Book Review: Not Perfect by Elizabeth LaBan


From Elizabeth LaBan, the acclaimed author of The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, comes Not Perfecta captivating and very funny novel about a wife and mother’s fall from grace, and why keeping up appearances is not her biggest secret.

Tabitha Brewer wakes up one morning to find her husband gone, leaving her no way to support herself and their two children, never mind their upscale Philadelphia lifestyle. She’d confess her situation to her friends—if it wasn’t for those dreadful words of warning in his goodbye note: “I’ll tell them what you did.”

Instead, she does her best to keep up appearances, even as months pass and she can barely put food on the table—much less replace a light bulb. While she looks for a job, she lives in fear that someone will see her stuffing toilet paper into her handbag or pinching basil from a neighbor’s window box.

Soon, blindsided by catastrophe, surprised by romance, and stunned by the kindness of a stranger, Tabitha realizes she can’t keep her secrets forever. Sooner or later, someone is bound to figure out that her life is far from perfect.


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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

DNF at 34%

This is a book that has been sitting on my NetGalley shelf for far too long, I remember requesting it, I just never got round to sitting down and reading it.

The blurb itself is really intriguing and what initially drew me to the book. I was hoping for a story about a woman picking up the pieces of her shattered life while not only trying to maintain the image of a perfect life but hiding from a secret from her past. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like this book managed to pull this off and instead I found myself more angry with Tabitha then perhaps I should have been. Tabitha starts of fairly okay as a character she is clearly trying and using whatever ways necessary to keep food on the table and a fairly stable life for her two children. However, as time went on it just sort of showed that she was really just trying to keep up appearances as opposed to doing whatever she could to work her way through the situation. Sure no one knows how they would react when things get tough but her thought process and actions annoyed me to the point I wasn’t enjoying the book itself and decided to stop at 34%. Now the writing itself was good if a bit slow paced and the premise really was intriguing I just couldn’t, bring myself to finish the book.

I am not however averse to trying any other book from this author, or even giving this book another chance when I am in a different head space but for this read through attempt, unfortunately, it was not my cup of tea.

Rating: 2/5

Would I read again: Perhaps, but probably not

Would I Recommend: No

Would I read another book from this author: Yes


Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Christmas Spirit by @Susan_Buchanan @rararesources

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in the Blog Blitz for ‘The Christmas Spirit’ by Susan Buchana. Tis the season for feel-good christmassy stories and this one doesn’t disappoint!


Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it. The Christmas Spirit

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty-two-year-old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?


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The Christmas Spirit is a great feel-good story revolving around the four main characters; Rebecca, Stanley, Jacob and Meredith, all at different stages of their lives and all looking at facing a rather tough holiday season for their own personal reasons.

What I loved about this story was that all the characters had their own unique voice, as well, of course, being able to all interact and intertwine within each other’s lives. Natalie being the glue doesn’t play as much of a part as I expected her too but I think I liked it better that way, it gave me a chance to really get to know the characters as well as see how they are able to navigate the problems and challenges they are facing with only the gentlest of nudges into the right direction. I also really loved that the book got to include so many awesome recipes for Christmas cakes! It really helped the book have that feel good feeling around it!

I think I would have liked the story to be a bit longer as some of the character development seemed a little rushed and I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more of the thought processes before some decisions and change of hearts but I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a book for the festive season!

Rating: 4/5

Would I read again: Yes

Would I Recommend: Yes

Would I read another book from this author: Yes



Giveaway – Win e-copies of Sign of the Times and The Dating Game (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organizer and used only for the fulfillment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.*


Author Bio

Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the
author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day. Susan is also a proofreader, editor, and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Social Media Links
Facebook –
Twitter – susan_buchanan
Blog – Sooz’s journal –

Life in Books Book Tag

Recently I posted a list of 100 Book Tags that I had found from all you super book bloggers. As a sort of challenge, I’m going to try my best to slowly work through them all (not in order) just to see how many I can do. I assume it’s going to take me many years as I’m ridiculously slow at writing up book tags, haha, far too many books to choose from!

