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Mad about the Boy — Helen Fielding

24 Nov

aboutboy

 

Publisher: Knopf Canada
Released: October 15th, 2015
Genre: Contemp, chick-lit
Source: Second hand copy purchased

 

Bridget Jones is back!

Great comic writers are as rare as hen’s teeth. And Helen is one of a very select band who have created a character of whom the very thought makes you smile. Bridget Jones’ Diary charting the life of a 30-something singleton in London in the 1990s was a huge international bestseller, published in 40 countries and selling over 15 million copies worldwide. Its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, published soon after was also a major international bestseller. Both were made into films starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

Set in the present, the new novel will explore a different phase in Bridget’s life with an entirely new scenario. As Helen Fielding has said: “If people laugh as much reading it as I am while writing it then we’ll all be very happy.”

From Goodreads
When this book was first announced, fans such as myself were over the moon giggley about getting to have another glimpse into the Bridget Jones world. Then the publisher unleashed their marketing campaign and gave away a MAJOR spoiler that pretty much pissed off most fans. I wasn’t upset with the spoiler, but I was really upset that something was given away. So I stayed away from reading the book.

I found it recently at a yard sale or flea market or somewhere (seriously, when you buy as many books as I do you lose track of where you’ve bought them) and decided to give it a read. And I really really liked it. I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t known about THE BIG SPOILER but it was still an enjoyable read.
This is a light read with tendrils of seriousness wrapping around the reader every once in a while. Bridget is still Bridget and it’s hilarious (and sometimes awkward) to watch her trying to survive a new period in her life. She’s still awkward and she still wears her heart on her sleeve, but she’s gone through some shit and it has changed her a bit. There’s more depth to the character and I really, really like that.
There’s one part of the plot that is so obvious from the get go that i’s a bit of a roll your eyes kind of thing. I think it’s supposed to be a twist but it so isn’t. Or maybe it’s supposed to be super clear to anyone observing, but Bridget is completely oblivious. Either way, this part of the book fell a bit flat to me. I do think fans of the first two books will enjoy this third instalment, though. It was a quick read and I’m really happy I finally gave it a go.

The Work Boyfriend — Deanna McFadden

3 Sep

workboyfriend

 

Publisher:Farringdon Road Books
Released: December 19th, 2014
Genre: Chick-lit
Source: Purchased eBook

 

What happens when the life you have isn’t the one you want…

Kelly has a great life. The kind of life people wish for, in fact. She has an upwardly-mobile career, and a stable, loving relationship with her college boyfriend, Rob. At this very moment, anyone looking in from the outside would see her life moving in exactly the right direction.

Except, the path in front of her might not be the way for Kelly at all, and the only person who gets this is her “work boyfriend” Garrett. He’s the one who really gets how trapped she feels.

And then everything spirals out of control during the holidays, and when Kelly should be celebrating the future, she finds herself questioning what she really wants from her life . . . and who she wants in it.

From Goodreads

 

I can be very picky about my chick-lit. I’m okay with romance but it can’t be the main purpose of the book. The female lead has to be relatable. And the plot has to be engaging, not cliche. Thankfully The Work Boyfriend has all these things and then some.

What a smart, smart read! Just awesome. The writing is snappy and the dialogue just flows.  None of the characters are stereotypical and I found Kelly very relatable, even though I am nowhere near where she is in life. I think the reason for this is because her insecurities about life, and whether she should do what she’s supposed to do or what will make her happy, is something that a lot of us struggle with.

OMG the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending made me want to give the author a hug. It’s unexpected but so real and made perfect sense for the story and Kelly. It was perfect.

If you enjoy a smart story with relatable characters, then The Work Boyfriend is right up your alley. I look forward to reading more from McFadden.

Blog Tour: U.S. Launch of Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie

16 Oct

So, today is the U.S. launch of Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie!!!! If you know my blog, then you know I majorly heart Catherine and her books. In fact, I believe I have taken part in all the different blog tours for the Canadian AND American launches of her books. Yups, that’s how much I dig them.

