Posts Tagged ‘Chick Lit’

Where Love Lies

Julie Cohen
where love liesLately, Felicity just can’t shake a shadow of uncertainty. Her husband Quinn is the kindest person she knows and loves her peculiarities more than Felicity feels she deserves. But suddenly it’s as if she doesn’t quite belong.
Then Felicity experiences something extraordinary: a scent of perfume in the air which evokes memories that have been settled within her for a long time, untouched and undisturbed. As it happens again and again, the memories of a man Felicity hasn’t seen for ten years also flutter to the surface. And so do the feelings of being deeply, exquisitely in love . . .
Overwhelmed and bewildered by her emotions, Felicity tries to resist sinking blissfully into the past. But what if something truly isn’t as it should be? What if her mind has been playing tricks on her heart?
Which would you trust?

What were your overall thoughts?
I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. So when it quickly grabbed my attention, I was truly relived. This book is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time and I found it difficult to stop reading. I really just wanted to know what was going on. Then there was worry and tension and fear. I honestly went through so many emotions while reading this book which helped to make it feel completely refreshing. Plus this book has a super sweet ending, making it all worthwhile.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
The mystery of it all. I loved being put on the edge of my seat throughout this book. I also really enjoyed that I had no idea what was going on because the topic was so unique and something I have definitely never heard of before. This book kept me curious throughout which is a difficult thing to do. The curiosity even stayed after the reveal which was fantastic. There is such a wonderful feel to this book when you get to the end.

Who was your favourite character and why?
I’m going to have to say Felicity. This book is her story so I know that makes it hard to not choose her but I love Felicity because she was such a fascinating character. She wasn’t straight-forward but had an interesting background and she was just full of flavour. Felicity was a strong character that you couldn’t help but wish for. She made some odd choices but it was all explained eventually and I just think she was a fantastic protagonist who really carried the story.

Would you recommend this book?
I am certain that this book is not for everyone but if you enjoy complex, mysterious, human stories then I would highly recommend this book. If you’re looking for something with depth that will move you to feel a lot of things and cause you to really think, then this should be a book you read. It is captivating, interesting, and a little scary to boot! So if you want a book like that, you must read this book.

Summarize this book in one sentence. (Verdict)
Where Love Lies is an intense, emotional, powerful, original piece of fiction that is sure to stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Bantam Press
Publication Date: July 2014
Format: Hardback
Pages: 384
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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What Endures

Katie Lee
what enduresJason Kincaid is young, hot and successful.
An All-Star outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, he finally had everything he ever wanted, including a second chance with his high school sweetheart, Megan Williams.
But their hopes for a ‘happily-ever-after’ are dashed by tragedy.
A horrific car accident wipes out most of Jason’s memories. Unable to recall anything from the last fifteen years of his life, Jason is suddenly adrift, his once charmed life now in ruins.
Megan finds herself in the untenable position of having to deal with the fact that the man she’s helping to rebuild his life may look, and even act, like her beloved fiancé, but in reality, isn’t any longer.
Trying to protect herself, as well as Jason, Megan fights the attraction between them. . .to no avail. As their potent connection inevitably draws them closer, Megan wonders,
With the memories of their relationship gone, can love endure?

When I started What Endures I was expecting a candy floss read; boy meets girl, they fall in love, boy loses memory, boy and girl fall back in love, culminating with a cheesy Hollywood ending. Every now and then I want the pure escapism and comfort of a light, sweet and predictably fluffy story. While I would have been happy to sate my sweet tooth with a rush of sugar, Katie Lee had other ideas, giving me more substance to chew over.

After four agonising weeks of constant bedside vigil, Megan’s prayers are finally answered and Jason wakes from the coma caused by the horrific head injuries he sustained in a car accident. Doctors predict that while physically Jason should make a full recovery, the return of his memory is less certain.

While Megan has the experience of loving Jason for her entire adult life, Jason can’t recall a single memory of the previous ten years with Megan. Ten years of ups and downs, of heartbreak and healing. Laughter and tears, all wiped out in an instant. Not only that, but having lost all memory of his adulthood (reconciling with his stepbrother, independence from his controlling father, his glittering sporting career), who is post-accident Jason? Will he fall for Megan? And without the experience of their life together, is Jason still the man Megan fell in love with?

