Review: Nicola May – Star Fish

Nicola May - Star Fish

I’ve read a few other Nicola May books before and I’ve had a bit of a mixed bag really, loving a couple of them, and not really getting along with the others. This is the last one that I had left to read on my Kindle, so I was curious to see which camp this one fell in.

My first impression was that the characters were rather stereotypical, a rather plain looking woman who doesn’t rate herself very highly, with a gorgeous gay best friend with whom she shares everything. I was also immediately distanced from feeling a connection with the main character (Amy) by her fondness for astrology, and soon realising the the entire basis of the book was around star signs. I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, so it kind of put me off.

The plot of the book felt to me kind of similar to the plot of another Nicola May book, Working it Out. A woman doesn’t know where she’s going with a certain area of her life (jobs/love), so she decides that rather than making an intelligent decision, she should just try a bit of everything. Whereas in Working it Out it was a different job every month for a year, in this book it was to try dating a man from each different star sign. What could go wrong, right?

As I mentioned before, I just couldn’t form any kind of bond with Amy, she’s a very impulsive person, which manifests itself in her seeming to try to sleep with every guy she meets. She’s also extremely gullible, thinking she’s fallen for a guy and lending him £6k without any questions for a charity ball he is supposedly organising. But alas, when she turns up for the ball, it isn’t there and he’s swanned off to Australia with all her money.

I probably should have guessed from the title of the book, but the star signs thing actually really started to annoy me by the middle to end of the book. Things like Amy blaming the failure of a date on the fact that the guy was the wrong star sign, rather than the fact that she got wasted before going go-karting and crashed spectacularly through all the other competitors and into a wall.

The ending of the book (which I won’t spoil in case you do actually want to read it), was disappointing to me, although nothing that I didn’t expect after the other 90% of the book. You can probably guess that Amy chooses a guy and lives happily ever after, but in my opinion, she chose the definite wrong guy, although probably the one that she deserves.

Apart from the lack of connection to the characters, I found that the plot jumped about quite wildly, like the author had thought of a list of ideas and was trying her best to fit them all in to the story, which meant that areas which could probably have had a lot more time spent on them to make the story feel more rich and complete and less scattered. And while I like my ‘chick-lit’ books, I don’t like the assumption that all women just want to read about the characters sleeping with everyone in sight, but maybe I’m just a little old-fashioned.

1/5

Review: Nicola May – Better Together

Nicola May - Better TogetherI was quite disappointed with this book. I couldn’t relate to the main character, she seemed very flighty and changed her mind way too many times for my liking. Everything in the book seemed too ‘convenient’; Jess would change her mind, and everything would instantly fall into place to make everything perfect for her.

I also found the dialogue quite stilted, I don’t know if it was just because I was reading a kindle copy rather than a paper copy, but it didn’t seem to flow naturally, and I often had to stop half way through a conversation to go back and figure out who was actually speaking.

The only positive thing I can find for this book is that it wasn’t completely stereotypical chick-lit, things went wrong (and quite badly wrong) for Jess, and she didn’t get the happy-ever-after that I expected her to get.

After enjoying the last couple of Nicola May books so much, I was not impressed with this one at all. I’ve got a few different books to read now (a couple more ‘Goodreads-First Reads’ books and a World Book Night book given to me by my cousin), so hopefully a step away from the chick-lit genre will feel good for a while.

2/5

Review: Nicola May – The School Gates

Nicola May - The School GatesAfter the success of the last Nicola May book, I decided to download her other three books from Amazon, they were all less than £1.50 on Kindle so I figured it was a bit of a bargain! The first one I read was this, The School Gates.

My first impression was that there were too many characters, but I think that was because before the first chapter had started, you were introduced to each of the families one at a time. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with so many names, but after a while they seemed to sink in. I did feel closer to some of the characters than others though, and a few of the characters were quite stereotypical; like the gay flight attendant and the young Polish au-pair.

