The Internet Made Me Do It, by Jennifer Ammoscato

Before you read on, get book one for FREE! There are no spoilers here, but you should still read the first book anyway because it’s just that much fun! (See our review.)

It’s been forty-three days, seven hours and twenty-six minutes since reporter Avery Fowler last consulted her favourite website, HowTo.com, for advice.

But now—her mouse finger’s getting itchy:

You see, after a year of highs, the lows are coming fast and furious.

Maybe just this one time, she can turn to Clem…

Dear HowTo.com: Is it hacking if it’s my boyfriend’s computer?
Dear HowTo.com: What’s in fashion for S&M: leather or lace?
Dear HowTo.com: Should there be icicles in my turkey?
Dear HowTo.com: Is the definition of “hooker” flexible?

Does Avery have an unhealthy Internet advice dependency? Probably.

But it would never steer her wrong—would it?

———–

Just when Avery thought she was out, HowTo.com pulled her back in! The romantic comedy, The Internet Made Me Do It is Book 2 in the Avery Fowler 2.0 Series. If you enjoyed BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY or CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, Avery is the woman for you! (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Sara Steven:

I realized something, after diving into the second installment in Avery’s world.

I really, really missed her!

She’s the type of character I wish I were friends with in real life. Funny. Charming. Always telling it exactly like it is, even if in doing so, it gets her into all sorts of trouble. I’m amazed at the heap of misadventures and odd-ball situations that Avery often finds herself in. There were so many moments where I felt as though I were witnessing the beginnings of a train wreck, filling me with a need to reach inside the pages and protect her from causing undue harm to herself, yet at the same time I couldn’t look away, and if I were totally honest, I didn’t want to! Those moments were ultimately the best, because there was no way I’d stop reading and not find out what happens to Avery and those around her at every single turn.

I wasn’t sure if the second book could top the first in this series (Dear Internet: It’s Me, Avery). Yet Jennifer Ammoscato proved me wrong. The Internet Made Me Do It was amazing, from start to finish, inspiring me to be crazy free to express myself a little bit more, with a little more gumption, just like Avery would. I’m so glad Avery’s world is a trilogy, because one book would never be enough, and I look forward to reading the third installment, The Internet Never Lies, so I can see what’s in store for our girl!

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Melissa Amster:

When this book became available, I replied to the review request by just saying “YES!” And then I pretty much inhaled it as soon as it was sent to my Kindle.

I agree with Sara, that book two is even better than book one. (And topping the original can be hard to do in a sequel.) Avery had me laughing out loud, smiling, cringing, sympathizing, etc. I also agree about wanting Avery around in real life. She’d be so much fun to have as a friend. I love the Confessions of a Shopaholic comparison because Avery reminds me of Becky Bloomwood in some ways.

There are a lot of new adventures and surprises in store for Avery this time around. Get book one now (see above….it’s FREE), so you can read this one right away afterward. Kind of like binge-watching a show…you don’t want to stop at just one episode. Sara and I had to wait for this one. (Yeah, let that sink in.) You don’t. And book three is even available now, so you could just spend a whole weekend with Avery. (Or savor it so you can enjoy more Avery adventures when you really need a pick-me-up. I know we’re doing that…but we won’t be waiting too long.)

I didn’t cast Avery’s best friends (or her nemesis) in my last review, so here goes:
Becca: Marguerite Moreau
Jordan: Michelle Monaghan
Harrison: Josh Dallas
Chantal: Kate Hudson

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Allie and Bea, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

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One thing I’ve learned while reading any Catherine Ryan Hyde novel, you never quite know what you’re going to find when you start reading. I had this idea in my mind, that an older woman and a young girl would set off on a Pacific Coast adventure, a modern-day Thelma and Louise, in a sense. And while there’s a fraction of that gritty spirit in Allie and Bea, it’s only scratching the surface.

There are many life or death moments in this story, beginning with Bea and her plight. While discovering who she was as a character, I pictured my own eighty-two year old grandmother in Bea’s shoes, leaving her home and everything, other than her pet, behind, living in an old van that had never been built as living quarters. While my grandmother has admitted to camping out on the Oregon coast in her own minivan, with her three poodles in recent years, I feel as though that in and of itself is an amazing feat. To go through the experiences Bea has, I can’t fathom it. But, I’m sure there are many who have had to go the same route, in order to survive.

Allie is also trying hard to survive. Plenty is mentioned in the synopsis on Allie’s hurdles, but there is plenty that isn’t. Hyde brings to the forefront the social issues that plague us, stories ripped from the headlines that many of us turn a blind eye to. Allie finds herself right in the thick of it all, until Bea saves her, like a knight in dulled metal armor.

I really appreciated the character evolution that takes place for both ladies. Both have their own opinions on how the world works, shaped by their environment and life experiences. Sometimes, life shakes in order for lessons to be learned, for growth to occur. This was a truthful look into the dark, and how when you least expect it, a lifeline will appear from out of nowhere, ready to reel you in upon the great unknown.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

New York, Actually, by Sarah Morgan

Molly is a closeted relationship advice blogger. Daniel is one of the wealthiest divorce lawyers in New York City. Neither believe in happily ever after, preferring to steer clear of anything even remotely romance-worthy. They have a substantial amount of baggage between the two of them. This sort of opposites attract, despite all hurdles, is what makes New York, Actually such an enjoyable read!

