Women’s Fiction

#BookReview
The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square
@MicheleGormanUK @HarperImpulse

Synopsis:

One chance isn’t always enough…
Everyone expects great things from Emma Billings, but when her future gets derailed by an unexpected turn of events, she realises that getting back on track means travelling in a different direction.

She finds that new path in the closed-down pub on Carlton Square. Summoning every ounce of ingenuity, and with the help of her friends and family, she opens the Second Chance Café. The charity training business is meant to keep vulnerable kids off the streets and (hopefully) away from the Metropolitan Police, and her new employees are full of ideas, enthusiasm … and trouble. They’ll need as much TLC as the customers they’re serving.

This ragtag group of chancers have to make a go of a business they know nothing about, and they do get some expert help from an Italian who’s in love with the espresso machine and a professional sandwich whisperer who reads auras, but not everyone is happy to see the café open. Their milk keeps disappearing and someone is cancelling the cake orders, but it’s when someone commits bloomicide on all their window boxes that Emma realises things are serious. Can the café survive when NIMBY neighbours and the rival café owner join forces to close them down? Or will Emma’s dreams fall as flat as the cakes they’re serving?


Book Rating: 9/10

Humorous, heartwarming, and exceptionally captivating!

This is an amusing story that reminds us that everyone needs a place they can feel at home, a place where memories are created, strangers become friends, laughter never ends, and everyone knows your name.

The characters are genuine, funny, and appealing. The prose is polished, clear, and smooth. And the plot is a charming mix of new business woes, young motherhood struggles, familial support, competitive rivalry, marriage, friendship, and the importance of community.

This truly is a perfect summer read that’s entertaining, uplifting and proves that Lilly Bartlett (aka Michele Gorman) can write heartfelt, believable stories with intriguing, unique characters you can’t help but fall in love with.

 

About the Author:

Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.

 

Thank you to Michele Gorman for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                 

For more information on Michele Gorman, visit her website at: michelegorman.co.uk

or follow her on Twitter at: @MicheleGormanUK

#BookReview
The Map that Leads to You by J.P. Monninger
@StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

A romantic, vivid novel that takes place in the tender time of a young woman’s life: Heather has graduated from college and is traveling around Europe with her two best friends. She’s left school responsibility behind and adult responsibility is looming, but this is her one, ONE last summer to be free. Heather doesn’t expect to even meet Jack, let alone fall in love with him. Jack is an enigmatic Vermonter a few years older than she is, who is following his grandfather’s journal to various cities around Europe. But in the same way that forces are bringing Jack and Heather together, life and duty are pushing them apart. And Jack has a secret that is going to change absolutely everything.


Book Rating: 7.5/10

Poignant, compelling and endearingly romantic!

This is a coming-of-age story about friendship, responsibility, independence, and first love all wrapped up in a beautiful travel guide to some of the most breathtaking historical landmarks, monuments, and cities in Europe.

The characters are young, enthusiastic, and adventurous. The prose is clear and precise. And although the plot in the first half of the novel is a little slow, the second half is definitely much more intense, angsty, emotional, and drama-filled with an ending that will definitely have you shedding a few tears.

Overall, I think this novel will be a big success and really appeal to teens and young adults and even though I think I’m a little older than the target demographic I found it intriguing, unique and wonderfully descriptive.

Thank you to NetGalley, especially St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links. 

                                          

#BookReview
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
@elinhilderbrand @littlebrown

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand, a summertime story about identical twins who couldn’t be any less alike.

Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. Just because twins look exactly the same doesn’t mean they’re anything alike–and Tabitha and Harper Frost have spent their whole lives trying to prove this point. When a family crisis forces them to band together–or at least appear to–the twins come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the resentments that have driven them apart. A story of new loves, old battles, and a threat that gives a whole new meaning to the term sibling rivalry, THE IDENTICALS is Elin Hilderbrand at her page-turning best.


Book Rating: 10/10

Absorbing, enchanting, and absolutely irresistible!

This story is set on the picturesque islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and gives us a glimpse into small-island living, complete with alluring beaches, endless sun, infinite gossip, and competitive rivalry. It is told from three different perspectives; Harper, a free spirit who is fun and kind but often impulsive and reckless; Tabitha, Harper’s mature, responsible, workaholic identical twin who struggles with underlying grief; and Ainsley, Tabitha’s teenage daughter who is popular, spoilt and in desperate need of some additional parenting.

The writing is flawless. The plot is a perfect blend of heart, hope, angst, and drama. And the characterization is well-developed with a wonderful cast of characters, including three generations of strong, determined women who learn to embrace the future and let go of the past. 

