Genre: Foodie Fiction

#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 protégé, 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

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


Published by Atria Books

on 12th February, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

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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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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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

Book Review | “His One and Only Bride” (The Business of Weddings series, Book Six) by Tara Randel A series by #HarlequinHeartwarming

Posted Thursday, 25 January, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , , , 0 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “His One and Only Bride” direct from the author Tara Randel in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was intrigued by this story-line:

I truly love wedding stories – when I caught sight of this title, I was instantly hooked – as I perused the synopsis this felt like the kind of story I needed right now. I was recovering from my virus (a three week affair, plus one week to recover my energy, focus and stamina!) when I first spied this blog tour – which is why unexpectedly I made a bit of a blunderment! This is a series in-progress! In fact, I originally thought this was the fifth book in the series but it turns out, it’s the *sixth!* and final story to anchour the ENTIRE Business of Weddings series together! Oy vie. As I mentioned in this tweet – sometimes a girl just needs to be #amreading!

Which was my way of overstating the obvious – I have missed being curled up inside stories these past four weeks with reckless abandon! I’ve only been able to dip my toes into a few novels, two suspenseful audiobooks and partially re-listened to a Cosy Mystery audiobook I’m finishing this week. I simply couldn’t focus on reading or dissecting what I was reading with any kind of regularity until after I recovered. Finding myself struck down by a migraine this past weekend (of the 20th) was not exactly the step ‘forward’ I was hoping to have this side of the virus! Mind you, I wasn’t even going to attempt to read too much Non-Fiction (despite my shelves leaning in this direction!) as those take a bit more attention as I like to read those titles whilst analysing them from a different perspective altogether! Expect more of those kinds of ruminations sprinkled throughout the coming month of February and well into Spring!

However, despite the lows of spending most of the first month of the New Year quite muddled in health woes – I did capture a happy spirit for a few lovely exchanges of convo and delightful discoveries on Twitter! I even hosted my first Romance + Women’s Fiction chat of the year: @SatBookChat which happily has started on good footing for bringing readers and writers together! (smiles) On the foot-heels of this good news, I am thankful I can start resuming my Romantic Reads – as I do love a wonderfully light Rom, a historically intriguing Romance, a mind-tingling Rom Suspense or a dramatic Women’s Fiction story to thread through my yearly reads!

It is true – I do have a keen preference for reading serial fiction in order of sequence, except for when I make a gaffe like this and recognise sometimes it’s okay to read them ‘out of order’! Laughs with mirth. Part of the reason I think I have trouble discerning which novel is in sequence is because these are not always exclusively marketed by their sequencing – meaning, oft-times I do try to source their origins and numerical sequencing but still find myself falling a bit short of knowing ‘which came first’ and ‘which should I read next’! I wonder if there is a repository for all Harlequin (and Mills & Boon) titles in a database which catalogues their serial fiction?

Ironically or not, I also notice a bit of a pattern here – for the Harlequin and Mills & Boon novels I’ve been reading of late, I’ve been reading them ALL out of sequence! *le sigh* Apparently I keep ‘leaping’ before I double-check which book is in which order of their individual series! The only happy bit, of course, is being able to re-find these lovelies through my local library, inter-library loan and used book shoppes – as not all of these are kept in print past their initial print runs! More adventure for the bookish girl who loves a ready challenge in gathering books in sequence! Ha!

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Book Review | “His One and Only Bride” (The Business of Weddings series, Book Six) by Tara Randel A series by #HarlequinHeartwarmingHis One and Only Bride
Subtitle: The Business of Weddings
by Tara Randel
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

He never thought he’d see her again!

After being reported missing, presumed dead, globe-hopping photojournalist Mitch Simmons never thought he’d see his estranged wife, Zoe, again. Yet here he is back in their coastal Florida town, where Zoe is mayor. Turns out she isn’t the only one he left behind.

Discovering he has a baby son awakens thrilling new emotions in Mitch. And there are his still-powerful feelings for the high school sweetheart he vowed to love and honor forever. Thankfully, they’ll have the chance to find the love that was always there…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-335-63346-0

Also by this author: His Honor, Her Family

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Foodie Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Suspense


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 1st January, 2017

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming

Converse via: #Contemporary + #Romance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

The Business of Weddings Series:

Magnolia Bride | Book One | Synopsis

Orange Blossom Brides | Book Two | Synopsis

Honeysuckle Bride | Book Three | Synopsis

The Bridal Bouquet | Book Four | Synopsis

The Wedding March | Book Five | Synopsis

Read Excerpts via the author’s site

About Tara Randel

Tara Randel

USA Today Bestselling Author Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn't come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. Family values, mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Tara lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery.

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Posted Thursday, 25 January, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Contemporary Romance, Creative Arts, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Firefighters & Paramedics, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Foodie Fiction, Indie Author, JLAS Update Post, Kidnapping or Unexplained Disappearances, Life Shift, Men's Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Mother-Son Relationships, Neurosciences | Neurogenetics, Photography, Prism Book Tours, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Suspense

Cover Reveal | NEW #ChocLit #RomCom by Jane Lovering “Little Teashop of Horrors”!

Posted Tuesday, 28 March, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Stories Sailing into View Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

If your a regular reader or frequent visitor of Jorie Loves A Story, you know I’ve been smitten with the novelists who publish their relationship-based Romances with ChocLitUK for a good two years now! I love being on the cusp of learning about a ‘new release’ whilst I remain patient to see if the Digital First new ChocLit novel will make it to a print release further down the road of it’s lifetime. I don’t mind the gaps between the ebooks and the print editions – as it’s always given me the pleasure of balancing my ‘next ChocLit reads’ to include both Front List and Back List offerings. Thus, I am enjoying being a member of the Reveal Team at ChocLit whilst it gives me a chance to introduce my readers to a variety of sub-genres within Romance I appreciate picking up to read!

You may or may not realise how quirky my humour is by what you’ve previously read here on Jorie Loves A Story, as comedy is not something I always focus on nor is it easy for me to find contemporary favourites in the comedic world. For instance, it might surprise you to learn Mum and I sometimes find ourselves caught up in comedies that might be considered ‘outside our comfort zones’ and far to the outside of where we regularly travel in the world of comedy! A prime example of this would be the film ‘So I Married an Axe Murderer’ and our ill-fated attempt to watch ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’.

More recently we have dipped into the Contemporary comedies on television which have garnished a following for those of us who appreciate quirky humour, dashes of romance and a slightly dysfunctional view on family life such as: Schitt’s Creek (from Canada) and Grace and Frankie (from Netflix). Of these two, the first one lost it’s luster in Series 3 where the timing and writing were so far off the mark of the original two series, we stopped laughing + watching outright. Similar to how the first series of Younger had a plausible reason for being watched (especially for anyone who is caught up in the world of books and publishing!) but by the sophomore year, they quashed the joy so distinctively it was hard to remember what was good about it! (similar to why ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ was let go of as well before the end of series two!) Now, the third series mentioned is on that fringe state of losing it’s ‘quirkified style’ and merit of being wicked funny.

Reason being — despite all of these being slightly blunt around the proverbial edge to include vulgarity* in more sprites and frequency than what I would accept in novels — at the core of the series themselves, there was a lifeblood of realistic drama, cunning dialogue and a soulfulness of relating to the human condition whilst life is being evolved in ordinary hours. They might be billed as comedies, but somewhere the lines blurred and were more dramedies than comedies. Yet. They all had their quirks – to understand properly what I’m referencing you’d have to borrow the seasonals like I did or pop over to Netflix for a trial go at membership! lol (if you want to catch the first three seasons of Grace and Frankie)

*I would of course love to see them temper the inclusions but that’s wishful thinking on my behalf! Sometimes I like to see what others’ are watching in order to ‘keep in step’ with my contemporaries but also choosing what works for me at the same time. I’d rather not have a blind eye but an informed eye. Sometimes I make exceptions to understand my peers and sometimes what I ‘try’ for awhile fades into the background of a ‘miss’ but something that was briefly appreciated.

