Review: Diary of a Contemporary Woman

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of the book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This book was quite the ride!

First, I want to preface this review and mention that the story does contain multiple explicit sexual scenes. If that is not your thing, then you probably should skip this one. But I will also say that this book is so much more than just sexy scenes. 

There was a good balance between the sexy and the more serious. The book delves deep into the main character and her journey of self discovery. It also heavily explores complex family dynamics. The main character’s family is a piece of work to say the least! 

I loved the conversational tone of the book. It really felt like I was reading the main character’s diary and that she was talking directly to me as a friend. It made it such an easy and pleasant read.

As a bonus, the author made a Spotify playlist of the songs mentioned in the book. I love it when authors incorporate music into their books. It helps bring the story to life! 

My one critique is that the book ends rather abruptly and on a major cliffhanger. I believe this is just the first book but I wanted a little more closure.

Overall, if you’re looking for a quick and easy women’s fiction book, and don’t mind some hot and steamy scenes, consider reading this one! 


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Review: So We Meet Again

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I had previously read the author’s other book, Loathe at First Sight, and liked but didn’t love it. I knew I wanted to give her books another shot, so I jumped at the chance to read this one. This book was so much better! 

First off, I liked the romance in this one. This book had more of a romantic story than Loathe At First Sight. Daniel was a swoon-worthy love interest for sure! I loved his interactions with Jess. They had the most adorable meet-cute. As soon as I read their meet-cute, I knew I was going to like them as a couple. 

I also loved that the book was more than a romance and focused a great deal on Jess’s career change. It explored all the ups and downs of starting over. It was wonderful seeing Jess grow from an unsure former investment banker into a full fledged businesswoman. 

As for the supporting characters, Jess’s parents were so precious! You could tell that they really loved Jess, even if they didn’t always show it in the best way. I could relate to Jess’s experiences with her critical mom. 

I did find the book to be a little unrealistic at times. The book wasn’t super clear on the passage of time, but it felt like Jess’s business took off too quickly. But I will admit I don’t know that much about business so maybe it was realistic. Also, Daniel did something at the very end that could have got him in trouble as a lawyer. It wasn’t anything egregious (just a conflict of interest issue). It was only something I noticed since I am a recent law graduate. Most lawyers would have foresaw that conflict of interest and handled the situation differently. 

Overall, I enjoyed this read! If you want a light and fun romance and/or women’s fiction novel to read, pick this one up! 


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Review: The Lion’s Den

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the Publisher (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. 

Wow. What a crazy ride! This book really took me on an adventure through the lives of the rich.

This is a summer mystery novel that kept me guessing until the very end. All throughout the novel you know something is up, but it won’t all be revealed until the end. The way it all came about was very smart and clever. I liked how there were small little mentions of things that would later become integral to the plot and mystery. 

One small issue that I had was that the book felt a little slow in the beginning. It took a bit to really get the book rolling. This was in part due to the flashbacks. The flashbacks were very important, but in the beginning I was super eager to learn more about the present day situation. As the book went on, I enjoyed the flashbacks more because they provided more insight into what was happening. 

Additionally, I wanted to know a little bit more about what happened to some of the supporting characters afterwards. The book wraps up everything with the main character, but not for the supporting characters. 

Overall, I recommend this book for anyone looking to get lost in a fun summer read! 


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Review: Expectation

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Harper Perennial) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was an incredibly fascinating novel. 

First off, this novel is a slow burn. The book starts off on the slow side and then gradually gets more and more interesting as it progresses.

The three women in this book are all very complicated and complex. I found them to be utterly riveting. They’re all morally grey which makes them feel more real and raw. Sometimes they make decisions that others may find irritating, but to me that makes they more dynamic. 

I liked the flashbacks that were woven throughout the book. They helped highlight different things about the women. The flashbacks also gradually introduced new information about them. There’s no information dumping in this book. Everything gets revealed at just the right time. 

This book does get compared to Sally Rooney’s books (Conversations with Friends and Normal People). I’m a big Sally Rooney fan and there is merit to that comparison. The writing style, tone, and pacing are similar in a way. 

Lastly, I liked the ending because it brought the book full circle, but at the the same time I didn’t like it. To me, the ending didn’t fully resolve everything I wanted to be resolved. 

Overall, this book is a compelling character study of three women coming to terms with how their lives turned out. 


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Review: California Girls

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours as part of a review tour. 

This was my first time reading a book by Susan Mallery and I enjoyed it. 

This book was a classic chick lit novel. 

I loved the dynamic between the sisters. That felt very real and organic. The sisters did have their differences but were still able to come together when it mattered. 

