Title : The Baker’s Apprentice
Author: Judi Hendricks
ISBN: 075287800X
Rating : 7/10
Great for : Reading with a hot bevvie; Holidays

As the title of the book is The Baker’s Apprentice, and the book is about a bunch of bakers who work in a Seattle bakery, I’m going to compare this book to a buttery slice of breakfast toast.   Deliciously warm, wholesome, and thoroughly satisfying, once you pick up this book it’s very hard to actually put it down again.

I didn’t actually realise but this novel is actually a sequel to Bread Alone, though it works very well as a standalone story. Set in the early 90s, readers follow the story of Wyn Morrison, recently divorced though hesitantly rediscovering love once again.  She’s part owner of a local bakery where the lives and interactions of the handful of staff play out throughout the course of the novel.  The “apprentice” comes in the form of a troubled young girl who is attempting to deal with her dysfunctional family and the death of a close friend.  Wyn inadvertently takes the apprentice under her wing and their relationship is incredibly touching.

The genius of Judi Hendricks is her descriptions of those little every day acts – from making a cup of coffee to plucking slugs from the garden, every little act is magnified by her simple, insightful prose.  You can tell by the way she writes that Judi Hendricks really takes pleasure from the simple things, and her joy is passed on to the reader.

There isn’t a lot wrong with the book, and it is truly a pleasure to read, but I gave it a 7/10 because I feel that while it’s good, it isn’t particularly original.  I feel as though I’ve read it before.  Having said that, I would still highly recommend The Baker’s Apprentice, especially for those times when you don’t particularly want to think but want to be taken on a journey (e.g. lying on the beach on holiday!)


Whip Round Time!

May 28, 2009

Tell us, what are you reading this week? 

Do you rate it do you need a pair of galoshes to wade through it?

: Spin Cycle
Author: Zoe Strachan
ISBN: 0330486322
Rating : 5/10
Great for : Dot Cotton wannabes

Hmmm…what to say about Spin Cycle? The reviews were good, I’d had high hopes, but somehow I don’t feel that I got much from this book.  Based in Glasgow and focussing on the lives of 3 women who work in a laundrette, there is a surprising amount of plot and character development in this book but somehow  none of it seems to ring true.  Agnes is the aging manager who cannot escape the haunting legacy of a murder in the family.  Myrna is a good time gal who’s day job is in stark contrast to a seedy alternative career.  Siobhan, the quiet, artistic one falls in love for the first time.  All the ingredients are there for a jolly good read but it doesn’t really seem to work.

 In Zoe Strachan’s defence she does do two things beautifully : dialogue and grief, yet this isn’t enough to validate an otherwise ordinary book.  I’m afraid not a lot stood out for me.

Scribbling Celebs

May 24, 2009


A little article a couple of months ago caught my eye.  The title? 

Girls Aloud Cole ‘in £5m deal’ for romantic novels

Really??!  While I do admire Cheryl for being part of a successful girl band and recently knocking it out of the park on the style stakes, I am struggling to reconcile the idea of her being an author.  I don’t know why, maybe it’s unfair of me to be so prejudiced.  Behind all the glitz and glamour may be a great literary mind?  I guess the jury’s out until her first book is published.

I also discovered a veritable candy jar of celebs dabbling in the written word.  Of course I’m not talking about self-serving autobiographies here, I think most celebs have a book in Waterstones with them draped alluringly on the front cover with an airbrushed expression either (a) deep in thought (b) creased in laughter or (c) puckered into a pout.  

Curiously one of the most well known and prolific celeb authors seems to be Katie Price (aka Jordan) with a number of ghostwritten novels and childrens books in her name.   In the same vein, Pamela Anderson penned Star which has been described on Amazon has “funny, sexy and utterly compelling”.  Who knew?!  Woody Allen has published a number of novels which have received rave reviews, though at least he always seemed to give off an air of a malcontent poet.  Witty and vitriolic Joan Rivers also has a number of published books to her name, including many self help books with one dubiously entitled Men Are Stupid . . . And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman’s Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery. Hmmm!

Most celebs have aimed their literary aspirations towards childrens books – with people like Madonna, Geri Halliwell, Jamie Lee Curtis and Billy Crystal throwing their hats into the ring.  I guess it’s a safer first-step into being published but it would be interesting to see if any of them take the leap into grown up fiction. (I was going to say adult fiction but then decided that might not be a very appropriate term!).

The celeb author who I’d most like to read is Ethan Hawke – in particular his second book, Ash Wednesday.   It has received mixed reviews from the literary world but from a personal point of view if Guardian Books calls him a “cracking author” and the book “sharply and poignantly written” then that’s enough for me to stick it on my “must read” list.

Have you read any celeb-penned books? If so, what did you make of it?

As a reader, how interested are you in the person behind the words?  Do you care at all what they look like, what they sound like, where they came from, what inspired them? 

