Tag: women

Book Review: Queen of the Unwanted, by Jenna Glass

queen of the unwanted
Image belongs to Del Rey.

Title:  Queen of the Unwanted
AuthorJenna Glass
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

In this world, women have no rights. If their husband or father decide they’ve disgraced their family—for anything from not having a child quickly enough to a sideways look—they are sent away, usually to one of the Abbeys, where they are forced to pleasure any man who desires. They have no rights. They have no futures. They have no magic. At least, they didn’t…

Alys is queen of Women’s Well, a new colony where women have equal rights after the Women’s War. But Alys can’t bring herself to care about anything besides the loss of her daughter—and her own desire for vengeance. Her mother gave her life for the spell that gave women magic, but Alys finds it hard to see past her personal tragedy.

Faced with opposition from men who still believe women have no rights, Ellin struggles to rule her land—and to change the status quo for men unused to women with power.

An abbess thinks she can reverse the spell that changed the world—but all she really wants is to keep the power she has gained through cunning and treachery.

Unless these women can find a way to work together, they will lose everything they have gained.

I haven’t read The Women’s War—yet—but I still had no trouble following what was going on in Queen of the Unwanted. (I would recommend reading the first book, though, as I’m sure this novel would be much richer with that introduction.) Excellent writing and worldbuilding, and a great mix of characters:  some I liked, some I disliked, some I actively hated. I recommend reading this—and I can’t wait to go back and read the first novel.

Jenna Glass has been writing books since the fifth grade. Queen of the Unwanted is her newest novel, the second book in The Women’s War series.

(Galley courtesy of Del Rey in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Summer Villa, by Melissa Hill

the summer villa blog tour

the summer villa
Image belongs to Harlquin/MIRA.

Title:  The Summer Villa
AuthorMelissa Hill
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Three women. One summer reunion. Secrets will be revealed…

Villa Dolce Vita, a rambling stone house on the Amalfi Coast, sits high above the Gulf of Naples amid dappled lemon groves and fragrant, tumbling bougainvillea. Kim, Colette and Annie all came to the villa in need of escape and in the process forged an unlikely friendship.

Now, years later, Kim has transformed the crumbling house into a luxury retreat and has invited her friends back for the summer to celebrate.

But as friendships are rekindled under the Italian sun, secrets buried in the past will come to light, and not everyone is happy that the three friends are reuniting… Each woman will have things to face up to if they are all to find true happiness and fully embrace the sweet life.

On one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Italy—and a vacation sounds wonderful right about now! On the other, I found Kim and Annie to be mildly annoying characters at best. Kim was rather self-absorbed, spoiled, and selfish. Annie was…well, she had a huge chip on her shoulder and spent quite a bit of time feeling sorry for herself. That’s a no-go for me.

I liked Colette, and I would have enjoyed more time spent with her, but a lot of this novel fell in the “too good to be true” category for me. I mean, doesn’t everyone meet handsome strangers who fall immediately in love with you on vacation…and end up wildly successful in your chosen field? This is still an quick, breezy read that doesn’t require too much mental involvement to enjoy.

Melissa Hill is a bestselling author. The Summer Villa is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Feels Like Falling, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

feels like falling
Image belongs to Gallery Books.

Title:  Feels Like Falling
AuthorKristy Woodson Harvey
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5 

It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her extremist husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger, Diana Harrington, fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a worn-out Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn. But when her first love returns, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

I loved the relationship Gray had with her assistant and her best friend! Their interactions, especially when adding Diana into the mix, made the whole novel come alive. I didn’t quite get why Gray had such a problem with the age difference between herself and her new man—it wasn’t that big, and he was in graduate school, it’s not like he was a freshman or something. She also dropped him pretty quick and was interested in someone else—who she then handed to her best friend like he was a purse she tried out and didn’t like. This was definitely a novel about opposites, as Diana was a far cry from Gray’s posh and privileged life. A fun read, but not a lot of character depth.

Kristy Woodson Harvey is a bestselling author. Feels Like Falling is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Engineer’s Wife, by Tracey Enerson Wood

the engineer's wife
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Landmark.

Title:  The Engineer’s Wife
AuthorTracey Enerson Wood
Genre:  Historical fiction
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Emily Warren Roebling refuses to live conventionally―she knows who she is and what she wants, and she’s determined to make change. But then her husband Wash asks the unthinkable: give up her dreams to make his possible.

