3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · Uncategorized

Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer | Release Day #BookReview

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Otherwise Engaged by Lindsey Palmer 

Published: February 26, 2019 

Publisher: Skyhorse

Pages: 304

Genres: romance, chick lit, contemporary fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: character studies, women whose lives aren’t happily ever after

Foodie Vibes: wedding cake tasting and then hitting the local bar afterwards 

 

Synopsis: 

Life is sweet for New Yorkers Molly and Gabe: They’re young, in love, and newly engaged.

But when Gabe sells his first novel—a thinly-veiled retelling of his wild love affair with ex-girlfriend Talia—and it becomes a national sensation, Molly can’t help but feel like the third wheel. To make matters worse, Talia reappears in Gabe’s life, eager to capitalize on the book’s success and to rekindle what she had with Gabe… at least, that’s how it seems to Molly. But even more concerning? Gabe doesn’t seem concerned at all. Instead, he’s delighting in his newfound fame and success.

Jealous, paranoid, and increasingly desperate, Molly starts to spin out of control. Her social life, work life, and love life all go to pieces. As fact and fiction, and past and present, begin to blur, Molly realizes the only way out of this downward spiral is to fight her way back up. But what—if anything—will be left of her life and her relationship when she arrives?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Skyhorse, and Lindsey Palmer for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The character of Sam – she’s unsure about life, but she tells it like it is
  • It’s a character study
  • The storylines with Molly’s mom — so sweet!
  • Watching a far from perfect relationship unfold

Love:

Dislike:

  • Gabe’s book — the writing is so cringe worthy
  • Doesn’t go very in depth into so many hard hitting topics such as uncertainty in relationships, becoming a mother, addiction, medical fraud, and more. There’s so much potential to really understand the characters’ feelings about experiences about these struggles.
  • People cheating on each other — ahhhhh, one of the things I really dislike in books 

Wish that: 

  • Molly had just finished reading Gabe’s book, because then maybe she wouldn’t have freaked out so much
  • I liked more of the characters. None of them really resonated with me, and I wanted to shake them out of so many of their bad actions.
  • Was marketed correctly – I thought I was getting into a fluffy romance novel, but that wasn’t the case.

Overall, I feel like this is either a book you’ll love or go “meh” about. I’m in the later category. For me it’s less about the quality but more about the fit between the book and reader. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · fiction · POC · romance · Women's Fiction

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

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Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

Published: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Pages: 302

Genres: chick lit, romance, contemporary romance, fiction, POC

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: fun books that make you happy, Bollywood movies, great friends, cross continental romance

Foodie Vibes: authentic Indian treats made and enjoyed with loved ones

 

Synopsis:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.
Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.
Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Entangled Publishing, and Nicola Marsh for an ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

One word to describe this book: FUN! It’s a feel good book filled with great Indian food, romance-love and arranged, wonderful friendships, fun cultural adventures, and just enough family drama to keep things interesting. When I think about Busted in Bollywood, I am filled with images of color, Indian delicacies, and pure joy. The book version of a Bollywood movie, that I can’t get enough of.

The story is set in New York City and India, both bustling vibrant cities, perfect for this whirlwind of a story. I loved the underlying focus on true relationships – family, friendships, and romantic. It’s not just a silly book, but is filled with great depth. 

Occasionally I wasn’t sure about the main character’s relationship. And I wanted to hear more about her friend’s relationship. 

But overall a fun joyful book that I highly recommend, to put you in a good mood.

 

Have you watched a Bollywood movie before? What did you think?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · Chronic Illness/Disabilities · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · drama · Literary Fiction · mental health · Women's Fiction

New Release | The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

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The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 356

Genres: women’s fiction, literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction, chick lit, drama

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: moms with psychological struggles trying to keep it all together, validating books about mental health and self harm

Foodie Vibes: pina coladas, takeout pizza and marshmallows roasted over an open fire pit

 

Synopsis:

‘Is her life as easy and effortless as it seems from the outside? Or is she feeling lonely, all by herself in that big house, an evening stretching out in front of her just as it is for me?’

When Tessa arrives at the little house by the lake with her two children Ben and Katherine, it is an escape. For all of them. Never mind that the rental house is a bit small – it’s theirs for the summer. A place to hide…

Their isolation is disrupted when they meet the family from the big house next door. Three children Charlotte, Zoe and Max and their glamorous mother Rebecca – who seems absolutely determined to invite Tessa in to their lives.

But Rebecca is harbouring a dark secret of her own. One that will put not only her family at risk, but Tessa’s too. And when she discovers she has no option but to leave her children for several weeks, Tessa feels like the only person she can trust.

Suddenly Tessa finds herself living a life she could only have dreamed of. Wealth, a large brood of children, and Rebecca’s handsome husband Josh visiting at weekends.

But even as powerful bonds are forming between them, secrets have a way of catching up with people. And as the summer comes to an end, who will learn to love again and who will risk losing everything?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Kate Hewitt for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, Trigger Warning for self harm and child sexual abuse.

Keeping yourself safe is most important, so make sure you’re in a healthy place before reading, my lovelies.

