Oct 222014
 

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Pigeon In A Crosswalk by Jack Gray

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451641346
ISBN-13: 978-1451641349

From television producer Jack Gray comes a generational account of finding one’s way at work, at home, and even across the street.

There are a lot of unforgettable characters in these pages: a loveable if possibly alcoholic dog; a set of grandparents who crush on Alex Trebek and obsess about death; Golden Girls and blue bloods, anchormen and Supreme Court justices; divas and wags—but the best character of all is the author himself. To read Jack Gray’s musings is to enter the company of a young man of titanic wit and talent. As he observes and echoes the fixations and neuroses of his generation and our times, he will make you squirm, guffaw, and ultimately marvel.

 

Thoughts
When I first saw this book I didn’t know who the author was, but the title grabbed my attention so I decided to read it. I’m so glad I did!!

This book is full of stories from Jack Gray’s life, from when he was a child through his adulthood. I love the stories about his family, the time he spent working on Anderson Cooper’s show and all the celebrities he’s met and is friends with.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud so much while reading a book. This will definitely be one of my favorite reads from 2014!

If you like to laugh, get a copy of this book!!

Oct 212014
 

Palmetto Moon 2

Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin

Series: Lowcountry
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425272109
ISBN-13: 978-0425272107

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her. 

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.

Thoughts
At first I was confused, wondering why in the word Vada would marrying Justin “as a life sentence”, and leave him at the alter. He was after all,wealthy and good looking.  But, as I started reading, I understood. You can’t choose who you love, and Vada knew she’d be unhappy if she went through with the marriage. So she did what she felt she had to do.

I loved reading about Vada and Frank…the circumstances that brought them together and the way they felt about each other. I also loved that they were opposites. Vada comes from a well to do family and Frank works hard for every penny. I thought both characters were well fleshed out. The other characters were all interesting and added so much to the story. Especially Claire. She was a good friend even while dealing with so much.

The book takes place in 1947 and it was fun to be transported back in time when things weren’t as technical and rushed as they are now.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone who likes romance, southern fiction, or just an easy, good read.

Meet The Author
unnamedKim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.

Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.

As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.

Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.

 

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Oct 192014
 

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Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Every Wednesday for Books That Caught Our Eye, Serena, Leslie and I will each share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll join us by posting a comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.

 

Won
20821338This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper @ Book Journey
Plus a $25 GC to go see the movie Thanks Sheila!!

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio- shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she’s pregnant. This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s (One Last Thing Before I Go) most accomplished work to date, and a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind-whether we like it or not.
 

For Review
unnamedBird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline from TLC Book Tours

(my review)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about the choices we make, how they shape our lives, and how they can change them forever.

It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and–just like that–her life turns upside down.

When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she’d never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

Oct 182014
 

My son helped his cousin go through a bunch of stuff another cousin left when they moved out of state a while back. He found some old cookbooks and albums. There were a whole lot of them, but I won’t know exactly how many until I go through them all. I do know there were 2 1/2 of those plastic tubs full of cookbooks and one full of old albums. I plan on posting more about them after I go through them and check them out.

Here are four that I found near the top of one of the tubs:

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The two oldest out of these four are the Hershey’s which is 1934 and the Betty Crocker’s Good And Easy which is 1954.

I did check out the Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook a little. Here’s a recipe I plan on trying:

Gomer’s Banana Bread Pyle
1 cup butter or oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten well
6-7 bananas, mashed
2 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Greas 3 large loaf pans or 5 small ones
Cream the butter with the sugar
Add the eggs and heat well
Add the mashed bananas, stirring to blend
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients
Fold the dry ingredients into the batter, mixing well
Add the macadamia nuts
Pour the batter into the pans
Bake in a 350 oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until done

For muffins, fill 12 muffin cups 1/4 full and bake in a 350 oven for 35-45 minuets

–Jim Nabors

 

 

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Hosted @ Beth Fish Reads. Share anything book related whether it’s a Book, cookbook, movie, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.

 

Oct 162014
 

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Bird In Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 14, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062363999
ISBN-13: 978-0062363992

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about the choices we make, how they shape our lives, and how they can change them forever.

It was dark. It was raining. It was just an accident. On the drive home from a rare evening out, Alison collides with another car running a stop sign, and–just like that–her life turns upside down.

When she calls her husband from the police station, his accusatory tone reveals cracks in their relationship she’d never noticed were there. Now she notices everything. And she begins to realize that the life she carefully constructed for herself is as tenuous as a house of cards. Exquisitely written, powerful, and thrilling, Bird in Hand is a novel about love and friendship and betrayal, and about the secrets we tell ourselves and each other.

 

Thoughts
This is a well written thought provoking story that had me on highs and lows from the beginning.

I love stories about family relationships and friends, so this book was a perfect choice for me. The characters were both interesting and “real”, they weren’t perfect and that made them and the story very interesting.

Although I loved the characters. I can’t even name a favorite, because they all had their good and bad points. I was rooting for them one minute and the next I was yelling at them.

Their relationships were so much deeper and interlaced than I thought they’d be when I picked the book up. You see a bit of their past creeping up on them and see how it impacts the present.

This was my first Kline book and I do want to read more from her. She has a way of pulling you into the book that makes you want to keep reading. I don’t really like candy coated stories, and this definitely wasn’t one. Our lives are messy, marriages are messy, friendships are messy. Readers can connect to the characters on a personal basis, and that makes this book a winner in my eyes.

