Tag Archive for: women’s fiction

Reviews: A SHOE STORY and DREAM ON

 

Happy Friday! Wow, what I wouldn’t give for a slow week.  Between work, which never seems to slow down, and my son’s post-surgery physical therapy, I feel like there just aren’t enough hours in my days to do everything I want to do.  I’ve been getting tons of reading done but am just ridiculously behind with reviews.  I do have two reviews to share today though.  Both are from new-to-me authors so I’m very excited to have finally gotten the chance to read something from each of them.

 

Reviews:  A SHOE STORY and DREAM ONA Shoe Story Goodreads

Author: Jane Rosen

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

A Shoe Story by Jane Rosen is another book I was drawn to initially because of its adorable and whimsical cover.  I loved the shoes scattered across the page and as someone who loves stories set in New York City, just seeing the NYC skyline on the cover was enough to further entice me.  I dove in and was immediately captivated by this beautiful story of second chances.

The story centers on Esme Nash, a young woman who dreamed of moving to New York as soon as she graduated from college and securing a job at a prestigious art gallery.   Esme’s boyfriend Liam also shares her dream of moving to New York and so they make plans together, until tragedy strikes.  Esme’s parents are involved in a car accident that kills her mother and leaves her father paralyzed.  Esme knows she has to stay and take care of her dad but she doesn’t want to hold Liam back from his dreams, so she breaks up with him so that he will go on to New York without her.  Seven years later, Esme’s dad dies and Esme decides it’s time to get her life back and so, after securing temporary employment as a live-in dog sitter, she heads to New York.

Esme had my heart right away, just seeing how much she was willing to sacrifice to take care of her father.  I also loved the resilience she displays when she decides to head to New York to try to get her life back on track.  She hopes to cross paths with Liam to see if there are still sparks between them, but she is also very focused on reentering the art world and securing her dream job. I really admired her sense of determination and was immediately hoping she would get all the second chances she was hoping for.

What Esme finds along the way though is what really made this such a special read for me.  The first thing she discovers is that the dog owner she is sitting for has an enormous closet filled to the brim with designer shoes that just happen to be in Esme’s size.  Esme, a shoe fiend herself, is entranced by this and decides to borrow a new pair of them every day to give her a much needed boost of confidence as she heads out into the city to reclaim her dreams and hopefully find her lost love.  Esme’s journey ends up being a special one filled with new friends, new experiences, and she discovers sides to her personality that she never really knew existed.  I really enjoyed watching her grow and embrace the second chances she has been given.

While most of the story focuses on Esme’s journey to find those second chances, what really struck me as I was reading was that every new friend she meets is also looking for a second chance of sorts.  I enjoyed Esme’s interactions with each of these characters as they helped each other find their way.

A Shoe Story tackles some tough topics like alcoholism, loss and grief, but overall it’s just such a smart and delightful read about finding oneself.  I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more of Jane Rosen’s novels.  4.5 STARS

 

Reviews:  A SHOE STORY and DREAM ONDream On Goodreads

Author: Angie Hockman

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Publisher: Gallery Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

I have to confess that it was the gorgeous cover that first drew me to Angie Hockman’s new contemporary romance novel, Dream On.  That said, the story itself is just as sweet and beautiful as that cover.

Dream On follows Cass Walker, a young woman who gets into an accident the day she passes the bar exam and winds up in a coma for nearly a week.  When the story opens, Cass is just waking up, surrounded by her family and her best friend, but all she wants to know is why isn’t her boyfriend Devin there.  Cass’ loved ones are confused because to their knowledge, Cass does not have a boyfriend.  No one knows who Devin is and once Cass is out of the hospital, she realizes she doesn’t have any photos, contact information, or anything that pertains to Devin. All she has are these vivid memories of dating him for the past three months.  It’s as if she dreamed him up. Nearly a year later, Cass finally runs into the real Devin and it begins a life changing journey for her.

I loved this unique storyline and found myself very invested with Cass’ journey to figure out how she has all these memories of Devin, especially since he has no idea who she is either.  Was it purely a figment of her imagination or did she really meet him at some point?  I also loved how brave Cass was the day she encounters him because she flat out tells him what she is experiencing and that she would like his assistance in helping her work through how she could possibly know so much about him.  I don’t know if I would have had the guts to do that since he could have easily written her off as crazy.  I also had a soft spot for Devin right away since he was game to help her, even as his overprotective brother, Perry, was desperately trying to get rid of Cass since he did think she was a crazy stalker.  I wasn’t crazy about Perry at first just because he was so quick to judge Cass, but he did grow on me quickly since it was clear how much he cared about his brother.

It was fun watching Cass get to know both brothers and I enjoyed the twists and turns of the story, especially as it became clear that Cass and Perry were developing feelings for one another.  I’m not usually big on love triangles but I have to admit that I was very interested in seeing if she would ultimately reject her mysterious connection to Devin in favor of Perry, or if she would choose neither brother and instead focus on getting her life and career back on track.  No spoilers from me but I will say that I was very satisfied with the ending.

