Monday, December 28, 2009

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

2 Star

Someone is watching over 66 Star Street in Dublin. The residence with four flats is home to four very different lives. Maeve and Matt appear very much in love, but are silently struggling. Lydia, a taxi cab driver, clashes with her two roommates while Kate is struggling with her relationship with Conall and aging Jemima keeps a keen eye on it all. A force is guiding them, watching and plotting, but just exactly what will happen within these four flats? 

Lydia - 2 Star

The Brightest Star in the Sky is an unusual combination of Single girl lit, Marriage Lit and Fantasy Lit all wrapped up into one and I was unexpectedly disappointed. I have loved everything Marian Keyes has ever written so I’m sad to say this was far from her best. It took me a long time to get into and I even put it down for days before picking it up again which is odd for me.

The narration was odd with some form of ‘spirit’ telling the story in the beginning and then it switched to the other characters perspective only to come back to the spirit occasionally and then at the end. The mystery behind this spirit was enough to keep me interested in finding out what it was (and quite frankly it might have been the only reason).

Keyes writing is impeccable and this novel is no exception. I could picture locations and events with ease. The majority of the problem lay in the characters. I couldn’t relate to them, nor did I really care about most of them. Their inevitable ‘changes’ in some cases just didn’t seem realistic to me which didn’t help, specifically Conall. My other dilemma with this work is that I didn’t get immersed in this story until the last 100 pages when things started to move and thought that much of the first 400 or so pages could have been condensed. Some of the story lines were dark and depressing, but I didn’t find the humorous edge she usually uses to diffuse some of the darkness in her other novels, such as Lola in This Charming Man (which I loved – 5 Star).

I do look forward to more Marian Keyes stories and can’t wait to devour her next one, even after this disappointment.

Kathryn - 2 Star

I found The Brightest Star in the Sky very difficult to get involved in. I’m not sure if it was because there were far too many characters or because none of them really appealed to me. There were so many people with so many lives that I was pretty confused about who was who for a long time.

Now I normally like novels with lots of interesting people in it but I found that even at the beginning of this we switched between storylines quickly so you never got a chance to grab anyone and get into their lives. By about a third of the way in I still didn’t really feel attached to any of them and was starting to get irritated by this thing that was telling the story- or hovering above the story- or whatever it was doing. I felt like it was in the way. By the end we are let in to the secret of what the thing is but I found it annoying.

All the people in the story revolve around a small set of flats and they intermingle with each other creating the storyline. The one person I did like was an older woman called Jemima who was quite astute with her feelings about the others. I also like a girl named Lydia who was so aggressive and grumpy half the time she made me laugh. Most of the others though were forgettable.

I was disappointed by this Keyes novel but as I’ve never disliked anything she’s written I’m going to just move along to her next one when it arrives and get over it!

Connect with Marian Keyes:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Secrets by Freya North

3 Star

Tess flees London with her baby girl, taking a house-sitter position in a seaside village in northern England. The home owner, Joe, is regularly away on business and leaves Tess in charge of his home and scruffy dog. As she begins tidying, she wonders about his past and why he's away from hist gorgeous home so much, just as he starts questioning her blank past.  They both have secrets and with the strong pull toward each other, will they be able to sort them all out and leave them behind? 

Lydia - 3 Star

Unfortunately Secrets didn't captivate me as much as I would have liked. I didn't love it, but didn't hate it either. I found it dragged out in places and it had really long paragraphs which I found distracting especially with reading at night.

At times I felt this novel bore too much resemblance to a Harlequin, with a predictable story and oddly descriptive sex scenes, but there was a huge Brit Lit feel to it which helped ease my trepidation.

I found this to be a really long read and much of it took place in the characters heads which was annoying because I wanted more action instead of them droning on and on. I laughed out loud once and don`t want to give too much away, but it had to do with the spunky ladies at the home in the latter half of the novel. I really laughed hard which I appreciated.

