Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop @RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Rosie had everything she ever had wished for: the perfect husband, she was the sous chef at a Michelin rated restaurant, two perfect children – well, they were perfectly planned out in her future where they would be perfect to be sure – and she lived in a perfect apartment. Until she walked in on her birthday to find her not-so-perfect husband with a pre-packed bag walking out on her for another woman! Rosie’s very perfect life was shattered. So she did what any sane woman would do – she drank a lot of cheap wine and unknowingly used all of her savings to purchase a hot pink RV named Poppy! Rosie gives it all up – the perfect apartment, the perfect job, the Michelin stars and hits the road with Poppy to open a pop-up tea shop.

41962558I’ve recently read quite a few books about women who have hit a crisis point in their lives and, throwing caution to the wind, leave everything behind to open a bakery, bookstore, coffee shop, etc. Rosie’s story, however, hit notes of reality that I found myself relating to on multiple layers. She was alone, in fact she was a loner in general. She had used her savings to purchase Poppy so money was not a luxury for her. When Poppy breaks down, she has to rely on the kindness of others and scrabble together new ways to make money to pay for the repairs. She got herself mixed up in a “catfishing” scheme that was extremely realistic and, sadly, happens far too often to women online. I found myself nodding throughout the book, saying yes, yep, been there, done that. I suspect we all have – or will – find ourselves in similar situations. That’s not to say that Rosie did nothing except make mistakes. Along her journey, she made true friends, learned real lessons, renewed her self-esteem and discovered that she could fall down, take chances, and get back up again to carry on. She found love and laughter in the most unusual places but learned that she also could stand on her own two feet when she needed to do so.

Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop is a wonderfully written story of friendship, love, self-discovery and person growth – a true delight to read for all.

Many thanks to #Netgalley, @Jaxandwillsmum and @HQDigital

 

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More Than Words @JillSantopolo – Publication Day

More Than Words is a beautifully written, poignant story of life, love, metamorphosis and relationships.

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Nina Gregory is an heiress to one of the most wealthy hoteliers in the US. She was raised by an authoritative but very loving father who was her sole parent after the tragic death of her mother. She knows that someday she will have to take over the helm of her family’s successful business, but for now, she is very happily involved in her job as speech writer for up and coming politician and NYC Mayoral candidate, Rafael O’Connor-Ruiz. Nina also is very happily dating her childhood best friend, Tim, whose family has been a part of her life forever. Tim’s parents are intricately involved in the hotel’s business and his parents and Nina’s have been friends since their university days. The only cloud in Nina’s world is that her beloved father is dying of cancer. Upon her father’s death, Nina slowly begins to discover secrets about their company and her mother’s death. As the ramifications of these lies and misdeeds are revealed, Nina realizes that her life, her legacy and the image she has worked so hard to maintain has been a ruse. It is now up to her to put the pieces back together and to create the company and woman she truly desires .

At the heart of More Than Words is a romance, a love story, but the book is far more than that. It isn’t solely about the love that Nina has for the men she has fallen for, but also about her own self love and self worth; the love she believes she has missed by not having a mother in her life; the adoration and love she has/had for her father despite his many shortcomings and the love she has for the strong women in her life. It is a story of self-discovery and how people, especially women, are admonished to behave, look and dress in certain ways in order to fulfill rigid expectations and, often, those expectations don’t correspond to the person’s true identity. As Nina’s façade begins to crack and fall around her, she discovers her true self and what emerges is completely different and beautiful. That is the true story of More Than Words and it is a lesson for us all to learn. It is significant and touching and Santopolo has done a masterful job illustrating this caveat of wisdom for us through a touching love story.  With February being the “month of love,” what better way to celebrate than reading a love story?

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #JillSantopolo and @PutnamBooks for my copy of #MoreThanWords on sale now.