I”m re-posting my original review of Forgotten, which I abs ADORED. I also have a copy for one lucky US reader. Just comment on the review for your chance to win a copy. I’ll run the contest until Oct 22nd.

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to recreate her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who’s taken over her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice the job, relationships and everything else she worked so hard to build?

*Sigh* Don’t you love when you have an author that you just know is going to wow you? Over the past couple of years Catherine McKenzie has become one of my go-to authors. I wait impatiently for her to have a new book out, then do what I have to do to get a hold of an ARC. Then I devour it in one sitting, hug it to my chest happily and begin the whole process over. Seriously.

Forgotten is a bit different than Catherine’s first two books. While it once again deals with a woman who finds herself in an unusual predicament, I found it a lot darker and more serious than Spin and Arranged. But I still loved it to bits. Despite the different overall tone it still had the snappy dialogue, great characterization and gut-wrenching scenes that I’ve come to expect from Catherine.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a subplot that pops up about half way through the book that I thought was a wonderful addition to the main plot. It added another layer to Emma and really  helped her character to grow. And that’s what’s really at the heart of this story: growing. I think it’s great that Emma comes back all ready to take over her life again. But is that really the life she wants? And if so, will that life still be there for her? It’s these questions, and the way that Catherine approaches them, that makes this such a great read.

Oh, and the handsome photographer ain’t too shabby, either. :0)

Dance, Gladys, Dance – Cassie Stocks

3 Jul

Publisher: NeWest Press
Released: March 22th, 2010
Genre: adult fiction, chick-lit
Review copy from publisher

27-year-old Frieda Zweig is at an impasse. Behind her is a string of failed relationships and half-forgotten ambitions of being a painter; in front of her lies the dreary task of finding a real job and figuring out what “normal” people do with their lives. Then, a classified ad in the local paper introduces Frieda to Gladys, an elderly woman who long ago gave up on her dreams of being a dancer.

The catch? Gladys is a ghost.

From NeWest Press website

Please don’t ask me what genre this book is. I know, I know, if you look up above I’ve got it down as “chick-lit” and the even more ambiguous and confusing term “adult fiction”.  But I really just put those there because I had to have something. I could also add comedy, mystery, ghost story…… Cuz Dance, Gladys, Dance is all of those things. And they all combined to make a wonderful, heartwarming, funny, sad, touching and realistic story.

Anyone who has chosen a different life path and struggles with that decision from time to time is going to be able to identify strongly with Frieda and what she’s going through. I think there are lots of us (especially women) who struggle to design a “normal” life, only to realize it really isn’t for them. And that’s a strong theme throughout the book. The fact that society tries so hard to tell us what we should be doing as adults, what’s normal and what’s acceptable. What it all comes down to is you have to do what makes you happy and what makes you comfortable in your own skin. Some people achieve this early in life while others take a bit longer to get there.

Frieda isn’t the only one struggling to find herself and really decide what she wants in life. There are a slew of characters, all at different ages and stages of their life, who aren’t quite sure if they’re doing it right.  I really enjoyed meeting these characters and watching them evolve. I also love that someone who, at first glance, seemed like a tertiary character, ended up being essential to the plot and Frieda’s story.

I wasn’t quite sure how the ghostie angle was going to work, but I loved it. While at times it offered a bit of comedic relief, Gladys tells her life story and in doing so helps Frieda.  The ghost angle could have been weird and over-the-top, but it wasn’t. It fit in perfectly with some of the other plot lines.

The writing was quick and snappy, particularly the dialogue. In fact, some of the dialogue reminded me of the dialogue in Gilmore Girls. If you know me, you know that’s pretty much the highest praise I can give.  The dialogue made me smile a lot and I could definitely picture it on the big screen.

I think anyone who enjoys a serious story with some humour in it and characters that turn out to be perfect in their imperfection will love Dance, Gladys, Dance. I know I did.

GIVEAWAY

I have one copy of Dance, Gladys, Dance to one lucky Canadian reader. All you have to do is comment below and tell me what you’re reading now. Contest will be over July 10th, 11:59 EST.

