Genre: Womens Fiction

Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn Brown

Posted June 5, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn BrownThe Banty House by Carolyn Brown
Series: Standalone
Published by Montlake Romance on May 26, 2020
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 287
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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.

In the fading town of Rooster, Texas, all that’s really left is a service station, a church…and the Banty House, a long-ago Depression-era brothel. For more than seventy-five years, Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have called their mama’s house a home. The three eccentric sisters get by just fine with their homemade jams and jellies, a little moonshine on the side, and big hearts always open to strangers. Like Ginger Andrews.
An abandoned teen with a baby on the way and nowhere to go, she’s given a room to call her own for as long as she wants. The kind invitation is made all the sweeter when Ginger meets the sisters’ young handyman, Sloan Baker. But with a past as broken as Ginger’s, he’s vowed never to get close to anyone again. As a season of change unfolds, Ginger and Sloan might discover a warm haven to heal in the Banty House, a place to finally belong, where hope and dreams never fade.

This book feels like a porch swing with a friend, a cold drink, and a summer night with stars above and fireflies out on the lawn. Carolyn Brown stories are full of country charm and down home storytelling. The Banty House is no exception.

The story focuses on three elderly sisters who have lived a full life and still do (Oh lawd, do they!) as they remain one of the chief sources of their small town’s gossip. They are the daughters of a former brothel owner and their mama never married. But, their mama gave them a set of rules to live by and the first about caring for strangers and the second about helping others brings a homeless, pregnant young Ginger to them so they can show her what family and home are and she, in turn, can show a former soldier who lost his team that he was meant to survive and live.

The Banty House was heartwarming and gently paced, but those feisty gals can be so unexpected that there was never a dull moment. I love the cross generational cast of characters and how they worked well together.

The history of the Carson sisters, their home, and the town was interesting and set the background. I also felt so touched for Ginger who had a truly tough row to hoe as a foster kid who had no one ever and then got tricked by a slick guy before finding her way to Rooster, Texas and the Banty House and Sloan.

The romance is background for much of the book as the story is mostly about the Carson sisters and Ginger. Plus, Ginger is planning to move on when she gets on her feet and Sloan has stopped living and is even suspicious of Ginger at first. They both have painful pasts that they need to address and then there is the fact that she’s pregnant and worried that no man would take on her situation and someone else’s child. Sloan was a bit lost himself so caring for Ginger anchored him and he had a huge, generous heart that had room for her, her complications, and a baby.

There were a few exciting moments, but for the most part this was a character-driven comfort read that left me smiling and feeling lighter. Oh, and needing piles of home-cooked food after the descriptions of what Betsy and Ginger made. Those who enjoy women’s fiction crossing over with contemporary small town romance should definitely give this one a try.

I rec’d this book from Montlake Publishing via Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: Five French Hens by Judy Leigh

Posted January 16, 2020 by Lily B in Uncategorized / 23 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Five French Hens by Judy LeighFive French Hens by Judy Leigh
Series: Standalone
Published by Boldwood Books on December 10, 2019
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 344
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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 best days of your life might be still to come…
When 73 year old Jen announces that she is going to marry Eddie, a man she met just a few months previously on a beach on Boxing Day, her four best friends from aqua aerobics are flabbergasted.
The wedding is booked and, when the groom decides to have a stag trip to Las Vegas, the ladies arrange a hen party to beat all others -a week in the city of love, Paris.
From misadventures at the Louvre, outrageous Parisian cabarets, to drinking champagne with a dashing millionaire at the casino, Paris lives up to all their hopes and dreams. But a week can change everything, and the women that come home have very different dreams from the ones who got on the plane just days ago.
Funny, fearless and with a joie de vivre that reminds you to live every day like it’s your last. Judy Leigh has once again written the perfect feel-good novel for all fans of Cathy Hopkins, Dawn French and Fiona Gibson.Praise for Judy Leigh’s books:
‘Brilliantly funny, emotional and uplifting’ Miranda Dickinson
'Lovely . . . a book that assures that life is far from over at seventy' Cathy Hopkins bestselling author of The Kicking the Bucket List
'Brimming with warmth, humour and a love of life… a wonderful escapade’ Fiona Gibson, bestselling author of The Woman Who Upped and Left

When Jen says ‘yes!’, that is the catalyst for five golden girl friends to go on a tour of discovery about themselves and each other in the city of lights. I loved the idea of gals in their seventies finding adventure with their friends, healing, understanding, and even love so I gladly picked this one up and settled in for a coze with the Five French Hens.