Overall, it was not a terrible read, but Secrets just wasn't my cup of tea.

Kathryn - 3 Star

I picked up Secrets because I was looking for some chick lit that took me somewhere calm and reflective. I wasn’t disappointed. I found it a bit slow to start and I think that the reason it took me a bit to be grabbed was because I’d read two or three novels previously where the story was given very early in the book and this one tested my brain to be patient! As the title indicates, there will be secrets. Some of which don’t unravel until the end.

The story is about Tess who leaves London in a hurry with her baby daughter. She ends up at a seaside village in northern England to become a house-sitter for someone she’s never met. Joe is the house owner who travels most of the time and lives in a great big house with a scruffy dog, both of which need caring for. Tess is a young mother with lots of energy and Joe is a bit older than her and doesn’t quite have the same energy and they both have lots of secrets.

I liked them both and I loved the clear images I had of everything in the novel. The house was imprinted on my brain and I could picture the little girl and the dog perfectly. Freya North is very descriptive without it seeming heavy, which I appreciate. I always really enjoy a novel where I feel connected with the location and not just the people.

If you’re looking for a story with some twists but that ends with people becoming more complete then you’ll enjoy this book.

(Oh and be warned there are some fairly graphic bedroom scenes that completely took me by surprise!)

Connect with Freya North:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble

4 Star

After watching her daughters struggle, a terminally ill mother leaves each of her four daughters a personal letter as well as a notebook with her thoughts and advice, hoping to help guide them after she's gone. Jennifer is wound up tight and stifled by her marriage, while Lisa is incapable of making a commitment. Amanda is adrift, wandering around the globe, distancing herself from the family and Hannah is only a teenager, yet to even fall in love. Will having their mother's letters and book help or hinder and will they follow her advice? 

Lydia - 4 Star

Once I got over the sensitive subject matter that caused tears spring to my eyes on more than one occasion in the beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed Things I Want My Daughters To Know. It was sensitive, the characters relatable and the plot rolled along smoothly.

There was enough intrigue surrounding the daughter’s lives to keep me interested and I enjoyed the exploration of their relationships especially with their age differences. Even though I only have brothers I found could still relate to their relationships which I have had a hard time with some novels in the past about sisters.

The letters from their mum were so heartfelt and brought tears to my eyes on numerous occasions and I felt the love for her daughters and them for each other over and over again – even their stepfather’s character was brimming with it.

I couldn’t find much to complain about with Things I Want My Daughters To Know. It won’t be added to my Top 10, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Kathryn - 4 Star

From the title I knew that this was probably going to tug a little and it definitely made me cry for about the first 50 pages. Just feel it’s fair to warn people! However after that start I only got teary a couple more times so keep reading…

The story is about a mother who is terminally ill and leaves her four daughters each a personal letter and a notebook with her random thoughts and pieces of advice for their futures. The notebook moves the story along as her thoughts to her daughters cover everything from her initial meeting with their stepfather (or father depending on the daughter) to how she felt when each of them was born. It addresses her feelings about her four very different daughters and made me want to write things down now too.

There were a couple of points I felt were rushed through which was disappointing - but it only bothered me for moments and I don’t want to ruin anything by telling you what those were! I think that I really enjoyed the novel because Elizabeth Noble was very clear about the personalities of each and every person in the book. I like to be able to picture people, places and fill in their pasts and she certainly made that possible. I thought it was nice that the second husband was much younger. I also liked that that meant that the daughters were spanning a few decades in age which added an extra dimension to the story and their relationships with each other.

All in all I really enjoyed Things I Want My Daughters To Know despite the crying!

Connect with Elizabeth Noble:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Insider Dating by Jennifer O'Connell

3 Star

Recently divorced Abby Dunn has discovered a way to put her financial background to good use. When she develops a dating database, where all the men are rated and ranked to help women not repeat the same dating disasters, she's flooded with requests. Then she meets a man who seems far too perfect and begins obsessing about finding his hidden flaws, undermining her second chance at love. 

