The Secret Ingredient
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The Secret Ingredient

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  51 reviews
For fans of Sarah Dessen and Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why comes a journey of family, food, romance, and self-discovery as Olivia, a teen chef living in L.A., finds a vintage cookbook and begins a search for her birthmother that will change her life forever.

Olivia doesn’t believe in psychics. But the summer before her senior year of high school, she meets one in an elevator.
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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The Moon and More by Sarah DessenYou Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer CastleRebel Spirits by Lois RubyRush by Eve SilverAnother Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Ya Books June 2013
30th out of 66 books — 33 voters
Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne PetersWide Awake by David LevithanLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsFreak Camp by Jessica V. BarnettNaomi and Ely's No Kiss List by David Levithan
Books for Teens with LGBT Parents
33rd out of 119 books — 21 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,323)
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Anni
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heidi
Four stars: A simple summer read about family, love and changes.

Olivia drags down the alley behind Hank, a boisterous chocolate lab. In his quest to find a pizza box, Hank inadvertently drags Olivia to the back of a secondhand bookstore. Beside the backdoor is a cardboard box full of battered books and a sign that says $.25 each. Olivia finds a vintage cookbook from the sixties that she just can't resist. Olivia at sixteen is an aspiring chef. She cooks the weekly special at her father's restaur...more
Julie Bradford
Mar 20, 2013 Julie Bradford rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Teens interested in cooking
I fell in love with the blurb and really wanted to love the book as much. It was a good read, but left me unsatisfied somehow. Olivia is a likable enough gal, but some of the plot details were a bit hokey to me. A psychic shows up and makes predictions, but I would have liked them wrapped up a little more at the close of the book. The plotline about the boyfriend had me turning pages; the "plot twist" with him was a bummer. The explanation at the end was a little vague.
I found the part about th...more
Audrey

Dumb plot, stupid main character, cheesy. Very cheesy. And what was with her and the palm trees? She kept talking about how they were sturdy beacons. very bad book. Don't waste your time.
Farah Jay
Olivia, a 16 year old teenage girl's world is about to change. Those are such cheesy lines, but this book wasn't that cheesy. The Secret Ingredient is a short and fast contemporary read. Olivia doesn't know her birth mother, but it's this summer that she's interested in finding out who she is. When she meets a psychic in the elevator who gives her a warning, Olivia starts connecting the dots about how her choices are connected. It's summer, so there's no school. Olivia starts working at a place...more
Estelle
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog

Last year, I sat curled up at a hotel pool reading You Have Seven Messages. I fell hard for Stewart Lewis’ lyrical prose. So it was with great anticipation that I started The Secret Ingredient.

I love how Lewis has created another old soul character in Olive, a master chef in her own kitchen and her dad’s restaurant before she has even graduated high school. She’s insightful and loyal, as she wades through the many unknowns in her life: who is her...more
Savannah pluma
The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis is a book filled with drama, romance, and unexpected turns. We have our main characters Olivia, Lola, Theo, and, Jane.
According to the author its in the young adult/teen genre, and it’s a 4-8 reading level.
Olivia is a teenage girl trying to find something new this summer. She’s does an awful lot of thinking and wondering about a mother she never had. She takes on challenges and struggles to make sense of everything that happens. She seeks more and more ans...more
Rachel
Olivia is a teen chef who was adopted. She loves her two dads, and actually gets to cook in her dad’s restaurant, Food. The summer before her senior year in high school she becomes curious about who her mother is and The Secret Ingredient follows Olivia as she gets a job at a casting agency, worries about her family’s financial issues, meets a psychic, and most of all finds the “something missing” in her mostly happy life.

Olivia is a great main character. She is a quiet, serious teenager who lov...more
Bookworm1858
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like this is another YA contemporary about which I hadn't heard much. Luckily that tends to work in my favor as I don't enter the book with expectations, instead being prepared to just enjoy whatever comes. What I did know was that this book would feature its protagonist cooking a lot, something that really pleased me. Unfortunately I kept wanting recipes and this book did not provide any. I feel like I am encouraged...more
Jessica
As soon as I saw that this book was for fans of Sarah Dessen, I knew I had to read it ASAP. Sarah Dessen knows how to write a good contemporary romance, and I was definitely in the mood to read one! Not to mention the main character is a girl who loves to cook. A romance that has to do with food? I'm in!

