“The Little French Bistro”–Review

51fN2ZGIF4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_After 41 years, Marianne is fed up with her loveless marriage. For years, she’s felt so unworthy, so unloved because of her husband’s controlling ways. Finally realizing her life has passed her by, Marianne decides life is no longer worth living—until she is saved. Finding herself in Brittany, the northwestern part of France, she is swept up by a new life at Ar Mor (the Sea) restaurant, where she meets Yann, the handsome painter; Genevieve, the restaurant owner; Jean-Remy, the heartbroken chef; and many others.

While she takes in her new surroundings, along with getting to know the locals, Marianne starts to find a forgotten version of herself.  Even though she’s often afraid, she learns what it means to truly live again. However, her past still beckons her, and that’s when she needs to decide if she’s meant to return to her old life or to push it aside for a better future.

Although I liked the storyline, the book was leaving me in a bit of a slump. I felt I couldn’t really connect with the characters. I’m less than halfway through with the book, so I just might finish it to see if it may change my perspective. No matter, I don’t discourage anyone from reading a book I didn’t really enjoy. Perhaps you’ll feel differently. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Nina George is the author of the bestselling international phenomenon, The Little Paris Bookshop, as well as numerous other books that have been published around the world. She also works as a journalist, a writer, an advocate for author rights, and a storytelling teacher. She lives with her husband in Berlin, Germany, and Brittany, France.

FTC Disclosure: I received this copy from Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

“Lift and Separate”–Review

41+3RiLE6kLAfter 33 years of marriage, Marcy Hammer is shocked and heartbroken when her husband, Harvey, the head of a global lingerie empire, says that he’s leaving her.  Although his clothes have been removed from the closet, Marcy still has high hopes that he’ll reconsider.  It’s just a midlife crisis, he claims.  After all, they’ve been married for a long time and they could work out whatever the issues are.  However, Marcy learns that Harvey has been having an affair with his much younger, 32DD fitting model.

While they’re technically separated, Marcy now has to figure out how to go on living without Harvey.  But how will she do it, she wonders?  She’s in her late fifties and feels it’s almost impossible to start over.  With love and support from her friends and adult children, however, she starts learning how to be on her own—even on occasions when she’s close to falling apart.

Along the way, though, Marcy is struck with more surprises and family troubles, including one involving her new, once-in-a-lifetime best friend.  Will she be able to handle it all, along with the fact that her marriage is ending?

This was a great story, with excellent narration, as well.  I enjoyed the humor in each chapter.  With one surprise after another, I thought, “This poor woman.  Isn’t she already going through enough?” While she’s trying to cope, Harvey constantly returns with a new excuse.  What’s Marcy to do?

I’m happy that the author, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, sent me this copy for an honest review, so now I can share it with you all.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author:  For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazine, and married a man she met in an elevator.

Marilyn received a Master of Arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan University and a Master of Arts in Judaic Studies from the University of Connecticut.

“He Said/She Said”–Review

51C2M6jShgL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Who Do You Believe?

With chapters alternating from past to present, this is a story of Laura and Kit, a couple who were young and in love in the summer of 1999.  Kit has always been an eclipse chaser, so he and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun.  It is also a first time that Laura’s witnessing an eclipse.

After the moment is over, Laura wanders about and then just happens to witness what looks like a rape.  Although the accused man, Jamie Balcombe, swears it’s not what it appears, the victim, Beth Taylor, is practically mute and in shock.  But Laura knows what she saw.  After Jamie is arrested and later convicted, an appreciative Beth moves in on Laura and Kit’s lives.  While showering them with gifts as a token of her gratitude, it isn’t long before Beth’s attitude changes.  Kit wants Beth out of their lives, while Laura wants to see the best in her.  However, Laura starts to see that Kit just might be right, so they go to great lengths to get away from Beth.

Fifteen years later, in 2015, Laura and Kit live in a new home and changed their names.  Laura is pregnant and Kit is preparing for his trip to see a new eclipse.  No matter, Beth couldn’t possibly find them.  They’ve been living as carefully as possible and have agreed to not have any social media accounts.  But why have they had to live this way?  And why do they still feel as if they’re being watched?

As the story progresses, more secrets are revealed, including some unexpected twists.

