Category Archives: Chick Lit

Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…

Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch… – Goodreads

Every once in a while, I get in the mood for a fluffy chick lit novel. This one came across my bargain page, so I picked up up for a couple of bucks on Kindle.

This book fit the bill — it was quite fluffy and full of food descriptions. In fact, the food got to the point of skimming over it. I had the same issue with The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, so perhaps I should avoid food books!

Sophie is alright. She’s hurt after her ex-fiance broke her heart and hijacked their business. She spent an ungodly amount on her wedding and is in serious debt, so she moves in with her grandma, Bubbles…who I picture as Betty White.

Sophie develops her own Ask Alice type of site for wedding consultation. She makes bank. She whines about making bank. She pays off her debt. She whines more about answering questions. Look, I get it — if you’re not pursuing your passion, it’s not worth it. But have some gratitude, Sophie.

It was hella obvious who she would end up with at the end.

I don’t know. It was a light, fluffy read. But I’ve read plenty of light, fluffy books and walked away feeling impressed and happy. This was not the case — I found myself annoyed. Sophie fell flat as an MC, the love interest was boring, and the grandma was more interesting than anyone else. I simply wasn’t into Sophie’s spiral of self-loathing and angst.

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Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever. – Goodreads

I’m not quite sure how to feel about this one. Yes, I read it in a short amount of time because I was curious about what would happen next.

I thought the entire story was very…predictable. Though I have to give Lonsdale props for the unique storyline, many of the twists felt extremely convenient and I often found myself rolling my eyes. I obviously can’t provide any examples here, though, because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

The timeline of the book is also confusing. Sometimes months would go by from chapter to chapter, with the entire story spanning about 16-18 months. I don’t mind the span of time, but I think it could have been more clear how much time had passed and less jumpy.

Lastly, before I say some good things — I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters. Aimee fell flat for me, as she was either the grieving widow or magically healed and in love. The only time her personality came through was when she talked about her cafe. Her friends were obviously only in the story as a way to connect her to Ian and push her to go to Mexico. I still don’t know who the F Lana is. Ian is a stage-five clinger. James was way too damn perfect. I just…couldn’t identify with anyone, and thus cared about no one.

The book was paced well, though, and despite it’s flaws, held my interest. This is a good beach read if you’re looking for something light.

I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

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First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

26192150In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, andThe One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.

Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired. – Goodreads

So many thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to check this out in exchange for an honest review. I literally squealed when I received my approval email.

Why? Because I’m irrational and felt that Emily Giffin herself saw how many Emily Giffin novels I’ve read and reviewed and approved me herself. I know this isn’t true, but it’s fun to think about!

First things first: I love how Giffin ties all of her characters from her various standalone novels together. It’s not in a big way, but you’ll recognize the name of a random friend or acquaintance and realize, hey! Wasn’t Ellen the MC of Love the One You’re With? And then your mind is blown and you feel like you understand so much about this side character. I digress.

This story focuses on two sisters (and is told in alternating points of view), Josie and Meredith. Josie is the younger sister, who is a little bit crazy and carefree. Meredith is the uptight, older one. The entire story focuses on their brother’s death (car accident) fifteen years prior and how it affected their family.

Throw in a little bit of sibling rivalry and some insane life choices and we’ve got a story, folks.

Josie is sick of dating — she’s in her thirties and wants a baby, stat. So she takes matters into her own hands. Much of the book is focused on this decision and how she will find a donor. I loved how Giffin tied in Pete and Gabe, though I wish Gabe had been less two-dimensional. As her best friend, it would have been nice to see a little more than his lady-loving self.

Meredith was my least favorite character — she had zero empathy and was incredibly hard on her younger sister, constantly calling her selfish and attacking her. Zero patience, this one. Though at times I could understand her difficulties (and I really didn’t mind reading from her point-of-view), her overall personality really irked me.

For the most part, all of the characters were really well built. The two characters that I wish had been more complex were definitely Gabe (Josie’s roommate/best friend) and Nolan (Meredith’s husband), but they did alright how they were.

In all, I enjoyed the story. There were plenty of emotions, lots of tension, and quite a bit of heartbreak and healing. If you’re in the mood for an emotional family read, pick this one up.

Remember how I kind of hated One & Only? This one was much more on point and I’m back to totally loving Giffin. Only chick lit (okay, okay — with the exception of Jennifer Weiner) that I’ll touch.

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The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

TCOCCYOU’VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together. – Goodreads

Why have I not heard more about this book?!

