Add Catherine McKenzie to my list of favorite authors

A few months ago a friend in the US asked me if I’d ever read anything by Catherine McKenzie. I hadn’t and told her so–and she promptly began to rave about how wonderful her books were and how I’d love them.

I bought two of Catherine McKenzie’s books for my Kindle–Arranged and Forgotten–but it took a while for me to begin reading them. I had so many other books on my to-read list. But then I finally read Forgotten and then Arranged…and now I am a bona fide Catherine McKenzie fan.

ImageForgotten is about a woman who goes to Africa and, when illness and an earthquake prevent her from coming home as planned, is declared dead despite her being very much alive. She returns home to find that she no longer has a home, a job and a boyfriend. And she must reclaim her life and figure out just what she wants out of this “new” life.

This was such a page-turner. I was hooked from start to finish and think this is a book I could read again and again.

ImageArranged is about a woman who, after a very bad break-up with her boyfriend, finds a card for a matchmaking service on the day she moves out from their apartment. Taking this as a sign (though she says she doesn’t believe in signs), she makes an appointment to meet a consultant at the service. She thinks it’s a dating service but is soon informed that they are about helping people find marriage partners. And–instead of being turned off by the idea–she is intrigued. Should she give up on romantic love and focus on platonic love as a way to happiness in a marriage? And is there a place for an arranged marriage in her life? Loved this book and would definitely read it again! 😀

Both books were fantastic! I loved how the characters felt so real–sometimes you loved them, sometimes you were so frustrated by them you wanted to scream at them, but you always wanted the best for them.

That’s it for now! Happy reading (and writing)! 🙂

Three More Books to Read This Summer

You all know how much of a book nerd I am. I proudly fly my book nerd flag. 🙂 So while everyone else around me has been going clubbing or sailing or disappearing to summer houses or the Greek islands (and all those other things Stockholmers do when it’s summer), I’ve been working and reading. You may remember I took two weeks off in June, went to Italy, wrote and lived la dolce vita. Since then, I’ve been working, working, working and taking the occasional weekend trip. And all the while I’ve been reading. 🙂

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Cover of Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh

Love Minus Eighty – Will McIntosh

It’s been a while since I read any sci-fi novels. None has really jumped out at me. So I was really pleased when I heard about Love Minus Eighty through a Twitter connection. The story is set in a future version of New York where one’s love life is as closely monitored like a reality TV show and death isn’t always the end–especially if you’re an attractive woman on the right side of thirty. This addictive novel follows the stories of several interconnected characters as they try to figure out romantic love in an age where technology has taken over. This is not your usual sci-fi novel. It reads more like speculative literary fiction and is a real page-turner. I loved sinking my teeth into it, and I think you will too. The world presented is like Facebook on crack…no, more like Facebook on the most psychedelic drug you could imagine. Hats off to Will McIntosh for such a brilliantly written novel! This was the first time I’d ever read his work and I am already a fan. 🙂

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Cover of French Kissing by Catherine Sanderson

French Kissing – Catherine Sanderson

French Kissing is not a new book. It was originally published in 2009, but I only just heard about it a few weeks ago. I was thinking about booking a weekend trip to Paris and stumbled upon a short interview with Catherine Sanderson and her experiences as an expat living in France. And as an expat living in Stockholm, I always find it fun to read books about others wading in the murky waters of another country’s culture and unwritten rules of society. And Sally, French Kissing‘s heroine, is doing just that while also trying to raise her four-year-old daughter Lila and maintain an amicable relationship with her ex, the faithless Nico. While Nico has moved on with two other women, Sally hasn’t dated and decides it’s time to take the plunge and rejoin the dating market. She does so via Rendez-Vous, the French version of match.com. We follow Sally through a few dreadful dates, a few not-qute-right-but-nice-enough dates and all the while get an idea of what it’s like to date in a foreign language. Sanderson does a great job of giving the reader insight into how the French (and especially Parisians) date and what it’s like raising a bilingual child while also trying to maneuver as a newly single mum. Sally is an extremely likable character. She is definitely not an all-too perfect Mary Sue. And her journey from coupledom to singledom while looking for love is an addictive read!

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Cover of S.G. Redling’s Damocles

I first heard about the plot of Damocles during a Matera brainstorming session. I thought the story–of a crew on a one-way expedition into deep space mission to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence–was intriguing. I couldn’t wait for the book to finally come out, and it doesn’t disappoint. Linguist Meg Dupris and her crew have the daunting task of making first contact with the humanoid inhabitants of Didet, an earth-like planet with eternal sunlight. But first they must overcome the Didetos’ fear that the “earthers” are there as invaders…and they must find a way to communicate when there is no common language. The story moves quickly, with Meg and Loul, a Dideto who predicted that “aliens” would come, struggling to figure out how to interact and learn from one another–and realizing they have more in common than they think. What I really liked with Damocles is how the story is told from both Meg and Loul’s perspective. So we get a very interesting view of just how first contact might be. Two thumbs up!

OK! That’s it for now! Happy reading (and writing)!

Review: You Had Me at Hello — the title says it all

you-had-me-at-hello-high-res-coverI will freely admit that I am a sap for a good romantic story, especially a story about two people who should obviously be together but aren’t. Call it the old softie in me, call it me being a romantic dreamer even though I often think I am a cynic. Give me a story like One Day, Notting Hill, Such a Girl, Felicity or A Nice Girl Like Me, and I am hooked. So when I heard about You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane, I knew I had to read it.

So what’s it about? Back in university, Rachel and Ben were inseparable. They were so close that everyone assumed they were dating, no matter how many times they denied it.   Now’s it been ten years since they last spoke, and time has moved on. Rachel is engaged to Rhys, her long-term wanna-be rock star boyfriend, and Ben is married to Olivia. They’re paths haven’t crossed, though they’ve often thought about one another.

One night while having dinner with her close-knit group of friends (practical Caroline, enigmatic Ivor and quirky Mindy) dinner, Rachel finds out through Caroline that Ben has moved back to Manchester and that she bumped into him at the library. Intrigued, Rachel makes sure she accidentally-on purpose bumps into Ben, setting everything in motion for their reunion and the inevitable quandary spending time together again brings them.

You Had Me at Hello is an emotional rollercoaster of a page-turner. You’ll love Rachel and Ben, even when they’re both being  cagey or indecisive. You’ll laugh out loud at Mindy and her crazy bits of advice (that occasionally make sense, even when they really shouldn’t). It is the sort of rom-com novel that makes you a bit nostalgic. I’m completely convinced some production company is going to snap up the film rights to this book…it would make a great movie…

So if you like stories about friends coming together again, about finding your path to love and to rediscovering the true you, then you should read You Had Me at Hello. I loved it. And I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The title truly does say it all…:)