Book Review: The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

When at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year, I picked up Jodi Thomas’ The Little Teashop on Main. The cover of the ARC attracted my gaze and, as I enjoy reading stories of this genre, I chose to bring it home with me.

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

A rainy-day ritual—a tea party between three little girls—becomes the framework of not only their friendship, but their lives. 

Blonde, curly-haired Zoe is openhearted, kind and free-spirited, and dreams of becoming a famous actor in New York City. Shy Emily struggles with mental health but has the heart and soul of a writer. And Shannon—tall, athletic, strong—has a deep sense of loyalty that will serve her well when she heads off to military college.

As Zoe, Emily and Shannon grow into women—forging careers, following dreams and finding love—they’ll learn that life doesn’t always unfold the way they want it to, but through it all, the one constant is each other, and their regular tea parties. And when the unthinkable happens, the girls must come together to face the greatest test of all.

My thoughts:

The novel spans many years and begins when the friends were five years old. Thomas, however, does not take us through every year of their lives. Instead we learn more about Zoe, Emily and Shannon as adults. In addition, we read the thoughts of some of the people in their lives. Told from the point of view of many characters, we are able to see into the mind of each and how each person affects the life trajectory of the women.

Thomas takes us on the journey of three women’s lives. We read about their aspirations, their failures, the fulfilment of their dreams, and the love they experience in their lives. We read about a friendship that is so strong that it spans decades and even distance. I loved that this friendship was an important part of the story. The love and romance between two people and a potential partner is explored while the love between friends is not forgotten.

The Little Teashop on Main is a light read with plenty of romance (if you are looking for steamy sex scenes, however, this one will not deliver). The novel doesn’t delve too deeply into it characters – though as a reader, you will feel a connection with the main female characters. I enjoyed the story and it is perfect for a lazy and relaxing afternoon.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 75th in my book pledge for 2019)

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Book Review: I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

I was happy when I won an Instagram giveaway the ARC of Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel I’ll Never Tell. I enjoyed her previous novel and looked forward to reading this one.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

Twenty years ago, she washed up on shore in a rowboat with a gash to the head after an overnight at Camp Macaw. No one was ever charged with a crime.

Now, the MacAllister children are all grown up. After their parents die suddenly, they return to Camp to read the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate it’s sitting on. Ryan, the oldest, wants to sell. Margo, the family’s center, hasn’t made up her mind. Mary has her own horse farm to run, and believes in leaving well-enough alone. Kate and Liddie—the twins—have opposing views. And Sean Booth, the family groundskeeper, just hopes he still has a home when all is said and done. 

But then the will is read and they learn that it’s much more complicated than a simple vote. Until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can’t move forward. Any one of them could have done it, and all of them are hiding key pieces of the puzzle. Will they work together to solve the mystery, or will their suspicions and secrets finally tear the family apart?

My thoughts:

McKenzie’s storytelling did not disappoint. I enjoyed this tale as much as I had enjoyed her previous one, and her words kept me reading and invested right until the end.

The story moves between the past and the present as the reader gets to know the different personalities in the story, as well as what happened in the past. The movement between the time frames is done seamlessly and at no time was I confused. McKenzie paced the information perfectly so that I was neither bored nor disconcerted. Each bit of information that she gave, led me towards understanding the sequence of events as well as my understanding of the characters in the story.

As with all mystery stories, I tried to figure out the solution before reaching the final chapter. I’ll Never Tell is not predictable and therefore had a few surprises. These little twists in the story are believable and added to my enjoyment of the tale.

If you enjoy mystery stories, then you will enjoy this Canadian author’s novel. Unlike the modern psychological thriller, I’ll Never Tell is more a mystery story which the reader attempts to solve while reading.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 74th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

At the Frenzy Presents event held by Harper Collins in Spring, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura. My daughters are excited to read this one and will grab it from my hands as soon as I have reviewed it! 😀

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

My thoughts:

I love seeing the diverse reads that young people have the opportunity to read today – the type of reads that I did not have growing up. This Time Will Be Different is one such read. The story describes the experience of a girl of Japanese descent who is being raised by a single mom. Her experience as a minority in her school is also referred to.

