Book Review: Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

I bloody love Mhairi McFarlane books – and every time I get one of her ARCs it whizzes to the top of my TBR pile (I recognise I’m an acronym w*nker at this point!!) However I was also a bit nervous. Surely at some point the books couldn’t improve, surely at some point one of them was going to be a bit ‘meh’ – but I shouldn’t have been worried at all. This one is, I think, my favourite to date (admittedly I say this every time!)

Anyway – for those of you who want some info rather than just buying a book because you adore the author – here it is:

Two strangers.
One big coincidence.

Driving each other crazy is just the beginning…
Harriet Hatley is running away from everything.
Getting married.
Her boyfriend’s family.
Her past.
A dream house-share seems like the perfect place to hide, but her unlikely housemate Cal is no stranger to running away himself. And he’s also hiding secrets of his own . . .
Can these two take a crazy risk, face the past and finally find a reason to stay?”

Just before I started the book, it featured in a Stylist article where Francesca Brown (who I frequently got drunk with over 20 years ago!) wrote: ” It’s also telling that some of the biggest titles in the commercially heavyweight genre of “women’s fiction” aren’t anywhere close to the fluffy romance stories of lazy stereotype either. Mhairi Mcfarlane’s moving Mad About You (out 14 April, £7.99, HarperCollins) explores coercive control”

The book starts with Harriet living with her loaded boyfriend Jon. The relationship ends (fairly spectacularly!) and she moves out, and rents a room with Cal. Her path has crossed with Cal before – although neither of them realise that when she agrees to move in.

The storyline then follows Harriet’s relationship with her friends / Cal / her ex Jon – until everything implodes even more when her path crosses with someone else, this time, an abusive ex. You are given the back story of how he controlled her – it was really very emotional to hear what he did.

Anyway – everything then goes spectacularly tits up! It is so well written – and you are totally rooting for Harriet and her loyal friends – old and new. The build up to the climax is amazing – and so well described, it would make a brilliant film / TV series – it’s epic!

Whilst this is a massively entertaining read – I also honestly think it could help people who are in a situation similar to Harriet was, shining a light on the fact there is a way out.

As expected – it’s another fabulous read from Ms McFarlane.

As Fran’s link says above – it’s out in April and you can pre order it now. A huge thank you to the publisher, NetGalley and Mhairi for the advance review copy.

Book Review: Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

Now, I’d promised myself as it was the new year I needed to get on top of my NetGalley backlog – and I would read them strictly in publication date to make sure everything ran like clockwork. Then, I got sent the new Mhairi McFarlane – and as I ADORE her books, my 2021 plan went out of the window and I had to download this one immediately!

Here’s the blurb:

Two best friends.
One missed chance.
And a night that changes everything.
Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed.
Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too.
Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets…

I was not disappointed. I honestly think Mhairi’s books get better and better – I loved this one and stayed up until the early hours of this morning finishing it (which, when sleep is at a premium due to home schooling 4 kids and trying to keep a business and family afloat during a global pandemic, is praise in itself!). There is a love story element – will they / won’t they – and that’s about more than one couple – but it’s so much more than that. There’s grief / friendship / secrets / family estrangement / pubic hair to name but a few topics.

I was also very excited about one particular bit – which is somewhat niche. Susie works at Deloitte in Nottingham! Being Deloitte Birmingham alumni, I did frequent the Nottingham office a few times in the late 90s. It was on a complicated one way system and if you missed the car park (which clearly I did, and so is why I’m still scarred by it nearly a quarter of a century later) then you had to do a big loop around to try again. Anyway – as I said, somewhat niche – but I know a few of my Deloitte friends will also be excited by that.

Back to the book!

The book starts at the regular Thursday night pub quiz – where Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed are weekly attendees (even if they always lose to the chaps in cagoules!). Then something life changing happens. I don’t want to give away the plot as you need to experience it for yourself – but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

The rest of the book deals with the fallout of that one evening – with various secrets being uncovered as it twists and turns.

Whilst there are some really, really sad bits – they are dealt with with Mhairi’s trademark dark humour in an absolutely brilliant way – some of the one liners, particularly from Justin, are amazingly, awkwardly, awesome.

The majority of the book is set in Nottingham (and there is the obligatory Rock City reference) – but there are also trips to Edinburgh and Derbyshire – and the writing about each geographical area really makes you feel like you’re there with the characters. (I was quite excited that I’ve been for a wee and a drink – in that order – in the hotel the characters stay in when in the Scottish capital!)

