Women’s Literature Books to Curl Up With This December
Tis the season for a warm couch and a good book – and we’ve got you covered. In September and October, subscribers to Hidden Gems got the opportunity to read free copies of many books in the Women’s Literature genre, and these were their favorites based on the reviews and engagement the books received.
Coming Home by Holly Kerr
The first book in the Sisters in a Small Town series, readers of this title were introduced to the larger than life Skatt sisters – five boisterous redheads who fight about everything, but are fiercely loyal to each other. The subject of this book is Brenna – who thought she’d escaped her small-town, Ontario roots for the bright lights of Vancouver; but was brought reluctantly home when her life spectacularly implodes.
In classic Skatt fashion, Brenna wastes no time bringing scandal to her hometown as well – but she’s got competition in the form of her sister Cat, who was previously the black sheep of the family with the string of failed marriages to show for it.
The book is fast-paced and beautifully written, but the real power comes from the vivid and relatable relationship between the Skatt sisters; which will instantly resonate with anybody who comes from a large family.
“I could not put this book down and read it in a day!” Writes Jeanne Grace in her 5-star review. “I predict there’s more to this family and story – and I’ll love it when the author had future books focusing on the rest of the family!”
From Runway to Love by Melissa Baldwin
We go from small town Canada to the bright lights of New York City in this next recommendation, which is book three of the Love in the City series. It focuses on runway model Olivia Fulton, who appears to be living the dream with the bright lights and fame of her profession – until her past comes back to haunt her and Olivia is suddenly faced with losing everything she’s worked so hard to achieve.
In one of the coolest reviews I’ve read in a while, Nadine Vrijhof pens a 5-star letter to the fictional star of the story, writing: “Dear Olivia, It was so nice getting to know you. It was great to be a part of your new start. To see you learn, and grow, and find love. It was lovely to be on that journey with you. I laughed along with you, and shed a tear or two. As always, at the end I was sad to part ways, to say goodbye to a new friend. Wishing you the best of luck, From Nadine, with love.”
Reviewer Sara Steven is a fan of the series, and how it revisits characters from earlier books. “It was enlightening to witness such a big change in Olivia, in where her priorities lie and what’s most important to her. You get the impression that there was a time when the world had her on a pedestal, and it’s been a weighty fall. The change began in On the Road to Love, but you really see it and feel it when it comes from her own perspective. I enjoyed reading up on all three ladies and what life has thrown at them, but I felt most connected with Olivia. Maybe because I felt she had a lot more to lose, and the biggest transformation. Melissa Baldwin has done a great job of showcasing that, while still making Olivia into one of those characters you would love to get to know, to befriend, and has this flawless way of being the coolest person in the room. You can’t help but want to get to know her.”
By the Light of Embers by Shaylin Gandhi
The fun and footlights of the New York City fashion district are a word away from this richly woven and harrowing tale from Shaylin Ghandi, who pens the tale of 22-year-old Lucia Lafleur; who returns to Louisiana in 1954, during the height of segregation, and experiences the beauty and brutality of a time and place fortunately now far distant in our nation’s history. Love, death, revenge and retribution are all explored in this can’t-put-it-down book; and you’ll be left moved when you finish the final page.
“This exquisite story is a stunning achievement! FIVE INCOMPARABLE STARS!” You don’t get much more effusive praise than that of Amazon Customer, who writes: “Of the millions of writers in the world, only a few qualify as a word-painter: ‘a writer of vivid or graphic descriptive power’ (Merriam-Webster). Ms. Gandhi has earned a place in this select group. Her highly descriptive brush strokes of people, places and time–liberally sprinkled with similes and metaphors–paint a vivid picture of the dark world of Louisiana’s racial bigotry in 1954. She pulls the reader right into that world, living every minute of the story with the characters. By the Light of Embers is much more than a book. It’s a heart-stopping, unforgettable experience.”
“Beautifully written but devastating,” writes K.S. Ruff. “This novel is so beautifully written. I honestly can’t recall the last time I read such exquisite prose. This book reminds me of one of my all time favorite novels, To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s just one of those rare gems, a compelling story that must be told, lest history repeat itself, horrifying and yet beautiful, a tragic tale of good vs. evil. Suffice it to say Cricket (Lucia) is how I would envision Scout all grown up. I highly recommend but keep those tissues close at hand.”
Ready for Whatever by Kathryn R. Biel
Don’t let the bright and cheery cover fool you – this book goes right for the heartstrings, along with all the other titles in the UnBRCAble Women Series. The concept is a simple one that resonates chillingly with many women – discovering the presence of the BRCA gene, which can sometimes serve as a guarantee of facing breast cancer in the future. That’s the case for 29-year-old Millie Dwyer, who learns she carries the BRCA gene and had struggled seeing both her mother and grandmother lose their lives to cancer.
Radical surgery offers her the chance for life – but at what cost? That’s the crux of this book, which explores themes of such depth and intensity that Amazon should include a box of tissues in the “Customers who Read This Book Also Bought” section.
“I am a Previvor,” writes Erin Huss in her 5-star review. “There was a time when I thought, “Wouldn’t that be cool if I had the breast cancer gene? Then I could get a free boob job and not have to worry about cancer.” Now that I’ve had my boobs amputated let me tell ya there’s nothing ‘free’ or easy about a mastectomy—and the threat of cancer is STILL there. The entire process is both emotionally and physically excruciating. EXCRUCIATING. My life is now clearly defined as before the PBM (prophylactic bilateral mastectomy) and after. I will never be the same… Kathryn has managed to capture all these emotions, and she did so with humor, and a love story (because who doesn’t love a good love story?) Laughter truly is the best medicine, and I think ALL women NEED to read this book. Not only will Ready for Whatever have you laughing, but it will also educate you and possibly save your life. Squeeze those boobs, my friends. Fight for your health. Know your density, and schedule that mammogram! Thank you, Kathryn, for capturing what it’s genuinely like to PREVIVE.”
“She gets it!” Writes Kindle Customer in another 5-star review. “Kathryn Biel gets all of the emotions & turmoil & insanity that comes with a BRCA mutation diagnosis. While my journey included a cancer diagnosis first, I found myself nodding my head & mentally shouting ‘Yes! Exactly!’ as I read! This is also a sweet romance. Read it for the romance! And, if you know someone going through a medical diagnosis, read it to help understand what might be going on in their head.”
Versions of Her by Andrea Lochen
One of the amazing things about women’s literature is how relatable it often is – and the story of Melanie Kingstad-Keyes, returning to her family’s lakeside home in the wake of a miscarriage, will give many people chills because it’s so achingly well-written and resonant. A nuanced tale of pain and change, Melanie is intent on convincing her sister Kelsey to sell their family home – but as with all good books, there is a long and twisting road toward a final destination that Melanie never intended to reach.
“Not only a good read, but a page-turner,” writes AvlSan in a 5-star review. “It’s well-written, nicely-paced, and thought-provoking. Two sisters facing different life issues meet at the family’s Victorian lake house to prepare it for sale. There they find a door to the past that allows them to better understand their mother—and themselves. Leaves you to wonder what better perspective you might have on your parents and on family relationships if you could view scenes from their past.”
“Excellent read,” writes Amy Dierksmeier in her 5-star review. “I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. Not only did the overall plot of the adventures through the secret door grab hold of my curiosity, but each of the sub-plots was equally engaging. Whether it was the adventures in Kelsey’s love life or the recent struggles in Melaine’s relationship with her husband, I kept turning the page to find out what would happen next. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about the struggles and joys that come with any deep relationship and has an open mind to explore a story with a little bit of magic. I can’t wait to see what comes next from this author!