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Recipe for Disaster

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Stacey Ballis cooks up a delicious broth of a novel about a woman whose perfect life falls apart in spectacular fashion--leaving her with a house to restore, an antique cookbook (but no cooking talent), and one very unhappy schnauzer. For fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin. To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess--her shirts are stained, her Stacey Ballis cooks up a delicious broth of a novel about a woman whose perfect life falls apart in spectacular fashion--leaving her with a house to restore, an antique cookbook (but no cooking talent), and one very unhappy schnauzer. For fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin. To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess--her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Anneke's life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fianc� who cooks like a dream. Until Anneke's charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustration--and what little savings she has--into finishing the renovation. But at the first step into the house's overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Gemma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the house's original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Emma's life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, she's been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all along... "With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis's writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious."--Jen Lancaster INCLUDES RECIPES


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Stacey Ballis cooks up a delicious broth of a novel about a woman whose perfect life falls apart in spectacular fashion--leaving her with a house to restore, an antique cookbook (but no cooking talent), and one very unhappy schnauzer. For fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin. To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess--her shirts are stained, her Stacey Ballis cooks up a delicious broth of a novel about a woman whose perfect life falls apart in spectacular fashion--leaving her with a house to restore, an antique cookbook (but no cooking talent), and one very unhappy schnauzer. For fans of Jen Lancaster, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin. To an outside observer, Anneke Stroudt is a mess--her shirts are stained, her fingernails stubby, her language colorful. But, despite her flaws, Anneke's life is close to perfect. She has a beautiful historic house to restore and a loving fianc� who cooks like a dream. Until Anneke's charmed existence falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband in one terrible day. In need of a new start, she packs up her disgruntled schnauzer and moves into her half-finished home, where she throws her pent-up frustration--and what little savings she has--into finishing the renovation. But at the first step into the house's overhaul, Anneke is sidetracked when she discovers a mysterious leather-bound book, long hidden away, filled with tempting recipes and steamy secrets from Gemma Ditmore-Smythe, the cook for the house's original owners. Slowly, with the help of some delicious food and Emma's life lessons, Anneke begins to realize that, just like a flawless recipe, she's been waiting for the right ingredients to cook up a perfect life all along... "With the perfect blend of humor and heart, Ballis's writing is powerfully honest and genuinely hilarious."--Jen Lancaster INCLUDES RECIPES

