Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

ReadingThere are so many great books due to come out in 2016, I know I will not get a chance to read all of them, I’m behind the ones I wanted to read for last year and the year before, but I will add them to my TBR pile all the same.

However, there are a few exceptions, a select few books that I will be snatching up as soon as possible and reading right away. The first is The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. This has no release date yet and a late 2016 publication is tentative at best, but I have been waiting for years for this book to be finally finished and so far from what I’ve read 2016 seems like the year it is possibly going to happen. There isn’t even a cover yet I can admire either which is entirely unfair.

The next one on my list is Awaken by Heather McCollum. The third and final in The Guardians series I cannot wait to read this. I adored the first two (Siren’s Song and Broken) and I have no doubt Awaken will be of the same exhilarating and captivating quality.

Third is Wish List by Belinda Williams. Fourth and final in the City Love series, I am eager to hear Cate’s story and revisit the amazing group of women and William’s engaging writing.

Finally, The Shadow Hour, the second The Girl at Midnight book by Melissa Grey. I wanted this beside me ready to pick up when I finished The Girl at Midnight earlier last year so I will be ready to grab a copy and keep Echo’s story going and find out where Grey is taking her.

Many of these are due later in the year, but it won’t stop me waiting eagerly for them in the meantime. I have a myriad of books to keep me occupied while I wait though which is a good thing in itself.

 

Modern Heart (City Love #3) by Belinda Williams

Published: 26th November 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Momentum
Pages: 246
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Limited time only: Dream career! Perfect man! The catch? Emotional availability.

Scarlett Wong has a reputation for toughness. A talented and often feared Creative Director at an award-winning Sydney advertising agency, she doesn’t do relationships, she doesn’t invite men home, and she never stays the night. The only people who see her softer side are her three closest girlfriends, and they’re finally convinced they’ve found her perfect man: John Hart.

Scarlett’s never been one to back down from a challenge and she’s not going to start now. But when John secures Scarlett an invitation from one of New York’s leading galleries to exhibit her artwork, it means putting herself out there like never before. Scarlett’s perfect man wouldn’t interfere in her life like this – would he?

For a woman who thinks she’s not scared of anything, Scarlett is about to discover she’s not as tough as she thinks. Will she take the chance to turn her secret passion into a career, risk the safety of her advertising career, and let John in? Or will old habits die that little bit too hard?

Perfect for fans of Rachel Gibson, Susan Mallery, Victoria Dahl and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

I fell in love with Williams’ City Love series right back when I first read The Boyfriend Sessions. There is so much to admire about this series, not just the captivating and fascinating characters, but the way Williams explores female friendships, romance, and tells a story about the complexity of life and emotions all within an intricate and humour filled narrative is absolutely divine.

Modern Heart is the third book and focuses on Scarlett Wong, an artist who isn’t afraid to have a good time, but isn’t looking for a relationship of any kind. She speaks her mind but she also has hidden secrets and a painful childhood that she chooses to leave locked up. In past City Love stories Scarlett has come across as cold and judgemental, but getting to see things from her point of view allows a better insight into who she really is.

Scarlett keeps a lot to herself, she holds in emotions, puts on a tough exterior behind sarcastic comments and cynicism, but it is not all an act. Her tough childhood and critical parents have added to her seemingly cold nature. The walls she has built up over the years have stood fast, and it is only now that they are starting to crack. Seeing Scarlett address her fears and insecurities was amazing, Williams positions you inside Scarlett’s head beautifully so that you become a part of her, her own uncertainties and struggles feel like our own.

It’s hard not to fall in love with this group of women; they are close friends and help each other out, offering great advice, honesty, and tough love when it is needed. Each of them have a different kind of relationship with one other and different histories, and seeing these explored further was wonderful. Scarlett is not an outsider per se, but she keeps herself apart from the others a lot of the time. Seeing her form deeper connections and bonds with people who have previously been more or less friends of friends is sweet, and when secrets from her past and hidden details she has only shared with a certain few come to light it only makes these relationships stronger.

The romantic aspects are balanced perfectly, not overly romantic and not just focused on the sexual tension or “that chase”. John is cheeky and smart, and his good nature is a great contrast for Scarlett’s. The romance is real and natural, growing from friendship to something more, with just enough spark between Scarlett and John to make them ideal for one another and make you want them to be together. The connection between John and Scarlett is more rewarding, and seeing him help to open up to people and lower barriers is more satisfying than her finally getting into a relationship. More so because Williams makes you become invested in these characters, especially if you’ve read previous books. You become attached and protective and want good things to happen in their lives.

