Rachel Monroe is something of a modern day fairy godmother: she can make wishes come true. Whenever someone makes a wish, a sMy rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Rachel Monroe is something of a modern day fairy godmother: she can make wishes come true. Whenever someone makes a wish, a slip of paper flutters down out of nowhere and as soon as she reads the words on the paper, their wish is granted. When Rachel was younger, one of her own wishes came true and it was terribly life changing and she vowed never to make any other wishes come true. That is, until the day her friends daughter wished for a unicorn and a pony with a sugar cone strapped to its head appeared on her doorstep.
Terrified that she’s going to cause everything to go wrong again, she packs a bag and leaves town immediately. She finds herself stranded and out of gas in a town in North Carolina ironically named Nowhere. Rachel is taken in by a kind elderly lady named Catch and meets a man named Ashe. Feeling like she’s finally found someplace to call home, she hopes that her wishes cease to plague her.
I am an absolute sucker for any book that manages to include tasty foods. Sure, the summary sounded all sorts of fluffy cute with the fun magical realism bits and a cutesy romance to get all swoony over that completely reminded me of a Sarah Addison Allen novel, but when it was all said and done I was really only thinking one thing:
I was so eager to get my hands on a copy of this because I was completely prepared to adore this one because it had everything I typically love. It really would have been great but there were far too many plot holes and aspects that continued to be distracting to the storyline as a whole. On top of that there was just a bit too much cheesiness for my liking. Let me explain.
So Rachel up and leaves her stable home and job because she made a wish come true. The story started off shockingly somber (not a spoiler — revealed within first 5%) when it’s revealed that the wish that Rachel made come true, that changed her life forever, was the wish that her little brother would disappear. And he did. Literally. Her parents completely forget he ever existed, he was erased from every photograph, even the door to his bedroom disappeared like there was never a room there to begin with. Every last trace of him, gone. Rachel continues to insist she has a brother and she ends up getting institutionalized, her dad leaves the family, and her mother ends up committing suicide. For fucks sake.
So… moving on.
So Rachel up and leaves town and basically begins a new life in a new town thinking that people in a small town won’t have wishes or something. Personally, that just seemed a little drastic and far fetched to me. Especially since it’s not like she went out to live by herself in the boonies to get away from people whose lives she could potentially ruin or something. Suspension of disbelief is mildly required. I trudged on though, continuing to refocus on the important parts: the pie. Alas, the story continued to reveal itself as something akin to a Lifetime movie. Sorry, Lifetime movies just aren’t my thing. But we have the oh so perfect love interest, except he’s carrying some serious baggage. The townsfolk that go to great lengths (minus actual pitchforks) to run Rachel out of town. The mysterious person from Rachel’s past that knows everything and tries to blackmail her. The old lady that meets her and invites her to live with her the same day. There was just a lot of silly and unnecessary drama involved that was more far fetched than anything and really detracted from what could have been a really delightful story. All I know is, I didn’t sign up for all that. I came for the pie, dammit.
Honestly though, there is a ton of pie in this book and the descriptions will have you racing to the closest bakery. My favorite was by far the “salted chocolate tart with a potato chip crust. Drool. But holy hell, other than a single rib cook-off mentioned, pie is all this town seemed to eat. Then again, with all their daily drama, I’d probably eat nothing but pie too.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
Lou owns a small French restaurant named Luella’s in the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s engaged to be married, however, she tries to surprise hiLou owns a small French restaurant named Luella’s in the heart of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s engaged to be married, however, she tries to surprise him with a coconut cake for his birthday only to find a woman in his apartment. In lingerie. She doesn’t take the news well and the restaurant suffers from it that night, which also happens to be the night the local food critic visits Luella’s.
