The Blurb

Movie addict Scarlett O’Brien is finally living the jet-setting life she’s dreamed of – but it all hangs by a shiny, golden thread.

Flying between London and New York, running two businesses, planning her wedding to handsome fiancé, Sean, with best friends Oscar and Maddie – life couldn’t be better.

But then Scarlett meets paparazzi darling, Gabriella Romero, and life suddenly becomes even more extravagant and glamorous. As she begins to experience the other side to being rich and famous, it’s not only Scarlett’s perfect wedding that’s put in jeopardy, but her whole world.

The Review

I am a huge fan of Ali McNamara’s writing and I have yet to find a book of hers that I dislike. It is always a worry having to read and review an author whose work you like just in case they have written a stinker. Fortunately for me From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually is still in the high calibre of rom-com chick-lit we have all come to expect from McNamara.

I love that with a series of books you don’t have to get to know your main characters again. It is like being welcomed back into the family fold. You know the characters foibles and personality traits and so less of your time and concentration is taken up by this and you can focus more on the story. Like the previous two books in this series – From Notting Hill with Love Actually and From Notting Hill to New York…Actually – there is an element of mystery with From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually. What McNamara does so succinctly is throw in some very impressive red herrings. I must admit I was disappointed when certain clues were given and I came up with my own assumptions but like a true mastermind writer McNamara pulled the rug from under me…that cheeky minx!

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually is a fantastic part of an already brilliant series and fans of the previous two books will not be disappointed.

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings…Actually by Ali McNamara is available now.

You can follow Ali McNamara (@AliMcNamara) on Twitter.

Find out all the latest news about Ali McNamara on her website www.alimcnamara.co.uk

From Notting Hill with Four Weddings

The Blurb

If you’d asked Jessica a year ago, she would have told you that her life was pretty near perfect. But one year – and one very messy divorce – later, she’s not so sure. Which is how she found herself boarding a plane to the south of France, determined to put her past behind her…preferably via some deliciously chilled rosé.

Meeting a new man was never part of the plan. Yet when she meets Nino, her new neighbour’s impossibly sexy nephew, steering clear of romance seems easier said than done. Suddenly, Jessica finds herself right back where she started: with her heart on the line. But now she’s made a new start, perhaps it’s time for Jessica to throw caution to the wind, take a few risks…and learn to regrette rien!

The Review

You Had Me at Bonjour is a heart warming and extremely uplifting story of Jessica, a woman who thinks that her days of having adventures are over. Set in the monotony of everyday life as a mum, a wife and a worker she has become stagnant. However, when her philandering husband tells her that she is leaving her for another woman Jessica takes the opportunity to have her very own Shirley Valentine type of adventure.

What is truly great about this story is that it leaves you with the message that life isn’t just for the young – whether it be Jessica moving to France on a whim or her neighbour Eloise having romantic trysts – the fun doesn’t just stop because you are getting older.

There were certain things in the story that I didn’t necessarily find totally realistic such as Jessica’s reaction to Katie’s disappearance; I can only go on how my mother would behave in that situation and I think Jessica was a bit to blasé about it, a little bit c’est la vie. However, the fact that Katie was so petulant and unlikable made me care very little about her subplot.

Overall, You Had Me at Bonjour is a delightful read and Bohnet has made France seem exciting and cosmopolitan and strangely tangible, like you too could live there. Well done Bohnet.

You Had Me at Bonjour by Jennifer Bohnet is available now.

You can follow Jennifer Bohnet (@jenniewriter) on Twitter.

Jen Bon

The Blurb

They used to send each other letters. The return address was always the same:  Dept. of Speculation. They used to be young, brave and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the same calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly something changes.

As the years rush by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life as they know it cracks apart and they find themselves forced to reassess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now.

Written with the dazzling lucidity of poetry, Dept. of Speculation navigates the jagged edges of a modern marriage to tell a story that is darkly funny, surprising and wise.

The Review

I had heard many a great thing about Dept. of Speculation prior to reading it and was therefore very excited to start, however, I genuinely did not get it. It read like a detailed synopsis of a story that hadn’t been fully formed.

I understand that this style of writing was used solely to create an impact such as the lack of character names signified that the act of adultery can happen in any marriage and by giving the characters identities in this way creates a separation between the reader and the fictional character on the page. What this also did was make it very difficult for the reader (or this reader, at least) to form an emotional attachment or car for the character.

I personally feel that the author opted for style over substance. Ironically, the substance was there it was just never fully explored.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill is available now.

Dept of speculation

Recently I posted my Top Ten books of 2014. I was really happy with my list and slightly proud of myself for being able to get my list down to just 10 books. However, having looked at it again I have realised that not one short story was included.

Now as we all know, I started Short Story Saturday to try and get over my dislike for the short story and for the most part the books that I have read have helped therefore I think it is only fair that I have a list of my favourite short stories. Here they are.

10)          Lily Does L.A. (Girls on Tour Book 2) by Nicola Doherty

9)            A New York Christmas by Melissa Hill

8)            Confessions of a City Girl: Los Angeles by Juliette Sobanet

7)            Christmas with Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

6)            Skating at Somerset House by Nikki Moore

5)            Poppy Does Paris (Girls on Tour Book 1) by Nicola Doherty

4)            Maggie Does Meribel (Girls on Tour Book 3) by Nicola Doherty

3)            The Snow Globe by Kristin Harmel

2)            Losing Heart by Donna Brown

1)            The Wedding Speech by Isabelle Broom

Synopsis

Dante Palermo has it all planned out. He plans on opening his own restaurant and proposing to his girlfriend, Abby. However, when Abby breaks up with him and leaves him broken hearted Dante doesn’t think his life could get any worse until he finds out that his soon to be business partner has left the country under suspicion of fraud.

Dante is at the end of his tether. He doesn’t know what to do. It takes some mysterious visits from his dead grandmother to remind Dante to let his food do the healing.

Review

The Broken Hearted Diet is a wonderfully light read. It is a light romance which has you rooting for the characters from beginning to end.

Formaro has cashed in on the whole “celebrity chef” culture that we have at present. He does it so well and I will admit I did find myself salivating over some of the Italian dishes described so high praise has to be dished out (ahem) to Formaro for that. Dante is so likable and even though a series of bad things befall him and his path in life he is not whiney or annoying or hapless. He is what you want in a hero.

One thing that I did find a bit jarring was the weird intrusive narrative. At times the narrator’s opinion or snarky comment would be present. It didn’t disrupt the flow and it wasn’t a huge issue for me when I was reading however, I feel that at times it was hard to differentiate the narrator’s thoughts and feelings from the protagonists. It might have worked better if the story was told in the first person rather than the third.

Overall, The Broken Hearted Diet is a good story. It has funny, heart-warming moments and a cast of relatable characters. You relate to Dante and you want to see him succeed. Formaro has created a believable world with real problems and you can’t help but enjoy his story telling.

The Broken Hearted Diet by Tom Formaro is available now.

You can follow Tom Formaro (@tomformaro) on Twitter

Broken Heart Diet