March Reading Review Round-Up

Today I’m sharing a round-up of the books I read during March. Scroll on to find out which one was my favorite. Click the images below to read my reviews for each novel.

       

Books Read in March 2017

Books listed below in the order they were read

  1. New Attitude by Kathryn R. Biel
  2. Playing House by Laura Chapman
  3. See You Soon Broadway by Melissa Baldwin
  4. Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman
  5. Defining Her by Samantha March
  6. Wait for the Rain by Maria Murnane
  7. Bridges by Maria Murnane
  8. Plan Bea by Hilary Grossman

My favorite book read during March was…

All of them! I loved all of the books I read this month, that I can’t possibly pick only one favorite! They were all 5 star reads in my book, so I’m choosing not to pick just one.

What books did you read last month that you loved?

 

 

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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, Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway | Up To I Do

Today I’m excited to share my review on Samantha March’s latest novel Up To I Do. Let me start off by saying I loved this novel! I came into this novel with a positive outlook because I have heard wonderful things about her previous novels.

Even though we’ve never met in person, thanks to the ease of connecting on social media these days, I feel like I know a lot about the author, and let me tell you, she’s fantastic! She’s a beautiful, intelligent, successful woman whose list of involvement is seriously impressive. Samantha is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. On top of the many hats she wears, Samantha runs the popular Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour site and has an independent publishing company called Marching Ink. AND she still manages to find time for her blogging, writing and editing. She’s a one-woman wonder!

In addition to my review, I’ll also be sharing an interview with the author and an excerpt of the novel to give you a little taste. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway and then get yourself a copy of her novel!

Up To I Do by Samantha March

Published: July 25, 2015

UpToIDo

Emerson Sinclair, twenty-seven year old hotel heiress, has said yes. With just over a year to plan her extravagant, over the top nuptials to Logan Worthington, it’s all hands on deck with the wedding plans. A Sinclair marrying into the Worthington family is the talk of their small New Hampshire town, and ideas include filming the wedding for a TV segment. But as the items get checked off the list, plans start to go … not as planned. From not getting a designer dress to a selfish bridesmaid and unaccountable best man, Emerson is afraid her wedding will be more a joke than anything.
When both her mother and sister seemingly begin to lose interest in her wedding plans in favor of their own personal lives, Emerson fears her big day will turn into the forgotten wedding. With the pressure to pull off a beautiful and elegant event that everyone expects from their respectable families, Emerson starts to forget the reason why she is saying I Do in the first place.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Kobo

My Review

One of the main themes in this novel is the idea that you shouldn’t let what others think dictate how you live your life. If you want something, you should go for it, regardless of what others might think. Emerson begins to feel completely overwhelmed at the prospect of creating the perfect wedding, but it takes her a while to realize that everyone has different ideas of what a perfect wedding looks like.

On top of the stress of planning her upcoming nuptials, Emerson’s afraid that she’s beginning to care more about the wedding than the marriage, even though she’s about to marry her best friend and the most amazing man she could possibly imagine. Once you get over her tendency to go a bit Bridezilla, she’s extremely likable and I enjoyed watching her adventures and drama that led up to her wedding day.

I loved the cute updates and hashtags that were located at the beginning of each chapter, but they kind of gave away things that were about to happen in the chapter. For a handful of the chapters I thought the cute little blurbs should have been placed at the end of the chapter, not before. Regardless, they were cute and added an extra fun and current relevance to the novel.

There was such a cute surprise at the end that I wasn’t expecting that wrapped up the story and made me completely fall in love with the novel! I am not ashamed to admit that I got teared up towards the end. Such a lovely novel with a beautiful message about what a wedding is truly about. A wedding is about family, love and the marriage itself, not about the decorations and trying to have the event of the year. It’s about the beautiful act of proclaiming your love for one another and the beginning of your life together. I can’t wait to see more from this author and go back and read the novels that she’s published previously!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

About the Author – Samantha March

Author Links: Blog | Website | You Tube | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

samanthamarchsummerAuthor Bio: Samantha March is an author, editor, publisher, blogger, and all around book lover. She runs the popular book/women’s lifestyle blog ChickLitPlus, which keeps her bookshelf stocked with the latest reads and up to date on all things health, fitness, fashion, and celebrity related. In 2011 she launched her independent publishing company Marching Ink and has three published novels – Destined to Fail, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship. When she isn’t reading, writing, or blogging, you can find her cheering for the Green Bay Packers. Samantha lives in Iowa with her husband and Vizsla puppy.

Interview with the Author – Samantha March

1. Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

Hi! My name is Samantha March and I am a published author of four books. I also run Chick Lit Plus, own the publishing company Marching Ink, and love yoga!

