Tag Archives: romantic comedy

The Read List: Summer at Castle Stone, by Lynn Marie Hulsman

summer at castle stone

Have you ever had those reading moments when you know you really need something light and funny? That’s how Summer at Castle Stoneby Lynn Marie Hulsman fell into my Read List. Something about the synopsis caught my eye, and next thing you know I had it on my ereader.

This summer, lose your heart in Ireland…

Shayla Sheridan’s a New York native born into big city luxury, but she’s never really fitted in with the “it” crowd. Desperate to make it as a writer and to finally step out from her famous father’s shadow, Shayla decides to take on a tricky assignment across the pond…

Swapping skyscrapers and heels for wellies and the heart of the Irish countryside, Shayla must go about ghost-writing a book of recipes by the notoriously reclusive and attractive head chef of Castle Stone, Tom O’Grady.

The only problem? He has no idea that she’s writing it.

Shayla Sheridan is eking out a living as a ghostwriter. She has her principles, though, and refuses to make use of her father’s literary fame to get her the writing stardom she craves. So she ends up undercover in Ireland, trying to get on the good side of dishy chef Tom O’Grady.

A ghostwriter! And there’s food and cooking! Not to mention the lushness that is Ireland! Some really good combinations here.

This was a fun, entertaining read. And when I got to the last third of the book, I couldn’t put it down—which I found interesting, because I usually associate “can’t put this down”-itis with thrillers and mysteries and such.

Shayla gets into a lot of scrapes, most of them of her own doing, but it didn’t hit the type of silliness that made me want to put the book down. And there was, of course, the classic moment of miscommunication thing (in this case, it was the “I should really tell him, I really should, oh, here’s a good moment to tell him, oh, but I really can’t now … yikes, it’s TOO LATE, the damage is done” thing—I trust this isn’t spoilerish because of course it’s the expected narrative arc in this type of plot, right?). But Lynn Marie Hulsman pulled it all off quite well, I thought.

So, yes, a fun read. One caveat, though: this book could have used a lot more editing than it got. And I mean A LOT more. Which was surprising, considering this one comes from HarperCollins, a major publisher. So if things like that take you majorly out of a book, this might not be a great read for you.

Review: The Book of the Film of the Story of My Life, by William Brandt

The Book of the Film fo the Story of My Life“A hilarious novel about coming of age – in your forties” says the front cover of The Book of the Film fo the Story of My Life. Here’s the summary from the back of the book:

Frederick’s life is like a movie. All it’s missing is a hero.

Once Frederick Case passionately believed he could change the world. Sometime later, he decided to put up with it. Today, on his forty-second birthday, this New Zealander realizes he can’t do either, and now it’s the world’s turn. And it isn’t being kind.

Frederick is a struggling film producer who is losing his hair and tempted to accept money from his rich parents. He reads tons of lousy scripts and bemoans the loss of his wife, Sophie, to her hunky costar – the one who, with Sophie, made history with the first oral sex scene ever performed in a major motion picture. Now fortune strikes Frederick with an invitation to an exclusive island. With a gorgeous date – a vulnerable young hooker named Melissa – and Sophie and her lover among the guests (surprise!), he’ll finally learn the answers to life’s burning questions: Are people really who we think they are? Is real life as predictable as the movies? And can we really go home again?

I really enjoyed this book. It’s one of those gems that made me laugh, with characters who are both memorable and likeable. It truly is a coming of age novel, and why can’t one come-of-age at 42? It’s taken Frederick that long to finally figure out who he is, or rather, that he’s not who he would like to be, which is when you start coming of age, right?

Frederick’s really a producer, but he’s so bad at it that he’s reduced to reading really terrible scripts for the agencies. There are some deliciously funny excerpts from the scripts that Frederick reads, excerpts that made me laugh out loud. Frederick thinks they’re pretty bad. I have to agree. On the other hand, he’s been wrong about a script more often than not.

I have to say I do worry about the quality of my assessments. I started to worry when I noticed that the ones I trashed were always the ones that ended up winning prizes at film festivals around the world, whereas the ones I praised to the skies were never heard of again. I tried adjusting my style. I tried trashing the ones I liked and praising the ones I hated – it didn’t seem to make any difference at all to my hit rate.

(As a book blogger, this actually feels kind of familiar to me …)

Frederick is just so likeable, but that’s the thing – he’s always been likeable. He was always the one who saw life as one great big adventure. The only thing is, he’s older now, and he’s nowhere near where he wanted to be. He’s not who he thought he’d become. He’s feeling old, and tired, wondering about his life.

And by the time he arrives on the island for the exclusive bash, feeling not quite ready to face his ex-girlfriend and now mega movie star Sophia, I’m rooting for him all the way.

This is a book that I read with a smile on my face throughout. And when I finished reading, funnily enough, the first thing I thought of was, “this would make a great movie”.

Where to buy:

U.S. (Amazon.com)

Canada (Chapters)

UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by Warner Books, 2005, Trade paperback, 320 pages