on 17 November 2013
Another winner from Miranda and for me it is hard to choose between this one and her first novel for a favourite. I preordered this book and as soon as it pinged onto my kindle I was stuck in. It kept me company while stranded at Miami airport and, like Nell, I soon realised that plans don't always go smoothly! Well written, sympathetic characters that stay with the reader and, as always, delivered with Miranda's trademark compassion and humour. I loved it.
on 9 December 2013
I loved the descriptions in this book, there are lots of quaint English moments (even when in San Francisco). My boyfriend hates when I read these kinds of books as I get itchy feet and want to run off a visit all the places in the book.
I was a little disappointed with how abruptly this book ended it could have done with another 10 pages to finish it properly.
I occasionally got lost in the book as not all speech is labels at occasionally it gets a little hard to follow.
This is not a deeply intellectually challenging book but its lovely, light and refreshing read for the commute home, and I will keep an eye out for other books by Miranda.
Nell is horrified and shocked when she is made redundant out of the blue. She isn't expecting it, and leaves her office and her friends behind feeling totally shell-shocked. She makes her way back to her parents house, and there she makes a momentous decision... she decides to spend her not-so-large redundancy cheque and fly to San Francisco for a few months. She joins her cousin Lizzie and moves into her small apartment, with the now San-Fran native helping her explore her home for the next few months. While there, she meets native Max Rossi, an artist who she immediately feels an attraction to. Is it going to be just the city of San Francisco that Nell falls in love with, or is there something else that will be making Nell want to stay?
The book begins with Nell being made redundant, and given that is told to us in the blurb of the book, it isn't a spoiler! What happens for the rest of the book is all due to this moment in Nell's life though, one defining moment that forces her to make a decision that previously she never would have considered. San Francisco isn't somewhere that I have been yet, although it is definitely somewhere I want to visit before I die (wow, that's cheerful!) and once you've read the book, you can see why Nell wanted to go so badly. What I really loved about the writing in this book is how you can tell that Dickinson has really done her research with this book - everything about the place comes to life in your mind due to her brilliant descriptive writing, everything from the buildings, to the famous sites such as the Golden Gate bridge are so brilliantly written. Miranda Dickinson went on a holiday to San Francisco, and all this really does come across in her writing, it is clear she's fallen in love with the city too.
The cast of characters in the book are fantastic. Nell is very likeable, and you can feel sorry for her situation straight away. The demise of her relationship with her ex-boss and ex-boyfriend Aiden also adds to Nell's woes, and in a way, you can't blame her for fleeing. I liked how Dickinson writes in Nell's cousin Lizzie, who is a great addition to the story. I loved her, she has a great attitude and work ethic, and seems like such a genuinely warm and kind person, her and Nell really are perfect female leads for the book, there is nothing dislikeable about them at all. I loved reading about them working together, exploring and just hanging out in Lizzie's small apartment. The inclusion of the residents around San Francisco and in Lizzie's neighbourhood were perfect, there were some real characters in there and made it fun to read, you never knew who you were going to meet next.
The book is a great journey of self-discovery, and shows what amazing things can happen out of something that seems so awful at first. Nell's passion for cooking and diners really comes through, especially in the scenes in the brilliant Annie's Diner... I wish I had somewhere like that to go on a regular basis, it sounds amazing! I loved the vivid descriptions of San Francisco from Nell's eyes, she's really in awe of the place and it comes across so well in her writing. Dickinson has a way of drawing you into a story, making you care about its characters and them all getting the happy ending that they deserve. I loved the surprises along the way too, it certainly kept me interested and I didn't want to stop reading, even when my eyes were begging me for sleep! I really enjoyed Take A Look At Me Now, it's another heart-warming and life-affirming story from a fantastic author. Read it!
on 18 November 2013
Took me back to the lovely days I spent in San Francisco especially the clam chowder at Pier 39 and the sea lions in the bay. If you haven't been there read the book and make up your mind to GO.
on 21 November 2013
The story of Nell is one that so many of us have lived and breathed. Losing everything and having to start again. However, most of us are not brave enough to take the leap that Nellie does, going to a strange city, only knowing one other person. It's a bold move and leads to wonderful, life changing things for Nell.
