Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here; A Review of "Write My Name Across the Sky" by Barbara O'Neal Paired with Tangy Creamy Tomato Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Happy Sunday! Today I bring you a slightly delinquent book tour review as a stop for Write My Name Across the Sky by Barbara O'Neal for TLC Book Tours. I have had an insanely busy and hard couple of work weeks and needed the weekend to finish this book, and since I decided that my book-inspired dish was going to be a Tangy Creamy Tomato Soup, I asked if I could pair it with my weekly Souper Sundays post. Thank you Lisa for being so understanding! 

Publisher's Blurb

Life’s beautiful for seventy-something influencer Gloria Rose, in her Upper West Side loft with rooftop garden and scores of Instagram followers–until she gets word that her old flame has been arrested for art theft and forgery, and, knowing her own involvement in his misdeeds decades earlier, decides to flee. But that plan is complicated when the nieces she raised are thrown into crises of their own.

Willow, overshadowed by her notorious singer-songwriter mother, has come home to lick her wounds on the heels of a failed album and yet another disastrous relationship. Sam, prickly and fiercely independent, is on the verge of losing not only her beloved video game company but the man she loves, thanks to her inability to keep her always-simmering anger in check.

With the FBI closing in, Willow’s career in shambles, and Sam’s tribulations reaching a peak, each of the three woman will have to reckon with and reconcile their interwoven traumas, past loves, and the looming consequences that could either destroy their futures or bring them closer than ever.

Hard Cover 366 pages
Lake Union Publishing (August 10, 2021)

My Review:

I have read almost all of Barbara O'Neals books over the years and have reviewed a couple of them for book tours on the blog. She's an author I like for when I want something not too heavy but  still good story telling about life, family drama, romance and second chances and creates great characters that while not always initially likable, having you rooting for them by the end of the book. Write My Name Across the Sky follows these same elements and is set in New York City, which almost is a supporting character itself. Willow Rose is a talented violin player whose first album failed and she was kicked out the Los Angeles house of the man who helped her get the contract. She's returned to New York to house-sit for her Aunt Gloria Rose, once a flight attendant and now a popular Instagram influencer in her 70s. Gloria left her glamorous life flying the globe to care for Willow and her older half-sister, Samantha, when their rock star mother, Billie Rose, died from an overdose when the girls were young. Sam is a video game designer whose company is struggling since her relationship with her business partner and best friend Asher has deteriorated since a fateful weekend at a friend's wedding. Willow and Sam have a fractious relationship as Sam struggles with people and holding in her simmering anger--with Willow being a prime target for her resentment since Sam's father left when of Billie's affair with a drummer resulted in her younger sister's birth. Gloria isn't going on a simple trip though, her involvement in her former lover's art forgery and theft ring is coming to light and so she is planning on fleeing before the FBI catches up with her.

The story is told from each woman's perspective, as each tries to figure out their next steps in life and in love. It was easiest to like Gloria and Willow as Sam, who I believe falls somewhere on the Autism spectrum spends most of the time being disagreeable, however I grew to sympathize and even like her. The romances for the sisters worked, although not at too deep level as there is a lot of story for 366 pages to cover. I loved the NYC setting and all of the art, photography, music, plants, and general creativity woven into the pages. Although the ending was a little predictable, the story was enjoyable and kept me turning the pages. This is a great book to curl up with on a rainy cool day and maybe enjoy with a cup of tea or better yet, a cup of good creamy tomato soup. 


Author Notes: Barbara O’Neal is the author of twelve novels of women’s fiction, including The Art of Inheriting SecretsHow to Bake a Perfect Life, and The All You Can Dream Buffet. Her award-winning books have been published in more than a dozen countries, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. She lives in the beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.

Connect with Barbara on her websiteblogFacebookTwitter and Instagram


Food Inspiration: 

