The Blurb

A fiercely beautiful debut blazing with emotion: a major first novel about friendships made in youth and how these bonds, challenged by loss, illness, parenthood, and distance, either break or sustain.

Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can’t quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend’s life. Until a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall apart further – and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, kind, brave Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is and what that question means about them both. A staggeringly arresting, honest novel of love, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship that moves us to ask ourselves just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.

The Review

The Girls from Corona del Mar is a book that explores the intimacy of female friendship. The story focuses on Mia – a girl who, by all accounts, hasn’t had an easy life. However, she is bizarrely envious of her best friend Lorrie Ann. Lorrie Ann’s life is, on the surface, much worse than that of Mia yet Mia puts Lorrie Ann on a pedestal. As always, when you place someone among the gods then they are going to let you down by not being able to live up to your expectation.

In theory, the story should work. Books about friendship are – in my opinion – often more interesting than your regular romance books. I believe that the love between two friends holds a different kind of depth. Yet I don’t feel like I got that from The Girls of Corona Del Mar. I felt that the story was too narrative heavy and that Thorpe went off onto trivial tangents. I became bored reading them and felt that they were completely unnecessary. It took me a while to get back into the rhythm of reading once the story had been brought back to topic.

However, I did like the link to historical figures. I thought that the stories of Inanna were interesting and I would have liked to have seen more of this, less narrative and more dialogue.

The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe is available now.

The Girls from Corona del Mar

Title: Valentine’s on Primrose Hill

Author: Nikki Moore

Pages: 40 pages

The Blurb

The third short story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore!

For Georgiana Dunn, life changed forever in the devastating moment that the lorry hit her car.

Scarred and scared, she’s not left the house in months.Then her mum buys her a puppy, forcing her to face the world again, walking on London’s beautiful Primrose Hill. But that doesn’t mean she’s looking forward to Valentine’s Day.

Leo devotes himself to working with children with special educational needs. In fact, he does very little else, and his friends are always telling him to get a (love) life. So when they challenge him to find a date for Valentine’s Day, and he meets a lovely but lost girl who looks like she could use a friend, he thinks he’s found the perfect solution.

But life has a way of being less than perfect … Will he be left standing on his own on the most romantic day of the year?

The Review

Already I have fallen in love at Somerset House, I fell even deeper in love on the roof of the Ritz and now I have fell into that truly heartbreaking kind of love on Primrose Hill. God bless the #LoveLondon series and God bless Nikki Moore for writing them.

I think the reason that I love the #LoveLondon series is because I am an utterly hopeless romantic. I love the love and can often be seen getting teary at adverts. However, Valentine’s on Primrose Hill resonated with me for a different reason. Yes, I loved the love story between George and Leo but mostly it was because I had been through something similar to George.

When George is left scarred after an accident she tries to hide her scars – nay, her war wounds – away so that no one can see them. She does this to the extent that she hides herself away and becomes a recluse. She fails to see how her scars are her badge of honour. They say to the people that the world tried to kick her ass but she fought back, that the world couldn’t take her down.

What Nikki Moore so succinctly manages to describe is the feelings of self hatred and of insecurity whilst also completely understanding that people in that situation tend to lash out at the people that they love – especially when all that they are doing is trying to help. All of this I have been through and never have I seen it written down in a book. For me, it was like someone opening my eyes and showing me that others have felt like that. So, for that reason alone I have to give my highest praise to Nikki Moore. Firstly, for showing her understanding towards those of us with visible and emotional scars but also for writing an amazing series of books that seem to be getting better and better.

Thank you, Nikki Moore. Just…thank you.

Valentine’s on Primrose Hill by Nikki Moore is available now.

Follow Nikki Moore (@NikkiMoore_Auth) on Twitter.

The Blurb

Friendship is like a shark: it has to keep moving forwards to survive.

Esther and Laura have been best friends since they were seven, when Esther was chubby and Laura was already perfect. So much has changed since then – school, boyfriends, drink, experimental hair-dye, university, jobs, London, babies – and their friendship has changed just as much, but they are still close, still inextricably linked to one another.

So when Esther is told that Laura has gone missing, she leaves everything behind – including her husband and small child – to fly to San Francisco and trace her friend’s last movements. All she has is an email from Laura: ‘I’m channelling Drew Barrymore, as ever. The Gospel, right?’ In trying to understand why Laura has disappeared, and what on earth Drew Barrymore has to do with it, Esther needs to look back. Back at the secrets woven into their friendship and the truths she’s avoided facing for so long.

