30 August 2009

In My Mailbox #6

IMM is a weekly feature meant for posting pics of the books we've received over the week. It was started by The Story Siren.

Ooh, I've received some fantastic books in the past week!


Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon
Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon
Cents and Sensibility by Maggie Alderson
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

Yep, lots of Sarah Dessen books - I decided to buy them after reading Along for the Ride a while ago. I loved that book and it really gave me this urge to read the rest of Ms Dessen's works too!
Even though I wasn't blown away by Lucy in the Sky, I decided to buy Ms Toon's other two books too, mostly because the covers are gooooorgeous!
As for the other two books - they just seemed interesting so I ordered them, woo.

Hope everyone else acquired some fantastic books too! :)

28 August 2009

Review: ME AND MR DARCY by Alexandra Potter ***

"After a string of nightmare relationships, Emily Albright has decided she's had it with modern-day men. Shed rather pour herself a glass of wine, curl up with Pride and Prejudice and step into a time where men were dashing, devoted and honourable, strode across fields in breeches, their damp shirts clinging to their chests...
So when her best friend invites her to Mexico for a week of margaritas and men, Emily decides to book a guided tour of Jane Austen country instead.
She quickly realises she wont find her dream man here. The coach tour is full of pensioners, apart from one Mr Spike Hargreaves, a foul-tempered journalist sent to write a piece on why Mr Darcy's been voted the man most women would love to date.
Until she walks into a room and finds herself face-to-face with Darcy himself. And every woman's fantasy suddenly becomes one woman's reality. . ."

(summary)

This is my third Alexandra Potter book and while both other two (Be Careful What You Wish For & Who's That Girl?) were brilliant (I'd rate them 5/5 and 4/5 respectively), I'm sad to report that I found this one slightl disappointing, especially in terms of plot, which was slow paced and too far fetched. It started off really well, but I'm afraid I thought it all went downhill eventually. Maybe I would've liked the whole Darcy thing more if I fancied him too, but sadly he never was my dream date or my fantasy, far from it ...

Let's start with the bad news first. Firstly, I don't usually mind the cute little paranormal effects in Ms Potter's books, but I thought all the magic things in this novel were completely far fetched and underdeveloped. As you can tell from the title, Emily meets the real Mr Darcy, which could be fun, but I'm afraid that in this book it just ends up being sort of silly - review might get a bit spoilerish now so skip this paragraph if you don't want to know. He shows up wherever she happens to be and he falls in love with her after only a handful of brief meetings. Obviously, Emily is crazy about him too and even thinks they're in a relationship somehow, but all of a sudden she realizes that she doesn't really like him at all and then ponders how to break things off with him?! What's even worse an explanation for Mr Darcy's appearances is never given as even Emily herself can't decide whether it was all real or if she just imagined everything. Nonetheless, she believes that she has solved the mystery of what he was doing during the period of a few months when he was absent in Pride and Prejudice - he was meeting her. Huh? Besides, wasn't this whole story about meeting the real Mr Darcy really quite pointless?
Another thing that really made me roll my eyes is the mysterious tour guide and her role in the book - that was just ridiculous, sorry to say.

Another complaint that I have about this book is that the story was very predictable - you could tell from the first few chapters who Emily will end up with (there's not much choice really). And when it actually and finally happened, I found it implausible and pretty silly. After all, the two have only met a few times and then all of a sudden - bang - they're together. Despite all the things that were presented in the book, I just couldn't picture Emily falling so fast for the guy, it all felt rushed and unreal, as if she only fell for him because of all the silly parallels to P & P. I usually like a nice love story, but this one was just far to cliché and unreal, more annoying than anything.

On the other hand, what I really really enjoyed about this book was Emily's narrative voice, which I found very witty and she had me chuckling almost non-stop. At first she seemed like someone I could really relate to as there are plenty of things we seem to have in common, but as the story progressed, Emily just got too silly to my liking. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed her narration and I thought that was by far the strongest point of the novel.

Despite all the negative things that I mentioned above, I have to say I still enjoyed the book - not surprising at all since Ms Potter is a wonderful author, plus her book covers are too beautiful for words! I'll definitely be reading the rest of her books - I still have Calling Romeo to read, which I bought a while ago, and I'm reeeeally looking forward to her novels due next year - one of them (Do You Come Here Often? - most gorgeous cover or what?!?!) was supposed to be published this October, but it appears that it's been pushed back and will now come out in January 2010, boo. Calling Romeo will be reprinted in February and then Ms Potter is set to publish a brand spanking new novel sometime in June 2010. All in all, there's lots to look forward to!

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 5/5

25 August 2009

Review: THE LUXE by Anna Godbersen *****

"Imagine, if you will, New York City, 1899 . . . Society's elite: the glamour, the grandeur, the glittering parties, the most handsome beaus, the most beautiful debutantes . . . the rich girl, the humble boy, the forbidden love, the hushed whispers, the stolen glances, the whispers, the scandal, the mystery, the revenge . . . You are cordially invited to step into The Luxe, where the secrets are dark and the sins are delicious . . . R.S.V.P."

(summary)

This is the first book in The Luxe series, which will consist of four novels (the last one, Splendour comes out in January 2010 in the UK), all of which take place in New York at the turn of the 20th century. This first book takes place in late 1899 and it's sort of a YA read as the protagonists are between 16 and 20 (or so). It's a story of high society teens and it has scandal, secret love affairs, glamurous dresses and balls, betrayal, revenge etc., basically all the necessary ingredients for an enjoyable read!

I admit I was mostly drawn to this book because of the beauuutiful cover, but I'm pleased to report that the story is such is equally wonderful! I was drawn in right from the start and really enjoyed reading it. I can't say if the portrayal of New York and its citizes back then was accurate because I'm not an expert, but it was certainly interesting. I also thought the story was well written both language and plot wise - the written flew nicely and the plot was quite riveting, there was always something going on, a lot of scheming and revenge etc. Yes, it sounds trashy and I suppose it really it, but it's great fun!

