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30 April 2013

May 2013 releases to look forward to! (Part 2)

Several days ago I already focused on some exciting upcoming May releases in a blog post, but next month has so many lovely novels in store for us... Too many for one blog post, so here are some of the other exciting new releases coming your way at the end of May!

Tess Daly - 'It's Up to You New York'

Will Holly find love in the city where dreams are made?

Fielding calls from disgruntled customers on a crispbread telesales careline isn't exactly where Holly Collins saw herself in life. Living in a shoebox flat and working in a windowless building on an outer London industrial estate were never quite what she'd had in mind. So when Holly is picked from obscurity to take part in Street Scout, a television series on the hunt for fashion's next big model, life finally seems to be taking a turn for the better for the happy-go-lucky twenty-something. Surely this is her big moment?

But Holly knows only too well that dreams are just that and when it feels like everything - and everybody - is conspiring against her, Holly heads for New York with her best friend Meg. The magic of Manhattan has Holly in its grasp: strutting down 5th Avenue and drinking two too many cosmopolitans, taking romantic carriage rides in Central Park and standing at the top of the Empire State building she can scarcely believe how far away the real world seems. But when Holly is faced with the biggest decision of her life can she make the fairy tale become a reality?

Why so excited? --> I love everything about this novel already: the cover is gorgeous, Holly's adventure sounds exciting, and who doesn't love a chick lit novel set in New York City? I honestly can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book! 

Hilary Reyl - 'Lessons in French'

First love: first heartbreak. First job: first nightmare boss. A seductive coming-of-age tale set in the most romantic city on earth.

Fresh out of university and determined to dream big, Kate can hardly believe her luck when she lands a job as a ‘little-bit-of-everything’ to the world famous photo-journalist Lydia Schell. Better still, the job is in Paris, and her guide to the most romantic city on earth is the handsome Olivier. The Berlin Wall is about to come tumbling down, and the world feels full of possibility.

But the oh-so-charming Lydia turns out to be the boss from hell. The ‘little-bit-of-everything’ includes collecting under-the-counter diet pills and walking a flatulent dog round the rainy streets of the sixth arrondissement. And the gorgeous Olivier? He happens to be dating Lydia’s daughter…

As the two worlds of her disastrous job and exciting flirtation look set to collide, Kate is about to get a fast education in the French approach to having it all.

Why so excited? --> Hilary Reyl's debut novel sounds like a treat! Kate's tale which features a horrible boss and a gorgeous love interest slightly reminds me of 'The Devil Wears Prada', which I loved. The story is set in Paris, which is also already a thumbs-up... Enough to be excited about!

Giovanna Fletcher - 'Billy and Me'

Sophie May has a secret.

One that she's successfully kept for years. It's meant that she's had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.

But then she meets the gorgeous Billy - an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy's glamorous - but ruthless - world.

Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?

Why so excited? --> I've been looking forward to the release of this novel for what seems like ages! I've been following Giovanna Fletcher on Twitter for quite some time already, and ever since she announced her first novel I knew I wanted to read it. The plot sounds fantastic, and I've only heard good things so far... Definitely looking forward to this book!

Tess Stimson - 'The Lying Game'

There are some things we are never meant to know . . . 

Harriet Lockwood has never really bonded with her daughter, Florence, the way she has with her three sons. Then one day, she discovers why. The girl she’s raised for the last fifteen years is not her biological child. Zoey Sands is a single mother with a chaotic lifestyle. The one constant in her life is her daughter, Nell. Nothing can ever come between them – can it? When Harriet turns up on Zoey’s doorstep demanding to see her biological daughter, the two families are plunged into a storm of bitter rivalries… and unexpected alliances.

Why so excited? --> I'm not familiar with Tess Stimson's other novels, but the plot of this novel sounds intriguing. It seems to be slightly different from the 'average' chick lit novel, but definitely worth a try.

Abby Clements - 'Vivien's Heavenly Ice Cream Shop'

When Imogen and Anna unexpectedly inherit their grandmother Vivien's ice cream parlour, it turns both their lives upside-down. The Brighton shop is a seafront institution, but while it's big on charm it's critically low on customers. If the sisters don't turn things around quickly, their grandmother's legacy will disappear forever.

With summer looming, Imogen and Anna devise a plan to return Vivien's to its former glory. Rather than sell up, they will train up, and make the parlour the newest destination on the South Coast foodie map.

