The Curvy Girls Baby Club
Ellie is fresh back from her honeymoon and can’t wait to share her news with her best friends Katie and Jane. To everyone’s surprise, mother-of-two Jane has news of her own… The women are due a day apart, on December 25th and 26th, and Katie can’t wait to be an honorary aunt to the babies.
But it’s hard to keep your sense of humor, not to mention your self-esteem, in the face of hemorrhoids and elasticated waistbands. Add a clingy mother-in-law, a career in cardiac arrest and a sex life that makes Mother Theresa look lusty, and soon their lives are as out of control as their bodies.
As the co-founders of The Curvy Girls Club, where loving yourself is the only rule, will the friends be able to practice what they preach?
The Curvy Girls Baby Club follows on from the aptly named Curvy Girls Club, which I read, reviewed and loved last year. I was excited to read the novella sequel, and was happy to see Ellie, Jane and Katie return. I whizzed through the book, and enjoyed it, although not as much as the first.
To be honest, there was a little too much cliché in this book. The ladies all get pregnant, and all end up giving birth on the very same day… Sure, it made for a fun read, but was lacking some of the realism and depth of the first instalment.
That said, I loved that the girls brought their body positivity with them into this story. Being pregnant is actually a fear of mine – I desperately want kids one day, but have no real desire to be pregnant. I’ve already spent my entire adult life worrying about my figure, and pregnancy is guaranteed to bring those fears out in full force. So, I completely understood the struggle that these ladies faced.
Because the story was so short, I felt that their struggles weren’t really explored. Yes, there were body issues raised, particularly with Jane, but there wasn’t a realistic explanation as to how they were dealt with; one pep talk from hubby and some cheery compliment cards probably wouldn’t cut it with a woman who’d been hospitalised a year earlier with an eating disorder.
I did like Ellie’s struggles with her mother-in-law, and found Jane’s struggle with her producers interesting – weight based discrimination is a real, and terrible thing. Katie didn’t really make much of an appearance though, perhaps because she was the star of the last book? But her unexpected pregnancy would likely have caused the biggest issue, and could have been explored further.
Overall, I liked that this book maintained a focus on body positivity, but it definitely wasn’t as uplifting or meaty as the first book. If Gorman writes a third instalment, I hope it’s full-length and regains the spirit of the first!
Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.
When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.
But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas?
I received a copy of The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman in exchange for a review and my honest opinion.
I love a little bit of Christmas reading to imbue me with the holiday spirit! In fact, I think I like the lead up to Christmas day, filled with pretty decorations, good will, and holiday traditions, better than Christmas Day itself! Gorman sent me a copy of her latest short story, and it was super quaint – a great holiday read, and in a perfect, one-sitting size!
When Lottie’s beloved Aunt ends up in a coma just before Christmas, Lottie is left to rescue her dilapidated bed and breakfast from foreclosure. With just a few days, no helpers, and no DIY expertise, Lottie is in a Christmas pickle. Luckily, she and her daughter manage to enlist the help of their taxi driver, and together they plug holes in plaster with toothpaste, improvise a Victorian era Christmas, and manage to please their important guests – thus saving Christmas! There’s an added little sprinkle of romance, for good measure.
This brief story was vert well executed. Sometimes short stories don’t have enough time to satisfy my curiosity. Gorman, however, managed to give the main character enough backstory to make her actions more understandable, and successfully began and wound up the entire story, with no loose ends. There was humour and love, the most important elements in a happy Christmas season. It definitely fulfilled my desire for a little Christmas cheer in word-form!
I’ve been lucky enough to review a number of Michele Gorman’s chick lit books this year, and have been super impressed with each of them, and their unique style. So, I was quite excited when Notting Hill Press contacted me about interviewing Gorman, to aid in spreading the word about her latest book, Perfect Girl! Keep reading to get the scoop on this author’s inner workings…
Which book(s) has/have particularly inspired you in life?
MG: The book that pops immediately to mind is the Barefoot Doctor’s Handbook for the Urban Warrior. A great friend of mine passed it on to me not long after I’d moved to London. You know that lovely peaceful feeling that you get on holiday? Maybe you’re staring for hours at the sea or walking through a beautiful forest. The book is about having that feeling no matter where you are. I still remember two pieces of advice: Walk on the grass whenever you can (preferably in bare feet, although this may raise eyebrows if you’re doing it in front of your office building). And when confronted with negativity, invoke the ‘psychic egg’, which involves imagining an invisible protective force field around you. When my husband tees off about politicians in the news (a topic that never fails to boil his blood, even first thing in the morning), I shout ‘Psychic Egg!’, which usually shuts him up. So you see, it works 🙂
Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? Did anyone ever try to push you in the direction of a more traditional career path?
MG: My background is financial rather than literary and I spent more than 20 years working in financial services, so becoming an author was a conscious decision I made in my thirties rather than a lifelong dream fulfilled. I decided one day that I wanted to make a living without having to go into an office or have a boss, and figured that since I loved to read, I ought to be able to write. I was wrong! It took many years to learn to write well, but eventually I got there, and my first novel (Single in the City) was published by Penguin in 2010. It turns out that I absolutely love writing and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Your characters are all so different! Where do you find your inspiration for them? Do you base them on people that you know?
