Showing posts with label Book Reviews.
Showing posts with label Book Reviews.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book Review: Perfect Timing by Laura Spinella

Berkley; November 2013
$15 list price / $11.98 on
I really enjoyed Laura Spinella's (Berkley; November 2013). Spinella's second novel not only often made me giddy like a teenager-in-love, but it also kept me engaged with a plot chock-full of lovable characters and an excellent social statement to boot.

Isabel moves to Alabama from New Jersey following her parents' divorce. Her solace in the midst of this turmoil is a local boy named Aidan, who grows into an amazing singer-songwriter and, eventually, Isabel's crush. She doesn't realize the strength of her feelings, however, until Aidan is accused of a violent crime which forces them both to flee to Las Vegas. It is there that events are put into play that will change their lives forever--and tear them apart. 

Seven years later, Aiden has become an enormous rock star and Isabel has a serious boyfriend and a comfortable job at a New England radio station.. Aidan and Isabel have not spoken since they parted ways in Vegas; that is, until a change in the station's ownership has Isabel scrambling for a concert headliner. The only way to save the station is for Isabel to reach out to Aidan, but will the unfinished business in their past get in the way of the task at hand?

Welll, of course it does, but I won't give it away! What I will say is that Spinella has a talent for writing romantic scenes that evoke those "squee!" moments --and it's oh so much fun to read.

But this book isn't a romance novel--it's fiction--and the bulk of the novel is outside of the love scenes and is very engaging as well. The flashbacks to Aidan and Isabel's teenage years are coming-of-age great and Aidan's evil music agent is so fun to hate. I also can't tell you how much I enjoyed how Spinella wrote the relationship between Isabel's father and his husband, Patrick. It was a tender view into the lives of two soulmates--and I think the utter normality of it was truly a beautiful thing to read. 

My only tiny critiques? I got tired of all of the characters using the full name of the radio station when talking. It is a mouthful and people just don't talk like that. Also, one of the most anticipated love scenes is interrupted by a conversation about birth control! Is it a realistic conversation? Sure. But don't halt a big moment like that with a discussion about mechanics, please? 

Regardless of my nitpicking (sorry Laura!), I encourage you to go pick up a copy of PERFECT TIMING. It's a really great read from an author with a really promising future. Happy reading (and squee-ing!)

Penguin provided me with a review copy of this book, but the views are my own.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Review: The Turncoat by Donna Thorland

(NAL; March 2013)

One of the reviews for this debut novel calls it a "stay-up-all-night, swashbuckling, breath-holding adventure of a novel*," and I am in complete agreement. 's had me staying up way past my bedtime...and I'm a woman in much need of sleep!

I was quickly hooked, though, on this historical novel about a Quaker woman who becomes a spy against the British in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. It's a steamy romance, nail-biting spy/war novel and American-history lesson mixed into one; a guilty pleasure of a novel that one doesn't have to feel too guilty about reading!

Kate Grey is a rare breed of Quaker. She has been raised by a man who is far from a pacifist--in fact, he has rebel-leanings and (secret) ties to George Washington. So, when British officer Peter Tremayne commandeers her 36棋牌, Kate is not afraid to voice her dislike of his politics or his position. And soon she becomes unafraid of his amorous advances as well!

But, alas, their time together is cut short. A rebel spy hatches a plot to take Tremayne out of the picture, and this so-called Merry Widow implicates Kate in the process.

With Tremayne gone, Kate sees no other path but to follow the Merry Widow to Philadelphia and train as a rebel spy under her tutelage. But all is not fair in love and war. When Tremayne shows up in Philadelphia and recognizes Kate for whom she really is--and discovers that Kate is also engaged to his high-ranking cousin--they'll need to decide where their loyalties lay: to their countries or to each other.

Ooooo, did you like my dramatic synopsis (it was fun to write, I admit.) Seriously, though, this book is a great read and extremely well-crafted. I loved Kate Grey as a main character. She's smart and sassy, but still gets nervous and makes mistakes, and I find that makes her much more relatable than an over-perfect heroine.

The book is also very well-researched and I found the American history fascinating. I also have a soft-spot for brotherhood-at-war stories (All Quiet on the Western Front is a favorite) and this has a satisfying amount of that too.

Then there's the excitement of the battle scenes and the intrigue of the espionage (with elaborate costumes!) that kept me turning the pages. And of course, we cant forget the steamy romance seems that sometimes made me blush, but which I definitely did like. Though, I'd rather be told that a man was aroused than that "his c*ck stirred." But maybe that's a historical turn of phrase... or I'm a big prude!!