What Endures was an emotional journey, not only through the couples experience of Jason’s physical and emotional recovery, I was frequently teary-eyed as I empathised with Megan’s’ heartbreak and Jason’s bewilderment, but also through the exploration of a realistic long term love story with all of the inconvenience, hard made decisions, compromises and hurts of “real life”.

Verdict: A lovely read. I will be seeking out this indie author’s future work.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Self published
Publication Date: August 2013
Format: eBook
Pages: 346/462KB
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age: New Adult
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Via blog tour
Challenge: Debut Author
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The Valentine Present, and other Diabolical Liberties

Lynda Renham

valentines presentOn arriving home after a friend s posh wedding, launderette worker Harriet, finds her life irrevocably changed when she discovers her flat ransacked and her boyfriend missing. In a matter of hours she is harassed by East End gangsters and upper crust aristocrats. Accepting an offer she can’t refuse, Harriet, against her better judgment becomes the fiancée of the wealthy Hamilton Lancaster, with dire consequences. What she had not bargained on was meeting Doctor Brice Edmunds. The Valentine Present and Other Diabolical Liberties is Lynda Renham’s funniest novel so far. A cocktail of misunderstandings, three unlikely gangsters, a monkey and a demented cat make this novel a hysterical read. Follow Harriet s adventure where every attempt to get out of trouble puts her deeper in it.

Harriet Lawson is my kind of gal. Feisty and with a great sense of humour, she has some fabulous one liners and is a great main character for this book. Unfortunately she is partnered with a bit of a smarmy loser, Julian, who has done the dirty on her big time – but not in the way you might think.

Having given up on her dream to nurse in underprivileged areas abroad in order to support Julian in his new venture, and having to work in a launderette whilst trying to keep up with her studies, Harriet is frustrated and just trying to make the best of a bad situation – a situation that is going to get a whole lot worse.

In the mean time the very rich and pompous Hamilton Lancaster is in a fix as he is desperate to inherit his grandmothers shares – but has to show himself to be responsibly settling down as soon as possible in order to do so. After all, his grandmother only has six months to live….

A chance meeting at a mutual friends wedding leads to Harriet receiving a very interesting proposition and while she feels uncomfortable with it – it could solve her increasingly mounting problems. What could go wrong? And who is the very gorgeous guy she also met at the wedding who caused her to tingle in all sorts of places?!

This was an hilarious read. Harriet’s character is brilliant and she had me in stitches. She is very much your normal average girl thrust into a ridiculous situation and trying to muddle her way through it. Just when you think things can’t get any worse – they do. Initially I felt sorry for her as she is seemingly blinded by her love for Julian – but thankfully as events transpire she comes to realise that what she thought was love, really isn’t at all. More a relationship of convenience – and mostly convenient for Julian.

There is a delightful selection of characters from the faithful and ‘all over the place’ best friend Fi and her stuttering boyfriend Alistair who is the butt of many a joke, to the bumbling wannabe East End gangsters and the very upper class family to which Hamilton belongs – and who are all hiding secrets of their own.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A carefully written story with many intricacies woven in and yet told in such a witty and relaxed style that as the reader I was pulled in and kept there – wanting to keep turning the page to find out hat was going to happen next.

Verdict: I was already a fan of Lynda Renham having read and enjoyed ‘Pink Wellies and Flat Caps’, ‘Wedding Cake to Turin’ and ‘Coconuts and Wonderbras’. Her latest release therefore, ‘The Valentines Present’ has firmly established her as one of my favourite authors.

Publisher: Raucous Publishing
Publication Date:September 2013
Format: eArc
Pages: 288
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Provided by author
Challenge: British book

‘The Valentine Present’ has to be my favourite book of yours to date. I loved the combination of working class, upper class and gangsters all being brought together. What inspired you towards this particular plot line?
Thank you so much. I am thrilled you enjoyed it. I was so worried about this book. I started three different stories to begin with and found myself drawn to Harriet. The inspiration came from the building work we had done on our house. We had no kitchen or bathroom for almost six months and had to go to the laundrette. I remember watching everyone in there and thinking what a great character could come out of this. Now you have her. The plot unravelled as the book progressed. But was influenced by the film ‘The Long Good Friday’ I am influenced by everything. I enjoyed writing about the stuttering Alistair. The book is dedicated to all stutterers of which I was one. I had a terrible stammer as a child. It is better now and only surfaces when I am excited or angry. But I believe you have to laugh at everything.

