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29 March 2013

April 2013 releases to look forward to!

April is coming our way, and so is Spring (hopefully!). Even though we can't quite count on the weather in northern Europe at the moment, you can always count on lovely writers to brighten up our days with some amazing new novels! Here are some of the releases which I am particularly excited about! 

Melissa Hill - The Guest List

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 the vision she has of her 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?

Why so excited? --> I absolutely loved Melissa Hill's novel 'Something from Tiffany's', so I can't wait to read this new story. And come on, that cover is just gorgeous, isn't it?!

Jane Costello - The Wish List

There are six months left of Emma Reiss's twenties...and she has some unfinished business. Emma and her friends are about to turn thirty, and for Emma it's a defining moment. Defined, that is, by her having achieved none of the things she'd imagined she would. Her career is all wrong, her love life is a desert and that penthouse apartment she pictured herself in simply never materialised. Moreover, she's never jumped out of a plane, hasn't met the man she's going to marry, has never slept under the stars, or snogged anyone famous - just some of the aspirations on a list she and her friends compiled fifteen years ago. As an endless round of birthday parties sees Emma hurtle towards her own thirtieth, she sets about addressing these issues. But, as she discovers with hilarious consequences, some of them are trickier to tick off than she'd thought…

Why so excited? --> I already made a separate post for Jane Costello's next novel, which revolves around a list of things to do before your thirtieth birthday... Definitely excited about this!

Amy Bratley - The Antenatal Group

Seven months pregnant, Mel is dumped by her partner and is suddenly facing parenthood alone. But at her antenatal class, she meets a group of women who quickly become invaluable friends in the terrifying new world of birth and babies . . . Katy – rich, successful and with the dream husband – has her delivery planned to perfection. But she soon realizes that nature doesn’t always follow suit. Lexi, loud and confident, is coping well on her own. Until the only man she has ever loved reappears at the most unexpected moment. Rebecca is the youngest of the group – not long out of her teens, in fact –but she’s determined to hold onto her dreams, even without her family’s support. Erin already seems to be an expert on babies, but her quiet nature hides a secret tragedy. When you’re contemplating pain relief, birth positions and sleepless nights you really need a good friend – or four.

Why so excited? --> I haven't read anything by Amy Bratley, but I'm always excited when it comes to discovering new authors. A group of pregnant women going through the motions together? I loved 'What to expect when you're expecting'... So, count me in!

Paige Toon - The Longest Holiday

'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?

Why so excited? --> It's Paige Toon. Do I have to say more? I've adored all of her novels so far and I'm sure this one won't be any different! 

Sophie Kinsella - Wedding Night

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?

Why so excited? --> I can't even begin to express how much I am looking forward to reading this. I love everything that has to do with weddings and I love Sophie Kinsella; the perfect combination!

Lauren Graham - Someday, Someday, Maybe

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....

Why so excited? --> I had absolutely NO idea Lauren Graham (Hollywood actress, most well-known for her roles in 'Gilmore Girls' and 'Parenthood') was working on a novel! I'm a BIG Gilmore Girls fan, so it's no wonder I am looking forward to reading this!

26 March 2013

Review: 'When I Fall in Love' by Miranda Dickinson (2012)

What happens when your happy ever after is suddenly and painfully taken away from you?

Elsie Maynard has a whole new life she never expected to have. From inadvertently founding a choir like no other with former 80s rock star Woody Jensen, to daring to date again, Elsie steps out into an unknown future – a future that could include gorgeous designer Olly Hogarth, a man who seems intent on winning her heart. Overcoming problems, challenges and the occasional frustration – namely overconfident Torin Stewart who seems to be everywhere – Elsie believes she is making the most of her life. But then a heartfelt request brings her to Paris – and the last item on a very important List.

Can Elsie take the final step and lay her past to rest? Join Elsie as she battles to start again, with the help of a disastrous, newly-formed singing group and her father and sister armed with dating hopefuls.

Whenever I’m in a shop and looking for a lovely new book to take home with me, Miranda Dickinson’s covers always catch my eye. The first of her novels that I read was ‘It Started With a Kiss’ and since then every time I see one of her recognisable book covers I get excited. I didn’t just pick up ‘When I Fall in Love’ because of the lovely sense of winter on the cover, the Eiffel Tower hidden in the background, the bit of sparkle and lovely pink title, but also because I know a Miranda Dickinson tale is the perfect story to snuggle up with on the couch, with a cup of tea and a couple of free hours. And this particular book certainly didn’t disappoint!

