Something Like Happy Review

Something Like Happy: A Novel


New From: $11.55 USD In Stock

Do you ever have a day where everything seems to be going wrong?  You overslept, can’t find matching socks, car won’t start, you spill your coffee on your lap?  The list goes on and on.  That is how Annie Hebden is when we first meet her.  Except her day is her life.  She can’t catch a break and she is just miserable.

Polly Leonard is the opposite.  She is full of so much personality that she can barely contain it in her body.  She swoops in to rescue Annie from herself and is determined to make her happy.  And she sets a goal of 100 days to do it.  Why?  Because Polly only has 100 days to live.

I went through every emotion while reading this book.  I laughed.  I cried.  (I did.)  I got angry.  The author really fills the book with a cast of vibrant characters that will have you giggling one second and aching the next.

And while their friendship lasted only a short bit of time, I completely bought in to it.  I’m sure we all have experiences of meeting someone new and heading full bore into a new relationship, whether it’s a friendship or something more.  It’s so easy to get attached quickly.

Fans of Sally Hepworth’s The Things We Keep will find a lot to love in this story.  And if you enjoyed Allie & Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde ($1.99 as of this post), I was reminded of a similar personality clash between the two friends as started off in that book.

This book is being published by new imprint Graydon House.  It is their first release, one of four for this year, that Harlequin is aiming to work as book club selections.  And it is full of discussion in each character’s choices, motivations, and how they interact with others.

My thanks to Little Bird Publicity for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: 

Eva Woods was born in Ireland but now resides in London and has published two women’s fiction novels with Mira UK and also writes crime fiction for Hodder UK as Claire McGowan. In addition to writing novels, she teaches creative writing and has written for Glamour, You magazine, the Guardian, the Dublin Herald, and more. Something like Happy marks her North American debut.

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky Review

The Awkward Path to Getting Lucky: A Novel


New From: $10.00 USD In Stock

What a delight this was!  Sure, it sounded funny but I didn’t expect much.  And I often use the term laugh out loud without actually laughing out loud.  More like a light chuckle or smiles while reading.  You guys, I actually laughed out loud.  Enough to cause my husband to ask what I was reading.

The characters come to life in Summer Heacock’s debut.  The main focus is on Kat, a baker who is going through a bit of a dry spell in the, ahem, sex department.  She’s been with her boyfriend for years but has fallen into a rut when her lady bits start causing her trouble.  She starts feeling guilty and tells her boyfriend he can go look for sex elsewhere while she tries therapy on her own.

As I was reading, I kept imagining what a great romantic comedy this would make on the big screen.  The dialogue is so witty that it wouldn’t take much to start the screenplay.  (Dear Hollywood, I’m interested in playing Shannon, okay?). When you add in Kat’s three coworkers to the mix of advice, gossip, and all things vaginas, hilarity ensues.

I raced through this book in a day.  The chapters are short and sweet and the story flies.  Definitely pick this up if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up or beach read.  It was such a refreshing break from watching the news and those heavy, emotional books.

My thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to follow the tour for more reviews and Q & As with the author.

About the author:

Summer Heacock is an author of contemporary women’s fiction, and prances through life like a Disney cartoon that says the “F” word a lot. She lives in a teeny Indiana town where she’s a stay-at-home-mom to two scampy tots, wife to an amazingly understanding husband, herder of a rescue critter menagerie, and collector of life-size celebrity cardboard cutouts. When not writing or hoarding jellybeans, she’s a member of the Midwest Writers planning committee, and a cohost of PubTalkTV. She can be found at www.Fizzygrrl.com, and on Twitter as @Fizzygrrl. Her follow-up novel, FINDER’S FEE, is due July 2018, from MIRA/Harlequin.

A Stranger in the House Review & Giveaway

A Stranger in the House


New From: $9.99 USD In Stock

For all the parts of The Couple Next Door that I loved, there were some similarities:

1. The action begins right as the book takes off.  No slow buildup getting to know characters or backgrounds.  You open this book and the story begins.  With a bang.  Literally.

2. Short chapters.  It’s so nice when life gets busy and I have minimal time to read for pleasure that I can get more reading in because chapters don’t drag.  They are quick and succinct.

3. Always a surprise.  Even when you reach the conclusion and discover the truth, there’s still another surprise lurking.