Jen is a widow in her seventies who already found love and the good life, but now she is lonely so when proper gentleman Eddie courts her and proposes, she says yes. But, Eddie is headed to Vegas for his bachelor festivities and that decides her that she and her best buds should do something just as spectacular for her hen party. So off they go to Paris.

Jen is accompanied by four friends with their own life struggles and need for this friendship and this trip. Pam, Rose, Tess, and Della. Della is happily married to Sylvester the love of her life, but she worries about him working in that drafty food truck on the coast and looking more worn out each day. Pam is happily single except for Elvis her dog companion, but she is holding in a secret that eats at her and holds her back from life. Rose is a widower and accomplished musician. She was content in her marriage, but not fulfilled when she gave up her career for home and family to a husband who never respected her own talents. And, then there is lively and colorful Tess who is marginalized in her own home behind golf and the golf game on TV. She is determined to live a little and maybe rethink how she has been holding onto something that just isn’t there and never was.

This standalone women’s fiction started out slow as it passed the narration around rapidly between the five women. At first, I got confused as to who was who and it was a struggle to get interested. They all seemed like real people with real life problems, but I wasn’t feeling a spark of connection.

But, I hung in there because I wanted to get to Paris with them and that’s when the book started to come to life. Each woman was distinct now and I grew vested in a few of their stories and then more and more as the book progressed through their lively and fun time in Paris. It was Paris through the eyes of tourists like visiting the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, jazz club, casino, and more. I was loving it.

What I really loved, though, was when the layers were peeled back on these women’s lives and I could get to know their pain and their dreams. It took a while, but the book got there so that when it ended, I wasn’t ready to leave the gals behind. They each had something to face whether from their past, their present, or a decision about their future. I was totally rooting for them just like they were rooting for each other.

I had never heard of this author before, but now I’m interested in reading more of her niche stories about folks with silver hair and most of their life behind them, but still have some adventures left to live. There is a little romance in this, but the focus is definitely on their personal growth and friendship so it’s very much women’s fiction and I’d recommend it as such.

I rec’d this book through Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

Posted April 25, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review: The Summer Retreat by Sheila RobertsThe Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts
Series: Moonlight Harbor #3
Published by Mira on April 23, 2019
Genres: Womens Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 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.

Join USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor
Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.
As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.
Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach.

After finding out that her boyfriend cheated on her Celeste Jones joins her sister Jenna at Moonlight Harbor, where she helps her take care of the Driftwood Inn. Celeste is more than happy to do the chores in exchange for a summer escape.

Finding The One isn’t easy and her sister Jenna of all people should know that. Still, Jenna is determined to help her sister out by introducing her to Pastor Paul in hopes that her sister would make the right connection and choice. All Celeste wants is to find the perfect man, one that isn’t reminiscent with her ex-boyfriend who did her wrong. Pastor Paul definitely checks out in that department, he definitely wouldn’t cause her the heartache. But while Paul is sweet and comfortable, maybe being the Pastor’s wife is not something Celeste is all cut out to be and what about Henry the writer in room number 12?

This was a cute summer read. I found that I really enjoyed it and flew through the pages. I liked how it felt like a good beach read and I really enjoyed the characters and the small town life, despite having a few issues.

I had a hard time believing Celeste age in her late 30s. She acted a lot younger, especially when it came to love and men and she continued to make some wickedly bad decisions. I could see why she did it though, I think she was truly afraid of being hurt again but settling down with a family appealed to her. I wish it didn’t take her till the very last minute to see where she went wrong, but it was still a fluffy entertaining story. I really loved the interaction between Celeste and Henry and wished there was more of them over Paul.

There was a lot going on and I’d normally have a hard time with the character’s actions, but I found that I was just thoroughly enjoying it despite her decisions and it was an awesome fast phased palate cleanser.

I really want to see where Jenna’s storyline goes. From what little I got from Seth here I already found myself taking his side and hope she comes to a decision. While  I really enjoyed this, I do find that Celeste’s actions are probably not for everyone. But with it’s fast-paced writing, a charming small town and a wonderful cast of characters, this book makes a lovely summer read.

Overall, I will be coming back for more of the small town drama because I really enjoyed this book, despite some issues.

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Guest Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan

Posted February 8, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 16 Comments

Guest Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Jasmin Field by Melissa NathanPride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on April 24, 2001
Genres: Chick-Lit, Womens Fiction
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

It starts as a lark for Jasmin Field, the charming, acerbically witty columnist for a national women's magazine.  She joins a host of celebraties gathering in London to audition for the season's most dazzling charity event:  a one-night only stage production of Jane Austen's immortal Pride and Prejudice, directed by and starring the Academy Award -- winning Hollywood heartthrob Harry Noble.  And nobody is more surprised than Jasmin herself when she lands the lead of handsome Harry's love interest, Elizabeth Bennet.  But things start to go very wrong very quickly.  Ms. Field's delicious contempt for the arrogant, overbearing Harry Noble goes from being wicked fun to infuriating.  Her brief moment of theatrical glory looks as if it's going to be overshadowed by the betrayal of her best friend, the disintegration of her family and the implosion of her career. And suddenly she can't remember a single one of her lines.  But, worst of all, Harry Noble -- who, incidentally, looks amazing in tight breeches -- has started to stare hard at Jazz with that sort of a glimmer in his eyes...
Fresh, wild, wonderfully romantic and absolutely hilarious, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field is Jane Austen as the great lady herself never imagined it.

 

So, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field, a classic retelling within a modern retelling. Yes! We have a play adaption of Jane Austen’s P&P acted for a charity event with the players’ lives mimicking art in this one.

It is set in London and follows the life of women’s column journalist, Jasmin Field as she plays the part of impertinent Elizabeth Bennet across from top rated actor in the country, Harry Noble who set Jazz’s back up long before their first bad meeting.

Things progress in a marvelous comedy of errors type story as Jasmin is set in hate-mode toward Harry and it doesn’t help that she lets herself believe a charmer with lies on his lips. Harry got on her bad side so she has no trouble believing the worst. It is the shy, friendly side that startles her and throws her for a loop. Meanwhile, her sister falls for the cutie nice guy actor and her flat mate plays the role of the pragmatic friend who settles for what she can get.

But, it wasn’t just comedy. There were some deeper elements that came out: abuse, gaslighting, integrity in journalism, feminism in these fields of industry, and the downside of the entertainment world beside all the glitter and glam.

I had a good time with this one, particularly since I’m an American enjoying the completely British flavor of this one even down to the slang. There was some sparks flying and some memorable funny moments along with some good character growth and decisive moments.

I will say that while I had fun with the overall story; I was not as enamored with Jasmin as the main character. I found her character crossed the line from snarky into angry-bitter which wasn’t attractive. It did make her big ‘aha’ moment bigger, and it was great watching her work through her thoughts and choices after that. I didn’t have much respect for her and Harry at times until later- then I was rooting them on.

All in all, it was a fast and engaging retelling with some sparkle and shine to it.

 

Sophia Sophia 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Audiobook Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert

Posted May 30, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 14 Comments

Audiobook Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. ReichertThe Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert
Narrator: Teri Schnaubelt
Length: 8 hours and 12 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Tantor Audio on Tantor Audio
Genres: Womens Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Tantor Audio
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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

1. Get through to your daughter. 2. Buy more cheese. 3. Don't forget to call your mother.
Grilled G's Gourmet Food Truck is where chef, owner, obsessive list-maker, and recent widow Gina Zoberski finds the order and comfort she needs to struggle through each day, especially when confronted with her critical mother Lorraine and sullen daughter May.
Image-conscious Lorraine always knows best and expects her family to live up to her high expectations, no matter what. May just wants to be left alone to mourn her father in her own way. Gina always aims to please, but finds that her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys both her mother and her daughter, no matter how hard she tries.
But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

A lovely story that follows three generations of women, a mother-daughter relationship story told by three different women and their life-altering secrets.