This is, ultimately, a story about family dynamics, sister relationships, heartbreak, secrets, expectations, loss, grief, forgiveness, dreams, love, discovering one’s true self and the undeniable special bonds between twins. It is the perfect summer read. It sweeps you away to another place, gives you some tears, gives you some smiles and I absolutely adored it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                           

For more information on Elin Hilderbrand, visit her website at: elinhilderbrand.net

or follow her on twitter at: @elinhilderbrand

#BookReview
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
@robinnelee @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.


Book Rating: 9/10

Sophisticated, alluring, and extremely passionate! 

This is a thought-provoking, intriguing novel that reminds us that women can be confident, powerful, intelligent, attractive, sexual beings at any age and that being famous often has many drawbacks.

The prose is genuine and raw. The characters are authentic, honest, multi-layered, and appealing. And the plot sweeps you away into an engaging saga about motherhood, independence, responsibility, age disparity, stardom, art, seduction, desire, lust, love and unquenchable chemistry.

This a wonderful debut for Lee. It’s an exquisite love story with palpable emotion, strong narration and an ending, which I logically understand but still wish was different, that will resonate with you long after you finish the final page. 

About the Author:

 

ROBINNE LEE is an actor, writer and producer. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds. She recently completed shooting Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, playing Ros Bailey. Robinne currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. The Idea of You is her first novel.

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is due to be published on June 13, 2017.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                           

For more information on Robinne Lee, visit her website at: robinnelee.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @robinnelee

#BookReview
Practicing Normal by Cara Sue Achterberg
@CaraAchterberg

Synopsis:

The houses in Pine Estates are beautiful McMansions filled with high-achieving parents, children on the fast track to top colleges, all of the comforts of modern living, and the best security systems money can buy. Welcome to normal upper-middle-class suburbia. The Turners know in their hearts that they’re anything but normal. Jenna is a high-schooler dressed in black who is fascinated with breaking into her neighbors’ homes, security systems be damned. Everett genuinely believes he loves his wife . . . he just loves having a continuing stream of mistresses more. JT is a genius kid with Asperger’s who moves from one obsession to the next. And Kate tries to manage her family, manage her mother (who lives down the street), and avoid wondering why her life is passing her by. And now everything is changing for them. Jenna suddenly finds herself in a boy-next-door romance she never could have predicted. Everett’s secrets are beginning to unravel on him. JT is getting his first taste of success at navigating the world. And Kate is facing truths about her husband, her mother, and her father that she might have preferred not to face. Life on Pine Road has never been more challenging for the Turners. That’s what happens when you’re practicing normal. Combining her trademark combination of wit, insight, and tremendous empathy for her characters, Cara Sue Achterberg has written a novel that is at once familiar and startlingly fresh.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Authentic, heartwarming, and intriguing!

This is a thought-provoking novel that reminds us that life is unpredictable and that when it comes to “normal” perspective is everything.

The story is told from three different points of view; Kate, a mother, wife and daughter who spends all her time and energy taking care of those around her; Jenna, a teenager struggling with hormones, individuality and new love; and Everett, a husband and father who is impatient, selfish, and too wrapped up in his own wants and needs to appreciate what’s right in front of him.

The prose is reflective and sincere. The characters, including all the supporting characters, are complex, strong, and endearing. And the plot is a compelling tale full of familial dynamics, friendship, infidelity, secrets, coming-of-age, honesty, humour, love, as well as an in-depth look into the stereotypical mentality, difficulties and extraordinary abilities that those with Asperger’s experience.

This is the second novel I’ve read by Achterberg and once again she has blown me away with this well-crafted, touching story that gives us a real, raw look into a contemporary multi-generational family.

About the Author:

Cara Sue Achterberg is a blogger and novelist who lives on a hillside farm in South Central, Pennsylvania.

Cara’s novels, I’m Not Her (August 2015, The Story Plant) and Girls’ Weekend (May 2016, Story Plant) are both works of women’s fiction. Her upcoming novel, Practicing Normal, will be published June 2017 by The Story Plant.

Cara is also the author of Live Intentionally, a nonfiction book based on ten years of trying to shop, cook, eat, and live intentionally with kids in tow. It’s a guidebook for the organic life.

Cara is a prolific blogger and currently posts regularly two blogs which can be accessed through her website, CaraWrites.com.

Cara teaches creative writing and her essays and articles have been published in numerous anthologies, national magazines, websites, and blogs, in addition to local media.

Cara grew up in Hockessin, Delaware (and still considers Delaware the best state of all).

Cara is passionate about organic food, clean air, productive gardens, uncluttered lives, and real relationships. She is also passionate about adopting rescue dogs and currently fosters dogs and puppies for the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes.

Cara’s next project is a memoir about fostering her first fifty dogs.

When not writing or weeding (which can sometimes be one and the same), Cara enjoys running, hiking, reading, visiting Virginia wineries, and trying not to fall off her favorite horse, True.