Even though she is a minority, CJ’s experience as such is not focused on in the story. Instead, the writer shares with us the character’s personal growth as she determines what it is that is important to her; and how she will go about fighting for what it is she wants. CJ also learns about the importance of family and friends – lessons that teens of diverse cultures need to learn.

Sugiura shares with us a story that describes the progression of a seventeen year old finding her own voice; and learning about the voice of her family members. This Time Will Be Different is also a tale of romance and of family relationships. The novel is an enjoyable and light read with a message that will touch the heart of its readers.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 73rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The One and Only by Emily Griffin

While working in my room sorting my bookshelves and clearing out the drawers, I listened to the audio book The One and Only by Emily Griffin. The discs were ones I had picked up at a library sale and thought it would be a good opportunity to use them.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Format: Audio Book

Blurb:

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

My thoughts:

I do not usually listen to audio books and it took me a while to get used to listening to the story. In addition to sorting out the characters in my mind, I had to get used to the Texan accent that the story was read in. What I enjoyed about listening to the story was that I could do things while discovering Griffin’s story. I did miss being able to flip back, however, to past pages in order to check on moments of the story.

The story centres around college football – a sport which I have no knowledge of. As a result, some of the moments when the game was discussed went by me. If I had been reading the text, I probably would have put the book down in boredom but, because the story was being read to me, I continued listening while busy with my tasks.

The blurb suggests that Shea, the main character, takes the time to re-evaluate her life after an unexpected tragedy. I was a little disappointed with the lack of growth of the main character. Even though Shea does change some parts of her life, her romantic one ends up where she began. I was a little disappointed with the final choice that she made – though it was a choice that I was easily able to predict.

In addition to there not being too much character growth in the story, Griffin makes no social commentary in her novel. She has the opportunity – twice – but decides instead to create a story without a social message. A story like this was perfect to listen to – but would have been a little tedious to read (in addition to all the football commentary).

The One and Only was an enjoyable story to listen to while working – but it is one that I will not listen to again.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 72nd in my book pledge for 2019)

Favourite Read of the Month: July 2019

As expected, my summary of last month’s reads is late – just when I think I am on top of my reviews, I spend my time reading 😀 That is the best thing about my Summer Break – my routine is fluid and there is no need for me to stick to a schedule.

Below is the list of book that I read. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title and you will be able to visit my post:

  1. Alafair Burke The Better Sister – Thriller, Suspense ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  2. Margaret Stohl Red Vengeance – Young Adult, Marvel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  3. Jessie Kwak Crossfire – Science Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  4. Marissa Stapley The Last Resort – Thriller, Suspense ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  5. Alexander McCall Smith The Second Worst Restaurant in France – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  6. Christina Lauren The Unhoneymooners – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  7. Cecelia Ahern P.S.I Love You – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  8. Cecelia Ahern Postscript – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  9. Joe Siccardi My Name is Sam – Christian Fiction ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars
  10. Laura Dockrill My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant – Young Adult Contemporary ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  11. Uzma Jalaluddin Ayesha At Last – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  12. Kimberley Belle Dear Wife – Thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

Twelve reads! That is a record for me – but easy to do as I was at home resting. The heat encouraged me to sit in front of the fan and, therefore, encouraged my reading. I re-read a favourite as a buddy read with my friend (Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin) as well as Cecelia Ahern’s beloved title P.S. I Love You. I enjoyed my science fiction read during July, as well as some excellent thrillers. My favourite book, though, would have to be Ahern’s Postscript. The novel is a heartwarming tale about personal growth and helping others accept the loss of life. For me, it was the perfect sequel to a story that I have enjoyed in the past.