I'm really looking forward to the next book in Thorland's Renegades of the Revolution series. Until then, you should check out THE TURNCOAT so we can discuss--I will actually have the author herself by for a blog tour stop and a book giveaway on March 13th! Make sure you stop back then!

*Lauren Willig, National Bestselling Author of the Pink Carnation series 
This book was given to me for review by Penguin. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

You will love The Whole Package! Book Review & Giveaway

I devoured Cynthia Ellingsen's The Whole Package in about three nights--staying up way too late because the novel was such a great read! Cynthia stopped by Rockland Mother as a guest blogger last month and I have done you such a disservice in not reviewing the book until now. You are going to want to run out and read it immediately!

Berkley; Aug 2011
The story: Doris, Cheryl and Jackie are three almost-40-somethings who have been best friends since high school. Life hasn't turned out as expected for any of them: Doris, once a wild and talented soccer player, is now a prim wife, living with a unhappy husband and an ungrateful teenager daughter. Cheryl, who is divorced from her husband after she cheated on him, flits from guy to guy and works her ass off at a male-dominated marketing firm where sexual harassment is the in thing. And, Jackie, once a very promising artist who happened to married a rich older gentleman, has fled to Paris after his death to process her loss.

After Jackie receives a call from her lawyer informing her that her husband's money has run out during her time in Paris, she returns to Illinois to find her friends both in the middle of their own catastrophes: Doris' husband has left her to "find himself" on the seat of a motorcycle and Cheryl is fired from the company she helped build after her boss snoops through her files.

Drowning their sorrows at a local male strip club, the girls have a great idea--why not open a Hooter-inspired restaurant for women called The Whole Package? Why should men have all the fun? Bring on the Adonises in thongs serving goat cheese and apple salads!

Before I get carried away and give away the entire story, let's just say that the rest of the book has to do with the women trying to succeed at opening their restaurant and trying to put their lives back together. And, man, did I have a fun time following these three girls around. They fight and make up, make mistakes and figure things out, just like real girlfriends do. And Cynthia has a way with flirting/sex scenes--I really felt giddy reading them. Nothing too raunchy, but just so so sweet and sexy.

I also loved the pair of gay characters in the book, and one gorgeous man, especially, who helps Doris out or her style doldrums (and doldrums of the heart too). And, there were more than a few scenes that made me laugh out loud--like a geriatric woman dancing suggestively on a chair.

My only tiny problems: the final line of the book seems out of character for a few of the men and something happens to Cheryl at the end of the book that really is more of a big deal than it is made out to be (you will recognize it when you read it, especially if you are a mom).

Thank you for such a fun read and thanks to Penguin for providing me with the book to review! I really hope there is more to come from this author soon. Until then, I will remember the characters in The Whole Package fondly, take some of their lessons learned to heart (mainly, you must take care of yourself first before you can love those around you fully), and remember certain scenes in front of a fireplace with a smile.

Leave a comment below by October 3rd to win a copy of the book!! Winner must be in USA or Canada.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review & Giveaway! 500 Acres and No Place to Hide: More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl

36棋牌The great folks at Penguin sent me Susan McCorkindale's hilarious memoir, 36棋牌 (NAL; August 2011). It is the follow-up novel to her first memoir 36棋牌 and, like the first, it is really a lot of fun!

Born and bred Jersey Girl, Susan McCorkindale, was a high-powered Marketing Exec at Family Circle until her husband convinced her and their two young sons to move to a 500-acre beef cattle farm in Virginia. Life down South is verrry different than life in Ridgewood, NJ (how can a girl survive without a Starbucks or Bloomies for miles??) and Susan's memoirs chronicle the family's acclimation to their new rural habitat in side-splitting detail.

I really enjoyed both of Susan's memoirs--she is self-deprecating like the majority of us and the jams she gets herself into are hilarious and strangely familiar (Getting chased by a herd of cattle on her morning run? Check. Dropping a ham on the floor, washing it and serving it anyway? Why not?) And while some may be turned off that Susan is a bit of a moneyed princess who does farm work in her Jimmy Choos, I just found her unwillingness to give up the Jersey in her made me laugh even more.

My only beef (haha--beef, farm, you get it?) are the million footnotes. I'm a lover of the footnote and comments in parentheses as you can tell, but even I felt some of Susan's were superfluous. So, a little editing of the footnotes would have been nice, but the books are enjoyable anyway.

