Tag Archives: Contemporary Women

Review of The Creepshow by Adria J. Cimino with Giveaway

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About The Creepshow

An empowering story of friendship, love and one woman’s fight against workplace discrimination.

Wanda Julienne was the perfect employee. Until she had a baby.

Wanda, a thirtysomething single mother, would love to spend more time with her newborn daughter, and maybe even rekindle the flame she once had with her baby’s father. Instead, she’s stuck fighting discrimination and harassment at her horrid job.

After maternity leave, Wanda returns to her fund manager position and finds her world turned upside down. Suddenly, everything she does seems wrong—at least in the eyes of management. Add in a dose of sexual harassment, and Wanda, who can’t afford to lose her job, is trapped.

At home, the situation isn’t much brighter. Wanda struggles to balance her baby’s needs and her tough work schedule. Her best friend, Galina, and the ex-boyfriend Wanda never thought would return, Max, offer support, but the attention only suffocates her.

Wanda turns her back and isolates herself, submerged in a downward spiral, until Galina suggests a way out—but the exit won’t be without drastic consequences.

A novel of the glass ceiling: one working mother’s story of fighting sexual harassment, employment discrimination, workplace bullying and sexism so that she finally has time for her baby—and a chance at love. Fans of Biglaw by Lindsay Cameron and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg will enjoy the empowerment and triumph over workplace discrimination in this novel.

My Thoughts

Reading this book really hit home for me, I was once in Wanda’s shoes.

Cimino tackled a touchy topic seldom addressed with realistic ease, reading more nonfiction than fiction. The plot explores discrimination in its ugliest form as well as a detailed sketch of Wanda’s turmoil and emotional rollercoaster as she struggles with sexism along with single motherhood, not excluding her recent breakup.

Wanda is a woman of strength. She’s independent, prideful and determined. Attempting to balance career and motherhood, she soon discovers its difficulties. I must say I felt tremendous empathy towards Wanda, as the story unravels it was difficult witnessing her stumble due to her own devices. Luckily those closest to her expressed support and sound advice and she eventually discovers asking for help, making tough decisions is not a sign of weakness. No doubt Wanda is a character a majority of women will identify with as those juggling career and family strive to be superwoman tacking on much more than necessary because asking for help is unimaginable for a multitude of reasons.

Striking me the most, there was a fleeting moment when Wanda felt she must tolerate with her unacceptable and hostile work environment before it unraveled further given her situation as single parent. I experienced the same thought when I was a corporate slave….until I came to my senses much like Wanda.

A gritty, raw look examining discrimination, with all certitude women will identify with on one level or another. Cimino possess a gift with stellar characterization paired with a smart plot forcing the reader to suppose, her writing style convincing.

About Adria J. Ciminoimage

Adria J. Cimino is the author of Amazon Best- Selling novel Paris, Rue des Martyrs and Close to Destiny, as well as The Creepshow (release April 2016) and A Perfumer’s Secret (release May 2016).

She also co-founded boutique publishing house Velvet Morning Press. Prior to jumping into the publishing world full time, she spent more than a decade as a journalist at news organizations including The AP and Bloomberg News. Adria is a member of Tall Poppy Writers, which unites bright authors with smart readers.

Giveaway

One Amazon $10 gift card. Open Internationally. Ends 6/16/16.
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Published April 11th 2016 by Velvet Morning Press

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Review of The Sun in Your Eyes by Deborah Shapiro with Giveaway

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About The Sun in Your Eyes

For quiet, cautious and restless college freshman Vivian Feld real life begins the day she moves in with the enigmatic Lee Parrish—daughter of died-too-young troubadour Jesse Parrish and model-turned-fashion designer Linda West—and her audiophile roommate Andy Elliott.

When a one-night stand fractures Lee and Andy’s intimate rapport, Lee turns to Viv, inviting her into her glamorous fly-by-night world: an intoxicating mix of Hollywood directors, ambitious artists, and first-class everything. It is the beginning of a friendship that will inexorably shape both women as they embark on the rocky road to adulthood.

More than a decade later, Viv is married to Andy and hasn’t heard from Lee in three years. Suddenly, Lee reappears, begging for a favor: she wants Viv to help her find the lost album Jesse was recording before his death. Holding on to a life-altering secret and ambivalent about her path, Viv allows herself to be pulled into Lee’s world once again. But the chance to rekindle the magic and mystery of their youth might come with a painful lesson: While the sun dazzles us with its warmth and brilliance, it may also blind us from seeing what we really need.

What begins as a familiar story of two girls falling under each other’s spell evolves into an evocative, and at times irrepressibly funny, study of female friendship in all its glorious intensity and heartbreaking complexity.