But once I had learned the characters, I became more interested in the storyline than I initially thought I would be, but I felt it was lacking a little something. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was, but I think I may have had my expectations set higher because of how much I enjoyed the last book. One of the things I’m not keen on is the amount of ‘cheating’ that seems to go on in the book, but always with a ‘justification’, it doesn’t really sit with my morals so it tends to lessen my enjoyment of the book when it’s added in so freely. Regardless, I did enjoy that it was a very quick read which made me smile with the happy endings all round.

4-5

Review: Nicola May – The Bow Wow Club

Nicola May - The Bow Wow ClubI was absolutely delighted when I received a tweet from Nicola May saying that she had read my review for Working it Out and she wanted to send me an advanced copy of her new book, The Bow Wow Club, which is out next month. I really enjoyed the last book, and it was so cool to know that I was reading the book before pretty much anyone else. Because it’s not out yet, I’m not going to give too much away about the plot, because it’s not fair to have that all over the internet before the book is even out.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a book make me cry within the first 10 pages, and especially not make me laugh and cry at the same time. But this did. The book is a sequel to Working it Out; we are back a couple of years later to catch up with Ruby, but her life hasn’t been going too well and she’s in a bad place. But throughout the course of the book, with the help of a great set of friends including her lovely neighbour Margaret and her nutty friend Fi (who is not exactly trouble-free in this book either), she gets herself back on track.

I found myself getting caught out in the book by predicting what was going to happen and then being proved wrong again and again by twist after twist which kept the book exciting. I found the Bow Wow Club itself a lovely place (although not what I first thought it was going to be), and each person in there had a sad tale to tell, but all ultimately helped Ruby in her journey to self re-discovery.

There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about the book, it kept me scrolling and scrolling to get to the end, and as I had connected so much to Ruby in Working it Out, I had an instant connection with her as soon as I started reading. It took me a while to warm to Michael, at first I was suspicious of him, but it turns out that he was the only guy who didn’t really deserve suspicion.

The only thing that lessened my enjoyment of the book was that there were a few spelling and grammar mistakes which stopped the flow of the book a few times while I went back to re-read the sentence, but I’m sure that’s to be expected when you’re reading an advanced copy of a book.

To sum up: if you love chick-lit and you like a book that takes you through a whole range of emotions but ultimately makes you smile, then this book is perfect for you.

5/5

Review: Nicola May – Working it Out

nicola-may-working-it-outWell as much as I hate to confess it, this is another Kindle book, read on my iPad. After being forced into reading the Aurora Teagarden books on my iPad, I downloaded a few more books to see if I could get into it properly.

Now I’m not saying that I’m giving up my books (as much as Cameron might want me to), because that’s just not going to happen, but maybe it’s not too bad to read e-books as well. It is far more convenient for when I don’t particularly want to carry a book around with me, and it’s great for reading on my phone when I’m on the bike/treadmill at the gym – time goes much faster when you’re lost in a fictional world.

So anyway, onto this book. I downloaded it because it was free, it was near the top of the ‘free books’ chart on Amazon, and the cover caught my attention. The start of the book didn’t feel too promising, but it definitely grew on me, and by the end I was totally gripped. The book starts off with Ruby being laid off from her job. She reads this quote by Kahlil Gibran:

“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love, but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy”

Somehow, and this part was lost on me, she translates this quote into a new year’s resolution to try 12 different jobs over 12 months, so she can figure out what to do for the rest of her life. None of these jobs are conventional and include working in an old people’s residential home, working in a funeral parlour, and helping to organise a huge celebrity party for the star socialite of the moment.

Written into the storyline along the way is Ruby’s disastrous attempts at a love life, the star of which is her neighbour George. Neither of them will admit they like each other, so Ruby goes through a string of failed ‘relationships’ and George ends up engaged to someone else. The book introduces you to a whole host of characters who all help Ruby on her journey through these twelve jobs to discover what she really wants from life.

Now it wouldn’t be a chick-lit book without a big dramatic ending, and this book didn’t disappoint. It was slightly predictable, but still brilliant anyway.

4-5