Women's Fiction/Romantic Comedy Book Review | FINDING FRASER by kc dyer

Genre: Women's Fiction | Romantic Comedy
Author: kc dyer
Rating: 5 stars


I met Jamie Fraser when I was nineteen years old. He was tall, red-headed, and at our first meeting at least, a virgin. He was, in fact, the perfect man.
     That he was fictional hardly entered into it...
On the cusp of thirty, Emma Sheridan is desperately in need of a change. After a string of failed relationships, she can admit that no man has ever lived up to her idea of perfection: the Scottish fictional star of romantic fantasies the world over—James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser.
Her ideal man might be ripped from the pages of a book, but Emma hopes that by making one life-altering decision she might be able to turn fiction into fact. After selling all her worldly possessions, Emma takes off for Scotland with nothing but her burgeoning travel blog to confide in.
But as she scours the country’s rolling green hills and crumbling castles, Emma discovers that in searching for her own Jamie Fraser, she just might find herself.


One word to describe this book: FUN! So, so, so fun! Quick, witty, swoon-worthy, and . . . fun!

Confession time: I have never read a single word of the OUTLANDER series. Shameful, right? But even so, I “got” this book. I mean, what woman hasn’t obsessed over a fictional man at some point? And a girl (and not even a young girl, I might add!) who has the cajones to set out on a quest to find her very own real-life version of a fictional heartthrob? #MySpiritAnimal

Seriously, I loved this. The premise is primo and it’s something nearly every woman can relate to. For sure.

Full of wickedly awesome dialogue (complete with Scottish dialect that was impossible not to totally immerse yourself into), extraordinary setting descriptions that made me believe I was right there (I have never been to Scotland, but had no trouble “seeing” what Emma saw), a great cast of characters, and a sweet little romance, this book has it all. OUTLANDER die hard or not, this is a story anyone can love. FINDING FRASER gets an easy five stars from me and is one I highly recommend you add to your Summer TBR List.

Reviewer's Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review can also be found on ChickLitPlus.com.

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Women's Fiction Book Review | THE ONES WHO MATTER MOST by Rachael Herron

Genre: Women's Fiction
Author: Rachael Herron
Rating: 4.5 stars


From the acclaimed author of Splinters of Light and Pack Up the Moon comes a beautiful novel about two very different women who are about to get a second chance at creating a family…

After her husband dies unexpectedly, Abby Roberts comes across something startling: wedding photographs of him with another woman, along with pictures of a baby boy. Shocked, Abby does something utterly impulsive: She embarks on a journey to discover the family her husband apparently left behind.

Money has always been tight for single mom Fern Reyes, and never tighter than now. But this month, in place of a child-support check, her ex’s pretty, privileged wife appears on her doorstep with far too many questions. Unfortunately, her young son is so taken with Abby that Fern doesn’t have the heart to send her away.

What begins as one woman’s search for truth becomes a deep bond forged between the unlikeliest of people, and the discovery that there are many ways to make a family—as long as you take care…


Ah, yes. The secret family plotline. Always interesting to see how characters get themselves into these situations and how it affects those around them. Not surprisingly, it usually affects them PROFOUNDLY.

This can definitely be said for Abby Roberts. Not only does her husband up and die right in their bathroom, but he also has some very bony skeletons hanging in his closet. And poor, innocent Abby gets the brunt of his deception.

For whatever reason, Abby is purging stuff from the house before her husband, Scott, is even in the ground. To me, this seemed like a way-too-convenient way for her to find his dirt. But that’s fine and forgivable. What’s not forgivable is Scott’s abandonment of his first family and the fact that he kept them a secret from Abby. Abby feels compelled to find these people and while I’m not sure that would be the first thing on my agenda mere days after my husband passed, I can see how she’d be curious.

When she meets Fern (Scott’s ex-wife) and Matty (Scott’s son with Fern), Abby is immediately drawn to them and wants to make them her own. Desperate? For sure. But again, Abby has such an innocent side to her that her freaky stalkerism is slightly understandable.

Fern, on the other hand, is a hard core, no-one-leaves, no-one-gets-in kind of woman. She’s fiercely protective of her family and works her tail off providing for them. I could relate to her in this way and was happy when she opened herself up to Abby and Gregory. Although a very bumpy ride to get her there, it was a nice plotline of character growth.