2. Can you give us a brief overview of your novel and the inspiration behind it?

Up To I Do is the story of an heiress planning her wedding. The inspiration was when I got engaged I thought I could write about the ups and downs of planning a wedding, but our weddings and the year long engagement turned out to be quite different!

3. How long did it take you to write Up To I Do? What is your writing process like?

It took me about a year. I typically write in the mornings, and give myself a word count goal each day.

4. Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on my fifth novel, but it’s still in the very early stages!

5. Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes, since I was nine years old I knew this is what I wanted to be!

6. Being a writer is a great job but what’s the worst job you’ve ever had? 

Ooh, that is tough. I did a holiday job working “recovery” at a department store – meaning, putting back clothes in the dressing rooms that people decided not to purchase. Such a headache!

7. What kind of environment do you write in?

I am lucky enough to have a home office, which I think really helps. No TV to distract me, though I do have to remember to close my internet browsers for fewer distractions!

8. What are the things you can’t live without in your wardrobe?

Yoga pants, comfy tanks, a big sweater, skinny jeans.

9. A few of your favorites…

Favorite scent? My dog 🙂

Favorite color? Pink

Favorite food? Ice cream.

Favorite word? Inspire

Favorite song? It always changed!

Favorite book? Too hard!

Favorite/dream vacation spot? Italy

Favorite time period in history? 1920s

Favorite article of clothing? Yoga pants!

Favorite drink of choice? Coke

Favorite celebrity crush? Clay Mattthews!

10. Either or…

Dogs or cats? Dog

Red wine or white? White

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Summer or Winter? Summer

Sleep in or get up early? Sleep in

Apple or PC? PC

Up To I Do – Excerpt

Chapter Nine

MyWeddingPlans.com Status Update: Nearly lost a bridesmaid today. #needaredo #redhotmess

The day of the bridesmaid dress appointment felt similar to picking out my wedding dress. Once again, Mom, Grams, Milly, Sienna, and the rest of the bridesmaids gathered at the house for breakfast. Delilah had even made the trip down once again, and we were going to have a sleepover at Milly’s that night with the three of us. I couldn’t wait.

Once we were finished eating, we were off in the limo once again to the bridal shop where I had purchased my dress. I had to put my foot down on this. Evie (and also Honor and a tad bit of Tatiana if I’m honest) pushed for a New York trip to find the bridesmaid dress, throwing out all these top-notch shops filled with designer dresses. But . . . if I couldn’t have a designer dress, why would my maids wear one? I had finally come to terms that I had my dream dress and it just happened not to be a big name designer. I couldn’t handle if the other girls had one. The men were wearing Vera Wang for God’s sake. Cut me a little slack here.

Once we arrived at the store and were greeted warmly by Sandra, the owner, she ushered us to the back and I sat on the throne—a big fluffy red chair reserved for brides. Milly handed me scorecards that she had made so I could rate each dress from 1-10, and Sandra explained what would happen. We had fifteen minutes to walk around the store and grab dresses, then the fun would begin. Pretty simple.

On her mark, the lot of us scattered like marbles on a wood floor, on the hunt for the perfect bridesmaid dress. I managed to pull two, getting overwhelmed quickly by all the choices. How would I ever find one? Maybe each girl could wear a different dress in the same color. Would that be too busy? Did I care? Why was I here? Couldn’t I have made Katrina handle this on her own? But no, she probably would have been sucked into going to New York as well. It was better I was here and in control.

“Time!” Sandra stood in the middle of the floor, and I realized then that we were the only people in the store, which I had to think was unusual for a Saturday morning. I wondered if Mom had reserved the space solely for us. That was sweet and a necessity I hadn’t even thought of because I wasn’t sure I could concentrate if a bunch of other bridesmaids were traipsing along the aisles.

After handing my choices over to Sandra and taking a seat at the throne, I waited anxiously for the girls to come out. Each was coming out first in a pick of their own, and I was curious to see what each girl’s style was going to be. Milly was the exception. Since she was my maid of honor, I was going to let her off the hook for trying dresses on. I figured we had enough girls around. She had thanked me profusely that morning for the favor.

“Got your scorecards at the ready?” Sienna asked me, her eyes bright. As the countdown to the big day got closer, Sienna seemed to be more and more in her element. I think Mom was relieved she was taking some of the pressure off her, especially with the pageant taking up more time than she expected it to.

I held up the thick cards that Milly had clearly put a lot of time into. “Ready to roll!”

