Review: The Cotswolds Cookery Club by Alice Ross

This book is actually a compilation of three serial novellas… just so you know… because I was thrown for a loop when I finished the first novella at 34%, previously having thought it was a novel, and wondering what the heck the other 66% could be! Now that that’s sorted…

I really enjoyed these entertaining novellas, each focusing on one member of the casual, put-together-on-a-whim, friendly club of women who like to cook. Alice Ross did a wonderful job making the friendships come to life and drawing the reader into each woman’s joys and pains. These are lighthearted stories, though there are a few heavy-hearted conversations among the friends about love, marriage, and children.

As an aside, I found it pretty awesome that one of the recipes a character makes is Patatas Bravas – the same dish my teenager had to make as part of a group project for her high school Spanish class.

So… each story has some seriousness, some playfulness, and a couple of out-loud laughs, but my most favorite happily ever after was in book 3 when karma makes an appearance, and the comeuppance is delish.

-calliope

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Review (Take Two): Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Dr. Nora returns home to Scupper Island, Maine for a while for some rest and recuperation. She decided to leave behind her old life in Boston for a while – well, her old “reinvented in medical school” life, the one where she lost weight and gained confidence.

Higgins wrote a fascinating mother daughter relationship between Nora and her mom, and then put icing on the cake adding Nora’s wayward sister into the mix. Very well done. The family dynamics sucked me in without being too over the top. And Nora’s niece … aw, man, I was endeared to her from the start!

Best thing ever: The houseboat Nora rents. Second best thing ever: reading Nora’s emotions when she hears a certain someone walking up the dock. Oh and don’t miss the dinner party of all dinner parties – thank goodness for supportive friends, slightly eligible bachelors, and a mom who doesn’t stand for any nonsense.

Want to read Melpomene’s recent review of this book? Click right here.

-calliope

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Review: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins knows how to write the sweet women’s fiction/chick lit/romance. It’s not my usual type of book, but I love Kristan’s books so I had to read this. And I’m so glad I did.

This story is about family and friendship. While there is romance, that’s not what the story is about. From the first page, I was sucked in. I stayed up late and woke up early, because I needed to see how Nora was going to handle everything that life has thrown at her.

Nora finds herself back at her hometown, trying to move forward, but every day she’s reminded of the past. I liked her attitude. She has this spunk about her. I want to be her friend. She is determined to live the life she wants and if she has to beat in a few heads along the way, she will. She doesn’t give up on the ones she loves.

While she plans on only staying for the summer, before she goes back to Boston for work, the more time she spends on the island, the more time these people get their hooks into her. Sometimes she gets hurt by those hooks, but she’s strong enough to take it.

Like I said, this was more about friendship and family. She struggled with making her family open up to her, but she wasn’t giving up. She loved them and wanted it in return. My heart felt for her. Especially with her niece. With a mom in jail, she is very bitter and doesn’t open up. But I appreciated how much Nora worked at her. But honestly, Nora was easy to love. She has a good heart and has plenty of room in it for those around her. Since the romance was more of a side story, it wasn’t overpowering and very smooth.

If you’re looking for a sweet standalone that will make your heart happy, then this book is for you.

~Melpomene

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Review and Giveaway: Shelter by Jay Crownover

Y’all!! This book will grab your heart and squeeze it TIGHT.

All his broken pieces made mine seem less jagged.

To say that Sutton and Emrys were broken is an understatement. These two lived through something absolutely horrific and it will take time to them to be back to normal. Or at least a new normal. This can be read as an interconnected standalone, but to fully understand where they’re coming from, you should read Retreat first. Trust me.

I liked Em. She had spunk. She was so much stronger than I probably would ever be, in her situation. But it’s been six months of her trying to heal on her own, when she realizes she needs some closure before she can truly heal. When she shows up on Sutton’s doorstep, it’s the last thing he needs. Well, at least that’s what he thinks. But he soon realizes that she is the only person who can help him move forward and change the path he’s currently on.

“I like all your pieces, Sutton. I keep finding new ones to add to the collection. You keep dropping them and I keep picking them up. Once i have them all, I’m going to give them back to you and you can put them all together whichever way you want. They don’t have to fit they did before. You can shape yourself into someone else.”

I am completely in love with this series. These characters seem very real to me. I love the sense of family and all the love they show to each other. In fact, I’m a wee bit jealous of that also. 🙂 And of course the passion between Sutton and Em is flaming. Absolutely hot. Jay nailed it, with this one. My heart is happy. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

~Melpomene

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!!

EXCERPT: 

I’d been fooled once by the promise of quiet nights and serene days in the sunshine. I believed the brochure when it said I could leave my worries at home and escape to a simpler, quieter kind of life. I let myself be lured in by the picturesque landscape and stunning mountains. I foolishly fell prey to the temptation of leaving my current set of troubles behind in San Francisco while I hid away in the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming.

