Tag: friendship

Book Review:   Bloomsbury Girls, by Natalie Jenner

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: Bloomsbury Girls
AuthorNatalie Jenner
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances – most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time – Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others – these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

I think this got off to a little bit of a slow start, but it ended up being very good. I loved The Jane Austen Society, and it was so much fun seeing some of those characters again. I loved all three of the main female characters, and I was fully invested in their stories. It was lovely to see famous literary characters come to life, as well as the secondary characters in the bookstore itself.

Natalie Jenner is a bestselling author. The Bloomsbury Girls is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:   The Kew Gardens Girls at War, by Posy Lovell

Image belongs to Penguin Group Putnam.

Title:    The Kew Gardens Girls at War
Author:    Posy Lovell
Genre:    Historical fiction
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

When Daisy Turner’s new husband joins the RAF to fight the Battle of Britain, she’s terrified she’s going to lose him. So when her mother Ivy suggests she joins the gardeners at Kew to keep busy, Daisy’s intrigued. After all, Ivy worked at Kew during the last war and made lifelong friends along the way.

Ivy’s friend, Louisa Armitage, is feeling old and useless at her Kent home, wishing she could return to Kew and do her bit for the war effort. Tensions are rising between Louisa and her pacifist husband, as they argue over their nephew Christopher, who’s enlisted. But Louisa’s not ready to hang up her gardening gloves yet, and she’s soon on her way to Kew with an idea that could really make a difference.

Meanwhile Beth Sanderson is furious after her father stops her applying to medical school. Angry and frustrated, she applies to a new wartime role at Kew Gardens, alongside her doctor friend Gus Campbell. But the committee is run by men and Beth is asked to take a job a gardener instead, running a demonstration allotment with new friend Daisy. As the bombs fall on a Blitz-stricken London she finds herself torn between Gus, and her boyfriend Paul. Can Gus and Beth overcome the racism of wartime Britain to be together?

When tragedy hits, the women are forced to come together to support each other through their darkest hours. But can the Kew Gardens Girls survive the horrors of war-torn London this time?

This is a wonderful novel! The first I’d read from this author, but hopefully not the last. I think Beth was my favorite character, but I truly liked all of them. Poor Daisy thought Beth was so much better than her because of her looks, but Daisy lent her own strength to the story. This was a lovely read.

Posy Lovell lives in London. The Kew Gardens Girls at War is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Penguin Group Putnam in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Suite Spot, by Trish Doller

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   The Suite Spot
Author:   Trish Doller
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Rachel Beck has hit a brick wall. She’s a single mom, still living at home and trying to keep a dying relationship alive. Aside from her daughter, the one bright light in Rachel’s life is her job as the night reservations manager at a luxury hotel in Miami Beach—until the night she is fired for something she didn’t do.

 On impulse, Rachel inquires about a management position at a brewery hotel on an island in Lake Erie called Kelleys Island. When she’s offered the job, Rachel packs up her daughter and makes the cross country move.

 What she finds on Kelleys Island is Mason, a handsome, moody man who knows everything about brewing beer and nothing about running a hotel. Especially one that’s barely more than foundation and studs. It’s not the job Rachel was looking for, but Mason offers her a chance to help build a hotel—and rebuild her own life—from the ground up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read! It was fun to get to see a bit more about Rachel’s sister from Float Plan (loved that, too!), but Rachel’s story was engrossing. I can’t even imagine having her original job catering to the rich and famous and their every whim, but life on Kelleys Island sounds so much more interesting.

I enjoyed how Rachel recognized her faults and made a concerted effort to change throughout the story, growing in her confidence in herself and making good choices. I loved Mason and his honesty about what he was dealing with, and watching these two get together was just pure fun.

Trish Doller was born in Germany but lives in Florida. The Suite Spot is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Love & Saffron, by Kim Fay

Image belongs to Penguin Group Putnam.

Title:   Love & Saffron
Author:   Kim Fay
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter–as well as a gift of saffron–to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic–exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.

 Food and a good life–they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship–a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.

I enjoyed this short novel told almost exclusively in letters. The growing friendship between Joan and Imogen is sweet and uplifting as the women’s lives both change and evolve. They inspire each other as they go through major life changes, and despite their differences, their love for each other continues to grow.