Emily’s fight for women’s suffrage is put on hold, and her life transformed when Wash, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, is injured on the job. Untrained for the task, but under his guidance, she assumes his role, despite stern resistance and overwhelming obstacles. Lines blur as Wash’s vision becomes her own, and when he is unable to return to the job, Emily is consumed by it. But as the project takes shape under Emily’s direction, she wonders whose legacy she is building―hers, or her husband’s. As the monument rises, Emily’s marriage, principles, and identity threaten to collapse. When the bridge finally stands finished, will she recognize the woman who built it?

Interestingly enough, the big subplot of this novel:  the love triangle between Emily, Wash, and PT Barnum isn’t even mentioned in the synopsis. Nor is the women’s suffrage movement, also a significant part of the story. Both of these things gave more depth to the storyline, and PT Barnum was arguably the most interesting character in the novel.

I found Emily herself likable enough, if a bit self-absorbed. She fought a hard battle and that came through clearly, although I felt her strength was overshadowed by her lack of awareness of how her actions affected others. Wash was also self-absorbed, but his willingness to put his own feeling aside in favor of Emily’s wishes was a nice touch of character.

Tracey Enerson Wood has always loved writing. The Engineer’s Wife is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Daré

the girl with the louding voice
Image belongs to Penguin/Dutton.

Title:  The Girl with the Louding Voice
Author:  Abi Daré
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who dreams of finishing her education and becoming a teacher. Before her mother died, she made her father promise Adunni wouldn’t be forced to marry, but her father now disregards that promise and gives her to be the third wife to a local man who demands that she gives him sons—and his first wife terrorizes her.

So Adunni runs away—and finds herself as the house slave to a wealthy couple in the city. The wife forces Adunni to scrub the house with a toothbrush and beats her whenever the whim strikes. The husband is a threat of a different kind, and Adunni realizes if she is ever to have “a louding voice”—the ability to speak and stand up for herself—she will have to act despite her fear. For herself. For the ones who came before her. And for those who will come after.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how blessed I am, but this book paints it in stark relief in comparison to Adunni’s life. The strength and determination it would take to stand up to centuries of tradition and cultural habits is amazing. Adunni has suffered unspeakable things at the hands of those around her—yet she’s still upbeat and determined to seize her dreams in both hands. An excellent read—but not light and fluffy.

Abi Daré grew up in Nigeria and now lives in the UK. The Girl with the Louding Voice is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Children of the Stars, by Mario Escobar

children of the stars
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Children of the Stars
AuthorMario Escobar
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Paris, 1942.

Jacob and Moses Stein are staying with their aunt amidst the Nazi occupation, while their parents search for a safe place for the family to be reunited. Before they can, the French gendarmes round up the Jews and detain them in the massive Vélodrome d’Hiver. Jacob and Moses are determined to escape and find their parents, but all they have is a handful of letters to lead them across the Nazi-filled countryside. Along the way they cross paths with many people who are determined to help them find their parents—no matter the cost.

Children of the Stars was a good historical read, but it was a little too…nice to be believable for me. Despite the harrowing time period, I never felt the boys were truly in danger, and I always knew they would find their parents in the end. Don’t get me wrong, I like happy endings, but this tone felt wrong for the story. These boys are alone in the midst of atrocities and horror, but those stakes never seemed to touch them, making this much less believable for me, although I enjoyed the characters themselves. This felt like a book aimed at a younger audience, with its characters who were never truly in danger.

Mario Escobar loves history. Children of the Stars is his new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain

big lies in a small town
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Big Lies in a Small Town
AuthorDiane Chamberlain
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

In 2018, Morgan Christopher’s life has been put on hold. Serving three years for a crime she didn’t commit, she’s given up all hope of a career in art and just wants her prison stay to be over—until a stranger offers her a deal that will mean her immediate release:  restore an old mural in a small southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, and the deadline is something not even an experienced restoration artist could meet, but as Morgan starts work on the painting, she realizes it hides evidence of madness, murder, and lies in a small town.

In 1940, Anna Dale wins a contest to paint a post office mural in North Carolina. She’s thrilled for the opportunity—but Edenton isn’t what she expected at all. Her life in New York gives her no frame of reference for understanding this small southern town—full of prejudice, secrets, and expectations she refuses to meet—which just might end in murder.

I didn’t immediately connect with the characters, but I ended up loving this book! I connected with both Morgan and Anna, and I admired them both. They are such strong women. They don’t always make the best choices, but they do stay true to themselves and grow from their experiences.

