Synopsis

When Ariel and her daughter Becky move into their new house on the illustrious Beverly Row they are instantly introduced to the sparkling and glittery world of the rich and fabulous. What they quickly learn is that money isn’t the be all and end all to gaining happiness. As they find their footing within their new community, Ariel realises that there is a lot hidden behind her new neighbours closed doors.

Review

This is going to sound like a negative but I assure you I am using this adjective as a positive; The Wives of Beverly Row was trashy. It was so indulgent, almost like Desperate Housewives but in book form. It is the epitome of a guilty pleasure.

Abby Weeks so seamlessly interweaves the lives of the residents of Beverly Row with the clever undertone of money cannot buy happiness that you can’t help but want to read on. Each resident appears to have a luscious, dirty secret waiting to be uncovered. I feel like the first book in the Beverly Row series has only scratched the surface – I for one cannot wait to read on and immerse myself in the delicious money soaked drama.

The Wives of Beverly Row 1 – Lust Has A New Address by Abby Weeks is available now

Beverly Row

Synopsis

When Ariel and her daughter Becky move into their new house on the illustrious Beverly Row they are instantly introduced to the sparkling and glittery world of the rich and fabulous. What they quickly learn is that money isn’t the be all and end all to gaining happiness. As they find their footing within their new community, Ariel realises that there is a lot hidden behind her new neighbours closed doors.

Review

This is going to sound like a negative but I assure you I am using this adjective as a positive; The Wives of Beverly Row was trashy. It was so indulgent, almost like Desperate Housewives but in book form. It is the epitome of a guilty pleasure.

Abby Weeks so seamlessly interweaves the lives of the residents of Beverly Row with the clever undertone of money cannot buy happiness that you can’t help but want to read on. Each resident appears to have a luscious, dirty secret waiting to be uncovered. I feel like the first book in the Beverly Row series has only scratched the surface – I for one cannot wait to read on and immerse myself in the delicious money soaked drama.

The Wives of Beverly Row 1 – Lust Has A New Address by Abby Weeks is available now

Beverly Row

Synopsis

With her wedding but a few weeks away, Scarlett has left all that is familiar to her in her home town of Stratford to figure out what she really wants. Her life with fiancé David is all well and good but Scarlett longs for something a little more exciting.

What Scarlett really wants is a love that is more like the movies. One with big dramatic music and heroes swooping in and making big romantic gestures but everyone in her life – her dad, her fiancé and her best friends – all point out to her that movies are fiction; they aren’t real. Scarlett sets out to prove them all wrong. And with her first meet-cute it seems that Scarlett might just be able show her friends and family that life can be just like a movie.

Review

I’m often sceptical about romantic books, and indeed about romantic movies. I personally feel that the best rom-coms and chick-lits have already been released years ago. So I am always pleasantly surprised when a book or movie comes along that gives me that mushy-love feeling. From Notting Hill With Love…Actually gave me that feeling. I am not afraid to admit that some tears may have blurred my vision at the end. This, my lovely readers, is a rare thing and only usually happens in heartbreaking books. However, my tears of joy were well earned by Ali McNamara.

Basically, I bloody loved her book.

The interweaving storylines kept me gripped throughout and it was an actual burden to me to have to put the book down and do grown up things like go to work. I loved the whole set up of the novel. McNamara kept me on my toes throughout. I so desperately wanted Scarlett to be with Sean even though I knew that David hadn’t really done anything to warrant the hurt. See that is the power of this story, you – the reader, want things to work out for Scarlett. You genuinely care for her and every hurdle she has to overcome you feel yourself willing her on.

This book is a great romantic comedy. Admittedly, I only picked it up because the third in the series is out this week and I am due to review it, however, I have had From Notting Hill With Love…Actually collecting dust on my bookshelf for a while now and so I thought to myself ‘What the heck!’ and right now I am awfully glad that I did because this book was just gorgeous.

For movie lovers out there, the final scenes in this book will give you goose bumps. It is just so sweet.

Kudos to Ali McNamara for creating such an amazing world that I was allowed to be fully immersed in. Now onto book two!

From Notting Hill With Love…Actually and From Notting Hill to New York…Actually both by Ali McNamara are available now.

From Notting Hill With Four Wedding…Actually is available later this week.

Synopsis

Sisters Tamsin and Sam couldn’t be more different. Tamsin is a social climber who likes having nice things, money and a circle of friends with the same perspective. Some would say she is a snob but she is definitely one with a heart. Sister Sam is the polar opposite – a free spirit who would rather be shunned by the social hierarchy than become part of the inner circle of bitchiness.

When Tamsin’s world comes crashing down around her it is Sam who picks her sister up off the floor just like Tamsin did for Sam five years earlier when Sam’s husband was killed. An event thay still plagues her and controls her decisions to this very day. Can these sisters pull together and get themselves back on track?

Review

Ok, the basics. I loved the two part narrative. The characters of Tamsin and Sam where clearly defined and Watson managed to create individual voices for them both. It is always interesting to read the same story from other peoples perspectives. Personally, I sometimes find that writers will either fail to create unique characters and they will oftentimes overlap or when they do manage to create the individual voice that they then create a Groundhog Day style of storytelling which becomes repetitive and boring. However, Watson escapes both of these writing potholes and has created a wonderful story that, if anything, is helped by the dual narrative; the pacing of the story is excellent and as a reader you don’t feel like the story becomes stuck or slow-moving.

I loved the way the sisters lives seemed to parallel each others. They both had loved and lost (due to equally distressing by very different reasons) and had to rebuild their lives. They both do this with the help of each other. I think the reason that I found the relationship between Sam and Tamsin so compelling is probably because it is a similar relationship that I have with my sister. I loved that they were best friends. They got on each other’s nerves at times but the underlying love was so evident. They only wanted what was best for each other.

I thought it was especially clever how Watson had her characters overcome their underlying prejudices – Sam and the mothers at school and Tamsin with a world that was less than what she was used to.

The overall theme of family was nicely juxtaposed with the theme of Christmas as both of these things tend to go hand in hand.

Having never read any Watson before (but have accidentally got one of her earlier releases sitting on my Kindle) I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I think the reason that I enjoyed it so much was that the main focus of the story wasn’t a romantic relationship. It was there but the relationship between the sisters was the main focus and I found that very refreshing.

Well done Sue Watson, you have put me in the Christmas mood.

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson is available now.

You can follow Sue Watson on Twitter @suewatsonwriter

Snow Angels

 

Synopsis

With £50,000 at stake, Zoe and Greg Milton enter a competition that will change their lives forever. However, the chance to win comes at a cost – that cost is their dignity. The Milton’s have entered Fat Chance, a contest hosted by their local radio station which has the couple pitted against other overweight twosomes all in hope of winning the grand prize. How far will Zoe and Greg go to win?

Review

Nick Spalding never fails to entertain me. His books have the uncanny knack of making you realise just how funny and ridiculous real life situations can be. With his latest literary offering, Fat Chance, we can see that he is just as on form as ever.

The issue of being overweight is one that we don’t like to talk about. People who are skinny can’t know and will never know just how horrible it is to be overweight. Unless you have experienced it yourself, you just do not know. For the sake of total disclosure I, myself, lost two and half stone a few years back and I can vouch for the wonderful new world that being skinny opens up for you. However, I do not belong to the Kate Moss school of thought that nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels – Ms Moss clearly hasn’t eaten my cheesy pasta bake!

In writing it is hard to get that balance right. The balance of not sounding condescending or sounding like you pity the larger person or like a know it all that offers unhelpful and downright annoying advice. Fortunately, Spalding’s approach to the subject is one of empathy without making you feel belittled.

Don’t get me wrong, the one thing that Spalding excels in is making you feel shame. Every embarrassing event his characters go through, you equally feel. There were moments that I had to put down the book because I was too mortified to read on but that is actually the reason that I love his books. He can make me cringe with just a paragraph. For that I salute you Nick Spalding!

This book has the potential to entertain a wide berth of readers, from the skinnymalinks to the tubbos, the chubbychasers to the flabulous ones. If you are larger than a size 6 you will appreciate the things that Greg and Zoe; if you are one of those blessed with a brilliant metabolism then maybe it will make you think twice before you judge those who are larger.

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding is available now.

You can follow Nick Spalding on Twitter @NickSpalding

Fat Chance