Audiobook Review: Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

Title: Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop
Author: Jenny Colgan
Narrator: Lucy Price-Lewis
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication date: 2013
Print length: 368 pages
Audio length: 8 hours 31 minutes
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Rosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton, buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, large tempting piles of Turkish Delight, crinkling selection boxes and happy, sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend, Stephen, and her family, flying in from Australia. She can’t wait.

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community, all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

A Christmas-themed book is such a non-typical reading choice for me — unless it’s a book by Jenny Colgan, and especially if it includes favorite characters and is a follow-up to a favorite book!

I absolutely adored Sweetshop of Dreams, and just needed to keep main character Rosie in my life a little longer, so naturally, I couldn’t resist starting Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop right away.

This 2nd book in the series (it’s a trilogy) picks up about a year after the events in the first book. Rosie is happily settled in the little town of Lipton, running the town sweetshop, living with her beloved boyfriend Stephen, and feeling happier than she’s ever felt in her her life.

As Christmas approaches, things are looking good. Rosie’s family is about to arrive from Australia (although she hasn’t quite gotten around to telling Stephen yet). Stephen has just started his dream job teaching at the little local primary school. They’re happy in their cozy cottage, and Rosie is relieved to know that her great-aunt Lillian is happy too in her retirement home, where she merrily raises holy hell amongst the old folks and is as feisty as ever.

But tragedy strikes due to a freak accident that injures Stephen and threatens the future of Lipton’s school. As Stephen recovers and Rosie’s family hits town, tensions rise and eventually come to a head. Meanwhile, because of the accident, an elderly man suffering from dementia ends up in Lipton, and appears to have connections to the town that no one could have imagined.

Once again, Jenny Colgan’s book strikes just the right note of joy and love, while blending in dramatic complications and moments of fear. The tensions play out throughout the plot, but we readers can rest easy knowing that the author would never truly leave us in devastation. There are sweet secrets revealed, plenty of feel-good family moments, adorableness from small children, dramatic rescues, and plenty of romantic highlights too.

As the 2nd book in a trilogy, Christmas at Rosie Hopkin’s Sweetshop left me very happy, but also eager to read more about these characters — most of who I’d like to either hang out with or give big hugs to, or both.

This was a quick and cheery listen that also packs in emotional moments and enough worries and sorrow to keep it from going too far over the line into a nonstop sugary utopia. I’ve loved both books about Rosie, and need to start #3 immediately! Highly recommended.

Shelf Control #203: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!


Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Published: 2013
Length: 419 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

How and when I got it:

I picked up a copy at a library sale a few years back.

Why I want to read it:

I’m on a Holly Black kick! I just finished the amazing Folk of the Air trilogy, and I want more! And while this isn’t a faerie book, it still sounds pretty awesome to me. I understand it’s a vampire story… which is okay by me. And I like the fact that this is a stand-alone, because I have more than enough ongoing series that I’m trying to keep up with.

What do you think? Would you read this book? 

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Take A Peek Book Review: Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.



(via Goodreads)

Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year’s Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn’t expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they’ve eloped.

Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met and who doesn’t even know Elsie exists.

Interweaving Elsie and Ben’s charmed romance with Elsie and Susan’s healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there’s more than one way to find a happy ending.


My Thoughts:

Get ready for heartbreak.

Seriously. This books picks up your heart and smashes it into little bits within the first few pages. We start with newlyweds Ben and Elsie reveling in the simple joys of a lazy day as husband and wife, and within moments, Ben is dead and Elsie is left alone, devastated, and unwilling to even imagine her life without Ben in it.

The book alternates between Elsie’s life after Ben’s death and chapters focusing on how Elsie and Ben met and fell head over heels in love. Their love story is sparkling and fresh, but carries with it the knowledge of tragedy looming. Meanwhile, in the present, Elsie is forced to figure out how to deal with incessant grief and to confront a life without the man she intended to build her future with. By opening herself up to Ben’s mother Susan, she is able to understand the magnitude of love, whether in a marriage that lasts days or years, and what life can still hold once that love is gone.

Forever, Interrupted is a lovely, powerful look at unexpected love and loss, and the families we find along the way.

Also by this author:
Maybe In Another Life
One True Loves


The details:

Title: Forever, Interrupted
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: July 9, 2013
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Library


Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's SecretThe Husband’s Secret is one tricky book. It lulls you into thinking that it’s some sort of chick-lit look at married life and motherhood, with its opening chapter introducing a powerhouse of a woman, Cecilia Fitzpatrick, who is perfect at just about everything: She’s president of the PTA of her kids’ Sydney private school, a Tupperware saleswoman par excellence (her not-always-the-swiftest husband doesn’t realize that she actually out-earns him at this point), has her daily routine down to a science, bakes, cleans, and is always just 100% on time, appropriate, and slightly better than everyone else — but never enough so that you’d hate her for it.

Then there’s Tess O’Leary, whose Melbourne-based life is about to implode after her husband and her first cousin/best friend/business partner confide to her — in oh-so-supportive tones — that they’ve fallen in love, but they’re sure the three of them can make it all work out for the best.

And poor, sad Rachel Crowley, the school secretary, harbors secret hatreds and sorrows stemming back 28 years — back to the day that her teen-age daughter Janie was murdered by an unknown assailant in a crime that remains unsolved.

These three women’s lives intersect and collide with unexpected and life-changing results in The Husband’s Secret  — which I stopped thinking of as chick-lit and realized was just a terrifically well-written contemporary novel by the time I’d read 20 pages or so.

The ball really starts rolling when Cecilia stumbles across a letter from her husband, John-Paul, to be read after his death. The issue, though, is that John-Paul is still very much alive. Cecilia might have just left it alone, tucked away in the file with their wills, until she sees his extreme reaction to her mentioning that she found the letter. Knowing that he’s hiding something potentially explosive (is he gay? is he a child predator? does he have a mistress or second wife somewhere?), Cecilia rushes to open the letter… and what she reads is beyond anything she might have expected, a secret so shocking that their lives will never be the same. And then, of course, Cecilia must not only deal with new truths about the man she thought she knew, but must also decide what to do with this information — which impacts her family’s future, her daughters’ well-being, and the lives of others as well.

The secrets in this novel weigh heavily on the secret-keepers. Knowledge can be a burden, and the characters are in constant struggles to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. But what if what’s right for yourself might be completely wrong for your children? What if you share what you know, and even more lives are ruined? What good is the truth, if it doesn’t ease suffering but only leads to new and different suffering?

There are no easy answers. It seems simple, at first, to judge Cecilia and make assumptions about what she should do. I can’t say that I think she’s correct — but the author skillfully guides us through Cecilia’s thoughts and emotions, so we readers truly understand why her actions unfold as they do, whether we agree or disagree.

Tess’s story was a little less compelling for me, as it relates only tangentially to the other main storylines, and yet her dilemmas are real and potentially life-changing as well. Is it worse that her husband and cousin didn’t actually have an affair? They say they’re in love, but out of respect for Tess, haven’t allowed themselves to sleep together, and it’s the purity of it all that really drives Tess mad — if it had just been a sleazy little affair, perhaps it would be easier to get past. But what does it mean for Tess, all this silent longing and noble sacrifice, and can she reclaim her marriage, if not for herself, then for the sake of the family she and her husband have starting building with their son?

Throughout it all, the writing simply sparkles — and it’s the humor and wit of the writing, which shines through in a myriad of small but telling moments, that lulls you into thinking that this is a light, almost comedic domestic tale before the shocks, deep emotions, and tragic outcomes take over.

A few prime examples — one for each of the three main women:
(and for more, see this week’s Thursday Quotables post, where I share a few other favorite lines from this book):


Tess thought about how Will had once told her that he hated walking behind a woman late at night, in case she heard his footsteps and thought he was an ax murderer. “I always want to call out, ‘Its all right, I’m not an ax murderer!'” he said. “I’d run for my life if someone called that out to me,” Tess had told him. “See we can’t win,” said Will.


All these years there had been a Tupperware container of bad language sitting off to the side in her head, and now she’d opened it and all those crisp, crunchy words were lovely and fresh, ready to be used.


Lauren was the perfect daughter-in-law. Rachel was the perfect mother-in-law. All that perfection hiding all that dislike.

Reading The Husband’s Secret was one of those random odd reading experiences for me, where I went in with one set of expectations, only to realize I had it completely wrong. For whatever reason, I seemed to have remembered reading something about this book comparing it to Gone Girl, and never realized that I must have confused this with another book I’d picked up at about the same time. So, I started The Husband’s Secret expecting a dark, twisted novel full of psychological warfare and endless mindgames… and then, after reading about Tupperware, school projects, and Easter bonnets, started feeling like I was reading something suspiciously like “chick lit” — only to be startled as I went along by the depth of the characters, the seriousness and sadness underlying all the brisk, shiny writing, and the ultimate tragedy of the lives forever changed, for better or worse, by secrets kept and shared.

Australian author Liane Moriarty has crafted a real and honest look into the souls of three women with three very different lives. It’s impossible to read The Husband’s Secret without coming to care deeply about the characters. Agree or disagree with their decisions and actions, you’ll still wish these women well and feel both hope and sorrow for their experiences. I ended the book very satisfied with how the story wraps up, and yet wishing I could know more about the rest of these women’s lives. That, to me, is the sign of a successful novel: A plot that satisfies and engages throughout, wraps up without cliffhangers or loose ends, and leaves you wanting to stay in the characters’ company for just a bit longer.

I definitely recommend The Husband’s Secret… and look forward to reading more by this author.


The details:

Title: The Husband’s Secret
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publication date: 2013
Length: 394 pages
Genre: Adult contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased