Tag Archives: Arranged

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.

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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)

And the winner is……

31 Jan

I’m a bit late posting the winners for the two giveaways I was hosting. Everyone has been contacts and everyone’s emailed me back.

Finished copy of Arranged by Catherine McKenzie
Jodi(blommingwriter)

International ARC of The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong (courtesy of Kelley herself!)
Cem

Canadian ARC of The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Diane
Mel (He Followed Me Home)

Congrats everyone!

Q & A with Catherine McKenzie and a giveaway!

13 Jan

If you’ve read my review of Arranged by Catherine McKenzie, then you know how much I loved the book and how much I adore the author. Catherine is one of my favorite Canadian authors for sure. And I’m so happy that I get the chance to do a Q & A with her! Oh, and I also have one finished copy of Arranged to give away to a lucky Canadian reader. And tonight is the official launch party for Arranged. Congrats Catherine!

Thank you so much for stopping by today Catherine! I loved Arranged and I’m so glad to get the chance to pick your brain. :0)

LL: As you were writing Arranged, were you at all worried that some cultures that still have arranged marriages might not embrace the book?

CM: Sure, I always worry about that a little since both of my novels, though comedic, deal with issues that are serious (addiction in Spin, arranged marriages in Arranged). But I also try to keep in mind that you also can’t please everyone, and I try, as much as possible within the confines of the story, to be respectful.

LL: Anne’s mom is pretty much obsessed with Anne of Green Gables (which I loved, being from PEI). I take it that you yourself are a fan of the red-headed heroine?

CM: I am a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables and have read the Anne series of books more times that I can count. Having red hair and green eyes myself (and a tendency to gab a bit too much), Anne is someone I’ve always related to. If you haven’t read these books, please do so!

LLArranged has a scene that is a tad bit, well, steamy, at least compared to your first novel, Spin. Is it awkward or weird for you to write lovey-dovey (aka sex) scenes?

CM: It’s both! Honestly, when I wrote the first sex scene, I was worried about trying to get the balance right. But I thought it was important to the story that those scenes be realistic and more than a simple kiss-and-cut-to-the-next-morning moment. It was certainly awkward having friends and family read it for the first time though!

LLArranged had a very rom-com movie feel to it. If it was ever turned into a movie, who would your dream cast be?

CM: I generally don’t think about what movie actors might be good to play the characters in my books, and so, no one immediately comes to mind for Anne. I did always sort of imagine Jack as a James Tupper (Men in Trees) type, though.

LL: I’m always curious about what music writers listen to when working on certain projects. Were there any songs or artists that helped make Arranged what it is?

CM: Wow, that’s a tough one because I actually wrote the first drafts of Arranged in 2006/2007. I do often write to music, and at that time I was likely listening to a lot of Ryan Adams, David Gray, Matt Nathanson, John Mayer and the Counting Crows. During revisions I was listening to a lot of Mozella. I also tend to get really into a song and play it on repeat with my headphones on as a way to get energy from a song and tune it out at the same time.  True story: I have sometimes thought of keeping notes of what I was listening to when when writing a particular book to be able to answer questions just like this. But I never did it. Guess I didn’t really believe I’d ever get published 🙂

Thanks again Catherine! Thank you, Colleen! And so glad you enjoyed the book.

The giveaway!!!

As I said, I have one finished copy of Arranged to give away to a lucky Canadian reader. Hmm, what question should I ask you guys to answer? I know! Have you ever met somebody in an unusual way that you ended up dating/marrying? If you haven’t don’t worry:  you’ll still be entered. Since I met the hubs through a personal ad and my folks met when the girl that was supposed to go out with my Dad chickened out and bribed my Mom to go I like hearing about how couples met. 🙂

The contest will be opened until January 25th.

Review: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

3 Jan

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Released: January 3th, 2011
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 Canada website.

 

So yesterday Catherine McKenzie’s first book, Spin, made it on my list of favorite reads for 2010. I know we’re only three days into 2011 but I can tell you that Arranged will make it on my best of 2011 list. I loved it that much. I stayed up until 3 am to finished it and immediately wanted to reread it again. Arranged may seem on the surface like a light “chick lit” read, but underneath it’s about more serious issues like loneliness, stability and trust. And it’s a book that I know will stick with me for a long time.

Anne Blythe isn’t always the most likable character in the world. She has a certain “type” of guy she’s into and she’s, well, kinda shallow when it comes to looks. For the first part of the book I spent a lot of time wanting to smack her upside the head. I mean, quit complaining that you can’t find a decent guy when you only go for men who have movie star looks. Honestly. But as the book went on, and McKenzie let me slowly see deeper into Anne’s psyche I felt a connection to the character that I rarely feel when reading. I think a lot of women are going to see aspects of themselves in Anne. I know I did.

Okay, here’s a bit of background on moi. You need to know it so that you can understand how fully and completely connected I felt with Anne by the time I got about half way through the book, and why I became so entrenched in her story and her happiness. The hubs and I met in a bit of an unconventional way: I answered his personal online ad . I was sick and tired of the dating game and wanted to meet someone I knew I’d be compatible with. I also wanted to avoid that awkward does-he-like-me-like-me stage when you first meet someone of the opposite sex. Since I was answering a personal ad, all I had to do was meet the guy, see if we clicked, and if we didn’t, so be it. Sure it’s not as serious of a commitment as an arranged marriage, but I could still identify with everything Anne was feeling pre and post wedding. For me the connection was at times painful, and some of the things Anne goes through broke my heart so bad that I had to set the book down for a bit and gather myself.

As an Island girl, I got a kick out of all the Anne of Green Gables reference. I mean, there’s no one on PEI who doesn’t have some kind of a connection to Anne. Most of us have the seen the musical. And, if like me, you’ve ever worked as an usher at The Confederation Center of the Arts, then you’ve seen the musical enough times to know it off by heart 15 years later.

The author’s writing was once again great. McKenzie has a straight-forward writing style that lends itself perfectly to the story. She has the amazing ability to handle some tough issues in a light way without being condescending, rude or awkward about it. In her books it seems effortless but I know that it must be hard to maintain that balance.

Arranged was way more romancy than Spin and -gasp- there may even be a bit of a sex scene it in, something that would normally turn the extremely prudish me off from finishing the book. But I felt such a strong connection to Anne and was so tied up in the plot and the writing was so great that I didn’t give a hoot. I loved the book despite the fact that it had elements in it that I normally don’t love. And that, my friends, is the sign of excellent writing, an amazing plot and stand out characters. All of which Arranged has.

Still not convinced this is a must read book? Browse inside Arranged and see for yourself.

Oh, and pop back to the blog because in the next week or so I’ll be hosting a Q & A with Catherine and giving away a copy of Arranged, thanks to HarperCollins Canada and The Savvy Reader.

 

Friday Finds

30 Jul

Friday Finds is a weekly book meme hosted by Should Be Reading. It’s  a fun way to share books that you’ve recently discovered.

Another Pan by Daniel and Dina Nayeri

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie