The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan (Mure #3)

41qH8ny3RKL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_ Synopsis: The third novel in the Mure series, from bestselling author Jenny Colgan. On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It’s a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content – unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend. While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he’s about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him. As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?

My Rating: 5/5 Continue reading

A Very Distant Shore by Jenny Colgan (Mure #2 Short Story)

51FnMi6vXdL Synopsis: Lorna lives on the tiny Scottish island of Mure, a peaceful place where everyone helps their neighbour. But the local GP is retiring, and nobody wants his job. Mure is too small and too remote.

Far away, in a crowded camp, Saif is treating a little boy with a badly-cut hand. Saif is a refugee, but he’s also a doctor: exactly what Mure needs.

Saif is welcome in Mure, but can he forget his past? Over one summer, Saif will find a place to call home, and Lorna’s life will change forever.

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

Kat’s Review: At 160 pages this is a short read, but having just finished the first book in this series I was thrilled to be able to take a closer look at Lorna and Saif. Book one introduces you to the tiny island of Mure and we met Flora who was the star of the show. However, her friend Lorna also featured and like everybody else was an interesting character. All we really knew about her from book 1 was that she ran the local school on the island and she had developed a crush on the Island Doctor Saif.

Although I am not a fan of short stories, this was enough of a bite to give a bit more detail into both Lorna and Saif in the lead up tp the follow up book. It was a quick, easy and thoroughly enjoyable read and enabled me to get ready for the next book.

Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan (Mure 1)

517kp2IvD7L._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_ Synopsis: Flora is definitely, absolutely sure that escaping from the quiet Scottish island where she grew up to the noise and hustle of the big city was the right choice. What was there for her on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, and no one will let her forget the past. In the city, she can be anonymous, ambitious and indulge herself in her hopeless crush on her gorgeous boss, Joel.

When a new client demands Flora’s presence back on Mure, she’s suddenly swept back into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. As Flora indulges her new-found love of cooking and breathes life into the dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour, she’s also going to have to come to terms with past mistakes – and work out exactly where her future lies…

My Rating: 5/5

My Review: I am a huge Jenny Colgan fan and was bewildered that somehow these Mure Books had passed me by. I figured to start at book 1 and make my way through them once I realised I definitely hadn’t read them and I am SO pleased that I did. My reading has over the years dipped and risen and lately although I have been enjoying reading a lot again, there are very few books that make me feel like I don’t want to put it down…until now.

So having recently finished a crime trilogy I wanted something a bit light-hearted to break the monotony of crime and thrillers. However, what I didn’t bank on was finishing this so quickly and immediately moving on to book 2! The thing that drew me in the most was the opening few chapters. It made me smile and then laugh and instantly I fell in love with Flora the main character. She was an Island girl that had moved to London and was currently working as a Paralegal. She has a ridiculous crush on her ridiculously rude boss Joel and when she is summoned to his office she has no idea what to expect.

When a new and rather rich big client needs help he demands that a local person from Mure help out as he now has property there which is where Flora gets dragged in. Even as a junior staff member, the fact she is a local on the small island of Mure in the northernmost part of Scotland means she is pulled in to help with the job.

From this point on as we watch Flora battle with her return journey home I fell in love literally every single page! From the wonderful characters that live in Muir, to Flora’s Father and brothers, literally every character ha=d their place and I just loved reading this book. When she returns to Mure as much as she has her own personal battles, she rediscovers her love for cooking and as such her life takes a very strange turn of events while she is back home.

I picked this book up at around 4pm and finished it that evening it was THAT enjoyable. Jenny Colgan has a true knack of creating places and people that you can fall in love with and empathise with too. The story and characters were wonderful and I have no intention of doing anything other than moving in to book 2 in Mure named A Very Distant Shore

CHRISTMAS AT THE LITTLE BEACH STREET BAKERY BY JENNY COLGAN

Synopsis: It’s Christmas in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne – a time for family, friends and feasting.

Polly Waterford loves running the Little Beach Street Bakery. She’s at her happiest when she’s creating delicious, doughy treats and the festive season always inspires her to bake and knead something extra special for the village residents. In fact, the only thing she loves more than her bakery is curling up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Huckle. She’s determined that this Christmas is going to be their best one yet, but life doesn’t always work out as planned…

When Polly’s best friend Kerensa turns up with a secret that threatens the life Polly and Huckle have built together, the future begins to look uncertain. And then a face from Polly’s past reappears and things become even more complicated. Polly can usually find solace in baking but she has a feeling that’s not going to be enough this time. Can she get things back on track so that everyone has a merry Christmas?

