The Secret Ingredient

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Pub Date 18 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 05 Feb 2024

Description

‘A delicious story that wraps itself around your heart’ Evie Woods, bestselling author of The Lost Bookshop

It’s been three years, two weeks and one day since Kate Shaw’s life changed forever. Three years, two weeks and one day that Kate has been angry – with herself and life.

But today is different. Different because Kate has finally taken the step she’s been avoiding…back into the kitchen. Now, what begins as a (disastrous) attempt to make pancakes becomes a culinary journey that is not only a love letter to someone so important to her, but also an unexpected means of connection to a community she never knew she had…

Readers are loving The Secret Ingredient:

‘While I cried reading this book, I also smiled and I laughed out loud on many occasions. Such a beautiful and worthwhile read. I loved it!’ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘The emotions I felt whilst reading was a testament to the author’ ⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘A delicious story that wraps itself around your heart’ Evie Woods, bestselling author of The Lost Bookshop

It’s been three years, two weeks and one day since Kate Shaw’s life changed...


Available Editions

EDITION Ebook
ISBN 9780008535674
PRICE £0.99 (GBP)
PAGES 400

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Average rating from 124 members


Featured Reviews

The Secret ingredient is a poignant story of love, grief and the role of friendship in our lives. I was initially anxious about reading The Secret Ingredient due to the themes of death, grief and loss for personal reasons. But while I cried reading this book, I also smiled and I laughed out loud on many occasions. Such a beautiful and worthwhile read. I loved it!
And there are some delicious sounding recipes - so now I'm off to the kitchen to bake some treats.

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Thank you to NetGalley and publishers

The secret ingredient is a mix bag of emotions, the story centres around friendship, love and loss. The novel is written exceedingly well and connects to the reader. The emotions I felt whilst reading was a testament to the author.

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I so love foodie novels. I seen this and knew I had to have it.
This novel made me laugh out loud, drool and snifle at times.
Kate is a wonderful character and I loved her instantly. She was a delight to know.
I finished this book in one evening because I couldn't put it down! I loved every minute of it.
The cover of the book is cute too.In truth it and the description was what made me take it. Plus, I love trying out new authors and this one didn't disappoint.
A wonderful story that kept me turning the pages long into the evening to see what happened next.
One of the many quotes that I loved It's a long quote because it's a two in one.
Della was doing some remembering about Justin.
‘I’m just annoyed with myself, I’m not upset.’ And it was true. ‘But it’s perfectly normal to associate things with people, isn’t it? It’s always going to be like that. We did have happy times.’ They did,they had some wonderful times together. ‘I shouldn’t let the fact that it was all based on a lie sour my memories, should I? It’s my life, my past. And –’ she glanced up at Kate, ‘– it’s what happens to you, what you do, that makes you who you are, isn’t it?’
Memories cam be painful and grand. But sometimes they can make you cry when you least expect it too.
And I loved this quote also
‘She had nothing to be scared of,’ Kate said. ‘We’re all scared of something, things that other people don’t give a second thought to of something, things that other people don’t give a second thought to.of something, things that other people don’t give a second thought to.
Isn’t that what drives us, fear? Fear of failure, fear of not being good enough,fear of not winning, fear of the unknown.’
Fear, the biggest kicker of all!: it prevents us from doing anything that we need or want to do. Sad isn't it?
This book was fun to read and one thing that stood out to me was
Always tell someone that you love them make time for them because one day they're not gonna be there anymore. Tomorrow's never promised or even today. This was the part that made me cry because you just never knew know. Only God knows.
My thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book
I was NOT required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Not my usual style of reading book but I really did enjoy "The Secret Ingredient" by Sue Heath. It has a good cast of characters who have to deal with a range of emotions but at its heart is a big old hug (and plenty of food). I thought the idea of creating your own personalised recipe book is a great idea and it just shows how personal food can be and how it can evoke memories (happy and sad).

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Wrenching and immersion - love lost to early, love fighting for more time, finding connection and making new family. The longing and pain feels as real as the strong bonds, and I think I missed Eddie as I much as Kate did. The strong bond between Charles and Mary fuel the ties between a disparate group of neighbors that become close friends and find exactly what they need. Almost magical, although sad.

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The Secret Ingredient by Sue Heath is an emotional story about a young woman named Kate who loses her husband after only a few years of marriage. A couple of years after his death, she realizes that she’s locked herself away in routine and hasn’t properly grieved his loss, so she quits her job for self discovery and to teach herself how to cook as that was his passion and something he was supposed to teach her.

On her journey of self discovery she learns that she has shut herself off from the community surrounding her as well; her new neighbor, Justin, who is facing his own demons; Charles and Mary, a sweet elderly couple who are facing their own health issues; and Della, divorced and nervous to move on. Together, they will learn the secret ingredient of life and how to move on in the face of grief and loss.

This was a beautiful novel. It moved quickly, and I thought there were times the story could have lowed down a bit and given more detail. I was a bit nervous when I saw the chapters were from multiple perspectives but it added a lot to the story. I felt the characters could have been more fleshed out; however, I felt they were each written as an example of dealing with grief or loss, so while I would have liked to know more about them, it wouldn’t have necessarily served the story being told. I loved that the recipes were included. I would give four stars for the story and five stars for the emotional impact, which would equal 4.5 stars.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for an advanced copy of this book in response for my honest review.

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The Secret Ingredient by Sue Heath is an emotive and heartwarming novel about grief, community, relationships and healing. Food, nostalgia and community unite the characters, all of whom are lovely with traits one hopes to see in neighbours and friends.

When Kate's life is devastated by the death of her beloved husband who loved to cook, she avoids people and life. But a neighbour who has hurts of her own draws her out. Kate begins to realize the healing power of food and starts to bake...and not just for and by herself. Charles, Mary, Della, David and Jack have all experienced loss and learn to lean on each other.

The author writes about deep grief so beautifully and tenderly it crushed my heart. But she follows it with sparks of life and hope. As a passionate cook and baker who creates dishes with love and has experienced death close at hand, this book is relatable on so many levels. It is a superb reminder that one can experience joy and healing in the midst of suffering. Excellent food for thought. Recipes are tastefully included, each full of meaning.

My sincere thank you to HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter and NetGalley for providing me with an early digital copy of this inspiring novel.

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A real feel good, enjoyable story. I loved the way Sue incorporates Kates recipes throughout her novel- excellent! Kate makes great changes in her life after the death of her husband, but feels she will never be able to cope without him. Her local community is full of fascinating, wonderful characters. Any more info. will spoil the story.

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What a lovely book with a great storyline. This is one to really enjoy and is full of emotion. 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley, author and publisher for this ARC

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Kate's late husband had done all the cooking and she planned for him to teach her his recipes .After giving up her job in teaching, she decides the time is right to start to cook. A wonderful ,heart rending, tale of friendship ,love and community spirit, with laugh out loud moments, and moments of sadness. Brilliant.

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I thought this was going to be a melancholy story because all of the characters have had some truly bad experiences...spouses leaving, getting older, illness and death. At times they felt sorry for themselves and you expect the book to be mostly a sad one but trust me it isn't. I can't count the many times I found myself smiling at a passage where a character decides this is no way to live and wants to get on with their life. It's okay to be sad and/or depressed when we lose someone but to wallow in it or not get any help is never a good idea and I loved reading about people finding their strength in community. Each of these people deals with their loss differently and that is true in real life as well.

The book is very character-driven and I enjoyed the fact that it has chapters from each character's point of view. They support and help each other in their healing and become a sort of family. I felt like I was hanging out in the neighbourhood with them. They're certainly people I would like to be friends with. I don't know if I'd feel confident enough to cook for a chef though!

This story showcases how food can bring people together and how the different senses can trigger memories. There are plenty of recipes in the book and the food sounds so delicious I can't wait to try more of it. The one recipe I did try was sugar lemon pancakes. I made them New Year's Day for brunch. Lemon is one of my favourite flavours so I had to make them. They were really good and my experience was much better than Kate's.

