Take a look at me now – Book Review

Take a look at me now by Miranda Dickinson.
Published: 24th October 2013 by Avon Books.
ISBN: 978-1-84756-235-7.
Available on Amazon in paperback and kindle format.

‘Nell Sullivan has always been known as ‘Miss Five-Year Plan’. But when she finds herself jobless and newly single on the same day, Nell decides it is time to stop planning and start taking chances.

Nell blows her redundancy cheque on a trip of a lifetime to a place where anything’s possible – San Francisco. There she meets a host of colourful characters, including the intriguing and gorgeous Max Rossi, Very soon the city begins to feel like Nell’s second home.

But when it’s time to return to London, will she leave the ‘new Nell’ behind? And can the magic of San Francisco continue to sparkle thousands of miles away?’

Have you ever wanted to change your life for yourself, but the mundane, everyday life took over, meaning that you’re unable to live in the moment? Meet Nell Sullivan. A woman whose job involves paperwork, and lots of it. Unfortunately her job is no more and her on-off ‘boyfriend’ decides to let her go. But is it unfortunate that Nell is no longer employed?

Nell has the opportunity to live a little, and by living a little she means booking a spur of the moment holiday to San Francisco to see her cousin Lizzie! Can’t really blame her after losing her job! Whilst in San Francisco she gets involved in the life style by sightseeing, helping her cousin in the after school club, oh, and getting work experience. Nell has the opportunity to learn more about a career that she has always wanted to explore, but the amount of hard work and challenges she faces comes as a bit of a surprise. Will Nell manage to make her dream come true and prove that she has moved on from her past? Or will she be faced with as many problems as she did in the U.K?

‘Take a look at me now’ was the very first book that I read of Miranda Dickinson’s. I came across it one day when I needed a little pick me up and with a title like that, I would have been a fool not to buy it. It was exactly what I needed to feel like ‘hey, I’m better than how you treat me’. Personally, the title had the power of making me feel like I was wiping smug looks off of people’s faces by going ‘take a look at me now’. Daft perhaps. Pretty powerful message though.

I have never been lucky enough to venture to San Francisco, but luckily Miranda Dickinson has! Because of that, she manages to capture the city in such an incredibly descriptive way that you’ll feel like you’re there, living the dream. Throughout the story you will do all the touristy things that Nell does, for example, having breakfast in an American diner and seeing the Golden Gate bridge, to name a few. Following Nell’s story from heartbreak and upset, to her flourishing in another country is incredibly refreshing. The obstacles that Nell faces yet still gets through is enough to make you think you can do the same in the moment.

I love how fast paced the story is because of all the swapping between various issues and the lifestyle Nell is currently in. Each character stood out in their own personal ways because of the personality Miranda has given them, and I think that can be hard to find when reading a busy story. I did tear up while I was reading the book (shock), I felt so sorry for Nell and the way she was treated. Especially when she had given her heart and soul to her new life, and that didn’t seem enough no matter what she did.  I also found the blurb to be spot on, you do end up cheering Nell on. You want her to find happiness, finally.

‘Take a look at me now’ is such a heart-warming read with an incredibly powerful message. I actually read the book two years ago, and it has stuck in my mind ever since, even to the point of writing this review now, two years later. It is definitely a book that, despite knowing exactly what happens, I would quite happily read it again and again. It’s crazy how words on a page can give you such a confidence boost after reading them, but it can take a very passionate author to get that power across in writing. If you are after a boost and a book to curl up in bed whilst eating copious amounts of chocolate, then this is for you.

Miranda Dickinson, thank you for writing confidence in a book. It is such a lovely story, I felt extremely content after reading it. You are very talented author, and I feel privileged to have you in my ‘circle’ so to speak! Brilliant.

 

Life Swap by Carol Wyer.

Life Swap by Carol Wyer.
Published by
Bookouture on 22nd April 2016.
Available on Kindle at Amazon

*Advanced preview copy given by Bookouture/Netgalley.*

‘All Polly has to her name is a string of failed relationships and a mountain of debt. She sees herself as a hopeless case and would do anything to change her luck.

So when she’s given the opportunity to swap all she’s ever known for a life of luxury, Polly jumps at the chance. Soon, it’s all diamonds, spa days and celebrity parties. Now all that’s missing from her life is a bit of romance. Will hunky Matt be the man to heal her broken heart?

But money can’t always buy you happiness. Can the life she’s always dreamed of get in the way of true love? ‘

Prepare yourself for a book that you will probably remember the day after you read it. Prepare yourself for a book that will have you wondering ‘what the fried eggs is going on?’. Prepare yourself for a book that will leave you that puzzled to the point of being unable to put it down. But more importantly, prepare yourself to be transported into a story that will make you look at your own life a little bit differently….

Before reading the Life Swap, I did the unthinkable. I didn’t read what it was about so I took it by its lively and bright looking cover and title. I straight away assumed that it was going to be about one person wanting a better life for themselves. Ever seen ‘The Holiday’ with Kate Winslet? I thought it was going to be similar to that. I know it is wrong to assume, however, it makes a much better surprise if you do in the book world. Brace yourselves, it’s not often I admit this so I am just telling you, you can keep a secret right? I was wrong, completely wrong. It was nothing like ‘The Holiday’. Lives were swapped, but not in the way that you might think.
Life Swap starts by the hunger inducing, wonderful thoughts of…..marshmallows. Yes, the book begins with marshmallows! If you’re not a fan of them, don’t let it put you off the book though, I mean, it’s not like it’s a talking marshmallow! No really, it’s not! At the beginning you’re introduced to Mr Simon Green, a car salesman with a wife and two children. Oh, and a cat. I won’t mention the cat too much, not that I have anything against cats, but, oh you’ll see! Mr Green is unhappy in his current life and wishes for his troubles to disappear (don’t we all). He wishes for the typical thing, happiness. Luckily for him, strangers come to the ‘rescue’ and promise him that things will change for the better and that a happier life is before him. Or is it?
Meet Polly MacGregor. An unlucky in love sports therapist that adores spending money on things she doesn’t really need. Polly is also unhappy in her life because of problems facing her that could ruin everything. She could lose everything. No wonder she wants a new life, a life full of luxury and without problems. Unexpectedly, Polly gets promised the world also, beckoning her into a life that she desires. A life swap. But is it really what she desires?
Throughout the story you will swap between the two main characters, their lives and their ‘new’ lives, with every chapter leaving you will something to think about and laugh about. Go with the story, because you’ll be truly kicking yourself at the end. Don’t blame me if you hurt yourself though!
I finished the book in five and a half hours. I was hooked on the bizarreness of what I was reading. Many, many times I did say out loud ‘what the fried eggs is going on?’ but I HAD to finish it. It is definitely an unpredictable story, however, it has the most incredible conclusion. This was the first book by Carol Wyers I had read, I didn’t know what her style was like, but I laughed, I laughed a lot. The things you will come across in the book are actually relatable to an extent because of the real life worries that do occur. Not everyone is happy in their lives, people do want things to change, but I would suggest not going down the route that Simon and Polly did!
If you’re into weird and wonderful humour, then expect the unexpected because you’re in for an absolute treat. It’s so bizarre and hilarious to the point that you will be guaranteed to remember it. Lose yourself in the joys of what unfolds before your very eyes. Laugh out loud. This is definitely a book for relaxing and to not take things so seriously. It’s my feel good book of 2016 so far!