Diary of a Single Wedding Planner [Violet Howe]

25765182Wedding planner Tyler Warren left heartbreak behind when she ran away from her small Southern hometown and started a new life in a big city. Years later, she wants to believe in the fairy-tale endings her job promotes, but the clients she meets day after day seem to be more “Crazily Ever After” than “Happily Ever After.”

Meanwhile, her own attempts at romance play out as bizarre comedies rather than love stories, and she’s starting to think Prince Charming either fell off his horse or got eaten by a dragon. When unresolved issues from Tyler’s past complicate things even further, she discovers she may yet have some things to figure out before she can find her own happy ending.

My thoughts on the novel: When I picked up the book, I was attracted to the girly cover and the light subject matter which made me think of countless Hollywood movies about Bridezillas. I thought I would get a funny, witty, entertaining rom-com. In the end, I felt mostly frustrated and bored. Poor Tyler has to deal with brides and grooms who seem to be blatant clichés of the worst-case scenarios for any wedding planners (except for one or two exceptions). On the personal front, Tyler doesn’t fare better with a smothering, borderline hysterical mother who just never seems to stop ranting about how inconsiderate her daughter is. On top of that, Tyler finds herself dealing with her ex-boyfriend/love of her life (Dwayne) who is back in her life completely out of the blue, five years after cowardly dumping her to marry another one — almost right after their breakup, basically. A betrayal of great magnitude. I mean, there were just too many major caricatures to be a credible narrative.

BUT, not all the characters are caricatural. I must admit that Ty’s best-friend Cabe is an interesting protagonist with a credible personality. So, not all was bad.

The book is less than 300 pages and it felt like it took me forever to finish it. I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, especially the way Tyler deals with the pathetic ghost of boyfriend past. It was so frustrating to see her get sucked into a toxic relationship and actually allocate precious time to a guy who broke her heart in one of the cruellest ways. The author tries to sugar-coat in a “I-have-to-get-a-proper-closure” kind of way, but to me, it was just plain clichéd and hard to believe, especially the way Dwayne addresses Tyler: he sounds oh-so-very pathetic almost the entire time. I couldn’t understand why Tyler would put up with that; “for old time’s sake” has its limits.

Maybe the subject of wedding planners and bridezillas has just been receiving too much coverage in books and films, and now it all seems like déjà-vu?! Who knows, maybe. What I know is that I really hoped to have a good time enjoying a light story, but I ended up hating the way Tyler navigated the curveballs fate threw at her. She rarely could catch a break. Even the dates she goes on are mind-boggling (in a negative way).

To be fair, the final chapters were more to my liking. Tyler finally gets to tell Dwayne how she really feels and she gets her happy ending after all. Although it was predictable, it was nice to end on a positive note after everything else.

I’ll conclude by saying that even though the book definitely didn’t appeal to me for a wide variety of reasons, it seems that it gets some very good reviews. So, don’t just take my word for it, by all means.

Like the author mentions at the very end, there is no such thing as bad publicity. 😊

My score: ♥ (= Quite so-so)

The Secret to Falling in Love [Victoria Cooke]

Status Update: I’m going offline for a while… Wish me luck! xx

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.

That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.

If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

My thoughts on the novel: If you’re looking for a feel-good, romantic novel, The Secret to Falling in Love will not disappoint you. It is a lovely, bubbly rom-com about Melissa, a thirty-something journalist who cannot wait to settle down and put an end to an endless stream of fruitless dates. She spends an incredible amount of time online and up until now, it has failed to provide her with a good partner. Has Tinder really killed romance?

The writing style is lively, the characters endearing and the plot interesting — going offline and trying to live life the old-fashioned way. Will Melissa find life better when she’s unplugged? Has technology really become an obstacle to social life? If you’re looking to know what Melissa’s conclusion will be after this enlightening experience, don’t forget to pick your copy of The Secret to Falling in Love due to be released on February 9th.

It is a vibrant chicklit novel that will appeal to those who enjoy a good read with a happy ending.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage [Suzanne Venker]

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage shows women who have a dominating personality how to love a man.

