Posts Tagged With: chick lit

Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

Synopsis:

Heather Wells Rocks!

Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather’s perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York’s top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather’s residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen — not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives — even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong . . .

This is the first Meg Cabot book I have read, and it will not be the last. This is the first novel in the Heather Wells series, and I already have the second, Size 14 is Not Fat Either on my shelf ready to be consumed. Heather Wells is an ex-popstar who gave up singing because she wanted to sing her own songs, not stuff written for her that had no meaning. Because of this decision she lost her boyfriend and her mother disappeared off with Heather’s money and her manager. So Heather moves in with Cooper, her ex’s brother and works at the local university as a Residential Assistant. Things are fine until the first death – a hard working student falls down the lift shaft after elevator surfing. But smart girls don’t do that do they? But no one believes her. Even after the second death. So she investigates herself, and finds herself in danger.

I really enjoyed this novel. Heather was an easy character to like. She’d had it rough since leaving the world of music but she had found her feet and got on with life. I loved that even though she had been famous she was now a “normal” woman – by that I mean, pretty but not stunning, size 12, which is the average size of a woman, and hard working. She had struggles, such as he ex-boyfriend turning up and trying to sweet talk her, and she was a woman in love, but it isn’t reciprocated – all this made her realistic and like-able. Alongside all this, she is caring and is prepared to find out what happened to those girls. She fought hard and it was fun reading.

Was the storyline predictable? Fairly, yes. But that didn’t spoil the read. This is a teen novel – chick-lit mixed with a murder mystery. Even Heather finds herself in danger. The guilty party is not a huge shock but I liked how Cabot played out the story. And I had to laugh at the fight scene at the end – bought to an end by a drunk lady – I liked it!

The most important aspect of this book however is the idea of image. Heather Wells might once have been a star, but now she is an ordinary woman and an ordinary size. Size 12 is not fat, it is average. This point is made all through the novel, and I think Cabot is great for going out and making the point. Size does not matter, and being an average size is fine. Putting a story around that is fabulous, and I think Cabot did a great job. This book is engaging, funny and well worth reading.

4/5

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The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Synopsis:

Seventeen year old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alientated from her parents, especially her father…until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church.The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story of love on many levels–first love, love between parents and children — that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts…and heal them.

Nicholas Sparks is another author that I love ♥ I am slowly reading my way through his novels and am yet to find one I don’t like. I loved this novel. the story follows Ronnie as she is shipped off to Wilmington to spend the summer with her father – a man who she hasn’t spoken to since he left the family. She does not want to go, and sulks all the way there. And when she gets there she almost immediately finds herself in trouble. But her father surprises her and doesn’t yell at her; in fact he is extremely reasonable. This opens up doors which had been closed for a long time. This is a summer of changes and growing up for Ronnie. She patches up her relationship with her father – to have her heart broken, she changes her attitude and best of all, she falls in love.

This novel is gorgeous. Sparks explores two loves: that between parent and child, and first love. I thoroughly enjoyed this book – in fact as I think about it all I can do is gush! Many changes occur during this novel – in Jonah, Ronnie’s brother, her father, and of course, Ronnie. I liked all three of these characters, in particular Jonah. He was so cute – so excited to see his Dad and I loved how even though he was younger than Ronnie he looked out for her. I loved Will as well – handsome, caring and athletic. He was sensible, volunteered and best of all: he chose Ronnie even when his mother dismissed her.

The story was lovely, but also heartbreaking. Secrets are kept – and the main one nearly broke my heart when I found out. I had tears in my eyes a lot while the book was drawing to a close. I love a book that pulls on my emotions – and The Last Song did just that. There are many other things that remain in my mind too – I liked how it was nature, turtles to be precise, that softened Ronnie; and the image of the stain glass window that Jonah and their Dad was building was beautiful.

Sparks writes gripping novels – and this was no exception. I was hooked from the first page and I sped through this book. And I was gutted when it ended – I wanted more! I think every issue raised in this book was dealt with wonderfully – with compassion and intelligence. This is a romance novel and I guess would be classed as chick-lit, but it is a mature novel and well worth reading. Top marks from me!

