Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Month In Review

March was another good reading month for me.  I managed to read a lot during the first part of the month (all that cold weather still) which is good because life got very busy in the second half and it became difficult to get much reading down.  So it all evened out for a good reading month.

Here are the books I read in March with my GoodReads ratings:

March: Book One - John Lewis *****
The Fringe Hours - Jessica Turner *****
Higher Ed - Tessa McWatt ****
Love, Lies, and Louboutins - Katie Oliver ****
Funny Girl - Nick Hornby ****
The Evening Chorus - Helen Humphreys ****
A Bit of Difference - Sefi Atta ****
If You’re Not the One - Jemma Forte ****
Fire and Air - Erick Vlaminck ***

Challenges

Canadian Book Challenge (3), Diversity on the Shelf (2)

What I’m Looking Forward to in April

I managed to get a few books cleared off of Netgalley which was good for me, now I just have 2 left so I’m continuing with that.  There are a few specific books I’m looking forward to this month including The Vintage Girl’s Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood and, of course, God Help the Child by Toni Morrison.

What was your favourite book in March?

What are you looking forward to in April?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Month In Review: Non-Bookish Things

Watching

This month I watched very little television live and watched it all on Netflix , YouTube or what I had already recorded.  

The first show I watched was Scott & Bailey, a British crime show.  I absolutely loved it.  If you like detective shows, I recommend this one (the first three seasons are on Netflix, I’m really hoping they put up season 4 soon.)  This is written by Sally Wainwright, who also wrote Happy Valley on Netflix.  Watch them both I say.

The second show I watched was Empire.  When it first aired I didn’t watch because I was already watching Black-ish in that time slot and I’m not one to stop watching a show I already like for another one, no matter how much people are talking about.  So I recorded the episodes and decided to binge-watch them.  And that I did.  I watched the first 8 episodes one day, and the other 4 the next day.  And wow.  What a show!  I’m in love.  Everything - the drama, the music, Cookie’s fabulous wardrobe, yes, I’m loving this show.

And right at the end of this month, I started watching season 3 of The Mindy Project.  As soon as it went up on Netflix, I started watching.  Mindy Kaling is a-mazing and I love everything about this show.  I’m so glad that Netflix is putting up shows as soon as their season has finished on television.

I’ve also been watching season 12 of QI on YouTube.  It’s a British comedy panel show hosted by Stephen Fry and is quite funny.

Listening

This month, the Junos (Canadian music awards aired) and so in the lead-up I was listening to a few albums by Canadian artists, mainly Arkells and Hedley.  Arkells is new to me and though they aren’t the genre of music I usually listen to it, it’s a great album.  


Usually I listen to a lot of music or podcasts when I’m on my walks but lately I’ve always had company so I haven’t been listening to much.  But I always make sure I have time for The News Quiz from BBC Radio 4’s Friday Night Comedy.

What were you watching and listening to this month?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Blast: "Teardrops Know My Name" by Dalia Florea


About the Book

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Romance
Recommended Age Group: 18+

Someone is stalking, fashion photographer, Linda McNair and turning her world upside down. She has no idea who it could be. Is it an old boyfriend? Someone in the industry? A complete stranger? The only thing Linda knows for sure is her stalker has to be stopped. Her life may depend on it.

When Linda meets Detective Sean Gregory, one of New York’s finest in more ways than one, stories unravel, revealing secrets, lies and betrayal that nearly destroy her, breaking her heart into a million tiny pieces. 


Linda tries to resist Sean’s affection, but she can’t help wondering if he’s the right man who can put the shattered pieces of her heart back to together.

About the Author

Dalia Florea is a novelist and native New Yorker. Her debut book “Mirrored” recently reached the top 100 Best Sellers list in Women’s Detective Fiction and rated favorably on both Amazon and Goodreads. When she isn’t crafting suspenseful romance, Dalia enjoys solving Sudoku and cryptogram quotes, attending jazz concerts and visiting wineries.  Dalia currently lives in Northern Virginia and is hard at work on her next two novels.