I hope you read as many wonderful stories as I did in July. What was your favourite read? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Book of the Month: January 2019

Book of the Month: February 2019

Book of the Month: March 2019

Book of the Month: April 2019

Book of the Month: May 2019

Book of the Month: June

Book Review: Dear Wife by Kimberley Belle

Dear Wife by Kimberley Belle was one of the ARCs that I managed to pick up when I attended the OLA Super Conference earlier this year.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed my first foray into Kimberley Belle’s writing. The story begins with Beth’s point of view (POV) and, right from the start, my attention was captured. As the reader, I was introduced as well to the POV of two other characters: Jeffrey (a husband) and Marcus (the police officer).

The three POVs are intertwined and slowly give the reader a sense of what the story is. Hints are given, assumptions are made, and guesses are turned on their head. For me, this is what a good thriller should be: a novel that keeps you guessing and brings in unexpected twists.

As well as being a thriller, the novel also makes reference to domestic violence and the abuse of the woman in a marriage. Beth depicts a woman who is being abused by her husband, a woman who eventually begins to plan her escape. When reading Beth’s story, I could sense her fear and her desire to escape the physical abuse she was enduring. I sensed her bravery as well because she had the courage to leave.

While reading, I became invested in Beth’s story and I wanted to know the outcome. I enjoyed the subtle twists the author leaves the reader – and the unexpected ending. I will not say too much about the ending, but I will say that I enjoyed it. 🙂

Dear Wife is definitely an enjoyable read for those who enjoy psychological thrillers. The writing is crisp and clear with the perfect pacing for this genre.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 71st in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

My friend and I have started reading books together and discussing them. Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin is one of thoses books that I have been telling her to read. In order to have a profitable discussion with her, I decided to reread the book.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Blurb:

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 

My thoughts:

I LOVED reading the book again! (If you want to read my original review, please click here.) The novel has so much in it to discuss with a buddy: prejudices and reasons for them; the growth of someone as they let go of their own pride; the struggle to become non-conformist; workplace difficulties; social expectations. These are just a few of the issues my friend and I have discussed. We were also able to link the story to some of our own experience even though we are not a part of the Muslim community.

Rereading Ayesha At Last has made me love the story even more. I appreciated once again the characters that Jalaluddin has created; and smiled, unreservedly, at the subtle references made to Pride and Prejudice. The story is humorous, prods at social norms, and has become one of my favourite rom-coms.

Once again, I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 70th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant by Laura Dockrill

When at the OLA Super Conference in February this year, I managed to get an ARC of My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant by Laura Dockrill. The title captured my attention and the blurb encouraged me to pick it up.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

Blurb:

It’s a food diary. I have to tell the truth. That’s the point.

Sixteen-year-old Bluebelle, also known as BB or Big Bones, lives her life unapologetically. She loves life! She loves food!

When BB has a worse-than-usual asthma attack, her mom insists she go to the doctor. There, she is told that she is overweight (no surprise) and prediabetic (big surprise) and must lose weight, move more, and keep a food diary. To get out of this immediate health crisis, she agrees to make an effort.

Then a tragedy occurs in the family, and things get seriously complicated. Suddenly, losing weight and moving more are the least of her worries. As for the food diary, though, BB doesn’t just document what she’s eating, she documents what she’s feeling–and she has a lot to say!

My thoughts:

Our society is focused a lot on looks and on weight and what I love about the main character in this book, BB, is that she is happy with her size. It is so important for teens to hear that message and understand it; to understand that it is important to be comfortable in your own skin.

The food diary that BB keeps shows that she has a healthy relationship with food. She eats good food that she savours. Food is also eaten with others and encapsulates family and friendship. The diary shows that the food she eats has certain connotations and memories for her. Through her food diary, the reader is reminded that food is not an enemy. Instead it is meant to be enjoyed and feted – often in the presence of others.