MG: Nope, I never based characters on people I know. For me, the story idea comes first and then the characters appear, and they have to be able to handle the storyline. Once I have the idea and the characters, I write a detailed character study so that I know how they’ll behave in just about any situation (because I don’t know at the start where the story will go). Most of this initial research never appears in the book. For instance, I have to know what they’re upbringing was like, whether they were good in school, started dating early or late, etc.
Sometimes the character that appears isn’t right for the storyline. That happened in Perfect Girl. The original character was called Lucy and no matter how I wrote her, she just wasn’t right for the part. She was a pushover without being likeable, and a bit blah. Then I met Carol, who’s the protagonist in Christmas Carol (the novella I wrote last year) and I knew she’d be, well, perfect. So I got rid of Lucy, put Carol in her place and the story flew!
What led to you making Carole an analyst? Is that something that you’ve experienced yourself, or did you have to hunt someone down to tell you about the ins and outs of that cutthroat work place?
MG: Remember when I said I worked in financial services? My first job was on a trading floor in a bank, with a boss who made Gordon Gekko look like Father Christmas. Carol’s experiences are all fictional but it was easy to imagine them because I knew what it was like to work in such a pressurized environment.
Are you a ‘perfect girl’ like Carole tried to be? You wrote so well about how it feels to live with that pressure (trust me, I know it!), that I felt you must’ve had some experience with it yourself!
I think everyone has a bit of Carol in them, including me. I like to do things well, though I don’t have that urge to make other people happy. Carol’s feelings in the book are imagined, and come from the character study I did at the beginning. The fun thing about writing romcoms is that you get to take a situation and exaggerate it. That’s part of where the humour comes from. A good narrative throws roadblocks in the way of the characters, roadblocks that they must either go around or burst through. That “How is she going to get out of this??” feeling when you’re reading is what builds the tension in the story.
What are your must haves, when you sit down to write?
MG: Strong coffee and a view. A lot of my writing involves staring into space. It’s nice when that space is pleasant. I also always have a writing notebook to hand (I start a new one with each book) so that I can write down ideas as I get them.
What’s next for you? Will we be seeing a return of any favourite characters?
MG: My next two books have completely new characters, although as I mentioned, Carol is the main protagonist in Christmas Carol, so readers can continue her story there.
Now I’m writing my next book for Avon/HarperCollins. The working title is Boyfriends Recycled and it’s about three friends who upcycle their exes through their local boyfriend recycling centre, but haven’t bargained on the consequences of the exchanges they make. It will come out in January 2016.
Thanks so much, Annabel, for having me on the blog! xo
I’ve loved learning a little more about Gorman’s writing process, and her upcoming projects. In fact, I’m going to be reviewing The Reluctant Elf in December, so keep your eyes peeled for that! You can check out my reviews of Perfect Girl, The Curvy Girls Club, and Single in the City if you’d like to know a little more about some of Gorman’s great books.
Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the "W" in banker.
How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?
I received a copy of Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman in exchange for my honest opinion.
I’ve reviewed several of Michele Gorman’s novels this year (check out my reviews of The Curvy Girls Club and Single Girl in the City), and it definitely seems like she’s hit upon the secrets to successful chick lit. I’ve loved each book – and am pleasantly surprised to realise that the main characters have all been very different, and the story-lines unique. A traveller looking for the perfect career, a woman seeking body love, and a high-powered career woman struggling against perfectionism – each of these ladies is trying to find a path to fulfilment and happiness.
Perfect Girl‘s protagonist, Carol, is a people pleaser, problem solver, perfectionist. Immediately, this struck a chord in me – I am a perfectionist too. At first, Carol bends over backwards to help her friends and family without a second thought. But, as the commitments pile on, something has to give. When suddenly she starts saying ‘No!’, people don’t quite know what to do! Suddenly, the very thing that defined her – her perfect girl reputation – is the very thing she wants to rid herself of. So, if not perfect, then who is she?
I have personally faced this very dilemma. When I stopped bending over backwards to please everyone, because I quite simply didn’t have the energy to do more than get through the day, people literally decided that I was no longer worth hanging out with. It was a shocking way to discover who my ‘real friends’ were, and almost hurt me enough to send me scurrying back to my people-pleasing ways. I’m still a perfectionist, but I am better about saying ‘No’ to people (most of the time!).
I think that relating to what Carol was feeling made me like this book on a whole different level. However, I think any chick lit lover, regardless of a perfectionist streak, would be hooked on this book from the get go. Gorman crafted a cast of characters that very much enhanced the story. Carol’s family, though at times frustrating, is loveable and endearing. Her best friend, Harriet, had me giggling at her ability to attract the most bizarre men. And her male-dominated workplace left me seething in disgust at the sexist behaviour she was forced to endure.
