Book Review Dust by Beaux Cooper

DustbyBeauxCooper-1800HRTitle: Dust

Author: Beaux Cooper

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Some people seek marriage counseling; others find wisdom in horse manure. Austen St. Johns has taken up a shovel.
When her marriage transitions from blushing newlyweds to people who merely co-exist, Austen realizes perhaps she’s responsible for her misery.
Desiring change, she leaves Oregon for the open plains of a Wyoming ranch where she discovers through love of self how she can save her marriage.

In Dust, Austen St. Johns is trying to recover from her failed marriage. She left her husband to go find herself, on chose a Wyoming ranch to do so. There, doing chores and working with horses, she finds new friends and learns things about herself she didn’t know yet.

I thought the focus would be more on the relationship, but in fact it’s more about Austen, and her relationship with herself, and finding out who she truly is. I really enjoyed that. The author did a wonderful job describing life on the ranch, and describing Austen’s feelings and personality. Austen felt like an actual person, and I loved getting to know her.

The book also had some fun moments – it wasn’t all serious. The pacing was fast, and I enjoyed it. A solid women’s fiction read.

Book Review: Flamingos, Dust and Occasional Leopards

flamingos-cover-artTitle: Flamingos, Dust and Occasional Leopards

Author: Sarah Knipping

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

After a painful breakup Iris finds herself standing outside her mother’s doorway, her feet six inches deep in the Kenyan dust. A bra-less hippy version of her mum embraces her and so begins Iris’s adventure in Kenya…

Can Iris fix her broken relationship with her mum?
Can she mend her wounded heart?
Will an adventure in Kenya prove to be just what Iris needs, or will it prove to be all too much?

Flamingos, Dust and Occasioanl Leopards is the story of Iris, who finds herself in Kenya, after a painful break-up. Her Mom lives in Kenya, and she has travelled there to discover her true self, mend her relationship with her mum, and hopefully find a way to heal her broken heart.

I loved the description of Kenya, the culture, the environment, the landscape, the animals, the way of life. The author has a down-to-earth writing style that flows easily, the pacing is fast but not too fast, and I felt like I really got to know Iris, and all her ups and downs. I was most impressed with the setting, which made me feel like I was there. The story too was an inspiring one, my favorite part was about Iris trying to fix the broken relationship with her mother.

After reading this, I want to visit Kenya. Just saying, it’s a great book, but it will probably entice you to do some travelling…

Book Review RUN Ragged

RUN RAGGED 8-24-15Title: RUN Ragged
Author: Kari Aguila
Genre: Suspense / Science-Fiction / Women’s Fiction
RUN Ragged is on Kickstarter in September!
Find RUN Ragged on KICKSTARTER this month! Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site where you get to choose which projects sound interesting to you. There are great rewards and you make a powerful impact on bringing RUN Ragged to fruition!

Would anything change if women ruled the world?

Fifteen years after the Last War devastated families and infrastructure, women have taken over under the banner of peace and equality. Only too late do they realize it’s a slippery slope to oppression. In RUN Ragged, Rhia, a strong and independent sea captain finds herself trapped in The Center, a re-education facility designed to help people fit into the rules of the new matriarchal society. The warden claims to be guiding those in her care, but Rhia quickly sees the cracks in the system. Faced with the terrifying torture and brainwashing the warden inflicts, those cracks become gaping holes that threaten to pull Rhia down into the depths of despair. Can she resist this slow subversion and become the reluctant hero the inmates need?

RUN Ragged is the suspenseful second story by the award-winning author of Women’s Work. It’s a disturbing look at what price we are willing to pay for peace and how much we are willing to ignore to keep our conscience clear.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading RUN Ragged. A book focusing on a world where women having taken control? That sounded right up my alley, but I already saw many ways the book could go wrong. However, it didn’t fall into any of the pitfalls I’d conjured in my mind – if anything, it was a surprisingly original and intriguing read.

Rhia is a strong and independent sea captain who is unwillingly trapped in The Center, a re-education facility. The facility was build to help people fit into the rules of this new society. You can already guess how wrong that went. Torture and brainwashing and manipulation, and while the warden believes she’s doing the right thing, Rhia knows that what’s happening at the facility isn’t right in the slightest. She stands up against the system, although it might cost her everything she ever held dear.

It’s an insightful look into the price humanity is willing to pay for peace, and the lone rebels that dare to stand up against the system. Rhia is an engaging character, complex and easy to relate to, and the author did an admirable job creating this futuristic world so keen on peace it often forgets basic human rights.