I now knew firsthand the glossy brochure that brought me to Wyoming the first time was nothing more than a bunch of pretty, packaged lies. I knew the bar brawl erupting in front of me was hardly the worst thing that could happen here. In fact, the level of bloodshed and violence was child’s play compared to what I’d witnessed the last time I’d stepped foot in this small, quaint town. Well, I hadn’t really been in Sheridan last time I was here. I’d spent most of my time in the backwoods that surrounded the Warner brothers’ ranch, which was still a good forty-five minutes outside of this tiny town. The ranch was where I was currently trying to get to so I could see my best friend.

When I left Wyoming, I told myself I would never come back.

Ever.

I told myself there was nothing here for me but bad memories and heartache. I was a pro at lying to myself, at telling myself exactly what I needed to hear to justify my actions. I could convince myself of anything, like it was okay that my last boyfriend stole my grandmother’s silver when I kicked him out because he needed it more than I did. I had no problem believing that pulling Leo out of the city was the only way to heal her broken heart even though she didn’t want to go. It was easier to distract her than it was to watch her wallow. I persuaded myself into believing what I needed to heal was space and solitude. I held onto that until time passed and I was still a mess. I was sick of my own company and of hiding from everything I was feeling. I was the one who always went out of my way to fix everyone else around me, it wasn’t exactly a shock to learn I didn’t have the skills to repair myself. I spent my days helping others focus on their goals, on doing better and achieving more, so I didn’t have to think about the lack of any ambition of my own. I turned thirty at the end of the year and I was still trying to figure out what and who I wanted to be when I grew up. I’d been aimless for a long time; the only direction in my life come from the fact I knew all the way down to my bones that I had to go back to Wyoming and face off with Sutton Warner.

Retreat is on sale for only 99 cents: http://amzn.to/2C63g5K
Shelter: http://amzn.to/2zu5kRV
Escape(Jan 30, 2018): http://amzn.to/2C95ovM

About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Review: Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Loved this rom com with Harriet the dog-walker and Ethan the guy with the sterile, modern bachelor pad. They crossed paths more than once – and in totally meet-cute ways. I liked that Harriet could be a bit self deprecating without being annoying about it, and that she was well aware of both her strengths and her shortcomings. It was refreshing to get to know a character who made no apologies for herself while still recognizing she could be happier if she changed a few things here and there.

Ethan made a great foil for Harriet. He ostensibly had it all together, but underneath he knew he really needed to make some adjustments in life, too.

I had fun watching Harriet and Ethan together, figuring out themselves and each other … and one another together.

-calliope

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Review: Bless Her Heart by Sally Kilpatrick 

Some people might rate this book 4 or 5 stars for the authentic southern characters that Kilpatrick introduces with such aplomb you feel like you’ve known these people forever. Some readers might fall in love with “fun Posey” who uses the 7 deadly sins as a guide to make up for 10 sucky years married to a controlling, manipulative jerkhead.  And some readers might call this book a winner for its excellent writing – and easy dialogue among a hippie mom, sisters named after natural elements, and a best friend who literally saves more than one day. 

I’m giving Bless Her Heart a bunch of fat stars because it made me so sufficiently mad at Chad Love, so ticked off that he thought it was okay to treat any human being the way that he treated his wife, and so angered with a patriarchy that thinks “Wives, submit to your husbands” isn’t part of a speech that says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … Love your wives like your own bodies,” that now I am taking steps to help some people who are in situations like Posey’s. Sally Kilpatrick, any gratitude that comes my way from women who are tired of being controlled and interrogated and mentally beaten down – that gratitude is due to you. 

-calliope

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Review: A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

I knew I couldn’t go wrong when I saw Christmas, Vicarage, and Kate Hewitt all on the same cover. Then to find out there are four sisters in the family… I was delighted! So this first book in a series is Anna’s story. She reluctantly returns home for the holidays – home to the vicarage where her parents live.  When things at home get too overwhelming, Anna’s introverted self traipses down to the local pub to get a moment of respite. She finds some kind of respite alright – on a barstool next to a handsome, witty, sensitive, take charge kinda guy – and from there on in her life has changed. 

Obvi I love the superficial parts of this book, but I also enjoyed the sister dynamics, the push and pull of a long-standing marriage, and the self-discovery of a woman who spent quite a many years avoiding her feelings. And I’m pretty excited to read three more! I think this quadogy or whatever it’s called really works for me: enough of a series to motivate me to get invested, but not too long of a series where storylines seem to repeat after a while. So fun. 

-calliope 

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