I really think it is my favourite of all of Mhairi’s books (although I admit I do say that every time a new one comes out) but it is fantastic. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend pre ordering it for when it comes out in April 2021.

A MASSIVE thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC – and now on with my excessive TBR pile that I let this book leapfrog!

Book Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You

On the back of this new book by Mhairi McFarlane is a quote from the author Holly Bourne that says ‘If Mhairi released a novel a month I’d ready them all’ – and I have to say I completely concur.  I’ve read Mhairi’s entire back catalogue and loved every single one.

Here’s the blurb about this one:

“If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?
The brand new novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Mhairi McFarlane
Laurie and Jamie have the perfect office romance

(They set the rules via email)
Everyone can see they’re head over heels

(They staged the photos)
This must be true love

(They’re faking it)
When Laurie is dumped by her partner of eighteen years, she’s blindsided. Not only does she feel humiliated, they still have to work together.
So when she gets stuck in the lift with handsome colleague Jamie, they hatch a plan to stage the perfect romance. Revenge will be sweet…
But this fauxmance is about to get complicated. You can’t break your heart in a fake relationship – can you?”

Yet again Mhairi McFarlane has written an absolute cracker which I loved from the offset.  Laurie is a lawyer, and having been an accountant in a previous life, the office politics were very similar – and the inter office relationships!!

I loved Laurie, wanted to punch Dan, and was desperate for a ‘happy ever after’!

The book twists and turns – and as ever, the use of social media is brilliant (I also only recently found out people can see if you’ve looked at their Instastories #oldperson #rubbishstalker)

The supporting cast is also brilliant – Laurie’s colleagues, her BFF and Jamie’s BFF, Jamie’s parents – a whole host of other characters who you are also invested in and are fleshed out in  the story.

I suspected this might have a reasonably predictable storyline – and in some ways I was right – but I was also wrong!  There’s definitely enough to keep you on your toes and you don’t feel totally spoonfed.

Whilst this could be summed up as a ‘romance’ there is so much more to it – and it shows how important friends are as well as family.

Mhairi’s writing is – as ever – quick witted, amusing, emotive, clever, well thought out, intelligent, and just downright brilliant.  I like to think if I ever wrote a book (no plans in the immediate future, but you never know) I would have a similar ‘voice’.  (That sounds far more w*nky than I intended it to……….)

And I’ve just noticed this is currently 99p for Kindle – so download it immediately, you won’t regret it!


Book Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Don't You Forget About Me


I LOVE Mhairi McFarlane and have read all of her back catalogue.  In fact, I have signed copies of all of her books after a prosecco-fuelled bid on a charity auction lot last year…….. I’ve been lucky enough to have been sent advanced review copies before – but somehow I must have fallen off the radar, and I didn’t notice it on Netgalley – and so it wasn’t until this was published that I realised there was a new book!  I immediately downloaded it – not begrudging paying for once, as I had high expectations – as I have loved all of the historic books.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“It began with four words.

‘I love your laugh. x’

But that was twelve years ago. It really began the day Georgina was fired from The Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (© Tripadvisor) and found The Worst Boyfriend in the World (© Georgina’s best friends) in bed with someone else.

So when her new boss, Lucas McCarthy, turns out to be the boy who wrote those words to her all that time ago, it feels like the start of something.

The only problem? He doesn’t seem to remember Georgina – at all…”


I was completely correct not to have begrudged spending hard earned cash on this – it was excellent – and possibly my favourite Mhairi McFarlane to date.

It flashes back to sixth form – and I can soooooo remember that time, and it really evoked those memories (despite being a very long time ago for me!) and then the present day when Georgina is initially working in an awful Italian restaurant.  I really liked Georgina – although did want to give her a shake a couple of times!

The relationships with her extended family were described brilliantly, and similarly that with her friends and colleagues – you really feel like you get to know everyone.  The passive aggressive notes from her housemate were a particular favourite!

The ending is brilliant (the friendship group reminds me quite a lot of Bridget Jones – but in a good way, not a copying way!) and I loved it.  As with many of Mhairi’s books I want a sequel or a spin off, pretty please??

I like the fact that whilst this is ‘chick lit’ it is bloody well written, structured and uses long words!  It’s an easy read – but feels like time has been invested to make it a decent quality book.  It had me crying with laughter – and then sobbing with high emotion – which has to be the sign of a good book?

It’s out now on Kindle (and a bargain at just 99p) – or next week in paperback – so treat yourself!




