Tag Archives: chick-lit

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
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Links:

Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: contemporary romance.

My rating:

Ohh, this is another one of those books. It has a great premise, some fantastic elements, I loved the heroine so much, and it made me hungry because the food descriptions are marvelous, but the whole just didn’t do it for me. This will contain spoilers because I want to talk about it some more, so if you want to read it, please stop reading now. You’ve been warned.

Lou is a small restaurant owner who gets a horrible review after she has a really bad day in life/her kitchen. The person responsible for the bad review – Al – is a nasty food critic who enjoys skewering restaurants and chefs, and takes perverse pleasure in seeing the effect of his words.

Now, Lou is fantastic. She’s warm and hardworking and trusting and a great friend. She’s also a fantastic chef, and I enjoyed her parts of the story so much. But Al…He was just such an asshole. He vents his own frustrations on unsuspecting people, and when he finds out he’s the reason for Lou’s misfortune, he hides behind his pseudonym like the coward that he is. When he didn’t come clean to Lou, I lost all interest in the story. The moment when he stated calculating how he could save his stupid ass and still stay with the woman whose life he ruined, I just sort of skim-read his parts because he annoyed me so much.

And the fact that she forgave him? Nope, sorry. He was so self-assured, so convinced that he was doing the world a favor by being nasty, I couldn’t empathize with him at all. Which is a pity, because I loved so many other things about this story.

The setting, the details of Lou’s life in the restaurant, Lou’s relationships with virtually everyone else…were great, really well-done. This reads more like chick-lit than romance, that’s worth mentioning. The story also dragged a little – I read it on my Kindle, so I don’t have a good sense of how long it was, but it definitely could have been shorter. So yeah. I might look up Reichert’s other books (are there any?) because I liked so much about this one, but I can’t whole-heartedly recommend The Coincidence of Coconut Cake because of the issues I mentioned.

Have you read The Coincidence? What did you think?

Would you forgive the person who ruined your life and lied about it?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Published on January 19, 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: contemporary / women's fiction.

My rating:

Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory. All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town.

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I didn’t know this was a translated book before I started reading it. I don’t think that this fact changed my reading experience much, the translation is very good (at least as far as I can tell as I can’t speak Swedish), so I wouldn’t have noticed at all if I didn’t read the very first page(s). I can now count this towards my goal of reading more non-English books (even though it’s actually in English – I wouldn’t have been able to read it in Swedish, after all).

I liked The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. It’s a heartfelt story with interesting characters and I found myself wondering what I’d do in a similar situation.

Sara arrives in Broken Wheel, Iowa, which is essentially the synonym to “the middle of nowhere”, only to discover that her dear pen pal, Amy, has just passed away. She is told by the people attending the funeral that she should most definitely stay in Amy’s house, which is exactly what she does because she is too confused to do anything else. It looks like Amy had been sick for a long time, so Sara doesn’t know why she invited her over in the first place.

But Sara’s life back in Sweden doesn’t really hold much appeal at the moment – she’d lost her job because the bookstore she’s worked at for years has closed. Her family isn’t all that supportive of her new adventure – her parents constantly underestimate her and she feels like nobody would really miss her if she just stayed here.

And she does. The town seems very reluctant to accept a stranger at first but the people somehow end up adopting her all the same. It’s baffling to her that no one allows her to pay for anything, even when she sees they could clearly use some money, and she finally finds an interesting way of paying them back.

I really enjoyed this story. Sara was a great character, too, it was really nice to see her emerge from her introverted cocoon and unfurl her wings. I did, however, have a complaint or two about the story’s execution: mostly, I was bothered by the unnecessary descriptions of books that Sara and Amy have read. Hello, could you not write down the entire plot of Jane Eyre without warning?! Gah. I have been spoiled for this book before but now I know the entire synopsis and it’s just… WHY?!

I also found myself skimming over the letters that Amy wrote to Sara prior to her death. So I think the story would have benefited from a sharp knife to cut some unnecessary bits and it would have been wonderful. But that’s a personal preference. I saw other positive reviews (here and here), so you might want to give those a read if you’re undecided on whether this book is worth it!

If you read this one and are looking for more – try Little Beach Street Bakery or The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris.

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Have you read The Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend? What did you think?

Do you have any good chick lit recommendations? I haven’t read anything in this genre for a while.

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads

top ten tuesdayIt’s been a while since I did one of these! Top Ten Tuesday is a hugely popular meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish – go check out other people’s lists! :)

This week, we’re listing the top ten beach readsfor me, this means something lighthearted and not too chunky (In terms of page-count, I still like reading physical books despite owning a Kindle and have you ever tried holding a 900-page book above your head while lying on your back? Ouch.). I picked some books that I’d enjoy even when my brain was slightly cooked from the summer heat.