 
About The Author
unnamed (1)Christina Baker Kline was born in Cambridge, England, and raised there as well as in the American South and Maine. She is the author of five novels: Orphan Train, Bird in Hand, The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water. She is co-editor, with Anne Burt, of About Face: Women Write about What They See When They Look in the Mirror and co-author, with Christina L. Baker, of The Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk about Living Feminism. She has edited three other anthologies: Child of Mine, Room to Grow, and Always Too Soon. Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University from 2007 to 2011, Kline has also taught literature and creative writing at Yale, NYU, UVA, and Drew University. A graduate of Yale, Cambridge University, and the University of Virginia, where she was a Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing, Kline is a recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship and several research fellowships, and has been a Writer-in-Residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Kline lives with husband and three sons in Montclair, New Jersey. She is at work on another novel and an anthology.

Author links:
Here are some links to the book:
Here’s the tour schedule
 
 
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Oct 152014
 

20907606

Deadly Tasting (Winemaker Detective book 4)
by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen. Translated by Sally Pane

Series: Winemaker Detective (Book 4)
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Le French Book (October 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939474213
ISBN-13: 978-1939474216

Website | Goodreads

A serial killer is on the loose in Bordeaux. A local chief detective calls wine expert Benjamin Cooker to the crime scene of a brutal murder. The killer has left a strange calling card: twelve wine glasses lined up in a semi-circle with the first one filled with wine. Cooker is charged with the task of identifying the fabulous grand cru and is astonished by what he learns. A second victim is found, with two glasses filled. Is the killer intentionally leaving clues about his victims and his motives? Memories are jogged about the complicated history of Bordeaux during Nazi occupation. It was a dark time: weinfuhrers ruled the wine trade, while collaborationists and paramilitary organizations spread terror throughout the region. In present-day wine country, time is running out. Will Cooker and his young assistant Virgile solve the mystery before all twelve glasses are full?

Excerpt

He was about to climb the large staircase to his office when a digital toccata rang out from the cell phone deep inside the pocket of his Loden. He dug the device out, pressed the answer button,and Inspector Barbaroux’s gravelly voice assaulted his eardrum. Getting straight to the point without so much as a greeting, the police inspector asked Benjamin to come immediately to 8B Rue Maucoudinat. The detective had a clipped, authoritative tone, perhaps to give away as little information as possible. Irritated, Benjamin made a quick about-face and headed for the Saint Pierre neighborhood.

He was not in the habit of complying so swiftly, and he was almost angry with himself for doing what the captain wanted without getting any explanation.Arriving at the Place Camille Jullian, Benjamin spotted two police cars blocking the narrow street, their doors wide open and lights flashing. An ambulance was parked nearby. The street had also been cordoned off. A uniformed officer recognized Benjamin from afar and unhooked the crime-scene tape to let him pass. He explained that the captain was waiting for him on the third floor of the small building at the corner of the Rue des Trois Chandeliers. Other police officers were holding back a crowd of onlookers, many of whom were standing on their toes to catch a glimpse of whatever was happening behind the flowerpots on the balcony.

Benjamin rushed up the two flights of wooden stairs without so much as holding onto the railing and made his way down the hall where two plainclothes detectives were talking with a woman in a white coat. They all turned and looked him up and down without a word.“Hello,” Benjamin panted. “I believe the inspector is expecting me.” “I don’t know if he can be disturbed,” said one of the men. “Access to the area is prohibited.” “This way, Mr. Cooker,” Barbaroux bellowed from inside the apartment. In the hallway, an empty gurney sat next to an umbrella stand, which was also empty. The wallpaper, with tedious rows of droopy floral bouquets, oozed a musty odor. Faded prints of religious scenes, shepherds on the heath, and dove hunters added little charm to the stuffy dark tunnel that opened onto a cramped living room furnished in birch veneer. “Sorry to trouble you, but I needed to see you right away,” the inspector said, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his trousers. “Thanks for coming so quickly.” “What happened?” Benjamin asked, overlooking the fact that Barbaroux hadn’t bothered to shake his hand. “It must be serious if you’ve blocked the road off.”

“Everyone says you’re the most brilliant wine expert of your generation,” Barbaroux said. “Some even claim that you’re one of the best in the world. Is that true?” “You didn’t bring me here to shower me with compliments, I hope.” “Don’t think I’m being sarcastic, Mr. Cooker. That’s not my style. But it happens that I need your expertise right now.” The woman in the white coat came into the room. Her hand was raised, and she appeared to be asking permission to cut the conversation short. Two morgue attendants wearing serious expressions were standing behind her. “My team has finished, Chief. Can we remove the body now?” “You haven’t forgotten anything?” Barbaroux growled. “Everything’s ready to go. We have what we need.”

“In that case, get him out of here!” The men pushed a gurney through a door that Benjamin had not noticed before, leaving it open as they attempted to lift the half-naked and bloody body. It took several tries, and at one point they almost dropped the corpse. The wine
expert averted his eyes and made a sign of the cross.

“Jules-Ernest Grémillon, ninety-three years old,” said Barbaroux. “Not a bad age to die.” “Are you going to tell me what happened in this apartment or not?” “Do you really want to know?” he asked, looking Cooker in the eye. “Well then, follow me.”

 

Thoughts
This was a quick read, and has a very interesting storyline. There’s a serial murderer and he places 12 wine glasses at the murder scenes, filling the glasses according to the number of murders. I loved that!! Another aspect I loved was that the Benjamin Cooker was not only a very good detective, he was also a wine expert.

All of the characters were unique and that made following the story very fun and easy. There was a bit of unnecessary language, but other than that the book was a great mystery.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. It was completely different than how I though it would end, so I’m still thinking on it.

When I started reading the book, I didn’t realize it was the fourth book in a twenty book (so far) series. Still, I didn’t feel like I was missing any information, so it’s good as a stand alone.

If you like books about France, wine, mysteries etc. give this book a try. I really liked it, so I may read more in the series.

 

 

About The Authors
Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and television journalist when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is a genuine wine and food lover and recently won the Antonin Carême prize.

He is the grandson of a winemaker and exhibits a real passion for wine and winemaking. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine. He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective series, which he writes with Noël Balen. It is a 22-strong series that is a hit on French television and is now being translated into English by Le French Book.

 

About The Translator
Translator Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage. Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at Colorado University Boulder. She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset. She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.

Follow Le French Book on Twitter | on Facebook

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Buy the book | on Amazon | on Barnes & Noble

Giveaway:
Open internationally
9 winners
4 print copies for US residents
5 digital copies for residents of any country

 
 

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Oct 122014
 

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Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Every Wednesday for Books That Caught Our Eye, Serena, Leslie and I will each share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll join us by posting a comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.

 

From Net Galley:
cover53429-mediumHello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney
For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth….

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken away from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways…

 

Won:
From Jenna @ Lost Generation Reader. Thanks Jenna!!
693208The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.

 

Bought:
11093329The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Anthony Horowit
I accepted a review offer for Moriarty by this author and didn’t realize it was in a series and there was a book before it. So, I decided to buy book 1 so I could read it first.

For the first time in its one-hundred-and-twenty-five-year history, the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate has authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel.

Once again, THE GAME’S AFOOT…

London, 1890. 221B Baker St. A fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs visits Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson to beg for their help. He is being menaced by a strange man in a flat cap – a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. In the days that follow, his home is robbed, his family is threatened. And then the first murder takes place.

Almost unwillingly, Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more. And as they dig, they begin to hear the whispered phrase-the House of Silk-a mysterious entity that connects the highest levels of government to the deepest depths of criminality. Holmes begins to fear that he has uncovered a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society.

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate chose the celebrated, #1 New York Times bestselling author Anthony Horowitz to write The House of Silk because of his proven ability to tell a transfixing story and for his passion for all things Holmes. Destined to become an instant classic, The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back with all the nuance, pacing, and almost superhuman powers of analysis and deduction that made him the world’s greatest detective, in a case depicting events too shocking, too monstrous to ever appear in print…until now.

Did you get any goodies in your mailbox last week?

Oct 122014
 

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Family News…
Our a/c’s fan started barely blowing and it started freezing up so we had it checked out and found out a sensor is messed up, plus it was a little low on freon. The guy put some freon in it so it wouldn’t freeze up again and said we could still use it (thank goodness) until the new sensor came in. It should be here in a few days. This isn’t the first time that we’ve had a/c trouble, and it’s only 5 years old! Thank God we bought a 10 yr. warranty!!

There’s been a lot going on with my daughter and her family. They’ve had a bit of a bad luck streak lately but it looks like things are finally getting better. So happy for them ♥

On The Blog…
Books
Review: The Imaginary Life by Mara Torres
Review: Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu
Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (Readalong: Wrapping It Up)
Book Showcase & Giveaway: Blond Cargo by John Lansing
Review & Giveaway: Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop

Recipes
Weekend Cooking: Chili

I’m Reading…
Pigeon in a Crosswalk: Tales of Anxiety and Accidental Glamour by Jack Gray
While I was at the library last week to get my Oct. read for The Kitchen Reader, I decided to look for another book to check out. I saw this book and it sounded good so I got it too. I’m really glad I did. This book is some kind of funny! I never heard of Jack Gray before, but now I’m a fan and hope he writes more.

Listening To…
Fatal Catch by Roxe Anne Peacock

Watching…
My favorite new shows are The Mysteries of Laura and Cristela.  Laura is played by Debra Messing from Will & Grace, which I loved, so I figured I’d like her new show. Cristela is an actress I didn’t know, Cristela Alonzo, but the pilot was hilarious and guess who was in it? Fluffy…stand up comic Gabriel Iglesias.  who is one of our favorite comedians! The show site doesn’t have him listed in the cast, so I hope it wasn’t just a one time thing.

Exercise…
My leg has been feeling better than it has in years, so I’ve been using my treadmill and recumbent bike more. Now that cooler weather is on it’s way, I’d like for us to go bike riding with our daughter and her family, and her husband’s mom and dad, at least once a week. I LOVE riding the trails and didn’t go once all summer. It was just too hot and humid. The one day we thought it was cool enough it started storming as we were loading the bikes. I was a little upset to say the least!!

I’m Looking Forward To:
Cooler weather

I’m Thankful For…
My daughter and son in law. We’ve always taken turns going to each others houses to eat, play games, watch movies or stand up comedy etc. Then the ramp they built for my husband started getting weak so we decided that they should come here whenever we got together. But they recently built a new ramp, and since they built it, they’ve been inviting us over at least once a week and we’re loving it!! I love spending time with them and the grandkids!!

In the kitchen…
Turkey burgers wrapped in lettuce

A favorite quote…
All God’s angels come to us disguised. ~James Russell Lowell

 

I hope you all have a great week!!