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The Queen of New Beginnings by Erica James

Synopsis:

Clayton Miller’s promising media career and personal life are in tatters. To put it all behind him he retreats to a secluded country house. There he meets Alice, who goes to great lengths to avoid telling the truth about herself. When Alice and Clayton discover the truth about each other they form an unlikely friendship…

I love Erica James’ novels ♥ I have read them all, except one, which I have waiting to be read, and like the others, I was not let down by The Queen of New Beginnings. The story follows two characters: Alice and Clayton. The former is private and wants to keep her past hidden. She is a voice-over artist and makes her living reading stories for audiobooks or recording adverts. She has changed her name and lives in a quite, secluded village. Clayton, on the other hand, has had his life ruined in the media. He is a screen writer who has come to the same village to hide out. His girlfriend and best friend have shacked up and are blaming him for the loss of their unborn baby. It is all over the press and Clayton has been shamed. He meets Alice and eventually gets the truth of her past out; only to use it for his salvation…

This is a great story. Alice is a very likeable character – and she made me laugh at the beginning of the novel when she took the persona of  a woman called Katya, who was intimidating, even to Clayton. She has a sad story – a girl who lost her mother, then fell for her step-brother who used her and then broke her heart. She had lost contact with her father over the years and had been living a new life, albeit a fairly lonely one. I enjoyed reading her story and seeing her open up.

I liked Clayton too. He is in hiding, but as we learn more about him, I just felt so sorry for him. Barry, his ex-best friend and his old writing partner really betrayed him, and I felt more angry at him than Clayton’s ex-girlfriend. Clayton does make a monumental mistake – but I understood why he did it, and it had good consequences, which made good reading.

They are not the only two characters who make this book though. James writes some wonderful people, and my overall favourite was easily George, the mad old lady. When we first meet her she is pointing a gun at Clayton, and from there her eccentric ways continue. She even knew Alice as a girl, which was a lovely link to the past. She was wise, very good at reading people, and just a great personality.

There is a lot in this story, with a whole range of characters and events. James keeps you interested the whole way through and it did not take long to read this book. I really enjoyed it. It was realistic, and I found myself getting involved. James has done it again – written a cracking book! This is more mature chick-lit, and I loved it! James writes wonderful locations too, all of which I can still picture, even though I read the book a month ago! I remember the story clearly, and there are some shocks in the story line. The end was fairly predictable, but there were moments when I could have cried, and times when I laughed. And I liked how Clayton and Alice worked as a team and how everything worked out. Top marks from me!

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The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

Synopsis:

Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, Nicholas Sparks tells the story of Travis Parker, a small-town veterinarian who’s perfectly content with the active and exciting life he leads. Since he uses his spare time bungee jumping and swimming with the dolphins, he can’t shake the belief that a woman would simply slow him down. That is, until Gabby Holland enters his life.

Gabby, Travis’s new neighbor, is in love with her boyfriend of three years, and wants nothing more than to start planning the wedding she’s always dreamed about. However, there is a story within a story and the connection between Travis and Gabby is just a beginning. As their tale unfolds, their relationship becomes something different–with much higher stakes. With echoes of THE NOTE BOOK abound, listeners everywhere will fall in love.

This is the second Nicholas Sparks book I have read, and it was what drew me to this other books, all of which I have loved. The story is set around Gabby, a new woman in the neighbourhood and her neighbour Travis. Their relationship starts badly, but Travis is patient and their relationship develops, and helps Gabby make new friends in the town. The story then jumps to the present day and their current situation, which broke my heart…

Sparks is a wonderful writer – engaging, amusing and writes realistic stories that are full of life, pain and joy. I was gripped right from the start. I loved watching Travis and Gabby’s relationship develop – from neighbours, to friends to more. The description of outings, the scenery and the fun and friendship were gorgeous. My favourite part was when they were out in Travis’s boat with his friends and their children. It was lovely to read.

I really liked both Gabby and Travis. I could relate to and empathise with both, and I felt myself willing the best for both of them. That said, my favourite character was Steph, Travis’s sister. She was forward, fun and wanted the best for everyone. She was there when Travis needed her and she came across as someone I would like to be friends with. I don’t think there was a character I didn’t like – Sparks writes people who I want to know and who I like reading about.

