Blog Tour Book Review: The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

About The Café by the Sea

• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 27, 2017)

The beloved author of The Bookshop on the Corner returns with a sparkling, sunny, soulful new novel perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand.

Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up — and she hasn’t looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious… and hopelessly in love with her boss.

But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she’s suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers — all strapping, loud, and seemingly incapable of basic housework — and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking — and find herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea.

But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes — and work out exactly where her future lies…

Funny and heartfelt, The Café by the Sea is a delightful summertime novel that puts a modern twist on the classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers story.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Happy 4th everyone!

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan. I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it.

The Cafe by the Sea is a lighthearted contemporary story about Flora, a paralegal from the small (fictitious) isle of Mure who is currently living and working in London. Due to an (unwanted) opportunity at work, Flora is going home…a place she had gladly left behind years ago.

The Cafe by the Sea is my second Jenny Colgan book. I read The Bookshop on the Corner last year and I remember absolutely loving it so when I had the opportunity to experience another of Jenny Colgan’s works, I jumped at the chance. Just like I thought I would, I really enjoyed this book as well.

In the same vein as The Bookshop on the CornerThe Cafe by the Sea is a contemporary novel with themes of self discovery, romance, healing and humor. Flora, herself, is such a likable main character who has not really been dealing with the death of her mother. My heart ached for her as she confronted memories of her mother and dealt with her brothers and father who also had yet to heal.

I love a good homecoming story like this where the main character basically runs away and when they come back, they realize how much of themselves they left at home. Beautiful.

I think Jenny Colgan is a wonderful storyteller. Her writing and stories are simple, funny, romantic and just…warm. I definitely think that her stories are like comfort food to me. I love to curl up with them in bed with mug of green tea and just pass the day in these beautiful stories of hers. If you are looking for a nice beach read, this one may be it or even if it’s raining and you have a nice Sunday in, definitely pick this book up. It’s a rather light read because of the writing and the fact that you won’t want to put it down once you’re drawn in, I read it in one sitting. 5 stars because I loved this book and it made me laugh out loud, made my heart hurt and gave me the warm fuzzies that a good romance plot line can. ❤

 

 

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About Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Blog Tour Book Review: This is Not Over by Holly Brown

About This is Not Over

• Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 17, 2017)

You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on Getaway.com. I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the stained sheets…

Miranda

When 30-year-old Dawn reads Miranda’s email, she sees red. People have always told Dawn she’s beautiful, and she just hopes they don’t see beneath—to how she grew up, to what she’s always tried to outrun. She revels in her getaways with her perfect (maybe too perfect) husband, the occasional long weekend in luxurious homes, temporarily inhabiting other people’s privileged lives. Miranda’s email strikes a nerve, with its lying intimation that Dawn is so dirty you need to throw out her sheets.

Beware of your “host”

I wouldn’t have left a review at all, if I didn’t feel it was my civic duty to warn others…

57-year-old Miranda thought she’d seen it all, but she can’t believe her eyes when she reads Dawn’s review. She’s a doctor’s wife but she needs that rental money, desperately. People might think her life is privileged, but they don’t know what’s really going on. They don’t know about her son. She won’t take this threat to her livelihood—to her very life—lying down.

Two very different women with this in common: Each harbors her own secret, her own reason why she can’t just let this go. Neither can yield, not before they’ve dredged up all that’s hidden, even if it has the power to shatter all they’ve built.

This is not over.

This is so not over.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Happy Thursday! I’m excited because tomorrow is Friday and also because I’ve been reading some pretty great books so far this year. That always makes me happy!

I just finished This Is Not Over by Holly Brown. I’d like to thank both TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for giving me the chance to be a part of this book tour and read the book in exchange for an honest review of it.

This Is Not Over told in the alternating perspectives of our two main characters Dawn and Miranda. When the story starts Dawn and her husband have just returned from vacationing in Santa Monica where they rented Miranda’s home for a short while. Not satisfied with the rental and incensed by an email she has received from Miranda advising that she would be deducting the cost of ruined sheets from Dawn’s security deposit, Dawn decides to leave a review of the rental (and the owner) on the site she booked it on. This is the start of a furious back and forth between both women and it quickly becomes personal.

