“Delicious!” by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl’s Delicious! was the first novel I completed in 2018. I borrowed it from the library toward the end of last year because I was in the mood for something light and fun, possibly romantic, and about food, so I picked up Delicious! because its cover beckoned to me and the title made me curious.

Goodreads summary:

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is summarily shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”-a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries-until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

Delicious! carries the reader to the colorful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors, and from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues-the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love. (Goodreads)

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“Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes

me-before-youGreat and refreshing because it’s different from the books I usually read.

Goodreads overview:

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?  Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)

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“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

The Night CircusAhh…where to begin? I have so many thoughts about this book.

Quick summary:

“The circus arrives without warning.”

The Night Circus is a wonderful story about two magicians pitted against each other in a test of skills and ingenuity. Prospero, a famous magician, offers his daughter to this fateful competition believing that her natural abilities will make her a winner. But Mr. A.H—, a fellow magician, believes that anyone can be great at magic if they are dedicated to it, so he finds an orphan and trains him in the arcane arts.

No great detail is given about the competition, but as the story unfolds, we learn more about what is required. The stage for this competition? A circus, where magic can be displayed, unsuspected, in the open. The story is set in the real world, though a few years in the past. Magic is not a commonly accepted thing, but people delight in fancy tricks and deceptions at magic shows and circuses. The story is told from various points-of-view including the competitors’, Marco and Celia, and it jumps back and forth in time, depending on where the characters are (no, there’s no time travel).

We begin by being introduced to the characters. Then we see how the circus came about and how it ends.

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“A Love Noire” by Erica Simone Turnipseed

This is one of my favorite romance novels. I learned a lot from it: historical facts and little tidbits about countries I’ve never been to. This is actually the third time that I am reading it. I love how it begins (a chance meeting in a bookstore) but my sentiments towards the ending is bittersweet. The story progresses well however. We see the characters meet, fall in love, and break apart

I love reading novels that contain strong characters and the protagonists in this one are worth the read. Noire, as her name implies, is all about Black identity and culture, while Innocent seems not to hold such things in high regard. I like how Turnipseed intersperses different elements of Black experience in her cast of characters. The cast are from a diverse background within the African diaspora – the United States, the Caribbean, the African continent. I believe that this is one of the best parts of the novel. The diversity in the cast of characters, and Turnipseed doing a great job of displaying each background and revealing their beliefs, brings a unifying element to the novel. It shows that although they are all different due to their background, they are connected by the common ancestry they share by way of Africa and the common historical experiences of slavery.

Still, although this is a romance novel, I believe that it focuses more on social issues than the actual romance between the characters.