Review – Defining Her

Today I’m excited to share my review on Samantha March’s latest novel called Defining Her. I’m sorry to say that I’ve only read one of Samantha’s other books, even though I’ve purchased all of her novels and they’re all sitting and waiting for me on my iPad. This book definitely inspired me to bump those up the TBR list!

Defining Her by Samantha March

My Review:

Defining her is a wonderful women’s fiction novel about what defines us as individuals. We are not defined by who we were and what we’ve done in the past, but by who we are now and our current actions. We are not defined by where we come from and what our upbringing was like, but on where we are now and what we have made of our lives. Just because you have a history of being a good person, doesn’t give you a free pass to be a bad person now. And just because you’ve had a tough past, doesn’t mean that you can’t be a better person today.

We all have different experiences in life and have taken different paths to where we stand today. It’s so important to be true to yourself and sometimes that includes being 100% honest with those you care about, even if you have a rocky past.

One of the major themes of the novel is infidelity and the effect it has on both those that cheat and those that are cheated on. There’s a difference between having a physical affair and an emotional affair, and neither is okay but both have the capacity to be put in the past to move together towards a brighter future.

Samantha created complex characters that were thoroughly intriguing. The story is written in the first person and rotates between Prue and Nellie. It includes a bit from their past in order to help you understand how they got to where they are today. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would highly recommend it.

Side note: be aware that there is a blush-worthy sex scene, but it is not included just for the sake of including a sex scene and it does add something to the story. This story also contains emotional situations that one might find uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s good to get a bit out of your comfort zone to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I purchased a copy of this novel on Amazon for $2.99. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Book

Title: Defining Her

Author: Samantha March

Published: March 11, 2017

Book Blurb: Nellie Hawthorne is a woman who has it all. A devoted husband, her own business, a wealthy lifestyle. But the Nellie she is now is much different from her past. A past filled with abuse, addiction, and men. Nellie’s carefully constructed new life is suddenly in jeopardy when a blast from the past emerges in her small town and her overbearing mother-in-law starts pushing for grandchildren and questions start being asked. A budding new friendship presents itself at an opportune time, and a once friendless Nellie finds herself growing closer to Prue Doherty.

Prue Doherty is the quintessential good girl. Always making the right decisions, always playing it safe. Until she meets a man that could change all of that. Still reeling from a devastating breakup and betrayal that had her fleeing from Chicago and settling into suburb life with her mom close by, Prue finds herself in a damaging funk. But everything changes when she befriends Nellie Hawthorne.

Nellie is trying to escape her past. Prue wants that perfect future. While both women strive to change their lives, they continue to cling to the past. But what defines us? Who we were then . . . or who we are trying to be now? Lies, manipulation, and deceit are woven throughout the pages of this edgy women’s fiction novel, with an ending you won’t see coming.

This novel contains adult content, graphic language and disturbing situations.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 Arielle Joy

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Review – Perfect Girl

Although this novel has been sitting on my iPad for quite some time just waiting to be read, I was recently inspired to read this when I finished reading Kathryn R. Biel’s latest novel New Attitude because one of her characters is named after Michele, who is the author of this book!

Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman

My Review:

Perfect girl was a self-discovery type novel. Carol isn’t your average pushover, she does it out of the love in her heart and the desire to help those in her life. But years of being a people-pleaser has made everyone happy except for the person that matters most, herself. Watch as Carol goes on a journey to discover who she is when she’s being true to herself and what that life looks like for her.

The main theme of the novel is the idea that you shouldn’t always bend over backwards to make everyone else happy. Eventually they’ll take it for granted and leave you feeling resentment in a never-ending cycle of doing things for others. That’s not to say that you should never do anything nice for anyone else, but you should try to find a happy balance.

Another main theme of the novel is infidelity and cheating. Sometimes the person you thought they were turns out to be a smokescreen for who they truly are on the inside, and that person happens to have an ugly soul. Don’t waste time on soul-sucking lying cheating people, they’re not worth the effort and they’ll always be selfish.

The best supporting actress award of this novel goes to Zoe. Although she had a small role in this story, she was one of my favorite characters and I loved the comic relief she added throughout the story. I loved all of the ridiculous dating adventures of Carol’s best friend and literally laughed out loud at the crazy scenarios.