If you’re in the mood for a sweet romance about literally finding the man of your dreams, you’ll definitely want to check out Dream On4 STARS

 

Reviews: THE DEAD ROMANTICS & HERE FOR THE DRAMA

 

Happy Friday everyone! I’m back today to share my thoughts on a couple of romance novels that thoroughly delighted me over the long holiday weekend.  Both of these are out in the world already so if you like what you read here, you can go right out and snag these for your reading pleasure. 🙂

 

Reviews:  THE DEAD ROMANTICS & HERE FOR THE DRAMAThe Dead Romantics Goodreads

Author: Ashley Poston

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Publisher: Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

I first became a fan of Ashley Poston’s after loving her YA Once Upon a Con series, so I was thrilled to hear she has her adult debut, The Dead Romantics, coming out this year.  I was so intrigued by the premise that the protagonist is a romance ghostwriter who no longer believes in love.  I couldn’t wait to dive into this one and I’m pleased to report that I now have a new favorite Ashley Poston novel because The Dead Romantics is an absolute gem of a book!

The story follows Florence Day, a young woman who is the ghostwriter for a very popular and prolific romance author.  Florence’s next deadline is looming but she just can’t seem to finish the book.  Why the writer’s block?  Because after a terrible breakup, in Florence’s mind, romance is now dead so every time she sits down to write a happy ending for the book, she instead ends up pouring out her heart and writing doom and gloom. After butting heads with her new and very sexy editor, who refuses to give her another extension on her deadline, a family emergency sends Florence back to the hometown she hasn’t visited in a decade.  Although Florence is reluctant to go home, at the same time, she’s hoping for inspiration to finish this book before her career is dead.

I adored Florence.  As we learn more about her, it’s clear she has been through a lot in her life and she’s an easy character to feel sympathetic toward.  It also becomes clear why she hasn’t come back home even though she loves her family dearly and that returning home reopens some old wounds.  Florence’s family runs the local funeral home and because of this, Florence realizes early on that she has the ability to see ghosts and to communicate with them, to help them finish up any unfinished business they still have.  Florence’s ability to see ghosts is what drove her away from home, but when she comes face to face with her editor, who has apparently died since she last saw him in his office, it may also be just the thing she needs in order to restore her faith in love and romance and get her career back on track. Now I’ll freely admit that you’ll probably have to suspend disbelief a little to fully embrace Florence’s gift and how it plays out in the book, but if you let yourself just accept it and roll with it, you’re going to love the journey that Florence’s gift allows her to take.

I also loved how this story was a nice balance between Florence’s journey, her close relationship with her family as they came together to grieve the loss of a loved one, as well as a slow burn romance that surprised and delighted me.  The Dead Romantics is one of those stories that both tugged at my heartstrings and made me laugh throughout as I was reading. I flew through the pages because I was just having such a wonderful time watching these characters interact and was so invested in how things would play out for Florence.

If you’re looking for a unique story that perfectly straddles the line between romance and women’s fiction, I highly recommend The Dead Romantics.  4.5 STARS

 

Reviews:  THE DEAD ROMANTICS & HERE FOR THE DRAMAHere for the Drama Goodreads

Author: Kate Bromley

Publication Date: June 21, 2022

Publisher: Graydon House

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

I was a big fan of Kate Bromley’s debut romance Talk Bookish to Me because of its relatable characters and witty banter, so I was eager to get my hands on her new novel, Here for the Drama.  With its London setting, a female playwright as the protagonist, and the promise of an adorable but rambunctious rescue dog, Here for the Drama appealed to me on every level.  Bromley really delivers too.  As much as I enjoyed her debut, her sophomore effort really shines!

The story follows Winnie, a young woman who dreams of being a famous playwright.  Even though she is actively writing her own plays and hoping to get them noticed, her day job is to serve as an assistant to a woman who actually already is a famous playwright, Juliette Brassard.  Winnie is trying to get one of her plays in shape to enter it into a contest and keeps hoping Juliette will read it and give her feedback, but Winnie’s play gets put on the back burner when Juliette announces that they are going to London because one of her plays is being staged there.  Winnie is reluctant to go, but the trip ends up being life changing for her in many ways.

I really liked Winnie.  She’s a well-drawn and relatable character, especially when it comes to her insecurities about whether or not she has what it takes to make it as a playwright.  Winnie is also quick witted and just a really enjoyable character to follow.  In addition to rooting for her to have success with her writing, I was also rooting for Winnie on a personal level as well.  While in London, she meets Juliette’s sexy nephew, Liam, and the two of them have both incredible chemistry and just some flat out hilarious conversations.  From their earliest conversations, it felt like they had known each other forever.  They’re clearly perfect for one another, but there’s just one huge obstacle – Juliette does not want Winnie and Liam to get involved with one another.  I don’t often come across the secret dating trope, but I have to say I quite enjoyed it here and was cheering Liam and Winnie on.

Here for the Drama is just a delightful and heart-warming read.  From Winnie and Liam to the adorable scene stealing rescue dog, I just loved every page of it.  If you’re in the mood for a rom com that really delivers and that will leave you with a contented smile on your face, be sure to pick up a copy of Here for the Drama4 STARS

Review: THE NO-SHOW by Beth O’Leary

Review:  THE NO-SHOW by Beth O’LearyThe No-Show by Beth O'Leary
Also by this author: The Switch
four-stars
Published by BERKLEY on April 12, 2022
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Don’t let the rom-com vibes of its cover fool you, Beth O’Leary’s new novel The No-Show is no rom-com.  While the story did make me smile at times, it also made me shed a tear or two because it’s such an emotional journey for some of the characters.  The story also took a huge unexpected turn that I don’t want to spoil so I’m going to be a bit vague with what I enjoyed about this book.

