First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen – Plus, a Giveaway!

S21853633ummary: From the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells comes a story of the Waverley family, in a novel as sparkling as the first dusting of frost on new-fallen leaves…

It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.

Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?

When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Lose yourself in Sarah Addison Allen’s enchanting world and fall for her charmed characters in this captivating story that proves that a happily-ever-after is never the real ending to a story. It’s where the real story begins. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

allen-hires-wallaceMy Thoughts: First Frost has everything I could ever want in a book: family, friendship, romance, humor, and a little bit of magic throughout. Unfortunately, I never read the novel Garden Spells, the first book in the Waverley Family series but I don’t feel that it took anything away from my experience with First Frost. It would have been nice to have the family background and I will definitely go back and read it, but I felt the author did a great job giving enough context up front so that I didn’t feel completely lost when I started the book. First Frost was one of the first books I read in 2015 and it was a great way to start off the year!

The story centers on the Waverly sisters who were introduced in Garden Spells. Claire is overwhelmed running her growing candy business, Sydney runs her hair salon while yearning for a baby, and Bay is a teenager who embraces her Waverly gift and is considered somewhat of an outcast in high school. The three seem to be on edge as they prepare for the first frost, which is when their magical and feisty apple tree blooms every year and brings new beginnings. But when a strange man starts snooping around town asking questions about the family, the women must join forces to find out who he is, what he wants and protect their family from whatever he has in store.

I fell in love with the Waverly family in this novel and all the quirkiness that comes with them – yes, they are somewhat different from everyone else in Bascom but they are a warm, charming, and comforting group of people. First Frost is an enchanting and beautiful story about family, second chances and embracing your uniqueness; the author did a fabulous job weaving in magical aspects to the book without it being too hocus pocus.

I cannot believe this was my first time reading a book from Sarah Addison Allen; I know, shame on me – although I do have about 3 of her books sitting on my bookshelf but unfortunately, they are in my ridiculously large ‘to-read’ list. However, after reading this book I am going to be pushing up her novels in my list especially Lost Lake which just came out in paperback. First Frost is a definite winner and should be on all of your lists for 2015!

To celebrate the release of First Frost which came out last week, Sarah and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with a copy of the book for a giveaway. Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

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Honeymoon Blog Series #5 – Safe with Me by Amy Hatvany

71cGnsaUy5LSummary: A novel about two mothers and one daughter who are linked by tragedy and bound by secrets, from the acclaimed author of Heart Like Mine. Now, in the provocative Safe with Me, Amy Hatvany explores controversial and timely issues with astonishing emotional complexity.

The screech of tires brought Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it to a devastating end. Even a year after she signed the papers to donate her daughter’s organs, Hannah is still reeling with grief when she unexpectedly stumbles into the life of the Bell family, whose child, Maddie, survived only because hers had died. Mesmerized by this fragile connection to her own daughter and afraid to reveal who she actually is, Hannah develops a surprising friendship with Maddie’s mother, Olivia.

The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Once on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him as never before in the wake of the successful transplant that saved their fifteen-year-old daughter’s life. Meanwhile Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the Internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to return to school, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.

A masterful narrative, shaped by nuanced characters whose fragile bonds are on a collision course with the truth, Safe with Me is a triumph. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I’ve had a blast reliving my honeymoon through this blog series and am a little sad that this is my last review of the books I read while I was in Seychelles (ah, oh well – back to real life now!) I saved this review for last because it was probably one of my favorite books I read during my time off (although, they were all spectacular.) Safe with Me is a stellar and heartfelt novel about tragedy, love, friendship and second chances – I was hooked on this book from the very beginning.

