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I read Ali's first book 'From Notting hill with love....actually' a while back now so when I saw that she had released a second book which was also a follow up to that, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I eventually did and then I ended up not reading it until now.
Ali McNamara is an English author living in Cambridgeshire. She has now written three books and she has a fourth due out in November of 2013, named step back in time and I believe, based on her blog, that she intends to bring a third book out in the series of 'From Notting hill' books around late 2014.
Scarlett O'Brien is now happily loved up with her boyfriend Sean. Her love of romantic films is still strong but, the reality of living with her leading man is not quite the same as the films make it out to be! With Sean away on business a lot, Scarlett and her new best friend Oscar decide to take a trip of a lifetime to New York.
From the famous sights of the big apple to meeting new people, Scarlett and Oscar are having a fab time and it is reporter Jamie that Scarlett meets and feels strangely drawn to that makes her wonder why she feels this way if she is so in love with Sean?
Scarlett is a great character as she is so nice to everyone and helpful and she also has a bit of a quirky side with her extreme love of romance films and her knowledge about them. I like how easy it is to read about her and you want to know more about her and her life. The first book was really good at setting the scene for her character and this second one is no different at being able to carry it on and make the book interesting and enjoyable.
Oscar is over the top, friendly, lovable character that perfectly complements Scarlett's personality and together they really make the book come alive. I like how the story doesn't completely focus on just Scarlett and his has his own things going on too that just add something extra to the book.
Scarlett's boyfriend Sean features in this book too and he has such a different personality to her yet they work so well together and because of this the story surrounding them is really well done and gives the book the extra bit.
I bought my book in Tesco as part of their two books for £7 offer, making this book just £3.50. I think for a brand new book, especially one with a RRP of £6.99, this is great value and you can still get it in there currently I believe however, if you cannot find it in there you can pick up a copy in many other online and high street stores as well as the e-books for kindles and the like.
I couldn't wait to read this book as I had enjoyed the first one so much and I wasn't disappointed at all. I liked how easy it was to get into the book and I think if you were reading this one first, you would still get into just as easily. I do think however, the experience of this one would be made all the better for reading the first book before it though so I would definitely recommend doing that.
I have found with the character of Scarlett, it reminds me a little of the Shopaholic books in that the main central character has a quirky element to her or should I say a certain personality trait that always comes to light in each book and so you really get to know the person for being that way and you start to expect certain things from her! With Scarlett, it is that she always seems to end up in the most unusual situations and I like that the books are like this. For example in this book, without giving everything away, she ends up in a situation that most normal people wouldn't end up in and yet even though it should seem a little far-fetched, it is still enjoyable and fun to read about.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and think many others of chick lit will too. I would say you can read it before the first book but, to enhance your experience, you're better reading after that one as then you will know the characters and past storyline even better and it will make the book even more enjoyable.
Scarlett thinks she has finally found her Mr Right in boyfriend Sean, and the pair are still living together in Notting Hill. However, things seem to have gone off the boil a bit more, especially with Sean's jet-set lifestyle and Scarlett feeling a bit lonely now her dad has moved to New York for their popcorn business. When Scarlett decides she needs a break, she flies to see her dad with best friend Oscar, to the fabulous city of New York. While there, they bump into British TV presenter Jamie and his cameraman Max, and Scarlett hits it off with both of them. However, she starts to worry when she feels more of a connection with Jamie than she probably should, especially when Sean is only across the water waiting at home for her...
Sequels to books I have loved always worry me... I worry that they aren't going to live up to my high expectations, and that my enjoyment of the first book will then be tainted! I was really excited that Ali McNamara was writing a sequel to her 2010 fantastic debut novel From Notting Hill With Love... Actually, a fun read about a movie obsessive living her dream in Notting Hill - I'd really enjoyed that novel and hoped that catching up with Scarlett and her friends again would be a good idea! Luckily, McNamara chose to set the sequel in my favourite city in the world, New York, and having been there myself, I was looking forward to seeing how realistically she would write about it, and how it would work in terms of Scarlett, her movie obsession and her relationships in the book!
For me, it was easy to slip back into the lives of Scarlett and Sean, and it didn't feel like it had been nearly 2 years since I had last read about them both! McNamara recaps enough of their past to gently remind you of things as you're reading, and as such, those who haven't read the first book will still be able to enjoy this one just as much, albeit without knowing all of the ins and outs of Scarlett's escapades in Notting Hill! Although the book starts in Notting Hill, it does soon move over to New York, and I really enjoyed reading this part, especially as I could relate to it myself having been there twice before! I found McNamara's descriptions to be perfect, from the landmarks she describes, to the walkabouts that Scarlett goes on by herself... its clear to imagine exactly whats going on because of McNamara's use of detail, and her passion for it in her writing too which I cannot fault.
Couple this great side of the book with a likeable cast of characters and you're already on to a winning formula! I love Scarlett as a character - she's funny, she's realistic and believable, and all the time you're rooting for her to get her happy ending. She and Oscar are just hilarious together, especially exploring all the infamous New York sights... Oscar is just brilliant and makes reading the book even more of a joy! The use of two other British men in the book gives it another edge, and some of the storylines that come out of that are a tad far-fetched, but they are very fun to read about... McNamara must have had fun imagining the conversations Scarlett had with the very famous person in this book! As well as the more light-hearted side of the novel, there is a more serious storyline involving a TV station manager and a charity close to his heart... McNamara deals with this issue with compassion, and it felt well situated in amongst the more light stories and links in nicely with the other story threads.
I have to say that my favourite part was the last 30-40 pages where things suddenly come to a head, and I found myself whizzing through at lightning pace to find out how it was going to end, I loved how McNamara engineered this book's ending, and gives the reader a little extra excitement before we say goodbye to Scarlett and co once more! It's written in the first person from Scarlett's perspective, and this allows you to really get into her head and feel her confusion, excitement, nerves and more as the book progresses, and it allows the descriptions of New York to be really detailed too. I loved every page of this book, it really drew me in and I found myself guessing along with the book, and how things were going to go as it wasn't too obvious at various points! McNamara's writing is easy to read, and she's written a fun and readable novel that movie fans are going to love again as Scarlett goes exploring the setting of some of most brilliant movies of all time! A must-read from me, I loved it!
ISBN: 978-0751547450. Published by Sphere on 22nd November 2012. Pages: 448. RRP: £6.99. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review, and to you for reading.