Yes, in true Sparks fashion there is a twist at the end. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting and it bought tears to my eyes. I liked  how Sparks played out the situation. I found my heart breaking, then relief washing over me, I almost cried at one point, and overall, felt satisfied with the read. This book really played on my emotions, it was great. Top marks and a big recommendation from me.

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The Revenge of the Wedding Planner by Sharon Owens

Synopsis:

Mags and Julie are partners at Dream Weddings, catering for the over-the-top and sometimes downright bizarre requirements of Belfast’s brides and grooms to be. They rub along well but are as different as chalk and cheese. Mags is married to the love of her life, has four kids and a complicated extended family. Julie is impossibly glamorous, and doesn’t remotely believe in love or marriage.

When Julie embarks on a life crisis, running away from her live-in lover and throwing herself in to a hair-raisingly sexy fling with Jay, it is Mags who is left to pick up the pieces.

When Julie eventually comes back, she brings Jay with her, and that is where the real trouble starts. Add to the mix Dream Weddings’ most high-profile celebrity clients yet, and the biggest, most ambitious wedding they have ever organised, and the fireworks really begin

This is the second Sharon Owen novel I have read and like The Teahouse on Mulberry Street, I enjoyed it and thought it was an OK chick-lit book. The narrator is Mags – a woman who is happily married, a goth and an assistant wedding planner. Her associate/manager is Julie, who seems to be having a mid-life crisis. Although this takes her to South Ireland where she forgets about her boyfriend and hooks up with a worker at the spa. From there, she starts to lead a double-life, leaving Mags to do most of the work in regards to a crazy celebrity wedding.

This is your basic chick-lit novel. There is romance, a bit of a crisis and friendship. That said, this was a pleasant read. I found myself cringing in places, especially in regards to the weird vampire-like wedding at the end. The story was fairly predictable but that didn’t ruin the read. If you like a quick, easy read this is for you.

I liked Mags however. She was a touch eccentric and I loved the idea of her with blue hair! She looked out for Julie and was happy in her marriage, which was a pleasant thing to read. Her husband was great too – very sensible and loving. I was indifferent to Julie, she seemed to go off the rails and act like a teenager. What I liked was reading what Mags thought about the events, as opposed to reading about Julie herself.

This is easy reading, a fun, quick read if you like chick-lit.

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The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

Synopsis:

After thirty years of marriage, Wilson Lewis, son-in-law of Allie and Noah Calhoun (of The Notebook), is forced to admit that the romance has gone out of his marriage. Desperate to win back his wife, Jane’s, heart, he must figure out how to make her fall in love with him… again. Despite the shining example of Allie and Noah’s marriage, Wilson is himself a man unable to easily express his emotions. A successful estate attorney, he has provided well for his family, but now, with his daughter’s upcoming wedding, he is forced to face the fact that he and Jane have grown apart and he wonders if she even loves him anymore. Wilson is sure of one thing–his love for his wife has only deepened and intensified over the years. Now, with the memories of his in-laws’ magnificent fifty-year love affair as his guide, Wilson struggles to find his way back into the heart of the woman he adores.

As the synopsis states, this is the follow up book to The Notebook. At first, when I saw that there was a sequel, I was unsure as to how that would work (if you have read The Notebook I’m sure you will understand my questioning) but I was satisfied with this book.

The story does not follow Allie and Noah, but their son-in-law Wilson. He is hard-working , to the point where he has seemingly neglected his family. He wanted to provide them with a great life, but that meant he missed parties and sporting events, and worked very late most days. This seemed fine until he forgot his wedding anniversary. This woke him up to the fact his marriage was strained and his wife was sad. This caused him to try and change his ways – and is helped by his daughter announcing that she is getting married. This gives him an opportunity to repair his marriage.

The more Nicholas Sparks novels I read, the more I love him as an author. However, this is not my favourite of his works. I found this book started slowly, and it took a while to get going. By halfway through though, I had warmed up to Wilson and I loved all he was doing for Jane. The surprise at the end was gorgeous, and I sat there with a warmed heart and a smile on my face.

