Genre: Cookery

#PubDay Book Review | “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King

Posted Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: In December [2018] I was approached about this New Year’s release – with such a stirring plot and depth of historical presence, I must admit, I felt moved by the sheer volume of what would become explored in the context of the novel itself! The more I explored the writer’s presence online (by her tweets and website) the more captivated I had become and a desire to read this novel increased tenfold. Not just because I love exploring cookery and ambrosial delights as a home cook myself but because I have a dear attachment to Foodie Fiction – inasmuch as I love exploratory Historical Fiction which seeks to root out lost truths and hidden passageways in the historic past – illuminating people we might never have met otherwise had a Historical novelist not uncovered the story to be told. Thus, my heart aches dearly for Historical Fiction and it is not oft I can pass over a chance to delve into a new unknown chapter of History!

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Chef’s Secret” direct from the publisher Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reason reading ‘”The Chef’s Secret’ appealled to me:

This novel sounds delish to read! I admit, I do not know the history behind Scappi but I love Foodie fiction and I love reading about the Renaissance inasmuch as I love a wicked good Suspense! I’ve read through the premise and it sounds wonderfully intriguing – especially as the nephew goes against his wishes,…

At the time I accepted this novel for review consideration, I was not yet aware of *Feast of Sorrows* nor of the accompanying cookbook which the author graciously sent me a digital copy of and of which I was able to browse at my leisure as it isn’t long in length and it happily opens like a wide angle format PDF file. Even in this sampler of a cookbook where the author is exploring Renaissance era recipes, she’s been inclusive of the ‘history of food’, the manner in which food was resonating with those who cooked their ingredients and the long, long history of how self-identifiable foods by culture, tradition and country of origin are not as we might have felt they had been – including those countries in the Mediterranean who are anchoured through food to speak on behalf of their culture.

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#PubDay Book Review | “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal KingThe Chef's Secret
by Crystal King
Source: Direct from Publisher, Scribd | Audiobook Subscription
Narrator: Jacques Roy

A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protĂ©gĂ©, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1501196430

ASIN: B07HKM1C83

Also by this author: The Chef's Secret (Interview)

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Cookery, Foodie Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Literary Fiction


Published by Atria Books

on 12th February, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 352

Length: 9 hours and 36 minutes (unabridged)

 Published By:  Published By: Atria Books (@AtriaBooks)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster () 

The novels of Crystal King:

Feast of Sorrow by Crystal KingThe Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Converse via: #TheChefsSecret, #HistNov and #HistFic
+ #Renaissance #Cookery with #BartolomeoScappi

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

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I originally felt I would have only been able to listen to a sampler of the audiobook version of #TheChefsSecret – until I had the unexpected JOY of listening to the audiobook in full ahead of posting my review as it released just after midnight the day of publication! The sampler begins as Chapter One begins,..

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About Crystal King

Photo Credit: Wayne Earl Chinnock (Boston Commercial Portrait Photography)

Crystal King is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy.

She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US.

A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston but considers Italy her next great love after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin. She is the author of Feast of Sorrow.

Photo Credit: Wayne Earl Chinnock

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Posted Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 by jorielov in 16th Century, Bartolomeo Scappi, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Review | “In Peppermint Peril” (Book One: A Tea and Read Mysteries) by Joy Avon

Posted Wednesday, 26 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I often cross paths with writers in the twitterverse, as I’m a social reader who likes to engage directly with fellow book bloggers, readers, reviewers and writers. I talk with writers who are in the process of launching their writing careers inasmuch as established writers who have quite a few releases out for us to discover. The blissitude of finding this author is the fact she writes under two separate names (Vivian Conroy for Cosy Historical Mysteries; Joy Avon for the Book Tea Shop Mysteries) whilst she hosts a weekly Historical Fiction Twitter Chat I am in love with attending inasmuch as the quarterly #HistoricalFix; as you see, #HistFicChat brings all of us together who love devouring Historical stories across genres and eras of interest. It is a conversational meet-up featuring today’s Historical authors – from all gambits of the umbrella in which you could find a writer writing a Historical novel!

Due to her encouragement, I reached out to her publisher Crooked Lane Books to see if I could receive two of her novels for review – “The Butterfly Conspiracy” and “In Peppermint Peril”. I was happily surprised to receive both and this marks the first of two reviews featuring my first introductions to her characters. I elected to share both during my personal readathon within the hours of the #cloakanddaggerchristmas readathon happening between #booktube and the book blogosphere! I was unfortunately delayed until Christmas Week to begin my readings due to a bad Winter virus and am overjoyed I can finally read the stories I’ve been keenly interested in discovering!

