Over The Teacups, Review

Over The Teacups #11 Josephine Moon and Lisa Patton

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book coverWhy   I read a previous book by Australian author Josephine Moon The Beekeeper’s Secret and was very impressed by it. So when a new book came out I was very quickly putting in a reserve for it at the library. Actually now I wouldn’t mind my own copy!

Plot We first meet Lara in Italy – she has just arrived there from Australia. She meets a crusty old man,Samuel,  her caring nature comes out and before she knows it she is working for him at his villa. He sure has a back story and so does Lara. Slowly all this is revealed. Both have had very tough life experiences.

What Appeals To Me?  It is set in Tuscany and a little in Australia. It has a wonderful Italian flavour and goats, cheese making and food is very central. The writing is excellent as well. I loved Lara and Samuel and felt for them both. The story unfolded perfectly. There is a little romance mixed in, but mostly its a wonderful family story, but with some very serious issues explored. I don’t want to give away those because to do so would to start giving the story away.

And so… this is what I would call a keeper shelf book and I will be putting it on my list of 2018 top books.

book coverWhy? I noticed this book on a couple of book blogs that I follow and I decided to chase up the book on their recommendation. I found it through our library system and as I put in a reserve for it I was first on the list and read a beautiful new hardcover book.

Plot  The story centers around admitting girls to a sorority in what’s known as Rush. At ‘Ole Miss’ university in Oxford Mississippi. It is told from a number of viewpoints, a few girls, a mother and a housemaid at the Alpha Delt house. As well this book explores the lot of black Americans and racial injustice.

What Appeals to Me? Ha! Firstly as a person living in another country it took me awhile to work this whole sorority business out, but I think I have  a sort of understanding of it now! Wowee though, in this book the cost per year was a little mind blowing. I liked though the idea of friendship, kindness and forgiveness in this novel. The contrast of rich and less wealthy and the fact that its not what counts when it comes to the value of a person. I loved the characters, all of them even Mrs Whitless Whitmore was somewhat understood at least.    I really liked the social justice aspect and the fact the girls were willing to do something about an issue right in their midst. I felt the book had a universal aspect to it and I could identify with issues and characters, especially Wilda, one of the mothers.

And so… I’ll certainly look out for other books written by Lisa Patton, a new to me author.

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Review

The Promise Kitchen. Peggy Lampman

Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: August 16th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 380
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher/Author  via NetGalley
Rating:
3.5 stars          Add to Goodreads

Shelby Preston, a young single mother, is at a crossroads. She feels suffocated by her hardscrabble life in rural Georgia and dreams of becoming a professional chef. Lord knows her family could use a pot of something good.

In Atlanta, Mallory Lakes is reeling from a bad breakup. The newspaper food columnist is also bracing for major changes at work that could put her job at risk. Determined to find the perfect recipe for how to reinvent herself, she gets involved in the growing farm-to-table movement. But an emotional setback threatens to derail everything she’s worked for.

Shelby and Mallory couldn’t be more different. But through their shared passion for food, they form an unlikely friendship—a bond that just might be their salvation. This heartwarming and lyrical tale reminds us that family isn’t necessarily whom you’re related to—it’s whom you invite to your table.

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The Promise Kitchen was first published under the title Simmer and Smoke in 2015. That cover of that edition is far more suitable to this present cover. This cover implies frivolous and sweetness and light, and that just doesn’t match the gutsy women and the southern life and their cooking.
This is the story of Shelby – wanting to be a chef par excellence, yet ground down in a small backwater place where dreams are hard to realise. She has a daughter (Ann, and my favorite character) about eight years old. They live with Shelby’s mother and partner Lester. Shelby’s mother has dreams too, she wants to restart up the hair dressing business she loved once. When Shelby gets a chance to develop her skills in Atlanta – her mother cares for her daughter while she is away.
Mallory is a food blogger, far wealthier than Shelby, but not  happy really, she hasn’t found that place within her, where she knows she is home.  Shelby looks up to Mallory and follows her recipes and thinks it is amazing to actually meet her.  When an accident occurs it turns Mallory’s life upside down, she experiences guilt and the need to make reparation. Eventually the lives of Shelby and Mallory intertwine and together they move forward.
This is a story of family, friendship and going after your dreams. It is about second chances and over coming weakness that has crept in. While I wasn’t drawn to the southern food, the characters snuck up on me and I grew to care about them and cheer them on. 
Foodlovers Bon Apetit
Review

The Secret of Everything Barbara O’Neal

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The Secret of Everything
Barbara O’Neal
Published: Brilliance Audio
Date: 2009
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Length: 12hrs 5min
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Own book
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At thirty-seven, Tessa Harlow is still working her way down her list of goals to “fall in love and have a family.” A self-described rolling stone, Tessa leads hiking tours for adventurous vacationers — it’s a job that’s taken her around the world but never a step closer to home. Then a freak injury during a trip already marred by tragedy forces her to begin her greatest adventure of all.

Located high in the New Mexico mountains, Las Ladronas has become a magnet for the very wealthy and very hip, but once upon a time it was the setting of a childhood trauma Tessa can only half remember. Now, as she rediscovers both her old hometown and her past, Tessa is drawn to search-and-rescue worker Vince Grasso. The handsome widower isn’t her type. No more inclined to settle down than Tessa, Vince is the father of three, including an eight-year-old girl as lost as Tessa herself. But Tessa and Vince are both drawn to the town’s most beloved eatery — 100 Breakfasts — and to each other. For Tessa, the restaurant is not only the key to the mystery that has haunted her life but a chance to find the home and the family she’s never known.

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I ended up really enjoying The Secret of Everything – the audiobook version. At the beginning I wasn’t too sure of how it was being narrated. But very soon I was right into it. Angela Dawe did a great job with all the different characters voices, everyone was different.
Tessa has some past griefs that cause her trouble, she has been in an accident and is part recovering, part looking for a new tramping tours spot and part seeking out her past that has been lost to her because her memory can’t recall it. There is a mystery there for her – and when its finally solved some big surprises.
Vince, the guy she meets has three adorable daughters and when they entered the story I was totally hooked.  Natalie is the oldest at eight and she is struggling somewhat, she remembers her mother before she died, her two younger sisters don’t. Natalie also has a growing appreciation of food which sometimes puts her off side with her grandmother. Natalie and Tessa develop a bond that takes them eventually on a pilgrimage.
Vida owns 100 Breakfasts and this is where the food element comes in. She has had a tough life but her cafe is popular and she gives jobs to women who for example are on parole. She helps them get on their feet. One such woman is Annie who is learning all things from Vida. At the end of some chapters their is one of Vida’s breakfast recipes. Natalie has sampled a fair few of those!
There are some wonderful dogs in the story, the plot moves along at a leisurely and enjoyable pace. It is what is happening to the characters that count. With a few surprises there. Mystery, animals, food, children – great combination.
                                                      4 stars
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