One Wish by Robyn Carr • Why in 5 & Giveaway

One Wish by Robyn CarrOne Wish by Robyn Carr  ( web | tweet )
Part of Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 384
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, overcoming the path, family conflict, secrets
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher. (Thanks!)
Previously: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

Summary: Grace owns Thunder Point’s flower shop, she has a great best friend, and she’s truly settling into this small community. When her friend (and top crush) Troy suggests she doesn’t have enough fun, he recruits himself as her “fun” coach. Grace gives in, despite her feelings and the secrets she has been keeping.

I’m a huge fan of the Thunder Point series because, unlike a lot of the other romances I read, Robyn Carr builds her stories beyond the couple, trickling in more personalities from the community and making it feel like you are truly a fly on the wall of the gorgeous (I really want to visit) Pacific Northwest town of Thunder Point. Here are five reasons to check out her latest, ONE WISH, and where I, again, remind you it’s okay to read these out of order:

1. A flower shop. As much as chemistry and love is important in a romance novel, I love great background stories and I thought it was so adorable that Grace owned her own flower shop. She took pride in her work and her business, and was so so great with her customers.

2. Non-drama relationship. It was refreshing that a majority of the “drama” in ONE WISH came from places other than Grace and Troy’s relationship. Sure, the whole thing started as nothing more of a friendship (from Troy’s perspective anyway) but it escalated in this sweet, natural, no hassle way. Sure there were some kinks but for the most part the “push and pull” was never a huge, melodramatic issue.

3. Ginger. Someone new is always moving to Thunder Point, and I’m praying that Ginger is a bigger character in one of the upcoming books. She’s dealing with depressing, and moves to TP to live with her grandmother and hopefully move out of her funk once and for all. I love how TP is such a healing place for so many  and Ginger’s story (her husband leaving her; her young son dying) is one that I want to hear more about. (Great news: we get more hangout time with Ginger in A New Hope!)

4. A true community. I touched on this a little bit in #3 but something about TP always makes me miss living in the suburbs. These neighbors are always around to catch the other, and help out in someway and it’s so so so heartwarming and wonderful. I love these strangers find new connections and find themselves bonding for life with people they never thought they would. (Plus, the views. I want to hear the ocean.)

5. A Valentine’s Day dance. Did your school have one of these? I am pretty sure we didn’t but Troy teaches at the high school and he’s chaperoning one. I couldn’t help but laugh at how his students are in love with him, and just how popular Grace was with the young kids. This was such a fun detail!


It’s time for one of you to read ONE WISH. The lovely people at Little Bird Publicity have provided me with one copy for a U.S. winner. Please enter to win below & good good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard | Estelle Reviews

The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoardThe Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard ( web | twitter )
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 432
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: family, death, revenge, effects of traumatic events
Format read: Finished copy provided by Harlequin. (Thanks!)

Summary: When Daniel dies in a freak accident, his parents and sister have no way to predict the changes that will come to their family as the years go on.

Over a year later, I’m still recommending The Mourning Hours, Paula DeBoard’s debut, to people. It’s had a lasting effect on me; what can I say? Obviously, I’ve been looking forward to her second book since I finished the first, and yet again, DeBoard has written an engrossing and heartbreaking tale of a family dealing (or not dealing) with the impossible.

It’s been 5 years since Daniel’s death. The musical prodigy away at Oberlin College, struck down and killed in an accident. No one (except the driver) could have stopped this from happening but the logistics of a statement like that are kind of lost on Curtis (husband and dad) and Olivia (daughter and sister). Curtis completely detaches from his wife, his work (he’s a physics teacher), and basically his entire life, while Olivia is scared of everything. She records all of her fears (from the mundane to the ridiculous) in a Fear Journal, starts wearing all black, and steps away from her friends. Kathleen (wife and mom) tries her darnedest to push Curtis and Olivia to move forward but after giving it all she has, decides to move back to her hometown. Instead of deciding to go with her mom, Olivia stays with Curtis. So a family of four becomes three; becomes two and one.

Grief is a powerful emotion, and it’s difficult to see how much it steers the lives of Curtis and Olivia. Sure, they are getting through day-to-day together but they are not talking about the past, not bringing up Daniel, and certainly not making strides when it comes to living fulfilling lives. It’s not until Curtis has an episode at school that he decides the only thing he can do is kill Daniel’s killer, disguising his revenge road trip as a fun vacation with Olivia that will eventually lead back to Kathleen.