Which has been your favourite book to write and why?
I think possibly this one. It was great fun to write and I enjoyed creating the gangsters very much. I also loved ‘Pink Wellies’ and especially the research. I was far from a country girl when I researched the book. Even though I live in the country my Essex roots are still with me. You can read the fun story of my research forthat book on my blog here. Mud, dung, and the real Molly are funnier than the book. Alice’s fear of spiders is very much my own. I’ve been known to stand on a chair for hours because a spider was sharing the same room J

Who is your favourite author?
I have many. I read an assortment of Genre’s. I love Kimberley Chambers, Iris Murdoch and I have just finished Graham Rawle’s ‘Woman’s World’ which was sheer brilliance.

What/who was inspirational in getting you started on the road to being a successful author?
People who make a difference inspire me. My husband Andrew has been my greatest inspiration. I actually stopped writing many years ago. It was him who got me started again. If it hadn’t have been for him I would still be working in the health sector. The stepping stone to comedy was watching ‘The Holiday’ and wondering can I write a novel that gives you the same feel good feeling. I hope I have achieved that.

What favourite drink/nibbles to you keep close at hand whilst writing?
Oh, my goodness. This is my biggest procrastination. I swear my head is in the fridge more than anywhere else. Popcorn and biscuits. I love oatcakes. My keyboard is bunged up with the stuff J I eat copious amounts of yogurt too. I swear I eat constantly. I’m a grazer. Worse than a cow, that’s me J

lynda renhamLynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. She has had several poems published as well as articles in numerous magazines and newspapers. Recently she has taken part in radio discussions on the BBC.
She has studied literature and creative writing and has a blog on her web page: www.renham.co.uk
Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

Review and interview by Lesley

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The Perfect Retreat

Kate Forster

the perfect retretCan you live on love alone?
Willow Carruthers – British Oscar winner, style icon and mother of three is facing a crisis: she’s broke, discovery of her partner’s infidelity has left her a single mother and, if the banks have their way, she’s about to be homeless.
Meanwhile nanny to Willow’s children Kitty, is desperate to keep her job and knows just the place they can retreat to – her crumbling ancestral home in the Bristol countryside, Middlemist House.
To both women in their hour of need, the idea of leaving LA seems brilliant in theory, until Kitty’s brother Merritt returns home unannounced.
From London to LA, The Perfect Retreat is pure escapism – full of sex, scandal and intrigue.

Having read Kate Forsters ‘The Perfect Location’ I knew that this would be an instant ‘like’ for me. Actually it turned out to be a ‘love’!

Willow Carruthers is our main protagonist and although I wasn’t initially sure if I would warm to her, once I got into the book I found myself rooting for her especially on discovering the nature and character of her rock star (soon to be ex) husband! The author paints a great landscape and picture of the life that Willow and Kerr had together and you feel like you understand fully where they’ve been and where they are at and why. Although Willow seems to ‘have it all’ her life is falling apart, her marriage is over and the bank are threatening to repossess the house.

Kitty is her faithful and dependable nanny, who in all honesty Willow treats like a bit of a slave, just expecting her to be there at all hours and take on the main responsibility for the children. Kitty is comfortable with Willow’s three children more than she is with adults. She loves her job but is slightly daunted at the idea Willow has to home-school them – especially as Lucien doesn’t speak at all.

When Willow is facing homelessness it is Kitty – desperate to keep her job – that suggests they move to England where she is, in fact, joint heir to the family ancestral home Middlemist. Willow is shocked to find that Kitty part owns this amazing grand home which is in a great state of disrepair but which also provides ‘The Perfect Retreat’ they need. What they didn’t anticipate was Kitty’s brother Merritt who is usually off travelling the world, to arrive at the house the same evening and wonder what the heck is going on.

Merritt, who has his own demons having been married and divorced and had his wife cheat on him, is actually quite accommodating, allowing Willow and her three children to stay at Middlemist while Willow starts to find work again and get some money in the bank. A film part followed by a suggestion that Middlemist House would be a great backdrop to the movie that Willow is shooting means the house is suddenly full of film crew, actors and actresses and life starts to take on a few twists and turns for them all.