Links
Buy the e-Book
Website  
Facebook
Twitter

Contest

Dalia is giving away one $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author Dalia Florea and is hosted and managed by Paulette from Write Now Literary Book Tours. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Paulette @ pharperjohnson@gmail.com

Tour hosted by WNL Book Tours 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"A Bit of Difference" by Sefi Atta

Deola Bello is a Nigerian expatriate in London, working as a financial reviewer for an international charity.  At the age of thirty-nine, she is becoming increasingly restless with both her work and her personal life.  When she returns to Nigeria for work and to attend her father’s five-year memorial service, she begins to look at her life through different eyes.

As she views her family and home through a new lens, she finds herself on a journey of self-discovery.  A chance encounter with a stranger ends up leading to decisions that will make her want to change her life entirely.  

A Bit of Difference by Sefi Atta is an incredible novel that touches on many different themes of expatriate life as well as the difference between the foreign ideas and realities of life in Africa.

This is the first book by Sefi Atta I have read and I was very impressed by her story-telling abilities.  Right from the beginning, Deola jumped off the page and I really felt as though I could hear her voice, rather than just reading it.  

I very much enjoy reading about different cultures and countries, especially through the eyes of an expatriate character.  It is a very unique take to be able to see the country through someone who has the experience of both living there and living away from it.  There wasn’t very much in Deola’s story that I could see in my own life, so what I really needed was strong writing to make me understand the world, and Atta definitely gets that right.  

I particularly enjoyed the parts of the book that centred around Deola’s work at the charity.  The book does spend time looking at the work that NGO’s are doing in foreign countries, the politics behind the work, and the people doing the work on both sides.  There is also a lot of strength in the commentary that Atta has on Nigerian society, especially when it comes to family and culture. 

There were so many moments that made me chuckle.  Atta has a very keen eye for people and the little things that make them up.  All of her characters were well-written and I like how she got to smaller pieces of who they are rather than the superficial things.  I’m especially thinking of Deola’s writer friend in London when I mention this.  The comments about what the publishing industry is looking for from African writers were clever (I captured some on my instagram account if you want to see what I’m talking about.)  

The book did fall off a bit for me in the second half.  I was much more interested in when Deola is in London as well as her trip back to Nigeria.  Once she returned to London, I began to lose interest a bit, but it was still compelling enough for me to keep reading. 


If you’re looking for African literature, I would definitely recommend this book.  Its exploration of the middle class in Nigeria is something that I don’t come across in my reading all that often.  I’m looking forward to reading more of Sefi Atta’s work, especially her debut novel, Everything Good Will Come, which won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.

Friday, March 20, 2015

"The Evening Chorus" by Helen Humphreys

James Hunter is an English officer who spends much of the Second World War in a German prisoner of war camp.  The men in the camp all find their own way to deal with the boredom day in and day out, and James is no different.  He decides to study a pair of birds, redstarts, he finds near the camp.  But when his interest in the birds is noticed by the Kommandant he begins to fear for his life.

James’ wife Rose, is back in England, doing the work of a dutiful wife whose husband is off at war.  But her attention is held by another young man with whom she is having an affair.  When James’ sister Enid comes to stay after being bombed out of her home in London, it puts Rose in an awkward situation.  The women form an unlikely friendship but their lives are about to be changed forever.

The Evening Chorus, by Helen Humphreys, is a beautiful and easy tale, a story about political history and natural history, love and war.

There is such an incredible lightness to this book, a beautiful read, a gentle story that packs a punch.  I have to admit that when I first took a look at the book, I wasn’t sure that it would be for me.  It was the birds that threw me off.  But I read the book because of my love for CanLit.  And I am very glad that I gave it that chance.

I think it takes incredible writing talent to tell a simple story in a simple manner and have it remain with readers long after the long page.  That is what this book is all about.  I adored the stories of Rose and Enid and found myself so invested in these two women who are living lives in which they can’t be open and honest about themselves.  Against the backdrop of war, these are incredible stories.  And while I was unsure of it at first, James’ story held me tight, whether the horrors of the camp or the gentleness of the birds.  


It’s not often we get a quiet novel about war, one that doesn’t focus on the politics or the front lines, but the beauty and hope that lies in this world.  I was so amazed by how this book touched me when I wasn’t expecting it at all.  This book is incredibly touching and thought-provoking.  It’s not in your face but in your thoughts, and gets you thinking about how we live our lives.  It is such a contrast to the busy lives we lead.  The strength of this book lies in its writing, one feels as though they are floating through the story.  It makes me happy to be able to recommend a book that I didn’t think would be for me at all.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"March: Book One" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

One of the key people of the Civil Rights movement and now an American Congressman, John Lewis has spent his life fighting for civil rights in America.  Born on a sharecropper’s farm in Alabama, educated in a segregated classroom, Lewis was on the frontline of the biggest events of the 1960’s.  Now he is sharing his story in stunning graphic novel form.

