Friday, August 31, 2012

Title:         Meet me at the Cupcake Café
Author:     Jenny Colgan
Rating:     ★★★★★
10134852Sometimes, I don’t like reading books that talk about baking, especially about cupcakes. I’m a very picky eater and I’ve only eaten about one or two cupcakes in my life, but I enjoy looking at them. I’m kinda like Louis in that regard – once I taste something awful, I am very hesitant (or never again) to trying it out again.

Anyway, I took my sweet time reading this book instead of rushing through it because I wanted to savor it. From the first few pages, I was hooked. Lately, finding a book I want to just enjoy and not want to put down has been few and far in between. So finding something to read on a perfectly sunny afternoon has been quite a delight.

Summary from Goodreads:
Ever dreamed of starting over?
Issy Randall can bake. No, more than that – Issy can create stunning, mouth-wateringly divine cakes. After a childhood spent in her beloved Grampa Joe’s bakery she has undoubtedly inherited his talent. So when she’s made redundant from her safe but dull City job, Issy decides to seize the moment and open up her own café. It should be a piece of cake, right?
Wrong. As her friends point out, she has trouble remembering where she left her house keys, let alone trying to run her own business. But Issy is determined. Armed with recipes posted to her from Grampa, and with her local bank manager fighting her corner, Issy attempts to prove everyone wrong. Following your dreams is never easy and this is no exception. Can Issy do it?

This is my first time to read a Jenny Colgan book and I was pleasantly surprised! While it is not exactly humorous, the characters are relatable and endearing. As the story progressed, I felt like I was in the story and I was already rooting for Issy to make it. However, at one point, I did get irritated at Issy, but it’s much the same irritation you’d feel when you know your friend is being a fool and why can’t she see that she’s so much better without him?

Issy is a diminutive, a bit rounded figure who bakes such sweet delights, as taught by the endearing Grampa Joe. She started out as an office admin, the jolly sweet type who always brings baked goodies for everyone to enjoy. As I imagine her to be, she’s a bit plump, with a cheerful smile for everyone, who just looks so nice and endearing. When she becomes unemployed, she musters up the courage to start her own cupcake café even though facing many challenges along the way.

Grampa Joe was often mentioned throughout the story and he was the one who kept sending her recipes before he passes by. I was really sad when he moved on, but it was such a tear-jerker when he did. Actually, he reminded me of how my own grandfather died a couple of years ago. My grandfather’s last few words to my dad was that my grandma was there fetching him already. Isn’t it sweet?

I liked the characterization of Austin – hardworking and someone who tries to do get things right. He is smitten with Issy but because of some professional matters, he wavers in trying to muster up the courage to be with Issy. And when he does, man, you’ll feel really sorry for him. He’s so adorable, I wished I was in the story so I can soothe him. And when he stands up for Issy’s dream and café, my esteem for him just rose up quite a few notches.

I also liked Helena, her titan friend that seems to be a friend that anyone would be glad to have. Helena is your practical, matter-of-fact, puts-up-with-no-bullsh*t kind of friend and I would really be glad to have her in my corner. She’s so sweet to Issy in the way that she’s always there for her even when Issy is not the bestest friend at the moment. Plus, I love how her own love story panned out – with her falling for the type of man she swore she’d never go for. Plus, Ashook’s determination to win her over also got me rooting for him.

Graeme, Issy’s ex, is the typical pain in the ass pompous guy, but I felt like he was just so used to being catered to and pampered that’s why he’s like that towards Issy. I didn’t feel angry at him as much as I would be in other books because…well he’s just really that way. Although, right off the bat, Austin was the one who appealed to me. You’ll see why when you read the book!

Pearl is a god-send. She knows the ins and outs of what Issy needed to make the café work. Plus, she’s so hardworking and so reliable. The only thing I didn’t like about her is her being unable to stop from seeing Ben, when someone else is clearly so into her. I mean, sure, Ben is the father of her son…but… he just doesn’t seem to be the type who can really make her happy, especially if he keeps disappearing and just coming back when it suits him.

I was just so thankful that the book didn’t have any photos or illustrations of the recipes because I would really have been hungry or craving while reading it! However, based on the descriptions and reactions of the people to the goods, I bet they’re good. Light, fluffy, heavenly…you get the point.

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is lighthearted and fast-paced. Even when Grampa Joe passed away, Colgan did not mull over and kept the story a breeze to read. I liked what she did because I don’t really like tear-jerky plots. I really enjoyed this one so I'm on the lookout for other Colgan books to read. I highly recommend this book for everyone who likes a good chick lit book, paired with a cuppa while reading by the window sill.