*** Please note that various posts will contain affiliate links for Amazon. Purchases from these links will make me a small percentage in store credit. ***

28 July 2016

When Only Cupcakes Will Do by Daisy James (Book Beginnings & Friday 56)

As soon as I saw that Carina UK would be releasing a new Daisy James book on August 4th I knew I would have to get it. Luckily I was able to do so early thanks to NetGalley!

Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice
& Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at 
Rose City Reader
Amazon Description
When life gives you lemons, make lemon-drizzle cupcakes…Lucie thought that proposing to her boyfriend in Tiffany’s would be the best day of her life. Until he said no. In just a few seconds, her whole world is turned upside-down! And when she accidentally switches cocoa powder for chilli powder at work, she finds herself out of a job, too…
Baking has always made life better in the past, but can Lucie really bake her way to happiness? Starting her own company, selling cupcakes out of an old ice cream van might just be the second chance that Lucie needs!
Of course, she never expected to find love along the way…
Lucie has two things she loves -- her boyfriend, Alex, and being a pastry chef. For eight weeks she had planned the perfect marriage proposal and when it doesn't go as she had hoped everything starts to fall apart for her, including her job. It's like a domino effect. When dominoes fall unexpectedly you just set them back up in a sturdier and more stable pattern. Daisy James' When Only Cupcakes Will Do is the story of Lucie finding her perfect pattern and it's just as sweet as cupcake icing.... aside from the heartbreaks and frustrations and the occasional need for tissues. 

Even when Lucie's life was falling apart around her, James still made me snort-laugh. Luckily I read most of it while wearing dark clothing so the spurted coffee wasn't quite so visible. The tissues mentioned earlier helped to mop up the aftermath of the snorts even more than the random sympathy tear!
"If you don't mind my saying so, Lucie, you look like you've been flattened by a runaway steamroller and waited while it reversed to make sure the job was done properly." (9%)
All snorting aside, one couldn't help but feel sorry at the mess Lucie's life had become. It didn't pick up for her until she and her sister, Jess, decide to start a cupcake business together. It's so much fun to watch it all unfold -- even though I think I gained ten extra pounds reading about it all! Being a chef isn't just a job, but a passion and a reason to wake up in the morning. The importance of food oozes off of the page like the gooey center of a lava cake. 
"I need to work. I need to cook. Every memory I have has food in it somewhere; whether it be an aroma, a flavour on the tongue, a texture under my fingertips." (21%)
Of course, there's the romance and angst that has to be a part of most chicklits, and it's pretty obvious once you start reading as to who will end up with who. It doesn't matter, though. The how associated with who will end up with who is what matters and here it's done deliciously with a generous sprinkle of laughter.

26 July 2016

Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun by Samantha Tonge (Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday)

Amazon Description
Kate Golightly needs to move forward and what better way to do that then with a trip to the Cornish coast with best friend and boss, Izzy.
The sea wind is just what Kate needs to finally relax and begin to let go of her past. Except she’s suddenly got one big reason to panic! She RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the Queen Bee of her high school’s wedding saying she’s bringing her boyfriend (she doesn’t have one) who looks just like Ross Poldark!
With only two weeks to find the Poldark look-alike of her dreams Kate is under a lot of pressure for the Cornish coast to deliver…
Omigosh, y'all. This book has it all even before cracking the digital spine.

Samantha Tonge = Awesome (previous rambles available here)
CarinaUK = one of a very small handful of publishing companies that has yet to do me wrong
Cornwall = the land with which I'm so totally obsessed ... thanks in part to ...
Ross Poldark = 
"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of
a book being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.

I mean .... seriously. If I were in need of making up a fake boyfriend I would definitely be tempted to give myself all that.

So, Kate's in a pickle. Several, actually. A secure singing gig that she thought she had fell through. Her landlord is selling her flat without a lot of notice. She's told her childhood friend/secondary school nemesis that she has this boyfriend who doesn't actually exist. Her best friend/boss, Izzy, decides that they both need a break and books them a luxury spa trip to Cornwall. This is perfect for Kate because she'll get to see her beloved grandmother and search for an actual Cornish hunk to be her fake boyfriend for the wedding! (She has no intention of getting an actual boyfriend as she's still in love with her first love whom she can't be with.) Unfortunately, Izzy failed to notice the small print about the spa saying that they were rebranding ... into a family-friendly destination. Of course, this is a chicklit/romcom so maybe it isn't quite so unfortunate after all because before you know it, Kate, her grandmother, her grandmother's new husband and Izzy are all helping the owner and her son come up with rebranding plans.

It doesn't hurt that the son, Tremain, makes Kate's skin tingle and heart flutter.

Crazy as it may be, but this is probably the bit that I love the best. I work in a hotel now but my main focus in college ended up being in public relations. Branding and rebranding and event planning is my thing (well, one of them, anyway.... or three, depending on your math). It's what I would absolutely love to do -- especially at a resort like White Rocks. I kept finding myself saying "oh! oh yes!" over some of the ideas (and adding some of my own in my head). One of my favorite plans is to add a mini Donuts & Daiquiris to the premises. D&D is Izzy's business that is a standard donut shop & cafe during the day and a donut & cocktail bar at night. My mouth watered every time one of her concoctions was talked about!