Kat’s Rating: 5/5 Continue reading

THE LITTLE SHOP OF HAPPY EVER AFTER BY JENNY COLGAN

Synopsis: Given a back-room computer job when the beloved Birmingham library she works in turns into a downsized retail complex, Nina misses her old role terribly – dealing with people, greeting her regulars, making sure everyone gets the right books for their needs. Then a new business nobody else wants catches her eye: owning a tiny little bookshop bus up in the Scottish highlands. No computers. Shortages. Out all hours in the freezing cold; driving with a tiny stock of books… not to mention how the little community is going to take to her, particularly when she stalls the bus on a level crossing.

MY RATING: 4/5

KAT’S REVIEW: Jenny Colgan novels never fail me and thankfully this one is no different. Nina is the main character and if I’m honest she is a little wet behind the ears at first. She works in a library which is suffering cutbacks and when she is finally offered a ‘back-room computer’ job she decides to make some brave decisions. The first few chapters went by but I wasn’t as absorbed as I normally would be. I think that Nina was a little too weak for my liking and it was only when she decided to take some chances that she started to shine.

Nina discovers that her passion for books is all consuming and she isn’t prepared to give up on her dream of running a bookshop. Only how her dream turns out is a little different from the one she has in her head. What transpires is a van situated in the Scottish Highlands and a complete change of life for her. Jenny Colgan has as always done a stellar job with describing where Nina moves to and I could literally picture Nina Parked up in her book bus.

With her whole life turned around she meets her new Landlord Lennox who is a brusque and seemingly unhelpful man who has little time for Nina and her fanciful ideas. Nina then makes a terrible faux pas and ends up getting her bus stuck on a set of railway lines which ends up opening up a whole new thread to the story. This novel is packed full of laughter and is a complete escapist read which will no doubt cheer you up no end. I’m afraid it didn’t quite live up to my favourite Colgan books featuring the Little Beach Street Bakery but is still a cracking read for those in need of some light reading to cheer you up.

THE CHRISTMAS SURPRISE BY JENNY COLGAN

Synopsis: Rosie Hopkins, newly engaged, is looking forward to an exciting year in the little sweetshop she owns and runs. But when fate strikes Rosie and her boyfriend, Stephen, a terrible blow, threatening everything they hold dear, it’s going to take all their strength and the support of their families and their Lipton friends to hold them together.

After all, don’t they say it takes a village to raise a child?

Kat’s Rating: 4/5

KAT’S REVIEW: I rarely dislike a Jenny Colgan book and the Rosie Hopkins books are no exception. For those that plan to read these books in order it’s maybe not a good idea to carry on reading. The one HUGE thing I loved was that Jenny Colgan does a little ‘wrap up’ of all characters and where they are at up to date giving you a quick refresh. It’s a great idea and I immediately knew where I was joining the story again.

Rosie Hopkins has now settled into the village of Lipton and with the refresh at the beginning of the book I was reminded of all the local characters that make an appearance. Rosie is now living with boyfriend Stephen and regularly visits her aunt Lilian who is resident at a home nearby. We also see reappearances of local GP Moray, Rosie’s friend and colleague Tina and many more. One particular character which makes a brilliant ‘star’ performance in this latest book is the local dentist Roy.

One thing that quickly became clear was that the early part of the book was certainly not all flowers and romance. We witness both Rosie and Stephen face some harsh, bleak and very sad moments. This results in them making a trip back to Africa where Stephen had previously visited. I’m not deliberately being vague, but it’s difficult to mention parts of the story without fear of plot spoiling. Upon Rosie and Stephens return it seems the whole village goes into meltdown meaning last minute arrangements have to be made for Tina and her upcoming wedding. In addition to that we meet Stephens Sister Pamela who I thought was an absolutely cracking character to read about.

Overall, although not my favourite ‘Rosie’ book this was another brilliant read. It is well worth reading the two previous books, but if you haven’t and you come across this don’t let that stop you. I certainly enjoyed revisiting Lipton and all its characters and can’t wait to see what’s next for all of them!

