Book Review: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

littlebeachstreetLittle Beach Street Bakery
by Jenny Colgan

Published by William Morrow Paperbacks in March 2015.


Polly’s life is falling apart. The business she built with her long term boyfriend Chris has crumbled, taking her relationship right along with it. The bank has seized their Plymouth flat to pay off their debts, Chris is moving back home with his mum, and Polly is left homeless on the couch of her best friend Kerensa. Now on a tight budget, Polly comes to realize she’s never going to be able to afford a place in the city. On a whim, she moves into a run-down apartment in Mount Polbearne, a small, struggling fishing village in Cornwall.

Jobless, but no longer homeless, Polly begins to figure out who she is and thinks about what she wants out of life, when before she was only worried about what sulky Chris needed. The men in town all seem drawn to Polly, partly because she’s new to the area, and she has a fling with a local fisherman. She also finds herself attracted to an American beekeeper. But the romantic relationships are the least interesting part of Little Beach Street Bakery.

A cute and comforting read, my favorite part of this story was Polly’s struggle to find her place in the world after everything falls apart. What does she want out of life? Can a person give up everything they thought they needed (fancy clothes, expensive apartment and furniture) and still find a way to be happy?

bread by drew coffman
Photo by Drew Coffman

This book also made me want to eat lots and lots of bread. I loved author Jenny Colgan’s descriptions of the bread and Polly’s baking. The Little Beach Street Bakery sounds like such a cute bakery and Polbearne sounds like the quintessential quaint British village.

Also, there is a baby puffin (puffling) that Polly takes in and names Neil and Neil is adorable. All books should have puffins in them.

Despite Polly’s struggles with the bakery, her grumpy landlord, romantic drama and financial woes, Polly maintains her optimism and refuses to dwell on the negatives of life. I really enjoyed her positive outlook on life, and the book’s promise that life can be what you want it to be.

 

Book Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

onetruelovesOne True Loves
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published by Washington Square Press in 2016


One True Loves is a fantastic summer book. The story focuses on 31-year-old Emma’s life before and after her high school sweetheart and husband is presumed dead in a helicopter crash.

First, we learn about how she and her husband Jesse met and get a glimpse into what their marriage was like at various points. Then we see how his death affects her, and how she learns to start opening herself up to the world, and falls in love with Sam, who she’s known since high school.

The first half of the book is told in the past-tense, which sometimes made me feel like I was being told about things rather than experiencing them with Emma, but at the same time I felt like I really understood what was going in in Emma’s head and was really rooting for her.

In the second half, the book’s main conflict comes into full play. Jesse is alive! But Emma is now engaged to Sam and things are about to get super complicated. What would you do if you thought the love of your life was gone, only to have him suddenly come back?

One True Loves had me up late at night reading trying to figure out what Emma was going to do– would she choose Sam or Jesse?! Is there a right choice in this sort of situation?

There are two really cute love stories and the book delivers on making them both believable. If you’re looking for a light, cozy love story, I’d highly recommend this one.

Top Ten Tuesday: 6 Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is…  Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them

Go on an archaeological dig.

One of my favorite storylines in Forever in Blue, the fourth book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares, is when Bridget takes part in an archaeological dig in Turkey. When I was younger, I was obsessed with ancient Egypt and really wanted to be an Egyptologist; Forever in Blue was the first time I’d ever read about a character  who was also into archaeology. While I’ve still never been in a dig, I’d really love to one day.foreverinblue

Go to England.

After reading the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, I’m sure every kid in the US wanted to visit England, and I was no exception. I finally got the chance to go in college and loved it so much I made it a point to pursue my Master’s degree there later on. I got to do the studio tour of the film sets, visited some of the locations from the movies, and made lots of great British friends.London. June 2012.

Write a book.

There isn’t any one book I can point to, but my love of reading as a kid definitely made me want to become a writer. I was discouraged along the way by some not-so-great teachers, but ultimately that bug is still in there. And now that I work at a place where everyone seems to be an author in one way or another, maybe I’ll finally get around to finishing that novel.

Learn Elvish.

After reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and watching the movies, I tried my hand at learning some of the Elvish language. I didn’t get very far (and don’t remember any of it).lotr

Learn to draw.