I loved this story and can’t wait to read more of Michele’s novels!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I downloaded an e-book copy of this novel when it was free on Amazon for a limited time. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

About the Book

Title: Perfect Girl

Author: Michele Gorman

Published: October 2014

Book Blurb: Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the “W” in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humor and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man’s world

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

 Arielle Joy

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February Reading

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I can’t believe we’re already half-way through March and I’m only just now recapping February! Today I’m sharing a round-up of the books I read during February. Scroll on to find out which one was my favorite. You can also click the images below to read my reviews for each.

lift-and-separate lean-in we-just-clicked love-in-an-elevator talking-as-fast-as-i-can criminal-confections

Books Read in February 2017

Books listed below in the order they were read

  1. Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein, 4/5 stars
  2. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, 5/5 stars
  3. We Just Clicked by Sophie Childs, 5/5 Stars
  4. Love in an Elevator a Romantic Comedy Anthology, 5/5 Stars
  5. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham, 4/5 Stars
  6. Criminal Confections by Colette London, 4/5 Stars

My favorite books read during February were…

Honestly, this month was hard to pick a favorite, so I picked two. My two favorite books read in February were Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Love in an Elevator a romantic comedy anthology.

 

february-2017-books-read

 

What books did you read last month that you loved?

 

 

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Review – Love in an Elevator

Love in an Elevator, a Romantic Comedy anthology

My Review

love-in-an-elevatorI loved this book, I loved this book, I loved this book! Clearly I can’t say it enough times! Love in an Elevator has 8 short stories that incorporate a romantic story that involves an elevator in some way. Who would’ve thought that there could be so many ways that elevators can bring people together?! They’re all clever and funny and filled with unexpected romance and all the stories incorporate the elevators in completely different ways, yet the elevator plays a key role in all of the storylines. Some of the authors are personal favorites, some are authors i’ve been meaning to read, and some were completely new to me. Almost all 8 stories got a 5/5 star rating from me and I HIGHLY recommend these stories to all who enjoy romantic comedies and are looking for some major laughs!

Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars

[Please note, these stories are no longer available as an anthology and are available to purchase separately as novellas from each author.]

1. Hold the Lift by Aven Ellis

I was looking forward to reading this short as I’ve heard of her work but have never read any of her writing yet! This story was about Sierra and Jude meeting in an elevator that gets stuck. They’re both young, hard-working professionals that work hard to accomplish their goals. I love that he’s a professional hockey player (It’s the only sport I truly enjoy!) and I love the tie-in with the Magic 8 ball. Sometimes the digital age can bring people together and sometimes it can make things more difficult, but I truly believe that when things are meant to work out, they very often times do.

5/5 Stars – super cute story of Sierra and Jude

2. Down, Then Up by Beth Labonte

This was a new author for me and I’m sorry to say I’d never heard of her before. Thankfully that changed now that I’ve read her story of Lauren and Jamie. Lauren runs into her old college boyfriend, of all places on a crazy bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas. They both have accomplished a lot since their college years, but could it be that neither of them ever moved on from their failed relationship?

4/5 Stars – mixture of silly, sweet and serious

3. Going Up? by Whitney Dineen

I’ve got a few of Whitney’s novels on my kindle app but haven’t made my way to them yet. This novella inspired me to read them soon!

Fiona Kitchen moves to New York to open a branch of her massage spa called The Rub, like her flagship store in Pennsylvania. After months of having trouble finding a new client base, Fiona gets a job as an elevator operator. That job leads to some interesting adventures and I was happy to be along for the ride. I would love to read a full length novel of Fiona’s story.

5/5 Stars

4. Taking a Chance by Becky Monson

Liza and Jay meet in the elevator that is supposed to take them to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. Liza is a special type of socially awkward; she’s scared of crowds, small spaces and especially afraid of heights. But she has a promise to fulfill and perhaps Jay is the perfect person to help her accomplish her goals.
5/5 Stars – Such a cute story!

5. Happy to be Stuck with You by Rich Amooi

I was excited to see that Rich was one of the authors in this anthology, as he is one of my favorite authors! You can get a copy of this novella for free if you sign up for Rich’s newsletter (you’ll also get his new releases for a discounted rate when they come out): Sign up here!
Happy to be stuck with you is a cute story about seemingly unrequited love in the workplace. You know what they say about making assumptions about people right? You’re usually wrong! This was a funny one, a laugh out loud comedy from beginning to end, in the classic Amooi style.

5/5 Stars – classic laugh out loud comedy

6. Upstairs, Downstairs and the Lift in Between by Geralyn Corcillo

Another of my favorite authors!

This is the charming story of where Mark and Maisy meet and fall in love. I read the full length novel recently and it’s wonderful! I enjoyed reading how it all began, even though I read it out of order.

5/5 Stars

7. The Only Way is Up by Lindy Dale

This was a new author for me, but one I’ve heard great things about. This is the story of Bailey and Callum. I loved the dynamics between these two and would love to continue reading their story if it was a full length novel!

