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The Honeymoon Hotel
The Honeymoon Hotel
by Hester Browne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

5.0 out of 5 stars Hurrah for the Honeymoon Hotel!, 16 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Honeymoon Hotel (Paperback)
I loved the little agency books, and love that Rosie is so much like Honey - totally organised for everyone else, a mine of useful hints and tips, but a bit shambolic with her own love life.
It's a clever book, that has you wincing as you laugh - Hester Browne has a great fondness for the glamour and beauty of weddings, but exposes the competitive insanity that has grown up around the whole 'wedding industry' and the weird things it does to normal people and their relationships.
Joe, is my favourite of Hester Browne's heroes so far. Partly because he was so subtle - for the first half of the book, he really is just there in the background, we see very little of him, but he is clearly observing the heroine and her values and antics and it is his perspective that starts to push Rosie to a new understanding of 'the perfect wedding'.
The hotel is a character in itself - Hester Browne describes the elegant atmosphere so well you feel like you've had the privilege of staying at somewhere I certainly could never afford. In fact I drank more in the three days it took me to finish the book, than I have for years, because I kept fancying a glass of champagne whenever the guests were having one!
If you liked any of Hester Browne's previous books, you'll love Honeymoon Hotel. And if you haven't come across Hester Browne - I am very jealous for all the catching up you have ahead of you!


The Father, the Son and the Pyjama-wearing Spirit
The Father, the Son and the Pyjama-wearing Spirit
by Dominic Garcin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.54

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, thought-provoking book, 20 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This novel takes a fascinating perspective on some huge issues. It's a privilege to go on the narrator's journey with her, and think through life's fundamental questions in a way which makes them accessible. I also loved the gentle, thoughtful pace - it was a slight surprise at first but it was actually perfect for the content.


A Hundred Pieces of Me
A Hundred Pieces of Me
by Lucy Dillon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book - moving to Longhampton soon...., 18 Mar 2014
This review is from: A Hundred Pieces of Me (Paperback)
Was looking forward to another trip to Longhampton and couldn't wait to read A Hundred Pieces of Me. It is, once again, a compassionate, thoughtful depiction of 'real' life (messy, complicated, not as perfect as we'd all like) and 'real' people (messy, complicated, not as perfect as we'd all like). I really liked the central message - treasure precious moments more than precious things - and though I've probably hundreds of articles extolling that philosophy, following Gina's story drove it home, and I have made some changes in my own life. Some reviews have commented on the pace - feeling it a bit slow. I don't agree - it is not supposed to be a plot-drive speed read, I don't think. We are following Gina's own journey at a particular point in time, and the pace follows that perfectly - sometimes in life things happen all at once, sometimes they change slowly. I really do feel like I know Longhampton these days and love 'bumping into' previous characters - it's a nice touch.


Noppies Simpson Bay Swimsuit - 16/18
Noppies Simpson Bay Swimsuit - 16/18

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 30 May 2012
I LOVE this costume - it looks great on, has lasted well and is really flattering and has been all the way through pregnancy. Also I feel 'safe' in it, and well-covered up.