Speaking of mouth-watering concoctions .... the resort chef, Luke? Yeah.

"Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line
or two from anywhere in the book currently being read.

Curious as to how it all plays out? Luckily you won't have to wait long at all since Breakfast Under a Cornish Sun is being released digitally on the 28th of July (and the paperback less than a month later!). In the meantime ...

25 July 2016

Rambling About.. Lucy Quinn's New Corpse in Town

Amazon Description
FBI agent Cookie James is enjoying her extended leave from the agency on Secret Seal Isle, managing her quaint inn and flirting with the oh-so sexy-handyman, Dylan Creed…until her sixty-year-old mother goes skinny dipping and is almost drowned by a corpse. 

A phone call to the sheriff should mean the end of Cookie’s involvement, but when it’s clear the sheriff has no interest in the investigation, Cookie calls in reinforcements…her ex-partner Hunter O’Neil. Suddenly it’s like old times while the pair questions the residents of Secret Seal Isle. Except it’s not. Now she has both Hunter and Dylan vying for her attention, a wayward hippy mother, and a potential killer on the loose. 

With her love life heating up, her mother lighting up, and all signs pointing to the most unlikely suspect, Cookie does the only thing she knows to do—focus on solving the case.

"Lucy Quinn" is actually Deanna Chase and Violet Vaughn -- pairing up to write the Secret Seal Isle Mystery series starring Cookie James (formerly known as Charlie Jamieson before leaving the FBI and running from the mob). I've read several of Chase's books before and was thrilled when I found out that she was going to be teaming up for this cozy series and was offered the chance to read the series debut, New Corpse in Town.

Cookie and her mother, Rain, have recently purchased the Secret Seal Inn in a small isolated island community in Maine. It's the kind of place where everyone knows each other and nothing ever really happens so the only law enforcement is a deputy who likely only has the job because of family connections. When Rain runs into the dead body of the man trying to turn Secret Seal Isle into a tourist trap, Cookie calls her former FBI partner, Hunter, for assistance. 

No one is supposed to know who Cookie really is so it's not easy to sit back and pretend to be a "helpful citizen." It also isn't easy to pretend not to have been in love with Hunter -- especially when local Mr Fix-It Dylan has been sparking her interest. The two men aren't making matters any easier on her, either.

Lucky for us mystery lovers, the book is very much a cozy mystery with a romantic angle instead of a romance that happens to have a dead person. I always worry when they two are lumped in together but New Corpse in Town maintained a wonderful balance. The matter of whodunnit kept me guessing and over and over again I wasn't able to guess correctly. There's also a great deal of humor involved in the telling of the tale -- especially when Cookie's mother is involved. 

All in all this is a well-told tale with a good amount of character development -- including the overall character of Secret Seal Isle. I'm hoping that future installments in the series will expand on Cookie's life as Charlie in the FBI and I'm hoping to see what happens at Secret Seal Isle when the artist colony shows up. I can just imagine the entanglements free-spirited Rain could get herself into with a whole bunch of free-spirited artists roaming around!

22 July 2016

An Untimely Frost by Penny Richards -- Book Beginnings & Friday56

I decided to take a little break from my rom-coms and head back to my beloved historical mysteries. Luckily, Kensington approved my request for their upcoming release of Penny Richards' An Untimely Frost -- the first in the new Lilly Long Mysteries series. I'm so glad that I did because once I started I had a hard time putting it down!

Lilly is a theater actress, having been raised by Pierce and Rose in a theater troupe ever since her mother was murdered when she was eleven years old. Now, in her early twenties, she decides to use her acting skills in an altogether different manner by becoming a detective under the famed Allan Pinkerton

Richards has birthed a wonderfully believable heroine in Lilly. You understand where she's coming from and how she gets to where she's going every step of the way. I was cheering her on (sometimes out loud) from the very beginning all the way to the "ohmigoodness what?!?" end.

An Untimely Frost is being released in July 26th. I've already the second book in the series to my wishlist even though it's not due out until next May!

As always, Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

19 July 2016

Cloudy with a Chance of Love by Fiona Collins - Tuesday Intros & Teaser Tuesday

Every cloud has a silver lining when it comes to love…
Daryl Williams never minded the fact that she had a big bottom. It’s always been behind her. In fact, it was one of the things that her husband loved about her. Until he ran off with her best friend, Gabby.
Daryl knows that she needs to get back in the dating game, she just doesn’t know how. So when her friend suggests taking a fortune forecast, she reluctantly agrees. And it looks like Daryl’s luck is in, by Friday she has a 99% chance of falling in love!
Only, even when it’s written in the stars, finding the one after the one is never easy…

In just a couple of days (on the 21st of July), Fiona Collins' Cloudy with a Chance of Love is being released and Carina UK was kind enough to let me read it early through NetGalley.

