Archive for the ‘Chick Lit’ Category

Title: The Book Ninja

Author: Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

Genre: Chic Lit

Opens: If Frankie’s life were a book, she would title it Disappointment, named aptly after the disaster that was her career, her family and, of course, her love life.

Blurb: Sometimes love means having to broaden your literary horizons. Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do. It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment. Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams. Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really.

My thoughts: THE BOOK NINJA by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus is a fun Romance/Comedy and just great for sitting in waiting rooms in hospital while waiting for medical people to push and prod your bored husband. Said bored husband was not impressed with me cackling with laughter on the odd occasion when he felt he needed love and devotion – or at the very least a little sympathy.

However, this personal insight does not tell you much about the book! Frankie has a life that many booklovers aspire to, she works in a bookstore – the Little Brunswick Street Bookshop. However, she is not just any old book lover – she is a classics booklover, to the point of being a book snob. The closest she would get to reading romance would be to read Pride and Prejudice. When Sunny, a gorgeous, intelligent man, came into the shop to buy a book she went weak at the knees – until he purchased a popular YA Science Fiction book. She felt his life was wasted and this misguided like of non-classic books was a flaw in an otherwise perfect persona. So dismissing Sunny – despite his keen interest in her, Frankie hatches a plan to find a man who would read classic novels – such an individual would be her perfect match surely? A fan of online dating Frankie decides to leave a letter and her email address on a slip of paper in some of her favourite books and leave a book on a train. The idea being the well-read person would contact her for a date and she could find her perfect match. Of course this wouldn’t be Chick lit if things went to plan – and she finds that just because maybe they read classics – they may not be normal. Frankie starts to blog her experiences and her followers urge her to reconsider YA lover – he may be worth a second look after all – I mean to say she can always train him to like the classics!

THE BOOK NINJA is a quick and quirky read. All of the characters, well maybe Sunny was normal, were out of left-field crazy; but all delightful and I would love to catch up with them in real life if I could. Well actually, I probably wouldn’t – I think it would be exhausting to have these people for friends if they lived outside this book – they are all very out there. As you would expect from a book with a classic loving main character and set in a book shop there are a heap of literary references as books from all genre are discussed. Overall the story is all about looking for love in the wrong places. As well as Frankie’s search for love, there is a sub story of her best friend Cat who owns the bookstore along with her husband. Cat has her own problems, she is very pregnant and very much in a pickle. And then there is Frankie’s alternative lifestyle mother, Putu – who honestly would drive me batty – and a High Schooler, Seb, who is a regular in the book shop. Cat, Putu and Seb all offer Frankie advice – mostly unwanted advice, which adds to her perfect match hunting.

…‘Seb just needs to add these herbs to his little potion and then rub it gently behind her ears without her knowing,’ Putu smiled knowingly.

‘Without her knowing? Mum, that’s terrible advice! If Seb starts rubbing oil behind somebody’s ears he’ll get is a restraining order,’ Frankie snapped…

Authors Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus are the founders of ‘Books on the rail’ based on a British idea called ‘Books on the Underground.’ Michelle met the creator of Books on the Underground, which I have been following on twitter for a while, and when she returned to Australia she and Ali set up a version in Melbourne. I understand today its Melbourne and tomorrow the world, well the rest of Australia anyway. So it made sense to have Frankie use the trains of Melbourne to conduct her search for a life partner.

For more about authors Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus – Click Here

C – Above average – was very readable and I really liked it, but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

With thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia and the authors via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.


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Title: The Tea Chest

Author: Josephine Moon

Genre: Chick Lit

Opening lines: “…Kate Fullerton’s second home for the past six years had been The Tea Chest …”

Blurb: Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she’d be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family’s future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down. Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to move on. When Kate’s, Leila’s and Elizabeth’s paths cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate’s vision of the newest and most delectable tea shop in London, The Tea Chest. But with the very real possibility that The Tea Chest may fail, the three women are forced to decide what’s important to each of them.

