REVIEW: “Bitches of Brooklyn” Rosemary Harris

Bitches of Brooklyn Book Cover Bitches of Brooklyn
Rosemary Harris
Chick Lit
340

Are they really bitches? That depends who you ask...

Rachel, Clare, Tina and Jane are four friends awaiting the arrival of a fifth at a secluded Cape Cod bungalow where they spend an all-girls weekend every year since reconnecting at a reunion. But the fifth woman doesn't show. Instead she sends a note that reads - "I've run off with one of your men."

Has she? Is it a prank? Do they run for the phone or try to enjoy the weekend without her? Fast, funny and filled with Harris' trademark snappy dialogue you'll recognize friends and maybe a little of yourself as the women are forced to reevaluate their friendships, their marriages and their memories.

Inspired by a classic Hollywood film, The Bitches of Brooklyn is for every woman who's ever had a best friend and wondered...is she really??

I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for a review and my honest opinion. 

“Bitches of Brooklyn” definitely deserves it’s place in the Chick Lit genre. It revolves around a group of five women, who are supposed to spend a weekend together. When one doesn’t show up, giving only the explanation that she has ‘run off with one of their men’, the remaining four women quickly switch gears to engage in behaviour that women all over the world would recognise immediately; quiet doubt that perhaps someone you trust isn’t quite all they seem to be.

The book explores the lives of the four women. Each have their own issue, from which their insecurities over the whereabouts of their missing friend stemmed. Harris explored these issues well; they were believable and recognisable, even though I’m twenty years younger than the protagonists. I liked how the story progressed, and the small details that Harris included, like the loving grandmother, and the nighttime break-in to a public place – these added some much needed depth to a story that may have otherwise been all caught up in the heads of the four women.

There was one facet of the book, however, which annoyed me immensely. This group of women were dubbed ‘Bitches of Brooklyn’ in their teens, hence the title of the book. BUT, there is nothing to indicate that these girls were, in fact, bitches. Rather, they are portrayed as fairly nice, friendly teens. The book then has these girls regularly calling themselves bitches, immediately followed by one of them disclaiming that they’re just joking, or referencing that they earned the name as teenagers. The discrepancy between their behaviour and their nickname frustrated me throughout the book; though perhaps a seemingly minor detail, it felt incongruent with what was otherwise a well-written book, with a flowing plot. It almost seemed as if Harris had settled upon the title and subsequently wrote the reason for it into the book…

That inconsistency aside, I liked the book, and liked that it focused on the relationship between the women, rather than a relationship between a man and a woman. I also liked the ending, which is crucial!! It’s worth a read. 

Want to see what these bitches get up to firsthand? Pick up the e-book here, or the paperback here.

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New York Valentine – Carmen Reid (Annie Valentine #5)

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Annie Valentine, over the course of four books, carved out a place for herself in the fashion world. She moves from personal shopper, to television fashion personality, all the while balancing her two teenage children, a new hubby, and the unexpected arrival of twins. In her fifth adventure, Annie’s TV Show is unexpectedly cancelled, and she takes the opportunity to visit New York and help a friend with her fashion line, as it faces bankruptcy. Against the backdrop of New York, Annie struggles to pull the business out of the dumps, enjoying the challenge and location, but missing her family. Pleasingly, her daughter, Lana, plays a greater role in this novel, and even is caught wearing colour for once!

Carmen Reid - New York ValentineSurprisingly, the fifth Annie Valentine book regains some of the vigor of the first book in the series. The middle few books tended to over-focus on Annie’s obsession with material possessions, at the expense of her family. At times, this was so frustrating that it overshadowed the book’s good qualities, and became unpleasantly repetitive. This latest installment in the series returned to the roots of Annie V. It was about fashion, and dramas related to fashion, first and foremost. Now, I’m not saying that a shallow, fashion-only novel is all I can read. But the fashion is the crux of these books. Annie’s family and personal relationships were still a big part of the story, but in a supporting role that added to the overall plot line, rather than detract from it. Thankfully, sticking to the basics means that this book was a cheerful, easy read that kept the reader’s attention. Not to mention that half of the story is set in New York, and everybody loves New York! The fashion capital of the world was the right choice.

I’d definitely recommend this book to any chick-lit lovers out there. Even if you haven’t read the first four books in the series, you’ll easily be able to pick up this book and enjoy stepping into the world of fashion for a few hours. You can get a copy of this book here.

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Almost Perfect – Kelly Denley

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Almost Perfect is Kelly Denley’s inspirational story of how she took her super-sized family on an Australia-wide journey to bring them closer together, so that they were better equipped to deal with the trials and tribulations that the world was throwing at them.

Kelly Denley - Almost PerfectGrowing up, Kelly Denley had dreamed of the perfect family, and of being the perfect mum, but as the mother of eight she discovered that almost perfect was actually just perfect enough.

A full-time wife and mother since the age of 17, by 31 Kelly Denley has lost sight of who she truly is. Postnatal depression takes its toll on Kelly, her father is given just a year to live, her husband is retrenched, one daughter is hospitalised and another on antidepressants and, in a final frightening development, her eldest boy, who suffers from Asperger’s, threatens suicide. Distraught, Kelly blames herself and knows that everything has to change. Concerned about her children’s school problems and behaviour, Kelly takes dramatic action, putting her university dream on hold so the family can travel Australia for a year in the hope that the experience will draw them closer together.

How Kelly tackles both the joy and pain that lie in wait, from discovering the beauty in nature she’d always been too busy to see and mastering the art of home-schooling in a tent, to nearly drowning in a flooded river and more heartache over her children, makes Almost Perfect an inspiring, moving, yet often hilarious rollercoaster ride of a memoir.

Denley not only conquered year 11 and 12 as a mature age student* so that she could get into university, but she did it with eight kids (two of whom had disabilities). After facing that challenge, and then having to face seeing her kids struggle at school when people couldn’t handle their differences, Denley set her sights higher. To save her family from falling apart, she took them on a year long camping trip around the gorgeous sights and sounds of Australia. Eight kids, two cars, one trailer. Home schooling, family arguments, financial crisis. It was by no means an easy year for the Denley’s, but the rewards that they reaped made it more than worth it.

*Check out this article for a little more information on Denley’s return to high school as a 33yr old woman with eight kids*

Denley tells her story without pretension. In every page, her love for her family is clear. The reader empathises with her battle with her weight, and cheers as she finally sheds her insulation. You can’t help but die a little inside reading about the struggle of her two eldest boys, suffering from Aspergers – the eldest of whom doesn’t even make it on their trip.

While the writing wasn’t always smooth or polished, it was the story that captivated me. Reading about the challenges that this family overcame is strengthening. Without the trip, who knows where the Denley’s would be. With it, they became a tight-knit family unit, dragging their feet to return to their old ‘normality’. Overcoming so many obstacles, the Denley story is an inspiration to us all; families should come before the rat race. Taking time out to get to know and connect with the most important people in one’s life is a paramount goal. The Denley family should be congratulated on their monumental achievements.

This book was hard to rate in a way. Denley wasn’t a polished writer as such, but her story was compelling. It was the story of an underdog, fighting for her family, and herself, in a world that doesn’t always want to accept the outsider. It was a story of triumph.

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to have a little hope, or to any mother who is looking for a way to create the kind of family that every parent dreams about; close, happy and memorable (you can find it here). I wonder, after this huge step, where the Denley’s could go from here…

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The Litigators – John Grisham

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The Litigators - John Grisham
A little behind the eight ball, I’ve never read a John Grisham novel. So, I had high expectations when I picked up The Litigators – and I wasn’t disappointed. Grisham has made what could be considered a very dry topic into a page-turner, with some humour thrown in for good measure. Not an easy task, when your subject matter includes in-depth research, client interviewing, and filing numerous court documents.

The novel centres around the ‘boutique’ (re: dodgy) law firm of Finley & Figg. Oscar Finley and Wally Figg essentially spend their time chasing ambulances, and waiting for their ‘big break’, while bickering like school children over client fees, ethics, and whether or not advertising on bingo cards is a good idea. They look set to spend another decade scraping through, until David Zinc waltzes through their door, blind drunk. David was, until ten hours earlier, a lawyer at one of the top firms in the city. However, that morning, he’d had an epiphany and realised that being on the fast (and exhausting) track was killing him – so he’d walked out and spent the rest of the day at a bar. When a drunk David sees Oscar and Wally in action, he knows where he wants to start his legal career over again.

Not long after David arrives, Wally stumbles upon what he believes is the big break they’ve all been looking for. Popular drug ‘Krayoxx’ is suspected of causing heart attacks in its patients, and suing the pharmaceutical company could mean millions for Finley & Figg. All Wally needs to do is find a few clients who are willing to sue, and then he can ride the coat tails of the national class action all the way to fame and fortune. But, of course, nothing is ever that simple, and the trio of lawyers are soon in way over their heads.

Grisham managed to make this novel a page-turner, predominantly because of the interesting, though not always likeable, characters. Where David is a straight-laced family man, with an idealistic view of life outside of a giant corporate law firm, Wally is a schemer always looking to make money, and Oscar is like a strict father figure who is constantly exasperated about Wally’s antics. The storyline was good, but it was somewhat predictable that Wally’s plan wouldn’t go off without a hitch, so I wouldn’t really consider it a legal thriller, as the cover said it would be. That said, I couldn’t put the book down because I really wanted to know whether they’d manage to wriggle out of all their troubles.

As a lawyer-to-be, I was particularly interested in this storyline. With no real idea of what being an actual lawyer in a class action is like, I enjoyed reading about life in the ‘real’ legal world. Yes, it was a fiction novel, and Australian law isn’t exactly like what we see on American TV, or in American books, but it still makes the profession look exciting and worthwhile. After five years of writing essays and attending lectures, it’s reassuring to think that our careers may be something like those of the lawyers at Finley & Figg… though hopefully less chaotic.

If this book piques your interest, you can get it cheaply (and with free postage!) here.

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