My rating: 5 of 5 stars
To Issy Randall baking was in her genes; it was in her blood. Growing up in Grandpa Joe's Bakery helped. Issy would sit beside Grandpa Joe as he baked his bread and iced each bun with the utmost dedication. "Bread is the Staff of Life!" he'd often say to Issy. Fast forward twenty odd years or so when Issy is thirty-one; she now lives with her roommate Helena, a nurse in London. She often visits Grandpa Joe in the Nursing home and he promised to write down all his recipes for Issy. Issy loved to bake cupcakes; she would turn up at work with a Tupperware box full of cupcakes much to her colleagues delight. In a word, Issy Randall can create stunning, mouth-watering cupcakes that are lighter than air...she doesn't even measure her ingredients but waltzes around the kitchen, throwing ingredients into her bowl and whizzing it with her electric mixer.
After being made redundant from her office job at Stoke Newington Municipal office and dismissed by her boss and lover, Graeme, Issy became depressed. Encouraged by her roommate Helena, Issy decided to open up her very own Cupcake Cafe. " How hard could it be?" she thought to herself. Opening her own Cupcake Cafe would show that no good lover of hers a thing or two about her determination and skills. She found a nice little shop on Pear Tree Court that was on sale which she made an investment on with her redundancy money from her admin job, and turned it into the business of her dreams. Nothing could be easier than opening your own cafe, right? What's there to do but bung some cake in the oven, feed a few customers and reap the profits? Wrong. Issy didn't count on the gazillion forms and applications she had to fill and then there were the builders to contend with the bank managers, the auditors and the cantankerous old snobbish ladies from the cooperative who confronted Issy about her baking junk and stealing their customers; but Issy Randall was determined and she met each obstacle head on!
The Cupcake Cafe opened for business and thanks to Pearl, a recently unemployed single mother whom Issy met at the Resettlement courses meeting held on Oxford Street, London, Issy and Pearl turned the Cafe into a warm and cosy little place to sit, enjoy a sweet morsel , a good cup of coffee and chat away whilst watching the world go by. But Issy didn't know what was behind the corner threatening to shut up Shoppe.
I fell in love with the book from the start and couldn't put it down. I, too, identified with Issy, being a home baker myself. I envisioned the role of Issy being portrayed by Anne Hathaway should it ever become a movie. The author throws in many delightful recipes throughout the book and delights her audience with tiny morsels of information of baking.
The characters are very true to life and the reader can identify with them. I fell in love with Grandpa Joe and cried my eyes out when he passed away! Another character that is strange but endearing is the Ironmonger who strangely creeps behind the shadows under certain scenes. He is a dark but very real and human character which the author slowly reveals to the audience towards the end.
Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is the type of book a person can read many times in their lives and never get bored with it. It is a light and pleasant read. Like a decadent chocolate cupcake, this Novel will tickle anyone's taste buds. The author does have the habit of overextending her fondness of the word 'had' throughout the book which I found annoying; other than this, I should say, this is a tastefully good read. I praise the author for a great piece of fiction.
My True Essence by Shawneda Marks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My True Essence is a book about three different women who are connected by Faith and their battle with breast cancer. This is the story of Rebecca, a woman who has it all and lives with a care-free attitude; Danielle whose beauty salon is booming but is struggling to come to terms with her diagnosis; and Jenessa whose diagnosis moves her to delve into the cloud that has been hovering over her since childhood.
The author delves into the emotional issues and turmoil that women undergo when they are diagnosed with breast cancer and their choices to whether they should have a mastectomy or chemo. I love how the author draws awareness to this devastating disease and how she makes it clear that any woman can be diagnosed with breast cancer regardless of family history. The author does this quite delicately and gracefully, delving into the many issues and avenues that a woman undergoes once she learns she has this terrible disease. I enjoyed reading this and was moved by the personal stories of each woman and their battle with breast cancer. I would like to read more of Ms Mark's work.
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A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I cannot get into the book. Although there are a lot of great reviews about ths book and it seems to be well-written, I just feel the book is not for me. This isn't to say it is a bad book; I just think it deals with too many unrelated characters and goes backwards and forwards in time. This is a book of short stories that are related to the topic of Music and the music industry. The book mostly deals with two main characters, Bennie Salazar, a record producer (who puts gold flakes in his coffee and lice spray under his armpits) and his assistant, Sasha and the other stories relate to their assossiates and friends who lead distructive life-styles. This book deals with the typical sex, drugs and rock-in-roll issues. In one review from the Washington Post, Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad is described as a medley of voices in first, secon and third voices. :http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/15/AR2010061504751.html
The book will be adapted into a HBO series soon.
Pet Noir by Pati Nagle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I truly enjoyed this story about a cat named Leon who is sent into outer space to solve a mystery. Leon is a genetic breed of cats who is designed to be stationed in a security base in outerspace. Leon loves to tease his human friends and is fond of a certain Burmese cat. Pet Noir is Leon's story and his travels through the galaxies solving crime. This is a cute little book to read when you want to read something lite. I was drawn to this story because I am a cat lover and love stories about cats.
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Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I don't condone affairs or cheating on your best friend or infidelities of any sort. I found the book a bit too predictable and found the character of Rachel a bit too whiney and neurotic. She was supposed to be a Lawyer. The book's theme centred on relationships, whether between friends or lovers.
Rachel White is a proverbial do gooder; a lawyer. Her childhood friend, Darcy threw Rachel a Birthday party at a popular New York bar on Rachel's 30th birthday. Rachel and Darcy were best friends since elementary school....they shared everything together. Darcy was the pretty one who often snatched Rachel's school girl crutches. Then, in their twenties, Rachel met Dexter in college. They started to click; but then Darcy met Dexter and the two of them hit it off. Within a month Dexter and Darcy were engaged. The only problem was that on the night of Rachel's party, Darcy left early and the last thing Rachel knew when she woke up the following morning was that she and Dexter slept together. How was she going to explain to her best friend, Darcy that she, Rachel White, slept with her best friend's fiance? But surprise, surpise...Darcy has a dark secret to reavel as well. This is a novel about toxic relationships and how they destroy people's lives.
Perhaps the author was trying to get the audience to see how toxic relationships deterriorate over time and about the outcome of infedelites and how they affect the people invovled. I thought the book was something different. I was interested in reading it because my cousin said it was one of her favourite books; but I thought it was a positive chick-lit about girl meets boy, have to sort out a few discrepancies in their courtship; they get engaged and marry. But when I started reading it I thought, This is a book about toxic relationships and their demise. I don't think I would bother reading Something Blue....which is Darcy's side of the story. From what I could surmise from reading an excerpt.
This book is now a film. I wonder who would portroy Rachel and Darcy.
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