Addition: Hardback
Genre: Young adult
Rating: 3 out of 5

Still haunted by nightmares of her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to Indonesia with her father’s relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post traumatic stress disorder-something Sienna knows a lot about. Since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean three years before, Sienna doesn’t do anything if it involves the ocean or planes, so this trip is a big step forward.
But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage, and just so happens to be HOT. When Deni hears a rumor that his father may be alive, Sienna doesn’t think twice about running away with him to the epicenter of the disaster. Unfortunately, what they find there could break both their hearts.

This novel has been sitting on my shelf for an age, so I decided to add it to my 2015 Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to tick it off my list!

In this book we follow Sienna, a fifteen year old girl whose life dramatically changed when he mother was killed in a plane crash. No longer fearsome, she is not happy when her Dad asks her to go on a mission trip to Indonesia, to help at an orphanage for children who suffered in the tsunami. While there, she meets a boy called Deni, and surprises everyone when she falls for him. He shows her another side of Indonesia, and when there is a chance to find his father, they run away together. But the ending isn’t quite as Sienna hoped or imagined.

I remember being desperate to read this novel when it was released, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to read it. In fact, I left it so long that I had forgotten what the story was about, so I was fairly surprised when I read the synopsis – this book just wasn’t what I had thought it would be. I’m also sad to say, it didn’t live up to high expectations I had placed on it. Maybe the lesson here is don’t leave a book so long to read!

So how come it didn’t live up to expectations? I think the main issue I had with the novel was I couldn’t relate to Sienna. Now I have never faced anything as awful as losing a parent or been a victim of something as horrendous as a tsunami, but I struggled to empathise with Sienna or Deni for that matter. Perhaps unfairly, I just found them to be moody teenagers – children who thought they knew best. There were some things they did which I also found very unrealistic – like running away together. They disappeared off more than once and weren’t caught. I find it hard to believe that a father takes his vulnerable fifteen year old daughter to the other side of the world, and then doesn’t know where she is.

All that aside, the storyline was fascinating. Taking a close up look at the tsunami and the impact that had on the children was heartbreaking. I don’t know how realistic the orphanage was, but those children I could feel empathy for. They were lost and scared. The thunder storms brought back horrible memories and their living conditions were so poor. I guess this book was eye-opening into a culture I have never experienced, and it wasn’t easy to read about their new lives. It also wasn’t easy to read when Sienna and Deni return to his home and see the loss and devastation there. To be honest, it was hard to comprehend the pain.

This was an interesting read – such pain mixed in with a teenage love story. For me, I didn’t need the love story. Sienna going to Indonesia would have been enough. Others will disagree with me and will have connected with her in a way I didn’t. I am rating this book 3 out of 5 because if you put the love story aside, I did enjoy this story. It was sad, yet eye opening, and heartbreaking. What I am left with is a sense of deep sadness for those children.

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

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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