I highly enjoyed newcomer Fiona Cassidy’s debut novel, Anyone for Seconds? and gladly accepted her offer to review her sophomore novel. With Seconds, the story focused on Frankie and her tumultuous life of children and romance, with her best friend Ruby being her biggest supporter along the way. In Anyone for Me? Ruby is the heroine, and the story focuses on her journey of searching for her birth mother. Ruby was adopted at a young age, and becomes insistent on knowing her birth story and why her mother gave her up, even when her adoptive mother tries to derail her plans. On top of her mad search, Ruby must keep up on her wedding plans with Luke, deal with a cancer scare with Frankie, and try to stop a greedy group of hotel managers from scaring her mother out of her picturesque cottage.
As I was first reading Anyone for Me? and getting to know Ruby on a more persona level, I really didn’t like her. She was loud and rude and brash and I felt embarrassed many times during the first few chapters for the way she acted in public. I was worried that I wasn’t going to have many nice things to say about her and the novel, but as time went on, you could see a change in Ruby and her personality. I started to warm up to her character more, and really became invested in her search for her birth mother. Cassidy has great comedic writing, and some of the supporting cast she thought up (in particular the wedding planner Gabriel) were laugh out loud hysterical. I was a bit disappointed at the end though. Most of the book is made up of Ruby searching for her birth mother, and I didn’t feel the ending really justified the mystery. I won’t say why so I don’t give away the ending, but I’m hoping maybe a third novel will be in the works giving a better explantation and closure to Ruby’s journey. But that being said, I still enjoyed this witty Irish novel, and would recommend it to chick lit fans.
In My Mailbox: Week of September 26th
Title: Haunted Honeymoon
Author: Marta Acosta
Received: From Marta Acosta
Synopsis: THERE’S MORE THAN HER HEART AT STAKE. . . .As the only human to survive vampire infection, Milagro de Los Santos has become quite a celebrity among the blood-drinking elite. Too bad the perks of her condition—increased strength, super-fast healing—don’t pay her condo fees. There are other complications too. She’s feeling guilty about her fling with enigmatic Vampire Council member Ian Ducharme, and pining for her ex-fiancé, Dr. Oswald Grant . . . the fabulous man whose kiss changed her life. It’s when Milagro—irked by Ian’s attentions to his neighbor—travels to London and enjoys a sexy flirtation of her own, that the blood really hits the fan. Suddenly, those around her are dying gruesome deaths and Milagro’s being interrogated. Who would kill to set her up as a murder suspect? Milagro just wants to turn back the clock and have another chance to make things right, but no sooner has she escaped to Oswald’s ranch than an accident obliterates her memory. Will the murderer come after her now? And will amnesia spark a romantic do-over with Oswald—or will she make all the same mistakes before she ever gets to say “I do”?
Title: Anyone for Me?
Author: Fiona Cassidy
Received: From Fiona Cassidy
Synopsis: Meet feisty fun-loving Ruby Ross – thirty four, mad red hair, mad (in general) adopted and searching for answers (most pressingly being precisely whose genes are responsible for the most unmanageable bonce in the country?). She’s impulsive, compulsive and unaware of what she’s about to unleash in her quest for the truth. Her journey will take her from the Tyrone village of Swiftstown to Belfast to the rolling hills of Donegal (where the scenery is lovely but the roads are bad and burst tyres are plenty.)
Isobel Ross is larger than life, living in a picturesque cottage in Donegal in the grounds of an old manor house which has been turned into a hotel – but why are the new owners so keen to get rid of her? She’s harbouring secrets from the past and fiercely protective of her adopted daughter. Can she stop the wilful Ruby from opening a nasty can of worms or will the hand of fate intervene and give Ruby the answers she doesn’t expect or might not want.
Throw in Ruby’s forthcoming nuptials to the lovely Luke, Frankie, her best friend and bling loving bridesmaid, a wedding planner called Gabriel who wears more make-up than the bride-to-be and a dusty box found in an attic which leaves many questions unanswered and you have a bewildered and rather ferocious Ruby asking is there….Anyone For Me?