I also loved how each of their stories were different. Even though they all had the commonality of getting dumped at the same time, they all went down different paths. I thought that was really important to show because everyone is different and deals with things in their own way. 

The one thing I didn’t like was how some of the situations that the characters found themselves in weren’t that realistic. For example, the way Finola found out about her husband’s affair (her husband told her right before she went on air, plus the mistress was the pop star she had to interview, who also confronted her about the affair). But this is a chick lit novel so I can look past that. Part of the fun of reading chick lit is the over the top scenarios that happen. 

Overall, this was a solid chick lit book perfect for reading while sunbathing in the warm California sun.


Purchase Links

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Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



SYNOPSIS:

The California sunshine’s not quite so bright for three sisters who get dumped in the same week…

Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation who has set their affair to music. While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.

Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.

Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancé sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.

But side by side by side, these sisters will start over and rebuild their lives with all the affection, charm and laugh-out-loud humor that is classic Susan Mallery.

Review: The Lost Carousel of Provence

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Books) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such a charming and quaint story!

The book started off a bit slow. It took a while for the story to actually take shape and for the historical parts to start making sense (the book has dual storylines, one historical and the other contemporary). But once the main character, Cady, went to France, the story really took off and from there it was magnifique!

I loved the way the author described France, particularly the small village Cady visited and the chateau she stayed at. From the scenery to the food to the carousel, she made it sound so enchanting and beautiful. I wish I was actually there! 

I also loved the little nods to the Bay Area. The author is from the San Francisco Bay Area (like me) and the main character is from Oakland. Anytime Cady would mention something about Oakland, I’d always think to myself, yup that’s so true

As for the characters, I loved them all, especially Fabrice, the owner of the chateau. He was such a mystery and I enjoyed unraveling his past. 

Overall, this is the perfect historical fiction and contemporary read for anyone who wants to spend time in a chateau in the French countryside.

Review: The Fashion Intruder

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

I was so excited to read this because it was about a transactional lawyer who leaves the legal world for the fashion world. As a law student who loves fashion, this book was right up my alley!

The book started off a bit messy. There were a lot of little one or two paragraphs from other characters’ viewpoints which made the book a little confusing in the beginning since I had no idea who they were. But once the book and the story got going, it all became much clearer.

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I loved how the book showcased the intricacies of the fashion world and all the politics that go into it. The fashion world is definitely tough and this book showed that.

I also enjoyed the jet-setting atmosphere. The main character was always traveling somewhere glamorous. As an American, I envy how easy it is to travel from one country to another in Europe. 

There was a reference to Lana Del Rey that I just have to mention because it was just so perfect. The novel states, “Although Sofia could swear she’d put her phone on silent, she suddenly heard the loud sound of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Salvatore’” (156). That song was so perfect for the character since she’s Italian and “Salvatore” is such a dreamy song that makes you wish you were in Italy.

Overall, this was a fun look into the European fashion world. It’s has a The Devil Wears Prada vibe but set in Europe. 

Blog Tour: Chasing Petalouthes guest post

For today’s post I am partnering with Love Books Tours to bring you a guest post from the author of Chasing Petalouthes, Effie Kammenou. In her post she discusses how she finds inspiration for her books. Keep scrolling to read her post and to find out more about her book!


 

Guest Post Written by the Author

Inspiration

Inspiration can come from any number of sources – a life experience, a fleeting yet compelling observation, or perhaps an unforgettable dream. For me it’s been all of the above and then some. I believe every writer draws from personal experience and any creative person tends to possess keen observation skills.

My younger daughter is a graphic designer and art director. I can see her eyes light up when inspiration strikes. I might not understand what caught her attention or what was running through her mind, but when she’s done setting up her shot and I see the final product of what she created, then I understand.

The same is true for my eldest, a dance teacher and choreographer. She’ll hear a piece of music that speaks to her and it’s as though a light switch was turned on. I can almost see her eyes dancing as her mind begins to create.

The smallest seemingly insignificant moments can be the most inspirational of all. Each year my family and I attend the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. It’s a crowded park at that time of the year. Actually, it’s always pretty crowded, but during the festival there are lines of people waiting to sample food & alcoholic beverages from kiosks that represent dozens of countries. I was sitting on a bench waiting for my family and I noticed a young couple sampling some of the offerings. It was apparent that the young man enjoyed what he’d tasted and he brought the wax paper clad pastry up to his girlfriend’s lips. He watched her eagerly, hoping she would enjoy it as much as he did and smiled when her reaction was the same as his. He then sweetly brushed off a flake of pastry from her bottom lip, allowing his finger to linger long enough to caress her mouth before lowering his head to gently kiss her. The whole exchange couldn’t have been more than fifteen seconds but it stayed with me. There was so much love in the young man’s gesture. I could see from that tiny slice of their life that he cared deeply for her and it moved me. I decided I would write a similar sweet moment into one of my stories. (Hint – It’s in Waiting For Aegina)

I began writing my first novel, Evanthia’s Gift, when my mother passed away. It had always been in the back of my mind to write, but I’d always dismissed the idea until this life-altering event and inspiration was born from grief. The story I had always played with in my mind grew from as simple love story to a family saga when I created a character that honored the essence of my mother’s heart and soul.

My mother like her mother before her never wanted to leave this earth, and they especially didn’t want to leave their family. My grandmother, who we called Yiayiá, would say in heavily accented English, ‘Don’t forget me,’ years before she had to worry about dying. My mother promised to always be with us and watch over us. And I believe she has done just that. I’ve had several dreams since I’ve lost her. Ones that contained an important message. I’ve used those dreams as inspiration although I changed the details and used them in a different context.

In 2004 I reluctantly attended my thirtieth high school reunion. The committee chairperson, an old friend I hadn’t seen since those school days, contacted me repeatedly until I finally agreed to attend. I ended up having a wonderful time and reconnected with many old friends. We became a close-knit group, and fourteen years later, we still get together. Because of this, the idea came to me to write a fictionalized story about a circle of friends who grew up together. I added these friends to Book One: Evanthia’s Gift as secondary characters, but in Book Two: Waiting For Aegina they are the focus of the story and each have their own subplot.

Although there may be bits and pieces of my friends in these women they are purely a figment of my imagination. I thought back to those days when we were young and idealistic and remembered what we all thought we would be doing with our lives years later. I expected to be a successful actor. There was a 1:1,000,000 chance of that! I was certain one of my friends would be a fashion designer and another a very important politician. Neither is the case in their real lives but my teenage ideals for them was inspiration enough for me to develop completely new characters with different histories, backgrounds and physical attributes from my friends.

Although none of the characters in Chasing Petalouthes are based on my daughters or any of the children in my family, it is their generation that inspired the storylines of Evvie and Stella. In truth, a very brave young woman shared a personal and painful part of her life with me and she inspired part of the plot. And of course, like I do in the rest of the saga, I delve into the past in a way where the current generation can learn valuable lessons from the generations before them.

I’ve already started to plot the next series in my mind. As a matter of fact, I witnessed something recently that inspired me enough to have my new love interests meet in a similar manner. But I’m not saying a word just yet!


Book Blurb

Chasing Petalouthes cover

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The Gift Saga concludes with the next generation coming into the forefront of the story during their tumultuous years between adolescence and adulthood.

Evvie has lived through more tragedy than a young girl should ever endure, having lost both her father and a most beloved grandmother at a young age. Her rebellious ways are her only defense to mask the ever-present pain in her heart. Closing herself off emotionally, Evvie vows to never let anyone into her heart. But will her determination to keep everyone out see her lose the only person who could heal her broken soul?

Over-achieving, focused, talented, determined to succeed. Those are the traits Stella envies in her siblings and cousins. Her insecurities and lack of confidence stunts her ability to realize her own worth. When an older, handsome young man claims her as his own, Stella believes she has finally found who she has been looking for—someone to love her enough to mold her into the best version of herself. But has she fallen in love too quickly for a man she barely knows anything about?

 Chasing Petalouthes (Chasing Butterflies) is the coming of age story of two flawed, young women who push their way out from the confines of the cocoons they’d built around themselves and discover how to soar.

 Can be read as a standalone. For the full emotional impact on the character’s live and histories, read Evanthia’s Gift & Waiting For Aegina.


About the Author

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Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women.

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category.  Waiting for Aegina is Book Two in The Gift Saga and Chasing Petalouthes is Kammenou’s latest release, completing the series.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her entertaining family and friends or traveling for ‘research.’

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.


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Review: How to Keep a Secret

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the publisher (Harlequin) as part of their bookstagram publicity campaign. 

I loved this book!

A blurb on the back of the book from fellow author, Jill Shalvis, describes this book as being “Jane Green meets Sophie Kinsella.” I haven’t read anything by Jane Green but I definitely got a few Sophie Kinsella vibes from this (I love Sophie Kinsella if you didn’t already know). One of the characters, Lauren, lives in London at the beginning of the book, which reminds me a lot of Sophie’s characters. 

A large part of this book are the secrets and the fallouts that happen when they get revealed and I thought they were handled perfectly. I loved how the secrets were revealed one at a time. They were spaced out nicely and woven throughout the story.

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This book is about three generations of women, which is a trope I love reading about and it was very well executed. All the women were fleshed out and felt real. I liked that we are given all 4 perspectives because that allows you to really get to know the characters and their feelings. I know some people had issues with the perspective changes but I didn’t have any issue with it and didn’t find it confusing.

There is romance, but the main focus of the book are the familial relationships, and I liked how the romance didn’t overshadow that. There was a nice balance between the two. 

Overall, this was a wonderful piece of women’s fiction with a lot of heart and romance. 

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Blog Tour: Busted guest post

Today I am partnering with Love Books Group for a guest post from author, Michele I. Khoury. In her post, she talks about the story behind one of her characters and the research she did to bring that character to life. Keep scrolling to read her post and to find more information about her book!


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Guest post by the author

Busted: The Story Behind the Good Guy

While writing my debut novel, I did a ton of research, which also included interviewing people who had the same profession as the characters in Busted. The story is about three people who collide over cocaine and how their experiences intertwine.

One of the primary characters is a DEA Special Agent, named Bobby Garcia. While I created a storyline that included drugs and the drug world, I did what writers are not supposed to do: I wrote about topics that I did not know.

Through research and networking, I met a Lt. in Narcotics from the Anaheim Police Department (the same city where Disneyland is located.)

The lieutenant was wonderful. Not only did I interview him on numerous occasions, but I also emailed him at all hours the day and night, to which he responded quickly. He is an honorable individual; he is conscious and respectful of the law, and relentless in arresting drug dealers. Unlike another character in my novel, the lieutenant is committed to the war on drugs and believes that marijuana is a gateway drug.

Not having a legal background, I found myself fascinated by the intricacies of law enforcement. He educated me about the process of identifying suspects, tracking their behavior, finding proof, obtaining search warrants, and setting up stings. The dedication he exhibited became the basis for the DEA Special Agent in my story.

Bobby was a joy to create—a dedicated thirty-eight-year-old family man, who loves his job. His vulnerability comes from his daughter, a rebellious fourteen-year-old who accidentally OD’s on cocaine. Bobby didn’t need any more motivation to rid society of drugs, but when his daughter almost dies, he’s personally impacted and allows his emotions to cloud his judgment.

Dear Reader, What about you? Have you ever taken on a project where you had no clue as to what you were getting into? If so, what was it? What happened? How did you learn what you needed? Were you successful? Or not? What value did you gain?

Warmest Regards,

Michele I. Khoury

Please feel free to contact or follow me:

Mkhoury18@gmail.com

http://www.michelekhoury.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMicheleKhoury/

Twitter: Michele Khoury@MicheleIKhoury

Subscribe to my blogs: http://michelekhoury.com/blog/


Blurb 

Impacted by the recession, twenty-four-year-old artist Gina McKenna is down to her last few dollars and days away from living in her car when a successful businessman buys a painting and commissions another. As their relationship evolves, she’s seduced by his charm and mesmerized by his luxurious lifestyle until she discovers he’s a drug kingpin. As her world turns upside down, she struggles to survive vicious brutality. 

Miguel Lopez is a cocaine supplier with a weightlifter’s physique and ‘the rules do not apply to me’ attitude. Maniacal and ruthless, he has no qualms about killing anyone who interferes with his distribution network, including Gina. 

Dedicated to eradicating illegal drugs, DEA Special Agent Bobby Garcia spent months and hundreds of thousands of dollars working undercover to buy his way up a dealer chain to identify the moneyman. When his fourteen-year-old daughter overdoses on cocaine, he traces the blow to Lopez. As Bobby’s mission becomes personal, he makes emotional decisions, which negatively impact civilians and his job. Unable to let go, he risks his career to orchestrate the biggest drug sting in Southern California. What happens isn’t what he expected. 

When a deputy district attorney meets Gina at a party, he is smitten. As his attraction grows, so does Gina’s involvement with the DEA’s case, of which he is the designated prosecutor. Mindful of his professional ethics, he tries to stifle his feelings. 

Sex and violence permeate the twists and turns of this cautionary tale about choosing one’s friends well.


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About the Author

Writing is Michele I. Khoury’s third career. After graduating from the University of California at Riverside with a Masters degree in Economics, she worked at Xerox, where she set multiple sales records, and Apple Computer, where she received the Business Development Manager of the Year award. For twenty-one years, she was an international business consultant and taught technology companies around the world how to sell.

Her writing career began when she took the Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Novel Writing Classes offered through the University of California Irvine’s extension program. She was one of three out of the fourteen students her professor choose to mentor and attended weekly critique sessions for six years. BUSTED is her debut novel, and she is currently writing her second book, which is about domestic violence and abuse.

She lives in Orange County, California with her husband and rescued dogs, Bubbles and Thriller.

For more information, please visit http://www.michelekhoury.com.


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