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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.
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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!
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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.
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on 18 November 2013
This is an entirely predictable chicklit tale. Everyone's beautiful, everything's amazing and perfect. There are many descriptions of food and parts of San Francisco.

The heroine, Nell, is the kind of woman who everyone loves instantly and takes to their hearts. Nell loves everyone back, especially if they're handsome. Nell has no self-confidence, but is uber-talented and has to be told as much by everyone she meets, the poor thing. But Nell also has an annoying tendency to jump to conclusions, decide that's the only explanation without asking any questions and never giving anyone a chance to tell her differently.

I didn't particularly enjoy this, but I didn't absolutely hate it. It just irritated me a fair bit. It's too saccharine, twee and predictable for me, but if that's your bag, you'll love it
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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.
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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!
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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.
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VINE VOICEon 27 December 2013
I really enjoy Miranda Dickinson's books and look forward to her new releases each year. Her books are well written, with a good storyline throughout the book.

This book starts with, what many people would say was their worst nightmare. Nell has recently split up with her long term boyfriend, who is also her boss at work, and when she is called into his office one morning, does not expect to be told she, along with many of her work colleagues, is being made redundant. She decides to visit her cousin in San Francisco for eight weeks and forget all her problems until she returns. What she didn't expect, was to meet Max and when she leaves for home, she also leaves a piece of her heart. After her return home, Nell decides to follow her dreams of opening her own restaurant/diner and when help arrives from a surprising source she does not expect what happens next.

I have never been to San Francisco and have never really known anything about the city or surrounding area, however after reading and loosing myself in the book I found myself wanting to know more about the area. This was due to the infectious storytelling style of Dickinson's writing. I enjoyed Nell's travels around the area and would love to visit there myself one day.

The story was well written, with strong characters throughout. The storytelling is fantastic and I really enjoyed the tours around San Francisco and the descriptions of the mysterious pavement art which regularly appears around the city.

Having met Miranda at a local book signing and watching her vlogs online I can hear Miranda throughout the book.. Her infectious laughter and excited chat is throughout the story.

I have recommended this book to lots of my friends and I recommend it to all my blog readers too - it is a fantastic read! Miranda Dickinson is a fantastic author and she brings a smile to my face every time I pick up one of her books.
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on 21 January 2014
I finished reading this back in November, so I'm a bit late with my review. My first Miranda Dickinson book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Love her style of writing, its simple and a wonderful story teller. Can't believe I've been missing out on all this.

Now I know I will read all of her others. Looking forward to her next book which I believe it a sort-of sequel to one of her other books, I better hurry up and get up-to-date.

I have given this book a 4 because although I thought the story was good, for me I felt the middle of the story slowed down a bit, the part in San Fran. I was hoping for someone or something to challenge Nell's ambition - perhaps a bit of conflict to throw her off course, to see a bit of her other side and to make me feel worried for her that she may or may not achieve her goal because of ....

For me everything was going along at a nice and leisurely pace with all the coffee shops, kind people and laughter etc... which is lovely but, I suppose having something to worry about may have made the middle bit more interesting or upbeat. But in-terms of writing style, characters, the artwork that was mentioned, the smells oozing from the number of coffee shops and the colourful way San Fran was described on a whole, was absolutely breath-taking. Glad I bought it.
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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.
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