Daryl's my girl. 40-something (yep). Weather-girl for local radio (I have my degree in Communications from college, but mine's just collecting dust). Clueless about dating (always have been - Tom and I never actually dated. We just sort of happened.). Hates to diet (with a passion). Loves to eat (a bit too much - hence the hatred of diets). Has a big butt (even at my slimmest - my genes dictate wide-in-the-rear jeans).
"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book
 being read now or in the future and is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea.
The story opens on a Sunday and she had just received notice that her divorce has been finalized. When out celebrating, her friend Sam does an online fortune teller reading for her and it comes up with a 99% chance of Daryl falling in love by Friday. She really has no intention of falling in love but still lets Sam talk her into going on dating events like Speed Dating and singles cooking. On top of that her mom (who's hilarious) calls every day and has been on her to move on ever since her now-ex-husband moved out; her daughter, Freya, has informed her that her ex-husband is bringing her ex-best friend with him to her college graduation festivities on Friday; she keeps trying to banish improper thoughts about Will, her hunky helpful neighbor, from her brain.

This could easily have been a complete downer of a book. Let's face it -- any book about starting over could be. It helped that the divorce was drawn out before the book even started and that Daryl's friends Sam and Peony had already seen her through most of the agony of it. We get to be delighted with the fun that could be had with it all. Sam and Daryl encounter some hilarious dating escapades that were even fun (for the readers, anyway) when they went horribly horribly wrong (such as the guy with "octopus arms and toilet-plunger lips"). Of course, the most delightful moments happen with her neighbor -- like when the two decide to hand out Halloween candy together.
"Teaser Tuesday" from Books and a Beat asks for a random line or two
from anywhere in the book currently being read.
Of course, it isn't all lighthearted. Daryl's lost her best friend and her faith in love and quite a lot of confidence, but the giggles far outweigh the sniffles and I didn't need a box of tissues at the ready. Sure, a sniffle or two but whole lots of laughs and a bunch of air-punching "you go, girl"s! After all, Daryl's my girl -- big butt and all.

Cloudy with a Chance of Love gave Daryl a 99% chance of falling in love by Friday ... and me a 100% chance of getting my hands on anything else Fiona Collins writes! 

15 July 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday56 - Piers Anthony's Dragon on a Pedestal (Xanth # 7)

Yes, I've skipped book 6 in the series. I started it and then remembered it and how it wasn't quite as much fun as the others for me ... and I absolutely loved book 7 eons ago so decided to jump ahead to it.

Amazon Description:
There is trouble in Xanth again. The Gap Dragon had escaped and was ravaging across the land, the forget-spell was causing mass amnesia, three-year old Ivy was headed right for a hungry dragon. Could things get any worse? Probably....
One of my favorite things about this series is how it covers multiple generations of Xanth habitants -- Ivy being the granddaughter of Bink and Chameleon from the first book and Hugo is the son of Good Magician Humfrey and his fifth wife, the Gorgon. I have no idea how many generations have been covered in the years since I fell off my original Xanth kick but I look forward to finding out! 

Chances are good, now, that many will be skipped over in order to be able to read the ARC for the 40th in time since it's archive date on NetGally was moved up ... but I'll definitely then backtrack and cover at least most of them.

As always, Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

12 July 2016

Tuesday Intros/Teaser Tuesday - Ellen Berry's The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane - Release Day Ramble Update

Another oh-so-delightful read from the Avon imprint of HarperCollins UK! The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane is the first book written by 'Ellen Berry' ... though you may have come across Fiona Gibson's books before and they just happen to be the same person. (Speaking of Fiona Gibson -- if anyone knows of somewhere in the US where I can buy a digital copy of Mummy Said the F-Word I would be very happy indeed!) Anyway, I knew that I was going to request this on NetGalley as soon as I saw the gorgeous cover and with a title about a bookshop? What could be better?

Oh, just you wait, my dear readers.

You may have noticed that I haven't blockquoted a description this time. To be honest, I think that the intro and teaser may be enough to pique your interest!

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read now or in the future.

"Teaser Tuesday" asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read. Of course, I tend to be a bit flexible with the "line or two." This bit comes from the 23% mark of the book.


I don't know about you, but I have tons of memories of flipping through my own grandmother's and mother's cookbooks and have quite a collection myself (in spite of the fact that I rarely actually use them).

***Updated Ramble***

A book about a bookshop about cookbooks. I was swooning all over the place here before even starting.

Della has recently turned 50 years old. Her mother, Kitty, is dying. Her daughter, Sophie, is getting ready to go off to art school. Her husband, Mark, has taken up golf. Life throws her one curve ball after another and rather than completely crumble under the pressure of it all, she holds it all together and gets things done. It was pretty much the way she had always been -- at least since the age of ten when her father ran off with another woman and Della took it upon herself to hold everyone and everything together.
Della was sensible enough to know Kitty needed to eat, and that gin and tonic didn't count as real food, even with ice and lemon. (2%)
After leaving school, Della had been cajoled by Kitty into doing a secretarial course: 'Because you might not be the brightest button in the box, darling, but you're extremely good at getting things done.' (14%)
When her mother passes on, Della takes her collection of almost 1000 cookbooks, much to the dismay of her husband. Even worse in his eyes, she plans on using them to open a cookbook bookshop in the little village where she grew up.