5/5 Stars

8. Out of Order by Dee Ernest

This was a completely new author for me. I loved the story and the relationship that brews between Seth and Grace and will definitely be checking out her other works.

5/5 Stars

Title: Love in an Elevator

Author: Multiple Authors

Published: July 2016

Book Blurb: Laugh, swoon, and escape with this romantic comedy anthology!

I purchased this book when it was available as an anthology. You can now only purchase the novellas separately from each author on Amazon.

Hold the Lift by Aven Ellis – Amazon Link 

Down, Then Up by Beth Labonte – Amazon Link

Going Up? by Whitney Dineen – Amazon Link

Taking a Chance by Becky Monson – Amazon Link

Happy to be Stuck with You by Rich Amooi – Newsletter

Upstairs, Downstairs, and the Lift in Between by Geralyn Corcillo – Amazon Link

The Only Way is Up by Lindy Dale – Amazon Link

Out of Order by Dee Ernst – Amazon Link

I purchased this book when it was available with all 8 stories together in one. They are now only available separately. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion. 

Arielle Joy

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Exclusive Author Guest Post – Mary Castillo

Today I’m excited to share an exclusive guest post written by author Mary Castillo. Thank you to CLP Tours for letting me participate in the blog tour celebrating Mary’s new novel Lost in the Light!

How to Listen to an Audiobook by Mary Castillo

I thought audiobooks were for people who wanted something to keep from getting bored on long road trips.

But then Audible began a TV campaign of commercials featuring a woman ironing while listening to a romance, or a guy vacuuming to a Raymond Chandler-esque noir mystery.

When I signed up for the free trial, I was fully converted. I filled up my Wish List like I didn’t have books to write, a child to raise and a husband to kiss at night. I looked forward to traffic jams so I could get more listening time with my favorite meditation guru, davidji. While my boys battled the Imperial troops in Star Wars Battlefront, I dropped into Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell Mystery series. Heck, I even kept up with the laundry so I could follow alongside Eve and Roarke in J.D. Robb’s In Death series!

While I love having a closet full of folded towels, here are other fun ways I recommend enjoying audiobooks:

Coloring – I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve heard other audiophiles rave about the meditative quality of adult coloring books.

Long walks: I recommend paved, well-lit streets especially if the book is good! Also, look both ways if you must cross the street. On second thought, maybe a tread mill is the safest option.

Knitting or crochet: My favorite activity is to work on simple, repetitive patterns like blankets or simple scarves. Lace work and short rows can get tricky and if you get engrossed in the story, you’ll have some TINK-ing to do. (Knitting spelled backwards means having to undo your work to fix mistakes!)

What do you like to do while listening to your favorite audiobooks?

Here are some other titles I recently enjoyed:

Once Upon a Grind: The Coffeehouse Mysteries, Book 14 by Cleo Coyle

Making Life Easy: A Simple Guide to a Divinely Inspired Life by Dr. Christiane Northrup

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley

Favorite audiobook activities collage from above from top left clockwise: Back Bay Newport Beach trail, my latest knitting project, recent road trip to Carmel where Girl in the Mist (next audiobook title) is set and of course, the beach!

About the Author – Mary Castillo

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon Author

Author Bio:

Mary Castillo is an Amazon bestselling author and audiobook narrator. She writes chilling paranormal mysteries and sexy, heartwarming romantic comedies, all with compelling characters that keep you turning the pages long past your bedtime! Her debut, Hot Tamara was selected by Cosmopolitan magazine as a Red Hot Read and Latina magazine called Mary “an author to look out for” and selected In Between Men and Names I Call My Sister for the Top 10 Summers Reads in July 2009. Lost in the Light was a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Paranormal Mystery.

Mary grew up in a haunted house in National City, CA. She cries every time she sees the movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Casablanca, and may have developed a mild addiction to listening to audiobooks while she knits.

Lost in the Light by Mary Castillo

 

Book Blurb: One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again.

Now, Detective Dori Orihuela witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.

Drawn to this tough but tender woman, Vicente materializes out of the butler’s pantry and asks her to find his lost love, Anna. Dori wonders if she’s not only about to lose her badge, but also her sanity.

Dori has always been drawn to the mysterious Queen Anne Edwardian house in her hometown. But after a devastating injury that puts her career on the line, Dori isn’t sure if she made the right decision purchasing this rundown old mansion.

Her wisecracking Grammy Cena has waited too long for her independent granddaughter to return home. She hires a a kooky psychic to banish the ghost and a handsome contractor with whom Dori has an unhappy past.

