The Ingredients of Happiness

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Pub Date 04 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 30 Jun 2023

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Is there a recipe for the perfect life?

Thirty-two-year-old 'happiness guru' Dr Cooper Hunziker has it all - a dream job as assistant psychology professor at Yale University, a soon-to-be published self-help book, The Happiness Connection, and the perfect man. But there's a problem. Cooper isn't happy.

Of course, it doesn't help that she's facing cut-throat competition for her tenure at Yale, an accusation of plagiarism that could cost her everything, or that her new book has irritated the department chairman, who assigns her to co-lead a happiness group at the New Haven Library.

As her friendship with the other women in the group flourishes, Cooper finds herself questioning her choices. Forced to face a life-changing betrayal and her own traumatic past, can she navigate a path to happiness with the help of a gargoyle's wisdom?

Is there a recipe for the perfect life?

Thirty-two-year-old 'happiness guru' Dr Cooper Hunziker has it all - a dream job as assistant psychology professor at Yale University, a soon-to-be published...

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ISBN 9781448311149
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Average rating from 49 members

Featured Reviews


By the end of this mesmerizing book, I was craving chocolate cake and wanting to read THE HAPPINESS CONNECTION, download the app, and do the exercises . . . including — list of all you do and highlight the ones you love doing. We teachers agreed that we loved the teaching part, and that the grading and administrivia were the toll we paid for the good part with students. I also want to join the friends in the group . . . and visit the Comfort Food bakery.
Yes, they do feel that real. How? I don’t know, it’s a gift, and I’m glad that Lucy Burdette uses her gift for good. I even want a gargoyle now . . .
I’d have been more shocked by the unkind competition in academia, but one of my favorite professors told me stories of his department that opened my eyes to cutthroat and backstabbing tactics, even at UMSL. It was far from the ideal I’d envisioned for the ivory tower, and how much more intense would it be at sought-after Yale? May they all get what they deserve for their evil tricks, which deserts can sometimes be what they thought they wanted, as life can mete out odd justice. Personal note: A high school counselor suggested applying to an Ivy League college when I received the National Merit Scholarship. It was sweet of him, but I think my parents were wise to keep me closer to home, closer to support and far from such intense competition . . . happier.

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A total change of pace for author Lucy Burdette and a refreshing diversion. Cooper Hunziker dreams of entering Yale as part of her family's tradition. After completing her PhD, she is hired as an assistant professor, but Yale is not all she's dreamed of. Her about to be published self help book is entitled The Happiness Connection, but doesn't make her department happy to have her on board. Acting as co-leader to a self-help group affiliated with the university, Cooper meets and bonds with the people in the group and starts to re-think her goals. Sometimes altering your dreams is the correct recipe for happiness. Thoroughly enjoyable and hope for more books like this from the author.

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In The Ingredients of Happiness, prolific author Lucy Burdette excels at making the reader feel the same torment that her protagonist, Cooper Hunzicker, is suffering. Cooper should be happy--she has a Ph.D. in psychology, a job at prestigious Yale University as an assistant professor, a book--The Happiness Connection--that will be released imminently, and a long-term relationship with her lawyer boyfriend, Daniel. Yet she struggles with her own happiness journey.

Only one of the three new assistant professors will score a job at Yale at the end of the year, Cooper and Daniel are now living on opposite sides of the country, and it becomes increasingly obvious that someone is trying to sabotage Cooper's success at every turn. Her job, her upcoming book, and even her romantic life may all be at risk, and she's not sure she can count on anyone in her family for support. As more and more obstacles are heaped in Cooper's path and her struggles become ever more dire, I longed for a satisfying resolution and the resulting release of my personal tension.

Finally, I got the payoff I was hoping for. The author deserves kudos for successfully toying with the reader's emotions and simultaneously creating a credible plot and insights into happiness science. Burdette, aka Roberta Isleib, is a clinical psychologist and begins each chapter with a happiness tip from Cooper's book, backed up by references to real-life experts. Each epigraph can be related to Cooper's life and the way she deals with roadblocks and betrayals. A couple of the players seemed a bit over the top in their nastiness, but there were enough positive, well-drawn characters, along with the exquisitely excruciating suspense, to keep me engrossed in the story.

My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

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Review of eBook

With her doctorate in psychology firmly in hand, thirty-two-year-old Cooper Hunziker is finally set to fulfill her dream . . . she’s accepted a position as an assistant psychology professor at Yale University and her book, “The Happiness Connection.” Is about to be published. Cooper, after traveling across the country, is settling in, determined to earn the sole tenure position available in the department for herself.

