Category Archives: Chick-Lit

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto -a review

dial a for auntiesDial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

‘ARE YOU…DEAD?’
OH MY GOD. I THINK HE IS.
When Meddy Chan accidentally kills her blind date, she turns to her aunties for help. Their meddling set her up on the date so they kind of owe her.

WELL, THAT DIDN’T QUITE GO TO PLAN.
Although hiding this goddamn dead body is going to be harder than they thought especially when her family’s wedding business has THE biggest wedding of the year happening right now.

IT’S PRETTY BAD TIMING REALLY.
It turns out the wedding venue just happens to be managed by Meddy’s ex, aka the one who got away. It’s the worst time to see him again, or…is it? Can Meddy finally find love and make her overbearing family happy?

Published 5 May 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

One of my most anticipated release of this year and I was so excited to receive it in the mail. My reasoning being is that author is Indonesian and so am I. With protagonist being Indonesian growing up & educated in America, I reckon I could empathise with her a lot and perhaps see quite a bit of myself in her. Only trouble is chick lit isn’t my preferred type of reads… but hey! There’s a mystery spin with a dead body involved; this could totally be fine…

Aaaanddd… it wasn’t. Unfortunately, this book really isn’t one for me which makes me soo soo sad. Even as I can see the appeal for other readers, I basically cringed my way through the whole book. I did manage to finish by reading really really fast through all the embarrassment [I think this shows just how so very Asian I am!] Meddy experienced. I guess the book is a lot funny but of a slapstick-esque nature and I’m just not a big fan of that. If this is your thing though, I’d highly recommend this book.

I loved Meddy as a character and her family especially the mother-daughter relationship. I enjoyed all the familiar things like Indonesian naming conventions, the language barriers between Meddy & her mum & aunts, and Meddy’s struggle of who she is with her family & others (especially with non-Indonesians).

While I like Nathan as the romantic interest, I wasn’t that convinced about this relationship at all. I feel that the funny things with her aunt completely overrode this side of thing and I just didn’t feel any joy for this pairing.

This was just another clash between my expectations and what the book actually delivers. I can see some of my girlfriends loving it but my taste in book is quite different from them so this is also a matter of personal preference. I am, however, looking forward to author’s upcoming MG fantasy novel which suits me to a tee.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagramfacebook

Review: The Secret Years

the secret yearsThe Secret Years by Barbara Hannay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

I find that I’m fascinated by love story in war time… The preciousness of life, of happiness, are just so keenly felt that finding love is such a bittersweet experience. This is what drew me to The Secret Years… asides from my penchant for rural romance, of course 😉

The novel tells of a love story which spans three generations though the middle one is somewhat neglected. It tells of the glorious once-in-a-lifetime love of Harry and Georgina who found each other in the midst of great uncertainty but the fates were quite generous to them as proven by the existence of the next generations.

In the present times, we follow Lucy, Harry and Georgina’s granddaughter, as she returned home from being deployed in Afghanistan. Home, however, didn’t quite turn out the way she dreamed of. Being at loose ends and burdened by a great curiosity of her family’s mysterious past, she goes to England in order to unveil some of her family’s secrets.

Lucy and Georgina are two loveable characters. They are both courageous women; strong, intelligent, grounded, and just so easy to be with. Rosie, on the other hand, was a bit of a mess. Unfortunately, her perspectives is very limited in this novel. I found it a little strange that the “secret” weren’t more fleshed out the novel. The secret was revealed in an almost-dry voice and it was over very quickly. I am comparing it to Kate Morton’s works where the dirty secret hung over you right from the very first word and when it was all revealed, you’d have this stab-in-the-heart sort of pain. There’s no such pain in The Secret Years.

If you adjust your expectation to a good rural romantic novel, I think you will really enjoyed this book. It was so easy to get into and proved to be a delightful relaxation companion. This was my first Barbara Hannay though I just found out that she’s really a prolific writer so can’t you just see my tbr becoming ever more insurmountable?

