Genre: Women's Fiction

Review: Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

Posted August 7, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Every Time You Go Away by Beth HarbisonReviewer: Rowena
Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Point-of-View: First, Third
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 336
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three-stars

In New York Times bestselling author Beth Harbison's most emotional novel ever, a fractured family must come together at a beach house haunted by the past.

Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son.

Every Time You Go Away is a heartfelt, emotional story about healing a tragic loss, letting go, and coming together as a family.

This book was a very emotional book and I was expecting emotion but not the drag me down in the pits of despair kind. I was expecting and really wanting a more romantic story where we see a lot of reflection and growth on Willa’s part but this wasn’t that kind of story and that bummed me out. Actually, it was that kind of story but it was a lot more Debbie Downer than I hoped.

So this story is told through Willa and her son Jamie’s POV’s and Willa’s part of the story is told in first person while Jamie’s is in third. That took some getting used to but it did get easier, the more I read so that wasn’t really an issue for me but my romantic heart wanted some kind of romance for Willa but sadly, this is all Women’s Fiction so none of that.

Willa’s husband died and he was the love of her life. Her life is not the same and she’s kind of wandering from day to day with no real idea of what to do now. She’s trying to hold it together for her son Jamie but she’s so consumed with grief that it’s hard for her. She hasn’t returned to the place where he died and doesn’t really want to until the time comes for her to clean that place up and get it sold off so that she can put the past to rest and finally move on toward the future. She enlists her best friend’s help and Jamie and her best friend’s daughter come through to help as well.

This book reminded me of the movie Ghost because Ben shows up to help Willa move on and while I thought it was sweet, the story moved too slow for my liking. I found myself browsing through chapters before digging in to read and normally, I could just jump right in and fall right in but that wasn’t the case with this one. I’m sure that it was probably a mood thing where I wasn’t in the mood for a really heavy, emotional story but I did finish it so that was something. I enjoyed the way that everything came together and I did like the characters and the small romance that we got for Jamie but because the book moved slow and was so heavy, my grade for this one is firmly set in the 3 out of 5 stars camp.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

Posted July 9, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah MorganReviewer: Tracy
How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan
Published by Hqn
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 384
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four-stars

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surpriseLauren has the perfect life...if she ignores the fact it's a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it's... Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she's determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha's Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite...Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan's brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.

In this story we have two sisters, Lauren and Jenna, who are incredibly close.  Lauren is married and has a 16-year-old daughter by the name of Mack.  They are wealthy and live in London.  Jenna is a school teacher, is married, and lives in Martha’s Vineyard where she and her sister grew up.  She longs to be a mother but even as much as her and her husband have tried, they’ve not gotten pregnant.  Neither girl was ever close with their mother, Nancy, but always had a great time with their now deceased father.

Tragedy strikes Lauren and her husband Ed dies.  Due to unforeseen and shocking circumstances Lauren and Mack end up moving back to Martha’s Vineyard to live with Nancy.  Lauren is devastated by everything going on in her life – especially the fact that Mack has discovered that the man she thought was her dad…wasn’t.  The man who actually is her father is still living in Martha’s Vineyard and wants to be part of Mack’s life.  Lauren’s not sure how to handle this as Scott, the dad, was never one for sticking to one place very long.  Lauren doesn’t want Mack to get attached to Scott and then have him leave.

Lauren, despite her grief, finds that she’s still incredibly attracted to Scott. She was so in love with him back when she was 18 years old.  When she got pregnant she understood the reasons he couldn’t step up and that’s why she married Ed.  Ed had his own emotional roller coaster to deal with and that’s what brought them together.  They weren’t actually in love but they definitely loved each other.

With Lauren back on the island and living with her mother there are a lot of information that get brought out in the open.  Secrets every character kept get outed and the characters in the book have to learn how to live with the new normal.

While this book was definitely stronger in the Women’s Fiction arena, it did have a small romance in it as well.  Even if it hadn’t would have liked this book.  Morgan brought to life some interesting characters that I couldn’t get enough of.  I felt their pain, loneliness, grief, happiness – you name it, I felt it.  I got so into the lives of these women and what they were individually going through.  I loved that they were there for each other and worked through their many issues.

I can’t tell you too much about what goes on the book because that’s part of the beauty of it, watching it all unfold page by page. What I can tell you is that I definitely recommend this book as I thought it was pretty darned great.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Regrets Only by Erin Duffy

Posted May 23, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Regrets Only by Erin DuffyReviewer: Rowena
Regrets Only by Erin Duffy
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 416
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three-half-stars

From the author of Bond Girl and Lost Along the Way, comes a fiercely funny, insightful story of marriage, family, and the crooked path to figuring out who we really are.

Claire thought she had everything a woman was supposed to want—a loving husband, a newborn son, a beautiful home in the suburbs. Then she walks in on her husband canoodling with their realtor in their newly renovated kitchen, and in an instant, her perfect life comes crashing down.  

With her marriage heading for divorce, Claire knows it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. But how can she move on when she’s still stuck in the orbit of her husband’s world? For starters, she can get rid of her soon-to-be ex’s possessions—including his prized, gigantic foosball table—by dumping them onto the curb…until complaints from the neighbors get the police involved. Now Claire is busy dodging the mean mommies at story hour and hiding from her ex-husband’s girlfriend in the grocery store. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even lead to new love.

