Reading Fanatic Reviews

Women's Literary Fiction (including Chick Lit)

Rosalind by Judith Deborah

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de

Rosalind*

An Odd Combination of Parts

This book is an odd combination of parts. It is told from the perspective of a male doctor who doesn’t have much of a life outside of the hospital until he meets Rosalind, a good friend of one of his patients. He becomes nearly instantly obsessed by her, even following her out of the hospital one afternoon while she goes about her errands. Interestingly, while Rosalind is initially upset when she catches him, she feels something between them, too. The middle section of the book details, with some degree of sensuality, their budding relationship. A surprise twist takes the latter half of the book in a completely different direction.

I thought the pacing of this book was uneven. It’s relatively short, so too much time seemed to have been spent detailing the doctor’s obsession, even to the point of distraction while he was working. In one scene, or was it two, that I found a little icky as someone who has been a nurse in a hospital, the doctor closed and locked his office door so he could fantasize and—shall we say—act on his thoughts while alone. The sensual aspects of the book were actually written in a way that turned me off completely. I’m not sure why. Rosalind herself was a bit of an enigma to the hero, but we slowly learned more about her. I didn’t particularly like these characters, and I found parts of the plot just to be too slow moving or off-putting to keep me interested.

Song of the Robin by R. V. Biggs

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de

Song of the Robin*

Immersive Psychological Read

This is an intense psychological read. The prologue puts you on edge right away because you don’t know precisely what is going on. Then within the main book itself, it seems as if we are thrown into a completely different world. The author has pulled off an intense deep third-person perspective. We feel like we’re living in the protagonist’s head. Yet the author us able to pull this off without it feeling like it is just navel-gazing. The protagonist is truly struggling through a difficult time in her life, so her sometimes physical, emotional, or mental paralysis makes sense given her thoughts as well as what is going on in her life as it unravels. We are truly on the journey with her; I read a lot, and I don’t see a lot of authors pulling this off successfully without making the protagonist thoughts seeming too selfish or is if they think themselves the center of the world. I love a good psychological drama, and this is one of them.

The Other Blue Sky by Shari J. Ryan

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

The Other Blue Sky*

An Enthusiastic 5+ Star Read

Having recently read Last Words, I was very interested in Annie’s story. I’ll admit that I started the book in an already emotional state because I just knew that her story, as told by this author, was going to blow me away. I was not wrong. The author has managed to craft yet another tale that is heartbreakingly beautiful and poignant, that will resonate with you for long after you’ve finished it. The story weaves between the modern-day where Annie is talking with her mother and Charlie, filling in the gaps of what she knows of her history, and the past starting when Annie realized that she wasn’t her parents’ biological child and going through the years as she developed as a young woman, wife, and mother. This book touches on so many themes I hardly know where to start. It is about identity, family, your place in the world, grief, forgiveness, love of several sorts, and grace. And I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I don’t know how this author can create such heartfelt and beautiful words that perfectly express such a wide range of human emotions and experience. This book, like Last Words, is simply stunning. As it does deal with the aftermath of the Holocaust, parts of it are not an easy read, but the author doesn’t dwell on this. Rather, this book—like the other one—is about the triumph of the human spirit. That sounds a little high falutin’ and cerebral, but the author makes it real with believable characters that we can immediately identify with and root for as they face the challenges in the book. I can recommend this fantastic book wholeheartedly.

See You Soon Broadway by Melissa Baldwin

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

See You Soon Broadway*

A Good Life or a Dream?

In an unusual move for books of this nature, protagonist Maris actually has a very good life at the start of the book. She has loving parents, a good friend who is also her roommate, and a very attentive and loving boyfriend, Kyle. Maris has more than many people, but she has dreams bigger than the life that she is currently leading. She is a vocal teacher who has dreams of being on Broadway. She is at a crossroads in more ways than one and doesn’t know whether she should pursue her dream in New York or stay where she is. She finds inspiration in her grandmother’s journals from the 1940s.

At times, it felt like the author was trying too hard to affect a younger woman’s way of thinking and speech. Some of it came off as unrealistic. There were times when I absolutely felt sorry for Kyle because I felt like she only cared about herself and not really about him. I know this is chick lit, so that’s supposed to be okay. But I don’t like it when a protagonist, even in chick lit, cares only about themselves.

The Colonel and Her Sergeant by Shana Figueroa

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

The Colonel and Her Sergeant*

Such a Downer!

This is a well-written story, but oh, my gosh, it is such a downer! The author clearly understands the military from the inside, as the military is truly front and center in this book. The book’s title, and even the blurb somewhat, mislead you into thinking that this is a romance, but it is not. There are some romantic aspects to it, as one might guess, but these are consumed by the military aspects. I think the themes could have been touched on in a way that was uplifting rather than being so dark and depressing. I had just finished reading a book that addresses difficult themes but in a way that gave hope. This book didn’t do that. I found it to be a difficult read.

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)

The Library of Lost and Found*

Unlikely Protagonist Becomes Hero of Her Own Story

I am always drawn to a book about books! The cherry on top of that for this book is that the middle-aged main character works at her local library as well. The author does a brilliant job at the beginning of the book showing, not telling, of Martha’s fussy and pedantic yet selflessly giving nature. Martha lives on her own but fills her time doing thankless tasks for family and neighbors, like fixing her nephew’s trousers and repairing a paper mache dragon. Her insular world is broken apart when she receives a book left at the library’s door that was inscribed by her beloved grandmother who died when Martha was young. This opens up a whole new world for Martha as she tries to puzzle out the mystery of how her grandmother could have inscribed a note to her in the book months after the elder lady supposedly died.