In San Francisco, she meets the delicious Max and a romance blossoms. As always, Miranda weaves a beautiful tale of love, romance and friendship. I really liked the elderly couple, the Alfaros, I loved Lizzie and all the children at the SOS club. Every single character brought something wonderful and endearing to the story. There were unexpected pairings, sweet kids and grumpy customers. Annie and her diner were inspiring and made me home sick a little for the amazing food.
Once again, I am left with an empty feeling, like I've lost a dear friend. I never want one of Miranda's books to end. I could read them forever. I can't wait for Book 6 now!
on 12 January 2015
Having previously read It Started with a Kiss, I was really disappointed with Miranda's latest book. You know what to expect with chick lit, but I found this book to be a little flat. All the characters were too nice, even the protagonist and especially her leading man, making the characters 2 dimensional. There were chapters which seemed to be 'fillers' just to flesh out the length, which made the book slow in parts. It felt like this book had been written just going through the motions. It does pick up pace towards the end.
I am in the process of reading Fairytale of New York which is excellent, so hopefully her next book will be back to par.
on 29 October 2013
Take a look at me now - Miranda Dickinson
Source: Review copy courtesy of Avon
What a difference a day makes...
Nell Sullivan has always been known as `Miss Five-Year Plan'. But when she finds herself jobless and newly single on the same day, Nell decides it is time to stop planning and start taking chances.
Nell blows her redundancy cheque on a trip of lifetime to a place where anything is possible - San Francisco. There she meets a host of colourful characters, including the intriguing and gorgeous Max. Very soon the city begins to feel like Nell's second home.
But when it's time to return to London, will she leave the `new Nell' behind? And can the magic of San Francisco continue to sparkle thousands of miles away?
Take a look at me now follows newly unemployed Nell as she packs a bag and with her redundancy money heads of to visit her cousin Lizzie in San Francisco.
My first Miranda Dickinson novel has finally been read and I must say I enjoyed it greatly. Take a look at me now is extremely thorough in explanation and has a quirky and unique way in which it is wrote, this means that you are straight away dragged into the book by your hair! Straight away you are smiling and giggling at the unique sense of humour and comments. These luckily continue right throughout making it a refreshing and very up to date read. All characters are relatable too and you do find yourself stuck between choosing who you want Nell to be with when she's faced with a little love triangle dilemma between her ex Aiden and holiday fling Max. I adored diner owner Annie and she fast became my favourite character.
I did have one issue with this book though and that was It jumps from one scenario to another sometimes a bit to fast. I found this a bit off putting and would have liked to have seen a bit more in a few of the chapters.
Other than that, this is a really good book and Miranda Dickinson should so send it to the San Francisco travel board. Her thorough explanations of the city and tourist attractions make you want to jump on a plane and do everything Nell did. I bet San Fran has a whole lot of new fans now.
on 11 March 2015
It took me quite sometime to get into this book. The Nell who worked in the Council offices rubbed me up the wrong way and at first I could not tolerate her. But then Nell went off to San Francisco and the character changed and I found myself really liking her. By the time I had finished reading this book I really liked Nell and was routing for her.
The story is about Nell, who, at the start of the book, works in a council office. Her character felt really annoying to me and I didn't relate to her at all. She has an on/off relationship with Aidan, who also works at the council. Aidan indicates one morning that he wants to see her in private and Nell is convinced that he wants to get back with her. She tells her best friend Vicky about Aidan wanting to see her - Vicky also works at the council.
But Aidan does not ask Nell to get back involved with him, instead he tips her off that the council are about to make people in the department redundant. He asks her to keep quiet as the announcement is imminent and those involved are about to find out anyway. Nell hates having to keep quiet but she has promised she will stay quiet.
Nell leaves work after the shocking meeting, where half of the staff are paid off. She ends up in an estate agent and uses most of her redundancy money to fund a trip to San Francisco. Her cousin Lizzie lives there and Nell cheekily asks to use the phone to contact Lizzie to arrange for her to stay with her for the duration of her stay.