Lydia - 3 Star

I enjoyed Insider Dating and felt the main character’s quest was an original idea. The story wasn’t entirely predictable which is always nice and although I’m not sure I entirely related to Abby’s character at first, something kept me reading so towards the end of the novel I was rooting for her, even with her misguided efforts.

This chick lit novel was written well and was a quick, easy read. It flows well and there is enough action to keep it moving along quickly. It was written in the first person, which somehow always makes me enjoy these novels more (which is something I never realized until we started writing chick lit reviews).

Abby’s thoughts about her marriage ending were an interesting insight into why marriages sometimes fall apart and I agree with Kathryn, it was nice that her marriage just fell apart without any cheating spouse. I enjoyed her friend’s characters but thought that some further characterization of them might have made them more dynamic.

Overall, Insider Dating is an enjoyable read that was neither terrible nor one of my favourites, but I would definitely read another Jennifer O’Connell book in the future.

Kathryn - 3 Star

My first thoughts on Insider Dating were mixed as I wasn’t sure I could really relate to the main character. As I kept reading I decided that it was a pretty good concept for single girl lit and that that overrode the lack of initial connection to the characters.

We are following the story of Abby Dunn, who divorced a year ago, and is trying to sort through her feelings as to why her marriage ended. I was impressed that we weren’t given the cookie cutter version of events that so many novels rely on these days. It’s not over because of a cheating husband but it is her husband that decides to leave. Abby comes back to this several times throughout the story and eventually I think finds some peace in understanding that her marriage ending was inevitable. In the meantime she’s come up with a brilliant idea to sort out (as in a database) the “good” men from the “bad”- in terms of their relationship potential. It has a big city feel (although nicely not set in New York) which I liked. I also thought it was a nice touch that her friends are smart and sophisticated and that they were not in each others pockets all the time. Not sure why that appealed to me!?!

All in all I enjoyed it although I think there was potential for more somehow? At the end I felt as if I hadn’t been given the whole story. But it was an easy, light read with a different concept to keep it flowing.

Connect with Jennifer O'Connell:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Wedding Party by Sophie King

4 Star

An interwoven tale of family, friends and strangers in this novel brings together many different characters.  Monique and Geoff are getting married later in life and causing some problems for their families along the way.  Having a wedding planner who has no clue what she's doing certainly isn't helping the show run smoothly. In fact, the whole thing may never happen at all. 

Lydia - 4 Star

I enjoyed The Wedding Party which is typical of British Lit and/or British Chick Lit where there are multiple characters, told from all of their points of view in the third party and revolves around a small town where most of the characters know each other or have threads that tie them together.

This story was well told, each individual character was well defined and the transition from one character to another in chapter form left me wanting to continue each of their stories. I did get a little tired of the story suddenly jumping forward in time when each character’s thread continued and we were ‘told’ in some recap form of what happened. I didn’t notice this until much later in the story however and it didn’t bother me for long, and I’m hoping I’m the only one that notices this.

I enjoyed the plot with all it’s twists and turns and was surprised at the ending which is always nice and enjoyed the characters, although didn’t fall in love with any one of them. If you love British Chick Lit of the above described style, you should enjoy The Wedding Party!

Kathryn - 4 Star

I really enjoyed The Wedding Party! There were multiple characters, lots of separate story lines and many different sub-stories but it wasn’t confusing! Sophie King was very careful that the different voices were clearly defined at the beginning of each section, it may have taken me a moment to remember who each one was but I was completely hooked only a short way into this novel.

There is a daughter, Becky, whose parents are divorced and her father is remarrying- someone she doesn’t like. Her mother is also dating someone but doesn’t seem too keen to remarry herself- instead she’s interested in one of her clients. Becky’s friend Janie has just been fired from her wedding planning assistant’s job and decided to set up her own business. Unfortunately Janie is a little scatter-brained and her business partner is not much more organized. Lastly there is the vicar, set to perform her father’s second marriage, has her own set of problems.