Although the book is titled The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane and there is quite a bit about the bookshop in the story, it really isn't so much a book about a bookshop about cookbooks after all. This is a story about Della getting things done and learning how to get things done for Della instead of for everyone else.

It's a beautiful story and I highly recommend it. The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane is being released digitally on July 14th and the U.S. paperback release is August 30th. I'm already planning on getting the paperback in spite of having the digital thanks to NetGalley. I bet it would look lovely on the shelf with my cookbooks. Even more exciting is that this is the first in a series of Rosemary Lane books with The Bakery on Rosemary Lane coming in 2017 and The Bistro on Rosemary Lane in 2018! I don't really want to wait that long, but I know it will be worth it.

11 July 2016

Rambling About.. Bella Osborne's Sunshine and Secrets

Amazon Description
**Part one of a new cosy and heartwarming seasonal series, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley.**
Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.
When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realizes this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realizes that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.
Over the course of four seasons, Beth realizes that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…
I had failed to do my typical research when I requested Sunshine and Secrets from NetGalley. I knew of Bella Osborne from Twitter and she seems absolutely darling. It's published by the Avon imprint of HarperCollins UK, which has become one of my go-to publishing houses along with CarinaUK and Bookouture. The cover is precious and makes me want to try my own hand and DIY in order to fix it up. Altogether it sounds perfect, right?

Well..... what I had failed to realize is that as "part one" it's not quite 100 pages. Part two is coming out in October according to Amazon which isn't a terribly long wait but I still would have preferred to have read at least the first two parts together as one. 100 pages is the length of one of my 10-year-old's books when he wants to "slack off."

Luckily, it's a wonderfully splendid little "not quite 100 pages" and a lovely introduction to Beth, her son Leo, her best friends Carly and Fergus, and her new home of Dumbleford. I felt horribly for her when the quaint little cottage she thought that she had purchased turned out to be a disaster area in need of a lot more than a fresh coat of paint. She's definitely a fish out of water -- except, of course, for when the rain caused the ceiling to cave in around her. By the end of this first part it seems like she's at least getting handle on what she needs help with and where to get it.

And then it ends with a big freaking twisty cliffhanger that makes me want to scream... and fast-forward to October so I can find out what the samheck is going on!

09 July 2016

Daisy James' If The Dress Fits is coming out in paperback!!!

I was beyond thrilled when I was contacted by Carina UK about participating in the celebration for the paperback release of If The Dress Fits by Daisy James coming up on July 14th! As of now there's no word on it also being released here in the US, but you can (and should) still get the digital copy and I'm sure that before long UK bookstores will have it on Amazon Marketplace.

I'm the third stop on the tour so make sure you go back and visit the first two ... and then after today go visit the rest! I know that it may seem like an awful lot of love for one book but, seriously? This book definitely deserves it!

My original post (along with a Teaser Tuesday) was posted in May just ahead of the digital release.

Callie is going through stuff. Three years ago she basically ran away from her Yorkshire home, friends, family and childhood sweetheart and threw herself into designing and making couture wedding gowns. A famous actress is set to marry a rock star and has put out a call for dress submissions. Callie has toiled for months over her creation for the contest and just as the dress is about to be picked up to be taken to the final judging she receives a call to rush back home for a family medical emergency.  She's almost immediately faced with everything that she's been hiding from and her life gets turned upside down and inside out.
It's a story of love, of course, but not just the romantic kind. It's love of community, of what you do, and of who you are ... with a good smattering of craftiness, fashion and delectable pastries thrown in for good measure. I wanted to visit the little town. I wanted to attack and devour the cupcake pyramid. I wanted to learn how to knit.  I also wanted to shake Callie at times and tell her to snap out of it ... but seeing as how most of her friends did the same I guess it wasn't just me being overly snippy.
Highly recommended to chick lit lovers and I sincerely hope that Daisy James decides to revisit some of the secondary characters from this tale again. I would love to know what happens with them!

Now, to be completely honest with you, I forget an awful lot of details about an awful lot of books after two months. This book definitely wasn't forgettable, though! I still wish I could wander up and down the streets of Althorpe and I still long for information on what my favorite characters have been up to since! I have yet to take up knitting and a cupcake pyramid still hasn't magically appeared for me to devour, but I'm still determined that some day I may have both. (I know, "may" doesn't sound very "determined" at all. I'm a optimistic pessimist.)

I was told recently that the "Faves on 4s" that I include with most of my Rambles have influenced more than a few book purchases. Since I don't typically include them with meme posts, my original review of If The Dress Fits was missing out. 

Not anymore!

Here are three of my favorite bits. To see all of them, of course, you'll just have to buy the book.

4% : Over the last three months her world had become a frenzy of late nights, cold pizza and too much coffee. She had existed on snatched naps at her work table. Mannequins heard her complaints, dressmakers' dummies her confessions, but there was nothing new there.
34% : 'People crave a return of real community spirit - the sharing of warmth, mutual support and friendship over a freshly prepared brew and an injection of sugar-sweet confectionary, not a cocktail down at the local win bar to douse the stress and boast about the last deal.'
54% : The room had come alive that night with the swirl of chatter and laughter that wrapped a cloak of comfort and serenity around the group. The shop shone with the promise of a bright future; several friendships had been forged that would never otherwise have been contemplated.

08 July 2016

Book Beginnings & Friday 56 -- Holly Martin's Snowflakes on Silver Cove

Snowflakes on Silver Cove is the second book set in White Cliff Bay. I read the first, Christmas at Lilac Cottage, back in December and this one was actually one of the deciding factors in doing Christmas in July! I even put it off a little longer than I wanted to just so I would be able to have it lined up for a Book Beginnings & Friday 56 post.

As always, Friday 56 (share from the 56th page or 56% mark) is hosted at Freda's Voice & Book Beginnings (share the first few sentences) is at Rose City Reader.

Amazon Description:
Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself…
Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance.
As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George.
But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Cracking up from the very beginning! Is the squeaking a mouse? If it is ... what's up with the bang???

Of course, I know exactly what it's all about now but I'm not going to tell you. That would take all of the fun out of it being a tease!

Snowflakes on  Silver Cove was an absolute delight! I loved the first White Cliff Bay book and this one was just as wonderful if not even moreso. The two books actually take place at the same time but with different main characters so it was fun to see some of the folks and events from Christmas at Lilac Cottage again from a different view. I'll definitely be grabbing the third one soon and hope that there will be many more to come!

07 July 2016

Rambling About.. The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin

Title: The Bookshop on the Corner
Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publication: 17 June 2014 -- Carina UK
Amazon Description:

Who said that only real heroes could be found in fiction?

Sarah Smith had an addiction – she was addicted to romance novels. The meet-cute, the passion, the drama and the gorgeous men! Now this wouldn’t have been such an issue if she hadn’t been the owner of the only bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut.
Ever since her close friend Lil, from The Gingerbread Café, had become engaged she had been yearning for a little love to turn up in her life. Except Sarah knew a good man was hard to find – especially in a tiny town like Ashford. That was until New York journalist, Ridge Warner stepped into her bookshop…
Love could be just around the corner for Sarah, but will she be able to truly believe that happy-ever-after can happen in real-life too!
First Lines: Snuggled in the cozy bay window of the bookshop, I looked up from my novel as the first golden rays of sunshine brightened the sky. Resting my head against the cool glass, I watched the light spill, as though it had leaked, like the yellows of a watercolor painting.

Ashford was buzzing with good news recently, love affairs, weddings, babies, but I was still the same old Sarah, nose pressed in a book, living out fictional relationships as if they were my own. (4%)
Sarah first appeared in the second book of the Gingerbread Cafe series. She's the one who organized the chocolate festival that Lil and CeeCee were so wrapped up in. She's the one who owns The Bookshop on the Corner that I so desperately wish was real so I could go visit. Sarah feels like a kindred spirit from the very beginning. She's a woman who gets completely lost in books and cherishes them. When an elderly gentleman who had been to the shop years ago calls to tell her that he would like to send her his departed wife's collection, she immediately knows that she won't sell the books but, instead, place them in the shop's reading room for others to enjoy at their leisure. She's just my kind of person.

In spite of being the only bookshop in town and being memorable enough to visitors years later, the shop is still struggling. She knows that something has to change for her business life and, hopefully, her love life. Her best friend, Missy, tries to tell her that she's perfect just the way that she is but Sarah still feels like a change needs to happen somehow.

She decides to start a book blog for the store (Heh. See? Told you she's my kind of person!) and it's an immediate success.  It gives her a business boost, a new sense of confidence, and a new group of online friends who understand her and her love affair with books in a way that most people couldn't. She even uses my favorite (non-pirate-related) book quote: Ernest Hemingway's 'There is no friend as loyal as a book."

Just as this part of her life is taking off, in walks the cover of one of her beloved romance novels. Well, he wasn't really from the cover of one of her books but is Ridge Warner, a journalist from New York in town do a "feel-good piece" about Ashford and its specialty shops -- like The Bookshop on the Corner. He also knows all about Sarah and her blog already -- and, therefore, her love of romance novels. They do some flirtatious bantering (and I regret wearing a white shirt to work because I spurt coffee out of my nose) before she realizes that he had researched all about her. This doesn't sit too well with Sarah and things get real tense real fast. And then they don't.

And then, of course, they do because the confidence that Sarah has garnered from the blog only apparently applies to her business life and not any potential love life -- which is all that she can think about when she sees him. She turns him down for an interview which baffles and intrigues him and thus begins the woo-ing.

I loved the Gingerbread Cafe books immensely and you'll be able to read all about those here, but my heart belongs in The Bookshop on the Corner. It was wonderful (and oftentimes hilarious) seeing CeeCee and Lily support Sarah and attempt to break her out of her shell and right into Ridge's arms. Of course, Missy is also on-board with the whole idea ... as is the vast majority of Ashford. As is Ridge himself.

