A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, January 1, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman- Feature and Review


Bestselling, beloved author of The Charm Bracelet spins a tale about a lost young woman and the family recipe box that changes her life.

Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha "Sam" Mullins felt trapped on her family's orchard and in their pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star's New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed.

When the chef embarrasses Sam, she quits and returns home. Unemployed, single, and defeated, she spends a summer working on her family's orchard cooking and baking alongside the women in her life--including her mother, Deana, and grandmother, Willo. One beloved, flour-flecked, ink-smeared recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family's history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box.

As Sam discovers what matters most she opens her heart to a man she left behind, but who now might be the key to her happiness.



 The Recipe BoxThe Recipe Box by Viola Shipman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman is a 2018 Thomas Dunne Books publication.

Sweet, tender and heartwarming-

This book just has that summertime feel to it. Sam Mullins always had an urge to break free from her family’s traditions. She wanted to fly far away from Michigan and the orchard and pie shop her parents and grandparents owned and operate. She finally escapes to New York, determined to be a premier baking chef. But, just as she lands a premium job opportunity, she quits and heads home to regroup. Her family is bewildered by her sudden appearance and she tries to keep the truth from them. Each day Sam struggles and fights with all her might against the urge to stay and continue her family’s legacy. Will she discover her real passion has been right under her nose all along or will she return to the rat race, never truly settling down long enough to achieve her goals?

"Someone once told me on my thirteenth birthday that a recipe box is the story of a family's life, of who we are, where we came from, how we got here, and where we are now"

I will warn those who are dedicated and monogamous to all things dark and twisty, or to those who can only take heartwarming stories in small doses, that this book is beyond sugary sweet. In fact, I may need a dentist to check for cavities after reading this book and drooling over all those recipes for cookies, pastries, and pies!!

Sam is a familiar type of character, one that sees things in either black or white, and carries around a hefty amount of snobbery, thinking she is just too good of a chef to lower herself to baking homemade recipes from an old recipe box passed down through the generations. She’s even a pretty big snob when it comes to romance, as well. But, her potential love interest may not have been college educated, but he is pretty darned savvy and is quite the visionary- and very, very romantic! Naturally, Sam gets put in her place a time or two, and learns many valuable lessons about life along the way- including the secret to having success and happiness all at once.

"Expectations are just preconceived resentments. You set yourself up to fail even when you don't do anything wrong"

This is just the type of book I am drawn to during the long days of summer, when the sun shines bright and relaxing days at the beach or at poolside replace strict schedules, pressure and stress. These feel good stories are so regenerative at times. I don’t want to over indulge with too many sweets, but adding a rich dessert into your diet once in a while balances things out, and often lifts and refreshes my spirit. This is a wonderful story, very light and gentle, warm and fuzzy, and sweetly sentimental.





VIOLA SHIPMAN is a pen name for WADE ROUSE, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother's name to honor the women and elders in his life, who inspire his fiction. To date, THE CHARM BRACELET and THE HOPE CHEST have been translated into over a dozen languages and become international bestsellers. THE CHARM BRACELET was named a 2017 Michigan Notable Book. 

Wade's work has been selected multiple times as a Must-Read by NBC’s Today Show, featured on E! and been chosen three times by the nation's independent booksellers as an Indie Next Pick. His writing and essays have appeared in People, Good Housekeeping, Time, Forbes, Salon, Publisher’s Weekly and Writer’s Digest, among others. 

Wade earned his bachelor of arts in communications, with honors, from Drury University and his master of science in journalism from Northwestern University. He divides his time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and is also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors.

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