Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Every Wild Heart" by Meg Donohue, Served with a Recipe for Simple Pasta with Butter and Parmesan

On today's TLC Book Tour stop I'm reviewing the mother-daughter novel Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue and along with my review, I'm serving up a bowl of simple Pasta with Butter and Parmesan, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb: 

From USA Today bestselling author Meg Donohue comes a mystery, a love story, and a mother-daughter tale about two women on a precarious journey to uncover their true selves.

Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic?

Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next…

Hardcover: 304 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow (March 14, 2017)

My Review:

Although I have had How to Eat a Cupcake sitting in my TBR pile for ages, Every Wild Heart is my first book from Meg Donohue, although it will not be my last. It is an easy read, not too heavy, and full of warmth, love and humor. Although there is certainly some drama and a touch of suspense in the mix, it is a mostly feel-good story about the relationship between a single mother (Gail) and her fourteen-year-old daughter (Nic) and the changes that they and their relationship go through after Nic has a riding accident. The story is told in dual narration with chapters alternating  between the two characters, each offering their perspectives. 

At first I was worried that there were a lot of sub-plots with Gail's career indecision, a angry 'fan' who seems to be stalking her, potential romances for both Nic and Gail, Nic's accident, and the horse riding and music (there's a great playlist in the back of the book) that are woven in throughout the story, but Donohue fairly masterfully fits its it all in and makes it work. It makes for a balanced and engaging book that while didn't deliver quite as much suspense as I was expecting from the blurb, certainly delivered in entertainment as there was just enough drama, romance, tense moments, and relationship/family drama to keep me turning the pages to find out what happened next. At it's core, Every Wild Heart is about growth, change, and moving forward despite our fears of letting go, as well as the changing relationship (but unconditional love) between a mother and daughter. It's a definite comfort read and manages to be sweet and thoughtful without being cloying. My only complaint? I would have liked more than 304 pages with these characters.


Author Notes: Meg Donohue is the USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake, All the Summer Girls, and Dog Crazy. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA in comparative literature from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, three children, and dog.
Find out more about Meg at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

There is no a lot of food in Every Wild Heart but there is mention enough to provide some inspiration, like a turkey-and-cheese sandwich, a kale, farro, and chia seed salad, plates of spaghetti, the meatball subs and tacos to be avoided in the school cafeteria--because of the "weird spice in it that makes your mouth feel kind of furry the rest of the day," cereal, doughnuts, comforting meals of pasta and stew, bagels and cream cheese, pizza and Kentucky Mules, chocolate and coffee.

It was homemade pasta cooked by stable owner Denny for Gail that became my book-inspired dish. Denny invites her over for a spaghetti dinner and they end up making homemade pasta (a "hobby" of his).

"Two minutes later, he pulled the pasta from the water with tongs and spun it around in a large porcelain bowl with a few hunks of butter, a sprinkle of parsley and black pepper, and a healthy spoonful of Parmesan cheese. The pasta was still steaming as he portioned it into two bowls and set them on the table.  ... The pasta was so good that we were forced to eat in silence for a full minute before either of us could say another word."

It sounded like one of my favorite "the world sucks right now and I have no energy and need some serious comfort food" go-to dinners based off a Nigel Slater recipe sketch. I don't make my own pasta and usually opt for pantry-handy boxed spaghetti--but in honor of Denny, I sprang for fresh linguine for this one.

Linguine with Butter and Parmesan 
Adapted from Appetite by Nigel Slater

"For each person, grate 1/2 cup Parmesan or pecorino. I know this will look like a lot, but generosity is the only route to take here. Toss the hot pasta with a thick slice of your freshest butter (you really should open a new packet for this, as the sweetness of the butter is the whole point) and the grated cheese. The two will melt into a thin sauce that will lightly coat the spaghetti. Spoon over more cheese at the table--or on the floor or the sofa or in bed, or wherever else you might be eating this.

(Deb's Note: I have made a couple of small changes to this recipe--I cook the pasta in salted water and reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and toss it in with the grated cheese and butter. It thins it out just a bit and makes the sauce coat the pasta more effectively. Then I also add a good amount of freshly ground black pepper and here I've adding some chopped fresh parsley--not needed necessarily but it was in the book and makes it look prettier.)

Notes/Results: Simple but so decadent and so good. It's hard to tell from the photos but between the butter, Parmesan and pasta water, each strand is coated with a thin sauce of goodness. With the amount of cheese and butter Nigel recommends, this isn't the healthiest pasta dish, but boy does it comfort and restore a weary body and soul when you need it to. I make this periodically when I need a bit of an easy boost--it's an occasional necessary indulgence. ;-)

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of the "Every Wild Heart" was provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins, and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.



  1. Mmmmm... it seems you picked the perfect recipe for this book! Simple and delicious!

  2. Nothing is better than too much cheese and butter on pasta.

    best... mae at

  3. That book is now on my TBR list, as it sounds like a winner. And the perfect food to go with - simple comforting pasta.

  4. Yum! The pasta sounds amazing and my favorite kind. I haven't read anything by Donohue but I really like the sound of this one - especially since you mention that the number of subplots doesn't feel overwhelming. This sounds like a lovely read - especially after a nice tasty dish of Linguine with Butter and Parmesan.

  5. Nice simple but rich linguine! Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  6. I love the sound of that pasta, simple and yummy. Donohue is perfect for light reading, I need to get to this one.

  7. Oh! Wow, that recipe brings back memories! My grandpa, who passed away about a year ago, used to love pasta with butter and parmesan. What a wonderful memory for me!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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