Review: Bridesmaids by Zara Stoneley

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Meet Rachel, the beautiful bride with BIG plans for the perfect day! The venue is a castle and the dress is designer. It’s just a shame her husband is a rat.

Maddie and Sally have only one thing in common – they both love the same man!

Beth is a newly single mum with a mystery baby daddy. Surely the father isn’t someone the girls all know?

And then there’s Jane, the glue holding them all together, but being dumped doesn’t make her the happiest bridesmaid…especially with gorgeous flatmate Freddie complicating things.

Will the bride say, ‘I Do!’? Or will her bridesmaids save the day…and find love along the way?

The most hilarious, feel-good rom com of the year!

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Bridesmaids will be available April 26, 2019. 

Bridesmaids was a fun, quick read that I really enjoyed. I’m going to go the list route on this one.

-Based on the synopsis I thought this was going to be more of an ensemble story with multiple POVs. However, it’s told from the first person POV of Jane, the bride-to-be’s best friend. I had to adjust my expectations a bit, but it worked for me. Jane was a little hard to like at first. She came across pretty self-absorbed and kind of snotty, but as the story went on I liked her a lot more.

-Rachel, the bride, is always described as being so nice and caring and selfless, but I didn’t always get that. I mean, she was nice, but she did lots of selfish things. Jane had recently gone through a pretty terrible break-up right before she was supposed to be married and did not handle it well and is pretty skittish about the whole wedding idea. But, Rachel 100% expects her to be there as a bridesmaid and to even plan her hen party (or bachelorette party to us, Americans), which is where she was dumped by her fiance. Rachel also asks two other women to be bridesmaids even though one of them is now married to the other one’s ex-boyfriend, who is definitely not over the break-up. It was kind of a train wreck sometimes, but I couldn’t look away.

-I think my favorite thing about the book was Freddie, Rachel’s flatmate. He was so funny and sweet and wonderful. I loved every scene he was in. I loved his friendship with Rachel and I loved how their relationship turned to more than friends. I shipped them so hard.

-There are are several secrets and scandals between the wedding party. I’ll admit one of my pet peeves in books is when one honest conversation could solve all the problems. But, it didn’t really bother me here. As I said earlier, sometimes when they all got together it was kind of like a train wreck, but it was an entertaining one I had to keep reading. I thought the identity of Beth’s baby’s father was kind of obvious, but it added to the soap-opera like drama and I was here for it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Bridesmaids. While I did have some issues with some of the characters’ behavior, the story was full of Lifetime level drama and was exactly the type of read I was in the mood for. I also absolutely loved Freddie and his relationship with Jane. This was my first book by Stoneley, but I plan on checking out more of her books when I’m in the mood for some good Chick Lit.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

I Owe You One will be available February 5, 2019. 

I adored this book. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Sophie Kinsella novel and I’ve forgotten just how addictive they can be. Once I started it I could hardly put it down.

I really expected I Owe You One to be romance-heavy, but it wasn’t as central to the plot as I thought it would be. That wasn’t a bad thing, though. The story focuses a lot on Fixie’s relationship with her family and with her own issues of confidence and self-worth. Fixie got her nickname by always needing to fix things – messes, people, etc. Her siblings, Jake and Nicole, take advantage of her, as does Ryan, the man she’s had a crush on for most her life. Throughout most of the book I just couldn’t get over how awful those three people were. I was really frustrated by how Fixie let herself get steamrolled over and how she couldn’t speak up for herself. As the story goes on, though, she learns to speak up and practice a little tough love.

Even though the romance wasn’t as central as I expected, it did still play an important part in Fixie’s story. I just loved Seb. He was such a genuinely good person. I loved his sense of humor and how sweet he was. That’s not to say he’s perfect, of course. When he and Fixie first meet he’s dating someone else – who is of course awful and very ill-suited for him and that was frustrating. There’s a point where his and Fixie’s relationship hits a rocky spot and I wish they would have communicated a little more effectively, but I liked how it all turned out.