I sighed. I swooned. I hugged myself tight. I laughed until I cried. I thanked the heavens that cardigans can double as protective coverings over white shirts (seriously -- they're like huge stylish bibs).

And then .... then came the twist and I &^%&%^* #$#%$% $#%$^%& #@$%$#@ ^%$&^%&                        and I almost DIED when FGS EHY^^  REG                                                     BYYHY!!!

Right .... like I would actually tell you. Get the book and read it yourself. Just remember to wear a protective covering in case you're prone to spurting, too.

I leave you with more gems of bookishness to tide you over:
"There's a certain pull books have on a person if they listen hard enough." (9%)
 "You look more like a romance reader to me."
I squared my shoulder. "And what exactly does a romance reader look like?"
"Let's see." He scratched his chin as if he was contemplating. "She's tiny, like a doll. Has perfectly cut black bangs, which highlight her mesmerizing doe eyes. Nervous around strangers, unaware that her hands flutter like the wings of a butterfly when she's thinking things she doesn't want anyone to know..." (20%)
 I imagined the books exhaling, stretching their bindings, as they relaxed, not on show anymore. And once I left for the night, I pictured them moving around the shop, their pages fluttering, as if they'd come to life. (40%)
I wasn't a neat person; I subscribed more to disorganized chaos. Time cleaning was less time reading, so I usually just did the minimal amount, and left it for another day, a day that would never come. (68%)
The books seemed to swell with pride as they sat solemnly on the old wooden shelves. They knew they were going to be well loved here, and read again, maybe a few times, in the years to follow. (75%)
It was so much easier to hide behind the covers of my books because there was no chance of being hurt that way. Books were my sanctuary, my escape and a place to dream without judgement or criticism. (88%)

Rambling About.. Rebecca Raisin's Gingerbread Cafe Series

I've always had a tendency to stay away from short stories and novellas (which, really, is just a fancy name for a short story, right?). I like my stories to have more substance than most shorts seem to have. I don't even really fancy the mid-series shorts that seem to pop up so often nowadays. If you don't have enough of a story to make a full-length book out of it, wait until you do and insert this morsel into that, you know? Of course, then I read Milkshakes & Heartbreaks at The Sunset Diner and, as soon as I was done, immediately jumped onto Helen Cox's website and downloaded the short story collection that ties in with the book. It's a collection, after all. If I wanted to I could read them all together in one sitting like a potentially disjointed novel.

And then I remembered that the only reason why I haven't plunged into the lovely-sounding world of Rebecca Raisin's Gingerbread Cafe yet is because of the length of the first two out of three installments. If I read them all together (they're even sold all together), well, then, my "I don't do shorts" is kind of voided. Right? Right.

So, taking the page counts from Amazon for each book we get
Yeah. I have no idea where the 110 pages went to since 64+94+304=462. I call it Magic Gingerbread Math. Doesn't matter, though. The reader that I'm using for the three individual books uses percentages instead of pages anyway. I'm even tossing in The Bookshop on the Corner (which sort of stands alone but is also sort of Gingerbread Cafe 2.5).

Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe

The Gingerbread Cafe is located in Ashford, Connecticut, and run by Lily and her assistant CeeCee (who acts more like a mother than an employee). A new "small goods" shop opens across the street owned by the ruggedly handsome Damon and as Lily's customers all seem to be flocking over there she panics and feels as though war has been declared.

For two days Lily and Damon do their best to one-up the other and finally CeeCee suggests that they work together as both shops are similar but with enough differences that a partnership could prove advantageous. Of course, CeeCee is also thinking of another kind of partnership since Lily's ex-husband, Joel, has been gone for almost two years and she's still pining away hoping for him to come back. Of course, a little romance starts to blossom (no real spoiler here ... it's a holiday chick lit ... these things have to happen), but not without some speed bumps.

Even though it's not a long read, it's a great beginning and I can't for what happens next! (And, luckily, I won't have to!)

Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe

The next installment sees Lily, Damon, CeeCee and the rest of Ashford just before Easter preparing for a village-wide chocolate festival. Everything is blissful and happy and Damon's seven-year-old daughter, Charlie, is staying with Lily and Damon for the week. She could have been a speed bump, but she adores Lily and her mom is perfectly okay with her spending time there. Their split and divorce was amicable -- unlike Lily and Joel's.

Speaking of Joel, he suddenly reappears and threatens to ruin Lily's happiness.


When she was first starting to get the Gingerbread Cafe up and running, they were married and his family had given her money for the kitchen upgrades. Now Joel is back and broke and insisting to be paid back... or else. Never mind that she supported him financially throughout their marriage and then lost everything but the shop because of him. He's a horrid wretch and won't be happy until she's as miserable as he has been, apparently.

Luckily, Lily has Ashford.

The entire village is behind her and willing to help out from the retired lawyer to the bookshop owner Sarah and even the town gossip -- but most of all Damon and CeeCee. Joel should have probably second-guessed his decision to try and wreak havoc. I certainly would never want to get on CeeCee's bad side for anything!