A majority of the book is told in the heads of Olivia and Curtis, as the chapters swap between the two. This tactic definitely made the book move a bit slower, but it only showcased DeBoard’s knack for dialogue because when it popped up, it was good. Despite their hurt, Curtis and Olivia do have this adorable father / daughter friendship and I enjoyed Olivia’s quips. In ways, I’m not sure what would have happened if Curtis didn’t decide to take this trip. I picture both of them living like Big Edie and Little Edie at Grey Gardens. But, sweet readers, things can only get worse especially when you aren’t communicating and your mind is just not functioning the way it should.

Yet again, DeBoard had me at the edge of my seat with The Fragile World but in a totally different way. Was there any way this family could be repaired? Could they move on? Would Curtis go through with his revenge plan? I truly had no idea until I reached the final page, and it left me totally shocked and surprised and even a little bit angry. But perhaps the most shocking thing is that I felt hopeful too. Maybe not a lot, but just enough that I was thinking a lot about what hitting rock bottom truly means, and also the different avenues that love and devotion can take us and bring us back.

rather be reading worth it icon

Add THE FRAGILE WORLD to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | The Mourning Hours review

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (Interview + Giveaway)

The Good Girl by Mary KubicaThe Good Girl by Mary Kubica ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 352
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: thriller, kidnapping, family secrets, love
Format read: Finished copy sent to me by the Publisher. (Thanks!)

Summary: Mia, a school teacher, disappears one night in a bar. In a series of flashbacks from the perspectives of some of the most important people in her life, readers experience the kidnapping, the search to find her, and the aftermath.

First things first, The Good Girl has been compared to Gone Girl a ton. I haven’t read Gone Girl yet so I can’t supply a comparison. But let me say this… on its own, The Good Girl may be a labeled as a thriller but it’s possibly one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve read all year.

In a very sneaky, I can’t believe I’m falling for this type of way.

Debut writer Mary Kubica challenges her readers to believe the unbelievable in this scary tale of a young teacher who goes missing from a bar. Her captor,  actually assigned to deliver her to someone else, “saves” her from what was promised to be a terrible fate and hides her away in a cabin. I know what you are thinking. Does this mean her captor has a conscience of some kind? How benevolent is this move really if she is still technically stolen?

I was seesawing between these two questions (and many more) as I read deeper into the story. In addition to the perspective of the kidnapper, we also meet Mia’s mom, heartbroken over her daughter and the way she has handled motherhood. It’s obvious that a dire situation like this is going to change many people, but Kubica did a fantastic job of pacing how the characters evolved and moved forward since Mia’s kidnapping. Continually, I would go back and forth, sympathizing with some characters and really disliking them. It was that kind of story: everyone’s flaws are on display.

If you are looking for a book to keep you planted in one place and totally test how you feel about everything, The Good Girl is your answer. Kubica has created a well-written and engrossing story, full of twists and turns not only limited to action-packed scenes but emotional ones too.

rather be reading worth it icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon

 ↔

A chat with Mary Kubica!

Mary Kubica, author "The Good Girl"First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Mary! I thought The Good Girl was fantastic and I can’t wait to share my thoughts with others! Now that it’s been a few weeks since the release, how are you feeling? Is it still unbelievable to see your debut out in stores?

Thank you for having me!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being a guest here at Rather Be Reading, and thanks so much for your kind words about The Good Girl.

Yes, it is still unbelievable to see my book at stores!  I’m not entirely sure if or when I’ll stop being surprised to see the image of Mia on store displays – or my name on the cover of a book for that matter.  It’s been such a thrill.  There was such a great build up for The Good Girl’s release, and so much time spent waiting and wondering what would happen when my novel was finally shared with the world – and then suddenly it was off and running, and between a small bookstore tour and other promotional activities, it’s been a whirlwind – in the very best sense of the word.  It’s been so much fun.  The best part is that I’m just finishing up my second novel and am looking forward to reliving the whole process all over again – though this time I’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

You’ve created a very calculated mystery in The Good Girl, what was the biggest challenge in keeping your reader on their toes but not giving away too much?

It takes a bit of work to set the stage for a big reveal that with both catch the reader off guard and seem entirely plausible to the reader once they’ve reached the end of the book.  You don’t want to divulge too much that the reader sees the ending coming, and yet as an author, you need to lay the groundwork so that later on the reader can look back through the novel and connect the dots.  This can be tricky, and certainly required a few rounds of edits while writing The Good Girl.  But I was thrilled when it all finally came together.

