The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

The BooksellerThe Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Shereads.org summer pick. To find out more about all the amazing things she reads does, please take a moment to visit. Shereads


The Bookseller

A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.

Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

Convinced that these dreams are simply due to her overactive imagination, Kitty enjoys her nighttime forays into this alternate world. But with each visit, the more irresistibly real Katharyn’s life becomes. Can she choose which life she wants? If so, what is the cost of staying Kitty, or becoming Katharyn?

As the lines between her worlds begin to blur, Kitty must figure out what is real and what is imagined. And how do we know where that boundary lies in our own lives?

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars.

The idea behind this story is a fantastic one, but in some places I wasn’t so certain of the execution. Whilst Kitty/Katharyne were both interesting facets of the same base personality, I found that I liked one of them but not the other.

Kitty was the kind of character that it is easy to support and was open to the audience to get to know better and to share in frustrations with. Katharyne was the exact opposite. She was reserved, closed-off even. We spend much of the novel thinking one thing and begin to find out about two-thirds of the way through that all is not as it seems. This was an interesting twist and very rewarding for me as a reader, but it also made me question what I knew of the character previously, leaving me feeling as if I were on shaky ground.

I liked the way the author incorporated the famous books of days gone by in this story, and honestly I had expected it to be a bit more about her life as a bookseller but it didn’t turn out that way.

The relationships in this book are unusual in that they aren’t clearly defined from the beginning. Whilst one side of the main character’s life allows her to grow and make some very important discoveries, the other side falters and leaves her seeming less complete.

This was certainly an outside the box kind of book that will make you think. Overall, I’m still not a hundred percent sure what to think, but I can say, I believe it is worthy of a read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through the Shereads.org blog network. All opinions are my own.

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Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

About the Book:

Case File: The First Unsittable

Summary: The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N.) has a new member. After months of investigation, Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, has proven herself to be a babysitter extraordinaire. Her celebrity clients fly her around the country to care for their rambunctious little humans. Our spy, Associate 4118-23432B, otherwise known as Edwina, believes Gabby can be trusted with the truth: aliens are living among humans on Earth. And here at A.L.I.E.N we believe that even extraterrestrials need a babysitter now and then. No one was up to the task…until now.

After accepting the top-secret position, Edwina has paired our new associate up with her first charge, a little girl from the planet Flarknartia. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It’s a school day on Planet Earth, Gabby’s audition for the solo part in the band is tonight, and this tiny alien is a bit more than meets the eye.

Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?

Elise Allen

About the Authors:

Emmy-nominated writer and New York Times best-selling author Elise Allen made a name for herself with her acclaimed young adult novel Populazzi (Harcourt), and the Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters chapter books (Bloomsbury). In television, she has written for talent ranging from Bill Cosby to Kermit the Frog, and is currently writing for the new Disney Junior show The Lion Guard. Her dog may or may not secretly be from another planet.

Daryle Conners

Daryle Conners is an award-winning writer, filmmaker and video game designer. She writes joke and riddle books and has designed many game titles for the PC and iPhone/iPad including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Scene It? Harry Potter, Hot Wheels Slot Car Racers, and Scene It? Twilight Saga. Her non-fiction books include Lunchtime LOLZ, Nintendo DS Hot Tips, ROFLs,Video Game Secrets and Monster High Jokes, all for Scholastic. Daryle lives in Seattle, where she still babysits from time to time.

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 My Review
Gabby Duran and the UnsittablesGabby Duran and the Unsittables by Elise Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have decided that I am in the wrong business and Gabby Duran has the job that I want!

I loved this book–it made me giggle all the way through. I am a huge fan of middle-grade fiction. I love the fantastic story lines and the fun events that adult books just can’t quite pull off. This book is the epitome of everything a good mid-grade book should be.

Gabby Duran is a wonderful character that kids will have no trouble relating to. She is smart, sly and compassionate. One of my favourite things about this book was Gabby’s obvious affection for all the little kids (both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial,) that she sat for. She is a good role model for patience and acceptance of those who are a bit different.

This is filled with the fun kind of danger that will keep young readers on their toes and wanting to turn pages. I loved the shape-shifting alien and the silly humour. This book doesn’t have any gross-out humour, so parents can feel good about their kids reading it. The authors took enough liberties with reality to make it fun, but not so many that you can’t follow the story. I am really looking forward to seeing where else Gabby goes and what adventures await her.

If you are looking for a book for a special child in your life, this would be a perfect choice. Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, Disney Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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One (1) winner receives:

· a copy of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables

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All you have to do is share this post with your favorite social media outlet–and leave a comment to let me know you did. One winner will be chosen at random on Saturday the 16th of May. Open to US residents only.

Remember When….by Dana Lehman

Remember When...(Walnut Grove Series,#4)Remember When… by Dana Lehman

Winter break in Walnut Grove was going to be sensational this year! Cold temperatures and ten inches of freshly fallen snow were perfect conditions for snowboarding and ice fishing. But there was problem: Bucky’s pet frog, Whopper, was missing. Bucky and his friends had looked everywhere for Whopper, but he was nowhere to be found.
Sammy was determined to help Bucky feel better. But Sammy and his friends soon realize that cheering up a friend when they have lost someone they love is not an easy task. Will snowboarding and ice fishing help to make Bucky feel better? Will Sammy and his friends find Whopper?

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dana Lehman brings us another delightful children’s story with “Remember When.”

One of the hardest things to explain to children about life is loss. In this book, the author manages to broach this delicate subject in a tasteful way and in a manner that children will understand and respond to.

This is a cute story with a theme of remembering the good times we have with those that we love but can’t be with. Unlike some of the books out there that are fashioned to teach children important life lessons, this one is not depressing and will not make your child sad. The message is there and is clear, but the story still has a happy ending.

One of the things I love about these books, is that the story and illustrations always match. Judy Lehman has a gift for creating adorable and loveable characters and her artwork makes these books really special. In a world full of computer generated images, hand drawn pictures are such a treat. This is a beautiful book and is a lot of fun to read with the little ones.

Recommended.

Everywhere the Road Ends by Scott McCloskey

Everywhere the Road Ends (The Traveler of Ord #2)Everywhere the Road Ends by Scott McCloskey

Bullied at prep-school and unappreciated at home, all young Theodore Ellsworth wanted was to be like the heroes in his favorite fantasy tales. Whisked away to the Gossamer City and chosen to embark on a quest to save a kingdom, he thought he’d have his chance.

He was wrong.

Left for dead in a place where malicious spirits feast on the living, Theo has only just begun to learn that glory comes at a price. With his new friends fighting for their lives, Theo is thrown off course and embroiled in a murder mystery that must be solved before he can save his little sister from a gruesome fate. A crackpot inventor and a pure-hearted young knight are on the job, but Theo already knows the killer. He sees the Beast of Calharik every night, when he looks down in terror at his own bloodied hands.

Set against a backdrop of steam-powered robots, tall ships, and a seaside populace at the mercy of the rich, Everywhere the Road Ends picks up the action right where The Goldenwealth Light left off. Get ready for another exotic trip to the World of Ord, complete with new faces, twice the nail-biting action, and hours of page turning adventure!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all–this is a beautiful cover. Caught my eye right away and made me want to read the book.

Secondly, one can count on Scott McCloskey to write books that will capture your attention and demand all of it until the very last page. This book reinforced that belief.

If you enjoy novels with quirky characters that you remember long after reading, this will be an epic fantasy series that you don’t want to miss out on. Just as in the first book, I was delighted by the big personalities and the unexpected events. This time around, the author expanded his cast of characters and the journey took the readers to new places. As with the previous book, the author’s descriptions are fantastic and make you feel as if you are right there, in the scene with the characters.

I really enjoyed the dialogue in this book. The author does a good job of ensuring that his character’s actions and speech match the personalities we have come to expect from them and I never felt like the conversations were forced. There is humour where it is called for and you can see the characters change and grow as they learn throughout the story.

I am really excited to see where the author goes after this. A great book, certainly worthy of a recommendation.

Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Siren's Call (Dark Seas)Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert

Lily Borsage is the ultimate siren: gorgeous, aloof and irresistible to all the men in Bayou La Siryna. All of them, that is, until Nashoba Bowman comes back to town. The Native American kid whose innocent first kiss Lily remembers fondly is now all grown-up, hot as an Alabama summer and immune to Lily’s charms. What self-respecting mermaid could resist finding out more?