Title: The Tapestry of Love
Author: Rosy Thornton
Received: From Rosy Thornton
Synopsis: A rural idyll: that’s what Catherine is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains. With her divorce in the past and her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and her dream is to set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you’re no longer just here on holiday. There is French bureaucracy to contend with, not to mention the mountain weather, and the reserve of her neighbors, including the intriguing Patrick Castagnol. And that’s before the arrival of Catherine’s sister, Bryony.
Title: Blind Faith
Author: CJ Lyons
Received: From CJ Lyons
Synopsis: When her husband and son are murdered, she thought she’d lost it all. But for Sarah Durandt the nightmare is just beginning… Her search for truth leads her to a trail of lies and unearths a killer. In a race to save everything she holds dear, Sarah is forced to place her faith in the man who betrayed her…her husband.
Title: The Kiss Test
Author: Shannon McKelden
Received: From Shannon McKelden
Synopsis: Margo Gentry’s life is perfect. She loves her job as a country music DJ, and she has a great boyfriend who accepts her need to avoid marriage and tolerates her Elvis obsession – even the velvet Elvis painting in their bedroom. But then it all falls apart. The radio station changes formats and fires all the DJs. Margo’s boyfriend decides he wants kids and a house in the suburbs and kicks her to the curb. And to top it all off, her Mom is getting married — for the 11th time! — and expects Margo to be there as maid of honor. With no job and no place to live, Margo has to bunk on the couch of her best friend Chris, whose revolving bedroom door has played host to half the women in New York – at least, the ones that pass his “kiss test.” Worse, he’s insisting she attend her mother’s wedding, and is personally driving her cross-country to ensure she shows up. Forget about surviving the road trip – can their friendship survive The Kiss Test?
Title: Planning to Live
Author: Heather Wardell
Received: From Heather Wardell
Synopsis: Thirty-something Rhiannon is an obsessive planner and goal-setter, but somehow nothing she achieves ever seems good enough to her. Determined to lose forty pounds for her best friend’s August wedding, Rhiannon flees her parents’ house in a Christmas-day blizzard to avoid the temptation of all her favorite foods, but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree.
Unable to escape the car, with her leg trapped and bleeding and her cell phone out of reach, Rhiannon is at first certain she’ll be rescued and writes notes to her friends and family to pass the time. As the weather cools and her condition deteriorates, though, she recognizes the possibility that her life might be over. Interspersed with increasingly desperate escape attempts, her letters become deeper and more heart-felt as she comes to see what really matters in life.
The nominees for best Romance Novel:
Summer of Two Wishes by Julia London
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Anyone for Seconds? by Fiona Cassidy
Please vote for your favorite by commenting below. Everyone who votes is entered to win!
Frankie McCormick decides to swear off men after her husband, Tony, leaves her and takes off to the States with his new younger girlfriend. Left behind to raise their two children, Ben and Carly, Frankie can’t help but to be wary of any man. But when Owen Byrne enters the picture, the strong façade quickly weakens. Taken by his good looks and charming personality, Frankie can only find one fault with Owen- his despicable teenage daughter Angelica. Angelica hates Frankie and does not want to lose her father to a new family, and does everything in her power to break the couple up. When tragedy hits the families and visitors from the past re-enter, Frankie and Owen’s relationship is put to the test. They must decide if the love they feel for one another is strong enough to endure the hardships and obstacles.
I found Anyone For Seconds? by Fiona Cassidy a heartwarming story about love and families. The relationship between the main characters has a very real feeling to it, not just all mushy and filled with scandal. The issues that are being dealt with I feel are not written about enough, and I commend Cassidy for tackling not only the issue of broken homes, but giving the children of those homes a voice. There were a few areas that seemed a little slow-going, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I would definitely recommend this book, and anxiously await to read Fiona Cassidy’s second novel, Anyone For Me?
In My Mailbox: Week of June 20, 2010
Title: Fly Away Home
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Received: From Artemis Azima- Engelman & co.
Synopsis: Sometimes all you can do is fly away home . . .When Sylvie Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips, and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician’s wifeher hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.Lizzie, the Woodruffs’ younger daughter, is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control. Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achievea husband, a young son, the perfect homeand yet she’s trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER’s exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.After Richard’s extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.Written with an irresistible blend of heartbreak and hilarity,Fly Away Homeis an unforgettable story of a mother and two daughters who after a lifetime of distance finally learn to find refuge in one another.
Title: Anyone for Seconds?
Author: Fiona Cassidy
Received: From Fiona Cassidy
Synopsis: Frankie has recently met the man of her dreams, Owen, at the college where she is temping as a public relations officer. The lecturer was abandoned by his wife Jane when their daughter Angelica was only seven. Frankie has a lot in common with her new boyfriend as her husband Tony also dumped her and then headed off to the US with his stick-insect lover. He hasn’t seen his kids Ben and Carly since. But if the path of true love never runs smooth, then the road to Frankie’s second chance at love and a united family is definitely littered with potholes. Not only does she have to deal with one very moody and insolent teenager who isn’t keen on another woman entering her dad’s life, she also has to face off against two spiteful in-laws in the form of her ex’s grandmother “Nebby Peg” and Owen’s sister-in-law Brenda. But on her side she has her sister Ella, back from Scotland for a visit with an upsetting secret, and her wild-haired friend Ruby. Frankie is a feisty character who will resonate with those who have walked in her shoes. A promising debut – I’ll be back for seconds.
Author: Tonya Plank
Received: From Tonya Plank
Synopsis: Sophie Hegel is a shy New York lawyer from small-town Florence Arizona, known not for the Renaissance but for housing a large prison. She’s just graduated from Yale Law School and landed her first job when, one evening she feels a fist-like ball form at the base of her throat. Diagnosed with the psychological condition Globus Sensate, this “fist-ball” wreaks havoc on her life, causing difficulty eating, speaking, and eventually breathing. With a cast of characters that includes a pornographer father, a sister with a knack for getting knocked up by denizens of the town pen, a tough-talking fashion maven, a painter of male nudes, an eccentric Sing Sing-residing client and a bevy of privileged Manhattan attorneys and judges, Swallow is a dark comedy about the distance that can separate fathers and daughters, and about a young woman’s struggle to survive in a world of pedigreed professionals for which she has no preparation.
Fiona Cassidy is better known as Fionnuala McGoldrick (her first name is pronounced fin-ooh-la and is Irish for fair shouldered!) She is from Galbally, Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland. She lives with her partner Philip and between them they have five children (and a very messy house!) Fiona has always been an avid reader but five years ago decided that she would like to become a writer as well and in April 2009 all her dreams came true when she was finally offered a three book publishing deal by Poolbeg Press in Dublin. Her first romantic comedy novel Anyone for Seconds? was launched in November 2009 and reached no. 6 in the Irish paperback fiction charts. She has just completed her second novel, Anyone for Me? which is due for publication in August 2010.
Bio Written by Fiona Cassidy
Q: Why did you want to start writing?
I’ve always been a passionate reader so for me it was a natural progression to want to write my own novel. My parents were both primary school teachers and fostered a love of literature in me from an early age. I had ambitions to become a newspaper journalist and had actually been offered a place to complete a journalism degree at one of the most prestigious universities in Edinburgh, Scotland but unfortunately wasn’t in a position to accept it as I got pregnant with my son Colm when I was eighteen. The ambition never went away, however, and continued to bubble under the surface whilst I raised my family and held down a full-time job. I think the catalyst for me was when I read a book about adoption several years ago. It annoyed me as to my mind the author had no idea about what they were talking about regarding the feelings and emotions experienced when embarking on a search for birth roots as I had done myself so I decided to write my own fictional story about it (with no research required) and it’s now being published in August!
Q: You received a three book publishing deal in April 2009. How did you celebrate the fabulous news?
I celebrated with friends and family but to be honest was so completely shell shocked at the beginning that I could hardly absorb it fully! Getting a publishing deal for me was a dream come true and although we all have dreams and aspirations we never really expect them to come to fruition! I am in the very privileged position of having an extremely supportive partner, Philip, who always shared the dream with me and continues to do so in whatever I do! He took me away for a lovely (child free) weekend to Dublin several weeks after I secured my deal and it was pure bliss!
Q: Your first novel, Anyone for Seconds? is all about broken families. What can we expect from your second novel, Anyone For Me?