I was shocked at how utterly heartbreaking this book was. I think we expect thrillers to be scary but there is also a lot loss in this book. But from the very beginning you know it’s going to be a very unconventional kind of story. What perspective was the hardest to write?

I would say Colin’s was the hardest character to write because he was the character I could relate to the least.  He’s a rough man with a troublesome past, something I don’t have a lot of experience with.  I definitely had to search outside of my comfort zone to find Colin, but once I did, his story became easier to write.  For the same reasons, Mia’s mother Eve was the easiest to write because she was the character I found I had the most in common with.

One character who is surprisingly sticking with me is Mia’s sister. She was so dismissive and detached from Mia throughout the story. Did you start out with creating a fractured relationship between the two or was it something that developed over time?

Mia is portrayed as the black sheep of the Dennett family, and as such, she needed to have a fractured relationship with ever member of her family.  Her sister, Grace, though a minor role, is certainly at odds with Mia.  If Mia is the black sheep, then Grace is the pride and joy of the family.  She is everything Mia is not, and everything Mia’s father wishes she could be.  Their relationship was that way from the get go, though if anything I softened it ever so slightly while writing the novel to give Grace a bit of dimension.

I read in an interview that you were a huge fan of the Baby-Sitters Club when you were younger. Me too! Who is your favorite character and which of the baby-sitters do you think is most like Mia, your main character?

I loved the Baby-Sitters Club books!  My sister and I actually formed our own babysitters club with a handful of neighborhood girls when I was younger, and passed out fliers around the neighborhood and earned ourselves quite a few babysitting gigs!  It was great.  I have to admit that I’ve forgotten many of the details of the books over the years, but I’m looking forward to the day my daughter is old enough that we can share them together.  For the characters, I’d say that Mia is most like Claudia for her artsy, individualistic nature, and for myself I’d pick Kristy because growing up I was the one most likely to start my own club – also the one who could be a bit bossy at times when I didn’t get my way!

For a final fun question: which actors would you cast in a film version of The Good Girl? (Don’t forget Mia’s mom because, despite her flaws, I think she was my favorite character.)

I love this question and, trust me, it’s once I’ve considered many times!  For James and Eve Dennett, Mia’s father and mother, I’d choose Victor Garber and Helen Mirren.  These were, by far, the easiest to decide.  For Gabe Hoffman, the lead detective on the case of the missing Mia Dennett, I’d choose Dylan McDermott, and for Mia’s abductor, Colin, either Jeremy Sisto or James Franco.  And finally, for Mia herself, I’d cast Emma Watson or Jennifer Lawrence as the starring role in the film.

 ↔

Thanks so much to Mary for the extra insight into her writing and The Good Girl! I can’t wait for your next book.

Bonus! The awesome, generous people at Harlequin have supplied us with a copy of The Good Girl for a lucky winner.
Go play! (Open to U.S. and Canadian residents!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Estelle: The Promise by Robyn Carr

The Promise by Robyn CarrThe Promise by Robin Carr ( web | tweet )
Part of the Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 363
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, medical practices, single parents with children, big families
Format read: ARC paperback from Little Bird Publicity. (Thanks!)
We last reviewed: The Chance by Robyn Carr

Summary: Peyton hopes to find a little reprieve in Thunder Point, after feeling dejected and unappreciated by the man she thought she loved for the past 3 years. She takes on a short-term job at a clinic with a widowed doctor, Scott, who goes above and beyond his call of duty in this small town. Peyton has sworn off guys for awhile, and Scott hasn’t seen anyone seriously since his wife died. Is there something between the two?

Remind me to visit the Pacific Northwest soon, okay?

Thunder Point books always get me revved up about small towns near the water, cute bars to catch the sunset, paddleboarding, nature, and some of Carrie’s fine foods. (Okay, I know this part is just fictional but I can assume there’s an adorable locally-owned food spot there in real life, right?)

Robyn Carr skillfully welcomes readers back to Thunder Point while comfortably ushering in the new ones in the tale of Scott Grant, widowed father of two and town doctor. If you’ve read a few of the books in the series before this one, you might know him a bit already. Since his entry into this beloved community, he’s popped up here and there — never digging deep enough into his story. So I was happy to finally get a chance to know the guy, and, my gosh, is he a total saint or what? He singlehandedly cares for the all the people in town, even if this means not making a ton of money. You see, Scott’s not concerned about that. He came to Thunder Point to give his children a safe, happy life and he doesn’t mind giving back.

