A Hundred Small Lesson by Ashley Hay #Mini-Review @AtriaBooks

A Hundred Small Lessons cover

After a bad fall, Elsie Gormley has no choice but to leave her beloved house to live in a nearby nursing home. The house is sold, and a new family moves in—Lucy, her husband Ben, and their son. Right from the start, Lucy feels a connection to Elsie after discovering items she left behind, and often thinks of her and wishes she knew more about her. As Lucy settles in to her new home with hopes for the future, Elsie is caught up in memories of the past. Her memories are often focused on the house and the life she lived there as a young bride, mother, and—finally—a widowed grandmother.

What struck me most about A Hundred Small Lessons was the focus on motherhood. I remember what it was like to have a toddler in the house, and how overwhelming it could be. I also know what it’s like to look back at those years and wonder how they went by so fast… missing one thing, regretting another. It was easy for me to identify with the way both women felt, which was very nice and kept me invested in them throughout the entire story.

This was a sweet read, and I enjoyed it very much.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Atria Books.

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Author: Ashley Hay

Title: A Hundred Small Lessons

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: November 28th, 2017 by Atria Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

About the Book

When Elsie Gormley leaves the Brisbane house in which she has lived for more than sixty years, Lucy Kiss and her family move in, eager to establish their new life. As they settle in, Lucy and her husband Ben struggle to navigate their transformation from adventurous lovers to new parents, taking comfort in memories of their vibrant past as they begin to unearth who their future selves might be. But the house has secrets of its own, and the rooms seem to share recollections of Elsie’s life with Lucy.

In her nearby nursing home, Elsie traces the span of her life—the moments she can’t bear to let go and the places to which she dreams of returning. Her beloved former house is at the heart of her memories of marriage, motherhood, love, and death, and the boundary between present and past becomes increasingly porous for both her and Lucy.

Over the course of one hot Brisbane summer, two families’ stories intersect in sudden and unexpected ways. Through the richly intertwined narratives of two ordinary, extraordinary women, Ashley Hay weaves an intricate, bighearted story of what it is to be human.

About the Author

Author Ashley Hay
Author Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay’s new novel, A Hundred Small Lessons, was published in Australia in April 2017 and will be published in the US in late 2017.

A writer for more than 20 years, her essays and short stories have appeared in volumes including the Griffith Review, Best Australian Essays (2003), Best Australian Short Stories (2012), and Best Australian Science Writing (2012), and have been awarded various accolades in Australia and overseas. In 2016, she received the Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing.

Author photo and (partial) bio via Goodreads.

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Bless Her Heart by Sally Kilpatrick #Review @SuperWriterMom @KensingtonBooks

Bless Her Heart cover

There were only three words in the English language that I hated with all of my being: bless, your, and heart—specifically in that order.

Every Southerner knows what it means when someone blesses your heart, so it’s no mystery why Posey Love hates hearing that phrase, especially after a lifetime of having her heart blessed by someone. But then, her life hasn’t exactly turned out the way she’d planned, either. She thought she would be a teacher, married with a couple of kids. At 32, she was married, had no children, and is a receptionist at her husband’s church, Love Ministries. She’s content with her life—for the most part—and feels completely blindsided when she discovers that not only is Chad having an affair, he’s also mismanaged their money and sold their home without telling her.

With no money and nowhere else to go, Posey goes home to her mother, Lark, whose lifestyle and youthful escapades were the source of most of the “bless your heart” comments Posey received throughout her life. With the help of her younger sister and her best friend, she’s able to clearly see her husband’s true character, and how he manipulated and controlled her throughout their marriage. After years spent following all the rules imposed on her by Chad, Posey is feeling more than a little rebellious. She starts breaking rules for a change—working her way through each of the Seven Deadly Sins—and starts living the life she dreamed of… on her terms this time.

The title alone was enough to spark my interest, but when the blurb mentioned it had “just the right amount of Southern sass” I was sold. How could I resist that?

Posey Love has earned a spot on my favorite characters list. She made me laugh so hard. I nearly died when she took a pole dancing lesson at the Pole Cat… SO funny! That scene is a treasure, trust me. The banter she had with her friend, Liza, always brought a smile to my face. I’m pretty fond of Liza, as well. I could completely relate to the moments when Liza is a sleep-deprived mess because her baby isn’t sleeping through the night.  New motherhood isn’t always pretty, and I loved the realism of all those scenes.

Another character I particularly liked was John. He definitely had flaws, but he was a good guy. I really enjoyed seeing how things unfolded between him and Posey, and I liked that it wasn’t always easy. Whenever there was a conflict between them, it made sense to me that (things I won’t mention) would be an issue for one of them. Chad, on the other hand, was a character I disliked him almost as soon as he appeared in the story. Later on, I came to despise him for something he did. I won’t give away what it was, but he committed a particularly heinous betrayal against Posey that made me so mad, I had to take a moment and say a few choice words before I could go back to reading.