Merritt is a fabulous character – a typical hero in many ways and I really enjoyed how his character had depth and warmth. There is a real mix of characters and a couple of ‘villain’ style characters along the way that I enjoyed. I also enjoyed seeing Willow change and develop as a person especially in regard to her children, as they seemed to be quite a hindrance and a frustration to her at the beginning and you see their relationship change and gain more depth as Willow changes. The author also deals with a couple of disabilities in the book which I felt were dealt with sensitively and carefully and to me added extra layers and depth as those characters and those that love them dealt with these issues.

As you might guess, there are relationship ups and downs, miscommunications and broken hearts, all set against the backdrop of this fabulous house with it’s own history and secrets which get revealed over time.

Verdict: This has been a great read and one I would heartily recommend. I’m off to see what else Kate Forster has that I haven’t read yet!

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: March 2013
Format: eBook
Pages: 400
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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Pink Wellies and Flat Caps

Lynda Renham

pink wellies 2Alice Lane has everything; a wonderful fiancé, a responsible job and a lovely flat in Chelsea, but after she has a bra fitting her life goes tits up. Homeless, and with just a sparkling engagement ring as a memory of her previous life Alice accepts a live-in farm manager’s job and discovers that things actually can get worse. Come with Alice as she makes her hilarious career change and struggles to cope with her moody employer, Edward. But can Alice turn her back on romance and resist the dashing Dominic or will the past come back to surprise her?

Having received some delightful birthday gifts of Amazon vouchers recently I happily uploaded said vouchers in great anticipation of scrolling through some Kindle reads and adding to my collection. Pink Wellies and Flat Caps caught my eye – as you might imagine such a title would -and with little other consideration was clicked and added to my reading list.

This is a light hearted and comical read with some great laugh out loud lines. Alice is very likeable and you immediately feel for her in her nightmarish situation of one minute loving life and feeling so happy and grateful for her fiancé, job etc and then suddenly, in the midst of having a bra fitting of all things, having her life completely turned upside down.

While we get the measure of her ex-fiancé early on as we read, for Alice, it’s a much longer and timely process to work out what and who is going to be good for her. In her utter despair, with everything falling apart around her she escapes to Cornwall to take up a job as a farm manager. Poor Alice spends much of the book in two minds about what she is doing, especially as life on the farm is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Having answered an ad in ‘The Lady’ magazine and packing her remaining belongings Alice heads to Cornwall with a very heavy and broken heart expecting to have a busy bustling job using her organisational skills from being a Practice Manager. However she finally arrives to find a run-down shambling farm owned by the remote but handsome Edward who wasn’t expecting her and isn’t very happy that she’s managed to let the sheep out! Thus begins Alice’s experience with Cornish farm life!

Alice slowly adjusts to her new life – even though it wasn’t what she expects and makes friends and is even tempted on a date by the suave Dominic. I liked the various characters and how the author brings so much comedy in to the various situations Alice finds herself in.

Just when she is starting to feel better about herself and her circumstances, a blast from the past returns and throws everything on its head again. Add in some animal liberation activity and a few unexpected dodgy dealings by those she thought she trusted and you get a very amusing tale.

Verdict: I really enjoyed this and will be looking for more of Lynda Renhams work.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Raucous Publishing
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: eBook
Pages: 288
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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The Dream House

Rachel Hore

the dream houseKate Hutchinson and her husband Simon are Londoners, performing the balancing act of raising two young children in a cramped terraced house whilst holding down stressful full-time jobs. When everything starts to come apart at the seams they decide to uproot and move to the Suffolk coast. Sacrificing her career, her friends and her independence, Kate battles to make a new life for the family under her mother-in-law’s roof – while they search in vain for the perfect home. Months later, with Simon still working all hours and the strains of living with his mother beginning to tell, Kate is questioning the wisdom of their move. Then one evening, out walking, she stumbles upon the house of her dreams, a beautiful place, full of memories – but tantalizingly out of her reach. It belongs to a frail old lady, Agnes, and the two women become close friends. As Kate unravels the dying woman’s story she is amazed to discover how much it echoes her own. And as past and present intertwine, Kate is given the strength and inspiration to reforge her own life

I discovered Rachel Hore’s work through my Book Club and am now working my way through her works! This is her latest novel and yet again I couldn’t put it down.