Another fast read and another truly delightful one. I keep thinking about how nice it would be to visit Ashford one day -- especially since the real town is only a 4 hour drive from here and about 15 miles away from my friend Sarah! Of course, I would be horribly disappointed if I showed up and there wasn't any delectable chocolate eggs or gingerbread milkshakes to be had. I guess I'll just keep reading, instead.

(Oh, and apparently 18 or so of those Magic Gingerbread Math pages come from a book preview at the end! It's totally starting to make sense now. At least, a little bit.)

The Bookshop on the Corner
This is #2.5 in the series as it falls between Gingerbread Cafe 2 & 3 and is also set in Ashford with some character overlaps ... but it's not "officially" a Gingerbread Cafe story so isn't included in A Gingerbread Cafe Christmas. 


Because I flew through 1 & 2 in under 24 hours, and because of my "must read things in order" fixation, I'm reading it as 2.5 but it gets its own rambley post. Click HERE to read it!

Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe

A year has passed since Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe and wedding plans are underway for Lily and Damon. (Don't dare get on my case over spoilers since you knew it was going to happen as soon as you knew the titles of the books.) All of our favorite Ashford friends and neighbors are here, including CeeCee, Charlie, Sarah and Missy. We also get to meet Guillaume, the French chef with a crush on CeeCee, and the parents of our beloved bride and groom.

Future in-laws can be tricky. (Current in-laws can be tricky, too, of course ... but ... never mind!)

Lily's parents are delightful and beyond enthusiastic over the wedding. Damon's parents? Well, his dad is pleasant but his mom is not exactly Lily's biggest fan. This, of course, causes turmoil after turmoil and more than once you would wonder if the wedding would happen without someone having a total nervous breakdown first!

There's love, laughter, some tears (big tissue alert for the second half) and all of the delectable treats from the Cafe that leave your mouthwatering and your tummy grumbling.

No, I'm not saying a whole lot about this installment because it is, after all, the end and one must not completely give away the end. (I'm trying to convince Rebecca Raisin that it can't be the actual end. She owes me, after all.) Do yourself a favor, though, and read them all -- in order -- including The Bookshop on the Corner. And be prepared to lose yourself in the pages.

I've fallen in love over and over again with Lily and Damon ... and Ashford!

05 July 2016

Tuesday Intros/Teaser Tuesday - Rosie Blake's How To Stuff Up Christmas

I'm 65% into book 15 of my 20 (or so) Books of Summer and I'm absolutely loving it and can already say that I highly recommend it. It's Rosie Blake's How To Stuff Up Christmas which may seem an odd choice for July but since there never seems enough time between Thanksgiving and New Years to read all of the holiday books I want to, I'm doing a Christmas in July this year. I'm also linking up for the first time to Bibliophile By The Sea's "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" along with my usual "Teaser Tuesday" at Books and a Beat. This book is good enough to be teased twice! Actually, it's good enough to be teased a lot more than that but I'm trying to behave and not go too over-the-top.

The Amazon Description does a decent job of giving the basic gist of the tale:
Christmas and cooking collide in this hilarious romantic comedy from Rosie Blake. 'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone . . . Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen. But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat? A hilarious and heart-warming novel about Christmas, catastrophes, and cooking, containing exclusive Christmas recipes, from the talented Rosie Blake.
I love that it mentions the angry goose ... but it left out Eve's whacktastic family, the crazy dog that her ex-fiance is trying to reclaim, Greg's brother, and a whole slew of other delightful characters I've loved getting to know. Ah well. Guess a description can't really cover everything, huh?

So, on with the teases. They might not really tell you more of the story, but maybe you'll find your interest piqued enough to want to give the book a try!

"First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" is supposed to be the first paragraph (or two) of a book being read now or in the future. Of course, the beginning of this book isn't your standard paragraph so I just went with the first screen shot. I know. My first time linking up and I'm already bending the rules. Whoops.

"Teaser Tuesday" asks for a random line or two from anywhere in the book currently being read. Again, I tend to be a bit flexible with the "line or two." I've bookmarked and highlighted a ton of selections that all seem more than worthy of a good share and tease, but have had a hard time narrowing it down so I'm just going with the most recent highlight from the 63% mark.

If you enjoy the Christmas season, good recipes, belly laughs, "awwww" moments, and the occasional desire to smack a character in the face with a muddy boot, then How To Stuff Up Christmas might very well be right up your tinsle-covered alley.

What do you think?

04 July 2016

Rambling About.. Show Time by Suzanne Trauth

Title: Show Time
Author: Suzanne Trauth
Publication: 19 July 2016 -- Lyrical Underground (Kensington Books)
Amazon Description: 
The tide has turned for Dodie O’Dell since a hurricane upended her life on the Jersey Shore. Now she’s further up the coast in sleepy Etonville, managing a restaurant that dishes dinners themed around the community theater’s latest productions. But Dodie just never imagined she’d land the starring role in a case of bloody homicide . . .