Now, why do I like quirky humour!? To say life is far too serious and jarring IRL is too obvious to state; but to clarify that I’ve always had a quirky funnybone is more readily the point! You see, I was in middle school when I met ‘Beetlejuice’ as much as I was entralled with the Addams Family; not to mention the Munsters! There are classics in comedy and there are ground-breakers like Carol Burnett who redefined how sophisticated you can make comedy even if it’s fully on the level of ‘quirk’. I might dip inside well-known shows for a spell, but my personal favourites tend to be more traditionally writ and/or have something inside them that proves timeless (such as Carol Burnett or Dick Van Dyke).

On the flipside, the drama ‘Monarch of the Glen’ falls inside a lovingly brilliant dramedy where Highland life in Scotland with a cleverly writ dysfunctional family is fully engaging round a story-line of where one son endeavours to bail out a failing Scottish Castle and mindfully embrace the quirky family he’s a part of in the process! I loved every inch of that zany comedic series – even when it turnt quite emotionally jarring!

When it comes to the comedy of Ms Lovering, I am a bit in the ‘dark’ so to speak. I do not know how she flavours her stories (by language choices) or how she adds layers of quirky situation comedy to her characters’ lives, but one thing is for sure – I think I have an inside glimpse at what could be involved as I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with her during #ChocLitSaturday! (see also @ChocLitSaturday for chat updates) During the chats she was able to duck inside were the ones I laughed so hard I nearly split a kidney as they say! Her cheeky and insightful humour never fails to leave me in stitches of joy, and I have a feeling I’ll feel the same about her fiction!

Of course, mind you, one of the joys of featuring this ‘cover reveal’ today is not only my participation as a ChocLit Star but as a second entry of blogging about Ms Lovering’s fiction! I’ve been wanting to duck into her comedies – but as the Yorkshire series is full-on established, I never knew which book to begin with or when to enter it properly! I know her stories are one-offs as much as they are part of a threading of a series, but I sometimes am shy about how to start series. My general intent is to start at the beginnings, but I’ve broken that tradition several times for different reasons, so it’s not a strict hard fast rule if series like this are not traditionally anchoured round each story continuing the previous installment.

FYI: I have a secret of my own right now about how I’ve resolved this curiosity of mine but today, we are celebrating her latest release! You might remember me hosting her Reveal for ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ last May!? (see also this post!)

*It should be noted a few short weeks after this originally posted, I quit watching Grace and Frankie as I personally felt the writing was not in-tune with the previous season. In the end, I felt the relationship between the two leads was tainted and the comedic timing was dissolved. Also, I leaned towards appreciating the character growth between Sol and Robert far more than between Grace and Frankie; of whom once were the series anchours and then, felt as if they were being re-written right in the height of their popularity. Coincidentally, the second series I watched on NetFlix is the one which endured the most: Heartland a CBC (Canadian) series which is currently filming it’s 11 season in 2017. Thirdly, I was quite surprised by how The Carrie Diaries had empathy, heart and a humanistic side to the title lead character of whom I never could follow in the ‘sequel’ original series. My fourth selection was Father Brown a BBC series which I was wickedly gobsmacked to learn is featuring Mr Weasley (from Harry Potter) as I hadn’t recognised him as being part of my favourite ‘family’ in the Potter world. Ergo, I am finding my way on NetFlix, it just took a bit of time!

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On my connection to the author:

I happily have had the pleasure of interacting with Ms Lovering through #ChocLitSaturday the chat off/on for the past three years; up until when she had to take a hiatus from joining us Autumn 2015 or thereabouts. I am always thankful when the ChocLit authors can find a niche where they feel comfortable chattering with fellow ChocLit authors, Romance novelists, book bloggers, readers, and other bookishly chatty spirits who alight on Saturdays! Ms Lovering always knows how best to give us a heap of laughter, a wicked good smile and happily make #ChocLitSaturday a lovely place to be!

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her ahead of reading her novels. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time. This is also true when I follow-up with them on future releases and celebrate the book birthdays that come after their initial publication.

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Posted Tuesday, 28 March, 2017 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover Reveal, Book Spotlight & Announcement, ChocLitUK, Contemporary Romance, Indie Author, Modern Day, Romance Fiction, Romantic Comedy