My Review

A story examining the dynamics of friendship. I found myself taking inventory of my friendships to see if I am easily influenced, passive, questioning if power and/or control exists, luckily my relationships are well balance.

I found it interesting after a ‘falling out’ which led to a considerable amount of time apart, these two pick up the pieces, albeit with suspicion and questions not to mention guilt, as if a monumental interruption never occurred – betrayal isn’t easy to digest. They do wrestle with their reconnection as the story unfolds. Lee clearly the leader, Viv the follower. The duo rekindles their fragile friendship for their own reasons – known and unknown.

I enjoyed the legendary Jesse Parrish and the rock references along with Lee’s quest to learn more of her deceased father Jesse.

I do wish the plot focused less on Lee and Viv’s past friendship and more on their interaction now. The alternating of ‘then’ and ‘now’ became distracting. Difficult to bond with protagonists, simply too much telling and not nearly enough showing.

Fans enjoying a well written exploration of friendship and relationships in general will want to make room on their TBR.

About Deborah ShapiroDeborah-Shapiro-photo-credit-Lewis-McVey

Deborah Shapiro was born and raised outside of Boston, Massachusetts. A graduate of Brown University, she spent several years in New York working at magazines, including New York and ELLE, and her work has been published in Open City, Washington Square Review, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places. She lives with her husband and son in Chicago. The Sun in Your Eyes is her first novel.

Follow Deborah on Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Sun in Your Eyes by Deborah Shapiro. Open to US only. Ends 6/15/16.
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Publisher: William Morrow (June 28, 2016)

Review of The Other Half by Sarah Rayner

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About The Other Half

Chloe, bright, hip and single, is a feature writer with ambitions to launch a magazine of her own. When she meets James, her potential new boss, she knows she shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, but finds it impossible to resist…

Maggie appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, a talented writer, and has a gorgeous husband. But something’s not quite right: his job as a magazine publisher is keeping him in the city until late most evenings, and some nights he doesn’t come home at all…

Told in the alternating voices of the mistress and the wife, this story of an affair is a sharp, seductive take on modern love.

Who, if anyone, comes out unscathed?

In writing that is lively, sexy and sharp, the international bestselling author Sarah Rayner explores modern-day relationships and age-old moral dilemmas.

My Review

Rayner was clever in allowing the audience pieces of James through the eyes of Chloe and Maggie. Through his tangled relationships with both women we gather enough of James to have a clear idea of the person and man he is based on actions and choices which isn’t pretty.

I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters, they lacked emotions, feelings. They came across as wooden and only displayed emotions when appropriate feeling very stilted. With James revealed at a distance I failed to see the attraction either woman held for him, Maggie being the exception since she’s married to him. The entire narrative felt too detached, remote especially given the delicate subject matter.

James is confused, self-absorbed and a cad. Chloe likes complicated hopeless relationships and failed to show any constant signs of remorse or guilt, too selfish. Maggie is in denial, trying to convince herself her gut instinct is off, however I commend her for standing her ground.

Rayner demonstrates the destruction of infidelity in a plausible manner. The story being told from the eyes and perspectives of wife and mistress without being partial was refreshing. We were privy to two very different sides of James/Jamie which lead to great interest.

About Sarah Rayner1021011

Sarah Rayner is the author of the international bestseller, ‘One Moment, One Morning’ (2010). Her two latest novels, ‘The Two Week Wait’ (2012) and ‘Another Night, Another Day’ (2014), are also set in Brighton, England, and feature some of the same characters.

As a novelist, Sarah is known for tackling difficult subjects such as bereavement, infertility and mental illness with empathy and insight, but her latest books are non-fiction. ‘Making Friends with Anxiety’ is a little self-help book which Sarah hopes will enable people who panic and worry a lot to regain confidence and control, and is often enjoyed with ‘Making Friends with Anxiety: A calming colouring book’ which is illustrated by Jules Miller. ‘Making Friends with the Menopause’ is a guide she’s co-written with Doctor Patrick Fitzgerald to support women through their body changes.

Sarah has also written two more light-hearted novels – ‘The Other Half’ and ‘Getting Even’. Originally published in the early noughties, these have been fully revised and updated by the author and are now available on Amazon.

You can find Sarah’s website and it always makes her day to hear from from her readers.

Published March 25th 2014 by St. Martin’s Griffin (first published February 14th 2013)

Review of The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard

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About The Art of Arranging Flowers

Ruby Jewell knows flowers. In her twenty years as a florist she has stood behind the counter at the Flower Shoppe with her faithful dog, Clementine, resting at her feet. A customer can walk in, and with just a glance or a few words, Ruby can throw together the perfect arrangement for any occasion.

Whether intended to rekindle a romance, mark a celebration, offer sympathy, or heal a broken heart, her expressive floral designs mark the moments and milestones in the lives of her neighbors. It’s as though she knows just what they want to say, just what they need.

