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HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE: A Foodie Fiction Novel ~Stacy Ballis

October 23rd, 2017

I want to start by saying I loved reading HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE every single page!  Perfect timing, fabulously written and not the least bit insulting, as the emotions were real and appropriate and they were not acted out in petty, small or mean actions.  This is how folks can best make change and it is also very fun – very fun.

The food is amazing and I can also state that I did not gain weight while reading even though there are some of the top recipes at the end of the book and a reading group guide!   I did make the quick Lemon Chicken pasta dish for two that was made for one of the characters for a lonely Friday night and even without a recipe spelled out, it was yummy.

Stacey Ballis is the author of ten foodie novels: INAPPROPRIATE MEN, SLEEPING OVER, ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, THE SPINSTER SISTERS, GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT, OFF THE MENU, OUT TO LUNCH, RECIPE FOR DISASTER, WEDDING GIRL, and HOW TO CHANGE A LIFE.  She is a contributing author to three nonfiction anthologies: GIRLS WHO LIKE BOYS WHO LIKE BOYS, EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME, and LIVING JEWISHLY.

Author page at Amazon

Three 39 year old friends meet at their favorite teacher’s memorial service and renew their friendship.  They found each other when their birthdays were all the same week in May and those dates were used as a sorting tool for group work in high school. They have not kept in touch as well as they would have liked and now are working on revitalizing their friendship.  They all share their thoughts and one suggests that they pick out something they wish to change and accomplish before their 40th birthday celebration.  Theresa is an Italian Mother who wishes to broaden her horizons and work on finding a part time job, Lynne is a successful entrepreneur who wants to purchase a house and land a 7-figure contract, and Eloise a chef, would like to start dating after a break up and enlarge her social connections.  Each one adds a dynamic to the other’s change list and they check in on progress regularly.   They add a bet that the loser must pay $5,000 to their former teacher’s foundation funds.  The tension mounts as they work on their lists and expand their horizons.

Theresa is the negotiator who keeps the friends connected; they all speak kindly to each other and recognize their emotions readily.  They are for the most part happy to have suggestions and to help discover other options or change their thinking on most problems.  This was so encouraging to read.  None of this current “mean girls” nastiness; the three women were mature and thoughtful and recognized how their differences enhanced their relationship.   Refreshing and yet made the read dynamic and optimistic. I was encouraged and I found lots of chuckles and clever moments to capture my attention. I am giving this book to at least 3 young women for holiday and birthday gifts this year. With a little help from our true friends we can certainly change and enjoy our life more.

Roxanne-Jones, Associate Publicist at Penguin Random House

“With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis’s writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious”  -Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of BY THE NUMBERS

RELATED READING
Fudge and Jury
Family Tree
Life From Scratch


WELCOME HOME DINER: A Foodie Novel ~Peggy Lampman

October 19th, 2017

Cousins Samantha and Addie are hoping that they have made a good bet on Detroit.  They are going into business together by purchasing an old diner and an old house in Detroit proper.  They are hoping that they can revitalize the neighborhood with good homegrown food and delightful delights from their Polish Grandmother’s wealth of yummy recipes.  Addie is handling the business end and Samantha is the cook extraordinaire.

Their garden plot, crusty neighbors and a church with a Gospel Choir surround their WELCOME HOME DINER.  The food is getting rave reviews from folks traveling in from the suburbs but they are not pulling in the locals.  Also someone is writing untrue reviews on YELP.   They hire local people to work and the diner is feeling very much like a family.  The products they purchase are locally made also and come with interesting characters to discover.

I loved the recipe for Potlikker Broth as that is a family recipe at our house as well, but we call it Potassium Broth (without Ham Hock) and it does cure what ails one, as the cousins will testify to as it helped to heal their conflict.  Home celebrated food with panache and I did not gain any weight.  Now that is win-win!

This is a fine story and just a cozy good read as these dynamic women work out success in their new environment and with each other.  New, old and modern problems are resolved and help readers to find new ideas that might just change their circumstances.  The writing is perfect for the type of story and I am sure this will make a successful gift during the holiday –winter season for the reader on your list.  Be sure to read before you wrap it!

Peggy Lampman was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After earning a bachelor’s degree in communications—summa cum laude—from the University of Michigan, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for a public-relations firm. When she returned to Ann Arbor, her college town, she opened a specialty foods store, the Back Alley Gourmet. Years later, she sold the store and started writing a weekly food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. Lampman’s first novel, The Promise Kitchen, published in 2016, garnered several awards and accolades. She is married and has two children. She also writes the popular blog www.dinnerfeed.com.

