Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Review: The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Pages: 416
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 27, 201
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Library
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up -- and she hasn't looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious... and hopelessly in love with her boss.  But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she's suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers -- all strapping, loud, and seemingly incapable of basic housework -- and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking -- and find herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea. But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes -- and work out exactly where her future lies..."

Flora has left behind her small Scottish island where she grew up and that's a good thing, because she can start over in London, where no one knows her.   Things are good in London. She's got a great job and a huge crush on her boss.  Due to a work assignment, she has to head back to the island she left behind along with the people, too, including her brothers and father.  Flora learns that sometimes you find happiness in the most unexpected ways and you can't run from your past.  Jenny Colgan's The Cafe by the Sea is delightful beach read that warmed my heart.

I was looking for a beach read that would make me smile and was light and fluffy. That's exactly what I found in The Cafe by the Sea.

For starters, the character of Flora was an interesting one in The Cafe by the Sea. There's a reason why she left behind her home.  Tragedy struck years ago, so she has to face that when she returns; it's obviously not easy for her.  Plus, she has to deal with her family and their struggling farm. Flora finds out that many other businesses are also struggling on the island and things are a bit different.  Flora also feels on the outs with the townspeople, because she left them behind quite easily for the city living in London; plus, she is working for a millionaire who is an outsider.  So, not only does she have to deal with her family, she has to repair her relationship with her neighbors.  

The setting of a Scottish island was perfect for a summertime read. I absolutely loved the small town, the descriptions of its people, and of course the descriptions of food.  Flora takes a new interest in cooking and I won't give too much away, but the book even includes some recipes!

While the romance didn't knock my socks off in The Cafe by the Sea, it was endearing.  Her boss, Joel, is a complex character and I liked learning more about his backstory.  Also, The Cafe by the Sea is a modern twist on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which I am not familiar with, but I thought I would share that fun fact in case you are. So, all in all, this book was a charming beach read. Sometimes you just want something quiet, cute, and something that makes you smile.  And for me that was this book.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Rosemarked

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne
Pub. Date: November 7, 2017 

Goodreads says, "A healer who cannot be healed . . . When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.  A soldier shattered by war . . . Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.  Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.  This smart, sweeping fantasy with a political edge and a slow-burning romance will capture fans of The Lumatere Chronicles and An Ember in the Ashes."
I am always on the hunt for a new YA fantasy. I have high hopes for this one! What do you guys think?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Children's Book Roundup (2)

Summertime means more reading with my little guys, which I absolutely love. We've been reading some new releases as well as some older backlist titles.  Here's a round-up of some of the latest books that we have been enjoying together. 

Chapter Books:

Ancient Animals: Plesiosaur by Sarah L. Thomson  (July 18, 2017 - Publisher: Charlesbridge)  - My son loves all things dinosaurs and ancient animals, so he was thrilled to get his hands on this non-fiction book.  We enjoyed reading about the plesiosaur, how he lived, and how he eventually became extinct. The pictures were appealing and there was just enough detail to keep my little guy engaged. Once he is an independent reader, this book will be perfect for him. If you have a little one that enjoys all things prehistoric and dinosaur, this would be a great addition to your collection.

Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osbourne (June 15, 2010 - Publisher: Random House)  - So many people have recommended The Magic Treehouse series, especially since my son loves topics like dinosaurs, knights, ninjas, etc, which are all covered in this series.  This is the first book in the series and I read it aloud to him. He absolutely loved it. His only complaint was that he wished there were more illustrations to accompany the story.  He is excited to continue the series and see where Jack and Annie are off to next. I love that this book offers a mystery that will be continued into the next book.

Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pikley (June 16, 2000 - Publisher: Scholastic) - Gosh, I am trying really hard to be supportive of my son's interest in this series, but it has been hard. I feel like each book in the series gets weirder and weirder. The potty humor is also grating on me. I think we need a break from it, but it's hard when he loves it so much. I will admit that it is funny from time to time, but I have such issues with how teachers are portrayed and the lack of respect for adults. Am I being a fuddy-duddy? 

