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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2015 Reading Book 15 – 92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

I’m not much of a letter writer. As the sheriff here, I’m used to writing incident reports, not chatty letters. But my daughter, Megan–who’ll be making me a grandfather soon–told me I had to do this. So here goes.

I’ll tell you straight out that I’d hoped to marry Faith Beckwith (my onetime high school girlfriend) but she ended the relationship last month, even though we’re both widowed and available. There were a few misunderstandings between us, some of them inadvertently caused by Megan.

However, I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied, like the unidentified remains found in a cave outside town. And the fact that my friend Judge Olivia Griffin is fighting cancer. And the break-ins at 204 Rosewood Lane–the house Faith happens to be renting from Grace Harding…

If you want to hear more, come on over to my place or to the sheriff’s office–if you can stand the stale coffee!

“Troy Davis”

Quick Thoughts:
As ever, I enjoyed this Macomber novel. It is number 9 in the Cedar Cove series, and this time follows the story of the local sheriff, Troy Davis. I like how each novel has a different character as a focus, it gives us a chance to get to know them more. The storyline didn’t surprise me much – sometimes these novels are a bit predictable and unrealistic, but I never fail to enjoy them. This book is the same. It is easy to read, easy to enjoy, chick-lit.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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2015 Reading Book 9 – Rose Harbour in Bloom by Debbie Macomber

Synopsis:
Since moving to Cedar Cove, Jo Marie Rose has truly started to feel at home, and her neighbors have become her closest friends. Now it’s springtime, and Jo Marie is eager to finish the most recent addition to her inn. In memory of her late husband, Paul, she has designed a beautiful rose garden for the property and enlisted handyman Mark Taylor to help realize it. She and Mark don’t always see eye-to-eye—and at times he seems far removed—yet deep down, Jo Marie finds great comfort in his company. And while she still seeks a sense of closure, she welcomes her latest guests, who are on their own healing journeys.

Annie Newton arrives in town to orchestrate her grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. While Annie is excited for the festivities, she’s struggling to move on from her broken engagement, and her grandparents themselves seem to be having trouble getting along. Worse, Annie is forced to see Oliver Sutton, with whom she grew up and who has always mercilessly teased her. But the best parties end with a surprise, and Annie is in for the biggest one of all.

High-powered businesswoman Mary Smith, another Rose Harbor Inn guest, has achieved incredible success in her field, yet serious illness has led her to face her sole, lingering regret. Almost nineteen years ago, she ended her relationship with her true love, George Hudson, and now she’s returned to Cedar Cove to make amends.

Compassion and joy await Jo Marie, Annie, and Mary as they make peace with their pasts and look boldly toward their futures. Rose Harbor in Bloom is Debbie Macomber at her heartwarming best.

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

This is the second book in the Rose Harbour series. If you know me at all, you will know I love Debbie Macomber‘s books and was very excited to read this one. As ever, I really enjoyed it! The story quickly sucked me in. I love the characters – Jo Marie is such a lovely woman – and I enjoyed walking through this time with her. This story is quite predictable but I didn’t mind that, it is chick-lit and it is heart warming. It didn’t take me long to get drawn in and I didn’t want to put the book down. I enjoy this series so much I have the next book, Love Letters, on my shelf waiting to be read!

Rating: 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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2015 Reading: Book 2 – The Patchwork Marriage by Jane Green

Synopsis:

When Andi married Ethan she not only got the man she loves but also a ready-made family in his two daughters, Emily and Sophia. Unable to have a child of her own, Andi saw this as a precious gift – her chance to be a mother. If only it were that simple.

Quick Thoughts:
This is the first book I have completed in my Mount Blanc TBR Challenge.

I didn’t know what to expect with this book. It has been on my shelf for ages, so I was nervous picking it up. However, I really enjoyed it. This is pure chick-lit. It has love, friendship and family. We see the challenges of family break-ups, the destruction and sadness addiction can bring and the pain not being able to have children can cause. This book was a page-turner. I am pleased I have finally read it – and if you like chick-lit, this book is for you!

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

Does a perfect wedding make a happily-ever-after?

As three very different women meet in their local knitting store, they find strength in friendship to help them through their problems.

Lydia is blissfully happy in her marriage, but worrying about her adoptive daughter and the future of her business.

Bethanne is still madly in love with her husband, but their long-distance relationship is becoming difficult to deal with, and her ex-husband is determined to win her back.

Lauren has always yearned for marriage and a family of her own, but her long-term boyfriend just won’t commit. Could a whirlwind romance with an unlikely stranger lead to the happily-ever-after she’s always dreamed of?

As the three women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways, they realise that the best surprises in life and love still lie ahead.

This is the tenth book in the Blossom Street series by Debbie Macomber. I love Debbie Macomber novels, she is such an easy, enjoyable read.