I wasn’t sure at all what to expect from this story. When I read the description, it intrigued me instantly and I just really wanted to see what it was all about and upon reading the premise, where the story would go. I did read a few reviews for it and saw it had mixed reviews so I was nervous going into it but I ended up really liking it. I was not a fan of either main character but that didn’t stop me from being able to enjoy the story.

I really liked the short chapters and the mix of formats used in this book, it was a pretty fast read for me once I got settled and buried my nose in it. I went into this book thinking that it was a psychological thriller and I think that may be where people are getting confused, it’s more of a light suspense novel I would say. I definitely would not try to compare this to some of the heavy psychological thrillers that are out there because if you expect that of course, you will be disappointed when you don’t get that. It definitely is a book that keeps you on your toes just interested in what these characters are going to do to each other next, it kept me wondering what was going to happen and where the story was going. Although I didn’t love either character, I was interested in what they did and seeing the inner workings of their brains, the assumptions and misunderstandings they made.

Overall, I thought this was an entertaining read. I think fans of reality TV, specifically the housewives shows, might really enjoy this book. These two characters are VERY dramatic and take things really personal, although they both do have some very serious things going on in their lives so I can kind of see why they’re fixating on this one thing. It’s something they are both fighting to control and everything just spins out of whack. When you sit there and read it, it seems so ridiculous but it is actually something that could very well happen in real life which is why I really liked it.

3.5 stars

About Holly Brown

Photo by Yanina Gotsulsky

Holly Brown lives with her husband and toddler daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she’s a practicing marriage and family therapist. She is the author of the novel Don’t Try to Find Me, and her blog, “Bonding Time,” is featured on the mental health website PsychCentral.com.

Connect with Holly on Facebook.

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Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

25489025Title: The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Genre: Adult Fiction
Length: 192 pages
Format: Print – Hardcover
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Rating – 4 stars

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
 
A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

I did have a small idea of what the book was about going into it from hearing a non-spoiler review of it and I do know that this book has been praised and enjoyed by omnivores and herbivores alike, which intrigued me even more. It also won the Man Booker International Prize, which is of course a wonderful honor and I’m glad to have finally read a book that did. I need to make more of a habit of that.

The Vegetarian is told in three acts. Each act is told by a different narrator but connected by Yeong-Hye, our main character. After a dark, hellish, traumatizing nightmare Yeong-Hye renounces meat and essentially all other animal derived ingredients. This decision does not sit well with her husband and the rest of her family and as she changes, all of their lives are changed drastically as well. Interspersed throughout the sections we get snippets of thoughts from Yeong-Hye represented in Italics that give us a look into what she is going through and I really appreciated that.

It definitely was very dark and shocking. In some ways it was beautiful but also brutal and haunting at the same time. There were things in it that made me incredibly angry and then incredibly sad, which to me is evidence of some really great writing. It made me incredibly angry that she was immediately deemed crazy for her choices by literally everyone around her.

I do love the commentary that this book is making about social norms and what happens to those that “shirk” them, how they are viewed and treated by even loved ones. When Yeong-Hye decides to make this life altering change, the way she is treated was incredibly maddening and heartbreaking. As a Vegan who was for two years the sole plant based eater in my family and friends(my husband joined me after and I met my first vegan friend IRL), what our main character experiences was so far from my own personal experience BUT I have definitely heard stories quite similar in ways to how she gets treated though not as extreme as in this book. I also found it a little disturbing that Yeong-Hye pretty much withers when adopting this lifestyle change when I have only seen so many flourish and I had a hard time with that because it made me feel like people who read this book would think that is what happens to people when they make a change like this. But I think it’s important to understand that Yeong-Hye and the rest of her family had some really deep rooted family issues. So there are alot of deep issues playing underneath this story – mental illness, abuse,  PTSD, obsession and more.

I wasn’t sure what this book could accomplish in 192 pages as that is so brief but even though it is short, it definitely packs a big punch and is definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time. This book has been translated and I think that it is one of the best translations that I have ever had the pleasure of reading since it was able to evoke such emotion and thoughts from so many people. 4 stars.

Happy reading everyone.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

17347383Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Length: 435 pages
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: August 27, 2013 (15th anniversary ed)
Rating – 5 stars!!!

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts… he’s at Hogwarts.”

Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may be a traitor in their midst.

So I finally read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and holy moly! I had previously mentioned in my review of the second book that I had started reading the Harry Potter series years ago but never continued on due to reading other books for review. I decided to make 2017 the year I read the entire series.