Overall, I really enjoyed I Owe You One. I liked Fixie and Seb and the quirky cast of supporting characters. I even liked Jake and Nicole by the end of the story. I liked Fixie’s character growth and her relationship with Seb. I was a little disappointed that the IOUs didn’t really pay as large a role in the book as I expected, but I did like how it was utilized. This is probably my new favorite Kinsella novel and I definitely recommend it to fans of Contemporary and Women’s Fiction.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of Once Upon a Wine, a new novel set in the charming seashore town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware.

When everything has gone to the dogs . . .

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

In Dog We Trust will be available January 8, 2019.

After a couple of really heavy reads, I needed something light and uplifting and In Dog We Trust was just that. I really enjoyed visiting Black Dog Bay again. It’s such a cute, quirky little town that I wish was real so I could go there. I liked that there were some brief cameos of characters from previous books, but you definitely don’t have to have read any of them to be able to read this one.

I thought the idea of this book was really fun. I’ve heard of eccentric, rich people leaving all their money to their pets, but never really understood how that worked. Jocelyn is named the guardian of three champion show dogs and that means she gets to move into their big, fancy beach house and controls all the money. Despite becoming rich overnight, Jocelyn never goes crazy with the money. She still works her previous job and only makes a couple small purchases that aren’t dog-related. I liked that she stayed so level-headed with all of that money. I also really enjoyed her relationship with the dogs. She is definitely a die-hard animal lover and while I may not entirely relate to it, I know there are lots of dog lovers out there that will really get it.

I liked the romance, though it was not nearly as central to the plot as I expected it to be. Jocelyn and Liam’s relationship grew pretty organically without any big, sweeping romantic moments, but employed smaller sweet and subtle ones. There was a lot more focus between Jocelyn’s relationship with her best friend, Bree, and with her mother, Rachel. I loved seeing these three strong women interact and get stuff done.

There were a few things I didn’t like, though. There are some legal things that happen towards the end of the book that I didn’t love how they turned out, but I also would’ve like a little more clarity on the whole thing. I also expected dog shows to be much more prevalent. We only see one show and none of the diva-like high maintenance upkeep that is described in the synopsis.

Overall, I really enjoyed In Dog We Trust. It was light and fun and I never wanted to put it down. I’ve been looking forward to reading more from Beth Kendrick and she didn’t disappoint. I think Chick Lit fans and dog-lovers would really enjoy this one, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest . . . but what would you do if you found out that you were never really married in the first place?

In this irresistible romantic comedy from award-winning author Beth Kendrick, three wildly different women form an unlikely friendship as they try to decide whether they’d do it all again.

They’ve had the white dresses and the fancy receptions. But now that the honeymoon’s over, Stella, Casey, and Erin have each had to face some hard truths about the men they’ve married and the lives they’ve chosen. So when the news breaks that the pastor who presided over their weddings failed to file a few critical pieces of paper, none of these newlyweds are rushing down to the courthouse to legalize their vows. Instead, the brides share their hopes, disappointments, and secrets while grappling with that pivotal question: Should they stay or should they go?

I loved this book! It was made into a Hallmark movie several years ago that I liked and I’ve wanted to read the book ever since I realized it was written by Beth Kendrick, who has written several other books I’ve really enjoyed. While I don’t remember enough about the movie to say how similar it actually was to the book, I think it’s safe to say that the book was even better than the movie.

The book is told through the POVs of Stella, Casey, and Erin. These young women have all recently been married over the same weekend, but maybe they shouldn’t have been. Stella wants nothing more than to be a mom, but finds out on her wedding night to her much older husband that that isn’t going to be possible. Casey had to all but drag her groom to the wedding. And Erin’s mother-in-law just might be trying to kill her (with peanuts). When they find out that they’re not legally married, instead of rectifying the mistake immediately, they begin to wonder if they really want to be married.

