Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fab Fiction: April 2015



As a writer and former book reviewer, people ask me all the time for book recommendations, and now that the weather is (finally) getting nice and summer vacations are on the horizon, I'm getting more requests than usual. Even though my official reviewing days are over, I've decided to do a monthly book post here on the blog. Lori might chime in occasionally, too!

As a mom, I know it's hard to find a spare minute to read (and even harder when you're a writer and any free time has to be dedicated to working on your own book). I've been trying to be better about making time to read lately, and like most of you, I do read a lot more in the summer. I'm excited to share my favorites each month with you, so here we go: our first edition of Fab Fiction!

The Royal We by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks

My favorite book of 2015 so far, and this probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me. It also seems appropriate this week (Dear Baby Cambridge #2, please show up soon). I've been following The Fug Girls for a while on social media, and especially love their hilarious Downton Abbey recaps, so I was excited when I saw they'd written a Will and Kate-esque novel. The Royal We tells the story of Rebecca Porter, an American studying abroad at Oxford who happens to fall in love with Prince Nicholas, the heir to the British throne. While the book is fairly long, it's such an engrossing read you'll find yourself flying through the pages and sad when it's over. Also, you might fall in love with Nick's brother, Prince Freddie, who is quite a cheeky ginger and also my new book boyfriend. I actually bought the hard cover of this book, even though I'd received an electronic review copy from the publisher. In five years of reviewing, this was actually the first time I've ever done this, so that's my highest compliment!

At one point in the story, Nick gives Bex a lapel pin with an American flag and a Union Jack crossed at the bottom, and I had to laugh because I've had a pin like that for ages (You can see mine sitting on the book below). It used to hang on my cube at work, and years later I moved it to the corkboard in my kitchen. I love that the Fug Girls know about this pin, and that I've found other people who think it's normal to drink tea out of a 1980s Princess Di engagement mug you bought on Ebay. Cheers!


Untrue Colors by Veronica Forand

I'll admit I'm not a romantic suspense reader, but Veronica is a friend of mine and a super talented writer. I'm a big fan of her contemporary stories, so I definitely wanted to check out her latest novel, Untrue Colors, as my first-ever romantic suspense read. Well, I absolutely loved it, and now I'm wondering why I've never read anything in this genre before. The story is super fast-paced and surrounds Alex, an art appraiser on the run from her abusive ex, who used her talents to help him judge the worth of stolen art. She flees from Paris to England, taking refuge in Oxford, but ends up in a world of trouble yet again. I'm obviously a sucker for anything set in the UK, and I loved traveling back to Oxford again after reading The Royal We. The romance was totally believable, and I'm one of those people who often thinks the relationships in romance novels are eye-roll inducing. I luuuuurved the hero, Henry, a hunky Oxford professor who just so happens to be an Earl. And owns a castle. And is trying to renovate said castle to help a battered women's charity. Swoon city. Oh, and he's Earl of Ripon, so I totally heard Anna from Downton Abbey in my head like, "Oh I'm just going to pop over to Ripon to buy some things for Lady Mary." Veronica definitely kept me guessing and isn't afraid to kill people off, but it wasn't one of those "I'm freaked out and can't sleep" books at the same time, which I appreciated. Can't wait to read the next one, which features Henry's brother Simon, a hot MI6 agent. Double swoon!



The One & Only by Emily Giffin

This one's not a new release, but it's new in paperback this month, so that counts. Emily is one of my all-time favorite authors (and Lori's too), so we were both fan-girling a bit when we met her at the signing for Where We Belong. One thing she said really stuck with me. A girl in the audience mentioned she was an aspiring writer trying to get a novel published, and Emily told her she WAS a writer. I never said I was "aspiring" again. Plus, she told me I would finish my book, even when the baby came (I did - and it will be published this August) and also said I totally didn't look pregnant, which made my day. Thanks, EG!

