them stop her in reaching her goals.  Or will she?

Jenny Nelson wrote a light and entertaining novel about a young woman looking for happiness and learning to stand on her own two feet – without a boyfriend, her best girlfriends, family, and the familiar surroundings of New York.  What she finds out is that it’s ok to ask for help when you need it.  The people who mean the most usually want to be asked.   Nelson’s characters are believable but I wish some of them had been developed a bit more.  For example, I wanted to know a little more about Georgia’s girlfriends than what they wore.  Bernard definitely has an interesting story but maybe it went through a huge edit.  That’s just a small quibble compared to an otherwise very enjoyable story.

The Tuscany part of the book was my favorite.  That and the food descriptions throughout.  Nelson had me craving good Italian food. I think Georgia’s Kitchen would be a great read for fans of Foodie Lit.

Review copy from BookSparks PR