Three Girls and a Baby by Rachel Schurig

"Plus sign", she said evenly, calmly. "Pregnant". 

If you love reading girly novels about best friends, over-dramatized female chat and pregnancy, then Three Girls and a Baby is definitely the book for you. I read mine in the Kindle edition, but it's also available in paperback too. 

Ginny has just found out that she's pregnant. Normally joyous and happy news, the story begins with Ginny saying, "My life ended on a Saturday morning". After breaking up with her ex boyfriend Josh, and then "accidentally" sleeping with him, Ginny isn't quite sure what to do. Her two best friends, Jen and Annie are there by her side, and rush out to get a pregnancy test for her. As the three of them sit with their backs up against the bathtub and wait for the test to give Ginny her result, they attempt to find other things to talk about, like the grubbiness of their bathroom ceiling and whether they should hire a cleaning service. As the timer on Jen's iPhone goes off, Annie squeezes Ginny's hand, and Jen gives them the result. 

From that moment on, Ginny prepares for her pregnancy with her two best friends by her side, fighting her love for Josh even after she told him to leave. She gets fired from her job as nanny for the Conrad family in the affluent area of Bloomfield Hills, and finds a job in a lovely little bookstore called Just Books. As her stomach continues to grow, as well as the baby inside her, Ginny finds it hard to find clothes that fit, a man that still finds her attractive with swollen feet and a way to completely get over Josh, for good. Her due date gets closer and closer, and along the way, the three girls go through the ups and downs of expecting together. 

Becca's thoughts

I absolutely loved reading Three Girls and a Baby, not only for it's humorous insight on an expecting mother, but the bond that Ginny, Annie and Jen share. It's a beautiful, heart-warming story about friendship and sticking together when times get rough, and I adored it. 

Written in first person, the reader recieves Ginny's view point, which is fantastic. We get to know all her thoughts and feelings whilst she's pregnant, every single emotion that overwhelms her, and even bits and pieces from her past, including how she met Josh, Jen and Annie. Now if you've never been pregnant, you'll probably find all the bits about Ginny's pregnancy really intriguing, and even if you have, it's incredibly enjoyable to read about. The author, Rachel Schurig, adds tons of humor to the story and to the conversations that take place between the three girls. 

Another element that makes this such an enjoyable read is the way it bounces between the past and present. I've always loved experiencing flashbacks in a story, as long as it doesn't become too messy, because then you end up getting confused about where you are in the story, but Rachel Schurig does this perfectly. It's always fun getting to know a character's past, it gives the reader a little bit of insight into the characters life and makes you feel like you know them just that little bit better. Another BEAUTIFUL little extra that the author adds in is at the beginning of chapters that are based in the present. There's a small extract from A Gal's Guide to a Fabulous First Pregnancy, which tells the reader how many weeks pregnant Ginny is, and also gives lots of little tips about how to prepare and what stage of development the baby is at. This is so fun to read, it's almost like Ginny has signed up to a pregnancy newsletter or email.It also keeps the reader up to date with Ginny's pregnancy, and I think it really adds a dusting of reality to the story as well. As humorous as it is, Ginny is pregnant, and it's a big step for any young woman. It feels like you're preparing along with her!

Three Girls and a Baby is a fabulous story, so full of love and friendship it's almost cheesy, but then it's so endearing you just don't care about the cheesiness of it. Girls, you HAVE to read this novel. 

Overall, I feel this story deserves a rating of 8/10!

Shoe Strings by Christy Hayes

"She'd climb mountains for him, wrestle demons, and face fire-breathing dragons if that's what it took". 

I just have to put this out there before I ramble on. I haven't enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed Shoe Strings in a long, long time. 

Based in the bustling city of Atlanta, Angelita Barrows is on her way to great things. With her shoe business, 'Atlanta Wears' about to expand, times are exciting for her and her best friend and business partner, Sophie. But when Angelita pops back to her boutique before she jets off on holiday, she finds her father standing outside of her pride and joy. Thinking quick, and eager to get away before her father spots her, Angelita keeps driving until she finds somewhere to stay, somewhere to sort out her muddled and confused thoughts.
Quickly googling "mountain cabins", she finds one to rent in a charming little town called Sequoyah Falls. When she arrives and she's surrounded by nature, woodland and an enticing man, she has no desire to rush back home. 