SUMMER AT THE LITTLE BEACH STREET BAKERY BY JENNY COLGAN

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn’t be happier. Because Polly is in love: she’s in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she’s in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she’s in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.

And yet there’s something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that’s floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend’s fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he’d left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence.

Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?

*Please note, If you plan on reading the first book, then do not continue to read this review as it will inevitably contain spoilers*

My Review: OMG! I recently read The Little Beach Street Bakery and was overwhelmed. I just adored Polly Waterford as she makes a new life in Mount Polbearne. This time around we are back to re-visit them and it felt like I had never been away. Polly is now shacked up with her other half Huckle, and with her job at the bakery and weird choice of pet (a Puffin named Neil) life couldn’t be better.

However, things are about to change for Polly as her boss’ nephew turns up and starts creating havoc. In addition to the work issues Polly has, the recently widowed Selina turns up to live on the island. All of my favourite characters make a re-appearance too and I felt like I had never been away. Of course there is drama with a capital D, because wherever Polly goes, something just has to happen.

I was absolutely entranced from the first to the last page. I just adore Polly, Huckle, Neil and all the gang at Mount Polbearne and it felt like taking a holiday with friends. The story had funny moments, sad moments as well as the laugh out loud moments (especially where Neil is concerned). Jenny Colgan has a certain magic about her writing and it is always a joy to pick up one of her books and just escape from reality for a few hours. I am yet to not enjoy one of her books but Polly and the ‘Polbearne Posse’ are without a doubt my absolute favourites. This was a wonderful book that I didn’t want to end. Hugely recommended by me, that’s for sure!

THE LITTLE BEACH STREET BAKERY BY JENNY COLGAN

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Polly Waterford is recovering from a toxic relationship. Unable to afford their flat, she has to move miles away from everyone, to a sleepy little seaside resort in Cornwall, where she lives alone above an abandoned shop.

And so Polly takes out her frustrations on her favourite hobby: making bread. But what was previously a weekend diversion suddenly becomes far more important as she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, and each loaf becomes better and better. With nuts and seeds, olives and chorizo, with local honey (courtesy of local bee keeper, Huckle), and with reserves of determination and creativity Polly never knew she had, she bakes and bakes and bakes . . . And people start to hear about it.

Sometimes, bread really is life . . . And Polly is about to reclaim hers.

My Review: OH MY! I have read most of Jenny Colgan’s books and am very fond of her Rosie Hopkins books. However, MOVE OVER Rosie because Polly is in town! I picked this book up and did not put it down until I managed to finish it later that day. I just fell in love again and again, and now I feel a little bit sad that Polly is gone. The only thing that perked me up was the idea of a re-visit in the form of Jenny Colgan’s release in February 2015 entitled summer at The Little Beach Street Bakery.

Polly Waterford is by far one of my favourite characters this year. She is without a doubt a gem of a woman who I literally cannot wait to read about next year. Polly is having a tough time and when her and her partners business fails she ups sticks and moves into a ramshackle flat which is basically an abandoned shop. The sleepy little town she is residing in is the furthest from what she is used to as you can get. It’s essentially an island that is isolated once the tides turn and the bridge to the mainland is inaccessible.

The way Jenny describes the place made me fall in love with it and immediately want to visit. While Polly is trying to recover from her past toxic relationship she realises that she has a whole new host of problems to deal with, such as a job, not knowing anybody and living in a place that is fit to be knocked down. However, Polly is not a pushover and her character from start to finish is just perfect. She is very sarcastic but funny with it and one of her relationships made me chuckle and it was with a bird!!!!

I don’t want to delve too much into the storyline as I don’t want to spoil it for anybody but trust me when I say this is a magical book and one which I read in one sitting. Jenny Colgan has won me over with Polly, and although Rosie remains one of my favourites she is beaten to the post by the brilliant Polly Waterford. If you haven’t read a Jenny Colgan, then what are you waiting for? A magical and reality escaping haven, it’s a book you should definitely have in your collection

CHRISTMAS AT ROSIE HOPKINS SWEETSHOP OF DREAMS

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Curl up with Rosie her friends and her family as they prepare for a very special Christmas . . .

Rosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes large tempting piles of Turkish delight crinkling selection boxes and happy sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend Stephen and her family flying in from Australia. She can’t wait.