The cover says that this is like the OC or something but with bigger frocks and more dashing boys, haha. Personally, the book really reminded me of Gossip Girl and I could just see the connection between the characters ... I thought Liz and Penelope were such a Serena and Blair (respectively), while I totally got the Chuck vibe from Henry. Furthermore, Lina reminded me of Little J. and Will seemed like such a Dan (expect LJ & D are siblings in GG whereas they're romantically involved here so that kinda doesn't work, lol). So yeah, I didn't think the boys were particulary dashing or anything, but the dresses were definitely fantastic and I loved reading about them - I really enjoyed how the author went into detail describing them. And the whole scenery and events and everything - it was just so easy being sucked into 1899, hehe!

Another great thing about these books is that they're beauuuuutifully designed, major props to the designer as they did an amazing job! The covers themselves are stunning, but even the book as such is well designed with cute fonts and newspaper articles etc. I know that's silly, but it's a small thing that simply added to the enjoyment of the book.

Technically this shouldn't be a 5/5 as it's really not a masterpiece or anything, but wahey it's just soooo much fun to read. I mean, all the necessary ingredients are there and they're well mixed and wonderfully served - what's not to love?!

I strongly recommed this series to *everyone* and I'll definitely be reading the rest of the books. I've bought the second and the third one a while ago, but I'm just gutted that the last book has been pushed back and will now be published in January 2010 instead of November 2009 as it was originally planned. Nonetheless, I cannot wait to read the rest of the books too!

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5


Below are the other three books in The Luxe series.
Aren't the covers simply divine? :)

24 August 2009

I will follow you, follow you wherever you may go ...

Just a few random little announcements as I'm in a bit of a hurry and will do everything else in the evening when I get back.

Firstly, the incredibly lovely Kate from The Neverending Bookshelf (check out her blog, it's wonderful) helped me set up my followers box yesterday so now you too can become a follower, woo! It's somewhere in my sidebar, I think you have to scroll down a bit, but feel free to follow me and I'll be happy to return the favour, this is a great gadget.

So far it's been a really great day. I've heard from Susanne Dunlap and Zoë Foster (the best email ever!!!) and I've nearly died of shock and happiness. *huge grin* Need to recover a bit before I can reply properly, lol. I've also received my copy of Just Listen by Sarah Dessen today and I really look forward to reading that one. Read a few more pages of Me & Mr Darcy and omg, I love that book, it's hilarous!

Right, that's it for now, randomness over, must dash as I'm already late (as always).

Have a great day, everyone! :)

23 August 2009

In My Mailbox #5

I'm slightly sad to report that there were only two books In My Mailbox (feature started by TSS) during the past week:

I've ordered Could it be Magic? after reading Chloe's review and I was kindly sent Hens Reunited for review by the author after I said I didn't like the cover, heh. I'll read this one just to prove that books shouldn't be judged by their cover, blah blah - we all know it's true, but sometimes it's just impossible not to (be it in a good or a bad way).

Expecting some grrrrreat books next week! Oooh, if only I could read books half as fast as I'm getting them, but I just can't and my TBR pile/list is scarily massive and it's freaking me out, but at the same time I'm loving it!

You know what they say: You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many books! :)

22 August 2009

Two breathtaking covers!

How insanely amazing are the covers below? (click to enlarge)


Dot has just posted a great review of the left one and I've been seeing the right one on various blogs. None of them really sound like my kind of read, but I'll probably buy them both even if I never read them, simply because they're so stunning!

What covers are YOU in love with at the moment? :)

21 August 2009

Review: REMARKABLE CREATURES by Tracy Chevalier ****

"In the year of the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species, set in a town where Jane Austen was a frequent visitor, Tracy Chevalier once again shows her uncanny sense for the topical. In the early nineteenth century, a windswept beach along the English coast brims with fossils for those with the eye! From the moment she's struck by lightning as a baby, it is clear Mary Anning is marked for greatness. When she uncovers unknown dinosaur fossils in the cliffs near her home, she sets the scientific world alight, challenging ideas about the world's creation and stimulating debate over our origins. In an arena dominated by men, however, Mary is soon reduced to a serving role, facing prejudice from the academic community, vicious gossip from neighbours, and the heartbreak of forbidden love. Even nature is a threat, throwing bitter cold, storms, and landslips at her. Luckily Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly, intelligent Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster who is also fossil-obsessed. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty and barely suppressed envy. Despite their differences in age and background, Mary and Elizabeth discover that, in struggling for recognition, friendship is their strongest weapon. Remarkable Creatures is Tracy Chevalier's stunning new novel of how one woman's gift transcends class and gender to lead to some of the most important discoveries of the nineteenth century. Above all, it is a revealing portrait of the intricate and resilient nature of female friendship."

I became a huge fan/admirer of Tracy Chevalier after reading Falling Angels, which I simply cannot praise highly enough, and Virgin Blue, which was also excellent. Thus I was obviously really looking forward to reading Remarkable Creatures, but I admit that I was left *slightly* disappointed - don't get me wrong, the book tackles an important subject and is really well written, but I'm afraid there just wasn't enough fiction in it for me.

It's the story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, two fossil hunters from the early 19th century, who are also the narrators in the book (each of them narrates one chapter). Nonetheless, the story is mostly based on Mary Anning's life and if you read about it here, you'll know most of what happens in the story. That's why I didn't do a summary for this review as there's hardly plot to speak of, most of it is based on events that have already been described above (the novel just has far more dialogue and side characters to bring the story to life).

What I really liked about the book were the two narrators - they were both very strong and independent women, quite unlike the other ladies of their time. They both shared the passion for fossils and were better at finding them than most of their male contemporary experts. Neither of them married or had children, thus they were dubbed as spinsters, but both were very successful and far ahead of their time. They were really wonderful characters who didn't give in to the expectations of the society and really knew how to stand up for themselves, which was quite unheard of back then when ladies simply had to look pretty and nod appreciatively at gentlemen's expert knowledge (or say something like, "One does wonder." - LOL), but both Mary and Elizabeth showed that women were no less equipped than man to understand science.
It's funny how things have changed in the past two centuries - in Mary Anning's time, a woman was stared at if she walked down the street alone and was nearly called a spinster if she wasn't married with children by the age of 20 or so. Thank goodness those times are gone!

