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Blog Tour: U.S. Launch of Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie

16 Oct

So, today is the U.S. launch of Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie!!!! If you know my blog, then you know I majorly heart Catherine and her books. In fact, I believe I have taken part in all the different blog tours for the Canadian AND American launches of her books. Yups, that’s how much I dig them.

I”m re-posting my original review of Forgotten, which I abs ADORED. I also have a copy for one lucky US reader. Just comment on the review for your chance to win a copy. I’ll run the contest until Oct 22nd.

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to recreate her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who’s taken over her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice the job, relationships and everything else she worked so hard to build?

*Sigh* Don’t you love when you have an author that you just know is going to wow you? Over the past couple of years Catherine McKenzie has become one of my go-to authors. I wait impatiently for her to have a new book out, then do what I have to do to get a hold of an ARC. Then I devour it in one sitting, hug it to my chest happily and begin the whole process over. Seriously.

Forgotten is a bit different than Catherine’s first two books. While it once again deals with a woman who finds herself in an unusual predicament, I found it a lot darker and more serious than Spin and Arranged. But I still loved it to bits. Despite the different overall tone it still had the snappy dialogue, great characterization and gut-wrenching scenes that I’ve come to expect from Catherine.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a subplot that pops up about half way through the book that I thought was a wonderful addition to the main plot. It added another layer to Emma and really  helped her character to grow. And that’s what’s really at the heart of this story: growing. I think it’s great that Emma comes back all ready to take over her life again. But is that really the life she wants? And if so, will that life still be there for her? It’s these questions, and the way that Catherine approaches them, that makes this such a great read.

Oh, and the handsome photographer ain’t too shabby, either. :0)

Dance, Gladys, Dance – Cassie Stocks

3 Jul

Publisher: NeWest Press
Released: March 22th, 2010
Genre: adult fiction, chick-lit
Review copy from publisher

27-year-old Frieda Zweig is at an impasse. Behind her is a string of failed relationships and half-forgotten ambitions of being a painter; in front of her lies the dreary task of finding a real job and figuring out what “normal” people do with their lives. Then, a classified ad in the local paper introduces Frieda to Gladys, an elderly woman who long ago gave up on her dreams of being a dancer.

The catch? Gladys is a ghost.

From NeWest Press website

Please don’t ask me what genre this book is. I know, I know, if you look up above I’ve got it down as “chick-lit” and the even more ambiguous and confusing term “adult fiction”.  But I really just put those there because I had to have something. I could also add comedy, mystery, ghost story…… Cuz Dance, Gladys, Dance is all of those things. And they all combined to make a wonderful, heartwarming, funny, sad, touching and realistic story.

Anyone who has chosen a different life path and struggles with that decision from time to time is going to be able to identify strongly with Frieda and what she’s going through. I think there are lots of us (especially women) who struggle to design a “normal” life, only to realize it really isn’t for them. And that’s a strong theme throughout the book. The fact that society tries so hard to tell us what we should be doing as adults, what’s normal and what’s acceptable. What it all comes down to is you have to do what makes you happy and what makes you comfortable in your own skin. Some people achieve this early in life while others take a bit longer to get there.

Frieda isn’t the only one struggling to find herself and really decide what she wants in life. There are a slew of characters, all at different ages and stages of their life, who aren’t quite sure if they’re doing it right.  I really enjoyed meeting these characters and watching them evolve. I also love that someone who, at first glance, seemed like a tertiary character, ended up being essential to the plot and Frieda’s story.

I wasn’t quite sure how the ghostie angle was going to work, but I loved it. While at times it offered a bit of comedic relief, Gladys tells her life story and in doing so helps Frieda.  The ghost angle could have been weird and over-the-top, but it wasn’t. It fit in perfectly with some of the other plot lines.

The writing was quick and snappy, particularly the dialogue. In fact, some of the dialogue reminded me of the dialogue in Gilmore Girls. If you know me, you know that’s pretty much the highest praise I can give.  The dialogue made me smile a lot and I could definitely picture it on the big screen.