You can’t blame him either. The town is a family within itself. You see it in how everyone cares for the other, and how easily they welcome brand new Peyton into the fold. (Okay, sure, they are a little gossipy but it’s charming! None of it is out of malice.) I think Peyton is a little taken aback by this altruistic little town and who could blame her? She spent the past three years being treated like a permanent maid to her boyfriend and his ungrateful children.

It takes some time and a very funny misunderstanding for Scott and Peyton to wake up to how perfect they might be together. As always Carr balances out the sweet romance with some fantastic side stories — truly rounding out how just lovely this town is. Lovely and constantly changing. Some of my favorite parts of this book were meeting Peyton’s huge family who run a super successful farm and treasure hard work and each other so much, and an absolutely adorable campfire scene. Best of all, Carr makes Thunder Point feel like a real place with every book in the series; I liked how this one touched on how dedicated the townspeople were, working two jobs to make ends meet.

So if you are looking to take a trip to the West Coast this summer where the people are always ready to lend a hand and share a smile, I suggest you jump on the Thunder Point train as soon as possible. As Peyton says at one point in the book: “This is a nice place to fit into.” She couldn’t be more right about that!

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon

Big Kids Table: More than Just Romance

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

Welcome! How is it the last day of April already? Didn’t I just take my Christmas decorations down? I’m flabbergasted by how fast this year is flying so far. But the end of the month does mean BIG KIDS’ TABLE and I do love working on this feature. Big thanks to those of you who gave me positive feedback on last month’s Receipt Recommendations; I will hopefully be doing another one sometime in the future. (But I really must take a break from buying book so sit tight.)

Today, though, today I am focusing on Harlequin. Yep. You read that right. Now raise your hand if you hear Harlequin and think of romances. It’s okay. No one will throw tomatoes or hardcovers at you, I promise! Because, for a long time, I didn’t know there was more to Harlequin than romance either. Don’t get me wrong — I love Harlequin romance writers like Kristan Higgins and Susan Mallery but last year I was psyched to discover writers like Jason Mott (The Returned) and Paula Treick DeBoard (The Mourning Hours) — a supernatural and thriller, respectively — from the MIRA imprint.

So this year, I’m anxiously looking forward to the non-romance titles being released from Harlequin in hopes I have similar reading luck! Here are a few that have caught my eye…

Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padunke (paperback release date: April 29, 2014)

Where the Earth Meets Water

Karom Seth should have been in the Twin Towers on the morning of 9/11, and on the Indian shores in 2004, when the tsunami swept his entire family into the ocean. Whether it’s a curse or a blessing, Karom can’t be sure, but his absence from these disasters has left him with crushing guilt—and a belief that fate has singled him out for invincibility.

Karom’s affliction consumes everyone around him, from his best friend, Lloyd, to his girlfriend, Gita, who hopes that a trip to India will help him find peace. It is in Delhi that he meets Gita’s grandmother, Kamini—a quirky but wise woman with secrets of her own. At first Karom dismisses Kamini, but little does he realize that she will ultimately lead him to the clarity he’s been looking for. 

Estelle notes: It’s so rare for me to read a book that includes a trip to India. (My mind always moves toward The Namesake, which I loved.) Definitely want to check out another.

Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes + Loretta Nyhan (release date: May 14, 2014)

Empire Girls

Ivy and Rose Adams may be sisters, but they’re nothing alike. Rose, the eldest, is the responsible one, while Ivy is spirited and brazen. After the unexpected death of their father, the women are left to reconcile the estate, when they make a shocking discovery: not only has their father left them in financial ruin, but he has also bequeathed their beloved family house to a brother they never knew existed. With only a photograph to guide the way, Ivy and Rose embark to New York City, determined to find this mysterious man and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

Once in New York, temptations abound at every turn, and soon the sisters are drawn into the glitzy underbelly of Manhattan, where they must overcome their differences and learn to trust each other if they’re going to survive in the big city and find their brother. Filled with unforgettable characters and charm, Empire Girls is a love letter to 1920s New York, and a captivating story of the unspoken bond between sisters.

Estelle notes: NEW YORK + THE 1920s? Sign me up.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (release date: July 29, 2014)

The Good Girl

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life. 