Her little restaurant begins a downward spiral after his scathing review but things are starting to look up when she meets someone new. Al is from the UK and has yet to be shown around Milwaukee so Lou agrees to be his guide. She takes him to see everything from the best restaurants to museums and festivals. They begin to fall for each other during their non-dates realizing just how much they have in common, but neither of them know that Al was the food critic that caused Lou to lose her restaurant.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a delightful, lighthearted romance story that is also a love story to delicious foods and the city of Milwaukee. The food descriptions had me re-declaring my love for food. And also making a raid on my kitchen. And maybe planning a trip to Milwaukee to see all these wonderful sounding sights for myself.
‘He started with the much hailed cheese curds, hot and oozing a little of the white cheddar; the outside was crispy and salty when he bit. A string of cheese dangled from his mouth to his hand as he pulled the cheese from his lips.’
‘Ingredients in baking were mixed in a specific way to create a specific result; a lot like relationships. If people didn’t blend well together, you’d never get the outcome you wanted.’
The requisite drama in this one was palpable and while it all came to a predictable resolution this was still a completely satisfying story. There’s something about the components of a basic foodie fiction book that I can’t help but fall in love with. Delicious food descriptions + quirky characters + adorable romances = me, head over heels. And The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has all the right ingredients.
P.S. There’s even a delicious coconut cake recipe in the back pages that I can’t wait to try myself.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
When Polly’s long-term relationship comes crashing down and with it the business they’ve built together, she’s left to start over completely from scraWhen Polly’s long-term relationship comes crashing down and with it the business they’ve built together, she’s left to start over completely from scratch. With so few options available to her, she agrees to rent a run-down flat with a leaky roof on the island of Polbearne. She finds solace in utilizing her baking skills and filling the air of the island with the enticing smell of freshly baked bread.
Polbearne, a quaint seaside village off the coast of England, is based off the actual island St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Colgan’s descriptions of the village were thorough, detailing not only the people and their way of life but of the town itself and the sole causeway being the only way to come and go on the island. While the people in the village weren’t always the most friendly (since they saw Polly as an outsider), the village itself sounded like a such a lovely place to reside with its small shops on cobbled streets and a ruined yet still charming castle on the top of a hill overlooking the island.
Polly’s ever-constant baking was also given much detail and constantly left you craving delicious breads. After one particularly tasty sounding chapter I became determined to also become a master bread maker. Long story short, I failed miserably. Bread is FAR harder to bake than Polly makes it sound like just so you know! I didn’t actually attempt any of the recipes included in the story (Cheese Straws, Sweetcorn Fritters, Cinnamon Rolls, Focaccia, and my favorite: Shortbread) but I’m determined to try again. Someday.
This fun little foodie novel is not without its fill of drama though. Polly immediately begins butting heads with her landlord who is the sole baker on the island and Polly’s freshly baked bread is hampering her sales. Her landlord has her own personal history that ends up being told as a side-story. Polly also gets involved in some romantic complications that ends up being something akin to a love square. While I’m not a fan of love triangles and especially squares in general, what really disappointed me with this one in particular was the lack of chemistry between Polly and any of the men. What I loved most about Polly was her empowering story of hitting rock bottom and finding the strength to not only make a living but to find out who she is while being on her own again. The romance element wasn’t completely necessary in my opinion and especially not that many romances. It made it all avoidably messy and I would have appreciated a much more simplistic story in that regard.
I don’t know how I’ve failed to mention the best part of the story this far into my review! When Polly moves to Polbearne she unintentionally takes on a new pet which she names Neil. Neil, the puffin.
Neil was by far the cutest addition to the story even though he was unrealistically tame, but whatever! Now I want a pet puffin.
Little Beach Street Bakery is a sweet, entertaining tale about learning to navigate the harsh realities of life and finding what you’re passionate about. It’s the perfect read for foodie fiction fans and readers simply looking for a light-hearted read.
I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
Leave no street corner unvisited, and no dog untasted!”
Gladys Gatsby is now twelve years-old and there isn’t“Find the best hot dog in New York City.
Leave no street corner unvisited, and no dog untasted!”
