The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley

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Matt Beaulieu and Elle McClure were deeply in love with one another and trying desperately to have a baby when she had an accident that put her on life support. Her wish was to be laid to rest, not to be kept alive on machines if there was no hope of recovery, and Matt was ready to follow her wishes…Until he learned that within his wife’s broken body was a baby, holding on for life-and he is ready to fight with all that he has for that baby’s life. But the legal system has never seen this kind of case before, and his wife’s legal paperwork regarding the issue means that suddenly a great many political issues are coming into play.

Pro-Lifers are lined up in front of the hospital, protesting the pulling of Elle’s life support while she carries an unborn child, Pro-Choicers are claiming that using Elle’s body against her legal wishes, to keep the baby alive, is wrong. A media circus hovers around Matt, and all he wants is to do what he knows Elle would want-keep the baby alive no matter what it takes.

Keep the tissue nearby if you want to brave this novel, which delves into places that most of us would prefer not to think about…Long, drawn out deaths, how we remember our loved ones and how we would want to be remembered after we died, and the horror of a world that can try to tell  you to pull the plug on your wife and unborn child because of a legal form.

Readers who enjoyed What You Wish For, by Kerry Reichs, which addressed the controversial topic of parenting and the politics of test tube babies and non-traditional approaches to having children, will likely find The Promise of Stardust, by Priscille Sibley, equally riveting. This reviewer went through half a box of tissues, however, so you’ve been warned!

Vanity Fare : a novel of lattes, literature and love by Megan Caldwell

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Molly Hagan is a single mother in Brooklyn with a passion for coffee, books, and handsome men…Her husband left her for a hot young blond and she has been hiding behind romance novels and a steaming mug ever since. But the bad news keeps coming-her husband has lost his job and will no longer be paying for her son’s insurance or much else by way of child support, either. Molly will have to get a job and become entirely independent, and find a way to take care of her son alone…And she’s very, very worried about it.

Can she go back to work after being a stay-at-home-mom for so many years? Will her literature degree mean anything to ANYONE out there in New York City? Luckily, a family friend may have a temporary solution for her, helping out his company to do writing copy for a new bakery that’s going to be the next big thing-owned by a very sexy pastry chef from the UK who seems to think that Molly is, actually, kind of tasty herself.  Just to shake things up, a few other men are trying to tickle her fancy, too. The very serious and somber Nick actually seems to have a heart hidden under that sexy brooding facade…

This novel is about new beginnings, the importance of family and good friends, and power to women, especially those who are forced to re-examine their entire existence when things don’t go exactly as planned. If you like Chicklit or Women’s fiction with a touch of humor, like Heather McElhatton or Liane Moriarty, you won’t want to miss Megan Caldwell’s Vanity Fare: a novel of lattes, literature and love.

Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

Emma Tupper is a lawyer with plans to make partner at her prestigious law firm. When her mother passes away and leaves her with an all-expenses paid trip to Africa in her will, asking her to experience it in her absence, Emma has a hard time resisting the trip. But things do not go according to her mother’s plan. Emma becomes ill, then gets trapped in the middle of nowhere in Africa after an earthquake hits. She is gone from home for 6 months before she finally makes it back into “civilization”.

Emma is surprised to find that everything is NOT as she left it when she returns home. Her apartment has been leased to someone else, her possessions disposed of, and her boyfriend has already moved on-with the last person she ever would have expected. She is forced to start her career over again. Everyone seems to expect her to do something drastic and extreme, after having a major life event change everything for her. But Emma just wants to go back to the way things were-with the exception of inviting handsome, newly single photographer Dominic into her life.

Can Emma go back to they way things were? Does she really want to go back? What would YOU change, if you lost everything and had to start over?

Forgotten, by Catherine McKenzie, is a novel about deciding what you value most in life, and bravely moving forward when you have been knocked down by life and have to put pieces back together that no longer fit like they should. If you like this novel, be sure to pick up Arranged, by the same author, which is about a woman who decides to use an arranged marriage service to find a husband (and everything goes terribly wrong).

Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Married by Heather McElhatton

Jennifer Johnson finally walked down the aisle with the man of her dreams. He’s handsome and wealthy, a real catch. Her mother in law is so “supportive” she bought the newlyweds a gaudy brand-new house right next to hers, and even hired Jennifer a housekeeper. She has a company credit card to spend money on important things like designer clothes, spa days and country club lunches. Anything she could possibly desire is at her fingertips…Right?

