Genre: Chick-Lit

Review: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Posted May 17, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi WaxmanThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction, Chick-Lit
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.
At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.
After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…

I really needed something different and fun in my reading life, so when dear Heidi over at Rainy Day Ramblings personally recommended this book, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Guys, I cannot express how much I adored this book. It did exactly what I need it to do. It pulled me out of my reading slump and offered me a book with so much fun, laughter and a lot of heart.

Lilian Girvan is a widow. Her husband died a couple of years ago in a car collision right outside of their house and left Lilian with two little girls. Lilian had a hard time recovering from his death at first and actually had to be admitted to a hospital. Her sister Rachel provided a huge support network not only helping Lilian get past her husband’s death, but also in taking care of the kids.

Now Lilian is working as an illustrator and her company is hired to illustrate a gardening book. They only have one request. Lilian must take a gardening class. So after recruiting her sister and her daughters to join her in the class on weekends, Lilian’s world opens up to the great group of gardeners that might be just what the doctor ordered.

This book was fantastic. The writing was super great, super fun and I adored Waxman’s humor, it was just my kind of cup of tea. I was super surprised that this was her debut novel and also a bit disappointed because I so want more of the author’s writing. I cannot wait for her next book to come out, it is definitely going on my auto buy list.

This book is just great for the spring and summer alike. As a gardener myself. I adored the gardening aspect of the story. I also love the quirky gardening guides between the chapter breaks, they had me rolling with laughter.

All the characters were wonderful and endearing. I adored’ Lilian and her daughters. I love the interactions between Lilian and the characters – especially her two little girls. I also loved the strong sister bond between Lilian and Rachel. Really, I just loved everything about this book. The supporting extra characters in this book also just really added both heart and depth to this story.

The only thing that made this a little frustrating was the open ending. I kind of wanted to know a little more and not just where Lilian’s character was going, but also Rachel’s. I guess I could almost understand why the author wrapped it up the way she did, but I still found that I really did want that closure.

Overall, I am looking forward to more of Waxman’s writing. If you are looking to add to your summer book read, I highly recommend this one.

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3 Mini Book Reviews

Posted May 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
3 Mini Book ReviewsA Wedding for Christmas by Lori Wilde
Series: Twilight, Texas #7
Published by Avon on October 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Holiday
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The whole town is ready for the holidays: The Cookie Club is baking, Main Street glitters with lights, the carolers sing . . .There’s even a Christmas wedding.
When bodyguard Ryder Southerland sees his best friend’s sister Katie at an L.A. Christmas party, he mistakes the slinky blonde for a celebrity stalker and tackles her. Then they tackle each other . . . at his place. The next morning, Katie’s gone, and Ryder tells himself it’s for the best. It isn’t. Now, one Christmas later, Ryder’s falling for the woman he’s been missing in the town he hasn’t missed at all . . .
Katie Cheek’s outgrown the romantic fantasies she had about Ryder when she was fifteen. Katie’s packed their hot night away in a box labeled “fling”—or tried to. But Twilight’s bad boy is the best man in her brother’s wedding. And up-close and personal, Ryder’s impossible to ignore. So Katie can either go into hiding—or surrender to Christmas magic.

This book is kind of a follow up to what happens in the last book when two women from two different worlds exchange houses for Christmas. It can however be read as a standalone.
I did not like this one as much as I liked the one before. I do feel like this was Wilde’s weaker book in this series.
I really liked Ryder, I thought he was swoon worthy. He did come with some packages. He left town when his best friends sister kissed him and it freaked him out, especially since he always pictured their family as his, after living in their house for a while due to his own family issues. His father blames him as a kid for his mother’s death, that was very unfortunate and very sad. I hated his father for what he put the kid through, especially since Ryder already blamed himself.
I hated Katie, she destroyed this book for me. She goes to LA, has sex with Ryder and disappears. When he shows up in town for his best friends wedding, it gets complicated. Ryder went to the military, he grew up, he changed, but Katie keeps making him pay for his past. I hated her stupid treatment of him and her stupid rules. I never felt that he deserved the way she handled things.

3 Mini Book ReviewsIf You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
Series: standalone
Published by HQN Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Chick-Lit
Pages: 411
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

Sisterhood in all its drama, hilarity and tears is at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins's thoroughly captivating new novel, featuring the wit and romance that readers have come to expect from the much-loved creator of the Blue Heron series...
Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she's still involved in her ex-husband's life. In fact, Owen's new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny's new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn't helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she'll be able to bask in her sister Rachel's picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own.
Her timing couldn't be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren't in Rachel's nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny's surprise. Rachel points to their parents' "perfect" marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a secret about their family she's been keeping since childhood.
During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on.

After reading On Second Thought, I really wanted to read the other book related to this town and found If You Only Knew.

This follows Jenny and Rachel. Jenny is divorced, but remains friends with her ex-husband and his new wife. At the beginning of the book she is in her replacements baby shower and ends up delivering the baby.

I found that I really liked this book and the authors writing and the people, but I did not love this one. It is the weaker of the two.

