SADIE ON A PLATE by Amanda Elliot 

March 18, 2022

From the publisher:

A chef’s journey to success leads to discovering the perfect recipe for love in this delicious romantic comedy.

Sadie is a rising star in the trendy Seattle restaurant scene. Her dream is to create unique, modern, and mouthwatering takes on traditional Jewish recipes. But after a public breakup with her boss, a famous chef, she is sure her career is over—until she lands a coveted spot on the next season of her favorite TV show, Chef Supreme

On the plane to New York, Sadie has sizzling chemistry with her seatmate, Luke, but tells him that she won’t be able to contact him for the next six weeks. They prolong their time together with a spontaneous, magical dinner before parting ways. Or so she thinks. When she turns up to set the next day, she makes a shocking discovery about who Luke is….

If Sadie wants to save her career by winning Chef Supreme, she’s going to have to ignore the simmering heat between Luke and her. But how long can she do that before the pot boils over?

https://amzn.to/3MHLZDE

Sadie was working as a sous chef for her boyfriend, who dumps her and fires her. Just when she thinks she’ll never get another job, she gets something even better; a call from Chef Supreme (think Top Chef) and the opportunity to be on national TV and get her reputation back. Sadie knows if she can make it through to the semifinals, everything will be golden – she may even get the opportunity to realize her dream of opening her own restaurant.

On the flight from Seattle to New York City, where the show is filmed (one of the small variations on the Top Chef formula) she is seated next to Luke, a good looking man who has the hands of a chef. Sure enough he is a chef, and they really get to know one another on the long flight. When they land, he goes with her to Queens where she will be staying and takes her to a Korean speakeasy of sorts. They have a magical date, but she is going to be untouchable for the next six weeks. She promises to call when she can, and she heads off.

Turns out Luke’s father is one of the most celebrated chefs in New York, and Luke has been tapped to judge on the TV show when the regular judge has a medical emergency. Sadie is shocked to see him there, and even more shocked when he calls her “Sandy” as if he doesn’t remember her.

Sadie is of Jewish descent, and her goal is to let people know there is more to Jewish food than just bagels and latkes. She puts a gourmet spin on many of the most familiar dishes, and works her way towards her goal. Meanwhile, spending time with Luke is hard on her, and as it turns out, on him as well. But no worries, there is a happy ending in sight for both of them.

I loved this book so much! I am a huge Top Chef fan, and this felt like a peek behind the curtains of that iconic show. Having a Jewish protagonist was also a plus for me, not something I see very often in romcoms but that seems to be changing, very slowly for sure, but I’m always hopeful. While this is the first “Amanda Elliot” book and the author’s debut novel for adults, the author has several Young Adult books under the name Amanda Panitch. This was a terrific, one night read for me and I look forward to seeing what “Elliot” does next.

3/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SADIE ON A PLATE by Amanda Elliot. Berkley (March 15, 2022). ISBN: 978-0593335710. 352p.

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

June 10, 2018

when life gives you lululemons

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I was not a fan of Lauren Weisberger. I was assigned to review The Devil Wears Prada for Library Journal when it first came out, and I really didn’t care for it. The story line was intriguing, but the execution was not good. This was the first sentence of my review:

“This chic read is sure to take the fashion world by storm, although the literary world may find it lacking.”

(If you dig deep enough, you can read the rest of the review on this site, just do a search.) In fact, it was that rare unicorn of a book that was completely eclipsed by the movie, which was worlds better. Since none of her later books were assigned to me, I didn’t read them. Until now.

It was with much trepidation that I started reading this new book. It’s gotten a lot of press, made it to a bunch of “summer must reads” lists so I went for it. And guess what – I liked it! Again the execution wasn’t perfect – the story is a bit convoluted at times – but it was a fun read.

There are three main characters here. Emily, from The Devil Wears Prada, where she toiled as Miranda Priestly’s number one assistant, has spun herself off from Runway magazine into the premier Hollywood fixer. Indeed we meet her as one of her clients has decided to wear a Nazi uniform for the fun of it and can’t understand why that is a problem.

Emily has a best friend, Miriam, who has left her high powered law office in NYC to be a stay-at-home mommy in Greenwich, Connecticut after her husband’s tech start up makes millions. Miriam is slowly adapting to the lifestyle, which is just skewered here, from wine soaked lunches to sex toy parties and completely ridiculous, over the top children’s birthday parties.

Then Emily starts losing customers to a younger, more tech savvy competitor and she hightails it to Greenwich to hang with her friend. But then another friend, Karolina Hartwell, gets into trouble.

Karolina is a supermodel married to a state senator with presidential ambitions. In the most far fetched plot point, she gets arrested for driving under the influence a few doors down from her house with a car full of kids. She becomes a pariah, and only Emily can help her regain her reputation and get some sort of custody of her stepson.

The fabulous Miranda Priestly makes an all too brief appearance, and if you blink you’ll miss Andrea Sachs as well. But all’s well that ends well, and everyone gets their happy ending here. If you want a read that is as light as a summer breeze, you’ve found your book.

6/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger. Simon & Schuster (June 5, 2018).  ISBN 978-1476778440.  352p.

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BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT by Mary Alice Monroe

July 22, 2017

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The Beach House, Book 4

Take a vacation to the Lowcountry of South Carolina with this delightful summer read.