The No-Show follows three women who only have one thing in common – they were all stood up by the same man, Joseph Carter, on Valentine’s Day.  Siobhan is a life coach whose life is so over-booked that she doesn’t have time or the desire for a relationship. Since her past relationships haven’t been great, she has decided that booty calls are the way to go, with Joseph Carter being her go-to when she’s in the mood.  Then there’s Miranda, a tree surgeon, the only woman on an all-male crew.  She’s okay with being treated like one of the guys but she gets defensive when her crew makes fun of her boyfriend, Joseph Carter, because he’s so different from her that they don’t seem like they should be compatible.  Lastly, there’s Jane, a young woman who volunteers at a charity job and who has decided, after a disastrous romance at her former workplace, that she will no longer date.  To keep everyone she knows off her case about finding herself a man, she has a friend that she fake-dates whenever she has a function to attend.  That is, until she realizes she actually has feelings for him.  That man is, you guessed it, Joseph Carter.

Aside from the mystery of how this guy manages to keep up relationships with all three of these women but somehow manages to stand them all up on the most romantic day of the year, what really fascinated me were these women’s reactions to being stood up and the fact that all three of them actually forgive him and let him back into their lives.  In that sense, the story focuses much more on the emotional and personal journeys of Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane than it focuses on Carter.  I loved how well-developed and fleshed out all three of the women were.  Their voices and experiences were each unique, as was their path forward after being stood up.  I loved watching the other relationships they cultivated that in many ways were more important than their relationships with Carter.  I loved the friends Jane made through the charity shop and how they supported her and boosted her confidence, and I loved Miranda’s teammates who, although they razzed her at times, ended up being a pretty great support system for her as well.

Solving the enigma of Joseph Carter and wondering if one of these women was going to end up kicking his butt also had me very invested in the story.  I was so ready to hate this guy, and that’s when the entire story gets turned on its end and takes a direction I was not even remotely expecting.  I’m used to this kind of huge twist in thrillers, so it really caught me off guard here.  Beth O’Leary is sneaky here and I mean that in the best possible way.

I don’t want to say anything else because you really need to meet Joseph Carter and follow the women in his life yourself to get the full experience.  If you’re in the mood for a beautifully crafted story of love, friendship, and how to move forward when life doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, you’ll want to check out Beth O’Leary’s new novel, The No-Show. 4 STARS

four-stars

About Beth O’Leary

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.
You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

Reviews: THE SUITE SPOT & IF YOU ASK ME

 

How in the world is it March already?  It feels like just last week I was reading my first book of 2022 and now it’s nearly spring and I’ve read 46 books. Amazing how much reading time insomnia and cancelling your cable can get you, lol. Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well. Today, I’m sharing two more fabulous reads that straddle the line between romance and women’s fiction.  This was my second read from Trish Doller this year and she’s now an auto-buy author for me.  This was my first time reading LIbby Hubscher and I enjoyed this one so much that I’m really hoping to read her last book Meet Me in Paradise later this month.

 

Reviews:  THE SUITE SPOT & IF YOU ASK METhe Suite Spot (Beck Sisters, #2) Goodreads

Author: Trish Doller

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

One of my first five star reads of 2022 was Float Plan, the first book in Trish Doller’s Beck Sisters series.  It was such a beautifully written story about loss and grief and about how Anna Beck finds her path forward after losing the love of her life.  That book just blew me away, so needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the series, The Suite Spot, and meet Anna’s sister Rachel Beck. How did this book compare to the first one?  5 stars all the way!

Rachel Beck’s life is not going as she had hoped it would.  She’s still living with her parents and she’s a single mom dealing with a flaky baby daddy.  Rachel loves her daughter, and she loves her job as a night reservations manager at a posh hotel in Miami Beach, that is until she gets fired for telling off one of the hotel’s VIP guests when he tries to ram his tongue down her throat.  With limited prospects, Rachel decides it’s time for a fresh start and she takes a management position at a brewery hotel on an island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island.

I really admired Rachel’s spunk and determination.  It’s not easy to just pack up and move across the country, but she knew she needed to do something both for herself and to make sure her daughter has the best possible life.  I hated that she was wrongfully terminated from a job she loved, but I was so happy for her when it becomes clear that this new job is the chance of a lifetime, definitely professionally but also personally – if she can get Mason, the sexy but moody hotel owner to open up to her.

As much as I loved Rachel, I think I may have loved Mason even more.  Under that moody exterior is a man who has suffered a devastating personal loss and is clearly still reeling from it and struggling to move forward.  As soon as the townsfolk meet Rachel, they are rooting for her to be the one to help him put the pieces of his life back together.  And I was rooting right along with them because I loved the chemistry between Rachel and Mason and I loved how they were such a great team when it came to bringing all of the details of the hotel together.  They were just so in synch with one another and I thought they really brought out the best in each other too.  Each is exactly what the other needed.

Rachel and Mason’s growing relationship had me 100% invested in the story from a romantic standpoint, and there was also plenty of angst and drama to keep me turning those pages.  I also really loved all of the scenes that dealt with the brewery and with the designing of the hotel’s interior.  Those scenes could have easily been dry and dull and pulled me out of the story, but instead, I thought the scenes were vibrant and really helped enhance the reading experience. I could practically see the beautiful rooms coming together and taste the new delicious craft beers that Mason was brewing.

I flew through The Suite Spot in just a couple of sittings and was left thoroughly satisfied by the book’s conclusion.  If you’re in the mood for an engaging and heartwarming story with a strong focus on romance, family, and how to cope with loss and grief, you’re going to want to check out The Suite Spot. 5 STARS.