Each character was alive for me and I loved every one of them. I was disappointed when it ended!

Connect with Sophie King:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Six Weeks to Toxic by Louisa McCormack

2.5 Star

Two friends. Two completely different personalities.  One breakup. Friends for sixteen years, Bess and Maxine have only had each other.  As they come through the millennium unscathed, Bess's hangover lingers as she reevaluates her life and the part her control freak friend, Maxine plays in it. 

Lydia - 3 Star

I’ve had a few toxic best friends in my past so I could relate to many aspects of Six Weeks to Toxic, but did find it difficult to read at times. It seemed very wordy making it tough to read, especially as I read mostly at night which made it even more difficult. I found the characterizations interesting and their relationship questionable and found the concept of a chick lit book not centered on finding a man refreshing.

Unfortunately the ending seemed anti-climactic to me. I knew from the title and description of the book that it was about a break up between two best friends so I kept expecting a huge outburst at some point which I suppose sort of came at the end, but it just seemed, well, anti-climactic. After having finished the book, I thought it might have been the point to have things go the way they did (sorry, not trying to ruin the ending here) because of their personalities, especially Bess’s who seems to tip toe around Maxi. And, how do relationships between best friends normally end? This had me questioning many of my past relationships and I concluded that the gradual decent was appropriate as some of my toxic relationships ended similarly. And I think I've said far too much now!

I enjoyed the Toronto details of course and thought that Bess’s career as a sound artist in the movie industry was interesting and the details were just enough to be informative without being overbearing and it was a nice change of pace for a chick lit novel. I quite liked some of the other characters and although I didn’t like him in the beginning, Bess’s love interest grew on me quickly.

 I will definitely read Louisa McCormack’s next novel ‘The Catch’ at some point!

Kathryn - 2 Star

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Six Weeks to Toxic. The whole time I was reading it I was waiting for something to happen. I would expect that there would be a definite moment when, as the reader, you would be able to see that things were going irrevocably wrong?

The women are clearly very different but I didn’t really get a sense of either one of them, at least not enough to relate to them. The writing style was quite choppy, lots of description with too many similes and metaphors. Sometimes I found this interesting (at one point moving your cold hands in your pockets is likened to ones fingers conducting a symphony for warmth) but it mostly cut into the story making it tough to read.

The main problem for me was that although I sort of liked the main storyteller, Bess, I really had no idea what she got out of her relationship with Maxi. Maxi was quite prickly! I eventually liked some of the supporting characters (like Bess’ parents and the dog) but if you can’t relate to the main people then the whole thing sort of falls apart.

It’s possible that writing about friendship between women is a harder thing to tackle than a romantic story? All in all I liked the idea but felt disappointed by the lack of connection.

Connect with Louisa McCormack:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hot to Trot by Lou Wakefield

3.5 Star

With her acting career fading, Kate turns to online games as a distraction. When one of her fellow gaming friends becomes injured, she hops on a plane to help out.  But the Andy the Cowboy she knew online and the one she meets in person are completely different, and when he doesn't seem to know anything about her, Kate falters and wonders if she trekked thousands of miles for nothing. Should she stay or go and who directed her there in the first place? 

Lydia - 3 Star

I enjoyed Hot to Trot with the unusual story line even though I did think it was a stretch in places. How the main character, Kate, could travel so far to help someone she only met online actually happens, but how she stays with being unwelcomed and wiggles her way into their lives felt outrageous to me at times. It never felt completely implausible though which is a credit to Lou Wakefield’s writing.

I had a difficult time with the slang in the dialogue meant to capture the ranching voice. I found it wasn’t consistent, only appearing sporadically and I could have done without it as I felt it made the daughter especially seem uneducated (and for some reason was mostly in her dialogue) which she wasn’t. It irritated me that it appeared randomly and would have like it to be used throughout the book or not at all.

I don’t have anything other than that to gripe about. Hot to Trot is an easy read, fast and kept me intrigued enough to find out who the mysterious person was at the other end of the computer. Not my favorite, but not terrible either.

Kathryn - 4 Star

Hot to Trot is a little bit older than those we’ve been reading but we’d read some other novels by Lou Wakefield in the past and thought this one looked like fun! I really enjoyed this mystery/single girl lit and it’s one I would read it again if it ever came my way.

I found the story to be unique, which is definitely challenging with chick lit these days. The heroine, Kate, is not your typical girl looking for a man but more of a girl looking for escape. She decides to up and get on a plane to Canada to help to someone she’s never met in person, just in a backgammon gaming site on the net. A somewhat risky venture I would have thought! However, when she ends up on the doorstep of “Andy the cowboy” he turns out to be crazy, sullen and moody, but not crazy!

I found that the characters were fresh-they were funny but endearing, quirky but familiar and kept me interested. I also enjoyed that the scene (a ranch in British Columbia) was new and it is written so that I had a great visual of the setting even if I’ve not spent much time on a ranch myself!

There were a few things that irritated though- occasionally these Canadian cowboys came out with very English expressions. This seemed like something that could have been avoided? I also found some of the dialogue (especially between Kate and friend Gary) to be complicated and tough to read. So…I just began to happily skip these little parts and get back into the great light read!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell

3.5 Star

Lola Malone, a book store manager, had successfully pushed the past away, until her teenage love, Doug, crosses her path ten years later. Still attracted to him after all these years, she wonders whether he can forgive her for breaking his heart all those years ago and if love can blossom again. It's why she broke up with him she was never able to forget. His mother's generous offer was one she couldn't refuse and is something Doug must never find out whether they get back together or not. 

Lydia - 3 Star

An Offer You Can't Refuse is a quick read and it definitely hooks you from the get go. I enjoyed it more at the beginning, became less interested at points, and thought it was terribly predictable (which might have been why I became indifferent at times). Suitably cheerful, it’s single girl chick lit where girl looses boy and girl’s friends are fun and her mother is a little odd and his mother is even worse. I laughed out loud in spots, mainly towards the end, which was a nice surprise as I hadn’t until then.

I thought there were some character inconsistencies at times, especially with her friend Sally and I would have liked a bit more expansion of all the other characters as they played a large role in this novel, it was as much about them as the main character.

I don’t really have much to say about An Offer You Can't Refuse other than I didn’t hate it and definitely didn’t love it. It’s somewhere in the middle for me, but then again, most of these types of chick lit are for me. They really aren’t my favorite but if you are looking for something more light and easy to read, this would fit the bill.

Kathryn - 4 Star

I’m a big fan of Jill Mansell and An Offer You Can't Refuse didn’t disappoint me. It was what I expect from her- a detailed, character filled, happy ending type of story. I think I tend to enjoy her novels because the characters engage me from the beginning and although the premise of the story is common I still wanted to read it because I liked the characters so much.

The novel begins when young Lola, the main character, is offered money to break up with her boyfriend- by his mother. She meets him again later in life and is drawn back to him. I’m not sure I was totally convinced that this man, Dougie, was the love of her life but we’re led to believe that she thought it was so I went with it. I was completely compelled to read on simply because I was curious and because the friends and family in her life were great. Her friends Gabe and Sally are hilarious as they end up living together and have nothing in common. Her mother and the man she’s dating made me laugh and Dougie’s mother is like the wicked witch.

It’s what I think of as “gentle chick lit” as in it’s not over the top or out there but still very engaging and would recommend it if you’re looking for a fun read.

Connect with Jill Mansell:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Beach House by Jane Green

1.5 Star

When 65 year old Nan discovers she may loose her beloved house in Nantucket, she decides to turn it into a bed and breakfast in order to keep it. Filling it with people not only brings in some much needed money, but also breaths new life into the old home and Nan is loving the company. Having added some lost and brokenhearted souls, Nan's son returns home and an unexpected visitor takes them all by surprise. 

Lydia - 2 Star

I was terrified to start The Beach House after my last Jane Green debacle, but was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t hate it as much as Second Chance, but maybe my expectations were just really low.

I didn’t love it, in that I couldn’t put it down or would ever read it again, but I didn’t feel like I was wasting precious moments of my life reading it like I did with the aforementioned work of Green’s. It was fairly predictable, not terribly unique, nor very fast paced. I’m not sure how believable this style of chick lit is when set in the United States. I got to thinking about her past work that takes place in the UK and feel that for some reason this story would have been more believable had it been set there instead. I don’t know why that is, maybe I’ve just read too much Brit Lit from Kathryn over the years and expect this style of story to be set there.

Overall, the writing and editing were much better in The Beach House and it was clear whose voice was speaking (outlined in sections) so it was easy to read. The story, however, I thought was weak with the characters and their various plights not thoroughly explored.

Kathryn - 1 Star

Oh dear I’m afraid I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this chick lit offering. I have really enjoyed Jane Green’s books in the past and am now tempted to re-read some of them again to get my good feelings back for her writing. I know that not every novel can be a winner for every reader but I had high hopes for Jane Green maintaining her usual enticing storylines.

The Beach House centers in on Nan, a woman in her later years who is trying to find a way to save her beloved home Windermere in Nantucket. The house was left to her by her husband who had died and she obviously loves the house. Nan decides that her best option is to run a bed and breakfast which would bring in some money but also fill her house with people which she, and the house, clearly craved.

Each person who ends up at Windermere has their own storyline which is developed in the first two thirds of the book. They all have interesting stories revolving around their marriages or being single but I never felt any of them was explored completely- we are given an outline of quite dramatic problems and then they are all suddenly whooshed to Nantucket where the last third of the book ties them all together.

My general feeling as I finished The Beach House was that we were presented with these quite intense problems and then everything was suddenly tied up and it was over! Sadly, I was partially pleased for it to be over as I’d been a bit bored (perhaps not quite the right word?) and that was purely because we weren’t given enough to grab on to from the beginning.

Connect with Jane Green:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

3 Star

Fifteen years after Addie's betrayal by her best friend, Val, in high school, Addie finds herself floundering, desperately lonely and trying to find true love through internet dating. After returning home from a dismal date, she finds Val standing on her doorstep, her coat sleeve blood stained and a terrified look on her face. When Val pleads for help, Addie knows she won't turn her back on her old friend. As they investigate the mysterious events leading up to Val's sudden appearance on Addie's doorstep, they work through their history and discover the true meaning of friendship. 

Lydia - 4 Star

I enjoyed Best Friends Forever even though I was expecting chick lit which this novel wasn’t in my chick lit opinion. It reminded me more of a Judy Blume novel such as Summer Sisters, which I don’t really remember, but I found it felt similar.

Although it was not even remotely light and fluffy, I thought the writing was impeccable as usual with Weiner’s novels and all the details of growing up from the 70’s through 90’s brought me right back to my childhood and adolescence. I found the story interesting with enough intrigue to keep me reading and I read quickly enough to find the end satisfying.

I was interested in her use of the first person narrative for a male character whose voice alternated with the main character’s. I felt Weiner portrayed him well and I was not disappointed as I sometimes am when chick lit authors attempt to get into the heads of men (and they usually stick to the third person, not even attempting the first person).

Overall, I enjoyed Best Friends Forever and if you’re looking for something a little different from chick lit and don’t expect to laugh out loud as frequently as some of her other novels, check out Weiner’s latest.

Kathryn - 2 Star

I think this would be an example of loving the author but not loving this mystery lit novel. I was pretty disappointed as her last few have been so engaging and so enticing.

I didn’t really believe the friendship from the beginning and we were given only a small snapshot of their childhoods and then moved on too quickly to their adulthood.
Perhaps I would have had more interest if we’d spent more time with them as children? Instead we spent a lot of time with the main character, Addie, who has a hard time in high school and then experiences a really difficult family life. Addie, as a persona, is sympathetic and likeable but I still didn’t understand why she was interested in renewing her friendship with Val after all they had been through. We aren’t really told much about Val during the years between high school and the present but I wish we had been as she felt like a fill in character for me and she should really have been much more alive.

There are some parts of Best Friends Forever that I enjoyed though! The ending for example made me glad I finished it. I enjoyed the character of the detective and that the subject of infertility was explored through male emotions. I was interested in Addie’s relationship with her brother Jon as it felt like the most real connection. But given that the novel is supposed to be about best friends you would think that their connection would have been better- is there a greater & higher point here that I’m missing? Am I being too literal about the title?

Not my favourite I’m afraid.

Connect with Jennifer Weiner here:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stuck in Downward Dog by Chantel Simmons

3.5 Star

When Mara Brennan's boyfriend leaves her three days before her twenty eighth birthday, she realizes she's stuck. Stuck in a job she hates, stuck with mounds of bills to pay and stuck standing idly by while watching her friends move on. So she creates the OM List, an identity makeover list, inspired by her friends and her new-found love for yoga. As she begins to check things off, with one hilarious disaster after another, she discovers how to become unstuck and begins to follow her own path. 

Lydia - 4 Star

I thoroughly enjoyed this Canadian Chick Lit novel which I found easy to read and laugh out loud funny. Stuck in Downward Dog is chock full of Toronto details which I loved, especially having been to many of the areas she describes. I did get irritated though with the explanations of things Torontonian or Canadian which were put in parenthesis. Perhaps it was because I already knew these details, but I think it brought me out of the writing whereas if it was incorporated into the prose it might not have stood out. Regardless, these dropped off at some point and it didn’t ruin the book for me.

It seems I enjoy books written in the first person much more than the third person and it became even more apparent in this novel (with the exception of Jennifer Weiner who writes the third person spectacularly). This chick lit character had just the right amount of ditz, quirk and outrageous situations along the lines of Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Shopaholic series and made me laugh out loud multiple times. Even though I wasn’t sure about most of her friends or her sister, I loved the character’s often painful transformation and was pleased that it didn’t all revolve around a man – he was only the impetus for her transformation.

Stuck in Downward Dog is great Canadian Chick Lit and I will definitely read her new novel coming out next year!

Kathryn - 3 Star

At first I wasn’t so sure I was going to get into Stuck in Downward Dog because the first couple of chapters seemed really busy. This may be because she was explaining her references of Toronto to people who wouldn’t know the places and areas of the city. As I live in Toronto and spent most of my life living downtown this seemed irritating. I got over it as it stopped after a bit and I accepted that most people reading it don’t live here and would perhaps need the tips!

The story is good and I really liked the main character of Mara. She is searching for a purpose to her life when her boyfriend leaves, she doesn’t like her job and she can’t afford where she is living. It’s really painful to read about her attempts to become what she thinks she ought to be. Mara seems to think her life would fall into place if she could just become exactly like her two best friends. Her friends appear to be living the perfect lives but I didn’t care for them much! They seemed cool, distant and snooty and not very supportive of their friend. Mara does, however, have the “gay best friend” who is much more supportive and ends up being the one to gently (or not so gently sometimes) push her in the right direction.

There were some parts that were hilarious and some painful moments where she gets everything wrong too (unfortunately these were funny also!) and I wanted her to succeed. I even eventually accepted that her two girlfriends were probably not so awful!

All in all I would definitely read another novel by Chantel Simmons and I look forward to it!

Connect with Chantel Simmons:


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