With a promise to Vicente, Dori may solve a forgotten Prohibition era murder. Or she may exhume secrets someone died to protect.

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Now Available in Audio (How appropriate, given the theme of Mary’s guest post!)

Audible subscribersNew subscribers

 

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

March 13 – Rebekah Martin Writes –  Excerpt

March 13 – A Southern Girls Bookshelf – Excerpt

March 14 – A Novel Thought With Jess – Guest Post & Excerpt

March 14 – T’s Stuff – Review & Excerpt
March 14 – Rebekah Martin Writes – Q&A

March 15 – Living Life With Joy – Guest Post

March 15 – Books, Dreams, Life – Excerpt
March 15 – Rebekah Martin Writes – Guest post

March 16 – Leigh Anderson Romance – Guest Post
March 16 – Rebekah Martin Writes – Review

March 17 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt

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Release Day Review – New Attitude

Happy Release Day to author Kathryn R. Biel on her latest novel New Attitude! New Attitude is the second novel in the New Beginnings series, which follows the first story called Made For Me. Check out my review for Made for Me and scroll on to read my review on her new novel New Attitude.

New Attitude by Kathryn R. Biel

My Review

New Attitude is a wonderful continuation of the series. This time it’s from Kira’s perspective. Her life is a complete mess right now, but there is a bright spot in her life (and I’m not just talking about her ever-changing rainbow colored hair!). She gets to go to the royal wedding with Michele. After she gets home from that, her efforts are spent trying to get out of the rut she’s in because every area of her life is in trouble and her creativity isn’t where it was at before she was on the show. Insert exciting life-changing news, and an interesting flirtation and you’ve got yourself set up for an entertaining story.

One of the main themes of the story is not jumping to conclusions because things aren’t’ always how they seem at first look. It’s important to give people a chance and sometimes all you need is a new attitude and outlook on life. This was a charming story and I can’t wait for the next one!

5/5 Stars

I received a complimentary review copy via the author. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

Title: New Attitude – New Beginnings Book #2

Author: Kathryn R. Biel

Published: March 14, 2017

Book Blurb: As if it’s not bad enough that I didn’t win the reality design TV show I was on, try coming home to a one word note indicating that my ten-year marriage is over. So here I am, a suddenly single mother in my mid-thirties, doing what everyone advises me to do—have a fling. Except it doesn’t go as planned, so I do the next best thing, which is sit on the couch and mope. But having to provide for a five-year-old doesn’t let me stay home for too long. Before I know it, I’m back to dying my hair wild colors and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

Except Tony, the fling that wasn’t, keeps popping up in the most unlikely places and won’t leave me alone. I’d like to be strong—I’m way too old for him—but he’s cute and funny and sexy and oh, my ex is getting married to a girl named Bambi. All I know is the way I’m doing things isn’t working. If I want to be happy again, I’m going to need to get a new attitude.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Arielle Joy

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Review – Talking as fast as I can

Talking as fast as I can by Lauren Graham

My Review:

As soon as I knew that Gilmore Girls was creating a Year in the Life on Netflix, I slowly began to make my way through watching all 7 seasons from start to finish to have the full series fresh in my mind. I wanted to complete all 7 seasons prior to watching the new shows, and although it took a long time, it was well worth the wait!

After watching the new Year in the Life episodes, it was time to read Lauren’s book Talking as Fast as I Can. Her novel reads in such a way that you feel as though you are spending time hanging out with Lauren and that she is telling you the story in person. Needless to say, it was funny and thoroughly enjoyable, though it was a quick read and I was sad it was over so soon.

After reading her book, I realized that I’d been living under a rock because I had never heard of the show she was on after Gilmore Girls called Parenthood. I started watching that show and again am thoroughly being entertained by Lauren and her new cast of family members. I’m almost through season 2 and thankful that there’s quite a few more.

I digress, this started off as a review for her book, didn’t it? The only thing you need to know about it, is that you should read it, and that you’re guaranteed to enjoy it. The end.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I purchased a hardback copy of this book on Amazon. All reviews 100% reflect my honest opinion.

I also couldn’t resist and bought this fun Luke’s Diner mug on Amazon. How fun right?!

Book Details | Talking as fast as I can by Lauren Graham

Published: November 2016

Book Blurb: In this collection of personal essays, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood reveals stories about life, love, and working as a woman in Hollywood—along with behind-the-scenes dispatches from the set of the new Gilmore Girls, where she plays the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore once again.

In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).

In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.

Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).

Including photos and excerpts from the diary Graham kept during the filming of the recent Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, this book is like a cozy night in, catching up with your best friend, laughing and swapping stories, and—of course—talking as fast as you can.

Book Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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