Thank you to Cara Sue Achterberg, the author, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                 

For more information on Cara Sue Achterberg, visit her website at: carawrites.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @CaraAchterberg

#BookReview
The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro
@JuliaFierro @StMartinsPress

Synopsis:

It is the summer of 1992 and a gypsy moth invasion blankets Avalon Island, an islet off the coast of Long Island. Leslie Day Marshall—only daughter of Avalon’s most prominent family—returns to live in “The Castle,” the island’s grandest 

estate. Leslie’s husband Jules is African-American, and their children biracial, and islanders from both sides of the tracks form fast and dangerous opinions about the new arrivals. 

Maddie Pencott LaRosa straddles those tracks: a teen queen with roots in the tony precincts of East Avalon and the crowded working class corner of West Avalon, home to Grudder Aviation factory, the island’s bread-and-butter. Maddie falls in love with Brooks, Leslie’s and Jules’ son, and that love feels as urgent to Maddie as the questions about the new and deadly cancers showing up across the island. 

Her upbringing on economically segregated Long Island and her fascination-followed by-heavy research into gypsy moths inspired this novel, translating her acute observations into a literary meditation on race, politics, and community. In incorporating the political tensions of the 1992 presidential election, Fierro makes powerful parallels to the 2016 presidential Clinton campaign. 

Vivid with young lovers, gangs of anxious outsiders; a plotting aged matriarch, a demented military patriarch; and a troubled young boy, THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is about love, gaps in understanding, and the struggle to connect: within families; among friends; between neighbors and entire generations. 


Book Rating: 6.5/10

Pensive, poignant and undeniably tragic!

In this latest novel by Fierro, she transports us to Avalon Island, an islet infested by not only the gypsy moth but small-town, small-minded politics, economics, and environmental consciousness.

The prose is vivid and exquisitely descriptive. The characters are destructive, materialistic and damaged. And the plot, which is ultimately about love, life, loss, cruelty, deception, familial dynamics, and vengeance has too many subplots and tackles too many issues, including industrial pollution, social and class division and strife, abuse, racism and emerging sexuality to not get a little bogged down and awkward.

I have to admit this was a really hard one for me. There is no doubt that Fierro can write and write well and some readers will love the dark, somber feel of this story, but for me, I couldn’t quite connect with the characters and the story had too much misery and not enough redemption.

About the Author

JULIA FIERRO is the author of the novels The Gypsy Moth Summer and Cutting Teeth. Her work has been published in Buzzfeed, Glamour, The Millions, Poets & Writers, Time Out New York, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Julia founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002, a creative home to more than 3,500 writers in NYC, Los Angeles and Online.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Julia Fierro for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                          

For more information on Julia Fierro, visit her website at: juliafierro.com/author/

or follow her on Twitter at: @JuliaFierro

#BlogTour & #BookReview
Summer at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn
@DarcieBoleyn @canelo_co

Synopsis:

Eve has a glittering career, a loving husband and a future. But a terrible twist of fate means she loses it all, and with nowhere left to turn she flees to her Aunt Mary’s home in Cornwall. The last thing on her mind is romance – until she meets Jack.

Jack has seen the worst things people can do to each other and realised he is better off alone. He settles in Conwenna Cove, and saves his affections for the rescue dogs he cares for. But when Eve arrives in the village he can’t deny his attraction to her.

Eve and Jack are both scared to trust, but when they come together it’s impossible for either to ignore their feelings. Can they put their fears aside and learn to love again?

Summer at Conwenna Cove is an emotional and heart-warming holiday read about being brave enough to take a chance on love


Book Rating: 8/10

Humorous, engaging and picturesque!

This is a captivating, lighthearted story that reminds us that we should work to live and not live to work and sometimes we should stop and smell the roses.

The prose is refined and vividly descriptive. The setting is the idyllic Cornwall with its sandy beaches and rugged coast. And the main characters including the stressed, workaholic Eve; the reluctant, gentle Jack; and the adorable, sweet Gabe are wounded, vulnerable, lonely and in desperate need of some unconditional love.

This is, ultimately, a story about life, love, loss, family, heartbreak, healing, self discovery and happiness and overall it is a wonderful story with a delightful cast of characters, majestic scenery, a touch of greyhound rescue awareness and last but definitely not least scrumptious, comforting treats, including my favourite the mouth-watering lemon drizzle cake. This truly is a warm, charming read from start to finish and perfect for a summer day.

About the Author:

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Thank you to Canelo and Darcie Boleyn for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It was an honour and a pleasure.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links. 

