Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Chick-lit, Christmas
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn’t be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don’t seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe – with its increased demand for her delectable creations – begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another…

I really enjoy Jenny Colgan books, and this was no exception. They are light-hearted, predictable, enjoyable chick-lit; which can leave you feeling warm and fuzzy! I had this version as an audiobook, and it was very easy listening. I was quickly drawn into the story, and found myself using every available moment to listen to it.

This book is the second in the Cupcake Cafe series. In the first book Issy opens a new cafe – The Cupcake Cafe, and we see her following her dream to make it a success, and fall in love with her bank manager Austin at the same time. We are now a year on, and fast approaching Christmas. But all is not as merry as it should be as Austin is in New York, probably being scouted for a new job out there. Will he go? And will Issy go with him?

It seems hard to know where to start with this review – it was just a good read! It won’t take you long to work out the storyline, or even the ending, but I found that didn’t bother me. I liked the characters and I liked the settings. I also like the concept – a novel set in a cupcake cafe, plus this book contains recipes – yummy!

My favourite characters were actually the children. I thought Lewis, Pearl’s 4 year old, was adorable. He was kind-hearted and good natured. He seemed to brighten up the room when he entered, and in many ways he reminded me of my little boy. I liked Darny too – Austin’s little brother. He was 11, and he had lost his parents when he was 4 and had been raised by Austin. He was very clever, a bit misunderstood and he pushed all the boundaries. Yet he had a soft side, he really was just a vulnerable little boy. I thought both these boys were very well written.

As I have said, this book is fairly predictable, but that didn’t spoil the story for me. I found myself being drawn in – I felt like I was there in the cafe with them. I knew what the outcome would be, but how would we get there? And I loved the setting – New York! I loved it when we went in autumn a few years ago, and it sounded magical at Christmas. This book was the right length for me. As much as I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t have wanted too much more “will they, won’t they”. The only ending I was dissatisfied with was Pearl’s, but who knows – Colgan might write another in the series which resolves that! This book has all the elements expected in a chick-lit novel. It has romance, drama, friendship and a look at family life (plus cupcakes!). This book isn’t a disappointment.

This book was fun, it was an easy read (or listen) and it was enjoyable. I can’t say it left me feeling particularly Christmassy, but I do keep thinking about that gingerbread recipe, I definitely need to try it! (It can be found here). This is a genre I really enjoy. It may not be life-changing literature, this book probably isn’t a classic, but I was drawn in and hooked. I am rating this book 4 out of 5.

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Addition: Netgalley review book
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn’t be happier. Because Polly is in love: she’s in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she’s in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she’s in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.

And yet there’s something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that’s floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend’s fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he’d left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

I received this book from Netgalley to give an honest review.

This is the second book from Jenny Colgan which is set in Mount Polbearne and follows the life of Polly. I loved the first book, The Little Beach Street Bakery so had high hopes for this book. And it did not disappoint!

We return to Polly, who has been in Mount Polbearne around 2 years. She is running the bakery successfully, owns and lives in the lighthouse, and is in love with Huckle her boyfriend, and Neil her puffin. All is going well until Mrs Manse, who owns the two bakeries, dies. Her family inherit them, and this starts a hard season for Polly.

I was immediately sucked into this book. Every spare moment I had, I was reading this book. I found myself trying to work out what was going to happen, as if this book is a thriller! I did ultimately guess the ending, but I didn’t guess how we would get there. Often chick-lit books can be really predictable, you can guess everything that is going to happen in them. This novel was not like that. I was kept on my toes the whole way through.

I like Polly. I liked her in the last novel too. A downside for me in this book is she is a little moan-y. Things do get tough for her, but it did seem like we had a few chapters of her just being miserable. My favourite characters were Reuben – the loud American, and Jayden, the local boy who works for Polly. Reuben is just so funny, he says whatever he wants, in the most brazen manner, and just generally entertained me the whole way through the novel. I liked Jayden, he was quite shy, but loyal to Polly and seemed like a lovely guy.

There is a lot in this novel. As I said, there are a few moan-y chapters, but that doesn’t spoil the book. There is friendship – Polly befriends Selina, a lonely widow on the island; there is love – Polly and Huckle have to work on their relationship, particularly when Huckle is again in America; and there is action. I don’t want to give too much away, but the sea and a massive storm do play a role in this book. There were times when I felt like second novel was similar to the first, yet I enjoyed them both, so I didn’t mind that.

The downsides for me were few. There seemed to be a lot of bad language, which I don’t like reading. This is a personal preference and won’t bother many people. There were a few parts of the story that were a little unrealistic – perhaps particularly the storyline involving Neil the pet puffin! There are some very British references in this book too – to things such as Lidl, a popular supermarket in Britain, which readers outside of the UK might not understand. Other than that – this is a great book.

And I must make special mention of Neil the puffin. I just loved him! I read the whole novel wishing he was my pet. What a great addition to this book!

I am rating this book 4 out of 5. It was so readable. I was gripped from the beginning. This book has it all – adventure, bravery, love and friendship. I really enjoyed this book. Jenny Colgan has not let me down! Thank you Netgalley for letting me review this book, I loved it!

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2015 Reading: Book 4 – Summer at Little Beach Bakery

Synopsis:

Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn’t be happier. Because Polly is in love: she’s in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she’s in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she’s in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.

And yet there’s something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that’s floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend’s fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he’d left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

Quick Thoughts:
I received this from Netgalley to give an honest review.

I LOVE Jenny Colgan! She is one of my favourite authors so I was very happy to receive this book from Netgalley. In this novel, we return to Mount Polbearne and to Polly. Things have been going well for Polly, but then Mrs Manse, the owner of the bakery dies, and this starts to cause trouble for Polly. This book has is all. There is love, friendship, the beach, money, a puffin named Neil and the beach. There is sadness and great joy. This is a great read. I really enjoyed it. I found I couldn’t put it down. I loved returning to Mount Polbearne, and am a little disappointed I have finished the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their townhouse, she has to move miles away from everyone, to the sleepy little seaside resort of Polbearne, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.

And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes . . . And people start to hear about it.

Sometimes, bread really is life . . . And Polly is about to reclaim hers.

I received this book from Netgalley to review – thank you!

I love Jenny Colgan! Her recent novels have been brilliant. When I saw that this book was available on Netgalley I was desperate to read it. It is safe to say, she didn’t let me down with this latest novel – I loved it!

I enjoyed this book from the first page. I found that I just wanted to pass the time just sat in the armchair reading this novel! There isn’t anything unusual about the storyline. This is your typical chick-lit – girl faces disaster and break-up, girl finds new life, girl finds new love. Yet, I loved it! Colgan is so engaging in her writing. I felt like I was there with Polly. The writing was descriptive – the way she described the drive through the countryside on Huckle’s motorbike made it sound breathtaking – and Polbearne sounded beautiful. I found myself full of empathy for Polly the whole way through the novel. Colgan is a fantastic chick-lit author and this is a great read.

I liked all the characters in this book. I thought they were all well written and even those who perhaps weren’t the focus of the story stood out. I really liked Polly. I found myself rooting for her from the first pages – she is written in a way that makes it hard to dislike her. I did like Tarnie and Huckle too – the possible romances. Both were sweet and kind, and both looked out for Polly. However, they weren’t the stand out characters for me. I liked Jayden, the young lad who hated the sea yet was a fisherman! He was cheeky and funny, I felt his character was brilliant in the book. I also found Reuben, the rich, eccentric America very funny. The thought put into these “lesser” characters really made the book for me. I also have mention Neil the Puffin. He was amazing and I now want a puffin as a pet!

There were the inevitable twists and turns in this chick-lit novel. There are moments of such sadness – and not involving a broken heart – and moments where I laughed out loud. There is the usual confusion over love. I find myself wondering, would I prefer a novel where the lead character meets her man, goes on a few dates, makes it Facebook official that they are in a relationship, and get engaged and married after a couple of years…normality?! We never see that in a chick-lit novel but never mind! However, that random thought aside, this was a great book. It had a fantastic storyline. It is set in a beautiful location (I love the sea!) and it has some outstanding characters. This was not a let-down for me and I could have happily read it in one sitting. I have rated it 4 out of 5 because it was such a good read. Colgan is a great author and this is a must-read if you love chick-lit novels.

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Book number 16 in 2014 is Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery. I received this book from Netgalley to review – so thank you to them and Colgan’s publisher Sphere.

I loved this book! I have enjoyed all of Colgan’s recent novels – namely the ones relating to food! Says a lot about me I think…! I was a bit concerned that this novel would be similar to the others, but it wasn’t. It has different characters, different food and a different location. The story was great and I was hooked from the start. This is chick-lit, but it is well written with an enjoyable storyline. I am looking forward to reviewing this book.

Addition: Review book, e-book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Addition: E-book
Genre: Chick-Lit
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate – and herself – than she ever dreamed.

I have now read several books by Jenny Colgan – namely the ones with food in the title – Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams and Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe – and really enjoyed them. When I saw that this book, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris – was being released this year, I was very excited and eager to read it. I have to say, it didn’t let me down!

This book is different to the other two I have mentioned however as the story has two protagonists. We meet Anna, a girl who had a horrible accident at the chocolate factory she worked out which led her to be hospitalised and Claire, her old French teacher who is in hospital with cancer. The two of them strike up a friendship and Claire persuades Anna that once out of hospital she should go to Paris and work for Thierry as a fresh start. We follow Anna’s journey – both physical to Paris and personal as she discovers herself and we flash back to Claire’s past as she discovered Paris and love for the first time.

