Tag Archives: Women’s Fiction

Review-Faithful by Alice Hoffman

faithful

Title: Faithful

Genre: Literary Fiction

Author: Alice Hoffnman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Nov. 1, 2016

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 272

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5 (not explicit)

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

**

The book blurb pretty much says it all. This a story of the journey from the depths of despair to the realization of dreams and happiness. Shelby is nearly totally destroyed by the accident that left her best friend in a vegetative coma.  She struggles through that despair with drugs, time in the mental ward and self-hatred by shaving her head. She makes mistakes that cost her emotionally but at the same time encourage her growth as a mature person.  The prose in this book is superb, the characterization of every character true to each personality.  You will laugh and cry for Shelby and with her but you won’t forget this book.

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Buzzworthy Advance review- First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

Title: First Comes Love

First Comes Love

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romantic Elements

Author: Emily Griffin

Publisher: Ballantine Books, June 2016, preorder available

Pages: 400

Source: Free for review from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 2

Description from Amazon.com:

A pair of sisters find themselves at a crossroads in this dazzling new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only. First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious, relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing, Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes, their delicate bond splinters.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter is assigned to her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.   On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.   As the anniversary of their tragedy looms, and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover that they need each other more than they knew—and that in the search for true happiness, love always comes first.

***

Daniel Garland, 26 year old med school grad with a bright future, has died suddenly in a car accident.  This we learn in the prologue and then we are thrust 15 years into the future lives of the family he left behind. Especially the lives of his two younger sisters, Josie, a first grade teacher, and Meredith an attorney.  Through alternating chapters we learn of each woman’s present life and flashbacks to the prior years since Daniel’s death.

Although this is 400 pages it is a quick read.  I could not help but be immersed in the lives of each of these women.  Their animosity toward each other at times was annoying but Ms. Griffin is at the top of her game in fleshing out the women’s motivations.  There are secrets uncovered and some surprises. 

I can recommend this book for the fascinating character study that it is and also for an entertaining read.

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Review- Forgotten by Catherine MacKenzie

Title:  Forgotten

Forgotten

 Genre:  Women’s fiction

Author: Catherine Mackenzie

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, Oct. 2012

Source: Kindle Purchase

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

If your old life vanished completely, should you try to get it back or create a whole new one? That’s the intriguing question at the heart of Catherine McKenzie’s Forgotten.  The smart, funny, and provocative story of a woman who returns home after being stranded for months in Africa by an earthquake only to find that everyone in her life believed she was dead and moved on.

**

Emma’s mother died.  She left Emma an open-end ticket to Africa in her will.  Emma knew her mother was always intrigued by all things African but doesn’t know why she wanted her to go there.  Emma takes a month off from her demanding job and flys to a remote mid-African country.  That is where she gets stranded for six months. She bides her time working with charity workers and has no idea that the people back home have already had a memorial service for her. When she returns her life is never the same.

The author weaves a romance within the mess of Emma’s life.  Emma’s ex-boyfriend moved on when he thought she died but when she returns he has doubts about his actions.  Dominic, the professional photographer who had leased Emma’s apartment is a kind soul who tries to help Emma reintegrate into her life.  Emma’s personal life and work life is in shambles but she is tough and pushes on.  The pages turn as we want to see what is to become of Emma and the side characters she is involved with.

This is another spell binding novel by Catherine MacKenzie.  There is no setting the book aside to attend to your life.  I guarantee you will start and finish this book in one sitting and arise from your chair stiff but satisfied, and ready to read more of Catherine MacKenzie’s novels. This book would make a great summer beach read.

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Review-Scandalous by Tilly Bagshawe

Title:  Scandalous

Scandalous by Tilly B.

Genre:  Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Author:  Tilly Bagshawe

Publisher: Montlake Romance, March 2013

Source: Free for review from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

Sasha Miller arrives at Cambridge University with a single goal: to earn a place among the great scientists of her time. But that dream comes crashing down when the naïve student is seduced by her womanizing professor, Theo Dexter. She trusted him with her heart—and with the brilliant original theory that would jump-start her career. Now Theo is claiming her work as his own, and a devastated Sasha vows revenge.

Eight years later, the newly rich and famous Theo Dexter is the darling of the American media and every woman’s fantasy. Every woman except one. Now head of a successful business empire, Sasha has spent years laying the groundwork for the payback Theo so richly deserves. But if she’s going to do this thing right, she can’t do it alone. She’ll need the help of the only other woman who knows the ugly truth hidden behind Theo’s handsome façade: his spurned ex-wife Theresa. Together, the pair will concoct a plan for revenge so spectacular it will make every man think twice.

**

This novel seethes with obsession and revenge. This is not Chik-Lit. (I felt it necessary to mention that because the cover seems to me to indicate it might be a Chik-Lit type book)  Sasha doesn’t care how long it takes as long as vengeance is served.  Theo is more than a womanizer, he is a scociopath.  He is only concerned with himself and he leaves shattered lives in his wake.

