Dreaming in Chocolate

Dreaming in Chocolate

by Susan Bishop Crispell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250089076
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 477,012
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

SUSAN BISHOP CRISPELL earned a BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina—Wilmington. Susan lives and writes near Wilmington, NC with her husband and their two literary-named cats. She is the author of The Secret Ingredient of Wishes.

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Dreaming in Chocolate: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Set in a small North Carolina town, the story focuses on a chocolate café, The Chocolate Cottage, the magic it conjures with the help of an ancient apothecary cabinet and the bucket list of an eight year old girl. Penelope and her mother Sabina have mixed and dispensed the magical chocolate as well as other ‘normal’ confections for years: providing clarity, courage, hope and showing true love to their customers, and culminating in a Winter Solstice festival where their “Kismet” hot cocoa is available, a boost to fate and self-determination. But last year’s festival didn’t change Penelope’s fate – Ella is still ill and indications are that she’ll be gone soon. Uncertain about the ‘magic’, angry at the fates and scared about just how she’ll survive without Ella; having been the focus of her life and happiness since she was born. Penelope is sure the magic has either tricked her or let her down, again, just as it had when she was a teenager in love with a man who left. Adding to her worries, her mother Sabina is using the magical chocolates to retreat into a time when she was happy: before Penelope’s father died, and the cabinet keeps giving her recipes and ingredients for magical confections that she doesn’t want. Perhaps if the ‘one who got away’ hadn’t returned to town to help out his brother, and his niece wasn’t Ella’s newest (and most special) friend, she’d be able to survive the alternating hits of laughter and terror that come when she thinks of Ella. While Noah ran off years ago in search of “more”, he’s never forgotten Penelope, and he’s wanting to explore what may be there – once he can prove to her that he’s changed. But he may never get the chance. Add in the moments from Ella’s bucket list and the mixed emotions of joy in Ella’s excitement when another check is added to the realization that only a few more items exist, the story has a poignancy that grabs you by the throat, not entirely ever letting go. When Ella’s sights (and list) turn to Noah with the help of a new “pendant’ that the apothecary table granted her, and her determination to throw her mother and Noah together at every opportunity, Penelope’s skepticism about the magic and the table’s ability to provide what is needed at the right time is waning, the upcoming festival, her sharing a heretofore untold truth about the state of Ella’s health with the town, and the meddling of two eight year olds and some specially crafted cocoa bring the story to a close in ways unexpected and wholly welcome. As with her first story I read, The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, Crispell puts the magic and the changes brought by the hope of its recipients at the forefront: using the questions and doubts as a counterpoint: allowing the wonder and the ‘what if’ to capture the reader’s imagination. Easy to lose yourself in with the sense of family, community and emotions, it’s a book to hide away with while the winter rages outside. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Laeljeanne More than 1 year ago
Penelope Dalton inherited a magical table that offers her special chocolate recipes for her chocolate cafe, including the Kismet hot chocolate for the Festival of Fate, a drink that offers townspeople a chance to redirect their fate. It doesn’t work for her little girl Ella, whose illness is fatal. The secret of her father’s identity is harder to contain when he returns to town to assist his injured brother run their bar Rehab. The secret of Ella’s imminent demise spills out of Penelope at a town meeting after she cancels the hot chocolate for the festival. At the same time, Sabine, her mother and business partner, seeks her deceased husband through a chocolaty, magically-induced memory loss. Penelope slowly learns to release her fears and open her heart. The characters in this story are credible in their complex flaws, with good hearts and the best intentions that go awry. Crispell presents a town a bit magical in itself, the residents leaving notes outside Penelope’s home and cafe to get their point across and to show their support and love. Dialogue between the brothers is laugh-out-loud classic sibling repartee—insulting zingers and tough love. There’s a bit much back and forth between Penelope and Ella’s father on the impossibility of a relationship, and she and best friend Megha on his hotness level. The open ending lends itself less to speculation than a call for a realistic resolution. After all, magic has its limitations. Readers who love the every day magic of life in a Sarah Addison Allen or Alice Hoffman story will appreciate Crispell’s work.