There’s just one problem. Cooper isn’t happy. And, adding to her misery is an unexpected charge of plagiarism related to her book. In addition, the department chairman, Doctor Jeremy Coleman, isn’t particularly happy with her, and Stella, the department administrative assistant, seems to have put Cooper on her personal blacklist.

Will Cooper find the secret to fitting in at Yale? And will she discover happiness for herself?


Since each chapter opens with a happiness insight, readers will find much to contemplate here as they follow Cooper through her own sometimes-convoluted search for happiness. The characters, all well-developed, are not always likable, but all are believable.

Throughout the story, there is a strong sense of place, especially with the toxic environment at the university. As Cooper deals with a variety of issues that complicate her life, she learns that sometimes dreams need a bit of fine-tuning and, ultimately, making some changes may indeed lead to that elusive happiness goal . . . a lesson for both Cooper and the reader.

As Cooper’s backstory reveals some traumatic issues related to her childhood, the unfolding story also brings love, betrayal, and sabotage into the telling of this nuanced tale, making Cooper’s propensity toward a bit of whining and self-doubt understandable. Readers are sure to commiserate with Cooper and her struggles; despite some truly despicable behaviors, the suspenseful tale reaches a denouement that is sure to please everyone.

Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this eBook from Severn House and NetGalley
#TheIngredientsofHappiness #NetGalley

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This is a really nice read. I loved the little happiness bits at the start of each chapter. It was warm and uplifting and a book to easily get lost into.

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This is a nice and easy read. Very uplifting and enjoyable. I hope the author writes more book like this. A perfect time spent with a lovable cast of characters.

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This wad a good book. I really enjoyed it and it was a good book to just get lost in. I could see alot of people in Coopers place.
I just reviewed The Ingredients of Happiness by Lucy Burdette. #TheIngredientsofHappiness #NetGalley
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I received this ARC for honest honest feedback.

This was an easy, feel good read. Cooper, the main character, was likable, and seemed like someone your know in real life. It is definitely a book you could sit down and finish on a rainy day. I'd like to read a follow up on these characters.

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THE INGREDIENTS OF HAPPINESS is the stand-alone women’s fiction by Lucy Burdette. A journey of self-discovery, newly minted Doctor of psychology, Cooper Hunziker, has landed a job at Yale University. If that’s not a big enough accomplishment, her new book, The Happiness Connection, will be soon published and great reviews are pouring in. Ms. Burdette starts each chapter with a happiness tip from The Happiness Connection, each a reference to a real-life expert. I found them to be helpful and worth contemplating, especially if you find you need to up the happiness quotient in your life. However, as brilliant as Dr. Cooper Hunziker is, and having written the book herself, she hasn’t taken her own advice. In fact, she is downright unhappy. But can she turn things around to make her life more meaningful?

True to the author’s background of being both a psychologist and a cozy mystery writer, there is a “mystery” to solve in The Ingredients of Happiness. It kept me turning pages, wondering who had accused Cooper of plagiarism, and why was her department head and his assistant so vile toward her. I wanted to reach into the pages and tell Cooper to unload the toxic people in her life and focus on those who treated her with kindness and respect. Adding some light-hearted humor is the gargoyle, Howard, who sits outside Cooper’s office window. He turned out to be a great character and I would have liked to have seen more of him. As the story progressed and came to a conclusion, the long-sought after reveal came to light in a highly satisfactory way that left me with a happy feeling.

I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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The thought-provoking plot of this book was excellent as was the character development. It's a wonderfully entertaining book of fiction, but it also inspires you to think about what makes you happy versus what you think you should be doing. In this book our anxiety ridden lead character, Dr Cooper Hunziker, has just landed her dream of working in the psychology department and continuing her research at Yale, but she is finding that the book she wrote about happiness and the career in the making around that might be making her happier than Yale. Add in the drama of a long-distance romance while also not being sure who is trustworthy as a friend, and she is circling a ring of doubt about her future. The story follows her journey of self-awareness and self-improvement. As someone who has been spending a lot of time thinking about the career path that I have chosen versus what might make me happier, this book was on point and excellently timed! I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to read this book for both the entertainment value and the life inspiration. While the book has a great ending, Selfishly, I really kind of want the author to revisit these characters so we can continue to see how they grow and where they go!