This novel tells the story of Elsie Maynard, who has just had the roughest eighteen months of her life. She works at an ice-cream parlour (with the most yummy flavours of ice-cream a girl can dream of; serously, just that is worth reading the book for, trust me!) in Brighton with her good friend and boss Cher, and lives close to her father Jim, and her two sisters Daisy and Guin. One day, Elsie is convinced to give a spontaneous piano performance in a cafe and she meets 80’s rock star Woody, who wants to start a choir with her. Elsie decides to give it a go and it doesn’t take long before The Sundaes are born; a choir consisting of all kinds of Brighton citizens, from slightly bitchy Sasha, to the friendly and kind-hearted elderly woman Irene and the two young lovers, Danny and Aoife (a couple you can't help but fall in love with). Next to this new development in her life, Elsie has started dating again with graphic designer Oliver and she can’t seem to stop bumping into the slightly annoying Torin... After everything that has happened and the changes that are going on in her life, it is now time for Elsie to have a good look around and start rediscovering herself to ultimately decide what she wants to get out of life and what steps she needs to take to find happiness again.

The heroine of this novel, Elsie, is instantly loveable and you can’t help but start rooting for her from the very first pages of the novel. However, not only Elsie, but all the characters in this book have been worked out in detail and all add their own personal touch to what happens in Elsie’s life. I really liked the fact that the story kept on developing itself with each chapter, and that not everything was given away at the start of the novel. Elsie’s tale is heart-warming and it made me laugh, but also shed a few tears at times. I had high hopes for this book and Miranda Dickinson certainly didn’t let me down. I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but if in this case a chick-lit fan decides to pick up this book simply because of the sparkle and pretty letters, I’m almost certain they won’t be disappointed!


22 March 2013

April 2013 release: 'The Wish List' by Jane Costello

Emma and her friends are about to turn thirty, and for Emma it’s a defining moment. Defined, that is, by her having achieved none of the things she’d imagined she would.

Her career is all wrong, her love life is a mess and that rambling country house she pictured herself in simply never materialised.

Moreover, she’s never seen the Northern Lights, mastered the guitar, jumped out of a plane or snogged anyone famous – just some of the aspirations declared on a list the girls compiled fifteen years ago.

As an endless round of birthday parties sees Emma hurtle towards her own thirtieth, she sets about addressing these issues. But, as she discovers with hilarious consequences, some of them are trickier to achieve than she’d thought…

Good news for Jane Costello (and all chick lit) fans! On the 11th of April, Costello's sixth novel 'The Wish List' will hit the shelves. I personally love the sound of this story, which focuses all around an upcoming birthday and a list of goals the heroine, Emma, wants to have achieved by the day she turns 30. I'm a sucker for basically any novel that has something to do with lists (making lists just makes everything more organised, and who doesn't love the feeling of actually being able to scratch something off that list?), so I will definitely be checking out this novel!   

Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon!

20 March 2013

Review: 'The Happy Home for Broken Hearts' by Rowan Coleman (2010)

Ellie Woods spends her days immersed in the escapist pages of the romantic novels she lovingly edits. But her reality is somewhat less rose-tinted. Once upon a time, Ellie had her 'happily ever after' moment when she married her beloved Nick, but fifteen years later her husband's tragic death leaves her alone with their soon-to-become-a-teenager son, faced with a mountain of debt, and on the verge of losing the family home.

On the brink of bankruptcy, Ellie finally succumbs to her sister's well-meant bullying and decides to rent out some rooms. And all too soon the indomitable Allegra with her love for all things lavender, Sabine on secondment from Berlin and estranged from her two-timing husband, and unreconstructed lads' mag aficionado Matt enter her ordered but fragile existence - each with their own messy life in tow. And Ellie finds herself forced to step out of the pages of the romantic novels she hides behind, and learn to live - and love - again. Maybe a new chapter is about to begin for them all...

As soon as I saw the cover of this particular novel, I just knew it was the kind of book I would like. Not only does the title include the words ‘happy’ (who doesn’t like happiness?) and ‘broken hearts’ (which are there to be fixed, right?), but the caption on the cover also reads “Sometimes you have to write your own happy ending…” Well, obviously by just looking at the name of this blog it is quite clear that if a book promises something about a happy ending, you can count me in. 

