First Line Fridays: The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry is a fun, lighthearted read that explores a woman’s need to change the direction of her life. This romance is the perfect read for the cooler days of Fall.

“Something peculiar had happened to Marsha Kennedy. She had found herself editor of Britain’s most popular fashion magazine. While she had already edited several publications, they had been in the diet and fitness markets, promising taut bodies and rapidly shed pounds; she knew virtually nothing about fashion and had even less interest in it.”

Ellen Berry The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane (2017, Harper Collins)

I enjoyed this story so much that I went on the hunt for other books written by this author.

Would you read The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

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Teaser Tuesday: Pressure Point by Jessie Kwak

Yesterday when I opened the door to my home after work, the place was quiet. I was alone: my husband was still commuting home and my daughters were at university. I am still not used to being the only one at home by 5pm on a Monday. With my daughter no longer at high school, I think it is going to take a while for me to get used to these moments alone.

You may be wondering what did with my silent time. Yes, of course! I made myself a coffee, grabbed a new read, and put my feet up on the sofa. I had been wanting to start Pressure Point by Jessie Kwak since I had received it last week.

I haven’t read much of the novel yet so I will share a teaser with you from the prologue:

“Manu’s found that nothing helps a negotiation along quite so well as your enemy knowing just how close you can get to them.” (p 9)

(2019, Jessie Kwak)

I look forward to reading the third novel in Jessie Kwak’s Bulari saga. Guess what I will be doing when I get home today!

Do you enjoy gangster-type stories? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

First Line Fridays: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne was one of those books that I loved when I first read it. This romantic comedy was such a lot of fun to read: there were moments when I could not help but laugh out loud.

“I have a theory. Hating someone feels disturbingly similar to being in love with them. I’ve had a lot of time to compare love and hate, and these are my observations.”

Sally Thorne The Hating Game (2016, Harper Collins)

I haven’t re-read this story yet – but this novel is one of those stories that I will enjoy, I am sure, with the second reading.

Would you read The Hating Game?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Book Review: The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini

I enjoy Christmas stories and was curious about a novel describing quilting as my mom loves to quilt and I see it to be a wonderful talent. It is for these reasons that I requested to read and review The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini from my contact at Harper Collins Canada.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Christmas

Publication Date: 1 October 2019

Blurb:

Just weeks before Christmas, severe wintry weather damages the church hall hosting the Christmas Boutique—an annual sale of handcrafted gifts and baked goods that supports the county food pantry. Determined to save the fundraiser, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson offers to hold the event at Elm Creek Manor, her ancestral family estate and summertime home to Elm Creek Quilt Camp.

In the spirit of the season, Sylvia and the Elm Creek Quilters begin setting up market booths in the ballroom and decking the halls with beautiful hand-made holiday quilts. Each of the quilters chooses a favorite quilt to display, a special creation evoking memories of holidays past and dreams of Christmases yet to come. Sarah, a first-time mother expecting twins, worries if she can handle raising two babies, especially with her husband so often away on business. Cheerful, white-haired Agnes reflects upon a beautiful appliqué quilt she made as a young bride and the mysterious, long-lost antique quilt that inspired it. Empty nesters and occasional rivals Gwen and Diane contemplate family heirlooms and unfinished projects as they look forward to having their children home again for the holidays.

But while the Elm Creek Quilters work tirelessly to make sure the Christmas Boutique happens, it may take a holiday miracle or two to make it the smashing success they want it to be.

Praised for her ability to craft “a wonderful holiday mix of family legacy, reconciliation and shared experiences” (Tucson Citizen), Jennifer Chiaverini once again rings in the festive season with this eagerly awaited addition in her beloved series.

My thoughts:

The Christmas Boutique was written as part of a series – The Elm Creek Quilts series. It is not necessary, however, to have read the previous novels in order to enjoy the story: I had not read the preceding novels and there was not a time in which I was lost or confused. Chiaverini describes her characters well enough for a first reader of her series; and places them in a setting that is very quickly understood.

Women who quilt will enjoy reading the detail that the author adds to the narrative. I am not a quilter myself but some of the techniques described rang a bell in my mind as I have heard my mom speak of them; or I have read the terms as I have browsed her books and magazines.

I enjoyed reading the story that evolved around a group of women who quilt. The group is seen as a reflection of society and a woman’s circle as all types of personalities and problems are described. The story mirrors so much of what happens in life and, as a result, makes the novel totally believable. The book describes the emotions and experiences of each quilter in the group with the author matching up each story to create the whole – much like a quilt.

