The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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“I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. “

I love this book even as I’m sucked into the throes of its deepest tragedies. Even as I’d watched the movie midway through the book, I was unprepared for its ending. Nazism, constant bombings, war-torn countries and broken families set the backdrop amidst the seemingly detached, occasionally soulful, narration by a nameless, hooded Death – a collector of souls whom have left their earthly bodies. Markus Zusak’s book is a lingering remnant of World War II – Deah narrates the chance encounters between himself and Liesel Meminger, a foster child on 33 Himmel Street, Germany.

“He was waving. “Saukerl,” she laughed, and as she held up her hand, she knew completely that he was simultaneously calling her a Saumensch. I think that’s as close to love as eleven-year-olds can get.” 

I loved Rudy Steiner in this book – the movie couldn’t give him half the heroic credit he deserved. Rudy Steiner was: Three times Hitler Youth Athletics medallist; a bread-giver to starving Jews even as his own stomach was growling; a straight A student even though all he ever did was rebel – and all he ever wanted was Liesel’s kiss. Liesel and Rudy’s subtle puppy love breaks my heart all the time, especially towards the end.

“Often I wish this would all be over, Liesel, but then somehow you do something like walk down the basement steps with a snowman in your hands.” – Max Vandenburg

Max Vandenburg is a master of words. He is the Jew in the basement whom Liesel and her family hides. He is saved by words, Liesel’s words to be exact, when each night he laid unconscious in bed he was fed with a multitude of words. With determination to thank the girl he weaves and leaves behind stories of a lifetime and more. Like Rudy, Max wishes to beat the crap out of the Führer and hence his story is that of the Jewish fist-fighter.

“His soul sat up. It met me. Those kinds of souls always do – the best ones. The ones who rise up and say “I know who you are and I am ready. Not that I want to go, of course, but I will come.” Those souls are always light because more of them have been put out. More of them have already found their way to other places.” (On Hans Hubermann)

Liesel’s foster father, Hans Hubermann, is the reason why I still believe in good people. He loves Liesel like his own, teaches her to write and read, receives a beating for feeding a Jew, and is deeply indebted to the man who first taught him to play the accordion (and died on his behalf), so much so that he was willing to hide a Jew in the basement to return the favour. In much of the book, he is the doting father. A saint.

Liesel’s foster mother Rosa Hubermann rules with an iron fist but is the epitome of a hard shell with the softest core. Her unappreciated pea soup shows up a lot, and the hardship of Germans in the 1940s were best illustrated by how much food Rosa puts on the table each night. As loud as she gets, her soft-heartedness beams through whenever Liesel has her back turned because that’s when Rosa shows how much she actually loves her foster child.

“The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. (Death)” 

Death’s cryptic final words: I am haunted by humans.
The book will break your heart from its sheer brutality (all masked by the predominant story until the concluding chapter where it all comes too close for comfort).

“At first, she could not talk. Perhaps it was the sudden bumpiness of love she felt for him. Or had she always loved him?” 

And the happy ending is left to your own imagination. Who exactly was the husband Liesel spends a lifetime with before Death comes to her?

“A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH
I do not carry a sickle or scythe.
I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like? I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.” -DEATH

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Pick of the Week

pick of the week

Karl Pilkington brandishes his unique class of intelligence once again in The Moaning of Life, a humourous take on the human condition and crucial ever-evolving global issues. In Trust Me, I’m Lying Ryan Holiday does an exposè of popular blogosphere; hook, line and sinker of the biggest liars in social media. Onto a lighter read, award-winning Jane Lovering is back with Hubble Bubble, in which wishes come true in twisted ways when 5 women dabble in witchery.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Book Review: Selling Scarlett

I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and here it is!
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Published April 13th 2013 by Barkley’s Books

SYNOPSIS:
Elizabeth DeVille doesn’t belong at a party like this–one where the gowns cost more than her Camry and cigars run higher than her grad school utility bills. Dragged out of seclusion by her best friend Suri, Elizabeth is merely playing dress-up, rubbing elbows with a crowd that banished her troubled family years ago.

Hunter West is tired. Tired of parties, tired of pretending, and tired of trying to right a wrong that haunts him every day. Bourbon heir and professional poker player by day, by night Hunter is gambling with his life in a high-stakes game of crime and blackmail.

When Elizabeth stumbles into Hunter’s den of vices, she’s a light in the darkness, a flame in the void. And, just like everything he touches, Hunter mars her in a record time. To rectify the damage done, Elizabeth needs money she doesn’t have, and she’s come up with a foolproof way to get it.

Follow Elizabeth–code-named Scarlett–to the lush Nevada brothel where she’ll auction her virginity and risk the only thing that’s not for sale: her heart. The highest bidder is a familiar face, with wicked hands and the devil’s mouth. And a secret so dark that it could cost her life.

MY REVIEW:
Ella James’ brilliant stand-alone is just the right kind of provocative. Hunter West charms you off your feet and in many parts leave you swooning. Scarlett, or Elizabeth DeVille, knows fully well how to play her trump card of innocence. Volleying between the point-of-views of the different characters keeps up the fast pace where the plot thickens

“I’d gotten my first glimpse of Elizabeth DeVille. She’d had her hair in a pony-tail that stuck up off the side of her head, and she’d been wearing short red shorts and a light blue tank top with a whale on it. “You like whales?” I’d asked her when I finished with the car. Her face had gone all soft and pretty, making me feel more like one-hundred-and-three than the twenty-three I was, and she’d shrugged. “Yeah, but not a lot more than any other animal. I just like saving things.”

Semi-professional poker player, and full-time playboy, Hunter West doesn’t commit to relationships. At Love Incorporated, the brothel in Vegas owned by his best friend, Marchant Radcliffe, Hunter pays for love as he prefers “no strings attached”.

“I think of him as part tiger. He’s languid to the point of appearing almost lazy, and yellow or green, those eyes are framed by ridiculous lashes, set in a strong face with prominent cheekbones, full lips, and a sensuous smile.”

Elizabeth finds him intriguing despite his reputation and like the preyed in the cat-and-mouse, she can’t stay away. Entangled in the suspenseful web of lies, she is victim to the scandalous politics surrounding the brothel. In Hunter, she begins to find a surprisingly sexy appeal.

“It’s kind of surprising, considering he spends most of his time in Vegas, playing poker (professionally, of all things), man-whoring, and tossing back his family’s infamous Louisiana bourbon.”

Sexual tension, laced with the deceitful plot that kept me at the edge of my seat, makes this novel a winner. Elizabeth’s retention of innocence in the face of a new kind of awakening strikes me as comedic…except the training she receives at Love Incorporated takes her to a whole new level.

“With the exception of Hunter West, who’s been my own personal porn since that fateful night Mom’s Porsche broke down, I don’t find that many men attractive. Maybe I am a lesbian, but I don’t think so.”

Whilst agreeing with many readers that due to the myriad of sub-plots and other characters I found this book confusing, it has nevertheless been an enjoyable read. Definitely looking forward to her sequels in the Love, Inc series!

Book Review: Hard to Handle

I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and here it is!
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Published October 1st 2013 by Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

MY REVIEW:
Coming across a Jessica Lemmon work for the first time, I’m impressed by her clear and illustrative writing. Unlike most chick-lit or contemporary popular fiction, she doesn’t have a lag or a black-hole in the plot… plus she has a way with suspense and I suspect she could also write a rad thriller piece too!

With a Harley and tattoos to boost, Aiden Downey is one helluva guy. His ex-wife left for his real estate business partner, and his mother had recently died from cancer. Tragedy turns a guy batshit crazy, or so it seems! When thrown together for a year, Sadie Howard cannot imagine the life ahead of her…having had her heart broken once by the same man she’s not about to make the same mistake – not when the sparks are obviously flying and she’s about to fall for a guy with more baggage than than she can handle.

The nice twists in the middle leaves readers wondering what’s about to happen next! A good romance fiction, definitely.

SYNOPSIS
ONCE BURNED Sadie Howard never dates a guy more than once-but Fate has other plans for her when it comes to Aiden Downey, the one that got away. Aiden loved her, left her, and broke her heart. Yet suddenly she’s bumping into him at every turn, driven to distraction by his wicked grin and rock-hard body. Now she can’t resist finishing what they started-as long as she doesn’t let herself fall in love…

TWICE AS TEMPTING Aiden Downey threw away the best thing he ever had when he let Sadie go, and now he’s determined to win back the woman he’s always wanted. Sadie agrees to let him into her life-and her bed-as long as there are no strings attached. But Aiden’s not about to make the same mistake again. Can he convince her to take a second chance on a once-in-a-lifetime love?

At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Disastrous Quest for the Sweet Life

I received this book in exchange for a review, and here it is!
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    By Jennifer Criswell

Published September 28th 2012 by Gemelli Press LLC

MY REVIEW:
“It was this trip, during which I learned to say “yes” to every adventure, during which I’d felt romance and trusted my instincts, that convinced me that if I could muster up a little courage, I could chuck my legal briefs and follow my heart. To write. And to write in Italy.”

Taking the first step in solo travel takes a hell lot of guts…especially so if you’re starting over in an entirely new place, with no friends, bad grasp of the native tongue and just your gut instincts to trust.

Jennifer Criswell earns my respect – when she finally leaves New York and moves to Montepulciano, Tuscany, with her dog Cinder, she throws herself into the thick of it all, tries it all, makes many memorable mistakes while living it up in Tuscany.

In reality, life never comes in pretty packages. Cultural difference and language barriers aside, she meets roadblocks such as terrible landlords, monetary shortages, food crises and many more. Finding new friends and strengths in unexpected places is what makes her experiences worth reading about.

Despite being a ‘somewhat disastrous quest’, the spirit of finding yourself isn’t about being in the most glamorous places, but about discovering your inner will to make it anywhere, no matter how terrible the circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed her tales of Tuscany, a truly beautiful Italian destination of many dreams!

SYNOPSIS:
At Least You’re in Tuscany: A Somewhat Diastrous Quest for the Sweet Life is Jennifer Criswell’s memoir about her first year in Montepulciano during which her dream of expat life meets the reality of everyday challenges and results in sometimes funny, often frustrating, always lesson-filled situations.

Jennifer Criswell’s move from New York City to Tuscany was not supposed to go like this. She had envisioned lazy mornings sipping espresso while penning a best-selling novel and jovial Sunday group dinners, just like in the movies and books about expatriate life in Italy. But then she met the reality: no work, constant struggles with Italian bureaucracy to claim citizenship through her ancestors, and, perhaps worst of all, becoming the talk of the town after her torrid affair with a local fruit vendor.

At Least You’re in Tuscany is the intimate, honest, and often hilarious tale of Jennifer’s first year in Montepulciano. During that time, her internal optimist was forced to work overtime, reminding her that if she were going to be homeless, lonely, and broke, at least she would be all those things—in Tuscany. Jennifer’s mantra, along with a healthy dose of enthusiasm, her willingness to embrace Italian culture, and lessons gleaned from small-town bumblings, help her not only build a new, rewarding life in Italy but also find herself along the way.

Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love & Fiberglass

I received this book from Beating Windward Press in exchange for an honest review, and here it is!
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Published October 1st 2012 by Beating Windward Press LLC

MY REVIEW:
Melanie Neale’s memoir evokes a scenic memory of the Bahamas and Florida – an elusive beginning to a heartbreaking story of growing-up and falling apart in more ways than one.

Each memory from her growing up years are detailed with the dates and year, giving us a complete picture of family whose lives revolved around living in a confined 47-foot sailboat cruising between the US East Coast and the Bahamas. The rocky lifestyle shapes the person Melanie gradually became. Her way of thinking, behaving and even eating.

“Part of it was a feminist streak and the other part of it was the ultimate in antifeminism: a deeply rooted need in me to be accepted by my dad and by other men. If I could do the same things as them, I would be accepted into their world.”

The author is a tough cookie who believes that women can rise in a man’s world despite the obstacles in her path. Acceptance became a huge part of her psyche and drives her will to make it out there on her own – Melanie’s own boat and Melanie’s rules.

This is definitely an unusual contemporary memoir that shifts between telling the full story of what actually happened, to what the current Melanie Neale hopes could have happened – a brilliant psychological mapping of a girl who simply wants her own life…with or without the boat. Has the boat become part of her life or has she been simply dictated by it? Definitely insightful if you wish to understand a nomadic life on the rocky seas!

SYNOPSIS
“Boat Girl” is the heart-breaking memoir of growing up aboard a sailboat. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, Melanie’s family lived aboard a 47-foot sailboat, spending their summers along the US East Coast and their winters in the Bahamas. But the cruising life was not all fun in the sun. The family had to work hard to pay for their way of life. They dodged hurricanes, overzealous federal agents and bullying land-kids. And they endured a boatload of family drama. As her father published articles about how living on a boat brings families together, Melanie secretly struggled with an eating disorder, the alienation of being a boat kid, and confusion over her developing sexuality. As an adult, she lived aboard her own 28-foot sailboat and had several relationships trying to find someone who wasn’t intimidated by her stubborn independence and free-spirited lifestyle. “Boat Girl” weaves all this together into a story about a girl who, once all is said and done, simply wants her own boat and her own life. Melanie paints a vivid picture of the trials and tribulations of family life aboard a sailboat without drowning the reader in the technical details of sailing. “Boat Girl” strikes a perfect balance between a coming of age story and a sea tale, enjoyable for boaters and land-lovers alike.

Confessions of a Hostie: True Stories of an International Flight Attendant

I received this book from Monsoon Books in exchange for a review, and here it is!
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Published July 1st 2012/October 28th 2013 by Monsoon Books

MY REVIEW:

“Caffeine is not a drug – it’s a vitamin. Comedian Steven Wright makes a joke about how he first makes an instant coffee just so he has the energy to go ahead and make a regular one.”

Confessions of a Hostie is truly laugh out loud funny! Life of a flight attendant is more than serving coffee/tea at 35,000 feet – Danielle Hugh exposes the behind-the-scenes scandals, real-life anecdotes, and unfortunate mishaps of a cabin crew.

The novel starts with Danielle Hugh waking up in a hotel room, not knowing where in the world she was, and what time of the day it is, and while she figures this out, the hostie reaches for a bar of chocolate – then falls asleep halfway while eating it. By this time, I was nodding my head in full agreement!

“Shopping can feel so damn good – a much-deserved relief from jetlag and sleep deprivation issues.”

Indeed there is only so much sightseeing you can do…

“…even if it’s Paris, if you’re visiting the city for the fifteenth time, even the Eiffel Tower starts looking like a rusty old piece of scrap metal. The shops, however, look shiny and new.”

The book offers eye-opening anecdotes of flight attendants’ revenge on incorrigible flyers, scary tales of unglamorous off-site happenings, coupled with jumbled sleep-cycles and moodswings … you’d feel like you’ve been there and done that by the time you’ve laughed through the entire 200+pages. Basically, this has the job stripped bare right down to its itty bitty details, if you manage to get past the airheaded-ness on the surface of it all.

“…makeup and five cups of coffee are no disguise for the weariness that seeps through every pore of my body””

The author makes her point across. The job is not for the weak! Maybe I’m just a little biased. Great romp of a read.
The sequel will be out this end, or is it the beginning of next? Definitely hanging on to the news for this!

SYNOPSIS:
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a jet-setting hostie, or international flight attendant, then spending a little time in Danielle’s life is a captivating journey. You might be surprised and shocked to discover many of the truths behind the lifestyle as well as the incidences and behavior of passengers at 30,000 feet.
Danielle writes candidly, humorously and from the heart about life, love and her exploits around the world. From the slums of Mumbai to the glitz of New York there are as many highs and lows as take-offs and landings. Prepare for a turbulent ride of emotions and adventure, so place your seat upright, fasten your seatbelt and prepare for take-off. Danielle Hugh’s passion for flying dazzles in this frank and amusing account of jet-setting around the globe. With almost 20 years in a unique working world, her juicy tales are often as shocking as they are colourful.

Book Review: Breaking Nova

I received this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for a review, and here it is!
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Published 3rd September 2013 by FOREVER

MY REVIEW:
“Do you ever get the feeling that we’re all just lost?…Just roaming around the earth, waiting around to die.” – Landon

Jessica Sorensen is a powerful writer who knows how to play with her plot, and work her characters till they become her puppets coming to life. When an author is a master of words, he/she wields the power to stir up emotions stronger than one has ever felt before by pulling the strings on her Pinocchios.

Sorensen’s prologue takes her readers to the psychology behind why the lead characters behave the way they do, and I was drawn to Nova’s sadness and Quinton’s tragedy. So much darkness enshrouds the book that its impossible not to feel moved. For the record, this is the first review in which I’m raving about an author’s ability to create an atmosphere, and not so much on her characters!

“There’s a strange kind of serenity that comes with silence, but maybe that’s because it’s nearly impossible to achieve. Not only do I have to shut out the outside noise, but I also have to tune out the noise within me…”

Nova and Quinton are forced to deal with very harsh, very real issues. Nova’s serious OCD is punctuated by the post-traumatic stress from discovering her deceased boyfriend’s body. Quinton’s self-destructive behaviour stems from guilt over the deaths of his cousin Ryder and girlfriend Lexi.

“One, two, three. One, two, three. I can’t seem to get the counting and the obsessing out of my head. I’m always drowning in it and the memories of that god awful day that I can’t quite remember, but can’t quite forget. It owns me. I just want to feel alive, but all I feel is numb. But then I meet Quinton. He makes me feel alive and for the first time in my life, I can breathe.”

As the tragic heroes collide, so do all their fears, scars and insecurities. Each seeking solace in learning about their pasts and finding a way to move on, neither knowing how and where to take this further. When Tristan, whose sister was killed in Quinton’s accident, confessed that he likes Nova and wants Quinton to back off, the latter gives in to his guilt and packs up his feelings for Nova…briefly.

Ultimately they can’t stay away from what promises to be the start of a long arduous healing and crashing process for the two of them. Breaking Nova is the first book, and with the epilogue, we catch a glimpse of Nova’s attempt to save Quinton from himself, as she sinks further into her own depression.

As dark as everything sounds, I beg to differ that this is a depressing novel. Instead, its enlightening aspect outshines the gloom, throwing the psyche of 2 very dark minds into perspective. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.

If Breaking Nova was ever to be made a movie,
NOVA REED: Minka Kelly
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QUINTON CARTER: Adam Gregory
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SYNOPSIS:
Nova Reed used to have dreams-of becoming a famous drummer, of marrying her true love. But all of that was taken away in an instant. Now she’s getting by as best she can, though sometimes that means doing things the old Nova would never do. Things that are slowly eating away at her spirit. Every day blends into the next . . . until she meets Quinton Carter. His intense, honey brown eyes instantly draw her in, and he looks just about as broken as she feels inside.

Quinton once got a second chance at life-but he doesn’t want it. The tattoos on his chest are a constant reminder of what he’s done, what he’s lost. He’s sworn to never allow happiness into his life . . . but then beautiful, sweet Nova makes him smile. He knows he’s too damaged to get close to her, yet she’s the only one who can make him feel alive again. Quinton will have to decide: does he deserve to start over? Or should he pay for his past forever?

Book Review: Autumn in the Vineyard

I received this book from Montlake Romance in exchange for a review, and here it is!
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Published October 29th 2013 by Montlake Romance

MY REVIEW:

For such a serious title, the book is helluva funny! Beginning with the Alpaca crisis in Chapter One, to Frankie kicking Nate’s balls and yelling bloody murder, I’m caught between laughing out loud and seriously thinking through the vineyard disputes in the story.

Land acquisitions and ancient family feuds play a large part in forming the backbone of what goes on between the DeLucas and Baudouins. When it came down to the economics of the vineyard it gets very technical with a few estate and vinery jargons. It also tends to get boring and dry as the characters attempt to iron out the property details between their families. Frankly, I skipped through a couple of those pages to get ahead.

Frankie is one of few tough novel heroines I’m impressed by. She’s intelligent, diligent, stands her ground and is never afraid to speak up, or on may occasions, threaten to shoot at Nate. Frankie’s never-back-down fiery temper ignites the sparks between her and Nate, who finds himself drawn to the tough cookie.

Nate is a laidback, funny and dangerous – a straight heartbreaker and deadly charming Italian. Their development undergoes a long arduous breaking-in process, as what he feels for Frankie deepens with amusement and admiration instead of a conventional love at first sight. Nate’s was pure lust with zero emotions at first sight.

At certain points in the novel, the book gets draggy. Perhaps I found the caretaking process of the vineyard a tad boring for my taste. No doubt, though, that Marina Adair is extremely knowledgeable in that aspect and adept at bringing this to life. Some descriptions were breathtaking and I could almost feel the vineyard springing to life. Such is what I enjoyed most about this novel – the deep knowledge of French wines – embedded in the pages. A truly enlightening book.

Ratings: 6.8 / 10

SYNOPSIS:

Frankie Baudouin has a hundred reasons not to trust Nate DeLuca. First, he’s a DeLuca. Second, he kissed her—in front of the entire town—and then never called. Oh, and he’s after her land. Sorrento Ranch is Frankie’s last chance to prove to her family—and to herself—that she has what it takes to be an award-winning winemaker. And she will stop at nothing to ensure her success—even if it means playing nice with the starched, sophisticated, and oh-so-sexy Italian.

For Nate, Sorrento Ranch is more than just soil and grape vines; it was his father’s dream—a dream Nate is determined to make a reality. So when he finds himself forced to cohabitate with a hot-headed, irrational, and incredibly gorgeous Baudouin, Nate is surprised to discover that chaos could be so much fun—especially when she sleeps in nothing but lace.

Book Review: Waking Up Married

I received this book from Harlequin KISS in exchange for a review, and here it is!
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    By Mira Lyn Kelly

Date Published: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin KISS
My Ratings: 7.2 / 10

“Life isn’t about getting everything you want the instant you want it.
Some things are worth waiting for.”

    Additional Info:

From USA TODAY bestselling author Mira Lyn Kelly comes WAKING UP MARRIED, a free book in Harlequin’s brand-new contemporary romance collection—Harlequin KISS.
The free e-book can be found:
URL (only goes live December 1-indefinite): http://www.tryharlequinkiss.com

    My Review:

“This guy had one of those slanted smiles going on. The kind so lazy that only half of it bothered to go to work.”
Connor Reed stands apart from the typical cult-romance hero – he is temperamental, aloof and recently-heartbroken, yet is the only willing party in their accidental marriage.

“A person couldn’t make something last if it wasn’t meant to, like a person couldn’t be someone they weren’t. And trying only prolonged the inevitable.”
Megan Scott doesn’t do forevers, because no one in her life is a living proof of happy ever afters. Sporting a “GOT-SPERM?” tee-shirt and a can’t-do-love attitude, she picks up Connor at her cousin’s Vegas bachelorette party just to get the hen-party off her back about getting a sperm donor.

“You’re telling me this marriage between us is going to work because we aren’t bringing any fairy tale expectations into it. But here you are, down on one knee, fitting a glass slipper on my foot. Everything you do or say is like some fantasy come to life…which makes it hard to know what reality is actually going to feel like.”
It’s tough to hold on to a fleeting promise, and even tougher to resist the charms of a very determined accidental husband.

“Because—truth?—on the scale of significance, that stuff doesn’t even register.”
Then again, how do you convince somebody that true love does exist and is here to stay, if they’ve spent their entire lives disbelieving?

“And then he gave her a kiss that was meant to be the first of its kind, but tasted so familiar there was no denying those undercurrents of love had been there all that time… just waiting to be recognized.”
Or can Connor Reed really deliver what he set out to achieve?

“He’d been vowing to give her everything he had, but…nothing would be enough.”
Because truly, waking up married is Megan Scott’s worst nightmare.

The book can me sitting on the edge of my seat, giggling at the best parts of Megan giving in to Connor’s charms, and then sighing when she recedes into her safe world where she cannot be deceived.

Dialogue in this book is convincingly close to home, because reading it seems to put 2 voices in my head: Megan and Connor’s, constantly debating the push and pull of having someone else in your life to share your ups and downs while maintaining the goals and dreams you’ve always had.

Like a devil and angel plot, there’s always a bad guy, or guys, and Megan’s demons come in the form of many many stepfathers who had various fleeting appearances in her life. Hence the insecurities she lays bare, especially after her stepfathers makes a cameo in the storyline.

All in all, it was a predictable story, with Mira Lyn Kelly’s brilliant voice to narrate, and 2 fantastically crafted characters to project the gist of a Vegas aftermath.

    SYNOPSIS:

Her first thought: “Who are you?

It’s the morning after her cousin’s bachelorette party in Vegas and Megan Scott wakes up with the mother of all hangovers. Even worse, she’s in a stranger’s penthouse having woken up with something else as well – a funny, arrogant, sexy…husband!

Up until now, finding even a boyfriend had seemed impossible – been there, got the broken heart, sworn off men for good. Then a few martinis with Carter…no, Connor Reed and she’s gone from first meet to marriage in one night!

Megan wants a lawyer. But Connor’s shocking bombshell?

I don’t want a divorce.

Book Review: I Heart London

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Published June 7th 2012 by Harper

Book Number 5 brings Angela back in full circle. She is summoned home for her mom’s 60th birthday party to a weed-rolling dad, and an ex-fiance who still wishes to stick his tongue down her throat. Plus her mom convinced the family and friends to hold the Angela-Alex wedding in 6 days’ time – right in her own London backyard!

Jenny, her best-friend-since-running-from-a-ruined-wedding-to-New-York, heads the wedding convention like a fashion tyrant, taking charge of decorations, makeup, stag/hen night, music, wedding vows…
but when New York clique meets London pals, things start falling apart.

Louisa, Angela’s best-friend-since-childhood, is now a mom and she definitely has different wedding plans for Angela. Adding to the mix is Angela’s brass-band-trumpet-playing dad who insists on trumpeting horny love songs alongside the wedding march and a cake-maker who bakes one giant car-sized cupcake instead of dozens of small bite-sized ones…

Is every consummation of love destined to be a disaster for Angela?

Alex as usual, is the perfect sweetheart in this one. Occasionally there are mentions of his slutbag days in Brooklyn, which adds to the wedding tension, but never once did he fail to make Angela the most blessed girl in London.

Aside from the big wedding, Angela, Jenny and Cici Spencer’s twin Delia are about to launch a transatlantic fashion magazine. Angela is scheduled to make a powerpoint presentation to the UK Management of Spencer Media while Delia does the French version in Paris.

With Cici Spencer back for revenge, this could possibly spell disaster!

I promise, no more spoilers. I really loved the ending, and like many readers I hope this is the end of it! It’s too perfect, a London wedding or not. I can’t imagine reading another Angela Clark in possibly a I Heart Singapore with her arms full of babies…
Although if there were any followups to the I Heart series…I know I would read it anyway.

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
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ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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GRAHAM (gay drummer of The Stills – Alex’s band): Dan Stevens
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Craig (bassist, ladies’ man, playboy): Chace Crawford
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JAMES JACOB: Cam Gigandet
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LOUISA: Diane Kruger
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SADIE: Shannan Click
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Because I loved the series too much…
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SYNOPSIS
Home is where the heart is. Right? Angela Clark has fallen in love with America — and it’s starting to love her back. Throw one expired visa into the mix, and things quickly take a turn for the worse. She might love her life as a Brit in New York, but now she has no choice but to return to London. Not only does she leave behind her gorgeous boyfriend Alex — she must also face unfinished business back on home turf. There’s the ex-boyfriend — who she moved to New York to get away from. Then there’s her best friend, with her perfect new baby. And there’s her mum. Now, there’s another wedding in the offing — and everyone remembers how well the last one went …

Book Review: I Heart Vegas

lindsey-kelk-i-heart-vegas
Published by Harper, 2011

Unemployed: check.
Deportation notice: check.
Next stop: Las Vegas!

Best friend Jenny treats Angela to a weekend at Vegas with her new room-mate, supermodel Sadie. Concurrently, Jenny’s ex-boyfriend Jeff, currently engaged, takes his posse on a stag night slash strip-club weekend to Vegas. Something smells fishy…or does it?

The chapel of love, Vegas, is where you take the quick leap of marriage, with le super hot rockstar boyfriend, in a bid to keep your American Visa. He doesn’t even need to know you’re about to be deported. What your boyfriend doesn’t know can’t hurt him, right?

Enter James Jacobs of I Heart Hollywood, fresh from a breakup and ready to rock Vegas with Angela. With her devil-may-care attitude, her wild adventures in Vegas is as funny as it gets.

The Strip proves to be unable to handle Angela-Sadie-Jenny trio and superstar James. Where then, does Alex come in? Her relationship enters a rocky stage after an argument. It appears Alex does not want to marry Angela. The idea of having kids and starting a family invokes too much of his ex-fiancé. Or rather, both their exes.

Is Angela about to leave New York and her new life for good?

There’s trouble in paradise. Does it get resolved?

Since I’m already on I Heart London, all I can say is…Viva Las Vegas!

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Fancy kicking off your heels and sinking into a couch with a light, fun read? I Heart Vegas, as does the rest of I Heart series, keeps me giggling in my seat and takes the edge a rough day. I’m drawn into Angela’s world, and more than anything, I’m extremely sad over my impending completion of the series. More sequels, please!

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
Cheryl-Cole-HD-Wallpaper-1024x768

GRAHAM (gay drummer of The Stills – Alex’s band): Dan Stevens
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Craig (bassist, ladies’ man, playboy): Chace Crawford
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JAMES JACOB: Cam Gigandet
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SADIE: Shannan Click
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SYNOPSIS:
Angela Clark loves her life in New York. She loves her job, her friends and her gorgeous musician boyfriend, Alex, who is finally ready to move in with her and start planning their future together. Everything is perfect.

But, after Angela loses her job, her world starts to crumble around her – her visa is revoked and she’s given the disastrous news that she must leave New York and her life behind and go back to London.

Confused, heartbroken and desperate to stay, the last thing Angela needs is a girls’ trip to Vegas just before Christmas – especially when Manhattan at Christmas is so perfect that she never wants to go home…

Book Review: Window (Michele Renae)

I received this book in exchange for a review, and here it is!cover37450-medium
Date Published: October 22, 2013
My Ratings: 7.5 / 10

“I loved that word: decadent. Unrestrained self-gratification. Indulgence.”

Set in modern day France, this contemporary piece is written in sensual prose that tells of a girl starting afresh by moving to Paris.

“I moved for adventure. I crossed the ocean for discovery. I moved for the pastries and baguettes. I arrived on foreign soil for the sexy Frenchmen and the Eiffel Tower.”

And sexy Frenchmen she did get. He moves into the building directly across from her. Thus begins their incredibly naughty mutual seduction, a flirtatious game played across neighboring windows.

“This slightly dangerous liaison was all about sight and imagination.”

Artful voyeurism at its best, the two volley between windows, each act bolder than the next. Readers are exposed to an incredibly honest insight into the inner workings of women. Told entirely from her point of view, the man and woman never actually exchanges any words at all. Imagination leads to intimacy, build upon mere acquaintanceship and zero expectation that they will ever end up as anything more.

At the end of the night, with a flick of the wrist, the curtains are drawn and so keeps the relationship at its best – at a distance.

First in a trilogy, Renae has me hooked already. Cliffhangers be damned, bring on the second book please!

If Window were made into a movie, I would love to have these people casted:

SHE: Erin Heatherton
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HE: Ian Somerhalder
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SYNOPSIS:
An erotic romance behind glass…

The first time she sees her new neighbor, his sexy smile arouses her curiosity—and her desires. His hard, chiseled muscles and playful invitations are irresistible.

Bared before their windows, framed and displayed above the streets of Paris, they embark upon a provocative affair. Their daring game of exhibitionism lures her back for more and more, and she quickly realizes he is the man she has dreamed about.
Yet she’s never heard his voice. Never felt his touch. Never thought she’d experience something this exquisite.

Or this bold…
WINDOW is the first book in the Paris Secrets trilogy

Book Review: I Heart Paris

12980295Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date Published: January 1st 2010
My Ratings: 7 / 10

Yes I truly heart Paris!

With all due bias, this is my favorite in the series. Set in my dream city to live in someday, the third installation captures the mystery and allure of Paris.

The Alex/Angela relationship takes a nosedive into an all-time low as the duo make their way to the city of love. Here, not one but three jealous women attempt to backstab Angela via an array of unscrupulous means. With her blog and career in jeopardy, she’s got everything to lose, including her work visa at New York. Alex’s relationship commitment also apparently slackens as he comes face-to-face with his French ex, Solène.

Honestly I’m not entirely taken by Paris, because the Angela/Alex/Solène/Virginie/Cici drama took all the attention away. There were no loving afternoon coffees by the sidewalks whilst gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. The people she thought she could trust (aka her lovely assistant Virginie) are not who they seem to be.

In terms of perusing Paris’s hot destinations, Angela was zipping through downtown hipster crowds where Alex’s band was doing gigs rather than big names like the Pont Neuf, taking away the allure of a textbook Parisian retreat.

Lindsey Kelk wrote as if she were a true Parisian, taking us on a tour of trendy local spots and chill-out spaces. I found myself enjoying the lesser-known parts of Paris which one would not be able to find out about from popular guidebooks. The spirit and joie de vivre of Paris comes alive in bits and pieces gleamed from Angela’s (mis)adventures.

Eventually Angela straightens things out with her backstabbers. Her evil boss Mary seems to soften a whole lot more and claims she doesn’t want to lose a ‘good writer’ – a huge compliment in The Look’s history of employee flattery. Taking the leap, Angela moves in with Alex in the New York apartment. That said, I’m already moving on to I Heart Vegas, next in the series of Angela’s quests and explorations.

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
Cheryl-Cole-HD-Wallpaper-1024x768

GRAHAM (gay bassist of The Stills – Alex’s band): Dan Stevens
danst

Craig (drummer, ladies’ man, playboy): Chace Crawford
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SYNOPSIS:
Angela is in the city of love — but romance is taking a nose-dive! When Angela Clark’s boyfriend Alex suggests a trip to Paris at the same time as hip fashion mag Belle asks her to write a piece, she jumps at the chance. But even as she’s falling for the joie de vivre of Paris, someone’s conspiring to sabotage her big break. And when she spots Alex having a tete-a-tete with his ex in a local bar, Angela’s dreams of Parisian passion all start crashing down around her. With London and her old life only a train journey away, Angela can’t decide if should stay and face the music or run away home!

One more for the road 🙂 (taken in Dubai’s Movenpick Hotel Deira)
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Book Review: I Heart Hollywood

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Publisher: Harper
Date Published: December 1st 2009
My Ratings: 7 / 10

This fast-paced sequel to I Heart New York races Angela Clark through a whirlwind week in Hollywood. James Jacob, Hollywood star and heartthrob has made special requests for her to conduct the exclusive interview, and as days progress, she finds herself in deep shit with tabloids, paparazzi and Perez Hilton.
Embroiled in a scandal with misleading photographs to prove, even her boyfriend Alex Reid and best friend Jenny is convinced of her infidelity.

Meanwhile a shocking truth about James Jacobs is hers to reveal to the world, a secret that will save her career and love life. Except, the secret is not hers to tell.

In a series of hilarious misadventures, she survives crazy LA, only after puking in the bushes of a Hollywood star, getting dead drunk more than a few nights in a row, and finally getting herself out of the fire.

As always, tragedies are blessings-in-disguise. She, or rather James Jacob and his personal assistant-slash-something-more Blake, takes us on a ride through LA’s Chateau Marmont, Fred Segal, Melrose Avenue, Rodeo Drive and The Ivy.

A super fun piece by Lindsey Kelk, which took me a day to complete because I couldn’t stop reading. Thumbs up!

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, (as seen in I Heart New York)I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
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JAMES JACOB: Cam Gigandet
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SYNOPSIS:
Celebs, sunshine and beautiful boys…enough to lead a girl astray? Angela Clark can’t believe her luck! she’s an English girl living in New York with a dream job at hip magazine The Look and a sexy boyfriend. Her latest assignment takes her to Hollywood to interview hot actor and fellow Brit James Jacobs.Thrown in at the deep end she heads west with best friend Jenny dreaming of Rodeo Drive and Malibu beach. Soon Angela discovers that celebrity life in Hollywood is not all glamour, gloss and sunshine. Despite his lady-killer reputation, the only person who seems genuine is James. Then a paparazzi snaps them in an uncompromising position and suddenly Angela is thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons! Can she convince all those close to her — especially her boss and her boyfriend — not to believe everything they read? And will Hollywood ever win Angela’s heart?

365 Guide New York City: Drink. Eat. $ave. Every Day of the Year. A Guide to New York City Restaurants and Bars.

365

I received this book from Hugo House Publishers Ltd in exchange for a review, and here it is!

Monica DiNatale is no doubt an expert on dining out in NYC. This guide will make life for first-time NYC travelers a hell lot easier. Swishing through the pages, you’ll find the name of the bar/restaurant, its location, opening hours, contact details as well as why it has been a selected feature.

All selections are numbered #1 – #365, lettered from A-Z, so theres literally a year’s worth of dining options to try. There’s no lack of variety, because most of the featured are bar/restaurant fusion where you can stay on after supper for chilling out with your buddies.

I would love to try #133 George Keeley Fine Ales and Lagers, an Irish Pub on Amsterdam Avenue in the Upper West Side. Free popcorn for all! Plus burgers with sweet potato fries. It’s a New York dream come true.

Smorgas Chef (#273) also sounds like an interesting deal. Swedish meatballs on Hanover Square? It’s Scandinavian date-night-tastic with the upscale bistro ambience.

All in all DiNatale does know how to have fun, and her picks are truly perfect for a complete NYC night-out.

Publisher: Hugo House Publishers
Date Published: August 14, 2013
My Ratings: 4 / 5

SYNOPSIS:
I know restaurants and bars in New York City can be expensive and intimidating. I wanted 365 Guide to include advice that I would give to close family and friends but share it with the world! Inside 365 Guide there are 365 restaurant and bar deals in the Big Apple. This is the only New York City guide book that tells you where you can find: free, yes, FREE food specials throughout the city, $2-$3 drinks any day of the week, the best happy hours where you can nosh to your stomach’s content and more deals than any other guide on the planet! From five-star restaurants to the best dive bars, I will be your savings guru. Whether you live here, hope to live here, or are visiting, if you want to know all about New York City’s restaurants and bars-at a discount-then 365 Guide is the book for you!

Book Review: The State We’re In

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Publisher: Headline Review
Date Published: 4th July 2013
My Ratings: 7 / 10
Average Goodreads Ratings: 3.9 / 5

SYNOPSIS:
What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.

She’s a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he’s a resolute cynic – cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.

People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn’t even realise they needed.

Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it’s when they get off the plane, that their true journey begins…

REVIEW:
At times, Joanna (Jo) Russell’s naivety gets on my nerves. She attempts to salvage a youthful mistake of ditching a fiance at the altar, by flying 300miles to wreck his upcoming wedding. That simply shows how much of a tragically hopeful romantic she is. I hated her less when she’s simply unhinged and having fun, while not harbouring thoughts of how romantic love is the one thing that should determine how you run your career and life.

The story runs beautifully. We see a parallel story running side-by-side, an almost continuation of the affair that never was. On one hand Eddie Taylor at his bedside and the son that he had left 29 years ago, Dean, flies over to bid him hello and farewell, but leaves for his house in Chicago in a fit of anger when he discovers that it was not Eddie who had asked to see him, but the meddlesome nurse who felt sorry that no next-of-kin was holding the dying man’s hand. On the other hand, delusional Jo Russell leaves her parent’s house and flies to Chicago to stop her ex-fiance – Martin’s – wedding, determined that the letter of invitation was a cry for help, and that Martin was pleading with her to not hold her peace. Somehow, she was inclined to believe that she had to take him away from his current bride-to-be. That Martin was the One.

I mean, who in their right state of mind still believes in the One?

Fate, or whatever forces that be, dictated that Dean and Jo were to spend 10 hours in the pressured tube bound for Chicago in the Club Class. The moments of emotional upheaval that they shared were rather less physically intimate than usually required for Dean to feel for anybody, but in rare cases more fictional like this, Dean cared for the delusional 35-year-old.

The forces that be also created a tragic interweaving of their histories. The father that Dean came to abhor happened to have left Dean, his mother and sister, 29 years ago, for the woman that happened to be Jo Russell’s mother – Clara Russell. And in a dramatic irony, Jo finds out that her ideal picture of what family had been and should be, was destroyed by a single phone call revealing that after decades of marriage, her mom was leaving her dad for a dying man – Eddie Taylor.  And that her dad was actually gay.

What?

That much was revealed in the span of this novel which had moments of epiphany that tugged at my heartstrings, despite the loathing I felt for Jo Russell at certain points where she was behaving less than half her age. How thoughtless and selfish a woman past her 30s can be really got on my nerves.

Dean, however, made a huge impression with his touch of sensitivity. His genuine care and concern filled up the void left blank by absent members of his family. He was the true hero of the book, taking baby steps in placing trust upon people and learning to commit like nobody in his life had ever shown his before.

The part where he was beginning to fall in love with Jo got a bit unrealistic and unconvincing, though. It was clear that girls were throwing themselves at his feet – cleavage, cellphone numbers and all – yet Jo was all he had on his mind after a mere 10 hours in the air. And Jo was being such a selfish, self-obsessed and indulged woman. Perhaps the oxygen up there is insufficient indeed.

However towards the end I grew to love Jo Russell. There was a reason behind her first-hand account while everyone else’s stories were written by the third-person. Here’s where the spoiler comes: Dean and Jo doesn’t end up together. Jo marries somebody else, and the little epilogue is simultaneously the saddest and the most heart-warming bit in the entire novel. The moment we’ve all been holding our breaths for – Dean and Jo were each other’s love of their lives but for reasons only explained in the book (ask me personally cos I don’t wish to spoil the book for you) they don’t end up together, ever.

Amidst the interweaving tales of marriage, relationships and families – broken or not – lies the keen reminder that nobody is perfect. Perfection should not be expected of anybody. And that forgiveness, big or small, is the hardest yet most essential part of any human relationship.
This is one piece of thoughtful contemporary literature that I would recommend to lovers of Jodi Picoult or even Jill Mansell and Kristin Hannah.

If ‘The State We’re in’ were to be made a movie…
Joanna Russell: Isla Fisher (Bring back the Shopaholic, please!)
Opening Ceremony And 'The Great Gatsby' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Dean Taylor: Hugh Dancy
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Eddie Taylor: Sean Bean
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Clara Russell: Christie Brinkley
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xoxo Viktoria Jean

Book Review: I Heart New York

Whenever I’m done with a grueling day at work, a piece of light, fun chick-lit (or the likes of it) brings back the cheer in me. Lindsey Kelk’s humour is not at Sophie Kinsella’s, but rather, in a homelier manner her characters are likeable, relatable and slapstick funny. I couldn’t help liking Angela Clark. She is neither stupid nor ditzy. And the ballsy take-no-shit in her makes me want to follow the rest of her adventures to Paris and Las Vegas. FYI I’ve also ordered the rest of the I Heart series!
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Angela Clark finds respite in New York after finding her fiance in the backseat semi-naked with another woman, at her best friend’s wedding. Worst thing is…EVERYONE knows about it but her. She traipses off to a new continent with nothing but 2 pairs of underwear and suitcase full of mismatched clothes. There’s nothing an overhaul can’t do, right?

This was an easy book to read. At the heart of the novel, a girl just needs time off to discover what she really wants in life. I would have totally done the same thing, to leave everything behind and start afresh in a new place. She makes a new best friend from the hotel concierge desk – Jenny – who takes her on a whirlwind ride in the new city, and as she takes on a bright revamped outlook on life, she draws people with her new vibrant personality, and men flock to her side. What a laugh, when she has to keep a blog detailing all the juicy secrets of her life and both her dates find out about it.

Getting to know the cast in I Heart is much like meeting a new set of friends whose lives appear totally typical but whom are in fact as screwed up as the rest of us. Reading I Heart New York was like cruising down the Big Apple for the first time: walking down Saks at Fifth Avenue, ogling at Macy’s and Bloomingdales, fighting vertigo on the Empire State Building. New York’s magic comes alive amidst frenzied dates to band gigs, late nights in Manhattan and detours to Boston. I must say, I’m definitely awaiting the arrival of the rest of the installments in the series!

Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release: September 7th 2010
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Popular Culture, Romance, Big Apple
My Rating: 6 / 10
Recommended for: Travelers, summer reads, light reads

If I HEART was ever to be made a movie, I would cast:
ANGELA CLARK: Alicia Silverstone
as

ALEX REID (the rockstar): Nicholas Hoult
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TYLER (the perfectly dreamy handsome & rich businessman): Kevin Zegers
kevin zegers

JENNY LOPEZ (the best friend!): Cheryl Cole
Cheryl-Cole-HD-Wallpaper-1024x768

SYNOPSIS:

Angela Clark is in love—with the most fabulous city in the world!

When Angela catches her boyfriend with another woman at her best friend’s wedding, she’s heartbroken and desperate to run away. With little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins, and her passport in hand, Angela decides to jump on a plane for . . . NYC!

Settling into a cute hotel and quickly bonding with benevolent concierge Jenny—a chatterbox Oprah wannabe with room for a new best friend—Angela heads out for a New York makeover, some serious retail therapy, and a whirlwind tour of the city. Before she knows it, she’s dating two sexy guys and blogging about her Big Apple escapades for a real fashion magazine. But while it’s one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it’s another working them out for yourself. Angela has fallen head over heels for the city that never sleeps, but does she heart New York more than home?

(Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, get ready for the summer debut of the year…
When you’re running away from a broken heart, there’s only one place to go…
Adjusting tiaras at the foot of the aisle, Angela and her best friend prepare for the wedding of the year. But events don’t go as planned. And when a girl is in possession of a crumpled bridesmaid dress – and can’t go home – New York (for the very first time) seems like an excellent idea.
Angela’s new friend Jenny Lopez gives Angela a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps, and a makeover. Who hasn’t dreamed of starting afresh with a sassy New York wardrobe, a new haircut and a trip to the make-up counter?
Before she knows it, the new Angela is getting over her broken heart by having dinner with two different boys. And, best of all, she gets to write about it in her fabulous new blog. But it’s one thing telling readers all about your romantic dilemmas. It’s another trying to figure them out for yourself!
Warm, funny and unputdownable, I Heart New York is an unforgettable debut)

Book Review: You Don’t Have to say You Love Me

Neve Slater’s self-esteem is buried somewhere underneath her size 32 waist-line. She battles to fit herself into a size 10 in order to finally attract the attention of her love interest William, and decides to enter a ‘pancake relationship’ with the sex-god celebrity journalist Max.

Max’s social reputation as a full-time jerk with the ability to charm the knickers off any woman was Neve’s sure-fire guarantee that she would never fall in love with him. So to gear up for WIlliam’s return to the country and back into her life, Max offers to be her ‘pancake boyfriend’ —- the first pancake relationship in her life which is bound to be imperfect and not made to last.

‘We both got so obsessed about that first pancake being thrown away that we forgot something really important,’ Max explained. ‘That first pancake tastes just as good as all the other ones. It’s not its fault that it was first in line and the pan wasn’t hot enough so it got a bit lumpy and misshapen.’
‘And when you’re really famished that first pancake tastes better than all the ones that come after it,’ 

Here we have a pair of perfectly compatible man and woman too busy coming up with excuses for how they should not be together, that they fail to see how right they are for each other. Happens a lot, no?

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“That was the worst thing about having a relationship with someone, even a pretend relationship. You opened up, let someone in, and when it was over, they had all the ammunition they needed to completely destroy you.” 

You don’t have to be a snarky bitch to love their verbal sparring and offhand flirtations. Manning’s fabulous plot is moulded by her wonderfully written prose with comedic interjections that made this novel so enjoyable. The shallow man-whore becomes the tamed romantic. The nerdette with oversized hips gains confidence through her unlikely pancake soulmate, and when WIlliam inevitably returns to the country, Max has to let go of Neve, to whom he eventually confesses that

“We don’t stop, not even when we reach the finish line. It’s a journey for life, Neve.”

I fell in love with the book cover (with the lips) the moment I’d laid eyes on it, and I’ve never even heard of Sarra Manning until I bought the book on impulse. I fell in love with it further when I found out that the male character Max has the typical outlook of a bad-boy I personally would love, with a secret mellow side he only shows to a selected few. Personally, I felt that Manning’s novel gives off a more realistic vibe in comparison to the plethora of chick-lit on popular best-selling shelves. I fell deeply in love with the book somewhere past the middle point with the ferocity with which Max was delivering the duties of being Neve’s trial lover. His conviction was the reason this make-believe relationship stood apart from commercialized versions of love. It was literally as if he was telling Neve: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me.

“She was so fed up with unrequited love and platonic love and all the other kinds of love that weren’t passionate, romantic, can’t-live-without-you, I-have-to-have-you-right-now, the-beat-of-your-heart-matches-the-beat-of-mine love.” 

This book is about finding your way around unfamiliar grounds and learning to push past perceived boundaries that any physical characteristics has limited you to.

Author: Sarra Manning
Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Corgi (February 3rd, 2011)
Rating: 8.5 / 10

If this were to be made into a movie…

NEVE SLATER – bookish, good-natured fat girl: Scarlett Johansson
scarlett-johansson-natural-golden-brown-beach-wave-hairstyle-mtv-movie-awards

MAX – celebrity journalist, smooth-talking ladies’ man: Justin Timberlake
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CELIA SLATER – the bubbly, devious younger sister: Karlie Kloss – always encouraging, fun, and effortlessly perfect
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WILLIAM – the long-time friend who is unattainably perfect: Matthew Lewis
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SYNOPSIS:
Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules. And the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don’t get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve’s heart since university. But William’s been in LA for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he’ll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.

So she’s not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she’s an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she’d better get some, well, experience.

What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia’s colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he’s such a man-slut, and so not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him. Because William is the man for her… right?

Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve’s lost her heart – but to who?

Book Review: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

Do not read this book on an empty stomach, for it will leave you foraging for every last morsel of chocolate in the refridgerator.

With the promise of being introduced to the world of The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan has left me more than hooked: I literally devoured her novel in 2 sittings, with a couple of Reese’s peanut butter cups and a bag of Mars PODS to go along. 20130912-072626.jpg

What’s promised is rightfully delivered: Paris is ever so picturesque, and French cuisines ever so mouth-watering. Jenny Colgan successfully reignites the spark of Parisian magic in contemporary chick-lit by infusing the element of top-secret home-made luxury-chocolate recipes (plus we all know it’s every girls’ dream to be able to guiltlessly binge on chocolate, not a hot Parisian with dreamy French accent).

If interested, you can expect elaborate and vivid descriptions of chocolate making processes. The tale of an artisan chocolatier – Thierry Girard – springs to life, the Parisian Willy Wonka whose chocolatier is the highlight of the story. His brief but significant relationship is revealed in italicized snatches of flashbacks, inserted between the modern, blossoming love affair between Girard’s son Laurent and the novel’s heroine, Anna Trent. As much as we can smell love in the air, the thick scent of ‘rich dark chocolate’ is so often repeated and emphasized, reflecting the chocolatiers’ dedication to their craft, as Colgan never lets us forget that the story is set in the culinary capital of Paris.

I’ve enjoyed the novel thoroughly from cover to cover – her simple and deftly delivered prose were easy on the eyes and thus would be a comforting light-hearted pick-me-up. However, I hardly had to think while reading for the words were fairly simple and the plot somewhat predictable towards the end. The bittersweet aftertaste from the novel is something I was expecting from the description of the bitter chocolates that Parisians found tasty — totally unlike the overly-sweetened milky creamy American commercial brands — and that, I felt, perhaps foreshadowed a non-sugarcoated ending to this unconventional chick-lit.

Publisher: Sphere
Release: 14th March 2013
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Food, Paris, Romance
My Rating: 7 / 10
Recommended for: Holiday-goers, summer reads, weekend reads

If Chocolate Shop was ever to be made a movie, I would cast:

ANNA TRENT: Blake Lively
Noon By Noor - Presentation - Fall 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

LAURENT GIRARD: Henry Cavill
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CLAIRE (French Teacher): Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood

THIERRY GIRARD: Fat Russell Crowe
ACTOR RUSSEL CROWE ON NBC NETWORKS THE TONIGHT SHOW.

SYNOPSIS:
As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate – and herself – than she ever dreamed.