The giveaway!
Penguin is generously offering a copy of 500 Acres and No Place to Hide to a lucky Rockland Mother reader in the United States! If you're interested in winning a copy of the book, please comment below before 11:59 on August 31st.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Snort! Giveaway & Review of A Pug's Tale!

 (released today from Berkley!)36棋牌. I LOVE this book and have actually been working with Alison to get the word out to other bloggers about its release today. And I've gotta tell you--all the bloggers who have read A PUG'S TALE just adore it!

**About the book:

Metropolitan Museum of Art paintings restorer Hope McNeill feels like she finally has it all. Aside from the dream job, she has an amazing boyfriend who has left his adorable black pug Max in her care while he's overseas on a humanitarian mission. That she’s able to sneak Max into work with her is just the icing on the cake--that is, until an art heist on her watch brings everything tumbling down.

When Hope discovers that a priceless oil painting is missing, her boss and the museum’s development head keep it quiet in hopes that they can retrieve the painting themselves. But Hope is certain that she is their top suspect and secretly takes things into her own hands. Following anonymous clues on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum--and letting guidance from a wealthy museum benefactress and even Max help her along the way--Hope inches closer and closer to a truth that will change her life forever.** 

What I loved most about this book are the things that everybody seems to be raving about too. First, the descriptions of pugs in A PUG'S TALE are just spot-on perfect! If you have ever met (and loved) a snorting pug, you will be laughing aloud at the pug antics in this book. Also, I was just riveted by the behind the scenes museum details in the book, and the scavenger hunt throughout the museum left me thirsting for more (really, I would like to go on my own scavenger hunt through the Met!) 

Also, A PUG'S TALE is actually a standalone to another great book, 36棋牌, and I was so happy to be "reunited" with Hope again. I really fell in love with the character and her lovable, so-New-York neurose in the first novel, and I was just so glad to see her get what she wanted in life (but I won't tell you anymore or that would be spoiling the fun!) And, Alison's writing is just so much fun and so witty that, with both books, I found myself laughing out loud or marking down passages to share with friends. Now that's the hallmark of a good book--the want to share it with others!

Ok, enough of my blathering. Check out the first chapter of the book for yourself , visit Alison's for more info, and then enter below to win your very own copy of A PUG'S TALE courtesy of Berkley. All you have to do is follow Rockland Mother and comment below before 11:59pm on June 12, 2011.

Disclosure: I work with Alison Pace and was provided a copy of A PUG'S TALE to give away by Berkley. The opinions above are my honest opinions and were in no way paid for. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: A Dog's Purpose

Forge Books; Hardcover;
July 2010; $10.49 on
 or free at your
locat library!36棋牌 
36棋牌If you have ever loved a dog, you must read New York Times bestseller, 36棋牌 by W. Bruce Cameron. Written from the point of view of a dog who continues to be reborn until he finds his true life's purpose, this novel is so amazingly touching and witty--I laughed and cried the whole novel through.

Really, how lucky are humans that such a pet exists, one who lives just to make us happy and hear "good dog" from our lips? I put down this book with a new appreciation for every past and present canine in my life--and I made a promise to treat those around today with more patience and understanding. (After all, like the dog in the book, they truly don't understand why we leave to go to that thing we call "work" and why the delicious smelling "garbage" is off limits!)

And, just in case you're wondering if a book written from the point of view of a dog is juvenile or annoying, I must answer with a vehement "NO!" There are so many beautiful passages in A DOG'S PURPOSE, from the peaceful way the dog accepts each death, to his yearning for one special owner who he remembers and misses even as he lives other lives. And the innocent way the canine protagonist talks about cats, that peculiar "wrestling game" male and female dogs play, and more will make you laugh out loud.

Read this gorgeous book--it is one of those rare ones you'll carry with you in your heart and talk to all of your friends about! There's a website for the book  if you'd like to learn more. (You'll see that there is a rave review from Temple Grandin!)

**Disclosure: I received this book from a colleague at publisher Forge Books. I worked at Forge years ago, but the opinions in this review are by no means swayed by that fact. You'll realize this once you read the book!**

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

named me for a Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks so much, Shandy! (Be sure to check out her site--her page banner alone will have you hooked!)