I enjoyed reading The Christmas Boutique. It was a lighthearted read that would be perfect to read over the holiday period snuggled up warmly under the cover of a blanket or quilt. Definitely a book you can curl up with during the cold winter months.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 86th in my book pledge for 2019)

Teaser Tuesday: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Today I am sharing an extract from Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik. I bought this novel on Amazon about three years ago because I was intrigued by the blurb. At that time, I had not read any diverse novels and I was curious about a story based on the dating experience of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.

In this novel Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men when her sort-of boyfriend/possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves to be a little too close to his parents – until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all exposé on the Muslim dating scene and she makes a foray into online dating.

I am sharing an extract from when she is describing her first experience of dating on the internet.

“You know what the problem is?” I continued. “There are the men who’ll marry a hijabi – but then expect her to move in with a hole-in-the-wall, or think she’s going to be this weird paragon of traditional values.” I sighed. “And then there are the men who are all, “You’re living in the west – what’s with the hijab?’”(p43)

(2015, Twenty7 Books, UK)

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayesha Malik is a story that had me chuckling throughout. This diverse rom-com was published in 2015 and was my first diverse read.

Would you read this diverse rom-com? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

Book Review: Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry

As the next Frenzy Presents event was approaching, I thought I would focus on reading the rests of the ARCs that I had received at the previous one. Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry was one of them.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb:

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt. 

My thoughts:

Hello Girls is a story about two young women who go on a road trip and, in doing so, find out more about themselves and their inner strength. Winona finds the courage to be herself and to explore the person that she wants to be; Lucille finds the ability to give herself permission to live her own life unencumbered by feelings of guilt and duty.

The start of this novel was a little slow for me. The beginning of the story sets the stage for the road trip and is slow-paced. The storyline at this point is also a little predictable. Once Winona and Lucille begin their road trip, however, the pace picks up a little. It is then that the reader will begin to see a some character development as the girls begin to explore who they are.

For me, the novel became interesting about mid-way. The main characters were exploring who they were and, with mistakes along the way, they were discovering the type of people they want to be. Hello Girls is a coming of age novel of young women who become self-assured and who learn that they can depend on themselves to plan their life path.

Hello Girls is a perfect novel for a teen who is thinking about the type of person they want to be. This story shows that you can change the track your life is on – all it takes is courage and the support of a friend someone who is close to you.The saving grace of the novel, for me, was the second half of the novel. It is the second half that kept me reading to the end.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 79th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

I was in the mood for a romantic comedy so I picked up the ARC of the novel I had received at the OLA Super Conference: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane. Whenever I looked at the title of this story when I read it, I could not help but start singing the song by Simple Minds of the same title. 🙂

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

My thoughts:

Ever wondered what it would be like to meet your first love many years later? Especially if things between you did not end properly? Georgina does – and yet it seems that he does not remember her. Therefore the interactions between Lucas and Georgina seem to start from scratch – though she cannot help but remember the Lucas from her high school years.

Meeting someone from her past takes Georgina back to an experience that she has shoved into the back of her mind. In reflecting on this experience, she finally comes to realise how much it has affected her actions in the years since she graduated from high school. Acceptance of her experience helps her to change her circumstances and step out of the life that she has fallen in. The novel takes us on her journey – a journey that some people may have taken at an earlier age. Don’t You Forget About Me does focus on Georgina’s story and, as such, we read a complete development of her character.

I love that McFarlane focuses on the story of her female character. Yes, there is a love interest and the feelings of confusion and attraction that come with it. But there is also the story is about the feelings, hesitations, desires, and dreams of a woman. We read about more than just a relationship between a man and a woman. We read of her interactions with friends, her interactions with her ex, and her interactions with those at work. We also read of her difficulties with her ex and how she deals with it.

I enjoyed reading Don’t You Forget About Me. The novel was a perfect read for a lazy summer’s day. I enjoyed the character building of Georgina and her interaction with the various characters in the novel. The story made me smile at some of the antics described. McFarlane has written a perfect modern romantic comedy that you will not regret reading.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 78th in my book pledge for 2019)

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)

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)

Teaser Tuesday: Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Today I am sharing an extract from Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty. I read this novel about two years ago when it first came out. I enjoy Moriarty’s writing as she scrapes off all the layers of people and their relationships and gets to the gritty part of a person.

In this novel we meet Sam and Clementine who have a wonderful albeit busy life. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbours, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger-than-life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two month’s later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

I am sharing an extract in the voice of Sam reflecting on the morning of the barbecue:

“He found himself remembering the morning of the barbecue. It was like remembering someone else, a friend, or someone he’d seen playing the role of a father in a movie. Surely it had been somebody else, not him, strolling about, strutting about his sunlit house, so sure of himself and his place in the world. What happened that morning? ” (p47)

(2016, First Flatiron Books, USA)

Something happens at the barbecue that exposes the underlying faults in the relationships of the characters.

Have you read this novel by Liane Moriarty? What did you think? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)