 

Reviews:  THE SUITE SPOT & IF YOU ASK MEIf You Ask Me Goodreads

Author: Libby Hubscher

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Libby Hubscher’s new novel If You Ask Me is a heartwarming and hilarious romance that follows what happens when a popular advice columnist finds her own life in turmoil.

Violet Covington writes Dear Sweetie, a popular advice column in North Carolina.  She doles out sage wisdom on everything from matters of etiquette to parenting to relationship advice.  When the story opens, Violet has just received the great news that her column is being considered for national syndication.  She goes home, intending to tell her husband and celebrate, only to get there and discover he’s in their bed, naked with their neighbor.  Feeling betrayed and hurt, rather than take a page from the countless times she has given advice on this subject, Violet goes off the rails, first by using her column to dole out some uncensored brutally honest advice and vent her frustration, and second, by torching almost all her cheating husband’s belongings on her front lawn.  The second one isn’t all bad though as it brings a sexy firefighter named Dez to her door.

I found Violet to be a very sympathetic character and I liked her a lot, even though some of her rogue moments had me cringing for her, knowing she would regret her actions later.  I also really loved Dez. It’s clear from those first moments with Violet that he’s a sweet and caring man, and that he’s a bit smitten with Violet even though she’s obviously a hot mess.  I was so excited for her when he stopped by the next morning to make sure she was okay and left his phone number for her.  I was rooting hard for the two of them to get together because they just seemed so perfect together, and Violet deserves so much better than a man who had the nerve to bring another woman into their bed.

As sweet as Violet and Dez’s journey to a possible happy ending is, it’s really Violet’s personal journey that drives this story.  When she goes off the rails, it is not without consequences.  There’s fallout professionally and personally because her boss is also her best friend.  The hole she digs for herself forces Violet to take a good hard look at herself and decide how she’s going to find her path forward from the infidelity, especially if she hopes to have a future with Dez.

If You Ask Me is one of those books that has a little something for everyone. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me angry at times, and I loved how hopeful it had me feeling as the story wound to its conclusion.  The writing is also wonderful, flowing smoothly so the story is an easy read, and I especially loved the entertaining excerpts we get from Violet’s Dear Sweetie column.

If You Ask Me is an enjoyable read that is sure to appeal to romance fans and to fans of women’s fiction.  4 STARS

Reviews: ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMES

 

Hey everyone!  I hope you all had a nice weekend. Did anyone watch the Super Bowl?  I had it on as background noise while I was blogging but wasn’t really rooting for anyone this year.  It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through February and that Valentine’s Day is upon us, but here we are.  Today I’m sharing reviews for two outstanding books that I was fortunate enough to read last week.  I was having a busy, draining week because of work so it was lovely to have two 5 star reads round out my week for the better.  One Night on the Island is the third novel I’ve read from Josie Silver, and Jennifer E. Smith is a new-to-me author.

 

Reviews:  ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMESOne Night on the Island Goodreads

Author: Josie Silver

Publication Date: February 15, 2022

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Josie Silver is the queen of writing beautiful, heartfelt stories and her latest novel, One Night on the Island, is exactly that.  It features a young woman named Cleo, who writes a popular dating column for a British publication.  Her column follows her as she searches for her soulmate. Thus far her journey has been entertaining but unsuccessful, and now that she is about to turn 30, her boss thinks now would be a great time for Cleo to do something special for her column to mark the occasion.  The boss’ idea of something special is to send Cleo to Salvation, a remote island in Ireland, on a mini sabbatical of sorts, where she can relax, re-energize, and basically fall in love with herself. The culmination of this journey would be a self-coupling ceremony where she marries herself, to signify that she’s at peace with herself and happy she’s single.

Cleo isn’t completely sold on the self-coupling idea but decides time for self-care in a remote location might not be such a bad thing.  That is, until she discovers that the cabin she is supposed to be staying in has been double-booked and there’s no where else to stay on the tiny island.  Great…how is she supposed to embark on a journey of self-reflection and self-love with an unwanted roommate, especially when that roommate is a handsome American photographer named Mac who gets under Cleo’s skin from the first moment they meet?

I really loved the chemistry between Cleo and Mac.  There are some hilarious moments between them as they verbally sparred over who was most entitled to stay in the cabin and when they resort to drawing a chalk line through the center of the cabin to carve out space for themselves.  But it’s not all humor between these two.  Mac is separated from his wife, on the verge of divorce, and is missing his kids like crazy.  He’s pretty heartbroken and has no idea what his future is going to look like. He has, on the surface, come to Salvation to photograph the island for an exhibit, but he’s also there to do some soul searching.  In spite of their initial animosity toward one another, Cleo and Mac begin to talk and realize that their reasons for being on the island aren’t so different.  I really loved once they made it to this part of their relationship and began to grow closer.

While Cleo and Mac and their growing relationship definitely stole my heart, I was also completely enamored with all of the residents of Salvation.  They’re basically one big extended family and they welcomed Mac and Cleo with open arms.  The sense of community and how they were all there for one another just made my heart swell.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous that the self-coupling aspect of the story would be a little hokey, but Silver pulls it off flawlessly and it ended up being one of the most moving and magical moments of the whole book for me.  The rugged terrain of Ireland didn’t hurt either, adding so much atmosphere and beauty to the moment.