Re-review & Giveaway – Arranged -Catherine McKenzie

15 May


Publisher:
William Morrow Paperbacks (HarperCollins)
Released: May 15th, 2012 (U.S. release)
Genre: Chick-lit, general fiction
Review copy from publisher

Anne Blythe is lucky. She’s got a brand new book contract, a great newspaper job and a steadfast best friend, and she can land just about any man she sets her sights on — and the ones that appeal are typically tall, dark and handsome.

Problem is, the men she chooses never last. Shortly after yet another relationship goes down in flames, Anne comes across a card for what she believes is a dating service, and pockets it just in case. If she’s so unlucky in love, maybe she could use a little assistance. Then her best friend announces she’s engaged, and envy gets the better of Anne. Now’s the time, she decides, to give the service a try — and she is shocked to discover that what the company specializes in are exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriages. After learning of the company’s success rate, however, she overcomes her reluctance and signs on. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, and she’s not done so well selecting a mate on her own. So why not use a professional service that claims it can produce the perfect match?

Some time later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack, the man they have chosen for her. And against all odds, it seems to be working out, until Anne learns that Jack and the company who arranged their marriage are not what they seem at all.

From HarperCollins website.

First of all, I need to say a big HAPPY U.S. BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!!! to Catherine and Arranged. I was part of the Canadian launch and I am all giggly and smiley that I get to be a part of her U.S. launch, too. If you’ve been to my blog before, then you know how much I ADORE Catherine’s books and Catherine herself. And you know how much I like to stalk, er, promote my fave authors.

As you can tell from the post title, this is a re-review. And I’m happy to say I was as taken with Arranged as I was the first time I read it.  Reading it for the second time, one thing became very clear to me: Catherine is a master of quick, snappy dialogue. And not overly clever, sappy dialogue either. No, the dialogue in Arranged, to me, rang very true. It had that quick back and forth banter that I love. And she’s not afraid to drop the F bomb. At all. And as someone who could make a sailor blush, I appreciated that.

I like how Catherine really digs into the issue of looks and attraction, and how it isn’t always the best thing in the world when it comes to relationships. Since about grade 4 I kinda had a type, a weakness for redheads. In fact, my type was so particular that in university, when I brought home a boy I was dating, my parents sat me down afterwards and held an intervention because he looked so much like my ex, they thought at first we had gotten back together. When I met my husband, we corresponded on line first for about a week before we exchanged pictures. At that point we had hit it off so much, that when I found out he was pretty much bald, I didn’t give a hoot. If we had met in a bar or supermarket first would I have taken notice of him? Hard to say. I think that a lot of us are so attached to our type that we miss a lot of great opportunities with other, just like Anne.

I once again sat down to read Arranged and didn’t stop until I was finished. And I was a bit of a sobby mess at the ending, once again. Actually I found myself tearing up a few times. This says a lot about the book, the writing and the emotional attachment that I still felt on second read.

Oh, and a bit of a spoiler, but not a huge one: there’s a Gilmore Girls reference in Arranged. You have no idea how happy this made my heart. My other obsession, besides books, is The Gilmore Girls. And the episode Catherine mentions (season 4 finale) is one of my FAVES.🙂

So, yeah, I still stand behind my original judgement that this is one kick-ass chit-lit book. If you’ve read either of Catherine’s other books, or are a fan of the genre, I can’t see how you wouldn’t love Arranged. And if you are curious about chick-lit, this book is a great place to start.

GIVEAWAY!

So, I have a copy of Arranged to give away to one lucky US winner, courtesy of HarperCollins in the U.S.. AND, since I’m a Canuck and I love all my Canadian readers, I’m going to be giving one lucky Canadian reader a copy (ordered from book depository). I like to keep things simple, so to enter all you have to do is comment below and tell me either your favorite Gilmore Girls episode or moment, your favorite rom-com moment or if you have a “type” when it comes to dating. Also mention in your comment of you are from the U.S. or Canada. The contest will close May 22nd, 11:59EST.