While Imogen watches the shop, her sister flies to Italy to attend a gourmet ice cream-making course. But as she works shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best chefs in the industry, Anna finds that romance can bloom in the most unexpected of places...

Why so excited? --> I don't know why exactly, but I absolutely adore novels that have to do with ice cream shops or cupcake cafes... Must be the yummy treats! As soon as I came across this novel on the Internet, I knew I had to add it to my to-read list straight away. Lovely cover, lovely plot, lovely setting... Can't wait!

28 April 2013

Review: 'The Summer I Turned Pretty' by Jenny Han (2010)

Every year Isabel spends a perfect summer at her family friends' house. There's the swimming pool at night, the private stretch of sandy beach ... and the two boys.

Unavailable, aloof Conrad - who she's been in love with forever - and friendly, relaxed Jeremiah, the only one who's ever really paid her any attention.

But this year something is different. They seem to have noticed her for the first time. It's going to be an amazing summer - and one she'll never forget...

Jenny Han’s novel ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ had been part of my to-read list for quite some time already, but somehow I never ended up actually buying the book somewhere. However, a couple of weeks ago I joined The New Book Club on Twitter (@thenewbookclub) in order to discuss lovely books with other avid readers. The first book to be discussed is ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’, so I finally ordered the book online and dived in as soon as it arrived in my mailbox.

The novel tells the story of Isabel (called Belly by almost everyone around her) and her summers spent in the big beach house of the Fisher family, which consists of Susannah and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has always enjoyed her summers at the beach house, but this summer, things are different. Belly is dealing with everything a typical 15-year-old teenage girl goes through at a certain moment in time: crushing on boys, finding out who your true friends are, and slowly discovering your own identity. Belly has always been left out by the boys, but this summer... Things are changing, and so will Belly.

I was surprised at what a quick read this novel was. I seemed to fly through the chapters and before I knew it, I had reached the last page. It was a light read (a book perfect to take with you on your summer holiday), but at the same time it managed to transport me back to those days when I was a 15-year-old girl, trying to figure out the world. That feeling of thinking that the world revolves around you (didn’t we all at one point in our lives?), and how much one summer (and that one boy) can change absolutely everything. I really liked the nostalgic feel of this novel (also caused by the occasional flashbacks): the setting of the large gorgeous beach house with the sea in the background, a long summer holiday away from school and home... The book really managed to grab me and not only take me into Belly’s world, but back into the world of my own teenage self as well.

If I’m completely honest, I didn’t come to love any of the male characters in the novel. Belly finds herself flirting with and thinking about three different boys: Conrad, Jeremiah, and Cam. But there wasn’t one I was definitely rooting for, one I wanted Belly to end up with, and I thought that was too bad. The focus is on more than just boys, though: Belly’s friendship with her best friend Taylor, the relationship between Belly and her mother, the difficult situation Susannah finds herself being forced to deal with.. I really liked Belly’s other relationships, with her own mother and with Susannah; I wish this would have been explored more in the book. And, if I am allowed to give one slightly superficial comment... What kind of a name is Belly? I know a name is just a name, but this one managed to slightly irritate me more and more as the book continued. Isabel is a lovely name, why not simply stick to that?

I didn’t end up falling in love with this book, but I didn’t dislike it either. Will I pick up the other parts of the series? I’m not quite sure... Overall, though: a light, quick, summery read, perfect to bring along on a holiday and I am sure lots of people out there will enjoy this!


26 April 2013

May 2013 releases to look forward to! (Part 1)

May is almost upon us and this month has quite a lot of special new releases in store for all the chick lit lovers out there! Be sure to get your hands on these lovely novels as soon as they are released!

Christina Jones - An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding

Life simply couldn't be better for Erin Boswell. At twenty-seven, she is engaged to the simply divine Jay Keskar - and every minute of her day currently revolves around planning the wedding of her dreams. Until, that is, Jay's parents announce that they want to 'discuss' things - and this is when Erin's wedding heaven turns into her wedding hell . . .

Tavish and Deena are Indian and have very firm beliefs about the form of wedding their only son should have. Of course, they say, Erin will be wearing a sari. And of course all the Indian pre-wedding ritual ceremonies - including tilak, mehendi, sangeet - will be observed.

As Bollywood comes to Berkshire, can East eventually meet West in perfect harmony? And if not, will Erin and Jay's dream wedding even take place?