My thoughts: THE TEA CHEST opens with Kate inheriting a half share of ‘The Tea Chest’ from its owner Simone. The other half is owned by Simone’s hateful half-sister Judy and she just wants to sell up and walk away. ‘The Tea Chest’ is a shop that sells specialty teas and associated tea related knick-knacks. There is the branch in Brisbane, where the story opens, another one in Sydney and a third one is scheduled to open up in London. Selling tea to the British is going to be a huge task, but Kate believes in the business and also believes it is her duty to honour Simone’s legacy. It’s a huge step for Kate to take and a scary financial risk because Judy is not happy with the decision and will not put any money into the new venture. It also means Kate leaving her husband and young sons behind in Australia for months while she sets the London shop up. Kate and her husband are willing to take the risk, and a chance meeting has her recruiting Leila to handle the financial side of things and flying to London together. There, after another chance meeting in a London pub, Kate also hires Elizabeth and her sister Victoria. Leila is a publicist who needs to prove herself after she was fired for an incident with a fellow worker and management sided with him. Elizabeth had fled to London from Brisbane after she found out her husband was actually married to a woman in another country and had children with her. She and her sister Victoria are drowning Elizabeth’s sorrows at the pub when they meet and bond with Kate and Leila. The four women then have the challenge of turning a run-down dump into a beautiful attractive tea shop. They have to deal with a snooty shop owner in the same street that does not want any competition, negotiate with contractors and council inspectors, tread the murky waters of illegal immigrant workers, then deal with a dodgy financial backer and the face the terror of the London riots. On top of all this they each have to sort out what they want from life and grab it before it disappears.

THE TEA CHEST was an enjoyable and light read –not totally fluffy – just easy to read and I will happily read more books by Josephine Moon – she is in the throes of creating a new one right now. Then there are the teas, and not only are there the different teas, but the reader learns how they are created (and I have to say the idea of rose petals in tea fills me with horror). Kate, Leila and Elizabeth are all very believable characters and none of their journeys are smooth. The narrative switches between the women, each taking it in turns to propel the story forward and tell the reader how the different obstacles, both personal and professional, are faced and surmounted. All of them had a steep learning curve to climb and worked through the problems with the enthusiasm and support for each other. Then there is this odd little back story of Simone and Judy from their childhood through to the Simone’s death which I found a little off-putting and disjointed and is my only gripe with the story as it just seemed – well not necessary. I am a tea drinker – although not a very adventurous one. I enjoy other people making me tea but just can’t seem to get it right when I make it for myself. The trick I learned when using tea bags to make your cuppa (from Josephine Moon’s web page – http://josephinemoon.com/tea-tasting/ ) is not to squeeze the bag because this releases more tannin, and makes the tea taste bitter. I tried this today at work – I popped the bag in the mug, left it alone for a few minutes, took it out, didn’t squeeze the bag at all – and what a great cuppa it was!!! I just about moaned with delight. Maybe I SHOULD try rose petals?

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

For more about the author – Click Here

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99

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Title: Tiddas

Author: Anita Heiss

Genre: Chick Lit

Opening lines: “…’I’m pregnant,’ Izzy said nervously, squeezing her eyes tight with the fear of the expected response from down the phone lines …”

Blurb: Five women, best friends for decades, meet once a month to talk about books … and life, love and the jagged bits in between. Dissecting each other’s lives seems the most natural thing in the world – and honesty, no matter how brutal, is something they treasure. Best friends tell each other everything, don’t they? But each woman harbours a complex secret and one weekend, without warning, everything comes unstuck. When their circle begins to fracture and the old childhood ways don’t work anymore, is their sense of ‘sistahood’ enough to keep it intact? How well do these tiddas really know each other?

My thoughts: Firstly a definition – Tiddas is a generic eastern coast Aboriginal word for sisters, or women who are as close as sisters (sistahood). So Izzy, Veronica, Xanthe, Nadine and Ellen are Tiddas with each other as they all have grown up together in Mudgee. They are now all middle aged, live in Brisbane and are still very, very close. Each of them takes turns in telling the story, and each has their own issues that they may or may not recognise. Izzy, on the verge of becoming Australia’s version of Oprah, is faced with an unplanned pregnancy which could snatch away her crown before she even gets it; Xanthe is totally obsessed with trying to get pregnant which is straining her marriage and her friendship with Izzy. Ellen is a funeral director and lives life to the fullest as she knows that you have a finite time on earth, she flits from one man to the next and never settles; while all Veronica is wants is her life to have a purpose after her divorce as all her self-esteem disappeared when she signed the papers. Finally there is Nadine, Izzy’s sister in law and a well-known author – she is also an alcoholic.