Thanks to Penguin Australia for paperback copy in exchange of honest review

Pssst, there’s an excerpt that you can check out.

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Review: Did Your Mother Never Teach You How To Catch A Man?

Did  Your Mother Never Teach You How To Catch A Man? by Ruby Mayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: complete digital copy courtesy of publisher

Book blurb

“A Good man can break your heart but a bad man should never have the right.”

When Jasmine’s crappy relationship with a crappy man falls apart, she goes on an adventure.  An adventure to Tel Aviv.  What follows is a passionate and wonderful journey, filled with food, love, bombs, and Shula.

Ruby Mayer moved to London from the Middle East at six, but returned to Israel in her twenties.  There she worked in a war survivors’ charity while learning the 1950s feminist approach to life from her indomitable grandmother.  These experiences form the basis of her first book.

My blurb

This is the second book I’m reviewing for thepigeonhole and I am ever so grateful for being given this second chance.  Did Your Mother Never Teach You How To Catch A Man? was an absolute delight to read.  It was funny.  It was sad.  It was light-hearted.  It was serious.  I’ve had a most wonderful journey, thanks to Ruby Mayer & thepigeonhole.

If you’re not familiar with thepigeonhole, they publish books online but in parts (‘staves’).  The first stave of this particular read was set in London and described the emptiness of Jasmine’s life.  Whilst the reader can sympathise with Jasmine’s frustration, there were many moments of hilarity especially in relation to her parents and two colleagues.  I just love her colleagues!  They were not what you’d call BFF but they should be, seeing the things they get away with!  I truly adore these two and was sorry that they weren’t anywhere else in the book.

As the book’s blurb mentioned, Jasmine went off to Tel Aviv… Stave II.  She’s staying with her adorable grandmother, Shulla, who is determined that she should be married as soon as possible.  Henceforth, Shulla’s lessons…

‘Number one,’ she says, ‘be beautiful from your insides to your outsides.’ …

‘You need all your fingers to catch a man – it helps.’ …

‘Number two,’ she says with renewed vigour. ‘Write this down! The most important person to be beautiful for is you.’

Jasmine proceeded to discover herself and Tel Aviv in Staves III & IV.  There were many laughter and just as much tears were shed.

Did Your Mother Never Teach You How To Catch A Man? was a well balanced read.  It was brilliantly written to continually engage in the reader in a variety of ways: humour, heartbreak, grief, love, etc.  It felt like a light and fun sort of read but at the same time, I also felt I have learnt so much!  I’d highly recommend this to everyone to read!

PS: Shulla is based on author’s real grandmother, check out Q+A with Ruby Mayer for more on Shulla

You can also stalk follow Ruby Mayer on twitter

Thanks to The Pigeonhole for copy of book in exchange of honest review

Review: A Different Reflection

a different reflectionA Different Reflection by Jane L. Gibson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

This was a total cover crush for me. It’s such a beautiful pink and sparkly cover! It appeals to my very girly side. Plus this is a fairy tale told in modern times… SOLD!

The story is quite beautiful and romantic. It is a very sweet fairy tale that I’m sure all girls would have daydreamed of. It has all the tropes of a love-story x fairy-tales: a bad guy, a curse, a good girl, love, etc. All the characters, especially main protagonists, were easily likeable. All in all, a terrific fluffy-good-feels type of read but unfortunately, not what I was looking for, at the time of my reading it.

It was slow to start though it was fairly easy to get into in terms of language and with easily likeable characters, it wasn’t hard to keep reading. Despite my romantic side, I can’t but help feeling a bit cynical about some things… I couldn’t believe that someone can be as ‘good’ as Kat (yes, okay, she seems to have some issues but is very sensible, wise, and overall, very balanced person; she was too good to be believable –the very epitome of Miss Goody Two-Shoes). The way she speaks also seems a little wrong –I’m really not sure that a ‘normal-modern’ person will speak the way she does. This grated on me a little.

A Different Reflection is just like the cover: a bright, sparkly and sweet fairy tale romance. If you need to switch off your brain for a few hours or some cheering up, I’d highly recommend this book. It’s basically your fairy floss (cotton candy) in fiction.