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As a new assistant psychology professor Cooper is starting the life she’s always wanted. She does have to deal with living in a new place, a long-distance relationship, and toxic department politics, but hey, she’s made it to Yale! If her forthcoming book on happiness is considered fluffy by the department head there are worse things. Unfortunately, Cooper is about to discover how much worse. Can the “expert” on happiness find her own path to being happier?

This story pulled me in from the first meeting in the library, with its mix of characters. “Quotes” from Cooper’s book start the chapters with bite sized information on research-driven happiness practiced. The setting is well developed and Cooper’s journey has depths that are well-balanced with lighter moments. I would happily re-enter the world and lives introduced here. Burdette has the recipe for a feel-good - and thought-provoking - read. Give this to readers of Barbara O’Neal. Recommended.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Cooper Hunziker had always dreamed of attending Yale, following a family tradition but reality had her attending a different university. Upon completion of her PHd, she is hired as an assistant professor in the Yale psychology department, and is competing with two other candidates for a tenured position.
She also has a book about to be published titled "The Happiness Connection". Unfortunately, this does not impress the head of the department. Cooper also doesn't understand why the department secretary is hiding her mail and basically sabotaging her efforts.
Meeting women in a self help group associated with the university has Cooper questioning what really makes her happy. Being accused of plagiarism on a quiz that led to her book, Cooper is forced to rethink her relationships and who wants to harm her. A journey of self discovery.
 #TheIngredientofHappiness #NetGalley

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I sat down to read this book and didn't get up until I was finished. Yes, it's that good. Wonderful characters trying to deal with their problems. Not so wonderful characters creating problems. Each chapter starts with an observation or theory about finding happiness. The story takes place in New Haven and Yale and it is a real treat!

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Although this book starts out on the slow side, and seems to be a bit unfocused, I think it's because the main character, Cooper, is herself a bit unsettled. She has always been determined to go to Yale. She didn't get accepted as an undergraduate. Now that she's achieved her Ph.D., she's got a job there, competing with two other people in a tenure-track position. She's left her boyfriend and her best friend in California.

The department has more than an unwelcome feel to it - in fact Cooper feels like she's missing notices, mail, and other documentation. Her boss and his assistant have an exceptionally antagonistic attitude toward her and only her.

As Cooper gets her feet on the ground, and starts making friends, her focus becomes better. She's written a book that is about to launch and she's doing publicity events. Her book is about finding happiness and Cooper starts using her process for herself.

This is a great story of awakening, finding support from new friends, and determining what it is you really want out of life. I enjoyed it and I look forward to reading more books from Lucy Burdette.

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I love Lucy Burdette's mysteries and this book was something different but with a good dose of suspence.
Cooper should be living the dream as she's going to be a published author, got a place as assistant at Yale and is happily engaged.
But not everything is what seems and the academic competition and other facts could destroy everything and she doesn't know who she can trust.
This is a compelling and gripping novel, I rooted for Cooper and hoped for the best. it's an entertaining story and I thoroughly enjoyed this new aspect of Lucy Burdette's novel.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Most people want to be happy. Yet why is that so hard sometimes? In The Ingredients of Happiness, author Roberta Isleib helps her characters and readers realize where life’s true joys lie.
Many of us pursue happiness by chasing success, just as her main character Cooper does when she accepts a stressful, tenure-vying Yale professorship. Or we invest in unsatisfying relationships without calculating the cost, just as Cooper does, mismatched in love and invested in a toxic friendship. Through her engaging, thoughtful story, Isleib shows us where real happiness can be found: in supportive relationships, meaningful careers, and the simplest of pleasures such as cuddling a beloved cat or baking a scrumptious chocolate cake (recipe included!)
Happiness quotes and research set the stage for each chapter, and readers can glean much insight into their own happiness journey by noting the rich wisdom on offer there. Isleib also introduces many useful ‘happiness’ exercises through Cooper’s fictional self-help group’s tasks: One I particularly appreciated was to make a list of your daily activities, then think about which ones make you happier. Quite revealing! (So no more doom scrolling for me, I say.)
Isleib accomplishes all this within a page-turning mystery (who reported the plagiarism? why?); provides us with a take on childhood dynamics that dampen our happiness; and sets up delightful comeuppances for the bad guys. Even then, happiness wisdom frames the action. When Cooper finally takes down her blustery boss, for instance, she says: “Wasn’t it Jung who wrote that every person must face a measure of darkness in his life? I suppose it might be your turn.”
One other delight: Isleib, author of the Key West Food Critic mysteries, truly excels whenever food enters the picture. You’ll be hungry after reading wonderful descriptions of quiche (carmelized onions, leeks, homemade cheese), chicken pot pies (brimming with real carrots, potatoes, peas and chunks of chicken in creamy sauce), ravioli (fresh pasta stuffed with rich roasted eggplant and cheese, floating in a red sauce with fresh basil and more carmelized onions), and cake of course (melted chocolate, bundt pans brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with large crystals of sugar). Yum!
So do your happiness levels a favor today and read The Ingredients of Happiness. As you do, you just may find the wisdom you need to come to terms with the past, rethink a career, or ditch the toxic people in your life once and for all. All that wrapped together make for a very satisfying read. I highly recommend!
Thank you NetGalley and Severn House for this opportunity to offer my honest review.