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I found their relationship to be a refreshing take on the realism between couples. Not everything is lovey dovey all the time. Many of us have been scorned, had our hearts broken, and in Molly’s case, there may be skeletons in the closet that are better left hidden away. She’s terrified of the repercussions, what Daniel will think of her. On the flip side, Daniel has seen his fair share of marriages gone awry, beginning with his own family. It’s put him off having anything serious with anyone, no matter the cost. Lucky for him, Molly feels the same way. She is unlovable, by her standards. A fact proven time and again with any relationship she has tried to pursue.

Molly has a background in psychology, which makes this all the more believable. It’s so easy to counsel others, yet it’s hardest when you have to turn the microscope on your own life. I appreciated how Sarah Morgan highlighted this fact for her readers. It would be easy to say, “hey, Molly should have this completely figured out, given her education, her background”, yet it’s never that easy, not for any of us. We’ve all got our own insecurities, no matter how strange that might be to others. Sometimes, it takes an outside source (and a whole lot of support) to help us see the light.

As always, I love how the other characters from the Manhattan with Love series pops into play. Like Fliss and Harriet, who run The Bark Rangers- they happen to be Daniel’s sisters. I have a feeling one (or both) ladies will have center stage in the future, possibility their own stories to continue on with the Manhattan thread. It was also nice to reunite with Eva from Miracle on 5th Ave. I love how everyone is so intricately woven together, one big family. It’s one of the biggest reasons every single book in the series is so fantastic, including this one.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Motherhood, Martyrdom and Costco Runs, by Whitney Dineen

There was a moment several years ago, when I’d struck up a conversation with another mom at the local playground. My towheaded two-year old had been playing nicely with her two young daughters, and we were sharing parenting nostalgia while we watched our children frolic in the early morning sunshine.

All had gone well, until I made the grave mistake of being completely honest with this woman, who didn’t know me, granted. But we’d been conversing about temper tantrums and meltdowns, and I asked her, “Do you ever feel like you want to just go running outside into the street, screaming at the top of your lungs?” She quickly assured me that NO, that had never happened to her, she never felt the need to run away from her precious little angels, and made sure to hastily plop those two angels inside their double-wide stroller, leaving me and my honesty in the dust.

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Reading Whitney Dineen’s latest novel about her own experiences with parenthood, womanhood, and all things Costco, reminded me of that moment and several others I’ve had in my parenting journey. The moments where we don’t feel we’ve really earned that Mommy Gold Star. So often, I feel as though we’re told to put on this brace face, to never show the true colors of what’s going on in our lives, especially if it’s not considered “favorable”. The truth is, life isn’t perfect. There is no sugar coating how hard it can be to shape and mold the future. Dineen tells us about it in a way that brings emotional humor and depth to what’s really happening.

In so many of her reflections, it’s apparent how much her daughters have shaped who she is today, even if at times she laments a little on the freedom she used to have before they were in the picture. Such an honest, candid response. Yet, she appreciates the impact they’ve had on her. It’s particularly touching how she goes into detail on the struggles she had to conceive, her own postpartum experiences. A voice for mothers everywhere who often feel alone, fearful of judgement.

And Costco! I laughed hard when I read the moments that happen in Costco, and could totally relate to the bathroom woes she deals with every single time she steps foot inside of a Costco. She has to map out her shopping route in order to incorporate a stop (or two, or three) to the bathroom, because her girls just can’t help themselves. Or the multitude of questions they always ask Dineen, the questions no parent wants to answer. Then there’s the conversations she’ll have with her husband, or her mother. Even the Costco check-out guy. It’s just all so funny!

This is a must-read for any parent- those who have been in the trenches long enough to know when to duck and cover, to those who are just starting out. And while I never saw that mom at the playground ever again (most likely, she was trying to avoid me at all cost), if I were able to see her now, I’d totally give her Motherhood Martyrdom and Costco Runs as a loving gift, from one mom to another.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Left Hanging, by Cindy Dorminy

As a nurse and single mom, Darla Battle hides her loneliness behind a smile. But when she discovers that the new cute doctor everyone is talking about is her daughter’s father, she knows she needs to keep her distance from the man who abandoned her and their child, Stella.

When Theo Edwards returns to Nashville to finish his medical training, he never expects to run into Darla, a girl he spent one night with seven years ago. For reasons he can’t fathom, her attitude toward him is frosty, but he still hopes to ignite the spark they once felt.

Once Darla realizes Theo doesn’t know he’s Stella’s father, she has no idea how to tell him the truth. And the longer she waits, the more difficult it becomes. When the situation spins out of control, can the two come together for the sake of their daughter? Or is forgiveness out of reach? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

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Darla and Theo’s story had me hooked right from the beginning, primarily because Cindy Dorminy has created characters that are easy to invest in. When the two meet, spending one unforgettable night together, I wanted to know what that experience would do to them, and for them. And it felt like a very relatable situation. Many of us have thrown caution to the wind, done a few things that go against our character, much like Darla and Theo had done.