Book Review: After Hello by Mhairi McFarlane


I have raved before about Mhairi McFarlane’s books (in quite an ‘oh my goodness, I want to be her friend, she writes such fabulous books’ kind of way!)  And when I reviewed You Had Me At Hello! I specifically said I was left wanting to know what happened to the characters next. Well – it would appear Miss McFarlane has answered my wishes (although I did Tweet her asking for a unicorn, and that hasn’t materialised as yet!)  and this novella is exactly that – picking up Rachel and Ben’s story 2 years down the line.

“A short story sequel to the bestselling romcom You Had Me At Hello!
In You Had Me At Hello, the one who got away came back… but what happened next?

Together, apart and then back together again, Rachel and Ben had a rollercoaster ride to get here. But now happily in love and partners in crime once more, it feels like it’s all been worth it.
But when a face from the past reappears, misunderstandings come between them once more.
Can they hold on to their happy ever after?”

It picks up with Rachel and Ben – and the other characters from YHMAH (I’m so down with the kids with the whole acronym stuff!) – and centres around Mindy’s hen night and wedding.  As usual the reference points are totally on point – from someone annyoingly pointing out the Slimming World syns in everything eaten at the kebab house – to the description of a 30+ hangover (I’m sure they get even worse at 40+).

All in all, another great read – and it’s FREE to download it from Amazon – yay!

The only negative about this is that it’s too short – yet again I WANT TO KNOW MORE.

I’m fitting this into ‘A book published in 2017’ for my 2017 Reading Challenge.



Book Review: We Were On A Break by Lindsey Kelk


I had seen this book around (probably Red Magazine and Twitter – but those are guesses, just my usual sources of book advice) and was v keen to read it just because of the title as:

a) It’s one of the most memorable ‘Friends’ quotes ever
b) I was the other party in a ‘they were on a break’ issue back in 1999 after having a holiday dalliance (holiday ‘romance’ would be pushing it) with a guy who was ‘on a break’ from his girlfriend.  She is now his wife and mother of his children, and I am happily married with my own gaggle of children, but even 17 years on she can’t speak to me and struggles to even look at me.  #awkward

Anyway, my dealer (of books rather than any other substance) offered me a copy to take to Disneyland Paris with me – which sounded like a very good plan (anything to dilute Disney is a good plan).

Amazon appears to be scant on blurb – so this is from the back of the book (which means I actually have to type it and not cut and paste #commitment)

“There’s nothing worse than the last day of holiday. Oh wait, there is.  When what should have been a proposal turns into a break, Liv and Adam find themselves on opposite sides of the life they had mapped out.
Friends and family all think they’re crazy; Liv throws herself into work – animals are so much simpler than humans – and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he’s dug.  But as the short break becomes a chasm, can the find a way back to each other?
More importantly, do they want to?”

Heads up – I absolutely LOVED this book from the off!  It is told from both Liv and Adam’s points of view (and this confused me the first time it switched – but there may have been wine involved) and I really liked both characters.

It is funny, well written, emotional, true to life and with really relevant reference points (I’m assuming it’s true that you’re more likely to be murdered by your Uber driver home than the internet date you’ve met in a bar?!)  The supporting cast of family and friends are great too – all very different but well fleshed out and interesting, and not predictable. In a ‘style of Bridget Jones’ you expect that David the veterinary nurse will turn out to be Liv’s gay BFF – but he most definitely isn’t (despite the Kardashian love / hate) – and one of her best friend’s Cass, is something of a ‘smug married’ but then ‘goes the full 2007 Brittany on the situation’ (which is a quote I hope to use in the near future as it’s so excellent!).

It reminded me very much of the style of Mhairi McFarlane whom I have sworn allegiance to before (and from a small amount of Twitter stalking it would appear that Ms Kelk and Ms McFarlane were recently out together with Giovanna Fletcher too #welljel #Iwanttobeintheirsquad)

The book twists and turns and keeps you interested in what is going to happen to Liv and Adam and Daniel Craig (the cat, not the actor).

I am suffering with the worst ever cough (I’m blaming Mickey Mouse for the germs and wondering if Lionel Messi is also suffering) – but the one benefit of being unable to sleep and having to sit up all bl**dy night is that I’ve been able to read this fantastic book.  I am DELIGHTED that there is a plentiful back catalogue of other books by Lindsey Kelk and proposed downloading many to my Kindle right now!






Book Review: Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane

Who's That Girl


“When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, Edie’s forced to take an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?

Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgy, layabout sister.

When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.”