This was a great book to listen to, I thought the narrator Teri Schnaubelt really brought the characters and the story to life, I was pulled in so much I did not even bother with the ebook, which I also had a copy with.

The writing was really cozy. I liked learning about Gina’s past and how the author chose to unfold her painful past as well as how her mother Lorraine might understand her daughter more than she shows.

I loved that this book focused on family and building or mending relationships, rather it’s by understand and talking about the past, accepting, and listening to how the other members of the family feel.

The only place I really struggled was Lorraine’s part of the book. I could understand where she was coming, but my biggest issue was her behavior towards Gina’s husband upon meeting her and how her own past wasn’t much different. She really felt like the worlds biggest hypocrite and that bothered me, I did not understand how someone that was so in love ones refused to accept the same for her daughter. Her own unhappiness in her marriage should have encouraged her daughter to marry whoever her heart desires, but her self-perseverance put a chasm between her and her daughter.

I found both stories to be really sad and pull on my heart strings.

I wish Lorraine’s ending was different than the one the author chose to give her, but overall, the ending in the book was pretty solid.

I really enjoyed this as an audiobook and definitely found it a great read with interesting characters overall.

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Review: Regrets Only by Erin Duffy

Posted May 23, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: Regrets Only by Erin DuffyRegrets Only by Erin Duffy
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on May 8, 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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 author of Bond Girl and Lost Along the Way, comes a fiercely funny, insightful story of marriage, family, and the crooked path to figuring out who we really are.
Claire thought she had everything a woman was supposed to want—a loving husband, a newborn son, a beautiful home in the suburbs. Then she walks in on her husband canoodling with their realtor in their newly renovated kitchen, and in an instant, her perfect life comes crashing down.  
With her marriage heading for divorce, Claire knows it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. But how can she move on when she’s still stuck in the orbit of her husband’s world? For starters, she can get rid of her soon-to-be ex’s possessions—including his prized, gigantic foosball table—by dumping them onto the curb…until complaints from the neighbors get the police involved. Now Claire is busy dodging the mean mommies at story hour and hiding from her ex-husband’s girlfriend in the grocery store. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even lead to new love.
Desperate for a positive outlet to channel her frustrations, she turns to girlfriends Lissy and Antonia for help. Together they join forces to rebrand Lissy’s local stationery store and turn it into a thriving business. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even new love.
Featuring a second coming-of-age story, Regrets Only deftly explores the subtle nuances of marriage, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman today, while delighting readers as its unforgettable heroine acts on impulses we’ve all been guilty of having.

Regrets Only follows a woman named Claire. Claire thinks she is really happy, she has a perfect husband who she moved from Chicago to Connecticut to be with, and a baby boy. Just when she thought her marriage couldn’t be more perfect her husband surprises her with a night off in the city with a full spa treatment. When Claire accidentally forgets her keys and comes back home, she finds her realtor in lingerie making waffles and drinking in her kitchen. Claire ends up literally catching her husband with his pants down while their baby son is sleeping upstairs.

Hurt beyond belief Claire ends up going through divorce, dealing with her feelings and rebuilding her life with the help of some amazing friends.

This book doesn’t seem to get a lot of positivity on goodreads, but I found that I actually really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed Erin Duffy’s writing a whole lot. It was snarky, funny, light and entertaining. I found it fast paced and the conversations humorous. I never felt like she was trying so hard.

The story itself is definitely very character driven. Claire is a jaded character, she is hurt, she is furious, and she flies off the handle because her world completely fell apart. Given Claire’s situation, I totally understood where her wild emotions were coming from. Claire couldn’t go home to Chicago, where most of her support network is because her ex-husband wants her to stay in Connecticut due to their son. Claire doesn’t know anyone there so her awesome best friend Antonia (Erin Duffy if you are listening, this girl really needs a book) ends up moving in with Claire to help her. To top it off, Claire has to watch her soon to be ex, parade his new girlfriend around town and won’t let her sell the house and move. The house where Claire feels uncomfortable because that is where she found the affair happening. Claire is very emotional and does some although funny, but questionable things and sometimes you wonder if she will ever grow as a character, but she does. Her feelings very were real and human and I personally totally see where she was coming from and why she was letting her emotions run the show.

I was glad to see Claire grow as a person towards the ends of the book and finally start to build some sort of life for herself outside of the old one she left behind. It wasn’t an easy road, and given her ex-husband’s reasons for the affair, I don’t think we can all judge that moment in time how each of us would ever behave in those kind of situations, but I can imagine the pain that Claire went through. Though some people found her emotions and actions unjustifiable, I can honestly say that it was nothing compared to what I have seen other jaded women had done in their life.

Overall, this was a fun read that is perfect for the summer with interesting characters and humor. I am looking to reading more future books from this author.

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Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

Posted May 16, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton FrankBy Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow on May 15, 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

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 Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.
Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.
By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard -working Southern peach farmers.
Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate, when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?
By Invitation Only is classic Dorothea Benton Frank—a mesmerizing Lowcountry Tale that roars with spirit, humor, and truth, and forces us to reconsider our notions of what it means to be a Have or a Have Not.

A story that follows two different women, from two different worlds. Diane English Stiftel grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and now her only son Fred is getting married to a girl out of Chicago. Susan Kennedy Cambria is a socialite who dabbles in a world of public relation, married to a wealthy and powerful broker, and believes she deserves every inch of her expensive lives. When their children are on the verge of being married, their worlds collide in the most unexpected ways.

I found myself enjoying this book. It follows two different families. One that is struggling to get by and one that is very well off. One that lives on a farm and lives off the land and one that is immersed in the world of the rich and barely lifts a finger to make dinner.

I wanted to pick this book up because I myself am from New York City and although I did not move to the Lowcounty of South Carolina, I did move to a small farm town in PA to be with my husband. The transition is different, but I couldn’t identify with Susan. Susan at times was a very hard character to like and it felt like the author wanted to make her as horrible as she was to create a stark contrast with these women, until life hits them in the face and we get to see that if you strip away anyone down to their vulnerability we are not so different after all.

I did notice as I was reading the book that the author like following up bad news with good news right away, most often even within the same chapter. Now that could be constructed as a way that despite all the hardships and troubles, there is always a lighter part of life. I do have to say it tended to give me a bit of a whiplash, I didn’t feel like the characters had enough time to really process the news that got laid into them and feel emotional before they were given to deal with something else, which made it hard for me to really connect to the characters. I felt like it could have been handled a bit better as far as how they processed things and made them more genuine if they were given some time.

The ending was quite a bit more emotional, and satisfying at the same time. I found this book was perfect for this Spring night reads and just what I wanted at this time of year. I enjoyed the parts about the farm and how Diane and her family took care of themselves, it was at times touching and pleasant.

Overall, this was my first book by this author and I am looking forward to going back and reading more from her.

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Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert

Posted May 12, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy ReichertThe Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert
Series: standalone
Published by Gallery Books on May 15th 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 310
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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.

1. Get through to your daughter. 2. Buy more cheese. 3. Don't forget to call your mother.
Grilled G's Gourmet Food Truck is where chef, owner, obsessive list-maker, and recent widow Gina Zoberski finds the order and comfort she needs to struggle through each day, especially when confronted with her critical mother Lorraine and sullen daughter May.
Image-conscious Lorraine always knows best and expects her family to live up to her high expectations, no matter what. May just wants to be left alone to mourn her father in her own way. Gina always aims to please, but finds that her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys both her mother and her daughter, no matter how hard she tries.
But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

Three generations of women in one family have struggled to connect. Until now. An older woman’s stroke brings out a long-held secret and is the catalyst for healing to begin with her daughters and her granddaughter. It was heartwarming, bittersweet, and a family story that left me wanting to call my own mom and hug her.

Gina is a widowed woman of two years running her fantastic Grilled G’s food cart business (seriously, her versions of grilled cheese kept me salivating) and figure out how to get through her daughter May’s teen hormones and angry grief. She copes by making her ever present lists and trying to look on the bright side.

Lorraine is a starched up well preserved woman who is driven and drives her daughters especially Gina until she has a stroke and the family secrets are discovered. Now, when she has no way to verbalize, this is when real communication happens in her family and the healing and understanding can start.

Lastly, there is young May. She grieves for her dad and takes all her loss and anger out on her mom thinking her mom has moved on and seems to want to forget May’s dad. May isolated herself and now is slowly coming out of that and seeing her mother very differently.

I should also mention- mostly because she was my favorite character and made me smile often, giving some of the heavier moments more balance – Lorraine’s second daughter Vicky doesn’t have as large a role, but she is right in the middle of all the new-found family healing and togetherness.

Like many Chick Lits and Women’s Fictions, this one is easy-paced and takes it’s time. The story is told in flashbacks and the present. There are emotional moments and slice of life scattered through the story. Food is an elemental theme around which these women can and do connect. The ending was a little heavy, but still very satisfying.

In summary, this was my first book by the author and now I can see why folks rave about her writing. It talks about every day women, family, and food with a dash of humor and sadness. I will definitely be going back for more and recommend this one to those who enjoy stories that focus on multi-generational women’s stories tied together by family.

I rec’d this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Guest Review: Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Posted March 26, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 17 Comments

Happy Monday everyone! Got Sophia Rose on the blog today with a review of Other People’s Houses. Totally exciting to see what she thinks of it myself because I am going to be listening to my copy in the near future. Enjoy!

Guest Review: Other People’s Houses by Abbi WaxmanOther People's Houses by Abbi Waxman
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on April 3rd 2018
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

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.

"Abbi Waxman is both irreverent and thoughtful."--#1 New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin
And now the author of The Garden of Small Beginnings returns with a hilarious and poignant new novel about four families, their neighborhood carpool, and the affair that changes everything.
At any given moment in other people's houses, you can find...repressed hopes and dreams...moments of unexpected joy...someone making love on the floor to a man who is most definitely not her husband...
*record scratch*
As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors' private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton's wife is mysteriously missing, and now this...
After the shock of seeing Anne Porter in all her extramarital glory, Frances vows to stay in her own lane. But that's a notion easier said than done when Anne's husband throws her out a couple of days later. The repercussions of the affair reverberate through the four carpool families--and Frances finds herself navigating a moral minefield that could make or break a marriage.

After the thoroughly engaging The Garden of Small Beginnings, I was pleased to settle back into the writing world that this author can create.

Other People’s Houses is a different style standalone story than the other, though happily there are a few minor crossover scenes. This one is a wry, varnish free up close and personal with four families in a typical middle-class LA neighborhood.

The main narrator is middle-aged, even-keeled Frances Bloom. Frances is comfortable and content. Well, as content as is probably possible- she has the squabbles with her teen daughter, the extra weight that never left after the kids came, the usual spousal disagreements, and the occasional wonder ‘is this my life?’, but yes, overall, she can’t complain. She enjoys being a stay at home, carpool mom with three kids and a comfortable marriage with a man who is more best friend than lover these days. Life is tripping along as normal until Frances comes across one of her neighbors she saw as cool, put together, and happily married, in an affair.

Anne’s affair has far reaching repercussions in her own life, her family’s, but also the neighborhood.

Suddenly people are not so content and all the neighbors are taking a closer look at themselves, their relationships and their lives. One married pair are tense as Iris wants a baby and Sara would rather not. Another married man, Bill is the butt of whispers as people wonder where his wife, Julie, has gone and Bill himself wants her with him. The kids and Charlie are reeling from Anne’s betrayal and what a broken family feels like. Meanwhile Frances and Michael are the unofficial anchors in the neighborhood, though, they do, are forced to pause and evaluate their own lives.