Gladys Gatsby is now twelve years-old and there isn’t anything she’s more enthusiastic about than delicious foods. Since that incident with the blowtorch (it really was only a small fire) Gladys has convinced her parents to allow her more opportunities to improve her skills in the kitchen. Gladys also continues to review for the New York Standard even though it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come up with excuses to visit restaurants in the city. Her newest assignment seems to her to be a strange and difficult one: find the best hot dog in New York City. The situation becomes even more difficult when her friend Charissa gives her a summer pass to her parents day camp, Camp Bentley where she ends up in charge of the lunches which she finds to be both exciting and stressful. Will Gladys be able to continue juggling all the things she has going this summer and still manage to somehow the perfect hot dog?
Gladys is back and still just as adorable. The Stars of Summer has our heroine undertaking a monumental task with discovering the perfect hot dog. I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration through multiple cultures from Iceland to even South Africa. Hot dogs are shockingly common in far more places than just the United States! Her descriptions of the exotic foods she gets to sample will once again leave you wishing you could share in her adventure of the taste buds. And while her adventures did often feel a bit lacking in credibility (attending an awards show in New York City minus any parents? She is only twelve…) I admittedly found myself so completely lost in the cuteness of it all that it was easy enough to overlook and just sit back and enjoy. The friendships Gladys has developed since All Four Stars are incredibly touching and most notably was the inclusion of the two boy-girl friendships. With multiple secondary yet still well-developed characters, Dairman has managed to bring to life a full cast of characters this time around that will only enhance future installments in this series.
The Stars of Summer is once again another addition to my well-loved list of foodie fiction stories. In addition to the most appetizing sounding foods, you’re treated to one of the most adorable children in fiction. In addition there’s a light and charming sense of humor throughout. Most highly recommended....more
‘Gladys took a bite of her brownie, and a slew of flavors flooded her taste buds. The sweet, melty butterscotch offset the bitterness of the chocolat‘Gladys took a bite of her brownie, and a slew of flavors flooded her taste buds. The sweet, melty butterscotch offset the bitterness of the chocolate, and the hint of nutmeg gave the whole thing a kick.’
Gladys Gatsby is a sixth grader that loves nothing more than experimenting in the kitchen. From entrées to pastries, she loves cooking anything and everything. During her latest kitchen experiment involving crème brûlée and a blowtorch, her family’s kitchen curtains went up in smoke and her family finally put a stop to her kitchen shenanigans. When she enters a writing contest in school, her entry ends up in the hands of the Dining Editor at a prestigious New York newspaper and she’s offered a job as a food critic. Keeping it a secret from her family while still completing her assignment is starting to seem to Gladys like an impossibility.
‘...tender duck breast swimming in a lake of tea-infused gravy, with a side of slender asparagus stalks dipping their tips in at the shore.’
Readers will fall in love with precocious Gladys. Her parents prefer take out, rarely using their kitchen, so Gladys never knew what good food truly tasted like. Her eyes were opened to good food when her Aunt Lydia, visiting from France, took her into the city to show her what a real restaurant is. From that point on she started keeping track of her food experiences (including the bad ones) in a journal. The descriptions of her family’s attempts at cooking were hilarious and cringe-worthy but her descriptions at her more positive food experiences will have you salivating.
‘Their flavors will send your taste buds on a trip around the world: the Moroccan cake features pistachio and cardamom, the Chinese cake has green tea and sesame seeds, and the Belgian cake has chocolate and… well, more chocolate.’
All Four Stars was completely worth all four stars. This endearing middle grade story will have your taste buds dancing. Much of the story is spent on Gladys’ use of subterfuge in keeping her parents from finding that she’s still cooking (sans blowtorch) but the rest of the pages are full of delectable descriptions of delicious foods that will have you reaching for something tasty to munch on so having something on hand may be wise....more
My rating: 4 of 5 stars I received this book free from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book orMy rating: 4 of 5 stars I received this book free from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
‘So, too, have I gathered the ingredients of my life and carefully flavored them, patiently beat my whites, and lovingly folded together all the elements of my existence. Put my proverbial batter into the appropriately prepared ramekin and gently placed my world into the oven. And yet I must have done something wrong, made some false move or ignored an important step in the recipe, because my life has suddenly collapsed around me into a charred, inedible ruin.’