This novel tells the story of Ellen Woods, a thirty-something widow living in her beloved Victorian home in London with her almost-teenage son, Charlie. After losing her husband Nick, Ellen spends her days taking care of Charlie, worrying about money, and using her work as an editor of romance novels to escape reality whenever she can. It is Ellen's sister, Hannah, who ultimately convinces Ellen that she has to get her head out of the sand: it's either moving out of the family home herself or letting other people move in. After making the decision, it doesn't take long before three lodgers arrive on her doorstep. Allegra (a determined elderly lady, who also happens to be Ellen's favourite romance novelist), Sabine (a German working professional with marital problems) and Matt (an attractive young man who has taken on a new job for all-man magazine 'Bang It!') all bring their own personalities into Ellen and Charlie's lives, and it doesn't take long before Ellen is forced to step out of the pages of happy ever after's and start facing the real world again, no matter how scary it might be.

I hadn’t read anything by Rowan Coleman before, even though I saw her name appear on my Amazon wish list every now and again. I love discovering new authors I can add to my favourites list and Coleman is definitely one of them. After just a few pages, I was already completely absorbed by this novel. Not only because the protaganist, Ellen, is an easily loveable and relatable character (who of us doesn't use stories to escape reality every now and then?), but because almost all of the characters are instantly likeable and bring something interesting to the table. The novel is really well-written and the mix of romance, grief, humour and strength is the perfect balance to form a story I simply could not put down.

What I especially loved about this book is the way Coleman developed her characters. In most books, there are always a few characters you love, maybe one or two you dislike and perhaps some you don't really care for. With this book, I surprisingly found myself falling in love with almost every single character: Ellen, who is shatterd by grief but is trying to pick up the pieces of her life; Charlie, who is struggling with his mother's behaviour and the fact that he is starting to turn into a typical teenage boy (which results in a couple of very funny scenes and conversations); Allegra, the demanding lady in lavender who you can't help but grow fond of; Sabine, who is perhaps not as present as the others but definitely adds something to the story with her own issues with her cheating husband; and, last but not least, Matt, who I couldn't help but develop a serious reader's crush on. The only character in the book I had a bit of trouble with was Hannah, but that most likely also has to do with the plot development (don't want to entirely give it away for those of you who haven't read the book yet!).

I was seriously gutted when I finished this novel, but at the same time it was a satisfying ending I can not complain about. The one thing about this book that slightly bothered me were the cursive passages that focused on The Sword Erect, the romantic story Ellen is editing during the course of the novel. I myself wasn't a big fan of this other plot and would have rather seen those couple of extra pages used to write more about the other characters. Yet, at the same time I do see the significance of this other storyline, so it is simply a personal comment on the side. Overall, a really well-written book filled with warmth, kindness and laughter which I would definitely recommend to any chick-lit fan!


17 March 2013

Welcome to 'A Spoonful of Happy Endings'!

I think I am probably not the only one who started squealing as soon as the amazing library, full of books and lovely staircases, in Disney's Beauty and the Beast appeared on my screen for the first time. I remember it clearly; I was still a little girl and already knew with 100% certainty that one day, one way or another, I would walk around one of those libraries and read all the books I could find there. Now, older and perhaps even more in love with books and libraries than I was back then, I have put things in perspective. I know I will probably never have my own personal library with lovely staircases to climb (…unless I somehow bump into a multi-billionaire prince who loves me so much he will build me my own library, who knows?). But, thank god I live in the era of the Internet, which offers me the opportunity to start my own personal library online. Even though I can't actually physically touch this library, and I can't really add any lovely staircases, I'd like to think of this blog as my little corner on the Internet where I can share all my reading experiences with my readers (which will hopefully come and join me someday... Cupcakes for everyone?), and also a place that I can see as my own library, filled with reviews and stories of amazing, and perhaps not so amazing, books... Something which I can look back at in a couple of years, remembering why exactly books were, and hopefully still are at that time, such an important part of my world.

The title of this blog, A Spoonful of Happy Endings, captures my passion for books in a couple of words. I’m a devoted fan of everything chick lit (especially if it has a happy ending), but I also love the classics (the ‘spoonful’ of course refers to the classic children’s story of Mary Poppins), with a special place in my heart for anything even slightly linked to Jane Austen. Yet, as a person with a love for books in general, I’m open to (almost) anything. I can accept the occasional unhappy ending, if the story is good!

Welcome to every single new reader; hope you enjoy this blog and, please, leave a comment if you have the time, sharing your opinion or just wave and say hello. And of course, recommendations are always welcome! :)