8463_72446963_hrThe story centers on three characters who are bound together by very strange and less than ideal circumstances. First off, there is Hannah, a single mom whose daughter Emily dies during a terrible accident. And then there is Maddie, who after being sick most of her life has been given a second chance with a transplant…that belonged to Emily. When Maddie and her mother Olivia stumble into Hannah’s hair salon almost a year after the accident, Hannah is sure that this girl was the recipient of her daughter’s organ but is reluctant to say anything. The two women strike up an instant bond and as their relationship grows, Hannah discovers that Olivia has been in an abusive marriage for years and is desperately trying to escape, but continues to find reasons why she cannot leave.

The story is narrated from the perspectives of all three women and I think it added a lot to the story. The reader was able to tap into each of the character’s minds and see what they were feeling at any moment in the story.  Amy also did a wonderful job touching on real life issues such as losing a child, spousal abuse and organ donation and wrote to each in a delicate yet emotional fashion. I will admit that some parts of the book were difficult to read and I was affected by this book much more than I thought I would have been.

Safe with Me is a gripping and emotionally charged story that had me crying, laughing and empathizing for Hannah, Olivia and Maddie. My heart ached for all three women and I was praying throughout the book that everything would turn out okay in the end. This was my first time reading anything from Amy before but I promise it won’t be the last time – I can’t wait to dive into some of her other novels (which unfortunately I’ve had sitting in my TBR list.)

And here are some final pictures from our honeymoon – hopefully we will go back for our 20th anniversary :)

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Author Q&A with Beth Kendrick – Plus, a Giveaway!

I love Beth Kendrick’s writing and fell in love with Black Dog Bay after reading Cure for the Common Breakup last year (to see my full review, click here). Needless to say, when I heard she was writing another book set in the same town, I was thrilled!

To celebrate the release of her new novel New Uses for Old Boyfriends (which hits stores next week,) we interviewed Beth and asked her questions about her books, writing style, and even what she has coming up next. I loved getting to know Beth through this Q&A session and I know you will love her (even more than you already do) too!

Thank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner for a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for New Uses for Old Boyfriends and Black Dog Bay? How do you come up with your ideas for books?

41Iku1FL6bL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The (sadly) fictional town of Black Dog Bay was inspired by my family’s annual trips to the Delaware shore. Even though I never bring my laptop with me, a writer’s brain never really goes on vacation and after a few days of frolicking in the sand, eating boardwalk fries, and pulling over to marvel at “Turtle X-ing” road signs, I start scribbling down story ideas.

New Uses for Old Boyfriends is my second book set in Black Dog Bay, and it’s got something for everyone: mother-daughter bonding, beach houses described in graphic detail, a hot Marine, small-town scandal, vintage Chanel, and the world’s biggest SUV. It’s a story about life’s second chapters and second chances. It’s about hope and forgiveness and unexpected gifts…and boyfriends past and present.

Out of all your books, who has been your favorite character to write about and why?

Standard Author Disclaimer: I love all my characters, they are all precious to me, I could never ever choose a favorite, BUT…I just adore Summer Benson, the heroine of Cure for the Common Breakup.  She is the human equivalent of a honey badger, she will do anything to get a reaction from other characters, and she just strode into her storyline and dropped the mic.

I also have a thing for Malcolm, the aforementioned hot Marine in New Uses for Old Boyfriends. I don’t want to ruin any plot points, so that’s all I can tell you for now. By the time I finished the first draft, I was ready to pack my bags and run away with him!

How do you feel your writing has changed since your first novel?

I have a much better grasp of the mechanics of plot: structure, conflict, and pacing. Also, I’ve learned to let my characters fail BIG, which I was afraid to do when I first started. I used to want to protect them from their own flaws and bad decisions; now I let them go down in flames. (Makes for a better reading experience.)

I adore all your book covers especially Cure for the Common Breakup – yum! Who designs them and how involved are you in process?

All the credit goes to the talented art department at Penguin/NAL, particularly Mimi Bark. My editor always asks for my ideas and input, but there is a reason I didn’t go into the visual arts!

What has been the best compliment you’ve received about any of your books?