Watching Scarlett stubbornly fight against her feelings for John is heartbreaking but enthralling reading. Her complicated past and her ideals are hard to ignore, she knows what she wants from life and when things start to affect that she doesn’t know how to deal with it other than run. Together though they are a wonderful pair; John is patient and kind hearted, letting Scarlett work out her feelings for herself, but while also giving her the push she needs to embrace it.

It’s not all emotional baggage and intimacy issues though, Williams once again draws the fours lives together impeccably and mixes in enough drama and joy with romance and simple pleasures to keep the story flowing and your interest high from start to finish. Because it is a continuation, we also get to see what is happening in the lives of the others, where their stories have ended up and what they have been doing.

One thing I love about Williams is that she has a way of writing that even as you’re reading and falling in love with one character, she is piquing your interest about another. With The Pitch it followed Maddy’s story, but as I finished reading I was so eager to read about Scarlett’s life; now, having finished this one, I am looking forward to the final story with Cate. Not only is this a clever way to pull readers through the series, but it allows a gradual introduction to every one of the girls, from various character perspectives as well as their own. I can’t wait to finish the series and fall in love all over again with these four fantastic women and the interesting and complicated lives they lead.

You can purchase Modern Heart via the following

Publisher |Amazon

Amazon UK | Amazon Aust

Barnes and Noble | Google Play

iBooks Store | Kobo

The Pitch (City Love #2) by Belinda Williams

Published: 28th May 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Momentum
Pages: 306
Format: Ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

She’s in a long-term, committed relationship. With her business.

In three years Madeline Spencer has single-handedly grown her marketing agency, Grounded Marketing, into one of the country’s fastest growing companies. But her success has been at the expense of her social life, and her girlfriends have had enough. They’ll do whatever it takes, from speed dating to blind dates, to show her there’s more to life than work.

Only Maddy is having a hard time forgetting about her business. She’s about to pitch for her biggest client ever and the mysterious media mogul, Paul Neilsen, has volunteered to mentor her. Maddy might just be in with a shot of landing the account – if she can keep her mind on the job. Working with Paul is not at all what she’d imagined, and Maddy finds herself torn between her ever increasing workload and her feelings for Paul. She’s discovering playing in the big league means making sacrifices … and Maddy must decide what she can’t live without.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

I truly and honestly can say I never was, nor ever thought I would be, a romance lover or someone who got excited and invested in a couple in a book but this book has momentarily changed that. What Belinda Williams has created her is a wonderful balance of clever writing, sweet but not sappy story, and real characters that feel like genuine people rather than stuck simply on a page.

Every aspect of this story feels so real, whether that is because I recognise the places and can picture it playing out, or just because Williams’ writing brings the story to life so incredibly well. There are surprises and bumps along the way and while you think you know how it will end, there are still surprises in store that make it an enthralling read and just the right kind of bumpy.

The characters are diverse, not just in their personality but with everything. Each revelation of character is a joy and Williams skilfully makes the characters complicated and deep yet simple on the page. Being the second in the series there are brief mentions about the events in the previous book but no more than passing references compared to a full recap.

With a new storyline and a new point of view there is a mixture of new faces to become acquainted with but also familiar characters that were introduced in the first novel. Williams makes you become involved with her characters and with each book focusing on a different friend there is a wonderful chance to get to know each of them and after reading about one it will certainly make you curious to learn about the others.

The friendship between the four women is divine and through dialogue and actions the writing captures and expresses the intense and loving relationship between the friends, but also the brutal honesty and tough love as well, sympathising and highly supportive while not enabling or mollycoddling.

Maddy is a wonderful character and a great narrative voice, she is strong and focused, but at the same time a bit unsure of herself at times and can be oblivious to what’s in front of her. Her determination makes her amazing, and whether it is work or her personal life, her confidence doesn’t overshadow her occasional doubt which what makes her so genuine.

I loved the complications in this story, and I loved how rooted in reality they were. It was nothing grand or overblown but different and unique, and the everyday nature of the story while still being climactic and dramatic made it intriguing.

This is a slow-burn romance, and while it seems like it is going to be a fast, wild, love story Williams paces it remarkably well. The romance is natural with understandable barriers, and without a love at first sight passion but still enough to start something. There is also restraint with things like sex scenes but Williams doesn’t make it plain either, nor does she skip over it like it isn’t important to the story or character relationship.

The story is clever, classy, and adult with real issues, but has the romance in it with style and heartfelt sincerity. With great characters and clever writing Williams has added to the City Love series a wonderful narrative that brings the realities of life with the dreams of romance together with resounding success. I look forward to continuing the rest of the series because I know it is only going to get better.