This was my first time reading the third book in the series and I loved it. After finishing the second one, which I also loved, I couldn’t even imagine that I could love the next book more, but I definitely did.

Of course, I loved getting to spend more time with Harry but what I really loved about this book was all the new characters we were introduced to like Professor Lupin and Sirius Black (my two favorite characters in this particular book). I really enjoyed learning more about Harry’s dad. I enjoyed running around Hogwarts with Harry using the Marauder’s Map and going back in time with Harry and Hermoine! I got all of the feels with the Patronus and Dumbledore and Harry’s conversation after. I DEFINITELY got all the feels with Sirius Black and Harry’s conversation and then the letter towards the end…ugh. So good. So so good. I get it guys. I get the fandom, I’m here for it. I can’t wait to continue on and watch our characters grow together and the adventures they are going to encounter. I felt like the first part of the book was good but towards the middle it just got better and better. I definitely think that the series itself gets better with every book so I am excited to see it progress even more.

This was my favorite of the books so far, five stars hands down. This story was adventurous and magical. I felt like I took awhile to read it but I honestly didn’t want it to end. If you’re an adult who has never read the Harry Potter series but really want to, I definitely recommend doing it. It will definitely bring out the kid in you and it’s really just so good!

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Review: My Father’s Son by John Davis

My Father's Son AudiobookTitle: My Father’s Son by John Davis
Narrated by Stephen J. Cohen
Genre: Nonfiction – Memoir
Length: 3 hours and 6 minutes
Format: Audiobook via Audible
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: October 13, 2016
Rating – 5 stars

John Davis grew up in the 1970s and ’80s on the rough streets of Brooklyn, a place where no one thought twice when parents smacked around their kids – or each other. At the center of the tumultuous neighborhood, and John’s world, was his larger-than-life father, Roberto. The Argentinean butcher and kingpin drug dealer was a sadistic bully whose mercurial temper left a trail of tears and chaos across his family. John, in particular, seemed to bear the brunt of Roberto’s wildly swinging moods. Any wrong word could cause an explosion. Every knock on the door might be one of Roberto’s enemies, or the police.

In his publishing debut, Davis recounts how he spent his childhood in constant terror and his teen years learning to fight back. But it was much later, as an adult, that he learned the most shocking thing of all about his father, his past, and himself. Told with raw honesty and deep emotion, My Father’s Son is a memoir of fear, abuse, survival, and identity.

When I saw that My Father’s Son by John Davis had been released as an audiobook, I immediately couldn’t wait to listen to it. I received a copy from the author in exchange for my  honest review since I had previously reviewed the ebook.

My Father’s Son is a memoir, so it is the story of the author’s childhood growing up in Brooklyn, the son of an abusive father. It chronicles his father’s actions, their effects, family secrets and ultimately strength of spirit and the ability to overcome.

I thought that the experience of listening to this was a positive one, I really enjoyed listening to this as an audiobook and felt like it was being told to me in a conversation with a friend. I loved this narrator too. I tend to err on the picky side when listening to audiobooks because I find with some narrators it’s hard for me to get into a book, but I thought that this narrator was fantastic. The story of John’s childhood is gut wrenching sometimes and I think that this narrator was perfect for the topics presented in this memoir because his voice was very soothing and he read at a perfect pace for this book.

This memoir is gripping, at times gritty and just very real. Both when I read and listened to this on audiobook, I just wanted to hug little John and save him, hold his hand and tell him it’d be okay and that he wasn’t alone. This book, and others like it, I think are important ones. This was so different from my childhood, and I think when we don’t see stories like these we naively see the world through blinders and stories like this help me to remember that everyone has a different story and is going through different things and to always be compassionate towards everyone.

While this book does deal with the heavy topics of child abuse and drugs…it does also feature very heart warming things as well like family and self discovery. This was wonderful as an audiobook and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. My listening experience of My Father’s Son was a wholly different experience than reading it, although I think either way you experience this book is worthy of five stars. I thank the author for sharing the story of his childhood with the world, something that must have been difficult to begin with but reading it has definitely helped me to reflect and taught me a few things as well. If you would like to read my review of the ebook for My Father’s Son you can read it here: My Father’s Son by John Davis

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

17347384Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Length: 341 pages
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: August 27, 2013 (15th anniversary ed)
Rating – 5 stars!!!