I enjoyed this story because each chapter made me wonder whose side I was going to take.  How far are people willing to go to save themselves?  And who was actually telling the truth?  With every surprise, I wasn’t quite sure whom to believe.  As for Beth and Jamie, was it rape or consent?  It gets interesting, in my opinion.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

He Said/She Said will be available on June 6, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Erin Kelly has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years. A regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Psychologies, Red, and Look, she has also written for Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour.  She also is the author of The Poison Tree and The Burning Air.

“Behind Her Eyes”–Review

61gp9iiebal-_sx329_bo1204203200_David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling?

Louise is a single mom who has been in a rut since her divorce. One evening, at a bar, however, she meets an attractive man and they both hit it off. Even though they’d spent that evening only kissing, it was the first in a long time since Louise felt good about having someone touch her.

At the start of a new week, Louise begins her new secretary position at a psychiatrist’s office. And that’s when she meets her new boss, David: the man from the bar, who also happens to be married. Although they agree that their kiss was a mistake, neither one can stop thinking about the other.

When she least expects it, Louise bumps into Adele—David’s wife. Adele insists she’s new in town and seeking a friend. While guilt-ridden, Louise doesn’t feel right about accepting sweet Adele’s friendship.  However, the more time she spends with Adele, the more suspicious Louise becomes of Adele and David’s marriage. Adele doesn’t work.  She often appears anxious at certain hours when she’s expecting David’s phone calls. And her everyday routine is as if she has a curfew. And why is it that David never speaks of his marriage? And is David abusive, according to Adele?

While Louise struggles with her decision to tell David about her friendship with Adele, more strange behavior and secrets accumulate, putting the three of them at risk.  Because Louise constantly hears two sides to the stories, she realizes something isn’t right in this marriage and there seem to be more questions than answers. Although she’s advised to back off, Louise risks her life to get the answers she needs.

I think the storyline, itself, was pretty good. Each chapter speaks from Adele’s and Louise’s points of view, with the occasional chapters from Adele and David’s past. As for the ending, it did surprise me. To be honest, though, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole story. I didn’t love it, yet I didn’t hate it. I became curious about Adele’s plans and David’s reasons for his own behavior. Every chapter made me wonder whose side I should take. Even though there’s been a lot of hype about the ending, it just didn’t move me. But don’t let that discourage you from checking it out. You may enjoy it, perhaps.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Behind Her Eyes will be released on January 31, 2017.

About the author: Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London. Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development. Her next novel, Behind Her Eyes, coming for HarperFiction in the UK and Flatiron in the US (January 2017) has sold in over 20 territories worldwide and is a dark thriller about relationships with a kicker of a twist. Follow her on Twitter. You also can check out her page here.

“Not Exactly Love”–Review

41gn49ulxjl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Part memoir, part warm-hearted look at the ’70s, and part therapeutic journey, Not Exactly Love: A Memoir is an intense and inspirational story of a woman who grew from her experience.

It was in 1969 when Betty—a single schoolteacher—met Jack, a handsome but edgy new teacher at her school.  When they got to know each other, they clicked instantly.  Their relationship was filled with happy times and Betty couldn’t ask for anything more…

But when they got married, Jack was a different person.  He was quick-tempered.  He’d easily get angry about anything, taking it all out on Betty.  His fits of rage constantly ended up in verbal and physical violence.  Every day seemed to be unpredictable.  Was Jack going to be in a good mood?  Was he going to be angry?  Betty had to live with her decisions on a daily basis.  When Jack was loving, Betty tried to assure herself that their lives would be better.  But when the rage would come back, she didn’t know what to do.

Because nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the U.S. suffer from physical violence from a partner, Betty had to see the reality of her marriage and decide whether or not her marriage was worth saving or to save her own life.

This is great memoir.  It was almost like reading a thriller novel.  It’s just sad to think about situations such as these because, although it doesn’t excuse it, there’s always a story behind the violent outcomes.  This book is an inspirational read, especially because it raises awareness of domestic violence.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author: Betty Hafner lives outside Washington, DC and has written a popular monthly book column for twelve years in The Town Courier newspapers in Montgomery County, MD. With a M.S. in counseling, she was a teacher and counselor in high schools and colleges for twenty-five years. She continues to lead workshops, give talks, and facilitate groups. She wrote two practical career-change books that stemmed from her workshops―Where Do I Go From Here? (Lippincott) and The Nurse’s Guide to Starting a Small Business (Pilot Books). Always ready to converse, she also loves telling stories through her drawings, photographs, and writing.  Follow her on Twitter and you can check out her website here.

