Chicklit

27th June 2015 – Book Review – I Followed the Rules (And Then I Broke Them) by Joanna Bolouri

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4 stars

All my lovely readers, its seems that summer is finally here!! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the car rooftops are down and the sunnies are out. The lovely weather would of course not be complete with the huge variety of summer reads that have recently been released for our reading pleasure.

One of these reads that will be hitting the bookshelves very soon is Joanna Bolouri’s ‘I Followed The Rules (and then I broke them).’ I must admit that this was an ideal, easy, summer read and I finished this in a day! The book features Catriona ‘Cat’ Buchanan, a journalist and single mother who is juggling motherhood and a career and as a result of this, has totally neglected her love life. The outcome of this is that she has been single for the past six years.

When her previously popular column as ‘Glasgow Girl’ for the Tribune starts to lose readership and ratings, inspired by an experience of one of her happily married colleagues, she decides to follow ‘ The Rules of Engagement’ written by Guy Wright, a book that she is secretly highly critical of as it is requires women to change themselves entirely in order to ‘ensnare’ a man. Her main goal is to prove that the ‘rules’ actually don’t work and the book is, to put it mildly a load of rubbish!

What follows is a tale of how certain preconceived notions meet their demise and how wrong stereo-typing can be, especially where gender roles are concerned. Cat is a strong, woman of today who is juggling a fairly successful, semi-freelance career while raising a bright, happy and confident child. She was acrimoniously dumped by her ex husband Peter, which she has still not quite gotten over, as the rejection still rankles and needless to say, they are still not quite on the best of terms. She speaks her mind quite often and quite eloquently and her language can be colourful at times. All these traits make her a very normal and relate able heroine. There is nothing ‘holier than thou’ about her.

The fun really starts when she starts to follow Guy Wright’s book and the subject of this man-snaring/book shaming experiment is her sister Helen’s drop dead handsome dentist Tom. There are quite a few comedic moments when Cat struggles with inner monologue while trying to be the anal prototype of the prim and proper lady that the book wants every woman who wants to keep a man in a permanent, lasting relationship to be. The tips given in the book on how to behave are the exact opposite to Cat’s actual personality and how she behaves in reality. She is an open and gutsy person, almost a modern day Bridget Jones, prone to bouts of swearing, a love of horror movies and country music and over-sharing, whereas the book advices her to be a closed up clam. The best part is that the book actually starts to work on the slightly old-fashioned and stuffy seeming Tom, who has the looks of a movie star but seems to be too straight-laced for the feisty Cat. The man does not even want to know about Cat’s daughter and the book actually advices her not to talk about children!

To make things more complicated, Cat meets Dylan, the attractive and charismatic owner of the local movie house and after a few too many drinks, things get seriously hot and heavy. Later to her dismay, she finds out that he is her own arch nemesis, the writer of the book that she has been following and criticising on her column. As part of column, she is asked by her boss to interview Guy Wright and get further tips from him to make her dating project a success. What follows makes this book the entertaining read that it is, as a war of wits ensues between Dylan and Cat, tips are shared, insults are traded, a rather tasty Italian dish is prepared by Dylan and some amazing chemistry is created between the two!

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and loved the very ‘real’ and ‘unapologetic for being herself’ heroine Cat with her ready wit, use of questionable language, taste for slasher/horror flicks and a penchant for country music. She is a good mother, with a humorous outlook on the rewarding, but often times challenging task of raising kids single handedly. Her relationship with her matchmaking sister Helen is endearing and she shares a great friendship with Rose and Kerry. She eventually comes to terms with her unresolved feelings on how badly her marriage ended with her ex husband Peter and even gives him her blessing when he re-marries.

One  thing that I would have liked to see in this book, however is more development of Dylan’s character, as although the reader does find out a lot about his character and personality, not a lot is shared about his background, his family and what makes him the person that he is. As a reader, I would have definitely wanted to know more about his background and what made him write the ‘rules’ book.

Overall, quite a great read and worth reading for the witty repartee between the lead characters, the comic mishaps that occur when Cat follows ‘The Rules of Enagement and to learn how, after six years of singledom, Cat finally gets her happy ending. ‘I Followed the Rules’ is published by Quercus and is out on the 2nd of July.

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14th June 2014 – Book Review: It Had To Be You by Lynda Renham

 

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Summer’s here, the sun’s out, the birds are chirping and everyone has their sunnies and flip flops out! To mark the coming of summer, there are some amazing summer reads out and one of these happens to be Lynda Renham’s hysterically funny, witty and mood lifting novel ‘It Had To Be You’. Lynda’s forte has always been humorous romances and she does not fail to impress this time around with her latest offering.

