Sweet Nothings

( 6 )

Overview

Life’s sweetest moments happen when you least expect them . . .
 
When Ruby McMillan’s husband announces one morning that he’s dumping her for another woman, she’s unable to decide which indignity stings the most: the dissolution of their eighteen-year marriage or the deflation of her white-chocolate soufflé with raspberry Grand Marnier sauce. Without a ...

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Sweet Nothings

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Overview

Life’s sweetest moments happen when you least expect them . . .
 
When Ruby McMillan’s husband announces one morning that he’s dumping her for another woman, she’s unable to decide which indignity stings the most: the dissolution of their eighteen-year marriage or the deflation of her white-chocolate soufflé with raspberry Grand Marnier sauce. Without a good-bye to their two teenaged children, Walter leaves Ruby to cope with her ruined dessert, an unpaid mortgage, and her failing bakery.
 
With only royal icing holding her together, Ruby still manages to pick herself up and move on, subsidizing her income with an extra job as a baking instructor, getting a “my-husband’s-gone” makeover, and even flirting with her gorgeous mortgage broker, Jacob Salt. For as long as she can remember, Ruby has done what’s practical, eschewing far-fetched dreams and true love in favor of stability. But suddenly single again at the age of forty-four, she’s beginning to discover that life is most delicious when you stop following a recipe and just live.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
Praise for Janis Thomas's debut novel, Something New

"A breezy read."—Publishers Weekly

"For any woman who has ever flirted with the possibility of a different life. Or who has ever flirted, period."—Sally Koslow, author of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425264829
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 999,948
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Janis Thomas

Janis Thomas,a native Californian, lives in Orange County with her husband, their two children, and their dog, Ruby. Janis has written more than fifty songs and (with her dad) two children’s books, and is also an avid baker. She is also the author of Something New.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

When Ruby McMillan's husband announces one morning that he's dumping her for another woman, she's unable to decide which indignity stings the most: the dissolution of their eighteen-year marriage or the deflation of her white-chocolate soufflé with raspberry Grand Marnier sauce. Without a good-bye to their two teenaged children, Walter leaves Ruby to cope with her ruined dessert, an unpaid mortgage, and her failing bakery.

For as long as she can remember, Ruby has done what's practical, eschewing far-fetched dreams and true love in favor of stability. But, suddenly single again at the age of forty-four, she's beginning to discover that life is most delicious when you stop following a recipe and just live.