Why so excited? --> I love the idea of spinning the typical English wedding around and adding a touch of India. The bright yellow cover is already getting me all excited about this particular story!

Beth Kendrick - The Week Before the Wedding

After enduring a chaotic childhood, Emily McKellips yearns for a drama-free life, complete with a white picket fence. Her dreams are about to come true: She has a stellar career, a gorgeous house, and a fiancé any woman would die for. But as friends and family arrive in picturesque Valentine, Vermont, for her wedding, an uninvited guest shows up.

Ryan is Emily’s first husband from a disastrous starter marriage. They wed on a whim, only to discover that combustible chemistry couldn’t ensure a happily ever after. But Ryan is no longer the headstrong boy she left behind. He’s now a successful film producer who just happens to be scouting a resort in Valentine with his adorable retriever in tow.

As the bridesmaids revolt and the mothers of the bride and groom do battle, Emily is surprised to discover new sides of both her ex and her fiancé. She thought she had life and love all figured out, but the next seven days might change her mind—and her heart.

Why so excited? --> Oh my, so much going on, and that's just in the blurb! A wedding, a lovely setting (how gorgeous does 'Valentine, Vermont' sound?), a fiancé, a handsome ex... I'm sold!

Fern Britton - The Holiday Home

Two sisters. One House. The holiday of a lifetime…

Set on a Cornish cliff, Atlantic House has been the jewel in the Carew family crown for centuries. Each year, the Carew sisters embark on the yearly summer holiday, but they are as different as vinegar and honey.

Prudence, hard-nosed businesswoman married to the meek and mild Francis, is about to get a shock reminder that you should never take anything for granted.

Constance, loving wife to philandering husband Greg, has always been outwitted by her manipulative sibling. Suspecting that Pru wants to get her hands on Atlantic House, Connie won’t take things lying down.

When an old face reappears on the scene, years of simmering resentments reach boiling point. Little do the women know that a long-buried secret is about to bite them all on the bottom.
Is this one holiday that will push them all over the edge, or can Constance and Pru leave the past where it belongs?

Why so excited? --> We are getting closer and closer to summer, so what's better than already getting that holiday feeling by reading a good holiday novel? Constance and Prudence already sound like an interesting pair... Can't wait to find out what happens to them and Atlantic House!

Victoria Connelly - Wish You Were Here

Sun, sea and secrets…

A week on the sunny Greek island of Kethos is just what Alice Archer needs, even if she has to put up with her difficult sister. Stella’s tantrums and diva-like demands are a fair price to pay for crystal-clear waters, blue skies and white clifftop villas.

When Alice meets Milo, a handsome gardener at the Villa Argenti, for the first time she suddenly feels beautiful, alluring and confident. But is it just holiday magic or will the irresistible pull between Alice and Milo survive against all odds?

Why so excited? --> I absolutely adored Victoria Connelly's novel 'A Weekend with Mr. Darcy' and even though this one does not include an Austen hero, it promises to be a good summery read!

Pippa Wright - The Foster Husband

In love and marriage, practice makes perfect...

Kate left her seaside home town of Lyme Regis for the bright lights of London when she was eighteen, and never looked back. She had it all: the glamorous career, the lovely house, the gorgeous husband.

But now she’s back: unemployed, separated, and holed up in her dead granny’s bungalow. Worse still, she’s forced to share the bungalow with Ben, the clueless and domestically challenged fiancé of her bossy sister Prue.

Ben is a man in need of simple instruction. And Kate is a woman in need of a project. So she decides to secretly train Ben, her foster husband, as a selfless pre-wedding gift to her sister.

But Kate may still have a few lessons of her own to learn…

Why so excited? --> I immediately fell in love with the purple and pink cover of this book! The setting sounds amazing as well (London and Lyme Regis!), and the idea of training a man...? Perhaps I can even pick up a lesson or two from this story!

