This is another debut novel for 2011 that I've really been looking forward to. Ella Kingsley hasn't hidden the fact that the name is a pseudonym for another women's fiction writer, but it's apparently a hugely kept secret who that is, but I am very curious about it! I'm not sure about the need for all the secrecy but it seems to be a popular thing to do at the moment, writing under a pseudonym, so I do wonder if eventually it'll be revealed or we'll be forever guessing about exactly who it is! Anyway, I thought the idea for the book was great, and the cover is fantastic as well, a perfect girly cover that certainly jumps out at you. I loved the sound of it from the minute I read the synopsis, so I had really hoped that it would live up to my expectations!
The book centres around the character of Maddie, daughter of 80's popstars Pineapple Mist, and someone who is a bit embarrassed about that fact as well. Her parents own a karaoke bar, but she tends not to set foot in there because she doesn't do Karaoke, and it's her idea of a bad nightmare. However, when her parents run away on holiday and Maddie is left in charge of the karaoke bar, she takes it upon herself to sign it up to a reality TV show. Of course, some consequences occur and Maddie finds herself having to make a few hard decisions. I really did like her as a main character, and found she led the book really well. She doubts her decisions a lot of the time, but her heart is in the right place and I think she does well with her problems throughout the book, although she is a bit too naive about her ex-boyfriend for my liking!
I thought the setting for the karaoke bar was really great. I could imagine in my head Maddie's parents dancing around and loving every minute of it, and I felt Kingsley wrote those characters really well, even if they don't appear that much in the book. In fact, it was the other characters of the bar that were the best people. Drag Queen Ruby was fantastic, very camp and hilarious, fab American character Jasmine and even the awful TV producer Evan (the book's baddy!) were brilliantly written, and all came to life on the pages as I read. In fact, Evan is certainly the pantomime villain of the piece, and you can certainly work out what he's up to long before poor old Maddie does! The other character I liked who I felt we didn't see enough of was Nick, the director. I enjoyed his friendship with Maddie but wanted things to move faster than they did if I'm honest!
Overall, this was a really enjoyable and funny read that had me laughing in places, and cringing in others! Yes, perhaps Maddie was a bit blinkered and naive with certain things but other than that, it was really enjoyable and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's one of those books you can pick up after a busy and stressful day and just sit and enjoy reading because you know you're going to like it. It's funny to read about all the old songs that come up throughout, and Maddie's real name as well... seriously?! Ella Kingsley has a great writing style whose first person narrative flows really well and immediately gets you hooked into the story to see how things will work out for Maddie and Pineapple Mist too! A great book to get stuck into, especially over the festive period where I'm sure we'll all be having an ill-advised go on the karaoke ourselves! Fab!