30 review for Recipe for Disaster

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    **review to come** but FYI, this was the first book I read by this author and I just ordered all her others.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    I really loved Ms. Ballis's last book, Out to Lunch and wish that I had liked her newest offering as much. I loved "Out to Lunch" because it didn't have an ending I could guess at, and the plot twists kept me on my toes. Heck, comparing this book to "Good Enough to Eat" I would probably go back and rate that book higher since she didn't do a typical happily ever after either. "Recipe for Disaster", except for one plot, okay let's say two plot elements didn't really keep me on my toes while readi I really loved Ms. Ballis's last book, Out to Lunch and wish that I had liked her newest offering as much. I loved "Out to Lunch" because it didn't have an ending I could guess at, and the plot twists kept me on my toes. Heck, comparing this book to "Good Enough to Eat" I would probably go back and rate that book higher since she didn't do a typical happily ever after either. "Recipe for Disaster", except for one plot, okay let's say two plot elements didn't really keep me on my toes while reading. I don't like guessing at plots while reading and finding out I was right. I do like it when authors shake things up a bit since it is what keeps me going back as a reader. I though initially that was where Ms. Ballis was going in the direction of her book. Then it just turned into a typical romance novel (not a bad thing by the way) halfway through and I started losing interest in it. This book had pretty much all of my favorite things. Discussion of food and house renovations. When I have time, I just watch HGTV at night while reading or doing house chores. So for me I thought this was hands down going to be a five star book. However, besides the main character, there were so many gaps with motivations and even construction of certain characters. The plot elements got too big at times, and then the book just kind of ends with what I think the author saw as a happy ending, and sadly I did not see it that way. The main character Anneke is not a typical girly person. She works in the construction business and deals with not being a typical dainty female and is blunt to the point of rudeness at times. She has a great core group of friends, but is still mourning the loss of her stepfather and dealing with the fact that neither her grandmother or mother really seemed to care an iota about her at all. I liked that Anneke was shown as flawed. I mean there were several times that I honestly did not like Anneke while reading (mostly the parts in which she resents her friends for caring about her) and I really wished that someone had told her to go see a therapist. When Anneke ends things with her fiancee (not a spoiler, in synopsis) and you find out the reason why, I was blown away. Reading her reactions to what happened, her struggle to find her footing, etc. was a really great read. The other characters in this novel, besides Anneke's best friends, and even her fiancee felt very thin to me. For example, when we meet one of the characters, Liam, he is a womanizing, misogynistic, jerk. He has shown nothing to show that he has any deeper levels, and frankly I was okay with that. However, halfway through Ms. Ballis turned him into a totally different guy and I was left wondering when he got a personality transplant. Same thing with a long lost relative whose introduction I did not feel added anything to the story and whose motivation for showing up made no sense at all. I felt like the whole book got way too crowded with characters and could have stood trimming a few of them to make the book tighter. The A plot with Anneke needing to renovate the house she bought with her ex in order to get some money and her name out there would have been enough of a book for me. Instead we throw in a secret journal with recipes and description of past inhabitants of the house Anneke is renovating. There are also misunderstandings, different people being in love with each other, other different people being in love with each other, etc. I just started to feel like the whole book just had way too much going on. The writing I found to be good, though the pacing at times was all over the place. I am not going to lie, my eyes glazed once, okay maybe three times reading the descriptions of the house renovations. Ms. Ballis adds in so much detail you know that she has or is going through a renovation since she knows what she is talking about. The reason why I love HGTV is that all of that stuff is shortened to a 30 minute format and I get to the end when the house is gorgeous. Reading about renovations tends to get kind of tedious to read after a while. At the end of the book there are recipes for food mentioned in the book, however, I think it would have been better to include the recipes at the end of each chapter where they were mentioned. I was seriously wondering where some of them came from and went back and searched to see when the recipes or the food was mentioned in the book. The setting of Chicago is a great one and I wish that I actually liked the city more. I have been several times and I swear everytime I go I lose luggage or a flight is cancelled. Ms. Ballis does make me want to go there again, explore, and go eat food at some of the restaurants she name-drops. Eventually we get to the ending of the book and I just wish that the ending was more open-ended. Ms. Ballis has done that before and then she mentions characters in follow-up books so we can read what happened to them. I like it when that happens since it gives you the feeling that the characters kept moving on and doing their thing out there which is what people do. You move on and you keep doing your thing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    I started out really intrigued by this book and then somewhere along the way I fell off the merry boat into tedious-land. I think the main problem is that this book feels like two separate books in one: a step-by-step architectural guide and a half-hearted foodie rom com. As much as I enjoy Fixer Upper and that show with the two brothers, I don't really care about the intricate details of building a house; long excessive paragraphs of what the characters are doing to the house, how and why, just I started out really intrigued by this book and then somewhere along the way I fell off the merry boat into tedious-land. I think the main problem is that this book feels like two separate books in one: a step-by-step architectural guide and a half-hearted foodie rom com. As much as I enjoy Fixer Upper and that show with the two brothers, I don't really care about the intricate details of building a house; long excessive paragraphs of what the characters are doing to the house, how and why, just bogged down the story and had me setting the book down for long intervals. The rom com aspect could have worked if only there had actually been a bit of romance, but a certain development kind of nipped that potential in the bud and prevented anything from happening until the epilogue. Gemma's journal should have taken center stage, in my opinion, but instead we get only snippets from the beautiful journal. Gemma's life seems much more interesting and wholesome than that of the main woman we follow. Anneke was extremely annoying to follow as a protagonist. She is bratty and spoiled and takes things to a dramatic extreme, and most times I could not follow her way of thinking. All the characters are so outlandishly rich and perfect at everything (except, of course, Anneke, who is perfect career-wise and yet flawed personality-wise) that I found it hard to relate to any of them. The saving grace came from a family member who shows up a third of the way through; and while I didn't like her at first, she grew on me and became my favorite. Jag was also a great character. His situation plays into the comedy aspect of the novel, but I was disappointed that after all the drama the big secret was revealed at the end and resolved with very little backfire. The secret seemed pointless to begin with. And yes, there is a hint of romance in this book, but not enough to really call this a romance book because nothing ever develops and everything is lies and I just- I don't even know how to categorize this book because everything that could happen happens. It's overwhelming and nonsensical. The best thing about this book is Gemma's journal entries and the recipes provided at the back. I wish there had been more of a food fiction/ historical journal aspect than such intense drama and how-to-be-a-master-builder. I'm just a little bit disappointed because I thought this book was going to be amazing, and then it became so tedious that I had to relegate it to being my read-at-work-on-break book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hilary Grossman