If you enjoy heartwarming books that feature both a romance as well as an intimate personal journey for its characters, I highly recommend One Night on the Island5 STARS

 

Reviews:  ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMESThe Unsinkable Greta James Goodreads

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

The Unsinkable Greta James is the first novel I’ve read from Jennifer E. Smith and boy does it pack an emotional punch!  It follows successful indie musician Greta James as she takes a week-long Alaskan cruise with her estranged father.  The cruise was meant to be a 40th wedding anniversary trip for Greta’s parents, but Greta’s mom passed away unexpectedly.  When her father announced he was going on the cruise anyway because the trip meant so much to his wife, Greta reluctantly agrees to accompany him so that he won’t be alone with his grief.

The complicated dynamics of the relationship between Greta and her dad captivated me from the start.  It’s clear that they love each other immensely and would do anything for each other, as is evidenced by Greta agreeing to be stuck on a ship with her dad for a week. But, that said, it’s equally clear that the relationship is very strained and that much of the strain is due to Greta’s dad not approving of her career in music. I immediately became invested in them mending their relationship, especially seeing how much they were both hurting over the loss of Greta’s mom.  Whether they realize it or not, they need each other more than ever before.

Greta’s journey in this book isn’t just about repairing her relationship with her dad though. It’s also a journey of healing for herself.  Her mom was her biggest fan, attending her rock concerts and holding up a sign that read “Greta’s Mom” on it.  Knowing that she would never again see her mom’s face and sign in the crowd again emotionally wrecked her and she actually breaks down on stage in the middle of her first performance after her mom’s death.  The moment went viral and she received a lot of bad press over it, to the point where she doesn’t even know if she has a career anymore.  She’s at a crossroads and trying to figure out how she can move forward.

I adored Greta and was 100% in her corner as she navigates her way through the minefield of pain and grief that surrounds her. I became especially enamored with her when a teenage girl recognizes her on the ship and tells her that she plays guitar like Greta and wants to be just like her.  They share several scenes throughout the book and it’s so sweet to see Greta take the time to mentor this girl even with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

The Unsinkable Greta James is one of the most moving books I’ve read in a while.  It’s a sad but hopeful story and it really made me think a lot about the importance of family and the power of healing. I will also freely admit that I cried my eyes out several times, especially as I approached the final heartwarming moments of this beautiful story. It’s one that is going to stick with me for a while, no doubt about it.  5 STARS

Reviews: EIGHT PERFECT HOURS & THE SWEETEST REMEDY

 

It’s the start of another new week and I’m finally sharing the last of my September ARC reviews.  I’m closing out with two great ones too, especially if you’re a fan of women’s fiction and romances of the slow-burn variety.

 

Reviews:  EIGHT PERFECT HOURS & THE SWEETEST REMEDYEight Perfect Hours Goodreads

Author: Lia Louis

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher:  Atria Books / Emily Bestler Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Eight Perfect Hours is a charming and heartwarming story about the power of fate and about living your life to the fullest.  This was my first time reading a novel by Lia Louis and it was just delightful from start to finish.

The story follows Noelle Butterby, a young woman who is headed home from an event at her former college when she finds herself trapped on the interstate because a blizzard has closed the roads.  Noelle has no food, no water, her phone is dead and so is her phone charger.  She desperately needs to phone her very anxious mother and let her know that she’ll be later getting home than expected, but has no options. That is, until a handsome stranger named Sam knocks on her car window and offers to lend her his charger.  Noelle is hesitant to agree since he’s a stranger but her desperation finally gets the better of her and she takes him up on his offer.  Sam and Noelle end up chatting and bonding for the next eight hours until the roads finally open up.  They part ways without exchanging numbers, never expecting to see each other again since Sam lives in America, while Noelle is in the UK.

Fate apparently has other ideas though and Sam and Noelle keep bumping into each other in the most random of places.  Noelle is a romantic so she starts to feel like this is fate’s way of telling her Sam is the one.  I thought both Noelle and Sam were adorable together so I of course was rooting for fate to keep on pushing them together so that something could happen between them.  It’s a slow burn romance though.  Both Sam and Noelle are dealing with a lot of things personally, including parents who are getting older and starting to struggle physically and mentally, so in a lot of ways, a romantic relationship is just in the way.  Fate doesn’t care though and through every twist and turn of their lives, somehow Sam and Noelle keep finding each other.  I swear it was so cute every time it happened. They got to the point where they would just grin and shake their heads, and I would just find myself sitting there grinning right along with them.

There are definitely some more serious moments, especially as Noelle is still working through some painful memories that the school event had returned to the forefront of her mind.  Overall though, Eight Perfect Hours is just the sweetest and most heartwarming story and I highly recommend it to all of the romantics out there!  4.5 STARS

 

Reviews:  EIGHT PERFECT HOURS & THE SWEETEST REMEDYThe Sweetest Remedy Goodreads

Author: Jane Igharo

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

I really enjoyed Jane Igharo’s debut novel Ties That Tether. In that book Igharo delivered a heartfelt, thought-provoking, and dramatic story about a young woman caught between following her heart and meeting her family’s expectations. I was eager to get my hands on a copy of her newest book, The Sweetest Remedy in hopes of getting another equally compelling story to fall into, and I’m excited to say that Igharo delivers big!

The Sweetest Remedy follows Hannah Bailey, a young woman who is the product of an affair between her white mother and a Nigerian man.  Hannah only met her father once, when she was 9, but then he never came back.  Hannah has therefore lived her live feeling like a piece of herself was missing and wondering what was wrong with her, that her father didn’t want to be part of her life. When he passes away, Hannah is therefore pretty shocked to receive an invitation to come to Nigeria to attend his funeral and meet the family she never knew she had, including several siblings. And what a life changing trip it turns out to be.