So fans of her debut will enjoy this book as well.  It’s the story of Karen Krupp, a bookkeeper, who races out of her home one night without her purse and her phone and while dinner is still cooking.  When her husband, Tom, arrives home, he has no idea what happened to her or where she went.

I give credit to the author for this unique storyline, which seems to be getting harder and harder to provide in the mystery/thriller genre.  I have not read a book like this before.  She continuously drops surprises throughout but does so with subtlety.

About the author:

Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. She has written two award-winning literary novels, and her suspense debut, The Couple Next Door, was a New York Times and an international bestseller. A Stranger in the House is her second thriller.

I have a treat for you all!  The kind folks at Penguin have sent me an advanced copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Dress in the Window

The Dress in the Window: A Novel


New From: $4.69 USD In Stock

From the Back Cover:
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful colors—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.

Jeanne Brink and her sister, Peggy, both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer: Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, Peggy now a widowed mother, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town. But despite their gray pasts the sisters strive for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients, with the help of Peggy’s brilliant sketches.

Together they are able to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as Peggy and Jeanne soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.

Here’s an excerpt:

Jeanne

Nancy Cosgrove had seen the gown made up in taffeta in Vogue, and taffeta was what she had to have. Jeanne made a muslin first, at Nancy’s insistence, even though muslin could never stand in for the stiff, slippery hand of the real thing. The muslin’s skirt hung around Nancy’s lumpy hips like wet rags and Jeanne thought she’d finally come to her senses—but Nancy just went home to get her crinoline. It made only a slight improvement: the muslin spread out over the stiff underskirt like leaves floating on a pond. But Nancy took herself across the river to the city, where she found a bolt of emerald green moiré taffeta in a shop at the corner of Fourth and Fulton.
​When she brought it back, the bolt of fabric sitting in the passenger seat of her garish two-tone Packard Clipper like a visiting dignitary, it occurred to Jeanne that Nancy might still be trying to one-up her, even after everything that had happened. Never mind that Jeanne slept in the unfinished attic of the narrow row house that she shared with her sister and her niece and Thelma Holliman. She suspected that there was a part of Nancy that was stuck back at Mother of Mercy High School, where Jeanne had sailed like a swan through adolescence, winning top marks and courted by a steady stream of St. Xavier boys. By contrast, poor Nancy had been as awkward as a stump, beloved by no teacher, no suitors, and none of the other girls.
​Jeanne tried not to hold this belated vengefulness against Nancy: they badly needed her money. Still, Nancy had no head for sums, and there was not enough fabric on the bolt for the New Look dress she had hired Jeanne to sew for her. Unlike the wide bolt of unbleached muslin that Jeanne kept on a length of baling wire on Thelma’s back porch, the taffeta that Nancy brought back was only forty-eight inches wide—a scant forty-eight inches at that, the selvages taking up the better part of an inch on either side. Jeanne could barely cut a skirt panel from it—even with Nancy’s oddly short, bowed calves—and only by forgoing the deep hem she’d planned in favor of an understitched facing.
​Jeanne had been up the night before until nearly three in the morning, hand-tacking that facing with a single strand of superfine Zimmerman and a straw needle. When she finally went to bed, she had an unsettling dream. It had been months since she’d dreamed of Charles, but suddenly there he was, wearing a hat that had hung on a nail in the carriage house of his parents’ estate in Connecticut, a western style of hat that his father had brought back from a trip to Montana.
​But in the dream Charles frowned at her from beneath its broad brim, while he pressed his hands to his stomach, trying to stanch the blood pouring from the hole in his side, while all around him in the trenches of Cisterna, his fellow Rangers were felled by the German panzers. Only six of them came home, out of more than seven hundred—but
Jeanne didn’t care about any of them. She would have traded them all to have Charles back.
​War had made a monster of her, and there was nothing she could do about it—except to sew. A stitch, another, another. In this way the minutes and hours passed.