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone — or something — starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself!

I totally realize that the world doesn’t need another review of any of the Harry Potter books, especially from a small blog like mine BUT I can’t help it. I reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone during the latter part of December which gave me the opportunity to start 2017 off by rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, book two in this world famous series. Although I started the series a few years ago, I believe I got caught up in reading other books that were given to me for review so I never continued on with the series. With 2017 here, I decided it was high time to do it. It has been YEARS since I read the first two books and I had never actually reviewed them for my blog so here I am!

After reading book 1 I was excited to dig into book 2 and I absolutely loved it. It was super magical and tons of fun. I literally had such a fun time reading this book, learning more about the world and the characters, getting to sneak around Hogwarts with Harry and friends solving mysteries and dodging teachers. I found that while I enjoyed book 1, I really enjoyed book two and if each book increases in how good they are, I don’t even know what I’m going to do because I already find myself getting super obsessed. All I could think about when I got off of work today was starting book 3.

One thing I loved about this book in particular was the pacing, to me it feels just right. Not too slow, not too fast. The plot and characters develop at a rate that is really enjoyable and keeps me interested in the journey. The writing is simple, easy to understand but is beautiful in its simplicity and there are quotable passages sprinkled throughout the books that give immense feels. I am sure that this increases with every book as well. I haven’t been spoiled by the movies so I’m excited to see where the overall story goes and what all happens to our characters. So far, it has been an adventure! I feel like this series is what I needed to get out of a book rut that I was finding myself in so it was a good thing I started my year off with this book. I am living proof that an adult can enjoy these just as much as kid. It is so magical, so much fun and I loved this book. I am starting the 3rd tonight and I can’t wait! From here, I will be reading for the first time.

I am sure everyone has read this already but if are like me and you started the series and never continued or just haven’t given it a chance, definitely try it out! I gave the second book 5 stars because I just loved it. I’m also reading it with my niece and my nephew (who are young readers, reading it for the first time and just starting to discover the joys of reading ahhhh!) so that makes it extra special to me I think! I also must say that these illustrations on this particular edition are gorgeous, although pretty much all of the editions I have seen so far are beautiful.

What a wonderful way to start off the reading year!

Happy reading everyone!

Audiobook Review: Table for Five by Susan Wiggs

19009241Title: Table for Five by Susan Wiggs (narrated by Amy Rubinate)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 7 hours and 4 minutes
Format: Audiobook via Audible
Publication Date: January 31, 2012
Rating – 4 stars

Before an estranged couple is killed in an unthinkable tragedy, they designate two guardians for their children–a man and a woman who are essentially strangers and who have nothing in common except their compassion for the couple’s three orphaned children. Thrown into this strange semblance of family, Sean McGuire and Lily Robinson work together to establish some kind of normalcy for the grief-stricken children–and in the process discover the possibilities that make everything seem worthwhile.

I listened to Table for Five by Susan Wiggs on audiobook via Audible. This is the second book I have read by Susan Wiggs, the first being a book I reviewed with TLC Book tours earlier this year, Family Tree. You can check out that review here: Family Tree. A lot of what I liked about that book, I liked about this book as well so I think that I am definitely just a fan of this author’s writing style.

Table for Five is a contemporary fiction novel about Lily, our main character Lily who takes on the responsibility of caring for her best friend’s three children after her best friend and their father are killed in an accident. Their legal guardian is their uncle but since they are familiar with Lily, they decide to take care of them together. It’s about their struggle through their grief and to become a family, and is also a sort of love story.

I really enjoyed this book. I feel like Susan Wiggs is really good at writing cozy stories. There’s just something about her writing that draws you in and makes you feel warm and fuzzy. I felt that way about the last book I read from her as well. This book did have a tragedy at the beginning of it and does deal with the subject of grief but it does end on a ‘feel good’ note that is really satisfying. After reading two books from her and enjoying them, I am confident in saying that I am definitely a Susan Wiggs fan. I am not so much a fan of the cover, although it is an older book. This isn’t something I would normally tend to pick up but knowing that I loved the first book I read by this author, I had to give it a try.  I enjoyed listening to it as an audiobook, I thought the narrator did a great job and I never lost focus on the story because of that. It was definitely a positive audiobook experience that I recommend. Four Stars!