The Carlton Square Series

The Carlton Square Series

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I am so excited to share The Carlton Square series with you guys! This was written by one of my favorite authors, Lilly Bartlett, AKA Michelle Gorman. I have already read both books and the second just hit shelves in the USA. Check out my reviews below!

The Big Little Wedding in Carlton Square

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I enjoyed this fun book. Thinking it over to critique it, I realized I really had no complaints. Sometimes chick lit books are predictable, over dramatic, and cheesy, but this book was none of those things. This is the story of Emma and Daniel planning their wedding. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and she, well… wasn’t. Daniel’s parents are expecting a huge, elegant ceremony and are willing to contribute financially, but Emma’s father won’t hear of it. Emma has to pull off an almost royal wedding on a shoestring budget. 

This book took me back to my own wedding planning days, which was fun. I also loved both main characters. Emma is desperately trying not to betray where she comes from, even though she’s marrying into something else. Daniel is clueless about his privilege. The secondary characters were very entertaining, yet also heartwarming. 

The plot moves along at a good pace. Emma has a funny “voice.” I am really excited to read more in this series! I would recommend it to any fan of chick lit, and really, anyone who has ever planned a wedding!

The Second Chance Cafe in Carlton Square

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This book was super cute, just like the first one in the series! Emma starts a cafe in Carlton Square to provide jobs for at-risk youth. She runs into a lot of trouble from a fellow cafe owner who is trying to run her out of business. She is also juggling a new job, her husband, and her twin toddlers!

I could relate to a lot of Emma’s thoughts about motherhood. Emma wants Daniel to step up more and feels like everything falls to her. I think that’s common and I like how it was handled in this story.

Emma is such a likable character. I love that she is trying to help at-risk youth and learned to overcome some prejudices she didn’t even know she had. We see the return of a lot of lovely characters, like her parents, her mother-in-law, Daniel, Kelly, etc. We also get lots of new characters from Emma’s mom group and the other people who frequent the cafe. I loved the diverse range of characters.

It was very enjoyable to visit Emma and her square again! The plot moved at a good pace and the story was well-done. I hope there’s a third book!

*Quotes and photos provided to me by the author. I wwas given copies of these books and voluntarily reviewed them.*

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Invisible Women

Invisible Women Feature

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We are excited to be featuring Sarah Long’s Invisible Women book today and have a blog post from the author herself!

Invisible Women Summary

(from Goodreads) Isn’t it about time we talked about YOU?

Tessa, Sandra and Harriet have been best friends through first crushes, careers, marriage and the trials of motherhood. After twenty years of taking care of everyone else’s every need, they’ve found themselves hitting the big 5-0 and suddenly asking themselves: ‘what about me?!’

Sandra has a sordid secret, and Harriet is landed with her ailing mother-in-law. Tessa is looking for something to fill the gaping hole left by her youngest daughter’s departure for uni, where it seems she’s now engaged in all sorts of unsavoury activities, if Tessa’s obsessive late-night Facebook stalking is anything to go by.

When Tessa impulsively responds to an online message from an old flame, she soon finds herself waiting at Heathrow Airport for The One That Got Away. 

But what will the plane from New York bring her? The man of her dreams, or a whole heap of trouble? 

And could this be the long-awaited moment for Tessa to seize her life, for herself, with both hands?

 Invisible Women FC

 

Do women invest too much time and worry into bringing up their children?

 Post by Sarah Long

It often seems to me that bringing up children consists of lurching from one crisis to another. There’s always something to worry about. It must have been marvellous in the old days to hand them over to nanny to live in a separate wing if you were rich, or let them look after each other if you were poor. It was enough if they survived childhood, which was an achievement in itself in the pre-antibiotic era.

 

Instead of which, we are encouraged to worry about everything. Polishing their little CVs from infancy to ensure their cognitive and social skills are fully sharpened for the battle ahead. Violin practice, basketball tournaments, Mandarin lessons, the timetable is packed with must-have bolt-ons.

 

This is very annoying for the averagely lazy mother. We have fond memories of making mud pies in the garden and burning  holes in planks of wood – and the occasional ant – with a magnifying glass (how they’d scream about that nowadays). It was enough for us. Read a book if you’re bored. Just don’t expect me to ferry you to mini-Karate and junior chess tournaments.

 

At least if you go out to work you are partially off the hook. The real brunt of all this ‘add-on’ stuff falls on that martyred creature, the Full-Time Mother, whose achievements are measured through the prism of her child’s accomplishments. Getting up at dawn to take little Johnny to a fencing competition, ensuring he has an imaginvative birthday party to raise the bar for other parents, prepping him for his entrance exams. And when he doesn’t get into the school you’d hoped for, it will be you, not him, who feels wretched. You suspect it’s your fault, if you’d been more successful in your career as a full-time mother, then little Johnny would be blithely set on his path to adult fulfilment.

 

The three mothers in my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN all gave up their careers to become full-time mothers and are now wondering what to do with themselves now the children have grown up. They all agree they wouldn’t change anything, they loved their years at home with their families. But they do wonder at how ‘the few years off while they are young’ morphed into two decades. After all that time putting their children first, it’s time to think about themselves. Reinvention comes in different ways for each of them, but one thing’s for sure – this time, it’s all about them.

