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Goodbye, Jimmy Choo by Annie Sanders

Under normal circumstances, bohemian, skint Izzie Stock would never have met Maddy Hoare, a Gucci-clad, Beemer-driving urbanite. Their backgrounds and values appear to be a million miles apart. Then, due to their respective husbands’ careers, both women are dumped into the English countryside, fish out of water with five young children between them. They are thrown together at a ghastly ladies’ lunch and quickly find they have two things in common – an absolute hatred for the petty-mindedness of their neighbours and a longing for the mucky London streets and residents’ parking permits they’ve left behind. When tragedy hits and Maddy’s world collapses, the two women decide it’s time to shake things up. A chance discovery of Maddy’s leads to the launch of a natural cosmetics company from Maddy’s kitchen. The friends’ subsequent success has implications far beyond their wildest imaginings…
‘Goodbye Jimmy Choo’ was the first book written by Annie Sanders [Annie Sanders is actually two people, Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders] and I am now a big fan. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship which develops being two women, Maddy and Izzie, both of whom find themselves virtually friendless and living in the country having left their former city lives behind them.

Maddy is a very glamorous mother of three with a beautiful house in the country, loving husband and live-in Nanny. She’s used to the good life and being supported by her husband, so how will she cope when tragedy strikes and she has to cope on her own? Is she capable of fending for herself when the going gets tough?

Izzie hates living in the country and misses her old London life. She’s worried about money and is trying to scrap together what she can whilst juggling her kids and waiting for her husband to get himself a new job. Izzie needs a friend and some excitement and she finds both when she meets Maddy.  But how will her husband react to her new success, and will she be tempted by Maddy’s sexy cousin Jean Luc?

I loved both the main characters in this book and revelled in their success when they work together. The personalities of the children were great, and the family inter-play was very well written.  The only character that I really didn’t like was Izzie’s husband, Marcus, and the only aspect of Izzie that drove me mad was how she put up with him!

‘Goodbye Jimmy Choo’
has got to be one of the best chick-lit reads that I have come across. I have read it several times, usually in one sitting. I really enjoy Annie Sanders’ style; it’s relaxed and readable whilst still retaining a high standard of writing. The story is excellent and inventive and the characters are lovable. It somehow manages to cover a multitude of emotions seamlessly; you’ll be crying on one page and laughing out loud on the next. Most importantly it has an absolutely perfect ending which leaves the reader thoroughly satisfied and ready to embark on their own Maddy and Izzie adventure!

4 and a half stars

Melissa Fuller, gossip columnist of the fictional “New York Journal” is on the brink of losing her job. This particular morning, she is 68 minutes late for work – making it her 37th late arrival so far this year. Human Resources have given her another official warning, her boss seriously doubts her commitment to the paper and, more importantly, even her best friend has begun to worry about her psychological well being. This time, however, Melissa has a real excuse. She has just saved her elderly neighbour from a near-fatal attack, taken her to hospital and in the process become sole custodian of Paco, her Great Dane – not the ideal accessory for a New York City girl. Melissa urgently needs to trace her neighbour’s only relative and when she finally meets him the real trouble starts.

This novel is by the author of the very popular ‘The Princess Diaries’ books [which are published under the name Meg Cabot and are for children]. Meggin Cabot has written several book for adults which I have read and enjoyed.

‘The Guy Next Door’ is about a gossip columnist called Melissa Fuller who works for the New York Journal. Mel [as she is known to her friends] moved to New York from a small town in Illinois and is desperate to write ‘proper’ articles but hasn’t yet been given the chance.

Mel has never exactly been a paragon of virtue when it comes to being on time for work, but one morning she has a genuine excuse; she finds that her elderly next door neighbour has been attacked and is unconscious. Mel, being the kind-hearted soul that she is, calls an ambulance and the police, and then takes over looking after her neighbour’s two cats and rather large dog.