For today’s tag, I have chosen the Life In Books tag which I found on Brunching Bookworms blog so make sure you check them out!


1. Find a book for each of your initialsRoom

E: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

(I still need to see the film for this!)

R: Room by Emma Donoghue

M: Marked (House of Night Book 1) by P.C Cast

(Still need to actually finish the series here, over the years I have restarted so many times but always seem to get distracted/end up reading different books before I get to finish, which normally means I think, hey, better start again)


2. Count your age along with your bookshelf – what book is it?

After You by Jojo Moyes

The Whale Rider3. A book set in your city/country

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

For those that don’t know, I am in New Zealand 🙂

4. A book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to?

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

Italy is my ultimate want to travel location, fingers crossed should only be a couple more years!

5. A book that’s your favorite color🙂

Fashionably Late by Beth Kendrick

Pink so much pink haha

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Harry Potter (all of them!)

Reading and waiting for the next Harry Potter book to come out definitely bring back a lot of nostalgia, I use to either try to stay up way too late to try and do some sneaky reading or try and read as much as I could before school.

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?The Land of Painted Caves (Earth's Children, #6)

The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel

I found this so hard to read I think as I read the entire series all in a row and this book just seemed to have the least happen, not only that it repeats pretty much everything that has happened in the last five books and becomes more than a little bit tedious. Not gonna lie there was more than a little skim reading going on but hey I finished it eventually.

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

Lord of the Rings!

I adore the movies, and being in New Zealand there is a lot of Lord of the Rings memorabilia around but I can’t seem to bring myself to sit down and start the book! It’s honestly been on my TBR for I don’t even know how long but I will tick it off someday!


As I plan to slowly work through the list of 100 I won’t be tagging anyone so if you feel like doing this one TAG your it!

Book Review: My Virtual Life By Sharon Dempsey


Glamorous lone parent, Stella wants nothing more than to impress her teenage daughter. My Virtual LifeShe has spent her life shielding Tara from her religious upbringing and has never told Tara about her father. But when they move back to Belfast, hiding the past becomes tricky.

When Stella lands her dream job as fashion editor at a teen magazine, Tara thinks she will die of shame. Soon after, Tara starts a blog to pour out her teenage angst and begins working at a home for rescued animals run by the enigmatic Nora.

When Tara’s blog takes off, a rival magazine offers to publish it as a column, putting her in a difficult situation.

Will Tara risk hurting her mother in order to achieve her dream of being a writer?

Can three generations of one family, who struggle to understand each other, ever develop real bonds?


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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a book I had a really hard time getting into, from the first chapter I wasn’t sure if I should just give up and move on, or give the book a chance. Got to admit it was 50/50, there are so many books to read and I am really trying to be okay with not finishing books I’m not enjoying. I did decide to persevere however as I really liked the premise and I am glad I did!

What initially did put me off the book was the character of Stella in the first chapter, she seems self-absorbed, a bit clueless to the world around her and although there was a strong love for her daughter she didn’t really have any other redeeming qualities. We do get to see another side of her as the book progresses and it’s great getting to see her character develop throughout. I did love Tara from the get-go, she is independent, strong-willed and filled with a whole lot of teenage angst. It was great to see how she viewed the world in blog form! Nora was a bit of a mystery as a character, it takes a little while before you really get to know her but is an integral part of the story.

The story itself moves at a decent pace, and I think was a great length for what it was, it does explore the relationships between mothers and daughters and does so in a really realistic way which I wasn’t expecting but did make for a more enjoyable story. To be honest, at the end of the book I still did not have much love for Stella, while you see another side of her and she does ‘mature’ I just couldn’t find a way to really like her, but hey you can’t like everybody! This is a quick read so if you’re looking for a quick drama-filled family saga this is the book for you!

Rating: 3.5/5

Would I read again: No

Would I Recommend: Yes

Would I read another book from this author: Yes

Blurb or Paragraph #4

Word Art


Pick a book on your TBR that you haven’t read.