If you're curious to hear about some more fabulous May releases, be sure to keep your eye on this blog and check back soon! :)

25 April 2013

April 2013 release: 'The Longest Holiday' by Paige Toon

'Don't wait for the storm to pass; learn to dance in the rain…'
Laura has been married to the man of her dreams for seven months. But a week before the wedding, Matthew made a terrible mistake. Escaping the humiliation that is now her marriage, Laura is whisked off to Florida's Key West by her best friend Marty. A carefree holiday full of cocktails and fun, surrounded by gorgeous, tanned men, is exactly what the doctor ordered. Distraction comes in the form of sexy Cuban scuba diver Leo. Laura's instant attraction to him knocks her flying, and she falls hard. As the end of the holiday approaches, Laura doesn't want to go home. Is it time to face the music? Or is there more to Key West than a holiday romance?
I'm a big fan of Paige Toon's novels and am really excited about this new release! First of all, the cover is simply gorgeous and reminds me of lovely summer days spent at the beach. Next to that, the setting of the book (Florida's Key West) sounds like the perfect place for a carefree holiday, and come on, who doesn't love a good story about a holiday romance? Overall, can't wait to read this!
Order it now on Amazon by clicking here  

23 April 2013

April 2013 release: 'Someday, Someday, Maybe' by Lauren Graham

From Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, comes a witty, charming, and hilariously relatable debut novel about a struggling young actress trying to get ahead―and keep it together―in New York City.

It’s January 1995, and Franny Banks has just six months left of the three-year deadline she set for herself when she came to New York, dreaming of Broadway and doing “important” work. But all she has to show for her efforts so far is a part in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters, and a gig waiting tables at a comedy club. Her roommates―her best friend Jane, and Dan, an aspiring sci-fi writer―are supportive, yet Franny knows a two-person fan club doesn’t exactly count as success. Everyone tells her she needs a backup plan, and though she can almost picture moving back home and settling down with her perfectly nice ex-boyfriend, she’s not ready to give up on her goal of having a career like her idols Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Not just yet. But while she dreams of filling their shoes, in the meantime, she’d happily settle for a speaking part in almost anything—and finding a hair product combination that works.

Everything is riding on the upcoming showcase for her acting class, where she’ll finally have a chance to perform for people who could actually hire her. And she can’t let herself be distracted by James Franklin, a notorious flirt and the most successful actor in her class, even though he’s suddenly started paying attention. Meanwhile, her bank account is rapidly dwindling, her father wants her to come home, and her agent doesn’t return her calls. But for some reason, she keeps believing that she just might get what she came for.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a story about hopes and dreams, being young in a city, and wanting something deeply, madly, desperately. It’s about finding love, finding yourself, and perhaps most difficult of all in New York City, finding an acting job.
I had no idea Lauren Graham was busy working on a novel, so I was really surprised when just a couple of weeks ago I happened to hear about the upcoming release of 'Someday, Someday, Maybe.' I am a big Gilmore Girls fan, and I've always loved Lauren Graham as an actress. Needless to say, I have high hopes about her writing skills! I love the sound of Franny Banks and her journey to finding success within the world of acting... Another April release to be excited about!
Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon!

19 April 2013

April 2013 release: 'The Guest List' by Melissa Hill

When funny, kind and gorgeous Shane proposes, Cara is over the moon, and can't wait to share the news of their engagement with all their friends and family. Excitement, however, quickly turns to apprehension when it seems that everyone has a fixed idea of the perfect wedding and offers to 'help' with the planning. With tussles over the ceremony and the size of the guest list, sibling rivalry and insistent in-laws-to-be, Cara can see her vision of the big day being ripped to shreds.

So she and Shane determine to make a stand and do things their way. But when they announce their plans for a beach wedding on a beautiful Caribbean island, there is uproar. Threats are made, family secrets are revealed, and things turn decidedly stormy. 

Will Cara and Shane manage to overcome all obstacles? Or will their dream wedding turn into a nightmare?

After reading Melissa Hill's novel 'Something from Tiffany's, I have been a big fan of her writing and I can't wait to share my excitement with all of you about her next release, 'The Guest List.' I love books about weddings and with a stunning cover like this, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this novel when it is released on the 25th of April!

Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon!

17 April 2013

Review: 'Summer Daydreams' by Carole Matthews (2012)

What if you had always dreamed of something more...? 
Nell McNamara has a happy life: her boyfriend Olly adores her, their four-year-old daughter Petal is the centre of their world and Nell has a steady job in the local chip shop. When the chippy needs a makeover, Nell jumps at the chance to unleash the creativity fizzing inside her. Inspired by what she can achieve - and encouraged by the very best friends a girl can have - Nell is determined to try something new. Waving goodbye to the chip shop, she starts up a new business making her own line of must-have handbags, which are soon flying off the shelves. It seems Nell's dreams are finally coming true, but her success doesn't come without a price. Before too long, Nell has to ask herself if it's really possible to have it all ...