Feel free to send me a message on here, or a DM on Twitter for more privacy, if you want to know more about content that may trigger you.

Now onto the book review.

It seems as if everyone is keeping secrets from those around them. Pretending that they’re okay, when they’re anything but. I think we all can relate to this.

Over summer vacation 2 moms, Tessa and Rebecca, take their kids to summer vacation cottages. They didn’t know each other before the summer, but they end up neighbors, friends, and changing each other’s lives forever. They say it’s because their kids need playmates, but both moms know they need each other’s help more. Tessa has 2 kids, is in dire need of a makeover, constantly doubts herself, and has enough money but still must live by a budget. Rebecca has 3 kids, a glamorous lifestyle, a seemingly perfect life, more money than she can spend, and some serious issues going on. Hence the trigger warning. People are jealous of how well put together she seems, but inside she’s a wreck, just trying to get through the day.

I appreciated that self harm in adults is discussed. And not as a one off conversation. As a legitimate mental health concern that is featured throughout the novel. If you’re looking for good representation of self harm in adults, this is your book. 

The overall story the author tells of moms as people first that also care fiercely for their children is refreshing. And you can’t go wrong with a summer cottage on the lake story.

The only caveat that I have is the weird situation that is thrust upon one of the moms about halfway through the story. I can’t give away any spoilers, but it’s kind of a you need to go with the flow story line and not critique that it probably isn’t realistic. Oh, also the ending completely wrecked me. So I can see how some people might have an issue with it. 

Overall, The Secrets We Keep featured some truly broken adults who are trying to hold it together to care for their children. A wonderful authentic representation of adult self harm. I highly recommend, as long as you won’t be too triggered.  

 

If you want some helpful information or support about these serious topics, click the links below

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

Self-Harm Crisis Text Hotline

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

 

Do trigger warnings help you to choose a book?

Everyone has different triggers. Which ones would be helpful to you, that I mention in my future reviews?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · Christmas · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Holidays · romance

ARC Review | Oh My Stars by Sally Kilpatrick

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Oh My Stars by Sally Kilpatrick

Published: September 25, 2018

Publisher: Kensington Publication Corporation

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary romance, Christmas, holidays, contemporary fiction

Recommend to fans of: cute Southern/country living romances, books about relationships between moms & daughters, adult siblings, happily ever afters with a lot of work along the way

Foodie Vibes: honey buns 

 

Synopsis:

A heartwarming, hilarious Christmas story with a Southern twist.

Like most things in Ellery, Tennessee, this year’s Drive Thru Nativity is a little unconventional. The Dollar General parking lot doubles as a Bethlehem stable, and widowed writer Ivy Long, who’s been roped into playing Mary, sure as heck isn’t a virgin. But then comes an unexpected development: a genuine, real-life baby left in the manger, with only a brief note. And somehow, in the kerfuffle that follows, Ivy finds her life is about to
change . . .

The holidays are a bittersweet time for Ivy–filled with memories of her beloved late husband and reminders that life doesn’t always offer the happily-ever-afters her readers expect. So when Ivy ends up with custody of the baby, she can only chalk it up to a Christmas miracle. She doesn’t know if it will be forever, but with help from family, she’ll make little Zuzu’s first Christmas a good one. The nativity’s Joseph, aka Gabe Ledbetter, has a pediatrics background that’s coming in mighty handy. In turn, Ivy is helping Gabe find his place in the quirky community. If that place turns out to be somewhere near Ivy, well, maybe this particular Christmas story will turn out to be merry and bright after all . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

How can you go wrong with a real life Christmas miracle? A baby found in the manger of a modern day nativity scene. Romance, from a kind, well educated, handsome guy, after years of heartache. Finally attempting to patch up your relationship with your mom and sister. All good things that made for an enjoyable read. 
Bonus! The sisters’ names are Holly and Ivy. It doesn’t get more Christmasy than that.

At first I wasn’t a huge fan of either sister, but over time I grew to understand and like them. Ivy is a romance writer. Writers, bloggers and author as characters in books are all good thing in my opinion. I really enjoyed the relationships between parents and their children and also the siblings. One of my favorite aspects of the book.

The romance is good but not an over the top sweeping romance. There were so many other strong storylines vying for dominance along with the romance, which makes for a realistic complex novel. The book also didn’t gloss over some of the downsides to living in a small Southern town. 

The story isn’t all fairytales and roses, but it is realistic, hard work, with a happily ever after.

 

Do you prefer your romances to be more realistic or epic sweeping happily ever afters? 

No judgment either way. Just genuinely curious.

 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · Southern Fiction · Women's Fiction

ARC Book Review | Rush by Lisa Patton

 

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Let’s start off with the Bookish Question of the Review:

How many of you were in a sorority/fraternity in college? What were your favorite experiences? 

 

Rush by Lisa Patton

Published: August 21, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 416

Genres: contemporary fiction, southern fiction, domestic fiction, chick lit

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about the college experience, sororities, modern day southern charm, young women making the world a better place

Read with food: sweet tea, fried chicken, collard green, mac & cheese, and everything to complete a proper southern meal 

 

Synopsis: 

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.

Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all.

 

Review:

I won this book for free in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks to Goodreads, St. Martin’s Press and Lisa Patton for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

With sorority and fraternity life as popular as it is in this country, I’m surprised there aren’t more books surrounding Greek life. Rush perfectly fits this niche. We start off right before the school year begins following Ellie, Cali and Annie Laurie. They’re all college freshman from different walks of life hoping to pledge a sorority at Ole Miss. The chapters alternate points of view, which I really liked. It gave so much added perspective, and different stories were able to be told. The chapters’ POV include Cali, Wilda (Ellie’s mom) and Miss Pearl (a fabulous woman who works for a sorority on campus).

I like all of the main characters, which for me, is essential to enjoying a book. There are also a few love to hate, but redeemable characters, to keep things interesting. I really enjoyed Rush, because it’s fun, sweet, and poignant. Beyond just the fun process of sorority life, the author gets into tough topics such as living wages, health insurance, legacies, family money, racism, and micro aggressions in southern culture. We learn with the girls the unfairness that can be in the Greek life system. It certainly opened my eyes to things I really hadn’t thought about before.

However, without giving away any spoilers, the girls’ revelations are just the beginning of a fix to a much larger problem. The start of a conversation, not the end of one. I think the author does want it to truly be the start of larger discussions and change. Also, some of the behavior by the adults is appalling but contextually appropriate.

Rush seems like a fun, sweet, slightly catty book, but the depth of important topics makes it an important read. A great book for a book club or anyone looking to get a discussion going in a light hearted manner.

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary romance · Humorous Fiction · Uncategorized · Women's Fiction

Book Review: One Good Thing by Wendy Wax

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One Good Thing by Wendy Wax 

Published by Berkley Books on April 25, 2017

Pages: 368

Genres: chick lit, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, humorous fiction

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: beach reads, chick lit, strong determined women

Read with food: strawberry margaritas (21+ and be safe!) and your junk food of choice

 

Synopsis:

Before you can fix it up, you might have to tear it down…
 
Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships.
 
Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and dealing with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached…
 
But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to the publisher and author for a copy. As always, an honest review.

If you’re looking for a fun summer beach read, One Good Thing fits that criteria. Good friends are all going through different life changes from pregnancy to loss of relationships to financial hardships. The setting for all these life changes happens in sunny Florida in a beachside community.

Now onto the pros first:

It’s a fun breezy summer read, and it’s currently summer where I live, so the mood is perfect. With four completely different stories about the four main characters, there’s always someone and some circumstance for the reader to relate to. The life experiences are also a great mix of fun, relatable, and serious. The author is really good at painting a picture of the gorgeous beach setting. I felt as if I was right there on the sandy beaches of Florida. 

Despite all of these wonderful elements, it took me awhile to get into the book. I was reading short segments at the beginning, so that may have contributed. Eventually I found my rhythm reading and really enjoyed the story. Also I wish that all the storylines were as strong as my favorites in the book.

Overall, a fun summer read that would be great for this heat wave that half the country is currently experiencing. 

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · fiction · Uncategorized · Women's Fiction

Book Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

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The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Published by Penguin Adult HC/TR on June 14, 2012

Pages: 432

Genres: contemporary fiction, chick lit, fiction

Recommend to fans of: Liane Moriarty, chick lit

Read with food: chocolates ~ lots of them in assorted flavors

 

Synopsis: 

From the author of critically acclaimed What Alice Forgot comes a wonderfully fun, insightful novel about the crazy things we do for love.

Ellen O’Farrell is a bit unusual. She’s a hypnotherapist. She’s never met her father. And she can’t seem to keep a relationship going (okay, that’s more normal that we want to admit). When Ellen meets Patrick, she’s hopeful nevertheless. But when he says he needs to tell her something, she fears the worst. However, when Patrick reveals that his ex-girlfriend is stalking him, Ellen thinks, Is that all? Actually, that’s kind of neat. She’s more intrigued than frightened. What makes a supposedly smart, professional woman behave this way? She’d love to meet her. What she doesn’t know is that she already has.

Review:

After reading some of Liane Moriarty’s other best selling novels such as Big Little Lies and the Husband’s Secret, I was expecting another phenomenal read. However, I was a bit disappointed.

Ellen and Patrick are a couple. Patrick used to go out with Saskia, and now Saskia is stalking Patrick. Ellen is a hypnotist, who has a client named Deborah. Deborah and Saskia are the same person. The premise was intriguing enough to make me read the book and keep me interested overall. There were parts of the story that slowed for a bit and became almost boring, but then something dramatic would happen to make me forget all about it. 

For a book about a stalker, it was not scary or what I would consider a psychological thriller. Saskia just seemed sad and a bit pathetic. As with all of Liane Moriarty’s books, the focus is on the romantic and family relationships. I’m glad I read The Hypnotist’s Love Story, but if you’re new to Liane Moriarty’s books, might I suggest starting with a different one?

 

For fans of Liane Moriarty:

What’s your favorite book of hers?