Well, love ’em or hate ’em, Waterstones have always tried to bring the author to their readership by holding author “events”, ranging from book signings to author readings. Yes, I’m sure it boosts revenue but it’s also a lovely idea.   A few years ago I went to one such event by the author of The Time Traveller’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger.  She read her favourite passages from the novel, answered questions, told us a bit about herself, and then did a book signing.  She was nothing at all like I’d imagined her to be, but that made me love her even more.  It was wonderful, and just made my experience of The Time Traveller’s Wife complete.

If you’re interested in that kind of thing, one of our favourite sites is the Waterstones Events Page, which tells you what’s going on, when.  Yes, lots of events are based in London but there are also loads of  things going on around the country.  If you attend any readings or book signings, please let us know how you got on!

I’ve (Kat) been tagged on this blog (how very confusing!).

This his how this tag works (words lazily pilfered from A Piece of Wood):

  • Grab the nearest book to you.
  • Turn to page 56
  • Post the text of the 5th sentence as a post title and pass this meme on to who you like.
  • Yep, the book nearest to me was a cookbook.  Page 56 is a recipe for tangy lemon cupcakes….mmmm…..cupcakes….

    I’m  tagging anyone who’s reading and hasn’t done this yet!

    Source: Amazon
    Cost: mixed
    User friendly: 8/10
    Overall Rating : 8/10

    You can buy both new and used books on Amazon. For buying new books, I find the prices comparable with other retailers and if you buy in quantity, you can avoid any postage costs.

    I only discovered Amazon Marketplace recently and have bought and sold on there.  Great for selling books, as it’s a fixed postage price and you can list for ages at the price you want, avoiding the unpredictability of an auction on eBay.  Plus if it doesn’t sell, you don’t get charged, although the fees are higher that eBay.

    Buying is a different matter.  Yes you’ll probably pick up most books from 1p upwards, but the postage is £2.75 regardless, which begins to make it a less cost effective method.  Probably better for those harder to find books or hardback book that you may be searching for rather than paperbacks where there is a good enough supply to go elsewhere.

    What’s your experience of using Amazon?


    Title : The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets
    Author: Eva Rice
    ISBN: 0755325508
    Rating : 9/10
    Great for : indulging in a fairytale

    Gosh, this book is good.  It’s like someone took a handful of Daphne Du Maurier, a pinch of fairytale wow, and a healthy dollop of clever chick-lit and whipped it all together into a fabulously indulgent bit of scrumminess.

    Set in the dawn of the rock ‘n roll era, the book follows the adventures of the “very English” Penelope Wallace, her eccentric family and equally eccentric friends.  A chance meeting with a mysterious girl in a green coat leads Penelope into a swirling world of dinner parties, Johnnie Ray concerts and first love.   There are aspects of this book which remind me a LOT of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, but that is no bad thing (and in fact, the author makes reference to this herself in the novel). 

    I don’t want to give too much away so suffice it say I love pretty much everything about this book. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is well worth hunting down, shutting the door and letting yourself escape into Penelope’s world.  You’ll come away smiling, I promise.

    • Grab the nearest book to you.
    • Turn to page 56
    • Post the text of the 5th sentence as a post title and pass this meme on to who you like.

    As you can see, I’m reading a classy book at the moment!

    I tag:

    Mrs M



    Kat (of course)

    and anyone else who wants to tag along.  Please post a link back to us, so we can see the post.

    Last night I (Kat), went to dinner with some old schoolfriends I only get to see once in a blue moon.  As if having a chatty old catch up over a yummy supper (lots of juicy scandal and crepes) wasn’t good enough, one of my friends presented me with a lovely parcel. (A parcel! I think think that might qualify for one of the most exciting things EVER. Who doesn’t love a good old parcel? Stop me before I start singing about brown paper packages tied up with string…).

    Anyways, I digress. Here’s what was in it:


    Upon closer inspection:


    A dangly, decorative fairy!   Can you read the inscription?  I think it’s my new motto: you can never get a cup of tea large enough, or a book long enough to suit me – C.S. Lewis. Well said, that man.   I love books, I love tea, I love reading books with a cup of tea, I like reading books about cups of tea…well, lo and behold, there was also:


    (Are you also thinking mmmmm, shortbread!)

    This is one of the most beautifully photographed books ever, full of facts about…erm, you guessed it…tea: how to brew the perfect cuppa, the different types, health benefits, scrummy accompaniments. Not that I need any encouraging to put the kettle on.


    Finally, last but never least, there was this:


    It’s The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice.  Have you read it? It’s BRILLIANT. How do I know, I only got it yesterday night, I hear you cry!  Well, it’s the sign of a good book when the reader is up until 3am telling herself that she really must get some shut-eye, but can’t help turning the next page….common sense prevailed and I’m only halfway through (the second half to be completed probably when I stop blogging this post) and a review will follow shortly. 

    Books make such lovely presents, because nothing else quite shows how well someone knows you.  I don’t get to see this lovely friend as much as I would like, but it really made a lump in my throat that she got it so spot on. 

    Right, I’m off to put the kettle on….