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  1. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich. This whole series is great but I still love the first book the best – meeting Stephanie and her crew for the first time was a blast.
  2. White Cat by Holly Black – this is a new favourite – it’s YA urban fantasy and perfect for devouring in a single sitting. It’s dark but funny and I can’t wait to read the sequel.
  3. Wedding Season by Katie Fforde – your perfect chick-lit. If you’re a fan of the genre, this one is a must.
  4. beach street bakeryLittle Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan – ditto! She has a new book coming out in a couple of days and I can’t wait!!! (My review.)
  5. Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Ok so this list of fluffy reads wouldn’t be complete without an Armentrout title. I think this is my favourite – and I can’t wait for the sequel that’s supposed to come out sometime later this year (I think!).
  6. How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper. Her novels have the worst covers ever but I love her sense of humor. It’s chick-lit at its finest, full of banter and sexyness.
  7. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. This was one of those surprisingly cool YA contemporaries. I didn’t really like the movie but the book was funny, refreshing, a bit sad and real. You can read my review here.
  8. ScarletUS.inddScarlet by A. C. Gaughen. For some medieval thievery and slow-burn teenage romance, please consider reading this little gem. I’ve yet to read Lady Thief and Lion Heart but you can find my enthusiastic review here.
  9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Ok so you’ve probably all read The Rosie Project by this point but if there’s still someone out there who hasn’t: this is cool. Really. You won’t regret it.
  10. Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis – or really any other Shalvis book. Hers are the perfect contemporary romances and I just love the small-town settings. If you’re into heart-warming, sexy stories, this is for you (for more gushing, see this and this).

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What will you be reading this summer?

What books would you recommend to me? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

Eleven On Top by Janet Evanovich

eleven-on-top-janet-evanovichEleven On Top (Stephanie Plum #11) by Janet Evanovich, first published in 2005 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Goodreads. Author.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: a really funny chick-lit mystery.

Stephanie Plum is thinking her career as a fugitive apprehension agent has run its course. She’s been shot at, spat at, cussed at, fire-bombed, mooned, and attacked by dogs. Stephanie thinks it’s time for a change. So she quits. She wants something safe and normal. But the kind of trouble she had at the bail bonds office can’t compare to the kind of trouble she finds herself facing now… 

Stephanie is stalked by a maniac returned from the grave for the sole purpose of putting her into a burial plot of her own. He’s killed before, and he’ll kill again if given the chance. Caught between staying far away from the bounty hunter business and staying alive, Stephanie reexamines her life and the possibility that being a bounty hunter is the solution rather than the problem. Tempers and temperatures rise as competition ratchets up between the two men in her life — her on-again, off-again boyfriend, tough Trenton cop Joe Morelli, and her boss, Ranger. Can Stephanie Plum take the heat? (Goodreads)

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My rating: 4/5.

I’m not reviewing this one because it’s really special or different from the ten previous instalments of this series, but because I read all those parts before I started blogging and haven’t reviewed any of the awesome Stephanie Plum novels on my blog. This is a mistake I intend to correct right now.

Eleven On Top is structurally very similar to the other parts – but that only makes for a more satisfying read. Stephanie has decided to quit her job at Vinnie’s office and try to find a normal job (much to the relief of her poor mother), but things don’t get any more normal than they used to be. Her cars are still getting busted, she still doesn’t know whether she should pick Morelli or Ranger, and the Burg is still the same gossip-ridden place it was before.

So why do I keep reading these novels like they’re magic? It’s because of the characters. First of all, Stephanie herself is such a great choice. As many crazy adventures she gets herself into, she’s actually a very real individual with everyday problems (in addition to the crazy ones). Then there are the old favourites: Ranger, who’s still as hot and mysterious as ever (I’m team Ranger, by the way), Lula and Grandma Mazur – these two ladies are so absurdly cool (one’s fascinated with fast food and the other with death). The more I read about them, the better they get.

Oh, and don’t forget about Bob the dog“I walked Bob about an hour ago, and he pooped twelve times, so he should be good for the night. I didn’t feed him, but he ate one of Morelli’s sneakers around three o’clock. You might want to go light on the dog crunchies until he horks the sneaker up.” Ew.

Stephanie has this fierce sense of independence but at the same time, she cares so much about the people around her. It’s all a part of this weird Burg mentality but it makes sense, oddly enough: “I’d eaten about a third of the tub of ice cream. I put the lid on the tub and walked it back to the freezer. I put all the food away and wiped down the countertop. I wasn’t much of a housekeeper, but I didn’t want to be killed and have my mother discover my kitchen was a mess.

I guess it all boils down to whether you love Evanovich’s sense of humor or not. I think she’s hilarious. I snort-chuckled a lot through this series and if that’s not a glowing recommendation, I don’t know what is. ;)

srcek

Have you read any of the Stephanie Plum novels? How about other Evanovich books? 

Do you have a favourite silly character?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

the_loveliest_chocolate_shop_in_paris_colganThe Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan, published in 2013 by Sphere.

Author. Twitter. Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.

Source: purchased.

