book review: All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford

I can’t believe it took me so long to read All These Perfect Strangers.  I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  The book was full of twists and turns, and though I had some guesses about how it would turn out, I was surprised.

This suspense/crime fiction book is told in the first person narrative by girl named Penelope who is looking to escape her life in a small town by going to college.  Throughout the book, Pen is struggling to deal with a traumatic event involving the shooting of a police officer.  She starts keeping a diary at the request of her therapist.  Through this diary, the reader gets glimpses of what happened with the shooting in the small town as well as other bits of Pen’s life.

Some might find the book confusing because it jumps back and forth between Pen’s memories and what is happening to her presently at college.  As long as you remember that the diary entries are in the past, you’ll be fine.  I liked the transitions and I liked the way the story was told.

Mostly, I loved that I was surprised by how the book turned out.  I really appreciated how the book was told in the first person because Pen’s confusion and interpretation of events was evident.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review.

book review: The Promise Kitchen by Peggy Lampman

The Promise Kitchen is a tale of two Southern women, who through random chance (one is born into a wealthy family and one is poor), lead extremely different lives.  Their lives happen to intersect through food.  One is a food writer (Mallory) and the other is an aspiring chef (Shelby).

The author shows how, with or without money, everyone has problems.  Mallory is well-off financially but has to deal with a boyfriend who recently deserted her and a possible alcohol/drug addiction.  Shelby struggles to make a better life for herself and her daughter, Miss Ann.  Every time she seems to be getting ahead, something happens and she seems to be stuck in a rut.

I enjoyed the story, but I thought the ending was a bit rushed.  It felt a little like the fairy godmother descended and waived a magic wand.  I would have preferred to see Shelby survive on her own, given how hard she worked, but then maybe that’s part of the author’s message – we can’t do it all on our own.  Everyone needs someone, no matter what is in your bank account.

I especially enjoyed reading the pieces written about various Southern recipes by both Mallory and Shelby.  The end of the book contains actual recipes.  I haven’t tried any of them because most of them require quite a bit of time for preparation, but they sound good.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary e-copy of this book through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.