I had a problem with the way Jenny treated Loki the dog and all her stupid remarks about him being old and when is he going to kick the bucket? She had this inner fantasy dialog that I found irritating and desperate at times. She really wanted to get married.

Rachel story was kind of heart breaking, but also on the annoying side. Her husband cheats on her and she keeps forgiving him until she finally has enough. When Jenny stands up to him, Rachel takes the losers side.

There was a bit of slut shaming in this book aimed at the woman who had the affair with Rachel’s loser husband.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
3 Mini Book ReviewsShadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: The Scorpius Syndrome #2
Published by Zebra on August 30th 2016
Genres: Post- Apocalyptic, Dystopia
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars
Heat:three-flames

Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Wellington was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her skills as a hunter of men had gone from merely brilliant to full-on uncanny. Her mysterious rescuer wants her to put them to the test. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.
If the FBI were still around they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk.
And the way his arms wrap around Vinnie tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . . .

This book continues with the events happening in book 1, I do not suggest to read this series out of order or a standalone because it has an ongoing story and conflict that keeps growing.

This was Raze’s story, but as much as I was excited about it – I found it to be a bit on the disappointing side.

Raze needed Vivienne Wellington in order to exchange her to the mercenaries for his sister. Despite the fact that he knew about his sister’s life being in trouble and what he had to do it did not stop Raze from sleeping with this woman and getting attached fairly quickly.

I found that stupid, reckless and made me think that they should have not gotten together in that kind of circumstances. Also, makes me really thankful that I do not have a brother to screw me over like that if god forbid something like this happened. Cause Raze only thought with his penis to begin with and not his loyalty to his family.

Also, just the whole set up, if I closed my eyes and listened to the book and ignored the names Vivvy and Raze – the set up and the personalities (including the spanking?) were pretty much exactly like the last two characters in book one.

I liked this because I loved the background conflict, but as far as the love story in this, I did not like it at all. Which was a shame, since I loved Raze in book 1, but did not think he would lead with his penis. I was hoping for a more back and forth, tug and pull and not straight to bed kind of thing.

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Review: A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

Posted March 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review:  A Million Little Things by Susan MalleryA Million Little Things by Susan Mallery
Series: Mischief Bay #3
Published by Mira Books on February 28th 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction, Chick-Lit
Pages: 368
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


From the bestselling author of
The Girls of Mischief Bay
and
The Friends We Keep
comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs



Zoe Saldivar is more than just single-she's ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it's up to her to stop living in isolation.
Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated-her first new friend is Jen's widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen's brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe's own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam's flustered, Jen's annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think "alone" doesn't sound so bad, after all.

Friendship isn't just one thing-it's a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!

"

I usually like Susan Mallery’s writing, I struggled with this one on a lot of levels.

The book follows three different women in three different stages of their lives.

Zoe has just had sex with her ex-boyfriend who couldn’t commit. She bought a bigger house and quit her teaching job because apparently for some reason (even thought he didn’t give her much) she thought she was going to need to be a step-mother to his daughters and that he was going to propose…

Jen is Zoe’s best friend and is a stay at home mom that constantly worries. Her 18-month-old child has hit every single milestone in his development with the exception of talking. Jen firmly believes that there is something wrong with her son, even thought everyone else is telling her to give it time. Her husband is a detective and she doesn’t like his partner Lucas because he likes his women too much.

Pam is Jen’s mother and has always been a good friend to Zoe. She is a widow and isn’t looking for love, but she was quick to try and hook up her son Steven with Zoe because she thought they would be good for each other. She also meets Zoe’s father Miguel, who wants to date her.

So there is a lot of things going on in this book, there is some romance and dealing with issues and parenting. I just struggled with this because ever character was tough to like and the plot twist the author threw in the middle of the book felt displaced and I found myself angry.

I hated Jen, she was not only horrible to her husband’s partner, but everyone else around her.  She thinks there is something wrong with her son and she does everything she can to limit his exposure to freaking everything. Her mother’s dog cannot come into her house unless he had a bath the day off. Anytime her friend or mother shows up at her house, she is confused and asks them if she knew they were coming. She is into organic eating, no chemicals in her house, and everything has to be made of cotton and nothing that might be dangerous. Everyone she takes her son to tell her to give him time, that all the tests they did do not reveal anything wrong with her son, and she still explodes on them. She hates Lucas because he won’t settle down and dates 20 year olds and thinks he is going to lead her husband astray, based on what logic? I am not sure.

Okay, let me point out that mothers with autistic children do not act like freaking idiots okay? My sister has a daughter, who she believed something was wrong with her after two years of not talking. When she took them to the doctor, they did tests and did find that she was in fact behind. No one told her to give her time, when they saw something, they did something, so when Jen constantly stood defiantly against the doctors claiming no, something is wrong, it was grating.

And of course, it spectacularly bites her in the ass half way through the book. I cannot mention what happens, but it took me everything to finish this damn book.

I felt like there was a ton of mixed signals in this book and it felt like the author was preaching some kind of an agenda. I didn’t like how mothers with autistic children were addressed and painted in this book, it was unrealistic and it made me so angry.

