Heaping Spoonful by Shauna Glenn

Book Review
Title: Heaping Spoonful
Author: Shauna Glenn
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Released: 2008
Pages: 188
ISBN-10: 1434384535
ISBN-13: 978-1434384539
Stars: 2.0

I feel really bad when I offer to review a book for someone based on the fact that I think I’m going to like it and then it turns out that I don’t. It’s hard to give someone you like a less then favourable review for their hard work (work that many other people really liked!), but I do have to be honest about what I think.

As the story begins – in the short, often crass, silly and sometimes ridiculous novel Heaping Spoonful by Shauna Glenn – main character Claire has lost her young husband Bryan to cancer, 286 days before, and is left to raise her two small children, Chase (6) and Allie (4), and run her bakery business, Heaping Spoonful, without totally losing her mind. She’s dealing with her sister Lucy who seems to go through boyfriends like she changes her underwear and her mother Mary who is in a nursing home because she has Alzheimer’s. The only people in Claire’s life who seem remotely stable are her poor, tired father, Fred and the man who is the brains behind her business, Ben.

Right off the bat, horny Claire, who hasn’t had sex since before her husband died, jumps on Lucy’s current boyfriend, Drew: a handsome surfer dude who almost runs her down with his car that morning while she’s out running, after which she angrily and immaturely hurls a rock through the back of his windshield. After meeting him again at Lucy’s dinner party and declaring that they loathe each other, before you know it, and “all of the sudden” (I always thought the saying was “all of a sudden”) Claire is throwing herself at Drew, shags him silly and proclaims herself to be the worst sister in the world…and she says this more than once. I’d say so! I mean, who would sleep with their sister’s boyfriend?! Not me!

I thought it was appropriate that Claire didn’t have any other friends because she is not only self-absorbed, rude, sarcastic, and bitchy, but downright mean to Lucy and she certainly didn’t win a fan in this reader. I didn’t like Claire and although I had a bit of sympathy for her, she acted histrionic most of the time and when she meets her best customer, Mrs. Sugarman’s handsome grandson, Henry, she turns into a bumbling, goofy idiot. Having a main character who is a person that I would never want to be friends with, and I can’t imagine many intelligent women would, isn’t a good way to sell a story. It’s really hard to believe that someone like Claire deserves a happy ending. She may be a talented baker but when it comes to social interaction, she’s totally inept.

“I turned back to Lucy and snapped, “Look, little sister, I appreciate that you’re concerned, but, really, do I need to get advice from a girl, who until recently, thought that a long term relationship was anything over two weeks? Or from a girl whose idea of having something in common with someone meant getting matching tattoos? Because I really don’t think you’re qualified to be telling other people how to live their lives, thank you very much.”

I thought it odd that there was no real description given of what Claire looks like but the green eye cliché of all time was used to describe Lucy’s boyfriend, Drew, in the beginning of the book. “I really noticed his eyes. They were the color of emeralds. I’d never seen eyes so green.” I’ve read a lot of romance novels lately and honestly, if I read that description of a man’s green eyes ever again, I’m not going to finish the book!

Glenn writes with a pace that makes me wonder how much coffee and/or sugar she consumed while writing it (or maybe it was Pinot Grigio which would explain things); but maybe that was just how she wanted Claire to sound, and if so, bingo!

Heaping Spoonful is a story that’s not sure if it’s a romantic comedy or a black comedy. There are no less than three deaths in 151 pages and while there are happy special events as well, the story came off as a spiteful “My Best Friend’s Wedding” when Claire, not a moment too soon, realizes that the man she truly loves has been staring her right in the face for a very long time!

While Shauna Glenn is a decent writer and really is capable of creating funny material (read her blog at Is It 5 O’Clock Yet?), unfortunately there is absolutely nothing original or delightful about this novel except for the recipes in the back of the book. There were also a few short stories thrown in as a bonus but to be honest, I didn’t bother to read them.

Daisy Dooley Does Divorce by Anna Pasternak

Book Review
Title: Daisy Dooley Does Divorce
Author: Anna Pasternak
Publisher: 5 Spot
Released: 2007
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0446177946
ISBN-13: 978-0446177948
Stars: 4.5

Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:55am (Facebook)

This is the book I’m reading at the moment…snug in my bed under my brand new duvet where I can totally ignore the horrendous winter that’s waiting outside along with an hour’s worth of snow shoveling!