I think anyone who enjoys a serious story with some humour in it and characters that turn out to be perfect in their imperfection will love Dance, Gladys, Dance. I know I did.

GIVEAWAY

I have one copy of Dance, Gladys, Dance to one lucky Canadian reader. All you have to do is comment below and tell me what you’re reading now. Contest will be over July 10th, 11:59 EST.

Re-review & Giveaway – Arranged -Catherine McKenzie

15 May


Publisher:
William Morrow Paperbacks (HarperCollins)
Released: May 15th, 2012 (U.S. release)
Genre: Chick-lit, general fiction
Review copy from publisher

Anne Blythe is lucky. She’s got a brand new book contract, a great newspaper job and a steadfast best friend, and she can land just about any man she sets her sights on — and the ones that appeal are typically tall, dark and handsome.

Problem is, the men she chooses never last. Shortly after yet another relationship goes down in flames, Anne comes across a card for what she believes is a dating service, and pockets it just in case. If she’s so unlucky in love, maybe she could use a little assistance. Then her best friend announces she’s engaged, and envy gets the better of Anne. Now’s the time, she decides, to give the service a try — and she is shocked to discover that what the company specializes in are exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriages. After learning of the company’s success rate, however, she overcomes her reluctance and signs on. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, and she’s not done so well selecting a mate on her own. So why not use a professional service that claims it can produce the perfect match?

Some time later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack, the man they have chosen for her. And against all odds, it seems to be working out, until Anne learns that Jack and the company who arranged their marriage are not what they seem at all.

From HarperCollins website.

First of all, I need to say a big HAPPY U.S. BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!!! to Catherine and Arranged. I was part of the Canadian launch and I am all giggly and smiley that I get to be a part of her U.S. launch, too. If you’ve been to my blog before, then you know how much I ADORE Catherine’s books and Catherine herself. And you know how much I like to stalk, er, promote my fave authors.

As you can tell from the post title, this is a re-review. And I’m happy to say I was as taken with Arranged as I was the first time I read it.  Reading it for the second time, one thing became very clear to me: Catherine is a master of quick, snappy dialogue. And not overly clever, sappy dialogue either. No, the dialogue in Arranged, to me, rang very true. It had that quick back and forth banter that I love. And she’s not afraid to drop the F bomb. At all. And as someone who could make a sailor blush, I appreciated that.

I like how Catherine really digs into the issue of looks and attraction, and how it isn’t always the best thing in the world when it comes to relationships. Since about grade 4 I kinda had a type, a weakness for redheads. In fact, my type was so particular that in university, when I brought home a boy I was dating, my parents sat me down afterwards and held an intervention because he looked so much like my ex, they thought at first we had gotten back together. When I met my husband, we corresponded on line first for about a week before we exchanged pictures. At that point we had hit it off so much, that when I found out he was pretty much bald, I didn’t give a hoot. If we had met in a bar or supermarket first would I have taken notice of him? Hard to say. I think that a lot of us are so attached to our type that we miss a lot of great opportunities with other, just like Anne.

I once again sat down to read Arranged and didn’t stop until I was finished. And I was a bit of a sobby mess at the ending, once again. Actually I found myself tearing up a few times. This says a lot about the book, the writing and the emotional attachment that I still felt on second read.

Oh, and a bit of a spoiler, but not a huge one: there’s a Gilmore Girls reference in Arranged. You have no idea how happy this made my heart. My other obsession, besides books, is The Gilmore Girls. And the episode Catherine mentions (season 4 finale) is one of my FAVES. :)

So, yeah, I still stand behind my original judgement that this is one kick-ass chit-lit book. If you’ve read either of Catherine’s other books, or are a fan of the genre, I can’t see how you wouldn’t love Arranged. And if you are curious about chick-lit, this book is a great place to start.

GIVEAWAY!