March: Book One is the first in a series of three graphic novels telling the life story of Congressman John Lewis.  Written in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and award-winning artist Nate Powell, the book is an incredible way of bringing history to the new generations.

This book focuses on Lewis’ early life - his birth, childhood, and education.  It shows Lewis’ motivation for becoming heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement, including his first meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The book also covers the sit-in movement that swept the south and the birth of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC.)

The life of John Lewis is one that is truly inspiring and a must-read for people of all ages and walks of life.  He is the only speaker of the 1963 March on Washington still alive and it is so important that his story is preserved for all.  His life is a history lesson, covering the major events of the Civil Rights movement and taking you right to the heart of it all.  

I am so excited to see that he has decided to share his story in the form of a graphic novel.  I think that this will bring the story to kids who may not want to read a history book and it’s important that this history remains alive in our younger generations.  In the book, we see a comic book that was handed out during the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, that inspired many young men of the time.  This was used to teach the concepts of nonviolent action that were central to the movement.  It inspired Lewis and is a major reason why he agreed with the idea to tell his story in this form.

I’m such a fan of writing history books and memoirs in graphic novel form.  I think this should be done for classroom books.  Even as a person who majored in history in university, I can say that sometime history books are boring or overwhelming.  Graphic novels bring these stories to life and are a great way to engage younger readers.  


March: Book Two is currently out but I’m unsure of when Book Three is being released.  And that’s the only downside of the book, that I have to wait for the final instalment.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

"If You're Not the One" by Jemma Forte

On the outside, Jennifer has the perfect life.  She has a husband, two wonderful kids, a lovely house, good friends.  But she’s not completely happy and lately, she’s been wondering if maybe she married the wrong man.  What if she got it wrong and was meant to be with someone else?

When a fight with her husband leads to a terrible accident, Jennifer is able to face this question head on.  While lying in a coma, she has the opportunity to see just what life would have been like if she had stayed with one of her ex-boyfriends.  What if she had jetted off to Australia with Aidan, the sexy and carefree guy she met on a beach in Greece?  Or what if she had stayed with Tim, the man who created a networking website that everyone in the world was using?  Or Steve, the sweet, loving, and doting DIY guy?  

Was she really supposed to marry one of those guys, rather than her husband Max?  And more importantly, what will she do about it if she ever wakes from her coma?

If You’re Not the One, by Jemma Forte, is a novel that honestly and realistically addresses that question many of us have at times in our lives, the “what-if?” 

This is a very interesting book and one I very much enjoyed reading.  At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the subject or how it would play out.  The whole “what-if” is a very dangerous question and I thought that this book was going to be too light to deal with it.  But this ended up being different than I expected.  It takes the subject very seriously, and Forte does a great job of portraying an unhappy woman in a difficult marriage without being down about the whole institution in general.  In other words, she very honestly captures what many women go through in their marriages.

My big criticism of the book is the way that it is structured.  The book jumps around from past and present, and even in the present it jumps between a week before the accident and when Jennifer is in the coma.  When it goes into the past, it jumps between the different men which are obviously at different times.  

I would have preferred the book to have a bit more continuity.  What would have been perfect for me is if it started with the week that led up to the accident then started to look at the past.  It could have gone to Aidan, then the present, Tim, then the present, Steve, then the present, then how she met Max.  And then to her decision of what to do.  If it had occurred this way, it probably would have been a 5 star book for me.


This book is easy to read but will definitely get you thinking.  All throughout the book I thought, I don’t think I would want to know.  Maybe that has to do with how I feel about life right now, but who knows what would have been.  And I definitely want to leave it at that - who knows!  This is a very unique premise for a book though and that definitely makes it a worthwhile read.  Some people may hope for a different ending, but I think the rest of the book makes up for it.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Canada Reads


The 14th edition of CBC’s Canada Reads starts this Monday with the debates taking place March 16-19.  Hosted by Wab Kinew, this years focus is the one book to break barriers.  It is about the books that “can change perspectives, challenge stereotypes, and illuminate issues.