Cara Rutledge inherited her Isle of Palm beach house, Primrose Cottage, when her mother passed away several years earlier. She and her husband rent out the cottage every summer, and this time she got lucky and found one tenant for the whole summer, instead of the usual week by week rentals. Her tenant is Heather, a young woman with some serious mental health issues.

Heather lost her mother in a car accident when she was very young, and she bears the scars of that loss. She has severe anxiety disorder, is extremely shy and nonconfrontational. Her father has recently remarried, and decided he needs to spend time alone with his new wife so arranges for the rental. Heather is an artist and has won a prestigious commission to paint shorebirds for stamps for the U.S. Post Office. Staying on the beach is sure to inspire her art. While moving someplace new is stressful, she draws comfort from her canaries.

Bo Stanton is a local carpenter who is building a deck onto the beach house. He is entranced with Heather and her canaries, and she quickly falls for the very patient young man. Together they explore the area, and Heather learns about sea turtles and shore birds and life.

When tragedy befalls Cara, she begs to move back into the cottage, as she has always found solace in her mother’s place. Heather can’t say no to her, and Cara moves in with Heather. The women both work through their troubles, finding strength in one another.

This is a beautiful story that deals with love, grief, and especially friendship, all within the confines of the beach community. The descriptions of the area made me feel like I was there, so this was a nice little getaway of a read for me.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT by Mary Alice Monroe. Gallery Books (June 20, 2017).  ISBN 978-1501125461.  416p.

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HELLO, SUNSHINE by Laura Dave

July 12, 2017

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Sunshine Mackenzie is an Internet cooking sensation with cookbooks, an upcoming Food Network show and millions of fans. Until the night of her surprise birthday party, when someone hacks her social media accounts and accuses her of being a fraud. Since she can’t really cook, and her recipes are created by her producer’s wife, who she’s slept with, fraud seems an apt description. And her life implodes. Danny, her husband, leaves her and returns her cookbook advance, wiping out all their cash. Then he sells the apartment out from under her, leaving her penniless, homeless and pretty much friendless.

Since she can’t really cook, and her recipes are created by her producer’s wife, who she’s slept with, fraud seems an apt description. And her life implodes. Danny, her husband, leaves her and returns her cookbook advance to the publisher, wiping out all their cash. Then he sells the apartment out from under her, leaving her penniless, homeless and pretty much friendless. So Sunny decides to go home to the Hamptons.

Most people think of the Hamptons as a summer enclave for the rich and famous, and that is true. But there are people who live there all year round, and Sunny grew up there. Her sister still lives there but they are estranged, haven’t spoken in years. So when Sunny shows up, her welcome is a cop ticketing her for trespassing. Eventually, her sister lets her in and a strained relationship resumes.

Sunny finagles a job as the “trash” consultant at a high end restaurant using her niece’s name instead of her own. A few of the staff recognize her but don’t bother her. She has a plan to get the chef to teach her to cook and re-start her career, but he’s not interested. Then she finds out she’s pregnant and things get even more complicated.

This is a redemption story, but to get to that Sunny has to hit rock bottom. I was tempted to put down the book more than once as her life went on the skids as she was a completely unsympathetic character. Kudos to Laura Dave who somehow kept me turning pages anyway, and I was very glad I did. I liked how the story moved and turned, but the ending felt a bit rushed and incomplete. A few more pages would have been nice. In spite of all that, ultimately I did enjoy the book.

7/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

HELLO, SUNSHINE by Laura Dave. Simon & Schuster (July 11, 2017).  ISBN 978-1476789323.  256p.

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THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER by Amy E. Reichert

May 18, 2017

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Sanna Lund is the fifth generation to live and work on the family apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Once a thriving family business, now it is just Sanna and her aging father, and business is terrible. Sanna is obsessed with making cider, but doesn’t have the first idea about how to sell it.  Her father borrowed money to purchase all the expensive equipment necessary for making and bottling cider, but it is just collecting dust. She also has a gift – she can see colors in the apples that grow on their orchard. By mixing different colored apples she can achieve the flavors she wants. It’s the touch of magical realism that Reichert is known for.

Isaac Banks is a web designer whose ex-wife, a drug addict, has overdosed and died. Their young son, Bass, doesn’t know and Isaac can’t bear to tell him, so instead he takes him on a road trip for the summer. They wander aimlessly until they reach Door County, where he learns the Lund family could use some help in their orchard. Sanna is suspicious when her father hires Isaac, but they have a trailer out back where father and son can live. Then the senior Lund falls off a ladder and is seriously injured, and it’s Isaac and Bass that pick up the slack.

Sanna is surprised to find herself attracted to Isaac, and he to her, but he also realizes that he is going to have to move very slowly to win her over. Sanna has a brother who moved away from the orchard and is now trying to talk her father into selling to a big developer. There are other complications along the way before the happily ever after is reached.

Another enjoyable and delicious read – with recipes.

Enjoy this short video – Amy E. Reichert talks about her new book, THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER, and why Wisconsin is more romantic than you thought!

5/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE SIMPLICITY OF CIDER by Amy E. Reichert. Gallery Books (May 16, 2017). ISBN: 978-1501154928. 336p.

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