You can purchase The Pitch via the following

Momentum | Barnes and Noble

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Amazon UK | Google Play

iBooks Store | Kobo

 

Momentum’s Facebook Book Club: The Boyfriend Sessions by Belinda Williams

This Thursday is the first ever Momentum book club. The first book being discussed is Belinda Williams’ The Boyfriend Sessions. If you read my review you know all about it, it is a great book and one that is filled with laughter, friendship, and wonderful moments of seriousness that shows how relationships of all kinds affect us. Belinda will be stopping by to join the conversation and you can chat and ask questions about the bits you liked, loved, or didn’t with other people.

For all the information about where, when, and how to join in check out Momentum’s website, Facebook page, or on Belinda’s website. If you have read the book come and chat about it with others, if not there is still time to grab a copy and get reading!

 

 

 

The Boyfriend Sessions (City Love #1) by Belinda Williams

Published: 23rd October 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: Momentum
Pages: 339
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Please take your seats. The journey to happiness may involve some turbulence.

Christa Morrison has commitment issues, a fact that quickly becomes apparent after she flees a romantic proposal in Paris, the thunder of impending wedding bells ringing in her ears.

Back in Sydney, she turns to her closest friends for reassurance. Instead they offer her a startling and painful diagnosis: she’s a relationship junkie. The cure? An extreme rehabilitation program guaranteed to reform even the most L-word illiterate.

With her girlfriends along for the ride, Christa commits to their radical plan and the chances of recovery look good. The only problem is Max Spencer. The one guy Christa—and her friends—never expected her to fall for. But he’s proving to be a temptation she may not have the willpower to resist …

For a shot at happiness, is being with Max worth betraying her friends? And will Christa have the strength to trust her heart when her colorful relationship history comes back to haunt her?

It might just be enough to make a poor girl leave the country (again).

Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review.

After fleeing Paris after being proposed to, Christa’s friends make her promise to be single for awhile and take a look at why her relationships have been unsuccessful. But what starts out as a fun and good-humoured discussion about Christa’s past boyfriends soon turns into a serious evaluation of her life and her past. With this story Williams has created something that is quite complex beneath a jovial exterior, and it isn’t until you are submerged in its characters and narrative that you realise there is a lot more going on, and is sometimes a lot more serious than first impressions suggest.

As soon as Christa promises to swear off men for six months you just know that is when she is going to meet someone but the way Williams explores it is clever and she doesn’t rush anything narrative wise or make it too cheesy or simplistic either. It is interesting to see how it plays it out considering the ban, and it does not always go in the direction you were expecting either which gives it another level.

Williams is very good at capturing the dynamic between the girlfriends and the relationship and friendship between them. The conversations are natural and Williams demonstrates the friend discussions well, each girl talking over the top of one another, interrupting one another, and getting sidetracked onto other things.

There are diverse personalities among them and the friendships differ in strength and style. Williams doesn’t try and make everyone perfect and she doesn’t make each woman a certain type, so different from the others that there are the four totally different people who happen to be friends. Instead she shows characters with unique personalities but who have a strong history and connection with one another, each with strengths and weaknesses and flaws of their own.

I loved that things are hinted at in Christa’s past that didn’t need a huge revisit or recapping. Details about her parents and her boyfriends get the right about of mention and detail. The reader does not need a huge, detailed, information overload about who they are as characters, instead Williams uses them to focus on Christa and expand on her character. Williams also uses this technique when providing information about Christa, her friends, and Max. Details and histories are skilfully woven into the narrative and are provided through Christa’s thoughts, casual remarks, and dialogue between characters. This adds to the realistic nature of the story and makes it feel more natural.

While there are times when Christa got on my nerves, especially concerning Max and her questions about his past relationship, most of the time she was great to read about. With her own ignorance about her relationships and her emotions it didn’t feel like she was intentionally being difficult and seeing the realisations slowly emerge was a great character development and one that made you understand her more.

This is not a typical romance novel where Christa’s past relationships are looked at and analysed adoringly. Williams has created a story that looks at how relationships affect people and how not understanding or acknowledging the impact that these cause can have lasting effects. There is a wonderful serious underside to the laughing and the wine and it brings the best out of the narrative. Seeing this switch from the informal and humorous discussions to a real reflection is great and it changes Christa for the better. I really enjoyed this novel because it didn’t go in any of the directions I thought it would and it is complicated, unexpected, and satisfying. Williams has managed to balance the light heartedness and seriousness wonderfully which has resulted in an engaging and thoughtful story.

Purchase The Boyfriend Sessions via the following

Amazon AU

Amazon UK

Amazon

Momentum

iBooks

GooglePlay

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

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