I didn’t like how unplanned pregnancy was addressed in this book either, especially given the situation. It felt like there was the only right answer to what happened here and anything is might as well rain fire.

Pam turned into a very ugly person by the end of this book and the way she was treating Zoe was unfounded and vicious.

I had a really, really hard time with the tone and the messages in this book. I even had the worse time agreeing with anything that happened.

I was actually happy when things bit Jen in the ass both times, but everything still felt just too wrong for me.

After writing this review.. I’ve decided a 2 star rating was appropriate after all. I know a lot of people loved it, and it’s great, but some things just did not do well for me at all.

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Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 29 Comments

Review:  On Second Thought by Kristan HigginsOn Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Series: Standalone
Published by HQN Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit
Pages: 480
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel
If You Only Knew
, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together 
Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband. 
Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one. 
Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

It’s been a really long time since I have read a Higgins book, but when this was brought to my attention, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

On Second Thought was a book that not only surprised me, but blew my expectations out of the water. To date, I think this is the best book Higgins has ever written.

The story is told from the POV of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. Kate is the older half sister from their father’s first and current marriage, and she is also a 39-year old widow. For twenty years Kate never thought she would have a chance to marry with her bad luck and a string of bad relationships, she gave up hope – until Nathan came over into her life.

I became Nathan’s wife. One hundred and two days later, I became his widow.

Nathan was sweet, talented, came from a wealthy family and wanted to have children. They dated for a few months before quickly getting married and not too soon after their marriage, Nathan dies, leaving Kate to pick up the pieces.

Ainsley is the younger half sister, who comes from a woman that the girl’s father was actually in love with. Kate’s mother took her in, and for the longest time Ainsley felt a little alienated. She was in a relationship with Eric for 11-years, up until after he recovered from his cancer, watched Nathan die at their life party and decided to cut ties with Ainsley with a very ugly public blog post to top of the hurt.

This book was everything, it had everything. I had my reservations at first, Nathan dies getting a glass of wine for Kate and it is mentioned several times as the guilt sits heavy on her chest. At first I was a little worried that this was going to be a very to shame anyone who drinks wine, but as the story went on, it was proven otherwise and I relaxed a little.
The story pulled on my heartstrings, squeezed my heart, broke my heart and cemented it back together with love and warmth.

It was frustrating, shocking, sad, heartbreaking, but at the same time it was wonderful, full of love and just downright realistic. There were moments that made me really feel for the two women, but Higgins hands the entire situation not only with wit and charm, but with humor cleverly woven in.

The story was about death, grief, moving on after, love, heartbreak, and family all the good, the bad and the ugly. I loved how the heartbreak and the events in both of the sister’s lives bought them together and formed a stronger bond. I liked learning  about their family, and how Candy (Kate’s mother, Ainsley’s step-mother) felt about having another woman’s child trusted upon her. For a long time, I didn’t know how to feel about her, but Candy redeemed herself tenfold by the end of the book.

Kate’s story was rough. I couldn’t even begin to understand how she felt being widowed so fast, but I also had to take into the account that Kate didn’t even know her husband for a year, so the experience must have felt different to other widows who knew them for years.

I loved the romance, especially between Ainsley and her boss Jonathan. When Jonathan appeared more and more in the story, he won me over quickly. He isn’t your typical love interest, which was so refreshing. He is awkward, he doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve, his interaction with Ainsley is amusing. She calls him Captain Flatline for a reason, he is hard to read and she often compares him to an alien. But I loved that, I loved that Jonathan wasn’t like the rest of the alpha males in the books, it made him so much more endearing and memorable.

Daniel the hot Fire Fighter was also an awesome addition to the book, and I loved the way he treated Kate and pulled her out of her funk.

The entire story was just great, but I think I already mentioned it. It was well over 400 pages and I was sad that it was over, I will definitely miss Jonathan. I liked both of the sister’s voice and their sarcastic witty humor, I never found a dull moment.

If you want to give Higgin’s a try, I strongly recommend this book.

“Are you crying?”

“Oh…I just…I’m a little, uh premenstrual.” Shit.

He gave me a long, unblinking look. Strange pale blue eyes, like an alien. “Will that be a problem during this interview?” he asked.

“Let’s hope not. But those first two days can be murder.” I smiled. He did not. I felt my uterus shriveling, as if his disapproving gaze was bringing on menopause.

Finally, he blinked. “I’m Jonathan Kent. This way.”

Inside the grocery store, it was as cold as a morgue. Poor choice of words.

I couldn’t remember what I’d come for, Vegetables? Why not? Whole Foods did have the prettiest produce in the entire world, even if it did cost a million trillion dollars.

I was dying to know what my stick-up-the-colon boss did in his spare time. Taxidermy seemed about right.

I pulled into Kate’s driveway, once again doing the walk of shame (though damn proud of it), went into the kitchen and screamed

A very large man was there.

“Hey,” he said. “How’s it going?”

“Who are you and why are you wearing my sister’s shirt?” I yelped..

He smiled. I smiled. The cat smiled.

He had a cat!

“You have a cat!” I said. Maybe shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine. Too late now.

I could seriously go on with snips and quotes forever. Go read the book!

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