This years contenders are:

Ru by Kim Thuy, defended by Cameron Bailey
Intolerable by Kamal al-Solaylee, defended by Kristin Kreuk
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King, defended by Craig Kielburger
When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid, defended by Elaine “Lainey” Lui
And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, defended by Martha Wainwright

(click on the titles for my reviews of the books.)

What an amazing lineup of books.  LGBT issues, immigration, aging, First Nations, Canadian history and contemporary culture, all covered.  These novels were written in different languages and for different age groups, but they are all make up what Canada is about, the good and the bad.  

Previous winners of Canada Reads includes:

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje (2002)
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews (2006)
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (2009)
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden (2014)

My choice for the one book that Canada should read this year?  The Inconvenient Indian. 

What is your choice this year? Have you read all of the books?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Higher Ed" by Tessa McWatt

In 21st century East London, job cuts and unemployment are a daily reality for many people.  It is here that we meet five very different people, all searching for love and meaning in life.

Francine is a university administrator who spends more time fretting about her weight and her ex than at her job.  She is facing the possibility of unemployment, but when she witnesses a tragic road accident, her job is the last thing she cares about.  Robin is a film professor who seems to be drifting along.  His ex-girlfriend is pregnant but it’s the young Polish waitress at a local café who has captured his attention and his love.  The waitress, Katrin, is still trying to make her way in London.  She finds hope in her relationship with Robin, but like everything for her in her new country, it’s not going to be easy. 

Olivia is an stellar law student, a mixed race girl growing up in a family that doesn’t keep their racism under wraps.  She was abandoned by her father when she was young but while she is conducting research their paths cross.  Ed, an immigrant from Guyana, is working in a local council office, responsible for burying the dead who have no one to do it for them.  As Olivia gets to know Ed, she learns that he is not the man he was made out to be by her family.

Higher Ed, by Tessa McWatt, is a beautiful novel that follows five people who from the outside lead very different lives and are from very different backgrounds, but on the inside are searching for the same things.  

I enjoyed reading this book very much.  The chapters jump around between characters so that the story is told in the five voices.  At first this bothered me, especially since chapters are short.  I found myself flipping to the character list at the front to remind myself of who they were.  But as the book went on, I didn’t mind this much at all and I actually enjoyed that it went between the characters consistently.  Usually in books like this, I find myself liking only a few of the characters and when I’m reading the ones that I don’t care for, I just want to get through it and get to the people I care for.  But that wasn’t the case here.  

I also enjoyed how all of the characters are connected to another, in some cases it is very important (Olivia and Ed, Robin and Katrin) but in others they are smaller players (Robin and Francine, Ed and Robin.)  I was really able to get a sense of how we can all live together in one place, facing the same issues, but still remain so isolated from each other.  McWatt was able to capture the urban voice really well for me.

There were a few parts of the stories that I wish had been given more space.  I would have liked to have seen more with Olivia’s mother and her feelings around Ed and Olivia’s reconnection.   I wish that Katrin’s story had finished with a bit more understanding of her emotions surrounding it.  


If you like books that focus on the characters and their emotions, rather than major plot devices, then I think you will be interested in this book.  This is a book based on reality - the uncertain times we live in and how through it all we are still searching for the same, most basic things.  We can all see ourselves in these characters.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada. The opinions expressed above are my own.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Love, Lies, and Louboutins" by Katie Oliver

It was a rocky journey to the altar but Gemma and Dominic Heath are finally settling into married life.  Or at least one of them is.  When Gemma sees a photo of her husband in the tabloids, getting on a private plane with the latest pop princess, she starts to think that maybe everyone was right - you just can’t tame a rock star.  

When her old flame Jack Hawkins pops back into her life, Gemma soon finds revenge on her mind.  But the whole reason Jack is back in town is something way above what Gemma can handle.  As an international arms dealer, Jack has dealt with his fair share of shady characters.  But when his niece is kidnapped, he has to deal with a blast from his past who can give dictators a run for their money.  And before she knows it, Gemma is all caught up in it as well.

Love, Lies, and Louboutins, by Katie Oliver, is the second book in the Marrying Mr. Darcy series, picking up right where the first book left off and taking readers on a wild ride.