Shortly after my first book (My Favorite Mistake) came out, I got an email from a soldier stationed in Iraq. He said he’d found the book left on his bunk as a prank, but started reading it because he was bored. The story is set in Minnesota and he was from the Midwest, and he said it eased his homesickness. My editor and I put together a box of books we thought he might like and sent them to him. I still think about that email and hope the soldier made it home safely.

Kendrick headshotWhat is your writing process like? Do you write an outline before every book you write and do you write every day?

I write every day; it helps to keep the momentum going. However, when I say I’m “writing,” that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m tapping away at the keyboard. Sometimes I call my writer buddies to talk through a plot problem or actually (gasp!) leave the house to do research. I loved doing research for New Uses for Old Boyfriends, as it involved trying on vintage Chanel jackets, poring over issues of Architectural Digest devoted to oceanfront summer houses, and watching a Marine demonstrate hand-to-hand combat moves.

As for outlines, I write them for every book. And every book turns out nothing like the outline. Blame my characters—they’re rebels who play by their own rules.

If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

Is “professional luxury spa tester” an option?

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Hang out with other writers. Of course you should write every day and read about scene and story, etc., but writing is a very isolated activity. You will need a support group. Enroll in creative writing classes and conferences and hopefully, you will connect with a few fellow writers who are kindred spirits. You only need one or two; you’re looking for quality, not quantity. Get their contact information.  Read each other’s drafts. Go to coffee shops together and brainstorm and cheer each other on.

If you’re allowed to tell us, what can your readers expect next? Are you currently working on anything new?

I am finishing up another novel set in Black Dog Bay (Put a Ring on It) that will be out in November 2015. A pragmatic insurance actuary who’s basically the queen of the ten-year plan comes to spend the weekend with her friend from college…and ends up married to Jake Sorensen, the town’s “designated rebound guy.” (In her defense, she was driven to it by her former fiancé.)  Jake is filthy rich, ridiculously good-looking, way out of her league, and…why did he marry her, again?  She knows this is all too good to be true, but there’ll be plenty of time to worry about that after the hormonal haze wears off, right?

To celebrate the release of her new novel, Beth and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with a copy of New Uses for Old Boyfriends for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

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When We Fall by Emily Liebert – Plus, a Giveaway!

81FFxLCYCzLSummary: LOVE LOST, LOVE FOUND

Ready for a fresh start, Allison Parker moves back to her hometown in the suburbs of New York. While she’d once savored the dynamic pace of city life, sadly, it lost its allure after her husband’s untimely death. Now, ready to focus on her art career accompanied by her ten-year-old son, Logan, Allison doesn’t anticipate that her past will resurface. When the wife of her husband’s best friend from summer camp takes her under her wing, things begin to spin out of control.

At one time, Charlotte Crane thought she had it all—a devoted husband, a beautiful little girl, and enough financial security to never have to worry. But behind her perfect facade lie a strained marriage and a fractured relationship with her sister. When new girl Allison arrives in Wincourt, Charlotte welcomes the chance to build a friendship. Before long, Charlotte begins to see her life through Allison’s eyes, and the cracks in her seemingly flawless existence become impossible to ignore.

As Allison heals from the loss of her husband—even wondering if she might be ready to date again—Charlotte feels more distant from her loved ones than ever before. The emerging friendship between the two women appears to be just the antidote both of them so desperately need…until everything falls apart. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I fell in love with Emily’s storytelling and characters after reading You Knew Me When and I’m pleased to say that she has delivered another delightful read with her newest novel When We Fall. Emily writes characters who are so relatable that you could be reading about your friend, sister, mother or daughter. When We Fall is an honest and inspiring novel about lifting yourself up after you’ve experienced heartbreak – this is a refreshing read that I promise you will enjoy!

81VB8yiPWUL__UX250_The story revolves around two very different women. Alison has just moved back to her hometown with her son Logan after her husband died in a bus accident ten or eleven years ago. As Alison gets adjusted to her new suburban lifestyle, she befriends Charlotte, a stay at home mom whose life seems so perfect on the outside but is falling apart behind closed doors.

