The All You Can Dream Buffet

Ever since my entrée into the world of author Barbara O’Neal/Barbara Samuel, barbarasamuel_96_350hwhich happened with The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, I have eagerly awaited her stories and then devoured them in one sitting. Tonight I finished her latest book, The All You Can Dream Buffet, and then went to bed. I woke up an hour later, wide awake and filled with the desire to know what was happening in the world of her characters. So I decided to blog about them. I’m up anyway, so why not? : )

Before I talk about the book though, I’d love to talk about the author. I know Barbara enough to stop by her signing events at conferences, and say hello. I know her from talks she’s given, writings on her own blog, and her participation on blogs that I favor. But I don’t really know her; I only think that I do. For me, and many other readers, the lyrical prose of this author’s stories sweeps me up, pulls me in, and never lets go even long after the final page is read. There are so many beautiful, sensual details in her stories that as the reader you truly feel you are experiencing this world through the use of all of your senses, including the sixth. There is something about these stories that seems on one level religious, and yet transcends the religious to become spiritual, soulful, and universal. There is a deep understanding of nature, life, the cycles of birth and death, overcoming adversity, courage to move forward, and always, always, love that encompasses all of mankind.

One thing in this latest book that was a total surprise and delight for me was the love for the chickens on the farm. A simple thing, you might think. Maybe even a silly thing to talk about chickens in a story of love and loss. Yet, when the chickens were mentioned I could visualize them. I could hear them. I smiled. How many years has it been since I was a child and given the job of feeding the chickens? More than fifty, and while chickens may not have been foremost in my thoughts in the last fifty years, I remembered my feelings about them through this story. I remembered naming them. I recalled my brother carrying around a black chicken with a lame leg. He’d named her Limpy. I thought of the cold mornings mumbling and grumbling and stepping in droppings as I went about feeding them before going to school, and of the joy of collecting the eggs, and of the feistiness of the roosters.

But back to the book: The All You Can Dream Buffet is a story of love on many levels. The main characters are four women from different parts of the United States who are foodie bloggers, and who become friends. It’s about the love of the family we choose and not necessarily the family we’re born into. It’s a story about courage, growth, and recognizing that we have the right to fulfillment. There are so many ways to remain stuck in life, to give up on happiness, to maintain the status quo, to be the “good” person. There are so many ways to seek happiness through others, instead of digging deep into our own souls and recognizing that to be alone does not mean to be lonely.  On the other hand, the story explores openness to new relationships, and hurt and pain of a broken heart, and the willingness to take that risk and give love another try.

Here is the link to the blurb:

I highly recommend this book. It has a leisurely beginning, allowing you to sink into the world of these characters, to know each one in depth. There is no hurry. Sit back, relax, and let the sights, smells, and sounds of the Lavender Honey Farms sweep you away.

To learn more about the author please visit:

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27 Responses to The All You Can Dream Buffet

  1. Janie Emaus says:

    That was the first book I read by Barbara, too. And I’ve loved her ever since. I’ll have to get her new one.

  2. Gina B. says:

    Hi Robena,

    This book sounds wonderful. I’m swept away by just the sound of Lavender Honey Farms. The book sounds gorgeous, with wonderful ideas and themes. I’m intrigued!

  3. robena grant says:

    Hey, Gina. The book made me hungry. For lots of things. Ha ha. So many wonderful recipes. I know I’m going to make the linguine … I won’t spoil it for you, but maybe make sure you aren’t hungry when you read. ; )

  4. Liz Flaherty says:

    I don’t know what book of hers I read first, but I can’t wait for this one–going over there now. I loved your post, Roben.

  5. A book that can make you feel and remember and wake you in the middle of the night is a pretty special book! I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Barbara’s books, but I’ve got The All You Can Dream Buffet on my TBR list, now! Thank you. 🙂

    • robena grant says:

      I can see you enjoying Barbara’s work, Robin. She’s a multi RITA award winner. And I think, must have a very sensitive soul. I remember when she did a keynote address at RWA and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We were all like sniffling into our dessert. ; )

  6. Sam Beck says:

    Hi Robena,

    I think I’m in the minority here, as I haven’t read Barbara’s work yet, but your spotlight definitely makes me want to check her out! Thanks for the book recommendation!

  7. Skye says:

    I’ve read one or two of Barbara’s books (and can’t remember their names at this moment); they are wonderful and magical. And she does have a way with food. So I’m putting this book on the list. Thanks for the description.

    • robena grant says:

      Just don’t be like me and read hungry, Skye. : ) Oh, and BTW I saw you had given one of my books a lovely review on Amazon. Thank you so much!

  8. It’s terrific when you find a prolific author whose stories resonate with you. I hope I can be that author for a whole buncha people myself!!

  9. Kady Winter says:

    Thanks for introducing me to this author, Roben! Both books are now on my “to read” list. They sound so yummy, and heart filling.

  10. robena grant says:

    That’s fabulous, Kady! I love it when I find a delicious book and just have to shout it from the rooftops.

  11. Robena – I’ve got it but I haven’t started reading it yet. Your blog makes my anticipation even sweeter.
    Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue is one of my favorite books. I’ve reread it so many times.

  12. Dee J. says:

    Great post! Any author who can suck you in and keep you thinking about their characters and story after you’ve finished the book is an author who goes on a keeper shelf! I’ll have to check this book out! Thanks.

  13. Thea says:

    Barbara O’Neal is terrific, especially her new book. So is your idea to bake a confection for your book launch party.
    David Lebovitz’ blog has a recipe for Golden Crunch which requires golden syrup. Comes from 1908 Edmonds Cookery Book. Company makes baking powder, I believe for NZ and Oz.
    When I tour Australian heritage rose gardens, folks seem usually to have a chook yard and house out back.

  14. Thea says:

    Ooh ooh, recipe is for Ginger Crunch. Made it myself and it’s addicting.

  15. robena grant says:

    Thea, you’re so funny. I think I left the comment about lamingtons on either Jenny or Krissie’s blog. Ginger Crunch sounds delish. I don’t think I’ve tried it, but Mum makes a mean steamed pudding with golden syrup. Yum! Funny you mention ginger though, I ended up buying a selection of cookies that won’t melt in the sun and one of them is Gingeroos made with Australian ginger.

    I’m happy that you are also a Barbara O’Neal-Samuel book lover. ; )

  16. Gorgeous post, Robena! I’ve never read one of her books before, but I’m going to have to check out what I’ve been missing. Thank you!


  17. robena grant says:

    RoseAnn, I think you would really enjoy Barbara’s work. Start with this one, or grab, How to Bake a Perfect Life. (I think it won a RITA.)

  18. Robena, thank you for this review; I am not familiar with Barbara’s work and now look forward to reading this book! Most importantly, however, is how you tapped on “recognizing that we have the right to fulfillment.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt “stuck”, only to later come to the realization that the stickiness was a result of my lack of self love because I was seeking happiness through others. When all along, the love and fulfillment is strong and within. Thanks for the pick me up words on humpday! 🙂

  19. robena grant says:

    Ah, thank you Trish. I’m glad you’re going to check out Barbara’s work. I think you’ll love her stories. The section on fulfillment is one that I’ve dealt with off and on through the years. It’s good to pause and reflect and give ourselves that message that we are enough, that we have not only the capacity to love others but to also love ourselves. And when we do love ourselves we have so much more to give.