Review- ‘The Little Beach Street Bakery’ by Jenny Colgan

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What the ‘Blurb’ says:

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

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

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

My Thoughts:

During lock down, I had a very bad time mentally; you can read about that in my post here. So, I decided to join the ‘Bon Marche’ book club on Facebook to take my mind off of things and ‘The Little Beach Street Bakery’, was their first group read.

Whilst everyone else in the group is probably on the third or fourth read by now, I’ve only just finished reading ‘The Little Beach Street Bakery’. That doesn’t mean that this is a bad book.That also doesn’t mean that it didn’t have flaws, it has a few, but I will get to that later.

What I did like the most, was the main character, Polly. Polly is a believable, likable and strong woman and I wanted her to succeed. I also adored the descriptions of the calm fishing village this book is set it. In the stressful times of lockdown, when I read this, I could imagine myself in the calm seaside setting of this book.

I also enjoyed the book’s gentle humour and in particular, I loved Neil the Puffin, but you will have to read this book, to find out where he fits into the story!

The only two characters, which for me, almost spoiled the book, were Polly’s best friend Kerensa and another character, Reuben. They were completely over the top and totally unbelievable and, in some of the later scenes in the book, I had to take a star off this book, because of what happens to them.

The story itself, was quite predictable. Although I have to say, the sub plot with the local fishing trade, was very emotional.

Whether it was predictable or not, doesn’t matter though, in my opinion.

When I read this book, it was like being wrapped up in a warm, comfy blanket and, for a while, despite everything that was going on in real life, it felt like everything was going to be all right.

If you’re having a bad day and want a book to escape into, I’d recommend ‘The Little Beach Street Bakery’.

I look forward to reading more in this series, because the first installment, was so heartwarming and made me feel good when I read it.

My Rating ***

Ann Cleaves, Book Series, Books, Crime, Fiction, Reading, Reviewing, Three Star Rating, Three Star Review

Review- ‘The Moth Catcher’ by Ann Cleaves

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

‘The Moth Catcher is the seventh book in Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope series – now the major ITV detective drama Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn.

‘This case was different from anything Vera had ever worked before. Two bodies, connected but not lying together. And nothing made her feel as alive as murder.’

Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they’re away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley – a beautiful, lonely place to die.

DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, with her detectives Holly and Joe. When they look round the attic of the big house – where Patrick has a flat – she finds the body of a second man. All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths – catching these beautiful, rare creatures.

Those who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too: Annie and Sam’s daughter is due to be released from prison any day; Nigel watches, silently, every day, from his window. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that there may be deadly secrets trapped here . . .

Enjoy more of Vera Stanhope’s investigations with The Crow Trap, Telling Tales, Hidden Depths, Silent Voices, The Glass Room, Harbour Street, and The Seagull.’

My Thoughts:

This is the first review I have done in such a long time!

‘The Moth Catcher’ is the third ‘Vera’ detective novel I have buddy read with a friend. What I really like about this series, is that you don’t necessarily have to read these books in order, to enjoy them.

There are characters who appear frequently throughout the novels and you can see their development, but you can also enjoy each book, as a stand alone.

The set up of this murder investigation was good. I loved the character of Vera, she’s a no nonsense, quick witted character and I loved the almost flirtatious relationship she has with Joe. I also liked how the other, newer member of the team Holly, featured more in the story plot.

In fact, I would have liked her issues with depression etc to have been expanded on a little, because I think it could be a powerful story plot. Whether that will be expanded on in other novels, I don’t know.

In previous ‘Vera’ novels, I have felt rather uncomfortable about the way in which Vera’s weight is constantly referred to and characters have sneered at it. In this novel though, it was mentioned but not quite as much, which is good. It’s important to describe a character’s appearance, but I didn’t like the almost, derogatory way she was described.

The plot in itself, was good, it had twists and turns which kept me guessing the culprit. However, I didn’t feel quite as satisfied by the ending, as I have with other ‘Vera’ novels. It made me feel a bit flat and actually, I’d like to re-read this novel, just to clarify the ending because it felt a bit over complicated.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and would say to anyone who loves a good crime novel to give this a go because not only do these books have good plotlines, but also a unique and believable protagonist.

However, if you are thinking about starting the ‘Vera’ series, ‘Harbour Street’, the sixth book in the ‘Vera’ series, is the best place to start.

My Rating: ***

Which crime/detective books would you recommend?