Wednesday, 13 May 2015

My Guilty Pleasure Books

I love the classics. Actually, me and the classics are getting along famously, and if you have been spying on me on Goodreads you would have noticed that my 5 star ratings are generally saved for a good ol’ classic. However, I do enjoy a good chick lit, sickly-sweet romance, or a mainstream thriller every once in a while – truth is, I am not such a massive snob after all. Throughout the years I have found out that mainstream literature can actually be good – it does not have to be the next 1984 in order to be hugely enjoyable. In this context, here are some of my favourite guilty pleasure reads – contemporary titles that might lack Hemingway’s brilliant writing style, or Tolstoy’s lively descriptions, but have some life into them; they are books that are going to make you smile.

The Food of Love Cookery School by Nicky Pellegrino

What a delicious read that one was! Mouth-watering Sicilian pastries, divine pasta covered in fresh ingredients, chocolate on and in everything and anything, and all of that for no extra calories. Nicky Pellegrino is probably among my favourite authors of the chick lit genre. She does not take herself too seriously, writes about what she knows and loves, and her books are winning from it. Granted the writing could be polished, of course it can, but the stories! Oh, I have only read two* of her books but their stories have definitely managed to stay with me – not just because they happen to be situated is sunny Italy, but because their characters seems so real, you can almost hear them breathe.

The Food of Love Cookery School is a delicious book following four extremely different women as they embark on a cooking holiday in Sicily. The chef that is leading the course? A handsome, charming Sicilian man with a dash of mystery attached to his persona. The characters are terribly engaging and the food descriptions are going to make you want to leave your flat and go to Sicily right now. Seriously, why wouldn’t you want to read that book?

*The second book I read of hers was When in Rome.

How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn

I love period drama, okay? And I don’t know if you are aware but Jane Austen has only written that many books, and after you read a bit of Thomas Hardy and Elizabeth Gaskell, you are ready to get your hands on something a bit more cheerful for a change! Enter Julia Quinn.

She is a modern author yet she chooses to write about Regency England. To tell the truth, her books do have some historical inaccuracies, so if this is the thing that makes you really angry – stay away from those books. However, I am one of those people and I do not mind it in this case since Quinn’s books are not really based on true characters or anything; instead they offer a different way to view the time period. Which brings me to…

Thanks God, for the sex scenes! I am sorry but can we stop pretending as if people back in the days were not having sex? I know it wasn’t exactly Austen’s style to describe how Mr Darcy was satisfying Elizabeth (and I do not expect it from her to write about that at all), but it is really nice for a change to read a romantic book set in Regency England, which includes its characters indulging into some intercourse!

Anyway…How to Marry a Marquis follows Elizabeth Hotchkiss as she stumbles upon a book by the same name in her employer's library. Since Elizabeth is rather poor she decides to follow some of the advice in the book in order to marry rich. Then, there is James Sidwell, Marquis of Riverdale, who offers to help Elizabeth find herself a husband…

Apparently How to Marry a Marquis is the second book of Agents of the Crown series but the story works on its own. Another book of Quinn’s I have read is It’s in His Kiss and it’s an alright read although not very memorable. 

Eating with the Angels by Sarah-Kate Lynch

FOOD! Enough said.

Well okay, the plot is centred on Connie Farrell, a New York restaurant critic, who is on her way to Venice for the second honeymoon of a lifetime. There's only one problem - Tom, her high school sweetheart and husband of ten years, is not sitting next to her.

The plot is quite predictable, but yet again, the food is what makes it for me, and if you are the same, you are probably going to enjoy Eating with the Angles, too. After all the main character is a restaurant critic, so the food descriptions are even better!

The Art of French Kissing by Kristin Harmel

I have mentioned that one before and I do consider The Artof French Kissing to be one of the better chick lit titles. It is set in Paris because obviously…

A good-looking American girl loses her fiancé, her job and her place in the matter of a couple of days, so she jumps at the opportunity to visit an old friend who lives in Paris. There, she is included in her small PR company, handling a new big French rock star. Parisian sights, French charmers and mindless fun – this one is perfect to take to the beach with you and get lost in its predictable plot while sipping on an iced cold mojito.

The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle De Jour

Now that is a book I love rereading as it makes me laugh. A lot. Belle has a marvellous sense of humour making her books a real treat. Moreover, she is brutally honest – something I love and have learnt to truly appreciate in an author.

I watched Secret Diary of a Call Girl with Billie Piper years ago and loved it – a funny British series based on Belle’s books that despite being centred on a call girl, does not make you cringe…well not most of the time anyway. Basically, ever since I watched the show I wanted to read the books, and when I finally did it, I instantly knew what all the fuss was about. When I am blue and need something to put me in a good mood? Belle it is.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Guilty pleasure book indeed! Over the years a lot has been said about Dan Brown and his mainstream novels. Everything has been criticized – from his writing style, to his unbelievable stories to his unbelievable characters. This is by no means ground-breaking literature.

Yet, Angels and Demons is a book I absolutely loved reading! Let me tell you a story…

So, I was still at high school – 17 or 18, I am not that sure – and Angels and Demons [the film] was going to be out in a matter of months. Having seen The Da Vinci Code previously (who did not see that one?), I was really looking forward to the new film but wanted to read the book first in a true snobbish bookworm kind of fashion. (Note: the films are not good at all, but I don’t mind a bit of Tom Hanks running around solving mysteries) There I was picking up Angels and Demons, reading it before and after school. What happened next? I read it really fast because it is one of the most addicting books ever – a true page turner, a fast-paced thriller, and a story that needed to be finished and finished fast.

This is what makes Dan Brown’s books so popular that they fly off the shelves the moment they hit them – they are truly addictive, like a very strong cocktail that needs to be finished before the waitress comes around and takes it from your grip (well something like that, you know what I mean). And of course the mystery – always a popular topic, something out there, something you want to read about but you haven’t even began yet.

Finally, as I was reading Angles and Demons I became suspiciously good in Physics. True story.

Well this turned into a very personal and revealing post at the end, didn't it? What are your guilty pleasure reads? Do tell...I cannot judge...anymore.

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