Review: The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman

This is a charming story about Samantha moving back home to small town Michigan from her temporary pastry chef stint in NYC. Though her big city boss was a total jerk, Samantha did leave behind good friends and big dreams.

She didn’t realize that her dreams could be fulfilled in Michigan if she’d only give it a chance. Back at her family’s orchard, Samantha spent time with her mom and grandmother, finding out little by little just how special the family recipe box was. I loved how her two worlds collided via the recipe box, giving Samantha the opportunity of a lifetime – if she decided to take it.

I loved the orchard setting, the convivial relationships among the women, persistent Angelo, and that awesome recipe box. I couldn’t quite identify with Samantha’s personal struggles, and the story was fairly predictable, but in the end I was satisfied — much like I am when hearing the expected crunch of an apple. All good stuff.

-calliope

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Review: Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

Quirky novel about the culture of social media – using it, creating it, changing it, and earning a living by it. While most of the characters were in their 20s, a few unlikeable chaps were more my age (forty-cough-ish). I just couldn’t wrap my head around grown men acting so silly about making lists a la buzzfeed. The male characters were intolerable at best.

I did like the development of Elinor, and the characters of some of the other women. Elinor was a little wayward but as soon as she got rid of a certain albatross she was able to come into her own.

All in all, I think that (1) I’m not the right demographic for this book (twenty-somethings will appreciate more, I think!), and (2) I’m just too much of a realist to get into unrealistic realistic fiction. Or maybe I’m just clueless. Do people really live like that in the city? Is working for a social media company actually that prestigious? SOCIABLE may have been intended as satire, or maybe something tongue in cheek. Maybe it was totally mocking society. I’m not sure, but whatever it was supposed to be, I think it went over my head.

-calliope

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Review: Little Woodford by Catherine Jones

This story is a cute telling of a slice-of-life in an English village. After her husband dies, Bex moves to tiny Woodford with her children – and there she has to navigate the stereotypical town gossip, church ladies, and the snooty do-gooders — all while trying to move in, fit in and make her own footprint as the new lady in the fancy house.

I enjoyed this predictable bit of fun, despite having to suspend my disbelief a couple of times. I mean, does Bex ever grieve?! Is Olivia that perfect?! In Little Woodford Miss Jones gives us a new adventure, a little mystery, a romance or two, teenagers figuring out life, some good guys, some bad guys, and a bunch of regular Joes making the most of small town living. Charming.

-calliope

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Review: The First Kiss of Spring by Emily March

I’ve got to say, this wasn’t the Eternity Springs I was expecting! I thought I’d be reading light and sweet but what I read was dark and heavy.

While I liked the present day Josh character very much, his past was pretty dark, and that cast a shadow over much of the plot. His moodiness was understandable but just a little depressing for Eternity Springs.

I expected Caitlin to be the predictable small town girl/breath of fresh air, yet her character development was a little uneven: she’s still a young woman without a family of her own, yet she leaves her big city job to become a day care worker. She wants to be out of her parents’ clutches, yet she is just as judgmental as they are.

This book was well written and had cameos of characters from prior books. I loved Celeste’s hand in making sure everyone lives out their best life. Despite being thrown off by these two particular characters, I did — as usual — enjoy all the magic Eternity Springs offers.

If you’ve been reading the Eternity Springs series and wishing the next book would be more serious, a little gritty, and spicier than the previous books – Emily March has written this one for you. 🙂

-calliope

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Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Sylvie and Dan try to spice up their marriage when it hits them that they have decades more of life together. In the midst of Dan working longer hours, Sylvie trying to save her employer from closing shop, and Sylvie still grieving for her late father, spicing up a marriage seems to be a tall order.

Kinsella brings to the forefront quirky characters (and I didn’t always understand their motivations until a scene was laid out for me, truth be told), family secrets, and the myriad ways people love each other. Cute, fun rom-com that was light on character development but full of charm.

-calliope

But SURPRISE ME