    I loved this book and was hooked from the very first page... I have been a fan of Stacey Ballis for years. I love how food has always been a character in her stories... Well this book not only had food in but it also featured home renovations as an added bonus - which I totally loved! As for the "real" characters of the story, they were terrific. They all had such unique and great personalities, just like your friends in real life. There were many twists and turns. I gasped a few times and laugh I loved this book and was hooked from the very first page... I have been a fan of Stacey Ballis for years. I love how food has always been a character in her stories... Well this book not only had food in but it also featured home renovations as an added bonus - which I totally loved! As for the "real" characters of the story, they were terrific. They all had such unique and great personalities, just like your friends in real life. There were many twists and turns. I gasped a few times and laughed often. I also stayed up way past my bed time because I couldn't stop reading...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I won a copy of “Recipe For Disaster” by Stacey Ballis, through the Goodreads Giveaway Contest. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and read a fun cozy chick lit novel to bring peace and a smile to your face. This is one of those times. I really enjoyed reading this novel, and as an added bonus, the author supplied recipes to enjoy. Anneke’s life falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband…all in one day. So what else could she do but pack up her stuff, and her schnauzer, an I won a copy of “Recipe For Disaster” by Stacey Ballis, through the Goodreads Giveaway Contest. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and read a fun cozy chick lit novel to bring peace and a smile to your face. This is one of those times. I really enjoyed reading this novel, and as an added bonus, the author supplied recipes to enjoy. Anneke’s life falls apart when she loses both her job and her future husband…all in one day. So what else could she do but pack up her stuff, and her schnauzer, and moves into her home in the process of renovation. Now she must invest her money wisely, into finishing the renovation. But she soon discovers a mysterious book, hidden away, filled with recipes and life lessons belonging to the previous owner. And over time, Anneke begins to try preparing some of the recipes. Now I am ready to redo my kitchen…but first I must try some of the fabulous recipes. This was a very enjoyable book to read, the characters were engaging and the plot is filled with humor and honesty. A fun chick lit book to read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    http://www.chicklitcentral.com/2015/0... Also has a review for A Second Bite at the Apple. http://www.chicklitcentral.com/2015/0... Also has a review for A Second Bite at the Apple.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Perfect mix of HGTV and Food Network with a fun Chicago setting. I always enjoy Stacey Ballis's novels. I want to hang out with her and her cool author friends that she always name drops in her books. Perfect mix of HGTV and Food Network with a fun Chicago setting. I always enjoy Stacey Ballis's novels. I want to hang out with her and her cool author friends that she always name drops in her books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sonia189

