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Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan, Book Journey

*Note – you may notice my reading of late has turned to a lighter side.  That would be true.  In light of my life at this time I have been reading books that are fairly light reads, not too heavy and easy on me.  And with a cover like this one, how could I go wrong?  :)  ~Sheila

 

When Polly’s life seems to be falling apart with a relationship FAIL, all Polly wants to do is get away and start somewhere new.  When she goes with her friend Kerensa to visit a quiet seaside town she finds comfort in the extreme solitude of a small worn down flat above an old closed down bakery.  Where Polly sees a new start, Kerensa sees nothing but a run down town with a tide that closes the road to traffic and leaves access to where Polly would live not only inaccessible, but dangerous.

To keep herself busy Polly starts to use her talent of making bread to feed the fisherman that come in by where she lives each day.  When her hobby starts to bring more and more people to her door, with the help of a handful of new friends, a goofy but handsome local beekeeper, and a lot of elbow grease, Polly might just be on to something.

 

 

The Little Beach Street Bakery is being compared to the likes of Chocolat.  My distance from the Chocolat read can neither confirm nor deny this comparison.  From what I can recall of the other book, I would say that Little Beach Street Bakery is quite a bit lighter in writing and technique.  While there is a little romance kneaded in throughout the read, it is not the deep compassion of Chocolat.

That said, LBSB is a sweet book of finding your own way in the midst of feeling directionless.  I could relate to this book.  The characters are a mix of fun and quirky – enough so that you never take the book seriously.  The book itself could be compared to a hot loaf of bread; it is fresh, looks wonderfully delicious, and it is comforting.  The honey on top is just the bit of sweetness it needs to bring it all together.

Little Beach Street Bakery is just the type of book I am drawn to this time of year.  A book to read while sitting in the sunshine.

 

 

 

 

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

 

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

First Frost, Sarah Addison Allen, Book JOurney

The Waverly’s were always considered a bit….

magical.

Claire went from a successful catering business to making candies that seemed to have taken the town by storm.  Everyone wants the candies and Claire finds that the candy business has slowly taken over every sweet moment of her life.

Sydney has a successful hair stylist shop which is ever-growing in clients, yet Sydney really longs to have a child with her husband.

Evanelle gives people strange gifts but finds her own health failing and she must make changes in her lifestyle.

Sydney’s daughter Bay has a gift of making things just right and is always on the decorating committees at school.  Now she has given her heart away to a boy who does not seem to want what she has so openly given.

And there is the Waverly apple tree, the tree which all the Waverly’s watch… waiting… for first frost.

 

 

I really enjoyed First Frost on audio.  Narrated by Susan Ericksen, whose voice lent a mystical musical tone to the book that was most appropriate.  Listening to First Frost was thoroughly enjoyable, almost relaxing as the story unfolds so smoothly.

Each of the women’s story line in the book is engaging.  Often when a story unfolds this way I find that I tend to enjoy one story line over the others and rush through to get to the parts I like.  This is not the case in First Frost.  Each character lends itself to the story building off the others.

Worth a listen.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 35 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 20, 2015

 

The Boy Who Loved Rain by Gerald Kelly

the boy who loved rain, Gerald Kelly, Book Journey, TLC Tours

David and Fiona have one son Colom.  Yet no matter what they do, Colum, now 14, acts out at school and is desensitized when it comes to any sort of discipline.  David, who is a Pastor is adamant that Colom receive any counseling through the Church and that no outside help be administered.  Fiona, who just wants to help Colom is not so sure her husband’s ways are right this time.

As Colom continues to strike out as school, and have nightmares about a drowning sister although he has no sister, the walls feel like they are closing in on this family. David becomes more and more distant from his son and Fiona finds no other solution but to take Colom and run seeking shelter through the kindness of a friend… hoping perhaps distance from his father and from the school pressures will help Colom sort through what he is going through.

but how much of what is happening is Colom, and how much is David and Fiona’s own creation?

 

 

The Boy Who Loved Rain is a powerful read.  I was unsure picking this book up what I was in for…would I experience the slow destruction of a boy like in Nineteen Minutes?  Would I find the cold calculations of a child like in We Need To Talk About Kevin?

As it turns out, no, The Boy Who Loved Rain is an entirely different type of book and one that I enjoyed thoroughly.  Written in an almost lyrical way I like how this story unfolds from a family to individuals and it felt true to life.  Broken people just trying to get it right.  The book also brings up great discussion questions and I could not help but think that this would make for a good group read.

This book is a thought-provoking read.  I enjoyed spending time with it very much.