Calvin Bloodworth is the owner of Bloodworth cabins, and has been for thirty four years. Ellie, his darling wife who sadly passed away due to cancer, once stood proudly by his side. Now it's just Cal, renting the cabins out to seasonal tourists and trying to keep a regular income. When colorful Angelita turns up, ready and willing to rent a cabin for two weeks, with intention to stay longer, Calvin can't believe his luck. The lonely man has waited a long time for someone to bring the small place back to life, and suddenly it seems possible with Angelita. 

Jesse Bloodworth is Calvin's son. With his chiseled jaw and mesmerizing hazel eyes, he is a winner with the ladies. But putting his reckless years to the past, he's now focusing on his raft business for the tourists, and his teenage son Ty. With a history of running wild and not sticking around for long, Jesse knows why females steer clear of him but with his jaw dropping good looks and muscly, masculine physique, he's just far too tempting. 

Kerri-Ann is Jesse's ex wife and mother of his son. Jesse and Kerri-Ann have a past, but they both know it was never true love. Married at a young age and pregnant with Ty at just seventeen, Kerri-Ann works hard and rarely ever plays. Juggling her work at the Pizza Den and looking after Ty, she's a busy woman with no time for love. She knows her heart never really belonged to Jesse, no matter how handsome he may be. She knows who it does belong to, but she's sure the man in question deserves so much better. 

Bryce Jenson is hulky, big and full of masculinity. He's been in love with the same woman for years, but he's never once worked up the courage to finally make his feelings known. The blue-eyed lawyer can only take so much more before he explodes and takes the woman he loves down memory lane. 

With so many people in the small town of Sequoyah Falls, it's hard for their lives to not intertwine at some point, and it's not long before they all fall into place, alongside each other. 

Becca's thoughts

Shoe Strings by Christy Hayes really reminded me of a novel by Jill Mansell, and what I mean by that is if you've ever read one of Jill Mansell's books, you'll know that her point of view is rarely ever based around just one character. In Shoe Strings, we meet Angelita, Jesse, Calvin, Kerri Ann and Bryce. The author has beautifully switched the viewpoints between these main characters, and it gives the reader the BEST experience of the story, in a third person narrative. I read Shoe Strings as an eBook edition on my Kindle.

The pace of Shoe Strings is lovely and smooth. It's not that rushed that you get no detail, but it's not spoon fed to you either. Everything is perfectly in proportion and that's what makes it such an enjoyable read. The viewpoint changes almost every time a new chapter begins, so it's easy to keep up with which character you're reading about. I know some authors who have tried writing with this technique fail because they just spend so much time writing about one character, the reader has forgotten who the other characters are by the time they reach the next chapter, but this is interesting, appealing and mid length, something you cannot put down, and when you do put it down, you feel the need to pick it straight back up again. 

All of the characters, even though they're fictional, are completely credible. Christy Hayes has really managed to bring each and every one of them to life on the pages. Angelita with her exotic, foreign look and her dark chocolate eyes. Jesse with his muscles and dirty blonde hair. Calvin with his tanned, calloused hands and silver hair. Kerri-Ann with her slender body and blonde hair, and Bryce with his huge body and hypnotizing blue eyes. Each and every one of the author's characters have been created perfectly. 

There aren't many settings in the novel, which I can really appreciate, because I feel I tend to get a bit muddled and lost when characters in a story are travelling here, there and everywhere. Luckily in this story, it's all based in the same country, with just a jump to Sequoyah Falls and then back to Angelita's home, Atlanta. Again, Christy Hayes has a talent for bringing her settings to life with her visual imagery based on nature. She describes the trees and the woodland, the sunsets, the gravelly paths and the rocky roads. She's just absolutely fantastic at creating something in her own mind, and then transferring it perfectly to the reader's. The contrasts between Atlanta and then Sequoyah Falls are so huge, and this is what makes it such a retreat to Angelita when she arrives at Bloodworth Cabins. In her home city, life is rushed, traffic goes by constantly, it's skyscrapers and offices, but when she arrives at the cabins, it's beautiful. The nature is serene and peaceful, just what Angelita needs. 

I really, really cannot put into words how much I enjoyed reading Shoe Strings. The reader is transported into each character's mind, getting each and every aspect of what's going on. It's such a wonderful story, filled with brilliant characters, beautiful settings and a whole lot of emotions and relationships. I'd definitely recommend this book to anybody who enjoys novels by Jill Mansell. If you're into the romance genre, I'd say this is something that you do not want to miss out on reading. I'd never heard of Christy Hayes before now, but I know 100% I'll be adding more of her novels onto my to-read list. 