So, I have a copy of Arranged to give away to one lucky US winner, courtesy of HarperCollins in the U.S.. AND, since I’m a Canuck and I love all my Canadian readers, I’m going to be giving one lucky Canadian reader a copy (ordered from book depository). I like to keep things simple, so to enter all you have to do is comment below and tell me either your favorite Gilmore Girls episode or moment, your favorite rom-com moment or if you have a “type” when it comes to dating. Also mention in your comment of you are from the U.S. or Canada. The contest will close May 22nd, 11:59EST.

Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie – blog tour

1 May

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to recreate her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who’s taken over her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice the job, relationships and everything else she worked so hard to build?

*Sigh* Don’t you love when you have an author that you just know is going to wow you? Over the past couple of years Catherine McKenzie has become one of my go-to authors. I wait impatiently for her to have a new book out, then do what I have to do to get a hold of an ARC. Then I devour it in one sitting, hug it to my chest happily and begin the whole process over. Seriously.

Forgotten is a bit different than Catherine’s first two books. While it once again deals with a woman who finds herself in an unusual predicament, I found it a lot darker and more serious than Spin and Arranged. But I still loved it to bits. Despite the different overall tone it still had the snappy dialogue, great characterization and gut-wrenching scenes that I’ve come to expect from Catherine.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a subplot that pops up about half way through the book that I thought was a wonderful addition to the main plot. It added another layer to Emma and really  helped her character to grow. And that’s what’s really at the heart of this story: growing. I think it’s great that Emma comes back all ready to take over her life again. But is that really the life she wants? And if so, will that life still be there for her? It’s these questions, and the way that Catherine approaches them, that makes this such a great read.

Oh, and the handsome photographer ain’t too shabby, either. :0)

Puppy Love – Frauke Scheunemann

21 Mar

Hercules is a dachshund, who was rescued from the animal shelter by the sweet and loving Caroline. Life for this little dog would be perfect if it weren’t for Caroline’s new boyfriend, Thomas. Hercules and his new friend, Mr. Beck — a tomcat and a good judge of human nature — devise a shrewd plot to get rid of Thomas and to find a new companion for Caroline. 

But when things don’t work out with the men that make the dachshund’s short list — no matter how many romantic moonlight strolls he gets her to take with them — it comes down to just one man they both might agree on . . .

Okay, before I start my review I want you all to take a moment and sigh in happy bliss over the uber-cuteness of this book cover. You’ll notice I’ve made it larger than I usually do and there’s a reason for that. Besides my Rowlfie, I think this is the damn cutest Daschund I have ever seen! Look at those eyes! Those ears! *sigh* Okay, now that we’ve all had our fill of adorableness, on to my review.

Puppy Love was one of the sweetest, cutest books I’ve read in a long time. I mean, come on, it’s written from the view point of a PUPPY. How could it not be cute? But while it was cute, it didn’t cross the line to cheesy. It was a nice read and I found myself smiling through most of it.

I loved the idea of Hercules, with the help of Mr. Beck,  trying to find his mistress a mate. And let me tell you, after reading Puppy Love, I find myself taking a much closer look at what my own animals do and I often wonder what there motives are. (While I’m pretty sure most of their action are motivated towards getting people food, you never know.)

Despite the fact that this story is told by Hercules, it was a believable story and had the same tone and feel as some of my favorite chick flicks. I could totally see things going down the way they did and not once did I go “Sheesh, really? I don’t think so!” I was absorbed in the story from the opening sentence and I stay engaged right through until the end.

Puppy Love is a translation, but I never once felt that the wording was awkward, as can sometimes happen with works in translation. I also don’t think that anything was lost. All of the characters were believable and the story flowed nicely. So a big yay! to Shelley Frisch, the translator. She did a beautiful job.

This is just a super cute, fun read. And it made me realize that I need more books like Puppy Love in my life.

Thanks so much to the peeps at House of Anansi for the review copy.

Spin – Catherine McKenzie

8 Feb

Kate’s To-Do List:

Go to rehab
Befriend/spy on “It Girl”
Write killer expose
Land dream job
Piece of cake!

