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Monday, April 30, 2018

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

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. 


If you love beautiful emotional magical realism you should definitely read Dreaming in Chocolate.

About Susan Bishop Crispell

I’m not one of those writers who’s been scribbling down stories since I could hold a pencil. I didn’t read constantly growing up (blasphemy, I know!), and I can still be found in public without a book tucked into my purse (again with the blasphemy!).

I am, however, the kind of writer who lives for the imaginative spark that introduces me to a new character or story idea that pushes me to turn everyday life into something magical.

I am the author of the women’s fiction novels THE SECRET INGREDIENT OF WISHES (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, 2016), and DREAMING IN CHOCOLATE (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2018). I have a B.F.A. in creative writing from The University of North Carolina - Wilmington. I live and write near Wilmington, NC with my husband, Mark, and our literary-named cat.

Aside from writing, I obsess over swoony fictional boys and baked goods and watch quirky TV shows, most of which got canceled way before their time (and I have a wax lion to prove it!).

Proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers.



1) Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I write southern magical fiction with a lot of heart and hopeful endings. Oh, and food. I love writing about magical food, like pie and hot chocolate! I live on the coast of North Carolina with my husband and our orange tabby cat, Pippin. When I'm not writing or working at my day job as a proposal manager, you can find me hanging out with my husband, either at the beach or one of our local breweries or a hard rock concert. 

2) What’s the inspiration behind Dreaming in Chocolate’s magical chocolate? 

I love chocolate. It's one of my rewards when writing for hitting my daily or weekly word count. So, writing about magical chocolate was a no-brainer for me. Then, during a visit with my family, my sister took me to The Hot Chocolatier in Chattanooga, TN. They have a spicy hot chocolate that is amazing. I knew immediately it needed to be in my book, so I created the Corazon hot chocolate that lets people dream of their soul mates and the story started falling into place. 

3) Can you describe the main characters of Dreaming in Chocolate in eight words each? 

Penelope: Strong, stubborn, protective, determined, big-hearted, devoted, magical 
Ella: Delightful, trusting, optimistic, courageous, willful, full of life 
Noah: Charming, regretful, hopeful, spontaneous, thrill-seeker, loyal, endearing 

4) What does magic mean to you? 

For me, magic is a part of nature. The magic I write about tends to have more to do with special abilities (like making wishes come true or making hot chocolate that can let people dream of their true love), but it all stems from the idea of fate and coincidence and how real life often set people on a specific path. I think the universe/God/whatever you believe in leads you to the place you need to be and introduces you to people you need to meet when you need them most. Which in itself is pretty darn magical. And the idea that there could be something more at play behind the scenes is so fascinating to me. 

5) You write stories about women who are dealing with the good and bad sides of a special gift, how did you get the idea for these main characters and their abilities? 

For The Secret Ingredient of Wishes, the very first thing I knew about Rachel was that she had the ability to makes wishes come true and it had ruined her life. The first few lines of the book popped into my head one day at work and while I didn't know how the magic worked yet or what had happened to her that was so tragic, I knew her story would be about her learning to trust in herself and her ability again. 

With Dreaming in Chocolate, it took me a little longer to figure out the connection between Penelope and the chocolate's magic. In the first not-quite-finished draft of the book, the chocolate didn't exist. 

6) What gift would you like to have in your life if you could have one? 

I love this question. I'm a huge music fan. I have music on in the house almost all day long while I work. So, I think I'd want the ability to hear music (like actual songs) in everyday sounds, like the wind through leaves and ocean waves. It would be like a soundtrack following me everywhere I went.

7) What’s your favorite kind of chocolate? 

Oh, I love chocolate in most forms! But dark chocolate salted caramels are my favorite. 

8) How did your writing journey start? 

I didn't realize I wanted to write until I was a sophomore in college. I planned to major in marine biology--that's why I picked the college I did! But realized halfway into my freshman year that I was never going to work with killer whales and needed to find a new path. I signed up for an Intro to Fiction class because I couldn't get into the art classes I wanted, and fell in love. 

9) You write about unconditional love, what makes this kind of love so special? 

The thing I find interesting about unconditional love is that it allows people to have flaws. Nobody's perfect, and a kind of love that expect people to be is not the kind I want to write about. I love the idea that you can love someone with your whole heart and still really not like them at times. When you love unconditionally, your relationships can withstand almost anything life throws at it. 

10) What are your plans for the future? 

I recently finished a draft and first big revision of a new women's fiction novel and I have two YA novels that are in various states of revision. So, basically, I'll be deep into edits for the rest of my life. ;) Seriously though, I'll be working on the WF until it's ready to go on submission to editors. It's a magical story about sisters and bourbon and finding your place in the world. 


One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed paperback copy of Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. Dreaming in Chocolate sounds like a perfect blend of magic and realism in this story of a mother and daughter facing the girl's serious illness.

  2. Would love to win this book for my Mum who reads a lot.

  3. This looks interesting, and its always great to know something about the author as it gives the writing more substance xx

  4. This novel sounds like there are a few unexpected turns in the story. Should be a very interesting read and I love the idea that magic is involved.

  5. So excited to hear there's another book by this author! I loved The Secret Ingredient of Wishes and can't wait to read this one.

  6. Sounds like a terrific story, thanks for the review!

  7. Another good thing about chocolate!! :) Thanks for the review and I can't wait to read (devour) this book! :)

  8. This sounds like it will be such a good mother/daughter story, and I loved that there's chocolate and magic involved, too.

  9. Sounds like a story I will enjoy.

  10. My type of magical story. I love the interview.

  11. Great interview, thanks for sharing it.

  12. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the chance x

  13. Interesting. It sounds similar to Chocolat.

  14. Love reading & I love chocolate - so thanks for incorporating that into a story!

  15. Who doesn't love chocolate and I really enjoy stories with magic. I can't wait to read it.

  16. Sounds like a great read - love the cover

  17. Looks like a great book

  18. I love the blurb and I'm so looking forward reading it.

  19. This sounds athoroughly enjoyable book

  20. This book sounds delightful, I would love the chance to read it xx

  21. Magical chocolate! Love it (although ordinary chocolate is already pretty magical to me!)

  22. Michelle FergusonMay 14, 2018 at 8:56 PM

    This book looks great, fingers crossed, would love to read it.

  23. What a great idea. Love chocolate (not a small person as I love all sorts apart from Kit Kats for some reason). The idea of chocolate being able to grant wishes is a brilliant idea for a novel. Need to add it to my TBR mountain and settle down with a bar of something chocolatey to read.

  24. I love the words about chocolate in this book . Thanks for the chance .

  25. There is definitely something magical about chocolate!