Oct 072014
 

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Visiting with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tour Company

 

Book Blast on October 7th

onTour at October 8 – November 30, 2014

 

Blond-Cargo

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Series: Jack Bertolino, 2nd

* Blond Cargo does include some graphic violence.

Published by: Karen Hunter

Publication Date: 10/20/2014

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 9781476795515

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

“A pulse-pounding thriller with a charming protagonist” (Kirkus Reviews), this gripping ebook continues the story that began in The Devil’s Necktie.

Jack Bertolino’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback. In Blond Cargo the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave.

A sizzling whodunit for fans of James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, Blond Cargo taps into the real-life crime world to deliver a thrilling, action-packed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the explosive, unprecedented finale.

 

Read an excerpt:

(Warning: contains profane language)

Jack carried a Subway turkey sandwich, a tall unsweetened iced coffee, a bottle of water, and a smile as he keyed the security gate that led to the dock in Marina del Rey where his boat was moored. The marina was always quiet during the week. Just the way he liked it.

He stopped to admire his twenty-eight feet of heaven before stepping onto his boat’s transom and then. . .

“Yo, Mr. B.”

Jack never forgot a voice, which explained his reluctance to turn around.
“Yo, yo, Mr. B.”

Miserably persistent, Jack thought. He turned to face Peter Maniacci, who was dressed head-to-toe in black. With his outstretched arms draped over the chain-link fence, Peter looked like an Italian scarecrow. The black circles under his eyes belied his youth. The sharp points of his sideburns, his boots, and the .38 hanging lazily from a shoulder holster added menace to his goofy grin.

So close, Jack thought. His only worry that day had been whether to eat his sandwich dockside or out on the Pacific with a view of the Santa Monica Pier.

“How you doing, Peter?”

“How you doin’?”

Jack let out a labored sigh. “We could do this all day. What’s up?”

“That’s funny, Mr. B. How’s the boy? How’s his pitching arm?”

Jack’s face tightened. He wasn’t happy that Peter knew any of his son’s particulars. When he didn’t answer, Peter continued.

“Hey, nice boat. I used to fish for fluke off the north shore. Long Island. I think I must be in the wrong business.”

“Count on it,” Jack said. “What can I do for you?”

“My boss was wondering if you could spare a few minutes of your time.”

As if on cue, a black Town Car materialized behind Peter and came to a smooth, silent stop. The car rose visibly when Peter’s boss, a thick, broad-shouldered man, stepped out of the rear seat.

Vincent Cardona. Expensive suit, the body of a defensive linebacker—fleshy but muscled. Dark, penetrating eyes. Cardona looked in both directions before leveling his feral gaze on Jack. An attempt at a smile fell short of the mark. A thick manila envelope was tucked under one beefy arm.

Jack had been aware there would be some form of payback due for information Cardona had provided on Arturo Delgado, the man responsible for the attempted murder of his son. He just didn’t think it would come due this quickly. He opened the locked gate and let the big man follow him down the dock toward his used Cutwater cabin cruiser.

As Peter stood sentry in front of the Lincoln Town Car, Jack allowed the devil entry to his little piece of paradise.

“How’s your boy? How’s the pitching arm?” Vincent asked bluntly. Just a reminder of why he was there.

“On the mend.” Jack gestured to one of two canvas deck chairs in the open cockpit of the boat. Both men sat in silence as Jack waited for Cardona to explain the reason for his visit.

Jack wasn’t comfortable with Cardona’s talking about Chris, but the big man had taken it upon himself to station Peter outside Saint John’s Health Center while his son was drifting between life and death. Cardona’s enforcer had scared off Delgado, and that might have saved his son’s life. The unsolicited good deed was greatly appreciated by Jack. The debt weighed heavily.

“It rips your heart out when your children have problems and you can’t do nothing to help,” Cardona said with the raspy wheeze of a man who had abused cigars, drugs, booze, and fatty sausage for most of his life.

“What can I do for you?” Jack asked, not wanting to prolong the impromptu meeting.

Cardona, unfazed by Jack’s brusqueness, answered by pulling out a picture and handing it to Jack.

“Angelica Marie Cardona. She’s my girl. My only. My angel. Her mother died giving birth. I didn’t have the heart to re-up. I raised her by myself.”

Mobster with a heart of gold. Right, Jack thought. But Cardona’s wife must have been a stunner because Angelica, blond, early twenties, with flawless skin and gray-green eyes, didn’t get her good looks from her father. Cardona’s gift was her self-assured attitude, which all but leaped off the photograph.

“Beautiful.”

Jack Bertolino, master of the understatement, he thought.

“And doesn’t she know it. Too much so for her own good. You make mistakes, my line of business. Whatever.”

“What can I do for you, Vincent?” Jack said, dialing back the attitude.

Cardona tracked a seagull soaring overhead with his heavy-lidded eyes and rubbed the stubble on his jaw.

Jack would have paid good money to change places with the gull.

“I shoulda never moved out here. L.A. I’m a black-socks- on-the-beach kinda guy. East Coast all the way. Never fit in. But I’m a good earner and the powers that be decided they were happy with the arrangement. Everyone was happy except Angelica and me.”

“She turned thirteen, didn’t wanna have nothing to do with her old man. Turned iceberg cold. I tried everything— private schools, horses, ballet, therapy, live-in help; nothin’ worked. She closed up tighter than a drum. I finally threatened to send her to the nuns.”

“How did that work out?”

