Chick Lit

REVIEW: The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Little Beach St Bakery

What it’s all about:

Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, 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.

My Thoughts:

Half reading and listening on the go this book was just the most delightful thing and such a nice mind relaxer. The first book that I actually wanted to read in a while and waited patiently for. On Wednesday when I woke up to get ready for my night shift there was a package and on opening I squealed a little as IT WAS HERE! Needless to say on the way to work I started to devour Colgan’s latest book and did not want to put it down.

After the first couple of chapters I have to say I was not enamoured as usually by this point of reading there is a fair idea about what is happening in the book. Currently I was lost but unwilling to give up. Powering through and swapping here and there from Audible back to Paperback the pace was increased and my love for the story and characters grew. Colgan’s descriptive writing is just fabulous as it really helps the reader get into the book and feel as though you are part of it.

Laughing and at some points on the edge of tears this book was most certainly more of an emotional read than others written. The main character Polly was the girl next door with a broken heart and home that just wanted to start again. At some point in our lives I think all of us can identify with at least 50% of that description and it really hit home. Upping sticks and starting again in a new town where ‘nobody knows your name (!)’ is what I can only imagine as one of the most difficult things you could contemplate let alone get on and do.

The ramshackle town of Mount Polbearne (In Cornwall) is described as off the beaten track (quite literally) and if the tide is up then you have no hope of getting in or out. The perfect remote location to gather your thoughts and start afresh right? Tearing away from her friends, family and the life that she thought was her forever more Polly treks to ‘the isle’ with a sad, sorry box of belongings and gives it a damn good go.

With her happy-go-lucky charm and a smile painted on with her puffin by her side Polly kneaded on and made something that was ‘just for her’. Struggling with the current owner, land lady and town spokesperson (or so it seemed!) Polly woke at the crack of dawn and went to sleep in the dead of night trying to prove the point that she really was good at what she did – Baking Bread (and other doughy treats!). Proud of her accomplishments she could finally open up her heart and begin to live again. When tragedy struck the little village that she now calls home everyone pulled together for remembrance, song, dance and just a general good time.

Wedding and baby booms aside this book really is something special and a great read to remind you that it is the little things that count. Also if you want something there is nothing but yourself standing in the way of fighting to get it. With plenty of puffin jokes this book is by far highly recommended. I could tell you that it has a sad or happy ending but I won’t as I really think you should read it for yourself. But I will leave you with this song that may make you weep into your pillow but may not until you have read the book!

I wish I was a fisherman
Tumbling on the seas
Far away from dry land
And its bitter memories
Casting out my sweet line
With abandonment and love
No ceiling bearing down on me
‘Cept the starry sky above
With light in my head
You in my arms
Woohoo!

Rating

rating5*

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I would like to say a massive THANK YOU to the lovelies at Little Browns Books UK – Sphere who sent me this book for review. It was just wonderful :D

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

For some reason trying to find this particular cover online is very difficult! 

Penguin Says

‘Remember the woman you used to be …

Alice is twenty-nine. She is whimsical, optimistic and adores sleep, chocolate, her ramshackle new house and her wonderful husband Nick. What’s more, she’s looking forward to the birth of the ‘Sultana’ – her first baby.

But now Alice has slipped and hit her head in her step-aerobics class and everyone’s telling her she’s misplaced the last ten years of her life.

In fact, it would seem that Alice is actually thirty-nine and now she loves schedules, expensive lingerie, caffeine and manicures. She has three children and the honeymoon is well and truly over for her and Nick. In fact, he looks at her like she’s his worst enemy. What’s more, her beloved sister Elisabeth isn’t speaking to her either. And who is this ‘Gina’ everyone is so carefully trying not to mention?

Alice isn’t sure that she likes life ten years on. Every photo is another memory she doesn’t have and nothing makes sense. Just how much can happen in a decade? Has she really lost her lovely husband for ever?’