There was the perfect mix of tension and suspense while Darla tries to figure out how to deal with Theo. She knows she needs to tell him about Stella, but she can never find the right time to do it. While she’s waiting, she spends time with him, rediscovering what made her feel so attracted to him, wanting to steer clear of him, too. Theo has always felt as though Darla had been the one who got away, literally, and will do anything it takes to get her to fall for him again.

A gigantic catastrophe brings the two together in the most inopportune way, forcing Theo to face up to his responsibilities, and Darla to let go of the reigns a little bit. It’s a huge turning point for both characters. Can they set it all aside for the love of their daughter? Will this completely destroy any chance they have at picking up where they left off seven years ago?

**Potential spoilers, but nothing major**

I appreciated all the little nuances in Left Hanging, like the idea for Stella’s name (she was named after her paternal Grandmother, something Theo doesn’t connect the dots to until much later), to the dyslexia Darla’s best friend has, revealed in an interesting way as the story progresses. Every character is unique and realistic, creating an environment a reader can get lost in, from page one to the very end.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Crossing the Street, by Molly D. Campbell

Beck might make a living writing erotica, but art does not imitate life, not in the least. The only time she could ever claim that she may have experienced anywhere close to it, would be when she were still with her ex-boyfriend, Bryan. Only, they’re no longer together, hadn’t been for a long while. He settled down and started a family with the one person in her life that Beck feels is her arch nemesis, the one person that could really destroy her into oblivion.

There were quite a few contrasting moments in Crossing the Street. Beck regales her single life, one without children, a personal choice she’s held onto as tightly as she can. Yet, when you witness the interactions she has with the little girl who recently moved into the neighborhood, a girl who is just as messed up and confused as Beck is, there is a much softer side to Beck. There is a deep connection between the two characters. She also claims she is better off alone, but has a hard time letting go of the new boyfriend who is practically perfect. Or the constant traffic that bombards her life, the friends, her family. A seemingly never-ending procession of people who she can’t live with but can’t ever imagine herself without. And while these contrasts might make Beck off-kilter, it makes her human. It makes her real.

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Probably the most dynamic relationship here is the one Beck has with her sister. There are a lot of issues left unresolved, on both ends. When the chips are down, often times we have no one else to turn to but our family, and both women have a lot to prove to the other. Is there reliability there, can they salvage their damaged relationship and find some new norm? Or, is it doomed?

This story is simplistically told, in a way that makes you feel as though you’re hearing a story from a good friend. No unnecessary flourishes. No unwanted baggage. Just the unfolding of a woman’s life while she carries around a lot of emotional scars from her past, scars that prevent her from moving forward. The type of scars the majority of us have dealt with in our own lives, bringing an honesty to Beck and the people in her world.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

Royally Wed- The Poser, by Pamela DuMond

**May contain spoilers for previous books in the Ladies-in-Waiting series (see reviews for Part-time Princess and Royally Wed)**

For Lucy Trabbicio, American commoner and former cocktail waitress, royally wed sex is the best sex… until she discovers that she’s NOT royally wed!

Lucy and hot Prince Nicholas Frederick are finally married but they still can’t take their hands off each other. Romantic interludes happen fast and furious and frequently outside of the bedroom: the Mile High Club, museums, palace events, the Venice Carnival Masquerade Ball…

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But Lucy and Nick are thrust into marital limbo when the legality of their marriage is called into question—the ceremony was performed by an impersonator; a poser. Now Nick must serve his obligatory National Guard duty while Lucy travels to Italy with her ladies in trouble—oops—LADIES-in-WAITING to track down the poser and solve the dilemma before the paparazzi finds out and blows the scandal wide open.

Will Lucy and Nick get their Happily Ever After? (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon)

That is a good question!

For Lucy, life is never easy. Just when she’s finally feeling as though the drama in her world is settling down, something always comes along to mess everything up! And this time, it’s in the form of a wayward priest who was never who he claimed to be, thus making their nuptials an up in the air whirlwind of conundrums! If she’s not legally wed to her hot Prince Nicholas, what happens to Fredonia?

I love how Pamela DuMond tells it like it is. There are plenty of racy scenes, the kind you can get blissfully lost in, and while a blush may creep up your cheek a time or two, it’s totally worth it! And of course, this wouldn’t be a Royally Wed story without Lucy’s entourage. As with previous novels in the series, they completely round everything out, adding wonderful layers to Lucy’s existence. I’m still in love with Royal Nana, probably the funniest character so far. I’m always eager in finding out what’s going to come out of her mouth next, or what sort of antics or tricks she has up her sleeve.

If you haven’t read the Ladies-in-Waiting series yet, I highly recommend it! As for this Lady-in-Waiting, I’m looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series, Royally Wed: The Cock-Up, and finding out what happens after the colossal cliffhanger Lucy finds herself in at the end of this book.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

A Mom On The Run

GCC Creative Writing

Creative Writing at Glendale AZ Community College

Africanist, artist & woman

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