This is the story of Kate And her family as they decide to quit the rat race for a peaceful life with more family time in Suffolk. However it will come as no surprise to know that the path to tranquility doesn’t run smooth. This ideal, placed under a microscope with added stresses and strains certainly is shown to be a bit of a mirage. Giving up one life for the dream of another is difficult and requires hard work and a bit of luck to make it come true.

But this is not even a straight forward move to the country. Maybe it would have been had Kate not come with so much baggage. She has had a difficult life since her sister died when they were both teenagers and her parents shut down. The impact of this is still rippling through Kate’s life. She struggles to deal with what happened and the repercussions it continues to have on her.

Once the family have arrived in Suffolk and settled living with Kate’s mother-in-law, cracks Kate has never realised exist begin to show. As Kate tries to get to grips with her new life, and the changes in her families life now they are away from London, she finds help and solace in a few places but in one particularly unexpected one as she meets Agnes. Agnes turns out to be a distant relative and, quite literally, lives in Kate’s dream house. Kate has dreamed about it and it is the complete picture of her perfect house. As Kate gets to know Agnes she learns to deal with some of the tragedies in her life whilst solving the mystery of Agnes’ own troubled life.

The two stories intertwine well with the narrative moving between the past and the present. There are quite alot if co-incidences in this story, but as Rachel writes strong, intelligent and relatable characters I was willing to overlook this. The air of mystery that pervades the book helps with this. It all feels as though it wil work out the way it is ‘meant to be’. At the same time, although elements of the story are what you might think of as predictable there was certainly enough for me in there that was not. Also when a novel is written with prose that paint’s a picture in your mind then I feel I can be even more forgiving.

I was really rooting for everything to work out for Kate and I enjoyed the fact that her journey wasn’t straight forward. There is a good cast of supporting characters too, and it was of particular note that Kate’s mother-in-law is one of the best and not cast according to stereotype. This time I was more gripped by the story in the present than of that in the past, but Agnes story was truly heart rending in places.

Verdict:Yet again Rachel Hore has produced an intriguing tale spanning two totally different lives and times that still shows how, in so many ways, the issues we face through our lives don’t really change with the passing if time. People still try and sometimes fail, love and sometimes suffer and battle and sometimes give everything to reach their dreams.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher:Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: Nov 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary romance, Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes

Sue Watson

fat girlsTV Producer Stella Weston is over worked, overweight and under fire. Having battled uphill for years to balance her career with her family life, she is repaid by being put out to pasture on a religious gardening programme – complete with a nervous vicar, his nymphomaniac wife, and 22 stone Britney wannabe gardener, Gerald.
In the past, comfort has always been found at the bottom of her mixing bowl, but when even the most delicious lemon sponge with zesty frosting cannot save the day, Stella decides enough is enough.
However, finding the courage to quit is sometimes the easy part. Can you really turn a passion into a profession? Does more time at home actually give you a happier family life? Are men truly from Mars or another universe altogether?
Stella has to roll up her sleeves and find out – when the going gets tough, the tough get baking….

Well, if you are up for an escapist read of sheer enjoyment and pleasure, then this is the one for you. Poor Stella has worked so hard all her life to get where she is, living that awful life of guilt for either not feeling committed enough at work because she has to get away for the babysitter or staying on for a meeting at work feeling terrible for not being at home for dinner with the family and to make matters worse her horrible boss MJ is breathing down her neck just waiting for her to fail.

After being given the job of producing a religious gardening programme which manages to go spectacularly wrong – but provides a good deal of hilarity, she finds herself at home with no job, her relationship with her husband hanging by a thread and a daughter who has changed alot during Stella’s absences. Thank goodness for a welcoming kitchen, a cupboard full of ingredients and Stella’s amazing knack of being able to knock up a ‘honey-scented chocolate cake with a gooey frosted topping worthy of Delia’.

Stella’s fabulous friends step up and offer her the support she needs by way of take away evenings, nights out, a holiday away and she finally begins to let her hair down a bit and have some fun as well as figure out what she wants from life.

Stella is a very likeable character – she does not ‘have it all together’ in any way at all and is honest about her failings and weaknesses. I like that she she was still an attractive and desirable woman even though she is clearly not a size 8!