Just Good Friends?
Just Good Friends?
Price: £2.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A word of caution, 30 May 2012
I wasn't going to write this review, but think there needs to be a bit of balance with all the gushing 5 stars out there. I love chick lit, I love light, flimsy storylines, I can suspend a huge amount of disbelief, I like a good love story, especially a lesbian one, I am hugely forgiving about grammar and the lack of a tight narrative. Plus I was interested in this book because it is set in a part of London I know, with a set of characters I vaguely know and tend to dislike and wouldn't mind reading about their undoing/ personal journeys. So I honestly came to this open-minded. But this is a first novel (and well done to Jane Reynolds for the guts to do it, I certainly haven't), but it reads like a self-published first novel. The character depiction is horribly clumsy. For example, at first the idea of emphasising the characters' wealth/ class by the kind of wine they like is quite clever. But to continue throughout the book to say whether it's a NZ Sauvignon Blanc they are enjoying or one of so-and-so's best Chablis.... it's like being bludgeoned around the head with said bottle of wine. Yes, we get it, they are rich, they drink non-stop, they know good wine from bad, they have champagne on a Friday night where we might crack open some Pinot Grigio.... Enough! And then for both plot and character development (and perhaps word count...) the author finds it necessary to show each feeling or decision first through the character's own thoughts, then through a conversation with someone else, then through the children's point of view, then through another conversation... it's really heavy-handed and insulting and makes an interesting development really boring. And it means the plot twist at the end (which isn't a bad idea, though not perhaps as wonderful as some of the other reviewers think) is reworked from all different angles until it has entirely lost its magic. Rather than a nifty plot twist, a couple of loose ends being tied up, and voila! a sense of resolution and surprise, you have a about 20% of the book being from the plot twist, making sure that we know exactly what each and every character ends up doing/ feeling/ thinking. The queen bee/ bitch has an unbelievable personality change; the overnight happy endings are forced, there is no sense of life being difficult or things NOT working out for the best; suddenly the characteristics of these rich, lazy women are reassessed as being quite worthy and 'doing their job' of being hard-working corporate wives; everyone forgives everyone. Even the cleaner lives happily ever after... There is no sense of struggle or development, just epiphany, which is not rewarding for the reader when it happens to EVERYONE in the book. There are also some strange linguistic traits which I guess are usual for self-published novels but are distracting and irritating in the end (I thought the whole cast was from Scotland as they all say 'aye?' at the end of sentences, rather than 'eh?'; there are lots of odd-looking hyphens in phrases like 'sort-of'; and there are way too many parentheses where the author adds unnecesssary detail again to hammer home what is going on eg 'Scrappy jumped up (keen to share the happy mood)' - either a detail should be in because it's important, or left out because it is repetitive.) Basically this plot idea - which came to the author in a dream apparently - is good. But it's over-worked and under-edited. I will not be reading the sequel.


The Secret of Happy Ever After
The Secret of Happy Ever After
by Lucy Dillon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurray - more Longhampton!, 3 Nov 2011
It was a real treat reading this book, and revisiting Longhampton (and spotting some of the characters we've met before). I read it while off work sick and it was great place to escape to - comforting and enticing but not too escapist and fluffy, and much better than daytime telly. I love the other Longhampton books and the way they tackle some tricky issues, not just the usual romance - but I have to say this one has got even more depth and honesty and complexity. It covers ageing, step families, the whole 'does motherhood really make you a superior/worse person' debate. NONE of the relationships are pat or straight forward, the heroines are both sympathetically flawed, the kids are fantastically believable. I cried at least three times, which is rare for me, but the situations were so poignant at times - it's the little defeats or successes in life which affect us most, more than the great tragedies or triumphs, and Lucy Dillon gets these across perfectly. I am not part of a step family, so I can't judge, but I think the depiction of the endless difficulties (big and small) of a step family are really thoughtfully and believably put across. I found my heart going out to the stepmother and her constant attempts to connect with the kids and make things right, while the actual parents were oblivious to her efforts and how much more difficult their unthinking actions make things for her. It is heart warming in showing women in the full diversity of who they are - not just young heroines who somehow afford funky flats in London and have a useful array of zany friends for plot purposes. But women who run businesses, run families, make tough choices, care for others, stand at the centre of their communities in one way or another. Yes, there's romance too, but actually I thought the book was an ode to the amazing strength and creativity and fellowship of women. In case that makes it all sound a bit heavy, be reassured it's not - and it's got a happy ending so it's a good one for Christmas! And of course always the dogs!

I think it is my favourite Lucy Dillon so far. And everyone's getting it for Christmas!


The Secret (Seasons of Grace, Book 1)
The Secret (Seasons of Grace, Book 1)
by Beverly Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 3 Nov 2011
I've only just started reading Amish fiction and am finding it fascinating. Normally I am a chick lit reader, or school stories - stories that have a strong moral code and a reliable happy ending. I am fascinated to find those issues (romance, life choices, the role of family and community) transplanted to Amish country. Beverley Lewis isn't the best writer I've come across, and as one other reviewer says, you can kind of guess by the first book, how things will spin out in the next two and there is a lot of padding - so I think the practice of making her books trilogies is a little cynical to be honest - £21 for what I think is actually one book. That said, I have so far always bought the next two, even knowing what will come next. The joy of Amish is that there are so many people in the community, it does people the books very well. I am currently reading the Annie's people trilogy which is more challenging than the Seasons of Grace one - but interesting how they both look outside of the People for some of the plotting and do look at challenging issues of domestic abuse, sex before marriage, shunning etc which I found hard at first.


