Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of 'Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery' by Jenny Colgan, Served with a Recipe for Elderflower and Ginger Beer Lemonade

At least Tuesday isn't Monday, but it still isn't Saturday... I need Saturday! We have had either humid, hazy skies or pouring-down rain today, so I think it's a great day for a TLC Book Tour stop and an easy-breezy summery book review of the foodie novel, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan. I am accompanying my review with a recipe for a zingy Elderflower and Ginger Beer Lemonade that will make you think of a warm summer's day and that was inspired by my reading.   

Publisher's Blurb: 

For fans of Elin Hilderbrand, Jojo Moyes, and Jane Green, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is an irresistible novel—moving and funny, soulful and sweet—about happiness, heartache, and hope. And recipes.

A thriving bakery. A lighthouse to call home. A handsome beekeeper. A pet puffin. These are the things that Polly Waterford can call her own. This is the beautiful life she leads on a tiny island off the southern coast of England.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon. A stranger threatens to ruin Polly’s business. Her beloved boyfriend seems to be leading a secret life. And the arrival of a newcomer—a bereft widow desperately searching for a fresh start—forces Polly to reconsider the choices she’s made, even as she tries to help her new friend through grief.

Unpredictable and unforgettable, this delightful novel will make you laugh, cry, and long for a lighthouse of your own.

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 22, 2016)

My Review: 

The Little Beach Street Bakery, Polly, Huckle, Neil the Puffin (I just want to hold him!), and the quirky citizens of Mount Polbearne, on the Cornish coast can cheer up the gloomiest of moods. Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is the followup to Little Beach Street Bakery (see my review of it here) and if you know me and my feelings on series, you know that I am going to insist that you read the first book before starting this one. You won't be completely lost if you don't, as the author provides a brief recap in the foreword, but you won't have the pleasure of being introduced to Polly before she gets to the island or see her relationships with bee-keeper Huckle and puffin Neil build--and trust me, you want that--especially if you are a foodie fiction lover.

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery takes up shortly after the first book ends with Polly seemingly fairly settled into living with Huckle in the lighthouse and running both bakeries since Mrs. Manse has left to live with her sister on the mainland. Of course life is never that easy and when Mrs. Manse dies suddenly, Polly's livelihood and life on the island are at risk. Huckle goes back to Georgia to make some money and that strong relationship is starting to look shaky, and there is pressure for her to let Neil go and take him back to the puffin sanctuary to live in the wild. I'd like to say that Polly handles this all with calm and decorum but she seems to have lost some of the strength and backbone that she had built up in the last book. I want to alternately hug her and shake her--especially when she gets bullied quite a bit by Mrs. Manse's nephew and backs down, usually crying at each confrontation. Even though she is a gentle soul and usually too soft for her own good, I have to think she could have pushed back more, and sooner to solve that particular issue. But, even non-confrontational Polly is still easy to like and root for and she makes some strides, so all is forgiven.

This is a great and fun summer book, even if you don't have an island, lighthouse, and a puffin to call your own. It's light reading that made me smile, sigh, tear up, get hungry, and just escape a heavy work week. It will also make you long for things like freshly-baked bread, eclairs, cream puffs, cheese curls, and toast spread with honey. I thought that there were going to be recipes included as in the first book, but there were none--maybe it was because I have an ARC and not the final book? I hope so. Still, even without recipes, this book is a treat to read.


Author Notes: Jenny Colgan is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including Little Beach Street Bakery, Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop, and Christmas at the Cupcake Café, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland. Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

Now before you get all on me about not baking something for a book about a bakery, I am not a baker, it's a crazy week, and I am avoiding wheat, dairy and added processed sugar at the moment--so baking was just not going to happen. I didn't bake for the first book either, making the author's delicious Sweetcorn Fritters (a favorite of her husband)

Non-baked food inspiration in this book included pink champagne and lobster ceviche, pavlova, wine, fish and chips, sandwiches and toast with honey, head mead, rabbit pie, grits and bacon, proper fried chicken, hemp smoothies and egg-white omelettes, to name just a few.

Being a sucker for unique drinks, my attention was caught by a drink in a cafe that Polly meets her friend Ruben in and "where all the men had beards and wore lumberjack shirts and the drinks were served in jam jars. Polly found this very peculiar." The drink (Polly had two) was referred to as a "shamefully expensive elderflower and ginger beer drink." Since I have a half-bottle of pricey St. Germain Elderflower liqueur sitting in my bar cabinet, it seemed like a perfect choice.

