Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Review: Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker

Publish Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 448
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC Netgalley from publisher in exchange for honest review

Goodreads Synopsis:

Making a Murderer meets Scandal in this story of police corruption, family secrets, and illicit affairs from bestselling author K.A. Tucker, celebrated for her “propulsive plot twists and searing seduction” (USA TODAY).

Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that's been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family's life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.
Gracie Richards wasn't born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it's all she knows anymore. At least here people don't care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive...until a man who clearly doesn't belong shows up on her doorstep.
Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department's dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined.
Complex, gritty, sexy, and thrilling, Keep Her Safe solidifies K.A. Tucker's reputation as one of today's most talented new voices in romantic suspense. 



My Review:

Keep Her Safe, a new suspense novel by best selling author K.A. Tucker came out today! As many of you know, I love this author. The talent she exudes in her work is amazing. (Ten Tiny Breaths series will prove this). So obviously, I was happy to get the ARC of Keep Her Safe and provide a review for you all.

Noah Marshall has had an easy life. His mother is the chief of the police department and they live a pretty normal life in Austin. Friends, sports and school are life for him. He is a polite, handsome Texan with a good head on his shoulders. One night Noah's mom, Jackie, in a drunken state reveals some things to Noah that he doesn't quite understand and brushes off but in a flash his life is turned upside down and he comes to realize that it wasn't all just gibberish.

Gracie on the other hand lives in a trailer park where she doesn't know if her mom will make it day to day, or even hour to hour sometimes. Life has been harder for the both of them since Abe, a loving father and husband was murdered on the job on the Austin PD. Gracie is tough and sassy (she has to be to keep her neighbours honest). She takes care of her mom, herself and a stray one-eyed dog. So on the day Noah arrives on her doorstep, all guards go up and Gracie reverts to her protective self. Little do they know that their lives are about to change forever. From that moment, it will bring Noah and Gracie together in ways they never thought possible and will reveal answers to questions neither of them ever thought the need to ask.

Keep Her Safe is written through many POV's. We get Noah, Gracie, Abe and Sheriff Marshall. I love when authors do this, and can pull it off. I love how we get a full 360' view of the story being told. I did find a few of the parts of the book to be predictable early on, but it didn't ruin it for me. I still felt it when K.A. Tucker confirmed in writing what was going through my head.

Keep Her Safe has been listed as a romantic suspense, and yes, there is romance but it doesn't overpower the book. And it's not super gushy romance either. It's a mature, ever developing kind between some pretty awesome characters. There was enough to remind you that you are reading K.A. Tucker. (Again, read Ten Tiny Breaths series!)

While I wasn't a huge fan of K.A. Tuckers thriller, He Will Be My Ruin, I was a tad worried Keep Her Safe wouldn't live up (being it was a suspense novel) but I was wrong. Keep Her Safe was written with more finesse, more"umpf" and way more wow factor in my opinion. And I would happily recommend Keep Her Safe for any fan of K.A. Tucker, any fan of suspense or romantic suspense.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Author Interview - C.K. Kelly Martin

I'm very happy to share with my readers this exclusive interview with author C.K. Kelly Martin here at Stellar Book Blog!


You can read my review of Just Like You Said It Would Be here.


Q #1 - How did you come up with the idea for Just Like You Said It Would Be?

A - The very first young adult book I started writing in 1999 was an attempt at writing the novel that would much later become Just Like You Said It Would Be and was largely inspired by my relationship with Dublin (I fell head over heels for it when I first landed there in 1990 and will never, ever be over it), my excitement for YA fiction and more generally by the incredible feeling of falling in love with someone for the first time, which is so powerful that it almost feels like a revolution.


This picture is from C.Ks trip to Dublin in 1991


Q #2  - Amira, the main character is mixed raced: Egyptian, Irish and Canadian. Some of her best friends are mixed race too. How important was this to you? And why?

A - I’ve written and rewritten so many versions of this story over the years but one thing that never changed was who Amira is. She was always Canadian by birth but of Egyptian and Irish background. From the beginning I thought of her as a typical Toronto girl. In 2016 the BBC declared Toronto the most diverse city in the world (made up of 230 different nationalities and with 51% of residents born outside Canada) but it’s been enormously diverse for quite awhile now and that’s how Amira character came to me, with an Egyptian mother and an Irish father. It’s like I didn’t invent her; she already was who she was. Having living in Ireland and being of Irish ancestry myself that part of Amira’s background was more familiar; I had to do a lot more research into her Egyptian heritage, but also the experience of being mixed race in general. On the one hand, Amira’s mixed background was very important to me because she represents the changing face of both Canada and Ireland. On the other hand, it’s just one aspect of her larger personality and countless different experiences and variables make her who she is. Another aspect of her that struck me as integral from the start was that she was a huge movie fan who wants to go to film school to become a screenwriter.

Q #3  - Music is a huge part of your novel. Does music play a big role in your personal life? What's on your playlist now? Did music help you write Just Like You Said It Would Be?

A - I’m listening to the Niall Horan album, Flicker, as I type this (his song This Town kills me in the best way); but I actually can’t listen to music while I’m writing fiction, I need quiet. Often I listen to music before I get down to writing for the day, though, and there are tons of songs that I associate with this book. Some of the songs or various bands/artists directly referenced in the book include The Kills, Wolf Alice, Sinead O’Connor (who the novel’s title comes from), Radiohead, The National, Bat for Lashes, The Vaccines, I could go on and on. I have a playlist of a whopping 37 songs for this book up at my website here: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/p/justplaylist.html. I think one of the songs that best sum up the overall tone of the book is New Song by Warpaint – those lines “you're a new song baby, you're a new song to me” and “dancing to you all night long.” This is what it feels like to fall in love! Every little thing about the person you’re in love with feels like a wondrous revelation. Their very existence seems to alter reality. 

Q #4 - Do you have any writing rituals or habits? Anything that helps you write that you count on each time?

A - I spend a lot of time thinking about the main character(s) before I get down to writing. Because I usually write in first person I absolutely need a good grasp of who the main character(s) are deep down, what drives them crazy and the things that scare them or things they may secretly want. But I don’t really have any formal process or rituals. I start by just getting lost in my head thinking about the characters and their situations. Then, once I know enough, I start making notes and researching to flesh out the character. The characters seem to have a life of their own and sometimes will do different things than I expect as a book unfolds.

Q #5  - How long did it take you to write Just Like You Said It Would Be?

A - Longer than I’ll likely ever spend writing a single book again! Eighteen years from the very first draft (when it was actually a trilogy and very different than it is now) to when I decided to publish it myself. I rewrote the book on and off between writing other YA books for literally decades; it was the story I kept returning to time again and couldn’t ever permanently put aside. Then, in 2013, I applied for and received a Canada Council grant to work on an entirely new vision of the book from scratch. Having that vote of confidence from the Canada Council meant the world to me, and it’s what led me to the decision to self-publish. It seemed that for Just Like You Said It Would Be to find a home with a traditional publisher it would have to transform from a character-driven coming of age tale wrapped around a love story to something more high concept and hooky. After spending eighteen years with this book (during which I became a much stronger writer) it was of the utmost importance to me to stay true to it, more important than getting a traditional publishing deal. 

Q #6  - When you were growing up, was writing where you thought your life would take you?

A - I started writing and drawing picture books for fun when I was seven years old so the desire to write has always been a part of me but honestly, when I was a teenager I couldn’t envision being a bonafide adult so I didn’t have any practical vision of what I’d do. Back then I was always dreaming of moving to London, England. It’s where I imagined all the real action was happening (in part because so many of my favourite bands growing up were English and I was obsessed). Towards the end of high school I decided to steer towards an English degree because it was my best subject, but around second year at university I was knocked off course by a pull towards film studies courses. For a time I vaguely thought I might write film reviews for a living (my degree is in film studies) but as much as I love thinking about movies my real passion is for writing fiction.   

Q #7 - Do you have a favourite character from Just Like You Said It Would Be? If so, who? Why?

A - I love Darragh to death (he’s sort of a composite of the type of guy me and my friends would’ve been enamoured with in the early 90s in Dublin – picture) but my favourite character has to be Amira. She’s such a loyal friend and it tears her up that she has to go to Dublin during a tough time for her best friend, Jocelyn. I love the relationship Amira has with her sister, Rana, (who died before Amira was old enough to even remember her but who is still with her in a manner of speaking), and I admire Amira’s strength, her creativity, and how much she learns about people and the nature of life in this book because it’s really not just a book about love but of how your understanding of it changes through experience. Amira made Just Like You Said It Would Be such a pleasure for me to write.  

Q #8 - When you aren't writing, what would we find you doing?

A - If I’m not writing I’m usually reading or at the movies. Recently Lady Bird blew me away – it’s so rare to see a coming of age film that staggeringly genuine – and this week I’m hoping to catch Three Billboards Outside, Ebbing Missouri. But I also got a laugh out of Thor: Ragnarok. I’m a big Loki fan and a huge Doctor Who fan. I’m so excited to see Jodie Whittaker as the new incarnation of the Doctor.

Well, that's all for now! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for me C.K. Kelly Martin. It's always so interesting to come up with these questions and read the answers! Quite fun!






How do you make something feel finished?

