Thursday, December 22, 2011

Home For Christmas by Cally Taylor: A Review

Home For Christmas by Cally Taylor

When Was It Released?:  10th November 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From the publishers in exchange for a review. Thankyou!
Who Published It?: Orion
Number Of Pages: 368 pages

When Christmas time rolls around each year, I love to read as many Christmas chick lit novels as it is physcially possible to do so. After reading and being captivated by Cally Taylor's novel Heaven Can Wait, I knew that Cally's latest novel Home For Christmas would be on the top of my reading pile as soon as I received a copy.

Beth Prince, a twenty-four year old romantic, works in the Picturebox, a charming independant cinema. Beth has a boyfriend she believes is her dream man, theres just one problem, none of her boyfriends have ever told her they love her. Desperate to be told 'I love you' for the first time Beth decides to take matters into her own hands and then wishes she hadn't. With Beth feeling low, bad news arrives in the handsome shape of Matt Jones, the regional director of a chain cinema who is determined to get his hands on the Picturebox.

Home For Christmas is told from two different viewpoints; Beth and Matt's, with each chapter alternating between the two characters. I really enjoyed being able to gain two perspectives on events that unfolded throughtout the novel. Usually in chick lit novels, the male characters feelings and emotions are not portrayed, so this was a refreshing change that I would love to see in more novels. At many points in the novel I did find myself literally laughing out loud. I really enjoy any book that I read to be humourous, even if only in a subtle way. Home For Christmas really excelled with the humour injected into the characters, adding an extra spark to the novel. Cally Taylor's wit is one of the reasons she is such a fantastic author that I will always look out for. The characters were another contributing factor as to why I enjoyed Home For Christmas. Cally Taylor has managed to create characters that I really cared about by really bringing them to life. Beth, while at times being a little naive was caring and extremely likeable. I couldn't help hoping that she would find love and be able to keep her job at The Picture Box cinema. I also really enjoyed reading about Carl, although I detested him as a character, he definatly made certain moments within the novel very entertaining.

I did find that unlike Cally Taylor's previous novel, Heaven Can Wait, Home For Christmas was a little cookie cutter for my tastes. While I, and most chick lit lovers, enjoy a romance story that is neatly wrapped up, I do enjoy a little originality, and in my option that is where this novel lacks. I also would have liked to see a little more of the Christmas theme within the story. While the novel ends at Christmas time, there is very little mention of Christmas for a book entitled Home For Christmas.

Home For Christmas is a very enjoyable, quick and charming read, that I managed to devour in just one sitting. I would reccomend this book to anyone looking for a cozy Christmas read over the holidays. I will be looking out for more of Cally Taylor's novels in the future.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty: A Review

Finding Mr Flood by Ciara Geraghty

When Was It Released?:  13th October 2011 (Paperback edition)

Where Did I Get It From?: From the publishers in exchange for a review. Thankyou!
Who Published It?: Hodder and Stoughton
Number Of Pages: 550 pages

Finding Mr Flood is the third novel from Irish author Ciara Geraghty. After reading and devouring her two previous novels, Saving Grace and and Becoming Scarlett, to say I was excited to read Finding Mr Flood would be understatement. While the book is pretty large at 550 pages, which can sometimes be a little off-putting, I delved into the novel almost as soon as I received it.
Thirteen days before Dara Flood was born, her father walked up the road and never came back. Now in her twenties Dara likes structure in her life with her days and nights meticulously planned out. That is until her sister, Angel, gets sick and Dara's life goes into disaray. Unable to find a compatible match for the kidney Angel needs, Dara sets out on a journey to find her father who could be the last hope they have. Along the way to finding her father, Dara uncovers some suprising truths she never expected to unearth.

