June 8, 2015

It's Mhairi McFarlane Monday!

It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane

Release Date: November 6, 2014 (UK)
Publisher: HarperCollins | Harper
Pages: 531 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong.

When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault. 

When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault.

And when he wanted her back life nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame… 

From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.

Thoughts on It's Not Me, It's You
I read and enjoyed Mhairi McFarlane's You Had Me at Hello last year, and it left me itching to read more from her. When I found out she had another book coming out in the UK, I immediately pre-ordered it from Book Depository. And I can't deny the fact that the adorable cover also played a part in my decision! It's Not Me, It's You has since been released in the US (though with a different cover), so you should have no problem adding this one to your shelves if my review is convincing enough.

In this book, you'll meet Delia Moss. She's happy with her life, but she's tired of waiting for her boyfriend of ten years to propose. So, she takes matters into her own hands... and that's when everything goes wrong. Because he's been keeping secrets and has betrayed her trust, Delia isn't quite sure what to do next. Her life isn't turning out the way she planned, but how can she get it back on track?

While I had a few minor issues with You Had Me at Hello, this book was practically perfect for me. As always with McFarlane, the characters are fantastic. I liked Delia from the very beginning, but the secondary characters are just as memorable and heartwarming. Delia's brother, her best friend, her hilarious Internet friend, her co-worker, the infuriatingly wonderful journalist, her horribly sketchy boss... They all felt so real to me! I have a terrible book memory, but these characters will stay in mind for a long time.

McFarlane has such a great sense of humor, and I often find myself laughing out loud while I'm reading. But I cried a little, too, because she tackles some themes and feelings that I identified with so strongly. My favorite quote from the book (at the bottom of this review) expressed something I've struggled with in life. I can be so scared of failing that I never try, so Delia felt like a kindred spirit. I couldn't wait to see what she'd do next and where she'd end up because I was never quite sure where McFarlane would take this story. Either way, I was rooting for her to succeed and to get everything she wanted out of life and love!

I picked this up when I was in a reading funk, and it was just what I needed! It was a breath of fresh air - a book that gave me that "I just found a new favorite" feeling. I started this 531-page beauty after work and finished it that evening. I didn't leave my room until I was done because it was too good to put down! I would happily recommend this book to readers who love adult fiction with humor, heart and a dose of happiness.

So Quotable
"Instead of trying and failing, Delia never tried. She told herself that failure was inevitable and she'd only look silly in the process. It was fear, cloaked in rationalisations and self-deprecation."
Here's Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

Release Date: December 5, 2013 (UK)
Publisher: HarperCollins | Avon
Pages: 400 pages
Source & Format: Gifted; Paperback
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Here's Looking At You is, in essence, an ugly duckling tale. Our heroine Anna returns to school after fifteen years for a reunion. School doesn't hold happy memories for her, as being a roly poly Italian (known as the Italian Galleon), and always armed with a Tupperware full of pungent Mediterranean food, she was bullied incessantly throughout her years there.

Now in her 30s, Anna wants to put the past behind her once and for all and face up to the bullies who made her life hell. But she is much-changed from the girl she once was - all curves and because I'm worth it hair - and no one recognizes her when she arrives. Losing her cool, she backs out on her plan for revenge and slinks off, hoping never to be reminded of her years at school again.

But fate gets in the way, and after the reunion her path keeps crossing with James - major hunk and Anna's major crush back at school. But alas, as a crony to the bullies, Anna to this day believes that his beautiful exterior hides an ugly interior. As they continue to cross paths a love/hate relationship ensues until eventually something shifts, and they both start to discover what the person underneath is really like…

Thoughts on Here's Looking at You
Immediately after finishing It's Not Me, It's You, I picked up Here's Looking at You. I was on a Mhairi McFarlane high and didn't want it to end! Thankfully, I loved this book just as much as the other one. That one might be my favorite by the tiniest sliver, but this one comes awfully close!

Anna was bullied in high school, so attending her fifteen-year reunion is a chance for her to finally make peace with her past. Now in her 30s, she's lost the weight that made her the butt of every joke and has found personal and professional fulfillment. She wants to face her bullies, but she's not prepared for no one to recognize her. She runs into James while there - her popular and handsome high school crush - but never expects to see him again. Then, work forces them together again and it becomes that much harder for Anna to move on.

I was a little nervous about this book based on the reviews, but I should have trusted McFarlane to deliver another amazing read! Despite what anyone says, Here's Looking at You never felt like a "fat girl loses weight and finally gets everything she wanted" book to me. Instead, I saw it as Anna's journey to discovering her worth and value and, in the process, finding the courage and confidence to take control of her life. She doesn't lose weight to please people or make herself more attractive to others - she does it because it's what she wants. She has a career she's passionate about, close friends and a loving family. Instead of being dragged down by other people, she's become a stronger person and a character that I just adored. Despite his mistakes, I also loved James. He's far from perfect, but I loved his interactions with Anna and was hopeful for their relationship. 

As with every Mhairi McFarlane book, I was laughing and tearing up while reading! I love that her books are "light but not shallow" - a phrase coined by Sarah from Clear Eyes, Full Shelves that's truly the perfect description. And while I couldn't find the comparison in any of the summaries or marketing for Here's Looking for You, I'm pretty sure it's inspired by Pride and Prejudice. There are so many parallels and connections, and I had so much fun looking for them! Because that's my favorite book, I both love and loathe retellings of it. Thankfully, McFarlane gets it right. Here's Looking at You stands on its own and is a new favorite for me!

So Quotable
"We're scared of all sorts of things that won't kill us, aren't we? The things we live our lives around avoiding. Then we realise when we get to the end that what we should've been afraid of was a life lived by avoiding things."

2 comments:

  1. Both of these books sound AMAZING! I'm adding them to my list immediately. I love that phrase "light but not shallow"- that's the kind of contemp I like. And I can't resist British contemporaries/chick lit. I'm glad you loved these so much! They sound like great summer reads.

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  2. I can't wait to read Mhairi McFarlane's books! I've got one from her already, on your recommendation, and there's no doubt in my mind that I've got a very good chance of falling in love with it. These two sound fantastic, and I'll definitely have to put them on my list of books to check out after I finish You Had Me at Hello!

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