Olivia has been going through the motions of life, working at the restaurants her dads (Yes, she has two) run while going to school. The summer before her senior year though, everything changes a...more
Kristina (Gone Pecan)
Review can also be found at:

http://gonepecanla.wordpress.com/2013...

Source: ARC via Random House/Delcorte

Story Breakdown:

Olivia is just a normal teen trying to make it day-to-day. Then during the summer before her senior year things hit the fan. She’s unsure of what to do to prepare for her future, still thinking about ‘What if?’ with a former potential flame, her dad’s restaurant seems to be going under, and she’s been slowing thinking more and more about her birth mother. Over the course of th...more
Margo Berendsen
This is a fun trip through a girl’s life in L.A. with a little bit of what we all crave from this setting: run-ins with actors (Jude Law – nice!) and a few insider peeks into movie biz, as Olivia works at a casting agency and gets to meet some, um, interesting clients. But mostly it’s a frolic through the ups and downs of family relationships, food, and budding romance all told with a great quirky voice that keeps you glued to the pages.

First line: Every day is sunny in Los Angeles, but it’s no...more
Michelle (In Libris Veritas)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review

The Secret Ingredient is the story of a single summer in young Olivia’s life, a summer where things start to change. Olivia is beginning to feel like she’s missing something and she’s certain it’s her birthmother. Her fathers, Bell and Enrique, are struggling to make do with their slowly failing restaurant and her brother Jeremy is kind of a dreamer. The Secret Ingredient is the perfect summer time read; it’s short, sweet, has a touch of roman...more
Brittany (The Book Addict's Guide)
4 stars
Initial Impressions: Thank you to Random House for sending me the ARC for The Secret Ingredient blog tour!

The Secret Ingredient was a lot more than I expected it to be. I was unreasonably a bit wary of it at first and totally dove in to the book and the mysteries (and the food!), devouring the book (no pun intended) in an afternoon. It was a quick and enjoyable read!

Review originally posted on The Book Addict's Guide: I’m really glad that I got to be a part of this blog tour because I h...more
Celeste_pewter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen
I loved the strength of the family, the original main character, and the setting in this quiet contemporary.
Olivia is a sixteen year old from working class L.A. with a passion for cooking. This is the summer that she finally takes charge of her own life, and the discoveries that she makes, both about herself and her world, will really help her as she tries to create her own future.
There is so much good in this book, but it is the novel of a newish writer: he does a lot of telling, and you can...more
Annie
2.5 STARS

This book is actually quite good. Though sometimes I was thinking (view spoiler)