Speaking of character growth: Ms. Herron did an outstanding job developing every one of the characters in this book, right down to the grumpy science teacher and Tulip the dog. I applaud her for that because in a book that could have been too “trope-y” in plot, it was the characters that really made this story sparkle. She also did a great job with scene descriptions and it was easy to put myself right in the room, or yard, or onto the bus with these “people.”

This is the first book of Rachael Herron’s that I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. I love her voice, and she nailed almost all of the dialogue. There were a few situations that were a little cliché or a little too convenient, but overall, the story had an excellent progression and was a well-balanced and highly enjoyable Women’s Fiction read. The Ones Who Matter Most easily gets 4.5 stars!

Reviewer's Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Middle Grade Book Review | FINDERS REAPERS by Anna Staniszewski

Title: FINDERS REAPERS (Part of the Switched at First Kiss series)
Genre: Middle Grade
Author: Anna Staniszewski
Rating: 4.5 stars


Marcus is a Cupid. Lena is a Reaper. Opposites attract in book 2 of the adorkable Switched At First Kiss series by the acclaimed author of The Dirt Diary.

Lena's not ready for any more supernatural surprises. Her new boyfriend, Marcus, is a cupid. She's a soul collector ("reaper" just sound so harsh). And they just got their powers un-swapped. But things aren't as back to "normal" as they seem...

On his next assignment, Marcus's "love boost" is a little too powerful. (Baby talk is so annoying.) And Lena's soul sort of...escapes. The cause? Lena and Marcus's powers are still intertwined! Their emotions are affecting each other's power. So, basically the fate of the world depends on them getting along in their brand new romance. (Okay, just love and death, but still.)

No pressure, right?


First off, let me just be clear about something: I am a big Anna Staniszewski fan. I love her stories. Full of heart and age-appropriate drama, but also super fun and quick. I can whip through one of Anna's books in a day or two. Pretty much anything you'll read by her, I think you'll love.

Okay, that's that. Now, about FINDERS REAPERS ... (And that title, tho! So. Cute!) :-)

This is the second book in the Switched at First Kiss series. I haven't read Book One yet (I'M WITH CUPID), because I wanted to see if reading the series out of order would be confusing (this was basically research for the author in me. I generally don't make a habit of this). I'm happy to say that the author does a great job catching us up on what happened in Book One (the necessities like who the main characters are, how they know each other, and the main conflict) without info-dumping (writer-speak for telling you everything at once, rather than integrating the pertinent details seamlessly into the story).

Marcus and Lena are relatively normal kids, aside from their superpowers, and they're dealing with things like parents, classmates, bullies, goals, and, of course, First Love. They are super cute together and you can definitely feel their chemistry. (Although I will say that it was a little hard to buy how SERIOUS they are about each other - I mean, I know kids that age easily fall silly in love, but M & L's whole meant-to-be vibe felt a little old to me. If these characters were older teens, I wouldn't bat a blue-gray eye over this, but these characters are in middle school so it was kind of hard not to raise an eyebrow.)

Still, the story was fun and I breezed through it just like all of Anna's books. It's full of heart, the peripheral characters were all very well developed, and I definitely laughed a lot. Plus, the world-building that's been done for this series is just awesome. It totally makes me want to have a cool super power like Marcus and Lena! I'm looking forward to going back to Book One, and you can bet I'll read whatever comes after this one, too. I wholly recommend this book for adults who like Kid Lit and for mature fifth-graders on up.

Final rating? 4.5 stars!

Keep 'em coming, Ms. Staniszewski!

Reviewer's Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Women's Fiction Book Review | START WITH THE BACKBEAT

Genre: Women's Fiction
Author: Garinè B. Isassi
Rating: 4.5 stars


It is the spring of 1989 in New York City when Jill Dodge, a post-punk rocker from Texas, finally gets her big promotion at Mega Big Records. She is thrust into a race to find a gritty, urban rapper before the “Gangsta” trend passes their label by. As Jill and her mostly middle-class coworkers search for the next big rap star, they fluctuate between alliances and rivalries, tripping over the stereotypes of race, class, and musical genre. They work to promote their current roster of acts as well as the new rap artist they sign to a contract. It turns out, he may not be what they expected. Full of original lyrics and wit, Start With the Backbeat is a compelling examination of the nuances of class, race, and culture in America ― which are sometimes ridiculously serious.


Any time I have the opportunity to review a book that features characters working within a creative industry, I jump at it — because there is almost always a very unique undercurrent where the author’s creative-person mindset pulls through to the characters. It’s such a special thing. And that was definitely the case with this book.

