Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan (@jennycolgan) – #review @tlcbooktours

About the book, Little Beach Street Bakery Little Beach Street Bakery

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 31, 2015)

In the bestselling tradition of Jojo Moyes and Jennifer Weiner, Jenny Colgan’s moving, funny, and unforgettable novel tells the story of a heartbroken young woman who turns a new page in her life . . . by becoming a baker in the town of Cornwall.

A quiet seaside resort. An abandoned shop. A small flat. This is what awaits Polly Waterford when she arrives at the Cornish coast, fleeing a ruined relationship.

To keep her mind off her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, chocolate and sugar, and the local honey—courtesy of a handsome beekeeper.

Packed with laughter and emotion, Little Beach Street Bakery is the story of how one woman discovered bright new life where she least expected—a heartwarming, mouthwatering modern-day Chocolat that has already become a massive international bestseller.

Buy, read, and discuss Little Beach Street Bakery

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound | Goodreads

About the author, Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is Scottish born and bred, born in Ayrshire in 1972, but currently lives and works in London. After graduating from Edinburgh University, Jenny worked for six years in the health service whist moonlighting as a cartoonist and doing stand-up in the outer fringes of London’s comedy circuit.

Connect with Jenny

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts

This cozy little novel was exactly what I needed on an overcast weekend when I was fighting poor sleep patterns and a dawning migraine. It’s funny, engaging, and really makes you wish you lived in a harbor-front flat in an old fishing village.

The protagonist, Polly, has just come through a bad breakup and a bankruptcy when we meet her, and she clearly needs a sea change in more ways than one. Taking the flat in the ramshackle building that once housed a bakery, in a once-thriving town that now barely survives on summer tourism, is her first step of a reawakening that we readers are privileged to watch.

Author Jenny Colgan has a knack for writing snappy dialogue that immediately gives us a sense of who each character is – Polly, Tarnie, Huckle – all have distinct voices. Then she throws in a dash of whimsy (an adopted rescue-puffin) and romance, and mixes it up with a sense of place that allows us to feel the chilly water rise over our feet as the causeway is flooded (a daily occurrence) by the changing tides.

At almost 450 pages, Little Beach Street Bakery is a bit meatier than the average ‘beach read,’ but there’s never a sense of having filler in the story. Every page counts, and every scene matters, and the whole novel is entertaining, engaging, and even a bit heartwarming.

What else can I say? I LOVED this book.

Goes well with A plate of fish and chips and a glass of iced sweet tea.

Jenny’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, March 31st: Bibliotica (That’s ME!!!)

Wednesday, April 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Thursday, April 2nd: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, April 3rd: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, April 7th: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, April 8th: Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, April 9th: For the Love of Words

Friday, April 10th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Tuesday, April 14th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, April 16th: Walking With Nora

Review: Return to the Beach House, by Georgia Bockoven

About the book Return to the Beach House Return to the Beach House

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (May 13, 2014)

Over the course of one year, in a charming cottage by the sea, eight people will discover love and remembrance, reconciliation and reunion, beginnings and endings in this unforgettable sequel to Georgia Bockoven’s The Beach House and Another Summer.

Alison arrives at the beach house in June to spend a month with her restless grandson before he leaves for his first year of college. More than a decade earlier, Alison lost her beloved husband, and has faced life alone ever since. Now she discovers a new life and a possible new love.

August brings together four college friends facing a milestone. During summer’s final days, they share laughter, tears, and love—revealing long-held secrets and creating new and even more powerful bonds.

World-class wildlife photographer Matthew and award-winning war photographer Lindsey arrive at the beach house in January, each harboring the very real fear that it will mark the end of their decade-long love affair. Alone in the house’s warm peace, they are forced to truly look at who they are and what they want, discovering surprising truths that will change their lives forever.

Buy, read, discuss

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Add to Goodreads

About the author, Georgia Bockoven Georgia Bockoven

Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author who began writing fiction after a successful career as a freelance journalist and photographer. Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide. The mother of two, she resides in Northern California with her husband, John.