While the book follows Gemma and Dominic and has brief appearances by Natalie and Rhys, characters we are familiar with from past books, there is the introduction of a few new characters who readers will fall for just as quick as the others.  This time around we meet Jools and Adesh, Jools being Jack’s niece and Adesh who is her friend.  It is their kidnapping that sets off the main storyline.  We also meet Christa, the pop sensation and Devon, the police detective who is helping Jack find Jools.  

One thing I really like about Katie Oliver’s books is that there is a large cast of characters and we keep meeting new characters with each book.  But, Katie doesn’t use every character in every book so we never feel overwhelmed by plot lines, nor do we get tired of the same characters.

This book is very different from the first book in the series, much in the same way as Oliver’s previous series, Dating Mr. Darcy.  There is a lot more fast-paced action, a bit of danger, intrigue, and mystery in the second book, while the first is more about the characters.  This is a book that will be difficult to put down (it was for me, I devoted my entire morning to the book, reading from first page to last.)


The only thing that really kept it from getting the full 5 stars from me, as many of Katie Oliver’s books have, is not because of the story but because of the format.  It is in e-book and I found there were many parts where the story switched to other characters but there wasn’t a page break to show that.  And many times I found myself taking pause while I figured out that the characters and place were changing, rather than just a new paragraph starting.  It just didn’t make for completely smooth reading so that would make this a 4.5 star book for me.  Which means it is another fantastic book from Katie Oliver. I absolutely love the Mr. Darcy series' and can’t wait for the next book, Manolos in Manhattan coming out this month!

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Author Interview: Zeenat Mahal


I recently had the pleasure of reading She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Zeenat Mahal (see my review here.)  It is a modern day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, set in Pakistan and is an absolutely lovely book.  If you're a reader of romance novels, I highly recommend you pick this one up.  And today I'm pleased to welcome Zeenat to my blog and introduce her to my readers.

What books influenced you?

Everything I have ever read is an influence I think. But I cannot say that this or that book/author has any particular influence on me as far as my writing goes. Then again every time some reviewer says about my books that it is 'written in the classic style,' or 'reminded me of classics,' or 'Jane Austen,' I am thrilled to the core. 

What is your writing space like?

When I have the desire to write I do it wherever I am, on any scrap of paper I have. But that is rare of course. Sometimes I try and sit on my writing table that is placed in one corner of my living room upstairs and hope to write. I have shelves of the most wonderful books facing me and inspiring me or taunting me, as the case may be. At times I will sit in my bed and edit my work repeatedly. 

Do you have a writing schedule?

I wish! I'm at the mercy of my 'other' self. She is much more self assured than I am and  will say NO to everything. She forgets about the world around her when she has to write. She visits...occasionally.


Which author have you recently discovered that you think we should all read?

I love Reet Singh, Shuchi Singh Kalra, Falguni Kothari, Adite Banerjie, Jazz Singh and Shobhan Bantral. These are all South Asian writers more people should know about!


If you could use only one social networking site which would it be?

Oh Twitter for sure. I love tweeting. I'm a very 140 character conversation kinda person. (Zeenat tweets as @zeemahal) 

Which actors/actresses would you cast in the movie of your book?

Ooh! Interesting and challenging question! Hmm. For Fardeen, I think it has to be Fawad Khan, the heart throb of Pakistan and for Zoella, who else but Mahira Khan?
 

You can only watch 2 television channels for the rest of your life, which would they be? 

HBO and Cartoon Network. 


Zeenat Mahal is an avid reader and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She has an MPhil in English literature from Government College Lahore and is currently doing an MFA in creative writing from Kingston University, London. She won a BBC short story competition in 2001 and has been a regular contributor to newspapers. Zeenat has eclectic tastes and an insatiable desire to learn. Her romances are a heady mix of the traditional and the contemporary, old world values face the challenges of a shrinking globe that impinge upon and help shape South Asian sensibilities.

Haveli and The Contract are Zeenat’s first two published novellas. Her latest novel, She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, has just come out and is number 2 on Amazon Asia list.


She can be contacted through:



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"And the Birds Rained Down" by Jocelyne Saucier

Tom and Charlie are two men who have decided to live out the last years of their lives on their own in a remote forest in Northern Ontario.  Their only contact with the outside world are the men who grow marijuana on their land and bring them supplies.  But all of this changes with the arrival of two women.

A young photographer comes first.  She is looking for one of the last known survivors of the catastrophic fires that swept the area almost a century earlier.  This man, Ted, used to live with Tom and Charlie but is recently deceased.  The second arrival is the elderly aunt of one of the men who brings them their deliveries.  The woman who wants to be known as Marie-Desneige, has been living in a psychiatric institution since the age of sixteen. 

After the four of them come across what Ted has left behind, a magnificent series of paintings about the fires, they put together the history of the man and the region.  And as they do so, they all face their own ideas about life, aging, and self-determination.

And the Birds Rained Down, written by Jocelyne Saucier and translated to English by Rhonda Mullins, is a fascinating and haunting novel that addresses an issue we all face - aging.  A finalist for the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for French-to-English Translation and a selection for Canada Reads 2015, this is a novel for people of all walks of life.

Like many others, I wondered just how much I would take away from this book as I am a few decades away from facing this part of life.  I figured it would be a good story, but how much would I take away from it personally?  But the book exudes wisdom that will relate to people of any age and any place.

This is very much a Canadian novel - quiet, thoughtful, powerful.  There is so much wrapped in this book, with many issues covered - aging, death, mental health, and choosing how to live your life.  I thought the introduction of Marie-Desneige was great as the comparison between her life and the lives of the two men made me think about how much any of us are free to determine our lives.  How heart-breaking that we spend so much of our lives constrained by so many factors and in our last years there are different factors still dictating how we live.


I was immediately drawn into this book, not wanting to put it down.  Through the middle, it slowed down a bit for me and unfortunately it didn't finish as strong for me as it started.  I never felt fully drawn into the storyline between Charlie and Marie-Desneige and that is where it changed for me.  However, it didn’t make me want to put down the book.  Overall this was an enjoyable read and I see why it was chosen a selection for Canada Reads.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Coming Home to You" by Liesel Schmidt

Twenty-four-year-old Zoë is looking forward to the future now that she is engaged to her fiancé Paul.  Her whole life is ahead of her and she couldn’t be happier.  Until Paul dies suddenly and her life is thrown into a tailspin.

For months Zoë removes herself from life, wondering if she’ll ever be able to move on.  And when a friend asks her to housesit for a stranger, it’s the last thing she wants to do.  But her best friend convinces her that what she needs is to get away from the memories that are haunting her and this could be her fresh start.  

When Zoë moves into Neil’s home, she finds herself thrown into the life of a stranger.  She builds a picture of the man she has never met based on his belongings and begins writing a diary sharing her thoughts and feelings with Neil.  When the opportunity arises to contact with him through email, she finds herself connecting with him on a level she didn’t think she would ever connect on again.  This gives her the confidence to begin again and venture back into the world.  

But when Neil returns home from his military tour, Zoë discovers that things may not be what she thought.  Will this become the beginning of a new life or undo all of the progress she has made?

Coming Home to You, the debut novel from Liesel Schmidt, is a warm and emotional story of a young woman dealing with tragic heartbreak and her struggle to move forward in life.

At the beginning of the novel, I was unsure of what kind of journey this story was going to take me on.  It starts out very emotional and right away you could tell that Schmidt’s writing was going to get the emotion of it spot-on.  It was very easy to fall in love with Zoë and want everything to work out for her.  I was worried that the book would keep an emotional wreck the whole way through.  But Schmidt finds a beautiful balance between the heartbreak and the hope, making this a lovely read.

There is a lot that happens in the book so at times it did feel as though parts of the book were rushed.  I really wanted to read more about the development of Zoë’s business idea.  Toward the end, her relationships could have been given a bit more time.  But there is a lot that needs to get done in the book so it is understandable.   


I enjoyed this book very much.  One Saturday morning I woke up early, picked up the book while the house was still quiet and kept reading until I was finished.   What I really appreciated about it was that it wasn’t a straightforward, everything falls into place story.  One thing we all know for sure is that life is messy and this book shows that.  Even though it starts with unimaginable heartbreak and is a story about things getting better, it isn’t the smooth fairytale you can often get. This is a beautiful story that takes you on a wave of emotion but leaves you feeling uplifted.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley.  The opinions expressed above are my own.