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After the Party
After the Party
by Lisa Jewell
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Summer Reading in full swing, 9 July 2010
This review is from: After the Party (Paperback)
Summer Reading began - finally - and I read After The Party in a day, sat on my stoop, in the sun.

Reading anything (shopping list, doodles, random to-do notes) by Lisa would be a dream. She is an awesome writer, creates characters you care about, and writes the kind of things that happen to normal people... perfect.

In After the Party Lisa has bought back Jem and Ralph - who have been together 11 years now, have two kids and a house- but are loosing that special something that made them so right together. In a twist I don't think I've ever read before in a "chick lit" title, Ralph finds a way to move forwards, but Jem is stuck where many mothers I know have found themselves - between the man they love and the life they miss before the world of responsibility fell cleanly on their shoulders.

With just enough unexpected twists and turns to ramp up the eager page turning, After the Party hits all the right notes with love, longing, lust and life and just the right ending to not make you feel like a complete wimp when you find yourself in tears.


Other People's Secrets
Other People's Secrets
by Louise Candlish
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading Group Questions...., 9 July 2010
This review is from: Other People's Secrets (Paperback)
appear on the last pages of Other People's Secrets, and I was so dismayed to find myself at the end of the story, that I read through them in the hope that there might be a further hidden chapter lurking somewhere within.

I'm not really that well versed in proper grown up books. I'm at that weird limbo stage in my reading life, when the traditional love-of-my-life-chick-lit written by and for those under 30, is not keeping my interest, and I don't quite know where to turn.

I'm not so familiar with the more tradition women's fiction. I've tentatively done The Lovely Bones, some Maggie O'Farrell and The Time Traveler's Wife. But I don't Jodi Picoult; I don't feel quite old enough for Lesley Pearse or Nora Roberts. I'm not and never will be a Twilight fan and I don't really want to go down the Stieg Larsson bandwagon. I know I should read The Kite Runner, The Book Thief and The Shadow of the Wind but I know I never will; I really want to try The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and I fancy giving Dear John by Nicholas Sparks a go - but I know I won't.

So when I finished reading Other People's Secrets, I felt a little shaken.

Louise has, of course, written grown up books before. Since I Don't Have You told of a women coming to terms with life after the loss of her daughter in a road accident, and The Second Husband concentrated on loss of a different type, when a women's lover runs off with her own daughter. But Other People's Secrets is a million miles removed from The Double Life of Anna Day - the book she wrote that had me begging her publisher for a meet and greet.

Two families meet on holiday in the Italian Lakes and whilst the book is set over just two weeks, you feel completely engaged in their lives - the before, the during and the hope for the after. Bea and her husband Marty together with their children Pippi, Esther and Dom invite Ginny and Adam Trustlove into their idyllic holiday rental; and it's with the arrival of mysterious stranger Zach that the threads of their lives start to unravel before us. There is a relationship twist that I genuinely didn't see coming - but that's not why I was engrossed. There is a pace and a picture that Louise has created here that I don't think I've ever experienced before. We, the reader, are truly taken on the holiday as well. The town, the island, the villa, the lake, the gardens... the waterside path. Not only can I picture in my minds eye the whole cast (bar Esther who I don't feel I know as well as the others perhaps) I can smell the grass after the storm, I can hear the lap of the water against the boat, I can feel the heat of Zach's hotel room overlooking the square.

I'm not going to say it's funny, because it isn't. There is some sex, but it's the passion that grips you. There is some glamour and some fashion - but it's really an aside. What I found here, was a beautiful story about love and loss, about friendships and marriage, as complex as it was simple. And I loved it.

So where to now. There is hope of course - with the new Jane Green (The Love Verb) and Katie Fforde (A Perfect Proposal), and I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson and Men I've Loved Before by Adele Parks that I'm going to give a go.