Ms. Isassi is very clearly tied to the music industry and because of that, she lends a tremendous authenticity to the characters and plotline. She brings Jill and the gang to life by throwing them into situations that were very likely to have happened in the late ‘80s, while also giving us a peek at the behind-the-scenes inner workings of such a complex biz. Although there are a few modern-day references that snuck in (was there a smoky eye trend in the ‘80s?), the “beige brick with an antenna” brought back some seriously old-school memories. And Jill’s “relationship” with “her Gordon”? LOVED IT! Because we have all been there!

START WITH THE BACKBEAT features a fun cast of characters and very snappy dialogue.  The author also included some original song lyrics within the story, which is always cool because authors who do this are obviously very passionate about the words they’ve chosen to share. Unfortunately, since music is so personal and is hard to portray via the written word, lyrics within a book are usually lost on the reader — which is a shame. Still, I appreciate the author’s attempt to bring her characters to life through “their” songs. If we could actually hear them singing, I bet we’d be as reeled in as the characters in the book.

If you love the music (or any creative) industry, you’ll love this book. It’s fast, fun, and has that happy ending we all love.


Reviewer's Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I've also posted a similar review over on ChickLitPlus.com.

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Exercise & Fitness / Memoir Book Review | YOGA GIRL by Rachel Brathen

Genre: Exercise & Fitness, Biography/Memoir
Author: Rachel Brathen
Rating: 5+++ stars


By the yoga instructor who inspires more than one million followers on Instagram every day.

Whether she’s practicing handstands on her stand-up paddleboard or teaching Downward-Facing Dog to the masses, Rachel Brathen—Instagram’s @Yoga_Girl—has made it her mission to share inspirational messages with people from all corners of the world. In Yoga Girl, Brathen takes readers beyond her Instagram feed and shares her journey like never before—from her self-destructive teenage years in her hometown in Sweden to her adventures in the jungles of Costa Rica, and finally to the beautiful and bohemian life she’s built through yoga and meditation in Aruba today.

Featuring spectacular photos of Brathen practicing yoga with breathtaking tropical backdrops, along with step-by-step yoga sequences and simple recipes for a healthy, happy, and fearless lifestyle—Yoga Girl is like an armchair vacation to a Caribbean spa.


Full disclosure: I am a HUGE Rachel Brathen fan. I get so much inspiration from her, it's almost ridiculous. So unless she wrote complete drivel, I knew I was bound to love this book.

And I did.

First of all, the images and photos in this book are stunning. As on her Instagram and Facebook pages, we get a peek of the real Rachel, doing her Yoga Girl thing, in all kinds of gorgeous, sunny locales. She lives in Aruba, so you can imagine how many beautiful photos are taken there.

Beyond that, the content itself is fantastic. She's included healthy recipes (that are actually duplicatable), some background on her upbringing (which I really enjoyed reading), yoga sequences and advice (of course!), and her trademark "love yourself, you're fucking amazing" pep talks (my favorite thing about the entire book and about Rachel in general). And she does all this in her fun, relatable, very REAL voice.

This is one of those (very few) books that I pull out over and over. Rachel gives little checklists/summaries throughout the book - action items, if you will - and they are awesome to refer back to as you travel on your journey toward your higher self. I would say I flip through or re-read parts of this book once every couple weeks. Honestly.

Finally, as a GIRL BOSS, I can really appreciate the phenomenal job Rachel has done in branding herself. One look at her social media accounts and you know EXACTLY what this girl is all about. And she's making a great living out of it. If you want a case study in how to use your talents to create an incredible life and future - while growing as a human and giving back to the world - Rachel Brathen is the perfect subject.

Bottom line: Whether you're a yoga junkie like me or not, you'll love this book. It's as much about self-care and self-worth as it is yoga ... and then there's that whole 175+ pages of eye candy thing. ;-) You'll love it. I promise!

Reviewer's Note: I purchased and read this book on my own volition. I did not receive a review copy.

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Women's Fiction Book Review | THE OYS & JOYS by Marcia Feldt

Genre: Women's Fiction
Author: Marcia Feldt
Rating: 4 stars


Peaks & Valleys, Rain & Rainbows, Oys* & Joys. That's life! 

                   Every woman buries secrets. Even from herself.
Meet Lizzie, Sassie, Grace and Ruby. Boomers ready to reach for their dreams. Until baggage from the past floods their lives. And not like a hurricane. Like a tsunami.