Sometimes I had no idea what the conflict(s) was/were. (view spoiler)...more
Melissa
Olivia is a proactive girl with a passion for cooking. Currently, she has several things that are not going well. She was adopted as a baby by two loving dads, but now she is curious about her birth mother. Also, the Dads' restaurant is not making enough money to cover the mortgage. She meets a psychic who tells her this summer will be pivotal. As she works and searches for her mother she learns about life.
Her best friend, Lola, and boyfriend ,Theo, are underdeveloped characters. Lola served mer...more
Dayla
Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis is a young adult contemporary novel that features a protagonist on a quest of sorts to find not only herself, but the past that has waited for the day her curiosity becomes too much to handle. Wonderful in its portrayal of same sex parenting, first love, identity, and what makes us us, The Secret Ingredient is an interesting, but slightly disco...more
I Eat Words
I liked this, but I think my expectations were too high after I read that it was compared to Sarah Dessen, Queen of Contemporary Romance. My biggest concern was that it read more of like, and then this happened, and this happened, and then this happened instead of letting us really be inside Ollie's head. While there were clever metaphors and good one-liners that compared cooking to life, there wasn't nearly enough emotional thought process for me to really connect with Ollie, and that's sad bec...more
Betty Fermin
Gosh, I loved this book. Read it one sitting last night. I enjoyed Olivia's narration so much, it was so refreshing. She has two dads and had not wondered about her mother for most of her life but then she gets the urge to know who it is and how it all unravels is just like it was meant to be. There is a boy as well but even though Theo sounds great, the story is about Livia finding herself with a little help from her british friend, Lola.
Reving
I'm definitely not a cook. In fact I come from a long line of non-cooks. We are a microwave kinda family. I do love food, but I don't know much about it. Still, The Secret Ingredient, while it focuses a lot on food, held my interest from page one and was one of the most enjoyable books I've read in awhile.
Olivia lives in Silverlake, with her two dads, one of whom own and runs an restaurant called FOOD, where Olivia makes the Saturday special. Times are tough for the family right now. Lots of eco...more
Courtney
Olivia is on a journey of self-discovery. She wants to figure out what her secret ingredient is, what will make her whole/complete. She finds a vintage cookbook and begins piecing together the life of the original owner. Raised by two dads, Olivia decides she wants to find her birth mother. It seems fate is on her side because each choice she makes brings her closer to her goal. When she finally meets her mother, Olivia begins to realize that perhaps the secret to feeling complete was within her...more
Nancy
Adopted as an infant by a gay couple, Olivia has a supportive family in her two dads and her older brother. Ollie also developed a passion for cooking as she works in the LA restaurant owned by one of her dads; her dream is to attend culinary school in Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Yet Ollie feels something is missing. A chance meeting with a psychic in an elevator, as well as stumbling upon an old 1960s era cookbook with notes in the margins, lead Olivia on a quest to find her birth mother.

Found thi...more
Sarah
On NetGalley, this book was compared to one of Sarah Dessen's, so I had to take a look. Set in L.A., Olivia's life is interesting enough to demand a novel. She is adopted, has two dads, and is a great cook who wants to become a chef at Cordon Bleu in Paris.

But then she has her fortune told in an elevator and I couldn't help but want this plot line to disappear forever. Seriously, couldn't her story have been told without some mysterious lady in the elevator? I loved the idea that she recreates t...more
zapkode.marie
{my thoughts} - This book has a magical feel to it. Once I had started reading it I found it to be incredibly difficult to stop. I read the entire book in one sitting. Olivia is a seventeen-year old girl with a brother and two dads. She was adopted as a baby and recently has a hang up with wanting to find her birth mother. She meets a psychic and everything in her life seems to fall into place like tiny pieces of a puzzle that has been scattered for so long. This book is about love, devotion, ac...more
Gina
Olivia is a young girl with two supportive dads. She has a great best friend and a possible boyfriend. However, for the first time she starts wondering about her unknown birth mother. This is a nice story about an unconventional, but supportive family.
Alma  Ramos-McDermott
For the past 17 years, Olivia has enjoyed everything about her life. She loves her two dads Bell and Enrique, her older brother Jeremy, and her best friend Lola. She especially loves cooking and even has her own Saturday Special in her dad’s restaurant, whipping up new, delicious treats for his customers.

Read the rest of my review on my blog (are you following it yet? What are you waiting for?? Put in your email address so you can get the whole review in your inbox instead of reading this littl...more
Sabina
The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis was a great book. It had action, romance, adventure and mystery.

Join sixteen year old Olivia Reese on an action filled adventure. Adopted as a baby by her two dads, Enrique and Bell, Ollie grows up having no sense of who her mother is. One day in an elevator, she meets a psychic. The psychic knows crazy things about Olivia and even knows about her mother. This makes Olivia want to find her mom even more. With the help of an old cookbook, her friend Lola, a...more
Jennifer Shanahan
I really like this book, easy quick read, very interesting great characters and story. Am looking forward to reading Lewis' other book too.
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STEWART LEWIS is the author of the novels Rockstarlet and Relative Stranger. He is a singer-songwriter and radio journalist who lives in New York City and western Massachusetts.
More about Stewart Lewis...
You Have Seven Messages Rockstarlet: A Novel Relative Stranger: A Novel У вас семь новых сообщений Carbocationic Polymerization of Unsaturated Monomers

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