The Review

It was the title of this book that drew (geddit) me towards it. I will admit, I didn’t read the blurb or want to read it because of who the author is; admittedly, I have never read a book by Pippa Wright before. This will now change.

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore is a fantastic coming of age story about the lifelong friendship of Esther and Laura. Wright, ever so succinctly, manages to peel the layers of friendship away to reveal the disarming complexities of friendship. One that, quite frankly, was all too relevant to me.

As much as Esther and Laura seem to need and rely on each other they also feed off their independence when away from each other. They don’t hate each other but there is a weird sense of satisfaction when the other person’s life isn’t going according to plan. I think all friendships have and need this diversity.

In Laura, Wright has created a weirdly dislikeable character. Her flaws are highlighted and she comes across as false, using Esther when it suits her; lovely to her when they are alone but using her as a crutch to further herself in front of others. Esther comes across as passive aggressive – clinging to her friendship with Laura when, in reality, they should have outgrown each other years earlier. However, I am a firm believer that soul mates come in the shape of friends and not lovers and that is why their lives are so inextricably linked and that their friendship has endured not only time but distance.

It is refreshing to read a book about the complexities of female friendship and Pippa Wright has done this topic a fantastic service. Read this book!

The Gospel According to Drew Barrymore by Pippa Wright will be available for purchase from March 26th 2015.

Follow Pippa Wright (@TroisVerres) on Twitter.

The Gospel of Drew Barrymore

The Blurb

freida and isabel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions – wives to wealthy and powerful men.

The alternative – life as a concubine – is too horrible to contemplate.

But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty – her only asset – in peril.

And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…

The Review

I am struggling to write this review because I can’t quite work out how I feel about Only Ever Yours. On the one hand, it is truly terrifying. It is a sign of being well written in the fact that I was left feeling a little bit disturbed and violated after reading it. The dystopian utopia that O’Neill has created is fascinating but to imagine a society that lives with these rules is a bit of a mind melt.

O’Neill makes you question the importance that we place on looks and beauty; she also makes you realise how dependant you are on social media and also how we relish and immerse ourselves in the lives of celebrities and celebrity culture.

However, I have to admit, I read Only Ever Yours because I found the cover to be interesting. There is a reason for the old adage ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ but there is also a reason why people are paid mega bucks to design book covers. If you were to ask me if I liked Only Ever Yours I would have to say that I didn’t dislike it. However, it is not normally the type of story I would naturally pick up to read. It definitely has merit as a book because, as I have said, the concept is frightening but it was definitely not the kind of story I was expecting to read.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill is available now.

Follow Louise O’Neill (@oneilllo) on Twitter.

Only Ever Yours

Title: New Year at the Ritz

Author: Nikki Moore

Pages: 40 pages

The Blurb

The second short story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore!

New Year, New Love… or Old Love, New Start?

Everyone keeps telling Frankie Taylor that a new year is a time for new beginnings. She’s not so sure. Single for a year, she’s been more than happy on her own, thanks very much!

At least, that’s what she thinks until she receives a note on New Year’s Eve inviting her to follow the clues, and her heart, across Knightsbridge.

But who’s behind the romantic adventure? Old flame Christian who she loved for years and was always there for her, or new admirer and work colleague Zack, who has the habit of turning up in all sorts of unexpected places?

There’s only one way she’s going to find out…

The Review

I loved the first story in the #LoveLondon series – Skating at Somerset House – yet for some silly reason it has taken me a long time to read the second instalment – New Year at the Ritz. Now I have read it I feel pretty darn foolish that I didn’t pick it up earlier. Silly Bentley.

The story follows Frankie Taylor, a single girl who is still grieving over the death of her mother and is just trying to survive her busy (and expensive) London life. Working in a department store and coming home to a dingy flat occupy her days. However, on New Year’s Eve she follows a series of romantic clues which lead her to London’s fanciest hotel – The Ritz.

I don’t know how Nikki Moore does it but she manages to inject glamour, mystery, romance, heartache and a plethora of other emotional things into her short stories which make them a delight to read. Whilst I loved Skating at Somerset House, I have to say I bloody loved New Year’s at the Ritz. It was such a page turner!

Well done Nikki Moore. I cannot wait to read the next instalment of the #LoveLondon series – Valentines on Primrose Hill.

New Year at the Ritz by Nikki Moore is available now.

Follow Nikki Moore (@NikkiMoore_Auth) on Twitter.