Finding that walking the dog every day is likely to cost her her job and that her neighbour is going to be in intensive care for quite some time, Mel tracks down her neighbour’s only living relative, womanising photographer Max Friedlander. Max has no intention of coming to New York to look after his aunt’s pets, but realises that his very wealthy aunt will probably cut him out of her will if he doesn’t return to be at her bedside and look after the animals. His solution is to call upon his old college friend John to pay back a favour. John is to pretend that he is Max, move into Max’s aunt’s apartment and look after the pets. Max is only to be contacted if his aunt comes out of her coma. The plan seems foolproof until John meets Mel, how will Mel react when she finds out that John has been fooling her?

The main problem that I have with this book is that the story is told completely in emails. Whilst this is quite original and may appeal to some people, I found that it made the book lack depth. With a good book I feel like I am ‘in’ the story; you visualise what is happening and you are engrossed. The emails made for a chatty, informative style but made me feel like I was being kept at a distance.

Another flaw with the book is its complete lack of believability. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a little bit of escapism but this really did go over the top! Millionaires popping up all over the place, people impersonating other people, transvestite killers…. all too much!

Having said this however, this book is entertaining with likeable characters and several very funny moments. It’s certainly not badly written, even if it is a very easy read, and would probably go down very well as something to read on a beach.

3 stars

 Will you marry me?’ I think of you, then. I think of you every day. But usually in the quietest part of the morning, or the darkest part of the night. Not when my boyfriend of two years has just proposed. I look up at Richard with his hopeful eyes. ‘Lily?’ he prompts. It’s been ten years, but it feels like only yesterday that you left. How can I say yes to Richard with all my heart when most of it has always belonged to you? I take a deep breath and will myself to speak…Ten years ago when Lily was just sixteen, she fell in love with someone she really shouldn’t have fallen in love with. Now, living in Sydney and engaged to another man, she can’t forget the one that got away. Then her past comes back to haunt her, and she has to make a decision that will break her heart – and the heart of at least one of the men who love her.

Paige Toon seems to have taken the chick lit world by storm in the last couple of years, and no wonder, her books are immensely readable and once you start there really is no putting them down!

‘Pictures of Lily’ is Paige’s fourth book and has been very eagerly awaited by her fans, not least because she has been promising updates on our favourite characters from her other books.

The eponymous Lily is a twenty-six year old temp who lives and works in Sydney, Australia. The book begins with Lily being proposed to by her boyfriend Richard. Lily loves Richard and is happy living with him. She should be thrilled to be marrying him but she has never got over losing her first love at the age of sixteen. Can she marry Richard when she knows that part of her heart will never be his?

‘Pictures of Lily’ is set in Adelaide and Sydney. I enjoyed the way that Paige used landmarks and the beautiful Australian scenery as a backdrop to the story. Her descriptions of the conservation park which Lily works in and of the animals there are very memorable.

One of the aspects of ‘Pictures of Lily’ which I really liked was the way that Paige takes us back ten years for almost half the book to when Lily is sixteen and falls in love with someone that she realty shouldn’t have fallen in love with. Paige does a wonderful job of writing as a 16 year old, conveying all the teenage angst, whilst still ensuring that the reader knows that the love she feels isn’t just a teenage crush. It’s the real thing and will never leave Lily. Paige also manages to deal with the large age difference between Lily and her love very well. The relationship between them never seems wrong. The reader knows that despite the age difference, the two characters really are made for each other.
Something that I admire about Paige as a writer is the way that she sees all the sides to her characters. There is no simple answer to what Lily should do; she does love Richard and he is a good person, while Lily herself is not perfect in the way that she deals with the situation.

In writing this book Paige certainly fulfilled her promise of bringing back previous characters. Lily’s boyfriend Richard cameoed in Paige’s first book, ‘Lucy In The Sky’, as Nathan’s flatmate in London. He’s still friends with the old gang, so fans of ‘Lucy In The Sky’ get an update on what Molly, Sam, Lucy and Nathan have been up to! There are also brief mentions of Johnny Jefferson (‘Johnny Be Good’) and Luis and Daisy (‘Chasing Daisy’).

