Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pickin' Tomatoes by J.W. Bull

Pickin' Tomatoes by J.W. Bull
Published By: J.W. Bull
Release Date: July 7, 2012
Format: Paperback - 256 pages / Kindle - 827 KB / Nook - 894 KB
ISBN: 0985884835
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

About The Author:

J.W. Bull lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two sons. Although she has worked as a sous chef for Lavande Restaurant, she currently is a private violin teacher and a member of The Georgia Symphony. She is also finishing another novel, Musical Chairs, a mystery involving Maggie's cousin - Molly Malone, plucky part-time symphony player and full-time Irish fiddler. It's a hilarious spoof on symphonies, Irish fiddling, and mysteries that continues the Malone saga.

J.W. Bull's Pickin' Tomatoes Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus

BUY THE BOOK: Pickin' Tomatoes

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus.

Virtual Book Tour Event: On Saturday, July 28, 2012, author J.W. Bull participated in a virtual book tour event with an Author Guest Post on Jersey Girl Book Reviews.

* Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card *

Post a comment on J.W. Bull's Pickin' Tomatoes Virtual Book Tour Page on Chick Lit Plus to enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Pickin' Tomatoes before July 30th and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries!

Book Description: 

Maggie Malone wants a new life. Who aspires to be a single, forty-year-old, jobless new mother? Driven by the need for an income, Maggie decides to enter a writing contest. Cooking and Women Magazine is seeking a columnist who can compare finding "Mister Right" to cooking. To qualify, an entrant must be single and an experienced chef. Maggie is neither - she can't even cook. But desperation turns white lies into tasty morsels that whet her creative appetite and she whips up an article comparing finding "Mister Right" to picking the right tomato for her homemade salsa. She wins the contest, is dubbed The Chef of Hearts, and her new life, although a bit shaky, is launched.

Women across America write to her about loneliness, infidelity, insomnia - even to complain about a boyfriend's snoring. Maggie dissects their problems with a single stroke of her pen, all the while struggling with her own issues. She dishes out therapy in recipes and funny stories and becomes an instant celebrity. As she balances learning how to cook, being a mother and writing a column, her dual lives begin to spin out of control. On the back burner, subterfuge sizzles in the skillet, threatening Maggie's new recipe for success and she finds herself in the same stew as many of her readers - lost and alone. It's only when Maggie comes clean with all her lies that she realizes pickin' the right tomato might not be simply about finding "Mister Right" - sometimes it's about making the right choices.

Pickin' Tomatoes serves up a three-course of mayhem, motherhood and middle age flavored with dashes of irony, wit, and wisdom. Throw in a liberal sprinkling of recipes geared towards those who don't cook, and  Pickin' Tomatoes becomes a must read for anyone who has searched for "Mister Right" but, most of all, wants to find herself.

Book Excerpt:

Dear Girlfriend of a Snorer,

Have no fear. The remedy for snoring is a simple, nonmedical cure known secretly to women for generations and generations. Please do not divulge this remedy to the male sex as it would affect the sleep of women worldwide.

The remedy for snoring is ...

Never sleep with a man. True but not feasible. Sometimes you've got to sleep in the same bed.

The remedy for snoring is ...

Pinch a man's nostril together and cover his mouth. Okay, not a good idea to suggest murder. This is no good. My creative juices have dried up. I need guidance. A recipe. A cookbook. I need a brain transplant. Just the other day, I was looking at a book from Barnes and Noble about a woman who wanted the government to pay for a lobotomy for her. She claimed ... wait, Barnes & Noble! They'll have loads of cookbooks. Maybe even a French cookbook. I am a chef from a French restaurant after all. I'' just buy a cookbook tomorrow, try out a few recipes, pick my favorite, and I'll be good to go. A bona fide chef.

My Book Review:

Can you reinvent yourself ... even if it means telling "little white lies" to get what you want? And if you do succeed at reinventing yourself, can your fabrications come back to haunt you?

Maggie Malone is a forty year old soon-to-be divorced mother of a newborn who wants a new life. After seventeen years of marriage to Richard, a successful defense attorney who has an affair with their next door neighbor's wife, their marriage is over. Now as a single and unemployed mother, Maggie has to decide what to do next. She enters a cooking and advice column contest in Cooking and Women magazine, comparing finding Mr. Right to cooking. The requirements to enter the contest are: must be single and with experience as a chef. Ummm .... there's just a little bit of a problem: she's still married, has a daughter and can't cook! Maggie tells "little white lies" and enters the contest by claiming that she is single, was a chef at Lavande Restaurant in Paris, and that daughter Catherine is her niece. Maggie's entry of "Mister Right Salsa" recipe is a winner and she assumes the persona of The Chef of Hearts, writing a monthly column called Pickin' Tomatoes (Cooking and Men), where she is able to dissect relationship problems with a paring knife, comparing cooking to men, and serving up delicious recipes sure to win the hearts of any man! Fumbling through her charade, she manages to submit columns and recipes that gains fans nationwide. Enjoying success has a price, and for Maggie, her "little white lies" surface and she learns a valuable life lesson.

Pickin' Tomatoes is an entertaining, laugh-out-loud story that will keep you in stitches. Written in a quirky, humorous fashion, the story is told in the first person narrative by the protagonist, Maggie Malone, chef extraordinaire. In her debut novel, author J.W. Bull weaves an amusing story that any woman can relate to, I know I sure did!

Maggie is a realistic, down-to-earth, hilarious lady who is finding herself at a crossroad in her life. Who hasn't been in that situation? With a newborn daughter, no job, and no prior cooking experience, she has to find a way to reinvent herself. Maggie's foray into learning the joy of cooking is full of pure comedic relief. I found myself snickering as I read, thinking back to when I was a newly married woman who never cooked before, needless to say it wasn't pretty. Maggie's advice and recipe columns were hysterical, she ranks right up there with Dear Abby! I couldn't help but cheer for Maggie on her journey of self-discovery, in a way, there is a little bit of Maggie in each of us.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderful culinary and advice quotes that the author includes at the beginning of each chapter. The quotes are a wonderful touch added to the story, who doesn't love such well-known foodies and advice columnists like Erma Bombeck and Bobby Flay, just to name a few.

Lastly, the recipes ... I am such a sucker for recipes ... okay I admit I am a cookbook addict, and author J.W. Bull has enabled my addiction with some really great recipes that are included in the story. Like Maggie, recipes were a trial and error effort for me when I first learned to cook, but the joy and challenge of creating your own recipe that is appealing and delicious is well worth it.

Pickin' Tomatoes is a witty, lighthearted comedic story that pokes fun at the trials and errors of choices made that everyone encounters at some time in their life. If you can't poke fun and laugh at yourself as you journey down life's road, then you need to lighten' up buttercup, because Pickin' Tomatoes is all about picking the right choices in life, and sometimes you pick the rotten tomatoes, and other times you pick the Heirloom tomatoes! Kudos to author J.W. Bull on a wonderful and entertaining debut novel.



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Samantha! Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this fun book! :)

  2. Thanks Kathleen for reviewing my book - I appreciate it!

    1. Great debut novel J.W.! Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host your virtual book tour event! :)