The Wives – Lauren Weisberger

40183012The Wives, from The Devil Wears Prada series, focuses on Emily Charlton (Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant) in her life after Runway. Following the decline of her image consultant business, Emily finds herself in the suburbs with her oldest friend, Miriam. Then, when Miriam’s friend, Karolina, is publicly dumped and shamed by her husband, Emily finds herself a new purpose: clearing Karolina’s name, getting her son back and restoring her superstar image.

First things first, this book is filled with truly ghastly characters. Our lead three (Emily, Miriam and Karolina) aren’t too bad most of the time, but every single other character is just awful. Karolina’s husband, Graham, is clearly evil, while the side-characters mainly consist of dreadful, middle-aged, suburban mums. On the whole, the book wasn’t particularly enjoyable because I just hated everyone.

The Wives’ saving grace was the relationship between the three women. They have very different views and personalities but are able to come together and support each other without falling out or tearing each other down. It is, I suppose, supposed to be a story of female empowerment, but it was a bit boring on the whole.

Chick-lit, it seems, is still not for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

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It Started With a Tweet – Anna Bell

35091775Daisy lives her life online. Everything she does is broadcast to the world via Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Then, one day she forgets to log out of her work’s Twitter account and sends a hugely inappropriate tweet, resulting in her immediate dismissal. At a loss, Daisy allows her sister to convince her to go on a digital detox. What she doesn’t expect is to be roped into renovating an old farm in Cumbria. But, as Daisy will find out, it’s amazing what you can find when you switch off.

I came to an important realisation when reading this book: if a book starts at a hen party, I probably won’t like it much. That being said, It Started With a Tweet was not terrible. It’s a light and reasonably entertaining romance, with a meaningful message about our obsession with social media.

The main downfall was the characters. They’re all pretty fickle, and our main girl, Daisy, was quite annoying. She didn’t seem to be able to fully commit to anything. She agrees to do this digital detox, but keeps trying to get back online in secret. Except her attempts are pretty half-hearted. If she really wanted to get online, she just had to try a bit harder and she’d manage; she gave up too easily every time.

The best part of the story was when Daisy returned to London and saw how obsessed all her friends were with their phones, and realised how much she didn’t want to be like that anymore. Unfortunately, after that the ending came on rather abruptly. She went back to her sister’s new farm and everything was sorted out like that *snaps fingers*. It’s like the author finally reached the end and gave up.

It Started With a Tweet was a decent read, but by no means a work of literary genius.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Leftover – Brooke Williams

34448511.jpgMolly is due to compete in a local reality TV show called The Leftover, but when she discovers she’s pregnant, she has to pull out and persuades her shy sister, Megan, to participate in her place. Megan is a reluctant competitor, but will do anything for her sister, so she pushes her fears to the side and takes the plunge. She expects not to make it past the first round of eliminations, but Megan has more skill and determination than even she believes. Can she make it to the end, to become the Leftover? And what will she find along the way?

The Leftover is a slightly unconventional romance novel, in that the reality TV setting and Megan’s personal journey take precedence over the romantic aspects. The story is, simply, delightful. The TV challenge aspect is well thought-out and not overdone, while the romance is sweet and enjoyable. The characters are a mixed bag of likeable heroes and hateable villains, and all of them are quite realistic. They each have the unique personality traits you’d expect to see on a survival TV show, and it is easy to form quick bonds with (most of) them.

Megan herself is a great lead character. She is shy and insecure but not wimpy or annoying, and entirely believable. She has a determination to do well and make herself proud, that shows real character growth and makes her completely likeable. Cane, Megan’s romantic interest, is also a likeable and somewhat realistic character. Although he’s gorgeous and she’s, well, average, their attraction to each other is explained in understandable terms which stop it becoming farfetched and entirely unlikely. Despite not being the most beautiful girl in the world, Megan is spunky, witty and intelligent, making her undeniably attractive, and a true heroine.