So many comedy events happen during this story and there were plenty of laugh out loud moments. It was wonderful to see her and her friends all pulling together to support each other through the various trials and tribulations of their lives and I personally was very happy to see that CAKE was very much central to the proceedings!

Happily, things work out well for Stella in the end, despite all odds and it was great seeing a certain character get their very well deserved comeuppance at the end.

Verdict:This is lovely, fun read. I very much enjoyed it and for all those budding bakers, or just for those that love cake, like me, there are some fabulous looking recipes at the end of the book. Yum!

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Rickshaw Publishing
Publication Date: Sept 2011
Format: eBook
Pages: 367
Genre: Chick Lit, Baking
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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I Should Be So Lucky

Judy Astley

I should be so lucky cover artViola hasn’t had much luck with men. Her first husband, Marco, companion of her youth and father of her only child, left her when he realised he was gay. Her second, Rhys, ended his high-octane, fame-filled life by driving his Porsche into a wall. No wonder her family always believes she needs Looking After, and her friends think she really shouldn’t be allowed out on her own…
Which is why, at the age of thirty-nine, she finds herself shamefully back at home, living with Mum.
Viola knows she has to take charge; she needs to get a life, and fast. With a stroppy teenage daughter, a demanding mother, and siblings who want to control her life for her, where is she going to turn?

We were sent this to review and I was more than happy to take it on. Even though Judy Astley is a well established author I hadn’t actually read any of her novels before, so it was great to get to read someone new to me and even better to know that if I liked it there are at least another 15 of her books out there to track down and devour. I love it when you discover lots of new books to read!

This story is centred around Viola who, to say the least, has been unlucky in her love life! Having married Marco after having become pregnant when they were both very young, he has come out and moved on, now living happily with James. Rhys, her next husband, was a soap star and womaniser whom she probably should never have married. He finally left her for his true love, but was then killed in a car crash on that very night. Viola has a lot of pieces to pick up and we meet her about 18 months later when she is really beginning to get herself back together.

I liked Viola, she has a good sense of humour, is a loving daughter to her mother and tries hard to get it right parenting her and Marco’s now teenage daughter Rachel. She puts up with her friends and siblings interference in her life sometimes with a lot more grace than I would and yet has the ability to stand up for herself too. But sometimes Viola is a bit ditzy and she is definitely a bit slow to catch on sometimes, particularly in one on-going situation. I was mentally shouting at her sometimes!

Viola has plenty on her plate to deal with. She has been living at her Mum’s after Rhys’ crazy fans were horrible to her when he died, but now feels ready to move home. So she has the house to get ready and so on. But she also has to face opposition from her older sister and brother who want her to stay and look after Naomi (mum) as she is getting older – not to mention use Violas money to upkeep the house they expect to inherit! Thankfully Naomi doesn’t want to be pushed around and knows her family well. This was a great family set up, it feels very true to life with all the tensions that can exist in families and I enjoyed willing on Viola and Naomi whilst inwardly ‘booing’ Kate and Richard.

Rachel also provides her own area of interest as she grapples with growing up and falling in love for the first time. Seeing some of the story through her eyes was an interesting change.

Of course there is a potential love interest (or two) for Viola, although she is adamant that there will not be any husband number 3. Her friends are trying to set her up, and considering what some of the friends are like I’d steer well clear of any of their ideas too! But as Viola sticks to her promise to herself and gets out more she has some interesting, (I did love the midnight gardening) amusing and even quite gross encounters. Well this is a story and the path of true love never does run smooth!

This novel has a very contemporary feel, with references to our current culture that will date this as time goes by, but it makes it feel very rooted now.

Verdict:So I did enjoy this, a lot. I will indeed be looking out for more by Judy Astley now. A great light read that includes real life issues that will resonate with many people.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Bantum Press
Publication Date: July 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
Genre: Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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Babies In Waiting

Rosie Fiore

babies in waitingMeet Louise, 38, Toni, 26 and Gemma, 18. They are all expecting babies in September. One of them conceived in a hurry because she was running out of time. One of them fell pregnant to keep a man and one got knocked up by mistake after a one-night-stand. But none of them realized what they would come up against as they face nine long months of pregnancy, and the reactions of friends, family and colleagues. Meeting through an online forum, they form an unlikely but powerful bond. When it seems that all they have is each other, their lives will be thrown into turmoil, as a blast from the past threatens to destroy everything. Babies in Waiting is a heart-warming novel about motherhood, friendship and finding love at the most surprising time in your life. It is also very funny, sexy and utterly compelling.