So why is Jennifer feeling so unhappy? Everyone seems to want her to be someone she isn’t, and it seems her mother-in-law is sabotaging her every move (but she can’t prove it!). The church ladies seem to find her detestable and the country club ladies treat her like she’s a joke. Her new in-laws don’t seem all too impressed by Jennifer OR her husband, and her husband has stopped coming home AT ALL sometimes. Alone in her giant gaudy house with her three-legged rescue dog, very rude talking refrigerator, and a family of immigrants, Jennifer is starting to feel like marriage isn’t all that it was cracked up to be, back when she was a single gal.

But Jennifer won’t go down easy. She’s a fighter. She will find a way to “beat” it all, and in a climax that you would have to read yourself to believe.

This novel is quite possibly the most hilarious chicklit I have ever read. I laughed until I cried. Over and over again! If you like chicklit, you will LOVE Heather McElhatton, who wrote a novel before this one entitled Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single, and also a novel called Pretty Little Mistakes, and who has mastered chicklit comedy better than anyone in the genre. If you like pretty much ANY Chicklit, or if you like humorous female heroines like you would find in Janet Evanovich or Lisa Lutz novels, buy Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Married today. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Chicklit on Audio this Summer

Chicklit readers, now is the time to load up on some new audiobooks for your commute/gym/morning jog. Two new audiobooks are guaranteed to please:

Newly out in the Chicklit:  Jill Shalvis’ Forever and a Day, and Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Arrivals.

Forever and a Day, by Jill Shalvis, is number 6 in the Lucky Harbor Series, which is very popular among the Nora Roberts-like line of contemporary romance. The books are easy and relaxing, and the guy always gets the girl-but not without some very endearing conflicts along the way. This particular novel circles around Grace, a woman who is trying to decide what she wants to do with her life when she falls into nanny-ing and dog sitting for the town’s most eligible bachelor, a handsome local Doctor named Josh. They made a deal that her position would be temporary, but things start to get complicated VERY quickly. Juicy love scenes included.

Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Arrivals is a more family-centered novel, focusing less on romantic love and more on the complex relationships that exist between parents and their children, ranging from young to old. When a retired couple finds their children all home at once, working through difficult life obstacles and some even bringing children of their own, they will learn that parenting never ends, and it doesn’t get any easier, either. This is a heartwarming novel that ends happily as the characters learn to be comfortable with themselves and their life decisions, with the love of family to back them up.  If you are a parent, you will find this one especially touching and sweet.

So if you have been looking for a new audiobook, these are this reviewer’s top Chicklit choices for a summer listen-so grab them now and listen before fall rolls in, and I throw another one your way!

A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary

A Simple Thing” by Kathleen McCleary is a novel about the trials of learning about yourself and finding peace while struggling with parenthood.

Susannah Delaney is a neurotic, controlling and anxious mother whose life seems to be spiralling out of control as her teenage daughter begins to rebel and assert her independence in very self-destructive ways, and her young son is being bullied by other children in their suburban world. Susannah decides that she wants to “save” her family, so she packs up their things and proceeds to move her two children to a remote island off of the coast of Washington State-leaving her husband behind, blinking in awe.

Katie and Quinn are none too pleased about the new arrangement at first, but as they begin to make new friends and get comfortable, she begins to wonder if she has made a huge mistake. Do life’s problems just follow you wherever you go, or can you escape them by changing your surroundings? Susannah is forced to deal with her own demons as she realizes a great deal about herself, her marriage and her children out on a barely populated island with no electricity and plenty of time to think about what is really important.

This is a novel about parenting, marriage, love, resentment, blame and shame, but most importantly, it’s a novel about learning who you are and accepting that there are some things you just can’t change.

If you love women’s fiction or anything about motherhood, you will not want to miss this novel. It’s also a GREAT vacation read, especially if you are “roughing” it. If you like this novel, also look out for “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty, which has similar themes and an equally satisfying ending.

What You Wish For by Kerry Reichs

Wyatt, Dimple, Eva and Maryn are all at a crossroads. To have a baby or to not have a baby.

Wyatt is a single man who is tired of waiting for Mrs. Right to come along and start a family. His heart has been broken enough times, and he is ready to adopt a child of his own. But very few adoption agencies will give a “single father” the time of day, and his quest to become a father is twisted into something perverse by many members of the public. But Wyatt won’t back down when all he wants is to become a father. Why do men and women get treated differently when parenthood comes into play?

Dimple is an actress slowly inching past her prime, and she, like Wyatt, feels the urge to have a baby of her own. But her agent and many in the acting business believe that this decision would be career suicide. Is she willing to give up Hollywood to become a mother? She has been waiting for the right guy to come along and now she’s starting to wonder if a man is really necessary-beyond the initial contribution, of course.

Eva is a Hollywood agent representing a hot young starlet who wants to take over Hollywood, and she has just met and begun seeing the man of her dreams. But Eva has a secret that she fears will mean the end of her perfect relationship. Eva doesn’t want kids. Not now, not ever. Will she wind up alone?