To keep the award going, I'm bestowing it on 15 other bloggers who really are a joy to follow. All you have to do to accept the award is:
  1. Thank the person who gave you the award. 
  2. Share 7 things about you.
  3. Nominate 15 other bloggers.
  4. Alert your nominees that they have been awarded.
I posted 10 things about myself when I accepted the Honest Scraps award, and here are some more interesting tidbits about this Queens mama:
  1. I used to like to read fantasy novels when I was younger, mostly for the magical love stories (I would fancy myself a damsel in distress.) I've just started to get back into these kinds of books and I'm really enjoying them. Right now I'm reading 36棋牌, which is about political intrigue and trained pleasure-givers (ok, they are fancy prostitutes). Its super sexy!
  2. Because of said fantasy novel fetish, I wanted to name my future daughter Gwenivere growing up. Yeah... not planing to do that anymore.
  3. I'm really good at connecting AV equipment, so much so that my husband makes me set up our TV, DVD player, etc! 
  4. I used to do flips off my parents diving board, until I got old enough and tall enough to become afraid of breaking my head open.
  5. The first time I went skiiing, I was so terrified that I took off my skis and walked down the mountain. They next time (many years after the first), I took a lesson first and was a natural! My husband, on the other hand, didn't fare so well and wanted to throw me off the mountain.
  6. One of my favorite pregnancy snacks was a peanut butter, honey and Honey Bunches of Oats sandwich.
  7. Being a stay at 36棋牌 mom has renewed by love of Days of Our Lives, talk shows and televised court shows.
My 15 nominated blogs are , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and New to Mom.

These are all among bloggers that I love to read and I hope you'll enjoy stopping by their blogs as well. Have a happy Thursday!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review & Giveaway! LOVE IN SPOONFULS: Fast and Easy Ways to Make Nutritious Foods for Your Baby

Fast and Easy Ways to Make Nutritious Foods for Your Baby
from the editors of Parenting (Chronicle Books; March 2010)


Can I say it? I just love LOVE IN SPOONFULS from the editors of Parenting magazine! Besides being packed with delicious, easy-to-prepare baby food recipes and gorgeous food photography, the cookbook is peppered with useful information on when and how to begin feeding your little one.

I wasn't actually aware that many parents make their own baby food until I got pregnant with Andrew. But, once I got wind of the trend, I knew it was something we would want to try. We're not what you would call a "crunchy" family, but what's great about making your own baby food is that you don't need to be. Making your own food is quick, economical and healthy for the entire family--really anybody can give it a try.

So, I had decided I would give it a go, but how in the world was I supposed to do it? Without LOVE IN SPOONFULS, you probably would have found me try to mash up whole carrots in a blender or forgetting to remove the skins from everything (knowing small babies need the skins removed isn't as natural as one would think!) 

Now, however, I know just how to roast sweet potatoes, boil turnips (I didn't know you boil them!) and mash avocadoes for Andrew. And I can put together fun purees I would have never thought of like asparagus and applesauce, banana and cantaloupe and broccoli and goat cheese (yum!)

Did I mention that the book is broken up into recipes for children 4-6 months, 7-8 months, 9-11 months and 12-18 months? By the end of the book you're into finger foods such as little chicken dippers with yogurt-cucumber sauce, tofu almond satay, and a kid-friendly bento box. And all the while the beautiful accompanying photos make you want to try everything from the cherry puree to the french toast bites. You may just have to make extra for yourself!

Throughout the book you'll also find great info on storing food, introducing dairy products, appeasing a finicky eater and more.  You'll even come across tons of tip "bubbles" sprinkled among the recipes addressing food allergy concerns, recipe variations and vegetable-disguing tips, to name a few. Each recipe also indicates whether it is freezer safe or not and how long it takes to make--very useful!

So, before I end this little love fest, I must say that you should of course consult your pediatrician before starting your baby on the foods mentioned in the book (and the book says this too.) One thing I will definitely ask my pediatrician about is the use of a tbsp of oil in making some of the "first foods" purees. I don't see how it could be harmful, but one can never be too careful with their little one, right?

Alright, so now that you know how awesome I think LOVE IN SPOONFULS is--and you've stayed with me through this long review--do you want to check it out for yourself? The wonderful folks at Chronicle Books have given me a copy to give away--and I can't tell you how excited I am to share this book with one of you.

To enter the giveaway, please follow Queens Mama and comment that you have done so below before May 30th. I'd also love to hear what your favorite fruit or vegetable is and if you will share/have shared it with your little one. I really love avocados and, thankfully, it is one of the most popular first baby foods. Lucky Andrew!