Chick-lit romances can be frothy and superficial at the best of times, but The Leftover has some real depth and a genuinely enjoyable story. The on-off nature of Megan and Cane’s relationship did start to get tedious towards the end, but with the overarching focus being on Megan’s position in the competition, this was easy to overlook.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Right Here Waiting For You – Rebecca Pugh

34150011.jpgMagda and Sophia used to be best friends, until Magda made one big mistake she couldn’t take back. Years later, both women receive invitations to a school reunion, bringing them back into each other’s lives. Back home and faced with her past mistakes, Magda is forced to re-evaluate her life and make some big decisions, while Sophia has to make some tough choices of her own.

This is a sweet and quite short story about friendship and love. I’m not sure why it’s being marketed as “a laugh-out-loud romantic comedy”, but there you have it. Romantic: yes. Comedy: No.

The writing is very simple. It’s a little underdeveloped and easy to skim over, which made it a nice, quick read but not particularly engaging. The plot itself isn’t bad, if a little annoying in places because of how obvious and predictable it is. For some reason the author insists on trying to act like what’s happening isn’t totally obvious (e.g. the way each woman’s POV refers to the other as “her” instead of giving the name even though we clearly know who they mean). It isn’t a brilliant or especially original story but it’s entertaining nonetheless. I breezed through it very quickly and it didn’t drag at any point, despite its flaws.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Top Secret Twenty-One – Janet Evanovich

21119763.jpgIn this instalment of the Stephanie Plum series, Stephanie is hunting for Jimmy Poletti, a used-car dealer caught selling more than just used cars. At the same time, she finds herself having to take in and protect the annoying Randy Briggs after someone fires a firebomb into his apartment, and help Ranger track down a dangerous killer with a personal vendetta against him. Lula, Grandma, Morelli and the other usual players are there to help out (and cause extra problems) as well.

There are good things and bad things about this book (and the whole series in general). The main good things are that the characters and storylines are always witty, action-packed, exciting and completely likeable. The bad thing is that nothing ever changes. 21 books in and it’s still the same story over and over again: Stephanie chases some bad guys, she and Lula get into trouble, Grandma causes mayhem, while Ranger and Morelli hang about in the side-lines being sexy and manly. There’s next-to-no character development, which is a real shame because the characters have a lot more potential.

If you can accept this series for what it is (the same easy, fast-paced story over and over again) then you cannot go wrong with some Stephanie Plum. There’s humour, guns, violence, sexy men and doughnuts. How can you not love it?

Goodreads | Amazon

The Fifth Letter – Nicola Moriarty

32599703.jpgJoni, Trina, Deb and Eden have been friends since school. Every year they go on a trip away, to maintain their friendship. In an attempt to reconnect, they decide to each write an anonymous letter revealing a secret about their lives, to be shared with the group. But as the secrets come out, the four women seem to become further apart, and then Joni discovers a fifth letter. A fifth letter revealing a deep and vicious grudge against another member of the group – but who wrote it?

Now, this book isn’t fantastically written. It’s not bad and there’s a good story in there, but the writing style could use some improvement, and the story itself lacks excitement and – for a large amount of the book – drama. What it doesn’t lack, however, is suspense. I couldn’t work out who’d written the fifth letter until the very end (which is a good thing for this type of book, in case that wasn’t clear).

The story is written from the viewpoint of Joni, as she tells a priest about the trip and the letters. This was a really fun way of telling the story (the priest was actually my favourite character), but it did sometimes get lost in parts where time jumps were unclear and took some working out. My main problem was with the characters. As I said, the story is told from the point of view of Joni, who is very self-obsessed and I didn’t like her. Nor did I like Deb or Eden particularly. The only one I really thought was okay was Trina. This made the book a little bit harder to enjoy, but overall it probably didn’t make too much of a difference.

The ending was pretty anticlimactic. The content of the fifth letter wasn’t really all that shocking, and the revelation of who wrote it was undermined by other events. And I hated the little twist at the end with Trina (if you read this book, you’ll understand what I mean).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The One That Got Away – Melissa Pimentel

29417325

Travelling to England for her sister’s wedding, Ruby is about to see her ex, Ethan, for the first time in ten years. Seeing him again stirs up unresolved feelings and Ruby begins to question whether she made the right decision a decade ago, though she’s certain that Ethan doesn’t feel the same way.