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “In Peppermint Peril” direct from the publisher Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reasons why I was dearly keen on discovering

this new Cosy Mystery series:

(as much as an explanation of how I’m connected to the author)

It might not be a very well known fact – as throughout the past five years as a book blogger, I’ve been focusing on so many different genres of entrance, I am never quite sure if any of my dear hearted visitors & readers know what my top favourite genres are to explore? Ever since I met Miss Marple I have had a penchant for Cosy Mysteries; from that day forward, I also adopted a British affinity for writing them in the Brit fashion rather than the American. It felt only right being that Dame Christie is who endeavoured to inspire a lifelong passion for the genre!

Over the years, I am thankful if I can find a new author (singular) or a new series (if they prefer a serial over a one-off) within the Cosy umbrella of stories. It is a hard call really – how to find an author who is writing the kind of stories I want to be seeking out & which series therein are being written in a style that I can sink my literary teeth into with the cosy comforting joy of feeling as if I’ve entered a world I would love to reside inside for quite a long time afterwards!

Reading Cosy Mysteries has been quite a luxury – a pleasurable exploration of Crime Fiction due to how soft & gentle the writers take us into the minds of their criminals & their sleuths. It is a lighter & fluffier side to Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers – for the most part – as sometimes Cosies can broker a fine line between Noir, Cosy & Hard-Boiled.

I have such an attachment to Cosy Historical Mysteries that I oft-time have to remind myself to seek out a Contemporary Cosy – as a book blogger I sort of side-lined my adventures into the Lady Emily series, the Mary Russell series & the Aunt Diminty series – all of which are part of my #beatthebacklist for 2019 reading challenge – however, prior to sorting out where I am traversing in Cosies for 2019, I was thankful I crossed paths with Ms Conroy (Avon) as through the conversations we’ve shared on Twitter during her chat #HistFicChat I found a like-minded spirit – someone who is as giddy happy over these Cosies as I am myself – and her readerly habits are a mirror of my own, dear hearts!

We oft find ourselves musefully talking about the same takeaways & insights into the Mysteries & Historical stories we are discussing – in that regard, it has been a benefit of minds to have met each other in the twitterverse! As how lovely is it when you find a fellow bookish soul who reads the stories you want to be seeking out yourself to read?

So, imagine my joyfulness in being able to read two of her lovely releases as typically her stories are *not released!* into print – their Digital First. I am thankful to have found an author out there who appreciates what I do in Crime Fiction and I couldn’t wait to get invested into her stories – seeing how she set the tone for her series & which of her characters would win me over the most!

Truly though – it boiled down to this: I drink copious amounts of tea, I’m in love with chai and I could literally spend a lifetime inside a library and a book shoppe without the need to exit! Combing a love of books and the art of tea into a Cosy series? The premise of that potential surely secured my interest! 

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A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Review | “In Peppermint Peril” (Book One: A Tea and Read Mysteries) by Joy AvonIn Peppermint Peril
Subtitle: A Book Tea Shop Mystery
by Joy Avon
Source: Direct from Publisher

This Christmas, Callie Aspen returns to her childhood hideout Heart's Harbour, Maine, where her great-aunt runs Book Tea, a vintage tearoom where every sweet treat contains a bookish clue. Upon arrival in the fairy-tale snowy town, Callie is drawn into the preparations for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the rambling house of Heart's Harbour's oldest resident, rich but lonely widow Dorothea Finster, who invited her estranged relatives, old friends, and the elite of the town to make a mysterious announcement about her will.

Believing they can touch a part of her fortune, everybody is determined to come, despite not liking each other or even their hostess. And Callie's old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter's engagement, even though her daughter isn't sure she's in love with the young lawyer her mother thinks is so perfect for her.

Catering to people who each have their own agenda isn't easy for the Book Tea crew, especially once the valuable engagement ring goes missing and a dead body turns up in the conservatory. Can Callie and her great-aunt use their love of clues to dig into the crimes and show their unhappy hostess and squabbling guests the true Christmas spirit?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781683317937

Genres: Amateur Detective, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Cookery, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction


Setting: Heart's Harbour, Maine


Published by Crooked Lane Books

on 13th November, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 288

Christmas Cosy Mystery Book Icon made by Jorie in Canva.ARC Review Icon made by Jorie in Canva.Amateur Detective Icon made by Jorie in Canva.

Published By: Crooked Lane Books (@crookedlanebks)

A Tea and Read Mysteries:

(I was rather partial to the original title of the series “A Book Tea Shop Mystery”)

In Peppermint Peril (book one)

→ Sweet Tea & Secrets (book two) *forthcoming, 11th June, 2019!