But Nash has a dark history that puts any woman he loves in grave danger, and a heritage of power he isn’t ready to accept. And Lily has a secret that no mortal man can ever know. When a mysterious enemy starts menacing Lily, they will both have to risk everything and embrace their deepest destinies if they want to survive.


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Debbie Herbert has done it again, bringing her readers the magic of attraction and romance tinged with danger and the unknown.

Love this book. Just like the others in this series, this novel is filled with things that will make you swoon–most especially the male lead. Of the three books I have read in this series, this one is my favourite. It was nice to get updates on the lives of previously featured characters, and I really felt like the author tied everything together in this novel.

Debbie Herbert is really good at building unique situations for her characters and creating the kind of chemistry between them that you want to see in a romance. Her couples feel really genuine and the story line feels very natural and not contrived.

It is easy to become swiftly involved in these stories and find yourself lost in the lives of these women. The setting was as beautiful and mysterious as the rest of the series, and makes you wonder if there just might really be mermaids in the Bayou.

This was a great novel, and one that I happily recommend. If you are looking for a story that has more than just a simple romance, this is the way to go.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author. All opinions are my own.

Summer on Lover’s Island by Donna Alward (Jewell Cove # 3)

Summer on Lovers' Island (Jewell Cove, #3)

Summer on Lovers’ Island (Jewell Cove #3)


Lizzie Howard’s life is close to perfect, until her father’s death brings her world crashing down around her. With her reputation and heart in tatters, she reluctantly agrees to temporarily take over her best friend’s practice in scenic Jewell Cove, Maine—a position that’s a world away from the high pressure career she once loved.

Josh Collins is no stranger to pain. After losing his wife, he moved home looking to start over. One of two doctors at the town clinic, his sleepy coastal practice is just what he needed. Until Lizzie Howard arrives. Lizzie is everything Josh wanted to get away from: brash, ambitious and not interested in a quiet life in a quiet town. But as the sparks fly between these two doctors, they realize that sometimes opposites really do attract.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am always amazed when I start reading a Donna Alward story at just how good she is at capturing the special moments and conflicts in ordinary life–and yet making them feel extraordinary.

Feasibly, I think you could read this book as a standalone and it would still make sense and be enjoyable–but I would recommend you read the rest of the series first. Not because you have to–just because you can. When was the last time you turned down an amazing opportunity to relax and just have a good time?

Character growth and development is important to me as a fan of series books, and you get that here. Characters from the original book are caught up with in this story,and some that we only met in supporting roles now take the floor.

I like romance that has depth–the kind of relationship between two characters that makes you want to see them succeed regardless of the odds against them. This author knows how to create the perfect mix of tension and longing to make her couples stand out from the crowd and feel realistic. They have families and problems just like the rest of us and have to try hard to blend their lives together as real people do. The forethought that goes into these books must be immense, as the results are fantastic.

Donna Alward has brought her readers another reason to love Jewell Cove and its residents. If you are a fan of Debbie Macomber or RaeAnne Thayne, you will certainly want to check out the work of Donna Alward. Small town setting, big writing talent.

Recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Every Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Breath You TakeEvery Breath You Take by Bianca Sloane

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Natalie Scott goes jogging along Chicago’s lakefront. She likes foreign films, cinnamon gum and strawberry yogurt. She smells like sunflowers in the summer and roses in the winter.

These are just a few of the things Natalie’s stalker knows about her.

In fact, he knows everything about her.

In one brutal act of violence, Natalie’s stalker will reveal himself to her, imprisoning her in the process, determined to own her body and soul. Now trapped in a madman’s web, Natalie finds herself in a terrifying battle of wills where the only way to survive is to beat the monster at his own game…

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I look forward to new Bianca Sloane novels for a lot of reasons, but mostly it is her incredible ability to create plot twists that the reader never expects.

“Every Breath You Take” is a perfect title for this book. The author has not only shown us what it is like to be stalked, tortured and desperate, but has given us a more in-depth look at the world of serious psychiatric disorders and the darker side of obsession.