Speaking of which, the book provides very interesting insight into the early 19th century, when people didn't believe in extinction and thought God was unmistakable. The author researched the subject very well to make the subject as interesting as possible.

I acknowledge the importance of Mary Anning's discoveries, but I confess I'm (still) not particularly fascinated by fossils so I couldn't help but find this book slightly (dare I say) boring at times because there's hardly any action to speak of, just fossil discoveries etc. But whatever the book lacks in conventional plot, it makes up in writing, which is excellent, but that's hardly surprising as the author has proved herself to be an outstanding writer many times before. And while I didn't think her previous works excelled in covers, her latest novel finally got the beautiful cover it deserves!

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5


ps: For additional info on the book, visit the autor's site, which has been redesigned for the launch of this book - strongly recommended as it features a lot of interesting information on all her books. You can also read the first chapter and watch a video of the author or buy your copy here.

pps: Oh and I just remembered, I've been following the author's progress on this book for months and it had two working titles: the previous one was Spare Bones and the first one was She Sells Sea Shells - gutted that didn't stay (apparently something to do with translating issues), but how amazing (and fitting) would that title be, hehe?!

19 August 2009

Review: NORWEGIAN WOOD by Haruki Murakami ****

"Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love."

(summary)

I've been hearing great things about this novel for years but I didn't really see myself reading it as I thought it just wasn't my cup of tea - I mean, I tend to read mostly US/UK female fiction with female characters, but this novel was written by a Japanese man; it takes place in the late sixties in Japan and features a male narrator = as far from my type of reading as you can get. But then I got my hands on a copy of this novel and I started reading it out of pure curiosity and all of a sudden I found myself turning the pages; somehow I was sucked in and couldn't stop reading! So I bought myself a copy of the book and finished it at home, where I again couldn't put it down. That doesn't mean that the story itself was incredibly gripping, it's just that it was so well written that the pages just flew by.

It's been a while since I've read a novel from a male point of view so reading Norwegian Wood was certainly different to what I'm used to. I found Toru, the central character, quite passive and his narrative was too emotionless to my liking, but it still captured the poignancy of the whole story quite well so I really couldn't dislike it too much. Looking back, maybe the narrative voice was quite fitting, hmm ...

Speaking of the narrator, I can't say I found him particularly dreamy or anything, he just lacked something, but I certainly thought he was a rather interesting character, even though I couldn't relate to him (not too surprising, but luckily I don't have to relate to things to appreciate them).
I liked how the two leading female characters were so different and I thought they really brought the story to life. Naoko was facinating because she was so damaged and mysterious and introvert; you couldn't help but feel sort of sorry for her and for how things turned out for her (I must admit I was hoping her final move wouldn't happen). I enjoyed reading about her relationship with Toru, they really had something special going on.
On the other hand, I really enjoyed scenes with Midori, who was probably my favourite character in the novel. Unlike Naoko, she was extrovert and outrageous and crazy (in a good way) and fun and independent; she always came up with the most wtf statements ever and I loved it! I thought she really added some spark to this otherwise quite melancholy novel.

The plot itself wasn't too exciting - just a man in his late thirties reminiscing about his student days, but goodness knows the story was worth telling as those were some memorable times, which obviously really affected the narrator's life. Furthermore, the story was exceptionally well told (some relatable quotes too) and even though the plot summary may seem kind of boring, reading the story certainly wasn't as there were several quite shocking moments.

On the whole, I liked this novel far more than I ever imagined I would. It was really refreshing since it's so different from what I usually read and I'm glad I've finally read it - better late than never, huh. ;) Oh and everyone and their monkey probably knows that the inspiration for the novel title was the song by The Beatles? Well, I've heard of it too, but never actually listened to the song (don't hate, I'm just not a fan) until it was mentioned in the novel and who woulda thunk it, it's actually a really great and cute acoustic song (have had it on replay for a day or two now)! Wahey, you learn something new every day! :)

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 3/5

17 August 2009

Review: HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger ****

"At last - another brilliant, original and moving novel from the author of The Time Traveler's Wife.
Julia and Valentina Poole are normal American teenagers - normal, at least, for identical 'mirror' twins who have no interest in college or jobs or possibly anything outside their cozy suburban home. But everything changes when they receive notice that an aunt whom they didn't know existed has died and left them her flat in an apartment block overlooking Highgate Cemetery in London. They feel that at last their own lives can begin ...but have no idea that they've been summoned into a tangle of fraying lives, from the obsessive-compulsive crossword setter who lives above them to their aunt's mysterious and elusive lover who lives below them, and even to their aunt herself, who never got over her estrangement from the twins' mother - and who can't even seem to quite leave her flat...
With Highgate Cemetery itself a character and echoes of Henry James and Charles Dickens, "Her Fearful Symmetry" is a delicious and deadly twenty-first-century ghost story about Niffenegger's familiar themes of love, loss and identity."


I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the Her Fearful Symmetry manuscript a couple of months ago - it was my second most anticipated book of the year (no. 1 being Twenties Girl, surprisngly they're both ghost stories, haha). I'd been dying to read it ever since it was announced that the manuscript was sold, but I was saving it for the summer when I had the time to read it without interruptions and that was this weekend, yay!

First of all, WHOA, what a book!!! Yes, everyone will tell you that it's completely different from The Time Traveler's Wife (one of my all-time favourite books!) and that's true, but what they have in common is that they're both incredibly original and well-written and they feature a supernatural element that perhaps sounds strange but totally works in the context of the book.

This extraordinary novel tells the story of mirror twins Valentina and Julia Poole, who live in Lake Forest, IL, USA. The story opens with the passing of Elspeth Noblin, who decides to leave her flat to her nieces, the above mentioned twins, who she has never actually met since she and her twin sister (the twins' mother) weren't on speaking terms. The twins move to London to live in their new flat (bordering on Highgate Cemetery, where their aunt is also buried) when they turn 21 and the will says they have to live there for a year before they can sell it.
They soon become friends with their two neighbours and start spending more and more time with them while growing distant from each other. Valentina enjoys the company of Robert, Elspeth's lover who is still mourning over her and he's also working on his book on the Highgate Cemetery, while Julia likes to spend time with Martin, a crossword maker whose wife had just left him because she could not cope with his OCD anymore (he has multiple compulsions and never leaves his flat).
The girls and Robert find a way to communicate with Elspeth, who is now a ghost and still lurking in the apartment. Valentina, the shy twin who has always been under her sister's command, decides that she wants to live her own life and not feel like half a person. Her plans for life are different from her sister's, but she knows Julia will never let her live her own life sooo she comes up with a plan how to escape from Julia. However, the plan is very dangerous and creepy and requires the help of Elspeth's newly acquired "abilities". Robert and Elspeth are both unsure about the plan, but Valentina manages to convince them and they go along with it. And then things take an unexpected turn! People get just what they've wanted, but, as one of the side characters points out, that can be the biggest punishment ...