The plot of Finding Mr Flood, with Angel's illness, made the novel quite a serious one. I was able to completely emphasise with Mrs Flood and Dara's worry and distress over Angel and whether or not she would be able to find a compatible kidney. Ciara Geraghty's writing really drew me in and I became emotionally involved with these character's lives. I found myself genuinely concerned invested in the search for a kidney for Angel and also in the search for Mr Flood. Serious issues, such as illness and parents disappearing and never returning are not often subject matter in chick lit. I enjoyed this refreshing change from the norm and felt it made the novel more realistic, as not everything in life works out and people fall on hard times every day. I also enjoyed the romance aspects within Finding Mr Flood, which are more prominent later on in the book. I felt it progressed naturally, rather than two people seeing each other and automatically falling in love. While, I don't want to give too much away involving any romance, I will say that I felt the characters made an interesting and adorable couple.

Dara, as a character, was someone I found extremely interesting, as she is so different from the average woman in her twenties. She leads a very responsible and serious life, which makes her seem mature beyond her years. I did enjoy seeing her come out of her shell more as the novel progressed. I also liked Angel, Dara's sister, as a character. While she is suffering from a life threatening illness and does feel the strain from this, throughout most of the novel she is upbeat and trying to see the positive in everything. I found her to be very inspiring as a character, while still retaining the worry that anyone with a serious illness would have.

I have to admit, however, that at times I found Finding Mr Flood a little too serious. While I understand that the subject matter of an illness is a serious one, I would have liked to have seen a little humour thrown into the mix in order to stop the story becoming too sombre. Along with this, I did find that with the book being 550 pages long, the plot was a little slow. While, I enjoy getting to know characters and situations in details, there were a couple of moments that I wanted something to happen in order to move the story onwards a little more.

Finding Mr Flood is an interesting, beautifully written story, that I would definatly reccomend to anyone who enjoys their chick lit with a little something extra. While it does not compare to Ciara Geraghty's two previous novels, which had set my standards very high, I did really enjoy reading about the journey Dara and Angel take throughout the story. You won't be forgetting about Finding Mr Flood any time soon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews: A Review

Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews

When Was It Released?:  27th October 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From publisher in exchange for a review. Thankyou!
Who Published It?: Sphere
Number Of Pages: 440 pages

When the winter months descend on us, the cold weather draws in and the days get darker and darker there is one thing that I look forward to, and that is curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and an inviting Christmas novel. With an abudance of Christmas related novels released each year I always have to try to be selective in which ones I read and Carole Matthews' Wrapped Up In You was one that I just could not pass up. The cover is so gorgeous with the snowflakes and sparkle that I had a hard time not reading this one back in October when it was released.

Janie Johnson, a thirty year old, hairdresser is single and happy that way. All her friends and clients, however think its high time she found herself a man. After a disastrous blind date and finding out that her ex is getting married she realises she needs a change. Janie does the most adventurous thing that she can think of and books a safari trip to Africa. Everyone thinks that she has gone crazy but then while in Africa Janie falls in love with her tour guide, a Massai Warrior named Dominic. With Dominic in exotic Africa and Janie in wintery England how will they keep their relationship alive?

I loved the premise and idea behind Wrapped Up In You. The unique way in which Carole Matthews took on a holiday romance was really enjoyable. What I loved most though was the way in which Carole Matthews took on the often overlooked subject in chick lit of interacial relationships and the issues that are faced within them. Thinking back I seem unable to recall any chick lit novels that focus around interacial relationships in this way (although I may be wrong, my memory does tend to fail me sometimes.) The prejudices and criticisms focused on where so realistic and centered around how many couples still face these problems in society. With the book being set in Africa, I also felt this added a unique element to the story, very few books are set in this destinations. The descriptions were so well done that at times I could almost feel as though I was on safari with Janie. While Carole Matthews focuses on this serious issue, Wrapped Up In You is still a lighthearted, fun read, which I really liked. The humour within Wrapped Up In You had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion.