When Kate Sandford lands an interview at her favorite music magazine, The Line, it’s the chance of a lifetime. So Kate goes out to celebrate—and shows up still drunk to the interview the next morning. It’s no surprise that she doesn’t get the job, but her performance has convinced the editors that she’d be perfect for an undercover assignment for their gossip rag. All Kate has to do is follow “It Girl” Amber Sheppard into rehab. If she can get the inside scoop—and complete the thirty-day program—they’ll reconsider her for the position at The Line. Kate takes the assignment, but when real friendships start to develop, she has to decide if what she has to gain is worth the price she’ll have to pay.

So, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I’ve already given Spin a glowing review when it was first released in Canada two years ago. But see, yesterday was the US launch of Spin (YAY!) so I wanted to reread it to see if I loved it as much as I did the first time. And you know what? I think I might have loved it even more.

There is nothing more satisfying than rereading a book a couple of years after you first read it and discovering that yes, it’s still just as yummy and awesome as it first was.  Because that’s not always the case.  but it definitely was with Spin.

Kate is so f— up that I couldn’t help but lover her. Because despite her many, MANY shortcomings, she had a good heart and I could see this even as she was basically ruining her life.  She was just so damn believable. There were times I just wanted to hug her, but then on the next page I wanted to reach into the book and give her a good shake. I felt invested in her from page one, which is a testament to McKenzie’s writing.

The people that she meets in rehab, even the minor ones, were just as beautifully written as Kate was. I really felt like I was getting to know them as Kate was. And Amber Sheppard could have easily been written as an over the top character. And while she did over the top things, she herself was grounded in the small things that she did and how she acted in certain situations.

There’s some romance in Spin, folks. Yes, romance. If you know me, you probably think that I’m rolling my eyes. Because I am not a fan of romance in books. But, here’s the thing: when it’s done well and it isn’t the main focus of the book, I kinda love it. And I LOVED the romantic elements in Spin. I won’t ruin anything for you, but there were moments that my heart was beating nervously along with Kate’s.

Chick lit, or women’s fiction, sometimes gets a bad rap for being light and fluffy and not great literature. But, like with any genre, when it’s done right and written as beautifully as Spin, then it’s amazing. And who really gives a fig what the genre is? Damn great literature is damn great literature regardless of the label slapped on it. And Spin? It made me sigh with unbelievable happiness when I finished it. And, like a favorite movie, I immediately wanted to start back at the beginning as soon as I finished it. I loved it THAT much.

The Thirteen – Susie Moloney

11 Jan

Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It’s close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing. The streets are clean, people keep their yards really nicely. It’s fairly pet friendly, though barking dogs are not welcomed. The crime rate is practically non-existent, unless you count the odd human sacrifice, dismemberment, animal attack, demon rape and blood atonement. When Paula Wittmore goes home to Haven Woods to care for a suddenly ailing mother, she brings her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She also brings the last chance for twelve of her mother’s closest frenemies, who like to keep their numbers at thirteen. And her daughter, young, innocent, is a worthy gift to the darkness.

A circle of friends will support you through bad times. A circle of witches can drag you through hell.

Ah, what a delish read!

The Thirteen is the perfect combination of mystery, horror, paranormal and chick-lit. I mean, this book was kinda like Desperate Housewives on some major  ‘shrooms.  It was fast-paced and juicy and scary and full of Holy shit moments. And it wasn’t a deep book, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. This is the kind of book that you can get 100% wrapped up in, enjoying it simply for what it is: a Hell of a good read.

The whole time I was reading The Thirteen, I was picturing it as a movie. Moloney’s writing really made everything very vivid and the scenes just popped off the pages. The writing was witty and campy and there was just enough ew factor to make me happy. And I loved the whole everything is not what it seems angle. Kinda makes you look at your own neighbors a bit closer. :D

Thanks to the folks at Random House Canada for the review copy.

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