“I’m fuckin’ sitting here, aren’t I? On this fuckin’ dinghy . . . no offense meant,” he said, trying to cover, but the flash of anger told the real story. “I hear you’re an independent contractor now.”

It was Tommy Aronsohn, his old friend and ex–district attorney, who had set him up with his PI’s license and first client, Lawrence Weller and NCI Corp. But Jack Bertolino and Associates, Private Investigation, still didn’t come trippingly off his tongue.

And thinking of the disaster up north, he said, “We’ll see how that goes.”

“This is the point. I haven’t seen my daughter in close to a month. Haven’t heard word one since around the time your son was laid up in Saint John’s,” he said. Reminder number two. “It’s killing me,” he continued. “I’m getting a fuckin’ ulcer. Then this.”

Cardona pulled out the L.A. Times with the front-page spread reporting on the woman who had died when her boat crashed on the rocks at Paradise Cove. As it turned out, a second woman down in Orange County had washed up on the beach a few weeks earlier at the Terranea resort, scaring the joy out of newlyweds taking photos at sunset. Talk about twisted memories, Jack thought. As if marriage wasn’t tough enough. He’d already read both articles with his morning coffee and hadn’t bought into the pattern the reporter inferred.

“And the connection?”

“I got a bad feeling is all. She’s never disappeared like this before—not for this long anyway,” he said, amending his statement. “And then. . .” Cardona said, waving the newspaper like it was on fire. “It says here they were both blonds. Both about Angelica’s age. They could be fuckin’ cousins. Could be nothing.”

“Did you file a missing-persons report?”

Cardona gave him a hard side eye. “Jack, don’t fuck with me. We take care of our own.”

Jack thought before he spoke. “I’m not one of yours.”

“Semantics.”

“What about your crew?”

Cardona flopped open his meaty hands. “I get angina, I don’t call my cousin Frankie, who has a certain skill set but stinks when it comes to open-heart surgery. Look, I get it. You were on the other team. But this is straight-up business. One man to another. One father to another. I need you to find my girl. You got my number. Use it, Jack. Money’s no object. Find my baby.”

Strike three.

Jack didn’t answer. He stared out at the navy-blue water of the marina, past row upon row of beautiful yachts, symbols of dreams fulfilled, and knew they were empty notions compared to family.

Cardona hadn’t actually spoken the words you owe me, but they filled the subtext of everything he’d said. He was not subtle. The big man had reached out when Jack was in need, and Jack had accepted the offer. Now Vincent Cardona wanted his pound of flesh.

“This is everything I know. Last address, phone numbers, phone bills, e-mail accounts, bank, credit cards, friends and whatnot. The whole shot,” Cardona said, holding the manila envelope out in Jack’s direction.

“I have other commitments,” Jack stated.

“You look real fuckin’ busy, Jack, if you don’t mind my sayin’.” His eyes crinkled into a sarcastic grin. Vincent Cardona does charm.

Jack accepted the overstuffed envelope with a sigh.

“If she don’t want to come back, fine. No funny business, no strong-arm bullshit from my end. You got my word. I just need to know that my blood is alive. I’m fuckin’ worried and I don’t do worry too good. Sleep on it, Jack. But do the right thing.”

Cardona’s eyes locked on to Jack’s. Jack remained silent. He’d take a look. No promises, not yet.

Vincent’s knees cracked and the canvas chair squeaked like it was in pain as he stood up. He covered a belch behind his fist and rubbed his gut as he moved stiffly past Jack. The boat rocked when Cardona stepped off and walked heavily away, his Italian leather shoes echoing on the wooden dock.

The weight of the world. Jack could relate.

Peter Maniacci opened the gate for his boss and then the door to the Lincoln Town Car, which plunged to curb level as the big man slid in. Peter ran around to the other side of the car and tossed Jack a wave like the queen mum. He jumped into the Lincoln, which lurched forward before Peter could slam the door shut.

Jack walked into the boat’s deckhouse, grabbed a bottle of water, and downed two more Excedrin. He stretched his back, which was going into a spasm from yesterday’s violence, and chased the pills with a Vicodin to stay one step ahead of the pain that he knew was headed his way.

Jack had already decided to take the case.

 

Author Bio:

John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop, Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. “The Devil’s Necktie” was his first novel. “Blond Cargo” is the next book in the Jack Bertolino series. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

 

Catch Up With the Author:

 

Book Blast:


Tour Participants:


Get Your Copy of Blond Cargo by John Lansing in the Giveaway:

Open from 10/7/2014 – 12/1/2014

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Oct 062014
 

22737886

The Imaginary Life: A Novel by Mara Torres

File Size: 497 KB
Print Length: 169 pages
Publisher: Grupo Planeta (August 5, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00LVD8RJG

Meet Fortunata Fortuna, at a crossroads but ready to make her mark on the world

What goes through your head when the person you love leaves you? What do you do with your life when you have to start it all over again? Do you make it up? Nata’s world fills with unanswered questions when Beto leaves her. But time doesn’t stop, and the stories that Nata begins to tell herself about her own life lead her to a place where everything becomes possible again.

Original and contemporary, this debut novel, a finalist for the Planeta Prize, has the nerve center of a confessional and introduces readers to Fortunata Fortuna, a character the world won’t soon forget.

 

Thoughts
This book is about a tough subject, one that most of us can relate to. After a break up, we go through a lot of different emotions and have lots of different thoughts. The book is more about the emotions and thoughts Nata has than a driven storyline. That took me a while to get used to but once I did, I enjoyed the book. Although…at times I wanted to shake Nata and tell her to stop dwelling on it, and get on with her life.