Secret of the Water Dragon by Tracey West (February 24, 2015 - Publisher: Scholastic) - This is the third book in the Dragon Masters series and we are thoroughly enjoying it. If you have a little one that enjoys the fantasy genre and you are looking for an easy book for indendent readers, look no further. This series is a good segway to the Harry Potter series.

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey (August 30, 2016 - Publisher: Graphix) - I think reading graphic novels can be a lot of fun, but I didn't really enjoy this one. My son thought it was just ok as well. Dog Man is Pilkey's latest superhero who fights bad guys, especially his nemesis Petey the Cat.  There's a flip-o-rama in this book as well, which delighted my son; however, he was too little to appreciate the drawing exercises at the end of this novel. Older children might enjoy it a bit more. I don't think we will be continuing with this series.

Picture Books:


The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor by Stan & Jan Berenstain (October 12, 1981 - Publisher: Random House )
The Berenstain Bears: We Love Our Dad!  by Jan & Mike Berenstain (April 23, 2003 - Publisher: Harper Festival)
The Berenstain Bears Get Their Kicks  by Stan & Jan Berenstain (March 17, 1998 - Publisher: Random House)
The Berenstain Bears and the Blame Game  by Stan & Jan Berenstain (January 1, 1997 - Publisher: Random House)

You can't go wrong with The Berenstain Bears series. There's a reason why they have been popular for so many years. While some books are better than others in the series, parents can count on them to explain important things in life like going to the doctors, trying new sports, appreciating your father, and dealing with siblings. I don't think we will tire of the Berenstain Bears in our house anytime soon.

Tyrannasaurus Dad by Liz Rosenberg (May 10, 2011 - Publisher: Roaring Brook) - I like how this book touches on how all dads are different and some dads have a demanding work schedule. Will Tyrannosaurus dad be able to show up for field day? Dinosaur loving kids will like this one.

I'm Dirty! by Kate McMullan (August 15, 2006 - Publisher: Harper Collins) - I am not a big fan of McMullan's books, but my son seems to appreciate them. If you have truck loving little ones in your life, this would be a nice addition to your truck/construction book collection. There are a lot of sound effects, so it's a fun one to read aloud.

Maddie's Monster Dad by  Scott Gibala-Broxholm (July 1, 2011 - Publisher: Two Lions) This is a cute one for Halloween, but I love the message from the author. Maddie is disappointed her dad has to do work instead of playing with her, so she creates her own monster dad. If you have ever had to tell your child you are busy and can't play with him or her right now, this book is a good one as it covers this very subject.

Happy Birthday to You! by Dr. Seuss (August 12, 1959 - Publisher: Random House) - My son's birthday is at the end of this month, so he has been requesting that I read this book to him. It's zany in the only way that Dr. Seuss can be and it will get your kids excited for their own special day. I love the message of "there's no one alive that is you-er than you!"


Let's Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems (August 2, 2012 - Publisher: Disney-Hyperion)
Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems (June 14, 2011 - Publisher: Disney-Hyperion)

We are slowly reading every book in the Elephant & Piggie series and it's so much fun. Not only does my son love it, I love to read them aloud. Kohl's Cares had a special on these books and was selling Elephant and Piggie stuffed animals. I knew we had to get our hands on a copy.  These books are the best. 

So, have you read any of these children's book? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Review: I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

Pages: 378
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: July 11, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.   In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Timesbestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants."

College-age Leela was hoping to spend the summer in Europe with her boyfriend, but plans change when her boyfriend cheats on her.  Leela then asks Sydney, her best friend, to go and before they know it, they have planned an incredible summer. They are going to Europe for over a month and visiting all the places they have dreamt about.  But things don't always go smoothly. For starters, Leela's ex-boyfriend is on their flight to London leaving them wondering why he is still going to Europe? Sydney can't help but feel a spark for Leela's ex-boyfriend's friend, which obviously makes things complicated.  Sarah Mlynowski's I See London, I See France is armchair traveling at its best. Mlynowski gets that traveling with someone, even if it's with your best friend, can be a challenge at times, but in the end traveling is an experience that won't easily be forgotten.