    I liked it. But I think some editing wouldn't have hurt and the epilogue was bare, when compared with the amount of information and scenes we've had before. I liked it. But I think some editing wouldn't have hurt and the epilogue was bare, when compared with the amount of information and scenes we've had before.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ~Teresa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The home renovations made this book for me! I loved the descriptions of Palmer House. I wanted to move in! The food, not so much. Sometimes there was just too much description with both the food and the renovation. Renovating vs food .... I'll take the renovation any time! Anneke, the main character, had an interesting background. Her story was sprinkled throughout the book rather than being told all at once. Grant, her fiancé, (eventually ex-fiancé) was not a big player in the book, but an impo The home renovations made this book for me! I loved the descriptions of Palmer House. I wanted to move in! The food, not so much. Sometimes there was just too much description with both the food and the renovation. Renovating vs food .... I'll take the renovation any time! Anneke, the main character, had an interesting background. Her story was sprinkled throughout the book rather than being told all at once. Grant, her fiancé, (eventually ex-fiancé) was not a big player in the book, but an important one in furthering the story. I liked him, although he cheated on her, I felt he was, at heart, a good guy and, for me at least, he was easy to like. Anneke's girlfriends were fun and quirky and a much needed support system, as was her business partner in the Palmer House renovation, Jag. Liam, the last character to round out the group, was an unknown as far as I was concerned. Hard to like, but maybe it was because I didn't know enough about him. He was hit and miss as far as the storyline!?! I loved that Anneke named her classic turquoise '67 Ford pickup Lola. Her dog, Schatzi, was a freaking mess and rather unlikable, but that's just my opinion. And, you should know this opinion is coming from a dog lover! Her stepsister, Emily, was a treat! I adored her and her energy and positive outlook and her desire to have Anneke in her life. Anneke's references to the front desk/receptionists staff where she worked was hysterical! They were "the Barbies"! They all looked alike with plumped lips, sparkling veneers, lots of silicone, and long blond hair, tipped in the latest trendy color! The last book I read by this author was wonderful and I couldn't put it down so I was anticipating another great read. This book was not as good. It got slow in places and because of this I lost interest and had to make myself continue. Although this wasn't my favorite book by this author, I will read more of her books. They are fun and written with lots of humor. I would definitely recommend this author to friends.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Once, again, awesome characters. I want to know these people in real life. Anneke is amazing and I learned so much from her, Jag, and Liam about how to remodel certain parts of a home. That was really interesting for me since I have so many to-do lists for my house. I have a better understanding of how to tackle a lot of those items. And the recipes? I cannot wait to try some of those! I love a book that has great recipes, and I love the recipes in Stacey's books so much that I purchased Big Del Once, again, awesome characters. I want to know these people in real life. Anneke is amazing and I learned so much from her, Jag, and Liam about how to remodel certain parts of a home. That was really interesting for me since I have so many to-do lists for my house. I have a better understanding of how to tackle a lot of those items. And the recipes? I cannot wait to try some of those! I love a book that has great recipes, and I love the recipes in Stacey's books so much that I purchased Big Delicious Life: Stacey Ballis's Most Awesome Recipes. I loved the idea of finding an old journal in a house that is being restored, and how the various randomly choses passages would relate to Anneke was a great twist on someone just reading an old journal cover-to-cover. It added a bit of magic to the story. Stacey didn't disappoint in adding a canine companion as an almost secondary character to the story, but, just like the twist on the journal, there was a twist to the dog's personality in that she did not seem to really like Anneke. That added a lot of current humor to the depressing relationship that Anneke had with her grandmother and mother growing up.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julie Valerie

    Anneke Stroudt’s life seemed perfect until a shocking encounter reveals all is not well after all. Add to that, troubles at work that lead Anneke to make another really big mistake: Opening her big mouth again. Thrown into circumstances she didn’t expect, Anneke’s left with no choice but to pick up the pieces… Enter a mysterious leather-bound book tucked away in the historic home she’s renovating, and you’re on a fictional ride that overhauls a home and a woman, as this charming collection of wis Anneke Stroudt’s life seemed perfect until a shocking encounter reveals all is not well after all. Add to that, troubles at work that lead Anneke to make another really big mistake: Opening her big mouth again. Thrown into circumstances she didn’t expect, Anneke’s left with no choice but to pick up the pieces… Enter a mysterious leather-bound book tucked away in the historic home she’s renovating, and you’re on a fictional ride that overhauls a home and a woman, as this charming collection of wisdom and recipes feed Anneke both spiritually and physically. Foodie fiction fans, fixer-upper fiction fans, this book is delicious – complete with a recipe for Emergency Chocolate Cake. Doesn’t get better than that. Oh! And there’s a love story, too. eeYup. I thought you might like that. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. For complete coverage, visit my book blog at: www.julievalerie.com/stacey-ballis/

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Conley

    This is a neat mix of romance, love of cooking, love of building restoration (I learned a lot about saving an old building) and interesting characters. It took me a while to really like Anneke but I did come to like her a lot.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Goans