RELATED:
Family Tree
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tlc-logoTLC Book tours sent me a copy of this book for an honest review.


HANNA WHO FELL FROM THE SKY: A Novel with Magic ~Christopher Meades

October 16th, 2017

HANNA WHO FELL FROM THE SKY is a folk tale about a cultish community with a daughter who is different from all the others.  The community is polygamist centered on a very conservative “Creator” figure.  It is also a community that practices violence against females and denies the female members access to the “other” world.  Hanna is turning 18 and will become the fifth wife of a wealthy older man and she is given no freedom of choice and is bound to the leader’s decisions.

Hanna has always had a mind of her own, but does not wish to make trouble so she complies with the rules up to a point.  Recently she has met a young man who has been a stranger to her, and has now come forth to challenge her thinking and captured her heart.  Her mother shares with Hanna the story of her arrival in the community and there is a realization of some magic, which allows Hanna a new freedom and new choices.

“Beautiful and delicate…a powerful meditation on the gift and cruelty of faith, and the redemptive act of storytelling.  A gorgeous blend of dreamy folklore and gritty reality.”  -Erika Swyler, bestselling author of THE BOOK OF SPECULATION.

The cult and its strange rules and truths made me rather ill at ease to read about their function and actions.   I thought the group unusually cruel to women and girls and the story made me think about the ‘pure race’ cults of Germany and now the white supremacist of our own current events.  There was reference to Mormon culture, which is much more open but based on the hatred of women in the deep down books and heaven forbid if you are a lesbian today or even divorced and the Mormon the reaction is swift and often devastating.  For the Amish the teens are given a choice over their futures that are not the case found in this story.

The name-calling, meanness and the threat of rape was deeply embedded in this tale.  Not a lot of joy or dancing found here.  Violence looms and roams the woods.

I do recommend this book and I think high school students might find it a great read and good storytelling.   The heroine is very smart and figures out what needs to be done.  Not all young women have Hanna’s magic, but almost all have some kind of magic for survival.  Writing good.

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About the author:

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including THE LAST HICCUP, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead. He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

Related:
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THE SWEET LIFE: A Sweet Life Series Novel ~Sharon Struth

October 9th, 2017

THE SWEET LIFE is a very positive, sweet romance and I enjoyed the tour through Tuscany very much.  The characters were well developed and conveyed the main plot and sub-stories clearly; all in all it was a good escape and entertaining.

The plot is refreshing and will definitely keep the reader turning page after page. –Fresh Fiction

Mamie has been hiding out since she survived the terrible car accident that took her husband and daughter, leaving her with a limp and sorrow – survivor’s guilt.  Five years she has limped through her life and hidden out at home feeling the pain.  She knows her husband would have wanted her to embrace life and keep on living fully, but separating herself from her grief is not going to be easy.  She is persuaded to write a tour guide for a book company and the tour involves 2 weeks in Italy.

Sharon Struth writes a good story about love and loss.  She knows her characters and has a path she wants them to take.  – Eye on Romance

Julian is the tour leader and he is willing to take a risk or two along the way.  The tour is a group of people who celebrate their time at WOODSTOCK and do trips together to keep the momentum strong.  They are witty and fun and encourage Julian taking risks.  Julian has been running away from a tragic loss of his own and on top of it all he is being hounded by his former boss to return to his old job.  He spent a large part of his youth in this part of Italy and he shares his knowledge freely as he leads the tour on his own turf.

Struth has a gift for layering stories within stories while keeping them all connected.   –Library Journal

Early on as I began reviewing books I read Struth’s first novel, THE HOURGLASS, and also noted that her character development was fresh and intelligent.  I can only read so many romance stories in a row, and this was a good one to just sit back and enjoy fully.   Made me definitely want to go to Italy and see all the sights and taste the food.  I do not think I gained weight while enjoying this story.

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About Sharon Struth

Sharon Struth believes you’re never too old to pursue a dream. The Hourglass, her debut novel, is a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards for Best first Book, and her Blue Moon Lake Novels include the bestseller, Share the Moon.
When she’s not working, she and her husband happily sip their way through the scenic towns of the Connecticut Wine Trail, travel the world, and enjoy spending time with their precious pets and two grown daughters. She writes from the friendliest place she’s ever lived, Bethel, Connecticut. For more information, including where to find her published essays, please visit www.sharonstruth.com or visit her blog, Musings from the Middle Ages & More.

Courage Can Take You places…

Related:
The Hourglass
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