Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Savvy Sheldon has a bit of an odd title, but a good story

Fresh-Brewed Writer - Review of Savvy's story

Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as HellSavvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Savvy Sheldon spends a lot of time tiptoeing around the cracks in her life: her high-stress and low-thanks job, her clueless boyfriend and the falling-apart kitchen she inherited from her beloved grandma—who taught her how to cook and how to love people by feeding them. But when Savvy’s world starts to crash down around her, she knows it’s time for some renovations.

Starting from the outside in, Savvy tackles her crumbling kitchen, her relationship with her body, her work–life balance (or lack thereof) and, last but not least, her love life. The only thing that doesn’t seem to require effort is her ride-or-die squad of friends. But as any home-reno-show junkie can tell you, something always falls apart during renovations. First, Savvy passes out during hot yoga. Then it turns out that the contractor she hires is the same sexy stranger she unintentionally offended by judging based on appearances. Worst of all, Savvy can’t seem to go anywhere without tripping over her ex and his latest "upgrade." Savvy begins to realize that maybe she should’ve started her renovations the other way around: beginning with how she sees herself before building a love that lasts.

Things I liked about this book:
1. Savvy and her internal journey. While it began from words spoken to her that caused her pain, she did decide to make changes in her lifestyle on her own to help herself feel better. I admire that.
2. Savvy has a great group of friends who support and love one another.
3. Dogs.
4. Savvy had to do some soul-searching about her job, and dang if I haven't just gone through all of that myself! I think it was very real.

Things I did not like about this book:
1. Savvy's tendency to jump to odd conclusions. (Example: Spencer was miscategorized as homeless and that was unfair.)
2. Savvy did allow her psycho ex to get in her head (although who of us hasn't had this issue?), and good golly, why was he everywhere afterward? Was he focused on trying to make Savvy feel worse, thereby making him even more of a jerk-face? or was this just part of the author's way of making Savvy self-evaluate each time? Not sure.
3. Spencer was almost too good and patient to be true.
4. There is a lot of focus on why Savvy decides to diet and exercise to lose weight. I don't see it as fat-shaming, necessarily; but I'm also a Gen-Xer who generationally doesn't see it the same as millenials or Gen-Zers likely do.

Overall, I landed on a four-star rating.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my advance review copy. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Smile and Look Pretty

Smile and Look Pretty is the debut novel of Amanda Pellegrino--but it doesn't read at all like a debut novel. In fact, it's like a delightful combination of the tv show Sex and the City and workplace novels in the vein of The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries.


A juicy, fun yet piercing debut novel, Smile and Look Pretty tells the story of four assistants working in media who band together to take on their toxic office environments in the ultimate comeuppance—pitched as Sweetbitter meets Whisper Network.

Online they’re The Aggressive One, The Bossy One, The Bitchy One, and The Emotional One. In real life, best friends Cate, Lauren, Olivia and Max all have one thing in common—they’re overworked, overtired, and underpaid assistants to some of the most powerful men in the media and entertainment industries. When they secretly start an anonymous blog detailing their experiences, their posts go viral and hundreds of other women come forward with stories of their own. Confronted with the risks of newfound fame and the possibility of their identities being revealed, they have to contend with what happens when you try and change the world.

Gripping, razor-sharp, and scathingly funny, Smile and Look Pretty is a fast-paced millennial rallying cry about the consequences of whistleblowing for an entire generation, and a testament to the strength of female friendship and what can be accomplished when women come together.


Amanda Pellegrino is a TV screenwriter and novelist living in New York City whose writing has appeared in Refinery29 and Bustle. Smile and Look Pretty is her debut novel.


It took me a few chapters to get into the book, but once I was in, I was hooked. I enjoyed it and would recommend it for fans of workplace/revenge stories.


Author Website: https://www.amandapellegrino.com/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/amandagpellegrino/?hl=en

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amandapellss?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor 


Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/smile-and-look-pretty/9780778311126

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Smile-Look-Pretty-Amanda-Pellegrino/dp/0778311120 

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/smile-and-look-pretty-amanda-pellegrino/1138272491tar

Target: https://www.target.com/p/smile-and-look-pretty-by-amanda-pellegrino-paperback/-/A-81225901

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9780778311126?AID=10747236&PID=7310909&cjevent=bb1b392a8f9911ec836100490a82b838 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778311126

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/smile-and-look-pretty

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/smile-and-look-pretty/id1524947340

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Smile_and_Look_Pretty?id=AQAAAEC82iWaiM&hl=en_US&gl=US

Monday, March 07, 2022

Working It Out by Jo Platt

From the publisher:

Her new colleague is about to shake things up...

When her love life crashed down around her, Edie found solace in work. But her job rapidly goes from uplifting to unbearable, with the departure of her work wife, Ruby, and the arrival in the office of new guy, Cameron - a chauvinist, a womaniser, and the very opposite of a team player.

And just as things start to go downhill at work, Edie’s personal life takes a downturn too, when her ex, Jason, decides that right now would be the perfect moment to get back in touch and deliver some devastating news.

Edie's increasingly miserable work life and her complicated personal life are suddenly on a collision course. The big question is, will she be able to salvage anything from the wreckage?

A tender uplit novel of one woman’s accidental rediscovery of the perfect work-life balance. Ideal for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Sophie Kinsella and Beth O’Leary.

My Review:

I'm a longtime fan of British women's fiction, so this is not an unfamiliar genre for me. I enjoy romantic comedies. However, while this novel was definitely thought-provoking and was a slow burn on the romance front, "Working it Out" was not quite as amusing as I expected. There were some details that seemed as if they were missing, particularly in the prologue and definitely with Edie's job. I would have really enjoyed hearing more about why she likes her work, and what she specifically wants to do with her work projects.

That being said, I'll admit that the rest of the book had a lot to offer. The relationship between Edie and Ruby as "work friends" was well done. It is not always easy to know whom to trust, and competition between and among women is often pretty fierce and sometimes one-sided. This felt very real to me. Additionally, the whole mix-up with the neighbor and the coworker was done pretty well, too, but I can't discuss it without spoilers. Suffice it to say, nicknames can be confusing. :)

In the end, there is happiness and love, although it might or might not be who you think it will be at the beginning. No spoilers!

Overall I will give this novel 3 1/2 stars, rounded up to 4.

Thank you to Love Books Tours, the author, and the publisher for allowing me to have a review copy of this novel here in the USA.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Shadows of Swanford Abbey: A Love Books Tour Stop

Welcome to the Love Books Tour stop for the new novel Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen.

I'm so pleased to be joining the Love Books Tours group and help fellow book lovers, book bloggers, and book reviewers in the UK.

From the Publisher:

News of her brother’s worrisome behavior spurs Miss Rebecca Lane to return home to her village. Upon her arrival, he begs her to go to nearby Swanford Abbey, a medieval monastery turned grand hotel rumored to be haunted. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees to stay at the abbey until she can deliver his manuscript to a fellow guest who might help him get published—an author who once betrayed them.

Soon, Rebecca starts seeing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters at night. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past—including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick—baronet, magistrate, and former neighbor—who long ago broke her heart. Now a handsome widower of thirty-five, he is trying to overcome a past betrayal of his own.

When the famous author is found dead, Sir Frederick makes inquiries and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the author, including Miss Lane and her brother. As Sir Frederick searches for answers, he is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .

Author Bio:

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s Best Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. She and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com.


Purchasing Links: Note: These are NOT affiliate links:

Amazon UK (Kindle ebook)

Amazon USA (Kindle ebook)

Promotional Hashtags and Links:

#Ad #Gifted #LoveBooksTours

Julie Klassen's website

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan


How to Love Your NeighborHow to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very cute rom-com with likeable characters and a fun conflict: Rich handsome real estate man wants to buy the house next door that's empty. However, about-to-graduate beautiful DIY interior designer just inherited the house; thrilled to have a home of her own at last, she refuses his offer to purchase the house. 

I liked the mix of the rom-com trope with an element of DIY reality show thrown in. 

As it turns out, this is book #2 in a series. I don't think it's necessary to have read book #1 to enjoy book #2, although I suppose it would give more background into Noah's family. That being said, I guessed about this being the second book when brother #1 introduces his girlfriend to our Grace. It was like, "Ohhhhh, I bet their story was book #1."

Anyway, I liked Grace and most of the time, Noah. I've read a lot of rom-coms recently, so many of them seem to fall into mostly-predictable tropes. Nevertheless, I liked this story and would recommend it for those who enjoy rom-com stories.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

A book for navigating change(s)

When Change Finds You: 31 Assurances to Settle Your Heart When Life Stirs You UpWhen Change Finds You: 31 Assurances to Settle Your Heart When Life Stirs You Up by Kristen Strong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kristen Strong's latest book, When Change Finds You, is one of the best and most helpful spiritual books I've ever read. Full of wisdom and practical advice, this book is immensely helpful when one is navigating any sort of change--or in my case, many changes all at the same time. Each devotional has a Scripture focus, a personal story (some are from Kristen's own life, while others are from friends or heroes in the faith), a prayer, and a summary focus.

I was so impressed with the timeliness and encouragement of this book that even before I finished it, I purchased copies for many of my friends.

I highly recommend this book for anyone you know who is navigating a change or three (or even more, as it is in my case). It is amazing.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Share Four Somethings June 2021


I'm dipping my toe in the water of writing again after a long drought. (L-o-n-g.) I haven't written for publication in a hot minute, so here we go. Thanks to Heather Gerwing for the invitation to participate. If you'd like an invitation to participate, consider yourself hereby invited to join in!

Here are the four:

Share Four Somethings  #sharefoursomethings

Something Loved
Something Read (or Said)
Something Treasured
Something Ahead

Something Loved

I love my family. I'm glad I have them to support me--not only through a tough time with my career, but also in the midst of this crazy move, my first in six years. 

Something Read

I've been reading some books, both paper books and on Kindle. Nothing has stood out to me as YOU MUST READ THIS RIGHT NOW. Sad, isn't it? But I'm chalking it up to feeling overwhelmed with moving and trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I've left my career, again, and it's been a maelstrom of emotions. 

Something Treasured

I love that I got to visit with three long-time, long-treasured friends on our move west. All three live in the St. Louis area, and as it turns out I didn't have to go far to see any of them. It was an amazing time of catching up and seeing their faces in person and hugs too (screw the pandemic; we were all immunized).

Something Ahead

I look forward to the last of the boxes being unpacked. It'll be a while. Let's see if I can get many of them unpacked (at least the first time; this does not count re-packing for storing) by the July Four Somethings!

OK, well, the boxes are summoning me and I must go unpack them. Or else fight the guilt of sitting here not unpacking them. *If you know, you know.*