Peggy

It was well past time to turn out the light and get some sleep, but Peggy didn’t set the square black Conté crayon down. She took a dainty sip of the bitter, cold coffee left over from the morning—yesterday morning, to be accurate, since it was nearly one-thirty—and made a bold, broad stroke down a fresh piece of newsprint. The piece of wood she’d rigged as an easel—taken from a cabinet face from a building being torn down around the corner—shifted on the bolster on which Peggy had propped it. Too bad they didn’t know any carpenters who might make her a real easel, Peggy thought grimly. Too bad they didn’t know any useful men at all.
​On her little mattress not three feet away, Tommie shifted and rolled, her rosette lips pursed. She was a restless sleeper, as she had been a restless baby—she’d
come into the world uneasy, as though she knew already that she’d be denied a father, denied the perfect charmed life that Peggy had promised her many months earlier, when she’d first made her presence known on a prodigious wave of nausea, harbinger of the difficult pregnancy to come.
​No, nothing about Tommie was easy, and sharing a room with her—and yes, Peggy knew she was lucky to have a room at all, with her sister making up a bed each night in the freezing attic—was a daily torment.
​Another curving black stroke of the crayon, to meet the first. In those two lines were the suggestion of the back, the shoulders, the curve of the hip. Peggy glanced at the latest issue of Vogue, open to a spread titled “The New Blouse-and-Skirt Formula,” featuring full-circle skirts nipped in tight over balloon-sleeved blouses. The first wave of outrage over Dior’s new look seemed to have abated, silenced, perhaps, by the unstoppable tide of women hungry for a bit of glamour. Peggy could sympathize. The wartime fashions, made severe and scant by textile regulations dictated by the War Production Board—had looked all right on angular, thin women like her sister. But on curvy Peggy, they looked downright ridiculous.
​She sketched soft, feathery strokes to suggest a full skirt like the one in the Vogue layout. Underneath the skirt, there would be structured layers of tulle to give it shape, but her drawing would only show the fanciful outline, like a bell, with satin pumps peeping from the bottom. Peggy could wear such a skirt—if she had anywhere to go. She had retained her small waist even after Tommie’s birth, and her bosom remained high and generous. She was still making do with her corset from two years ago, but if she could afford one of the new French-waisted ones, with the tabs that could be cinched tightly . . .

About the author:

Called a “writing machine” by the New York Times and a “master storyteller” by the Midwest Book Review, Sofia Grant has written dozens of novels for adults and teens under the name Sophie Littlefield. She has won Anthony and RT Book Awards and been shortlisted for Edgar, Barry, Crimespree, Macavity, and Goodreads Choice Awards. Her latest novel, THE DRESS IN THE WINDOW (William Morrow, July 2017) explores the lives of three women who break into the fashion industry after the end of WWII. Visit www.sofiagrant.com for more information.

The kind folks at William Morrow have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please. Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Class Mom Review & Giveaway

Class Mom: A Novel


New From: $16.28 USD In Stock

For everyone who loved the scenes in Big Little Lies dealing with the classroom politics, have I got the book for you.  Imagine an entire book of classroom politics.

Class Mom is full of snark and witty dialogue, mostly from our protagonist, Jen Dixon.  As an older mom with two college-aged daughters, her son, Max, with Baby Daddy #3 and Husband #1 ( as she calls him ) is starting in kindergarten.  Her best friend and PTA president, Nina, recruits her to be the class mom.   But not everyone can handle her humor.  And so begins a school year full of disagreements, misunderstandings, and fun.

I’ll be honest.  When I read Jen’s first email, I didn’t think I’d like her at all.  But it turns out that was just her sense of humor and it takes some getting used to.  As each chapter begins with actual emails, you should have no trouble reading this book quickly.  I finished in 24 hours!  It is a light and fun read, a perfect distraction from work stress and what I hope no parents really deal with from other parents at school.

Major props to the author for her stance on goody bags!  I could not agree with her more.  In fact, I found her more relatable now as I also have a son entering kindergarten.  I think book clubs (especially those who still have small children) will get a kick out of this book and find many laugh out loud moments.

Also, what a perfect cover for this book.  It reminds me of Glee, if that gives you any insight into what you’ll be reading.  The art department did a tremendous job capturing the book perfectly, all while making it whimsical.

My thanks to Henry Holt for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Laurie Gelman was born in Ottawa Canada and realized her life long ambition to be an author at the ripe old age of 52.
Before that she spent 25 years as a broadcaster, wife and mother. Class Mom is her first book.
She lives in NYC with her husband and 2 daughters.

 

Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy to give away to a lucky reader.  U.S. only, please.  Enter on the Rafflecopter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway