Taking a break!

Chick Lit Uncovered will be taking a short break. We'll be back in May to bring you more news, reviews and general bookish goodness from the female fiction world.

See you very soon!

BOOK REVIEW: The Man from Perfect by Andrea Semple

Having first discovered - and very much loved - Andrea Semple's novels back in 2004, I was excited that publishers Piatkus were re-releasing the novels this year with fantastic new covers (seriously, they're awesome). So after rediscovering much-loved book The Man From Perfect, I decided to review it for those who have yet to read.

When teacher Ella Holt finally ditches lazy, inattentive boyfriend, not so affectionately nicknamed Rob the Slob, her crazy friend and housemate Maddie tries desperately to get Ella back in the dating game. When a speed-dating event turns out to be a disaster (for Ella, anyway…), she’s about to give up. That is, until she’s sent a mysterious letter from The Perfect Agency, claiming to provide Ella with the prize of a lifetime - the man of her dreams.

It seems rather far-fetched, until Maddie reveals that she posted a love questionnaire that Ella completed some time ago – a questionnaire that was in fact a competition entry. Being Perfect’s prize winner, Ella is entitled to attend the agency for testing – testing that will lead her to her scientific love match – a real-life Mr Perfect.

The Perfect Agency is adamant that their latest project will revolutionize dating. After all, it’s science. So how can Ella refuse?

Soon she’s acquainted with James Masters, who seems far too good to be real. A handsome, romantic airline pilot, James possesses the qualities that boring Rob the Slob could never match up to. James is seemingly everything she could ever want in a boyfriend, and he’s already whisking her away on holidays, meeting her friends and being the partner every girl can dream of. It doesn’t help that the pair are turning out to be the Perfect Agency’s PR guinea-pigs, but it’s a small price to pay for happy coupledom.

However, when things are too good to be true, they usually aren’t…and Ella’s soon having doubts about the wonderful man who’s walked into her life. A man that’s slowly turning out to be not so perfect after all…

Andrea Semple was one of the first authors I read when I started getting into chick-lit. and I’ve been hoping for some time that she would write more, but at least I can now own the lovely new editions! I really liked Ella – and of course, her crazy housemate and their hilarious speed-dating experience. The only complaint about The Man From Perfect is that it’s over too soon – like previous novels The Make-Up Girl and The Ex-Factor, the short chapters and fast-paced writing mean that ‘just one more chapter!’ ends up with finishing the whole book. But other than that? It’s a great read, and if you like light, romantic comedies (Sophie Kinsella, Tracy Bloom) then The Man From Perfect is very much recommended.

Rating: 5/5


The Sweetness of Liberty James is the newly-released novel from Janey Lewis, about chef's daughter Liberty, who almost has the perfect life, until an event changes it entirely. We wanted to be a bit nosy and ask Janey some questions, and she happily obliged!

Tell us about your book in 15 words or less.
Love, friendship, family, and laughter; bound together with inspirational food. A book to salivate over.

What inspired you to write The Sweetness of Liberty James?
Greed and escapism. Along with a huge pile of novels precariously balanced on my bedside table, cookbooks abound. I used to love reading chapters of each before bed, and the story unfolding in my mind morphed naturally into a combination of the two. Dreams are a good way to listen to the real 'you'

Where do you do most of your writing?
In my head.... Silly answer, but I 'write' the whole time. I am sure I should carry an app on my phone so that I can dictate, but if it's out loud, it somehow isn't writing... More conventionally, I take a pad of paper (old school, that's me) and sit, hopefully outside, either a cafe or garden, dogs on feet and write with steaming pot of coffee and cake. Wintertime, by my fire, dogs on feet, steaming pot of coffee, cake...

What is your favourite book?
Impossible question. Gun to head, dessert island choice? Aphrodite by Isabelle Allende. Inspirational woman who sees sensuality in everything.

Which part of The Sweetness of Liberty James did you like writing the most?
The part where Liberty is starting to heal and takes herself to a fabulous (and real) restaurant in Florence. The joy with which she observes the passionate, angry couple beside her and how they are soothed, softened and sweetened by the delicious, remarkable food gradually, and course by course, all came from the heart.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Again, impossible to be nailed down, but if pushed, and for her sheer believable goodness Taggie from Rivals. A soft, beautiful girl from the wonderful pen of Jilly Cooper. I cannot remember a day of my teens not wishing to be as good and pure of heart as she is.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Persevere, believe in what you are doing, and be passionate about it. No one wants to read something written with half a heart. Write when you feel like it. And once done, send it off, and keep going. If you love it, chances are there will be someone out there in this horribly tricky industry who will enjoy it too.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
Liberty James has two more books that follow on from The Sweetness. Those, along with dragging myself into the 21C and trying to get a blog, website and find out what Twitter will do for me. Much more successful at writing books than anything on computer!

Thanks, Janey!

The Sweetness of Liberty James by Janey Lewis
The daughter of a Michelin-starred restaurateur and a celebrity TV chef, Liberty James is born into the world of fine food. But when her father announces he is leaving, the shock causes her to lose her sense of taste and smell.

Sweet-natured Liberty believes the recipe for her own happiness is making others happy, and she sets about gathering the ingredients for the perfect life. She does well at school, makes glamorous friends and marries her university sweetheart Percy, the heir to the Radley Bank fortune. Now all that’s missing is the icing on the cake – a baby.

When a traumatic event changes everything, she finds herself on a journey to rediscover her love of food that takes her from Florence to the French Riviera and finally back home to the Sussex village of Littlehurst, with a crazy plan to open her own patisserie. With flirtatious Fred the blacksmith and the dark, brooding Edmund on her doorstep, will she finally find that elusive ingredient – love?

NEW RELEASE: A Place to Call Home by Carole Matthews

A Place to Call Home, by bestselling author Carole Matthews (Summer Daydreams, Wrapped Up In You) was released today in paperback and e-book. Carole’s latest novel is about a home shared by four very different people who are about to become unlikely friends…

In the dead of night, Ayesha takes her daughter, Sabina, and slips quietly from her home, leaving behind a life of full of pain. Boarding a coach to London, all Ayesha wants is a fresh start. Hayden, a former popstar, has kept himself hidden away for years. He's only opened up his home to two people - Crystal, a professional dancer with a heart of gold, and Joy, an ill-tempered retiree with a soft spot for waifs and strays. When Crystal asks Hayden if Ayesha and Sabina can stay with them, he reluctantly agrees and, as different as they may be, they quickly form an unlikely bond. So when enemies threaten their peaceful home, they will do all they can to save it and each other. Uplifting and emotional, this is a novel of new beginnings, of discovering love and of finding A Place to Call Home.

BOOK REVIEW: The List by Joanna Bolouri

Joanna Bolouri’s novel The List hit the shelves today, and it’s a debut I've been particularly excited about. So when I was sent a copy for review, it made my day. New novelists are always intriguing and it seems as though Joanna is definitely going to be even more of a success.

The List focuses on twenty-something Phoebe, whose love life comes to an abrupt end when she catches her boyfriend in bed with another woman. A year later, Phoebe is still reluctantly single and at a loss for bedroom fun, and so with the help of best friend Lucy, she comes up with a way of ending her single days – the list.

Phoebe devises a list of ten things she would like to do in the bedroom, from her own basic desires to the downright kinky. With the intention of a year-long mission for fulfillment without the commitment, she sets out to tick every item off the list, starting with her rather handsome colleague…

The list is an adventure in itself, sending Phoebe on a variety of new, strange and, sometimes, amusing situations, such as arranging a threesome to having sex in the outdoors. First she has to gain the confidence to begin her various ‘tasks’, and of course, find willing participants…

The List is a new kind of read; an even mixture of amusing, light chick-lit and erotica which works exceptionally well. I enjoyed this new concept despite not being a fan of erotic fiction at all – Phoebe is a very real character with her own insecurities, own goals and a work life that I felt I could relate to, which made the novel feel very genuine and even more amusing at times. I liked that it’s fast-paced, fun and not overly-serious, and I wanted to see how Pheobe’s character grew throughout the book. Granted, the ending did feel quite rushed, but it’s still a fantastic read.

The List is a wonderful debut, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Joanna Bolouri in future!

Rating: 4/5

BOOK NEWS: The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland

We're particularly excited about the No-Kids Club - the upcoming novel from Build a Man author Talli Roland. Released in June, the book focuses on happily child-free Clare, who starts a club for those who don't have children. Read on for the blurb...
At almost forty, Clare Donoghue is living child-free and loving it.
Then her boyfriend says he wants kids, breaking off their promising relationship. And it’s not just boyfriends: one by one, her formerly carefree friends are swallowed up in a nonstop cycle of play dates and baby groups. So Clare declares enough is enough and decides it’s time for people who don’t have children to band together. And so the No-Kids Club is born.

As the group comes together—Anna, who’s seeking something to jumpstart a stale marriage, and Poppy, desperate for a family but unable to conceive—Clare’s hoping to make the most of the childless life with her new friends. But is living child-free all it’s cracked up to be?

BLOG TOUR: Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff

Ghostwritten is the latest novel by Isabel Wolff, author of The Very Picture of You and A Vintage Affair. Uncovered is delighted to be taking part in Isabel's blog tour and posting an extract from this wonderful new book. Ghostwritten focuses on Jenni, a ghost-writer, whose latest project causes her to further explore her own past.