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So incredibly likeable! These three words sum up my thoughts about this wholesome, heartwarming story. The characters were diverse, spanning different generations and backgrounds, reflective of most neighbourhoods today. This representation really helps me, as the reader, connect with the characters and feel like I am a part of their neighbourhood. You will fall in love with Kate, Jack, Charles, Mary, and Della as they all get to know each other through food. It is no secret that food builds connections and understanding, and that is really highlighted in the story. Having the characters share recipes that are meaningful to them and that brings back special memories really contributes to the overwhelming endearing quality of this story. Even better, by including the recipes, readers are able to try them out in their own kitchens...bonus! However, the biggest success of this book, in my opinion, is that it beautifully heralds the importance of friendship and connections during times of loss. This is sweet. This is thoughtful. This is uplifting.

If you enjoyed The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams, I really think you will appreciate this work from Sue Heath.

******
(Shout outs have also been put on my Instagram Stories & will be saved to Reading Highlights. Account is found under "ShinewithShauna". At the end of the month, I do a recap/book reviews for all of the books that I have read. This one will be featured at the end of January 2024. I also tend to give a shout out on publication day, if I really liked the book.)

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I loved this book! An elderly man's way to connecting to his community and bringing his neighborhood together!

All the characters are so special and I enjoyed learning about them and hearing their stories. The cooking lessons are incredible and it's just such a lovely read. A feel good story - with loss, love, romance, friendship and more.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a temporary, digital ARC in return for my review.

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This is a touching story of dealing with pain and loss and how the quirky neighbors in one neighborhood help each other through friendship and food. Filled with fabulous recipes, The Secret Ingredient had me crying over the heartbreak, laughing with newfound joy, and loving every bite. Thanks to the author Sue Heath, HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter, and NetGalley. I received a complimentary copy of this ebook for review. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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The Secret Ingredient is a touching story about love, loss, and the importance of found family. Kate, who is mourning her husband Eddie's death, is gradually finding the strength to move on. The story explores how food and community can help Kate and her neighbours navigate their own grief and find hope. A heart warming and emotional read.

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This is a exquistly written beauitful story of friendship , loss, grief and being true to yourself. i read it in one sitting as its impossible to put down. The author has written a finely crafted story that this reader loved. I adored the main character Kate who is on a personal recovery journey from a great loss in her life. Food is her muse and she ventures out of her grief to create wonderful food and be true to herself. Through food she finds new friends and herself in the process.
This book gave me a perspective on grief and starting over that was comforting and enjoyable to read. This will touch your heart, you will laugh, cry and cheer for kate. Very well done story and excellent writing. I look forward to the next in series by this wonderful author. I highly recommend this book for your reading enjoyment.

Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own.

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Make sure you have a box of tissues close by. You will be smiling through your tears. A wonderful book about loving, losing people and finding a way to carry on.

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I loved this sweet story. All the characters are just so likeable. And you feel like you’re a part of the story with the recipes Kate cooks through because the author shares the entire recipe in the book. It really made me appreciate how food is connected with memories. We all have those meals that remind us of a moment in our childhood, our wedding day, or in remembering a favorite meal of a loved one since passed. This book makes me want to create my own recipe book playbook of memories made past, present, & future. But this book goes deeper than that, it also helps each character through some hardship, heartbreak, failed dreams, grief, & more. This novel is poetry. Thank you HarperCollinsUK, One More Chapter, NetGalley, & author Sue Heath for this eARC. All opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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This a love story on so many levels - it's about people and community, second chances and about love in all its forms. I loved the characters and the storylines. It made me cry a lot but it was also uplifting and a real feel good read. Definitly one to curl tip with and read in one go!

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Sue Heath's The Secret Ingredient serves up a heartwarming exploration of grief, healing, and community through the lens of culinary connection. The novel follows Kate Shaw, who, after the loss of her husband Eddie, embarks on a culinary journey to reconnect with his love for cooking. What begins as a disastrous attempt at making pancakes unfolds into a tale of unexpected connections and newfound friendships within her neighborhood. Heath deftly addresses the complexities of loss with compassion, weaving together diverse characters and their narratives, each chapter offering a unique perspective. The inclusion of recipes not only enhances the "foodie" theme but becomes a symbolic thread that binds the characters together. The Secret Ingredient is a poignant tribute to love, resilience, and the transformative power of shared experiences, making it a compelling and emotionally resonant read that transcends the boundaries of grief and ultimately leaves readers with a taste of hope.