On New Year’s Eve seventeen-year-old Amira texts the Irish ex-boyfriend she’s been missing desperately since they broke up at the end of summer, when she returned to Canada. They agreed they wouldn’t be friends, that it would never be enough. But that was then—back when Amira’s separated parents had shipped her off to relatives in Dublin for the summer so they could test-drive the idea of getting back together on a long haul cruise. Back when Amira was torn away from a friend in need in Toronto only to fall in love with a Dublin screenwriting class and take a step closer to her dream career. And only to fall for cousin Zoey’s bandmate, Darragh, the guy who is first her friend, then her enemy and later something much more complicated—the guy she can say anything to, the guy who makes every inch of her feel wide awake in a way she hadn’t known was possible. The guy she confides in about the dead sister she has no living memories of but who has remained with Amira nonetheless. The guy she might never see again. Or is there, despite the distance, somehow still a chance for them?


Chock-full of movie references and giddy love for Dublin, Ireland, Just Like You Said It Would Be is a frank exploration of the extraordinary highs and shattering lows of first love that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Echols, Tara Kelly, Sarra Manning, Trish Doller, and Kirsty Eagar. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Book Review: Just Like You Said It Would Be by C.K. Kelly Martin

Publish Date: February 15th, 2017
Publisher: ebook, Create Space
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ebook from author in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Synopsis:

How do you make something feel finished?
On New Year’s Eve seventeen-year-old Amira texts the Irish ex-boyfriend she’s been missing desperately since they broke up at the end of summer, when she returned to Canada. They agreed they wouldn’t be friends, that it would never be enough. But that was then—back when Amira’s separated parents had shipped her off to relatives in Dublin for the summer so they could test-drive the idea of getting back together on a long haul cruise. Back when Amira was torn away from a friend in need in Toronto only to fall in love with a Dublin screenwriting class and take a step closer to her dream career. And only to fall for cousin Zoey’s bandmate, Darragh, the guy who is first her friend, then her enemy and later something much more complicated—the guy she can say anything to, the guy who makes every inch of her feel wide awake in a way she hadn’t known was possible. The guy she confides in about the dead sister she has no living memories of but who has remained with Amira nonetheless. The guy she might never see again. Or is there, despite the distance, somehow still a chance for them?
Chock-full of movie references and giddy love for Dublin, Ireland, Just Like You Said It Would Be is a frank exploration of the extraordinary highs and shattering lows of first love that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Echols, Tara Kelly, Sarra Manning, and Kirsty Eagar.


My Review:

Unfortunately I forgot I even had this book (Sorry C.K. Kelly Martin!) The author contacted me a while ago asking me if I would read and review this novel for her. I was happy to do so and eager to as I've read some of her other books and enjoyed them and as always, I like working with Canadian authors!
One night, I was looking through my phone files and came across the book. (I blame it on new mom brain - it's a thing!!) Turns out, it is super handy to have an ebook on my phone to read in night reading mode when nursing my little one to sleep at night. So this review is much later than asked for and I'm terribly sorry, but it's here nonetheless. 
So let me tell you this; Just Like You Said It Would Be was such a great read! The beginning was a wee bit slow starting out (in comparison to the rest of it) but it's worth it. I finished so quickly and was disappointed that there wasn't any more story to read. 
Amira, the main character is from Toronto, but has to spend a summer overseas with her aunt and uncle while her parents are trying to save their marriage. Amira is deeply saddened to have to leave and tries to convince her family to let her stay home as her best friend is dealing with a family situation of their own and she wants to be there for her. In the end, Amira can't win, and is shipped off to Ireland for the long and lonely summer. Her cousin, Zoey quickly tries to make Amira feel at home and invites her out with friends and her band mates. This is how Amira meets Darragh and from here on out, her visit to Ireland will be forever changed.
I really enjoyed everything about this intoxicating novel. The writing was really great, with lots of detail and vivid pictures. The characters are real and heart-felt, and easy to relate to. Just Like You Said It Would Be is a great first love story. There were parts that reminded me of my first love, and I think a lot of readers will experience that too. The butterflies in the pit of your stomach, the feeling of meeting each other after class. All those feels are here in the book. And the fact that it's set in Ireland makes it even better. I've never actually been, but I think of Ireland as being such a romantic country! It all came together so nicely and I loved it! 
Just Like You Said It Would Be was more than just a love story though. There was so much more to it; friendship, music and family. I really do recommend this book and hope many others get to read it!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Books for the Holidays

Christmas is upon us, my favourite time of the year. I love the look of the snow on the ground, and in the trees. I love the twinkling lights and all of the yummy hot chocolate. There is so much to just love about the holiday season.

You know what else is great about Christmas? Giving and getting...books!! Its such a fun way to broaden your book collection and step out of your comfort zone (sometimes that happens!) And it's a great way to spread the joy of your favourite book.



