Austenland [Shannon Hale]

17552626Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen; or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

My thoughts on the book: I first watched the hilarious film starring Keri Russell, and I knew I had to read the book. Usually, I do it the other way around. Anyway, the book is actually quite short (193 pages), so it is an easy and quick read. Although the film took some liberty with the script, it is as refreshing and entertaining.

I might not necessarily put it on a must-read list, however I had a really pleasant time delving into this Austen detox Jane Hayes is embarking on. By immersing herself in this Austen full-on experience, she’s hoping to get all the Darcy craziness out of her system in order to enjoy healthy relationships in real life. And boy did she have a string of awful boyfriends! Jane Hayes is a relatable, witty young woman who shares her experience of this odd theme park that will make you wish it existed in real life. I would also retain one truthful quote from the novel “Fantasy is the opiate of women”, and by choosing to indulge in Regency-inspired novels, I must admit it is not entirely false.

All in all, if you feel like having a lovely, fun literary treat, I really recommend reading and watching Austenland. I’m also tempted by the second installment Midnight In Austenland. Why stop the fun?!

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (=I loved it)

Meet Clara Andrews – Book 1 [Lacey London]

24779543Meet Clara Andrews… Your new best friend!

With a love of cocktails and wine, a fantastic job in the fashion industry and the world’s greatest best friends, Clara Andrews thought she had it all.

That is until a chance meeting introduces her to Oliver, a devastatingly handsome American designer. Trying to keep the focus on her work, Clara finds her heart stolen by lavish restaurants and luxury hotels.

As things get flirty, Clara reminds herself that inter-office relationships are against the rules, so when a sudden recollection of a work’s night out leads her to a gorgeous barman, she decides to see where it goes.

Clara soon finds out that dating two men isn’t as easy as it seems…

Will she be able to play the field without getting played herself?

Join Clara, as she finds herself landing in and out of trouble, re-affirming friendships, discovering truths and uncovering secrets.

My thoughts on the book: Meet Clara Andrews is the first installment in the Clara Series by author Lacey London. I must admit that I had a fun time delving into this easy, light read, which is reminiscent of Bridget Jones and other chick lit novels. Clara has a likeable personality and she’s surrounded by good friends, which makes for an efficient cast.

Granted it contains your average amount of clichés (like the wealthy suitor) — and I also thought that Clara spent a crazy amount of time eating and drinking throughout the plot — but in the end, you get what you hope for, a heartwarming love story. Pretty much a guilty pleasure. Even though it’s not groundbreaking in the romance genre, it’s lovely and entertaining.

I think I’ll read the second book to see whether it gains in depth!

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ (= I liked it a lot)

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage [Suzanne Venker]

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage shows women who have a dominating personality how to love a man.

America is in love with the alpha female. She’s the quintessential modern woman—assertive, razor sharp, and fully in control. Her success in the marketplace is undeniable, a downright boon to society. But what happens when the alpha female gets married?

She becomes an alpha wife, of course.

An alpha wife is in charge of everything and everyone. She is, quite simply, the Boss. The problem is, no man wants a boss for a wife. That type of relationship may work for a spell, but it will eventually come crashing down. Since 1970, just as women became more and more powerful outside the home—more alpha—the divorce rate has quadrupled. And it is women who lead the charge. Today, 70% of divorce is initiated by wives.

Do men just make lousy husbands? Not at that rate, says Suzanne Venker, bestselling author of The War on Men. The truth is that women don’t know how to be wives. Why would they? That’s not what they were raised to become.

But women can learn. There’s an art to loving a man, says Venker, and any woman can master it. An alpha female herself, Venker learned how to be a wife the hard way—through trial and error. Lots of error. And here’s what she knows today—the set of skills a woman needs to pursue a career, or even to raise children, is the exact set of skills that will mess up her marriage but good. No man likes to be told what to do. And no woman respects the man who does.

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage gives women who are used to being in charge the tools they need to make their marriages less competitive and more complementary. Part memoir, part advice, this brave manifesto argues that while marriage is more challenging for the alpha female, it is possible to find peace in your marriage. In fact, it may be easier than you think.

My thoughts on the book: I don’t usually read many self-help books, but at times it’s quite interesting. You can always get some things out of them. I believe the important thing is to always exercise your critical thinking and not take every single thing at face value. Take what you feel applies to you and leave the rest. They offer one truth, not a universal truth, just “a” viewpoint.

When I discovered this book in the NetGalley catalogue, I felt intrigued and as I’ve always considered myself relatively “alpha” (because of my entrepreneurial spirit and need for independence), I thought I might learn a thing or two about improving relationships dynamics. However, granted that the book is filled with valid points and interesting tips, there were some things that didn’t quite sit well with me. I believed it lacked a bit of perspective when it comes to “temperaments” (I’m referring to extrovert people vs. introvert ones). The Alpha women described in the book often come across as loud, somewhat bossy personalities, which is what led me to try the Alpha/beta test the author mentioned was available online. And apparently I’m a “purple” (low Alpha/mid-beta), basically an emotional person (a spot-on result). It made sense that I didn’t necessarily recognize myself in this self-help book. So, now that this matter was clearly established, I can say that I might not have been the main target audience.

But, again, it is always enlightening to learn about others’ experiences and this guide fulfills its mission. I recommend it because it’s important to form your own opinions based on a wide range of facts. Read it, pick what you deem necessary and leave what felt at odds with your own life. I think that, in the end, it is the purpose of a “self-help” book.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas [Darcie Boleyn]

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?


My thoughts on the novel: A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is a true gem. This feel-good novel is both moving and enchanting. From Tonbridge, England to Manhattan, New York, the reader gradually learns more about the deep, complicated relationship between Lucie and Dale, two best friends who’ve known each other since childhood.

Lucie has a difficult, heartbreaking past. I thought the author wrote beautifully about Lucie’s struggle with the memory of her mother dying on Christmas Eve all these years ago. Dale is a sensitive, affectionate character that you’ll grow very fond of. You know they’re made for each other and yet, it’s lovely to see the whole process they have to go through to reach the same conclusion.

Manhattan around Christmas time offers the perfect backdrop for the most romantic scenes. The whole drama around Petra’s big fancy wedding is very entertaining, especially because of the clash between these two opposite worlds — Lucie and Dale vs Petra and her clique.

It’s a festive, poignant read you won’t be able to put down until the end.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

 

The Empire State Cat’s Christmas Gift [Nic Tatano]

The night her house catches fire, kick-ass lawyer Tish McKenna’s neatly ordered life is thrown into chaos. At least she’s alive—thanks to her adorable cat, Socks!—and after her near-death experience Tish realises she wants more in her life than late nights and case files…

Professionally speaking, hot-shot attorney, Spencer Capshaw hadn’t realised how far off track he’d come. Sure, he had his reasons originally—saving his dad’s life required more money than the DA’s office paid him—yet helping corrupt corporate bigwigs was not why he became a lawyer…

With a little help from a furry friend, these two lost souls find each other in the heart of Manhattan. But when Tish and Spence are pitted against each other in a trial that pushes them both to their limits, can their budding relationship survive?


My thoughts on the novel: If you’re looking for a lovely, warm and festive rom-com, look no further. This novel is a combination of Ally McBeal and a typical Meg Ryan movie, all wrapped up with a magical touch of holiday cheer. What’s not to love?

Tish and Spencer are two charming characters with strong personalities. They’re brought together thanks to Benny, a very endearing secondary character, and also through the unexpected help of Tish’s cat. But, when the reader learns the pair already crossed paths years ago, you only want to keep turning the pages to find out whether the stars will finally align perfectly for them.

It’s particularly refreshing reading about Spencer’s frame of mind. He’s an astonishingly romantic male character. The way he depicts his relationship goals in life is utterly sweet. Any romantic soul indulging in this novel will really enjoy this part of the book.

As far as the narration goes, it flows really well with a series of vivid, well-paced twists, all set in wonderful, magical New York.

The author instills a good amount of humour in serious scenes like the court hearings where the female judge is worth mentioning. It’s an amusing character in all its seriousness. I really enjoyed the dynamic created between the two attorneys and the judge. I couldn’t help but think of episodes from Ally McBeal.

I highly recommend this novel. It will easily appeal to those who love a fun, heartwarming love story with a happy ending.

Score : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