Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Piece de Resistance by Sandra Byrd

Well, we've come to the end of my reviews on the French Twist series by Sandra Byrd. I've finished Piece de Resistance, the third and last book, and here is my review of it:

Lexi is back in Seattle after spending the last 6 months in Paris at a prestigious French baking school. She's got her chef's diploma in hand, and a job at a brand new French-style bakery all lined up. Lexi Stuart, assistant manager at Bijoux bakery--uh, wait, assistant manager? That's not quite what Lexi had in mind...

After a miscommunication of sorts, Lexi finds herself not only the head-chef, but also the assistant manager at the brand new Bijoux (translation from French: Jewel) bakery. Now she's suddenly in the position of having to manage the books, drum up business for the struggling bakery, and also manage employees; all of which are tasks that take Lexi far out of her comfort zone. All she ever wanted to do was bake tasty and elegantly decorated French goodies, but that's only a slice of what she finds herself doing.

I enjoyed watching Lexi basically start-up the new bakery, the ups and downs of having to drum up business, find potential clients, and the worries of not turning a profit. The whole bakery atmosphere is really different and fun. Throughout the book Lexi has two romantic interests, but towards the middle and end of the book things on this topic started to not sit quite right with me. For some reason I couldn't really see her with either guy, but in the end I felt like she ended up with the guy I could least imagine her with. I just didn't really see the attraction, although Lexi was obviously happy with how things ended up, so I tried to just go with it... somehow it just seemed a bit off to me, but thankfully it didn't dampen the story *too much*.

Piece de Resistance is the third and last book in the French Twist series. Lexi has come quite a long way from where she was in the first book, and it was certainly an interesting journey to watch where life took her and to see her grow throughout the series. I don't really share her love of all things French, although that never really mattered...her love of French things makes her a unique character, and it definitely allows the storyline to go places the average chick-lit novel does not (Paris!).

If you're looking for a fun and light chick-lit series, I would say the French Twist trilogy is one worth looking into. I enjoyed it for the most part, and the French and Paris themes definitely add a unique flavor.

My rating: 4 stars

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd

My reviews on Sandra Byrd's "French Twist" trilogy continue! Here's my take on Bon Appetit, the second book in the French Twist series.

Lexi Stuart has just arrived in France to take advantage of an incredible opportunity to live and study baking in the country of her dreams. She's enrolled in a 4 month program at a French baking school, completely paid for by her employer. In addition she'll also be working at two of the local village bakeries to earn her keep and to further her knowledge of all things French, food, and baking related.

Left behind in Seattle are Lexi's family, friends, and possible boyfriend Dan...although it was too early to tell, Lexi still wonders what might have been. But to actually be living in France, learning and baking scrumptious breads, cakes, and's a dream come true that she wouldn't trade for anything! After a couple weeks the realization sets in of just how alone she is, truly without friends in a foreign land. In a country of extremely private people where it's taboo to talk of faith and beliefs, Lexi once again starts to nourish her budding relationship with God that she had slowing been building back in Seattle.  

I was pleasantly surprised to find this story quite a bit more enjoyable than the first book in the series. Lexi has "grown up" some since the first book, and she is more likeable because of it. The setting of France is very unique, and the French customs and culture make the story quite different (in a good way!) from the average chick-lit novel. 

Going to a foreign country to study baking (or anything, really) is something I cannot even begin to picture myself doing. I especially can't imagine doing so completely on my own, leaving everyone I know behind....Yet that's exactly what Lexi did. The fact that I can't ever see myself doing something like this actually added to my enjoyment and appreciation of the story. I doubt I'll ever do something so drastic, but thanks to Lexi (or should I say, thanks to the author!) I got a taste of what it would be like, without ever having to leave my home-state! 

I really enjoyed reading about something so totally different from my everyday life, yet it wasn't historical or fantasy... the setting of France makes it realistic--just very far removed from my own reality. I really enjoyed it. Bon Appetit was a unique and enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to seeing what turns Lexi's life takes in the third book, Piece de Resistance.

My rating: 4.5 stars 

If you have a kindle you can download the first chapter of Bon Appetit for free at Amazon.
Please rank my review! You'll be entered to win a free copy of this book (courtesy of Waterbrook/Multunomah and their Blogging For Books program)!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd

Here's my review for Let Them Eat Cake, the first book in Sandra Byrd's "French Twist" series.

Lexi's life is stalled...everyone around her seems to be moving forward, while Lexi is actually backpedaling. Her college degree in French language and culture doesn't offer many job opportunities, and the jobs she has had (notice the past tense) are dull and boring, not to mention the fact that she's been let go from most of them. So at 24, she's trying to get back on her feet and has moved back in with her parents, but obviously that can't last forever: they're moving to a 55+ community in less than 6 months, so that's the amount of time Lexi has to (1. find a job, and (2. find an affordable place to live. Oh, and if she happens to find a guy somewhere in there, well that wouldn't be unwelcome either!

Lexi's love of all things French makes for a light and fun read, and while it does touch on some tough issues, it's done well and very appropriately. Although I don't share Lexi's fascination with the French culture, I did enjoy the story and following her through the book. Her experiences at the bakery were interesting, and I enjoyed seeing the friendship develop with her piercing-filled co-worker, Sophie. Lexi's yearning and attempts to get back in a relationship with God are very authentic, and I found it thought provoking when she realized that if she wanted a relationship with God she needed to actually pursue it, as at her age no one is "driving her to church" anymore.

Lexi ends up having two romantic interests, and I was rather surprised and at the same time pleased with how things ended up. At first it seemed fairly predictable and I thought for sure she was going to go one way, but I just wasn't content with it, I kept thinking, "No, no, no!". But there was an unexpected twist that I definitely didn't see coming, and it caused things to completely turn around, much to my satisfaction! I don't want to give any spoilers though, so that's all I'm going to say on that particular subject. ;)

I love when I find books that have characters in their early to mid twenties, as it seems they are few and far between. Most chick-lit books seem to be about girls in their late twenties, and to me it seems that characters who are a few years younger have a slightly different perspective on life that is a fun change. Of course maybe the reason I like them is that I'm right in that age range...whatever the case, when I started reading I was happy to find that Lexi is 24. :)

In closing, I enjoyed Let Them Eat Cake as a fun and light read. The ending leaves the story wide open for new and exciting things, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next two books in the series. 

My rating: 4 stars

If you have a kindle you can download the first chapter of Let Them Eat Cake for free at Amazon. I don't have an e-reader yet, but I'm definitely pondering getting one! 
Please rank my review! You'll be entered to win a free copy of this book (courtesy of Waterbrook/Multunomah and their Blogging For Books program)!