I always like the characters Colgan writes about, and Anna and Claire are no different. I really liked their friendship. It shouted that age doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship and that the younger can always learn from the older generation. I thought that Anna was incredibly brave – heading to Paris on her own for the summer and I liked that despite what was thrown at her she didn’t give in. I admired Claire but also felt sorry for her. She fell in love in Paris and had a glorious summer as a young adult, and she never found a love that matched her first love. It was sad that she was in her late fifties, seriously ill and still in love with the man she met in Paris all those years ago.

The storyline itself was a little predictable – although it did take me a little by surprise the first time we jumped back in time to follow Claire as a teenager. However, this was a typical love story. I wasn’t surprised by who fell for who, nor was I surprised by the ending. I don’t mean to sound negative here – I don’t read these sorts of novels for the surprise factor and I would have been disappointed if the love stories panned out differently – I just think it is important to point out that if you are a regular chick-lit reader then you will find this book familiar and predictable.

Colgan did make living in Paris sound very glamorous. I loved how she described the winding streets hidden from the tourists and the secret restaurants. The night life and the crazy things Anna witnessed and joined in with sounded like a lot of fun. Is it all realistic? I have no idea but it made great reading!

I really enjoyed this book. It was exactly what I wanted from the story – with the added bonus of recipes at the end of the book. Jenny Colgan didn’t let me down and I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

4 star

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I haven’t blogged or read as much this year because in September 2010 I started a full time job so I haven’t had as much time to read and spend on the blog. In 2010 I read 126 books and in 2009 I read 145. A list of my past reading can be found here. This year, I have only read 57 – not at all bad, but not nearly as many as past years! Here are some of my favourites:

The Woods by Harlon Coben

Paul Copeland’s sister went missing twenty years ago. Now raising a daughter alone, Cope balances family life with a career as a prosecutor. But when a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the past are threatening everything. Is this body one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive…? Confronting his past, Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to light…

I really enjoyed this thriller – was happy to give it 5 out of 5.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling

My review of this book is to come, but this was a gripping historical novel. It was long but very enjoyable. It was easy to give it 5/5.

The Summer House by Mary Nichols

A secret love that will haunt a family for ever England 1918. Lady Helen believes her parents when they say she will never find a better husband than Richard, but when he returns to the Front, she begins to wonder just who it is she has married. His letters home are cold and distant – and Helen realises that she has made a terrible mistake. Then Oliver Donovan enters her life and they begin an affair that leaves Helen pregnant and alone – she is forced to surrender her precious baby. Over twenty years pass and a second war is ravaging Europe, but that is not the only echo of the past to haunt the present. Laura Drummond is caught in a tragic love affair of her own and when she is forced to leave London during the Blitz, she turns to the mother she never knew.

This is another historical fiction novel that I really enjoyed! Set during both World Wars it follows two women who get caught in love affairs and fall pregnant, both outside of marriage. What they don’t realise is they are mother and daughter! I haven’t written this review yet but it will be rated 5/5 as I really enjoyed it!

The Glass Painters Daughter by Rachel Hore

A wonderful novel set in a hidden part of Westminster, steeped in the Victorian past, full of gothic churches and secret garden squares…

I was surprised I enjoyed this as much as I did. I really enjoy Rachel Hore novels but I’ve never rated any of them 5/5 until this one! The book is set in London, both in our time and in Victorian times, following the fortunes of one family and one shop. This is another historical novel and also a romance novel, and I loved it! Review is to come.

God Knows my Name by Beth Redman

In this powerful and deeply vulnerable book, Beth Redman writes to pass along a message that changed her life—that the God who made us also understands us intimately. He hears our cries and reaches out in love to help us and fight for us. He’s always at work shaping our character. And no matter what others do, He will never, ever leave or forget us. Drawing on Scripture and her own experience, Redman invites us to explore the revolutionary implications of being loved by a God who knows our name. And she invites us to call on His name as well—to respond to His heart and love Him as He has loved us from the beginning.

This book was given to me as a gift and I found it so helpful. I was facing something tough and this book was clear and helpful and let me see God and be comforted that He knows me and is looking out for me.I’m thankful for this present and can’t rate this book highly enough. The review is to come but I can easily rate this 5/5.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Ever dreamed of starting over?

Issy Randall can bake. No, more than that – Issy can create stunning, mouth-wateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe’s bakery she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. So when she’s made redundant from her safe but dull City job, Issy decides to seize the moment and open up her own café. It should be a piece of cake, right?

Wrong. As her friends point out, she has trouble remembering where she left her house keys, let alone trying to run her own business. But Issy is determined. Armed with recipes posted to her from Grampa, and with her local bank manager fighting her corner, Issy attempts to prove everyone wrong. Following your dreams is never easy and this is no exception. Can Issy do it?

This is the first Jenny Colgan novel I have read and I loved it! I was drawn by the cover and the title and very glad I took this out the library. The book had a great storyline and it had recipes – bonus! The review is to come but it will be glowing – I really enjoyed this book. Another 5/5!

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