Apparently I am unconsciously attracted to books with recipes in them, because yet another random choice of mine has led me to a book with an Italian cooking theme. The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate is a newbie, and one of a long list of goodies by this author. I can always count on this writer to deliver a cute story with a decent plot, usually set in New England.
This novel was set on Blue Crab Island in Maine. The protagonist is 30-year-old Holly Maguire who inherits her grandmother’s house and business, Camilla’s Cucinotta, when she suddenly passes away. Camilla is not only famous on the island for her home-made pasta, sauces, and cooking classes, but she was also a revered fortune-teller who could tell women who their love interests would be. Holly finds herself over her head when she begins to take over her grandmother’s responsibilities, but decides to keep her memory alive by continuing the cooking classes despite her less than perfect abilities in the kitchen. Armed with her grandmother’s recipes, Holly begins teaching her class of four students: a recently divorced father who wants to impress his daughter by making her favorite dish, a single woman who was signed up for the class to meet men by her overbearing mother, Holly’s old childhood friend who is mending a broken heart, and 12 year-old Mia, Holly’s apprentice whose main goal is to rid her father of a terrible girlfriend. It’s an unlikely group but within the main story line weaves their own tales of wishes, dreams, and happy and sad memories which are all important ingredients in all of Camilla’s recipes.
This was truly a heart-warming story set with a lovely back-drop of coastal Maine. It wasn’t my all time favorite of this author, but definitely worth the read, as I am a long-standing fan. Disclaimer: Don’t read this book if you’re hungry because the detailed descriptions of yummy Italian food will have your mouth watering!
I’ve been meaning to read one of Stacey Ballis’s books for a while now because her BFF, author Jen Lancaster, often raves about her. I thought now would be the time since her latest, Good Enough to Eat just came out. Her other novels didn’t really peak my interest but the high rating of this book on the best website ever (Amazon) led me to order it from the library. When it came in, I dropped the other two books I’m currently in the middle of to give it a try. Quite frankly, how could I not with it being October and having a cover like this? —————————————————->
The main character, Melanie, is shocked when after losing 145 pounds her husband leaves her for a woman her old size. Heartbroken, she throws her energy into the healthy-food café she founded, along with her quirky staff. Soon after, she’s blindsided by a financial crisis due to her condo association. This leads Melanie to reach out to an eccentric 24 year old woman with a murky past and invite her into her home as a roommate. This creates an interesting dynamic due to the age difference, but the two women grow to become good friends. Woven into the plot are complications due to a new documentary film maker love interest and changes in the lives of her employees.
What a super easy read! It was exactly what I was looking for due to my other book choices as of late. No it wasn’t genius material but it was chick lit-y without being too predictable and the characters were multi-dimensional which can lack in this genre. I almost wouldn’t categorize this as chick lit, but it comes close. Upon finishing the novel, I checked out Stacey’s blog and realized why her and Jen Lancaster are such good friends. They are both freakishly hilarious! Yay Stacey Ballis, you’re a new author to my catalog and a bookmark on my blog folder. (Yes, I have a blog folder.)
Why do all my favorite chick lit authors stop writing chick lit and move on to young adult novels for girls, never to been heard from again? Let’s name a few, Sarah Mlynowski, Meg Cabot, Jennifer Sturman… UGH! How frustrating. I truly do not understand this. Do they get tired of the chick lit plot lines? Do they feel the young adult genre is a better market? Is it easier to write on a creative level when your audience are teens facing a plethora of life issues that are just way more interesting? Whatever the reason, I don’t like it. It’s disappointing as a reader and a fan. I feel like these writers give up on adult audiences.
Yeah, I am taking it personally. So what!
Whenever I start to write a book review I like to do some research about the book before hand, some might think I would go through this process before reading a book, however I am somewhat backwards, don’t judge. So you can imagine my delight and surprise when I learned It All Began in Monte Carlo by Elizabeth Adler is part of a series! The series follows Private Investigator Mac Reilly and girlfriend Sunny Alvarez what seems to be all over the world with other titles including There’s Something about St. Tropez, One of those Malibu Nights, and the next book titled The Barcelona Affair.