My Thoughts

With a bit of a bumpy ride at the beginning I was ready to give up the ghost. However with a little perseverance the story started to grown on me. I had very similar feelings about Moriarty’s previous book ‘The Husband’s Secret‘. The story started to pick up for me around page 60.

With Alice meandering her way through a ‘new’ life and trying desperately to remember the ‘old’ one we are taken through the trials and tribulations of parenthood, sisterhood, friendship and love. The story is told from three points of view and in three different forms – Granny Frannie via her blog (I found this hilarious!), Elisabeth through her homework diary and Alice with the majority of the narrative.

It was nice to have such breaks in the story and the chopping and changing from each opinion made it a much easier read and less monotonous. I did at times feel myself getting irritated by the characters – even Frannie! Come on Granny Frannie KISS HIM ALREADY! (You have to read it to find out!).

Alice

Now as I have yet to hit the 30 mark many would think there is not much of my life that I can look back on. However I have managed to pack in a great deal in the past 10 years, some of which I would not like to happen again, other parts that I honestly wish I could recapture and hold on to for dear life and a few bits that I have honestly forgotten completely. This is a story that does get you thinking – ‘If I hit my head and lost my memory what would I be like and what would I change?’. The overall answer would most likely be ‘I don’t know until I hit my head!’

Admittedly there were parts of the book where I just wanted to throw the book down and scream at Alice to shut up and get on with it or REMEMBER please and get to the point.

When her memory begins to return the depths of her sadness over the lost of her best friend start to creep into the story line and I must admit I shed a fair few tears at this point. Have your tissues to hand people. Within such memories however there are those that remind her of the good times that were shared with other characters in the story.

As the book is about Alice that is all I am going to say about her and will move on to the other two POV’s.

Elisabeth

From the beginning of the story I liked the way the book was written from the point of view of Elisabeth. Although slightly detached with what is really happening with Alice eventually things start to come together. Personally I got the feeling that everything with Elisabeth had to be very clear-cut and always defined with spy like scrutiny. Being very concise with her feelings and quite shut down does not allow you to get to know Elisabeth until the end of the book however when you do I am sure much like mine your heart will break for her and repair with hers.

There are parts where you think she is just plainly cold-hearted but give her a chance and KEEP READING! Elisabeth really redeems herself when she tries to guide her sister into remembering her previously life and being with her every step of the way. There are a many part of the book that had me holding onto my chair however I will only share a couple with you as they were the two that I found absolutely hilarious and actually laughed out loud IN PUBLIC (they also do not give too much away!).

‘She’s accident prone. She ran through those French doors last year and had to have forty-two stitches. It was very traumatic. A lot of blood. Apparently, Tom called the ambulance and Olivia fainted.’ – I know it sounds a bit sadistic to laugh at something like that but when you read it for yourself you will get the context and it is hilarious.

‘She’s very loving – maybe too loving. I remember her squatting down in the kitchen saying, ‘Hello, little fella.’ and we all looked down and saw she was trying to pat a cockroach. Mum nearly dropped dead on the spot.’ Once again a bit sadistic however in the correct context this was incredibly cute and hilarious at the same time.

Both of the above are direct quotes from the book

Frannie

A frustrated Granny Frannie made me laugh the most through her medium of blogging she told the world-wide web about her problems at her current residential home with a very mysterious Gentleman X. With her fan club following and such comments from previous students and avid readers Frannie relives her glory days to some extent and enlightens us on parts of Alice’s past which help us piece together how she became the person she is now.

There is a lovely part in the book that Frannie takes away the quote marks and gives in to her title of Grandmother – something that I will reveal no more about and you will just have to read. There is a talent show at the end that will have you tearing up as well as giggling and Frannie in her own right steals the show.

Overall

There are good and bad points about the book however I would say the good really does outweigh the bad once you get past the first 60 pages. At first it was a bit of an uphill struggle as I mentioned above. However most definitely worth the read and it had me thinking about it for a couple of days after I put it down. There was the feeling of being glad that I had finished it but only because there are many other books that I need to read. It is a good book if you like a bit of romance, chick lit and something that you want to think a little but not too deeply. It will not leave you emotionally scarred which is great however there are sensitive parts of the book that may bring out the tears you have been storing up for a while.

