Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sleeping Arrangements by Madeline Wickham

3.5 Star

After the stress of her husband possibly loosing his job takes it's toll, Chloe Harding hopes to reconnect with her husband on long overdue vacation. Upon arrival, she discovers another family has been scheduled to the same villa and at the helm is Hugh Stratton, an ex who broke her heart fifteen years prior. With an agreement to share the villa for the week, Chloe finds herself wondering about life with Hugh as she feels her own marriage falling apart. 

Lydia - 3.5 Star

I enjoyed Sleeping Arrangements much more than the last Madeleine Wickham novel I read! This was pleasing and I will definitely now pick up another one of her novels.

The characters were well developed and setting was beautifully depicted. This marriage lit novel takes an interesting look at married life and what happens if you question love lost as Chloe does when unexpectedly forced to spend a week on holiday with another family including the man that broke her heart fifteen years prior.

This novel did make me laugh in spots and definitely had me cringing too and kept me wondering what the outcome would be throughout. If you’re looking for an easy read that delves into married life, pick up this book.

Sleeping Arrangements won’t rank up there with my favourite chick lit novels, but I definitely now look forward to whatever Madeline Wickham has in store for us.

Kathryn - 3.5 Star

I was pleasantly surprised by Sleeping Arrangements as I unfortunately was a bit disappointed by the last Wickham novel I had read. This one though was much more engaging and I read it really quickly. I was getting a bit worried that I would struggle through all her other novels so was glad that didn’t continue with this one.

Sleeping Arrangements is about two families who end up sharing a villa on holiday when they had expected to have the place to themselves. There are old connections between the families which cause some problems but eventually issues are resolved. Generally, although the story isn’t groundbreaking, I thought that the individual characters were dynamic enough that the story was plausible. The scenery was painted really nicely too which definitely helped- I didn’t feel the same way about the other Wickham I’d read so this was better.

If you’re looking for a nice easy read with some good scenes to make you laugh and others to make you cringe then Sleeping Arrangements is definitely recommended.

Connect with Madeline Wickham - aka Sophie Kinsella:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil

5 Star

Jo MacKenzie jumps at the chance to take over her grandmother's knitting shop after her husband passes away suddenly just as she learned he'd been having an affair and was about to leave her.  Starting over in the seaside village with two small, rambunctious boys in tow, she sets about making a new life for her family, ruffling some feathers and making some close friends along the way. 

Lydia - 5 Star

I picked this novel up randomly at the book store when it didn’t have the other books on my list in stock. It appealed to me because I started knitting last year so thought I would check it out and I was more than pleasantly surprised.

Even though the subject matter could be considered slightly depressing - Jo’s husband tells her he’s had an affair and is leaving her, but is then suddenly killed in a car accident - Gil McNeil does a great job at keeping it light and having the character move on without feeling excessively sorry for herself and moping about. A task I’m sure was no easy feat.

Gil McNeil writes children impeccably and I laughed out loud frequently at their escapades. While reading the back cover about her other novels, I discovered we read one a couple of years ago (Stand by your Man) and although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as this one, I remembered it (sometimes hard to do with all these chick lit books) and distinctly recalled the little boy in the story.
This story moves along at a quick pace and although there are no earth shattering events or revelations, it’s a wonderful story about friendship, rather than romance.

I can’t wait to read the sequel!

***FYI – Apparently this book has been re-published under a different name (much to the ire of many fans in the UK according to their reviews on the site who ordered it and then found out it was the same book) It’s re-titled (for some reason) The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club and I’m not sure if I would have picked it up based on that title and cover! The original one appealed more to me, however it’s still a great book, presuming they didn't change of the content.

Kathryn - 5 Star

I LOVED this book- would definitely read it again and am very excited to read the sequel! I don’t knit but throughout I kept thinking I should learn. I even got quite excited about shopping for different wools- colours, textures etc. We’ll see if that actually happens but I figure that the book had to be good for me to be so inspired. Have I mentioned I loved this book?

Lydia reminded me that we’d read another Gil McNeil novel a few years ago and that one of the things we both loved about it was how well she creates children in her stories. This novel has some great kids in it too. The main character, Jo, has two hilarious and rambunctious boys and they have some friends that really made me laugh! You could picture them running down the road- limbs flailing- after a crazy dog! If you can create kids that make you want to tear your hair out but are still totally loveable then you’ve got it right. She’s just as good with the older characters too. I really loved the woman who works in the wool shop, Elsie, and also Jo’s grandmother, Gran. It made me laugh at how frustrating and stubborn Elsie would be to work with. Jo herself is remarkably calm about most irritating things I would have been crying about, especially as she’s just up-rooted her life after her husband’s death. I think I should learn something from her. Patience perhaps? Either way I loved her wool shop and wished I could visit it myself!

Definitely a great read and would recommend it to anyone- even if they don’t yet knit.

Connect with Gil McNeil:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best Man by Matt Dunn

4.5 Star

Adam Bailey is worried. His best friend has just proposed to a woman Adam is sure he shouldn't marry and he has just six weeks to convince him otherwise, trying not ruin their friendship in the process. But as Adam spouts the virtues of a singleton status, he meets a woman that might just change his mind on the subject.  

Lydia - 5 Star

I thoroughly enjoyed Best Man and snickered while lounging by the pool much to the amusement or annoyance of other sunbathers I’m sure. Regardless, I kept chuckling my way through and made a mental note to read lad lit more often. I forgot how much I enjoy it and what a nice change of pace it is from the usual chick lit stories we’re reading.

I appreciated the male perspective and found getting into a man’s head interesting. It was a great story, full of insight into male friendships and why they don’t discuss ‘serious things’ often leading to hilarious outcomes. It was also amusing to read the male point of view when it comes to relationships, both his best friend’s and his own.

Best Man was fast paced and easy to read. The characters were all clearly defined and I found none of them irritating (except those that were meant to) and rooted for Adam to get up the courage to have his ‘talk’ with Nick.

I look forward to reading another Matt Dunn novel as soon as we can get to one!

Kathryn - 4 Star

I hadn’t read any lad lit in ages so Best Man was fun! Matt Dunn is definitely writing from a man’s perspective and he does a really good job of making sure you know that without you also wanting to scream and yell at his main man!

The main character is Adam who is sort of drifting around relationships and isn’t at all interested in settling down to marriage. He seems to have a fear of becoming one of the married people to such an extreme that he’s critical of the woman his best friend Nick is preparing to marry. Adam thinks he needs to tell Nick he’s making a mistake but doesn’t know how to have this serious heart to heart- because he’s a man and men don’t talk about serious things apparently. Turns out he’s right about the woman but in typical male fashion he scoots around the subject for the entire novel.

Best Man is funny and light with good plot. The supporting roles were still relatable and there weren’t any that just appeared with no purpose (which is good because that really annoys me!). I really liked the woman Matt Dunn created for Adam- she wasn’t ditzy or over-emotional. She was, in fact, pretty normal. Impressive to be able to create a female character that women don’t find annoying.

It had just enough depth to keep me interested and I would certainly read another of his novels.

Connect with Matt Dunn:


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