The Undomestic Goddess
The Undomestic Goddess
by Sophie Kinsella
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 3 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Undomestic Goddess (Paperback)
I thought this was a wonderful book - I had real sympathy for the heroine (and all the other characters, actually, none of them are stereotypes or caricatures) and although I knew which ending I hoped for and suspected that's where we were headed, there was actually an element of suspense there which was great.


Going Home
Going Home
by Harriet Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 3 Nov 2011
This review is from: Going Home (Paperback)
I love chick lit, I have a really high tolerance for badly drawn characters, unlikely plot twists, obvious denuements, bad editing - I just like to know that I am heading to a happy ending. So I was thrilled to get this book and the premise seemed good. But boy, was that joy short-lived. It seems Harriet Evans has done a quick check of elements currently in vogue - independent woman in small but wonderful flat in gritty part London, sprawling country home of some sort, a bit of family history, New York/ American angle (always good if you want a film deal!), a quirky outsider, an 'obvious' love interest but a close running second. Don't get me wrong, I am a sucker for all that stuff. But this book is just a loose mish-mash of those elements and she shamelessly plays on the reader's indulgence to fill in gaps and ignore the glaring problems. She has tried to make the 'house' a character - but fails in picking the right things to describe to get across a real sense of history. I read one scene three times trying to work out where the heroine was, where the people she was eaves-dropping on were, how they got there from the garden.... As the house is so central she owed it to her readers to try harder to describe it. As for the family - she hints at dysfunction but fails (and this is my main beef) to actually say what the financial problem is that drives most of the plot (ie the loss of the house). As for the love interest - one brother over another - the reason the first relationship broke up was because of a misunderstanding which anyone would have seen through and sorted out (IF they'd been that in love). Apparently though, one misunderstanding was enough to finish them, so why we care when they get back together is anyone's guess. I finished this book feeling totally ripped off. I've read at least one other by Harriet Evans and liked it, but this one seemed to suggest that either she or her publishers are taking her readers for granted, and rushing the writing process to serve up rehashed, ill-structured fare. Such a shame that the book doesn't live up to the potential of the premise - a waste for the reader and the author.


Walking Back to Happiness
Walking Back to Happiness
by Lucy Dillon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for christmas!, 5 Dec 2010
I pre-ordered this Lucy D book cos I loved Lost Dogs so much, and have just spend most of the last three days completely immersed back in Longhampton. Lucy Dillon's heroines are flawed but that makes them all the more loveable, believable and sympathetic. I've realised that while I still enjoy chick lit with its unfeasibly handsome/ beautiful/ funny characters and lack of reality/ money worries/ minor health issues, the thing I love about Lucy Dillon is that the story, the plot, the characters are so much more substantial than chick lit, and yet there's still a wonderful lightness to them. The magic in Lucy's books is not about barely believable coincidences and lottery wins, but just the magic of everyday relationships and friendships. It's about life, warts and all, but the conclusion is that life is not grim, and reading this book make me all the more determined to appreciate the everday, every day. Walking Back to Happiness starts with a grieving widow and I wondered initially whether it was going to be depressing. But this book is about journeys - long and short - and it ends up as a believable feel-good book, where you're rooting for just about all the characters. I was really pleased to be reading this in the snow-bound weather as I was desperate to know how Juliet was going to work out the future. There are dogs in it, for you doggie fans. I'm not a dog person, but Lucy writes so well, even I found them a familiarly reassuring (and sometimes cute) backdrop. I am now about to order it for mass xmas distribution among the women in my family. If you liked the Ballroom Class or Lost Dogs, you'll love this - merry christmas!


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