But after that, what lies ahead for me.... I don't feel I can move back now, back to cocktails and crushes. To dating and trivia. I need substance.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2013 8:59 AM BST


31 Dream Street
31 Dream Street
by Lisa Jewell
Edition: Hardcover

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta be a film one day!, 28 Feb. 2007
This review is from: 31 Dream Street (Hardcover)
If this book doesn't become a film one day, I'll eat my hat. It has blockbuster written all over it - in the vein of About a Boy, Love Actually, Four Weddings and Bridget Jones. It's a superbly woven tale of the lives of the inhabitants of Peacock House, owned by Toby, overlooked by Leah and recently left by Gus ... who turns both their lives around. This is a beautifully written book, which really draws the reader into the lives of the main characters, and by the end of the book I was genuinely caught up in a desire for happy endings for (nearly) all of them. I adored Toby, and it was a really refreshing angle for the lead character of a Chick Lit title to be a man...Though not overly sentimental, there is much poignant soul searching for all the characters involved, and the author carefully handles the twists and turns of their lives with grace. I loved Lisa's books before this one - they are all funny and "real" and touching, but the bar has definitely been raised with 31 Dream Street. It's one of the best books I've read this year, and the feeling that I really care what the future holds for Con and Daisy, Melinda and Jack (who for some reason I picture as Anthony LaPaglia), and of course Toby and Leah....has stayed with me since I turned the last page. Thank you Lisa.


The Seven Year Itch
The Seven Year Itch
by Josie Lloyd
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 6 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Seven Year Itch (Hardcover)
Absolutely superb! The fab writing couple of Lloyd & Rees are back and have bought Amy and Jack with them. I adore both the main characters and have loved following their lives, separately and together since "Come Together" in 1999. This third instalment takes us seven years on and is told in the signature two-voice style of the authors which makes it incredibly punchy but oh too easy to speed through! It's a raunchy, sexy and hysterically funny read, as well as being quite sobering and very honest. Whilst Jack questions whether marriage and being a father has stripped him of his "stud" credentials, Amy finds a lack of excitement in the same-old-same-old routine of being a wife and mother. When the feared 7 year itch starts to bother them both, will they scratch? I really couldn't put this down the minute I started, and whilst I may not be a wife or mother I found myself feeling great empathy for Amy as the story unfolds. That's the secret, I believe, of these two superb authors - you never feel alienated, so even if you haven't personally experienced what they put their characters through, you can totally absorb yourself in the story. If you still haven't read a Lloyd & Rees title, but love Mike Gayle, Belinda Jones, Jane Green or Jessica Adams, you will love this.


The Shopaholic and Baby
The Shopaholic and Baby
by Sophie Kinsella
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of the Shopaholics, 6 Feb. 2007
Becky Bloomwood may not be my favourite Chick Lit character - but you can't deny she's makes a really good read.... This, the fifth in the Shopaholic series is, I think, my favourite so far. It's very funny, and quite touching in places - and I liked the fact that Becky seems genuinely concerned about both giving birth and loosing Luke and the other troubles they both go through in this story. Filled with some great subplots and new characters, as well as the old faithful of Suze, Jess and the hysterical Janice, this title focuses on the impending birth of Baby Brandon, and the evil presence of celebrity obstetrician (and Luke's ex-girlfriend) Venetia Carter..... is she a nutter or is she really after Luke... Becky will stop at nothing to discover the truth - including visiting a private dick in West Ruislip of all places!


The Summer Psychic
The Summer Psychic
by Jessica Adams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 6 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Summer Psychic (Paperback)
I've been a fan of Jessica Adams since I read Single White E-mail way back in 1999, but this for me is her best since then. It really reminded me of another title I've recently read, Cecelia Aherns "A Place Called Here", it's all psychic readings, missing dead cats and witches' covens in Brighton. Katie Pickard (the worst regional reporter ever - according to her lecherous boss Guy) is sent to interview Australian psychic Jim Gabriel, who amongst other things, predicts they will be married within the year....But Katie then goes and shacks up with deeply unsuitable ex-school fantasy Pete (think Pete Doherty and you're spot on), and a marriage looks unlikely. Or does it? With a back story of real life tragedies Jim predicts including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and tsunami; and random news stories including the £7m Damien Hurst shark, the date change of Charles and Camilla's wedding and the Ashes coming home - this story is beautifully written without being overly sentimental or slushy.