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #Conroy10, #CosyMystery + #TeaAndReadMysteries

About Joy Avon

Having spent many afternoons as a teen on the Nile with Poirot or confronting sinister spinsters in sleepy English towns with Miss Marple, it was only natural Joy Avon would start writing mysteries of her own. Besides writing, Joy enjoys hiking, collecting stationery, and trying new desserts, especially if chocolate is involved.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Wednesday, 26 December, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Amateur Detective, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cookery, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Lady Detective Fiction, Modern Day, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

Book Review | “Sugar and Spice” by Angela Britnell #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 30 June, 2018 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

#ChocLitSaturdays banner created in Canva by Jorie.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and I feature Romance & Women’s Fiction authors during @SatBookChat:

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how to promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “Sugar and Spice” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Why I was excited about reading more stories by Ms Britnell:

The best way to describe my thoughts about wanting to read another story by Ms Britnell is simply to re-share my thoughts on behalf of her novella You’re the One that I Want – as I had such a wicked blast reading it as it was the first #PocketChocLit I read whilst kicking off a mini-series of novella reviews featuring the first batch of ChocLit novellas which went into print a few years ago during Christmastime!

The stories were such a balm to my worried soul back then, as it was only a handful of weeks prior to Christmas that year when my Dad had had his stroke. ChocLit stories were the stories which pulled me through that December and even into the New Year of 2017. Sometimes focusing on stories helps our spirits when life turns especially adverse to where we need an outlet to redirect our thoughts off our worries and fears. One lovely thing though – each month Dad recovered more of himself and each new month thereafter the stroke felt farther away from having happened. Being able to care for my Dad all those months and still watching over him today, is one reason I am thankful I had the chance to remain close to home.

reflecting on my forethought’s

& afterthoughts:

Being in a position to reflect upon a story ahead of reading it has become a newfound joy of mine – where I get to suspend myself in the wonderful vortex of ‘could be or might be’ whilst never really knowing until I get the proper chance to read the story if I were hitting the target on the story’s heart or failing to pick up the threads of it’s narrative core.  In respect to You’re the One that I Want, I had an initial strong motivation to read the text as I simply find myself attracted to these kinds of stories quite often!

Remember when I said this:

The premise reminds me of “Under the Tuscan Sun” but with a built-in boyfriend and potential husband. The bit that reminded me the most is the touring bus & the holiday elsewhere from home, whilst life unexpectedly takes you by a surprise and gives you a new route to entertain experiencing. Love those types of stories!

There is something about being swept away on a holiday, never thinking your going to randomly meet-up with someone who could be your equal, your partner and your match. I love the folly behind the match, too! How they are playing that ‘should they or shouldn’t they’ stay together gambit, whilst sorting through their emotions. The funny thing is that for every Rom-Com (esp in movies on television) that sets up a couple in this fashion – where they are faking a relationship, inevitably they realise their error and remain together.

And, how do I feel now after reading this lovely novella twice (once for the live tweeting & re-reading for this review) about what I expressed within this paragraph:

The best bit for me is seeing how they come to this realisation – what was the impetus of changing their minds!? How did they realise that this ‘random something’ was worth taking a risk of a chance on and turning it into a romantic forevermore? I love seeing how they put it all together – weigh the odds and somehow realise that life affords us a lot choices, but sometimes the hardest thing to influence your choice is the one thing that ‘feels right’ in the moment where your life surprises you with something you hadn’t expected to find. At least not in the timing it’s being presented. There is an allure of that beautiful reverie of romance inching itself forward into your life when your focus is on everything *except!* falling in love! Laughs. Of course, that’s *exactly!* when love walks in through the door you never realised you left open!

I must say, Ms Britnell managed to woo me into her comedic Contemporary, where humour plays a big role in alleviating some rather adverse life moments (or rather side-stepping a few!) whilst honing in on the realities of dating before marriage and after divorce. She found a way to fine tune the realities of a workaholic businessman who hadn’t quite considered himself doing anything more than what he projected himself to accomplish in the business world whilst finding a singleton from England who was a bit jaded more then he was on the whole dating situation!

My initial musings were quite bang-on to what I found inside the novella – it surprised me a bit because I hadn’t realised I had tapped into the heart of the story-line as well as I had until I was reading how it all unfolded. The best part truly though was getting the joy of meeting a #newtomeauthor and reading a small slice out of her ongoing series set in Nashville! I loved the charm of the story but also the unexpected ways in which Ms Britnell surprised you – you might think you understand all the ins/outs of what could happen between Sarah and Matt, but that’s where you get a curveball of something wickedly unexpected!

-quoted from my review of You’re the One that I Want (Pocket ChocLit)

The only thing I’m unsure about though is if Sugar and Spice is the first novel in the Nashville series or simply a one-off non-connected to the series at hand, as Lily is from Nashville. The author’s website infers its not connected and thereby, I didn’t mention a connection on this review. The novella I read during December 2016 truly was the best way to become ‘introduced’ to Ms Britnell’s style as she put a lot of her comedy inside the story but also, showed the heart of what you can find inside Sugar and Spice as well.

Ms Britnell happily commented below this review & announced ‘Sugar and Spice’ does begin the #NashvilleConnections series! Isn’t that rather grand!?

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

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Posted Saturday, 30 June, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Britian, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Contemporary Romance, Divorce & Martial Strife, England, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Romance Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Small Towne Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature