Book Review: Winter Solstice

583C7859-A42D-4F9D-B4C9-D19C6B7A34BCTitle: Winter Solstice
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date:  October 3, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: It’s been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that’s about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they’ve experienced in years. And Bart’s safe return isn’t the family’s only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she’s finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn’t be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love–and some of the things we endure–about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.

My Review: THE END…You guys, I just turned the last page of WINTER SOLSTICE and the tears are flowing. I am filled with extraordinary happiness and sadness as I wrap up the Winter Street Series. The Quinn’s are full of drama (a lot of drama), life, love and everything that is good and charming.
My favourite character is Margaret Quinn, the quintessential matriarch who is wise, strong, beautiful, well respected, and problem solver. She is the glue that holds the Quinn family together!
Please, please read this series in order or you will rob yourself of the amazing detail and nuances each character brings to this series. There is so much growth between the first book and the last book.
Elin Hilderbrand’s writing is magical! This series captivated me from the first chapter of WINTER STREET and I voraciously read all four books. I cannot wait for Elin’s next series in 2018!

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Book Review: Winter Storms

79B3DCEB-3EFA-4A6F-8261-D2E5B1D5A0BDTitle: Winter Storms
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn’s old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there’s hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few dark clouds on the horizon. Kelley has recently survived a health scare; Jennifer can’t quite shake her addiction to the drugs she used as a crutch while Patrick was in jail; and Ava still can’t decide between the two lovers that she’s been juggling with limited success. However, if there’s one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it’s Christmas. And this year promises to be a celebration unlike any other as the Quinns prepare to host Kevin and Isabelle’s wedding at the inn. But as the special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinns away from the place–and the people–they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough upheavals to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog, in this touching novel that proves that when the holidays roll around, you can always go home again.

My Review: The Winter Series just gets better with each book and my love for the Quinn’s continues to grow. WINTER STORMS picks up in the spring and I so loved that this book takes us thru the other seasons with the beloved Quinn’s before ending on Christmas Eve. My heartstrings were tugged on more than one occasion with the news of Kelley’s health and Bart’s return to Nantucket – the whole clan is reunited!

I absolutely adore Ava and the gorgeous lineup of men at her feet as she struggles to find herself and fall in love with Mr. Right. And her mother, Margaret, the captivating CBS evening new anchor who is stunning, intelligent, and devoted to her family. I could go on and on about every character in this book because they each bring a little bit of magic to the story. The Quinn’s really are the whole package and I’m both excited and sad for the final book in this series.

Book Review: Winter Stroll

CD1E176F-2779-435A-8C64-87ADD940344CTitle: Winter Stroll
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: Another Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn reflecting on the past year as he writes a holiday letter to friends and family. Though the year has had its share of misfortune and worry, the Quinns have much to celebrate. Kelley, now single, at least is on better terms with his first wife Margaret, who is using her celebrity to lure customers to the inn in record numbers. Their son Kevin has a beautiful new baby, Genevieve, with the Inn’s French housekeeper, Isabelle; and their daughter, Ava, is finally dating a nice guy–her devoted colleague, Scott.

Now the Quinns are looking forward to celebrating Genevieve’s baptism, welcoming Isabelle to the family, and enjoying the cheer of Nantucket’s traditional Christmas Stroll. But just when a peaceful family gathering seems within reach, Kelley’s estranged second wife, Mitzi, shows up on the island after souring on her relationship with the inn’s former Santa Claus. Soon Kelley isn’t the only Quinn entertaining a surprise guest from Christmases past as lovers old and new gather beneath the mistletoe. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns–and the inn–through the holidays intact.

My Review: I have fallen further in love with the Quinn family and all the charm and drama they exude. This series is cozy and heartwarming and everything I want in a holiday book.

A year has passed and big changes happened; Mitzi and Kelley are back together, Patrick is serving his sentence for insider trading in a minimum security prison, Ava dumped Nathaniel and is dating Scott, Kevin & Isabelle are engaged and proud parents of baby Genevieve, and Margaret & Drake are engaged. The ending is a cliffhanger (is Bart alive?) and I’m starting the third instalment right now because I have to know what happens next.

The theatrics keep unfolding and drawing me in! I cannot get enough of the Quinn’s. I never want this series to end.

Book Review: Winter Street

EB6CCC8E-CC6B-4FB5-AFC1-FFD609FC5795Title: Winter Street (Winter Series #1)
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket’s Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can’t get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who’s playing Santa at the inn’s annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley’s ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

My Review: I am officially in the Christmas spirit and want to read all the charming holiday novels. I love everything about WINTER STREET and my new favourite family, the lively and drama-filled Quinn clan. They brought me laughter and joy and sadness but what I love most is thru it all they are a tight-knit and loving family. This is the perfect book to accompany this happy, busy and sometimes stressful time of year.

I am so looking forward to what the Quinn’s are getting up to in WINTER STROLL.

Book Review: The Futures

IMG_0840Title: The Futures
Author: Anna Pitoniak
Publisher: Lee Boudreaux
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Source: Library
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Lee Boudreaux: Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a rural Canadian town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia–blond, beautiful, and rich–fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan lands a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, whose privileged upbringing grants her an easy but wholly unsatisfying job with a nonprofit, feels increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.

With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in a high-stakes deal at work–a deal that, despite the assurances of his Machiavellian boss, begins to seem more than slightly suspicious. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who offers a glimpse of a different kind of life. As the economy craters, and as Evan and Julia spin into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more–good and bad–than they’d ever imagined.

My Review: THE FUTURES brilliantly weaves together a story about first careers, young love and the financial crisis of 2008. I listened to the audiobook in two days which was highly addictive and so, so good! Each chapter alternates between Evan and Julia’s perspectives told with honesty and naivety as they come of age.

Evan and Julia are fresh out of Yale and heading to New York City where Evan will join a prestigious hedge fund and Julia settles for a non profit assistant position thanks to her family’s connections. Growing up in a modest family in small town British Columbia Evan earned his way to Yale on a hockey scholarship. Meanwhile, Julia had every advantage as part of Boston’s elite. I love the idea of Evan and Julia as a couple. They are young, in love, and exude youth and vibrancy, the kind of couple everyone wants to be like. But their storybook romance takes a turn when Evan gets caught in the crosshairs of the financial crisis at work jeopardizing both his career and relationship with Julia.

THE FUTURES is an amazing debut novel brimming with rich characters, an engaging plot, and many relatable themes. I highly recommend this book for a quick end of summer read.

 

Book Review: Careers for Women

IMG_0721Title: Careers for Women
Author: Joanna Scott
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5

From Little, Brown and Company: Maggie Gleason is looking toward the future. Part of a midcentury wave of young women seeking new lives in New York City, Maggie works for legendary Port Authority public relations maven Lee K. Jaffe–affectionately known to her loyal staff as Mrs. J. Having left Cleveland, Maggie has come to believe that she can write any story for herself that she imagines.

Pauline Moreau is running from the past–and a shameful secret. She arrives in the city on the brink of despair, saddled with a young daughter who needs more love, attention, and resources than Pauline can ever hope to provide. Seeing that Pauline needs a helping hand, Mrs. J tasks Maggie with befriending, and looking after, Pauline.

As the old New York gives way to the new, and Mrs. J’s dream of the world’s largest skyscraper begins to rise from the streets of lower Manhattan, Pauline–with the aid of Maggie and Mrs. J–also remakes herself. But when she reignites the scandal that drove her to New York, none of their lives will ever be the same. Maggie must question everything she thought she knew about love, work, ambition, and family to discover the truth about the enigmatic, strong woman she thought she had rescued.

My Review: Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and Netgalley for providing me this free ARC in exchange for my honest review!

CAREERS FOR WOMEN has a Mad Men-esque vibe set during the 1950s, which is a period I’ve always been drawn to so naturally I was sucked in from the get-go!

Scott’s cast of characters are every bit who you would expect to meet in mid-century New York City. The women are strong and admirable, each securing their own special place within the story. Maggie, the benign central character is level headed and responsible and truly shines when she sacrifices her future with a prominent doctor to raise her friend Pauline’s special needs daughter. I adored Mrs. J., the Director of PR at The Port of New York Authority and the cornerstone to the construction of the World Trade Center towers, she advocates for her career girls during a time when men ran the corporate show. Her beliefs are firmly rooted in good old fashioned hard work and ingenuity and any woman possessing both can achieve her worth.

The multi storylines constantly evolve; Bob Whittaker is the corporate big shot running Alumacore, the upstate aluminum plant polluting the animals and people and his own morality. His despicable actions have far reaching effects; from the death of his step-son’s fiancée’s father to Pauline the reformed prostitute who gets caught in his crosshairs. The plots are thought-provoking especially because I grew up with equal opportunity and my heart went out to the bright women who could only get so far as typists while enduring the occasional pat on the derrière from the boss.

Scott’s writing is nostalgic, entertaining and well paced and I wanted more. She brilliantly pays homage to women who paved the way into corporate America. I highly recommend this book!

 

Summer Reading List 2017

This is a loosely curated list of books I think are great summer reads covering several genres.  Some of these books I have already read and highly recommend to you, others are from my extensive to-be-read (TBR) list which I’m excited to read and a few will be published this summer.

It is likely this summer book list will continue evolving throughout the summer.  As I read new books that I think are summer-worthy reads I will add them here so please check back!

UNSUB by Meg GardinerTitle: UNSUB (review coming soon!)
Author: Meg Gardiner
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Crime Mystery
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
From Dutton: A riveting psychological thriller inspired by the never-caught Zodiac Killer, about a young detective determined to apprehend the serial murderer who destroyed her family and terrorized a city twenty years earlier.

The Forever Summer by Jamie BrennerTitle: The Forever Summer
Author: Jamie Brenner
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: When a DNA test reveals long-buried secrets, three generations of women reunite on Cape Cod for the homecoming of a lifetime.

The Arrangement by Sarah DunnTitle: The Arrangement
Author: Sarah Dunn
Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
From Little, Brown and Company: A hilarious and emotionally charged novel about a couple who embark on an open marriage-what could possibly go wrong?

Dark Matter by Blake CrouchTitle: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Suspense & Thriller | Science Fiction
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
From Crown Publishing: – “Are you happy with your life?”

 

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin KwanTitle: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction – Women’s
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
From Knofp Doubleday: From the bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians comes a deliciously fun story of family, fortune, and fame in Mainland China.

Bear Town by Fredrik BackmanTitle: Beartown
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Fiction – Literary, Humourous
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
From Atria Books: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys…

Ginny Moon by Benjamin LudwigTitle: Ginny Moon
Author: Benjamin Ludwig
Genre: Fiction – Coming of Age, Family Life, Literary
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
From Park Row Books: Ginny Moon is an illuminating look at one girl’s journey to find her way home. In this stunning debut, Benjamin Ludwig gives a voice to the voiceless, reminding us that often we only hear those who speak the loudest, and there’s much to be learned by opening up our ears and our hearts.

The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionTitle: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Genre: Fiction – Romance, Humourous
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
From Simon & Schuster: The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers…

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen WaiteTitle: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing
Author: Jen Waite
Genre: Biography & Memoir | Psychology
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
From Penguin Random House: What do you do when you discover that the person you’ve built your life around never existed? When “it could never happen to me” does happen to you?

The Hatching by Ezekiel BooneTitle: The Hatching
Author: Ezekiel Boone
Genre: Science Fiction | Suspense | Horror
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
From Atria Books: An astonishingly inventive and terrifying debut novel about the emergence of an ancient species, dormant for over a thousand years, and now on the march.