So from me, Shoe Strings is receiving a very worthy score of 9/10!
A fantastic novel that you NEED on your to-read shelf, I can promise you that.   

In The Moment (Moments #1) by Olivia Jake

"Oui, mais ici, et avec toi, je suis Samantha."

In The Moment by Olivia Jake is a story about two absolute power heads Samantha Davis, and the very charming french founder of the Network Account, Laurent Roman. 

All her life, 39 year old Sam Davis has worked hard but never played hard. Devoting every second of her time, every ounce of her physical energy towards her ad agency business in Los Angeles, Sam is the definition of a "workaholic". Never taking her eye off the ball, always one step ahead of the game, she is the boss and everyone knows it. 

Laurent Roman is incredibly successful in his career, knows exactly what he wants and will not stop until he gets it. At 45, Laurent is the ultimate perfectionist, demanding and thrives off being in control in all aspects of his life. 

When Laurent and Sam come together in the meeting room for a presentation, pulses quicken and eyes meet. After such a long time of having a "no men" rule, Sam suddenly finds herself inexplicably drawn to this man and his domineering ways. As the two collide, Laurent and Sam are enveloped in a world of lust and desire, but when you're faced with something you're not really supposed to have, it soon transforms into something so much more than that.  

Becca's thoughts

I haven't read any of Olivia Jake's novels before I read In The Moment, in fact I hadn't even heard of her, but I'm so glad that I found her novel on the Kindle Store because it was fantastic. I read this on my Kindle so it was in an eBook edition. 

Olivia Jake has chosen to write her novel using third person narrative, mainly giving the reader Sam's point of view. What I found really interesting and loved was at the end of each chapter, we get to read a tiny snippet from Laurent's point of view, which I enjoyed immensely. I think this is a great tactic to use, because it gives you a view from both sides. It's fantastic always knowing what's going through Sam's head, but a man's thoughts are usually hidden away, and you feel almost sneaky being allowed this little glimpse of what he's thinking and feeling. 

The two main characters in this story are Laurent Roman and Samantha Davis, and as I stated above, they are complete workaholics. Laurent's story is that he did a lot of manual labor when he was younger, and he couldn't wait to get into an office. Samantha just constantly strives for success. She's definitely not a woman to be messed with. Everything about her is smart, presentable, crisp and pristine. Other characters do dip in and out throughout the story, such as Sam's coworkers etc, but the main focus is just on Sam and Laurent, which really evokes a feeling of solidarity and that it's just them two, even when other people are around. 

Laurent and Sam's characters were totally credible. In today's modern society, there are just as many successful women as there are successful men, and it's also refreshing to see older ages for the characters in the books. In a lot of books, the characters are usually in their early to mind twenties, and it does tend to become a bit samey same, but having two characters from the older generation makes it that little bit more interesting and new. Laurent rather reminded me of the very popular Christian Grey, with his controlling and domineering ways, except he's French. I think there are a lot of fictional men in books today that are based on Christian Grey, but certain readers do love a man in control, so it's going to be popular with readers who enjoy that type of genre. I couldn't really relate to the characters in anyway, but they were fantastic and Olivia Jake really brings them to life for the reader. 

I just have to comment on the mood of this book because it really is sensual. From the second Sam and Laurent lay eyes on each other, the author instantly drops the reader into a pot of desire. There's glances in each other's directions, light touches of the skin, whispers, and a lot of dirty talk. There's also a few sexual scenes that again, are very fifty shadesy, but they really strengthen the bond between the two main characters. 

I personally adored this story. The relationship that forms between Sam and Laurent is not purely sexual. There's understanding, adoration, and an undying flame that's constantly burning between them. Witnessing their relationship build up and gradually become something else entirely is endearing to read, and you just can't help but feel happy for them. I think the mood of the book is set perfectly by the author, and she is just brilliant at deciphering what desire is all about and relaying that to the reader. 

I would definitely recommend In The Moment to anyone who enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, Bared to You by Sylvia Day, and a fantastic little novel I read called Storm Damages by Magda Alexander, which you should definitely give a read if you haven't already! So, from me, this novel is receiving a well earned rating of 9/10!

In The Moment by Olivia Jake
Amazon UK link

Amazon US link