I did like Jane, and felt sorry for her and felt her pain; although I did think that if she was unhappy she should have spoken out. I took some time to warm up to Wilson but I started to like him the more I read. I thought their relationship was sweet – especially in the beginning when Wilson was shy and sensible. This might be heresy to say, but I preferred Noah in this novel than I did in The Notebook. He was wise and loving in this novel, whereas I found him a bit desperate in The Notebook.

This is a lovely romance novel. It is not a long book and worth reading if you like a heart warming, satisfying story. Nicholas Sparks is a great writer and I will be reading more of his novels.

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Yours, Faithfully by Sheila O’Flanagan

Waterstones Synopsis:

Iona’s not pregnant. It’s a blow, but she knows that when husband Frank gets home he’ll reassure her that their dream of a family together will come true. Sally, on the other hand, has just discovered that she’s very much pregnant. Which is quite a surprise, with her only child now a seventeen-year-old. And Sally’s not sure how her husband’s going to feel about it, when he gets home. Except Frank’s not going to get home – to either of his wives. Frank’s bigamy of several years is about to be exposed, because Frank was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now his wives are going to meet in the hospital where he lies in a coma. And everything is about to change for all of them…

I was surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did. At first the story seemed familiar to me but as it unfolded that feeling changed. The book follows Iona and Sally – two different women but who share the same husband – Frank. He is using a bathroom in a pub when the wall collapses and he is seriously injured. The result is that he is left in a coma for months – leaving Sally and Iona to discover the truth.

This is a big book – over 600 pages; but the story flew off the page. I loved the characters and the story had a great plot. This is chick-lit but of the highest quality. There is a bit of crime, there is anger and hate, and of course love, friendship and resolutions. I liked both Sally and Iona, although at the beginning found myself siding with Sally. I felt real empathy at the their situation – not one I would like to experience. I liked how their characters developed and the relationship they were forced to make.

From a medical and lawful point of view I felt this was very well dealt with. Siobhan, the police officer was a lovely character; and bigamy being a crime I think O’Flanagan was realistic in her approach. As for the coma, I felt that this was explored well. The emotions of the family seemed realistic and O’Flanagan also wrote what was going on in Frank’s mind, which was very interesting.

I think the ending was a bit of a cop-out to be honest. It was an easy way to finish the story, and this let the book down a bit. However, the rest of the story was great and I really enjoyed it.

3.5/5

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Dream Makers by Nora Roberts

Waterstones Synopsis:

“Untamed”: Jo Wilder was certain her charming new boss, Keane Prescott, imperilled everything she cared for, but she couldn’t deny the attraction between them. Though Keane’s kisses left her breathless, it was his tenderness that threatened to tame her heart…

“Less of a Stranger”: Confident and arrogant, David Katcherton swept into Megan Miller’s life and awakened feelings that had long been lying dormant. But she wasn’t about to fall for this irresistible stranger who was after her grandfather’s business, despite the passion Katch aroused within her…

This is two books in one – both romantic short stories, and both I really enjoyed. This is the second Nora Roberts book I’ve read, and again I finished the book feeling satisfied. The first short story is called “Untamed” and it is based in the circus. The owner has just died and left the circus to his son, whom he had had no contact with for most of the son Keane’s life. Jo, the protagonist is worried that Keane will sell the circus and has disliked him since before his Dad’s death. Yet things change when she meets him. The chemistry is instant and distracting… The second story is called “Less of a Stranger” and is shorter than Untamed. The feature of this novel is a fairground. Megan has grown up with her grandfather, who owns the fairground. She is worried when a stranger – Katch comes along and tries to buy it. Although the fairground is only just making a profit, Megan does not want to see it go. Along with that, Katch is determined not only to have the fairground, he is determined to have Megan too; and she is finding it hard to resist falling for him…

If you like chick-lit and quick-reads than this book is for you. Both of these stories were good and I enjoyed them both immensely. I probably preferred Untamed more as it was a bit longer so I felt I engaged with the characters more. However, both were very good. They were predictable but I didn’t mind that. And I liked how they had unusual settings for romance novels. I loved reading about the circus and the lions in Untamed, and reading the descriptions of the fairground was lovely too. One of my favourite parts was when Katch and Megan were on top of the Ferris wheel looking down at the fun and lights below.