Janie's character was extremely likeable and while she had her insecurities and flaws, she was still a fun and interesting person to read about. I enjoyed the way in which her character evolved along with the story becoming more confident and sure of herself. Even though Janie was a little vunerable and naive I was still routing for her to find love and have her happy ending throughout. I loved Janie's cat, Archie too, he was such a hilarious animal, and his interactions with Dominic were interesting to read about. My favourite character, however had to be Dominic. He was such a quirky, refreshing, addition to the story. I was enthralled with the way in which he has to adapt to life in England and the different cultures from what he was used to in Africa. While, I did not like the way in which Janie's friends treat Dominic, I did feel that it was a true representation of how there are still prejudices in today's soceity of interacial relationships.

Overall, I enjoyed Wrapped Up In You, finding it to be a unique, fun and cozy.  My only issue with Wrapped Up In You, was that the ending seemed a little too much of a fairytale ending for my liking. While I enjoy a happy ending, I felt that all the issues within the story were all of sudden fixed very easily. This did not, however, effect my enjoyable of Wrapped Up In You. The romance aspects within the story were so beautifully written and enrapturing that I flew through the book. I would definatly recommened Wrapped Up In You as a must read for this time of year.

Build A Man by Talli Roland: A Review

Build A Man by Talli Roland

When Was It Released?:  5th November 2011

Where Did I Get It From?: From Talli in exchange for a review. Thankyou! 
Who Published It?: Self Published  
Number Of Pages: 352pages

After reading and falling in love with Watching Willow Watts and The Hating Game by Talli Roland, earlier this year, I was on tenter hooks awaiting the release of her next book. Luckily I did not have to wait long before Build A Man was published in Novemeber. As soon as I recieved my copy, I could not resisit making time especially to get started on reading it. I am still in awe as to how Talli Roland has been able to release three books this year, all at such a high standard of writing, and of all three I have to admit that Build A Man is my new favourite.

Build A Man follows the life of Serenity Holland, an American living in London, working as a receptionist to the rich and self obsessed clients at a plastic surgery clinic. Her real dream, however is to become a journalist, and she puts all her effort into pitching magazines with ideas in the hope of getting her work published. Her luck might just be changing, however, when she meets Jeremey Ritchie at the cosmetic surgery clinic, who is determined to make himself over from head to toe in order to become Britain's Most Eligable Bachelor. Serenity cannot resisit using Jeremey's story as a pitch to one of the top tabloid's, a story the editor just can't refuse. Serenity is determined to make her column a success, by going under cover to get access to every part of Jeremey's life. All goes wrong, however when her editor makes Serenity cover all the gory details of the surgery and Serenity must decide how far she is really willing to go for her dreams to come true.

I was enraptured by Build A Man from the very first page and could not put it down until I had finished the last page. The writing flowed so well that even if I had wanted to stop I don't think I would have been able to. The concept, as with all Talli Roland's novels, was so unique and different from the usual chick lit novels. I loved the idea of Build A Man and the quirky little elements that were added along the way. You can always count on Talli to bring a creative twist to her books. I would love to be inside her head for just one day to see how she comes up with all her ideas. I also enjoyed the message and the moral dilema behind the story in Build A Man, with Serenity using her professional position as the cosemtic surgery clinic in order to gain juicy details for her column. Then later on in the story Serenity's conscience coming into play with whether or not she should be doing that or not.

In terms of characters, I love Serenity. While I was reading Build A Man I was constantly wishing Serenity was a real person so that I could become friends with her. She was so fun, with so much life and energy, even when she was in a bad situation she still managed to pull herself out. I found her such a unique, interesting character. Even though she may have made some bad and morally wrong decisions, she still has a conscience and never set out to intentionally hurt anyone. I also liked the character of Jeremey too, enjoying the way in which his character gave a glimpse into male insecurities, which is not often present in chick lit. The way in which he has also been hurt in past relationships, made him seem genuine, if a little guarded.

Overall, I really loved Build A Man. I just did not want this novel to end. It was such a humourous, unique book that I became so personally involved in that at times I forgot the characters weren't real. I am so excited to have found out that Talli is currently writing a sequel to Build A Man, which will explore Serenity and Jeremey's relationship. The sequel, Construct A Couple is set for release next year (just hurry up and write it Talli, I don't think I can wait that long!).

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