Thanks to Troubador Publishing Ltd via NetGalley for eARC in exchange of honest review

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Review: Luna Tango

luna tangoLuna Tango by Alli Sinclair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Judge a book by the cover? Always! Sometimes the cover does tell you quite a bit on what the book is about and Luna Tango definitely falls within this category. Let’s not dismiss the title either though I can tell you that it’s definitely not about (literally) dancing the tango in moonlight 😉 A gorgeous cover with bright colours and a promise of the exotic –what more can you ask for as cover for a romantic novel? And which girl can resist a sexy & broody hero?

Dani McKenna’s love life has just bombed out and she’s now in pursuit of her career –or so she thinks. She has decided to write about Tango, the curse of her family, and her first interviewee is to be Carlos Escuedero; a well-known tango dancer who has had to give up his dancing days due to some scandal. As always, things are not what they seem and Dani & Carlos will have to work out whether they can trust each other with their secrets.

Parallel to Dani’s story is Louisa’s story set in 1950s which had become (by Dani’s time) a somewhat mysterious legend for when the truth is known may rock the Tango world and maybe even the country. I must confess my preference for this past-world as I feel the love story was more heartfelt and rather grand –reaching over the years despite the anguish. With this comparison, I also found that the Dani & Carlos ‘relationship’ seems to be rather easy… ie. ‘stumbling blocks’ seem rather like pebbles and all smoothed out with just a tad of distress. Their attraction and sexual tension was felt but there was a lack of the entertaining playful teasing that I most appreciate in romance novels; I seem to only remember one particular bit of this in this book.

This book is totally rated on the ease of reading and it was so very easy –I inhaled it within a few hours and basically ignored everybody else in the house. It was a precious few peaceful hours well spent in the company of tango (there were bits & pieces about tango including some history that I appreciated). I think all I was missing was the background tango music in an otherwise, perfect evening in Argentina with a bunch of exotic men ❤ ❤ ❤

Thank you, Harlequin Books Australia for copy of eARC via NetGalley.

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Review: Sense & Sensibility

sense & sensibility - joanna trollopeSense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: purchased own paperback copy

A retelling of a classic in contemporary setting isn’t usually my cup of tea so I picked this up mostly due to a reading challenge. I seem to do that a lot… picking up “random” books to complete a challenge. There is no other way to describe this book but that it’s pure fluff. Do your brain cells need a break? This one will definitely proof to be a relaxation. You will, however, find it a Requirement to follow up the read by watching the movie.

The thing about retelling is that we know where the story is going so there’s no surprises there. Though being one of a well-loved story, there is still that tiny bit of anticipation of each favourite scenes as they come and the ending, whilst still good isn’t as satisfactory as the original so I always have to go back & re-read. There were some difficulties, I think, in transposing the entailment of inheritance to the male descendant in contemporary times –as Elinor continues to protest that we are no longer in the 19th century. It galls me a little that such prejudices might still prevail but… as you’re reading, keep in mind that this is a retelling and meant only for your light-reading enjoyment. Don’t take it too seriously.

I really could NOT help it that throughout my reading, I was haunted by the images of Emma emma & hughThompson (Elinor) and Hugh Grant (Edward). That was the best adaptation ever (of this book) and far being from annoying, I was loving imagining them in the contemporary setting as per this retelling. As always, considerations are to be made for individual interpretation and artistic licence for characters & their development. I somehow found Marianne and her mother to be a lot more annoying that their originals –I guess I personally just can’t stand those wishy washy (disguised as following your passion) type of people. For me, it’s common sense all the way!

 

Despite some rough patches, Trollope’s retelling of Sense & Sensibility was the light entertainment I needed at the time. I loathed to put it down and could not stop but continue thinking what should happen next and in what way… An adorable fluff.