Although this is 100% a romance novel, the love story is not always the top focus, which gives the story more body. We follow Ruby’s family through preparations for the wedding, internal family struggles, and Ruby and Ethan’s past in a very smooth and realistic way. The characters and their stories are completely believable, you could be reading about real people.

Melissa Pimentel’s writing style is very good and easy to follow. I loved the English countryside setting vs the madness of New York (I’ve experienced both so can attest to the accuracy). To be honest, not that much actually happens in the book but I still found myself staying up until 3am reading it. It’s just a really nice love story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Take the Body and Run – Jada Ryker

31842341Macey’s first day at her new job in the college relations department doesn’t go to plan. She’s attacked at knife-point and pisses off all the wrong people (basically, everyone). Unintentionally gathering a team of unlikely sidekicks, Macey claws her way to the bottom of a series of murders, all the while trying to keep her past and her true identity secret.

I have to be honest: I DID NOT GET THIS BOOK. Everyone is so mean and unprofessional. Like, what? How have they not all been fired? It’s so unrealistic. The women in Macey’s office are awful. They’re inappropriate and nasty, and then, suddenly, two-thirds of way through they’re all best friends. Very confusing. The only character I did like was Brett and he basically just laughed the whole time. Also, I never fully understood why Macey got involved in the murder investigations in the first place. It’s not in her job description, and she was weirdly keen on drawing attention to herself for someone on the run.

The story did take off a bit in the second half of the book (although the bizarre fight scene between Macey, Brett, Leila and Sergio was super hard to follow – I’m still not sure what happened), but the rest was slow and seriously flawed. I’ve read worse. After all, I did at least make it all the way through this book, but I would not recommend it to anyone looking for something serious or clever.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Infamous – Lori Sizemore

32722638After a sex-tape scandal, Justine Montgomery has become infamous. Determined to prove herself, she takes a job at her father’s entertainment company, partnered up with the attractive and mysterious Sawyer. Fighting against her unsupportive father, stalker ex-boyfriend and scandalous past, Justine and Sawyer must battle the odds to make their relationship work – business and personal.

Following the structure of classic women’s contemporary romance, Infamous is well-written and entertaining. The characters are all likeable in their own ways (expect the ones you’re obviously supposed to hate) and the story, despite being completely predictable, is full of ups and downs that make it worth reading. Justine and Sawyer were both incredibly frustrating the way they could never figure out each other’s feelings even though it was totally obvious. Still, I enjoyed the way they interacted with each other and the chemistry between them.

The plot is well paced and full of humour, drama, and sexual tension. It’s a bit more than just a flighty love story, and a good addition to the genre.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunshine on a Rainy Day – Bryony Fraser

30826797One month after her wedding to Jack, Zoe is not happy. She doesn’t want to become just ‘someone’s wife’, and the two of them have started arguing over the tiniest things. The result: Zoe wants a divorce. However, marriage laws state that a divorce cannot be granted before one year of marriage, so Jack and Zoe must spend the whole year still married, still living in their flat because neither can afford to move out, still at each other’s throats, but are they still in love, too?

Okay so, the first thing I have to say is that I don’t understand why Zoe and Jack got married in the first place. Zoe is 100% against marriage, and makes that abundantly clear throughout the book. So why did she agree to marry Jack? Why did she go through with the wedding when she knew – had always known – that marriage wasn’t what she wanted?

Aside from that, the story is pretty good. There’s a bit more to it than most chick-lit books, with other things going on besides the turmoil in Zoe and Jack’s relationship, and it’s well written and very smooth. Unfortunately, I struggled to get over the ultimate question of why Zoe got married at all when she clearly didn’t want to, because this kind of spoiled the premise of the whole book. The second they got married, everything fell apart and that appeared to be purely down to Zoe’s negative mindset. If she’d given the marriage a fighting chance, they probably wouldn’t have had a problem.

Positives though: the characters were witty and, apart from Zoe, realistic and likeable. It was predictable but in a nice way, and thoroughly engaging. An easy, fun, and humorous read. Plus I absolutely adore the cover – it’s so cute! Definitely caught my eye.

I received this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.