Ruby McMillan’s husband announces one day that he’s leaving her for another woman. Their marriage had been slowly dissolving for the past years so it’s not as devastating emotionally, but she’s left scrambling for a hold on life while managing her failing bakery and trying to figure out how to inform her children that their father has left them. Things start looking up when Ruby moves her husbands stuff out of the house, gets a makeover and decides to take a chance on the unexpected by signing up to teach a cake class. She also meets Jacob Salt, a man that makes her feel something she hasn’t in years.
This was such a fun and light-hearted read despite the serious nature of the topic. It could have easily been a sob story about trust being shattered and hearts being broken but I found myself laughing out loud at times and reading with a smile on my face. It was so refreshing to read a book about a heroine that is faced with a devastating loss but is able to overcome it all while still maintaining her sense of humor. Ruby’s character was fantastically written and was quite the inspiration.
Obviously, my favorite aspect of this book is the foodie bits. I’ll read the occasional chick lit of course but foodie books? Anytime. Ruby is a baker and ends up being a teacher of a cooking class so we’re given all kinds of fabulous baking details that made me want to hop up and bake some muffins (because I couldn’t bake half of the amazing things Ruby could so I had to settle for muffins.) Not only were the details absorbing but she was constantly coming up with new recipes as a sort of coping mechanism. Every time she’d get overwhelmed or stressed about something, her creative subconscious would come up with something amazing sounding to try.
‘Homemade marshmallow cream and roasted almonds sandwiched between bite-size graham-cracker squares, enrobed with Callebaut milk choolate.’
I pretty much loved everything about this book and I read it during a time where I needed to be reminded that despite hardships in life it’s possible to remain strong and power through. It was the perfect book for my current mood and Ruby delivered the emotional boost I needed. This is my first book read by this author but I’ll definitely be picking up her other works. Highly suggested for those looking for a fun and entertaining (and inspirational) chick-lit type read....more
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of Vanity Fare was provided to me by William Morrow for review purposes.
Molly thought she had hit rock bottom when herMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of Vanity Fare was provided to me by William Morrow for review purposes.
Molly thought she had hit rock bottom when her husband of 10 years left her and their six year-old son for a younger woman. That wasn't rock bottom though. Rock bottom came when she finds out her soon to be ex-husband has also lost his job (and his ability to pay her child support) and also depleted their savings leaving Molly with nothing to pay the bills. She ends up being hired as a copywriter for a new up and coming bakery. But on top of finding a job she may have also found a new romance. Or two.
Anyone who knows my typical book preferences would likely find it laughable that I decided to read a book regardless of the fact that it stated in the summary that there was a love triangle. Typically? I'd be running for the hills but the concept of this story was too cute to pass up.
I am total sucker for foodie type books in general but I completely fell in love with the concept for this book. I also made full scale plans of starting my own bakery just to be able to do something like this. Molly is hired to come up with a 'hook' for potential customers and it needed to be closely related to the library (which the bakery is across the street from) and/or literature in general. She comes up with the idea to use double entendres to name menu items and the store itself (Vanity Fare). A few of my favorites? The Bun Also Rises. A Room of Ones Scone. Of Mousse and Men. Much Ado About Muffins. And the best? Tart of Darkness. There are even real recipes included at the back of the book for several of these (including Tart of Darkness which I will so be trying, it sounds delicious!)