    3.5 Stars I had a difficult time getting into this book when it started. I just didn't really connect with the main character, Anneke. But, I have to say, the more I read, the more invested I got in the story. I'm not big on building, or home renovation, but the more I read, I found I actually enjoyed that aspect of the book. Of course, if you've ever read a book by Stacey Ballis before, you know the food will be a huge part of the story, and this book doesn't disappoint. Even if I had just eaten 3.5 Stars I had a difficult time getting into this book when it started. I just didn't really connect with the main character, Anneke. But, I have to say, the more I read, the more invested I got in the story. I'm not big on building, or home renovation, but the more I read, I found I actually enjoyed that aspect of the book. Of course, if you've ever read a book by Stacey Ballis before, you know the food will be a huge part of the story, and this book doesn't disappoint. Even if I had just eaten, this book made me hungry! All in all, I ended up enjoying the book very much & would recommend it .

  14. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Zea

    Pretty dry and boring in the beginning that picks up 3/4 way into the book. While it did get more interesting, the author just drags in describing all the upgrades and changes the character does for the house which for a non-builder, not in the architecture/design industry person like me, this is equivalent to reading a text book. For all the time she spent describing what the character is doing to the house, I wish she would enhance the plot line and do more character development or fleshed out Pretty dry and boring in the beginning that picks up 3/4 way into the book. While it did get more interesting, the author just drags in describing all the upgrades and changes the character does for the house which for a non-builder, not in the architecture/design industry person like me, this is equivalent to reading a text book. For all the time she spent describing what the character is doing to the house, I wish she would enhance the plot line and do more character development or fleshed out the actual plot more.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I dislike all of Stacey Ballis's books for the same reasons (ridiculously unbelievable characters, scenarios and dialogue) so at this point I have no right to even complain about them. I know what I'm in for and I read them anyway. But since I like intriguingly imperfect characters and believable plots, from now on I'm sticking with Lisa Jewell and Lianne Moriarty. I dislike all of Stacey Ballis's books for the same reasons (ridiculously unbelievable characters, scenarios and dialogue) so at this point I have no right to even complain about them. I know what I'm in for and I read them anyway. But since I like intriguingly imperfect characters and believable plots, from now on I'm sticking with Lisa Jewell and Lianne Moriarty.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Liza Nahas

    I enjoyed the incredible detail to home renovation. I can clearly picture the Palmer house in my mind. Reading this book makes me want to redo my house & cook up a great meal from scratch. I may try some of the recipes. I liked the characters, but I very clearly, early on knew what was going to happen and I was right. But, still, fun chick lit.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Judy Gaffney

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! Couldn't put it down! Fell in love with all the characters (even the nasty little schnauzer!). Stacey Ballis is so fun to read, and her recipes continue to tempt me. Great attention to detail - I want to move into the Palmer Street house NOW and cook all of Gemma's food. GREAT book! Thank you, Stacey! LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! Couldn't put it down! Fell in love with all the characters (even the nasty little schnauzer!). Stacey Ballis is so fun to read, and her recipes continue to tempt me. Great attention to detail - I want to move into the Palmer Street house NOW and cook all of Gemma's food. GREAT book! Thank you, Stacey!

  18. 4 out of 5

    hoopiefoot

    I liked this book well enough. I mean, I nearly burned dinner one night while reading it, but it just took so. doggone. long. to read it. I don't know why. It was fluffy enough, certainly not great literature, but all the little extra details just took a lot of time. I could have done without all the journal entries...and ended up skipping most of those. I liked this book well enough. I mean, I nearly burned dinner one night while reading it, but it just took so. doggone. long. to read it. I don't know why. It was fluffy enough, certainly not great literature, but all the little extra details just took a lot of time. I could have done without all the journal entries...and ended up skipping most of those.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sarah K

    funny chicklit! i picked it up because a) i love food and cooking, b) we're moving into a house so i liked the renovation aspect, and c) i like reading. haha. i really enjoyed the sikh cultural aspects/food and adored jag's character. grant was utterly despicable and Anneke...well, i go back and forth on her. she was fun though. i'd love to have a group of friends like hers. funny chicklit! i picked it up because a) i love food and cooking, b) we're moving into a house so i liked the renovation aspect, and c) i like reading. haha. i really enjoyed the sikh cultural aspects/food and adored jag's character. grant was utterly despicable and Anneke...well, i go back and forth on her. she was fun though. i'd love to have a group of friends like hers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Seadanes