Yet Ruby’s own heart’s desires have gone ignored since the death of her beloved sister. It will take an invitation from a man who’s flown to the moon, the arrival of a unique little boy, and concern from a charming veterinarian to reawaken her wounded spirit. Any life can be derailed, but the healing power of community can put it right again.

My Review

“I think how we are all broken over one thing or another, how we all limp about, dragging our sorrows and troubles, our failures and disappointments, our perfect loneliness, and how it is when we suddenly open our eyes and see someone next to us dragging their own smashed bones. It seems only natural that we would want to crawl in their direction holding out our hands.”

Every once in a while I allow myself let loose and be swept away by a story. I found this story a much needed escape from the hectic demands of life. It warmed my heart and filled me with a sense of hope. Yes, I put my rose colored glasses on and enjoyed the lovely ride the story provided.

“But really it’s the children who touch me the most. They seem to unfold the easiest. They’re the ones who love with abandon, the ones who keep putting their hearts out there to be broken. They’re the ones who teach the rest of us what it is to love.”

I liked Ruby, her quiet economic presence. Her gift of brining people together, giving them a boost by knowing what they needed through her craft of flower arranging. The story was full of saccharin scenarios, unbelievable do-gooders, not to mention totally predictable, yet the slow meaningful way Ruby’s walls started to crumble was beautiful. Dan Miller was an absolutely memorable character, a downright beautiful soul, understandable how he mutely influenced others, especially Ruby. Will a young boy dealing with such profound loss, yet his heart is open, yearning. The entire cast and community was one large dose of feel good. Clementine nearly steals the show.

“I was crazy. I was broken. I was dead.
And then, one day I wasn’t. It took months and it took grace and it took some unexpected slight shift of sadness that slipped just enough, just barely enough to make room for beauty.”

Granted it’s more tell than show but in this case engaging your imagination fills the gaps, you add the primary or pastel colors to the already formed outline.

A tender, sappy story providing a fabulous diversion from the harshness of reality stressing the importance to give of yourself openly and freely, tear down your walls and live.

About Lynne Branard96929

Pseudonym for Lynne Hinton

Lynne Hinton is the pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The author of numerous novels including Friendship Cake, Hope Springs, Forever Friends, Christmas Cake, and Wedding Cake, she lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Published June 3rd 2014 by The Berkley Publishing Group

Review of A Wedding in Provence: A Novel by Ellen Sussman

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About A Wedding in Provence

What could be more idyllic than a wedding in Provence? That’s what Olivia and Brody think when they invite their closest friends and family to spend their wedding weekend with them. But when Olivia’s older daughter from her first marriage invites a man she met on the plane to join her, the delicate balance of the entire weekend is upset. Soon Olivia’s best friend, the owner of the inn who is hosting the wedding, discovers that her husband has cheated on her. Then Brody’s mother shows up without his father, who has gone into hiding. How can one choose love in the midst of chaos? Told from the point of view of Olivia and her two daughters, A Wedding in Provence is a moving novel about love, trust, secrets and family.

My Review

I am a Francophile, so the idea of spending time in Provence was a huge draw, I only wish more emphasis reflected the lush area. The framework of the narrative showed promise but ultimately fizzled. I was fascinated by the various personalities and their interactions, however, their far fetched issues, obnoxious and overall poor, inconsiderate behavior matched with actions was so over dramatized it became ridiculous.

Every single character had a major issue conveniently reaching its ugliness during the big weekend wedding – it becomes too much and I felt as if the author was capitalizing on her hopes for my stupidity veiled in oblivion. Honestly the melodrama is really implausible and preposterous. Olivia, Brody and Fanny were the only players I could barely tolerate, the rest grated on my nerves, especially Nell and Carly – two very immature late 20 something’s. The ending was your standard quiet after the pageantry storm, predictable. A fast read perfect for the beach for those partial to a plethora of serious family theatrics.

About Ellen Sussman298633

Ellen Sussman is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is the editor of two critically acclaimed anthologies, Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave and Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex. She teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes.

Published July 15th 2014 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2014)

Release Blitz: Cut to the Chase by Elle Keating

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Keating_CuttotheChase_EbookCut to the Chase
Dangerous Love #2
by Elle Keating
Releasing March 8, 2016
Forever Yours

About Cut to the Chase

When Erin Whitley is alone with Chase Montclair, high above the city in his glittering penthouse, she sees a side of the legendary businessman no one ever sees.
As powerful and commanding in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom, Chase can melt her with a word and thrill her with a touch. But when he bares his soul and tells her he loves her, Erin fears a dark secret from her past will destroy everything.