It’s hard to classify the right audience for this book. I’d say just about everyone. It touches on some tough subjects while still being supsenseful and entertaining.


Book Review: Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist by Jennifer Ellis

dfw-je-coafe-cover-largeTitle: Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist

Author: Jennifer Ellis

Genre: Romantic Comedy / Women’s Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Alana Matheson always tries to do the right thing for the environment, even when it means boycotting school meatball day, forgoing the use of makeup, or getting entangled in a bet with her non-chicken-loving ex-husband over which of them can be the most environmentally conscious.

So when a mining company proposes developing a mine right in the middle of the community watershed, well, of course Alana is going to be on the front lines opposing the development.

Except she isn’t. To her own shock and dismay, she finds herself taking a job… with the mining company. Worse, she finds herself drawn to her attractive and mysterious boss, Nate: a capitalist mining executive. The enemy.

Alana struggles to do right by the community, deal with her feelings for Nate, and maintain her own environmental morals. But as the conflict over the mine heats up, it gets increasingly difficult to be on the “wrong side,” and both Nate and Alana are cracking under the pressure.

Part satire, part serious, Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist is about the cast of characters who seem to pop up in all environmental disputes, and how all of us fail sometimes to do the right thing for the environment, in both big and small ways.

I was in the mood for some light reading when I picked up Confessions of a Failed Environmentalist from my to be read pile, and boy, was I in for a surprise. This book made me laugh out loud a few times, and despite being a light comedy, it also made me care for the characters, in particular Alana.

Alana Matheson cares about the environment, and has always tried to stand up for what she believes in. But when a mining company develops a mine in the middle of the community watershed, Alana finds herself doing the unthinkable. Not only does she accept a job within the mining company, she’s also drawn to her boss, Nate, a mysterious, handsome man who also happens to be the enemy.

Alana’s moral compass is in serious need of help when she has to figure out a way to fall for Nate and not lose herself and her own morals, especially those related to the environment. For that, I already felt connected to her. Most of us do want to help the environment, but it’s harder than it sounds, and when Alana has to choose between love and her own morals, things become increasingly difficult. Alana is witty, smart, and an overall enjoyable character to read about.

Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. The book has a mix of romance, mystery, humor, but the balance between those is spot on. If you’re in the mood for some light reading , then I would definitely recommend this book.

Book Review: Breaking the Silence by Diamante Lavendar

Breaking-500Title: Breaking the Silence
Author: Diamante Lavendar
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Based on a true story, a new novel from Diamante Lavendar. Joan Eastman was born like any other girl. However her life would prove to be a life of great pain… Growing up, she was treated differently by family members, powerless to defend herself against their sexual and psychological abuse. Feeling she had been dealt a wicked hand by the “powers that be”, she spiraled into substance abuse and troubled relationships. She became a victim of addiction and self-hatred. Not giving up, she becomes aware of a greater spiritual being that protects her and she begins to heal. Then she finds herself pregnant. She learns to understand nothing is hopeless; that with a changed view and self discovery, there is real hope in every situation, no matter how difficult. As she and her husband look forward to the birth of their child, she writes in her diary as a way of expelling all of the evil memories. On bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy, she endures tests and tribulations that at first she couldn’t begin to understand. But no matter how high the hurdles in Joan’s life are, she doesn’t look back, and pulls the pieces of her life together…for herself and her unborn child. This inspirational story speaks of Joan’s gradual self acceptance and healing of her body, mind and spirit. It speaks of the possibilities of the future and the fulfillment of the dream of love and family. And it speaks of jumping the hurdles in life without looking back, no matter how high those hurdles may be.

In Breaking the Silence, the reader follows the life of Joan, a woman who has been through so much it’s a miracle she’s still alive and kicking. She suffered through sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of family members. After that, she struggled with substance abuse and ended up from one bad relationship into another. Hating herself, afraid of facing the past, each day is a struggle for her.

But then, Joan finds herself pregnant. She finds strength in her pregnancy, the strength to heal and reinvent herself, the strength to find hope, even in hopeless situations. While pregnant, she writes in her diary about the wicked things she went through as a child, as a way for her to heal.

The author describes Joan’s traumatic experiences well, and the scenes that deal with her childhood are horrifying and made me feel instantly sorry for Joan, and the harsh life she’d led. I wanted her to be happy but the road to happiness was long and difficult, and every time, another hurdle was sent her way, but Joan kept on going, finding more strength than I thought she had. She changes a lot throughout the book, becoming an almost different person by the end of it, having dealt with her trauma and starting to heal.

An inspiring journey into a woman’s mind about how to deal with trauma, how to heal, and how to find hope even when everything else seems hopeless.