My Thoughts

I’d read the original The Beach House a couple of summers ago, and I love beach novels, so when I was offered the chance to read and review the latest installment in Georgia Bockoven’s collection, I didn’t just jump at the chance, I swan dove. Or maybe cannonballed. Whatever.

Having spent a significant chunk of my life living in San Francisco and San Jose, I feel a special kinship with Return to the Beach House. I’ve always wanted to rent one of those houses in Santa Cruz or Capitola or anywhere else along the Northern California coast for the summer, or February, or pretty much ever. If I were rich, I’d buy one, and live there full time.

But that’s about me, and not the novel.

Here’s what I love about this book: it’s a novel, but it’s also an anthology, because while everything is tied together by this wonderful house – so much so that the house itself really becomes a character, it’s also separate stories. Alison and her grandson Christopher are one story. The four “alphabet girl” friends are another.

The glimpses into the life of Julia, who owns the house, make lovely bookends, and further serve to tie everything together, and the stories are always related by theme, but if reading a traditional novel is too much for you in this 140-character world, this book will be palatable because of the way it’s crafted.

Conversely, if you’re not a fan of novellas or short stories, you needn’t worry, because there is enough continuity, enough of a through-theme, to keep everything feeling relevant and related.

Bockoven’s characters, especially the women, are vibrant, realistically portrayed people, and her sense of place is equally vivid. I could smell the salt, hear the surf, and feel the coarse, damp, Pacific coast sand under my toes.

Read this book, if you love great characters, and a story that’s light enough for summer without being at all frothy or fluffy. Read this book, if you want a summer beach read that is deeply satisfying. But definitely read this book.

Goes well with fresh fish from Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing, pasta, and San Francisco sourdough, with any local microbrew beer, or a California wine. (Fetzer “Sundial” Chardonnay is my fave.)

TLC Book Tours

This post is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

The Sunday Salon: Summer Reading, Summer Fashion

The Sunday

It’s not Sunday, but since I’ve got a full weekend, I’m posting my Sunday Salon piece early.

As of this evening, I have only one more Elin Hilderbrand novel left to read. It’s her most recent The Island, and I’m both eager and afraid to begin. Eager because I’m really enjoying my virtual summer on Nantucket via her works, and afraid because if it’s disappointing, or too short or anything like that it will be as bad as a storm wrecking an actual vacation.

Okay, so maybe not that bad.

I’ve noticed that Hilderbrand’s female characters are always three-dimensional, but her male characters are not so well drawn. They could be mannequins from high-end big and tall clothing stores, each in a different color (mainly pastel) polo shirt and pressed khaki pants and topsiders – the quasi-uniform of men in technology and men with summer homes on coastal islands.

My husband also lives in polo shirts and khaki pants, but unlike the men in Hilderbrand’s novels, his are not pastels. Instead, they are dark: black, grey, forest green, navy blue. He has four sets: those made out of sturdy cotton blends, those made out of lighter cotton blends (and which he says are too ‘flimsy’ for work, though the softer cloth fits his slight form better), those with his own company’s logo on front, and those with the logos of his vendors – Cisco, Foundry, etc.

He never wears the vendor shirts anywhere nice – like me, he has a strong aversion to wearing anything with writing on it outside the house. The few exceptions for him are the shirts from ThinkGeek – one refers to Firefly the other to Star Wars in gently humorous, inoffensive ways. For me, the exceptions are vintage rock band t-shirts and the artsy tees from foreign Hard Rock Cafes. The long sleeve, but lightweight, Tokyo shirt is one of my favorites, and the Hong Kong one is a fave as well. (Both, btw, are designed in much the same way as a vintage rock band t-shirt.)

The women in Hilderbrand’s novels also get better clothes than the men: she name drops designers that are represented by her characters – everything from Kate Spade to Diane von Furstenberg, and from Donna Karan to Liz Claiborne to – for teens – Juice Couture.

Summer novels are great escapes. Through them you can imagine yourself eating grapes and organic cheese and sipping chilled chardonnay on a beach blanket with the Atlantic Ocean flirting with your toes, or you can flip a few pages and find yourself dressed in designer togs and dining at the hottest bistro in town, accompanied by an attractive, but not exciting, man in a pastel polo shirt.