As a mystery/suspense and chic lit lover, I am basically getting the best of both worlds in It All Began in Monte Carlo. I haven’t read the previous books so I can’t go into detail of the relationship of Mac and Sunny, but from what we’re told in this book, Mac repeatedly postpones his wedding to Sunny, and she has had it. So days before Christmas she boards a plane to Paris with her little dog and tow, with no real plan. On the plane she meets a handsome man, Eddie Johanssen, soon to be known as Prince Charming, who suggests she goes to Monte Carlo to spend her Christmas.
Eddie books her a hotel and she starts to settle in at the hotel and is immediately befriended by Kitty Ratte, a prostitute who has seen many years and doesn’t have the same appeal she once had. Days after her arrival, Mac shows up to get her, however as always, is thrown into an investigation of bank robberies in the area. The book introduces you to many other characters, some of which are more complex than they seem on the surface. The complexity of them leaves to many twists and turns throughout and takes the characters all over the world. It’s a very quick read that kept me wanting to turn the page and wanting to read the other books in this series.
Chick lit can be very touch and go. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s predictable, following a traditional format we’ve read over and over. Other times it’s great and also predictable but the characters are so interesting we enjoy the ride anyway.
Kim Gruenenfelder’s A Total Waste of Makeup was the best chick lit I’ve read in a while. This book is laugh out loud funny, and the author has the best elements of classic chick lit wrapped up in a bow. Charlize “Charlie” Edwards is the personal assistant to handsome, successful, and a little bit nutty movie star, Drew Stanton. She lives in Los Angeles in a very nice home and has glamorous friends to go out on the town with. Daughter of parents in the entertainment business, Charlie’s family is more than a little whacky. Finding herself Maid of Honor for her younger sister’s wedding, Charlie is faced with the fact that she is chronically single.
To keep herself entertained and focused, she writes pieces of advice in a journal she is creating for her hypothetical great grandniece. These words of wisdom are highly comedic as well as genuine and truthful. They are scattered throughout each chapter in the text and are probably the best aspect of the book. As Charlie navigates her way through the dramas caused by her boss, parents, sister and her own personal life the reader is laughing the whole time. I found myself thinking that it would be a great made for television movie. Maybe Lifetime will pick it up?
Props to me, I discovered that a sequel was written a few years later entitled Misery Loves Cabernet, which I have ordered from the library. This is a great find because as the story ends, it isn’t completely resolved. It will be great to find out what happens next, and I am pretty sure the sequel is better then most. This light read was warmly welcomed and a great book to read by the water, dreaming about California.
In This One is Mine by Maria Semple, Violet Perry has it all. The music executive husband, the gorgeous house, the healthy baby, everything she could imagine, except for her happiness. One day while running errands, she meets former drug addict, alcoholic, and musician, Teddy Reyes. Reyes makes Violet the way she hasn’t felt in years and finds herself thinking of him the time. Violet dares to dream of where their relationship could go and thinks of how life could be if they live together. Mean while, Violet’s sister-in-law Sally, is discovering a new love in her life. She believes she has found the perfect man and marries him, until she realizes one secret about him and she immediately wants the marriage to be over. But is either woman making the right decisions? Could they be happy if they follow through with what their heart says?
This book is interesting to me because I felt like both women put themselves in situations that created their own unhappiness. It wasn’t their husbands that made them unsatisfied with life, it was their own actions. I found myself annoyed with both characters throughout, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this book. Its chic lit but with a twist. If you are looking for something different I suggest you pick this one up.
Next Book: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
This is a second posting about Jen Lancaster’s new book, I apologize for the repeat book however Kelly and I are both big fans. I didn’t read Kel’s review on purpose because I wanted an unbiased opinion before I read the book. I won’t go through the synopsis of the book because you already know what it’s about. So here is my opinion.
This was not Jen’s best book but it wasn’t her worst either. Did I laugh out loud? Definitely. Was it written in her usual witty humor yes, but the stories she tells just aren’t what we know them to be. I want her books to be as hysterical as Bitter is the new Black but they aren’t. And I’m starting to wonder, is it because she isn’t as bitter as she used to be??? Maybe its time for a change of pace for Ms. Lancaster. She states in her new book that she is now contracted to write 2 books a year. I’m hoping we get to see something other than ‘memoirs’ from her and more fiction stories, and more laughter.