Diane Chamberlain is a bestselling author. Big Lies in a Small Town is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Westering Women, by Sandra Dallas

westering women
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Westering Women
AuthorSandra Dallas
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

In 1852, Maggie has a young daughter who’s been abused and an abusive husband who will kill her if he can find her, so she signs up to join a wagon train to California with 43 other women eager to find husbands. Maggie doesn’t care about the husband part; she just wants to keep her daughter safe. She’s not even sure her own husband is alive—if he’s not, she’s sure to be accused of his murder.

She soon learns she’s not the only woman in the group with secrets:  Mary, whose family treated her like a slave, just wants freedom, and on the trail her large size is  good thing. One of the women used to be a prostitute. One is also running from an abusive man. One is hiding a secret in plain sight. Throughout the journey the women—and the two minsters accompanying them—must learn how to fend for themselves and become more than who they were.

I loved the premise of Westering Women. I was a bit disappointed in the execution, though. The women’s stories are amazing, but their presence on the page was scattered and fuzzy at best. Even Maggie, supposedly the main character, seemed more like a bit player most of the time. Some of the transitions were very abrupt and came out of nowhere, too (when the men one of the girls was running from showed up randomly). A great historical jaunt, but the writing didn’t do it justice. Judging from other reviews I’ve seen, this is clearly a case of the book just not being a good fit for me.

Sandra Dallas is a New York Times-bestselling author. Westering Women is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine, by Rebecca Raisin

the little bookshop
Image belongs to harlequin/HQN.

Title:  The Little Bookshop on the Seine
AuthorRebecca Raisin
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Sarah Smith loves her little bookstore in tiny Ashford, Connecticut. She swears her books talk to her, and she’s happy with her life, her tight-knit group of friends—and their pastries—and her boyfriend, globe-trotting journalist Ridge. Except he’s gone so much, and Sarah is a little bit bored. So, when her Parisian friend Sophie offers a six-month bookshop exchange, Sarah finds herself flying to Paris to take care of Once Upon a Time, a famous, and popular, bookstore on the Seine.

But Sarah’s dreams of quiet time spent reading, forays to explore Paris, and getting to see Ridge as he travels the world fade quickly once she arrives in Paris. The staff at the bookshop are suspicious and uncooperative. The customers are rude. There’s barely time to breathe, much less read. And instead of spending time with Ridge, their relationship is reduced to occasional quick phone calls. But Sarah has had enough. Christmas is coming and she is determined to get things sorted out, no matter what.

I loved this book! I didn’t realize until I finished it that Rebecca Raisin also wrote Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop, which was also a lovely read…but it all makes sense now. The Little Bookshop on the Seine made me want to visit Paris, which has never been on my Places to Go list, but I’d pack right up for a chance to work in Once Upon a Time, and Sarah, with her love of books and reading contrasting with her desire to experience life is so me that I related to every page. I highly recommend this!

Rebecca Raisin loves books. The Little Bookshop on the Seine is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Mercy Road, by Ann Howard Creel

mercy road
Image belongs to Lake Union Publishing.

Title:  Mercy Road
AuthorAnn Howard Creel
Genre:  Historical fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

In 1917, Arlene Favier’s home burns to the ground one night. Her father dies in the fire, leaving Arlene to care for her mother and brother and try to rebuild the family’s horse-breeding business. Arlene is determined, but jobs are scarce, especially for women. Until she gets the opportunity to join the American Women’s Hospital as an ambulance driver.

Soon Arlene is part of a trailblazing all-women team of doctors, nurses, and drivers headed to war-torn France. Arlene must work day and night dodging bombs and shells to help civilians and soldiers escape the horrors of war. Somehow, she has caught the attention of Felix Brohammer, a captain who charms everyone he meets—except Arlene, who sees darkness in the man’s eyes.

Arlene also finds Jimmy, a childhood friend who makes her feel things she never imagined. But she’ll have to risk everything—and everyone she loves—to find out the truth about Felix.

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical tale. The courage and bravery of this team of women stuns me. I cannot imagine how much strength it would take to not only work on the front lines of war, but to do so while fighting centuries of tradition and rules preventing women from doing so. Arlene’ strength and determination shine through on every page, and her love for those around her motivates everything she does. Definitely worth reading.

Ann Howard Creel is an award-winning author. Mercy Road is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)