I was heavily involved in the Harry Potter fandom all throughout high school, and one of the things I was always striving towards was being better at drawing fanart. I longed to be able to draw portraits of some of my favorite characters (mostly a teenage Sirius Black) but never made it quite to the same level as some of my favorite artists.

Fall in love.

Who hasn’t read a completely swoon-worthy book and wished that they could be in love as deeply as the main characters are?

Waiting on Wednesday: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

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I’ll admit, I’ve been wishing upon a star that a copy of this would magically be available for me to read. I’m so excited for it! The first two books in this series were such pleasant surprises, and I can’t wait to find out how it all ends! Not long now…


beauty of darknessThe Beauty of Darkness
by Mary E. Pearson
The Remnant Chronicles, Book 3
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Expected publication date: August 2, 2016

 

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous – what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson’s combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

[Source: Goodreads]

Waiting on Wednesday: A Tail of Camelot by Julie Leung

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

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Apparently it’s been almost a year since my last Waiting on Wednesday post, which is crazy! Because there are definitely a ton of books that I’m impatiently waiting on…

This week is a super special Waiting on Wednesday, because it’s about for one of my friend and former colleague’s upcoming book A Tail of Camelot (The Mice of the Round Table), a middle-grade novel about a young mouse who sets out to save Camelot! I’ve already read it, and it’s SO much fun. I’m ready for it to be out so I can go pick up a copy.


atailofcamelotA Tail of Camelot
by Julie Leung
Mice of the Round Table, Book 1
Published by Harper
Expected publication date: October 16, 2016

Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of the day when he will become a Knight of Camelot like his father and grandfather before him. For generations, Calib’s family has lived among the mice that dwell beneath the human Knights of the Round Table, defending the castle they all call home. Calib just hopes he will be able to live up to the Christopher name.

Then, on the night of the annual Harvest Tournament, tragedy strikes. The mice suspect the Darklings are behind the vicious sneak attack, but Calib has his doubts, so he sets off on a quest for the truth. Venturing deep into the woods beyond the castle walls, Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a threat far greater than the Darklings is gathering, and human and animal knights alike are in grave danger.

With help from a host of unlikely new allies, including a young human boy named Galahad, Calib must get the Mice of the Round Table and the Darklings to put aside their differences and fight together. Only then will they be strong enough to save Camelot.

[Source: Goodreads]

This Just In: New and Recently Read Books

walleyejunction

Recently Acquired: Walleye Junction by Karin Salvalaggio

I’m pretty picky when it comes to accepting advance copies for review. I don’t read as many books as other bloggers and have serious commitment issues when it comes to settling down with a book. Sometimes I jump around to three or four different books before settling on one.

But one of the publicity folks at Minotaur reached out to me a couple of months ago and asked if I wanted a copy of Walleye Junction for review consideration. Now I don’t normally read detective stories or even mysteries, but it sounds like a fun summer read. I started it earlier this month, and liked what I read. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to finish it soon!

ghosts.jpg


 

Recently Read: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

I was lucky enough to grab a copy of this one at BEA this year and read it in one evening. Telgemeier is the author of Smile and Sisters, though I haven’t read either of those yet. This one doesn’t come out until September, so I’ll be holding my review until then, but spoiler alert– I enjoyed it!


New to the wishlist:

Fries! An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Favorite Food by Blake Lingle – Because I practically lived off cheesy chips (cheese fries) while studying abroad in England.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I can’t remember where I saw this book recommended, but the blogger loved it so much I instantly added it to my TBR.

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye – kudos to the tireless publicity/marketing folks for managing to plaster this book cover all over my Twitter feed one day– okay guys, you got me. It’s on my to-read list.

Book Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

sleepinggiantsSleeping Giants
by Sylvain Neuvel
Themis Files, Book 1
Published by Del Rey in April 2016


A compulsively readable novel, Sleeping Giants will leave you with more questions than answers. And maybe that’s a good thing.

The story begins when a child falls down a hole. When she’s finally found, she is unharmed, resting in the palm of a giant mechanical hand. Years later, the girl has become the lead scientist working on a top secret project to unlock the secrets of the hand and its mysterious origins, but as additional pieces are recovered from around the world, more questions arise.