For those going into this story looking for a romance, it’s there and while it’s lovely, it does take a backseat to Hannah’s journey.  Her journey is all about discovering and embracing her Nigerian roots, learning about her culture, and bonding with her siblings.  I really liked Hannah and felt bad for her growing up feeling like her father had abandoned her, so I enjoyed this journey for her because she got to fill in so many pieces she had always felt were missing from her life.

That’s not to say that the journey was all smooth sailing.  Some members of her father’s family were far more welcoming to Hannah than others, and there were a couple that were downright hostile, blaming Hannah for ripping their lives apart because they never knew she existed either and hated feeling like she had come to Nigeria to steal what was rightfully theirs.  It’s hard for them to believe that their father was simply trying to right what he saw as the biggest wrong of his life, leaving Hannah alone and also keeping his children apart, living as strangers.  I’m a sucker for a good family drama, so I was glued to the pages watching Hannah navigate these emotional minefields and try to win over everyone in her new family.

 If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories about family, love, and finding oneself, I highly recommend The Sweetest Remedy4 STARS

Review: MOM JEANS AND OTHER MISTAKES

Review:  MOM JEANS AND OTHER MISTAKESMom Jeans and Other Mistakes by Alexa Martin
five-stars
Published by Berkley Books on September 7, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Women's Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

I was honestly not prepared for how much I would fall in love with Alexa Martin’s new novel Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes.  I requested it for review because of the fun title, cute cover, and because I enjoyed my last read from this author, but I’m going to tell you all right now before I break it down any further, this is my new favorite book about female friendships!

The story follows two women, Jude Andrews and Lauren Turner, who have been best friends since the third grade.  Jude is a popular social media influencer whose online brand is healthy eating, pilates, and a positive attitude.  Her online life, however, doesn’t even remotely resemble her real life, where she has a toxic relationship with her out-of-work celebrity mother and where a bad decision involving the guy she was dating left her with an empty bank account.  Lauren isn’t faring much better unfortunately.  She had to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor when she unexpectedly got pregnant and even more unexpectedly, when her fiancé decided to dump her and leave her to raise her daughter all alone.  Jude and Lauren turn to each other, as they have all their lives, and decide that the solution to their troubles is to move in together and be, as they like to call themselves, “Sister Wives”!

The relationship between Jude and Lauren just really spoke to me.  Sure, the book is filled with plenty of laughs and good times, particularly surrounding a fun podcast that Lauren and Jude decide to do together, but at the heart of the story is this truly beautiful friendship.  They are each other’s ride-or-die and it shows in everything they do for each other. I especially adored how much their love for each other spilled over to Lauren’s adorable daughter, Addy.  Jude would seriously lay down her life for that little girl and it just made me smile from ear to ear every time the two of them interacted.

Although the podcast provides plenty of laughs, Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes still has its fair share of more dramatic moments.  Jude and Lauren both have personal drama that weighs on them, Lauren in the form of her ex deciding, out of the blue, that he wants full custody of Addy, and Jude in the form of a mom who is little more than a parasite, constantly coming to Jude to beg for money to finance her career comeback.  Jude is so used to putting on this happy mask for her social media followers that she tries to do it to Lauren as well, but Lauren sees through her act and forces Jude to stop keeping everything all bottled up.

I really just loved everything about their friendship and about the book as a whole.  The book, like Jude and Lauren’s podcast, very realistically explores the ups and downs women, whether they’re moms or not, go through every day and sends the message that we should all support each other.  If you’re looking for a book that explores and celebrates the bonds of female friendship and sisterhood, I highly recommend Alexa Martin’s Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes.

five-stars

About Alexa Martin

Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. A Nashville transplant, she’s intent on instilling a deep love and respect for the great Dolly Parton in her four children and husband. The Playbook Series was inspired by the eight years she spent as a NFL wife and her deep love of all things pop culture, sparkles, leggings, and wine. When she’s not repeating herself to her kids, you can find her catching up on whatever Real Housewives franchise is currently airing or filling up her Etsy cart with items she doesn’t need.

Reviews: The Break-Up Book Club & Talk Bookish to Me

 

I’ve got a totally bookish theme going on for today’s reviews.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts on a book about a most delightful book club and on a book that features a romance author desperately seeking inspiration for her new book.  Fun times!

 

Reviews:  The Break-Up Book Club & Talk Bookish to MeThe Break-Up Book Club Goodreads

Author: Wendy Wax

Publication Date: May 18, 2021

Publisher:  Berkley Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

I couldn’t resist a chance to read a book about a book club so I was excited to dive into Wendy Wax’s new novel, The Break-Up Book Club.  The story follows four women of different generations whose lives have been turned upside down by the men they love. They each go to their local book club’s meetings in hopes of finding a distraction from their problems, but what they find is so much more.  There’s nothing quite like the healing power of good friends and good books.

The story is told from the perspectives of these four women.  I really like how the author chose to present their stories, with us following each woman’s individual journey but also having them come together regularly at their book club meetings.  There’s Sara, whose husband is always out of town for work which leaves her saddled with Dorothy, her incredibly difficult mother-in-law who has been living with them.  There’s Judith, whose children have grown up and moved out, leaving her at home alone to ponder the state of her marriage and how she feels like nothing but a supporting player in her husband’s life.  Rounding out the main cast of characters are Jazmine and Erin, who work together at a sports agency.  Jazmine is an agent and a single mom, trying to make it in an arrogant man’s world, and her young assistant, Erin, has just been dumped by her high school sweetheart less than a week before they were supposed to get married.  I really liked all of the main characters and found them all to be quite sympathetic.