The rhythm of the book is slow as it meanders through all these lives and their days. The gentle pace can get soporific, but that’s where the author’s writing keeps the reader engaged. There are spot on observations, ponderings, and of course those giggle-worthy moments. This is an everyday average people story where the reader who may be middle-aged and/or a parent, a neighbor in a relatively quiet neighborhood can nod, ‘I’ve thought that’. Oh, no, it’s not everyone’s neighborhood or family life, but there is a familiarity to it, nonetheless.

The story ends on a crisis that brings things to a point so that the neighbor situations are all forced to resolve and yet, I had a curiosity for where these people will be in five years, ten, twenty… I got connected without realizing it, it seems.

It was a well-written piece of character-driven fiction. I’m very taken with this author’s writing style. Mildly engaging, a touch bitter at times, and thoughtful, flavored with the sweetness humor and wry housewife wit. I don’t think it is a book that will appeal to everyone, but it’s great if you are a people watcher and want to just sit back and observe the life in Other People’s Houses.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Guest Review: Paris For One and Other Stories by JoJoMoyes

Posted January 7, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 18 Comments

Happy 2018 Everyone! I know it’s a couple of days too late, but it’s been a long month in general. But, now that the holidays are over lets try and get back into the swing of things shall we? Today we are kicking off with Sophia Rose and her review of JoJo Moyes new book, enjoy!

Guest Review: Paris For One and Other Stories by JoJoMoyesParis for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes
Series: standalone
Published by Penguin Books on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars
Heat:two-flames

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

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You and After You, Paris for One and Other Stories is an irresistibly romantic collection filled with humor and heart.
"A vicarious jolt of Parisian romance. . . Delightful." -People Magazine
"An old-fashioned, feel-good love story. . . It's as if Moyes has booked a vacation and is taking us along. To Paris. Amour!" -USA Today "Dreamy escapism, a book you can curl up with and easily finish over a weekend, with or without a glass of wine." -Miami Herald
Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She's never even been on a romantic weekend away--to anywhere--before. Traveling abroad isn't really her thing. But when Nell's boyfriend fails to show up for their mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone--including herself--wrong. Alone in Paris, Nell finds a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Could this turn out to be the most adventurous weekend of her life? Funny, charming, and irresistible, Paris for One is quintessential Jojo Moyes--as are the other stories that round out the collection.
From the Hardcover edition.

This was my first encounter with JoJoMoyes writing and I have to confess that I was somewhat reluctant after reading all the angsty and teary-eyed reviews of Me Before You. I’m a chicken about really heartwrenching stories so I held back. But then I spotted this short story collection and thought it might be safe enough.

Well, I made a good call I think, but not because Paris For One was devoid of angst. No, this was a fantastic collection that gave me an idea of the writing gift the author displays, her talent for going deep in an economy of pages, and gave me so many lovely story gems all in one volume. I might just be brave (read greedy for more, there) enough to pick up more of her books.

So… Paris For One and Other Stories.

There were nine stories total including Paris For One which is a novella and the others as short stories. Each showed a different facet of love and life all from each heroine’s perspective only: a young woman ditched by her boyfriend to do Paris alone, rekindling the romance for a middle-aged couple, a new chance at the road not taken (aka former lover vs husband), a woman finding her mojo when she finds some killer shoes, shop girl flirts with robber during hold up, finding contentment in a material world, an infidelity accusation backfires, a two-week pretend life for a bored woman, and a woman who sees her life clearly while on a hunt to fulfill her Christmas list.

They were all good in their own ways and I could see the appeal hitting me differently if I read these in different moods because they hit all facets of women’s lives and feelings. I enjoyed the most, Paris For One as a girl who never took a step without making a list learns to take chances now and then and finds her confidence, but also thought Hold Up was a hoot, Crocodile Shoes made me root hard for the heroine and Last Year’s Coat resonated with me the most, I think, because this woman struggled hard with every day issues.

And, I think that was the appeal of each story. All these gals were every day women that I recognized in myself or others I know. They were familiar, but yet they had new experiences. This book brought out my emotions, but also left me musing afterward.

All in all, I was well satisfied with this collection of shorts and definitely want to try her novel-length books. These are definitely for those who enjoy women’s fiction and chic lit.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange of an honest opinion.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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