ABOUT JANIS THOMAS

Janis Thomas, a native Californian, lives in Orange County with her husband, their two children, and their dog, Ruby. Janis has written more than fifty songs and (with her dad) two children's books, and is also an avid baker. She is also the author ofSomething New.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Ruby has a clever, culinary way of characterizing all the people who come in and out of her life: her estranged husband, Walter, reminds her of shortbread; she refers to her mortgage broker, Jacob, as a Baked Alaska. Her daughter Colleen is a seven layer dream bar, "who is capable of being any or all layers at a time" (9). What sweet delicacy would you characterize yourself as and why? Discuss.
  • Ruby admits to feeling that Walter's departure was inevitable: "I never loved him the way he wanted me to" (127). How do Walter and Ruby love differently? Discuss the concepts of comfortable love versus passsionate love. What type of love is the best foundation for a long and fulfilling marriage? How do Ruby and Walter's views on love influence their decisions in life? Is true love a license to love outside a marriage or a relationship?
  • Social media websites such as Facebook can be seen as a way to develop and maintain friendships. However, they can also be viewed as a voluntary forfeit of privacy and an invitation to investigation. Discuss the effect that social media has on the characters in this book. How has it changed the way they view relationships? How would Ruby's social life have changed without the presence of Facebook? How does social media empower individuals in her community?
  • "I'm frightened of the unknowable future and angry at a past that includes eighteen years that feel remarkably like wasted time" (55). What external factors and experiences have shaped Ruby's opinion of divorce and separation? Are failed marriages truly a waste of time? Why do some women see them this way while some see them as just another part of their history? How does Ruby's outlook on her situation change throughout the story? Describe how Ruby comes to terms with the breakdown of her marriage.
  • Issues of physical beauty, body image, and self-acceptance appear often in this story. What effect do clubs like Little Princesses have on the mothers and daughters who participate? What do organizations like this tell us about the values in our society? Which character do you feel is most conflicted with physical insecurities? How does this person combat this lack of confidence?
  • How do the characters in this book overcome their moments of anxiety? Does Ruby's recipe method actually help her during these incidents? How do her children handle their problems? Which character's pressure management techniques do more damage than good, and why? Whose stress technique do you most identify with and why?
  • Ruby's inner monologue plays a very vocal role in her life. How often does she enjoy the moment rather than overanalyzing the situation? How do men and women differ in terms of rationalizing and living impulsively? Discuss how this outlook on life changes with age and experience. In what ways does this inner voice help or hinder Ruby from achieving her goals in life, love, and business?
  • Ruby's mother has always been an enormous source of inspiration and support to her. Unfortunately, Estelle Simmons's battle with Alzheimer's disease has drastically changed that role in recent years. How does caring for the person who once cared for her change Ruby? How do these visits with her mother help Ruby through difficult times? What part of Estelle's history plays a crucial part in guiding her daughter through an impending divorce?
  • Best Friends. Loyal workers. Respectful students. Several strong female characters surround Ruby's life. How do these women help and support one another? Which of these women does Ruby learn the most from and why? What influence does Ruby have on the women around her? In addition to Ruby, which female character undergoes the biggest transformation of her own?
  • Ruby's ongoing struggle with confidence evolves while being a mother, a co-owner of a bakery and a teacher. Which moments define the development of her newfound self-assurance? Do any experiences set her back momentarily? Which characters assist her and which ones threaten to stand in her way?
  • What does Ruby learn about herself and her emotions during her trip to Sunny Hills Bed and Breakfast with Jacob? How does her intimacy with him compare to the intimacy she shared with her husband of eighteen years? How does their failure to connect that night make Ruby feel?
  • Ruby is faced with the advances of a handsome young student named Shane. How does this make Ruby feel? Do you think her reaction would have been different if Jacob were not in the picture? How would she have responded if her daughter had not met and exhibited feelings for Shane? What does this admirer mean to Ruby? How do Shane's actions change the way Ruby views herself?
  • What does the story of Princess Mayblossom represent to Ruby? How does this fairytale echo her life? In the story, what do the attackers on the island symbolize, and why do you think the ambassador chooses to protect the princess from their assault? What major lesson can be learned from this book? What is more meaningful to her: the story itself or the passing down of the book from generation to generation?
  • The anticipation leading up to Ruby and Jacob's first time together is as intense as the lovemaking itself. However, Jacob is immediately pulled away from this romantic encounter by answering a phone call from his ex-wife. How could Jacob have better handled this situation? Where should Jacob's priorities have been after such an intimate encounter? Why do you think Ruby suddenly missed Walter after Jacob walked out?
  • Part of Ruby's journey focuses around making the right bet on a partner. Why do you think it took Ruby so long to realize what she really needed and deserved? Why is Walter so confident that Ruby will take him back after so much time has passed? What behavior does Walter reveal that makes it clear to Ruby that she has outgrown him? Do you think Ruby would have taken Walter back before Jacob entered into her life? Was there ever a point when you feel Walter could have successfully reconciled with Ruby?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    Darkfire is near : Chapter 15

    Sweet Death just stood there thinking of an answer. Maybe. I'll take that as a yes. I smacked my head of that comment. When we kept on journeying to go see who the new animal was. Since Darkfire found himself a girlfriend. We were at the stadium where the animal king fought for his honor. Sweet Death was brave enough to go through the stadium. Darkfire was a wimp to go to the stadium. I saw the animal king's crown on his throne. Sweet Death put on the crown it didn't glow. When Twilight put it on it glowed a little, but not alot. The others put it on it didn't glow. When I put it on it glowed alot. I was the next animal king. I guess we went to our next stop. The everfree forest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2013

    Really enjoyed reading this book from this author. Cant wait to read more from her.

    This was my 1st time reading a book from this author. Really enjoyed her writing. Hope she writes more.

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  • Posted September 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Honestly, I had a hard time ¿getting into¿ this book. I general

    Honestly, I had a hard time “getting into” this book. I generally do not enjoy books written from a first person perspective and I think that may be one of the reasons why this book was so difficult for me to finish. I liked the character of Ruby – she was one of the more realistic characters I have read lately. I also enjoyed how she coped with the hand she was dealt – it was real and heart wrenching at times, but Ms. Thomas worked magic adding just the right amount of funny at the right times. By the time I made it to the last 20 pages I was glad I had stuck with it and continued to the end. Truly in my opinion the last few pages were the best in the book. The story overall was easy to follow and was very realistic – this book was totally on me I don’t like first person, I don’t care for chitty chatty details and I like a little more romance and “whimsicalness”. Overall, the story and characters were very well thought out and planned – I actually feel badly that I didn’t love it.