I enjoyed reading about Alison’s genuine and nurturing character, who will do everything in her power to make sure her son is happy. She is such a brave and strong woman who is very comfortable in her own skin and puts her family first. On the flip side, Charlotte is a woman who frustrated me at times and is not the easiest to like especially when she is around her group of catty and ‘mean girl’ type friends. However, as you read through the book you start to feel for her as you begin to understand where she is coming from and why she acts and feels the way she does. The author does a great job writing to the dynamics of Charlotte and Alison’s friendship, especially when you throw things into the mix such as Charlotte’s wild child sister Elizabeth (who I ended up loving towards the end,) and Charlotte’s husband Charlie, who instantly bonds with Alison when she arrives into town since they were childhood friends.

When We Fall is a refreshing and engaging novel about marriage, friendship, relationships and starting over. This is another winner from Emily and I cannot wait to get my hands on her new novel Those Secrets We Keep which comes out in June. Plus, the cover was just revealed by Chick Lit Central on Wednesday and it is absolutely stunning (click here to see the article.)

And it gets even better…Emily and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with a signed copy of WHEN WE FALL for a giveaway (weeee!) Enter to win via the Rafflecopter below:

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Honeymoon Blog Series #4 – The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole White

51UwXzwSC1L__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Summary: What could be worse than losing your child? Having to pretend he’s still alive…

Bestselling author Will Shepard is caught in the twilight of grief, after his young son dies in a car accident. But when his father’s aging mind erases the memory, Will rewrites the truth. The story he spins brings unexpected relief…until he’s forced to return to rural North Carolina, trapping himself in a lie.

Holistic veterinarian Hannah Linden is a healer who opens her heart to strays but can only watch, powerless, as her grown son struggles with inner demons. When she rents her guest cottage to Will and his dad, she finds solace in trying to mend their broken world, even while her own shatters.

As their lives connect and collide, Will and Hannah become each other’s only hope—if they can find their way into a new story, one that begins with love. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: The In-Between Hour is an emotionally charged story that is full of sadness, happiness, sickness, loss and every other feeling you could possibly imagine. It is a stunning and dramatic portrayal of the love between parent and child, during all stages of life especially in times of grief. I bought this book when it first came out and I am so sad that it took me until my honeymoon to finally read it. Nevertheless, I am glad I was able to fully dedicate my time to the story because this is one that completely consumed me from the first page until the last.

Barbara-Claypole-White-200x300The story centers on two grieving characters: Will, whose son died in a car crash and Hannah, whose son is battling depression. Unfortunately, Will’s father who is struggling with dementia believes his grandson is still alive so to avoid any additional heartache, Will pretends that his son is still alive and is on an European adventure. And then there is Hannah, the local vet whose son Galen is constantly struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. When Will is forced to revisit his hometown in North Carolina because his father has caused a disturbance in the nursing home, he rents a cottage from Hannah while he tries to figure out the next step for him and his father. Through their time together, Hannah and Will’s relationship blossoms as they begin to lean on one another for strength as they deal with the challenges ahead.

I had never read anything by Barbara before (I know – shame on me!) but I absolutely fell in love with her writing and the ease at which the story flowed. Barbara creates characters who are so genuine and vulnerable; these are people the reader truly begins cares about. I also enjoyed reading about the gorgeous settings in the story especially the mountains, sunsets and Hannah’s home; it made me feel as if I was there with the characters experiencing the story with them.

The In-Between Hour is a beautiful and touching story that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. I am warning you now, have a box of tissues nearby (for me, all I had was my beach towel but it did the trick!) I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book – you won’t be disappointed.

With all of the rock climbing in this book, I thought it would be fitting to share some pictures from the zip lining adventure we did on our honeymoon. The scenery was gorgeous but WOW, we were high up!