I also really enjoyed all of the secondary characters as well.  The members of the book club are a fun, diverse, and quirky bunch and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on their meetings. There’s always good food and wine, a spirited debate about whatever book they’ve read, and there’s also a fun contest to finally give their little club a name that really brings out the competitive side of these book lovers.  I loved watching the friendships blossom within the club and just how therapeutic these relationships become over time for Jazmine, Erin, Judith, and Sara.  The book club is basically their “found” family, which just made this such a feel good read.

If you’re in the mood for an uplifting read about the power of friendship and community that will leave you with a smile on your face, you’ll definitely want to check out The Break-Up Book Club.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  The Break-Up Book Club & Talk Bookish to MeTalk Bookish to Me Goodreads

Author: Kate Bromley

Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Publisher:  Graydon House

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Kate Bromley’s debut novel Talk Bookish to Me is a contemporary romance that was irresistible to me because it features so many of my favorite things. It’s set, first in Manhattan and then later in Italy, it features a romance author as the protagonist, and it’s equal parts enemies-to-lovers and second chance romance. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you can see this book practically has my name written all over it.  Talk Bookish to Me didn’t disappoint either.  It’s filled with loveable characters, witty and hilarious banter, some seriously intense chemistry, and, as if all of that isn’t enough, there’s also an adorable bulldog named Duke.

The story follows Kara Sullivan, who is a romance writer with no inspiration to write.  With the deadline for her latest novel fast approaching, Kara needs to find the spark that will get her writing mojo back on track.  That spark unexpectedly appears in the form of her ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who she runs into because he is in town for their friend’s wedding.  Kara and Ryan parted on bad terms ten years ago and after this tense and awkward reunion, Kara is suddenly able to crank out a few chapters for her book.  When Ryan’s dog, Duke, destroys their hotel room and gets Ryan kicked out, Kara surprises herself and offers to let Ryan and Duke stay at her place.  Her thought behind this crazy idea is that if she continues to trade barbs with Ryan, perhaps she’ll be inspired enough to actually get her book written on time.  What could possibly go wrong?

I had so much fun reading this book.  I loved Kara right away and found her so relatable. She’s fun, sweet, quirky, and not only is she an author, she also loves to take photos of books and post them on Bookstagram.  In many ways she felt like a kindred spirit.  She’s also carrying around some pretty heavy emotional baggage involving her father’s death that put me in her corner rooting for her all the more.

Ryan is a great character too.  I loved watching him with his dog and his banter with Kara is just so entertaining.  It’s clear from the moment they reconnect that he still cares for her and would love a second chance.  The more I watched them interact, the more I wanted him to get that second chance as well.  I will say there was one moment where I really wanted to kick his butt and wanted Kara to kick it as well, but he eventually digs himself out of that hole and then I was rooting for the two of them to get their long-postponed happily ever after.

I also enjoyed the way the author gave us Ryan and Kara’s journey but also mixed in chapters from Kara’s book as she was writing it. It was fun to see what her interactions with Ryan inspired her to write each step of the way.

Talk Bookish to Me is a fun and sexy read that is sure to please romance fans. 4 STARS

Review: PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA by Jenn McKinlay

Review:  PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA by Jenn McKinlayParis Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
Also by this author: Wait for It
four-half-stars
Published by Berkley Books on July 21, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Women's Fiction, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much to Brittanie at Berkley for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Jenn McKinlay’s latest novel, Paris is Always a Good Idea.  I had a major case of cover love for this book as soon as I saw it, and I’m thrilled to report that the story itself is as wonderful as the gorgeous cover and can’t wait to share my thoughts on it with you.

 

* * * * *

 

Chelsea Martin is in a rut.  She’s all work and no play, and as her sister points out, hasn’t been in any kind of relationship in years.  Seven years ago their mother died of cancer, and it’s like Chelsea stopped living as well.  Things come to a head when Chelsea’s father announces that he is getting remarried. Chelsea is overwhelmed by the news and feels like her Dad is betraying her mom’s memory and basically tells him this, creating a very awkward and tense situation. A heart-to-heart with her sister afterwards convinces Chelsea that she really needs to do some soul searching.  Since the last time she can even remember actually being happy is during her trip to Europe after college, she decides she wants to retrace her steps and see if she can rediscover the Chelsea she used to be.

Paris is Always a Good Idea follows Chelsea on this journey to self-discovery, and wow, what a journey it is!  I don’t want to give away any details because her journey is best experienced knowing as little as possible up front, but I do want to share what I loved most about the story.  Below are some highlights.

* * * * *

5 REASONS PARIS IS A GOOD IDEA IS A MUST-READ

  1. Wanderlust. If you love traveling like I do and have been missing it fiercely because of the pandemic, Paris is Always a Good Idea is the perfect read for you.  We not only get to travel to romantic and beautiful Paris as the title suggests, but as part of retracing Chelsea’s gap year abroad, we are transported to the lush countryside of Ireland and to an incredible castle and vineyard in Tuscany, in central Italy.  The author does an incredible job of capturing the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of each location and bringing them to life. It’s as close as you can get without your passport and I loved following Chelsea on this journey.