Suze-Lavender More than 1 year ago
Penelope and her mother own a chocolate café. They sell all kinds of delicious treats and hot chocolate. There's something special about their shop, they have a magical apothecary table that gives them any recipe they could ever need. The inhabitants of Malarkey buy the chocolate for various reasons, but a lot of them want to find true love. Penelope used to love her business, but she's having doubts. The table hasn't granted her biggest wish and this breaks her heart. Can she still put her trust in magic while it doesn't bring her the happiness she craves? Penelope has an eight-year-old daughter. Ella is cheerful and wise, but she's also the reason Penelope worries about the future. Together with Ella, Penelope is working on a bucket list. On this list there's one wish that proves to be difficult, finding Ella a dad. Noah, the love of Penelope's life, left her before she could tell him about her pregnancy. Nobody knows who Ella's father is and Penelope isn't ready for people to find out. When Noah's back in town, she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions. He would love to rekindle their friendship, but Penelope isn't ready for the man who deeply hurt her to be back in her life. However, Ella has different plans and can be very convincing. Will the magic of her shop guide Penelope through this tumultuous time? Dreaming in Chocolate is a brilliant moving story. The combination of chocolate and magic is absolutely wonderful. It's a great idea that Susan Bishop Crispell combines with much creativity and a flawless execution that works incredibly well. I loved how magic can change lives. Penelope's constant battle with her beliefs, her grief and her hopes fascinated me from the beginning. Ella is such a cute little girl and she and Penelope have a special bond. Penelope would do anything for her daughter and her unconditional love and the pain of loving someone so much it hurts are radiating off the pages. Susan Bishop Crispell describes Penelope's feelings in a gorgeous open way. I liked the balance between sadness, cheerfulness and sweetness, it's absolutely amazing. Dreaming in Chocolate is a delicious bittersweet story. I loved Susan Bishop Crispell's vivid descriptions of all the tasty treats that are being sold in the chocolate café. I enjoyed reading about every single customer, I loved the family aspect of the story and I really liked the romance as well. Together they're making Dreaming in Chocolate a true gem to read. It's such a beautiful enchanting story filled with magic and love.
csmmom More than 1 year ago
This was a sweet story. As a mother, I don't know how Penelope went about her daily business knowing that her only child was dying. She was so brave and caring. I love the story of the table that gives Penelope and her mother exactly what they need...recipes, ingredients and sometimes, hope. I am a chocoholic so this book made my mouth water. I really enjoyed it.
C_Fowler More than 1 year ago
Dreaming in Chocolate had me at the title, and did not disappoint. It is a lovely story about mothers and daughters, hopes and dreams, romance, and, of course, magical chocolate. Set in Malarkey, North Carolina, this is the story of mother and daughter, Sabina and Penelope, who own a chocolate shop with a special apothecary table that gives them magical chocolate recipes and ingredients. Penelope's daughter, Ella, is the light of their lives, however, she has been diagnosed with an illness that even the magical chocolate recipes may not be able to cure. Yet with the town's support, along with that of Penelope's former flame, Noah, who has returned to Malarkey after several years away, magic may happen. I enjoyed this book very much with its small, intimate town, and people that believe in the magic of the chocolate and wholly support Sabina, Penelope, and Ella. I definitely recommend Dreaming in Chocolate, and I think you will love this charming book as well. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are solely my own.