Genre: chick-lit.

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. (Goodreads)

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My rating: 4/5.

This book was a total impulse-buy on a day when our baby was five days over-due, we’d just seen Guardians of the Galaxy (read my review) and I was craving something comforting, but not dumb, to take my mind off the fact that I’ll be a parent soon (as this publishes I already am, oh, my). So I chose Jenny Colgan, whose Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe and The Little Beach Street Bakery (my review) I’d read and loved, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Colgan’s combination of slightly troubled, but very strong women, delectable food and very pretty locations is an all-time winner for me. Here, Anna, a 30-year-old from a small, uninteresting town in England, recuperates from a small but almost-tragical injury and a subsequent illness that nearly killed her. She meets her former French teacher, Claire, in the hospital. Claire is going through her last chemo session and starts teaching Anna French again, more from boredom than anything else, but the two women connect despite the miserable circumstances they’re in.

As Anna no longer has a job at her chocolate factory, Claire proposes she go and work at a chocolate atelier in Paris, owned by Claire’s old acquaintance, Thierry. Anna’s not sure she’s up for it but is sick of being the freak show and main gossip of the town, so she pack her bags and leaves for Paris.

The story moves from Anne’s narration and POV to another storyline set in the early 1970s in Paris, where Claire went as an au-pair for a summer and fell in love for the first time. While Anna’s path of recovery and her adventures in Paris would have made a good novel in itself, it’s actually Claire’s flash-backs that I loved the most. The young, sheltered, overly shy girl whose strict upbringing did a serious number on her is suddenly put into the wonderful, colourful world of Paris, food, and summer. In these sections, I found the most sensual descriptions of chocolate and romance ever (and I can tell you I’ve read a lot of romance lately).

I also loved the descriptions of Paris. I’ve been to Paris twice, once when I was a kid and then later with my husband (then boyfriend). Paris was one of the first trips we made together, before we even started living together, and those vacations were always extra-special because we got to spend entire days in each other’s company. It was spring, the chestnut trees hadn’t even bloomed yet, and it rained quite a lot, but we loved every single bit of it, despite the fact that we had next to no money (we were both students at the time).

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We saw the Notre Dame, of course, which is why I was so delighted to read about it in the book. And we saw La Tour Eiffel, where magnolias were in bloom, and made awkward selfies with wind-blown hair.

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All in all, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris was a perfect read for me. It wasn’t as fluffy and fuzzy as I’d expected, though, and held a more sombre note as well. I really recommend Jenny Colgan’s books to anyone wishing to read quality chick-lit!

srcek

Have you read any good chick-lit lately? I’d love to hear some recommendations.

Do you like books better if you know the setting?

“Little Beach Street Bakery” by Jenny Colgan

beach street bakeryLittle Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan, published in 2014 by Sphere.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository.

Source: purchased.

Genre: chick-lit.

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. (Goodreads)

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My rating: 4/5

I’m going to keep this one fairly brief, folks.

Little Beach Street Bakery is a book I bought on impulse one day at our local bookstore (we have quite a good selection of English books for a non-English speaking country in our largest bookstore), just as I finished with one of the last work assignments before the summer vacation. I browsed the fantasy section and nothing jumped out at me and then I saw a lovely cover winking up at me from the romance section and I went for it, wanting a diverting, cute, positive read that would make me feel good and fuzzy and relaxed.

Jenny Colgan did not disappoint! This book has everything I craved: a slightly lost, but very loveable heroine, Polly, a seemingly-hopeless situation she finds herself in (she impulsively moves to this tiny village and starts a baking business), an American bee-keeper, fishermen, a gutsy best friend and a grumpy landlady. All in all, fabulousness. Living in a decrepit appartment, Polly starts making friends despite the fact that her move to this village is “temporary” and works her way through the complex world of small-town relations.

The story is peppered with delicious recipes – which is a specialty of Colgan’s, apparently, as all her books seem to include an appendix of recipes that her heroines make in the course of the novel! This time, it’s mostly bread – crusty foccaccia, bagels, cheese straws, cinnamon rolls… you name it. I love that this is actually an insight into the author’s life: Colgan says she’s tested all the recipes herself. As chewing on the paperback brought no satisfaction (kidding…), I’ll have to try out making the goodies in real life someday.

There’s a quote from Sophie Kinsella on the cover, though, which does the book a disservice in my opinion, as Colgan’s heroines never struck me as stupid – and I think Kinsella’s are usually quite dumb. I’ve previously read Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe and I liked Issy, the heroine, just as much as Polly. Kinsella’s Shopaholic series and her The Undomestic Goddess all featured women who were supposed to be smart but made frightfully moronic decisions… Well. I think that fans of Jenny Colgan would appreciate smarter heroines – Katie Fforde’s independent women come to mind (check out Wedding Season or Practically Perfect if you’re looking for something light but witty).

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Have you read any books by Jenny Colgan?

Do you like food-related books as much as I do? :)