As she is broke she has to move back home to her parents' place just before she jets off to America. Aidan is desperately trying to get in touch with her, trying to win her back despite being the one who tips her off about losing her job whilst he got to keep his. Nell feels betrayed by him so ignores all of his messages and emails. She goes off to San Francisco confused and very much disheartened with her life.
San Francisco is a revelation for her and as a character Nell becomes nicer and more relatable, well, for me anyway. The story has a wonderful depth to it once we follow Nell to San Francisco. In fact, the story is very enjoyable once we get to San Francisco and I went from not being sure at all about the book to absolutely loving it!
I loved how the writer changed the character once she was away from England. I did worry that I would dislike Nell once more when she returned but it seemed San Francisco changed her and she certainly did not revert back to the Nell we first get introduced to.
This is a wonderful story, full of engaging characters - some you will like, others you will hate - and a very good description of the sights of San Francisco. I did not expect to like the story but once Nell had left England I enjoyed it so much. It is very well written and very well researched. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Definitely recommended. 5 stars *****
on 10 May 2014
I loved this book in all its rose tinted, sweet, delicious goodness. Take A Look At Me Now is the story of Nell who loses her job, a comfortable rut she was stuck in, and uses the redundancy money to go to San Francisco. Miranda writes gorgeous characters and you find yourself falling in love with every single one of them. Nell is just a brilliant character and I loved her balls as she bravely goes to America on her own where she finds new friends and even finds herself. The other characters are written beautifully as well and you get the sense that Miranda has used real people in her book as they are so well rounded, so vivid, colourful people. From Saul and Esther, the elderly couple who have lived in San Francisco all their lives, to the formidable Annie, Nell's brilliant, lively cousin LIzzie, Aidan, the children at the SOS club and the gorgeous, sexy, wonderful Max, I loved them all and even though Nell's parents played a tiny role in the book, I loved how supportive and loving they were of her. The story takes some great twists and turns and even right up to the last page it takes you in a completely different direction than the one you expect. San Francisco is described beautifully. I've been there and Miranda has just captured every detail of the city in full, glorious colour. The sights, the smells, the people, the buildings, the community, even the parts that the average tourist doesn't see, I drank in all the details and now I can't wait to go back. Miranda is a gifted writer and I've thoroughly enjoyed all of her books but I have to say I think this one was my favourite so far.
on 29 April 2014
This is my first Miranda Dickinson novel and it certainly will not be my last - what a fabulous read! I am ashamed that I haven't read her books before.
When Nell walks into her office she has no idea it will be for the last time. Nell is left shocked when her on-off boyfriend Aidan tells her she's being made redundant and sends her on her way. Nell takes her broken heart and redundancy pay straight to a travel agency and books herself an 8 week trip to San Francisco. Will living in a brand new city with her cousin Lizzie heal her scars and allow her to plan her future or will her past continue to haunt her?
To be honest I really just want to gush about how amazing this book is! Miranda drew me in from the very beginning and I could not put this book down. Miranda describes San Francisco with such realistic detail - I could see Nell's view of the Golden Gate Bridge, I was there as Nell and Lizzie wandered round the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood. In fact, I am so enthralled by this book San Francisco has moved to the top of my bucket list!
Nell is such an amazing character. She is strong-willed and brave to visit San Francisco - a place she has never visited before. She meets some fabulous people on her journey, including the tough cookie Annie and the drop-dead gorgeous Max. I was left drooling when reading about the mouth-watering food Annie serves up in her diner. I loved learning about the mysterious Max who appeared to have many secrets - this added extra suspense to the book.
The kids at the school where Nell volunteers were complete sweethearts. Seeing San Francisco through a child's eyes is brilliant. I have a major soft spot for Eva, a little girl with a love of Mary Poppins and a humongous heart.
Miranda has written a heart-warming, romantic, emotionally driven book that will stay with me for a very long time. It is a book that has encouraged me to follow my dreams, to get out there and do something new and to most of all appreciate the help of people around me.