The girls were all hard to like sometimes, but I was still rooting for them. At various times I wanted them each to get re-married and to remain single. There were really cute and really frustrating moments that each had with their significant others. Some of the funniest (and most frustrating) were with Erin, David, and David’s mother. David’s mother, Renee, is one of the most overbearing Mother-in-laws I’ve ever read about and it was just ridiculous to see how easily she manipulated her son. In the end, not all the women get the happily-ever-after you expect, but I really liked how each of their stories went. I would have even liked an epilogue to see how everything was going a year down the road.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nearlyweds. It was cute and addictive and I enjoyed every moment of it. This book reminded me how much I enjoy Beth Kendrick books and I’m going to look into reading more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

If my life were like Chick Lit…The Wedding Date

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Real Life Scenario: Last week in the mail I received the wedding invitation to my little brother’s wedding. That’s slightly depressing on it’s own- being that he is three years younger than me, his spinster sister – but the invitation is to me & Guest. Due to their large guest list, he made a point of saying that only people in serious relationships would be allowed an “& Guest”. I told him I thought that was stupid and mean and he said, “oh well.” However, I still got the “& Guest” on my invitation and I’m sure it’s only because he knows I won’t be bringing anybody. I thought to myself, “I’ll show him”…but then I realized that there is really no one in my life who is a single male (I did mention spinster earlier, yes?).

Real life is no fun, so I began to wonder what it would be like…

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…If my life were like CHICK LIT: What is worse than being the 31-year-old Single Sister of the Groom? Being the 31-year old Single Sister of the Groom who can’t even scrounge up a date for the event. At least I’m not a bridesmaid. (Actually, I wanted to be a bridesmaid. The future S-I-L said no and offered a reader position instead…) Feeling down, I call my girls and go out for some drinks. While I’m getting the next round, an age-appropriate, attractive man approaches me, whispers a quick plea to just go with it and introduces me as his new girlfriend to a well-dressed woman with crazy eyes that’s been hot on his heels. I’m awkward, but I play along until Crazy Eyes goes away. The man, let’s just call him Prince Charming, apologizes and explains he’s trying to get away from his ex, who cheated on him, but now wants to get back together. He thanks me and says he owes me one…which I collect on right away. We make a deal. I will pretend to be his girlfriend until Crazy Eyes leaves him alone and he will pretend to be my new boyfriend at my little brother’s wedding. What could go wrong?

At the wedding, the extended family is both surprised and elated that I brought a date. While there are those that ask suspicious questions, Prince Charming is perfect and we end up having the best night ever. We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the past several weeks of pretending to be boyfriend/girlfriend and we both might be denying the growing attraction. With the wedding over and Crazy Eyes supposedly out of the picture we agree to end the charade. However, I soon realize my feelings for him are real and with the encouragement of my friends, I go to tell him. When I find Prince Charming, he is locked in an embrace with Crazy Eyes. Prince Charming notices me staring at them in horror and calls my name, but I run away to drown my sorrows in some ice cream before he can say anything. After several days of ignoring his phone calls and text messages, it’s time for a family gathering with my brother and SIL home from their honeymoon. I am once again the Spinster. However, Prince Charming crashes the event, explains the Big Misunderstanding with Crazy Eyes (and he has told her once and for all to leave him alone), and declares his undying love for me. He gets down on one knee and proposes. And we live Happily Ever After (and my new SIL is not a bridesmaid at our wedding).

HEA

If my life were like Chick Lit…Work Place Woes

 

 

 

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Real Life Scenario: I was laid off from my first and only “adult” job three years ago. Confidence dropped. Depression ensued. New jobs were eventually found, but never enjoyed. Recently a new position became available and I applied and was hired back. Most of the co-workers are still the same great people as before, including my mother. There are a few not-so-great co-workers. There are no single men. There are no other employees in my “demographic”. There are no realistic opportunities for advancement.  I have begun to think of this new phase in life as, “The Mistake.”