Kim Fay lives in L.A. Love & Saffron is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Penguin Group Putnam in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Bright Side Running Club, by Josie Lloyd

Image belongs to Alcove Press

Title:   The Bright Side Running Club
Author:   Josie Lloyd
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

When Keira first receives her breast cancer diagnosis, she never expects to end up joining a running group with three women she’s only just met. Totally blind-sided, all she can think about is how she doesn’t want to tell her family or step back from work. Nor does she want to be part of a group of fellow cancer patients. Cancer is not her club.

 And yet it’s running – hot, sweaty, lycra-clad running in the company of brilliant, funny women all going through treatment – that unexpectedly gives Keira the hope she so urgently needs. Because Keira will not be defined by the C-word. And now, with the Bright Side Running Club cheering her on, she is going to reclaim everything: her family, her identity, and her life.

 One step at a time.

 I enjoyed this book so much! I loved Keira as a character, and I loved all the secondary characters as well (except her horrible coworkers). Her journey was both terrible and inspiring as she deals with a terrifying diagnosis and the treatment that isn’t much better. I loved how much she learned about herself and the people in her life, and I’ll admit the book brought me to tears a time or two. I highly recommend!

Josie Lloyd is from Brighton. The Bright Side Running Club is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Alcove Press in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review:  Getting His Game Back, by Gia De Cadenet

Image belongs to Random House/Ballantine.

Title:   Getting His Game Back
Author:   Gia De Cadenet
Genre:   Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Khalil Sarda went through a rough patch last year, but now he’s nearly back to his old self. All he has to do is keep his “stuff” in the past. Real men don’t have depression and go to therapy–or, at least they don’t admit it. He’s ready to focus on his growing chain of barbershops, take care of his beloved Detroit community, and get back to being the ladies’ man his family and friends tease him for being. It’ll be easy . . . until Vanessa throws him completely off his game.

Vanessa Noble is too busy building a multimillion-dollar tech career as a Black woman before age thirty to be distracted by a relationship. Not to mention, she’s been burned before, still dealing with the lingering hurt of a past breakup. Besides, as her friends often remind her, she’ll never find a man who checks all the boxes on her famous List. Yet when she desperately needs a shape-up and happens upon one of Khalil’s barbershops, the Fade, he makes her reconsider everything. Khalil is charming, intelligent, sexy, and definitely seems like he’d treat a woman right . . . but he’s not Black.

 Vanessa may be willing to take a chance on Khalil, but a part of him is frustratingly closed off, just out of her reach. Will old patterns emerge to keep them apart? Or have they both finally found a connection worth throwing away the playbook for?

 I really enjoyed this read! The portrait of depression is sadly accurate (in my experience), and the author did a good job of drawing the reader into what Khalil was experiencing. I enjoyed his romance with Vanessa and how unsure they both were when they met and realized their attraction. The cover makes this look like it’s a romcom, but this story has depth.

Gia De Cadenet is from Florida but lives in France. Getting His Game Back is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House/Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  The Last Dance of the Debutante, by Julia Kelly

Image belongs to Gallery Books.

Title:   The Last Dance of the Debutante
Author:   Julia Kelly
Genre:   Historical fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

When it’s announced that 1958 will be the last year debutantes are to be presented at court, thousands of eager mothers and hopeful daughters flood the palace with letters seeking the year’s most coveted invitation: a chance for their daughters to curtsey to the young Queen Elizabeth and officially come out into society.

 In an effort to appease her traditional mother, aspiring university student Lily Nichols agrees to become a debutante and do the Season, a glittering and grueling string of countless balls and cocktail parties. In doing so, she befriends two very different women: the cool and aloof Leana Hartford whose apparent perfection hides a darker side and the ambitious Katherine Norman who dreams of a career once she helps her parents find their place among the elite.

 But the glorious effervescence of the Season evaporates once Lily learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her entire family. Faced with a dark past, she’s forced to ask herself what really matters: her family legacy or her own happiness.

This was such a good read! I loved reading about the debutantes, but all the pageantry sounded awful, frankly. Lily was a wonderful character. I enjoyed seeing how she went from a student to a society girl before realizing who she truly wanted to be. The glamor of being a deb didn’t enthrall her for long, and she learned to stand on her own feet and make her own decisions—and friends—as she learned the truth about her past.