What is shown in BB’s story is that eating needs to be paired with exercise. I love how this teen is shows others that exercise is hard but, once started, it can become a part of a lifestyle. Exercise is necessary to be healthy and having a medical condition such as asthma should not stop a person on their journey to fitness. The food diary documents her journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

I loved the main character in My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant. She is sassy, determined, and loyal. I see her as being a good model for teens because she shows the importance of loving your body for what it is. Dockrill won me over with her story. It is humorous and yet deals with a serious issue that affects so many teens in our society today. This is a book I would recommend highly to any person who is trying to figure out who they are.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 69th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: My Name is Sam by Joe Siccardi

I was contacted by the author, Joe Siccardi to read and review one of his independent novels. His books are Christian based and the synopsis of My Name is Sam looked interesting as it suggested the story of Christian woman and her lifetime.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Christian fiction

Blurb:

Sit down with a cup of coffee or a nice wine and visit with Sam as she shares a lifetime of memories in this new Christian-themed fictional memoir. My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through is a follow-up to the breakout novella, Heaven Shining Through. It introduces Sam (Samantha), her family and friends in more detail than the original, and picks up where the novella left off. I hope readers get to know Sam as a friend, a life long friend. Share her life … complete with some drama, some humor, some heart tugs. Just a free-willed suburban Jersey girl trying to figure out this journey called life with the presence of God in an ordinary life as the underlying theme.

My thoughts:

My first thought upon reading this book is that the story was too condensed. I would have liked to read the details of Sam’s life and learn more about the ups and downs in her life. Squeezing the story of a life into the form of a short novel did not work for me as it took away my ability to truly immerse myself in the life that was described. In addition, some events in the life story were glossed over – events that could have led to thought-provoking soundbites.

Siccardi tells us Sam’s story instead of showing us. As a result, I did not feel much emotion while reading – even when Sam experiences some sad moments in her life. What is missing from the narrative is the sense of what the characters in the story are feeling. As a reader, I enjoy the experience of the words forming pictures in my mind: of the characters, what they look like, what they are doing, the emotions they are feeling. My Name is Sam did not give me any of that experience and, therefore, I found it difficult to be invested in the book.

When I opened the pages of this novel, I was hoping to read an inspirational story that is Christian-based. As expected, Sam does experience some difficult moments in her faith. These difficulties, however, are not explored. I found myself wishing that they had been as reading about a character overcoming the difficulties of her faith would have been interesting and inspirational.

Siccardi is an independent author who has taken the time to ensure that his book is professional and well written. The book is easy to read and I found it kept my interest right until the end. The ending of the story is beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes. It is the magic of the last page that I was looking for throughout the novel.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 68th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

I was so excited to receive an ARC of Postscript by Cecilia Ahern. I love her writing and could not wait to start reading it. I normally try to read the ARCs near the time of publication – but I could not wait with this one!

Publication date: 19 September 2019

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

When Holly Kennedy is approached by a group calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, her safe existence is turned on its head. Inspired by hearing about her late husband Gerry’s letters, the club wants Holly to help them with their own parting messages for their loved ones to discover after they’re gone.

Holly is sure of one thing – no way is she being dragged back to the grief she has left behind. It’s taken seven years to reinvent herself, and she’s ready to move on with her life.

But Holly comes to realize that when you love someone, there’s always one more thing to say…

My thoughts:

Postscript is a perfect sequel and is as beautifully written as PS. I Love You. I enjoyed reading more about Holly and her life 7 years after she had lost her husband. Life goes on after death, and this is what is shown in this novel. However, a loved one is always with you despite their death; and this, too, is shown in Ahern’s latest writing.

As with the first novel, Holly is the centre of the story. Even though she is in a relationship with another man, her romantic relationship is not what drives the story. Holly still has things to learn and in this novel she grows even more. Our personal growth does not stop at a certain age. Instead our life experiences and the people we come into contact with help to mould us into the people we are. In Postscript, Holly comes into contact with people who need her help. She gives her help – but with trepidation and plenty of uncertainty. And yet, in helping these people, Holly discovers that they help her too. In helping these people, she is able to grow as a person.

As always, Ahern’s writing is spot-on. Her words pull emotions from the reader (I do admit to tears forming in my eyes) and encourage you to become invested in the story. As I was reading, the characters were so vivid in my mind, and so real. Ahern is definitely a master at characterisation.

If you loved PS. I Love You (either the film or the book), you will enjoy Postscript as much as I did. This novel is definitely one you need to place on your TBR!

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 67th in my book pledge for 2019)