Tag: Women’s Fiction

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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
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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Sunday Spotlight: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 21, 2018 by Holly in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I haven’t read a book by Kristan Higgins in ages, but the “coming home” premise is one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to this.

Sunday Spotlight: Now That You Mention It by Kristan HigginsNow That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Published by Hqn
Publication Date: December 26th 2017
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

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.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || iBooks || KOBO || INDIE BOUND

Excerpt

Jake helped me off the ferry. It was a three-hour ride, and I felt a little seasick. Or a little nauseous from my throbbing knee.

Or maybe it was just being back home.

Without a word, he got my bags and led Boomer off the boat, leaving me to crutch it alone, hobbling awkwardly up the gangplank, then onto the old dock.

Though it was mid-April, spring had not yet come to the island. My mom wasn’t here yet, and the downtown was quiet. A raw wind blew the smell of fish and salt and donuts from Lala’s Bakery, and with it, childhood memories. On cold winter Sundays, my father used to wake Lily and me at 5:00 a.m. to get the first donuts Lala made, almost too hot to hold, the sugar crusting our faces, the heat steaming in the wintry air.

I would see her soon, my sister. I would set things right again. That was the chance Beantown Bug Killers had given me, and I would make good on it.

And I would find out what happened with my parents.

Where my father was. If he was still alive, I was going to find him, damn it.

When I was in my first year of residency, I’d stitched up a former Boston cop who did private investigation. I hired him to find my father, but he’d come up empty. With such a common name—William Stuart—and nothing else to go on since the day he left, the cop didn’t turn up anything. It was time to try again, and this time, start from square one.

But for now, I had to get down the dock. One thing at a time.

With the sling, the brace and the crutch, I had to think about every step, and the rough, splintered wood of the dock didn’t help. Step, shuffle, crutch. Step, shuffle, crutch. It was slow going.

Jake was already tying Boomer’s leash to the bike rack; I was only halfway there. He walked back to his boat. “Thank you so much, Mr. Ferriman,” I said as he passed. He grunted but didn’t look at me, the charmer.

Slightly out of breath, I got the end of the dock and patted my dog’s head. A seagull landed on a wooden post, and Boomer woofed softly. Otherwise, the island was quiet, and ominously so, like one of Stephen King’s towns. I missed the cheerful duck boats of Boston Common, the elegant shops of Newbury Street. Here, nothing was open.

Scupper Island Clam Shack, where I had worked for two summers, sat at the end of Main Street, right on the water. It wouldn’t open until Memorial Day, if it was the same as it used to be.

I’d worked there with Sullivan Fletcher, one of the two Fletcher boys in my class. Sully had been in a car accident our senior year shortly before I left Scupper, and I wondered how he was. I’d wondered often over the years. Word had been that he’d recover, but I’d never asked for details (nor was my mother the detail type).

I looked to my right, and there was my mother’s elderly Subaru turning onto Main Street. I waved, not that she could miss me; I was the only one here. She pulled over, turned off the engine and got out, looking the same as ever, and unexpected tears clogged my throat. “Hi, Mom,” I said, starting to move forward for a hug.

She nodded instead, then hefted my two suitcases into the back of the car. “I didn’t know you were bringing your dog,” she said. Boomer wagged his fluffy tail, oblivious. “He better leave Tweety alone.”

Tweety was Mom’s parakeet (and favorite creature in the world.) “Tweety’s still alive, then?”

“Of course he is. Where’s that dog gonna sleep?”

“It’s good to see you, too, Mom,” I said. “I’m fine, thanks. In a lot of pain, actually, but doing okay. After being run down in the street. By a van. Sustaining many injuries, in case you forgot.”

“I didn’t forget, Nora,” she said. “Get in the cah.”

Boomer jumped in at the magical words, filling the entire backseat.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

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Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Kristan Higgins

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 18 novels, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. She is a five-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for Best Work of Fiction, and her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year of many prestigious journals and review sites.

Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband, two children with advanced vocabularies and long eyelashes, two frisky rescue dogs and an occasionally friendly cat.


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Release Day Spotlight: Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

Posted January 9, 2018 by Rowena in Promotions | 0 Comments

I’ve not read any books by Rebecca Drake before but the blurb for this book sounds like a good read so of course I wanted to feature it here to bring some attention to the book for you lovely readers. Check it out!

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake
Release Date: January 9th, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genres: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Four suburban mothers and friends conspire to cover up a deadly crime in this heart-stopping novel of suspense in the tradition of Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger.

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || GOOGLE || KOBO

Excerpt

chapter one

ALISON

Sometimes I play the what­if game and wonder, what if we hadn’t moved to Sewickley when I got pregnant, and what if I hadn’t gone into labor in early August, and what if Lucy hadn’t slipped, wet and wailing, into this world a full three weeks early? If my oldest child had been born on her due date or after, then she wouldn’t have been eligible for school a full year earlier than expected, and I wouldn’t have met the women who became my closest friends, and what happened to us might never have happened at all.

So much in life hinges on chance—this date or that time, the myriad small, statistical variations which social scientists like to measure.

What if I hadn’t been the one handing Heather her cup of coffee that crisp fall morning at Crazy Mocha? And what if the sleeve of her knit shirt hadn’t slid back just a little as she reached to take it, and what if I hadn’t happened to look down and see what the sleeves had been meant to hide, and what if I hadn’t asked, “How did you get such a nasty bruise?”

A throwaway question at first.

I distributed the other cups to Julie and Sarah, barely paying attention but turning in time to see Heather startle, a tiny movement, before jerking down her sleeve to cover that large purple­ yellow mark. “It’s nothing,” she said. “I must have bumped it on something.”

It’s only when I look back that I see this moment as the beginning, how everything started, though of course I didn’t under­ stand the significance then.

We were in our favorite spot in the coffee shop on a Friday morning, a tradition started by Julie long before I moved to Sewickley, tucked in the back corner of a shop that itself was tucked in a back corner on Walnut Street. Our kids had been seen safely off to school, and the only child with us that morning was Sarah’s three­year­old, Josh, who dozed in a stroller by his mother’s side.

If I close my eyes, I can still see the four of us in our respective armchairs. Julie, red­haired and energetic, couldn’t sit still, her leg jiggling or toe tapping, always moving. Sarah, her counter­ point, small and still, dark head bent over her coffee, reminding me of a woodland creature in the way she pulled her legs under her, fi her whole body in the seat. Too tall to do that, I slouched in mine, legs stretched out in front of me, hiding behind my mousy­blond hair. And then there was Heather, with her fine long legs hanging over the side of her chair, head back and golden mane hanging down, her thin neck exposed, looking both effortlessly graceful and vulnerable.

Sometimes I’d notice the glances we got from other mothers, desperate for adult conversation as they pushed strollers with one hand while clutching coffee cups with the other. I’d been one of those women once, coming here with Lucy and Matthew in a double stroller, envying the conversations going on around me. That was more than five years ago, when we’d first moved to town, before I met Julie and became part of the shop’s regular clientele.

Doesn’t this book sound like a good one? A nice, suspenseful story to snuggle up to on the January cold nights? I’m mighty curious about Heather and Julie and Sarah and Alison. I want to know their stories and I really want to know more about Heather’s bruises.

This is definitely on my wish list.

About the Author

Rebecca Drake

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.


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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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
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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