Even though Carole Matthews has been part of the chick lit scene for quite some time already, I somehow hadn’t picked up any of her books until a few months ago. ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ was recommended to me by a friend, and I loved it. So, when I saw the gorgeous and bright cover of ‘Summer Daydreams’ with Carole’s name on it, I already had a feeling this novel wouldn’t disappoint!

The heroine of ‘Summer Daydreams’ is  down-to-earth Nell McNamara, who works in the local fish & chips shop, and leads a happy life with her long-term boyfriend Olly and their four-year-old daughter Petal. After giving the chip shop a successful make-over, Nell’s boss and colleagues tell her she should do something more with her creativity than just serving food all day. This gets Nell thinking and she starts to long for something more for herself and her little family. With the financial help of her boss Phill, she starts an art programme at a college nearby, but this doesn’t turn out the way Nell had initially hoped. Yet, it does give her a push in the right direction: she has always had a passion for handbags, so why not start designing her own? Nell quickly starts up her own business, and it doesn’t take long before she finds success... However, the road to success doesn’t come without a few bumps in the road, and Nell soon realises that in order to realise her dreams she will have to make some sacrifices along the way.

‘Summer Daydreams’ is one of those books that manage to grab readers from the start, and you can’t put it down until you’ve read the last page. At least, that’s what this book did to me. I adored the character of Nell; I love the fact that she is so determined to chase her dreams, even after several setbacks. While many of us would have already given up several times, Nell keeps on going and I admire that kind of determination in people (and literary characters!). However, not just Nell, but all the characters were just lovely and added something special to the story. If I have to pick one of them as my absolute favourite, I’d have to go for little Petal though. Nell and Olly’s daughter is just the cutest thing and she never failed to make me laugh out loud with her actions and comments.     

Besides the amazing cover (it immediately reminds me of sunshine, flowers and Spring!), I actually really liked the fact that the novel consisted of mostly relatively short chapters. This made it easy to use every spare moment I had to continue reading, because I could get back into the story without any confusion or trouble. ‘Summer Daydreams’ is a warm-hearted and easy-going novel which will capture a chick lit fan’s heart from the start... And for those who are as excited as I am about this novel and are slightly sad when they’ve finished it; be sure to check out Carole’s website for a short story sequel!

15 April 2013

April 2013 Release: 'Wedding Night' by Sophie Kinsella

Lottie is tired of long-term boyfriends who don't want to commit to marriage. When her old boyfriend Ben reappears and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. There will be no dates and no engagement--just a straight wedding march to the altar! Next comes the honeymoon on the Greek island where they first met. But not everyone is thrilled with Lottie and Ben's rushed marriage, and family and friends are determined to intervene. Will Lottie and Ben have a wedding night to remember or one to forget?

I guess I am not the only one in chick lit land who is incredibly excited about Sophie Kinsella's upcoming release, 'Wedding Night.' After the classic Shopaholic series and lovely page-turners like 'Twenties Girl' and 'I've Got Your Number', Sophie Kinsella steps into the wonderful world of weddings in her new novel. I already love the sound of this story and let's be honest... Who doesn't love a good wedding? Can't wait! 

'Wedding Night' will be released on April 23rd in the USA and on April 25th in the UK. Click here to pre-order your copy on Amazon now!

11 April 2013

Review: 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?' by Claudia Carroll (2011)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…doesn’t it? What happens when two people decide to give themselves the year off…from each other?

Annie and Dan were the perfect couple. But now the not-so-newly weds feel more like flatmates than soul mates and wonder where all the fun and fireworks went … When Annie lands her big break in a smash-hit show that’s heading for the bright lights of Broadway, she’s over the moon. Goodbye remote Irish village of Stickens, hello fabulous Big Apple! But with their relationship already on the rocks, how will Annie and Dan survive the distance? They’re hitting the pause button on their marriage. One year off from each other – no strings attached, except a date to meet in twelve months at the Rockefeller Centre to decide their fate.

Will they both turn up? Or is it too late for love?

The first Claudia Carroll book I bought was 'Personally, I Blame My Fairy Godmother.' As a true lover of anything having to do with happy endings or fairy tales, the title already convinced me to get the book without even reading the blurb. However, up until this day, the book is still lying on my to-read pile. During one of my trips to the UK last year, I picked up another Claudia Carroll novel: 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?' Another blogger's excitement (thanks Kevin!) about Claudia Carroll's novels actually got me to pick this particular novel as my next read, and I'm glad I did!