The main character in this story has been through a lot, and yet remains strong and even likeable all the way through the book. I could easily identify with her desire to be free of burdens from the past and want to start anew, and I found my own emotions following that of the character through each event in the book.

I was particularly impressed with the dynamic between kidnapper and kidnapped. Watching the main character gain understanding of her captor and how to use his own desires against him was interesting and kept me on edge.

Once you start reading this book, you won’t want to stop. I found it hard to put this novel down and do much of anything else. This story is quickly paced, intelligent and has the kind of characters that it is easy to love (and hate.)

If you are looking for a good book to take you away from everything, this is one you can get lost in.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Something I rarely ever do

I gave up on a book. Shocking, I know. Maybe it was the silly connection used to link the MC to Bridget Bishop of the Salem trials. Maybe it was just too many words used to describe too little importance. Either way–here’s what I thought.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

*review may contain minor spoilers*

So, I apologise if this review makes me come off sounding like a giant Ashmole, but I have to be honest–this book nearly bored me to tears. I gave it the old college try. Really, I kept going even after I thought I couldn’t take another minute of it, but in the end, I had to give up before I finished it. I made it over 200 pages in.

I can sum it up rather quickly. It reminded me of Twilight for adults, with a bit more science thrown in.

Oxford and library described in extreme detail.

The characters eat, with vivid description of the contents of each meal. They drink many different wines. They go to Yoga.

In the following chapters, the characters eat. They drink lots of wine. They go to Yoga.

The Vampire likes watching the witch sleep.

The vampire is afraid he will hurt his love interest.

Wine.

Yoga.

Food.

Vampire hunts deer rather than humans.

I can’t handle it anymore. Utmost respect for those who found this book exciting and loved it. I was not one of those people.

I wanted to like it. I failed.

Not one I can recommend.

The Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

The Faerie TreeThe Faerie Tree by Jane Cable

How can a memory so vivid be wrong?

I tried to remember the first time I’d been here and to see the tree through Izzie’s eyes. The oak stood on a rise just above the path; not too tall or wide but graceful and straight, its trunk covered in what I can only describe as offerings – pieces of ribbon, daisy chains, a shell necklace, a tiny doll or two and even an old cuckoo clock.
“Why do people do this?” Izzie asked.
I winked at her. “To say thank you to the fairies.”

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

With strong themes of paganism, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cable’s first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love books that can manage a bit of magic and still seem so real. This is definitely one of those stories that makes you believe in the power of love.

I think what made me like this novel more than anything else, was the way the characters mirrored real people. The conversations didn’t feel forced and I saw multiple sides of each character so by the end it was like I had known them forever. There were times during this story when I was surprised by the level of emotion the male lead character showed, and that was a nice change. Some authors seem to be afraid to show any weakness in their main character and that makes me feel like I can’t get close to them, but in this story, that was not the case.

When I began reading this I sort of expected it to be an overdose of magic realism as that seems to be a trend, but by the end of the first couple chapters I was pleasantly surprised that this is a very realistic story. The magic comes from people and their relationships with one another, rather than a wand or an incantation.

This author makes you believe what you are reading and wonder what happened to the characters after her stories are complete.

I really Enjoy Jane Cable’s writing. She takes the time to let her story develop, has memorable characters, and knows how to build suspense and curiosity in her readers.

Overall, this was a great book that I happily recommend to other readers.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Take a Peek with Peek-A-Bear

Take a Peek with Peek-A-BearTake a Peek with Peek-A-Bear by Jill Mangel Weisfeld

“Take a Peek with Peek-a-Bear” is cleverly designed children’s book filled with colorful imagery and playful poetry that takes you on a exciting interactive adventure with the character Peek-a-Bear. It is the first of a series of “Peek & Play” books.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a great gift idea or an entertaining way to spend time with young children, this is a wonderful option.

Not only does this book feature delightful illustrations and age appropriate poetic rhyming, but it has extras as well. There are lots of colours, textures and moving parts in the book, so that kids can play peek-a-boo with bear. (Mum had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo too.)

There are a lot of creative books out there, but this one has the kind of special quality that makes children’s eyes light up and makes them want to read it again and again.

An imaginative and adorable book for young children, highly recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

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