America is in love with the alpha female. She’s the quintessential modern woman—assertive, razor sharp, and fully in control. Her success in the marketplace is undeniable, a downright boon to society. But what happens when the alpha female gets married?

She becomes an alpha wife, of course.

An alpha wife is in charge of everything and everyone. She is, quite simply, the Boss. The problem is, no man wants a boss for a wife. That type of relationship may work for a spell, but it will eventually come crashing down. Since 1970, just as women became more and more powerful outside the home—more alpha—the divorce rate has quadrupled. And it is women who lead the charge. Today, 70% of divorce is initiated by wives.

Do men just make lousy husbands? Not at that rate, says Suzanne Venker, bestselling author of The War on Men. The truth is that women don’t know how to be wives. Why would they? That’s not what they were raised to become.

But women can learn. There’s an art to loving a man, says Venker, and any woman can master it. An alpha female herself, Venker learned how to be a wife the hard way—through trial and error. Lots of error. And here’s what she knows today—the set of skills a woman needs to pursue a career, or even to raise children, is the exact set of skills that will mess up her marriage but good. No man likes to be told what to do. And no woman respects the man who does.

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage gives women who are used to being in charge the tools they need to make their marriages less competitive and more complementary. Part memoir, part advice, this brave manifesto argues that while marriage is more challenging for the alpha female, it is possible to find peace in your marriage. In fact, it may be easier than you think.

My thoughts on the book: I don’t usually read many self-help books, but at times it’s quite interesting. You can always get some things out of them. I believe the important thing is to always exercise your critical thinking and not take every single thing at face value. Take what you feel applies to you and leave the rest. They offer one truth, not a universal truth, just “a” viewpoint.

When I discovered this book in the NetGalley catalogue, I felt intrigued and as I’ve always considered myself relatively “alpha” (because of my entrepreneurial spirit and need for independence), I thought I might learn a thing or two about improving relationships dynamics. However, granted that the book is filled with valid points and interesting tips, there were some things that didn’t quite sit well with me. I believed it lacked a bit of perspective when it comes to “temperaments” (I’m referring to extrovert people vs. introvert ones). The Alpha women described in the book often come across as loud, somewhat bossy personalities, which is what led me to try the Alpha/beta test the author mentioned was available online. And apparently I’m a “purple” (low Alpha/mid-beta), basically an emotional person (a spot-on result). It made sense that I didn’t necessarily recognize myself in this self-help book. So, now that this matter was clearly established, I can say that I might not have been the main target audience.

But, again, it is always enlightening to learn about others’ experiences and this guide fulfills its mission. I recommend it because it’s important to form your own opinions based on a wide range of facts. Read it, pick what you deem necessary and leave what felt at odds with your own life. I think that, in the end, it is the purpose of a “self-help” book.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥

The Secrets of Second Wives [Kerry Fisher]

Two husbands. Two wives with a secret. One devastating betrayal.

Maggie loves her husband Nico. He’s caring and thoughtful but the shadow of his ‘perfect’ first wife Caitlin, constantly hangs over her. Then Maggie discovers that Caitlin has done something terrible, which if revealed could change Nico and Maggie’s lives forever …

Lara is married to Nico’s brother, Massimo. Their lives appear happy yet behind closed doors Lara has a secret that she can never tell. When she comes face to face with Massimo’s ex-wife, Lara is suddenly forced to confront her deepest fears about her life.

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

My thoughts on the novel: The Secrets of Second Wives turned out to be an incredible literary surprise. It is a gripping, emotional novel about how complicated it can be to navigate married life as a second wife. Forget the fairy tale and the happily ever after. This book is a page-turner with a worst-case scenario but a satisfying ending.

Through the prism of Maggie’s and Lara’s own perspectives, the reader has access to their deeper, inner thoughts, and the alternation of discourse offers a different angle on the events they experience and sometimes share. Following their streams of thought, you can really understand how they wound up where they are, why they react the way they do and how it all unfolded to reach this particular point in their lives. You can really connect with these two women.

The novel is somehow reminiscent of the Desperate Housewives storyline. Not only do they all live on the same street, but keeping appearances is also important in this posh family. Whilst reading, I often had the impression of hearing Marie Alice as the voice-over. You are really looking forward to seeing how the deeply buried family secrets will finally blow up in their faces! And the ending does not disappoint.