Ahh, summer.

Mini-reviews: Three by Elin Hilderbrand

I’ve been reading a lot of Elin Hilderbrand’s work this summer. In fact, I think I now own all of her Nantucket novels, though I still have at least three left to read. These novels, which are not a series, but are all set on the island of Nantucket, are easing my yen for the beach the way the best weight loss pills help you shed pounds safely.

Here’s a brief wrap-up of the last three Hilderbrand novels I’ve read:

The Castaways

The Castaways is the story of four successful couples, all friends for years, who refer to themselves collectively as The Castaways. When one of the couples dies in a tragic boating accident, secrets about the intertwining relationships among the surviving six people then come out. This was a deliciously dishy novel about affairs of the heart and the flesh, and it’s much more satisfying a read than I thought it would be.

Nantucket Nights

Nantucket Nights starts out being a story about female bonding, when three long-time friends meet for their annual ritual of Midnight Swimming, off a remote stretch of beach, after the summer season is officially over, but one of them doesn’t come back from the swim. All three women, Val, Kayla and Antoinette, are distinctly different but still strong personalities, but I thought the mystery element of the plot was a bit predictable.

Summer people

Summer People is the most recent novel I’ve finished reading, and while I enjoyed it, it felt a little unfinished. While the adult storyline is a little weak – that of Beth grieving over her dead husband while being confronted almost daily with her former lover, a year round Nantucket resident, as opposed to she and her family who are summer people – the teen storyline is a little meatier: Beth’s twin teen children, Winnie and Garrett each deal with grief and first love during their summer, Winnie with Marcus, the son of her dad’s last client, and Garrett with his mother’s ex-lover’s daughter. Like Nantucket Nights, this novel includes an unwanted pregnancy story, and the pair leave me suspecting that author Hildebrand is anti-choice, but despite that, her stuff is wonderful summer reading.

Goes well with: Fresh caught saltwater fish, grilled, with summer veggies, and either lemonade, iced tea, or beer.

Bagels, Books, and Beach-Reading in Bed

Eating bagels while reading in bed is probably not anyone’s idea of a good weight loss diet, but sometimes it’s just the perfect way to spend an evening.

Last night, after my parents went to bed, I retired to the casita (their guest house) with a stack of books, a toasted bagel, and some chai tea. While old episodes of “The Middleman” played on my computer, mainly for noise, I finished one book (Lost and Found) and set aside another (Rebecca Well’s latest), in favor of Outer Banks, by Anne Rivers Siddons.

This book was probably one of mine, left here several visits ago. In fact, almost the entire “library” in this guest house is made of my cast-off novels and other paperbacks. Right now, I can see Eat, Pray, Love, cuddling with Angels and Demons, and I know both of those were mine, as was Left Bank, and this great book about a woman who smelled like figs and had an affair one summer.

But I chose Siddons’ novel because her work always puts me in a comfy reading zone, and I wanted that last night.

Of course, I still have four other books I brought with me, and I’d really prefer not to have to cart them all back home!



Anne Rivers Siddons

We all have “guilty pleasure” authors – Anne Rivers Siddons is one of mine.

I’ve just finished her most recent novel, Islands, and while I have to agree that it’s not her best work, it was still an enjoyable read. She’s returned to the South Carolina Low Country she loves so much, which means that even when you hate the characters, you love the houses they live in, and even when the plot gets rather cheesey, you can still feel the sea breezes and smell the sand, and feel the humidity.

People are often surprised that I read Siddons’ work, because her target demographic is really my mother’s generations, but there’s something compelling about her tragic heroines in their weathered beach houses. Though, admittedly, my favorite of her novels didn’t take place anywhere near a beach.

This novel tells the story of a group of friends – doctors and their wives – who own a Low Country beach house together. It’s fairly typical beach reading: entangled relationships, personal tragedy, a dash of romance. It’s not as meaty as, say, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but I’d still recommended it.