Review – I Heart Hawaii

I don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’, but I have social media and speak to other members of the human race, so I am very aware that a good ending to a franchise is important and how people do get a little bit upset if an ending isn’t seen to do the story justice. I binge read all of the other ‘I Heart’ books last year, and although I do like Lindsey Kelk’s writing generally, I did find myself getting a bit bored by the time I got to I Heart Forever, and was wondering whether another book would be overkill. The characters were getting to a point of needing their happy endings tying up so they could walk off into the sunset, and Angela’s chaotic lifestyle of jetting around the globe spending silly amounts of money with her OTT friend and generally ignoring her adult responsibilities was, although very fun to read, getting a bit unrealistic. This sounds like a scathing review, but I would like it noted on record that I do generally enjoy this series, and was hooked on the first two to three installments, but some ‘I Heart’ books were better than others, which is always going to be the case in any series. Season five of friends is extremely forgettable, but doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable to watch.

I Heart Hawaii is probably my favourite book of the series in terms of overall enjoyment. I’d tie it with I Heart New York (the first installment) for content and storyline, but I Heart Hawaii has the advantage of containing characters which the reader has already come to know and love, which makes the ending that bit more special. I felt that in this one we saw a different side to most of the characters too, which made it feel really fresh and that is hard to achieve after so many installments. Jenny has grated on me as a character since book one, I know she’s important for driving Angela’s character development and is integral for the overall plot, but I’ve always found her to be selfish, ego-centric and totally dominating towards Angela – she is just generally someone I wouldn’t personally like to be friends with. However, without revealing spoilers, in I Heart Hawaii Jenny’s vulnerable side comes out, which made me appreciate her character so much more and was maneuvered very eloquently by Lindsey Kelk, because vulnerability and Jenny Lopez don’t naturally go together, but it felt very genuine and believable, without taking away from her overall characteristics.

I Heart Hawaii showed the biggest change in Angela too, she started off as a kind of poor woman’s Carrie Bradshaw but a version who actually values her friends and doesn’t have appalling taste in male partners, with the genuine balls to take leaps and pursue her dreams which is what captivated the readers, though she went off track a bit and became a sort of celebrity hanger-on in the middle of the series, so it was nice for her to come back down to earth and become a real ‘grown-up’. Seeing Angela’s genuine insecurity too was refreshing, because she seemed to quickly become really confident with her new life in New York without issue or self-doubt, which for someone with anxiety, I found a bit hard to comprehend, but seeing her trying to navigate motherhood and a new career while feeling like she isn’t getting it right most of the time is something that resonates so strongly with everyone. It felt a bit like after the readers had gone on all the wild ‘I Heart’ adventures with Angela and her famous friends, we came back to Earth in the final book to touch base with our friends and our first love, New York City.

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who is yet to read this book, or who hasn’t made it this far into the series, but I can say with confidence that everyone gets their storybook ending, some of which I would never have seen coming in book one but as the characters developed over their journeys I definitely feel they’ve been rounded off properly. And it was really nice to have a book which took place mainly in New York; while it has been fun exploring new cities with Angela, it was New York which captured her and all of our hearts so it felt only right for her story to come full circle in the place we all ‘heart’.


Why it’s Not Cool to Be a Book Snob

To say I’m an avid reader is very much an understatement. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on since I was three years old – eat your heart out, Matilda – and I recently started a job in a building which has a library inside so my love affair with literature has been ignited like petrol on a bonfire; I’ve read four books this week and somehow still have an unread pile by my bed.

I was at a book signing last weekend which featured Paige Toon, Lindsey Kelk and Giovanna Fletcher (all authors which I love and admire), and although I completely fangirled and revealed way too much about my personal life to Giovanna (sorry Gi, still hoping we can collaborate some day), the take-home message for me was Lindsey’s argument about ‘chick lit’. Earlier in the day, Lindsey Kelk had been on a bit of a Twitter rant about ‘chick lit’ and how books written by female authors are generally seen as inferior and not taken as seriously as those of male authors, especially the ‘classics’. Obviously I’m paraphrasing a lot here, and Lindsey I am very sorry if I’m messing this up, but I have to say I completely agreed with her and the stigma attached to ‘chick lit’ totally baffles me. I read everything, and I mean everything, and I do not understand why or how a book could be seen as more worthwhile if the author is canon and it has therefore become a classic, especially if it was written by a man.

‘Chick lit’ is such an ambiguous term in itself anyway, I always took it to mean books written to appeal to women, usually featuring a romance, but does that then mean that Wuthering Heights is chick lit? What about Romeo and Juliet? Both of which, incidentally, I have read, and despite being regarded as great works of literature, I personally thought they were both absolutely bloody terrible. If you ask me, I don’t think Wuthering Heights would get published today, Cathy and Heathcliff’s ‘romance’ is about as warm as Elsa’s ice palace in Frozen, but because it’s a classic it has to be inherently better than, say, Me Before You? If all that makes a novel ‘classic’ and a must-have on the ‘serious’ reader’s CV is that the author is dead, then is it beyond the realms of possibility that Me Before You is going to be in the GCSE Literature anthology in fifty years?

And if we’re following this definition of ‘chick lit’ as exclusively including romances which appeal to women, where does this put Romeo and Juliet? Teenagers killing themselves because they can’t be together? I think I read that one somewhere else, oh yes, hello Twilight saga! Nancy and Bill in Oliver Twist? Hello Christian Grey! I am mortified to have had to make reference to such an appalling attempt at erotic fiction, but you get the idea.

If you ask me (despite the fact that nobody actually is), people who are snobby about ‘chick lit’ are not actually very passionate readers. A true book lover will give anything a try and, sorry to be so cliche, will not judge a book by its cover or the position it holds on the shelf. Just because the title is written in pink and it has a picture of a woman outside a seaside cafe does not in itself make this book any less worthy than whatever is next to it on the bestseller list. What makes a great book are relatable characters that you can’t help but become really invested in and an engaging story that transports you into someone else’s world, and I’ve personally found great examples of such things right across the spectrum of Waterstones’ shop floor.

In summary, I think we all need to get over ourselves and just read whatever we find interesting and enjoyable. Last week I cried real and proper tears over a Paige Toon book, a reaction which neither Dickens or any Bronte sister has managed to get out of me. Life’s short, read what you want. And if you *really* want to seem clever and well read, just watch the BBC adaptations – they’re usually basically the same as the book.


P.S. I’m so sorry to Dickens and the Bronte sisters, I still love you all I’m just making a point. Except you, Emily, because Wuthering Heights really was appalling.

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Just me fangirling so hard to have met these three!