Annie and Dan are childhood sweethearts, who after having met at boarding school as teenagers, married in their early twenties, and now live in the Irish countryside. After the death of his father, Dan decided to take over the family veterinary practice in Stickings, a small village approximately two hours from Dublin. Annie came with him, giving up her chances of breaking through as an actress to be with her husband. However, Annie continues to struggle not only with rural life, but also with her family in-law. So, when she is offered her dream job, a leading role in a play that is heading to Broadway, she simply can't refuse. The distance turns out to be one bump in the road too many, which leads to Annie and Dan deciding to take a one-year break from their relationship. No rules, no pressure. But what will happen when the year is up? Will Annie be able to resist her handsome director Jack? And what will happen when Dan is alone back in rural Ireland?

Personally, I struggled with the beginning of the book. I thought the start was a bit slow as it took me around 100 pages to really find myself getting into the novel and enjoying the story.  I also thought Annie's behaviour was slightly frustrating. I just wanted her to take the first bus out of Stickens and get far away from everything that made her unhappy. However, as soon as Annie arrived in New York... From that moment I started to really like her as a character and I was hooked on the story itself and didn't want to put the book down. I loved the mix of rural and city life (and the descriptions managed to capture the two different settings perfectly), but the combination of Annie and the city turned the story into some exciting I simply didn't want to stop reading about.

Even though this is my first Claudia Carroll experience, it is already her 8th book. This shows in her writing, because the novel is easy to read and the story really started to live in my head. The repeated use of some specific words ('Anyroadup', Jack's 'cold' hands, Annie's 'blond' apartment) in the text slightly annoyed me, but the need to read on and find out what was going to happen made it possible to ignore that. Overall, I found this a really enjoyable novel and the fact that there are several other Claudia Caroll novels out there, waiting to be read, is definitely getting me excited!


6 April 2013

Review: 'A Message to Your Heart' by Niamh Greene (2012)

Frankie Rowley is far too practical to believe in karma or fate ... and her family and friends reckon that work-obsessed Frankie's strongest relationship is with her phone. (And why not? At least it never judges her for cancelling dinner for the umpteenth time.)

When she loses that precious phone on a business trip to San Francisco, Frankie is forced to hire a replacement. Soon she's getting texts meant for someone else - a woman called Aimee who seems like a lot of fun, and whose family clearly loves to keep in touch - and whose presence in her life is the last thing Frankie needs.

Frankie goes on the warpath, but she is in for some surprises when she blunders into Aimee's world. And the biggest surprise of all is how your life can be changed forever by losing a phone. Frankie may not believe in karma or fate, but suddenly it looks like they've got her number ...

Alright, I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but come on... How can you possibly resist this one? I certainly couldn’t when I saw it lying on top of a pile in a book shop. The gorgeous shade of blue, the small stars which give it a kind of magical feel, the lovely San Francisco scene at the top, the swirly font of the title... If I had to review books by their cover, this one would definitely score very well. But, that’s of course not how it works. Thankfully, the novel itself turned out to fit this amazing cover very well and didn’t let me down.

‘A Message to Your Heart’ tells the story of Frankie Rowley, an Irish literary agent who is devoted to her work (perhaps a bit too much...). After leaving the big organization she used to work for, Frankie decided to turn one of her dreams into reality by starting her own business. However, this particular dream could turn into a nightmare rather quickly if Frankie doesn’t find a new and successful author to sign with her. In order to save her business, she spends the last bit of her money on a plane ticket to San Francisco, where she hopes to be able to reel in famous, but slightly eccentric and stubborn, writer Ian. However, at the start of her trip Frankie loses her phone and in the world of a true workaholic there is probably no bigger disaster imaginable. To make matters even worse, though, Frankie starts to receive strange text messages on her replacement phone. Text messages to a woman named Aimee, and it doesn’t take long before Aimee’s life starts to take over Frankie’s in all kinds of ways...

