Monday, July 23, 2012

Review and Excerpt: Pickin' Tomatoes

You may remember a few weeks ago I hosted JW Bull with a guest post. Well, today, as part of the same blog tour through CLP, I have a review for Pickin' Tomatoes and I even get to share an excerpt!

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 meal 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.


Review:  If you think life should come with might want to read Pickin' Tomatoes. If you  If you think a map for life is might want to read Pickin' Tomatoes....If you enjoy admirable heroines that strive for the best, but always seem to find trouble for so long.....You might need to read Pickin' Tomatoes. If you think I should stop saying If you think, you might want to throw tomatoes at me....*Ducks for cover.

Okay, in seriousness. Pickin' Tomatoes is a great story!  Tell me, how many of you have been crossroads in your life and just wishing for that map, or handout of easiness. Sure,we know it doesn't happen, but come on, you don't wish for it at LEAST once?

Meet Maggie. She's an ordinary woman, extraordinary character. She struggles with day to day life just as anyone else. This is Maggie's story, and how she's looking to better her life for herself and her child.  Maggie's the kind of person anyone can relate to.  JW Bull creates such charismatic characters, and the plot just keeps moving with an uphill pace. It's witty, fun, light, but full of heart.  There's trials and triumphs, and a lot of soul searching a long the way.  This is a great debut novel and I am exciting for what else this author has in store. 

Here is an excerpt for you!
Submission Guidelines: Write an article of 200 words or less comparing finding Mister Right to cooking. Include an original recipe.
Qualifications: You must be single and have experience as a chef.
Published writing is a plus.
Deadline: 5:00 p.m. ET, July 1, 2011
Grand Prize: $2,500 cash award and the chance to have your own
monthly column, “Cooking and Men.”
First Prize: $500 cash award and two-year subscription
to Cooking and Women magazine.
Second Prize: Autographed wooden spoon from Martha Stewart and a one-year subscription to Cooking and Women magazine.
Finding Mister Right is...
I pause to consider this and come to an immediate conclusion.
Downright impossible.
What am I doing? I can’t type that. I crack my knuckles, hit the backspace key, and begin again.
            Finding Mister Right is...
I glance around the kitchen for culinary inspiration and a pile of dirty dishes in the sink sparks my imagination. Hmm. Finding Mister Right is like washing dishes. Just when you think he’s squeaky clean—bam! You find dried up, crusty old egg on him. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Cooking and Women wants. A culinary muse, a culinary muse…Aha! My eyes fall to an empty Stouffer’s frozen dinner box lying on the counter. Okay. Finding Mister Right is like cooking a frozen dinner. You’ve got to nuke him to warm him up.

Author Bio: 
                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 fulltime Irish fiddler. It’s a hilarious spoof on symphonies, Irish fiddling, and mysteries that continues the Malone saga. 

Connect with J.W.!


  1. Sounds like this book has it all...humor, emotion, tension and a good story line. A definite addition to my glad I stopped by!

  2. Thank you for your review - I appreciate it!

  3. Fun excerpt! I have "Pickin Tomatoes" on my wishlist for when I get paid like a fun book.

    1. It was a lot of fun to write it. Got to say, the germaphobe tendencies of the main character are all mine...


  4. Sounds like a wonderful book! Thanks for sharing your review!