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Fallen Beauty by Erika Robuck – Plus, a Giveaway!

Fallen_Beauty_CoverSummary: “Without sin, can we know beauty? Can we fully appreciate the summer without the winter? No, I am glad to suffer so I can feel the fullness of our time in the light.”

Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future…

That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparalleled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will…

Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: Erika Robuck is one of the reasons why I have fallen in love with historical fiction – she delivers such brilliant stories that are not only entertaining but make me feel as if I’m learning more and more about people and time periods I knew little about. I loved reading about Zelda Fitzgerald in Robuck’s novel Call Me Zelda and now have a new obsession with Edna St. Vincent Millay after reading Fallen Beauty; I continue researching and reading more about both women because I have this itching need to learn more about their lives.

Fallen Beauty is an exquisite novel that centers on two women who are living outside society’s norms: Millay, the eccentric and seductive poet and Laura, a local seamstress and outcast who bore an illegitimate child with a married man. The story follows Laura as she struggles to raise her child as a single mother in a very judgmental and uptight town and Millay as she works on her writing in her home outside of town where her and her husband are known for throwing lavish, wild and drunken parties.

photoI love how Erika writes from both Millay and Laura’s viewpoints, which can sometimes be confusing to the reader but works so well with this story. I was intrigued with both of their creative processes; Millay, who uses her sexual power over others to inspire her writing and Laura, who completely lets herself go while she designs and creates these gorgeous gowns for Millay’s upcoming tour. Also, I absolutely adored reading about Laura’s daughter Grace, who regardless of being called a bastard by the townspeople is a true blessing and goes on enjoying life and smiling throughout the book.

Fallen Beauty is passionate and suspenseful story of two fallen women who are bound together in the most unexpected circumstances and throughout the novel, find their true strength even after suffering and being treated terribly by others. I was pulled in from the very beginning but once you hit the middle of the book, you won’t be able to put it down and I couldn’t read fast enough because I needed to know how the story ended.

I read on Erika’s blog that she wrote Fallen Beauty in the dark of winter and I’m so glad I read it in a similar setting. I was completely consumed by this story as I sat drinking tea on my couch with a blanket while it was cold and dark outside with snow on the ground – it felt very fitting and absolutely perfect! This is another winner from Erika and I can’t wait to read her new novel The House of Hawthorne, which comes out in May (to pre-order, click here: The House of Hawthorne: A Novel).

And because I enjoyed this book so much, I am giving away a copy! To enter the giveaway, visit the Rafflecopter below:

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House Broken by Sonja Yoerg

House+Broken+coverSummary: In this compelling and poignant debut novel, a woman skilled at caring for animals must learn to mend the broken relationships in her family…

For veterinarian Geneva Novak, animals can be easier to understand than people. They’re also easier to forgive. But when her mother, Helen, is injured in a vodka-fueled accident, it’s up to Geneva to give her the care she needs.

Since her teens, Geneva has kept her self-destructive mother at arm’s length. Now, with two slippery teenagers of her own at home, the last thing she wants is to add Helen to the mix. But Geneva’s husband convinces her that letting Helen live with them could be her golden chance to repair their relationship.

Geneva isn’t expecting her mother to change anytime soon, but she may finally get answers to the questions she’s been asking for so long. As the truth about her family unfolds, however, Geneva may find secrets too painful to bear and too terrible to forgive. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: House Broken was my first read of 2015 and wow, what a terrific way to start of the year! I am astonished that this is Sonja’s first novel; as I read through the book, it seemed as if she’s been writing for years. Also, I feel the need to comment on the cover. When I first saw it, I was instantly drawn to the book (seriously, how much cuter can you get) but thought, okay this will be one of those light-hearted animal stories (which, don’t get me wrong I still love.) I didn’t realize that House Broken was going to very different than that kind of story. Instead, it was an insightful and mysterious account of a family struggling to piece their life back together that has been broken for years.

