Genre: Women's Fiction

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 wait, 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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Review: Everything You Want Me to Be by Minda Mejia

Posted September 25, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Everything You Want Me to Be by Minda MejiaReviewer: Tina
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
Published by Atria Books
Publication Date: January 3rd 2017
Genres: Women's Fiction
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No one knows who she really is…

Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it? Hattie’s boyfriend seems distraught over her death, but had he fallen so deeply in love with her that she had become an obsession? Or did Hattie’s impulsive, daredevil nature simply put her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a violent death at the hands of a stranger?

Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of a dangerously mesmerizing young woman, during which a small town’s darkest secrets come to the forefront…and she inches closer and closer to death.

Evocative and razor-sharp, Everything You Want Me to Be challenges you to test the lines between innocence and culpability, identity and deception. Does love lead to self-discovery—or destruction?

If you are a huge fan of psychological thrillers like I am, you know that sometimes we struggle with finding “that” book. You know what I’m talking about, the one that keeps you turning the pages so fast you see sparks. It’s also the one that keeps you guessing until the very last page. The struggle to find that book is real my friends, but struggle no more – this is “that” book.

Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia is the kind of book I immediately tell all my bibliophile friends about. From the first page this book got my attention and kept it. It is deliciously descriptive and so well-written that I couldn’t tear myself away. It is one of those books that you just can’t put down.

The story is presented from 3 different points of view. First by Hattie Hoffman, who is our 18 yr old protagonist, then by Del Goodman, who is a good friend of Hattie’s father and the town sheriff in charge of Hattie’s murder investigation. Last, we have Peter Lund, who is a recent transplant to the small town of Pine Valley, and the High School’s new English teacher. Through their eyes the story unfolds and thrusts the reader forward with all it’s suspenseful twists and turns.

You see, our girl Hattie loves to act. She has big dreams of leaving her small town and becoming a star in New York City. But, she doesn’t confine her acting abilities to the stage. Hattie is the girl everybody wants her to be; the good daughter, the model student, the best friend. She plays all her roles to perfection. And when she is found stabbed to death, the whole town is turned upside down that something like this could not only happen in their town, but to their golden girl.

There is so much to this story and the people who tell it. I could excitedly go on for an hour about it and tell you how fabulous it is, but instead I’ll just tell you this…..READ IT!!!!! I know about 3 other people who have, and we all agree that it is not to be missed.

Mindy Mejia is a fantastic storyteller. This lady knows her stuff! This book is SO good!! So if you love to be taken on a literary roller coaster ride you need to go out right now and find this book. And then you can thank me later.

I received an ARC through NetGalley for my honest review and would like to thank the publisher for allowing me to review this fantastic book. I will definitely be watching to see what Mindy Mejia comes up with next.

Grade: 5 out of 5


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Guest Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Posted July 11, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Atria Books
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 400
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four-half-stars

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

While this story is definitely not in my usual wheelhouse, someone whose opinion I admire raved about this book, and the premise reminded me of another book I really enjoyed, The Thirteenth Tale, where a famous elderly woman selects a seeming nobody to write the story of her life. I decided to take a chance on it, and I am so very glad I did. 

At the beginning of the book, journalist Monique Grant is getting divorced, is going nowhere in her career, and is not terribly happy with anything in her life. When reclusive, aging movie star Evelyn Hugo asks for Monique, and only Monique, to write a piece about her, she’s shocked but excited. Evelyn promises complete and total honesty, and as her tale unfolds, Monique learns that Evelyn, and indeed all human beings, are more complex and messy than they at first appear.

One of the first questions Monique asks Evelyn is “Who was the love of your life?” While Evelyn doesn’t answer immediately, the question sets the stage for their conversation, and you get a sense that answering that question is one of Evelyn’s primary reasons (but not the only one!) for telling her story in the first place. This isn’t a romance, though there is a love story (several, really). More importantly, the underlying theme of Evelyn’s story is love, which is why I think this book may appeal to readers of this site–who you love, why you love them, how you can love different people differently, what you will do for love, and when love sometimes isn’t enough. We see how Evelyn came from a background with little love and eventually fashioned a life for herself and created a family of people who loved her immensely. It was touching to read about.

Evelyn is a fascinating and richly drawn character. She had a desperately poor and unhappy childhood, but she’s determined to be a star, and she makes it happen through a combination of looks, natural (if unpolished) talent, and no small amount of pure determination. Some parts of her story are downright painful to read about, as she does what she has to do to get ahead, but the most poignant parts of the book are when she does things to protect the people she loves. (The chapter where she talks about her marriage to her third husband is particularly heartbreaking.) Even when she’s protecting others, though, she’s also protecting herself. Evelyn is clear with Monique that she isn’t the “good guy” in her story, that she can be self serving, vain, and cruel. The trick of Taylor Jenkins Reid, though, is that for the most part, you’re on Evelyn’s side through most of the book. You see the reasons for her choices, and it’s hard not to admire her determination and her fierce loyalty for those she loved. Then, she reveals a big secret near the end, and suddenly you’re left questioning, and some of the consequences of Evelyn’s choices become a bit less abstract that they were before. It’s nuanced and complex and fascinating to read.

While Evelyn’s stories vividly bring other characters to life, Monique is not as finely drawn. Her story isn’t fleshed out as fully as I would have liked. Her dissolving marriage was never quite explored and seemed more like a vehicle for showing how much Evelyn inspired Monique than an integral part of Monique’s own story. Monique’s mom is similarly shallowly portrayed and just added a hint of the “flavor” of Monique’s life without much substance. The ending was also rushed. Evelyn finally reveals her biggest secret, and I didn’t feel like there was enough time or interaction afterwards for Monique to process it all.

I found this book both captivating and beautifully written. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but it was a great book for stepping out of my usual genre.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-half-stars


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