Dear Rosie Hughes @Melanie_Hudson

Those of us who write book blogs obviously adore reading, literally consume books, or we would have blogs about sports or politics or some other random interest instead. Often I find myself writing about how much I “love” a book and how terrific it is – and it is – because it is rare that I don’t thoroughly enjoy a book with its power to transport me to a different place or another time, to escape for just a little while. So when a book comes along that genuinely surprises me, catches me off-guard and completely rocks me to my core, often I am left speechless. Such was the case with Dear Rosie Hughes, a beautiful book written by Melanie Hudson. I finished this book very early on Christmas morning before anyone else was awake. The family woke to find me sitting in front of the fire bawling my eyes out wondering what, on earth, was the matter with their poor old mom! It has taken me several weeks to compose myself and my thoughts well enough to write this review and even now I know I will not do it justice.

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When I received Dear Rosie Hughes I assumed it was a sweet, cozy read. The cover is cute, the premise is precious. Two adult women who have been lifelong friends since childhood fell out of touch over something that happened in their early adulthood. When Rosie signs up to go to the Persian Gulf as a meteorologist, she and Aggie begin writing to one another again – just to pass the time while Rosie is away. The book itself is a series of letters between Aggie and Rosie, Rosie and her parents, Rosie’s fellow soldier and Aggie, and various other peripheral characters that come in and out of their lives throughout the story. As the book unfolds we learn more about each of the women, their relationships with one another, with their parents, their town, with Rosie’s husband whom she may or may not be divorcing, the child Rosie lost and Aggie’s myriad of interesting dates. We watch as Rosie first adapts to life in the desert, then becomes dejected as the truth is revealed about why they actually are there, her horror as the war begins, her struggle as one of the few women in the camps. We read about Aggie who uses humor, hysterical, laugh-out-loud humor, to cover her pain of rejection that she has suffered throughout her life and we see her growth as she takes on the responsibility of writing her own book as well as running a café in Scotland. The growth in friendship and maturity for everyone involved is a beauty to read and behold as it unfolds.

As I began reading, I was somewhat dismayed that the entire book was nothing except correspondence between various people but as I continued reading I realized that this truly was one of the most intimate methods of communicating thoughts and feelings that I’ve ever come across in fiction. By the time I concluded the book, I was so completely and utterly invested in these characters’ lives that I felt as though they were my friends, my daughters, my son, my town. Perhaps it is because my husband was in the military and we were involved in the Persian Gulf, the first one not the second, and we had friends who fought and who died there. Perhaps the relevancy was so close to me that I identified with the hope, the joy and the pain. Or, perhaps, Hudson captured it all so perfectly that we all can identify with these women and their friendship, their family, and their loss. Regardless of why this book affected me so deeply, I only know that it did and it is, by far, one of the very best books I have read in a long time. If you don’t read another book that I recommend in 2019, please read this one. Rosie and Aggie’s story are waiting for you.

My eternal gratitude to @Netgalley, @HarperImpulse and @Melanie_Hudson for allowing me the honor of reading #DearRosieHughes

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Unmarriageable, as many no doubt know, is an entertaining re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – with a twist.

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If you are familiar with the original Austen story, then the premise of Unmarriageable will be familiar to you; it is, in fact, the same. The difference, and what works so well, is that it is set in today’s modern Pakistan. If you are unfamiliar with the history of Pakistan, it once was part of India, separated now after a war for Independence, and is a thriving democracy that still very much is based on its British colonial past that it learned while it was part of  British colonial rule. All that to say, they study English classics more often than many westerners outside of the UK and have a fascination with British literature rarely seen outside of Europe. And, while so much of Pakistan is quite modern, its class structure still is very much stuck in the colonial past. The roles of women, while evolving, still is stuck there as well. That is why this particular setting for this particular book is so utterly fascinating.

Kamal’s writing is tight and, while she doesn’t have a flare for wit like Austen (few do,) her characters are charming and their observations about the Pakistani culture are very much on point. I have several friends from Lahore, Pakistan and while reading Unmarriageable I could hear their voices and see their streets come alive in my mind. Although Kamal now lives in America, her Pakistani roots still very much shine through in her writing and those of us who rarely get a glimpse of the sub-continent are able to see a bit of it through her work.

Whether you are an Austen fan or just a fan of great fiction, you will find Unmarriageable delightful, entertaining as well educational.

My copy was furnished by #Netgalley, #RandomHousePublishing, #BallentineBooks