I am a huge Mhairi (pronounced Vah-Ree, in case you were wondering) McFarlane fan – having really enjoyed all of her previous books ‘You Had Me At Hello‘, ‘Here’s Looking At You‘ and ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You‘ – so was very excited when my pre-order of her latest book dropped into my Kindle.

As usual the main character, in this case Edie, is really likeable – and you’re rooting for her from the off.  Early on she is caught in a compromising position at a wedding – and she’s the one who is totally blamed.  The other party gets forgiven PDQ.  (I empathise completely with Edie after a similar situation happened to me many moons ago!  The bloke I had a ‘fling-ette’ with was ‘on a break’ at the time – but subsequently the estranged parties got back together and this girlfriend became his wife – clearly forgiving him – but 16 years on she still won’t even speak to me. I am regularly grateful there wasn’t any social media at the turn of the millennium!!!)

Anyway – enough of my colourful life and back to Edie’s!

She is sent to Nottingham (rather than Coventry!) after the wedding debacle, to work on a project – but Nottingham is also her hometown.  She moves back in with her widowed father and sister – and their relationships are explored, as is her relationship with the very interesting elderly next door neighbour. Having had a couple of nights out in Nottingham over the years, I could imagine some of the settings which was also fun.

The actor she is ghost writing for initially seems a bit of a knob – but I ended up really liking him and all of his family.  In fact – I pretty much liked everyone by the end! It twists and turns and isn’t predictable – but that adds to the story.  Whilst the premise is definitely rom-com – it’s so much more than that – with some pretty deep topics explored (and wept about by me!).

I enjoy the fact that with all of Mhairi’s books the characters are fleshed out and you get to know them all – from Edie and her family, to her best friends from school, to ‘the actor’ and his family and the gay BFF who is definitely not a BFF (he was one of the few I didn’t like by the end!)

It’s also very clever the way Mhairi weaves in the use of technology and social media into the book.  It’s totally how everyone works nowadays – and so when I read a book and people aren’t using such things it seems a bit odd.  I feel that Mhairi writes ‘ real’ stuff – in a social media heavy / slightly sweary / true to life way. (That’s a compliment by the way!)

And as ever – I was definitely left wanting more – and desperate to find out how their lives pan out after the book – and WHO WAS AT THE DOOR???  We need a sequel – pretty please……………


Book Review – It’s Not Me It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane

I have read, loved and blogged about Mhairi McFarlane’s previous two books ‘You Had Me At Hello‘ and ‘Here’s Looking at You‘.  So imagine my excitement when my lovely friend Emily sent me this photograph by text message saying ‘Look what I’ve got’:

It's not me it's you 2

There was an actual squeal of excitement from me – as the publication date isn’t until next month!  But as reported before, Em  has contacts!  She also scored super highly in the friend’s stakes by dropping it round to me as I was packing to leave that afternoon for a transatlantic trip with the husband (another blog post is brewing for that – don’t fear!)

I started reading ‘It’s Not Me It’s You’ in a bar in Manhattan with an ice bucket of pinot grigio and a husband with a flight of beers and the sport on TV – pretty much perfection! And it was the sampler of this book that turned me into a Mhairi McFarlane obsessive fan, so my expectations were high!!

It's not me it's you

This is the blurb from Amazon, just to set the scene for you (which interestingly has changed since my previous blog post when the sampler came out  – and you can currently download the sampler for free for your Kindle – yay!):

“An achingly funny story about how to be your own hero when life pulls the rug out from under your feet. From the author of the bestselling YOU HAD ME AT HELLO
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.”

And I was not disappointed at all – in fact I think this could be my favourite Mhairi book yet!

There is a love story (a twisting rollercoaster) accompanied by a bit of mystery solving (think grown up Nancy Drew rather than Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison) and all in the style of writing and with perfectly relevant reference points that we’ve come to expect. I really really enjoyed it, and want to be Delia’s friend as she sounds like such a lovely person – normal in a Bridget Jones as a heroine kind of way (but way less annoying!).  Whether you’ve read Mhairi’s other books or not – if you’re a 30 / 40 something female Brit, with a sense of humour, penchant for booze and the occasional potty mouth (that pretty much sums me up!!) you will love this book.

Despite being very kindly sent this uncorrected proof to read – I will most definitely be buying the original, as my copy has pages saying what illustrations are going to be on it – but they aren’t actually drawn in – and I am desperate to see them (told you I was obsessed!!)