INVISIBLE WOMEN by Sarah Long is published by Bonnier Zaffre

Author Sarah Long

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*Images and blog post provided to me as part of the blog tour

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Glitter and Glue Book Review

Glitter and Glue

By Kelly Corrigan

Genre: Memoir

4 out of 5 chickadees singing! This book was “squarely in my wheelhouse.” I found it at a Goodwill and it was only $2, so I thought I’d give it a shot. As a former nanny/babysitter, I was intrigued by the story of Kelly nannying in another country. This book did not disappoint me.

Kelly goes to Australia as a 19 year old as part of her “seeing the world” tour. She gets a job as a nanny for the Tanner family. The Tanners have just lost their mother, Ellen. John is the father and his children are Millie, 7, and Martin, 5. Not until Kelly starts the job does she find out that Ellen’s son (John’s stepson), Evan, and Ellen’s father, Pop, also live in the house. She’s intrigued about the fact that Evan and Pop stay at the house even though their tie to the other family members (Ellen) is gone. She’s also interested in who Ellen was and how the family will move on without her. She becomes a bit of a surrogate mother to the children for a while. Throughout the story of Kelly nannying, she reflects on her relationship with her own mother. We also get to hear some of Kelly and her mother’s connection after she has her own children.

I was very interested in the Tanners’ lives and how Kelly fit into it. I thought she portrayed a lot of hope, positivity, and appreciation throughout this story. I really have no complaints. It was a well-done and sweet memoir.

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One Plus One Review

One Plus One

By Jojo Moyes

I really liked this book! I read her “Ship of Brides” and wasn’t a huge fan, but I loved “Me Before You.” This was a really sweet and cute story.

Single mom Jess has everything on her shoulders. She’s trying to make life better for her goth stepson, Nicky, and her math geek daughter, Tanzie. She works at a bar and cleans houses, but is barely making it financially. When Tanzie is given the opportunity to attend a private school for advanced students, Jess is heartbroken because she can’t afford it. When she hears about a math Olympics with a cash prize, she takes her ex’s car and decides to drive the kids there. She is quickly pulled over for having an expired license and expired registration. A man she cleans house for, Ed, sees her on the side of the road and offers to drive them to the Olympics. He feels like doing some good in the world after being arrested for insider training. So this wealthy man ends up spending about a week road tripping with a broke young mom, her two odd (in an affectionate way) kids, and their smelly dog.

I loved that these people from such different worlds were kind of thrown together. Every character was so unique and special. Jess is so relatable. She’s a really good person who cares so much about her kids. She wants to do the right thing, but finds it impossible in her circumstances. Ed made a stupid mistake, but we see him grow and change a lot. Nicky thinks he’s a loner in this world, but her learns to find his “tribe.” Tanzie is a sweetheart who finds numbers comforting.

This book was fairly predictable, but that didn’t bother me. I loved reading about these characters. The story moved at a good pace. The author made me care about these characters and their stories. I was rooting for them all the way. An enjoyable story.

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Saving Abby Review

Saving Abby

By Steena Holmes

Genre: Women’s fiction

3 out of 5 stars. I loved “Finding Emma” and “Emma’s Secret” by Steena Holmes and had been wanting to read more of her books for a while. In “Saving Abby,” Claire and her husband, Josh, have been struggling with infertility. They go on a worldwide tour to get inspiration for the children’s book series Josh writes and Claire illustrates. This vacation is also a chance for them to put the past and their baby dreams behind them and move on. The story flashes back and forth between their vacation and the present day, which didn’t make that much sense to me. I think the book would’ve been just as complete without the vacation flashbacks.

When Claire returns home, she starts getting horrible headaches and being exhausted all the time. It turns out she is finally pregnant! Josh and Claire are so excited, but Claire’s symptoms are getting worse, not better. Josh and Claire’s best friend, Abby, push her to get checked out. They find out that Claire has a brain tumor and they can’t do anything to treat it while she is pregnant. Claire makes the choice of her baby’s life over her own. There is also the subplot of Claire having placed a child for adoption when she was a teenager and her continued grief over that situation.

This book had an interesting premise, but it could’ve been better executed. Claire’s brain tumor was discovered so late in the book, even though that was a huge part of the plot. In addition, there was no struggle in Claire’s decision. She decided she wasn’t going to get treatment until after the baby came and that was that. I think it would’ve been interesting to see Josh and her labor over that decision or see more conflict when they both had different opinions. Even though the subject matter should’ve been tear-inducing, I didn’t feel like the book really delved into all the emotions that the characters would be feeling. Josh was super supportive one minute and then annoyed with Claire the next. Claire was pretty resolute and we never really saw her stress over dying, even as she was making “just in case” preparations. The character who seemed to be the most developed was Claire’s mother, Millie. She was very relatable and you could feel her regret over choices she made in the past and her uncertainty as she attempts to make things right.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read, it just wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.

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