Daisy Dooley Does Divorce is a humorous and heartfelt romp through 39-year-old Brit, Daisy Dooley’s divorce and her consequent quest to understand men, relationships, and most importantly herself and the decisions she makes. It’s a Bridget Jones’s Diary for divorcees and an easy, charming and highly enjoyable read. It is laugh out loud funny, often thought-provokingly poignant and Daisy’s penchant for spiritual/self-help books makes her a kindred spirit. You will love this heartwarming, easy-to-read-in-a-few-sittings book about friendship and daring to realize one’s dreams, even if you’re not divorced or have never been married. Anyone who has been disappointed at some point in her life by love will find so much in common with delightful Daisy. She’s full of spirit, sass and sensitivity and if she were a real person I would want to be her friend.

This particular nugget of wisdom struck me this morning when I read it…

It was true – my heart was like Miles’s shelves, gnawed and splintered with emotional woodworm. I read on: “The difference between a little life and a big life is trust. Trust is the midwife of a big life. People only choose little lives because they don’t trust and they want to control.” That’s the most difficult thing in life, I thought, getting the balance right between not giving up on your dreams and yet having enough faith in their fruition to let them go.

This paragraph rings so true to me as I struggle every day of my life with climbing the mountain of adversity (the mountain that I know is largely self-made) and self-doubt, all the while wondering if I even believe in true love anymore, let alone have the faith that it will find me some day. I have to be willing to be open to it, to trust that it exists and that eventually there will be a man out there who won’t lie to me, use me, play me for the fool, trod all over my broken heart and leave me to reinforce my bitter, cynical, untrusting view of men. They can’t all be utter heartless, cruel, dishonest cads, can they? Now if I could just believe that and hold it as truth in my heart, I might have a fighting chance of actually attracting the right one. Must focus on The Law of Attraction and believe that I deserve the love of a truly good man! If I believe he’s out there, he will be and he will find me.

Discovering the novel Daisy Dooley Does Divorce by Anna Pasternak was the biggest joy I had in reading in 2008. The book was based on Anna’s weekly column of the same name in the London Daily Mail (it has since been retired). Anna’s honesty as a writer, the depth of her characters and her fantastic wit quickly made her a new favourite author and any woman who enjoys chick/wit lit or romance and relationships between women will undoubtedly love this book.

This is the review that changed my life.

It began with my becoming acquainted with a lovely, intelligent woman named Paige O’Neill who is the person who looks after The Waterboys’ online presence on numerous social networking websites. Paige and I connected in 2006 when I sent Mike Scott of The Waterboys a personal letter about a sick friend of mine who was a huge fan (as am I). We became good friends online and in the past three years she has become a soul sister of immense importance in my life, even though I have never met her in person.

Paige looks after the maintenance of Daisy Dooley’s MySpace profile for Anna Pasternak and in March 2008, after reading my review of the book, and with Paige’s recommendation, Anna asked me to help her maintain a Facebook fan page and group for Daisy Dooley. I was honoured to do it and I even got paid for it.

Since then, and as a result of Paige and Anna’s unfailing support and encouragement, I formed my own business, Scully Love Promo, promoting authors & musicians using the major social networking websites on the internet. Over the past year and a half, I have worked for at least 10 different talented artists and although this is only a part-time endeavor for me at this time, I believe there is a good chance that it could one day become my full-time job. And I love it! I love spreading the love about artists that I respect and admire. I’ve done this naturally for many years through my review writing and in every day conversation with friends. However, now I get paid to do it, and I owe that privilege to Paige O’Neill and Anna Pasternak, who are the most amazingly resilient, spiritual, intelligent, and loving women and friends that anyone could hope to have.

Above all else, that is why I continue to recommend this delightful book, Daisy Dooley Does Divorce by Anna Pasternak (available through 5 Spot, a division of Hachette Books, Grand Central’s trade paperback imprint featuring fresh, original voices in women’s fiction and nonfiction).