"What do you want for Christmas?"
"Ooh, a new book."
"Which one?"

"Surprise me!"


Let's face it? Who doesn't love a beautifully wrapped book under their tree? What are some of the best "bookish" gifts you've received or given?

Merry Christmas, may your holiday be safe, full of joy, reading and new books.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

ICYMI: Keep Her Safe by K.A. Tucker


Anyone who knows me, knows that K.A. Tucker is one of my favourite authors (Along with Emily Giffin) . K.A. Tucker came into my radar when I got ARC's of  the Ten Tiny Breaths series. I read the first 2 so quickly and fell in love with everything; the writing, the characters, the story. Ever since, I'm eager to get my hands on her books.

Keep Here Safe is no different. Look at the cover, it's absolutely gorgeous. 
Hopefully I can wait until Jan 23, 2018 to read it.

Keep Her Safe
----
Making a Murderer meets Scandal in this story of police corruption, family secrets, and illicit affairs from bestselling author K.A. Tucker, celebrated for her “propulsive plot twists and searing seduction” (USA TODAY).

Noah Marshall has known a privileged and comfortable life thanks to his mother, the highly decorated chief of the Austin Police Department. But all that changes the night she reveals a skeleton that's been rattling in her closet for years, and succumbs to the guilt of destroying an innocent family's life. Reeling with grief, Noah is forced to carry the burden of this shocking secret.

Gracie Richards wasn't born in a trailer park, but after fourteen years of learning how to survive in The Hollow, it's all she knows anymore. At least here people don't care that her dad was a corrupt Austin cop, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Here, she and her mother are just another family struggling to survive...until a man who clearly doesn't belong shows up on her doorstep.

Despite their differences, Noah and Gracie are searching for answers to the same questions, and together, they set out to uncover the truth about the Austin Police Department's dark and messy past. But the scandal that emerges is bigger than they bargained for, and goes far higher up than they ever imagined…
---

You can find out more about K.A. Tucker and her books anywhere here:
Twitter: @kathleenatucker
Instagram: @katucker_

Keep an eye out for it, and if you need a fix to hold you over until then, may I suggest Ten Tiny Breaths series, or Until It Fades. Or better yet, click here to read the first chapter of Keep Her Safe.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Good on you, Goodreads

I love Goodreads. I love how it can keep track of all of the books I've read. It can keep track of all of my reviews and so much more. I definitely don't use all of it's features (like updating the progress of each book) but I do love the website. If you don't use it, you really should!

What I'm most happy about though, is now I can add a second (third, forth, etc) time reading the same book! It makes me so happy, because I love to take part in the reading challenge each year, and each year I re-read Harry Potter. And in the past, I just have to change the reading date, or add a different edition to my bookshelf or "cheat" somehow. So when I saw that I can add a second reading date, I was jumping for joy!



Because really, who can read Harry Potter only once?



Thanks Goodreads, for making this reader happy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review: Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill

Publish Date: June 6th, 2017
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400 pages
Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC from publisher in exchange for honest review 

Goodreads Synopsis:

A young, street-savvy runaway looking for a place to call home realizes he might have conned his way into the wrong family in this fast-paced and thrilling novel from award-winning author Cristin Terrill.
When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California's most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he's no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he's initially too traumatized to speak, but he's alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he'll recover his memories; all that matters now is they're together again. It's perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.He isn't Daniel Tate.He's a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he's not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried. 


My Review:


Unfortunately, it took a while before I felt eager enough to pick this one up. I kept putting it off, I was in a sort of reading funk I guess. But when I started, right through to the end, I was hooked. It starts off with lies, and the narrator straight up says “I’m lying!” WHAT? I didn’t know what to make of this, but with a title like Here LIES Daniel Tate, and a synopsis like this one, it totally makes sense. OR does it?! That right there, is how I felt reading this book (for the most part, except for one obvious and disturbing plot twist).
“Daniel Tate” doesn’t know who he is, or who he has ever been, he floats through life, living in shelters for as long as he can, then runs. Then he stumbles upon a perfect situation, a rich family that he can con into taking him in for a while. The longer he stays, the more complicated and strange it becomes and that’s when he realizes that this situation isn’t quite as it seems on the outside. Secrets are made, secrets are revealed and who really knows the truth in this thrilling novel.
The characters were interesting enough, except for a random love interest thrown in for no apparent reason. We could have easily done without it in my opinion. I loved that the story had my mind racing with each page, one minute I thought I had it figured out, then one minute I questioned everything I thought I knew. The ending will have the reader rushing to finish and leave them with their mouth agape, wondering what the hell just happened (but in a good way!) It’s definitely a book worth reading!


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