As a woman, you cannot but feel sorry for both characters who have to endure quite a tedious daily life — Maggie is struggling with a rude teenage stepdaughter who lost her mother but she also has to live in the shadow of the presumably perfect dead first wife. Lara is dealing with her bully of a husband, Massimo, who clearly has a severe narcissistic personality disorder. Both have married into a rich family of Italian origins, so you also have to count on a mother-in-law (Anna) who truly embodies your worst nightmare. She’s half harpy, half dragon! As a reader, I found myself deeply rooting for Lara to finally speak up her mind and free herself (and her son) from this hell she ended up living in. I really enjoyed the character of Beryl, Maggie’s mother. She’s not afraid to say things as they are. It was refreshing and exhilarating to see how she would put Anna in her place.

The novel is beautifully written with a complex, yet easy to read prose. It’s an emotional read on interesting topics — the power dynamics in couples, the sacrifices women make for their families, the flawed nature of human beings.

I’m sure Lara is a character that will speak to a lot of women who also had to give up their careers to raise their families (voluntarily or not quite). But, on top of that, seeing that she’s financially and emotionally trapped gave a very gripping dimension to the intrigue. The novel conveys a strong message about female empowerment and mutual respect.

I strongly recommend The Secrets of Second Wives, a well written novel about family, personal choices and life struggles.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Little Christmas Kitchen [Jenny Oliver]

The Little Christmas Kitchen par [Oliver, Jenny]Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food!
But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.
Now, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London…and her Dad.
But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other.

My thoughts on the novel: From England to Greece, the author embarks the reader on a lovely Christmas adventure where two sisters must come to terms with their difficult past marked by their parents’ divorce and a childhood spent apart from one parent.

On top of that, Ella and Maddy have personal issues of their own to resolve, whether a marriage on the rocks or dreams of a big career in the music industry. Will they be able to find the answers they’re looking for? Both characters are endearing and touching. The plot is well-paced and entertaining. It was particularly fun to read about the creation of a girls’ band. It will give food for thought about the concept of fame!

This festive book is about knowing oneself and learning to forgive and move on. To make it all sweeter, the novel is filled with great baking ideas and Greek specialties.

This heartwarming novel will make your mouth water and your heart melt.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥

A Christmas Kiss [Susan Hatler]

Harper Avery is a jaded divorce attorney who loves helping her clients move on to better things. After all, they’ve struggled enough being in an unhappy marriage. When one client’s soon-to-be ex-husband suddenly says he wants a second chance with his wife, Harper’s dubious, certain that her client is just going to get hurt again.

Despite his career as a divorce attorney, Gabriel Hart still believes that love can work miracles. Sure, there are no guarantees, but he totally supports his client’s efforts to reconcile with his wife—even if it means Gabriel has to go head-to-head with Harper to keep her from ruining the couple’s chances.

With the holidays approaching, husband and wife set out to see if they can work through their issues, while Harper decides to spend the long Christmas weekend at her friend’s cabin in Lake Tahoe. Only when she gets there, someone is already occupying her last-minute rental—Gabriel Hart. Both refuse to give up their holiday retreat. Will their adversarial working relationship make for a stressful weekend? Or will the magic of Christmas sprinkle them with a love that can beat the odds?


My thoughts on the novel: Hatco Publishing and author Susan Hatler are offering us a brilliant Christmas story you’ll read from cover to cover in no time. The 100-page long rom-com stars two headstrong attorneys who have had their hearts broken in the past and are in need of some peace and quiet over the holidays. But fate had another plan in store for them. Chance has it that they are “stuck” with one another in a lodge cabin in the woods over Christmas. The perfect setting for a budding love story between two opposing counsellors.
This festive, feel-good story is about believing in true love and second chances. Harper and Gabriel are relatable and easy to like, although Gabriel’s personality may sound too good to be true at times. He’s such a helpless romantic, almost sappy character, you think it is indeed a fiction. But, it is precisely why we, romance aficionados, love romance fiction so much, right?!
We want more Gabriels in real life as well!

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