The author adds a bit of deadpan humor and that definitely adds to the books appeal if you like that type of humor, which I do.

Overall this was an ok read. I would have liked more story and less of Nata’s thoughts. Not everyone will like or “get” this book, but at only 169 pages, it’s worth the time to read it and see what you think.

 

MaraTorres-300x225About Mara Torres
Mara Torres is a reporter and author. She earned a degree in journalism from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Torres began her professional career in radio in the 1990s; a decade later, Hablar por hablar became a leading show on evening radio. In 2006 Torres moved to Spanish Television Information Services, where she is a host of news and entertainment shows. Among other awards, Torres has won the Golden Antenna and the Silver Microphone. She has published two nonfiction books. The Imaginary Life is her first novel and her first book in English.

 

 

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Oct 052014
 

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Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

 

 

Every Wednesday for Books That Caught Our Eye, Serena, Leslie and I will each share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll join us by posting a comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.

 

We are finally having a few cooler days here in Florida, still warm but less humidity!! I can hear my bike calling my name and can’t wait to hit the trails near us.  Biking is one of my favorite things to do, other than walking on the beach!!

I had a semi busy mailbox last week:
The first two books were wins from Tanya from Mom’s Small Victories. Thanks so much Tanya!!

19501Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Cathedral of the Wild by Boyd Varty 18050185
When Nelson Mandela was released after twenty-seven years of imprisonment, he needed a place to recover and adjust to his new life. He went to Londolozi Game Reserve. Founded over eighty years ago by Boyd Varty’s great-grandfather, Londolozi started as a hunting safari. But in 1973, Boyd’s visionary father, Dave, transformed it into a nature reserve, creating a blueprint for modern-day conservation. This transformation is the backdrop of Boyd’s family history and his own personal odyssey.

Alongside his feisty, daring sister, Bronwyn, Boyd grows up learning to track lions, raise leopard cubs, and pilot Land Rovers. The two of them tag along with their larger-than-life uncle, John, who repeatedly flung them in danger’s way to capture the best footage for his legendary wildlife videos. Boyd survives harrowing rhino charges and a vicious crocodile attack, but his most difficult challenge was a private crisis of purpose. After a period of intense spiritual questing, Boyd reconnects with nature and is able to “rediscover the track.”

With conviction, hope and humor, Boyd sweeps readers along his journey of discovery and rediscovery, making a passionate claim for the power of the wild to heal and restore the human spirit.

I checked the following books out from my library on Saturday:
554865The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones (October book club choice )
This alluring novel of friendship, love, and cuisine brings the best-selling author of Lost in Translation and A Cup of Light to one of the great Chinese subjects: food. As in her previous novels, Mones’s captivating story also brings into focus a changing China — this time the hidden world of high culinary culture.

When Maggie McElroy, a widowed American food writer, learns of a Chinese paternity claim against her late husband’s estate, she has to go immediately to Beijing. She asks her magazine for time off, but her editor counters with an assignment: to profile the rising culinary star Sam Liang.

In China Maggie unties the knots of her husband’s past, finding out more than she expected about him and about herself. With Sam as her guide, she is also drawn deep into a world of food rooted in centuries of history and philosophy. To her surprise she begins to be transformed by the cuisine, by Sam’s family — a querulous but loving pack of cooks and diners — and most of all by Sam himself. The Last Chinese Chef is the exhilarating story of a woman regaining her soul in the most unexpected of places.

Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear (October choice @ The Kitchen Reader17707720
New Yorker writer Dana Goodyear combines the style of Mary Roach with the on-the-ground food savvy of Anthony Bourdain in a rollicking narrative look at the shocking extremes of the contemporary American food world.

A new American cuisine is forming. Animals never before considered or long since forgotten are emerging as delicacies. Parts that used to be for scrap are centerpieces. Ash and hay are fashionable ingredients, and you pay handsomely to breathe flavored air. Going out to a nice dinner now often precipitates a confrontation with a fundamental question: Is that food?

Dana Goodyear’s anticipated debut, Anything That Moves, is simultaneously a humorous adventure, a behind-the-scenes look at, and an attempt to understand the implications of the way we eat. This is a universe populated by insect-eaters and blood drinkers, avant-garde chefs who make food out of roadside leaves and wood, and others who serve endangered species and Schedule I drugs—a cast of characters, in other words, who flirt with danger, taboo, and disgust in pursuit of the sublime. Behind them is an intricate network of scavengers, dealers, and pitchmen responsible for introducing the rare and exotic into the marketplace. This is the fringe of the modern American meal, but to judge from history, it will not be long before it reaches the family table. Anything That Moves is a highly entertaining, revelatory look into the raucous, strange, fascinatingly complex world of contemporary American food culture, and the places where the extreme is bleeding into the mainstream.

15803138Pigeon in a Crosswalk: Tales of Anxiety and Accidental Glamour by Jack Gray
From television producer Jack Gray comes a generational account of finding one’s way at work, at home, and even across the street.

There are a lot of unforgettable characters in these pages: a loveable if possibly alcoholic dog; a set of grandparents who crush on Alex Trebek and obsess about death; Golden Girls and blue bloods, anchormen and Supreme Court justices; divas and wags—but the best character of all is the author himself. To read Jack Gray’s musings is to enter the company of a young man of titanic wit and talent. As he observes and echoes the fixations and neuroses of his generation and our times, he will make you squirm, guffaw, and ultimately marvel.

