Tag Archive | women fiction

Review : Something Blue

Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Pages : 338
Genre : Fiction, Contemporary
Series : Darcy & Rachel, book 2
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Darcy and Rachel have been friends forever – that is, until Rachel betrays Darcy in the worst possible manner, by stealing Darcy’s fiancé Dex just before the wedding. Darcy, blind to her own faults, can’t understand why her dear friend would do such a horrible thing to her.

When her luck seems to fail her more and more and no one’s there to help her, Darcy flies away to London to stay with an old friend. There, she has to live with the consequences of her actions, but also face the person she really is.

My Thoughts :

Something Borrowed was one of the first few books I reviewed here on this blog, and I remember enjoying it so much that I immediately went in search of its sequel, Something Blue. I wasn’t sure Giffin could really make me appreciate Darcy, a woman who seemed to have few redeeming qualities, but my curiosity for the other side of the story won over these doubts.

Since it had been a little while since reading the first book, I was afraid I wouldn’t remember enough to really get into the novel. Fortunately, Giffin summarizing the events from Darcy’s point of view helped jump start my memory and within a few pages, I was comfortably situated. And ready to fall for Darcy.

Yes, Giffin really did make me like Darcy. From early on, Darcy has much more depth than I would have given her credit for. It helps that her narration isn’t in the present tense : instead, she is talking from a future point in time, thinking back on these events with a somewhat critical eye. Along the way she sometimes point out how silly or selfish her actions were, but most of the time she lets her actions, good or bad, speak for themselves.

There’s also a romance element, and it’s sweet, and I liked it. It’s also complex, because people are complex, and this, I liked even more. There’s a bit of uncertainty but nothing over the top. It made the story even more heartwarming.

I did felt Darcy turned on her wheels rather quickly, going from bad to good in 60 seconds, but since it was time for her to change, I didn’t mind it much. I still had a great time and read through her story compulsively, finishing the book in one day (a rare event this year!)

Fans of Something Borrowed should definitely give Something Blue a try. Darcy has more than one surprise in store and Giffin’s writing highlights her story with a lot of talent.

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Review : Garden Spells

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Pages : 290
Genre : Fiction, Magical Realism
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Claire and Sydney Waverley have both grown up with their family’s name weighting on their shoulders, a name associated with the magic growing in the Waverley’s garden. While Claire embraces the name and everything it stands for, Sydney has been fleeing their grand-mother’s house and its magical apple tree all of her life. But when events in Sydney’s life push her back to the village of Bascon, the two sisters have to face both their relationship and their past.

My Thoughts :

I finally did it! After over two years of blogging and being recommended Sarah Addison Allen’s novels, I finally pulled Garden Spells from my shelf and read it. And if you’ve already done so yourself, you’ll know what I mean when I say that it was a magical experience!

There is much to love in Garden Spells, from terrific characters to the Waverleys’ garden filled with secrets. What surprised me the most in this enchanting story is how believable the magic was, so lightly sprinkled around the words that it didn’t push the border into the fantasy genre. And while it intervened in the characters’ lives in many ways, they were still masters of their lives and their actions.

I think I loved most characters in this book (except the ones you’re supposed to hate, of course) and I loved how different the two sisters were. How same events, same people were understood by them in completely different manners. And yet it did feel like they belonged together, in that house, with this family. There was a complexity to their relationship that had love, anger, regrets, all at the same time in a true-to-life manner.

If you ask me though, I would say there were four main characters in this story, all four Waverley women : Claire and Sydney, or course, but also Sydney’s daughter Bay and the sisters’ aunt Evanelle. Evanelle had one of the most awesome and most original magical power I’ve heard of, which is to give people something they need. Except, it’s always some random item they don’t already know they need. It’s absolutely comical and perfectly brilliant, especially since she’s also a completely lovely lady.

I loved the writing in most parts, though I did feel there were a few rough corners left needing an extra touch. Not really being into the love-at-first-sight-I-lose-all-common-sense-around-him type of story, I have to say the romance aspect didn’t work perfectly for me, but I honestly think it speaks of my interests and not of the author’s talent.

All in all, Garden Spells was absolutely delicious and I will absolutely be reading more from the author. If you love stories that mix love and family relationships with a touch of magic, I would certainly recommend this one. 🙂

Review : The Christmas Cookie Club

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman
Pages : 270
Genre : Fiction, Holiday!
Stand Alone
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Every year, on the first Monday of December, the Christmas Cookie club gathers at Marnie’s house. This year again, the twelve girlfriends are getting ready to share wine, cookies, and the stories that make their lives.

The Christmas Cookie Club was a nice read, although a bit different from what I first expected. The complete story takes place in a single day, the day when the Cookie Club is meeting. Although there isn’t really a “story” in the traditional sense of the word, the book still kept me interested. Ann Pearlman made me feel as if, for a moment, I was part of the group – maybe like a little bird peeking on everyone’s conversations.