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Review: Nobody But Him

nobodyNobody But Him by Victoria Purman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: ARC courtesy of Harlequin Books Australia

I’m a city girl through and through. I was born and grew up metropolitan cities. There would be days though when I love the thought of a Seachange. We love the beach and would happily live by the beach. Then again, I can’t really picture that particular type of life. For me, it’s a Dream; the city is my home. I am surrounded by my friends and family.

The main appeal of this romance is the encounter with your first love once again. Don’t we all have that little bit of wonder in us, how did her turn out to be? Will there still be an attraction? Can we still hit it off? Even if, your heart was broken it was first over. The possibility of a second chance –not only for love, but for life.

Julia Jones ran away many years ago and still is running. Even the encounter with her first love wasn’t quite enough to convince her to stop until something happened which made her face what it is she’s running from and to realise what ‘home’ really means for her.

It’s confession time and I have to admit of having flicked through the ending about midway through the novel. I was determined to be good and go to bed on time and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep without knowing what’s going to happen sooooo… I took a peek :p In turn, this made me totally impatient in reading the second half of the novel even after knowing the ending! I was impatient to find out when “that” moment will hit Julia, to read “that” moment they’d finally sit down and talked like sensible people, to finally close the novel with “that” feeling of satisfaction and contentment.

I loved that it’s set at an Aussie beachside town including the good ol’ pub. It touches slightly on what life is like at a small town, the good and the bad, though of course, mostly in how it affects the main characters. I very much liked that Ry took the first mature step and I loved the way all was resolved.

This was totally a feel-good sort of story to fulfil my romantic craving. As with all romance novels I read, I also got frustrated with how the plot twists and turns but that’s what romance fiction is all about –the sparks, the tension, the epiphany, and HEA. Nobody But Him is the first instalment of Victoria Purman’s Boys of Summer series and I look forward to her next instalment with great anticipation.

My thanks to Harlequin Books Australia for the ARC copy of book

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Review: Currawong Creek

currawongCurrawong Creek by Jennifer Scoullar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Copy courtesy of Penguin Australia via The Reading Room

I am trying to think of whether I’ve ever read any Aussie rural romance type of books prior to Currawong Creek and I can’t think of even one title! I think I’ve a number of them on my to-read list on GR but for one reason or another I’ve not read any of them. I have to thank Anna from The Reading Room for her generous offers to date , including this book. Sometimes, I decided to take the plunge (like this time) and enjoyed the read enormously.

The appeal was twofolds. The cover which depicts a woman in a slim black dress walking bare feet in a rural Australian setting –just gorgeous background and I love the contrast! The blurb about Clare finding “herself the unlikely guardian of a small, troubled boy”. This calls to my maternal instinct and I really wanted to find out whether that boy found the help he needed. I know, I didn’t really read it for the ‘romance’ still… I enjoy romance in all forms!

It was an easy book to get into; Clare, a Brisbane lawyer, was finding life to be lacking. Whatever it’s lacking, she’s not quite sure because she’s doing well career-wise and she’s even got a good looking and successful boyfriend. She’s just going with the flow… This side of Clare was so easily identifiable that she’s caught my interest very early in the story. When she found herself responsible for a little boy, she tried to keep living her life as before but (as all mothers will know) this was a disaster. Clare found herself thinking of her childhood and turned to Currawong Creek where she herself had some happy memories.

Currawong Creek was a heart-warming story that calls to your nurturing soul (I’m not just talking about the little boy here), of finding home where one’s soul and body belongs, and of course, no story is complete without loss, forgiveness, and love. I devoured this book in no time at all as I really didn’t want to put it down. It was such a comfort read and whilst, the ending was a little choppy and slightly rushed for my liking, I still found myself happy, relaxed, and content when I closed the book. The best bits of the book for me though was the light humours peppered throughout the story; one of which I will close with…

Clare climbed the tree. She didn’t quite know how she did it. One minute she was standing on the ground, rigid with fear. Next minute she was astride a broad branch, peering down like a possum, with the heeler leaping and snapping below. There was no risk of falling. She was wrapped around that trunk so tight it was like she was welded on. Getting down, on the other hand, might present some problems.