A Place Called Here
A Place Called Here
by Cecelia Ahern
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 6 Feb. 2007
This review is from: A Place Called Here (Paperback)
- If you are expecting a sweet and gentle tale of boys, shoes and an exciting job in the media - turn away from this book now. It does have a love story, there are definitely shoes worn, and there is an exciting job - but that's where the similarity to any other chick lit book you've ever read ends. Think Lost. Think Without a Trace. Think outside the usual chick lit formula. I loved this book. I loved everything about it. When Sandy Shortt's was a kid, her neighbour Jenny-May goes missing. From that point on Sandy is obsessed with searching for missing things. Socks, toothbrushes, people. When she hits her teens, her worried family bring in Dr Burton to help Sandy with her obsessive compulsive disorder. Whilst he may not seem to help much, he becomes a permanent feature in Sandy's life - one that she struggles to come to terms with. When Sandy leaves the Police force she sets up her own Missing Persons Agency and it's whilst searching for a new client (Jack's) brother, she herself goes missing, ending up in a place called Here.... I can't begin to explain just how much I enjoyed this story of self-discovery, guilt and mystery. I'll never be able to dismiss the missing pens and lighters again with quite so much ease....


Marrying for Money
Marrying for Money
by Chrissie Manby
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feels like ages, 6 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Marrying for Money (Hardcover)
It feels like ages since the last Manby book...although maybe it's just ages since I've read one of hers. Either way, this was worth the wait. Whilst the first few pages made me think "Oh no - posh birds that I can't relate to" it quickly became clear that all isn't as it seems in the beach town of Little Elbow in the good old US of A. A mix of Desperate Housewives and Cinderella, it's a cracking good read with plots, twists and turns that made this a pleasure to kick back and enjoy. When the Grosvenor sisters rent out Rose House for the Summer, Queen of Suburbia Marcella's nose is put out of joint as one by one, the eligible bachelors of Little Elbow line up to woo the sisters. Marcella is a hateful creature and very very funny and I really liked the feisty Charity Grosvenor, but to be honest, found Grace a touch dull in comparison.


Diamonds and Daisies
Diamonds and Daisies
by Bernadette Strachan
Edition: Paperback

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very very funny, 25 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Diamonds and Daisies (Paperback)
I loved The Reluctant Landlady, and had really high hopes for this, Bernadette's third title. It is very very funny and has a great plot and story with some fantastic characters and scenes, but I thought the main characters, Sunny was such a pain in the neck! A writer of those awful romantic novels that are sold strictly by mail order, Sunny is desperate for her own hero and fantasy love affair. In walks Fabio, an Italian count who picks her up at the local laundrette. Soon Sunny is moving out of the flat she shares with her two cousins JoJo and Ellen, and embarking on the kind of life she is always writing about - all romantic meals, chivalry, money, great sex and "class". With great sub plots and also rans (best friend Sarahs Porky Peeces escapades, on the run nun Sister Janes publicity stunt, ex boyfriend Patricks StyleScaping career and the Chudleigh Cads knicker fetish are my favourites), the book really rumbles along, but - and this is my own criticism - Sunny annoyed me - nothing specifc, just a general annoyance....


Material Girl
Material Girl
by Louise Kean
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Bit too rushed...., 25 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Material Girl (Paperback)
From the author of "The Perfect 10" comes this tale of Scarlet, a beautiful make-up artist living and loving in London who is called in at the last moment to attend to ageing star Dolly Russell in the West End. As Scarlets' relationship with her man of three years, Ben, comes to head she takes some valuable advise from both Dolly (and the local Evening Standard seller) and learns that growing older can have some rewards.... and that making-do whilst making-up is never the right answer. A really though provoking novel in many ways, I did enjoy this book, although I found it hard to have any real sympathy for Scarlet. She is portrayed as being incredibly beautiful, if feeling a touch past her best at 31 - and by God she went on about how dysfunctional her relationship was! Reminding me very much of some conversations I've had with my own friends, I did laugh in all the right places, and some of the observations were spot on.... but I felt the ending was a bit too rushed and inconclusive.


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