Book Review: Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Bowery Girl CoverTitle: Bowery Girl
Author: Kim Taylor Blakemore
Genre: Women’s Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

From WILLA Award winning author Kim Taylor Blakemore…

“…inspiring and poignant historical fiction novel that will engage readers that are looking for an insightful, yet entertaining read. ” 5/5 stars, Luxury Reader

“lends credence to the millions of historical and contemporary girls who dare to dream in the face of extraordinary challenges.” – Starred Review, Kirkus

“Gang violence, raucous carousing, sex, accidental pregnancy, and crime–not what most will expect from Victorian-era historical fiction. But that’s exactly what they’ll find in this tightly plotted novel…” – Booklist 

NEW YORK, 1883: Gamblers and thieves, immigrants and street urchins, Do-Gooders and charity houses, impossible goals and impossible odds. The Bowery is a place where you own nothing but your dreams. And dreams are the only things that come cheap for pickpocket Mollie Flynn and prostitute Annabelle Lee.

Pleasure is fleeting – and often stolen. Nights at Lefty Malone’s saloon, sneaking into the Thalia Theatre. Then it’s back to their airless, windowless tenement room and the ongoing struggle to keep a roof over their heads and bread in their stomachs.

The Brooklyn Bridge is nearing completion, and things are changing in New York City. The two women fantasize of starting a new life across the East River. Nothing but a flight of fancy, perhaps, until wealthy Do-Gooder Emmeline DuPre, who has opened the Cherry Street Settlement House, steps into their lives with her books, typewriters, and promises of a way to earn a respectable living. Despite Mollie and Annabelle’s fascination with the woman and what she offers, is Emmeline helping or meddling?

Is it really possible to be anything other than a Bowery Girl? Mollie and Annabelle will have to decide exactly who they are, and what sort of women they want to be.

In Bowery Girl, Mollie and Annabelle struggle with day-to-day life in the streets of New York at the end of the nineteenth century. The girls live in poverty, and the circumstances they live in are far from ideal. Mollie is the rational, practical type while Annabelle is the dreamer of the two of them, although they do share the fantasy of starting a new life across the river. Both of them have an unique personality, and together, their dynamics are intriguing. I found Annabelle the most interesting of the two of them. Being pregnant, she wanted to turn her life around, and she was brave and a good friend, and wanted to do what was right for her unborn child, all admirable traits.

My favorite part of the book was no doubt the setting and the author’s attention to historical detail. Reading this book made me feel like I left in New York in 1883s. The characters are portrayed well, and with historical accuracy too (as in, they don’t act totally out of character for how women would behave in that age). Too often I see contemporary characters thrown in a historical setting and half-expect them to dig out their cellphones halfway through the book, but not here.

The writing is pretty decent, and overall, it’s an enjoyable story about daring to dream even when your dream doesn’t seem that likely of coming true.

Book Review: Reluctant Cassandra by Ellen Smith

ReluctantCassandraTitle: Reluctant Cassandra

Author: Ellen Smith

Genre: Southern Women’s Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Nothing much changes in historic Eagle Valley, Virginia. That’s a good thing for Arden McCrae. It’s easier to manage her visions of the future when there isn’t much to see. Arden would rather stay buried in the cool certainty that comes with stories of the past. Fortunately, running the local antique store and keeping up with the Eagle Valley Historical Society gives her plenty of history to hide behind.

When her aging parents are forced to sell their farm to pay for medical care, Arden sees big changes ahead. The sale threatens the historic status of Eagle Valley, and Arden’s own store is in peril. Meanwhile, her father’s rapidly advancing Alzheimer’s keeps him locked in a heartbreaking past. The rest of the McCrae family is left to make difficult decisions for the days to come.

The future that nobody wants is descending fast, and Arden must face the visions she’s always avoided. Soon, her town is divided over their historic status and her family is shattered by her father’s declining health. Arden will have to choose whether to fight to preserve the past or learn to embrace the future.

Reading Reluctant Cassandra was tough for me, and I’ll start by saying why. It’s a good book, and it describes its characters, setting and events well. One of those events is how the main character’s father struggles with Alzheimer and his condition grow worse every day. It was tough reading this because my Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer a few weeks ago, and her condition goes downhill fast. A lot of the scenes with Arden’s father hit a nerve for me, because I’m going through the same thing with my grandma. I can’t imagine how much worse it has to be when going through something like this with a parent.

Despite that, the reason why I wanted to read this one so badly was because of the mention of Alzheimer. I wanted to see how others dealt with having their loved ones go through such ordeal.