 

 

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Fiction; 1st New edition (January 1, 2015)

I was able to experience this journey with Colom thanks to TLC Book Tours

tlc-tour-host

 

 

The Precious One by Marisa do los Santos

The Precious One, Marissa de los Santos, Marisa do los Santos, Book Journey

Recently, I had fallen behind on reviews.. you know… life happens and all that stuff.  When I sat down one morning and thought it was time to catch up I absolutely knew this was the review I wanted to write first.  I was so impressed and excited about this authors style of writing I was ready to gush gush gush, perform cart wheels and produce pom poms;  but here, let me share with you this story… ~Sheila

Eustacia (Taisy) Cleary grew up with Wilson, a father that was beyond structured and strict, and never quite earned the title of daddy.  Not only did he destroy the relationship she had with the only boy she ever loved, his selfish hard ways also led to the destruction of their family when he left Taisy, her twin brother Marcus, and their mother for a younger woman, and soon to follow a baby girl named Willow, who Taisy has never had a chance to get to know.

Now seventeen years later the dust of that destructive time has cleared and Taisy despite the damage to her self-esteem that her father had created, is doing well as a ghost writer.  Her relationship with her brother and mom are very intact, and the boy, Ben, the one that broke her heart just as much as she broke his, is but a small flutter of regretful memory.

Then out of the blue, Wilson calls.  He wants Taisy to come and stay with him for a couple of weeks and write his life story.  He claims that everything she has ever wondered about him will be revealed, but it is she who he wants to do the research and writing.  Against her better judgement, Taisy agrees to go, curious about the man who was so controlling, and his mysterious wife, as well as Willow, her sister who would now be 17 years old.

Willow, who has been home schooled until recently, and sheltered all her life by her parents is incredibly smart, beautiful, and freakishly naive about all things in the real world.  She has never had a cell phone, a computer, or watch TV other than educational programming… and she is immediately mistrusting of Taisy’s presence in her home, trying, in Willow’s opinion to take back the family she was no longer a part of.

Taisy is about to get a life lesson in family, in friendship, and in lost love.  There is so much more as to why Wilson has called on her, and all involved are about to move forward into a strange new present.

Let the gushing commence.  This is the first book I have read by Marissa de los Santos and I absolutely had no idea going in what an experience her writing would be.  I adored the long sentences of conversation (much the way I myself may talk) and the funny little comments in parenthesis … but it was so much more than the writing I enjoyed, it was also the amazing characters and story.

Once again I find myself in a sort of trend in books that somehow lead to someone coming back home to fix, repair, or learn something.  And again I am blown away with what a useful synopsis this truly is.  In Taisy’s case, she is only back in her home town for a task and then has every intention to return to her life.  Taisy is the kind of protagonist I really like, a strong independent woman who is just cleaning up some past residue.

Willow is also an excellent voice to this book.  Told in alternating chapters between Taisy and Willow, it is enjoyable to see life through this sheltered girls eyes.  Her dialogue is not that of a teenager due to her upbringing but even that is fun (it felt a little like Jane Eyre dialogue).  It was like Willow struggles between the sophisticated rich upbringing she has had and the desire to be a teenager and go through teenager stuff.  This inner struggles is handled superbly.

I absolutely devoured this book and am now eyeballing another book I have waiting for me by this same author, Belong To Me.

If you have not read this author, I highly recommend her.  She has a refreshing style that inspired me to really be myself in my own writing.  It was wonderful!

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 24, 2015)
  • Language: English

Seven Stones by Julia Lee

Seven Stones, Julia Lee, Book Journey, Ojibwa, Heritage, historical fiction YA

Growing up in Chicago Keilann Douglas didn’t think twice about her Ojibwe heritage.  Around her family  and peers it was a non issue and Keilann who never liked standing out is fine with that.  Yet when Keilann’s father needs to move the family to Scotland for a teaching job everything changes.

Keilann enrolls in the new school along with her younger sister Fiona.  Fiona never has trouble fitting in and adapts quickly to the other kids her age and soon has a group of friends.  Keilann on the other hand feels like a square peg in a round hole and finds solace only back in the sanctuary of her new home and in the woods beyond her home.

The woods are comforting, the silence covers Keilann like a warm blanket. While exploring she finds an ancient stone circle where at times, a wild-eyed scared girl appears and disappears right before Keailann’s eyes.  While at first witnessing such a thing is frightening, eventually Keillann becomes less scared and more curious.  Who is this girl and why is Keilann the only one to see her?  What is with the seven stones?  And how can each of these two girls possibly learn from one another?

 

 

Yesterday, I posted a conversation I had with the author of this book, Julia Lee.  There is so much that impressed me about this book that when I was reading it recently I had a hard time putting it down as each page led to more questions that I wanted answers to.

Originally when I started Seven Stones I thought I was going to be reading YA book.  Yet, once I was into the book I discovered something more.  I discovered I was learning about a Native American heritage that I knew little about.  Through a young girl and her mother’s eyes, I was getting a taste of the deep heritage that is centered around the Ojibwe.  Toss in a little bit of Scotland and their heritage as well and I was surprised to find this book to also be a historical read.

