Friday, December 14, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Christmas on the Island" by Jenny Colgan, Served with Shortbread Dipped in White Chocolate & Candy Cane Sprinkles

Happy Aloha Friday! We are on the downward slope to Christmas and it's the perfect time for a cozy holiday story and a visit to the Island of Mure in Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan. Accompanying my review of the third book in this charming series is an easy tea-time or cookie tray treat, Scottish shortbread, dipped in white chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of crushed candy canes. 


Publisher's Blurb:

On the remote Scottish island of Mure, the Christmas season is stark, windy, and icy—yet incredibly festive and beautiful…

It’s a time for getting cozy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram and a treacle pudding with the people you love—unless, of course, you’ve accidentally gotten pregnant by your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In the season for peace and good cheer, will Flora find the nerve to reveal the truth to her nearest and dearest? Will her erstwhile co-parent Joel think she’s the bearer of glad tidings—or is this Christmas going to be as bleak as the Highlands in midwinter?

Meanwhile Saif, a doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons on this remote island where he’s been granted asylum. His wife, however, is still missing, and her absence hangs over what should be a joyful celebration. Can the family possibly find comfort and joy without her?

Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for a Highland Christmas you’ll never forget!

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 16, 2018)


My Review:

Jenny Colgan books are good for when the world overwhelms and you need a sweet and engaging escape. As this is the third book set on the Scottish island and quirky community of Mure, it is like visiting and catching up with old friends. (That's also why you really should read the first two books before this one--so you can come into Christmas on the Island knowing and appreciating all of the characters and storylines.) In this book, winter and the holidays are ramping up which is keeping Flora and her team at the Seaside Kitchen very busy. Flora finds out she's pregnant (not a spoiler, it's in the publisher's blurb) and is nervous about Joel's reaction with good reason of course as Joel is still recovering from his challenges in the last book while traveling for Colton, and his and Flora's relationship still tenuous. The supporting cast is back with continuations of their stories (I won't go into those as I don't want to give away anything) and although this one does wrap up without any real cliffhanger, it feels open enough to come back for more stories about the community (perhaps a Saif-centered plot line?) which I like.  

Jenny Colgan creates enjoyable, often quirky characters that you can't help but root for and fills her books with both humor and poignant moments. She also fills them with food and includes a few recipes at the end. If you are looking for something not too heavy and a holiday read that will tug at your heartstrings, this is a great book to snuggle up to with a cup of tea and a piece of shortbread or two.

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Author Notes: Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, 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, Instagram, and Twitter.


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Food Inspiration: 

Jenny Colgan books usually have plenty of food and with the baked goods and foods that flora creates in the bakery, Fintan's cheeses and food-filled town events in Mure, Christmas on the Island is no exception. Food mentions include cakes, pies, pastries and slices of fruitcake, roast chicken, fish, toast with butter, mincemeat tarts, cheese scones, sandwiches, turnips, sausage rolls, a Cumbrae pinwheel (stuffed pork loin)  and bacon roll with a cranberry jelly, tea, Shepherd pie, gin & tonic, hot soup and a toasted sandwich, mince pies, hot dogs, spice cookies, pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, dusted cinnamon rolls, millionaire shortbread, fish and chips ("haddock and chips with extra crispy bits and plenty of vinegar and a large bottle of Irn Bru"), haggis, a saveloy (type of sausage), mulled wine, orange juice, a plain biscuit, vol-au-vents (puff pastry), porridge, Heinz tomato soup, vegetarian stuffing, chipolatas (sausages), shortbread Drambuie, turkey, red cabbage, bread sauce, venison, fresh vegetable soup, French toast, and shortbread.


I'll be honest here, I was going to make fish cakes or pancakes for my book-inspired dish so I could also work it into I Heart Cooking Clubs monthly dish/ingredient challenge but I taught several leadership classes this week and was tired and behind on everything. The recipes for Lanark Blue Scones and Shortbread in the back of the book caught my eye but I just couldn't bring myself to try to bake. I decided to cheat and buy some Walkers shortbread instead and jazz it up for the holidays with white chocolate and crushed candy canes. 


There isn't much of a recipe here. I just line a small pan with parchment paper, crush 3-4 small candy canes, heat the about 1 cup of good white chocolate chips carefully in the microwave, stirring until melted. I then brush any excess crumbs off of the shortbread pieces, dunk one end in the melted white chocolate and sprinkle the tops with the crushed candy canes. When finished, set the pan in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to harden and enjoy.



Notes/Results: Yes, I am a bit guilty about not actually cooking something to go with the book, but these little cookie treats are so tasty and fun and take such minimum effort that I was over that guilt pretty quickly. The shortbread is so buttery, but the cool flavor of the candy cane sprinkles keep it from being too rich or sweet. They took just minutes to make and set up quickly--ready to enjoy with a cup of tea (it's Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride by Celestial Seasonings in the pictures). I think they would be a fun gift or look cute tucked into a cookie platter. I will happily make them again.


I'm sharing this post with 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.


Christmas on the Island is my twelfth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the December 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.    


Note: A review copy of "Christmas on the Island" was provided to me by the author and the publisher Harper Collins via TLC Book Tours. 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 TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.
 

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for featuring Christmas on the Island. I now want to read all of Jenny's books, and will take your advice and read the others first. I don't know much about the island of Mure -- it sounds charming. Your dipped shortbread has given me a good idea for quick Christmas cookie tray treats -- I have lots of Walkers on hand that I could easily dip in dark, milk, or white chocolate. Thanks and Happy Holidays. :)

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  2. I love this easy way to dress up store-bought shortbread. Sometimes that's all that's needed to brighten up a day. And the book sounds like a great way to de-stress--something we all need to do every once in a while.

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  3. Chocolate with crunchy peppermint is my favorite flavor of the season! I really should make my own (or even dip my own like you did) == but I tend to go for Trader Joe's peppermint Joe-Joes.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  4. I'm reading a Regency romance at the moment for the sweet & fluffy - will ut this one on my list. Merry Christmas Cheers from carole's chatter

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  5. I keep hearing about this book and I want to read it too. Love the shortbread and peppermint, I will steal that idea!

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  6. Sounds like a series I might enjoy.

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  7. A sweet treat for light, fluffy and sweet reading! I enjoy Jenny Colgan's books myself, and will start with the first in this series.

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