TIDDAS is a story of friendship, fights, make-ups and loyalty and follows the women over the period of a year or so. While each woman has some serious issues to face, decisions to make, her Tiddas are there to pull her down or prop her up as the occasion requires. Refreshingly for a book about women for women not everyone has a happy ending, and not everyone’s story is totally finished by the end. However what HAS happened is that you have shared, and felt jealous of, and felt angry about issues with five women who you wish were YOUR best friends. Three of the women, Izzy, Xanthe and Ellen are Aboriginal and their cultural heritage plays a large part in the novel. Nadine is married to Izzy’s brother so her husband and children are Aboriginal. It is only natural that the women have an interest in Aboriginal issues and even discuss them – often heatedly – because that is what good friends do. This is no different when I sit down with some of my girlfriends and we discuss what the Prime Minister of the day has done to upset us this week. The conversations get quite fiery until one of us changes the subject, pours another wine and we move on. Once or twice in TIDDAS it did feel a little preachy when Aboriginal issues where introduced but on the whole I loved the story and the many issues touched upon – such alcoholism, mixed marriages, divorce, abortion and family expectations.

Rating: C – Above average. Was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

For more about the author – Click Here

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Title: Greetings from Somewhere Else (aka Spin the Bottle)

Author: Monica McInerney

Genre: Chick Lit

Blurb: Lainey Byrne is a woman in control, juggling a hectic job, her boyfriend Adam and a family with more than its fair share of dramas. Things go into a spin when she is wrenched from her life in Melbourne to run a B&B in Ireland for a year. Bed-and-breakfast quickly tumbles into bed-and-bedlam, especially when a reunion with childhood friend Rohan Hartigan sparks an unexpected romantic dilemma. Meanwhile, back in Australia, her father’s taken to his bed, her mother’s up the walls, her three brothers are running amok – and as for Adam … It’s going to take more than a game of spin the bottle to sort this one out!

My Thoughts: GREETINGS FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE is the USA title – and the title on the book I read. Elsewhere in the world it is known as ‘Spin the Bottle’ which I feel is a much more telling title! Whatever its name tags though, it is a delightful read. Lainey is your ultimate kindly control freak – kindly because she isn’t nasty with it she genuinely doesn’t even know she is organising everybody and everything to her own ideals. Her mother is the same, so it is decided by her mother that Lainey is to go to Ireland for a year without discussion – and Lainey in turn decides that it is best that she and Adam break up before she leaves – without discussion. Lainey arrives to find the B&B is rundown and neglected and that her late aunt had managed to upset every tourist promotional business so is off the B&B lists. This could be a good thing because Lainey can’t cook and most customers would expect a full cooked Irish breakfast. Slowly Lainey starts to turn the business around – if only she could turn her own life around as easily. Still when you have been bossy and pedantic for so long it is not easy to step back and let things unfold without a helping hand. I laughed out loud occasionally, chuckled frequently and there was enough tension in the subplots to please me no end. Monica McInerney is a lovely author to read, you know you are going to get a light and easy read with a pleasant blend of humour and emotions, and she never disappoints.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.

For more about the author – Click Here

Greetings from Somewhere Else by Monica McInerneyis book # 28 for AWW2013

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Title: My Husband Next Door

Author: Catherine Alliott

Genre: Chick Lit

Blurb: When Ella married the handsome, celebrated artist Sebastian Montclair at just nineteen she was madly in love. Now, those blissful years of marriage have turned into the very definition of an unconventional set-up. Separated in every way but distance, Sebastian resides in an outhouse across the lawn from Ella’s ramshackle farmhouse. With an ex-husband living under her nose and a home crowded by hostile teenaged children, gender-confused chickens – not to mention her hyper critical mother whose own marriage slips spectacularly off the rails – Ella finds comfort in the company of the very charming gardener, Ludo. But is he really the answer to her prayers? Then out of the blue Sebastian decides he must move away, catching Ella horribly unawares. How much longer can she hide from what really destroyed her marriage . . . and the secret she continues to keep?

My Thoughts: MY HUSBAND NEXT DOOR is the thirteenth book written by Catherine Alliott, but the first I have read. The book captures life in rural England effortlessly – the eyes of the village are everywhere, every move is noted and everyone knows each other’s business and what they don’t know they speculate on endlessly. The major stress source of rural living is trying to keep your activities out of the village grapevine. Ella is obviously very stressed as she has lots she wants to keep out of the public eye. For me the story took a little while to get going, and I found myself enjoying some of the minor character’s more than Ella. I guess it was the whole adultery thing that made me resistant to emphasising with Ella. She may have been separated from her husband – but she wasn’t divorced. Ludo was also very much married. So when two people who are still married have a dalliance, well I’m sorry that is adultery. I did have a couple of laughs – I loved Ella’s father and understood completely where he was coming from. And I also totally related to Ella’s relationship with her mother as I have one just like it. In fact these two characters, Ella’s mum and dad, made the book for me. I had a few laughs as well, especially about Ella’s interactions with her two teens. So true to life!! I wouldn’t say the book was outstandingly funny, in fact the scene that involved a St Bernard dog and a suitcase was beyond ridiculous and really jarred with me – I won’t go into details but just seemed so stupid and unbelievable. The secret when it came out took me by surprise, but actually made a lot of sense and explained a lot of things. I did enjoy MY HUSBAND NEXT DOOR but just didn’t love it; I am quite happy to try one of her other books and actually have ‘The Wedding Day’ on my TBR pile

