Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Title:     Christmas at the Cupcake Café
Author:   Jenny Colgan
Rating:   ★★★

Jenny Colgan's Meet Me at the Cupcake Café is definitely one of my favorite chick lit books to date. I was actually afraid to read Christmas at the Cupcake Café because I was afraid that it won't be as good as the first. Oh, my fears were undeserved!

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn't be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don't seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe - with its increased demand for her delectable creations - begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another...

In Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, we meet the characters, from loveable Issy to endearing Austin, to cheeky Darny, larger-than-life Helena, always-worried Pearl, adorable Louis, admirable Doti, and suffering but entertaining Caroline. Jenny retained these characters for Christmas at the Cupcake Café, but she added Maya, a new postwoman who worked with Doti. And of course, it wouldn't be a Cupcake Café book without those recipes!

The story continues on, with the Cupcake Café now a veritable name upon in-the-know Londoners. Pearl and Caroline are still at each other's throat, as they are polar opposites, and this hasn't changed yet, but their stories are now given more focus, both on their personal lives and their involvement in the café. However, Helena slightly sits on the backburner as she becomes very busy with her child, Chandai Imelda, and Ashok.

The problem now is the inevitable moving of Austin up the ranks and straight into New York. The long distance causes trouble between him and Issy, as he finds himself employed (and deciding to stay for Darny's own good) and Issy's Cupcake Café back in London. Through the general good-hearted nature of everyone surrounding Issy, and Austin's great love for her, they finally reach a compromise that will work for both of them.

There are several touching scenes in the story, and some funny ones as well. Jenny Colgan doesn't have those laugh-out-loud lines, but she does insert some comedic humor through her vibrant, kooky characters. Unlike other series where I just want to know more about the others, I'm actually satisfied with the ending. I feel like I know enough about them to be assured that they'll have a happy life. Or at least, that's what I would like to think.

Another thing that I loved in this book is that we see the growth and changes of other characters as well, notably Caroline. I love how Caroline has turned out, and I especially think it's the influence of Pearl. I love that she finally reaches the point where she's OK...and I'm happy with that.

Jenny Colgan's little group of people in and around Issy's life sound too good to be true. Too good, but not impossible. And anyway, with all the negativity around us, isn't it just great to read a realistic story that gives us good vibes throughout the day? :)