Peanuts & Eggcups is the debut novel of Sara Mendes Da Costa. Who, as a side note also happens to be the voice of the talking clock. It is in whatPeanuts & Eggcups is the debut novel of Sara Mendes Da Costa. Who, as a side note also happens to be the voice of the talking clock. It is in what I would class as the ‘chick lit’ genre and first one I have read in a while. The story centres around Maggie and her twenty something friends. The book starts with Maggie trying to decide whether to attend a school reunion. The big issue being her high school love Luke will be attending, who she hasn’t seen since one fateful night.
The story is light, funny and while Maggie isn’t a perfect heroine. She makes mistakes, she’s not totally sure what he wants in life and there are more than a few times I wanted to give her a big shake. But she is fun, caring and very likeable.
The premise of the story is about Maggie attending the reunion with the hopes of meeting her lost love, but in fact bumping into his suave brother instead. But actually what it is really about the lives and loves of Maggie and her friends too. I enjoyed the dynamic between them all, the adventures and self discovery each goes through and the obvious affection they have for one another.
I do have to mention is that this book is over 700 pages long, and if I’m being honest a bit too long. The beginning of the book is really slow, and the pace really took a long time to fully establish itself. I’d start to really get into parts of the story and then it would slow down again and pick up again and repeat – this was quite frustrating. There were also too many sections where we found out what happened after the event rather than living it along with the heroine. Which I wasn’t a huge fan of. But (this is a big BUT) when the pace got going and I would say this would be about 60% in, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This is the author’s debut novel, and I actually wonder when she originally started writing it. If it’s one of those books that she had been writing for years as there were odd things that made me think it may have actually been written ten years ago, rather than more recently. For example, Maggie’s discovery of hair straighteners. It was like it was quite a new technological development rather than something that’s been around for years. Even if she had never purchased some herself, trust me as the owner of naturally wavy hair, hairdressers always want to use them on you. Then there were other small things like Maggie wearing a hipster belt and Maggie getting delivery reports on her mobile. I don’t think I’ve got delivery reports since one of my Nokia phones. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story, but it made me curious.
My last comment is on the ending. We do of course get the obligatory happily ever after and nearly all of the characters do. It was also a lovely ending, but it was just too short! After 700 pages of build up, I felt robbed of at least one last chapter where I got to revel in the happiness and find out more about how Maggie enjoyed living it.
A fun, light hearted book. It would have been so much better is some of the sections had been a bit shorter, for example the beginning reduced which would have improved the pace and the ending a teensy bit longer. But all in all, a fun summer read.
With Love At Christmas is perhaps not the normal type of book I would read. It sits really in the chick-lit genre whReviewed for www.bookchickcity.com
With Love At Christmas is perhaps not the normal type of book I would read. It sits really in the chick-lit genre which I tend to avoid, I actually thought about abandoning it a little way in. I’m really glad to say I’m pleased that I didn’t. There were times I felt immense frustration with the characters, and there were some predictable elements, but all in all this was a really well written book about family, love and relationships.
Our main heroine is 45 year old Juliet, mum of two, grandmother, wife and daughter to two ageing parents. She loves Christmas, loves her family and works hard to pull everything together for everyone for the big day. The problem is her family are there to provide plenty of curve balls.
The story has highs, lows and even a couple of laugh-out-loud moments. But be prepared for a very sad beginning. This was the point I did nearly give up I have to admit, this is meant to be a Christmas book, it’s meant to be happy surely? But Matthews pulls to careful a well plotted story, that brings realism to her book. As the sadness ebbed its development also brought with it a new phase for some of the characters.
Juliet’s children, both in their 20s I’ll add, completely and utterly infuriated me – regularly. There was once scene in particular with her daughter Chloe that absolutely filled with with RAGE at her total selfishness. Chloe have moved back home with her toddler son after a relationship break-up and is currently pregnant with her second child. She seems to have no concept of responsibility or respect for her parents and moving back home seems to equate free childcare so she can go out and party until the second child is born. Then there’s Tom Juliet’s promiscuous son, who likes to bring home with him a collection of unsuitable partners for his parents to meet in uncompromising situations. I slammed the book down in disgust at them in more than one occasion.