This novel takes us back to A Good Yarn, Lydia’s knitting shop, with her friends and family. Lydia is worried about her adopted daughter and her nightmares, plus her ill mother. Her friend Bethanne is struggling with having a long-distance marriage and a hostile daughter. Lauren wants to settle down but Todd isn’t showing any signs of making a commitment to her. She had a decision to make – stick or twist? Through the knitting shop these three grow close as their lives change.

I found this an enjoyable, lovely read. Every available moment I had I stopped to read this book. This is pure chick-lit. It isn’t a hard read, it is quick and delightful. I liked all three women, they stood up to their challenges with dignity and just seemed like lovely women! They loved their families and they strove to do what is right. I think my favourite character however was Casey – Lydia’s adopted daughter. Her relationship with her Grandmother was sweet and what she did for Lydia was really caring. I didn’t like all the characters in this book though. I didn’t like Grant, Bethanne’s ex-husband. He was very manipulative and sly. I didn’t like Todd either – he was very self-centred and arrogant. I do enjoy disliking characters though!

These books really are my guilty-pleasure! They are easy to read; I get drawn into the stories and find myself needing to know what is going to happen; the are fun and I love the knitting element in the books too. This book is predictable, but that did not spoil the story. Every spare moment I had, I was reading this book.

Macomber is one of my favourite authors as she is so engaging. She draws you in and she provides a great comfort read. If you like chick-lit, this book is for you. I appreciate the fact both swearing and sex are minimal in her books. I like how God features – there is truth about our loving Heavenly Father in these pages – yet ultimately she just writes a great novel. I am rating this book 4 out of 5 because I really enjoyed it. It was predictable, yet such a good read. This book has family, love, friendship and knitting – what more could you need?!

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I LOVE Debbie Macomber books! Her Blossom Street series is one of my favourite so I really enjoyed book number 54, which is the tenth book in this series. This book was not a disappointment. I picked it up every opportunity I got and found myself thinking about this book when I wasn’t reading. This is light entertainment, great chick-lit and a lovely read.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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I HAVE FINISHED MY READING CHALLENGE!!!! But more on that another time!

Number 40 was Debbie Macomber’s 74 Seaside Avenue, a Cedar Cove novel. I haven’t read a Cedar Cove novel in a long time. I read a load of them together and got a bit fed up with them, however, I have been enjoying the series on TV and thought I would have another go. I am pleased to say I did enjoy this read. It was nice to spend time with old friends! I found some storylines a bit predictable, others a but unbelievable, but I still enjoyed the book. It didn’t take long to read it and I am considering reserving the next one at the library.

Addition: Paperback, library book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2005
Rating: 3 out of 5

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

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up in a rural idyll. The beekeeper’s daughter, she knows her place and her future – that is until her father dies and leaves her alone. Alone, that is, except for one man who she just can’t shake from her thoughts…
Massachusetts, 1973: Grace’s daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable boy. He’s wild and romantic, and in a band that might be going somewhere. But when tragedy strikes and he has to go home to England, he promises to come back to Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him.
Both mother and daughter are searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the secrets of the past, and unravel the lies told long ago…

I received this book from Netgalley and Simon and Schuster UK Fiction to post an honest review.

I loved this book! I had been jumping between books, trying to find one that kept my attention, and this is the book. I found the beginning of the book, where we focus on Trixie and her new-found love, Jasper, a bit slow, but as soon as we jumped back to 1932 I was hooked and didn’t want to put the book down. I have never read a novel by Santa Montefiore before, but I will certainly be looking out for more books by her.

This story is set in three time periods – the 1930s, the 1970s and the 1990s. I really enjoy a book which moves around in time and focuses on more than one character – and this is just that sort of book. The focus of the book is on a mother and daughter – Grace and Trixie, and the way love can join them in a story neither of them would have imagined. I just loved the way this book was written. There were characters I liked, and one’s I didn’t, I loved the locations and I loved the history.

This is a great story. Grace grows up in a small community as the bee keeper’s daughter. She knows her destiny, and is happy with it. But she falls in love with two men, one far out of her reach and social standing – but war changes everything. After the war, she relocates to America with her husband Freddie, with no explanation. They have Trixie and but life isn’t as happy as it could be. Trixie is a rebellious girl, who likes to fall in love and break the rules. She falls for Jasper, a young English musician, but when he has to return to Britain, her heart is broken. Neither Grace nor Trixie truly recover from their heart break, but it isn’t until much later that they realise how entwined their stories are.

I liked Grace, but I didn’t really like Trixie. Grace was gentle, caring and kind. She loved her father and worked hard. Trixie was headstrong and I found her a bit disrespectful towards her parents. They both made decisions and choices I wasn’t sure about, but that didn’t spoil the book for me. I like it when I can think about decisions, even disagree (I even like disliking characters!), I feel it enhances the book if it doesn’t go the way I expect/would have written it.

There is a lot in this book – love, family, friendship, bee keeping and war, but this is essentially chick-lit at it’s best. I am rating this 4 out of 5 as there were some scenes I found crude and unnecessary but I did enjoy this book so much. As I have said, I didn’t want to put this book down. There were some surprises, some things which made me chuckle, and just a really great story.

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