Oct 042014
 

We LOVE Chili in our house!! I’ve made it with both name brands and store brands and it tastes pretty much the same. I have a few different ways I make chili (different ingredients) but this time I used:

 

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3-5 lbs ground chuck, depends on if you like lots of meat or not…we do
(forgot to add it for the picture)
2 Seasoned Tomato Sauce For Chili
2 dark red kidney beans
2 light red kidney beans
2 chili beans
2 tomato paste
2 chopped chilies
1 mushroom pieces and stems
3 stewed tomatoes
3 envelopes chili seasoning (I used mild this time but I usually use hot)
cheese ( I usually use american or Velveeta, but you can try your favorite)

 

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Brown ground chuck in large pot . Drain.
Add back into the pot
Add remaining ingredients except cheese and stir

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Simmer for 60 min. or until ready to eat.
(I also make this in the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours)

When it’s almost time to eat, add pieces of cheese, stir until melted
(forgot to take a photo)

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We add more cheese to our bowls too, but of course I forgot to take a photo.

FYI: Since I was a kid, I’ve always eaten a peanut butter sandwich with my chili. 
It’s gooood!

 
 
wkendcookingiconHosted @ Beth Fish Reads. Share anything book related whether it’s a Book, cookbook, movie, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.

 

Oct 032014
 

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Whiny Whiny Rhino by McBoop

Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Blue Blanket Publishing; 1st edition (July 31, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0990362310
ISBN-13: 978-0990362319
 

Can Tiny Tiny Rhino have a fun day? Or will all of his whining get in the way? If you’ve ever been worried to try something new, then Whiny Whiny Rhino is the book for you! From creative team McBoop, comes the story of the whiny rhino with the big head and the even bigger imagination.

Thoughts
What a cute book for any child who is afraid to try new things. Tiny will show them that all you have to do is try, and that’s when the fun starts.

The story is adorable, the illustrations are shiny, bright and bold. Told in rhyme, the verses are cute and would make a good book to use for teaching small children to learn to read.

The website has a lot of fun things to do… Tiny’s Blog, games, activities and even a shop where you can buy t-shirts etc.

I think any small child would love this book and highly recommend it to parents or grandparents who’d like to buy a good, positive book for the child in their life.

Author’s Bio:
McBoop is the creative team of Carmin Iadonisi & Amanda Iadonisi-Word. This father-daughter duo co-wrote and illustrated Whiny Whiny Rhino. They currently live in New England where they enjoy making art, reading comics, playing board games, eating fancy chocolate and whining about the weather.

 

Connect with them here:

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

 

Where to buy the book:

Amazon

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iRead Book Tour Logo Medium

 

Linking to Kid Konnection

Oct 012014
 

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The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (September 8, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0449912558
ISBN-13: 978-0449912553

In 2019, humanity finally finds proof of extraterrestrial life when a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up exquisite singing from a planet which will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question the meaning of being “human.” Words like “provocative” and “compelling” will come to mind as you read this shocking novel about first contact with a race that creates music akin to both poetry and prayer.

 

Thoughts
There are probably a lot of book lovers out there that haven’t or won’t read this because of the “religious” aspect of the book. Please, don’t let that keep you from a truly awesome book.

This book is way out of my comfort zone. Not because of the religious aspect, but because it has science fiction/fantasy/alien/space travel, none of which I like.

At least I didn’t, until Trish’s read-a- long. I almost didn’t join because I truly didn’t think I’d get past the first 20 pages. To be honest, it was a struggle for me to keep reading at first. But then, and I’m not even sure at what point in the book it was, but I was reading along and was surprised to find out how engrossed I was in the book. Time had past without me even being aware of how long. I was very much in like with the book. So I kept reading. And kept reading. And then I found myself very much in love with the book.

I know!! It surprised me too!

In Trish’s reveiw she said  “That stupid blinking cursor. Taunting me for having ALL of the things to say but not really knowing how to say any of them.” That’s how I feel. I’m not sure how to put into words all my thoughts and feelings about the book so it sounds as good as it is. So I’ll make it short and hope you decide to read it for yourself.

The book has some awesome, amazing characters. It also has some awesome, amazing stuff going on that is so different from what I’m used to reading. This book showed me that I can, and do in this case, like science fiction/fantasy/alien/space travel if it’s written superbly, which this was.

Do I want to read book two in the series, Children of God? Very much! Will I? I can’t say for sure because I get sidetracked a lot when it comes to what I plan on reading. Finding new to me books has a way of throwing me off course.

There is so much I could say about this book, but honestly I don’t think I’d do it justice. So…my advice to you (especially if you’re not sure you’ll like it) is to borrow a copy from your library. That way you save money and you’re library always appreciates you borrowing books. If by some strange reason your library doesn’t have it, buy a new or like new used copy online. It shouldn’t cost very much.

My final thought goes to Trish. Thank you for getting me out of my comfort zone. It felt good!!

