Author: Samantha March
Title: The Six: Kristy
Genre(s): Women's fiction; Friendship; Romance; Romantic comedy
Fun-loving and relatable
This novel came to me at just the right time. My reading list was saturated with thrillers and emotionally heavy novels that it was a refreshing break to read something light-hearted (for the most part), fun, and steamy! The Six: Kristy follows six girlfriends living in Chicago with various careers, types of love interests, and relationships with one another. It is part of a six-part series where each book takes the perspective of each woman. The first installment has Kristy as the main character and she is a lively and independent young woman who is taking on her first job as a full-time elementary school guidance counselor. Samantha made Kristy’s journey of starting a first job very relatable in how she conveyed the nerves and excitement that are associated with following one’s passion and seeing it realized. It was clear that Samantha did her research on the duties of guidance counselors, which made this aspect of the storyline more believable and realistic. I love having as much information about a character’s life as possible, especially when specific aspects will add more depth to the plot and overall feel of the book. Kristy’s relationships with her girlfriends was obviously a huge aspect of the book and Samantha did a great job at keeping all of the storylines and information straight. I am sure having six characters that are highly interactive takes a lot of brain power to manage. There was never a time when I felt confused about what was going on or when things within the story between the women did not make sense. Each of the women also added something of their own to Kristy’s story and it became clear that all of the women had their own story worthy of an installment. Samantha was able to balance the disclosure of supporting characters’ difficulties without letting readers in on every secret that will likely come out in the future books.
As the story develops, Kristy’s BFF in the group, Breely, makes a bet that Kristy must abstain from sex for six months and if she does, she will be invited on a yoga retreat to Paris with all expenses paid. It was nice to read a book where a woman is open with her sexuality and does not have to fear being judged by her friends. Kristy came to the decision on her own that maybe she should take a break from sexual escapades in order to find a more stable relationship. Books often convey women as not enjoying sex as much as men and that is exactly why I found The Six: Kristy to be so relatable…because women DO enjoy sex and that is okay J Samantha added an amusing twist in that Kristy meets an amazing guy, worthy of her time outside the bedroom, while she is on the six-month contract with her friend. The new dating pair navigates how to enjoy one another’s company without the expectation of going all the way. The scenes exploring their sexual tension are mildly steamy and fit perfectly with the overall tone of the novel.
As far as Kristy’s character in general, I found myself changing my thoughts on her quite often as I was reading. I love her quirky and spunky attitude and she is clearly independent and works hard at her job and friendships. However, there were also moments when I wanted to scream at my iPad mini to tell her to communicate and stop being a stereotypical millennial who doesn’t know how to solve interpersonal problems. I found her fitting into the annoying category when it came to her figuring out the relationship with Grey Grahl. HOWEVER, I also have a lot of respect for authors who write characters that are not perfect and have more realistic qualities because that makes for a more relatable experience and it helps readers to connect with the characters so much more. Speaking of feeling connected with characters…I felt incredibly proud of Kristy for how she handled an amazingly difficult situation she encountered at work. I feel even more proud of my friend, Samantha, for shedding light on a terrible situation that happens to children every single day. It was a powerful moment in the novel that took it up several notches.
Lastly, I think it is important, not only in this situation, but when reading any novel to understand the genre the novel belongs to. This falls into chicklit and the friendship genres, so if you are looking for an incredibly intense plot with characters that will leave you pondering humanity, this novel is not for you. But if you want to read a well-written story about young women who are navigating friendships, relationships, marriages, jobs, and independence, than I highly recommend The Six: Kristy.
Kristy Martin is twenty-something, single and living it up in Chicago. She has a crew of close girlfriends to keep her social calendar active, and is celebrating finally securing employment in her chosen field. While always free-spirited, Kristy is getting tired of the revolving door – or more accurately, bed – of random guys and failed dates, and comes up with a plan to get her act together when it comes to the opposite sex. That idea is quickly shot down by her bestie Breely Laver and replaced with a bet she can’t refuse – a free trip to Paris with her yoga instructor BFF if she can go six months without sex. Enter in charming, sexy, delicious Grey Grahl. Kristy tries to navigate a spicy new relationship without giving away her bet, while also dealing with an incredibly sensitive crisis at her job. Her first year as a full-time elementary school guidance counselor starts off with a devastating situation with a young student, and Kristy finds herself struggling to stay above water in both her professional and personal life. With her girlfriends as a support system, Kristy navigates troubled times at the school and agrees to come clean with Grey. This first book in a six-part girlfriend series introduces you to Kristy, Breely, Nora, Lauren, Tinsley and Scarlett, and takes readers on six individual stories about relationships, career choices, personal conflict and the bond of friendship.
Author: Helga Gruendler-Schierloh
Title: Burying Leo
Genre(s): Women's fiction; Contemporary women; Literature and fiction
Touching, genuine, relatable
Burying Leo is an incredibly relatable story that explores the concepts of first loves, marital discord, infertility, and self-exploration from a woman' perspective. This novel covers a variety of topics that lends itself to being a very personable read. For a majority of the story, Ingrid is enduring a variety of difficulties, so there is an underlying tone that feels exhausted and emotionally drained. It is very easy to feel Ingrid's struggles and how hard it is for her to rise above them. With that being said, this book is not necessarily a "light" read, although it is an easily digestible novel. The content is heavy and emotionally driven, so there were times when I, myself, felt drained from the issues that were brought up. However, this was not necessarily a bad thing because I enjoy novels that have more depth and content that makes me feel something as opposed to surface level stories that don't give me the opportunity to connect with the characters.
My liking of Ingrid fluctuated a lot throughout Burying Leo and I think the variability in her likability made me enjoy the book even more. There were times when I was really rooting for her and wanted her to gain a win in her life. There were also moments when I lacked sympathy for her troubles because she made decisions that clearly had an impact on her own well-being, specifically related to her romantic relationships. Throughout the book, readers follow her through many trials and most of them relate to her marriage. It was incredibly painful to read some of the situations Ingrid found herself in. She often came across as helpless and unwilling to make the necessary changes in her life that would bring her happiness. While I appreciate when authors illustrate challenges that people face everyday, it can become a little too monotonous if the characters lack growth for a majority of the story. I found that to be true for Burying Leo as I mentioned previously I felt drained for a good portion of the novel. However, Ingrid does end up making an astounding comeback that left me feeling relieved and elated for her. This is definitely a story of overcoming tragedy, so if you are willing to endure the adversities, the accomplishments are worth the read!
Somethings Must Die to Rise Ingrid always loved to sing. Auditioning for a summer job after high school shattered her dreams. She fled to Detroit where she married with the hopes of starting a family. When hope crumbled, she attempts to sing again. Will singing bring the life Ingrid always desired, or will her mutilated soul lose her everything?
Author: Cary Grossman
Title: The Hermit of Blue Ridge
Genre(s): Science fiction; Fantasy; Paranormal and urban
Haunting, sensual, heart-wrenching
Taking a wide scope lens, this book will provide you with a gripping story of a middle-aged man who has been jaded by various tragedies throughout his life. His first love was unexpectedly lost and after her demise, he has been searching for the same emotional rawness from a relationship, but has been unfortunate in his search. Until, one day a young woman quite literally stumbles into his hidden cabin that is buried far up the Blue Ridge mountains. If you are sensitive to large age gaps in romantic relationships, then this novel will likely send you into a doozy because Jeremy Woods finally reaches the end of his search when Sarah provides him with the zest for life he has been searching for. As someone who does have a mild sensitivity to large age-gap relationships, there were some scenes that made me cringe, but it was mostly due to the writing of the scene. When a 40-something man is thinking of a young woman pleasing herself as "childlike," I cannot help but feel a bit queasy and repulsed. However, this happened infrequently throughout the story and Sarah's character does maintain a high level of maturity due to her own life's journey. When their sexual encounters were not compared to youth behavior, they were described as sensual, romantic, steamy, and meaningful. It was quite clear they have an inspiring connection that stems from physical arousal.
The Hermit on Blue Ridge has a very eerie feeling to it that lends itself as a genuine thriller. Sarah's ability to remember the brutal rape and murder of Priscilla as if she lived through it herself is truly haunting and will leave readers with a chill that only the most gripping stories possess. As for characters, Jeremy is first portrayed as a sullen, broken man who has channeled his heartbreak into successful story-telling via best-selling books. Cary gives us a glimpse into Jeremy's writing as he begins the journey of his latest novel. Readers also get a satisfying level of insight into his past, specifically with Priscilla and how impactful their relationship was on Jeremy's current state. After Sarah makes her entrance, Jeremy comes back to life and his fervor is established the longer Sarah stays with him. It was interesting to witness the dynamic between Sarah's youthfulness and naivety and Jeremy's experience and bitterness. Their differences make for a good balance with intermittent explosions of chaos; although the chaotic bouts are mostly due to Sarah's unwanted connection to Priscilla. My favorite part of the novel was learning more about Priscilla through Sarah's paintings and nightmares. I found her to be intriguing and the desire to discover why the connection stood between the two young women kept me interested. That being said, I definitely think there could have been major scene cuts. There were periods throughout that were difficult to push through because I felt I was reading the same situation over and over. However, the parts that were engaging definitely kept me on edge.
Author Jeremy Woods has found perfect isolation, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he can write in peace--until a strange, strikingly beautiful girl crashes into his cottage, and his life. Showing up at his door during the worst blizzard in recent history, the girl is half-frozen from exposure, with dangerously frostbitten fingers and toes. The roads to town are too inundated with snow to seek medical care for her--Jeremy's cottage rests 8000 feet high, with no other shelter for miles. How could the girl have survived the journey on foot? At first, Jeremy is intrigued; the girl displays remarkable talent, able to create stunning sketches with almost photographic detail. Her work soon takes on an eerie quality, however, matching that of Jeremy's first love, Priscilla--a hauntingly original artist murdered at the tender age of eighteen--to the most minute detail. Even more troubling is Jeremy's growing attraction to the girl, whose name is Sarah. As they grow close and Sarah starts painting, Jeremy realizes something is terribly wrong--Sarah's portraits, while brilliant, include disturbing portrayals of Priscilla's abduction and homicide. A haunting, evocative love story, Cary Grossman's fourth book of speculative fiction depicts two damaged people struggling with the ghosts of their past in the hope of keeping the comfort they have found in one another.
I am a lover of the written word. This is my space to pursue my love of reading through book reviews and literary discussions with my fellow readers.