This is the first time that I have read this author, and I was delighted by her in-depth characterization in this book. Martha at the beginning could very well have been a pitiable martyr, but the author managed to make her real in such a way that didn’t allow for such a simple take. The book does meander a bit, but I have found that to be quite often the case for certain British writers that I’ve read (and enjoyed, like the delightful cozy mystery writer V. S. Vale). While some may find this annoying, this author pursues this path deftly, in part because of the very excellent characterization of not only Martha but the secondary characters she meets along her path but also because of the depth of the backstory and its secrets that are slowly revealed. I quite enjoyed Martha’s transformation over the course of this book. A wonderful read.

Today Dauphine, Tomorrow Nothing by Sage Hillbom

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Available at Amazon only
Not with Kindle Unlimited

NOTE: This may all change after the book has been published for a few days.

Today Dauphine, Tomorrow Nothing*

Unusual Look at the Court of the Sun King

This book takes place at the court of the Sun King of France at the turn of the 18th century (the late 1690s to early 1700s). We see it through the eyes of Adelaide, who is to be the king’s granddaughter-in-law. The book spans some 20 years. Life at court is a far more complicated than the Dauphine (as she was known) could have imagined. Her marriage isn’t what she thought it would be, and there are those who have ill intent for her. She does find a loving relationship that is forbidden in more ways than one.

While I found this look at France’s court to be a fascinating one, I felt that the author did too much telling rather than showing. Since so much time elapses during the novel, the author felt the need to summarize much of what happens. She might have been better off having a few scenes that showed what happened with smaller snippets of description of the elapsed time. The scenes that are written are well done, showing what Adelaide and Colette go through during their lives. Thankfully, the author does give a directory in the front of the book to the real historical characters that this book references. Adelaide was, in fact, the Dauphine; this is a fictionalized account of her story.

All You Need Is Love by Melissa Baldwin

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

All You Need Is Love*

Heroine Learns about Herself, Love, and Forgiveness

I read the first book of this series, but I wasn’t totally wild about it. Rather, I thought that Stacy’s reaction to her divorce didn’t ring true, and it appeared to be more of a plot device than something that gave context to the story. I’m glad I read this second book of the series, however. While there were some annoying navel-gazing moments as is typical both of chick lit and first-person narrative, I found this book to be very emotionally engaging. The heroine, CJ, is a woman who has constructed walls around her heart because she has been disappointed multiple times by the ones who should love her unconditionally. While this book definitely has a romance at its core, it does explore more significant themes as most good chick lit does. Several of CJ’s relationships are fragile or broken, and in the course of this book, CJ comes to understand herself and others better, gains closure on several fronts, and develops stronger and deeper relationships with people who are important to her. Through the journey of the book, she comes to understand facets of love and forgiveness as her walls come down. If you enjoy chick lit that explores multiple personal issues and family drama while having a satisfying romance, you will most likely enjoy this book.

The Six Gifts: Secrets by Christie Kelly

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)

The Six Gifts: Secrets*

One Woman’s Journey of Self-Discovery

We first meet three-year-old Olivia when she is being pulled from a pool after nearly drowning. She experiences white light and peace. The story flash-forwards to when Olivia’s in her 50s. Her marriage of 30 years is flat (and even slightly aggressive, with some swearing), and she is experiencing ill health due to chemical poisoning. When she finds out that her high school boyfriend has been killed in a car accident, she decides to drive back home for his funeral. While there, she experiences vivid dreams, reconnects with people in her past, and through a variety of means, gains more clarity of life.

The book weaves between the past and the present. Unfortunately, in the present sections, there are a lot of info dumps, first about her marriage and then about other parts of her past. I found these sections tedious to read. I appreciate that characters often have a huge back story, but I think such as better delivered in small drips and drops as the reader needs to know. The author does do a good job of setting place in Vermont and Colorado.

Negatives aside, I found this an interesting read depicting one woman’s journey to understand herself, both her past and where she wants to move to in the future.

My Romantic Comedy by Mary Kelly Reed

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

My Romantic Comedy (Complete)*

Erin’s Complete Tale of Finding Love via Romantic Comedies

To me, this is an odd trilogy of books. The overarching premise is that Erin is a hopeless romantic who wants her love life to be like a romantic comedy movie. She has specific movies in mind even. She tries to set up circumstances that will allow these fictional stories to play out in her real life.

The book has an interesting set of supporting characters including Erin’s sister, Julia, and her best friend, Carrie. While the book is predominantly written in the first-person from Erin’s perspective, at the end of each chapter both Julia and Carrie each have a few paragraphs to say about what’s going on in Erin’s as well as their own lives.

Erin is not an easy heroine to like. In fact, I didn’t like her. She is overly critical, hypocritical, unkind, unforgiving, and untrusting even when she should be. I found her sister and friend to be more sympathetic and interesting. In fact, I think that the book would have been better if the point of view truly alternated between Erin, her sister, and her friend rather than just have the brief paragraphs at the end of a chapter narrated by Erin from the other women’s perspectives. Or the author could have gone the other way and given those two other women their own books separate from Erin’s story.

Despite the fact that I found Julia and Carrie to be excellent secondary characters in their own right, I actually didn’t like their commentaries at the end of Erin’s chapters. Yes, those bits did show a different perspective on Erin’s actions as well as give a little about what was happening with the other women. I’m a fan of an author showing not telling, and those commentaries are classic examples of telling. The fact that on occasion in Erin’s sections she would speak directly to the reader annoyed me. I don’t like it in either books or movies when a character breaks the fourth wall, as it shatters the illusion that we are voyeurs of this story, unknown to the characters within it as we watch their lives play out.

I found myself feeling sorry for Matt. Erin is such a basket case that I found myself wishing he would find better.

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The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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