“The Wayfarer Trilogy”–Review

511m9sm0mgl-_sx323_bo1204203200_-2Hello bloggers!  Although I’d read the last two books in the Wayfarer Trilogy awhile back, I’m happy for having the opportunity to finally read the first book, The Secret Language of Women, by Nina Romano.

Set in a war during the Boxer Rebellion in China, star-crossed lovers, Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, meet.  Because of superstition, history, and customs, Lian and Giacomo are separated yet try to find a way back to each other.  Then Lian is forced into marrying a man to whom she was promised long ago.  When she is forbidden from her profession as a healer, frowned upon by her unbound feet, and enduring her husband’s and in-laws’ demanding ways, Lian turns to Nushu, the women’s secret writing which expresses her hopes for the future.

When Lian realizes enough is enough, she embarks on her own quest for freedom—even if it will come with a costly price.  Not only does she risk everything in hopes of reuniting with Giacomo, she learns a lot more about herself along the way and what she’s willing to endure to be happy again.

I liked Giacomo and now that I’ve read his story, the next two books made a bit more sense to me.

51gnxdwxitl-_sx324_bo1204203200_Lemon Blossoms, the second book in the trilogy, takes place in Italy, where Angelica Domenico resides in a blossoming lemon grove on an island governed by volcanoes and earthquakes.  During an accident from her childhood, Angelica faces the importance of maintaining her purity.  She begins to question it all even more after she endures the trauma of her aunt’s death during a difficult childbirth.  Because of that, including her fear of intimacy, she decides she’s going to commit her life to the convent, even though her parents forbid it.

Things start to change, however, when Giacomo Scimenti stops by the family shop, leaving Angelica confused and afraid of her feelings toward him, including her future in the convent.

I liked this book, even more, especially when certain chapters mentioned some Italian recipes.  I hope to, one day, visit Italy.  Aside from that, it was a good story with likable characters.

51yi1la3zhl-_sx327_bo1204203200_The final book, In America, takes place in 1920s New York.  Marcella Scimenti—the daughter of the characters in the previous book—is young, beautiful, and ambitious.  The handsome neighborhood boy is in love with her, she has a large family, and she has dreams of moving to Hollywood to sing.  Although her parents forbid her to pursue a singing career, Marcella is willing to stick by her own stubborn ways and do what it takes.  During the economic depression, she learns the importance of friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working woman with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family.  Later on, Marcella’s fate is tested when she learns of a devastating family secret, leaving her to choose what is really important in life.

I’m happy for having the opportunity to read this trilogy and I loved some of the helpful advice Marcella was given in the third book.  It just left me thinking, “Wow.  I wouldn’t have thought of it that way.”  No spoilers, of course, so I’ll just encourage you to check out this wonderful trilogy.

Feel free to post your comments, of course.  Happy reading!

For more info on the author, click here.  Also, you can follow her on Twitter.

“The Taste of Air”–Review

416syijurlIt all changes with a phone call.

Nell Williams, a wife and full time mother, receives a phone call regarding her mother, Mary Ellen Reilly.  While Mary is supposed to be residing in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, apparently she’s been in a hospital in Vermont.  Confused by this new information, Nell contacts her sister, Bridget, and hops on a plane to Vermont.  By the time the sisters arrive, they learn that Mary has been seriously ill and is barely capable of speaking, so getting any information is going to be a lot more difficult.

While they’re there, the sisters eventually learn that Mary has been living another life, with a cottage of her own and a connection to two men—including the local residents—who claim to have known Mary for years.  But who are they to Mary?  And is it possible that they’re connected with Nell and Bridget?

During their stay in their mother’s hideaway, Nell and Bridget start to uncover more secrets from Mary’s past, leading them to question their own lives and decisions for the future.

I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to read this book.  Each chapter contained many surprises and it left me wanting more.  I especially liked the descriptions of the settings in Vermont. (I hope to, one day, visit the place.)  I also enjoyed reading the chapters from Mary’s past.  No worries, I won’t spoil a thing, but I will recommend you check out this book.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author: Gail Cleare has written for magazines, newspapers, Fortune 500 companies, and AOL.  Her award-winning advertising agency represented the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She was the turtle Leonardo’s date for the world premier of the second movie, and got to wear a black evening gown and sparkly shoes.  Gail lives on an 18th century farm in New England with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams, and wide, windy skies.  She loves organic gardening and nature photography and can often be found stalking creatures with a 300 mm lens.  Check her out on Twitter.