Anyone for Seconds? is a humorous look at modern family life and explores the trials and tribulations of single parenthood and step-families. As a step-mother to Philip’s children I am able to write confidently about the subject although I do have to stress that the horrendous teenage step-daughter in the storyline wasn’t based on any of our daughters!! Anyone for Me? is the story of Ruby Ross (who is one of the main characters in Anyone for Seconds?) and how she goes on an adventure when she embarks upon a mission to trace her birth mother. The book is of a comedic nature but deals with some serious topics. I like books that make me laugh out loud but provide solid storylines about every day issues which is what I try to achieve with my writing! As with Anyone for Seconds? (which reached no. 6 in the Irish Fiction book chart) readers can expect more laughs and appearances from characters they got to know in the first book along with lots of thrills and suspense!
Q: You’ve said you write want you know, and you’ve lived the life as a single parent. What do you think was the hardest part for you in being a single mom?
I think it’s hard to watch your children growing up and feeling somehow different from others who’ve come from the typical ‘nuclear’ family where both parents are together and involved in their children’s lives. In my own personal circumstances my husband and I separated when I was four months pregnant with my daughter Úna and I found the experience of going to ante-natal appointments and scans alone and having no doting father in the labour ward very difficult to deal with. It’s also very hard to admit that you’ve obviously made a mistake. I was very young when I got pregnant and married and had to return to my parent’s house after I gave birth which I found very hard after living away from home for several years. Thankfully, however, I wasn’t on my own for very long. My partner Philip and I have been together now for ten years and he has been the best father my children could ever have wished for! We’ve since had a daughter of our own, Áine, and it’s wonderful to be bringing her up together in a stable and happy environment and knowing that she won’t have to deal with issues that the older children have had to deal with.
Q: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t writing?
As I love working with the public and am very outgoing and sociable I suspect I would be doing something within marketing or public relations. I already have a scant working background in this area but recently gave up my job as I want to concentrate more on my books! I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else other than writing, however, and would love to make a full-time career out of it. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen!
Q: What character would you say you are most like from Sex in the City?
I don’t think I can pigeon hole myself into being one particular character. I can see myself being a combination of Carrie with her creative writing side and witty observations on life whilst displaying similar traits to feisty Miranda with her constant juggling between work and life as a single mother. As for Philip he’d probably like me to be more like Samantha!
Q: Any guilty pleasures you can share with us?
I don’t have much time to indulge in many pleasures but I have to say I love getting away with Philip on our own. He has taken me several times to a spa hotel in Westport, Co. Mayo who provide reflexology and Indian head massage as part of their weekend package! Obviously this doesn’t happen very often as we have commitments to our children and also as finances simply wouldn’t allow it but it is something I really enjoy and think that every couple need! As for me on my own I just adore eating chocolate, having bubble baths and reading when I can! In fact I’ve been known to do all three at once!
Q: If you could trade lives with one other person- anyone!- for one day, who would it be and why?
I’d love to be in government for a day! I’d relax taxing laws, give better benefits to single parents and couples with young children and put a large dent in third world debt! I’d also make myself chief executive of a worldwide publishing conglomerate and give a new author from Northern Ireland called Fiona Cassidy the opportunity to make all nationalities laugh!
Q: What is your best advice for aspiring writers?
I would advise anyone who is interested in writing to go along to creative writing classes and surround themselves with people who have similar ambitions as you can learn from each other and pick up writing tips! There are also plenty of online forums and websites that would provide support and advice in this area! I would advocate reading as much as possible and ask them to familiarize themselves with publisher’s guidelines if they wish to submit manuscripts for consideration! It’s also useful to have an agent but not essential as I got my publishing deal first and had to choose an agent afterwards as I had three offering to represent me at one stage! An agent is a Godsend when it comes to negotiating contracts and understanding what way the market works. They also give invaluable editorial support! Above all I would advise people not to give up on their dreams. If writing is something you really want to do I would continue. It’s all too easy to get disillusioned as I myself was on many occasions but it’s about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and tackling every rejection with a steely determination to succeed the next time!
Q: Where would be your dream vacation?
I’d love to take the whole family away on a holiday perhaps to Disneyland or to Australia as we have relatives there who we haven’t seen in a number of years! However any holiday with the family where everyone is happy and relaxed would be a dream for me!