The book mainly explors what it's like to be a twin. First, it's the story of the Noblin twins, Elspeth and Edwina, who used to be so close, but then everything changed and they parted ways for over 20 years and no one knows why, even though especially Julia and Valentina are never curious, but Elspeth refuses to tell them. The only one who finds out is Robert when he reads the letter his lover wrote to him to explain everything. Yes, it's quite a shocking twist, but I admit I expected something like that and was hoping it would be a bit better. Still, it was a huge twist.
The other set of twins, Julia and Valentina, are both still virgins and single because they're so attached to each other and always do everything together, they even dress aline. But eventually Valentina (aka Mouse) doesn't feel comfortable always being bossed around by her twin and she desperately wants to break free from her grip and sees only one way out - the most risky there is ...
I admit I've always interested in twins, but I don't think I could handle such a close relationship with a sister ... Nonetheless, I think the author presented all the ups and down of a twin relationship very well.

Another reason why I was also incredibly excited about this book is the setting - it takes place in London (my favourite city!) and more importantly at Highgate Cemetery!!! I've been fascinated with that particular graveyard ever since I've read Falling Angels, where most of the action also takes place at or around Highgate Cemetery. Sadly I've never visited it myself (definitely planning to the next time I'm in London!), but I was really excited to learn more about the cemetery as it is today as opposed to in the early 20th century (that's when the story in Falling Angles takes place). It's a fascinating place and I've particularly enjoyed the chapter titled "A Tour of the Highgate Cemetery" as it really gave me a nice tour of the cemetery without actually being there, hehe. To learn more about one of the most famous cemeteries, click here or here or watch a video here. After reading the book, I think I'll be a bit creeped out when I visit the cemetery, hehe.

The story is perhaps a bit slow paced at first, but still interesting enough to keep you turning pages - I just wanted to find out what happened to the Noblin twins! But the story really picks up once Valentina comes up with her devious plan and I was on tenterhooks whether it would actually work or not.

I thought the characters were brilliant and well developed too. The one I found most interesting was Martin with OCD problems, to which I could relate to on a very distant level. There weren't all that many side characters, but those that appeared were all interesting and contributed to the story. The end as such may not be the best outcome, but I found it satisfying. I like the cover too, it fits the story well (as opposed to the US one, which I'm too keen on).

On the whole, I really really enjoyed this book and I'm happy to report that it did live up to my expectations. Personally, I didn't think it was quite as amazing as The Time Traveler's Wife, but it was still a truly great book (even if a tad creepy, hehe)! I loved the twists and turns and the originality of it. This novel again proves what an outstanding storyteller Ms Niffenegger is and I can't wait for her next book, whenever that may be!

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5



ps: For more information on this book, visit the author's site. And wooohooo, you can also read the first chapter here!

pps: Lastly, click here to watch the author read an excerpt from the book (images of Highgate Cemetery are also shown) or watch the video below, in which Ms Niffenegger herself introduces the novel:

16 August 2009

In My Mailbox #4

It's been two weeks since my last IMM (created by The Story Siren) and I've acquired several new books since then (click the photo to enlarge):

Divas by Rebecca Chance
Into Temptation (Spoils of Time 3) by Penny Vincenzi
Star Struck by Anne-Marie O'Connor
How Not to Shop by Carmen Reid
Adored by Tilly Bagshawe
Little White Lies by Gemma Townley

So what did everyone else get? :)

14 August 2009

Review: HOW NOT TO SHOP by Carmen Reid ***

"Her passion is fashion ... but she's on a budget! Personal shopper Annie Valentine is about to hit the big time: presenting a glamorous TV makeover series! But too late, Annie discovers this is TV on a shoestring. They're paying her buttons and her budget is zip. Can she make do with Primark when all she wants is Prada? While Annie performs miracles with the minimum, boyfriend Ed is left at home with one son (deeply green), one daughter (deeply teen) and one sexy, Russian blonde (don't ask). He's not happy. He wants more together-time. He wants a dog. He may even want...a baby! But could non-stop, fame-seeking Annie ever handle that?"

(summary)

I've read Three in a Bed by Carmen Reid a couple of years ago and I remember I quite enjoyed it (minus e.g. the birth scene, which will haunt me forever, hehe) so I was interested to read more by the same author, plus I admit I was instantly drawn to this book because of the cover. I was kindly sent a copy of How Not to Shop (many thanks to the publisher!), which is apparently the third installment in the series about Annie Valentine, but I'm afraid the book sadly didn't live up to my expectations.

The first thing that bothered me is that I couldn't relate to Annie at all: she's 37 and has two grown up children, which is just not my cup of tea - sounds more like my mother than a female friend I'd like to read about. Perhaps that spoiled my enjoyment of the book slightly as I usually need to relate to the character at least a bit to get absorbed in the book, but I'm afraid I couldn't be more different from and indifferent to Annie. However, I did appreciate that she was a genuinely lovely and kind woman and I really liked how she always stood up for the poor people who were taken advantage of. I may not exactly look up to Annie, but I definitely cannot hate her either as she's a really loveable and sweet and an endearing character. The blurb above describes her a "non-stop fame seeking" character, but I didn't get that impression at all.

As for the other characters, I personally thought they were rather one dimensional, underdeveloped and completely unreal. Annie's boyfriend Ed is a nice guy, even a tad too nice - he's like the epitome of a Feathery Stroker (those of you who've read Anybody Out There? will know what I'm talking about) and I found him completely undesirabable and too corny. Furthermore, I was terribly annoyed with Svetlana, who is possibly the most irritating character ever with her horrendous attitude towards life and her unrealistic foreign speak (also super annoying). I didn't get a chance to warm up to any of the side characters either since, as I mentioned before, they were all underdeveloped.