There isn’t a love story as such, Juliet and Rick have been married for 27 years. But while there isn’t wild passion that you would see in a traditional romance, Juliet and Rick show us what forever love really means. Stability, supporting one another, loving one another through the thick and the thin. There was a very predictable twist in terms of Rick that I saw coming a mile off. I kind of wish it hadn’t been in there in a way and the situation was written in differently. But, it all came good in the end and I did really like the addition of the character involved.
I can’t write the review without mentioning Rick, we get the odd chapter from his point of view, which adds a nice different interpretation to parts of the story. I really couldn’t help but smile with his fascination with his shed, and how when things get too much he either escapes down there to his mini beer fridge or conveniently takes the dog for a walk.
Juliet herself is such a giving person, she holds little back for herself. She loves her family unreservedly even when they quite clearly do not always deserve it. This includes ending up with both her ageing parents coming to live with her, until they have to convert the dining room into a bedroom. There is very little to dislike about her and you end up routing for her as the events of Christmas Day unfold and she puts a smile on her face and just goes to peel some more potatoes!
A different book for me being a more traditional romance fan, but I’m really glad I stuck with it. With a Love At Christmas is a modern Christmas story about the changing dynamics of families, and how two people pull everything together through their love for all involved. There are some funny characters, some infuriating ones and some sad ones and Juliet has far more patience than I ever could have. But this is a book I would definitely recommend.
I’m not really a huge fan of the ‘chick-lit’ genre. Having fallen out of love with the ‘my life is a disaster, I weaReviewed for www.bookchickicty.com
I’m not really a huge fan of the ‘chick-lit’ genre. Having fallen out of love with the ‘my life is a disaster, I wear giant pants and have an awful love-life’ theme. I did however, used to really love them. And while I no longer read them, Sophie Kinsella has always been an exception to this rule. Because her books are just so immensely funny. TWENTIES GIRL has an added bonus for me, in that it also has a supernatural twist.
The book itself didn’t get off to a great start. It was slow going and took me a while to get into it. Lara, our heroine also looked to have all the facets that I find irritating. She’s lying, she’s crying over her ex, her job is a disaster, and then when the lying extends to a ridiculous situation with the police I started to cringe.
But, I hadn’t yet prepared myself for the effect of Lara’s 105 year old, great aunt Sadie. We first meet Sadie at her funeral. She returns in ghost form on the hunt for a beloved, missing necklace. Much to Lara’s dismay, who seems to be the only one that can see her. But she doesn’t return as a wrinkled, 105 year old woman. Oh no, she returns as a 23 year old, in all her twenties, flapper girl finest. And this is where the book takes off.
The banter between Lara and Sadie is absolutely hilarious. Quite frankly, Sadie is outrageous, from her ability to force people to do anything she wants them to, to her wild demands and whirlwind impact on Lara’s life. One scene where she gets Lara to go on a date wearing exactly what she wants, in full twenties costume, and repeating everything she says, is so funny I descended into full on, loud, belly-laughs.
I did struggle with Lara at times, but she had very much grown on me by the end of the novel. The plot with her ex-boyfriend however, was very irritating and needed wrapping up much more quickly than it did, and elicited more than a few sighs of frustration from me. But the eventual love story was delicious and well worth the wait.
I think that listening to this book as an audiobook enhanced my enjoyment of the story. The narrator really ‘got’ Sadie and the accent and intonation she created for her seemed to make things so much funnier.
The end of the book also delivers are rather lovely and unexpected mystery, which I really enjoyed. I knew the missing necklace would have some greater importance, but I would have no way guessed what. The setting was in London, which is always nice for me to sink into, as a woman who reads genres that are written by mainly American writers, I do love a fabulous British backdrop. The ending was just lovely… funny, romantic and heart warming all at once.
While TWENTIES GIRL does have a bit of a poor beginning, I would urge you to bear with it, it’s a hugely entertaining, laugh-out-loud, romantic comedy with a ghostly sidekick. Or perhaps a ghostly heroine, depending on how you want to look at it. Kinsella knows how to write comedy, and write it really well. The only books of hers I haven’t picked up are her Shopaholic books, and I’m thinking I really must as I love all of her other novels. This is a great, light, funny read I would definitely recommend.