But while it was a tough read, that also shows just how good the book is. The reader can’t help but connect with Arden, with her fears and struggles, and to cheer for her, even when everything seems to turn against her. I admired her for her strength and weaknesses alike, and even for the gift/burden she had.

It’s a great book, with fluent writing and interesting characters. Fans of women’s fiction will love it.

Book Review: My Journey to the Ocean by Lena Mikado

MyJourneyToTheOcean-FJM_High_Res_1800x2700Title: My Journey to the Ocean
Author: Lena Mikado
Genre: Romance / Chicklit
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is a memoir. Memoir gone chick lit (a bit twisted, perhaps at times too philosophical chick lit), yet still a memoir. It is a story about coming out of age, about what is happening on one’s mind when they are falling out of love and about trying to live in the present moment. All wrapped up in the sugar cone of that elusive humor of our everyday lives.

Elena knows what she wants from life. Her whole picture-perfect existence is planned out and allows for no deviation. She is engaged to be married and intends to be happy. Along with three of her girlfriends, she takes a summer trip across the ocean, to St. Simons Island, Georgia, United States. Pool parties, vodka watermelons and the eternal question – to shag or not to shag. Her whole world is about to be rock-n-rolled, and she will have to face a pretty hard choice. It all sounds like a setup for a summer-fling novel, but is it really like that in actuality, or does Miss Real Life have something more conniving under her sleeve? Are there happy endings in real life?

In My Journey to the Ocean, Elena loves travelling, and she also loves her Russian fiance. But when a journey to the other end of the world brings her to St. Simons Island, Georgia, she falls in love with pretty much everything around her – and maybe another guy too. While Elena discovers a new part of the world, a part filled with pool parties and vodka watermelons and some of the hottest guys she’s ever seen ) she also discovers a new part of herself, a part that wants more, that craves more. And it turns out her picture perfect life back in Russia may not have been so perfect after all, and that the guy who seems wrong in just about every way, may turn out to be the right guy for her.

I loved the sense of humor the author brings to the table. Right from the start, the book is caked in a layer of humor, and the protagonist doesn’t hesitate from making fun of herself too, often laughing at her own expense. All characters have realistic personalities, and most of them have some background story too, making them feel real, and easy to relate to, especially the protagonist and the love interest.

Although mostly light-hearted, the book offers some more philisophical insights too, without straying too far though. A fun summer read with a bit more to it.

Book Review: Persephone & Me by Corinne Desjardins

front coverTitle: Persephone & Me

Author: Corinne Desjardins

Genre: Women’s Poetry

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Mythopoetic reflections from a contemporary Persephone.

Persephone & Me is an inspiring collection of women’s poetry by author Corinne Desjardins. The book focuses a lot on women’s issues and on the quest to find one’s own self, one’s deeper, inner self. I loved the poems in this collection – they’re all quality work, and a pleasure to read. I would recommend this collection to all poetry fans.


Book Review: Accessories & Alibis by Laina Turner

Accessories-and-Alibis-book-cover_FINALTitle: Accessories & Alibis
Author: Laina Turner
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Chick Lit
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

In the 10th book of the chick lit series, Presley buys failing retail boutique, Silk, and on the first day of business ownership the store manager Roxanne is arrested for murdering her boyfriend. Roxanne insists she’s innocent and asks for Presley’s help.

Presley believes her and tries to help while getting the boutique up and running just to find out someone has been paying themselves from company funds? Who is stealing from Silk and is there more to Rod and Roxanne’s relationship than meets the eye?

I previously reviewed Romance & Revenge, another book in the series. I enjoyed that one, so I looked forward to getting started on this book. Again, the book is cozy mystery / chick lit with a good dose of humor and some romance.

In Accessories & Alibis, Presley buys a failing retail boutique named Silk, determined to turn it into a succesful business again. But on her first day as brand new business owner, the store manager gets arrested for murdering her boyfriend. Even though Roxanne, aforementioned store manager, insists she’s innocent, the police is convinced she’s the one behind the murder. And who better to help prove Roxanne’s innocence than Presley? But Presley sure has her work cut out for her this time, with someone stealking from Silk, solving the murder, and running her new business.

I liked this book more than its predecessor, in terms of plot. Overall, the plot is more original, and it stands out more. Again, the characters are enjoyable and engaging, and as a reader it’s easy to see the progress Presley has made as a character so far.

If I had to have one complaint, it would be the editing. There are some errors here and there throughout the book that can be a bit confusing, but overall they don’t bring down the general reading experience.

Recommended to all fans of cozy mysteries.