I picked this up as a bargain e-book in early 2012, but due to a tragic accident between a printer and a Kindle screen couldn’t begin it until after Christmas!

Being a first time mum that had made friends through antenatal classes, toddler groups and online, I was intrigued to read a book based around three different women thrown together through pregnancy, with a spot of romance, love triangles and friendship rifts thrown in for good measure.

So, ‘Babies in Waiting’ takes us through the lives of Louise, Toni and Gemma trimester by trimester rather than by chapters. Louise narrates her side in the first person who you instantly empathise with, even if you haven’t been plied with alcohol, bad lines and had a one stand with your married boss! Due to the less traditional circumstances around conception, after some soul searching and number crunching alongside the consideration of an abortion Louise decides to leave her successful job in her small but highly regarded Manchester based printing branch to live with her single gay and exceedingly broody brother, Simon, in London until she can set up home on her own.

Louise’s character is ultimately the centre of the story, she is confident, funny and feisty. She has the eyebrow raising back story of the work one night affair resulting in her pregnancy which she keeps hidden from all of her old Manchester colleagues, who are also her only friends. The father of her baby is also kept in the dark about his impending love child. Although this sounds horrendous, Fiores ensures we are on Louise’s side with all her tough decision making. The father, Brian, is basically a git! I can’t find a better word to describe the serial adulterer who avoids Louise’s calls after he failed to secure her as a mistress and has moved onto another female colleague instantly with his “I’m about leave my wife” line. Although we know it’s a slightly unwise decision we empathise with Louise’s no nonsense outlook that she’s entering motherhood as a Single mother and that’s how things will be, simple? Louise is faced with breaking the awkward news of her accidental pregnancy to her younger sister, Rachel, who has been trying for many years desperately for a child of her own. So in a new city, jobless and ‘knocked up’ Louise turns to a parenthood forum and befriends another expectant first time mum Toni.

Toni, a young newly-wed works in advertising where she meets the perfect man, James, her now husband of four years. Although they have always discussed that they will have children ‘someday’ this vague timescale suddenly is given a year deadline when Toni is diagnosed as having Primary Ovarian Insufficiency and her gynaecologist, nicknamed Dr Dad from his twinned appearance with her own, pretty much tells her ‘it’s now or never, if ever!’ Toni, who wears her emotions in her tear ducts, seeks out more information and joins an online forum which opens her eyes to a world of acronyms and abbreviations which translate into new terminology for talking about the most intimate part of your sex life. She is shocked to discover her and James are successful so quickly and also finds herself quite isolated as all of her friends are at different stages with their lives. She also struggles to talk to her handsome husband too, about the life changing experience they have so quickly been engulfed by.

Finally there is Gemma, a young A level student from a wealthy Surrey based family. She begins as your stereotypical surly teenager with a know-it-all attitude. Her father, David, is busy working and having affairs whilst her mother, Samantha puts up false, but well manicured appearance, to hide her sadness. Gemma is a good student and her parents are able to brag about her achievements at their many social engagements, until she falls in love with her musician boyfriend Ben. They have a wonderful six month relationship where they make gooey plans of living together off Gemma’s inheritance and how they will make beautiful babies! Gemma is besotted with her boyfriend, but when things begin to cool off as Ben’s gigs become more successful Gemma naively gets crossed wires and truly believes that having a baby with Ben will bring them closer together and as you may guess from the title results in a teen pregnancy scandal. Although Gemma is rather naive and bolshie you do want to see what happens with her, she has this youthful bubble world created in her mind about how things are going to work out. She brings a slightly deluded by romance, optimistic outlook on teen pregnancy. When Gemma is delivered to Louise at an uncomfortable afternoon tea arranged between Louise’s sister and Gemma’s parents to encourage some ‘sense talk’, Gemma impresses Louise with her ‘togetherness’ and they bond, hiding in the kitchen where they agree a story for each of their families on their big pregnancy chat.