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3.5 rounded up

The 22nd April four years ago, changes everything for Kate. This is when she meets Eddie. Apart from the fact that he is a wonderful person, an added bonus is that he’s a terrific cook. Three years, two weeks and one day later, her life has tragically changed forever. She’s understandably sad and has cut herself off but resolves to do better. Maybe make some pancakes? That couldn’t be too difficult, surely? This is a food themed, character driven novel of love and loss, the loneliness that accompanies that loss, and ultimately finding people to share your life and food with. It’s told from the perspectives of a number of characters and they each connect to a recipe.

I guess you know the route the storyline is going to take from the start, but it’s heartwarming and easy to read feel good story and so I don’t mind that too much. The characters are lovely which is always a plus, who couldn’t love elderly Charles and Mary and want Della as a friend? The premise is good as it’s true that getting around a table with family and friends and sharing food is a comfort and a joy.

So here’s my recipe about the book!

1. Take a large bowl, mix and blend together a selection of characters and add their emotions of love, sadness, and a sprinkling of guilt.

2. Add a few spoonfuls of humour and laughs to sweeten the mood.

3. In addition, a handful each of memories, kindness, thoughtfulness, mutual connection, friendship and sharing.

Bake until the perfect outcome is achieved.

Finally, there are some good recipes throughout the chapters, although there’s nothing especially out of the ordinary, they’re good reminders of family favourites. I will skip on Skip’s liver cake, thanks. Don’t panic, Skip has four legs.

Overall, a lovely premise and an entertaining read.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to HarperCollins, UK, One More Chapter for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review

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This was just beautiful. A story about the power of connection and food. The characters were relatable and their relationships so powerful. The last 20% had me in tears and was just lovely.

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I thought this a lovely heart warming and uplifting tale about how Katie survives after suddenly loosing her husband. It's written with compassion and very poignant. Baking is the central theme as a form of therapy for the sad but endearing characters in the book. A great read.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a slow-paced, cozy read perfect for cold winter days. The characters are well developed and the writing is wonderful. Loved it!

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What a lovely, feel good, uplifting story with a few twists along the way. I enjoyed the recipes and devoured the book.

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The Secret Ingredient by Sue Heath should not be missed. There’s so much more to this story than the one about how sharing food can bring people together. It’s a story about redefining oneself after a life changing loss. It’s a story about friendship, family, community, and new beginnings…with some interesting recipes. I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. Most highly recommend.

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I went through the whole range of emotions with this book. It had me sobbing and laughing. It's a long time since a book provoked this much emotional attachment. It is absolutely wonderful.

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This is the story of Kate, Eddie, their neighbours and the power of food. The power of food for memories, the power of food for connections and the power of food for healing. Three years after the death of husband Eddie, Kate is ready to face her grief, she throws in her job as a teacher. With more time on her hands she starts to cook recipes from Eddie’s notebook as a way to connect with him. In doing so she manages to connect with a number of neighbours she never had time for before and finds that most of them had bonded with Eddie over food before his death.

This was such a heartwarming and beautiful story. Full of the most amazing characters I have come across in a novel. I enjoyed getting to know Kate and see her grow and move on and connect with all the different side characters. I liked that you got each characters point of view and got to know each of them and their story. I loved the way they came together, it was like they found family and I was also lucky to be a part of it. This novel will stay with me for some time.

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I can't thank netgalley, the publishers and most of all Sue Heath enough for being able to read this book. Sometimes trying to review a book without spoilers is so difficult and this book is one of those. What starts off being Kate and Eddie's story very quickly becomes an intertwined story of several characters and how each in turn has something to deal with or heal from and how bonds form between them all. This story will test all your emotions, its heartwarming and heartbreaking at times. The absolute best bit if you are a foodie, is the recipes within the book that can easily be tried out. An absolute must read.

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A heartbreaking and heartwarming story about loss, healing and love. A sensitive, emotional book that warms and consoles. A gem to read.

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