Barbara O'Neal's books usually have plenty of food and this one was no exception. Mentions included luncheons at the Russian Tea Room, Panda Express, the smells of meat cooking and baking bread, a Rueben salad sandwich from Bloom's, potato chips, beer, vodka soda with lime, boiled eggs, coffee, pastries, soup, a bowl of deli tomato soup, cake, caviar and blinis, chicken salad, beef stroganoff, steak tartare, olives, steak, Roy Rogers, gin and tonics, milkshakes, peaches, donuts (glazed and chocolate and apple fritters), hummus, oatmeal, martinis, steak au poivre, cocktails, champagne, kofta, mint tea, buttery harcha, tussle tea, ice cream--Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia and Half Baked, healthy vegetables, apple juice, yogurt, hot tea, chicken soup, bagels, cheese, cream cheese, jam, fish-and-chips, sandwiches, marshmallows, avocado, strawberry ice cream, strawberries from a bowl, fruit, toast, sweet custards, cubed watermelon, steamy chai, a rotisserie chicken made into chicken soup, root beer, banana splits, pickles, chocolate sauce, cinnamon sugar toast, a vegan cheeseburger, French bread with butter, cotton candy, gluten-free blueberry pancakes, tanginess, skewers of chicken shawarma, wine, apple pie, cookies, lemonade, and lemon marmalade.   

For my bookish dish, Willow, a good cook, is huddled over a bowl of tomato soup after returning to New York and identifying the flavors in it, "I'm enjoying the soup which is deep tomato with hints of basil, thickly pureed with plenty of onion and garlic and some spice I can't quite name that gives it an exotic undertone. Sumac, maybe? Lime? Not sure." Since I do the same thing and think about the ingredients when I eat restaurant or take out food, and because I have a big jar of sumac I am always trying to use up, I decided to make a creamy tomato soup and add sumac to it to see what I thought.

For my recipe, I just went for my favorite easy creamy tomato soup--nothing fancy but full of good flavor. I was going to add some lime juice but I think the citrusy tang of the sumac was just plenty on its own and did add a touch of the exotic to the soup. 

Easy Creamy Tomato Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen 
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp fresh basil
1 tsp sumac (if you don't have sumac, za'atar would be nice as well)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp celery seed
small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes & their juices
2 cups non-chicken stock or light vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk or 1 to 1 1/2 cups cream or milk of choice
1 tsp brown sugar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onions until soft and add the garlic, herbs and spices, and the crushed red pepper flakes, and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. 

Remove from heat, and (in batches if you don't have a high speed blender), puree in a blender until smooth.  Return soup to the pot, stir in the coconut milk and brown sugar and heat through. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper as needed.

Notes/Results: The sumac makes the soup just a little lemony, tangy and exotic like Willow said, but you can't go wrong with a good basic tomato soup. I like this one for how quickly it goes together and when I don't have fresh basil, I just use dried basil, dried parsley and oregano. If you can't find sumac, try for za'atar as it us usually one of the ingredients in it, or you could just use lime juice to taste. I served mine with a pesto swirl bun picked up fro my local craft/food fair but of course any bread or a grilled cheese sandwich would work well. I would happily make this again. 

Note: A review copy of Write My Name Across the Sky 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

Now let's check into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here. 

Melynda from Scratch Made Kitchen shares two dishes this week. First, "Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili with Charred Beef is a favorite around here! It is not only delicious but spiced just right, not too hot, and not too boring! Perfect for anytime you want delicious food, made fresh, and served with love..."

Next she shared a pressure cooker stew, saying "Rich with flavors from red wine, bay leaves, and thyme. While Beef Stew from Provence does require a rest in the red wine marinade, feel free to start this dish one day and cook it the next! The orange zest and black olives round out the flavors and compliment each other."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared her Chicken Frito Casserole/Stew saying, "We had a version of chicken frito casserole but it was more like stew.  Lots of extra broth and tomato juices helped to thin it out. Black beans, red beans, tomatoes and lots of spices helped make this a good dinner and a lunch. Optional toppings of shredded cheese, sour cream and hunks of avocado dressed it up.:

Finally, Radha from The Magic Ingredients for a Wholesome Life from the Heart of My Home brought Fire Roasted Hatch Chili and Corn Soup saying, "This is an amazing soup made with season's fresh Hatch chili and corn. This spicy soup is easy to make though it requires roasting on fire. It is worh the effort. This soup will be loved by everyone. The sweet corn, lime juice, and creamy cheese balance the heat of the chili, thereby making it very delicious one!"

Thanks to Tina, Radha, and Melynda for joining me this week! 

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
  • Although we are pretty wide on what defines a soup, sandwich or salad, entries that are clearly not in the same family (ie: desserts, meats, random main or side dishes that aren't salads, etc.) are meant for another round up and will be deleted. 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!


1 comment:

  1. I have only reda one of Barbara O'Neal's books and liked it very much. The one When We Were Mermaids was a gift and I liked the characters and plot. This book sounds good as well.

    You can't go wrong with tomato soup and I like how yuo zested it up. That pesto bun has my attention too!


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