‘It Had To Be You’ is hapless heroine Binki Grayson’s story. Binki is down on her luck as on a particularly disastrous Christmas Eve, her life unravels. After being sexually propositioned by her odious boss, she is fired unceremoniously when she turns him down in no uncertain terms. On coming home early, she finds her boyfriend Oliver ‘in flagrante delicto’ with his own boss in their shared apartment! Out of work and out of a boyfriend, Binki leaves the apartment she shared with Oliver to find solace with her parents. Once there, she discovers that she has inherited a house from her deceased Aunt Vera. However, Aunt Vera, it seems did not quite make up her mind and has also left the house to her financial advisor, the rich, handsome and infinitely arrogant William Ellis.

Unfortunately for Binki, William has already made his home in ‘Driftwood’, the house that Aunt Vera bequeathed to one of them and what follows is a story of comic mishaps, dodgy dealings, jilted lovers, sex shop shenanigans and loads and loads of chocolate (for those of us who love chocolates).

Binki is a loveable, scatty heroine who does not fit the size zero ideal. She loves her chocolate and is charmingly self-deprecating. I absolutely loved her observations in the novel, right from her descriptions of Oliver’s man-hunting boss Amanda’s ample assets and her detailed analysis of her lecherous ex boss, wart-nosed and all, down to her candidness about her failed attempts to diet and her hilarious thoughts on William Ellis’s vitamin taking and condom collecting habits. Similarly, William Ellis is the ideal hero, slightly mysterious and arrogant at first but the reader gets to know more of him as the novel commences and they cannot help but start to like him.

Renham’s writing hooks the reader and the story flows as Binki and William’s initial hostility with one another gives away to lasting and easy friendship and ultimately things start to get complicated as deeper feelings develop. A further spanner in the works is thrown, when Oliver, Binki’s cheating boyfriend goes on a mission to win her back and ultimately make her his wife. William has a complication of his own in the form Andrea, his own ex-fiancée who loved him and left him due to his workaholic tendencies but now wants him back.

The story is hugely entertaining and will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes and Jenny Colgan. It has plenty of humour, a huge dash of romance and amazing chemistry between the hero and heroine. For me the chemistry between the lead pair is the most important aspect of any chick lit novel and it is for this very reason that I feel chick lit aficionados everywhere will adore this book. This book is entertaining from start to finish and you must watch out for the soap opera-like ending and a mini cat fight in the end, which would give any current Hollywood feuds a run for their money! A sweetly nostalgic touch is added as Tony Bennett’s ‘It Had to Be You’ plays an important part in the story.

I give this novel a very apt four and a half stars and urge you to read it! ‘It Had to be You’ is published by Raccous Publishing and is out now.

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18th May 2014 – Book Review – Thirteen Weddings by Paige Toon

Hello to my lovely blog readers, I am reviewing a very special book today, after a gap of nearly two weeks.

I know I have been a little inactive on my blog, but its been a manic two weeks for me due to busy times at work and in my personal life.

That said, lets get to the important business of reviewing an amazing book….

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There are books that make you laugh, there are books that make you cry and then there are books that make you do both and make you think’ This has happened to me….I can relate to this’. Paige Toon’s Thirteen Wedding is such a book. While reading this, I was so engrossed in the story that I felt one with the characters, rooting for them, feeling with them and ultimately wanting that perfect happy ending for them that are usually a feature of all good chick lit novels. Let me say at this point that I love Paige Toon’s novels, her stories have a perfect combination of love, longing and angst combined with feisty heroines and swoon-worthy heroes.

Thirteen Weddings is Aussie picture editor and part time wedding photographer Bronte’s and her new but all too familiar colleague Alex’s story. Bronte meets and has a one night stand with Alex at her close friend Polly’s hen night when Alex is on a break from his long term relationship with girlfriend of 10 years, Zara. Although both Alex and Bronte feel a special connection that night, they part ways and then meet again, out of the blue at their place of work.

What ensues is a tale of unrequited love, yearning, life lessons, sacrifice and making difficult decisions, all set amongst the thirteen weddings for which Bronte is assistant photographer. Enter Lachie, a handsome, fellow twenty something Aussie wedding singer, who instantly takes a shine to Bronte and you have love triangle that could give the Jen/Brad/Ang one (in its heyday) a run for its money. We also find that our heroine, despite being multi-talented and confident individual, has a very dysfunctional family who have some skeletons in their closet. This novel is a perfect summer read and although it is light-hearted at places, Bronte and Alex’s dilemma is described with an intensity and passion that you would not normally find in chick lit novels.