Four women who define their moment by revisiting their past to embrace their future. Their journey--paved with an abundance of humor--sizzles with attempted murder (oops), DNA surprises (who's the father?), boatless boat slips (Oy, he puttered away on her birthday), and sexual awakenings (yep, at their age). Oh, and then there's the pole dancing for seniors.  A story of unlocking truth. Of defeating regret. Of the power of steel-laced friendships. But sometimes the back side of middle age shoves the past, and the secrets it harbors, into the present.

                                          And secrets never die quietly.                                       

*Oy or Oy vey: Terms to express exasperation, dismay, calamity or any other sense of woe. Yiddish origin but so widely used, integrated into American colloquialisms and found in dictionaries.


I was very excited to read this since I love books about friendships, and the fact that this was about a group of Baby Boomer women was particularly enticing.  And the group’s name? The Oys and Joys! How fun!

This book was written in first person with alternating points of view, so each character had a chance to tell her story through her own voice. The author did a great job developing the main characters and each one of them grew throughout the book. I appreciate that, since having so many characters can sometimes compromise the development of at least one.

However, as with many stories featuring multiple POVs, keeping track of who’s who and all of their baggage was tricky. And these characters have a lot going on. Everything from love interests to secret family members to business situations to mentally abusive spouses to sexual revelations. There is just so much to digest, along with a huge amount of peripheral characters to support the stories. And while the author did a nice job linking everyone and everything together, this book was not one you could breeze through and still get the whole story. You really need to pay attention – but the payoff is great.

While the ladies bickered so much I sometimes wondered how and why they were even friends, they did pull together when the going got tough and that was especially heartwarming. This is a true story of friendship and of navigating life’s messy waters while dealing with the added “bonus” of aging. And the ending was poignant and sweet.

Overall, this was a fun and engaging read and if you go in knowing you need to pay close attention to the plotline and the characters, I think you’ll really enjoy this one.

Reviewer's Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I've also posted a similar review over on ChickLitPlus.com.

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Now Reading | THE OYS AND JOYS by Marcia Feldt

I am so excited to have the chance to read and review Marcia Feldt's The Oys and Joys, a women's fiction story about four Baby Boomer women and the secrets, baggage, and dreams they bring to their steel-laced friendship.

Sounds awesome, right? Well, stay tuned because I'll be posting a full review here as well as on ChickLitPlus.com.

The Oys and Joys releases on February 25, 2016, but the pre-order link is already live. Check it out for yourself!

Author website: MarciaFeldt.com


Middle Grade Book Review | CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate

Age: Middle Grade
Author: Katherine Applegate


In her first novel since The One and Only Ivan, winner of the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?


#Sorrynotsorry, but I totally judged this book by its cover. From the second I saw it, I had a feeling I'd enjoy this story. And I was right. Who doesn't love books about imaginary friends and, well, giant cats? :)

I have to say, I was surprised by the depth in which Jackson's family's money hardships were described. To me, this gave the whole story a different feel and, being a mama of three, the thought of two kids being homeless (with their parents who were trying really hard to get things right) really rattled me. I know it happens. I don't live in my Happy Bubble all the time. But being aware of it and spending a few hours reading about it are two different things. I was forced to give this issue a lot of thought ... and I don't think that's a bad thing for adults or the children who might read this.

Jackson often felt older to me than he actually was, and at times I had to remind myself how young he was. Other than that minor annoyance, he was a very likable kid and I enjoyed getting to know him.

Crenshaw was charming and I loved the visuals the author painted. I could totally see Crenshaw in my mind and could hear his "fancy" voice. I wish we had more time with him - I feel like he was far more secondary than I expected.

I also would have liked to spend more time with the idea of imaginary friends. They are so important to so many children, and I think the author could make this into a series (are there plans to do so? If not, there should be!). We get some insight into other imaginary friends within this book, but it felt more like a quick mention rather than a cool exploration. I definitely think this story could have delved deeper here.

While I wouldn't call this a "fun" read, there were funny moments. The characters were developed and realistic. And I felt something, which is always a good thing.

Overall, I give this book a solid 4 stars (actually, 4.25!). If you're an adult who enjoys reading Kid Lit, pick this one up, then pass it to your late elementary- or middle-schooler when you're done.

Reviewer's Note: I selected this book and read it on my own volition. I did not receive a review copy.

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