Chocolate Wishes – Trisha Ashley
Chloe Lyons loves making chocolate, and she is good at it, too. She specialises in making chocolate angels, which contain messages for the people who eat them, much like fortune cookies. She believes the right message reaches the right person when the time is right. Her business is flourishing, thanks to the novelty of the concept and the Mayan chocolate charm that her warlock grandfather, Grumps, has given her. She still misses her first boyfriend, Raffy Sinclair, and all the antics of her quirky family haven’t been able to make her forget him. There are changes set to happen in the beautiful English village of Sticklepond where she lives, and where magic is accepted as part and parcel of life, though. How these changes affect Chloe’s life is what makes up the story of Chocolate Wishes.
Charming storyline, right? Is it any wonder that I was seduced by that kind of description on the dust jacket – all that quirkiness and chocolate and magic and a pretty English village in the story? Sadly, though, the book disappointed. I came away utterly untouched by it. Chloe is nothing but a typical dumb chick-lit heroine, who doesn’t seem to have a jot of brain in her head. The story was so predictable that I could see what was going to happen next, at almost every stage. I could predict the end less than half-way through the book.
Some of the characters are quite colourful, and I enjoyed meeting them. I liked the village of Sticklepond too – it sounded like a place where a lot of fun things happen on a daily basis. I loved the descriptions of the chocolate-making, too. Only the story was a total let-down. I finished the book because I didn’t want to abandon the book, and that’s about it.
I picked up Chocolate Wishes without knowing that it is a sequel to Trisha Ashley’s A Winter’s Tale, but that didn’t make much difference to my reading or understanding of the book. It is a pretty simple storyline to follow.
Overall, this was not a book that I would recommend. Go for it if you want something simple and extremely light, and some pretty descriptions of chocolate-making and English villages.
Extra Virgin: Amongst The Olive Groves Of Liguria – Annie Hawes
Annie and her sister come to Liguria, a small coastal town in Italy, on work and find themselves enchanted by an offer made to them – one to buy a ramshackle cottage on a hillside, dirt-cheap! Annie has always wanted real estate of her own, but has never been able to buy some. This is the perfect chance to do so, and she persuades her sister to go for it, with her. This, in spite of warnings by the villagers that no one ever buys a hillside cottage to stay in permanently – such cottages are only used to lodge in while working on the fields on the hills. Annie and her sister do end up buying the cottage, and becoming Ligurian citizens. Are they accepted into the Ligurian community just as easily? Do they regret their decision of buying the cottage? How do they manage living on the hillside, something they have no experience in doing, coming from the city of London as they are? All of this and more is what forms Annie’s memoir, Extra Virgin: Amongst The Olive Groves Of Liguria.
I liked the book and enjoyed reading it, though it didn’t work the same magic on me as Frances Mayes and Marlena de Blasi’s works have. Maybe it is unfair to compare author styles that way? I thought there was way too much detail in the book, more than was required, adding an unnecessary hundred pages or so. Some parts of the book are charming, though, like the one where Annie and her sister learn how to make their own wine. The book was quite enlightening too, in the sense that it opened my eyes to how tough the lives of people in certain parts of the world actually are. The quirky characters of the villagers of Liguria are fun to get to know, too.
Would I recommend this book? I would. Be prepared, though, for quite a bit of detailed writing. This is not one entirely breezy read.
Have you read any or both of these books? How did you find it/them?
What are you reading, at present?