I could not put this book down.  Ms. Bagshawe writes complex, interesting main characters that are perfectly nuanced.  The side characters were integral to the plot and added depth to the story.  The plot is totally engrossing.  The setting of Cambridge University was a character in itself.  The sex scenes were well written. The look at big-time corporate politics as well as university politics was attention-grabbing. If you are looking for a really great, entertaining read then look no further.

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Review- The Time Of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

Title:  The Time of My Life

The Time of My Life

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: William Morrow, April 2013

Source:  Free for review from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 2

Sexy Rating: 5 (behind closed doors)

Description from amazon.com:

Lucy Silchester keeps receiving this strange appointment card and sweeping its gold embossed envelope under the rug. Literally. She busies herself with a job she doesn’t like, helping out friends, fixing her car, feeding her cat, and devoting her time to her family’s dramas. But Lucy is about to find out that this is one appointment she can’t miss, when Life shows up at her door, in the form of a sloppy but determined man.

Life follows her everywhere – from the office, to the bar, and to her bedroom – and Lucy learns that some of the choices she has made and the stories she has told aren’t what they seem. Now her half-truths are about to be revealed, unless Lucy tells the truth about what really matters to her.

**

This premise sounded like a good one.  Lucy’s Life is an actual physical entity.  He has shown up to get Lucy out of her broken relationship, job loss, habitual lying funk.  Of course Lucy balks at all of her Life’s attempts to set her on the straight and narrow.  But I’m guessing that you can guess the outcome. Too predictable, too long (over 500pages) and way too boring.

 

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Review- Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister

Title: Farewell, Dorothy Parker

Farewell, dorothy Parker

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Ellen Meister

Publisher: Putnam Adult, Feb. 2013

Source: Free for Review from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5 – behind closed doors

Description from amazon.com:

What if inspiration came to visit…and wouldn’t leave?

When it comes to movie reviews, critic Violet Epps is a powerhouse voice. But that’s only because she’s learned to channel her literary hero, Dorothy Parker, the most celebrated and scathing wit of the 20th century.

If only Violet could summon that kind of courage in her personal life.

Determined to defeat her social anxiety, Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel to pull strength from the hallowed dining room, where Dorothy Parker and so many other famous writers of the 1920s traded barbs. But she gets more than she bargained for when Dorothy Parker’s feisty spirit rematerializes from an ancient guestbook and hitches a ride onto her life.

Violet is shocked and thrilled to be face-to-face with her idol, but when the gin-swilling writer takes up residence in her home and grows pricklier and more outspoken by the day, the timid movie critic is pushed to her limit. With her job threatened, her new relationship in tatters, and the custody fight for her orphaned niece in jeopardy, Violet is forced to face her fears …and she makes sure Mrs. Parker does the same.

**

This is an adult coming of age story, or perhaps it might be better to characterize it as a forced assertiveness training story.  Violet is truly reluctant to speak up on behalf of herself and she takes coaching from the literary world’s foremost outspoken writer, Dorothy Parker’s ghost.  Parker is not going to let Violet cry off on asserting herself at work, at home and certainly not with the handsome, kind man who wants to date her.

This is a fun story filled with the wit of Dorothy Parker.  I think it might do us all good if we could channel Parker’s ghost to give us some back bone.  The plot is rife with humor, drama and pathos.  The character of Parker is well researched and although fictionalized rings with authenticity.  There is a romance within these pages although it is not the main focus of the book.  We do hope for Violet’s happy-ever-after for she does grow with leaps and bounds and we wish it for her.

I highly recommend this feel good book.

P.S.-My neighbor read this book and thought it not funny, and sophomoric.  As you can read above, I disagree.  I found it funny and not in the least bit pretentious.  Different strokes for different folks.

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Review- Vlad All Over by Beth Orsoff

Title: Vlad All Over

Vlad all Over

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Author: Beth Orsoff

Publisher: Amason Publishing, 2012

Source: Free for review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

Gwen Andersen loves being a schoolteacher, but she isn’t exactly raking in the big bucks. With her bank account shrinking by the minute, she needs a well-paying summer job if she’s going to hold onto the childhood home she inherited from her parents. So when the father of one of her students asks her to fill in as his au pair for the summer, she knows she should be thrilled. Alexander Romanescu is loaded, and Gwen adores his daughter Isabella. Plus, they’re planning to spend the vacation at their ancestral estate—in Romania!

And yet Gwen can’t shake the nagging feeling that saying yes to this man could lead to more than she bargained for. She knows so little about him—and the idea of spending six weeks in the land of Dracula and Vlad the Impaler is more than a little creepy. But the legends of Romania will be the least of her concerns if she doesn’t make some money…fast. And so Gwen says yes: yes to the job, yes to a European excursion…and yes to a summer that will change her path forever.