mkdmom More than 1 year ago
A sweet, magical fiction romance novel that fans of Sarah Addison Allen will enjoy. The town of Malarkey and its residents reminded me of the Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow. Although this is story is basically a romance, I found the book to have an underlying sadness to it. First, is that in one of the main story lines Ella, the daughter, is dying. I don't particularly like to read about children suffering. Also, another back story line dealt with Sabina, the mom, still missing her departed husband. She used the store's magic chocolates basically to self medicate herself. I had a problem with this plot point. Magical realism is one thing; using it to induce an almost drug like effect on a character, not so much. An easy read, but not as light as others in this genre
Cheryl-S More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars This fabulous, heart-warming, emotional story features Penelope, Ella and Noah. I understand why Penelope felt the way she did about Noah. Her stubbornness started to get irritating after a while. When her daughter is sick and her bucket list included things that were in Penelope's grasp, she should have done it! Noah was great! He handled everything with an understanding not many would have. Of course Ella was super cute. I loved the addition of the Apothecary Table being magic. That was a twist I haven't read anywhere else and this story line wrapped around it perfectly. I was disappointed that there was no epilogue. You can't take us on such an emotional journey and then let us assume what happens! The book was FANTASTIC but I was not happy with the lack of closure that should have told us exactly what happened with Ella. Great story though!
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
Penelope owns a chocolate shop with an apothecary table. The table produces chocolate recipes that have magical cures - to fix a broken heart, to make someone tell the truth, to make someone fall in love. Penelope has turned cynical with regards to the table because she feels it did not make her one wish come true. Will she get her wish in the end? What a delightful story. Who couldn't help but fall in love with Penelope's daughter Ella. She firmly believes in the magic of the table and refuses to give up hope for hew Mom. This story had fun characters and was as much about the power of believing as it was about magic. From St. Martin's Press via Netgalley. 3.5/5.0
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
Chocolates that have magic? I always knew that chocolate had special powers… a good reason to eat more! But this book, Penelope and her mother run a café that makes chocolate and other candies that have special powers. They are given special recipes to make chocolates that will help each other and their customers with their lives. The catch, the one thing Penelope really needs a special recipe for never happens. My heart wanted to break for Penelope and her daughter but their way of living life made me smile. They took each day for all they could get out of it and truly lived life to the fullest. Each check made on Ella, the daughter’s, bucket list made me smile at how something simple like having cake for breakfast is taken for granted when you believe that you have many years left to live. The setting of the small town was fun. There was a quaintness that I would love to live in. I am not sure I could handle the nosy, know it all, pushy neighbors but I believe they made up for all that with their love, respect, and never-ending support. I believe this is the perfect book for someone looking for a charming, heartwarming, sweet story. I’d recommend picking up your own copy of Dreaming in Chocolate.
KimMc More than 1 year ago
Light read with a lot of heart. Penelope and her mother run a not so average chocolate shop. While serving her own magical blend of confection, Penelope lives with a daughter's bucket list and the absent love of her life that has reappeared. The characters are likable and the plot moves along swiftly, making this an enjoyable book. The end came rather abruptly, so I'm hoping there is a sequel, but otherwise a great read. *I received an arc from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review
LeighKramer More than 1 year ago
There was so much I enjoyed about this novel: the town of  Malarkey, NC, the magical apothecary table, Kismet hot chocolate that tells you who your true love is, Noah. I loved how the author explored the concepts of fate and free will. I loved watching Penelope figure out whether she could give Noah a second chance, whether he was worth the risk. It was an easy book to read and I think many people will enjoy reading it. There was just one problem. As a reminder, a 3 star review means I liked it. I really did. The reason I didn't rate it higher falls under the "it's me, not you" category. Here's what it boils down to: Penelope's 8 year old daughter Ella has an inoperable brain tumor. I used to be a pediatric oncology/hematology social worker specializing in brain tumors. You can see where this is headed. We're not told the specific kind of brain tumor but we are told Ella has a prognosis of six months or less.  Due to the prognosis, they've stopped treatment. However, there's no palliative care or hospice involvement. Before I worked at the Children's Hospital, I was a hospice social worker so I have big feelings about a terminal prognosis that does not involve hospice. On good days, we're told Ella has nausea and migraines that send her home from school. On bad days, she has seizures and prolonged hospital stays. However, while Penelope expresses concern about Ella declining, we don't see the decline. Ella goes to school almost every day. There is one instance where she gets sick but it's a 24 hour or less deal and does not involve hospitalization. It's not an accurate depiction of a child with a terminal brain tumor. And it really bothered me and messed with my ability to enjoy the story more.  Now part of the story involves magic and so I kept wondering whether the magic had healed Ella and that's why we didn't see her acting like a child with a brain tumor. But one of the major parts of the plot is the town believing Ella is healed because they all wished that Ella would be healed at the last Festival Of Fate, whereas Penelope has decided not to tell everyone Ella is dying. Then once people find out Ella wasn't healed, they still believe they can change her fate at the next Festival. It's compelling stuff- of course we wish there was magical hot chocolate that could heal our loved ones- but it also made me uncomfortable due to medical reality. I couldn't suspend disbelief, which rarely happens when I read books involving magic. Truly a case of me, not you. I really enjoyed watching Penelope and Noah circle around each other and figure out whether and how to give each other another chance and I think most people will be able to lose themselves in their story. I adored Crispell's first novel The Secret Ingredient Of Wishes and while this one didn't quite land with me, I look forward to seeing what comes next from her.  Disclosure: I received an advance copy from St. Martin's Griffin in exchange for an honest review.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed Susan's other books, so I was pretty excited to get into this one. I really liked Penelope and Noah. She's reluctant and he's charming and together they have a hint of chemistry. I'm sure there would be a lot more if Penelope would let it happen. I think Sabina was my favorite character and of course Ella stole every scene she was in. It was absolutely adorable seeing her trying to play matchmaker. One of the things I love most about Susan's books is that the magic is right out in the open. The chocolate shop is a fantastic setting and the apothecary table is like another character. Seeing the characters interact with the table was one of the best parts. Plot wise, it did move a bit slow in parts. It did feel like there was a lot of push and pull, but it also sort of makes sense. I would have liked more at the ending, but it was hopeful and fitting. I'm just greedy. **Huge thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for providing the arc free of charge**
lauriesophee More than 1 year ago
There is love, laughter and belief of the mysterious ways if fate all gathered beautifully together in a rather implausible tale. Imagine a piece of chocolate with a special ingredient that will show you your future. Or a cup of hot chocolate that can give you the future you wish for or cure an illness. These are "miracle sweets" and the chocolate shop is owned by a mother and daughter. The daughter has a precocious daughter of her own. The plot does thicken as an old ex-boyfriend surfaces. Believing and trusting are the background for this unique, well written novel. The grandma says "It's not always about the end result, people just want to have hope." So- they dream in chocolate. Quite a yummy saga!
teachlz More than 1 year ago
What an intriguing concept Susan Bishop Crispell, Author, of “Dreaming in Chocolate” has whipped up. Who doesn’t love chocolate, or wishes for that matter? The genres for this story are Fiction, Women’s fiction with an essence, and tad of magic mixed in. The chocolate have a certain magical quality. There is an old apothecary table that has opinions and offers suggestions and recipes. What else can you add to the mix? Kudos to Susan Bishop Crispell for adding a colorful cast of lovable characters in a quaint community, each with their hopes and dreams. Single mom, Penelope Dalton and her mother run this shop where there is hot chocolate and assorted chocolates to dream for or of. Every year they are represented at the town fair. My favorite character is Ella, Penelope’s 8 year old daughter. Ella has been given 6 months to live, and so far there is no magical ingredient in the chocolate that can save her. Ella is strong willed, determined, courageous, brave, and writes her own bucket list. The most important thing on her bucket list, besides a cat, is finding her mother happiness, when she in no longer here. Could that mean finding her mother the man of her dreams? This is a delightful, charming , heartwarming story of family, friends, community, love, hope and faith. I would highly recommend this for readers of fiction with a touch of magical realism. I received an ARC of this story for my honest review.