Seven Stones is a book I found to be wonderfully diverse in culture and history.  I appreciated what this book had to offer and look forward to what author Julia Lee has in store for us next.

 

Currently Seven Stones is available at RiverPlace Press and soon will be available on Amazon.

Fascinomas by Clifton K Meador

fascinomas, Book Journey, Cliftn K Meador MD

 

Medical mysteries can be fascinating.  I can not even imagine what it must be like to be a doctor and have to diagnose the unique, bizarre, and sometimes not even there symptoms of each person that walks in the door saying something is wrong.

Fascinomas is a book of these true cases that doctors have shared using false names of the patients of course, and in some cases – remaining anonymous as they share these tales. What of the lady who thought her breast implants were speaking to her?  What of the man who had the same severe illness symptoms as his dog?  The teen whose legs hurt so bad and no one could find anything wrong until he went to three different doctors… what of him?

 

 

I like mysteries and true mysteries are just a bonus.  This was an interesting listen on audio.  AT first I admit I was a little disappointing that many of these cases are old cases, back in the day – WAY back.  Yet as I listened I started to get into it… each case so unique and interesting how the doctor figures out what is going on.  What is truly baffling are the cases that are self-inflicted and how they do it, I guess I knew that happened, I didn’t realize it happened so often.. people finding a need within them to have someone help them, even if it is false.  Crazy stuff!

The narration by James Kiser took a bit of getting used to for me.  He narrates like he is a radio personality and much like the book, eventually I was ok with his narration, even thinking that this may be a good listen for someone who does not normally listen to audio because it does narrate like a documentary and it is fairly short

Recommended for those who like medical mysteries.  The book is never gory and some of the cases are truly interesting.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 3 hours and 11 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: clifton k meador
  • Audible.com Release Date: February 25, 2015

 

WHEN by Victoria Laurie

WHEN, Victoria Laurie, Book Journey, Death Dates

Maddie Fynn has had a unique gift since before she could read and write.  She could see a series of numbers above the foreheads of each person she met, seen on TV, or in a photograph.  Unfortunately, she did not understand exactly what the numbers meant until the day her father’s accident.  Then Maddie knew, the numbers were the dates that people would die.

Left with the devastating guilt that she did not figure out the numbers until it was too late and not knowing if she could have changed anything anyway, Maddie begins to earn money by offering readings to those who wished to know their death dates.

When a young boy goes missing on the date that Maddie knew he would die, the police bring in Maddie to possibly help solve what seems to be turning into a series of missing young people.  Although skeptical with what Maddie can truly offer, the police find her to be right on with the numbers, not realizing that Maddie’s involvement is making her a person of interest to someone who is very dangerous.

1a1

WHEN is a YA read that takes the paranormal trend to a new level (at least new to me).  The knowing of the death dates is a burden I for one would not want to carry.  While I enjoyed the writing and story development I just could not suspend reality far enough to fully love this one.  There were too many outrageous things overlooked in this book that made it too much for me.

In all honesty, this could very well be a win for a younger person, an excellent MG to YA for someone more willing to accept this one.  And in all honesty, I could just be too old for this story.

And yeah… it hurt to say that.  ;)

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 15 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 13, 2015

 

Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag, Cold Cold Heart, Book Journey, audio book

Dana Nolan was a strong confident woman who held great promise in her career as a TV Reporter.  That is, until she is attacked and abducted one night by a murderous serial killer that caused her safe world to shatter in a million pieces.

Now, a year later, Dana still struggles with the aftermath of what happened to her.  As the sole survivor of this vicious attacker, Dana knows she should be thankful she did not wind up like his other victims.  Yet Dana is changed having suffered brain damage during her ordeal that has left her with missing pieces of her memory including the disappearance of her best friend which happened many years previously but was never solved.  With renewed interest and a wiped memory, Dana decides to see if she can renew interest in the case to discover what had happened all those years ago…

As Dana begins to look at this old case through fresh perspective and hear about the details of their friendship prior to the disappearance, Dana starts to wonder if she herself was not somehow involved.

 

 

I have not read Tami Hoag in years but when I do, I appreciate her strong and interesting full dimensional protagonists and solid story lines.  As an author, she is consistent in the books she produces.

Cold Cold Heart is not one of those over the top crazy mysteries that leave you spinning in circles going “Wow!”  “What?”  “No Way!”   Instead you find a solid story which moves steadily along giving you time to make your own assumptions along the way.  In the end, you are left with a satisfying read and a good understanding of how you got there.

A realistic look at crime, if you like a good old school mystery without all the rabbit trails and open endings of some of today’s style, Hoag is a solid choice.

 

Julia Whelen narrates this audio and I have enjoyed her in the past (she also narrated Gone Girl, and Delicious).  Honestly, her narration was part of the decision to listen to this one on audio.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 25 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 13, 2015

 

Descent by Tim Johnston

Descent, Tim Johnston, Book JOurney

The Courtland family, Grant and Angela and their two teenage children, Sean and Caitlin, travel to Colorado for a family vacation before Caitlin heads off to college.  Caitlin is a runner and has won many awards for her skills and is looking forward to the challenge of the terrain of Colorado.

The first morning they are there, Caitlin and Sean take off to try the trails.  Caitlin on foot and Sean following on his bike.  A short time later Grant receives a call from the police that Sean is in the hospital having been hit by a car and when Grant inquires about Caitlin, the officer is puzzled…. Sean was found alone.  Caitlin was not with him.

This is the start of a family nightmare.  Grant and Angela’s already shaking marriage is put in even more jeopardy when Grant insists that he stay in Colorado to continue the search for Caitlin while Angela and Sean return home to Wisconsin and try to continue on with a semi normal life.  As weeks turn to months, and months to years, the damage to all the Courtlands is evident.

Sean lives with the guilt of knowing more than he is saying, and Caitlin… well, what of Caitlin?  Will she ever be found either dead or alive?

 

 

 

I read this book for our book club and while it was a new title to me I am so glad we read it.  What an excellent read.  I liked how real this book felt, an excellent setting of losing a child in the Colorado mountain area and the only witness was hit by a car and has little recollection, hours lost in the search because the police did not know there was another person with Sean until the call to his parents.  Creepy and brilliant.

There was much to like about this novel that I felt was done very well.  I had only a couple of bumps along the way.  There were several chapters where Sean is referred to as the boy and for some reason I struggled with that… mainly because it was written in a way where for a while I did not know who the book was referring to.. at first I thought it was creating a mysterious narrator but after many chapters of not always knowing who was speaking, it bugged me.  My other bump was in the end a character does something completely out of character which brings things to a close… but did not seem to fit with who this person was for the entire book.

 

Honestly though, compared to the whole book, the bumps were minimal and I found this one hard to put down I wanted so badly to know what had happened to Caitlin and how it would all end.

Deliciously good reading.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (January 6, 2015)

 

 

New Uses For Old Boyfriends by Beth Kendrick

Beth Kendrick, New Uses For Old Boyfriends, The Cure For The Common Breakup, Black Dog Bay, Book Journey

Lila Alders grew up in a nice home in a wonderful small town and was pretty much the town sweetheart.  Moving away and taking on a job as a tv personality was right in the plans and so was marrying the guy who provided Lila with the money she was accustomed to as well as a knock out ring to match.  Lila was living the life you see in fairy tales.

Of course….

fairy tales are fiction.

When her marriage falls apart and her job right along with it, Lila picks up what is left of her dignity and bank account and heads back to the comfort of her home town and her mother who still lives in the gorgeous home she grew up in.  Yet Lila finds that her mother is in no better shape than she is.  Having ignored the warnings of financial advisers, Daphne has continued to live beyond her means since the passing of her husband and Lila’s father.  Lila is shocked to find that the money is gone, and it looks like her childhood home must be sold to take her mom out of the dept that she is in.

Perhaps looking up an old boyfriend and trying to rekindle what they once had  will help bring a little of the sparkle back to Lila…  but time marches on, for everyone.

 

 

 

In a word:  Delightful.  In another word:  Fun.  I absolutely enjoyed New Uses For Old Boyfriends.  Lila is a great protagonist.  She may have grown up used to having things handed to her but she is not afraid of hard work to set things right.  And the way she goes about things had me cheering for her and laughing at the same time.  It is hard for me to put into words how much I liked this book.

You may think the synopsis sounds familiar, it is true there are many books out there surrounding the “going back home” theme and honestly a lot of them are pretty predictable.  I am happy to say this is not a cookie cutter version of the others like it.  Beth Kendrick changes things up in New Uses For Old Boyfriends and there are surprises along the way.  In the end, I wanted to do what Lila did and in a fictional world I would move to a sweet little seaside town like Black Dog Bay, join my friends at the Winery in the evenings, and build myself a little business.  A girl can always dream. :)

I found this book refreshing and fun.

 

*Quick note – this book is a second in a series called Black Dog Bay however do not let that discourage you.  I honestly did not know it was a second until after I finished the book and was writing this review.  I looked up the information on the first book, Cure For The Common Break Up, and while it has some of the same characters, it is a different story centered around the town.  You do not need to read this first book to get the second.  In fact, I think I have Cure For The Common Break Up on the shelves and I am going to bump that one up to read soon.  I would love to take a trip back to Black Dog Bay.

 

 

  • Series: Black Dog Bay Novel (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (February 3, 2015)

 

 

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