I adored this book. All the characters (including several I didn’t mention above) are incredibly well written and (with the exception of Chad) delightful in every way.  Posey’s growth as a character was outstanding, and I loved the way she was able to take charge of her life and do what was in her best interests, and not worrying what someone else would think about it. While the ending came a little too soon for me—I wasn’t ready to let go of the characters yet—I loved the final line of the book.

Kilpatrick’s writing is superb throughout, creating a fabulous cast of characters that I won’t soon forget. This is the first book of hers that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. She definitely has a new fan in me.

Be sure to put this one on your TBR list, folks! Trust me when I say you do NOT want to miss out on this little gem—this book is most definitely a book worth reading.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Kensington Books via Netgalley.

 

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Author: Sally Kilpatrick

Title: Bless Her Heart

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction

Published: October 31st, 2017 by Kensington Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

book worth reading

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Book

Laugh-out-loud funny and unabashedly uplifting, with just the right amount of Southern sass, Sally Kilpatrick’s wonderful novel centers on one woman’s journey from unhappy marriage to a surprising second chance . . .

On the day Posey Love discovers that her born-again husband has been ministering to some of his flock a little too eagerly, she also learns that he’s left her broke and homeless. Posey married Chad five years ago in hopes of finding the stability her hippie mother couldn’t provide. Instead she got all the trappings of security—house, car, seemingly respectable husband—at the price of her freedom.

Posey’s mother, Lark, accepts her daughter’s return home with grace, though her sister can’t resist pointing out that being a sweet Southern wife hasn’t worked out as planned. And so, with the Seven Deadly Sins as a guide, Posey decides to let loose for once. Envy is easy to check off the list—Posey only has to look at her best friend’s adorable baby for that. One very drunken night at The Fountain bar takes care of gluttony. As for lust—her long-time friend, John, is suddenly becoming much more than a pal. One by one, Posey is bulldozing through her old beliefs about love, family—and what it really means to be good. And she’s finding that breaking a few rules might be the perfect way to heal a heart . . .

About the Author

Sally Kilpatrick
Sally Kilpatrick

Sally Kilpatrick writes southern fiction full of small towns and big hearts. She is a two-time Maggie Award of Excellence finalist, a Golden Heart® finalist, a Book Buyer’s Best finalist, and a National Readers’ Choice Awards triple finalist. Her next novel, Bless Her Heart, will be released on Halloween and explores what happens when a preacher’s wife decides to sample the Seven Deadly Sins. Sally lives with her husband and two children in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Visit her author website at sallykilpatrick.com or follow her on Twitter as @SuperWriterMom.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak #Review @FrancescaHornak @BerkleyPub

Seven Days of Us cover

Staying at your parents’ home for an extended Christmas visit can be stressful, particularly if you haven’t spent the holidays with them in years. Can you imagine how much harder it would be if your family were under quarantine?

This is the situation Olivia Birch finds herself in upon returning home after helping to treat victims of a dangerously contagious (and often deadly) epidemic. For the next week she’ll be stuck with parents Andrew and Emma,  as well as her younger, newly engaged sister. Phoebe’s obsessed with her wedding, Olivia is trying to adjust to being home as she worries about an ill colleague, and everyone in the family has secrets they are hiding from the others.  As the quarantine nears its end, the Birches will find themselves caught up in events that have life-changing implications for all of them.

SEVEN DAYS OF US is Hornak’s debut novel, and a very enjoyable one at that. I liked the premise of a family who are not exactly close being forced to spend time together due to a quarantine, especially when each of them are already feeling stressed about something. Guaranteed drama there, right?

If I had to pick one Birch I was most interested in, it has to be Olivia. I won’t go into exact details about why, but her story had some particularly heart-wrenching moments that really got to me. A very, very close second is Emma because what she was going through—and the way she tried to deal with it—just broke my heart time and again.

Phoebe annoyed me with her single-mindedness, and for most of the story I didn’t like her at all. I liked her much better by the end, but she mostly got on my nerves. And I hate to say it, but I enjoyed watching Andrew squirm in his attempts to keep his secret hidden from the rest of the family. Andrew’s arrogance made it hard for me to feel a lot of sympathy for him.

There’s a lot I can’t say about this book, because I don’t want to give anything away.  It’s not exactly what I was expecting—I assumed this book would be far heavier on the humor than it was. Still, I enjoyed reading it and I’ll be interested to see what Hornak’s next novel will be about!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Berkley via Netgalley.

Author: Francesca Hornak

Title: Seven Days of Us

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Humor

Publication Date: October 17th, 2017 by Berkley

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Book

A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays…

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.

As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.

In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…


About the Author

Author Francesca Hornak
Author Francesca Hornak

Francesca Hornak is a British author, journalist and former columnist for the Sunday Times. Her debut novel Seven Days Of Us will be published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in October 2017. Little Island Productions has pre-empted TV rights to the book.

Francesca’s work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Metro, Elle, Grazia, Stylist, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Red. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama.

Author photo and bio via Goodreads.