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The All You Can Dream Buffet Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Barbara O Neal s novel of food, friendship, and the freedom to grow your dreams brings together four very different women longing to savor the true taste of happiness. Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life s work after she s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it but who? There s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who s looking for roots and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helpings of joy. Praise for the novels of Barbara O Neal [A] warm romance about the healing powers of nature, love and community. "Kirkus Reviews," on "The Garden of Happy Endings" Absorbing [with] lovingly sketched characters and real emotion. "Publishers Weekly," on "How to Bake a Perfect Lif""
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I'd never read anything by this author before, but I'll certainly be trying her other books.
The novel starts off quite sweet and light-hearted as the four friends are introduced in alternating chapters (and in between the reader is treated to a selection of inspirational blog posts which is a lovely bonus), but along the way there's an emotional journey for both the characters and the reader too. Ruby is the youngest of the friends, a bit of a flower child and pregnant with her ex's baby, Ginny is unhappily married and uses her blog as a form of escapism from her life, Val lost her husband and a daughter and is struggling to connect to her other daughter since the accident, and Lavender is the glue that holds them all together - she is approaching her 85th birthday and is inviting her friends to celebrate the special occasion with her so they can all, finally, meet in real life. Unbeknownst to the others this is also Lavender's personal mission to see which one of her friends will inherit her farm and legacy.
I'm a big fan of the kind of books where a diverse group of people connect over a mutual passion, such as the wonderful The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene and The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March, and this one falls right into the same category. Because the friends span various generations and are at different stages in their lives there's something within the pages for every kind of reader to identify with. In this novel I felt closest to Ginny as I completely understood her desperate need to change her uninspired and unloving home life into something more fulfilling. While she initially turned to blogging to escape from the dullness of her life, it turned into much more and not only did she meet likeminded people who became dear friends, along the way she also became proud of her work and herself.
In a day and age where Pinterest is an inspirational and creative outlet for women of many different ages, and blogging has become a popular way of communicating between mums, foodies, knitters, and so forth, it is great to see a novel tying these now important aspects of many a woman's life into a great fiction story. One which explores the positive change these digital outlets can bring into a person's life, not to mention the strong friendships that get formed along the way.
Filled with delectable recipes, interesting blogs, and lots of cooking amongst the friends central to the story there is certainly plenty of inspiration for foodies lovers to be found within the pages. And with a solid story about love, family, loss and most of all friendship, the novel is equally appealing to those who appreciate a good fiction read which has realistic and relatable characters, experiencing the many ups and downs that are thrown our way in life.
The publisher provided a copy in return for an honest review.
Organic farming methods, delicious ideas of food to make and blogging all come to the forefront for four women. A story of beginnings of friendship, relationships and a good easy enjoyable read. Lavender Farm sounded wonderful and just the kind of place you would love to visit and maybe even stay a while. Nothing taxing in it just made me feel hungry though with all the blogging about food etc.
First book I have read by Barbara O'Neal bought it on offer a while back and glad I did as an easy enjoyable read.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I didn't have a specific dislike about The All You Can Dream Buffet, I just didn't click with it. Food and recipes have figured prominently in O'Neal's previous books, and while a few recipes are included in Dream Buffet, blog entries and emails seemed to take center stage in this one. For all of the drama that the characters brought to the table (pun in intended) for one character's 85th birthday bash, I didn't feel the same level of intimacy among these characters as I've felt with other characters in O'Neal's other books. I also felt that too many rather intriguing loose ends were unresolved for my satisfaction. While I appreciate O'Neal's effort for trying something new with her storyline, this one didn't work for me.
The characters are all food bloggers. One, a vegan, is recovering from a sudden, senseless rejection by the man who made her pregnant. Another, tied to a life as a cake baker for a small town supermarket, has found that her cake blog, illustrated by her own photographs, has brought her friends and a taste of freedom. Another woman and her daughter are recovering from a tragedy (and it is a mark of O'Neal's skill that none of these characters' backgrounds are delivered in an info-dump). And the catalyst for this story, Lavender Wills, is a woman with a kaleidoscope of a background who now runs a lavender farm, among other things and, with her life coming to a close, is seeking a successor.
This is a story of journeys, of healing, a story that investigates the problem of pain and deals gently with broken lives and hearts. Romance is there, smiles, and some scowls. This story has some magical touches, characters that seem to spark the imagination. And a number of them who seem very familiar.
I enjoyed this book. Now I have to decide which of Ms. O'Neal's I will read next.
This is the story of of four food bloggers, Lavender, Ginny, Valerie and Ruby, all of various ages and backgrounds who become great friends and call themselves the “Foodie Four”.
Lavender, who is about to turn 85, and lives on an organic farm in Oregon's wine country, invites her fellow bloggers to come and celebrate her Birthday with her. She is hoping that she can leave her legacy to one of them, when she is no longer around as she does not wanting the farm to be destroyed, by people who do not appreciate all of the hard work she has put into it.
Each of these women are dealing with their own issues, and are able to work through them with the support of these women, who are always there for each other . This story has a wonderful cast of characters, who you will remember for a long time. Well written and full of great stories.