I don’t want to give too much away about the story, because that is one of the things I liked most about this novel. The blurb on the back of the book definitely didn’t give the whole plot away and even though some of the story might be a bit predictable to some people, it definitely didn’t ruin the reading process for me. I liked Frankie and felt myself really hoping and wishing she would eventually find her happy ending. Most of the other characters introduced in the book (for example Rosie, the American woman Frankie meets on the plane to San Francisco, and Aimee, the woman who is supposed to get all those strange text messages) are also really well-written and make the story come alive. One specific thing that definitely jumped out at me in this particular novel is the scene setting. Most of the novel is set in the city of San Francisco, a place I have never been before but can’t wait to visit after reading Greene’s description of it. It is obvious she has spent quite some time in the city and it has taken up a special place in her heart. I could easily imagine Frankie walking around the city, and it made me long to find a quiet place and get lost in the world of this novel again and again. One thing I was a bit disappointed with was Frankie’s love life. I don’t want to say too much about the development of the story, but I felt the story missed a bit of real chemistry between Frankie and her potential love interest, which was too bad.      

If you are looking for a good summer read, or simply a novel that can add a bit of sunshine to your everyday life, then this is the book for you. Niamh Greene’s uplifting story definitely got me hooked, and I can’t wait to pick up some of her other novels!


2 April 2013

Review: 'Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend' by Sarra Manning (2012)

Hope Delafield hasn't always had an easy life. She has red hair and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can't wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn't exactly the job she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table. At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He's sweet, kind, funny, has a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he's pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they're still totally in love. Totally. They're even officially pre-engaged. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie...Does true love forgive and forget? Or does it get mad ...and get even?
The first time I saw this book was on a shelf in a book shop and the cover immediately caught my eye. I love the purple and pink colours, the font, and the title seems to promise a good chick lit story. Initially, I expected the book to be all about revenge on an ex-boyfriend: the heroine catches her boyfriend cheating, goes through the grieving process rather quickly (boxes of tissues, tears, chocolate, rom-com’s) and decides to come up with nine different ways of revenge to show her ex she is not a girl you should mess with. I love a good romantic story, but a bit of revenge can definitely be entertaining every now and again. Yet, Sarra Manning’s novel turned out to be completely different from what I expected. Which once again shows that you shouldn’t only judge a book by its cover and title (no matter how pretty it may look!).
Hope Delafield has been together with her boyfriend Jack for over 13 years, which is basically half of her life. They live together in a small, but comfy, home in London and after a holiday in Spain, they are now ‘officially’ pre-engaged. It is no surprise that Hope’s whole world comes crashing down when she catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie during a dinner party. Even though Jack promises it was just a drunken kiss, Hope doesn’t completely trust him and rightfully so. She finds out Susie and Jack’s simple kiss is in fact a full-blown affair, which leaves Hope shattered and alone. She knows she should send Jack packing (which she does at first), but she soon realises she is still completely in love with him and afraid to face the world on her own, no matter what her friends say. Throughout the story, Jack and Hope find themselves giving it another try, breaking up again, giving it another try... But, ultimately, Hope starts to realise she might need to step out of her comfort-zone if she wants to live her life to the fullest. Question is, does this include Jack or not?

Sometimes I literally found myself screaming at Hope (in my head... Maybe once out loud, I admit it) to get a grip and just dump Jack already. I didn’t warm to him and thought he was an annoying, self-centred, lazy guy who simply doesn’t deserve a girl like Hope, a character that I really started to like a lot throughout the novel. Yet, I didn’t really get that feeling with any of the other characters. Wilson, the ex-boyfriend of Hope’s best friend Susie, was, for example, a character I couldn’t quite figure out. He isn’t really a bad guy, but to say I really liked him... No. And that was mainly the problem with this novel for me: I loved Hope, but the long time it took to work out the plot and the minor characters who didn’t really speak to me, didn’t leave me with a feeling of longing to read more. However, the way this book deals with the issue of betrayal in a realistic sense was a refreshing and nice change, which did make me want to read on in order to find out what Hope's ending would be like. 

As I said at the start of this review, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Yet, we shouldn’t forget that a lot of people simply do just that. And that’s where I think this book went wrong. It’s not your typical chick lit story, while the cover screams just that. Judging by some of the slightly negative reviews I’ve read online about this book, I think the novel was directed at the wrong audience with this title and cover. It is a well-written, at times funny, and slightly painful novel, which is, most importantly, realistic. What would you do when you discover your long-term boyfriend is cheating on you with your best friend? Obviously we all imagine ourselves kicking his ass and throwing him out immediately... But would we really? This novel deals with that question, and while I personally thought the book was a bit too long, I think others might really love this particular story and the way it is worked out. I've read lots of good things about Sarra Manning's work, so I will definitely give her books another chance ('Adorkable' is already lying on my to-read pile of books), but this particular novel just didn't quite do it for me.