The romance(s) played a huge part of the story (and possible more than I would have preferred) which I suppose should have been expected as this can definitely be considered a chick-lit novel. But I have a total soft spot for chick-lit and these romances were quite entertaining. The main character, Molly, truly made this book though. She was witty, had a wonderful dry sense of humor, and was such a realistic character just struggling to not give in and let life beat her down. I found the story (and Molly) to be quite inspiring.
A four star rating (and possibly more) was totally in the bag but alas, I found the ending with Nick's big "secret" to not be worth all the build up that led up to the reveal. Overall though this is a fun and delightful chick-lit novel that manages to be charming while still full of laughs....more
I was extremely interested in taking a look at this cookbook as I’m plagued by several food allergies and it can be downright difficult for me to find a recipe I can follow to a T without having to replace this and that. When I read ‘120 Gluten-Free Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, and Soy-Free Recipes Everyone Will Love’ I thought I had found the cookbook of all cookbooks; however, it ended up being just like any other cookbook I’ve picked up. My interpretation of the SubTitle was that ALL of their recipes were gluten-freen, dairy-free, etc, when in reality it was a gluten free recipe and then a dairy free recipe; there were few recipes that were actually free of all the common allergens. This brought nothing new and I still found myself replacing ingredients in order for me to be able to eat it.
Another thing that I love from a good cookbook is the pictures that correspond with the recipes and I found pictures weren’t provided for all recipes. There were some interesting recipes that I did try and (after substituting) did actually enjoy, but as I said above this really didn’t bring anything new to the cookbooks I already own....more
So when I saw this cookbook being offered on Netgalley I was super excited and began having daydreams about all the beautiful macaron’s I could make since it was being displayed as being ‘gluten-free’ goodies. (The only goodies I can have so I was all over that). Unfortunately, my diet also consists of egg-free goodies. Yes, I am all kinds of broken. Now usually I’m able to use this nifty stuff I found called Energ-G Egg Replacer, but unfortunately it doesn’t work as an egg replacer in all recipes. Apparently macaron’s are one of those recipes it doesn’t work for. Eggs are a dominant ingredient in this book and from what I’ve read from various websites, the structure of the entire recipe would need to be altered in order for it to actually come out as intended.
I still give this book high marks for the beautiful pictures, the delicious sounding recipes, and the detailed step-by-step guides. ...more
‘I guess it goes to show that you just never knowInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!
And pastries. :)
What could be better?
‘I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while. Here’s what happened when I did.’
On top of tales of wonderful sweets, the author shares her own personal story about finding her way in a foreign place, gaining a new perspective on life and simply learning to be thankful for what life dishes out to you. It was quite a delightful surprise that I enjoyed immensely; am so glad that I requested this book.
Despite my attempts to read this only on a full stomach, I still ended up with one serious sweet tooth by the end of this book (or even by the end of each chapter…or page). The author describes in extreme detail the sweets she eats, and makes each and every one of them sound positively heavenly.
’…her signature pretzel-covered, sea-salted caramel that had crackly, salty pretzel bits coating the 66 percent cocoa shell and creamy caramel center.’
Oh… my… gosh. Who makes these and how can I buy some of these goodies? Apparently her name is Rachel Zoe Insler, owner of Bespoke Chocolates. I was drooling so heavily over the descriptions I went so far as to try and find her online… only to find that her business had actually closed earlier this year. I was one seriously sad puppy. (If I had simply kept reading I would have realized the author spoke of the business closure at the end of the chapter haha). At the end of each chapter, she also tells where to find some of the best cupcakes, macarons, truffles, etc. in New York and Paris. Definitely made me want to take note and write down more than a few for when I eventually make it to each city.
I found myself using Google Translate often and searching for Frenchie terms that I had no idea the meaning (Vélib’ is a bicycle sharing system, fish are sold at poissoneries, and there are twenty arrondissements (or districts) of Paris. I think normally this would have irritated me having to stop every few minutes to figure out what exactly I’m reading, but being that I personally have a crush on anything Paris and cannot wait to go there personally someday, having to search for unknown items and words was actually quite a fun experience for me.