Skillfully told through transcripts of interviews between a nameless interviewer and the team working to discover more about the device, Sleeping Giants sets you on a high speed race for more information. The Q&A format of the chapters makes for easily digestible reading, but when you stop and think about it, the amount of detail given about each character and the events taking place is kind of amazing. Though there aren’t traditional descriptive paragraphs, each character has such a unique voice that I didn’t have any problems picturing them or understanding their motivations.

Aside from the format, the plot is pretty crazy too– it’s a scientific mystery mixed with political thriller. The world Neuvel has created is so realistic that it really isn’t hard to imagine that this is all really happening right now. As always, I don’t want to get into what happens, because I think this is one book where the less you know, the better.

I will say that I enjoyed this book more when it was about the science of discovery, and less about international politics and war, but I’m intrigued enough that I will almost certainly pick up the sequel when it’s available.

Book review: Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

ettaottoEtta and Otto and Russell and James
by Emma Hooper
Paperback edition published by Simon & Schuster in May 2015.


If our experiences make us who we are, and our experiences become our memories, then who are we when our memories fail us?

Etta and Otto and Russell and James begins with a letter. Etta, Otto’s wife of fifty-something years, sets out in the early morning from their home in Saskatchewan to walk the 3,232 km to the eastern coast of Canada. She takes some snacks and a gun and her best hiking boots, leaving Otto alone. To pass the time until Etta’s return, Otto first begins baking, and then takes up creating paper mache animals. Russell, Otto’s life-long friend and neighbor, sets out to bring Etta home. Etta meets James, a coyote, on her cross-country hike.

Their stories weave back and forth through time, from their childhoods to Otto’s time at the front during the second World War to the present day. As the characters grow and change and retreat further into their own minds, the book becomes much smaller and more personal. Emma Hooper writes lyrically and her prose takes on an almost dream-like quality, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. A complex story about identity, loss, and memory, Etta and Otto and Russell and James feels like a love letter, a memoir, and fable. It’s not a book you can make 100% sense of, its best to just go with it, especially when it comes to the ending.

 

Can we talk about all the pretty book covers? #2

Guess what guys, I found even MORE awesome covers that I wanted to share with you.

  1. A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain – I love the layered look of this cover, with the clouds, text, different cityscapes, and woman all overlapping and interacting in beautiful ways. The muted color scheme and classic serifed font really give this cover an elegant feel.
  2. Join by Steve Toutonghi – I managed to obtain an advance copy of this in March, and have to say the digital version really doesn’t do it justice. The circles are gold and have a subtle sparkle to them. The overall effect is really eye-catching.
  3. The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian – I love how the text starts to “bleed” into the water of the illustration, but the water itself is all geometric shapes, with the title and houses layered in.
  4. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown – My favorite part of this one is the hand-painted lettering of the title and author’s name, reminiscent of a camp-site sign. The forest looks completely normal, but the robot and red sun make the scene seem more alien.

Are there any awesome covers that have been revealed lately that I should know about? Or any interesting behind-the-scenes articles? If so, leave a comment so I can check them out.

Can we talk about all the pretty book covers?

Every time I think book covers are getting stale, the cover designers go and blow my mind with their new and amazing cover designs. Here are a few that have caught my eye recently:

1- The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick – I read about this in a blog post from Vintage on the design process for this one. Basically they commissioned an actual embroidery from the extremely talented Chloe Giordano. While I know very little about the book, the cover is absolutely stunning, especially once you know about its history. I now desperately want all of my book covers to be embroidered.

2- A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry – I saw this cover  and fell in love. I love the subtle, handcrafted letters (with those thorns!) and how they intertwine with the beautiful jungle illustration. The cover looks bold and wild.

3- A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess – The dreamlike flames engulfing the rose are really unique and draw your eyes in and around the cover. Meanwhile, the colors of the flames and rose stand out. The more I look at this one, the more I see.

4- Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – As part of the official cover release, we were graced with not one, but two awesome covers. However, it’s the bold, rich blue and detailed illustration of the UK edition that really caught my eye. The subtle cloud background with the illustration lend a dreamlike quality to the cover.

While I haven’t read any of the above books, I’m always interested in looking for new covers, and reading about the inspiration and process behind the designs. (Like this great piece on hand-lettered book covers from Chronicle.)

Are there any awesome covers that have been revealed lately that I should know about? Or any interesting behind-the-scenes articles? If so, leave a comment so I can check them out.