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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Must Love Sandwiches’ by Janel Gradowski


Emma has worked hard to establish herself as an artist. The artists’ colony where she lives is heaven compared to the rundown trailer parks she grew up in. After a relationship comes to an unexpected end she decides to make some drastic changes in her life, but it isn’t as easy as just flipping a switch. Her best friend, Daisy, thinks she’s being too extreme. Plus, the owner of Emma’s favorite food truck is more tempting than the gourmet sandwiches he serves. That makes everything even more complicated. Is taking a different route in life the best thing to do? What if she ends up miserable instead of on the path to happiness?

Taking Centre Stage, Author – JANEL GRADOWSKI

Janel GradowskiPhotograph of author Janel Gradowski grew up, and still lives, in the mitten of Michigan. She is a wife and mother whose writing companion is a crazy Golden Retriever named Cooper. In the past she has worked many jobs. Renting apartments, scorekeeping for a stock car racetrack and selling newspaper classified advertisements, are some of the experiences that continue to provide inspiration for her stories. Now she writes fiction and is also a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking and is fueled by copious amounts of coffee.

Her work has appeared in many publications, both online and in print. She is the author of two series. Her first culinary fiction series is The Bartonville Series. Each volume will contain foodie fiction stories of various lengths, all set in Michigan. The 6:1 Series features themed collections of her stories that are based on the title’s theme.

My favorite place to write is in my recliner, nestled into the corner of the living room. I can glance over my laptop screen and peruse the wildlife in the field across the road. Everything from deer to turkeys and pheasants pass by, as I wrestle the characters out of my head and onto the page. My almost constant companion and writing buddy is my beloved Golden Retriever, Cooper. He’s a great listener and always reminds me to get up and stretch once in awhile, on the way to his treat jar. Besides my fur baby, my family consists of two wonderful children and a fantastic husband.

Janel is a very active social networker and there are many places where you can hook up with her …

Catch up with all Janel’s news on her website

Follow Janel on Twitter

Like Janel on Facebook


Madly in love is a dangerous place to be if you’re too blind to see the truth.

Misery loves company

Please promise me, when you find a man who loves you as much as you love him, hold on tight. Don’t let him slip away. I don’t want you to end up like me.


“Alone Isn’t Really A Good Thing”

I find that gathering my thoughts together and getting them down in writing, about a short story or novella, is always so difficult. My reviews often turn into rather wordy and lengthy posts, which then has me running the risk that they will almost end up by upstaging the original work. Make the review too short and the essence of the story might be marginalised, or I find myself offering up far too many spoilers …

Must Love Sandwiches, is the first volume of  The Bartonville Series of foodie fiction. This is a “cake” sized (novella) story of approximately 30,000 words.

Recipes and two “truffle” sized (flash) stories of about 1,000 words each are also included, which can be read and enjoyed during that snatched coffee break!

Not being much of an adventurous cook (A blogging friend once put it beautifully – “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house”), I did rather tend to skip over the recipes included in this foodie romance novella, although I have to say that even a novice such as myself would have found them quick and easy to prepare and they did sound delicious!

Emma and Daisy, the two central female characters in the story, are both also very ‘arty’ types and I found author Janel’s detailed descriptions of their various projects and ‘works in progress’, particularly interesting and intriguing.

Whilst I also don’t read an awful lot of contemporary romance novels, I found myself oddly and compulsively drawn to the characters in Must Love Sandwiches. I was amazed at just how well drawn, complex, yet easy to connect with they had become, in such a relatively few short pages.

Daisy is as easy to read as an open book, she tells things as she sees them, no fuss, no frills. What you see, is what you get!

Emma on the other hand, is very insecure, convinced that she is going to end up like her mother, always needing a man in her life, yet unable to choose wisely, to find the one who is right for her.

At first glance, the strong bond of friendship which develops between the two girls, may seem a little strange. However it doesn’t take long to realise the strengths which each bring to the table and the encouragement and support they can offer each other, which will benefit them both in the long run.

The narrative is witty, descriptive and by the very nature of the book’s length, pacey and fast moving.

The dialogue between the charcaters is conversational, transitionally smooth and intuitive, making for a fluid, exhilarating journey for Daisy and Emma, as they both set out to catch their man!

For me, this was a great, ‘curl up in front of a roaring fire on a winter’s night’ read and I felt oddly bereft when it was over.

As this was an author invitation to read and review, a Kindle download of  Must Love Sandwiches, was sent to me free of charge, by its author, Janel Gradowski.

This in no way influenced any comments I may have expressed about the book, in any blog article I have posted. Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a 4 out of 5.

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • I do love food and stories about food, but I’m just not sure how much I would like this. I’ve never cared much for romance stories. You make it sound appealing, though.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I too enjoy my food and am always willing to try something new. However, my baking skills and the will to attempt new recipes, doesn’t match my appetite, so I generally only sample a new dish or style of cuisine, on the rare occasions when we eat out.

      I am not a huge fan of contemporary romance stories, however I did talk this one up a bit, as it was well put together and written and contained the elements I personally look for in any book, but a short in particular — a good strong opening statement, a well defined storyline and a definitive ending!

      I probably shan’t bother too much about pursuing the rest of the books in the series, however I did see that Janel has since moved on to write her first full length novel.

      Have a great weekend and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • With lots of ‘foodie novels’ it takes something exceptional to make me want to read it and I’m afraid this one doesn’t really appeal despite your commenting on it as being witty and fast paced etc.

    • Hi Tracy,

      Most of the recipes in this short story, are snack or sandwich based and as I do enjoy my bread, they have a certain appeal, although including recipes in a story isn’t a style of writing I would generally follow .. ‘foodie’ fiction isn’t really my thing!

      There was an added interest to the traditional contemporay romance story angle, in ‘Must Love Sandwiches’, as the character of Emma was very much flawed and emotionally unstable, as she is paranoid about becoming the image of her mother. Following Emma’s recovery and watching as Daisy helps restores a sense of confidence and inner contentment in her, makes this a bit more special than your usual short story romance.

      Sorry this isn’t one for you, but thank you for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment, I always value your thoughts and opinions.

      • “as the character of Emma was very much flawed and emotionally unstable, as she is paranoid about becoming the image of her mother.”

        This does give the novel a more interesting angle, as does the friendship between the women. (I would want for them to grow without a man too!)

        Too often in romance novels, the psychology of the characters is left unexplored. If the woman is insecure, it’s in a dizzy, ditzy sort of way (Bridget Jones imitation). I might give this one a look if I want a gentler winter read.

        • Hi Hila,

          Emma’s insecurity definitely does add an extra dimension to the story, however Janel has not been able to pursue this aspect of the story in any great depth, given the fact that ‘Must Love Sandwiches’ is a relatively short novella.

          It does however, appear that Emma and Daisy’s friendship looks set to continue and not even boyfriends are going to stand in the way!

          This is definitely a good bite-sized book, for a cold Winter’s night.

          Thank you for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate your visits.

Written by Yvonne