Julia Kelly lives in London. The Last Dance of the Debutante is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Aria’s Travelling Book Shop, by Rebecca Raisin

Image belongs to Harper 360.

Title: Aria’s Travelling Book Shop  
Author Rebecca Raisin
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

This summer will change everything! 

Aria Summers knows what she wants. 

A life on the road with best friend Rosie and her beloved camper-van-cum-book-shop, and definitely, definitely, no romance.

 But when Aria finds herself falling – after one too many glasses of wine, from a karaoke stage – into the arms of Jonathan, a part of her comes back to life for the first time in years. 

Since her beloved husband died Aria has sworn off love, unless it’s the kind you can find in the pages of a book. One love of her life is quite enough.

 And so Aria tries to forget Jonathan and sets off for a summer to remember in France. But could this trip change Aria’s life forever…?

This was such a fun read! I enjoyed Rosie’s story before this, and Aria’s story was just as enjoyable. Tea and books:  my favorites. I relished all the literary references, and Aria has such a knack for landing herself in scrapes that it made me laugh. A quick read that’s just pure pleasure.

Rebecca Raisin loves books. Aria’s Travelling Book Shop is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harper 360 in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Bright Young Thing, by Brianne Moore

Image belongs to Alcove Press.

In 1931 England, Astra Davies defies all the conventions. Clever, witty, and determined, Astra smokes, drinks, plays a mean piano, and gallivants around London with her beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. But Astra finds herself in a tight spot when her parents die suddenly, leaving her with a raft of debts. With few marketable skills and a closet full of family secrets, Astra has two choices: find a rich husband or make her own way.

A fiercely driven woman like Astra is not about to cast her lot in with a man, especially out of desperation. And since the only man she fancies–Jeremy Harris, the Earl of Dunreaven–is as hard up as she is, her way forward is clear. But the path to independence is a bumpy one fraught with hazards and heartbreaking choices. A blackmailing socialite threatens to derail Astra’s reputation. A brainless business partner just might drive her even further into debt. And a series of bruising scandals dogs her every step of the way.

From the bustle of London to the country estates of the aristocracy, Astra embarks on a journey that tests her brains, wit, and mettle as never before. But one way or another, Astra Davies is dead set on proving she’s no ordinary Bright Young Thing.

I really enjoyed this read! Astra’s character growth was fantastic to watch. Her friend’s sister, however, was evil and vindictive, and I just couldn’t stand her at all. It seemed like Astra just keep getting slammed with more and more obstacles, but she persevered and learned from them, letting them make her stronger instead of destroying her.

Brianne Moore is from Pennsylvania but now lives in Scotland. A Bright Young Thing is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Alcove Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Book Review: Beware the Mermaids, by Carrie Talick

Image belongs to Alcove Press.

Hermosa Beach housewife Nancy Hadley is no pushover. So when her philandering husband, Roger, is caught in flagrante with an opportunistic widow on their racing sailboat, Nancy sticks it to him. She tells him she wants a divorce–with the sailboat, Bucephalus, part of the deal, too.

Roger would rather make Nancy’s life a living hell than give up his boat. But Nancy has other plans. After moving out of their opulent home, she and her posse of girlfriends invest in a racing boat of their own to live on, and she teaches them the fine points of sailing. Meanwhile, and unbeknownst to Nancy, a big real estate development is under way that would destroy her beloved harbor and new home. When scheming Roger returns to ask Nancy to help capture the last committee vote–held by Nancy’s old college friend–Nancy prepares for battle.

Nancy is not skittish about taking a few risks, so in a bold gambit, she makes a bet with Roger: a showdown in the thrilling Border Dash Race from Newport Harbor down to Ensenada, Mexico. The winner of the race will get everything they want.

Can we talk about how much I didn’t like Roger? Seriously. Total jerk—and he deserved everything he got. I really enjoyed the female friendships and the unique setting. Nancy definitely has guts, and I loved how she realized her own strength—and her supportive group of friends (and family). This was a fun read full of pure pleasure!

Carrie Talick lives in California. Beware the Mermaids is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Alcove Press in exchange for an honest review.)