So, after reading so many reviews of the book last year, I was looking forward to finally reading it. The first 50 pages of the book were so depressing, for a while I thought I was reading the wrong book. Between them, Marnie and her best friend Charlene share an awful lot of sad stories : death of a husband, loss of a child, being cheated on, violent relationship… you name it, it’s there.

Luckily, as I turned the pages and the other girls arrived at Marnie’s house, things lighten up a bit and the book started to fill with the Christmas spirit. I found that the characters’ stories made them real, and I felt that, despite the number of characters in such a small number of pages, I knew who they were. Each chapter introduces a new cookie recipe (and they are so, so yummy looking, I’m absolutely going to try them!), and ends with an ingredient’s story. This made the book really easy to read little by little or, should I say, one bit at a time!

The voice of Marnie was easy to relate to, which surprised me since I had little in common with her – she’s a woman in her fifties about to have her first grandkids, for a start – but her loving personality made it easy to care for her. Because she is the narrator, everything is of course told from her point of view, which means she knows some things about her friends, and ignores some others. In spite of her group of friends taking a huge importance in the book, I couldn’t help but feel that this was, before anything, Marnie’s story. Through her friends life, she was telling her own. She admits to that easily though :

“Sometimes I can’t get my mind around the different versions of me, Marnie. And yet the friends who met the other adaptations of me through the decades are still part of my current life. Witnesses, when we’re all together, to my whole existence. I love them as I love myself in all my varieties and aspects. And I love them for the spectacular women they are, each in her own way. (p. 73)”

So, all in all, I really enjoyed this book. It was also the perfect read for this time of the year : the Cookie club meets soon before Christmas, but it’s not about Christmas. It’s about love, friendship, family, giving, and… cookies, of course!

And if you enjoy the book, or want to start your own cookie club, be sure to get your hands on this :

Review : Time of my Life

Time of my Life by Allison Winn Scotch
Pages : 286
Genre : Women’ Fiction
My Rating : 

Jillian Westfield has the perfect husband, the perfect baby, and the perfect home in the suburbs, but sometimes she finds herself wondering about the life she left behind. A few short years earlier, she was living with her undeniably attractive but unreliable boyfriend Jackson, working a demanding job at an ad agency, partying too much, and living in a less-than-perfect New York apartment. But those days were full of possibility and free of diaper changes, trips to the grocery store, and endless days fulfilling only the needs of her daughter and husband. Now, discontented in her faltering marriage, Jillian can’t help but think about what her life would have been like if she hadn’t married Henry, quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom, or spurned her mother’s own attempts to reconcile after two decades of silence. What if she’d stayed with Jackson in their run-down apartment and tried a little harder to make their relationship work? What if she’d answered her mother’s letter? What would her life be like now?

One morning, Jillian gets a chance to find out. She wakes up in her old apartment, right in the middle of her life as it was seven years ago, before she’d left Jackson and her job and ignored her mother’s letter. With twenty-twenty hindsight, Jillian has the chance to discover “what if” once and for all—and to decide which life she really wants.

With Time of my Life, Allison Winn Scotch gives her character, Jillian, the chance to answer one of the most haunting questions that regularly comes and troubles our lives : what if? And though the book is mostly about her romantic choices, it also explores others “what if”s. What if you could do things all over again? Would you be more present for your friend going through a difficult situation? Would you do the same career choices? What exactly would you change, and where would these choices lead you?

I  enjoyed this book, and found that its story had a lot more depth to it than I expected. Yes, there were a few funny moments, but mostly Jillian’s character took this chance to take a serious look at her life. The narration was well written, and it felt a lot like listening to a friend’s story. She spoke in a way that felt intimate and very true to life. I could relate to many of Jillian’s thoughts, even though our lives are different in various ways. 

The only thing that let me a little down was Jillian and Jack’s relationship. Even though she says he was “the one who got away”, I never really felt their romantic connection. Jack seemed really self-involved and little inclined to compromises, with few redeeming qualities. I liked Henry much more, and even though he wasn’t “perfect” (who wants someone perfect anyway?), I liked his personality and their conversations.

I liked this book when I read it and I liked it even more after some time passed. The look the author takes on life, family and marriage was realistic and so beautifully put : it gives a lot to think about, and I could see this book as being a book club’s selection.I think many women could recognize themselves in Jillian’s fears, worries and disappointments. I enjoyed the ending, too, and I liked that, even though it was a happy one, it wasn’t an overly idealistic one.

In the end, I really enjoyed reading it. I’m extremely thankful to Lisa from TLC for giving me the chance to read it! For more opinions, stop by these wonderful blogs :

Or stop by this Book Tour‘s page to learn more on the author and the next steps of the tour!

Review : The Prairie Bridesmaid

The Prairie Bridesmaid by Daria Salamon
Pages : 261
Genre : Women’s Fiction
My Rating : 

The Prairie Bridesmaid caught my eye for its beautiful cover, and then for its poetic title. I was happy when I found it at my library, although I wasn’t sure what it was about. I thought I would be reading a romantic and light chicklit, but it turned out to be a little more than that. I love when a book surprises me like this!

