Friday, August 12, 2022

The Book Tour Stops Here: "Mr. Perfect on Paper" by Jean Meltzer

Happy Aloha Friday! I'm happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Mr. Perfect on Paper by Jean Meltzer

Publisher's Blurb:

From the author of The Matzah Ball comes a pitch-perfect romcom following a third-generation Jewish matchmaker who unwittingly finds her own search for love thrust into the spotlight…

The perfect Jewish husband should be:

  • A doctor or lawyer (preferably a doctor)
  • Baggage-free (no previous marriages, no children)
  • And of course—he must be Jewish

As the creator and CEO of the popular Jewish dating app J-Mate, matchmaker Dara Rabinowitz knows the formula for lasting love—at least, for everyone else. When it comes to her own love life, she’s been idling indefinitely. Until her beloved bubbe shares Dara’s checklist for “The Perfect Jewish Husband” on national television and charming news anchor Chris Steadfast proposes they turn Dara’s search into must-see TV.

As a non-Jewish single dad, Chris doesn’t check any of Dara’s boxes. But her hunt for Mr. Perfect is the ratings boost his show desperately needs. If only Chris could ignore his own pesky attraction to Dara—a task much easier said than done when Dara starts questioning if “perfect on paper” can compete with how hard she’s falling for Chris…

Publisher: MIRA; Original Edition (August 9, 2022)
Paperback: 416 pages

My Review: 

OK, confession time. I had a really long and busy work week and I only made it through about half of Mr. Perfect on Paper as every time I sat down to read after work, I promptly fell asleep. Not the fault of the book at all; it's a cute and engaging romance. This book is fun with a likable main character. Dara Rabinowitz, is a successful matchmaker and entrepreneur, the creator and CEO of a successful Jewish dating app, but also a bit of a mess with extreme anxiety issues. Her sister and her best friend, her beloved bubble, (grandmother) think she  needs to find a husband. Dara's bubbie shares the list of "The Perfect Jewish Husband" she put together with her sister after a night of drinking on a television talk show which causes a bit of a sensation. The show's host, Chris Steadfast, thinks that profiling Dara and leading the search to find her a perfect Jewish husband is what will save his morning show from cancelation and she reluctantly agrees, hoping it will boost the sales of her app. Sparks begin to fly between Chris, a non-Jewish widower with a young daughter and Dara but he definitely isn't perfect on paper.

It's a romance so I am pretty sure we all know where this book is heading but the journey to get there is. entertaining. I'm going to finish the book this weekend and I'll write the rest of my review then and update this post. Until then, I'll leave you with a couple favorite Jewish recipes below. 

8/14 Update: I just finished the book and really enjoyed it! It's a rom-com but I also felt like I learned a lot about Jewish history and culture from it. Dara was a great relatable main character who I was rooting for. It's a little predictable but gave me many of the feels. I thought I had listened to the author's first book The Matzah Ball, last December but I mistook it for another Jewish rom-com, so I will be looking for it and adding it to my TBR. 


Author Notes: Jean Meltzer is a nice Jewish girl with a not-so-secret love of Christmas. After a childhood steeped in Jewish tradition, kosher food, loving bubbes, and awkward Jewish summer camp romances, she found her way to NYU Tisch, where she studied dramatic writing and earned numerous awards for her work in television, including a daytime Emmy. She spent five years in rabbinical school, finally discovering the magic of Hanukkah for herself, before her chronic illness forced her to withdraw, and her father told her that she should write a book—just not a Jewish one because no one reads those. The Matzah Ball was her first novel. It combines all of the things she loves: warm and supportive families, tight-knit Jewish communities, Ashkenazi baked goods, big and swoony endings, Jewish shtick and humor, Judaism… and, of course, Christmas.


Food Inspiration:

There is definitely food in Mr. Perfect on Paper, lots of mentions of traditional Jewish dishes as well as other food. Here are two recipes I have made and enjoyed in the past that I think suit the vibe of the book. 

Ruth Reichl's Matzoh Brei: If you have never made or tried matzoh brei, I highly recommend this simple dish of matzos and eggs. 

These Easy Vegan Potato Latkes from Vegetarian Times are delicious served with applesauce and cashew sour cream.

Note: A review copy of "Mr. Perfect on Paper" 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 learn what other reviewers thought about the book below.

Monday, August 8th: @subakka.bookstuff
Monday, August 8th: @onemused
Tuesday, August 9th: @pocketsized_pageturner
Tuesday, August 9th: @books_n_yogapants
Wednesday, August 10th: @whatkarinareads
Thursday, August 11th: @bookswithnopictures
Friday, August 12th: @runhideandread
Friday, August 12th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, August 15th: @plottrysts
Tuesday, August 16th: @brianas_best_reads
Wednesday, August 17th: @books_wine_and_sunshine
Thursday, August 18th: @parksidereads
Friday, August 19th: Books, Cooks, Looks
Monday, August 22nd: @nurse_bookie
Tuesday, August 23rd: @marensreads


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "This Place of Wonder" by Barbara O'Neal, Served with Three Garlic Soup Recipes

Aloha! I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC book tour for This Place of Wonder, a new novel by Barbara O'Neal. Accompanying my review are a few recipes for Garlic Soup, inspired by my reading.