I’ll admit, the first chapter or so had me considering DNF’ing it – it’s your typical ‘girl breaks up with boy that is terrible, meets new boy but new boy is actually horrible person but is he really’ story. BUT! I stuck through, mostly because the food descriptions were out of this world and I had to see what else Lou was going to make. And holy cow, did it get good!

First of all, it helped a lot that I’ve been to Wisconsin. You’re talking to a die-hard, life-long Packers fan right here, and I’ve tasted the amazingness that is frozen custard and cheese curds. I didn’t realize they were in Wisconsin until she started talking about the Brewers and squeaky cheese curds, at which point I was fully committed to this story.

Yes, it’s a plot line I’ve seen done over and over. Yes, there is a ‘love triangle’ of sorts (part of that triangle is only one sided though, so does it really count?). But there’s FOOD and PACKERS so I obviously loved it. Reichert has a way with words that makes you truly feel like you’re there, walking through Milwaukee with Lou & Al, or dancing in the rain at the Irish Festival, or eating that scrumptious coconut cake. It’s amazing!

While all of the above is true, I really love how Reichert handled the story. I love that she put a new spin on it, in a different place that isn’t overdone like NYC or California (I feel like everyone’s always in NYC or California… is that just me??) and her writing is truly captivating. I gave it 5/5 stars on Goodreads & I highly, highly recommend reading this – just make sure you’re not hungry when you do! 🙂

K

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Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

MIALAt the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent story lines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him. – Goodreads

When I was reading the first chapter of this, I was really worried that I was going to hate it. I didn’t click with Hannah right away, and in that first part she seems so… whiny and needy and… terrible. She was not someone I wanted to click with, to be perfectly honest. But then, I kept reading and it clicked and the story got SO GOOD. I’m so glad I stuck with it!

I know I say this a lot, but I really haven’t ever read anything like this before. It’s two separate stories, about the same girl – the only difference is the decision she made one night and how her life played out afterwards. It’s a great reminder of how the littlest things can send your entire life down a completely different track and I love that lesson! Have you ever thought ‘if I had done x instead of x… where would I be right now?’ or ‘if I had taken this job instead of this one… would I have met this person still?’ – it’s crazy to think that all of these seemingly little decisions we make every day of our lives, add up to such big ones!

I will say that I favored one storyline much more than another… the one where Hannah leaves the bar, I think is my favorite. She grows so much because of the incidents that follow, matures and finds someone absolutely perfect for her. On the other hand, I love Hannah and Gabby’s relationship/friendship/being there for eachother in the storyline where she stays at the bar… either way though, I love the book!

I gave Maybe in Another Life 5/5 stars on Goodreads & I definitely say take a chance on this one – stick through the first chapter, stick through until you see the different paths Hannah has in front of her, and I’m betting by then? You’ll be hooked just like I was.

K

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

perfectBest friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did. – Goodreads

I was guessing by the description that this book would be easy to figure out, and it definitely was. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but it’s just like the movies you’ve seen – take your life for granted, switch bodies with someone whose life you’re jealous of, learn why you should love your own life to switch back. I just gave away the entire plot of the book. Oops.

Really though, I was hopeful that there would be a new twist on that same old story this time. While it is cute, it’s just not… new. I will give it this though, it does have a new perspective. While we’ve seen the whole ‘mother/daughter switcharoo’ and the ‘married dude/bachelor’ one too, this one is two best friends – a stay at home mom & a career woman. I loved that part of it! It was like something that could happen to me and my friends (I actually think it would be really fun if Lauren & I had to switch… haha). The story itself is really good too, and the writing was great! I really ended up liking it, even though I predicted the entire thing. Rachel’s teenagers though, they’re enough to make someone that has always wanted girls to totally change her mind (cough, cough, me).

I gave Your Perfect Life 3/5 stars on Goodreads. I really do think that if you read this with an open mind & purely for the fun of it, you will love it. I can’t wait to read more of Fenton & Steinke‘s collaborations – I think writing with your best friend is definitely the way to do it!

 

K

Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

Nowhere

After Queenie Wake is dismissed from her restaurant job, she returns to North Star to cook meals for death row inmates.

Hopeful that the bad memories of her late mother and promiscuous sister (now the mother of the captain of the high school football team) have been forgotten by the locals, Queenie discovers that some people can’t be forgotten—heartbreaker Everett Coburn—her old high-school sweetheart.

When secrets from the past emerge, will Queenie be able to stick by her family or will she leave home again? – Goodreads

This book made me so hungry! Liza Palmer does such a good job with descriptions, that (almost) every time Queenie made food for any reason, I would get hungry. The chicken fried steak in this book… I want it in real life. Seriously.

Anyway, I LOVED this story. It was so different than anything I’ve read before, so refreshing and funny. There were a few darker things that they addressed (like Queenie’s mom’s antics) but overall, it was super lighthearted and exactly what i was looking for. The sense of family and history in it were really nice and while it wasn’t absolutely groundbreaking, it was a really enjoyable read for sure.

My favorite parts were with Queenie and her sister. You can feel their connection and how much they really care about each other and just want each other to be happy. I also loved all the small-town gossip in it – those Southern, small town ladies don’t know how to keep things to themselves!

Queenie’s time in the prison (cooking, not being incarcerated haha) was really interesting too – I saw a completely different side than I ever had before and I loved it. It would be so hard to cook last meals!

I gave Nowhere But Home 3/5 stars on Goodreads and I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a quick, light read.

K

 

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The Theory of Opposites by Allison Winn Scott

18382947What happens when you think you have it all, and then suddenly it’s taken away?

Willa Chandler-Golden’s father changed the world with his self-help bestseller, Is It Really Your Choice? Why Your Entire Life May Be Out of Your Control. Millions of devoted fans now find solace in his notion that everything happens for a reason. Though Willa isn’t entirely convinced of her father’s theories, she readily admits that the universe has delivered her a solid life: a reliable husband, a fast-paced career. Sure there are hiccups – negative pregnancy tests, embattled siblings – but this is what the universe has brought, and life, if she doesn’t think about it too much, is wonderful. – Goodreads

And then her husband tells her he wants them to take a two-month break. And then she is fired. And then her ex comes back into the picture.

I liked the idea of this story—after all, I’ve never read about a main character with a self-help guru for a father. Can you imagine the impact that would have on your life? That’s one of my favorite things about books—they put you in the shoes of someone different from you.

I didn’t like being in Willa’s sad, depressing, Switzerland shoes. Switzerland? Yes. At every corner she was constantly reminding the reader that she is Switzerland—the middle, mediocre, plain, nothing special…Switzerland.

The plot was very convenient. You’re in a marriage with the perfect, nerdy, hot man—but you’re beginning to pine for your ex-boyfriend, who wasn’t Switzerland. Boom. Out of the blue your husband wants a break and boom, your ex shows up.

This book just wasn’t for me. There were too many things that annoyed me. I continued on because it was a quick, brainless read—-but it wasn’t my favorite. I know a lot of people really love Scott’s work, but I’m not one of them.

I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

L

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

25205422Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to the emergency room and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.

Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they’ve been running toward each other all along. – Goodreads

Damn it, my emotions are still reeling. This one hit me right in the feels. Thanks for that, Jennifer.

Rachel and Andy are high school sweethearts—but their story starts long before that. Rachel has had a heart condition her entire life, and they end up meeting in the hospital when they’re young. They come from separate sides of the tracks—Rachel from a rich, Jewish family and Andy from a low-income, single parent household. This is fine, until they’re older and begin to realize that their differences are coming between them.

The storyline is fantastic and spans over many years. It switches point of view between Rachel and Andy with each chapter, and also labels the year. It was easy to understand and gave a great look at each character as they progressed through life.

Andy and Rachel have a very on again off again relationship throughout their adolescent and adult life as they realize their differences—in beliefs, backgrounds, goals, and aspirations. They both just seemed so real. Even Andy, who turned into a freaking Olympic runner.

I literally don’t even know how to put into words how much I love this book. Definitely my new favorite Weiner novel. 5/5 on Goodreads.

L

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Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

23215471For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well? – Goodreads

Alright. Teenage me loved teenaged Mia. Is it any surprise that 20-something me loves 20-something Mia?!

It was like greeting an old friend after a while—the kind you were good friends with but never friended on Facebook, so you have no idea what’s new in their life. I was immediately hooked and was so excited to read about her and Michael, Grandmere, her father, and more. There were several plot “twists” that were easy to spot, but still enjoyable to read.

I can’t help but read this book in Anne Hathaway’s voice. And Grandmere’s extreme dislike of gingers (mixed with Harry Potter references)? Meg Cabot, you slay me.

“Despite all evidence to the contrary, Grandmere believes that Ron Weasley, not Voldemort, is the villain of the Harry Potter series.”

Overall, I loved, loved, loved this book. It was a total nostalgic trip and I really enjoyed it. If you read The Princess Diaries as a kid, I strongly recommend this! 5/5 on Goodreads.

L