Copy the blurb from Goodreads or Amazon

Copy the first paragraph from the book

Vote on what makes you want to read it more blurb or paragraph!

The book I have chosen today is… 

Precious Gifts by Danielle Steel

Precious Gifts


One act of love will change one family’s destiny

As a devoted mother, Veronique Parker has dedicated herself to her three daughters, before and since her divorce.

Her world is turned upside down when her former husband dies suddenly, leaving her and their daughter’s astonishing inheritances: a painting of mysterious provenance, a château in the south of France, the freedom to pursue their dreams, and a shocking revelation from the past.

The precious gifts he left will lead them on a journey certain to change Veronique and her daughters’ destinies in the most surprising of ways . . .

From Rome to Paris, New York to Venice, Precious Gifts is an uplifting story about love, loss, and the gifts people pass on that can change lives beyond imagination . . 

First Paragraph:

Timmie Parker sat with one leg tucked under at her desk. As the stress of the morning increased, she had shoved her long blonde hair into a rubber band, and by noon there were four pencils and a pen stuck through it. She wore a clean but wrinkled plaid shirt with sleeves rolled up, over a tank top, torn jeans, and high top converse, and no makeup. She had the tall, lean, elegant frame of her father. She was six feet tall in bare feet, twenty-nine years old and had a master’s in social work from Columbia. She was currently working for a foundation whose mission was to find free or low-cost housing for eligible members of the homeless population of New York, and she’d been at her desk since six o’clock that morning trying to catch up on work.


I’m going to have to go with the blurb for this one, not only does it just have a more interesting description on what’s going to happen but I’m not really a fan of books that start of with describing the main character, especially when it’s literally just describing the characters appearance and what they are wearing. That being said it does go to paint a better picture and I find it does help immensely with being able to connect to a character at a later date, just not a fan of it being the very first thing!


Book Review: This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell


If only Essie hadn’t written that letter – the one that went viral…

THIS COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING is the feel-good new novel from Jill Mansell, This Could Change Everythingthe bestselling author of MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY. Not to be missed by fans of Katie Fforde and Lucy Diamond.

On the one hand, if Essie hadn’t written that letter – the one that only her best friend was meant to see – then she’d still be living like an actual proper grown-up, tucked up with Paul in his picture-perfect cottage, maybe even planning their wedding…

On the other hand (if her true feelings hadn’t accidentally taken the internet by storm, that is) she wouldn’t have moved into the attic flat on the square. She would never have met Conor. Or got to know Lucas…

And she wouldn’t have found herself falling in love with someone she really, really shouldn’t fall in love with…


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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I started this on a Friday evening and finished it that Friday evening. As I have been in a bit of a book/reading slump it was a nice surprise to be able to just immerse myself in a book again!

The story starts off with a series of unfortunate events which leads to Essie having an email which should of been purely venting sent out to everyone. This, of course, includes the people she was venting about. Essie soon finds herself single, homeless and without work, leading her to start again on a whole new adventure.

What first really sucked me into the story wasn’t Essie or her situation, however, it was Zillah Walsh, the eighty-year-old ‘matriarch’ of the story who is not only stylish and rich but kind and willing to help others less fortunate. I felt she is really who made the story and though technically not the main character, there is no way you would be able to tell the story without her.

What I liked about the way the story was told was that it was fast paced, there were a few characters to get your head around but it was easily followed. I didn’t find myself looking back to try and find out who was who, it all just sort of flowed. I also liked that I was never really able to guess what was going to happen, I really did feel like I was following along with the characters on their journey.

I think one of the main reasons when I finished the book it felt so satisfying though was that every character is put to rest as such. There is no loose ends, no second-guessing or wondering what might have been, everyone’s story arc is nicely closed up and while of course there is always future possibilities it did just feel finished.

A solid 4.5 out of 5 stars  

Rating: 4.5/5

Would I read again: Yes

Would I Recommend: Yes

Would I read another book from this author: Yes