 Publisher's Blurb:

In the wake of a personal tragedy, four women face the past, their futures, and each other in a novel of broken ties and healing by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids.

When famed chef Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves behind a celebrated reputation?and four women grappling with loss, anger, pain, and the question of how the world will turn without him…

Meadow, the ex-wife with whom Augustus built an empire–and a family–still holds a place for him in her heart, even as she continues to struggle with his infidelities, which ended their twenty-year marriage. More unforgiving is Maya, his estranged daughter, who’s recently out of rehab but finally ready to reclaim her life. Norah, his latest girlfriend, sidelined her own career for unexpected love and a life of luxury, both of which are now gone with Augustus. And then there’s Rory, Meadow’s daughter, the voice of calm and reason in a chorus of discontent.

As Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory are flung together by tragedy, grief, and secrets yet to be revealed, they must accept–or turn away from–the legacy of great intentions and bad decisions Augustus left them. And when the circumstances around his death are called into question, their conflicted feelings become even more complicated. But moving forward is the only choice they have, and to do so, they’ll need to rely on family, friendship, and inner strength.

Set on the stunning, rugged California coastline, This Place of Wonder is an emotional, lush, and empowering story of four women finding their way in a changed world–and what a wondrous journey it will be.

Hardcover: 316 Pages 

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 19, 2022) 

 My Review:

I love Barbara O'Neal's books. I think I have read almost all of them and reviewed three here (The Art of Inheriting Secrets, When We Believed in Mermaids, and Write My Name Across the Sky). She writes about families and family dramas, relationships and romance, and often about second chances and characters forging new paths and finding themselves. They are wonderful summer reads and usually contain some delicious food mentions woven into the story. 

This Place of Wonder contains all of the above, about four women according to the blurb (but told from the viewpoints of three of them), all impacted by the life and death of one larger-than-life famous chef. Augustus Beauvais was married to Meadow and together they created a California food empire with a restaurant and a farm. They also created a blended family, his daughter, Maya and her daughter, Rory. Augustus left Maya's addict mother for Meadow and then ultimately cheated on and left Meadow for a string of younger women, lastly Norah, a writer who journeyed to California to meet and write about Meadow and ended up living with and loving Augustus. Maya is in rehab for a drinking problem that reached the tipping point when her husband cheated on her and she burnt their vineyard to the ground. Estranged and bearing resentment for Augustus's betrayal of her and the family, her world is rocked when he suddenly dies. Meadow still loves him and grieves him despite their breakup, and Norah has her settled life with Augustus torn away when Meadow kicks her out of the house to make room for Maya, who leaves her recovery program early with his death. The story is told from their points of view and Rory, happily married with her third child on the way doesn't get to tell her story, but grieves her adopted father heavily. 

There are lots of secrets and family drama which only escalates when the police investigate Augustus's death, believing it was more than a heart attack. I was immediately caught up in the story of the women who loved a very complicated man. Barbara O'Neil's writing is beautiful and evocative whether sh is describing the California coast, a bowl of soup, a growing garden, or a family home. There is romance for one character in the book but the relationship between the women is what stands out and watching them grow. This Place of Wonder is the kind of book that sneaks into your heart as you read it, and it made me wish it was longer so I could spend more time with these strong and endearing women. 


Author Notes: Barbara O’Neal is the author of more than a dozen novels of women’s fiction, including: Write My Name Across the Sky, The Lost Girls of Devon, When We Believed in Mermaids, The Art of Inheriting Secrets, and How to Bake a Perfect Life. Her award-winning books have been published in nearly two dozen countries, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. Barbara lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her husband, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.

Connect with Barbara on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration: There is plenty of food in This Place of Wonder as it centers around a restaurant/farm family. It was a passage about Maya cooking her father's famous garlic soup that made me crave a bowl. 

"...I taste the soup, garlic sprinkled with Parmesan, layered with parsley, and I have to pause and close my eyes." 

Garlic soup is comfort food--simple fare that is restorative and perfect for when you don't want to make a huge effort. Here are three Garlic Soup recipes I love: 

Richard Olney's Garlic Soup, Heidi Swanson's Variation: A lovely bowl of creamy garlic heaven!

Garlic Soup Adapted from Jacques Pépin: Simple and flavorful!

Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup) From Love Soup by Anna Thomas: A few more ingredients but still simple and delicious!

While none of these soups are exactly like the one in the book, they are all like a tasty hug in a bowl.   

Note: A review copy of "This Place of Wonder" 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 learn what other reviewers thought about the book below.

Review Tour Stops: 

Monday, July 11th: @books_wine_and_sunshine

Wednesday, July 13th: @purrfectpages

Friday, July 15th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife

Monday, July 18th: @books_n_yogapants

Tuesday, July 19th: @booksandcoffeemx

Tuesday, July 19th: Kritter’s Ramblings

Wednesday, July 20th: Reading Reality

Thursday, July 21st: The Baking Bookworm

Friday, July 22nd: @aimeedarsreads

Monday, July 25th: @jenniaahava

Thursday, July 28th: @bookshelfmomma

Friday, July 29th: The Bookish Dilettante

Monday, August 1st: @cmtloveswineandbooks

Wednesday, August 3rd: @kristens.reading.nook

Sunday, August 7th: @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie

Monday, August 8th: 5 Minutes for Books

Friday, August 12th: Girl Who Reads