Reviews, Romance

Review: The Distance

The DistanceThe Distance by Zoe Folbigg

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read Zoe Folbigg’s The Distance. The story of two people on opposite ends of the world who meet in a chat room and slowly fall in love is a sweet, wise exploration of how miles and life can come between people even in today’s shrinking technological world. At times the story moves slowly for its relatively short length and the flashbacks over the five years from their first meeting to the end of the story can get confusing. I kept having to look back up at the chapter title to understand the stage of their relationship was being related. Also, I’m not quite sure if the character of Kate and her story was really necessary but she did add an extra twist toward the end. I especially enjoyed learning a bit about the cultures of Hector’s Mexico and Cecilie’s arctic Norway.

Romantic fiction is full of characters getting in their own way of happiness but if you like the sweet tenderness mixed with the harsh realities of life found in The Distance, you might also enjoy Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop or Louise Miller’s The Late Bloomer’s Club.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Fast Friends

Fast FriendsFast Friends by Jill Mansell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read Jill Mansell’s Fast Friends. I’ve read a couple of Mansell’s other novels both of which were light-hearted romantic comedies so I was expecting the same light read from this book. Fast Friends, in comparison to those chick-lit rom/coms, is a bit heavier as it deals with the way we, as women specifically and flawed human beings with our own baggage, tend to sabotage ourselves especially when it comes to romantic relationships but also in regards to friendships. The story follows three former classmates through three tumultuous years starting when Camille learns that her husband (a rather cruel jerk) has been cheating on her with the glamorous Roz. I found the story overlong and I often wished that the author had focused on just Camille’s story or even Camille and LouLou. However, even when I was growing tired of the ups and downs and twists and game-playing, I was aware of the many truths about human nature the story revealed and I needed to know if each of the characters got the happy ending they deserved.

If you enjoy Fast Friends, you may also enjoy Katie Fforde’s Wedding Season If like me, you also enjoy lighter romantic chick-lit, Mansell and Fforde have provided me with some fun reads such as Fforde’s Stately Pursuits and Highland Fling or Mansell’s Staying at Daisy’s.

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Fantasy, Reviews, Romance

Review: Child of the Prophecy

Child of the Prophecy (Sevenwaters, #3)Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

The third novel of Marillier’s Sevenwaters series is, in my opinion, closer in quality and story to the magnificent first book, Daughter of the Forest than the second book, Son of the Shadows was, though this one too lacked some of the romance of that first book, instead focusing on the magic and lore of their world. Like its predecessors, Child of the Prophecy centers on a strong, independent female protagonist who is tested beyond her limits. I related much more with Fainne than I did with either Sorcha or Liadan though I loved them both as characters.
The best thing about Child of the Prophecy aside from the rollercoaster ride of emotion and tension that fills most of the final 100 pages or so of the book is the return of so many of the beloved (and not so beloved!) characters from the first two novels and the resolution of many of their stories. Even if it slow at times, it is worth it, in the end, to see where Sorcha’s story from the first book has led and the importance of each choice that is made.

If you enjoy  Child of the Prophecy or Irish folklore, fairy stories, or romantic fantasy, I highly recommend you read the Sevenwaters series from the beginning.  

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For the Love of Books

New Year, New Look, New Books

I’m hoping that 2019 brings new and exciting things to my life as well as yours.  We may not know what’s in store for us but one thing I know for sure is that there will be great books to read.  Some of my favorite writers have new books coming out this year.  While I may not get to them all (because of all of the new and exciting things 2019 has in store for me, of course!), these are the upcoming releases I’m most excited about:

  • I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella – While her popular Shopaholic series may have gotten stale, Kinsella redeemed herself a couple of years ago with the wonderful My Not So Perfect Life, which is why I’m so looking forward to I Owe You One (expected publication:  February 5, 2019)
  • The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion – Reading The Best of Adam Sharp last year may have been a huge disappointment but Simsion’s return to Don and Rosie has me excited to read him all over again. (expected publication:  February 5, 2019)
  • The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms – Though it has only been a year and a half since I read Kelly Harms’s The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane and The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay, I’ve been waiting rather impatiently for her to release another. (expected publication:  May 1, 2019)
  • The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay – I’ve only read two of Reay’s novels but I’ve enjoyed their heart and humor, especially in Lizzy and Jane.  I always look forward to more of her novels to read. (expected publication:  May 14, 2019)
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman – Whether it is the unexpected humor of The Garden of Small Beginnings or the sharp-tongued wit of Other People’s Houses, Abbi Waxman’s writing always makes me laugh.  I can’t wait to meet Nina Hill and learn about her bookish life. (expected publication:  July 9, 2019)
  • The Philosopher’s War by Tom Miller – Tom Miller’s thought-provoking fantasy/historical fiction, The Philosopher’s Flight may not have made my top reads from last year but the story is so unique and timely that I must know what happens next. (expected publication:  July 16, 2019)
  • The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal – Stradal’s first novel, Kitchens of the Greater Midwest, is one of those novels that I feel it might take multiple readings to fully appreciate.  It is the author’s unique voice and view of the people and their lives in the middle of our country that has me anxious for more of his writing.  (expected publication:  July 23, 2019)
  • Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier – I am only halfway through the Sevenwaters series so I won’t be getting to Harp of Kings any time soon but any new fantasy series by Juliet Marillier is a reason to get excited. (expected publication:  September 3, 2019)
  • Kopp Sisters on the March by Amy Stewart – Yes!  Another Kopp Sisters novel is on the way and you can bet that I will be putting in my request at my local library as soon as I can.  I am especially anxious for the next chapter thanks to the all the questions at the end of Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit.  (expected publication:  September 17, 2019)

 

My source for publication dates is Goodreads.com and may be subject to change.  Happy reading!

For the Love of Books, Year in Review

Shelly’s Year in Books | 2018

It’s that time of year again, time to review my year of reading.  Honestly, it hasn’t been my best reading year.  I don’t want to complain about receiving free books and ARC editions but thanks to my discovery of NetGalley, reading started to feel like a chore.  And that’s never a good thing.  So I’m determined to cut down on the number of books I sign up for and focus more on the books on my own shelves.  Even though I wouldn’t count 2018 as the most enjoyable, any time spent reading is to be appreciated and there are always a few standouts books.

  • For instance?  Amy Stewart released another Kopp Sisters novel, the fourth in the series (and there’s another one on the way for 2019!), Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit.  and she makes my top reads list for the third year in a row.
  • This summer my ever reliable librarian friend introduced me to Louise Miller’s first novel,  The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living and when my library got her second novel,  The Late Bloomers’ Club, I read that one too.   I loved both books and they both make my list.Late Bloomer
  • I encountered a few disappointments from some of my favorite writers:  Neither Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Heroes Are My Weakness or Katie Fforde’s Love Letters were the authors’ best works.  Though I did enjoy Abbi Waxman’s Other People’s Houses it didn’t quite live up to the hilarity of last year’s top readThe Garden of Small Beginnings.  The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion, the author of my beloved Don Tillman series, was one of my least enjoyed books of the year, earning my only one-star review of the year.
  • Then again some well-loved writers equaled or Night of Miraclessurpassed themselves:  When I finally got around to reading the second book of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, I found everything that I loved about the first book along with a deeper relationship between Claire and Jamie.  My return to Jan Karon’s Mitford series was a joyous one with the short, sweet Christmas story, Shepherds Abiding.  Best of all was Elizabeth Berg’s Night of Miracleswhich contained the unique attention to detail and wisdom that I love about Berg’s writing along with a ton of heart and some lovable characters making it a front-runner for my top read
  • Another front-runner is Jon Cohen’s Harry’s Trees which celebrated two of my favorite things, books and nature, with an enormous amount of heart, a devilish sense of humor, and a dash of adventure.Harry's Trees
  • Finally, if awards were given out for best character, Polly from Kathy Hepinstall’s The Book of Polly would definitely get a nomination.

There are the highlights of my year.  I read some great books but there wasn’t even a competition for my favorite read this year.  I pretty much knew what it would be back in March.  Harry’s Trees is just so full of hope and love and a darn good story that I knew it was destined to be one of my favorites.  Since finishing it, I’ve recommended to everyone and even wrote it in for a Goodreads choice award.

These are just a few of the books I’ve read this year.  To see the full list and read the reviews, check out My 2018 Year in Books on Goodreads!

Source: Shelly’s Year in Books | Goodreads