    Rating: 3

    Heat Rating: Hot

    Reviewed by: A. Lyn

    Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    It wasn't expected, when Ruby's husband tells her he is leaving

    It wasn't expected, when Ruby's husband tells her he is leaving her for another woman. He sets off on a yacht out across the Pacific Ocean where no one can get in touch with him. But, he constantly flaunts his adventures on his Facebook page for all the world to see, even his children and friends back home. Ruby has to be subject to the public humiliation of it all. With her house in foreclosure and her bakery in debt, she has no other choice but to face her fears of public speaking and teaches a cake class for the college. Next she goes on tv in a cake competition. She also meets a new gentleman who changes everything for her. But, can she forget the past and what her husband as done to her and move on with someone else? Or, does it just become one more friend she meets along the way to finding her happiness? This book was a lot of fun to read with one crazy scene after the next. I laughed through so much of the book. I definitely recommend this book on everyone's reading list this summer.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2013

    What do you do when your husband of 18 years tells you that he¿s

    What do you do when your husband of 18 years tells you that he’s leaving you for another woman?  First you panic and then you start thinking up stressipes.  It’s amazing all of the dessert recipes one creates when stressed out!  But, when the going gets tough, Ruby McMillan gets baking!
     
    Ruby is the owner of the Muffin Top bakery.  It’s a small, cozy bakery located in Downtown Pelican Point.  Ever since Ruby was little, she knew she wanted to open up her own bakery.  Even at a young age she had everything picked out for her future bakery … right down to the plum colored napkins.  The only thing she didn’t anticipate was for her sales to start flagging.  But Ruby can’t focus on that now.  She’s still trying to figure out how she’s going to raise her two children alone, pay her mortgage and keep her bakery from going under.  Not to mention she has become a pariah of sorts in her community.  After word that Walter had left Ruby (Read:  Walter plastered it all over Facebook) and is traveling around the world with his soul mate, the group of Pelican Point ladies (that Ruby had socialized with since her kids were in preschool) were all of a sudden no longer interested in Ruby being a part of their circle.  




    Thankfully Ruby has the bakery to keep her mind off of the drama that has suddenly consumed her life.  She agrees to teach a baking class to increase her diminishing funds, while also hesitantly allowing her daughter to give her a confidence boosting make-over.  Throughout all of this, Ruby manages to catch the eye of her mortgage broker, Jacob Salt, who happens to be one yummy looking man!  But is it too soon to start seeing another man? 




    So, what does Ruby do when life hands her lemons?  She makes a lemon meringue pie, of course!  Come join Ruby as she ditches “rational” Ruby and discovers how delicious life can be when you live outside of the box a bit. 




    Sweet Nothings is such a deliciously fun book!  I really enjoyed the story, thought the characters were fun and relatable and thoroughly enjoyed the humor!  You know a book is good when you lock yourself in the bathroom just so you can read a few more pages uninterrupted!  I can’t think of one thing that I didn’t like, or would have changed, about this book.  From the first to the last page, it was a delectable read!  I would definitely recommend this book to others.  It has all of the elements that I look for in a book … a great storyline, fun characters, romance, yummy desserts and lots of laughs!  I love, love, LOVE this book!  Sweet Nothings by Janis Thomas is definitely worthy of a five out of five star rating!

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  • Posted July 12, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is a fun story in spite of some of the quandaries that Ruby

    This is a fun story in spite of some of the quandaries that Ruby McMillan finds herself in, life-changing shockers that she is totally unprepared to handle.  But Ruby is a feisty lady; so when her husband decides to leave for his “soul mate” from work, Ruby does her mourning with her two children.  But she never wallows in the sadness, even though it’s most definitely there!  
    The next shocker is about the possibility of losing her home and her gourmet bakery due to lack of financial resources, again caused by her husband who has cut off all her money and won’t pay a dime to support her or her children.  Creep for sure!  
    Ruby has good friends and is actually making a new friend in a mortgage broker, Jacob.  This is greatly helped by the total makeover she gets first from her daughter which turns her from a frumpy Mom to a hot chick who catches many male looks for her great beauty which has so long been hidden.  What’s really been hidden is the sense of self-worth beyond just knowing she’s a great baker!  All it takes is a bit of encouragement, daring and allowing the naturally bright and beautiful woman to emerge!  The journey is wonderful!
    Now her life is about to travel down many unforeseen roads to become a “Cake Lady” teacher and perhaps even consider getting a TV show to teach and show her magnificent baking skills.  Her husband?  By the time he’s gotten over his mid-life crisis or whatever it is, where will Ruby and Walter be?  Quite a surprise, actually!
    Janis Thomas writes with a light style that is so pleasant to read and makes one flip the pages, with interest never once waning.  There’s a reading guide in the back of the book with very thoughtful, provocative questions for book clubs or just one’s own private consideration.  Sweet Nothings is a light, delicious read which I am sure readers will relish!

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