The plot didn't really blow me away either. I mean, what is this book about anyway? I'm afraid I can't say it was very well structured as there was really nothing going on or the action wasn't presented well enough, in my opinion. I was also bothered by the title - I was nearly done with the novel and still had no idea what the title refered to. If that show was so important that it deserved to be featured in the novel title, why did it only appear at the end of the book and was barely described at all? Sure, there were things going on, but they all seemed kind of random and didn't captivate me, apart from the troubles that Annie's mother and sister were facing, their struggles did quite move me. Moreover, the writing was quite average and the editing process wasn't too brilliant either as there were lots of commas missing (sorry, but that just annoys and distracts me). Plus I really didn't find the book funny?

As I said, part of my dissatisfaction with the novel could be attributed to the fact that I couldn't relate to the main character at all and I don't think I was the target audience for this book anyway as my lifestyle and interests are completely different. Furthermore, perhaps I would enjoy the book more if I had read the other two books first, maybe then I'd find it easier to understand the characters more. The novel works as a stand alone book, but I admit that certain references were lost on me. I'm also curious what happened to Annie's husband - anyone care to enlighten me why he passed away? Was just wondering.

By far the best thing about the book is the cover - it's gorgeous and it would definitely catch my attention in a bookshop, I'd definitely pick it up and possibly buy it just because of the pretty cover!

All in all, I thought the book was pretty average, but that's just silly ol' me and I often find faults with books that most people have enjoyed just because they don't strike a chord with *me* (keep in mind that I'm a strange person). I'd recommend this book if you like a reeeeally light and quick read. If you're interested in finding out more about this title, then please read the reviews by Chloe and Jenny, who both really liked the book!

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 2/5 | cover: 5/5

12 August 2009

Review: ANYBODY OUT THERE? by Marian Keyes ****

"Marian Keyes has introduced readers to the lives, loves, and foibles of the five Walsh sisters -- Claire, Maggie, Rachel, Helen, and Anna -- and their crazy mammy. In this funny, heartbreaking, and triumphant new tale set in the Big Apple, it's Anna's turn in the spotlight.
Life is perfect for Anna Walsh. She has the "Best Job in the World" as a PR exec for a top-selling urban beauty brand, a lovely apartment in New York, and a perfect husband -- the love of her life, Aidan Maddox. Until the morning she wakes up in her mammy's living room in Dublin with stitches in her face, a dislocated knee, and completely smashed-up hands -- and no memory of how she got there. While her mammy plays nursemaid (just like all of her favorite nurses on her soaps), an
d her sister Helen sits in wet hedges doing her private investigator work for Lucky Star PI, Anna tries to get better and keeps wondering why Aidan won't return her phone calls or e-mails. Recuperating from her injuries, a mystified Anna returns to Manhattan.
Slowly beginning to remember what happened, she sets off on a search to find Aidan -- a hilarious quest involving lilies, psychics, mediums, and anyone in the city who can promise her a reunion with her beloved. . . .

Written in her classic style, marrying the darker parts of life with humor and wit, Anybody Out There? is Marian Keyes's best novel to date, a wonderfully charming look at love here and ever after."


(summary)

Now here's a book that's bound to have you in tears, both from crying and laughing so hard - but that's Marian Keyes for ya! This novel is essentially heartbreaking and it tackles a very difficult topic of grief, but Ms Keyes manages to include humour even into something so deadly serious. Don't get me wrong, the main subject isn't taken lightly at all and Anna's pain is tangible, but there are still events and characters that make this book fun, albeit not always easy to read.

To focus on the positive side first: I simply adore MK's trademark humour - it's not your average comedy, it's more dry and sort of dark and completely kooky, but in the best possible way! It's mostly reflected in her characters, the ker-azy Walsh family being a prime example and Mammy Walsh being possibly the Queen Bee, haha. I adore that woman, she just cracks me up so much! The other Walsh girls are hilarous too - what a brilliant family! The downside of this is that I feel that some characters are sort of one-dimensional and exist mostly for their comedy value - which is not a bad thing, far from it, but it doesn't make for fantastic characterizaton. Nonetheless, I can't help loving the characters!

On the other side, this book tackles an incredibly difficult subject so parts were really difficult to read - you know, first Anna reminisces about her happy times with Aidnan and what a lovely couple they were and then bang, reality hits. I immediately symphatized with Anna as you know right from the start that something really horrible has happened since Anna is so badly injured. It was hard even for me to comprehend what actually happened so I can understand why Anna was completely in denial in the first part of the book. Furthermore, I think the subject of death was dealt with well and the mourning was well described with all the different stages etc. This grim subject was ever present in the book but luckily the story didn't dwell on it too much and I appreciated the humour as the distraction, otherwise I don't think I'd be able to finish the book, it'd just be too devastating.

I enjoyed reading about Anna's The Best Job in the World - she works are a PR for a beauty firm and gets lots of freebies and comes up with exciting pitches etc, it was fun! It rememinded me of Air Kisses, but it was like reading about beauty from the other perspective. On the other hand, I wasn't too sure about Anna's interactions with her mother and Helen - I didn't think those emails added to the story much; I mean, they were funny at first, but then I just started skipping them as I didn't see the point. Lastly, I do quite like the cover - the covers are lovely plus I like how it's all related to the book; you can even see a figure in the taxi and all these butterflies are there for a reason, hehe.

All in all, as expected, this was a really really good read (even if perhaps a bit too long) - typical Marian Keyes! I really enjoyed it, but I think my two favourite books by her remain The Other Side of the Story and Angels (that one literally made me cry with laughter, haha). Other books that I still have to read by her are Last Chance Saloon, Rachel's Holiday and Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married - looking forward to reading those too!

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 4/5



ps: I decided to remove my review of The Brightest Star in the Sky for now because I didn't want to influence anyone's opinion with my silly little review, let alone discourage anyone from reading the book! I'll probably post it again once the book is out and people have formed their own opinions.
Speaking of which, I found what appears to be the US cover for MK's next book and it's quite lovely methinks (certainly better than that new golden slash turquise UK cover). The US cover has this elegant feel to it and if you click to enlarge it, you'll see that it's full of little things that are featured in the book (a bike, taxi, dog, TV etc.).

pps: I apologize in advance for the lack of action on here (and probably other blogs too) in the next couple of days as I'll be working 12+ hours and will hardly have time to read, let alone review (boo), but I promise to make up for it after it's all over, hehe.

9 August 2009

Review: ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen ****

"It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect."

(summary)

This was my first Sarah Dessen book and I admit I order it mostly because I fell head over heels in love with the cute cover. I wasn't too keen on the plot, but since everyone and their monkey is praising Ms Dessen, I thought I'd give her a try too. The result? I fell right under the Dessen spell, of course!

Judging by the cover and the description, this is such a summery book so I thought now was the perfect time to read it. It's been ages since I've read a proper YA novel and it felt kind of strange at first, but then I started to enjoy it - it was sort of nice to be reminded of what it's like to be 18 again (even though I don't miss those times at all), hehe.

The plot wasn't too mind blowing, but I enjoyed it anyway and I did find the book quite hard to put down as it was really well written - the narrative voice was typically teenagery, but the narration was still beautiful (slightly melancholy) and I liked that combination, it was perfect for the book. I really liked the main character, but all the side characters were great too. I didn't favour anyone in particular, but I thought they were all well crafted and had dymension.

This is YA fiction at its best and I can hardly fault this wonderful and well-written story of friendship, first love, divorce, death, coping with a newborn etc - I could've easily rated it 5/5, but it didn't completely blow me away on the personal level (totally subjective, whereas objectively it's excellent).

Ms Dessen is adored by her fans (just check the ratings of her books on Amazon!) and I'm really glad I've finally given her a chance. I'd really recommend Ms Dessen to anyone looking for a great YA read and I'll be definitely reading more of her books - next up I'm planning to order Just Listen and The Truth about Forever and I'm also tempted to read This Lullaby and Dreamland (which appears to be really hard to get in Europe?). They all sound great and I'm awfully excited to read them!!!

Lastly, click here and here to see Ms Dessen introduce the book and read an excerpt from it.

overall rating: 4/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 5/5

ps: Oh, no IMM post from me this week because I've only received a couple of the books with several still on the way so I thought I'd just post them all next week.

6 August 2009

Review: THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN by Kate Morton *****

"A lost child: On the eve of the First World War, a little girl is found abandoned on a ship to Australia. A mysterious woman called the Authoress had promised to look after her - but has disappeared without a trace.
A terrible secret: On the night of her twenty-first birthday, Nell Andrews learns a secret that will change her life forever. Decades later, she embarks upon a search for the truth that leads her to the windswept Cornish coast and the strange and beautiful Blackhurst Manor, once owned by the aristocratic Mountrachet family.
A mysterious inheritance: On Nell's death, her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes into an unexpected inheritance. Cliff Cottage and its forgotten garden are notorious amongst the Cornish locals for the secrets they hold - secrets about the doomed Mountrachet family and their ward Eliza Makepeace, a writer of dark Victorian fairytales. It is here that Cassandra will finally uncover the truth about the family, and solve the century-old mystery of a little girl lost."

(summary)

Like many others, I've read and loooved The House at Riverton by this same autor so I was really looking forward to reading her next novel. I admit I had high expectations for it and luckily I was not disappointed, far from it - the book couldn't be better!

The opening scene takes place in 1913, but later on three other stories are intervined: one starts in 2005 when Cassandra inherits the house and decides to explore Nell's background, then there's one that takes place in 1975 when Nell bought the house and went to Cornwall herself to do some research about her parents and lastly there's one that describes Eliza's life; it starts in 1900 and leads up to the opening scene. These different time periods rotate in chapters and each chapter provides some information about the main mystery of who Nell really is and why she was left alone on the boat to Australia.

The story is not only wonderfully written, but also incredibly well-structured so that layers of the intriguing mystery are removed bit by bit, which means that the book is really quite hard to put down as you simply must know what happens next. The writing itself is beautiful and it adds to the story, making it evn more engrossing as you just get completely sucked in into the worlds that Ms Morton created, her writing skills make everything described in the book so easy to imagine. Yes, there were quite a lot of side characters, but I felt everyone was portrayed vividly and contributed to the story, which in itself was easy to follow.

Personally I found the book impossible to dislike in any way as it has everything you could possibly wish for in a great book: an absorbing story with a really intriguing mystery at heart, which is also well presented and features a set of wonderfully portrayed characters. I can't compare it to The House at Riverton as I've read that too long ago to remember it properly, but I can safely say that this was one of the most enjoyable and satisfying novels I've read lately. I'm already looking forward to Ms Morton's next book called The Distant Hours, which will apparently be published in April 2010 - if the same writing skills are employed, then it's bound to be fantastic!

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 5/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 3/5

5 August 2009

Review: LUCY IN THE SKY by Paige Toon ***

"Settling down for a 24-hour flight to Australia, Lucy finds a text message on her phone - not from her boyfriend James, as she fondly hopes, but from a woman claiming to have slept with him four times in the past month. Trapped on the plane, she questions everything about her relationship with James. She finally calls him and he reassures her: it was only his mates playing a silly joke. James is a lawyer, persuasive and gorgeous and Lucy adores him. So why, at the wedding in Sydney of her best friend Molly, does she have niggling doubts, and find herself attracted to Molly's brother-in-law Nathan? The sooner she gets back to her regular life in London, the flat she shares with James, her job in PR, the better. Nathan is a happy-go-lucky surfer boy, with no prospects, no place to live, an almost-girlfriend in tow. And the other side of the world ... Lucy - a girl caught between two distant continents - and two very different men ..."

