The Secret of Happy Ever After

The secret of happiness, in my mind, is a good book, a hot bath to soak in to read it and some P & Q to get as many pages under one’s belt with no interruptions! Actually, reading makes me happy with or without a hot bath. I love my books and just being surrounded by them. Imagine if you owned or ran a book shop? My customers would have to cough loudly to get my attention as my nose would be stuck in the stock! Anna, one of two main characters in Lucy Dillon’s ‘The Secret of Happy Ever After’ has her dream come true as she takes over running a second-hand bookshop in the village where she lives.

Blurb Quote: ‘As she unpacks boxes of childhood classics, Anna can’t shake the feeling that maybe her own fairytale ending isn’t all that she’d hoped for. But as the stories of love, adventure, secret gardens and giant peaches breathe new life into the neglected shop, Anna and her customers get swept up in the magic too.’

As mentioned in an earlier post, I tend to only read a couple of Chick Lit books a year and am pretty selective about which ones I read.  When one comes along that is set in a book shop (added bonus being that said bookshop is also in a small village – I love ‘small-town’ and villagey stories too) and has a dalmatian to boot, then I’m in!  This one certainly didn’t disappoint as there’s enough in it to keep those pages turning.  The book plays host to family dramas (stepchildren and a not-so-evil stepmother, even though the children don’t always see her as the kind soul she is), dogs (one crazy and lopey and another old and senile but all the more loveable), a lovely musty second-hand book shop that I could practically smell and imagine, a lovely neighbouring home-wares shop that I wish I could visit online to place an order as well as the usual and expected sprinkling of romance, misunderstandings, Christmas and babies!

One of the best touches in this book, in my opinion, was the book quotes that opened each chapter.  To me, it highlighted the authors own love of books as well as tying it nicely and cleverly with the main theme of the book.  It also opened my eyes to a couple of books that I must have missed as a child like ‘The Children of Green Knowe’ and’ The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler‘.  Added to my ‘Books to hunt down on eBay’ list!  I also want to revisit ‘The Railway Children’ and the Mrs. Pepperpot books.  Thank you, Ms Dillon!

Confessions of a sometime Chick Lit fan…

I normally only read a handful of Chick Lit books over the course of the year, as I usually have to be ‘in the mood’ to read one but every now and then I hear of one that sounds too good not to hunt down immediately! My Librarian friend, Debbie in the UK, is a fantastic source for letting me know of any good ones that she has read. We seem to have very similar tastes and both love books set in or about the 80’s and anything to do with books and book shops. I have fulfilled my annual quota of Chick Lit books this month alone with Ella Kingsley’s ‘Confessions of a Karaoke Queen’ and Lucy Dillon’s ‘The Secret of Happy Ever After.’ I confess to enjoying both muchly!  Thanks, Debbie 🙂

Confessions of a Karaoke Queen is set in a – no surprise – karaoke bar, run by 80’s hit sensation Pineapple Mist. Their daughter, Maddie can’t sing for toffee so isn’t exactly thrilled when her hippy parents up and leave her to run the bar in their absence. She immediately finds the bar is only just keeping its’ head above water and desperately needs a facelift (more like a complete gutting and reno actually) which comes in the form of a fly-on-the-wall reality TV series.  Sparks fly as she butts head with the sleazy Producer, Evan Bergman who wants to fabricate and show much more of life in the bar than Maddie realised she’d signed up for.  She only knows half ofwhat this slimeball has in store for her and her staff.  I liked Maddie but found her staff, especially drag queen Ruby/Robert more likeable and ‘real.’  Not too sure there was any need though for the celebrity guinea pig and the constant slating by the author of bands and songs I grew up with…

“‘Are you a fan?’ he asks, and then I realise he’s talking about the vintage pear-shaped brooch I pilfered from Mum’s collection… about the size of a Creme Egg, made of silvery wire mesh, set on a plain white square.

‘Oh,’ I say, flustered.  Then I’m confused. ‘A fan of what?’

‘M People.’

I’m horrified.  ‘M People?’

‘You must really like them,’ he says, and there’s a twinkle in his eye that suggests he’s trying not to laugh.  I want the ground to open up and swallow me.”

Why??  Is/was being a fan of Heather Small so embarrassing?  I don’t think she thought much of Baltimore either…

“‘Not found any nasty surprises this time, I hope?’

‘Unless you call Baltimora’s ‘Tarzan Boy’ a nasty surprise.”

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.  Jungle life, I’m far away from nowhere…

Lucy Dillon is an author I hadn’t heard of before.  I liked her style and it was a perfect book to soak in the bath with.  Easy-reading and with enough of a storyline to keep those pages turning.  Factor in a cute dalmatian called Pongo (my favourite breed of dog,) a book shop and book quotes at the start of each chapter, and it’s sure fire hit with me!  I still have a couple of chapters to go so full review coming soon…

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