Desperate for a positive outlet to channel her frustrations, she turns to girlfriends Lissy and Antonia for help. Together they join forces to rebrand Lissy’s local stationery store and turn it into a thriving business. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even new love.

Featuring a second coming-of-age story, Regrets Only deftly explores the subtle nuances of marriage, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman today while delighting readers as its unforgettable heroine acts on impulses we’ve all been guilty of having.

I found myself wanting to read something outside of the straight-up romance genre while browsing Edelweiss a few months ago and this book caught my eye. A second chance at life for a woman who walks in on her husband having an affair with an old high school girlfriend. This woman is pretty much all alone at first. She moved from her hometown to her husband’s hometown, they start a family and she leaves her job to be a stay at home Mom and then she forgets her wallet as she’s driving to the hotel her husband booked for her, to get a break from their little family. She was to relax and shop and go to the spa and it all sounded heavenly until she forgets her wallet and walks in on her husband and their realtor.

All at once, her world has exploded and she can’t even go home because their life is in Connecticut and she can’t take her son with her home to Chicago. So she’s stuck. She’s stuck in a town where her husband has a support group but she doesn’t. She’s stuck in a house that is a constant reminder of everything she no longer has with her husband and that same house is a constant reminder of the day that her life fell apart.

Claire really goes through the wringer in this book and I completely understood where she was coming from but in the beginning, it was hard to read her lashing out at her husband in the most childish of ways. The beginning and the middle of this book took a lot out of me because I spent so much of that part of the book, annoyed that Claire kept doing stupid things. I guess I wanted her to be above such stupid things and she wasn’t.

I didn’t completely hate her though. I understood why she did what she did and she does eventually grow as a person and I really bought her growth over the course of the book. It felt real and complete and I was glad that she was eventually able to move on. She really does come full circle and I was glad. This book was hard to get through at times and that kind of figured itself into my rating of this book. I was glad to finish it but I didn’t absolutely love the book as a whole. It had great moments but it lacked the depth that I was hoping for. Still, Clair was an engaging heroine and I was happy for her when all was said and done.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 8, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Now That You Mention It by Kristan HigginsReviewer: Tracy
Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Published by Hqn
Publication Date: December 26th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 384
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four-stars

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.

Nora Stuart heads home to Scupper Island after she gets hit by a car and then breaks up with her boyfriend.  She needs some emotional downtime and needs her home.  Of course her mother is a pretty unemotional Mainer and her teenage niece is pretty angry at the world so things are a little rough at first.

Nora had been bullied throughout her high school years. She gained a lot of weight, had anxiety issues and acne. She was a good student, however, and won the coveted scholarship to Tufts.  Once she left the island she lost weight and became a different person.  When she returns to Scupper she finds herself fighting herself to become the old Nora.  She’s not about to let that happen.

Nora runs into an old friend, stays away from others and makes new ones.  She tries to come to terms with her life and what she needs emotionally and also deals with her mother and the reasons her father left suddenly when she was in Jr. High.  She also happens to fall in love, but that’s really a side story.

Now That You Mention It is different from other KH books that I’ve read. I thought it was more women’s fiction than romance and that was ok.  Higgins still has a wonderful writing style and she’s a great storyteller so it was still a great book.

I really liked Nora and her quirky, funny ways.  I’m sure it was awkward being back in a town that you had perceived as hating you.  Yes, she pretty much thought the entire island hated her.  She learned that she wasn’t the only one who had changed and sometimes that was even for the better.  I loved that she worked out her relationship with her mother as well as with her niece.  The romance portion of the book was also engaging, just not the central theme of the book.

Overall I really enjoyed NTYMI and definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Posted October 27, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Two by Two by Nicholas SparksReviewer: Tina
Two By Two by Nicholas Sparks
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: October 4th 2016
Genres: Women's Fiction
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five-stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards.

At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear...and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding—one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.

Nicholas Sparks has been a favorite author of mine for quite some time now. I always know that no matter what he writes, I will find a powerfully emotional story full of realistic characters that I will find captivating. I have never been disappointed by any one of his books that I have read, and I always look forward to each one.

Two by Two is definitely no exception. I knew after a couple chapters that this would be another story that I would be glad that I read. I am aware that many people tend to find Sparks to be predictable and sappy, but that has never been farther from the truth for me. I feel like he writes from the heart, and that each one of his characters could be someone that I know and care about.

This book had my emotions all over the place. I found myself smiling as Russ was going through his day to day dealings with his five yr old daughter, London, and it brought back memories of my own daughter at that age. Also, I could definitely identify with the story line of a difficult marriage, job struggles, and trying to raise a family the best way you know how. There were also parts that made me mad as well as parts that broke my heart. Everything really hit home for me with this one.

I totally fell in love with little London. She stole my heart from the very start. I also felt so much compassion for Russ, and I also loved his sister Marg. There were many interconnecting stories that were weaved together so perfectly and I found myself totally immersed in it all.

I would definitely recommend this one to any Nicholas Sparks fan or anyone who just enjoys good dramatic fiction packed with raw emotion and characters that you can relate to. I loved everything about this book and was deeply touched by the story.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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