I wasn't quite sure what a "shamefully expensive elderflower and ginger beer drink" might look like (besides being served in a jam jar at this particular cafe), but I took a guess and this is what I came up with. The ginger beer has no alcohol and the elderflower cocktail I have is 20% alcohol, so I am going to call this a "gentle cocktail"--perfect for some afternoon day-drinking. ;-) You could also slide some vodka or may gin into the mix if you want something a bit more dangerous. I had a couple of lemons and a lime that needed to be used, so I juiced them and added it to the drink--to give it a lemonade vibe--and tossed in some sliced sweet strawberries and mint for a pop of color. I think it says summer in every sip.

Elderflower and Ginger Beer Lemonade
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 8 oz-ish Cocktails)

juice from 2 large lemons and 1 lime (I got a bit over 1/4 cup or 4.5 oz total)
4 oz elderflower cordial (In my case St. Germain's
8-12 oz ginger beer, depending on the size of your glass and ginger preference
2-3 strawberries or other fresh fruit of choice, sliced
fresh mint to garnish
Lots of ice

Mix the lemon-lime juice, and elderflower cordial together in a pitcher or drink shaker. Divide between 2 glasses and add strawberries and ice. Top with ginger beer to the rim. Garnish with mint and serve. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Mmm... I think I may have a new favorite brunch cocktail. This is such a great blend of tart, sweet/floral, and slightly spicy (there is a pleasant heat on the back of the throat from the ginger). Light and refreshing, it's a perfect warm weather beverage. The sweet slices of strawberry just add to the pleasure of this drink. I am a big fan of ginger lemonade and this cocktail takes it up a notch, perhaps earning its "shamefully expensive" label from Polly in the book. I will definitely be making this again.

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery is my sixth entry for the Foodies Read 2016 event. You can check out the April Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what foodie books that everyone is reading this month.  

I will also be linking up this review and recipe to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.



  1. What a FUN cocktail! I made homemade elderflower liqueur this year for the first time and I will have to give this a try! Mahalo, Deb.

    1. So cool that you made your own elderflower liqueur Camilla! Definitely try this--especially if you like ginger/ginger beer. ;-)

  2. That's a great idea for a cocktail. I'm amazingly impressed that you just happened to have elderflower liqueur. I've never even heard of it.

    1. You mean not everyone has a big bottle of elderflower liqueur sitting around Heather?! ;-) Hah! I actually sourced it several years ago for a recipe and had to buy a great big bottle at a gourmet liquor store. Luckily it seems to last well in the bar cabinet but I am always looking for good ways to use it up.

  3. I have never even heard of elderflower Liqueur. Keeping my eyes peeled so I can try this gorgeous cocktail.

    1. It's actually a great liqueur to have on hand Wendy for drinks or even baked goods like a clafoutis. It has a fruity, floral flavor. The brand I bought St. St-Germain(the only one I could find here several years ago) is pretty spendy but over the last couple of years I have seen it popping up more and more reasonable prices. Hope you can find some!

  4. My local aquarium has a puffin exhibit and I always enjoy spending time watching them. I can certainly see the appeal of having one!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  5. Your drinks look fantastic. I'd love to give them a try.

  6. This sounds so refreshing. Now if only it would stop snowing, I might give it a try :)

  7. I will definitely check out this series, it sounds fun. And love your elderflower cocktail, delicious, now to find that cordial over here.

  8. I haven't heard of elderflower Liqueur either--nor do I think I've had ginger beer! I do like ginger ale so I'm just going to assume that I'd love this. Ha! Sounds like a very refreshing treat. And how fun of you to whip this concoction up after being inspired by the book!

  9. I just got the Little Beach Street Bakery so I'm very pleased to hear how much you enjoyed the sequel. Another book to look forward too! The cocktail sounds absolutely fabulous. I love the mix of sweet with sharp and it's pretty too!

  10. I have never heard of elderflower liqueur, but I think it might be worth purchasing just to try this "gentle" cocktail :)

  11. Love, love, love the beverage inspiration, Deb.

  12. Just love ginger - in drinks, dishes, tea wherever Cheers from Carole's Chatter!


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