Mad Love- Nick Spalding

Having thoroughly Nick Spalding’s Bricking It during the summer, I didn’t hesitate to pick this up when I saw it on the shelf. I had admired Spalding’s use of comedy before, and Mad Love certainly didn’t disappoint.

The friendliness of Adam, one of the main characters, was the first thing that struck me. It felt as if I were perhaps reading the diary of an old friend. Having sad that, I didn’t love the initial presentation of the ‘bachelor pad’, but can appreciate its purpose as a contrast to the life he is soon to lead.

I found the concept of the story very interesting: if modern dating apps are as good as they claim to be at matchmaking, why shouldn’t people marry before they’ve got to know each other? Even though I didn’t know what criteria had been used to match the couple at first, I liked that Spalding had shown responses to specific questions as headings to each titles: it showed the gap between how people like to think of themselves, and how their actions actually reflect their inner personalities. I also liked the fact that Spalding had chosen characters with different backgrounds- it was obvious that an unlikely couple would be matched, but the cultural differences between Adam and Jessica added further to the book’s comedy- my favourite part is when Jessica struggles to pronounce one of the Brits’ favourite insults in an argument, completely weakening her position.  I also noticed that the author made a reference to the comedic event later on in the narrative- a subtle, but clever move.

As always, I liked the fact that the story was told by multiple narrators, including others besides Adam and Jessica themselves. Not only did this reflect the inner-thoughts that a newly married couple would have about one another that they would never dare to say aloud, it added more depth to the narrative and reflected the reality that outsiders would have their own opinions on another couple’s marriage. I didn’t particularly like the tone of the journalist during his narration, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book as a whole.

 

Whilst I thought that the majority of the narrative was well-developed and allowed for each character to become three-dimensional and ‘real’, I couldn’t help feeling that the ending was a little rushed. I had no unanswered questions, but it did feel undeveloped and overly reliant on the irony and comedy in the outcome of the situation. This was a shame, as I had genuinely thought very highly of  it up until that final chapter

In spite of the slightly disappointing ending, I would definitely recommend Mad Love to anyone, as I don’t think it really appealed to either gender more than the other. I actually laughed out loud to myself at points, and that doesn’t happen often with books. A genuinely funny story, looking at marriage from a fresh, new perspective that reflects the way that so many people do meet nowadays.

Who’s That Girl? – Mhairi McFarlane

When browsing Amazon, it was impossible to ignore the reviews for Who’s That Girl? as critic after critic praised its comedy and wit, with some comparing it to One Day which, as I have mentioned before, I loved. Never the girl to turn down a ‘laugh-out-loud’ rom-com, I decided that this had to be my next book of choice. I was intrigued to get reading, seeing as the front cover mentions “She kissed the groom. She’s not the bride,”, and I couldn’t wait to see how this would unfold.

 

I loved that the book started in media res, rather than being introduced to the main character, Edie, the reader gradually gets to know her over the course of the first few chapters. McFarlane’s chatty and friendly style of writing was immediately obvious, which meant  that, even from the very beginning, I didn’t want to stop reading. The tone was very light-hearted, which made for very easy reading. On top of this, Edie made for a great protagonist, she was unfortunate to the point that it was funny and I could feel empathise with her, but McFarlane didn’t overdo it for the sympathy vote. The author manages to portray the dynamic of the relationship with her family, and others around her perfectly, with aspects that I think everyone can identify with, so that Edie feels like a real-life, multi-dimensional character with real-life relationships.

The main event of the novel comes about fairly early on, which is good as it allows for the rest of the story to unfold after it. I would say that the few chapters after this main event were my favourite- I was stuck in the dilemma of feeling very sorry for Edie, yet laughing at the reactions of others about what happened. I found the character of Lucie particularly humorous. Not because she was witty or intelligent, but because she was very much the stereotypical and clichéd mean girl- always going too far.

I appreciated the array of different male characters  in the narrative, as it allowed for a varied representation of the different men in any woman’s life and how, sometimes, they can create as much drama as other girls!

The narrative wasn’t such that I didn’t know what was going to happen next, it was more a matter of when, and that is another thing that kept me reading- although there were some surprises along the ay, which revealed deeper insights to certain characters’ personalities. I wanted to know when Jack was going to get his comeuppance, when Edie would stand up for herself, and when the proclamation of love would come out.  However, while for the majority of the progression of the narrative was fairly predictable,  the ending didn’t quite happen as I had imagined. This wasn’t necessarily a negative thing, as it did reach a compromised happy conclusion, but I couldn’t help feel a little disappointed that it wasn’t the ‘fairy tale’ it was looking to be.

 

With all considered, I would definitely recommend Who’s That Girl? to anyone looking for a humours and and heart-warming story, especially if the clichéd fairytale endings have gotten old for you now. Though I perhaps didn’t laugh-out-loud,  and I couldn’t have really compared it to One Day, the novel was definitely filled with humour and the author’s talent for writing was obvious for the entirety. Something I would say is that McFarlane’s passion and dedication to this book seemed to shine through, and I think that is what made it so enjoyable.

 

 

 

The Toy Breaker- Roy Chester

After recently watching (by watching, I mean devouring in a couple of days) Broadchurch and absolutely loving it (late to the bandwagon, I know), I’ve been desperately searching for books and other television shows that follow the same sort of theme that would satisfy by need of a gripping drama until the next series is released. At a first glance, Roy Chester’s The Toy Breaker  would seem to do the trick. On the Kindle Store, the title was followed with “A gripping crime thriller with a stunning ending”, so I couldn’t wait to get reading.

The start was promising, and so was the idea of the narrative: a serial killer has a specific type of victim and has a signature calling card to mark that it was them. I also thought that the idea that the police following the investigation called in the help of a psychologist, as it would  help to add another level to the discovery of the killer, rather than simple black and white evidence. I also liked the fact that the narrative was set in England, I find that it makes dramas and thrillers (whether that be on TV or in books) more haunting, because it’s closer to home.

The further I read, the more I wanted to read. I became genuinely interested in who it was that might be committing the crimes, and enjoyed watching the investigation of the case progress, as the police managed to deduct what type of person it might be, to who it couldn’t be, to who it was. In fact, for the majority of the novel, I would say that I was hooked, and would agree with the description that the novel as “gripping”.

However, it is the end of the description that I struggle to agree with. As the plot unraveled, I was intrigued as to why there was still evidence counting against the guilty suspect. However, I can’t say I was entirely convinced by the final explanation for this counter-evidence, and found the end of the novel a bit odd, if I’m honest. Of course, anyone wanting to kidnap children is hardly mentally stable, but I didn’t expect this specific issues to come about, and neither did I believe it did the rest of the story, which was actually very good, justice.

Having said this, I wouldn’t discourage people from reading The Toy Breaker, but I would advise you to take the description with a pinch of salt. Yes, it was “gripping”, but I felt let down by the “stunning ending” that was promised.

 

 

Love Muffin and Chai Latte- Anya Wylde

This book was classified a romantic comedy, which meant it automatically ticked a box for books I usually like to read. In fact, I didn’t even bother reading the description before I downloaded it from the Kindle store, so the story was going to be a complete surprise.

I must admit, the very first sentence of the book (“It all began on a dreary June day.”) did not fill me with much hope. It reminded me of stories I would write myself when I was younger and had just learned about the impact weather could have on a narrative. But, not one to give up on a book (especially after just one sentence!), I carried on. Soon the focus moved from the weather conditions onto the relationship Tabby and Chris, and this is where it did actually pick up!

In the mean time, it has to be said, that Wylde managed to paint a very vivid picture of the main character, Tabby. She was instantly likeable, probably due to the fact that her air of uselessness meant I felt sorry for her- but definitely in a good way! In fact, even in what was supposed to be a romantic occasion, Tabby manages to add her own special touch.

What I liked about Love Muffin and Chai Latte was that it was completely different to any type of romantic comedy I had read before. It wasn’t the cliché fairytale with the happy ending, but neither was there a tragic, heartbreaking twist. Instead, it is filled with comedy and humour as a very down to earth girl discovers the culture of her upper-middle class fiancé, making plenty of embarrassing mistakes along the way. Yes, some of the humour is a little tongue in cheek…but I would say only as much as some humour of Bridget Jones is. I suppose it would be possible to compare Tabby to the character of Bridget Jones, just with less pressure from her parents.

I found Tabby’s friend, whom she calls to retell the events of her life (of which there are many!), a really useful narrative technique. She helped add another dimension to the narrative, allowing the reader to hear the events from Tabby’s point of view, as well as that of the narrator.

The ending wasn’t predictable from the beginning, which was good as it kept me wanting to read. That, along with the fact that I genuinely cared about Tabby, and wished well for her, meant that I was able to finish the book in just a few days.

With all considered, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy, yet amusing read. The narrative may not be the most complex, and the humour perhaps not the most intelligent, but this did not take away from how much I enjoyed it. I would definitely be interested in reading other books by the author!