    I loved this book. Pre-ordered then read it as soon as it downloaded to my Kindle, finished in a few hours. I enjoyed the details of the house restoration - I felt like I was watching HGTV. Great story, great characters. I love this author, and I pre-order everything she writes.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This was a fun read...although I thought the attention to the many, many details dragged it down a little. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as formulaic as I expected. I do wonder why Anneke would have put laminate flooring anywhere in the Palmer house, though.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Very entertaining, worth the read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Strozeski

    A fun read - loved the house reno details along with the storyline.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Malinda Lawrence

    "I thought the intersection of architecture and artistry and archaeology was extraordinary, the perfect arrangement of imperfect stories to create the foundation, old solid bricks supporting wooden lath and hand-applied plaster. I came home with sawdust in my hair and cement crusted on my sneakers, and new love in my heart. Both for Joe, who was the only thing I ever had in my life that could be considered family in a positive and rational way, and for old houses that needed to find their full p "I thought the intersection of architecture and artistry and archaeology was extraordinary, the perfect arrangement of imperfect stories to create the foundation, old solid bricks supporting wooden lath and hand-applied plaster. I came home with sawdust in my hair and cement crusted on my sneakers, and new love in my heart. Both for Joe, who was the only thing I ever had in my life that could be considered family in a positive and rational way, and for old houses that needed to find their full potential." (p. 9). "Joe's first lesson to me was to focus my nervy on doing everything the right way. 'You know what I cal the building codes?' he used to say, 'A start.' I've spent the better part of my career convincing people to spend more money than they want to on infrastructure, and micromanaging subcontractors who insist that something is just fin 'at code.'" (p. 13). "It kills me that these rooms that knew generations of family parties, wedding receptions, and holiday celebrations got schooled up not unnatural bedrooms and closets, their details hidden and made genetic in the name of commerce. Lucky for me, I had access to the original plans for the house, which had been filed with the city, and was able to gut the walls that had been added over the years, without disrupting the load bearing originals. I'll give these turn-of-the-century builders their props. This place is like a fortress. Whatever went on with fixtures and finishes, the structure is as solid as the day she was born." (p. 37). "I'm feeling self-sufficient, almost competent. I also admit to some bags of frozen fries and chicken tenders, and a massive package of Oreos. Apparently they are as addictive as cocaine, and I can't afford cocaine, so it's going to have to be an Oreo buzz for me. (p. 93). "The way I was raised? Anything that smells the least bit like security also always felt undeserved and impermanent. I'm less sad or sorry for myself than I am feeling enormously stupid for having allowed myself to trust that I could have a normal, happy home. There is a weird, unfortunate relief to have had the rug pulled out from under me, to having the truth revealed. Nw I can go back to what I know. Self-sufficiency, independence, work." (p. 94).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    I initially didn't like Anneke very much. She was too brassy, too cold and seemed a bit selfish. I think, however, that is how you are supposed to feel. In the course of the book she evolves and restores herself, much as she restores the Palmer home. She discovers what is important and that it is not only okay, but necessary to let people in. She finds the family she never had and they are the perfect family for her. She somehow keeps her amazing friends, even though they seem to be the ones alw I initially didn't like Anneke very much. She was too brassy, too cold and seemed a bit selfish. I think, however, that is how you are supposed to feel. In the course of the book she evolves and restores herself, much as she restores the Palmer home. She discovers what is important and that it is not only okay, but necessary to let people in. She finds the family she never had and they are the perfect family for her. She somehow keeps her amazing friends, even though they seem to be the ones always giving and caring. I guess that's why they're amazing friends. She finds love where she could never imagine she would find it - would never dream she would find it in that person. I'm not usually one who loves tons of detail, and there is not tons of detail in this book. The details that there are, are vivid and important. The way Ballis describes the restoration of the house is amazing and the description of the recipes Anneke tries (and mostly succeeds) to make are mouthwatering. Definitely a good read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Fair warning, if you don't want to read ad nauseum about how bisexuals are horrible pathetic cheaters, don't read this book. The persistent biphobia made it hard to get into the story and I knocked a whole star off just for that alone. Really disappointed because I'd planned on reading more by this author but now I'm not sure I'm interested. On top of that, the plot was all over the place, I couldn't even figured out the romance until almost 3/4 of the way through. The ending was kind of a let do Fair warning, if you don't want to read ad nauseum about how bisexuals are horrible pathetic cheaters, don't read this book. The persistent biphobia made it hard to get into the story and I knocked a whole star off just for that alone. Really disappointed because I'd planned on reading more by this author but now I'm not sure I'm interested. On top of that, the plot was all over the place, I couldn't even figured out the romance until almost 3/4 of the way through. The ending was kind of a let down because there wasn't enough build up to make me invested. I also thought there'd be more of an emphasis on the food from the description, but it always felt like just an add on. Very disappointed in this books since I enjoyed another book by this author so much. I also hope she has evolved as a writer and no longer peppers her works with unnecessary biphobia.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Butcher

    3.5 stars So much to love in this book about creating the family and home that you deserve. Being able to move beyond the circumstances of your birth family, and claiming the people in your life who support and love you for who you are. And I fell completely in love with the house that Anneke was restoring. I felt that I could walk in the front door and know every inch of the house. The appearance of an old journal serving as culinary inspiration and as sort of a quirky Magic 8 Ball served as an 3.5 stars So much to love in this book about creating the family and home that you deserve. Being able to move beyond the circumstances of your birth family, and claiming the people in your life who support and love you for who you are. And I fell completely in love with the house that Anneke was restoring. I felt that I could walk in the front door and know every inch of the house. The appearance of an old journal serving as culinary inspiration and as sort of a quirky Magic 8 Ball served as an intriguing thread through the book, leading Anneke forward in developing her skills in the kitchen and serving as sage wisdom that she could turn to when she needed answers to her daily problems.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Piepie

    This book made me laugh! Sometimes some of the characters weren't very likeable, but I still loved their stories. I'm partial to any book with a dog on the cover, and the schnauzer was a feisty little brat of a character all her own. I loved the foodie and cultural scenes, and how this book took me by surprise and kept me guessing. Anneke's gal pals were a fun little group with personalities and flaws all their own. Home renovation shows aren't my favorite, but this book undoubtedly kept me enga This book made me laugh! Sometimes some of the characters weren't very likeable, but I still loved their stories. I'm partial to any book with a dog on the cover, and the schnauzer was a feisty little brat of a character all her own. I loved the foodie and cultural scenes, and how this book took me by surprise and kept me guessing. Anneke's gal pals were a fun little group with personalities and flaws all their own. Home renovation shows aren't my favorite, but this book undoubtedly kept me engaged in all the story arcs. And with a romantic, picture-perfect ending, this is a novel I'm happy to recommend!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Excellent - the detail oriented cooking and house remodeling narratives. I loved reading so much about both! Good - Anneke's character development. I didn't find her a likable character, though she was slightly sympathetic. However, I could appreciate how she matured over the course of the novel. Bad - smut. Taking God's name in vain. F-bomb. While I enjoyed some aspects of the novel, the smut and cursing was too much for me. I won't be reading another by this author if this is the norm for her Excellent - the detail oriented cooking and house remodeling narratives. I loved reading so much about both! Good - Anneke's character development. I didn't find her a likable character, though she was slightly sympathetic. However, I could appreciate how she matured over the course of the novel. Bad - smut. Taking God's name in vain. F-bomb. While I enjoyed some aspects of the novel, the smut and cursing was too much for me. I won't be reading another by this author if this is the norm for her novels.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Fun, with a couple caveats... Sometimes annoyingly verbose - oddly heavy on the adjectives in particular, per the Ballis ususal. Paid on a descriptor-per-noun basis, with a per-paragraph bonus, methinks?? :) And while apparently taking pretty good care of the pup in the novel - feeding, walking, never actually physically harming her - Anneke, the main character, is verbally just ugly AF to that dog...UGH!!

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