I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written, meaty read and I must say, in a couple of places, I was so drawn into the novel that I was actually cross with the heroine for making certain rash decisions and behaving in the way that she did. But for this very reason, this is a good novel, because the story has been concluded very realistically and it does have a few unexpected twists, especially in the end which the reader does not expect. I also loved the well-described hugely entertaining thirteen weddings that Paige photographed, a few memorable ones featured reluctant spouses, a runaway bride, bratty children playing pageboys as well as Bronte’s friend Marie and Russ’s small but beautiful wedding in the sun. The most poignant and heartbreaking moment in the novel is when Bronte has to photograph that one wedding that she never thought she would or could. Serious issues such as her childhood friend Polly’s battle with alcohol are also tackled and Bronte’s other friendships with Marie, Rachel and Bridgette give a warm feel to this novel. Also, watch out for cameos of characters from Paige’s previous novels, ‘Pictures of Lily’, ‘Lucy in the Sky’ and ‘One Perfect Summer’.

For me, both the heroes of the novel, are intriguing in their own way. Alex is the distant, sometimes closed and unattainable but immensely attractive man that stole Bronte’s heart and Lachie is the charming, handsome, larger than life lover and friend to Bronte who is there for her during happy and sad times. You feel for both Bronte and Alex when they struggle to fight their burgeoning attraction for each other and you can’t help but fall a little in love with Lachie, so full of warmth and charm and obvious adoration for Bronte.

This lovely novel deserves all of its five stars and is published by Simon & Shuster UK, out on the 22nd of May 2014. Pre-order yours now!

 

 

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5th May 2014 – Book Review: Chase by Jill Knapp

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I love reading novels written by authors from the Stateside, they offer a unique and fresh perspective and are somehow more honest and frank (no offence meant to British writing). An amazing new writing talent to watch out from the States is Jill Knapp and if you are a fan of Sex and the City and Rom Com movies, then you will absolutely love ‘Chase’.

‘Chase’ is the story of Amalia Hastings, a 23 year old Jersey Girl, who has moved to Manhattan to study in NYU but is finding the life and men in particular, fickle in her newly adopted city. The reader is also introduced to Amalia’s close friends Cassandra and Olivia who have ‘man problems’ of their own. Cassandra is oblivious and on occasion tolerant of her boyfriend Bryce’s wandering eye, but how long will it be before she wakes up to his misdemeanour’s? Meanwhile, Olivia is having a clandestine relationship with a man who may be out of bounds for her.

I really enjoyed reading Amalia and her friends’ story and this novel provided a keen insight into the Manhattan culture. Also, what made the book unique for me was the ending (you, dear reader must read the novel to find out what it is).

Amalia is a strong heroine, period. She learns a lot of life lessons throughout the novel and faces one relationship catastrophe after another. When her boyfriend of many years, Nicholas decides to break off their relationship, straight after her birthday, in the aftermath of a huge fight, she is left feeling lost. This leads her into an ill-advised relationship with her classmate and friend Michael, someone who she has found attractive for a long time. An added complication is that Michael already has a girlfriend and appears to be leading Amalia on.

As a reader, you know where all of this is headed but kudos to the writer for creating a heroine who makes the mistakes that anyone would make in the situation described and but rises through all of this, battle scarred and bruised but wiser and determined to pursue what she really wants in life. She is unashamedly honest, forefront and a true realist. She makes mistakes but she is not scared to admit to them. She is proud of what she is and likes to keep it ‘real’. I especially like one of the scenes in the novel, where she tells her ex-boyfriend exactly what she thinks of his pretentious new attitude and lifestyle!

Most of the men described in the novel are not very likeable….however there are more instalments in the Chase series which I am definitely looking forward to reading to know more about the adventures of Amalia and her friends and hope that we will see male characters as amazing as the female ones!

This novel is well worth reading and gets a well-deserved four and a half stars from me.

Watch out for Chase, out this summer, being published by Harper Impulse.
 

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27th April 2014 – Book Review : Sealed with a Kiss by Rachel Lucas

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A book should be all about escapism. A good novel is one where, whilst reading, the reader is transported into a new, exciting place, transfixed by the characters of the novel to such an extent that they are unaware of their surroundings.

Rachel Lucas’s charming tale ‘Sealed with a Kiss’ manages to do exactly this, as while reading the book, I found myself being transported to a remote but lovely Scottish island of Auchenmor, where our heroine Kate decides to take on a job as Girl Friday to Scottish Laird Roderick, after being dumped unceremoniously by her long standing but boring boyfriend Ian on her best friend’s wedding.

This is Kate’s chance to get away from it all, and believe me, if you as a reader also want to get away from it all for a few hours, then read this enchanting novel. This book is quintessential chick lit; it has humour, romance, a tall, dark and handsome but brooding hero, a wicked rival, loyal friends and to top it all of loads of cute animals, including a very naughty puppy and also a sweet little seal pup!