Book Review – Here’s Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

A few weeks ago I read and reviewed ‘You Had Me At Hello‘ by Mhairi Mcfarlane and loved it, and the lovely author (whom I must confess I have a bit of a girl crush on) even tweeted back saying she loved my review – eek!!!  She’ll probably block me on Twitter now thinking I’m a crazed stalker….

So – I set about on her next book with high expectations of enjoying it immensely!

Heres looking at you

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

“The new novel from the bestselling author of You Had Me At Hello.
Anna Alessi – history expert, possessor of a lot of hair and an occasionally filthy mouth – seeks nice man for intelligent conversation and Mills & Boon moments.
Despite the oddballs that keep turning up on her dates, Anna couldn’t be happier. As a 30-something with a job she loves, life has turned out better than she dared dream. However, things weren’t always this way, and her years spent as the ‘Italian Galleon’ of an East London comprehensive are ones she’d rather forget.
So when James Fraser – the architect of Anna’s final humiliation at school – walks back into her life, her world is turned upside down. But James seems a changed man. Polite. Mature. Funny, even. People can change, right? So why does Anna feel like she’s a fool to trust him?
Hilarious and poignant, ‘Here’s Looking At You’ will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.
The new must-read novel from #1 bestseller Mhairi McFarlane.”

And it did not disappoint at all.  I totally agree with the writer of the above review – at times I really was laughing one minute and crying the next (although I do cry very easily – adverts / X Factor / school assemblies all have me reaching for the tissues).

Don’t tell my friend Emily – but I also found the bit where she took the mickey out of Mills & Boon editors quite funny!!!

The historic (1980s / 90s) references are just bang on for a ‘just 40’ year old – and it’s so well written, like chatting with a mate.  After reading Gone Girl and not really giving a toss about any of the characters, it was lovely to read something where you are rooting for the good guys.

Only a month until Mhairi’s next book ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ comes out, and the first few chapters are fab.  Now what to read before then…………

Book Review: You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

I have friends in high places who let me have top secret things. This makes me sound like Olivia Pope in Scandal – just without the amazing coats, shoes and sex with the President of the US!! (By the way, if you haven’t watched Scandal – then have a box set gorge – it is brilliant. In fact, it may have to have a blog post all to itself sometime soon!)

So – back to the top secret things. The aforementioned friend works in the book industry (more about her here) and so let me borrow a copy of a book not released until next month (blog post embargoed until October) and the sampler of a new book by Mhairi McFarlane ‘It’s Not Me It’s You’. It was only the first few chapters but I LOVED IT – this is what Amazon has to say about it so I’m not ruining any surprises:

“Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. Everything was going smoothly. Ok, she had a slightly rubbish job working for the council and she hadn’t seen her best friend Emma in god knows how long, but she’d been working up to proposing to Paul for months. This. Was. It.

But with one annoying little ‘beep beep’, Delia’s life is turned upside down and rather than stick around and commit GBH by punching her cheating scumbag boyfriend (who still wants to be with her) in the chops, she decides the best thing to do would be get some head space and leave for London.

But a new city is never going to be the answer, and with a dodgy new job in media PR, where a suspicious yet devastatingly handsome journalist seems to be sniffing around and endangering her job, Delia can’t run forever. Where did the old Delia go? And can she get her back?”

I literally CAN NOT WAIT until 6 November 2014 when it will wing it’s way to my Kindle.

Anyway – the secret sampler thing totally worked as marketing, as I obvs went and downloaded Mhairi McFarlane’s first book ‘You Had Me At Hello’ immediately – and I loved that too!!

You had me at hello

It is written totally in the style I would love to write if I ever do brave the book writing thing, and as if the narrator (Rachel in this case) is chatting to you, the reader, as her mate.  I guess the fact that I’m a similar age to the author (OK, just the other side of 40 to her!) means lots of similar reference points.  It flicks between the present day and uni days with ease and is a fabulous mixture of romance / humour / good guys v bad guys and some real laugh out loud moments (where you accidentally wake your husband up when you’re reading in bed way too late!)   There was a slightly ‘close to the bone’ moment for me when a character said that Rachel, having not seen her since uni, could be 15 stone and shouting at her 4 children – yep, anyone from the University of Southampton class of 1995 – that’s me now!!

It was a great read – and I’d love to know what happens to all of the characters next – which I think is always the sign of a good book – leave them wanting more (possibly the sign of a good ‘lost love’ too?!)

Oh – and you can be as lucky as me and read the first few chapters of ‘It’s Not Me It’s You’ as they are at the end of the Kindle edition of ‘You Had Me At Hello’!