The Glamorous (Double) Life of Isabel Bookbinder – Holly McQueen

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Holly McQueen has wanted to be a writer ever since discovering that the nuns at her junior school would let her off maths homework if she wrote a story instead. After unexpected detours via law, magazine journalism, and even musical theatre, she began writing her first novel in 2006. Holly lives with her husband in London. She still avoids maths.

The book in one sentence: Isabel Bookbinder wants to be the next bestselling author but is more concerned about getting the author ‘Look’ right than writing the damn bloody book itself.

Who would you recommend it to: Nobody. Not even if you like chick lit.

OK bits: Nothing. But I suppose I’m a bit biased!

Boring bits: Everything. Totally unoriginal.

Random review quote:

“A marvellously funny debut” – Jilly Cooper

Verdict: Do not touch this book with a ten-foot pole. Totally ripped off Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, right down to the interlude letters. (Even ripped off the image of my header for her cover! Haha okay, I’m lying.) Character Isabel Bookbinder is delusional, ridiculous and totally unlovable. Yes, I clearly loathe the book and so did everyone else who wrote a review on Amazon. Or Barnes & Noble, can’t remember.

Lipstick Jungle – Candace Bushnell

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Candace Bushnell is the author of three bestsellers: Sex and the City, Four Blondes, and Trading Up. She is a popular college lecturer, has been featured in numerous publications and television shows, and is a contributing editor to Harper’s Bazaar. She lives in New York City.

The book in one sentence: Three powerful, beautiful yet not quite young women try to climb to the top of their male-dominated industries while juggling their personal lives.

Who would you recommend it to: Women and girls who are looking for a chick lit book with a feminist – in a good way – twist.

OK bits: I like that the three main characters are strong personalities with their own flaws. I also love how gender stereotypes are reversed in this book and raised in a realistic manner.

Boring bits: Sometimes I feel it talks too much, but then again, this is about women – we’re not afraid about talking about emotions now, are we?

Verdict: It’s not my favourite chick lit – I like them peppered with a good dose of sense of humour – but it is definitely one of the better ones. The characters are admirable without being perfect, and it is a nice change from the Shopaholic sort of chick lit. (I enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s chick lit, but others in similar vein are unoriginal and irritating.)

The Chocolate Run – Dorothy Koomson

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Dorothy Koomson is likely to be living somewhere on planet Earth, and is either eating chocolate or thinking of eating chocolate. (She’s probably also wondering why these blurbs often sound like personal ads… Yes, she does have a GSOH.) Dorothy is still a journalist as well as a novelist. Her third novel, My Best Friend’s Girl, was a Richard & Judy Summer Read of 2006 and reached number two on The Times bestseller list.

You can visit Dorothy’s website at http://www.dorothykoomson.co.uk

The book in one sentence: Amber’s life changes when her good friend, Greg, confesses to liking her despite his womanising ways, which is the beginning of her troubles and threatens to break apart her friendship with best friend Jen when a shocking discovery is made.

Who would you recommend it to: Chick lit lovers, I suppose. I wouldn’t exactly recommend per se, but if the book’s on sale then I just might.

OK bits: I like the premise of the plot.

Boring bits: I don’t like the execution of the plot.

Random review quote:

“Chatty and heaving with funny lines” – Closer

Verdict: I’ve read many chick lit, and the best ones at that (Sophie Kinsella, Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes, Jilly Cooper… they’re top-notch chick lit writers, in my opinion). My friend loves Dorothy Koomson’s books… but I don’t see why. I find the protagonist quite affected, and the writing is rambling and long-winded. While long sentences are typical in chick lit, Koomson’s lines don’t sound witty to me. This is another Cecelia Ahern to me.

Every Boy’s Got One – Meg Cabot

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Meg Cabot has lived in Indiana and California, USA, and in France. In addition to her adult novels, she is the author of the highly successful series of children’s book, The Princess Diaries, the first of which Walt Disney Pictures released as a major motion picture. Meg and her husband now share their time between Florida and New York City.

The book in one sentence: Cartoonist Jane Harris has to help her best friend elope in Italy while keeping the best man and groom’s best friend Cal Langdon from spoiling it all for the soon-to-be-newlyweds because he believes they’re making a mistake!

Who would you recommend it to: Meg Cabot’s fans. Or a teenage girl wanting to try an adult romance read without the sex bits.

OK bits: I like how Cal proved his love to Jane in the end.

Boring bits: Not so much boring as cheesy and totally unbelievable, which is pretty much the whole book itself.

Verdict: I love chick lit, but this has to be one of the worst I’ve read. It tries to be chick lit for teenage girls, which is like a kid trying hard to be grown-up but the characters are working adults. It shows that it’s quite childish and unoriginal in the end. And the title quite baffles me – why is it referring to a boy and not a girl?

Life Swap – Jane Green

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Jane Green is the author of Straight Talking, Jemima J, Mr Maybe, Bookends, Babyville, Spellbound and The Other Woman. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and four children.

The book in one sentence: Single English girl Vicky wants the married life dream of husband, kids and house, while married American Amber wishes she could escape that very life; so, they swap with each others’ lives through the help of a magazine contest.

Who would you recommend it to: Women who do feel like Vicky or Amber.

OK bits: There wasn’t anything that I particularly liked.

Boring bits: The narration tended to go on and on at times; I skipped it and I didn’t feel like I’ve missed anything important.

Random review quote:

“Green is the queen of the chick-literati – her books are just so damn readable” – Glamour

Verdict: It was just okay. Didn’t blow me over, didn’t expect it to. The plot was great, but somehow the characters were too perfect, with just the right amount of flaws. Very predictable, save for one I didn’t expect, but served to the predictable end anyway, so… *shrugs*

Wicked! – Jilly Cooper

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Jilly Cooper is a journalist, writer and media superstar. The author of many number-one bestselling novels, including Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata, Score! and Pandora, she lives with her husband, Leo, and five cats in Gloucestershire. She was appointed OBE in the 2004 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her contribution to literature.

The book in one sentence: As the subtitle: A Tale of Two Schools

Who would you recommend it to: Jilly Cooper fans and readers who aren’t afraid of a challenging 800+ page of melodramatic, hilarious and campy soap operatic chick lit.

Best bits: The happy endings. I love happy endings. 🙂

Juicy bits: Lots of bawdy bonks, creative puns, and terribly colourful characters, if rather stereotyped.

Boring bits: The political side plot and the rather detailed description at times.

Verdict: A satisfying read only after you’ve finished the exhausting task of reading it. Then you’re left craving for more.

Bergdorf Blondes – Plum Sykes

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The book in one sentence: What Paris Hilton’s life might be like.

Who would you recommend it to: Paris Hilton wannabes and people curious about the lifestyles of the rich and the famous.

Best bits: Learning about haute couture.

Boring bits: Not as boring as it is bad – the parody of those self-absorbed superficial bimbotic bitches. It was so bad it’s virtually real.

Random review quote:

“Perfectly pitched – playful, funny, satirical, and sweet. I laughed out loud many times.” – Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief, Vogue

Verdict: I’m sure it’s meant as a satire, but I have a hard time not believing that is how these people behave, and it just turns me right off the characters. The characters did not in any way redeem themselves for their flaws at the ending. The nicest guys fall for them for inexplicable rationales. One of the lousier chick lit books I’ve personally read, but I’ll give it credit for being something different and creative than the run-of-the-mill chick lit.

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