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Cooper Hunziker seems to have landed her dream job as an assistant professor in psychology at Yale University and her self-help book, The Happiness Connection, is being published. But Cooper isn't happy. The department chair and staff are far from welcoming & have saddled Cooper with the task of co-leading a happiness support group. When accusations of plagiarism from a pop magazine arise, the university legal team is eager to protect its reputation at any cost. Can the visit of her lawyer fiance Daniel & her best friend Alafair help Cooper find the happiness she touts? An unexpected ending leaves Cooper in a better place in both her personal & professional lives.

Burdette's own background as a psychologist played a major role in the development of this story.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Severn House. All opinions are my own.

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What a charming romance with an MC Cooper you grow to love and cheer on from miserable Yale psychologist to contented best-selling author. I almost got bogged down by the emotional drains in Cooper's life, yet the author writes such real characters -- especially the women in the happiness group she co-leads with hunky Judd -- that I could not help but plow through, knowing there was good stuff ahead. And boy was there! One of my fave books this year, a delight that uplifted my spirits. Highly recommended for romance fans who love intelligent stories with endearing characters.

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Love this book!

As a psychology student, I loved this so much! I spotted lots of positive psychology, and I also really liked the developmental part because those are both part of my specialization.

I also really loved the main character's process of realizing the actual ingredients of happiness, as opposed to what people say should be the ingredients of happiness. And I also like that the book shows that knowing what to do to be happy does not necessarily make you happy.

Very good read! Absolutely recommend!

The only reason it was not 5 stars is because the plot twist was very predictable for me.

Thank you to netgalley and the author for sending me a copy in exchange for am honest review!

an instagram post will be made, and the link will also be shared here on the 12th of july.

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This book tells the story of Dr Cooper Hunziker who becomes a media sensation after her self help book on happiness is a hit. Everything seems to be going well - she is in with a shot of getting a tenure at Yale, her book is a success and she has a great boyfriend.
We soon find that all is not what it seems, someone is out to get her and the happiness guru is not happy at all.
Cooper takes on an advisory role in a friendship group and while she helps the women, she finds they help her in ways she never thought possible.
I really enjoyed the book, loved the elements of friendship and family relationships and especially loved the foodie element.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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A beautifully written book that explores the relationships with not only oneself, but with a whole variety of people too; bosses, colleagues, friends, family, strangers etc.

I felt a lot of feelings throughout this book; I was often hopeful, happy and inspired. But on occasion I was also shocked, outraged around downright miserable. I definitely felt how the characters felt on their journeys.

One specific moment gave me actual goosebumps as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

I absolutely adore the inclusion of the chocolate cake recipe; never have I been more jealous of a fictional character as when all of the delightful cakes were talked about in great detail.

I would have loved an epilogue to see exactly what happened with everyone's situations. Vague questions to avoid spoilers but...

Was the romance a success? Did the sister trip go well? How was the birthday cake? Did the app work? Did the group continue? Was the quiz truth admitted to? Who got tenure? Did Stella hide more than the letters? Did the shady couple make long distance work? And many more.

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publishers and of course the author for gifting me this advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

The story is about Cooper Hunziker, a 32 year old who accepts a position as an assistant psychology professor at Yale University whilst she is also on the verge of publishing her book "The Happiness Connection", however despite writing this book Cooper isn't happy and some people at Yale University have it in for her making it tough for her to fit in. Cooper has had a hard time and is suffering from some childhood trauma which is brought to light in the story, whilst she deals with different issues in her life whilst trying to find out what it really is that will make her happy.

Quite a lot of content with some highs and lows and covers some difficult topics but overall an enjoyable read that I would recommend.

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