The End . . .

Not what I expected at all. Nothing more needs to be said about the book apart from read it and soon.

That being said I would like to send a big Thank You to Penguin for sending me the book and cute Tote Bag which I have hung up proudly and will use very soon (economical shopping with less plastic bags – here I come!).

Liane Moriarty’s website is great as there are a couple of her other books that you can read about.
CHECK IT OUT

Rating

rating3*

Mediocre Beans

Billy & Me by Giovanna Fletcher

Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

Amazon says:

‘Sophie May has a secret.

One that she’s successfully kept for years. It’s meant that she’s had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.

But then she meets the gorgeous Billy – an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy’s glamorous – but ruthless – world.

Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation?

Charming, heartwarming and utterly romantic, Billy and Me will completely capture your heart.’

My thoughts:

So we have the story of a country girl who has stayed in the village all her life and runs the local tea shop for her dear friend Molly. Enter Billy – heart-throb that make all the girls swoon. Sophie and Billy are smitten with each other which is just so cute and not in a  ‘making me want to throw up’ kind of way.

As I am a sucker for cliché romance this really was a cute read. There are many affable characters in this book that you may fall instantly in love with and not just the two mains. Molly is one I have a soft spot for and the young girls who come in and gossip!

If I am honest there is not a lot that is left for the imagination to conjure or anything thought-provoking however the book is cheerful and light.

Once again a good palette cleanser that is worth the read. If you don’t like chick lit then this may not be your slice of cake (pun intended!) but good for a snuggled up afternoon on the sofa with a cuppa.rating2*
Grainy Blend

REVIEW: A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson

A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson

Simon & Schuster says:

‘Tis the season to be jolly… But can Eve find happiness through the frost…?

Eve has never liked Christmas, not since her beloved fiancé was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day. So when her adored elderly aunt dies, the last thing she is expecting is to be left a theme park in her will. A theme park with a Christmas theme…

And that’s not the only catch. Her aunt’s will stipulates that Eve must run the park with a mysterious partner, the exotically named Jacques Glace. Who is this Jacques, and why did Aunt Evelyn name him in her will?

But Eve isn’t going to back down from a challenge. She’s determined to make a success of Winterworld, no matter what. Can she overcome her dislike of Christmas, and can Jacques melt her frozen heart at last…?

My Thoughts:

This book has been on my shelf since last year as it was originally a gift from Sarah @ Reader, Writer, Nerd.

Eve has given up on love and all romantic feelings since losing the one thing closest to her. A workaholic who puts every last scrap of her energy into her events company and lets her social and family life fall by the wayside. With a strong dislike for Christmas and the festive season in general Eve humbugs her way through the day until news that her dear Auntie Evelyn has passed away.

Her life takes an unexpected upheaval and for the better or worse is left undecided until the close to the end of the book. To make things worse for Eve – Enter Jacques Glace. With his charm offensive hiked up to maximum plus some everyone loves him except for Eve. Playing detective she delves or at least attempts to into Jacques private life and makes a whole bunch of assumptions that drive her to accuse Jacques of some truly unimaginable things.

After giving up Eve’s Events, Winterworld is Eve’s new baby and she wants it her way or no way. Mr Glace will have to fit in somehow, or so she thinks.

If I told you anymore I would be giving away the entire story!

One of my favourite parts of the book has to be when Eve falls in love with the reindeer on her return to Winterworld. The description is wistful and sweeps the reader up in the romanticism of the moment. And believe me, there are many more romantic moments that will have you reaching for the tissues. Even though Christmas has just turned the corner on us and the New Year has begun this book makes me long for the Christmases to come.

Recommendation

wrapped up in you by carole matthews

This book is just so Christmassy and will make you feel all warm and gooey inside! Even though this book isn’t brand spanking new it is still most definitely worth a read. Check out my review by clicking the above image.

‘Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.’ Albert Schweitzer