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter. 

Estelle Notes: Thrillerrrrr. If this book is anything like The Mourning Hours, I will be reading it under my desk at work. (Um, no. Just kidding. I did not do that. Okay fine… I did but it was a Friday afternoon in the summer!)

And, two of my most anticipated this year, bring us right back to the beginning of this post. Jason Mott is releasing a new book in September called The Wonder of All Things:

The Wonder of All Things

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear.

Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the wonder of a miracle. But Ava’s unusual ability comes at a great cost—her own health—and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he’s been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most.

And so does Paula Treick DeBoard with The Fragile World (October 2014):

The Fragile World

The Kaufmans have always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at a local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve-year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test.

And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything.Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a freak accident, and the remaining Kaufmans are left to flounder in their grief. The anguish of Daniel’s death is isolating, and it’s not long before this once perfect family find themselves falling apart. As time passes and the wound refuses to heal, Curtis becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge, a growing mania that leads him to pack up his life and his anxious teenage daughter and set out on a collision course to right a wrong.

♥

So there ya go — five new books for the price of one post. Hope there’s something here that floats your boat!
As you can probably tell my boat is pretty much forever floating. 😉

Happy reading!

P.S. If you read any non-YA titles this month, definitely let me know! It’s only fair 😉

Estelle: Come a Little Bit Closer by Bella Andre

Come a Little Bit Closer by Bella AndreCome a Little Bit Closer by Bella Andre ( web | tweet )
Part of The Sullivans romance series.
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 384
Target audience: adult
Keywords: movie business, sisters, family, San Francisco
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (thanks!)
Last reviewed: Let Me Be the One with BUY IT rating

Summary: Smith’s career in Hollywood is just about as successful as he could have hoped so when he embarks on a new project — starring in a movie that he has written himself — he’s shocked to find himself in a position where he is working just as hard to win a lady’s heart. Valentina can’t stand actors and wants nothing to do with Smith but his love for his family and his kindness is so hard to resist.

A movie set, an unexpected leading lady, a charming celebrity = Bella Andre has done it again.

His story: After years of a successful career, Smith is challenging himself in a new way. He wrote a screenplay for what he calls “the simplest of love stories” and is currently starring in it. It’s not like his normal work, he’s really putting himself out there. While his mind should ONLY be on this, his thoughts are constantly swayed by his co-star’s sister, Valentina. She’s so with it, so in charge, but totally has her heart on guard.

Her story: Valentina is a total workaholic, managing her sister’s career. When Tatiana lands a role opposite massive star, Smith Sullivan, Valentina has to be even more on her toes. Her sister’s career is about to go crazy. But Val is distracted by Smith’s looks, his talent, the sweet words of his screenplay, and even though she would like to, she can’t exactly resist just how NICE he is to her.

Who knew: A night at Alcatraz (with cupcakes) could be so utterly sexy.

The big question: Can Valentina get over qualms about dating actors? (After her mom has dated so many of them in the past.) Does Smith really have what it takes to win Valentina over?

The sizzle: Oh my god. Andre has seriously upped the sexy meter in Come a Little Bit Closer. I was totally at the edge of my seat wondering when Valentina would finally give Smith a chance, and whoa whoa whoa. So absolutely worth it, and so much more to look forward to after their initial collision.

Family matters: Something that sets Andre’s books from other romance series is the emphasis on family. Smith is really involved in the lives of all of his siblings — he’s completely supportive, and at the same time, welcoming to others he wants to bring into the fold. They are always popping up in the story, and it’s so comforting and sweet to see. At the same time, Valentina and Tatiana have such a tight bond and I liked watching how their dependence on each other changed over the course of the book. (The role reversal was a great touch too.)

Movie drama: How would you like your sister to act in a sex scene with the guy of your dreams? Mhm. Talk about a tough day at work.

Final thoughts: Another addicting read from Andre! So much fun to watch Smith wear down Valentina, and nice to see them both doing the emotional/head work to ensure they were ready to move forward with this relationship. My only qualm were some of the screenplay inserts. I loved the parallel of Gravity‘s story but there was so much prose included and movie watchers wouldn’t be seeing prose vs. hearing dialogue on a screen so I think there may have been a better way to present that. Nitpicky, a bit, I know. But seriously — Come a Little Bit Closer was sweet, tension-filled, and a lot of fun. Can’t wait for more of the Sullivans!

rather be reading worth it icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N