Anna Lasko, a frustrated school teacher whose almost ex-boyfriend, Adam, is away on temporary assignment in Europe, finds herself tricked into a break-up-with-the-bad-boyfriend intervention by her supportive but meddling girlfriends. To cope with it all, Anna starts smoking again, keeps nightly counsel with her backyard squirrel, Buddy, and starts sessions with a caring but fashion-challenged therapist.

Her well-intentioned family adds to the emotional workload when her beautiful and free-spirited sister decides to move to the Middle East with her boyfriend. Luckily, Anna has her devoted grandmother who constantly says it like it is, refuses to conform to anyone’s requests, and continues to live on her prairie farm half-blind, happy and alone. 

Let me begin by saying, I loved this book. It was light, simple, the pages turned fast and I was constantly entertained. But at the same time, the story had a more serious layer to it, a depth that made this novel not only entertaining, but also a good occasion to reflect on love and relationships.

Anna and Adam have had a ten years relationship with more downs than ups, and yet they’re still together. As she waits for Adam to come back from Europe, Anna thinks back to when they met, when they first bought their house, when things started to turn bad. Little by little, we learn about Adam’s manipulative and controlling personality. It was easy to care for Anna, and the more I knew the more I wished for her to get out of this abusive relationship.

If there was one thing that disappointed me, it was the length of the book. It was way too short! There were so many characters, all great and interesting, and I would have loved to hear more about them, about their stories, about what would happen to them. Until I turned the last page, I hadn’t realized how much I cared for Anna, but also for her family and friends. In other words, this disappointment only tells you how much I enjoyed the book. I certainly hope that Salamon will write some more.

And let’s not forget Buddy the squirrel. He acts as Anna’s little voice, and she has the most brilliant conversations with him. I would certainly enjoy having a squirrel pet like this one at home!

Review : Best Intentions

Best Intentions by Emily Listfield
Pages : 338
Genre : Women fiction, mystery
My Rating : 

In the last weeks, I have read many good reviews of this book, enough for me to add it to my list of books I’d like to read.  Sheri from Bookopolis had written a good review in which she presented this book as a mix between women fiction and mystery, which made me even more curious about it. When the opportunity to review this book was presented to me, I immediately took it – and I wasn’t disappointed!

After tossing and turning all night, thirty-nine-year-old Lisa Barkley wakes up well before her alarm sounds.  As Lisa looks over at her sleeping husband, Sam, she can’t help but feel that their fifteen-year marriage is in a funk that she isn’t able to place. She tries to shake it off and tells herself that the strain must be due to their mounting financial pressures. But later that morning, as her family eats breakfast in the next room, Lisa finds herself checking Sam’s voicemail and hears a whispered phone call from a woman he is to meet that night. Is he having an affair?

When Lisa shares her suspicions with her best friend, Deirdre, at their weekly breakfast, Deirdre claims it can’t be true. But how can Lisa fully trust her opinion when Deirdre is still single and mired in an obsessive affair with a glamorous photographer even as it hovers on the edge of danger? When Deirdre’s former college flame, Jack, comes to town and the two couples meet to celebrate his fortieth birthday, the stage is set for an explosive series of discoveries with devastating consequences.

The complete story is narrated to us by Lisa, and I thought she was a fantastic narrator. She felt inscredibly real; she worried, she cried, she laughed, and I could feel each of her emotions through the pages. Listfield’s prose translates Lisa’s feelings in a beautiful way that feels close to life and very honest, and she brings the reader to question everything with Lisa.

The mystery evolves slowly, but it builds the characters in such a way that I felt like I knew them. I could imagine them perfectly, both physically and emotionally, which made the questions and the doubts they face even more understandable. I also loved how she centered on the details of the everyday life, the routine. Those are exactly the kind of details that help you understand the characters in a more subtle way, as if you lived with them.  As the end of the story nears, you never stop wondering. Even when you think you know how it will end, an another detail is revealed and you question your judgement.

I have to agree with Sheri’s review; the book really felt like a mix of the two genres, and in a positive way. The “mystery” part seems to arrive late in the book, but it fact, it only makes sense; looking back to the beginning of the book, I realized how everything, every detailed matter to bring the reader to the end. It’s not really about who did it, but more about what led to this point. And like in real life, in the end, nothing is completely, magically resolved.

One last thing I’d like to share with you is a quote that made me giggle a little. Although it might not be the most representative of the book itself, I found it to be somewhat funny considering that I, myself, was a blogger reading this book for a review. This is said by Rita, a not really important character with really bad language habits as you can see (I assure you the main characters have cleaner tongues!) page 45 ;

“What is it with this blogging shit anyway?” she demands. “Who the f*** cares what a bunch of pasty-assed twenty-year-olds who can’t score real jobs think?”

Haha! Loved that!

I know I loved a book when after the last page, I end up on the internet looking for what else the author wrote, and where can I get it. It is exactly what happened with Best Intentions, and so I thank Lauren for sending it to me. 🙂 I’d give it more something like a 4.25, so maybe my rating will change from 4 to 4.5 once I’ve had more time to think about it, but I certainly enjoyed it.