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THE RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE: Good Storytelling ~Elizabeth LaBan

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

“Compulsively readable and richly detailed, a guilt-free treat that will have you devouring every word.” (Cover) JENNIFER WEINER – #1 New York Times bestselling author.

As I started to read THE RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE I thought several times that I was reading a Jennifer Weiner story and truly enjoying this cozy read of an e-book.  When I got to the final scene and moved to acknowledgements I was pleased to discover that Elizabeth LaBan knows Weiner and that they had discussed this book in progress and ideas were shared.  Then I saw the front cover of the book and there was Weiner’s quote, which I agree wholehearted with its assessment.  A delicious read with no weight gain.

Lila is a regular kind of gal, who got pregnant and decided to get married to her fellow – a journalist who loves to cook and enjoy food.  They start out life together in New Orleans and Lila is a travelling staff member of a large hotel chain who does crisis intervention.  Sam, the journalist gets a new job as the food critic for the newspaper in Philadelphia and because Lila is expecting child #2 they decide she will not work as they transition into a new community, job, and arrival of a new baby.  Lila loves her children but is feeling troubled being out of the workforce and by needing to stay invisible to keep her spouse’s identify a secret from restaurants he will be reviewing.  This is very hard because Lila’s friend from school lives nearby and has small children and her husband owns a new restaurant in town.  The neighbors cannot be befriended if they own a restaurant either.  Lila endures loneliness and restlessness until she starts doing some “on the phone” crisis intervention work for her old work situation.  The local gossip columnist gets ahold of her picture and reports on her activities and now the tension begins with full force as the couple works on their relationship, happiness seems elusive and Lila keeps being exposed and Sam’s work is jeopardized.   What is a young mother to do?  How does she find her place in a new city and with a new baby and nurture her children?

The food reviews are a fabulous part of the storytelling and oh my the descriptions of the restaurants and the food they are eating – well yummy, enticing and so funny without all the calories.  It was simply a wonderful read and I curled up with a cuppa and enjoyed page after page.  I was happy she found a babysitter who could help her and she found a true friend along the way.   Cozy enjoyable read.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book and they have a whole list of folks reviewing this book and sharing it with readers.  No spit up on my shoulder any more, been there – done that, and still a good read and remembering making those career choices; I did not have that much humor in those days!

“Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children.  She is also the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages.”  (Cover)

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FIVE NIGHT STAND: A Novel ~Richard J. Alley

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

“Do we not owe it to those gone, to those still with us, to ourselves, to live to the fullest of our capabilities? To the extent of our passion?”  (location 86%)

I was excited to receive the un-proofed, uncorrected advanced copy of FIVE NIGHT STAND from TLC Book Tours for review.  It was a story about music and story about change and it seemed like a refreshing change of pace from the last few reads.  I was trying to get it read before I went to the hospital for a surgery, but I did not achieve that goal.   FIVE NIGHT STAND went with me and I read it between therapy and healing sleep in the rehabilitation center.  It was good company.

Oliver Pleasant is a renown jazz piano player.  He is in New York City and going to play 5 nights at a famous jazz club as his retirement.  At 85 he needs to leave NYC and move to Memphis to live with his youngest sister.  Alley takes us through Pleasant’s life and all his concert tours and years of playing, how he learned and who took him under their wing.  We are also invited into his married life and how his wife and children influenced his career.  The five nights of playing are packed full of the fans and stories of those who come to honor and hear the musician.

Agnes is a 20 something musician who has come to NYC for some medical tests and to hear the concerts of her  inspiration Oliver Pleasant.  She comes from New Orleans where she plays in the clubs and is originally from Memphis.  Her story is an interesting addition to the concerts and she ends up meeting Pleasant and playing his music for him, with her added touch and devotion.  The two have an interesting connection and this story line adds a creative dynamic to the story’s unfolding. FIVE NIGHT STAND is genuinely motivated by the passion.

Frank a third character from Memphis pulls the story into a relationship study.  He is a journalist recently unemployed who sees the Concert by Pleasant as an opportunity for writing a big story about the musician’s career and his trip home at the end of his public life.  Frank is struggling with his own life and his passions and his love for his wife and hoped for child to come.  The story connects the three and the passions into some fine resolutions and outcomes.

The writing made the story a fine part of my healing experience and a good read.  There were moments of music in the words and the telling of these character’s lives.

Richard J. Alley is an award-winning reporter, columnist, and editor from Memphis, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and four children.

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