Chase vows to protect Erin at any cost. Every night, he takes her in his arms and unleashes her wildest inhibitions. Every day, he wakes her with kisses and promises her more. But the deeper they fall in love, the closer the danger gets.

If Erin wants to be freed her from her past, she will have to trust Chase with her life. And if Chase wants to be with Erin forever, he must risk losing her first.

Goodreads  | Goodreads Series  |  Amazon | B & N | Google | iTunes | Kobo

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Excerpt

Chase Montclair stared out the window at the world below and prayed that the evil that yearned to infiltrate their lives would just disappear. But it would take more than prayer to lure the sick son-of-a-bitch out of the hole he had successfully hidden in for the past year. Erin and her brother had been on the defense too long. It was time they took action and put an end to the madness.

Chase walked over to the bed and looked down at the sleeping woman, the woman he was determined to make his in every sense of the word. He pulled back the covers and slipped in behind her. As if by instinct, she nestled in closer, pulling his arm around her, though she was still peacefully asleep. The valiant part of him told him to let her rest. But as he held her naked body close, breathing in the scent of her hair and feeling her soft curves shift beside him, all he could think about was having her all over again.

He rolled her onto her back and gazed at her perfect body against pure white sheets. His breathing hitched as he envisioned her in white, walking toward him, smiling only at him and because of him. Soon, he thought. Erin Whitley would be his wife.

Chase pulled back the sheet, exposing her breasts that seemed to heed his attention. She began to stir, which was a relief, since his cock throbbed and longed to be deep inside her heat. Not yet. He wanted to hear her. Nothing pleased him more than when she screamed with pleasure. He gently spread her legs and took in the glorious sight. She was beautiful…and wet. Even in her sleep, she was ready for him. He licked his lips and knelt down so his face was only millimeters from her tight, glistening nub. Chase inhaled her scent, which made him mad with desire. He suppressed a groan, as he enjoyed the erotic silence, and licked at her clit. He felt her bottom buck into his hands and her fingers grabbed his hair in apparent need. With his tongue circling her clit, he looked up and she met his gaze. Though she had been asleep just moments ago, her eyes were crazed and it was clear that she was going to come very soon.

“Oh God!” she whimpered

About Elle KeatingElle_Keating

Elle Keating was born and raised in South Jersey, where she lives with her husband and three children. It was during her long commute to work, crossing over the Betsy Ross Bridge into Pennsylvania, her mind drifted. Images of a world with Chase, Erin and their friends came rapidly and sent her writing to bring these intense characters to life.

When Elle is not in her favorite coffeehouse, huddled in a corner on an oversized chair and working on the next book in the series, she enjoys being mom, taking her children from one sport to the next, and challenging herself frequently to be in two places at once.

Connect with Elle: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

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Review: Close to Destiny: A Novel by Adria J. Cimino

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About Close to Destiny

Does déjà vu have a deeper meaning?

A puzzling gift from a stranger in a hat shop. Whisperings and footsteps in a dim luxury hotel. Dreams that transport to elegant parties where champagne flows like water. Kat is both frightened and intrigued by the events that have plagued her since she arrived in London, in a final effort to save herself from anorexia and recover from her latest suicide attempt.

Most disturbing is an encounter with a mysterious woman who introduces Kat to Will. And this lovely messenger has information she desperately wants to share with Kat: an incident from more than a century ago that could transform Kat’s future. But will Kat listen?

A story of the role of destiny in life… and of righting the wrongs of the past.

My Review

Striking book. I was fascinated with Cimino’s ability to link strangers together via the past and present through an event which is unknown to Kat. Destiny serves has the main connection in which all the characters intersect, not to mention her name is well suited. As the story unfolds the pieces to this arcane mystery fall into place. I was fascinated from the start with the unique mystery building block.

Not a fan of paranormal, although when combined with a well written narrative and in the correct amount it works, in this particular case it was large and vital part of the plot and I loved it. The reader along with Kat was left pondering dreams, reality, vivid imagination or deja vu, as discerning between the past from the present is attempted.

Romance aspect was light yet powerful, the perfect dose weaved into the intricate etherealesque narrative.

Lovely writing, a story I found to be a very pleasant surprise, outstanding mystery with a delightful and unexpected smart twist.

About Adria J. Ciminoimage

Adria J. Cimino is the author of Amazon Best- Selling novel Paris, Rue des Martyrs and Close to Destiny, as well as The Creepshow (release April 2016) and A Perfumer’s Secret (release May 2016).

She also co-founded boutique publishing house Velvet Morning Press. Prior to jumping into the publishing world full time, she spent more than a decade as a journalist at news organizations including The AP and Bloomberg News. Adria is a member of Tall Poppy Writers, which unites bright authors with smart readers.

Published 2015 by Velvet Morning Press