I liked both Jo and Megan. They were determined and prepared to stand up for what they believed in and what they felt was right. I loved the affection they had for others, such as Megan for her grandfather, and I enjoyed reading how they pursued what was right. I liked the outcomes for both them too. I found them likeable and believabl.

These were not hard to read. I was hooked from the beginning and enjoyed both stories. Roberts wrote wonderful characters and although the outcomes were not a surprise I liked how she picked original settings, making a great story. This was not a let down and I would highly recommend this book.

4/5

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If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

Waterstone’s Synopsis:

From the internationally bestselling author of PS, I Love You and Where Rainbows End comes an enchanting novel — with more than a little magic! What if love was right there in front of you — you just couldn’t see it? Elizabeth Egan is too busy for friends. As a reluctant mother to her sister Saoirse’s young son Luke and with her own business to run, every precious moment is made to count. But with Saoirse crashing in and out of their lives, leaving both her sister and her son reeling, Luke and Elizabeth are desperately in need of some magic. Enter Ivan. Wild, spontaneous and always looking for adventure, in no time at all Ivan has changed Elizabeth in ways she could never have imagined. But is Ivan too good to be true? Has Elizabeth opened her heart only to risk it being broken again? As for Ivan, he thought he was there to help Luke not Elizabeth — or himself!

I found Ahern an intriguing author. Some of her books, such as PS I Love You and Where Rainbows End I really enjoyed, others, such as A Place Called Here I didn’t get on with at all. This one, If You Could See Me Now, I found interesting but not realistic. This book features stressed women, cute boys and imaginary friends.

Ivan, a mysterious character has just turned up and started hanging out with Luke. But it seems that Elizabeth is in tune with him too… I found this highly unbelievably. She did not realise that Ivan was the same imaginary Ivan that Luke was playing with and did not pick up on the fact others could not see him. She is a smart woman and was just making a fool of herself and that annoyed me.

However, this is a light read and when I ignored the spectacle Elizabeth was making I did enjoy reading about how Ivan was changing her life. There were some beautiful moments in the book that will stay with me, such as dancing in the dandelion field at dawn.

I liked Elizabeth at the beginning. Although she was moody and cold she seemed realistic and I could empathise with her and her situation. As the story unfolded my attitude changed as she changed. There were moments I really felt for her, and others when she really bugged me. Ivan didn’t make much of an impression on me. I found myself wanting him to come clean and explain who he was.

This is an easy read, and for the most part enjoyable. It is unrealistic chick-lit and not Ahern’s best novel but it was OK.

3/5

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Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope

second honeymoon

Waterstones Synopsis:

Ben is, at last, leaving home. At twenty-two, he’s the youngest of the family. His mother, Edie, an actress, is distraught. His father, Russell, a theatrical agent, is rather hoping to get his wife back. His brother, Matthew, is struggling in a relationship in which he achieves and earns less than his girlfriend. And his sister, Rosa, is wrestling with debt and the end of a turbulent love affair. Meet the Boyd family and the empty nest, twenty-first-century style.

This is the first book by Joanna Trollope I have read, and I thought it was OK, just an average chick-lit book. The story follows the Boyd family as the children leave the family home, struggle in the real world and have to face moving home.

I found this quite a depressing read actually. Everyone seemed to have problems that they dwelt on for most of the book. I know that the point of the book was the struggle with life and the need to return home but I felt that everyone was just whinging all the time. When I sit here and think back to the book that is what stands out the most.

It was not all bad. Trollope wrote characters that I developed feelings for. Edie I couldn’t stand. Everything had to be about her and she drove me mad. Russell on the other hand I felt sorry for. He just wanted his wife back, and what he got was his children and a stranger in the house.

This is what I’d called “grown up” chick-lit. It was easy to read and had a satisfactory ending. It felt more mature than other chick-lit work, but essentially that is what it was. I would like to read another of her books before I make a decision about Trollope.

7/10

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