  1. Mamma Mia vibes. Okay, so maybe I’ve watched Mamma Mia a few too many times, but as I was reading this book, I kept thinking certain aspects of it reminded me of Mamma Mia.  No, Chelsea doesn’t go to Greece and no, there’s no love child with three possible fathers, but still, Chelsea does go to Europe hoping to rekindle her heart by tracking down three hot guys she had fallen in love with during her gap year. The search for these three hotties leads to many awkward and hilarious moments for Chelsea, which is where my Mamma Mia comparison comes from. If you’re a Mamma Mia fan like I am, I think you’ll love this book too.

  1. Emotional journey. It’s not all lighthearted fun and games though. Paris is Always a Good Idea also very much focuses on the emotional journey Chelsea takes as she tries to find herself again.  Chelsea has been grieving for the loss of her mother for so many years now that trying to find her way past that grief so that she can live and love again is a tall order.  As much as I enjoyed the humor of those lighter moments as Chelsea looks for her old boyfriends, I really loved having this emotional journey as part of the reading experience as well. It made for an all around satisfying read.

 

  1. Relatable protagonist. Chelsea is definitely a character I found easy to relate to.  So much of what she goes through are things many of us have gone through or probably will go through at some point.  Burying ourselves in our work to avoid troubles in our personal lives, friction between family members, the loss of a parent, or even just feeling like we’ve lost some essential part of ourselves.  She’s also relatable in the sense that she’s messy and flawed. Some of what she says to her dad when she learns he’s getting remarried was downright cringeworthy, but at the same time, the reaction felt very authentic, like drama I could imagine playing out in my own family.

 

  1. Enemies to Lovers. Lastly, and perhaps the most fun reason of all, for all of you romance fans, there’s a fabulous enemies to lovers romance. I don’t want to give away any details on this, so I’m just going to say if you enjoy sparks flying, witty banter, and off the charts chemistry, you’re going to love this book!

 

Paris is Always a Good Idea is an emotionally satisfying read that will fill both your heart and  your need to travel.

four-half-stars

About Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series and will be debuting a stand alone romantic comedy in July 2020 entitled PARIS IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets and her husband’s guitars.

Review: WHAT YOU WISH FOR by Katherine Center

Review:  WHAT YOU WISH FOR by Katherine CenterWhat You Wish For by Katherine Center
Also by this author: Things You Save in a Fire, The Bodyguard
four-half-stars
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 14, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Katherine Center’s latest novel, What You Wish For, is a beautiful story about love and loss, friendship and “found” family, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a story about overcoming fears, embracing joy, and living life to the fullest.

The story follows Samantha (“Sam”) Casey, an elementary school librarian at a prestigious private school in Galveston, Tx.  Life is pretty good for Sam when we first meet her. She loves her job – the school itself is fantastic with a vibrant, creative atmosphere, and Sam loves interacting with her students and with her colleagues.  She even loves her bosses, Max and Babette Kempner, the beloved founders of the school who also happen to be Sam’s landlords.  Over the years, Sam has come to think of Max and Babette as family.

When tragedy strikes unexpectedly and Max passes away, Sam’s life, both personally and professionally, is thrown into turmoil, especially when she learns that the man hired to replace Max as Principal is none other than Duncan Carpenter, a teacher from her old life that Sam had a mad crush on, so much so that when she realized she had missed her chance with him and that he was marrying someone else, she immediately resigned her position and moved to Texas to get away from his happily ever after with someone else.  When Duncan arrives, Sam is shocked that 1) he doesn’t even recognize her, and 2) he immediately starts dismantling everything about her beloved school that made it so special.

What You Wish For really took off for me from the moment Duncan walked back into Sam’s life. He’s so awful and not at all like Sam has described him to her friends that I, like Sam, was obsessed with trying to figure out what had happened to cause such a radical change in his personality.  I was even more hooked by the story though from the moment Sam and Duncan have their first meeting.  It’s borderline hostile and he clearly doesn’t remember Sam, but even so, the chemistry between them is intense and the sparks are flying.  This was a relationship I was eager to see evolve!

Aside from the relationship between Sam and Duncan, I also just loved all of the secondary characters in this story.  I already mentioned the lovable Max and Babette, but there’s also Alice, the hilarious math teacher who wears math pun t-shirts to work everyday and who is also Sam’s best friend.  Then there is Babette’s adorable grandson, Clay, who is a bookworm and loves to hang out in the library with Sam.  Oh and there’s also an adorable labradoodle named Chuck Norris who will absolutely melt your heart.

The last thing I want to mention is a major theme running through the story that I really loved. It was Max’s life philosophy, which he imparted to Sam over the years anytime he sensed her struggling.  Max believed that no matter what is going on in your life, no matter how scared or stressed you may be, it’s important to always choose joy. That while it may not solve all of your problems, it’s a great place to start.  I thought that was such a beautiful philosophy, and one that is especially relevant right now, with everything that is going on in the world.

What You Wish For is my third Katherine Center novel and she has yet to disappoint.  Her stories are always so moving and filled with unforgettable characters, and they never fail to leave me with a full heart and a smile on my face.  If that sounds like your kind of read, you definitely want to give What You Wish For a try.

four-half-stars

About Katherine Center

Katherine Center is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away, the upcoming Things You Save in a Fire (August 2019), and five other bittersweet comic novels. Six Foot Pictures is currently adapting her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, into a feature film starring Josh Duhamel, Leslie Bibb, and Nora Dunn. Katherine has been compared to both Nora Ephron and Jane Austen, and the Dallas Morning News calls her stories, “satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.” Katherine recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy, and her work has appeared in USA Today, InStyle, Redbook, People, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Real Simple, Southern Living, and InTouch, among others. Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her fun husband, two sweet kids, and fluffy-but-fierce dog.