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The Dress Shop of Dreams (2014)

Etta owns a dress shop on a quaint street in Cambridge, she believes in magic and has the ability to guide the people who visit her shop into finding the strengths they lack to make their dreams come true. She is the only family her granddaughter, Cora, has. Cora has spent her entire adult life following her parents' dream to make a difference in the world. Walt, the boy who grew up next door to Cora, has been in love with her since childhood but Cora has never noticed since she's put everything she has into making her parents' dream come true. This was a very sad and emotional book at some points, we see Cora struggling to move on from her parents' deaths and even though she has all the love from her grandmother, she will only let herself feel love as far as her comfort will allow, because of fear of loss. One day, Cora's grandmother shares some suspicions regarding her parents' deaths, along with a bit of magic, and with Cora's world turned on its head, she can't let go until she knows the truth. She starts seeing the people around her in a new light and long-buried emotions surface. This was an engrossing story with a very unexpected ending, in all a good read. (KARM)

Men, Money and Chocolate (2008)

Maya is trapped in her life. At university, she'd lived to write but now she struggles to keep afloat her mother's cafe. Her love life is not much of a success either, as she has long been hankering over one of the cafe's regular customers, Jake. But Maya doesn't know how to move forward with her life. Then she meets Rose, an old woman, who seems to know Maya better than herself and so begins a journey of self-discovery and development. Given its title and blurb, Men, Money and Chocolate seems to epitomise all that is chick lit, but traditional chick lit this is not. Part self-help, part spiritual journey, this is an inspirational and wise little book. It is a short, easy read, that's not at all demanding with a very idiosyncratic style (for anyone who has read any Francois Lelord it's akin to his works). Although it's not typically chick lit, there are elements of the genre and it's certainly a book that I think everyone should try. Its style and tone may not be to everyone's taste but its message and heart are universal. (JC)

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