I truly felt for the character of Sydney in I See London, I See France. She couldn't just up and go to Europe like Leela, she has major responsibilities at home. For starters, her mother is agoraphobic and relies on her more than she should. Sydney is afraid to leave her mother at home with her younger sister, but her mother, even though she is majorly dependent on Sydney, realizes that this is an opportunity that shouldn't be missed and encourages Sydney to go on the trip.  I liked that this book portrayed the stressors of caring for a family member and how that can impact a teen.

I think that any good friendship is put to the test when traveling as things always happen. This is the case with Leela and Sydney, especially when Leela's ex shows up along with his friend, Jackson, whom Sydney starts to have feelings for. Cue all the drama.

Mlynowski did an awesome job portraying a whirlwind European vacation in I See London, I See France.  I loved the travel tips that she included throughout the novel and her descriptions of the famous landmarks. It definitely had me wanting to book a flight to Europe.

It should be noted that I See London, I See France is for older YA readers as there's a lot of mature content.  After all, the main characters are college-age, which leads me to the question as to whether this novel is for teens or new adults? I'd say both depending on maturity.

Either way, I enjoyed I See London, I See France. If you like books that whisk you away to memorable locations, definitely give this one a try this summer.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Post (42)

Book Review: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams 
Waiting on Wednesday: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Book Review: Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams

I'll be sharing my thoughts on I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski. It's definitely a fun read if you love armchair traveling. It got me in the mood for a grand European vacation.  I'll also be sharing my thoughts on the super cute and delightful beach read, The Cafe by the Sea.  Also, keep your eye out for a fun Friday Five and Giveaway. 

 Look Behind You by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen- From St. Martin's

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
Other Books By Author: A Hundred Summers,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The New York Times bestselling author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.  Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.  Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.  Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well."

Virginia Fortescue's life hasn't really been easy. Her mother was murdered when she was just a child and obviously this has impacted her tremendously. As an adult, she has spent a lot of time driving ambulances in the war.  While at the war, she met Dr. Simon Fitzwilliam and sparks flew.  They got married and had a child, but things got complicated and they became estranged.  Virginia gets news that Simon has died in a fire at his house in Florida.  Virginia hurries down there to see what exactly happened and the more she discovers about Simon, the worse it gets.  It doesn't help that Simon's twin, Samuel, is also down in Florida sending her mixed messages about Simon and Agent Marshall is constantly warning her to go back home as she and her daughter could be in danger.  The more Virginia uncovers about the truth surrounding her husband, the more she wants to find out despite the dangers involved.  Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams is a suspenseful thriller set in Prohibition age Florida that kept me on the edge of my seat.

Virginia is an interesting character in Cocoa Beach. She isn't one to be meek or sit on the sidelines. She wants answers for herself and heads to Florida with her daughter to get them.  I liked that she drove ambulances for the Red Cross in the war and that she is headstrong.  She did frustrate me a little from time to time, but overall, she was an enjoyable character that I was most definitely rooting for.

Williams had me on the edge of my seat when I was reading Cocoa Beach. At one time I thought Simon was despicable. The next moment I thought his brother was the bad guy. Then I changed my mind and was confused all over again. She had me changing my alliances and the truth was definitely revealed slowly.  The last quarter of the book kept me flipping the pages till late as there were many plot twists and a lot of action.  It left me a bit breathless as there was SO much going on at the end; nonetheless, it was entertaining.

The setting of Prohibition age Florida was very atmospheric in Cocoa Beach. I could practically feel the thick humidity, smell the tropical flowers, hear the crash of the waves and the strong Florida sunshine.  It was all very well done.

Although I enjoy Williams' Schuyler Sisters series a bit more, I still appreciated Cocoa Beach and enjoyed the suspense.  If you are looking for a historical beach read that will keep you guessing and flipping the pages, look no further. Do you want to win an ARC of Cocoa Beach? Don't forget to enter my giveaway!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Turtles All the Way Down

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Pub. Date: October 10, 2017

Goodreads says, "It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward.  Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.  In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity."

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that John Green has a new novel coming out this fall.  I am very excited! What do you guys think?

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