I recommend Paige Toon far and wide, and this book is certainly no exception. Readers will be able to relate to the characters but the situations and Australian backdrop give added interest that really keep the reader hooked. I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon than curled up reading this!

5 stars

FOURSOME – JANE FALLON

Rebecca, Daniel, Alex and Isabel have been best friends since university. Rebecca married Daniel, Alex married Isabel and, for twenty years, they have been inseparable. But all that is about to change…When Alex walks out on Isabel, Rebecca thinks things can’t get any worse. But then she finds out the reason why and she’s left harbouring a secret she’d rather forget…And there’s more upheaval to come in Rebecca’s life as her emaciated, neurotic, self-obsessed colleague, Lorna – her arch nemesis at work – suddenly becomes a regular feature in her social life. Rebecca’s once-happy foursome is now a distant memory and with hearts broken and friendships fractured, it seems that change is never a good thing. Or is it?

FOURSOME begins a while after Alex has walked out on Isabel, planting us right into the middle of the action as the drama between these once close friends unfolds. The story is told from the point of view of Rebecca and initially, I thought that she was a surprising choice as I would have expected it to be Isabel, now alone with two children after her husband had walked out on her. So to have the best friend taking the lead seemed a little strange to me, but it worked beautifully as it allowed both the author and reader to explore other aspects of the story without the main focus being the recovery of a scorned woman. Plus, I must say that I really liked Rebecca. She was flawed and made mistakes, but that just made her more real to me and a far more interesting character to guide us through the novel.

The men in the story didn’t appeal to me, with each of them being painted in a bad light bar Daniel who didn’t really get enough ‘page time’ for me to form too much of an opinion on him. But this didn’t matter as this is really and truly a book about women and their relationships with each other.

What the synopsis above doesn’t really cover is the sub-plot which had me laughing out loud and cheering the characters on from my sofa. The sub-plot revolves around Rebecca’s office life at a talent agency and her interactions with both her colleagues and clients, and is written fantastically by the author and I felt I had had a true insight into that world having read the book.

A great read that I devoured in two sittings. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Jane Costello (for how both Costello and Fallon write work life) and Adele Parks.

Four stars

I REMEMBER YOU – HARRIET EVANS

For Tess Tennant, spring brings the promise of a fresh start. She’s moving back to her picture-perfect home town to take up a teaching job. Langford is a place of pretty stone cottages, friendly locals in oak-beamed pubs and of course Adam, her best friend since childhood. But Adam is preoccupied with a new girlfriend, and the past – which Tess thought she’d put behind her – is looming large again. So by the time she has to take her class on a trip to Rome, Tess is feeling reckless. She is swept off her feet by a mysterious stranger, and finds herself falling in love. But her magical Roman Holiday is about to turn into a nightmare! Back in Langford Adam is gone and everything has changed.Tess has to decide, once and for all, where she belongs and with whom.

When I was shopping for my summer reads, I picked this one up as I loved the jacket and while I hadn’t read any books by her before, I had heard good things, in particular about GOING HOME, so I thought I would give her a try. I’ll be honest with you, the book didn’t grab me. It was enjoyable enough, but I wasn’t gribbed to the page, nor did I particularly care about the characters. The plot ambled along, much like the country life in Langford did, with little titbits of information leaking out onto the otherwise quite mundane pages.

I didn’t become attached to any of the characters, including Tess, which is always a big, giant warning sign when I’m reading books as if I don’t like the main character why on Earth am I reading the book?

On a positive note, the descriptions of both London and Rome were fantastic, and the flashback element of the novel was good, as I liked how the author held back on the character’s past and then staggered the flashbacks to reveal what had happened between Tess and Adam in the past. I won’t spoil you here, but it definitely made me like Tess a little more and Adam a little less! However, this wasn’t enough to turn the book around for me and found myself rushing the last few pages of the book so that I could move onto the next book in my TBR pile.

Too slow, and too long. I don’t think that this is the right author for me.

2 Stars

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