Rating: D – Average. Was better to read than to do the housework.

For more about the author – Click Here

With thanks to Penguin Books Australia and the author via Netgalley.

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Title: Trust me I’m a Vet

Author: Cathy Woodman

Genre: Romance

Blurb: City vet Maz Harwood has learned the hard way that love and work don’t mix. So when an old friend asks her to look after her Devonshire practice for six months, Maz decides running away from London is her only option. But country life is trickier than she feared. It’s bad enough she has to deal with comatose hamsters, bowel-troubled dogs and precious prize-winning cats, without having to contend with the disgruntled competition and a stubborn neighbour who’s threatening to sue over an overzealous fur cut! Worse still, she discovers Otter House Veterinary Clinic needs mending as much as her broken heart. Thank goodness there’s an unsuitable distraction, even if he is the competition’s deliciously dashing son….

My Thoughts: Overall TRUST ME, I’M A VET was an enjoyable novel, even though it was so very over the top at times! At first it seemed like there was a cast of hundreds, and they all appeared to be “English village” quirky, so I did have trouble trying to remember everyone and getting myself quite confused. Eventually I worked out who were just a mention in passing and who was actually pertinent to the story. The main character, Maz, was a hard character to get a grip on at first – I thought at one stage she might have had a sign on her head saying kick me I’m a victim!! However, as the story progressed I really warmed to her as she was really up against it from the start. As a new addition to a small tight-knit community she was thrown into the deep end having to deal with potential bankruptcy, a nasty vendetta and generally just being an outsider. Despite all obstacles Maz managed to find her niche and true love. There were quite a few deaths, both animal and human, which surprised me; I guess in a veterinary practice animal deaths are going to happen I just didn’t expect so much of it; still each passing was dealt with sensitively. To counteract the sad was the comedy which almost went too far the other way as it became almost slap stick almost to the point of being ludicrous. Still somewhere in the middle was a good romance story with animals. There are more books in the Talyton St George vet books series and I will pick up the next one to see what happens next.

Rating: C – Above average. Was very readable and enjoyable.

For more about the author – Click Here

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Title: Real Vampires Don’t Diet

Author: Gerry Bartlett

Genre: Paranormal Chick-Lit

Opening lines: …“Right. You’re in a tearing hurry. Not that I need to know why of course. Don’t let a hunter shoot you down.” My boyfriend shape-shifts into a hawk to do his travelling…

The Blurb: First Glory’s stood up on New Year’s Eve by her long time main squeeze Jeremy Blade. Then a moonlight boat ride on Austin’s Lake Travis with newly turned vampire, rock star Israel Caine (Ray) goes horribly wrong. Who knew there was a Siren lurking in the lake just waiting for her chance to lure unsuspecting vampires into a trap? Now Glory and Ray are racing against time to find vampire sacrifices or they’re doomed. With the storm of the century threatening to wash out her new home and an old enemy taking aim at her, things don’t look good for Glory.

My Thoughts: REAL VAMPIRES DON’T DIET is designed to be pure escapism reading. If you like your novel to be all meaningful then this series isn’t for you. The story is a blend of romance, adventure and kick arse action – with a little self-pity thrown in occasionally for balance. Glory is just a typical everyday young woman who has life work balance issues (she can only work nights); boyfriend problems (she has not one but 3 hunks all panting after her) and worries about her weight (when she was turned into a vampire in the 1600s she was having a bloat day). OK – well almost typical. She has a minder in the form of a dog, and in this book she has to deal with a Siren who is a long way from home and not as pretty as mythology would have us believe. There is adventure, drama, cheeky banter, ghastly singing and lots of humour. A nice relaxing read.

Rating: C – Above average. Was very readable and enjoyable.

For more about the author – Click Here

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