Forgotten – Catherine McKenzie – blog tour

1 May

Emma Tupper is a dedicated lawyer with a bright future. But when she takes a month-long leave of absence to go on an African vacation, she ends up facing unexpected consequences. After she falls ill and spends six months trapped in a remote village thanks to a devastating earthquake, Emma returns home to discover that her friends, boyfriend, and colleagues thought she was dead and that her life has moved on without her.

As she struggles to recreate her old life, throwing herself into solving a big case for a client and trying to reclaim her beloved apartment from the handsome photographer who’s taken over her lease, everyone around her thinks she should take the opportunity to change. But is she willing to sacrifice the job, relationships and everything else she worked so hard to build?

*Sigh* Don’t you love when you have an author that you just know is going to wow you? Over the past couple of years Catherine McKenzie has become one of my go-to authors. I wait impatiently for her to have a new book out, then do what I have to do to get a hold of an ARC. Then I devour it in one sitting, hug it to my chest happily and begin the whole process over. Seriously.

Forgotten is a bit different than Catherine’s first two books. While it once again deals with a woman who finds herself in an unusual predicament, I found it a lot darker and more serious than Spin and Arranged. But I still loved it to bits. Despite the different overall tone it still had the snappy dialogue, great characterization and gut-wrenching scenes that I’ve come to expect from Catherine.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a subplot that pops up about half way through the book that I thought was a wonderful addition to the main plot. It added another layer to Emma and really  helped her character to grow. And that’s what’s really at the heart of this story: growing. I think it’s great that Emma comes back all ready to take over her life again. But is that really the life she wants? And if so, will that life still be there for her? It’s these questions, and the way that Catherine approaches them, that makes this such a great read.

Oh, and the handsome photographer ain’t too shabby, either. :0)

Puppy Love – Frauke Scheunemann

21 Mar

Hercules is a dachshund, who was rescued from the animal shelter by the sweet and loving Caroline. Life for this little dog would be perfect if it weren’t for Caroline’s new boyfriend, Thomas. Hercules and his new friend, Mr. Beck — a tomcat and a good judge of human nature — devise a shrewd plot to get rid of Thomas and to find a new companion for Caroline. 

But when things don’t work out with the men that make the dachshund’s short list — no matter how many romantic moonlight strolls he gets her to take with them — it comes down to just one man they both might agree on . . .

Okay, before I start my review I want you all to take a moment and sigh in happy bliss over the uber-cuteness of this book cover. You’ll notice I’ve made it larger than I usually do and there’s a reason for that. Besides my Rowlfie, I think this is the damn cutest Daschund I have ever seen! Look at those eyes! Those ears! *sigh* Okay, now that we’ve all had our fill of adorableness, on to my review.

Puppy Love was one of the sweetest, cutest books I’ve read in a long time. I mean, come on, it’s written from the view point of a PUPPY. How could it not be cute? But while it was cute, it didn’t cross the line to cheesy. It was a nice read and I found myself smiling through most of it.

I loved the idea of Hercules, with the help of Mr. Beck,  trying to find his mistress a mate. And let me tell you, after reading Puppy Love, I find myself taking a much closer look at what my own animals do and I often wonder what there motives are. (While I’m pretty sure most of their action are motivated towards getting people food, you never know.)

Despite the fact that this story is told by Hercules, it was a believable story and had the same tone and feel as some of my favorite chick flicks. I could totally see things going down the way they did and not once did I go “Sheesh, really? I don’t think so!” I was absorbed in the story from the opening sentence and I stay engaged right through until the end.

Puppy Love is a translation, but I never once felt that the wording was awkward, as can sometimes happen with works in translation. I also don’t think that anything was lost. All of the characters were believable and the story flowed nicely. So a big yay! to Shelley Frisch, the translator. She did a beautiful job.

This is just a super cute, fun read. And it made me realize that I need more books like Puppy Love in my life.

Thanks so much to the peeps at House of Anansi for the review copy.