Book Review: Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan is a book cover with its soft pink background and sweet little cupcakes and swirls would normally have me scanning the bookshelves for something else, but because this book was lent to me by a friend, I gave it a go and I’m glad I did.

I don’t know what it is about Chick Lit covers and the need for them to be pink and fluffy. It turns out that I do enjoy the genre when in fact I’ve found myself closing other chick lit novels after the first five pages in other instances. I think publishers should really design two covers for these types of book or at least come up with some sort of alternative branding so that they attract more readers.

When I see pink swirly covers, I’m thinking that the story will be too sugary and the writing over the top and thus I won’t enjoy it. BUT like they say, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, of course you can and sometimes the cover is a very accurate representation of the contents. In this case, the publisher could have used an image of a cafe or a small round table with a woman drinking coffee with a cupcake beside on a plate. It might just be me, but a real image of someone or something goes a lot farther for me than the swirling designs and splashes of pastel colours.

Anyways, moving on to the actual story. Issy Randall can bake, having grown up in her Grandpa’s bakery, she has gained his recipes and the talent of making delicious sweets. When she is laid off at work (made redundant), she decides to seize the moment and open up her own cafe, even though her friends point out that she’s not the most business-minded person. So the question is, will the Cupcake Cafe and Issy make it to success?

What first struck me while reading the beginning, was all the popular culture references. They were all so modern that it after about the 4th reference, I checked the publishing date and what do you know, 2011. It was very interesting to read a book that was “hot of the press” because the last 10 books I’ve read were all published at least a few years ago. The popular culture references gives you a whole new level of connection to the story and the main character, Issy.

In this book, there is quite a lot of narration and backstory. One of the major “no-no’s” all new writers are told to avoid. BUT it works in this book. Its necessary and interesting. So it just goes to show, if you can break the rules and make it great, then go for it.

There is also not too much dialogue, which you would think makes for slow reading, but on the contrary, it goes quite quickly. It feels more like you’re reading the main character’s account as she is looking back on it. I liked how the book gave me the feeling of reading a story. I think a lot of novels these days try to make you “forget” you’re reading a story, but its also quite enjoyable to read a story sometimes rather than following action after action and the back and forth of all the dialogue.

Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe is a smooth ride. If you like the boy meets girl kind of story, then you will enjoy this one. I will definitely be checking out Jenny Colgan’s other 10 books.

Do you like to read Chick Lit? Are you drawn in or turned off by the covers? Have you ever discovered an author you like through a friend’s recommendation?

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About Nicole Basaraba

Nicole Basaraba is a Canadian writer focusing on topics of travel (Mondays), writing and literature (Wednesdays), lifestyle (Fridays) and her experiences living in the capital city of Europe: Brussels, Belgium.
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12 Responses to Book Review: Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

  1. showard76 says:

    I too am usually turned off chick-lit by the covers, flowers, swirls, pink, high-heels and handbags and all the other niff-naff makes me go ‘urrghhh’ and if I ever do read one which isn’t so girly on the cover I still tend to find I can’t get into it. I really am one to judge a book by it’s cover, and generally this works for me so I’m going to stick with it – this story doesn’t sound like one I cold get into!

  2. I have discovered tons of writers through friend reccomendations, and I have a huge to be read list full of more LOL! I agree with you about the covers, yuck!

  3. This book already looks too girlish.

  4. Rose says:

    Ok, because of your review and the image with the lady at the cafe you proposed sounds much more interesting than the pinkish swirlish one [I totally agree with you on this, lame lame book covers! we shall have a revolution!] I think I’ll try to find it and read it.

    • Consensus says that the publishing house should hire me on their creative team. 🙂 Thus I can start the book cover revolution in women’s fiction/chick lit. It is a fun story. I enjoyed it regardless of the cover.

  5. I agree, it’s a shame chick lit seems to go for insane covers. If I saw that book on a shelf, I likely wouldn’t pick it up and I like chick lit and women’s fiction but I do like a wee bit of depth and it sounds like the Cupcake Cafe would be up my alley. I love reading a variety and sometimes a smooth, feel good, easy read is absolutely in order!
    And I absolutely read based on friends’ recommendations!

  6. Em says:

    I am possibly the exception to the rule…I kind of like the covers!!! I have tried to put my finger on why but I can’t…maybe it is simply because I like pink?! Will try and work out why I like them. That said I like lots of different types of covers and I am possibly more likely to judge a book but it’s title than the cover!

    I have read this and really enjoyed it. Made me want to own a cute cupcake cafe though! I totally agree with your review and I should check out more of her books too!

    • Yes, there is a fun element to the covers. They immediately give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you look at them. I agree that a title usually helps in determining what a book is about and if I’ll like it.

      I also wanted to open up my own cafe after reading this one.

  7. chocbutton says:

    I enjoyed this book and I was gripped with Issy’s story as she opened up the cupcake store. I like the way in which Colgan shows all the perspectives of a situation, such as when Graeme is planning to buy the Pear Tree Estates for development, he sees it as doing it for the good of their relationship, Issy sees it as awful, and Austin sees it as a betrayal by Issy. It gave it a greater depth to the story. I also like the cake recipes, I felt very hungry whilst reading the book!

    http://chocolatedigestivebiscuit.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/meet-me-at-cupcake-cafe-by-jenny-colgan/

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