As their pregnancies progress there is heartbreak, new romances and betrayal between the three friends as secrets unravel. You find yourself entwined into their lives, quite fluidly, and although with chick lit plots the betrayal is inevitable, you still find yourself wishing you could get in touch with the betrayed to tell them the other side for a reconciliation. As with friendships they are dotted along with humour and for me the pinnacle point is the antenatal classes which brings in some minor characters to open the girls eyes to the new world of debate around hypnobirthing versus epidurals, and the poor antenatal teacher bombarded with questions like “what do I have to say to get an epidural”.

Verdict : A lovely easy read for mothers of all ages, with fun characters mixed with a variety of first romances to long-distance ones too! I especially liked the quirkiness of Trimesters and not chapters and found it quite easy to jump between the main character’s varying plotlines along the way. Babies in Waiting has a refreshing perspective on teen pregnancy running alongside a rather empathic reflection of people dealing with fertility issues. Also, I love an author who gives you a tidy epilogue with a little ‘Did they? Didn’t they?” sparkly question at the end!

Reviewed by Sam

Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: March 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 465
Genre: Chick Lit
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Sam
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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You Had Me At Hello

Mhairi McFarlane
had me at helloWhat happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling debut from Mhairi McFarlane.
‘Think of the great duos of history. We’re just like them.’
‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’
‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’
Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.
They’d been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

I picked this up as a bargain e-book and it was a 99p very well spent! I loved this book, easy to read, good characters, funny writing and a plot that managed to keep me guessing. I usually feel with chick lit, romance type stuff that you know the main character will get her man in the end, the fun is in reading how it happens, however in this story I really began to doubt that this would happen. It is a good writer that can do this and you will have to read it to find out what does happen in the end.

Rachel and Ben met at Manchester Uni and had a strong bond. Their story is revealed through flashbacks, and it is obvious from when they first meet that their relationship is special. Unfortunately Rachel is dating someone else and can’t admit to her true feelings. Ben is a serial monogamist and they go through University as firm friends. As we eventually find out they did get their shot but due to their insecurities and some unfortunate timings things don’t work out. Ten years in the future Rachel is in the process of ending her relationship when Ben re-appears in Manchester but he has a wife in tow too.

Meanwhile Rachel has stayed with her boyfriend Rhys from Uni, they are now engaged but all is not rosy and Rachel finally breaks off the engagement. She finds a plush flat to house sit and moves out. As she and Rhys have been together for 13 years this is a huge deal for Rachel. She has been putting up with things for so long it is now time to figure out what she actually wants from life and whether she is going to have the courage to go out and get it. This is true in her professional life too where she is a court journalist for a local newspaper. She has been doing this for a long time and enjoys it, but is she going stale? Has she missed her shot at the big time? When she has to mentor the new girl on the block Rachel’s ideas and ideals are all put to the test. The lessons Rachel learns at work as well as in her personal life through the novel take her on a real journey. Even though she is already around 30 it feels a bit like a coming of age tale too.

Rachel engineers a meeting with Ben and over a few false starts they begin to grow close again. She has to deal with the fact that he has moved on and accepts an invitation to a dinner party at his house with his new wife and another insufferable couple. This provides a chance for plenty of embarrassment and humour and for Rachel to meet a potential date, as well as get a good look at Ben with his wife. The wife is, of course, beautiful, clever and has lots of money! But Rachel can’t escape the feeling that Ben isn’t really happy with her, and she convinces herself that she can be just good friends with him anyway. So what’s the problem?! Ben is committed to his marriage, it has its rocky moments but he wants it to work out. It does get difficult to see that there is any way that things will bring Ben and Rachel back together as anything more than friends.

But this is more than a ‘will they won’t they’ story. There is a great ensemble cast of characters. Rachel has a great group of friends who are all fully three dimensional people having their own ups and downs through life. They have all been friends since Uni and are not afraid to speak their minds to each other, sometimes with rather funny and dramatic results. They are certainly not afraid to advise Rachel in moving on with her life and in not getting too close to a married man. We also get Rachel’s take on their relationships. Theirs was such a believable friendship, and some of the antics between them had me laughing out loud.

Verdict: So read this if you like a romance with twists and turns, an ending that keeps you guessing until the end.
Read it if you like a laugh and witty writing and read it if you like characters that come off the page they feel so real.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: November 2012
Format: eBook
Pages: 465/641KB
Genre: Chick Lit, Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: None
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