I also liked that the book didn’t only centre around Carol’s love life. Her innovation in the workplace was also a big theme; how she dealt with being a woman in a male-dominated workplace, and how she had the skills to hold her own (even when things didn’t go to plan). I won’t give anymore away though!
I’m definitely a Michele Gorman fan, and would recommend her books to any chick lit lover. She seems to have a way of adding a spark to her stories that can sometimes be missing in other books in the same genre. Excitingly, I’m interviewing Gorman soon, so keep an eye out for that in mid-November. Also, her christmas book will be a part of my Christmas Round-Up, so if you’re hankering for another fix, you won’t have long to wait!
Overall: Perfect Girl was only released this week, so grab a copy, read it, love it – ad be the awesome person that gets to recommend a great book to your #readerfriends!
A funny, heart-warming story about overcoming the prejudices we hold, no matter where we tip the scales.
When the pounds start falling off Katie, founder and president of London's most popular social club for the calorie-challenged, it seems like a dream come true. But as the overweight stigma recedes and her life starts to change, she faces losing more than the inches around her waist. Everything that's important to her - her closest friends, boyfriend, and acceptance into the club itself - are at stake in a world where thin is the new fat.
I received a copy of The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman in exchange for a review and my honest opinion.
The premise of this book was truly fantastic. From the start, you could tell that Gorman was passionate about the subject, and that it was more than just another topic for another book.
When Katie and her friends realise that their weekly weight-loss meetings are making them feel guilty and miserable, they start hitting the town instead. Realising that curvy girls need curve-friendly environments, they do their research and choose activities that have comfy seating or wider doorways. Soon, there are so many people wanting to join in on these activities that the girls start their own club – the Curvy Girls (and Boys) Club.
The women realise that when they’re enjoying the activities, surrounded by fellow curvies, they no longer feel as ‘fat’. In fact, for the first time in a long time, they aren’t self-conscious at all!
As their curvy-girl revolution gains momentum, they start becoming more well known – and then the TV stations get involved.
Throughout this book, the plot developments are unexpected, and intriguing. The fact that these woman are of a size that is now the ‘norm’, whether we like it or not, makes them so much more relatable. As a curvy girl myself, who has always struggled with body image, I heard the ring of truth in the harsh critiques these women were giving themselves daily. Then, as their activities gave them a confidence and happiness that they’d been missing for a long time, I felt both happiness and jealousy.
Refreshingly, this book was about real women, and real emotions. There was no storybook romance, or miracle weight loss. The happy ending wasn’t seeing four skinny women who’d achieved their weight loss goals – the book was about women finding happiness in themselves the way they are, and not beating themselves up for not meeting someone else’s standards of beauty.
The Curvy Girls Club told a story that needed telling, and that I appreciated hearing. I admire Gorman’s dedication to the topic – she has even created a Facebook group for women that shares daily inspiration for curvy ladies.
Women who are brave enough to write about why they are beautiful as they are, and encourage us to ignore the haters are inspiring. Women like Brittany Gibbons, from Brittany, Herself, who are making a living by boosting women up, instead of putting them down, should be celebrated!
I definitely recommend this book, for women of all shapes and sizes. These women are real women, who I see everyday, and who everybody should know and empathise with. You can find yourself a copy here or here. Go! Read it now!!
Don’t forget that I am giving away three digital copies of “The Job Proposal” by Wendy Chen – you can enter the giveaway here!
Expat Diaries: Single in the City
Take one twenty-six-year-old American, add to a two thousand year old city, add a big dose of culture clash and stir.
To think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That's been the understatement of a lifetime. She lands upon England's gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she's supposed to build the life she's dreaming of. Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.
I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.
I started this book at 11.30pm, with the intention of having a little read. Then, lo and behold, it was 2am, and I’d finished the entire thing.
To me, this is the sign of a great book – when you just can’t put it down. Gorman’s Expat Diaries: Single in the City is the perfect piece of chick lit! Hannah’s adventures settling into London life are both hilarious and recognisable. We’ve all been there; maybe not in London, but somewhere. And falling for the ‘perfect’ guy only to find out that he’s actually Satan’s evil twin? Yup, we’ve all been there too.
Gorman managed to write a character who was interesting and survived her many disasters without being whingey. I was completely invested in Hannah finding her feet, and recognised the emotions she felt as she tried to find her place in a strange new place.
The writing flowed in the easy style that is essential for good chick lit, and the plot has numerous facets that didn’t feel crammed in but instead each added a layer of depth to the story. Gorman also had fun with the lingo differences between America and the UK, which was a laugh, and the stereotypical Aussie backpackers who made an appearance were bang on!
I was pleased to discover that there are two sequels already written for me to devour as soon as I have some downtime!No torturous waiting game to play. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Hannah in a new place, and with a whole new string of disasters to manage!
If you want to discover the magic of expat life for yourself (from the comfort of your own home), you can find it here. If anyone has read it, let me know what you thought! I feel like this is a short review, but sometimes all you need to know is that it’s good!