Real life is no fun, so I began to wonder what it would be like…

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…If my life were like CHICK LIT: I would show up on my first day in a cute outfit, ready to show The Company what they’ve been missing. I’d be welcomed back by almost everyone, doted on/nagged on by my mother in equal measure, and my arch nemesis would do anything to make me look stupid. I’d have a couple bad days, but my “we-still-text-everyday” former co-workers take me out for cocktails and I get over it. I show up back to work, with a slight headache from the day before, and it happens to be the same day that the new, hot, single boss comes to the office. After an initial awkward encounter, my candid observations in a meeting is recognized by Hot Single Boss and I’m put in charge of something very important. A promotion is on the line (already!). Hot Single Boss and I start an illicit romance that goes swimmingly for about a week, before there’s a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING (I blame the arch nemesis). However, I work harder than ever, my arch nemesis is thwarted, and Hot Single Boss realizes I am not only brilliant, but he’s in love with me. All the office is ok with this. My mom plans my wedding on company time. Hot Single Boss and I live Happily Ever After-AND I get the promotion.

HEA

Review: Pear Shaped by Stella Newman

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I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Girl meets boy.
Girl loses boy.
Girl loses mind.

Sophie Klein walks into a bar one Friday night and her life changes. She meets James Stephens: charismatic, elusive, and with a hosiery model ex who casts a long, thin shadow over their burgeoning relationship. He’s clever, funny and shares her greatest pleasure in life – to eat and drink slightly too much and then have a little lie down. Sophie’s instinct tells her James is too good to be true – and he is.

An exploration of love, heartbreak, self-image, self-deception and lots of food. Pear Shaped is in turns smart, laugh-out-loud funny and above all, recognizable to women everywhere.

I honestly wasn’t expecting a whole lot out of this novel and I ended up quite pleasantly surprised! It reminded me a bit of a slightly edgier Sophie Kinsella book.

Sophie Klein is a pretty likable and relatable character for most of the book. She’s a woman in her early thirties dealing with normal things like love and weight and family, and having a jerk for a boss. Despite the jerk boss, her job sounds pretty awesome, working in Pudding development at a grocery chain. Now I think that “pudding” is British for “dessert”, and not strictly pudding as we have in America. (Maybe one of my British friends can help me out here?) Due to her job, and a love for good food in general, there is a lot of talk about food in this book. I didn’t always know what they were talking about, since I think we tend to use different terms than the Brits, but it didn’t really detract from the story telling.

Sophie meets James one night and falls for him pretty hard. This is when the smart, likable, confident Sophie starts to go awry. James is one of those guys that you never really know where you stand with him. He’s rich and over-confident and critical. While he can be fun and charming when he wants to be, he’s often emotionally abusive and manipulative and refuses to ever take blame. Though he really does enjoy spending time with Sophie – and might even love her – he’s super shallow about the fact she’s not model sized and tells her he struggles with being attracted to her. This guy is LOATHSOME. Yet, Sophie takes the criticisms to heart (she shouldn’t. She describes herself in the beginning as a toned size ten with slim arms and waist) and even stays with him.

She goes a little neurotic here. I can understand why lots of people can find her unlikable and not a “strong heroine” that we like to root for in chick lit. However, I’ve witnessed several women in these types of emotionally abusive relationships. While I can not for the life of me understand why they stay, they are like any other abused person, who often blames themselves for the abuse and not the abuser. While Sophie does go a little wacky there for awhile, she does come around, and takes back control of her life, even while recognizing that it will still take a long time for the scars to heal.

What I really liked about Pear Shaped was the writing. The dialogue was sharp and quick-witted and I actually found myself laughing out loud at some parts (which I hardly ever do at books). The supporting cast of characters were well-developed and often scene-stealers that I would’ve liked to see even more from.

Overall, I quite enjoyed Pear Shaped. While the story could be a little over the top at times, all good chick lit is. I found Sophie to be a mostly likable character and I really enjoyed the writing. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Sophie Kinsella and chick lit. I look forward to reading more from Stella Newman, as well.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Readability: 4
Enjoyability: 4
Overall Rating: 3.75 Stars