Extract from Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff

We were woken early. Everyone rushed out of bed – I soon understood why: there was only one loo in the house and one basin, and a mad dash for both.
‘I wonder what happens now?’ my mother said to us as we waited in the line to wash. ‘Could you tell us, please?’ she asked the woman standing in front of us. She was about twenty-five, blonde, with a broad face, and hazel eyes that were flecked with gold.
‘What happens now?’ The woman laughed. ‘What happens now is what happens every morning – and evening – blooming tenko.
‘Blooming tenko?’ Peter echoed. ‘What’s that?’
‘Roll-call,’ the woman replied wearily. ‘Tenko means “counting”. You’ll soon know your Japanese numbers, young man.’
We had some of the food that we’d brought with us for breakfast, then we followed everyone out of the house, down the street, onto a field where soldiers were harrying the women and children into rows and columns, five across, and about a hundred deep.
‘Now what?’ I asked my mother as we lined up on the pale, dry grass.
She bit her lip. ‘I don’t know.’ It was the first time I’d ever seen my mother look vulnerable and unsure. It scared me.
As I looked around, still exhausted and confused from yesterday’s journey, I spotted a classmate in the row behind me. Greta and I had never been especially close, but I was elated to see her and we grinned at each other. She had coppery hair and very pale freckled skin, except that her skin wasn’t pale, I now saw; it was brown, as though all her freckles had joined up. Standing next to her was her grandmother, Mrs Moonen, who was also her guardian, Greta’s parents having died of typhus when Greta was three.
My mother turned to Mrs Moonen. ‘What are we all waiting for?’ she asked.
‘We’re waiting for the commandant to come,’ Mrs Moonen whispered. ‘But don’t talk, or they’ll punish you.’ Punish. It was a word that we were to hear again and again.
We faced forwards, and now saw that at the front of the field was a platform on which a woman was standing. She was Belanda Indo – a person of Dutch and Indonesian parentage. Holding up a megaphone, this woman informed us, in Malay, that she was the camp’s translator. She told us that during tenko we must all face East towards Japan. She explained that the commandant would soon arrive, and that when he did, she would shout Kiotsuke! – ‘Attention!’, and then Keirei! which meant ‘Bow!’ It was important to bow in the correct way, she went on, because we were really bowing to the Japanese Emperor. To bow in a sloppy way would be to insult His Imperial Majesty, and we would be punished. She then explained that we had to bend from the waist at an angle of thirty degrees, and that we must stay like that until we heard Naore! – ‘At ease’, after which would come the command Yasume! – ‘Dismiss’. The translator added that we must also bow to any and every Japanese soldier, but must never look them in the eye since we were ‘not worthy’. Should we dare to do so we would be severely punished.
Peter looked stricken. ‘We’ll be punished?’
‘Yes. If we look the soldiers in the eye,’ my mother whispered, ‘or don’t bow correctly.’
‘Why do we have to bow?’ he demanded. ‘It’s silly. I won’t!’
‘You must,’ my mother hissed.
I remembered the promise that we’d made our dad. ‘I’ll bow,’ I whispered. ‘And you have to do it too, Pietje. No arguments, remember?’
Our mother sighed with relief. ‘Thank you, children.’ Her face shone with perspiration. ‘Let’s just hope the commandant comes soon.’
But he didn’t come, and the temperature was rising by the minute. We’d been standing there for three hours. Sweat trickled down our foreheads, stinging our eyes; it plastered our clothes to our backs. We had to brush ants off our feet and ankles and swat away flies. As the sun rose ever higher, I thought of Ferdi, and of how concerned my father had been to provide shade for that little animal; but here we were, women and children, exposed for hours to the sun’s rays with no hats permitted, even for children, and not even the elderly or infants allowed to sit down. Now I understood why Greta, normally so pale, was dark brown.
All around us babies wept and screamed; people sobbed and begged for water; a woman in front of us collapsed but was jerked onto her feet by two guards. Peter, exhausted, kept trying to lie on the ground, so Mum and I held him upright between us.
At last, the commandant arrived. He carried a whip, and his tall black boots shone in the sun. His sword hung from his waist. I couldn’t help staring at it, imag­ining it slicing and slashing . . .
Kerei!’ screamed the interpreter. We all bowed.
‘Lower,’ my mother whispered to Peter and me. ‘Get right down!’
‘Why?’ Peter asked.
‘Just do it!’ I said.
We all straightened up.
The interpreter jumped off the platform, and the commandant sprang onto it, like a fox. He planted his legs wide, folded his arms, then shouted that we were extremely fortunate to be guests of the Japanese Emperor, and to be under the benevolent protection of the Imperial Army of Nippon. In return for this benevolent protection, he went on, we had to behave well, never try to escape, keep ourselves clean and dress modestly. We weren’t to gamble, drink alcohol or brawl, and we had to speak only Japanese or Malay, not Dutch, which was forbidden. Most of all, we must do ‘useful work’.
Keirei!’ shouted the interpreter again. Everyone bowed as the commandant strode off.
Yasume!’ We were dismissed. I felt giddy with relief.

Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff
A childhood mistake. A lifetime of regrets.

Jenni is a ‘ghost’: she writes the lives of other people. It’s a job that suits her well: still haunted by a childhood tragedy, she finds it easier to take refuge in the memories of others rather than dwell on her own.

Jenni has an exciting new commission, and is delighted to start working on the memoirs of a Dutchwoman, Klara. As a child in the Second World War, Klara was interned in a camp on Java during the Japanese occupation – she has an extraordinary story of survival to tell.

But as Jenni and Klara begin to get to know each other, Jenni begins to do much more than shed light on a neglected part of history. She is being forced to examine her own devastating memories, too. But with Klara’s help, perhaps this is finally the moment where she will be able to lay the ghosts of her own past to rest?

Gripping, poignant and beautifully researched, Ghostwritten is a story of survival and love, of memory and hope.