Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Bidding for Love

Bidding for Love Bidding for Love by Katie Fforde

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Katie Fforde’s romantic chick-lit novels may not be the most well-written, and the plots may be formulaic, but they are sweet and a little sexy – just what you need sometimes, especially in summer. I particularly enjoy the rural English settings which always make me feel cozy and more than a little envious. Bidding for Love, like most of the other of Fforde’s novels I’ve read feature a spunky young woman trying to make it on her own in an unfamiliar setting. In this case, Flora has inherited more than half of the family auction house from a distant relative.
Flora, despite a rocky start, and a less than warm welcome, makes friends and starts to settle into the small village, her cozy cottage, and eventually the business. Until she realizes she’s falling in love with her stuffy, unavailable business partner. It is, as expected, a sweet, easy, breezy read. However, and maybe this is just because I’m an average American, but I kept getting hung up on the fact that Flora and Charles are cousins even though the distance of that relationship was reiterated often throughout the novel. It didn’t bother me enough to stop me from enjoying the story and the setting though.

I just love British Chick-Lit and I’m always looking for a new author in the genre (so if there’s someone you enjoy reading, please pass it on!) but for now Katie Fforde is my go-to writer for a gentler romantic comedy thanks to those cozy rural settings, spunky heroines, and sweet romances.  I particularly enjoyed Artistic License, Stately Pursuits, and Highland Fling.  

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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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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

Writing

New Year, New Plans

I did a lot of thinking during the last month of the year and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m writing this blog about the wrong subject.  Or, I should say, writing about the books I read isn’t enough.  While I am always reading something, what I read does not always inspire me to write a full-blown blog entry.  Therefore I’ve made too few entries this past year.  And my heart wasn’t always in those I did post.  So I feel that I either must end this blog altogether or expand the subject matter beyond my bookshelves.

Now, I have many, many interests but I am an expert at none.  My first instinct was to expand my entries to books and movies.  Then I thought I might add TV shows and music to the list of subjects about which I write.  But like with reading, I feel that one’s taste in movies, shows, and especially music is very personal.  And maybe it’s the trauma of middle school talking but I don’t trust that I won’t be judged harshly for my tastes.  Nothing personal, but the internet hasn’t shown itself to be the safest place to pour one’s heart out.

I’ve also considered posting snippets of my own fiction writing.  Again my trusts issues come into play.  Even though the writing is probably mostly crap, I can’t trust that my ideas won’t be stolen.  I have issues.  We all do.  I know that but I’m only now beginning to realize that these trust issues of mine are holding me back not only in my blog but with my fiction.  Maybe, instead of the usual resolution to get fit or be more responsible with money, my 2017 resolution should be to work on my trust issues.  And not just my trust of strangers on the internet but also I need to learn to trust myself.  This, I believe, would greatly benefit my writing as well as other areas of my life.  Which I don’t trust you enough to talk about.  Still, if I’ve actually posted this, it is a step in the right direction.  Right?

Now, before the trust exercises begin I must post my annual Year in Review of the books I read in 2016.  I went well over my goal of 30 books with 46 but that’s because I didn’t do very well at my other resolution to focus more on my fiction writing.  I could blame a particularly tough year but the truth is I’m just really good at believing my own excuses.  Neither did I succeed in completing Reading Challenge I attempted.

mmd-2016-reading-challenge1
2016 Reading Challenge from modernmrsdarcy.com

I thought it would be simple with only 12 books but I’m still working on the book that intimidates me – James Michener’s Alaska – and I never got around to the book I should’ve read in school or the one I’d previously abandoned.  That’s not surprising considering that I didn’t want to read them the first time around.  Here are the books I read to complete the other challenges:

A Book Published This Year:

(Goodreads.com giveaways were quite helpful in completing this one)

A Book You Can Finish in a Day:

(I should write an entry on what this local children’s author has meant to me)

A Book You’ve Been Meaning to Read:

A Book Recommended by your Local Librarian:

A Book Chosen for You by Your BFF:

A Book Published Before You Were Born:

A Book that Has Been Banned at Some Point: 

A Book You Own But Have Never Read:

(To be fair this category is true of most of the books I read.)

A Book You’ve Read at Least Once:

And now for my top read of the year:

I chose Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart.

kopp
Amy Stewart’s wonderful Kopp Sisters series is based on the experiences of real-life sisters Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp in the 1910s.

I know I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating but it was just such a fun surprise and I think many people would enjoy the tale based on actual events.  Don’t believe me?  Go to the author’s page dedicated to these three brave women.  I think it just proves that librarians really do know the best books.  Plus there’s a fantastic sequel for when you finish long before you want it to end.