#BookReview: Beautiful Messy Love by Tess Woods

beautiful messy loveAbout the Book

‘Not since Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi has an Australian author presented the cross-cultural challenges of new Australians quite so beautifully. Beautiful Messy Love is my pick for 2017 book of the year’ AusRom Today

When football star Nick Harding hobbles into the Black Salt Cafe the morning after the night before, he is served by Anna, a waitress with haunted-looking eyes and no interest in footballers, famous or otherwise. Nick is instantly drawn to this exotic, intelligent girl. But a relationship between them risks shame for her conservative refugee family and backlash for Nick that could ruin his career.

Meanwhile, Nick’s sister, Lily, is struggling to finish her medical degree. When she meets Toby, it seems that for the first time she is following her heart, not the expectations of others. Yet what starts out as a passionate affair with a man still grieving after his wife’s death slips quickly into dangerous dependency.

Scarred by tragedy each in their own way, these warm, hopeful couples must overcome prejudice and heartbreak to prove just how much they will give for beautiful messy love.

A gorgeous, hard-hitting novel that touches on celebrity, asylum, cultural integration and family tragedy, this is a book with heart and soul.

My Review

Tess Woods writes magic. Her debut, Love at First Flight, had me feeling all kinds of ways, and recommending it wherever I could. Beautiful Messy Love is no different. I was a bit worried because I started this book with really high expectations, and wondered if I set the bar too high for Tess. But I quickly realized there was no need for that fear. I started reading this book on a Friday night, and Sunday morning flipped the final page. It is an intense story with such emotional connections between not the only characters, but also the reader to the characters. It is a longer book, but I never felt that it was stretched on unnecessarily, or any scene didn’t move the story in some way. I love that Tess was able to jump months at a time so seamlessly throughout the book, without feeling the need to overdo the gaps, and continued to get straight to the point.  One of my favorite books of 2017, and one I highly recommend you add to your reading list.

5 stars

#BookReview: The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr

the boyfriend swapAbout the Book

If you love Christmas movies, as in you check the Hallmark Channel guide starting in July, then hang on to your stockings, because here comes the merriest of indulgences in print. It’s “The Proposal” meets “The Holiday”.

First meet Robyn Lane. She’s always dated struggling creative types, including her current squeeze (Perry, an actor). For this year’s Chrismukkah celebration, her parents would love her to bring someone stable, reliable, steadily employed. You know, with health insurance and a 401(k).

Now let’s meet Sidney Bellows. Her parents already plan her professional life (she’s an attorney at her father’s law firm). If she brings her current boyfriend (Will, an attorney) to the family Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have their wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

Leave it to a mutual friend (and copious amounts of wine) to find a playful solution: Swap those boyfriends, fool the parents, and enjoy the holidays. It’s perfect! Robyn can show off a successful attorney boyfriend, and Sidney’s high-society family won’t ring those wedding bells when they meet a flaky actor beau.

The fun isn’t in the theory, it’s in the practice.

Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years. Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe.

Fool the parents? Enjoy the holidays? Swapping boyfriends never sounded so good or went so bad. Take time to read this one. It’s like Christmas in July.

My Review

Meredith Schorr is one of my favorite chick lit authors, and I was excited to see what The Boyfriend Swap had in store for me. That answer is a lot of laughs, a fast moving story line, and a terrifically fun ending. Even though the main plot point might be a bit of stretch – you know, boyfriend swapping – it still read very relatable and I give major props to the author for that. Each character was interesting to get to know, even the supporting cast, and if you haven’t read anything from Meredith Schorr, I highly suggest you do!

5 stars

#BookReview: A White Picket Fence by Laura Branchflower

a white picket fenceAbout the Book

Lina and Phil Hunter have shared an uncanny psychic connection since they were teenagers and he saved her life, so when Lina’s mother cautions her to be on guard against a new love interest she sees in her astrological chart, it confirms what Lina already suspects, her mother is crazy. Sure her marriage has been under extra stress lately, dealing with a rebellious teenager, but Lina’s never even looked at another man, well besides her daughter’s psychiatrist, Dr. Drayton, but that’s more in awe.

When a betrayal shakes the foundation of her marriage, Lina begins confiding in the child psychiatrist, blurring the lines between whether she or her daughter is the patient. As a mutual attraction grows, Lina begins to question whether the boy she fell in love with twenty-five years earlier still exists.

Laura Branchflower is a compelling new voice in contemporary fiction with believable characters dealing with real life struggles.

A White Picket Fence is a family drama.

My Review

Right off the bat, I’ll just say this might be the best book of 2017 that I’ve read thus far. I felt so many emotions reading A White Picket Fence. I had discussions with my husband and friends about the characters and their decisions. I actually dreamt about this storyline, and I don’t often find my reading list in my dreams. I cried, I was horrified, I was frustrated, I was shocked . . . my emotions were all over the board in here. I honestly don’t feel like either Lina or Phil, or even all of the supporting cast, were all that likeable throughout the story, but they were real. They were flawed and complicated and fascinating to learn about. I sincerely hope you will read this book, if family dramas are a genre you prefer to read. I was beyond impressed with the writing, the organizational structure, and how the pieces fell together in the end.

5 stars