Anyway, back to this book: I got sucked into the small Texas college town setting, where football is practically a religion. Shea works for the university, and her best friend's father is the team's head coach, a Joe Paterno figure if you will, although much younger and DILF'ish. When his wife passes away, she finds herself wondering if the man she's idolized her entire life is something more. Not going to lie, it's kind of weird to think about falling in love with your best friend's dad, but Emily totally pulls it off. If you're a Friday Night Lights fan, this is the book for you!

Posing with Emily at her book signing a few years ago.

The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase

Speaking of Emily Giffin, if you like her books, you'll definitely want to pick up Bethany Chase's debut novel, The One That Got Away. I read it in two nights after the crazy person toddler went to bed, and anyone with a two-year-old knows that might as well be two hours in normal person time. The story follows Sarina, an up-and-coming architect who finds herself working on the home of Eamon Roy, a retired Olympic swimmer who is a close friend of her roommate. It should be her dream job, except for the small detail that she happened to have slept with him years ago. Even though she's on the verge of getting engaged to the guy she thought was the one, Sarina's always wondered about that night with Eamon (I loved her description of him being the one you Google at 2 a.m.) When Eamon moves back to Austin and they start working together, she can't stop her crush from coming back ... or questioning whether her own relationship is as perfect as she thought. This was one of those books I expected to be a lighthearted, fun read, and although it was, I also found myself moved to tears at certain points. Definitely a title to put on your must-read list! I'm also super excited because Bethany's second book will be a spinoff featuring Eamon's brother, Colin.



The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft


While this book is quite the opposite of the others I read this month, I loved it in a very different way. The Far End of Happy takes place over the course of 12 hours during a husband's suicide standoff, and is actually based on the author's own experience surrounding the events of her first husband's suicide. It's told from the POV of Ronnie, the wife; her mother, and her mother-in-law, so you get to know the background of what led to this day from three very different perspectives. I really liked the little details she injected into the story, like how The View and Live With Kelly and Michael played in the background while the cops were pacing around - one of those reminders that the mundane things in life go on no matter what you're going through at the time. Making the book take place over the course of 12 hours also gave it a sense of urgency and moved the story along quickly. I was definitely up late to find out what would happen next, and rooting for Ronnie and her family. She ends the day as a stronger person, despite dealing with a situation most of us can't even imagine. This book really made me think about life and what people can be battling behind closed doors.

I know Kathryn from the Women's Fiction Writers Association and I'm impressed by her courage and ability to tell this story in a way that's sad, yet still inspiring. I'm pretty sure most of us were moved to tears at Kathryn's book launch event when she spoke about her experience. The official release date is May 5, but you can pre-order the book online now. And, since I love our readers, I bought a copy at Kathryn's launch party last week and had it signed for a giveaway! One lucky F-it reader will win it - just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest ends next Friday, May 8 and we'll announce the winner on our Friday Finds post. Good luck!

That's moi with authors Leah Ferguson and Kathryn Craft at Kathryn's book launch.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



*I received review copies of The Royal We and The Far End of Happy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

12 comments:

  1. I'm currently reading "Tomorrow there will be apricots" Excellent so far! I'm adding all of your recs onto my Pinterest right now!

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  2. Hi Jenni! I haven't heard of that one but I just looked it up and added to Goodreads. Thanks!

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  3. Congrats on your great blog! I'm currently reading -- and loving -- THE PRECIOUS ONE by Marisa de los Santos.

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    1. Thanks, Susie! I definitely need to read that one, I feel like everyone is raving about it lately.

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  4. I was blown away by Kathryn Craft's first novel, and can't wait to read The Far End of Happy!

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  5. So excited to read this, and am already recommending it to friends!

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    1. I've been recommending it to everyone, too! Definitely a great book club read.

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  6. I loved Dear Carolina and Every Fifteen Minutes

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    1. Dear Carolina is on my TBR list!

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  7. I'm loving and reading Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff. Great summer read! And I can't wait to read The Far End of Happy. xo

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    1. I'll be reading Wishful Thinking this summer for sure!

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