T2034966he story centers on the main character Geneva, a vet and dog lover who has this constant need to ensure everything in her and her family’s life is in order. Well, you can only imagine what happens when her alcoholic mother gets in a car accident that requires her to stay at Geneva’s house for the immediate future. Not to mention, Geneva is already struggling with her own children, two high school teenagers who seem to lack discipline and are pulling further and further away. House Broken is a wonderfully written story about a broken family and secrets that can haunt you forever. Sonja’s storytelling and character development is powerful and daring; the author is definitely not afraid to surprise her readers (I believe there were moments I gasped or my jaw dropped.)

I loved everything about this book from the storyline, the characters, the settings – I could go on and on. The plot is full of unexpected twists and the characters are flawed but lovely in their own way. I also enjoyed how the book was told in third person with views from all three women in the story (Geneva, her mother Helen and her daughter Ella) incorporating events from both the past and present. It allowed me to truly understand how the characters were feeling and why they acted the way they did.

House Broken is one of those books that you pick up and are instantly hooked; I think I finished this book in 2 days and couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. This was a wonderful debut from Sonja and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for her. To read more about the author and her inspiration for the book, click here for Sonja’s full interview with Karen’s Korner.

Connect with Sonja:

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

YPLCoverSummary: With “a delicious, page-turning premise, and sweet and surprising insights” (New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster), Your Perfect Life perfectly illustrates that old adage: Sometimes, you to have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to see what’s in her heart.

Best friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did.

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke bring humor and heart to every page of this novel that is sure to please fans of In Her Shoes and The Opposite of Me. Your Perfect Life is a story about two very different women, what they didn’t know about each other, and how, by switching lives, they each learn to appreciate their own. (Excerpt from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I’ve been dying to read Your Perfect Life ever since we had Liz and Lisa visit our blog last year and I cannot believe it has taken me this long to finally read it (to see the full interview with these wonderful ladies, click here.) I am just going to chalk it up to work and planning the wedding so my apologies for the delay in this review! Your Perfect Life is a witty and insightful page turner that will not disappoint – think Freaky Friday but with a modern twist.

Liz Fenton_Lisa Steinke_author photo_courtesy_DebbieFriedrichThe story centers on two best friends Casey and Rachel; Casey is a Hollywood star and Rachel is a stay at home mom. After attending their high school reunion and arguing over who has an easier and more perfect life, they drink a ‘magical’ purple shot and then wham, wake up the next morning stuck in each other’s bodies. I love how relatable and endearing the main characters are and it was wonderful (and hilarious at times) to see the two women develop as they start to literally walk in the other’s shoes. In this day and age, with Facebook and social media, it’s easy to look at other people and think, wow they have a great life. We are so easy to judge one another without every really knowing what is going on underneath the surface. It is heartwarming to see how Casey and Rachel come to truly appreciate one another and also begin to notice some of the things/people in their lives they’ve been taking for granted.

The story flowed so beautifully and I was hooked from the very beginning. I can’t wait for Liz and Lisa’s next novel, The Status of All Things, which hits stores in June, and to see what else they come up with – I am a huge fan already and I hope they continue writing more and more! Plus, these two are so wonderful to their fans and readers which I love seeing as a blogger/book lover.

Your Perfect Life truly demonstrates that the grass is not always greener on the other side. This book has it all: friendship, romance, family, and humor! Your Perfect Life will make you laugh, cry and everything in between; I highly recommend picking up a copy of this one – I adored it and I promise you will too!

Honeymoon Blog Series #3 – Love and Chaos (Brooklyn Girls #2) by Gemma Burgess

51r4RWsszTL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Summary: Wild child and secret romantic Angie wakes up in a hotel room with $3,000 and no memories of the night before. Her best friends aren’t talking to her, she can’t get a job in fashion, her parents are divorcing, and she’s about to turn twenty-three. And life is about to get much worse.

