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Love and Chaos (2014)

This is the second book in the Brooklyn Girls series. It features Angie, a fashion-loving 22-year-old living in New York. She's jobless, lonely, and a bit reckless. When she discovers that her parents are getting a divorce, she tries to drown her sorrow in vodka and prescription drugs. The next morning, she wakes up alone and naked in a hotel room, with $3000 waiting on the side table for her. In a lifelong pattern of running away from bad situations, she flees to Turks and Caicos with her sleazy friend, Stef. The trip is disastrous, and Angie is pressured into taking money for sex. She swims to shore in nothing but her bikini and a small shred of dignity. Upon returning to New York, she decides to do three things: swear off men (they only ever want her for one thing, anyway), be nicer to her friends, and get a job in high fashion. Angie stumbles from one mess to another, beating herself up for always making the wrong choice, for always running away when things get tough. Will Angie get her dream job, or is she destined to work at The Gap forever? Will she ever let her guard down long enough to let anyone in? This is a fun, entertaining read that will always keep you guessing what's next. But as far as this series goes, I enjoyed Brooklyn Girls a lot more. Angie's voice sometimes felt forced, as if the author were trying very hard to write like a 22-year-old might think. Angie also calls her friends "ladybitch" as a term of endearment. Now, I am not averse to swearing, but this just doesn't sit well with me. The frequent use of exclamation points and run on sentences were also very distracting. (CK)

Brooklyn Girls (2013)

In the first book in Gemma Burgess' New Adult series, the focus is on Pia, one of five friends who live together in Brooklyn. Recently out of college she is trying to forge her own path in life but when she loses her promising PR job that her parents helped her get she has two months to get back on her feet and prove herself before her parents threaten to take her back to Zurich. Desperate to make it work, Pia seeks out the services of a loan shark to start up her own food truck business, Skinny Wheels. And while things seem to be moving in the right direction for Pia, it's not long before everything begins to spiral out of control. Gemma Burgess has struck on a niche in this series: the twenty-something post-college experience and I loved the focus on this age group and its problems. Although some of the problems are a bit extreme, it was a refreshing read, with the love story taking a back seat. The style was young and vibrant and Gemma seems to have nailed the culture and dynamics of the group. Readers may baulk at some of the casual references to drugs and the storyline is certainly exaggerated. Similarly, if it's romance you're after this isn't for you. But this is a contemporary book in which the characters have all of the flaws and qualities of youth. I am really looking forward to seeing how this series develops and getting to learn more about the other four girls, Julia, Coco, Angie and Madeleine whose own lives and troubles we are temptingly given glimpses of in the novel. This is such an inspired idea. (JC)

Second Opinion

A Girl Like You (2011)

Abigail Wood has never been single. Well, technically she was single at one point in her life but that was so many years ago that it seems like it never happened. So when she breaks up with her boyfriend of forever and has to face singledom once again, she's perplexed as to the rules of dating. She goes from one disaster date to another, until her roommate, Robert, teaches her the rules of being single - and surviving the perils of dating. What are these rules? Well, for one thing you need to act like a man. Be cocky, arrogant, harsh and bulletproof. Don't let any man know you're too interested, and if you really aren't interested then just delete his number and move on to your next target. That can't be that hard, can it? After all, Robert is one of London's most successful playboys. He has girls hanging on his every word and is never at a loss for female companionship. So what if a few hearts get broken on the way? That's what dating is about, as Abigail soon learns, and being in control at all times is key. Abigail, though, can't keep her cool for long. Especially when she meets a man she's head over heels for. The cool, composed and detached Abigail is soon out the window and in its place is a panic-stricken, lovesick girl who will do anything to keep this unworthy fellow interested in her. What happened to Robert's advice? And, even more importantly, is this man really worth it? He is the epitome of a cheating playboy but Abigail is blind to his faults until it's too late. This is a laugh-out-loud story of a girl thrown into the hellish pit that is singledom (when all her friends are happily paired off), only to find that what she really wants has been right in front of her the whole time. It's an enjoyable and fun read right until the very end and guaranteed to make you question the rules of dating and being single. (AS)

The Dating Detox (2009)

Sass, a nearly 30-something Londoner, likes to drink, party, flirt . . . But when she is dumped for the sixth time - after catching her boyfriend shagging a Pink Lady lookalike at a theme party - she decides to embark on a dating sabbatical. No dates, no flirting, no men. Meant to last three months, she instead finds her life going so well without the distraction of dating - her advertising career has never looked so good - that she decides to extend it. The only problem is she's since met Jake, who could very well tempt her to break her self-imposed man ban. This has been justifiably compared to a post-credit crunch Bridget Jones. With its amusing break-up stories, a collection of mad-cap friends who deal with work and relationship woes, and a romantically challenged heroine many will relate to, this one's worth well missing a date to stay home to read it.

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