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

My Review: I was so excited when I got an early copy of this book, because I only recently got around to reading the first book Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop of Dreams. I really enjoyed that and was excited to get stuck in to the follow up, which is set at Christmas (so perfect timing). First off I must just say that I LOVE Jenny Colgan covers, and this one is especially ‘christmassy’ (I know that’s not a word but you know what I mean). For those that haven’t read the first book, although it’s not a necessity I think it makes this book so much more enjoyable.

Although I really enjoyed the first Rosie book, I LOVED this one and it started from the first few pages. Mrs Colgan re-acquainted me with the main characters, Rosie and her live in boyfriend, grumpy but adorable Stephen; as well as Rosie’s cranky aunt Lillian who now lives in a home. There are also numerous characters that have progressed from the first book and we see them back in the second such as Tina, Moray and the strange and quirky young boy Eddison.

I felt like I had practically moved into the village within a matter of pages and found myself holding the book everywhere I went on the off chance I could squeeze a few more pages in. This time around Rosie’s family are making their way across the water from Oz and Rosie cannot wait to see them all. With the excitement of her family visiting, the running of the sweetshop and the general activity in the village; I almost felt as shocked as the characters were when a tragedy occurs in the village. This is a catalyst for quite a few things (which I can’t details because that would be spoilers!).

However, with the tragedy to one side, we see loads of things happen as a result of it and this includes some sad moments, as well as some legendary moments! There are some very funny scenes that go on featuring Lillian and Rosie’s Mum which had me giggling. These two particular characters make such a difference and are an absolute joy to read. There seemed to be a number of conclusions made with this follow up book which I was really chuffed about too.

All in all my review may sound vague, but I really wouldn’t want to spoil this for anyone as it was such a brilliant book. I couldn’t out it down from start to finish and think it was even better than the first one. It was full of love, laughter and plenty of tears and is without a doubt a perfect Christmas Present! Can’t recommend it highly enough and think that JC fans who are itching to get this will be thrilled!

WELCOME TO ROSIE HOPKINS’ SWEETSHOP OF DREAMS BY JENNY COLGAN

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Rosie Hopkins is about to face major upheaval. Her elderly aunt Lilian – feisty, independent Aunt Lily who never talked about her past – needs her help, so Rosie is moving to the depths of the countryside for a few months to look after her. Plus Rosie will be away from Gerard, the man she hopes to settle down with soon, and they’ll miss each other dreadfully… won’t they? Lilian Hopkins has spent her life running Lipton’s village sweetshop, through wartime and family feuds. As she struggles with the idea that it might finally be time to sell up, she also wrestles with the secret history hidden behind the jars of beautifully coloured sweets.  And the longer Rosie and Lilian spend together, the more they realise they can learn from each other…

My Review: I am a pretty recent covert to the Jenny Colgan books and was a huge fan of the Cupcake books. I’m currently working through her other books and realising that the sequel to this is due out in a couple of months I figured now was a good time to read it. As with her other books it didn’t take me long to get into the story and straight away really liked Rosie as the lead character. When Rosie is asked to go and help her elderly aunt Lilian in the countryside she is really unsure. Her boyfriend Gerard (who was awful I must say) would be left behind while she sorted out the family issues at hand.

As soon as the story moved with Rosie to the Countryside it improved dramatically. With the introduction to her aunt Lilian who I absolutely loved, it seemed like her and Rosie worked really well together as characters. Lilian’s little sweet shop has been closed for years and with her Aunt’s declining health, Rosie needs to sort out the sale of the shop and finding a home for her aunt. The other element of this story was not only Rosie’s but of Lilian’s past and how she found herself to be where she is today. As the reader we get to see snippets of Lilian’s history and her own life being brought up in a time when war was as the forefront of everybody’s mind. This was such a nice way to layer the story as you find yourself understanding why Lilian is the way she is now.

There are many village characters that also add sparkle to this story and I found myself wishing Rosie on as all she seems to do for the first half of the book is land herself in hot water. I particularly liked the stroppy and awkward character Stephen who seems to be determined to do things his way! I read this book very quickly and absolutely loved it. As usual with Jenny Colgan books you get the added addition of something extra and in this books case it was sweets. You get taken back in time with all the nostalgic mentions of sweets from days gone past, as well as sweet recipes at the start of each chapter! I have to say that the Cupcake books are still my favourite but this is a definite second. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the follow up of this due out in November 2013.