The Baby & the Bride - Laura Barnard (2014)

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends for a long time and they are both facing important new stages in their lives. Jazz has just given birth to her first child and she is trying to deal with life as a single mum. Poppy is getting married to her boyfriend Ryan, but she had no idea planning a wedding would be this hectic, especially when her mother tries to put her own stamp on absolutely everything. The Baby & the Bride is the sequel to Laura Barnard's first novel, The Debt & the Doormat and I have to admit I enjoyed this book more than its prequel. The story begins a few months after the ending of the first book, and two important developments have taken place: Jazz is a mum, and Poppy is engaged to her boyfriend Ryan. These were both fun storylines and I enjoyed reading about all the crazy things that happen to Jazz and Poppy while they are both figuring things out. Most of the supporting characters also return in this book and they really added their own touch to the story, such as Ollie and Poppy's mother (who made me laugh out loud several times with her antics). Mainly because of this, I do believe this book should be read as a sequel and not as a stand-alone. It took me a bit of time to get into the story, even though I was already familiar with the characters and their background stories. I personally thought there was quite a lot of swearing in the first few chapters, and the book still included various spelling and grammar mistakes, which was a shame. As soon as I was able to look past this, I ended up enjoying the fast-paced chapters and found myself wondering what would eventually happen to Poppy, Jazz, and their friends. It's a quick and fun read with an enjoyable cast of characters at its core. (JoH)

The Debt and the Doormat - Laura Barnard (2013)

Poppy and Jazz have known each other since their first year at university, and even though they have their differences, they have been inseparable ever since. Poppy is the more sensible and organised one, while Jazz leads a crazy fun-filled life without any rules. When Jazz manages to get herself into thousands of pounds of debt, Poppy wants to help her friend out and they decide to swap lives. They change homes and make a pact that whatever the other tells you to do, needs to be done. Poppy soon finds herself living with Jazz's roommates, including the gorgeous but slightly grumpy Ryan. Her life is turned upside down within a matter of days, the question is: is this really what she needs to loosen up a bit, or was her old lifestyle not that bad after all? The plotline of this novel is quite entertaining; Poppy and Jazz have a great friendship and the swapping of lives results in some funny and crazy situations. There's an interesting mix of characters at the core of the story; Poppy and Jazz seem to be complete opposites but make the best of friends, there are the roommates Izzy, a sweet girl who is a complete fitness freak, and Grace, the ultimate bitchy beautiful one, and of course, Ryan, the grumpy but handsome male in the house, for whom Poppy seems to have a soft spot from the first time they meet. Even though the plot was easy to follow, I couldn't help but feel like the novel was written more like a TV show than an actual book. Most of the chapters started with a new event or situation starring the group of characters, making it feel like all these separate episodes of a TV show instead of flowing like one story. I also noticed some traces of the TV show Friends. The book has a lot of potential, with an enjoyable storyline and a good mix of characters, but somehow it felt like a collection of events to me, instead of an actual novel. (JoH)


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