Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Another “my parents are divorced and getting remarried” book. In this instance, twelve-year-old Elizabeth (Fizzy) and her mother move out of the family home. Fizzy is a normal pre-teen, other than being a talented chef hoping to have her own television show one day. The simultaneous news that her father and his new wife, Suzanne, are expecting a baby and her mother plans on marrying her boyfriend, Keene, is an unwelcome jolt to Fizzy. With a new baby and a new husband taking all her parents’ emotions, Fizzy feels like leftovers—nobody likes them. Her only confidante is her father’s sister, Aunt Liz. Aunt Liz, a talented chef in her own right, suggests Fizzy enter the Southern Living Cook-Off. Fizzy readily agrees to prove to a doubting Keene that she can win and in the hopes that winning a major competition might make her dysfunctional family love her again.

TheThingAbout Leftovers

The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. Payne is a fun read about a serious topic. Blended families are prevalent and pre-teens and teens need to realize that, although their parents may be focusing their attentions on new families, it is not to the exclusion of the old ones. In addition, step-parents can love their step-children if given the chance. Learning to adjust to step-parents’ idiosyncrasies can be daunting. Having a support person, as Fizzy has in Aunt Liz, can make the transition easier. Children of blended families will relate to Fizzy’s thoughts and emotions. A thought provoking read for parents and children.


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KitchensKitchens of the Great MIdwest is J. Ryan Stradal’s debut novel. He has had his short stories published, so he’s not a newbie to writing. It is interesting in concept. It’s the story of Eva Thorvold’s life, from birth to her mid twenties by which time she’s become an acclaimed chef. Each of the eight chapters (seven of which are either named after a specific food or type of food) deals with a specific age, so it’s not a rambling biography…no “when I was six I did this and when I was seven I did this.Each chapter is a discreet unit. “While I found this method interesting, I kept wondering until the end how Stradal would wrap the characters together, thus at times I felt that I was reading unrelated short stories. I also wondered throughout the book how Eva became interested in cooking. I presume you’ll see why I ask this question after you’ve read the book.

Readers are going to adore Eva. She’s quirky, unpretentious, endearing. Similarly most of the characters are going to be reader favorites, except of course those foodies with attitude, who you love to hate. The story moves along nicely and the stories range from cute to serious. Because each chapter is discreet, situations are not necessarily wrapped up in a nice neat bow, letting the reader put his/her own stamp on the event. I liked that.

There are even recipes in the book, although I’d never try any of them.

I’ll summarize by saying this is a totally enjoyable book. It’s subject matter is different than your run-of-the-mill book. The characters are the kind I like: quirky, rebellious at times, forceful at other times, sure of themselves. It’s a fast read, not ‘literary’ but nicely written. I would not hesitate to recommend this to any reader..

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