Sandra cleared her throat and started listing off the designer names and the dress features. Honor was in a strapless dress that fell to the knee, with a belted waist and crumb catcher top. Delilah’s dress also featured a crumb catcher top (these two were so alike it could be scary) but hers had no belt and was less structured than Honor’s. Tatiana had a long strapless dress with a keyhole in the chest area—a little too risqué in my opinion. Evie . . . Evie. Evie was in a short hot pink dress that dipped low in the back, nearly to her crack, and her boobs were pushed up so high I was sure a nip slip was going to happen in the store. How in the world that was a suitable bridesmaid dress for anyone was beyond me. I couldn’t even look at her.

“Gabby’s dress is my favorite out of this group,” I said, my eyes immediately going to her soft chiffon dress with delicate straps and a ruched bodice. It fit her well and looked so pretty and feminine. And to be honest—a crumb catcher scared me. Even the name was just plain weird.

“You have a little diversity here with styles and even lengths,” Sandra said, standing by me. “Let’s focus on Honor and Delilah first, since they are similar. Do you like the crumb catcher top?”

I held up a scorecard with a 4 on it. “Sorry, ladies. I think those tops are weird.”

“Emerson!” They both screeched, looking at one another and laughing. Milly joined in from her perch on the chair next to me.

“I bet this would look great in your wedding,” Delilah said, patting Honor on the arm, who I think turned a little pale at that. “Or yours, Milly. And I can’t wait to hear all about this Miles tonight!”

Milly blushed as we all—even Grams and Sienna—hooted at her. “Yeah, yeah, let’s get back to the task at hand. So nothing fashion forward for the bride. No crumb catcher. Got it.”

“How about Tatiana’s? What do you think of a long dress?” Sandra asked.

I flipped through my stack and held up a 7. “I like this one more, but I’m not sure about long. Most of the pictures I’ve been pinning are short.”

“Long tends to work better for more formal weddings,” Mom said as her cell phone started to ring, piercing through the quiet store. “My gracious, my apologies. I thought I turned the ringer off.” She fumbled in her Prada for her phone, looking at the screen and frowning. “It’s the pageant. Again. Third call this morning. I’m sorry, let me just step outside quick and I’ll be back in a shake.” She rushed outside without even grabbing her coat, and I stared at her retreating back, frowning. For someone who was donating her time and efforts to the pageant cause, she sure was pretty invested in that event.

Shaking my head, I focused again at the task at hand. “Let’s keep it long then,” I said. “I like the idea of a more formal wedding, so if that will help with the pictures, let’s do it. And it’ll be September, so not like the girls will be overheated or anything.”

“Long it is,” Grams confirmed.

“Let’s move to Gabby’s,” Sandra suggested.

“I thought you didn’t want chiffon,” Milly said, remembering a conversation we had in the past about bridesmaid dresses.

“I didn’t think I did, but seeing it on her, it looks really good. I especially like how it’s tight in the middle. I think it would be really flattering on everyone.” I eyed the dress, liking it more with each passing second. I held upa 9. “This is a serious contender.”

Sandra cleared her throat. “And how about . . . Evie’s?”

Everyone was silent. “No,” I said simply.

Evie stomped a foot. “But, Emerson, this color is gorgeous! And not to diss any of these other top-notch dresses, but this one really is the best.” Her tone dripped in sarcasm.

I raised a brow. “No,” I said again. “I’m not even going to touch on how hideous that dress is—no offense, Sandra—or how inappropriate it would be for not only my wedding, but the majority of weddings that take place. Now go back, pick a dress that is actually suitable, and come back. Or leave. I honestly don’t care which.” I folded my arms and stared at her.

She wavered under my glare—I saw it. “Fine.” She flounced away and everyone stood frozen to their spots, not sure of what to say.

Sandra cleared her throat. “Well, um, a successful first round. Let’s head back into the dressing room and I’ll do one of your picks, Emerson, along with picks from the others in the group.” Sandra ushered my maids away and I leaned back in the chair, replacing all the score cards and gearing up for round two.

~~~

Enter the Giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the other stops on Samantha’s book tour:

up to i do buttonSeptember 21 – Melanie Surani – Excerpt

September 22- Change the Word – Interview

September 24 – Living Life With Joy – Review, Q&A & Excerpt

September 28 – Writing Pearls – Review

September 28 – Love Chick Lit – Review & Excerpt

September 28 – MyHomemadeLibrary – Review & Excerpt

September 30 – Chick Lit Goddess – Excerpt

September 30 – Lozza’s Book Corner –  Excerpt

clp button (5)September 30 – Texas BookAHolic –  Review

October 1 – Hey Said Renee – Review & Q&A

October 1 – Hello Chick Lit – Q&A & Excerpt

October 2 –  One Book At A Time – Q&A

October 5 – Book Groupies – Excerpt

October 5 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews – Review, Q&A& Excerpt