(summary)

I've been hearing so much praise for this novel and I quite enjoyed it myself, I just wasn't blown away like I expected to be, but please don't hate, I'm just a silly girl with a strange book taste. ;)

Firstly, I liked how the novel was set in Australia and London, two destinations that I adore so it was interesting to read about those two places. Furthermore, I thought the jokes between Lucy and Nathan were a cute addition and even if most of them were plain silly, some of them really cracked me up! On the other hand, that seemed like a cheap way of entertaining the reader and personally I prefer to be amused by the writing and the dialogue. I just appreciate that more because it's harder to achieve, but nonetheless these little jokes were a lovely touch and made the budding relationship even cuter.

I didn't quite warm up to Lucy, I thought she wasn't the best narrator ever (even though she had her good moments), but I quite liked the two guys. Obviously Nathan had more good points going for him, but I found James quite well-portrayed (he had the most dimension, I think) so I could understand Lucy's dilemma, at least at the beginning and then it was just plain obvious where her heart was. Speaking of which, I found the relationship between Lucy and Nathan a bit too sudden and too convenient, albeit cute, but by the end it was simply too corny, shame. All in all, I thought the theme itself (being caught between two men aka emotional cheating) was very interesting, but I just don't think this was the most interesting executing I've ever read (a similar theme was occured for example in Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier and I thought it was more emotional and 'real', same for Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin, both excellent books). Oh and also, is it just me or was the topic of cheating underdeveloped? It was supposed to be a life changing thing, but I thought it was too quickly brushed aside and not investigated enough.

Personally, I found the novel to be sort of badly written, firstly because the writing itself was really simple and also because I thought there were several events and characters that contributed hardly anything to the main story. I also thought certain things were too detailed for no apparent reason. Sometimes I just had this feeling that the author was just trying to fill the pages ...

What I liked by far the most about this book is the cover, which is simply goooorgeous! That's why I'll most likely be buying Ms Paige's other two novels, simply because I feel the urge to own such beautiful books, can't resist them (yes, I know this is silly, but I don't care, must have these books). I'm just hoping the other two novels will be better. I'm not saying this was a bad book, far from it, it's a lovely summer read, but very very light and simple and not particularly funny (apart from the jokes). It's a cute read, but I think there's definitely room for improvement. :)

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 5/5

Award: Let's be friends!

Yay, I was recently nominated for the award below by Carolyn at Book Chick City!

"Blogs that receive the Let’s Be Friends Award are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."

Aww, how sweet is that! Therefore I'd like to pass this lovely award to the following super friendly bloggers (in alphabetical order):


Please pay all these lovely blogs & sites a visit, it'll be worth your time! :)

4 August 2009

Review: AIR KISSES by Zoë Foster *****

"Sometime it’s better to kiss than to make up…
Hannah Atkins – the girl most likely to be sporting unblended foundation, orange wrists or a wobbly trail of liquid eyeliner – has bluffed her way into the position of beauty editor at Gloss magazine. Just as she’s carving a path into the shiny world of guerrilla air kisses, achingly hip PR campaigns and goodie-bag overload, she reads about her boyfriend and another girl in the gossip pages of the local rag. Then she gets dumped. By text.
Vowing to claw back some dignity and make her ex regret what he’s done, Hannah adopts a manifesto of hardcore rules. Don’t become BFFs with the catty girls at work. Don’t drink fourteen glasses of Moët & Chandon at PR launches. Don’t go home with inappropriate men. And certainly don’t get all besotted with your best friend’s brother. As her rules start to slip away, Hannah finds herself having to decide on more important things than just the perfect shade of lip gloss…"

(summary)

"Is love *really* more important than lip gloss?" That ridiculous question, printed on the back of the book, would be enough to make me put the book back on the shelf, but since I was kindly sent the proof for review (many thanks to a&b; the book is officially out today), I thought I'd give it a try anyway, expecting it to be a 4/5 max. I admit I was a little prejudiced (I mean, a book about a beauty editor's dating experiences doesn't quite sound like my cup of tea), but I'm glad that I started reading it because I was completely blown away!!! Yes, this novel may sound very shallow, but the author manages to turn it into something abolutely delicious and I devoured it like yummy chocolate cake while enjoying every second of it!

I was drawn in right from the start, which was quite the opposite of what I expected, but this is good stuff. I thought the strongest point of this novel was the writing itself aka Hannah's narration - it's fresh (*wink wink*) and modern and sassy and vivacious and I absolutely loved it! I always say that the book is not about the story, it's how the author tells it and Ms Foster really made the best of it (goodness knows the plot isn't quite riveting, but you don't even notice that), whereas it's a great shame when an author comes up with an interesting story but just fails to deliver it properly. This is not the case with Air Kisses, a book full of great characters as well as funny and convincing dialogues.

Based on the blurb, I expected Hannah to be more of an Ugly Betty or Andy at the beginning of DWP, but she seemed to fit in with the rest of the beauty girls just fine, even if she was a bit self-conscious. She annoyed me slightly when she got all emotional and mad, but on the whole I really enjoyed her narration and the girl evidently loves her job, which is always a plus. It's quite clear that the author is writing from personal experience and she makes the job of a beauty editor sound really interesting. I wouldn't quite kill for that kind of a job (I don't have the passion), but I really enjoyed reading about what such a job involves, plus all the freebies they get (envious!) and all the meetings and glamurous functions they attend. It was all very well presented, which I expect is due to both the author's and narrator's passion for make up. Every chapter also includes an interesting beauty tip at the beginning, which was a nice addition. I mean, I'm a huuuge fan of make up myself (couldn't live without it), but who knew it could be such serious business, hehe!

I loved pretty much all the characters, I thought they were really well portrayed and no one annoyed me, which rarely happens. The best friend Iz was lovely and great, I loved their friendship, her gay friend Gabe was incredibly funny and fierce, the work friends all added to the story too so that was great! But the male characters - ooooh, what a charming bunch! I fell for all the boys Hannah crossed paths with, namely Trucker, Dec, Jesse and Dan. Trucker may have been slightly too aggressive in his approach, but I still thought he was kind of cute and hilarious, haha. Jesse may have been a bit of an idiot, but I still couldn't hate him, he had his good moments. Dec was full-on adorable and dreamy, and I think I developed a serious crush on Dan (which was gone by the end of the book, you'll see why) - I loved his flirtatious ways and the texts between him and Hannah were just the best. All in all, I think the novel boasts a great set of characters.