The author has described the island of Auchenmor with great detail and clarity, giving the reader a real taste of how the life in a remote Scottish island would be like and the novel has some winning and memorable characters in the form of Bruno at the coffee shop, Susan and Tom, the much in love couple who live on the island, the ever present Jean and Billy who work on the estate, Kate’s best friend Emma and her husband Sam and their precocious daughters Katherine and Jennifer and lastly, Elizabeth, Kate’s doting but over-protective mother. They make this novel even more special.

There is good chemistry between the Laird Roderick and Kate and the dark, brooding and occasionally grumpy Roderick, often reminded me of the heroes from the novels of yore. You could very easily liken him to the mysterious Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre or the darkly attractive Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights. I love the way how the author described the tentative, uneasy friendship between Roderick and Kate and how this very slowly developed into something more, despite the plentiful obstacles and misunderstandings that came their way, in form of the island’s resident lothario Finn and Roderick’s vampish ex, Fiona. A real highlight in this novel is the celebration of Hogamany, where Roderick hosts a very Scottish New Year’s party in his castle, cue some very cute men wearing kilts!

All in all, this is a very special novel and one that the reader will not forget in a hurry not only due to its picturesque description of Scottish isles and wildlife but also because it has a lot of ‘heart’ in it. It is a ‘feel good’ novel and I had a warm, fuzzy, ‘awwww’ feeling when I finished it.

This book gets a well-deserved five stars from me and I highly recommend it to lovers of all things chick lit!

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11th April 2014 Book Review- Shot through the Heart by Matt Cain

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five stars 2

 

It is a rarity to find a budding new male author whose talents lie in writing Chick Lit. Matt Cain is one such rare find. Although Matt is not new to writing as he has written for The Times and contributes a monthly column to Attitude magazine, he is new to writing fiction. However after reading this novel, all I have to say is Jackie Collins, Victoria Fox, Tilly Bagshawe and the like, watch out….. you have competition!

I have just finished reading his fabulous book ‘Shot Through the Heart’ and couldn’t wait to start typing out the review!

The book is about the curious love triangle between Mia Sinclair, one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies, a hunky British-born paparazzo Leo Hendersen and gorgeous and supremely talented actor Billy Sinclair who has come to terms with his own identity but is scared of letting the whole world know his secret.

Mia is fed up with her image as the ‘First Lady of Love’, having starred in multiple money-making chick flicks that have done wonders for her career but have done nothing to make her acceptable in Hollywood as a serious actress. She longs to break out of this ‘mould’ and wants to make her mark as a serious ‘oscar-worthy’ actress. Concurrent with this is her desire to find a soulmate, who would be happy to share her crazy Hollywood lifestyle, without being overwhelmed or intimidated by the paparazzi that seem to follow her everywhere. Funnily enough, despite a disastrous first meeting, Mia thinks she has finally found ‘the one’ in form of Leo Sinclair, a Briton living in LA, working as a paparazzo. Although natural enemies due to the nature of their professions, the attraction between Mia and Leo is undeniable and the two start dating.

Further complication is thrown in when Mia starts getting too close for comfort to her co-star, the drop dead gorgeous actor Billy Sinclair, all as part of publicity for her and Billy’s new film ‘War of the Words’.

Billy has his own deep, dark, secret and is hiding behind a facade, too scared to own up to who he really is as he is too scared of losing his popularity as one of Hollywood’s top actors.

This novel reads like a perfect soap opera, with glitz, glamour and gossip aplenty. Mia and Leo’s love story is fresh, unique and charming. Billy Sinclair’s character is also well-described and the reader cannot help but feel for him when he describes his inner turmoil about hiding his secret life or when he describes the violent treatment meted out to him in his dark past There are some very interesting side characters in form of Hector, Mia’s gay lovelorn PA and Violet, the bitchy, manipulative, ‘Cruella De Vile’ lookalike publicist from hell. Matt’s writing is crisp and fast-paced and there is never a boring moment in the novel. Best of all, everyone gets a happy ending and all’s well that ends well.

Although the book pays homage to the ‘bonkbuster’ genre, it is fairly clean compared to the other books of the genre. Having said that, there is a decidedly tangible sexual chemistry between our hero and heroine and various references to the odd quirks, lifestyles, sexual habits and behaviours of the Hollywood jetset which make for juicy reading!

All in all, this is a great first novel which gets a full five stars from me. I highly recommend that you pre-order your copy today, available from 24th April 2013, link below.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shot-Through-Heart-Matt-Cain/dp/144723829X

 

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