Thank you Penguin Australia via The Reading Room for providing copy of book

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Review: Peace, Love and Khaki Socks

peacePeace, Love and Khaki Socks by Kim Lock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Gifted by author

Of my first glimpse of this book I remembered thinking, hhmm… interesting title – bit hippie but yea… maybe… and I moved on. I am thankful though that Kim Lock approached me for a review as it prompted me to a closer look and acceptance. It was such a lovely, heart-warming book and I found myself (unconsciously) smiling all the time whilst reading it. I could barely wipe the smile off my face and it wasn’t because it was funny but because it was all so… relatable to myself as a mother.

Amy Silva has not thought about starting a family and definitely had no idea with what it will involve or what she’d need to do. So when she found herself to be with child, she was absolutely gobsmacked and lost. She tried to seek advice from a GP and then later her obstetrician as she tried to come to terms with her pregnancy but instead of feeling empowered, she felt merely incompetent. It seems that pregnancy just does not agree with Amy Silva.

Amy herself is very lucky in the love department. She is living with the love of her life and whilst their relationship isn’t without its rough patches, they are confident of each other’s love. As Amy struggles to understand pregnancy, its immediate and future consequences, she is really struggling to understand who she really is. Whilst this is not a ‘coming-of-age’ book as its standard definition, in a way it is similar to that or better put ‘coming-of-womanhood’.

Peace, Love and Khaki Socks is a book you can easily dive into and just continue on reading. You’d actually forget to surface to take a breather until something totally startling shocked you out of it. And when it did, I always found that I have unintentionally smiled the whole way through (sorry, train commuters, I swear I’m not a lunatic!). Whilst I couldn’t really relate to Amy’s concerns on pregnancy (I had different concerns), it reminded me so much of what I have forgotten in the experience of pregnancy and birth. There were times, however, that I thought this would’ve been ‘TMI moment’ if I haven’t gone through the same sort of experience. But since I had, I just found it hilarious.

I would recommend this book to all mothers out there –may it bring you many happy memories, and to all non-mothers (if you dare) –may it open your mind to possibilities.

I received an eCopy of book courtesy of author, Kim Lock, in exchange of an honest review (apologies for the delay). Thank you, Kim, for the smiles, reminiscences, and even some tears. Am awaiting your next work with great anticipation.

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Review: The Women in Black

The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: My local library – get your own copy from The Book Depository OR direct from Text Classics.

This book tells the lives of the Sales Assistants in Ladies’ Cocktail Frocks of the posh F.G. Goode department store. There are Patty, Fay, and Magda (a Continental in charge of Model Gowns –one of a kind gown available in one size only). Lisa (aka Lesley) had just done her Leaving Certificate (ie. HSC) and is looking to earn some pocket money during the Christmas / New Year’s period. These ladies are required to dress in the uniform black dress (cut in 1930s style).

They are heart-warming stories that tickle with endings to melt your heart and make you smile in remembrance. From Patty’s cold & childless marriage, Fay’s failures for love, to Lisa’s yearning to be grown up, there are anecdotes there for readers to identify with and sympathise. The chapters are very short and made this book to be very quick read (only a couple of hours) but really enjoyable. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach read – I’d totes recommend this book.

‘I’ll see,’ she said. ‘But Lisa! Lisa! How could you such a thing? To change your name like that, and not a word to me. It’s so sly.’
‘Oh Mum,’ said Lisa. ‘I didn’t mean to be sly, I didn’t. I just wanted – I wanted a real girl’s name. Lesley is a boy’s name.’
‘It’s a girl’s name too,’ said her mother. ‘It’s spelt differently for a boy.’
‘But it sounds the same,’ said Lisa, ‘ that’s what counts. I wanted a proper girl’s name, for when I grew up. I’ve been a child for so long now; I want to be grown up.’
‘Oh Lesley—‘ said her mother, ‘Lisa. If you only knew what being grown up can be like, you wouldn’t want to do it any faster than you have to.’

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