This has to be one of the best chick lit books I've ever read and I strongly recommend it to all fans of the genre (click here to read an extract from the book and click here for the video of the author talking about the book). It really is a fantastic debut, which I (unexpectedly) enjoyed immensly. Ms Foster has apparently signed a three book deal with Penguin Australia and her next book is out in October (non-fiction?) and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more by her. Chicklit Club (great site) did an interview with her and appears to be a feisty and ambitious and successful woman herself - even her website is funny; another A++, this girl is simply a winner. :)

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5

3 August 2009

Review: LOVE LIES by Adele Parks ***

"Fern is glaring thirty in the face and can't ignore the love lies any longer. Life with Adam was amazing once - although these days swinging from the chandeliers means D.I.Y not S.E.X. She believes a romantic wedding should be the next step but Adam just won't go down on one knee. Then a chance meeting with Scottie Taylor - the UK's sexiest pop star - lights fireworks in Fern that won't stop exploding. It's mind-expanding love at first sight for them both so when he proposes in front of a sell-out crowd at Wembley Stadium, there's only one answer. Yes, yes, yes! Before you know it, Fern is living the celebrity dream in LA and a wedding planner is arranging designer shoe fittings. But isn't it all happening a little too fast? Why is this modern day Cinderella homesick for a rented two-bedroom flat in Clapham? How do you know whether love is telling the truth? Fern must choose which version of this fairy tale is hers."

(summary)

I've been excited about this book for months, but sadly it didn't quite deliver. The beginning was kind of boring, but the story quickly picked up once Fern was whisked off to Scottie's world. I admit I nearly drooled over the descriptions of his fabulous house and his wealth - hey, that's what dreams are made of (mine especially, hehe). Reading about the life of the rich and the famous really was the best bit, possibly because I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff (I wonder how the author researched it though?). I found it quite fascinating, especially since you quickly learn that their lives are not all rainbows and butterflies and that they basically lose their identity, quite tragic. I found it quite creepy how fake and staged and manipulated everything was, but it's easy to see how one could get lost in that world.

The story is narrated mostly by Fern with occassional narrations by Scottie. I quite enjoyed the latter as they gave important insight into his mind, which was important for the story. Fern really idolizes her, but Scottie himself presents himself as the bastard he really is, no pretense. And while I appreciated that, I can't say that I liked him as a character, he was just too selfish and seriously lacked backbone - he couldn't think or speak for himself, everything was done for him by other people. I didn't like Fern either, I thought she was a silly girl since she actually thought a man like Scottie was marrying her for love. She wasn't annoying all the time, but mostly just too naive to my liking and I found it hard to feel her "pain".

Despite the surprisingly very average writing, I quite enjoyed the book, especially the middle part where Fern (what kind of a name is that btw?) was sucked into Scottie's crazy world. But what really ruined the book for me was the ending (if you're interested, you can read it in the summary linked above) - I felt like the author was taking the softest possible option and wasn't even trying to end the book properly. The "discovery" is supposed to be this twisty twist, but it just made me roll my eyes, I mean come on! And then it just gets worse with a big cliché and lots of cheesyness and then the book ends in the middle of nowhere. As a reader, I'd expect at least an explanation on how all the people took the news and what the consequences were (they're bound to be huge in a situation like that), but the author just closes the curtain halfway through and expects us to believe that everyone lived happily ever after or what? Maybe it's just me, but I thought the ending was an incredible rip-off.

This was my first Adele Parks book and I can't say I was overly impressed. I've already got two of her previous books (Still Thinking of You & Husbands) waiting to be read so I'm hoping those will be better. But wahey, at least the cover for this book is stunning and the ads are pretty gorgeous too (clever, huh). ;)

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 5/5

2 August 2009

In My Mailbox #3

It's been two weeks since my last IMM (created by The Story Siren) and I've acquired quite a lot of amazing new books since then (click the photo to enlarge):


It feels like I'm drowning in books, but I couldn't be happier! :)
Click on the covers for more info.


1 August 2009

Review: OPERATION SUNSHINE by Jenny Colgan *****

"Evie needs a good holiday. Not just because she's been working all hours in her job as a receptionist for two high-powered plastic surgeons - but also because every holiday she has ever been on in her life has involved sunburn, arguments and projectile vomiting - and sometimes all three at once. Why can't she have a normal holiday, like other people seem to have - some sun, sand, sea and (hopefully) sex? So when her employers invite her to attend a conference with them in the south of France, she can't believe her luck. At last, the chance to hob nob with the rich and glamorous, to party under the stars, to live the life she's dreamed about. It's certainly the holiday of a lifetime - but not quite in way Frances imagined!"

(summary)

My lovely boyfriend (who actually reads this blog ♥) got me this book for my birthday last year and I'm so glad I saved it (unintentionally) for the holiday as it was indeed the perfect sun-lounger read, just like it's described on the cover!

The story itself is perhaps a bit far-fetched, but whatever the books lacks it plot, it makes up ten fold in the hilarity! It honestly cracked me up many, many times and I just love books that manage to do that. Evie is such a loveable and funny character and her narration makes this novel a fantastic feel-good comedy!

Evie was possibly my favourite character, but I loved most of the others too. Lydia was such a fantastic bitchy friend you just couldn't hate her (her nastiness was just too funny) and most of the male charaters (Tom, Bailey, Wilf) were just such sweethearts - a bit silly at times indeed, but none of them annoyed me because they were just so well written that even their sillyness was funny.

As I said before, I can't say that the plot was smashing, but I honestly really truly enjoyed the book because it was just hilarious and I'm honestly surprised at the bad reviews on Amazon, couldn't disagree with them more (happens quite often). I thought the book was fantastic and a perfect summer read! Click here to learn more about the book from the author herself (her husband works on fancy boats - jealous!!).

Now *this* is a worthy comparison to Sophie Kinsella, who is of course the queen of wit lit, but Ms Colgan has just earned herself the princess title (imho)! This may only be the second book by her that I've read, but I'll definitely read the others too - I've already got The Boy I Loved Before and West End Girls in my book collection and look forward to reading them.

overall rating: 5/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 4/5



ps: Below are two other covers for this book (hardcover and Australian respectively). Which one out of three is your favourite?