                      

For more information on Darcie Boleyn, visit her website at: darcieboleyn.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @DarcieBoleyn or on Facebook at: Darcie-Boleyn

#BookReview
The Playboy Bachelor by Rachel Van Dyken
@RachVD @ForeverRomance

Synopsis:

She’s no Sleeping Beauty. And he’s definitely no prince . . . Margot McCleery could have lived her whole life without seeing Bentley Wellington again-her ex-best friend and the poster boy for Hot, Rich Man-Whores everywhere. But Margot’s whiskey-augmented grandmother “buys” Bentley at a charity bachelor auction, and now suddenly he’s at her door. Impossibly charming. Impossibly sexy. And still a complete and utter jackass. Bentley’s just been coerced by his grandfather to spend the next thirty days charming and romancing the reclusive red-haired beauty who hates him. The woman he abandoned when she needed him the most. Bentley knows just as much about romance as he knows about love-nothing. But the more time he spends with Margot, the more he realizes that “just friends” will never be enough. Now all he has to do is convince her to trust him with her heart . . .


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Emotional, enchanting and sweetly romantic!

This is a second chance romance that combines the pompous, rich Bentley and the lonely, scarred Margot in a well-crafted plot full of entertaining hijinks, deep introspection, exquisite tension, palpable chemistry, sexy innuendoes and unconditional love.

The characters, including a whole slew of meddling supporting characters are intriguing, likeable, funny and well-developed.  And the writing use a past/present style to create an engaging, lighthearted tale about letting go, being brave and learning to trust that will definitely leaving you smiling by the end.

Once again Van Dyken has written a modern-day fairy tale that has a lot of heart and has the handsome prince not only bringing the beautiful princess back to life but finally getting the girl he let slip away.

This is the second book in the “Bachelors of Arizona” series and what a great series it is shaping up to be. If you haven’t had a chance to read my review for “The Bachelor Auction”, book #1 in the series, be sure to check it out HERE.

Thank you to Forever Romance – Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

For more information on Rachel Van Dyken, visit her website at: rachelvandykenauthor.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @RachVD

#BookReview
Mothers And Other Strangers
@ginasorell @PGCBooks

Synopsis:

“My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man’s child, she accepted.”

Thus begins this riveting story of a woman’s quest to understand her recently deceased mother, a glamorous, cruel narcissist who left her only child, Elsie, an inheritance of debts and mysteries. While coping with threats that she suspects are coming from the cult-like spiritual program her mother belonged to, Elsie works to unravel the message her dying mother left for her, a quest that ultimately takes her to the South African family homestead she never knew existed.


Book Rating: 8.5/10

Heart-wrenching, engrossing and deeply moving!

This is an intriguing novel that highlights the enduring physical and psychological effects parents can have on their children and emphasizes just how important guidance, affection, respect and love are in child development.

The prose is eloquent and fluid. The characters are fragile, tormented and raw. And the plot is a subtle journey into one middle-aged, woman’s life as she tries to discover her true self and find some form of closure and happiness while piecing together all the secrets and sins of a mother she never truly knew.

Overall this is an incredibly thought-provoking, gripping, beautiful debut by Sorell that does a remarkable job of illuminating the complex bonds and emotional ties between mothers and daughters.

About the Author

Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Gina Sorell now resides in Toronto, and lives in a world of words. Some of those words are: writer, namer, creative director, artist, daughter, sister, wife and mother.
After two decades as a working actor of stage and screen in NYC, LA, and Toronto, Gina decided to return to her first love–writing, and graduated with distinction from UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Gina likes to balance out the long solitary hours of novel writing, with her work as a Creative Director of Eat My Words, a SF based branding firm, where she collaborates all day long with innovators and entrepreneurs whose identity she establishes with only one word, their name.

Thank you to PGC Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

                                            

For more information on Gina Sorell visit her website at: ginasorell.com

or follow her on Twitter at: @ginasorell

#BookReview & #BlogTour
Dreaming of Venice by T.A. Williams
@TAWilliamsBooks @canelo_co

Synopsis:

Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice

Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfilment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

But can dreams come true?


Book Rating: 8/10

Lighthearted, humorous and magically romantic!

This is a charming story that highlights that no matter how challenging life might seem at times things always seem to work out and reminds us that sometimes dreams do come true.

The characters are sweet, supportive, dependable and quirky. The prose is expressive and polished. And the plot is an enchanting mix of drama, emotion, entertaining mishaps, loss, love; as well as an insightful view into the City of Venice, including the food, the culture, the architecture, the history and the art.

Whenever you pick up a novel by Williams you always know it’s going to be a warm, passionate, fascinating novel about an idyllic place in the world that you can’t help but want to see, visit and experience once you’ve finished it and this book is no exception.

About the Author:

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Amazon.uk Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.

I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

Thank you to T.A. Williams and Canelo for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                      

For more information on T.A. Williams, visit his website at: tawilliamsbooks.com

or follow him on Twitter at: @TAWilliamsBooks

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