Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "California Girls" by Susan Mallery, Served with a Recipe for Easy Weeknight Veggie Lo Mein

It's Wednesday and with a busy week already, I am in the mood for a little break to get me over the hump and into the weekend. A Susan Mallery novel, like her newest, California Girls, works beautifully as a little escape and I'm happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour. Accompanying my review is a quick and simple Veggie Lo Mein recipe, perfect for a weeknight dinner. 

Publisher's Blurb:

The California sunshine’s not quite so bright for three sisters who get dumped in the same week…

Finola, a popular LA morning show host, is famously upbeat until she’s blindsided on live TV by news that her husband is sleeping with a young pop sensation who has set their affair to music. While avoiding the tabloids and pretending she’s just fine, she’s crumbling inside, desperate for him to come to his senses and for life to go back to normal.

Zennie’s breakup is no big loss. Although the world insists she pair up, she’d rather be surfing. So agreeing to be the surrogate for her best friend is a no-brainer—after all, she has an available womb and no other attachments to worry about. Except…when everyone else, including her big sister, thinks she’s making a huge mistake, being pregnant is a lot lonelier—and more complicated—than she imagined.

Never the tallest, thinnest or prettiest sister, Ali is used to being overlooked, but when her fiancé sends his disapproving brother to call off the wedding, it’s a new low. And yet Daniel continues to turn up “for support,” making Ali wonder if maybe—for once—someone sees her in a way no one ever has.

But side by side by side, these sisters will start over and rebuild their lives with all the affection, charm and laugh-out-loud humor that is classic Susan Mallery.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (February 26, 2019)

My Review:

Susan Mallery is an author I turn to when I want a good book to escape with. Her books are easy reads, pages fly by as I immerse myself into the different storylines she weaves together. In California Girls, the story follows three very different sisters, Finola, Zennie, and Ali. They might be different in looks, personality, and lifestyle, but they share a similar problem when they are all dumped by the men in their lives. Finola and Ali tie for the worst dumping with Finola's husband blurting out that he's leaving right before she goes on air with her morning talk show, and her first guest is the young country-pop star he is sleeping with. In Ali's case, her fiance doesn't bother telling her he doesn't want to marry her, so his more responsible brother has to do it. By comparison, Zennie's breakup seems anticlimactic as it is a guy she has had a few dates with, but she isn't interested in being coupled up. There is plenty of drama as each sister tries to navigate her life and find happiness. I found myself liking Ali the most--my heart went out to her first, but Zennie and eventually Finola grew on me too. 

There are no big surprises in the story, but I enjoyed the journey. Mallery's novels are easy to enjoy--from the characters she writes to the food she peppers her stories with. If you like women's fiction, stories about sisters and families, romance and friendships, and you'll enjoy this one.

Author Notes: #1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. 

Visit her at, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


Food Inspiration: 

Susan Mallery never has a shortage of food in her books and in fact there is even a recipe for California Girls Stuffed Scones in the back of this one. Food mentions included bacon, potato salad-five ways, espresso, protein-packed smoothies, salad and rotisserie chicken instead of tortilla chips and macaroni salad, all-meat pizza and garlic bread, Cherry Garcia ice cream, chocolate bundt cake, red wine, tequila, a hangover cure smoothie with coconut water, red ginseng, prickly pear and ginger, mushrooms, eggs, cucumbers, hotdogs, peanuts and bear at a baseball game, Chinese takeouts of lo mein, kung pao chicken, Mongolian beef and honey shrimp, fried rice, crab wontons, BBQ spare ribs and crispy green beans, Cheetos, potato chips with ranch dip, instant mashed potatoes, brownies, wedding cake, greens, a pastrami sandwich, kale and other green vegetables, chocolate-covered graham crackers, grilled ahi with salad and a side of broccoli, seafood dinner for two, pickles and chocolate chip ice cream, curried chicken sandwiches and a salad with basil ranch dressing, CPK's avocado egg rolls, sushi, pulled pork tacos with homemade tortillas, extra avocado and salsa, beer, quiche, sandwiches, Brie, a hot fudge sundae, donuts, chicken marsala, mashed potatoes and fresh green beans, frosted cookies, and an In-N-Out burger and a chocolate milkshake.

There were two mentions of Chinese takeout dinners and both included the noodle dish lo mein. The Chinese food was comfort food to Ali after her fiance dumps her and later to Zennie, in the midst of the pregnancy blues. The lo mein caught my eye as I have been craving noodles and it seemed like an easy weeknight dinner. 

These noodles are not all that authentic, but by making them at home which only takes about 20 minutes, you can control the sodium and oil and have fresh tasting noodles. If you have leftovers, they taste great reheated (because lo mein doesn't dry out like fried rice), as Ali declares in the book.

Weeknight Veggie Lo Mein
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2-3)

1 package lo mein noodles or other thin noodle
1 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil (I use a mix of sesame and canola oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced, green and white parts separated
1 pint cremini mushrooms, sliced
5-6 mini bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed and sliced into thirds
Lo Mein Sauce, recipe below
toasted sesame seeds
Lo Mein Sauce:
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp brown sugar or maple syrup  
2 tsp rice wine vinegar

Cook lo mein noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside. 

While spaghetti is cooking, whisk together sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat oil in a large wok or skillet and add whites of green onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, snow peas and carrots and saute 5 to 6 minutes--until veggies are just tender. Add noodles and sauce and warm through. Serve garnished with green onion tops and sesame seeds and enjoy!

Notes/Results: What's not to like here? Noodles, tasty sauce and lots of fresh veggies. The only effort is the chopping and you have a delicious dinner ready in about 20 minutes. You can use whatever veggies you like in this--cabbage or Chinese greens would be nice. I may add some roasted peanuts to the leftovers for crunch and protein. I would happily make this again.

I'm sharing this post with 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 "California Girls" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via 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. So, how did I miss the recipe in the back? Seriously? Lo Mein is a perfect dish for the novel. I made red wine brownies (which will go up on the 25th). Totally agree with your review. Enjoyable, quick, easy, escaping read.

  2. Sometimes I really just need something easy and fun and Susan Mallery is always that author for me! Thanks for being on this tour.

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  3. Ooooh the lo mein looks wonderful! Yummmmm -- and not a peanut in sight! The book sounds really fun too. (Oh, and I just realized my recipe this week will work with Souper Sunday ... running off to do that linkup)

  4. That food list is amazing ... they really didn't miss too many things to eat. Simple ordinary vegetables with noodles and Asian sauce: great idea for a dinner when not much is on hand.

    best... mae at

  5. Now on order from the library. Cheers from cArole's Chatter

  6. Your lo mein makes me want to break keto. This just looks so good.


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