Intrigued by rumors of vanishing box office money, Dodie has agreed to help oversee the casting of Romeo and Juliet at the modest Etonville Little Theater. If nothing else, it’s a welcome escape from the thirty-something’s usual going-to-bed-with-a-mystery-novel routine. But when Jerome Angleton, a well-respected member of the theater company, is inexplicably found murdered on the loading dock, deadly drama transcends the stage—and the page. As a crime wave crashes over the small town, the spotlight is on Dodie to orchestrate her own investigation behind the scenes . . . before someone has a chance at a killer encore.

First Lines: There is no such thing as a Jersey girl. For example, if you lived below the Driscoll Bridge and were a citizen of the Jersey Show, as I had been  for more of my life, you were not necessarily defined by certain hairstyles and a particular accent. You were more likely to have a six-month tan and a strong penchant for boardwalk fries and fresh oysters. So I was a Jersey Shore girl.

Ramble (with Faves on 4s): After Hurricane Sandy had devastated the Jersey Shore, Dodie O'Dell headed north to Etonville to help manage a restaurant as a fund-raising pitstop of sorts before heading on to New York. 18 months later she's not only still at the Windjammer, but she has close friends and is involved with the local community theater thanks to a dinner-and-show event that she's helped to establish between the two.
By the time the ELT produced Dames at Sea and I had devised a seafood buffet, patrons were getting used to dining early and darting next door to the show. I was a marriage made in culinary heaven. (4%)
Dodie gets roped into helping with the upcoming production of  Romeo and Juliet and on the night of the auditions her friend Jerome is murdered. Jerome was a retired English teacher, a fixture at the theater box office (and stage), and shared Dodie's love of mystery novels. She ends up following the lead of so many fictional amateur detectives before her and starts to investigate the crime herself -- often to the chagrin of the handsome new police chief, Bill. Sometimes she shared with him what she was doing. Sometimes, well, she put it off.
Still, I was feeling some guilt at holding back this information and remembered my great aunt Maureen's favorite saying, that she had crocheted on a wall hanging: In life's wardrobe of emotions, guilt is the itchy wool turtleneck that's three sizes too small. I'd been scratching for several days now. (44%)
The mystery gets more complicated than just "who killed Jerome?" His apartment, the theater and the library are all broken into and tossed about, and there's a strange black SUV that appears to be stalking Dodie. These additional events mean that Dodie gets even further involved with the investigation and with Bill -- at least, in a professional manner.
"I hope this isn't too early?"
So this was what Bill sounded like in the morning, slightly hoarse, slightly sexy. (54%)
It's not just Dodie and Bill, of course. Etonville is small-town living at its finest and most gossip-mongering. Between the theater crowd, the restaurant crowd, and the crowd at her friend Carol's hair salon, everyone knows at least a version of everything almost as soon as it happens. Often times these versions are hilarious -- especially if the elderly Banger sisters are involved in the telling -- but even Bill finds out that small-town gossip can be helpful.
Bill opened his mouth, the closed it. "How did you--?"
"Snippets." I grinned. "Don't underestimate the power of the hair salon. Gossip central."
"Well, I'll be..." (64%)
It's a splendid little cozy and, even though I had a guesstimate as to whodunnit, I wasn't able to piece it all together until Dodie could herself. I loved getting to know her, Bill, and the residents of Etonville and I'm incredibly happy that this is the first in the series. I'm hoping that the tie-in of the theater productions continue because those gave a good bit of light-heartedness to the stress surrounding the mystery at hand.
Juliet lay back down.
Abby went back to work. "Alas alas! Help help! My lady's dead."
Thwap. She slapped Juliet across the face and caught her unawares. "Stop it!" Juliet screamed. (94%)
Show Time  is being released on July 19th by Lyrical Underground/Kensington Books. I'm very thankful to the publishers and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read it in advance. It was absolutely a pleasure and I highly recommend it to cozy mystery fans!

02 July 2016

Rambling About.. Charlie N. Holmberg's Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

I had requested Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet from NetGalley as soon as it became available since I've heard so many great things about Holmberg's other books. When I read the description and saw that the main character, Maire, is an amnesiac who can infuse feelings into her baked goods I was beyond intrigued. 

Unfortunately, after the first 30 percent or so of the book I found that it didn't intrigue me nearly as much as the description did. I wasn't sure that I would finish it. Maybe if it had been a paranormal mystery/comedy/chick lit I would have plowed through it with glee... but it doesn't fit any of those genres. It's more of a young adult fantasy, I would say. I don't have anything against fantasy, of course, and didn't want to leave a requested book unread so I plowed ahead.


To be completely honest, I jumped over a handful of pages here and there. Not for the steamy reasons I normally have for skimming, but because it got to the point where not much seemed to be happening and I was curious as to whether I would feel like I missed anything if I jumped. I only had to backtrack a couple of pages once or twice. Bummer.

Now, the last 15% or so of the book I absolutely ate up like one of Maire's cakes. I would like an entire book just about the ending. Holmberg is definitely a talented writer but the vast majority of this story just wasn't for me.