Brooklyn Girls: Love and Chaos continues the story of our five favorite grads sharing a brownstone and starting out in New York City through Angie’s eyes. On a journey from private jets and yacht parties to dirty subways and hipster bars via crazy storms, flash floods, and retail jobs from hell, Angie discovers who she is, what she wants, how she’s going to get it —and a crazy little thing called true love.

Meanwhile, her roommate’s lives are imploding, too. Coco’s self-medicating and self-loathing, Pia’s breaking up and cracking up, Madeleine’s finding her voice and Julia might—just might—have met someone she can actually date.

Brooklyn Girls is the hilarious, inspiring Gemma Burgess series every twenty-something has been waiting for that tells you that whatever you do, whatever mistakes you make, everything is going to be okay. All you need is a little luck, a little work, and your best friends. (Excerpt from Goodreads).

My Thoughts: I instantly fell in love with this group of girls after reading the first novel of the series Brooklyn Girls, mainly because it reminded me so much of my friends and I when we were in our early twenties (to see my full review of the Brooklyn Girls, click here.) After months of planning my wedding and having no time to sit down and read, I was thrilled to be able to dive into the second book during my honeymoon, picking up right where Brooklyn Girls left off; it was the ultimate escape!

photoLove and Chaos focuses on Angie, the wild child and outcast of the group who can never seem to get anything right. She is desperately trying to find her place in the world but her life is a complete mess due to her poor decision making, which at times frustrated me immensely. Right when you think she’s changed and turned a corner, Angie seems to fall back into this world of self-destruction; my jaw literally dropped after reading through some of her drama-filled episodes. However, as I made my way through the book, Angie’s character really started to grow on me and you start to see why she makes the decisions she does. I loved seeing this softer side to Angie, especially as the bond with her new friend Sam starts to grow and I kept hoping that everything would turn out okay for her in the end.

I enjoyed reading about how Angie’s relationships with the rest of the girls develops, both the good and the bad. Also, it was great to have an update on where Pia’s life was (after reading about her story in the first novel) as well as the other roommates. I love Gemma’s writing and how each book seems to focus on the development of a specific girl, all the while revealing tidbits and pieces about how the other roommates are doing.

These books have it all: humor, friendship, and romance. If you’re looking for a fresh and fun read, I highly recommend diving into this series by Gemma Burgess. Rumor has it that a third one is coming out towards the end of 2015 so be sure to read Brooklyn Girls and Love and Chaos before the new novel hits stores!

And now, for some honeymoon pictures! I figured it was only fitting to share some of the libations we enjoyed in paradise – delish :)

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A special thank you to the wonderful ladies at Chick Lit Central for sending me copies Brooklyn Girls and Love and Chaos to review.

Books To Read in 2015

As if my to-read list wasn’t long enough…

Well, it’s a brand new year full of resolutions and possibilities! One of my resolutions for the New Year is to, of course, read and blog more. With that in mind, I figured I’d put together a list of my ‘can’t wait to read’ books for 2015.

After doing some research and looking at all the books coming out this year (there are A LOT), I finally narrowed it down to 15. Here is my list:

  • First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (January)
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (February)
  • Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue (March)
  • Recipe for Disaster by Stacey Ballis (March)
  • French Coast by Anita Hughes (April)
  • The Sound of Glass by Karen White (May)
  • Things You Won’t Say by Sarah Pekkanen (May)
  • Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews (May)
  • The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck (May)
  • The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy (May)
  • Summer Secrets by Jane Green (June)
  • The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke (June)
  • How to Be a Grown-up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (August)
  • The Best of Enemies by Jen Lancaster (August)
  • The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris (November)

2015

In honor of all of these wonderful books coming out in 2015, I figured I’d do a giveaway (weee!) And what better thing to give away…a gift card to Barnes & Noble, so you can go out and buy some of these beauties!

Enter to win via the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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