Maryn is in the horse shipping business, highly successful and a cancer survivor. Before she began cancer treatment, she and her husband had embryos frozen in the event that her ovaries were rendered useless by the process. Divorced before her cancer was even in remission, Maryn now wants to use those embryos. Her ex-husband and his young new wife aren’t so keen on the idea, however, and she finds herself in a court battle of epic proportions and a media circus that becomes a national issue. Are frozen embryos people? Should they be destroyed when the couple no longer has use for them? Should people be allowed to access unwanted emryos and use them for their own fertility issues?

Having a baby has never been so complicated-and all four characters are about to find themselves twisted into a complicated web as paths cross and relationships form between the most unlikely of people. This book will be particularly interesting for women who have reached or surpassed child-bearing years and faced that question themselves: To be a parent, to not be a parent… And what is YOUR definition of family?

Kerry Reichs has also written Leaving Unknown, The Good Luck Girl, and The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life. If you like Chicklit, you will want to try her out!

More Like Her by Liza Palmer

Frances was recently dumped by her boyfriend for another woman, and as she sees the women around her who seem to have it all figured out, she begins wondering what is wrong with her…Will she be a spinster? Is she so flawed that she will never be loved for herself? What do these other women have that she does not?

When Frances and her friends and coworkers go to a party being held by their prim and perfect school headmistress and boss, and the most horrific event of their lives brings an end to the merry affair, people’s secrets start slipping out. Nobody’s life is as it seemed before. Frances begins to see the merits of being exactly who you are without shame and secrecy…Especially when sexy southern architect Sam shows serious interest in her, hopeless flaws and all…

But can Frances’ friends and family come to grips with the reality of their lives and begin to repair the damages? Can Frances accept herself and the truths of the people around her? Can they all find solace in one another and learn to appreciate life like never before? This novel is full of surprises and frank, realistic humor that makes the characters some of the most endearing personalities in women’s fiction. If you love books that break your heart and warm it again, More Like Her is a must-read.

Liza Palmer also wrote Conversations with the Fat Girl, Seeing Me Naked, and A Field Guide to Burying your Parents. Her prose is humorous and addictive and anyone who reads Women’s fiction should seriously considering grabbing this book this week!

Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

Chloe Traeger grew up with her “free-spirited” mother, traveling the country, wherever she could get a free ride to a new place– As an adult, she finds that she, too, has light feet and is difficult to pin down in one place. Chloe likes to do as she pleases, and she doesn’t mind climbing a fence or two in the process. Sawyer Thompson is the Sheriff of Lucky Harbor, and he finds himself drawn to Chloe in ways that he can’t even explain…What happens when sexy rule-enforcing Sawyer tries to catch delightfully unconventional Chloe? One hint: it gets STEAMY.

This is the 3rd novel in the Lucky Harbor series, by Jill Shalvis, in the first two, 3 sisters have met one another after growing up apart, and joined hands in the business venture of running a bed and breakfast together. This novel is fine as a standalone, but if you think you may want to read the series, you should look out for Simply Irresistible and The Sweetest Thing first. Head Over Heels will also be followed by Lucky in LoveAt last and Forever and a Day.

Hachette Audio has also put out an excellent audiobook of Head over Heels, which is perfect for letting your brain rest and enjoying the simple process by which two very normal people can fall in love and find out who they truly are and what they want in the process.

Start off your summer right with this sexy series.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Alice Love woke up on the gym floor with absolutely no idea what she was doing there. The paramedics keep asking her questions and she can’t seem to answer correctly. Alice soon discovers that she has amnesia, and she has somehow forgotten the last ten years of her life. Unfortunately for her, a lot has happened in the last ten years. She had 3 children, for example. And her marriage seems to have fallen apart but all she remembers is being madly in love with her husband Nick.

Alice’s family and friends are justifiably concerned, especially when her personality seems to have changed in the extreme. The 29-year-old Alice was kind and forgiving and thoughtful and enjoyed her humble life. The 39-year-old Alice is formidable and strict and so busy she has forgotten how to live. Can the young-minded Alice get the memories back so that she can learn what happened to her in the last ten years to make her so unpleasant? If the amnesia goes away, will 39-year-old Alice be able to find happiness again?

This is a novel about love, marriage, family, and the delicate moments that make differences in our relationships, adding up until you no longer recognize one another. Women’s literature and Chicklit fans will both like this novel, which is sentimental and humorous, and which puts things into rather harsh perspective and leaves you feeling grateful and utterly aware of the importance of loved ones in your life.

Liane Moriarty has really hit the mark with this excellent read, perfect for book clubs and for an excellent vacation read. You won’t want to miss this novel, so pick it up!