**

This is not a book about vampires, but Vlad the Impaler, that monstrous ruler from the middle ages, does figure into the plot.  The story starts off rather like a typical Chik-Lit story but it turns much more dramatic after about 100 pages.  It is no longer Chik-Lit, this is a dramatic contemporary story of love and betrayal of friendship and trust and how life is never simple.  Just a heads up, there are some graphic descriptions of dark ages torture and mayhem that is necessary to the plot.  Beth Orsoff does a wonderful job on this original plot and her characters are real people not cartoon stick figures.  There is to be another book, with some very interesting developments, in what appears to be a series that is introduced at the back of this book.  I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

 

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Review- The Beach House by Jane Green

Title: The Beach House

Genre: contemporary Women’s Fiction

Author: Jane Green

Publisher: Plume, 2009

Source: Library

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5 (not explicit)

Description from amazon.com:

Nan Powell is a free-spirited, sixty-five-year-old widow who’s not above skinny-dipping in her neighbors’ pools when they’re away and who dearly loves her Nantucket home. But when she discovers that the money she thought would last forever is dwindling, she realizes she must make drastic changes to save her beloved house. So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach.

Slowly people start moving in to the house, filling it with noise, laughter, and with tears. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family and friends expanding. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside down. As she did so masterfully in her New York Times bestseller Second Chance, Jane Green once again proves herself one of the preeminent writers of contemporary women’s fiction.

**

Let me preface this review by saying this is not a book I probably would have picked up if it had not been put forth by my dear Myerlee Circle Book Club.  But I have to give them credit for finding a good read.

This read like a Lifetime movie, but a very good lifetime movie.  In the beginning I found it a bit confusing since all of the characters were introduced, each with their own story in separate chapters.  I had a bit of trouble keeping people straight.   I assumed that they would all come together at some point but it didn’t happen until late in the book.  Reading was like sneaking looks at a therapist’s files.  Goodness knows these people all needed the therapist!  Still, Ms. Green made them very real and I found myself hoping for their happy futures.  There were some surprises that were not expected and some that we could see a mile off.  However, I read this book in one sitting and have to say it was a most enjoyable experience.

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Review- Getting Over Mr. Right by Chrissie Manby

Title: Getting Over Mr Right

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Author: Chrissie Manby

Publisher: Bantam, July 10, 2012

Source: Free for Review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5 (not explicit)

Description from amazon.com:

BEEN DUMPED? GET MAD. BUT NOT THIS MAD.

Have you ever had your heart broken? How did you get over it?
If a pint of ice cream cheered you up and you were able to delete his number and start again then . . .
You’re a weirdo and this book is not for you.

But if you reacted with denial, begging, or a spot of casual witchcraft, then you’ve come to the right place. This is one woman’s journey from love to lunacy and back again. If you ever recall past heartbreaks with acute embarrassment and an urge to go into hiding, this will make you feel better. Sure, you may have sent his new girlfriend a bunch of dead roses, but did you spend a grand on psychic hot-lines and a voodoo curse?

**

This is a humorous book written by British author Chrissie Manby. It is chock-a-block full of British references which you may or may not “get” unless you are an Anglophile. However you will “get” the psychology of the main character, Ashleigh, as she tumbles headlong into obsession and stalking following her break-up with Michael.  Ashleigh is hell bent on getting Michael back even though all indications are that it will never, ever happen.  Manby is talented at making us very sympathetic toward Ashleigh who has actually become criminally insane…even if only temporarily.  The side characters of friends and family are supportive and at times exasperated by our protagonist.

If you are a fan of authors Emily Griffin and Sophie Kinsella then I’m certain you will enjoy this offering from Chrissie Manby.

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Review- Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

Title:  Wife 22

Genre: Women’s Fiction

(I hate this designation, why is it just for women?)

Author: Melanie Gideon

Publisher: Ballantine Books,

May 29, 2012

Available for pre-order

Source: Free for review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating:  3

Sexy Rating: 2

Description from amazon.com:

Maybe it was those extra five pounds I’d gained. Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her. Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.

But when the anonymous online study called “Marriage in the 21st Century” showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life. It wasn’t long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101).

And, just like that, I found myself answering questions.

7. Sometimes I tell him he’s snoring when he’s not snoring so he’ll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.
61. Chet Baker on the tape player. He was cutting peppers for the salad. I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have this man’s children.
67. To not want what you don’t have. What you can’t have. What you shouldn’t have.
32. That if we weren’t careful, it was possible to forget one another.

Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor’s appointments, family dinners, budgets, and trying to discern the fastest-moving line at the grocery store. I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.

But these days, I’m also Wife 22. And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpectedly personal turn. Soon, I’ll have to make a decision—one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life. But at the moment, I’m too busy answering questions.  As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac.

 

**

I never got comfortable with the main character, Alice.  I just never managed to care for her or about her very much.  That made reading the book feel slow and not interesting to me.  I did like her e-mail conversations with the Researcher 101. The answers to the questionnaire were a bit annoying since you did not know what the question was, only her answers. (The back of the book did contain an appendix with the questions, but I didn’t find it until after I had read the book, another annoyance.)  The writing was good, the side characters of her husband and kids were fleshed out and believable. There is a twist so that added a bit of excitement but not enough to make the story a better book. It was just an “okay” book.

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