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. ;)

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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! :)

Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

christmas-cupcake-cafeChristmas at the Cupcake Cafe (At the Cupcake Cafe #2) by Jenny Colgan, first published in 2012 (but this edition’s pub date is set as October 14, 2014).

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

Source: e-ARC through Edelweiss (thank you, William Morrow Paperbacks, for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!).

Genre: chick-lit.

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 …Indulge yourself and your sweet-toothed friends with Jenny Colgan’s new novel, simply bursting with Christmas cupcake recipes and seasonal sugar-fuelled fun. (Goodreads)

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My rating: 3/5.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I’m a Jenny Colgan fan. I’ve read, loved, and reviewed Little Beach Street Bakery and The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, but I actually fell in love with her writing way before I started blogging. The first book of hers that I read was Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, and today, I’m reviewing the sequel.

I love series (and spinoffs, to a lesser degree). I love how the characters feel like old friends, how their surroundings seem like a favourite place to be, and how I can predict their actions – and be surprised by them, time and again. In Colgan’s novel, we meet Issy and Austin, as well as the Cupcake Cafe staff, and follow their story beyond that “happily ever after” that we saw at the end of Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe.

The first part of this book, however, gave me the impression that the characters became caricature versions of themselves. Issy and Austin were largely untouched by this, but the supporting cast seemed to go out of their way to do and say silly things that underlined the character flaws that Colgan hinted at in the first novel.

Incidentally, the first part of the novel also featured more talk about the social conditions of these people, the mass-consumerism problems of the Christmas season, etc. While this is definitely a welcome critical addition to such a conformist genre as chick-lit, I felt it could have been done in a more subtle manner, as the narrative dragged somewhat because of it.

The second part of the story was way better. Issy and Austin’s story (his potential move to the US, the conflict and the love) picks up speed and it is in this part that Colgan’s wonderful writing truly shines through. If it took me a while to chew through the first part of the book, I flew through the second, fighting tears at moments and rooting for the lovely couple.

All in all, I’d recommend this book to Colgan fans who have read Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe and wish to indulge in something sweet and – surprisingly – only half-fluffy. If you haven’t read her books yet, they’re perfect for any season, not just the holidays! Oh, the book has an appendix of recipes, as do all of Colgan’s novels!

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Do you read/buy seasonal (Christmas) books or do you absolutely loathe them? 

Do you like to start celebrating Christmas early or are you more of a last minute person?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

cold-feet-christmasCold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson, to be published on November 6 by HarperImpulse.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Barnes & Noble.

Source: e-ARC via Netgalley (Thank you, HarperImpulse, for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!)

Genre: chick-lit.

Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun! A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancé halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony! Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven! 

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas… (Goodreads)

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My rating: 2/5.

This book was one of those “meh” reads that I got through because I don’t like leaving review books unfinished (despite the fact that it is sometimes inevitable). This is a ranty review with some spoilers, so watch out!

First of all, I didn’t like the two main characters, Leah and Rob. They’re stuck in (snowed in) a remote Scottish cabin, both recovering from traumatic events concerning their loved ones, but they jump each other nevertheless. Leah just got cheated on by her fiance, but she’s still finding it “hard to resist” Rob, who she thinks is married at the time.

She also says things like: “It should have broken my heart to see his scrawny little backside pumping up and down on top of Becky, but it didn’t. I actually felt nothing but relief. It was like something inside me needed to see it, to make me come to my senses. I didn’t want to marry him at all. It was more of a wake-up call than a heartbreak.” — Who says that? She then goes on to make excuses for the sad “scrawny little backside”, saying it was her fault he cheated because she didn’t love him.

Despite her big mouth and apparent confidence, Leah has a painfully low opinion of herself – she blames herself for a tragic event that happened years ago, but that doesn’t explain the rather silly decisions she makes and thinking of herself in this manner: “… you’re wearing perfume seductive enough to make whole smoked salmon on the slab sit up an whistle, and have enough cleavage on show to make a hooker blush.” Leah has no friends in London, so she uproots her life easily – but she goes from being socially dependent on her fiance to being socially and financially dependent on Rob.

Rob is dealing with the loss of his wife, and he’s not coping at all. So while he spends a couple of hot nights with Leah, he’s an emotionally stunted idiot. He invites her to go to the US with him – but only as a business partner (she’s a cook so he offers her a catering job for his huge company). Without giving too much away, I can’t really connect with a hero who thinks (during sex, that is): “He knew he was big, and knew he could hurt her, but just didn’t care.” No. Just no. He’s also fond of generalizing, patronizing thoughts like this one: “After seeing their fiance doing the dirty with someone else, most girls would be snivelling in a corner, desperate to win him back or stab him in the eye with a stiletto heel.

So, why didn’t I stop reading this lovely book? Well, the second half of the story is somewhat better than the first. So if the first deserves a 1/5 rating, the second gets up to 3/5, so 2/5 is actually an average estimate (very scientific, don’t you think?). In the second half, we get to witness a sort of an awakening on Leah’s part (and a downfall on Rob’s), but I still think they’re actually poisonous for each other and should not end up being together. And when you feel like that about a couple in a romance novel, you know the story just isn’t right for you.

I think I’d like it much better if I could connect emotionally to either Leah or Rob, so perhaps it depends on your preference of personalities. They just didn’t work for me.

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Do you like/read/buy Christmas-themed novels for the holidays? 

Are you looking forward to the holiday season?