 

sparrow readalong

Host by Trish @ Love, Laughter, And A Touch Of Insanity

The Details:
Begin: September 1st
Halfway: September 15th (through ch 19, pg 201 of my copy)
Finish: September 30th

Sep 302014
 
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 Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (September 30, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062338323
ISBN-13: 978-0062338327
Rosie “Aunty” Lee, the feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant, is back in another delectable, witty mystery involving scandal and murder among the city’s elite.Few know more about what goes on in Singapore than Aunty Lee. When a scandal over illegal organ donation involving prominent citizens makes news, she already has a list of suspects. There’s no time to snoop, though—Aunty Lee’s Delights is catering a brunch for local socialites Henry and Mabel Sung at their opulent house.Rumor has it that the Sung’s fortune is in trouble, and Aunty Lee wonders if the gossip is true. But soon after arriving at the Sung’s house, her curiosity turns to suspicion. Why is a storage house she discovers locked? What is the couple arguing about behind closed doors? Where is the guest of honor who never showed up?

Then, Mabel Sung and her son Leonard are found dead. The authorities blame it on Aunty Lee’s special stewed chicken with buah keluak, a local black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. Aunty Lee has never carelessly prepared a dish. She’s certain the deaths are murder—and that they’re somehow linked to the organ donor scandal.

To save her business and her reputation, she’s got to prove it—and unmask a dangerous killer whose next victim may just be Aunty Lee.

Thoughts
Oh how I loved this book! I loved Aunty Lee and her nothing barred attitude! Nothing is going to stop her from finding out who’s going around murdering people, even if nobody wants her help.

The book is full of a mix of diverse characters, and together they make this book a joy to read. The writing has a good flow that makes it easy to read, and I was surprised by how quickly I was at the end of this fun book.

This is book two in the Aunty Lee series, and now I want to read book one. This is now one of my favorite cozy series, and I hope if you’re reading this review, you’ll pick up a copy of this book and the first book, Aunty Lee’s Delights

 

Find it on Goodreads,  AmazonIndieBound and Barnes & Noble.
Here’s the link to Yu’s Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Stops:
Tuesday, September 30th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, October 1st: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Monday, October 6th: Kahakai Kitchen
Tuesday, October 7th: Bibliophilia, Please
Wednesday, October 8th: Book Dilettante
Thursday, October 9th: guiltless reading
Monday, October 13th: Olduvai’s Reads
Tuesday, October 14th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, October 16th: Tutu’s Two Cents
Wednesday, October 22nd: My Bookshelf
Friday, October 24th: Jorie Loves a Story

 

Ovidia-Yu-100x152

Ovidia Yu is one of Singapore’s best-known and most acclaimed writers. She has had more than thirty plays produced and is also the author of a number of mysteries. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Iowa’s International Writers Program and has been a writing fellow at the National University of Singapore.

Connect with her through Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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Sep 302014
 

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Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy (BermudaOnion), where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

 

From The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat

1: genuflect

gen·u·flect – verb – \ˈjen-yə-ˌflekt\
: to kneel on one knee and then rise again as an act of respect

: to obey someone with power in a way that is seen as weak

“It was the time when birds were supposed to begin chirping their all night songs to greet the holy birth, when other animals were to genuflect and trees bow in reverence.”

 

2. saguaro 

sa·gua·ro – noun  –  \sə-ˈwär-ə, -ˈgwär-, -ō\
: a tall columnar usually sparsely-branched cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) of dry areas of the southwestern United States and Mexico that bears white flowers and a scaly reddish edible fruit and that may attain a height of up to 50 feet (16 meters) —called also giant cactus

“There were many paths to his aunt’s house, and seeing the long saguaro had convinced him that he was on one of them.

Sep 282014
 

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Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

 

 

Every Wednesday for Books That Caught Our Eye, Serena, Leslie and I will each share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll join us by posting a comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.

 

 

16073138100 Places In France Every Woman Should Go by Marcia DeSanetis

Series: 100 Places
Paperback: 420 pages
Publisher: Travelers’ Tales (November 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609520823
ISBN-13: 978-1609520823

Told in a series of stylish, original essays, 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go is for the serious Francophile, for the woman dreaming of a trip to Paris, and for those who love crisp stories well-told. Like all great travel writing, this volume goes beyond the guidebook and offers insight not only about where to go but why to go there. Combining advice, memoir and meditations on the glories of traveling through France, this book is the must-have in your carry-on when flying to Paris.

Award-winning writer Marcia DeSanctis draws on years of travels and living in France to lead you through vineyards, architectural treasures, fabled gardens and contemplative hikes from Biarritz to Deauville, Antibes to the French Alps. These 100 entries capture art, history, food, fresh air and style and along the way, she tells the stories of fascinating women who changed the country’s destiny. Ride a white horse in the Camargue, find Paris’s hidden museums, try thalassotherapy in St. Malo, and buy raspberries at Nice’s Cour Saleya market. From sexy to literary, spiritual to simply gorgeous, 100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go is an indispensable companion for the smart and curious traveler to France.

 

This Dark Road To Mercy by Wiley Cash 18359823

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062088262
ISBN-13: 978-0062088260

The critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home—hailed as “a powerfully moving debut that reads as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird” (Richmond Times Dispatch)—returns with a resonant novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, set in western North Carolina, involving two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins.

After their mother’s unexpected death, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are adjusting to life in foster care when their errant father, Wade, suddenly appears. Since Wade signed away his legal rights, the only way he can get his daughters back is to steal them away in the night.

Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn’t the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.

Narrated by a trio of alternating voices, This Dark Road to Mercy is a story about the indelible power of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

 

22535533Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper (December 9, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062377183
ISBN-13: 978-0062377180

The game is once again afoot in this thrilling mystery from the bestselling author of The House of Silk, sanctioned by the Conan Doyle estate, which explores what really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty tumbled to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls.

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of detective Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty–dubbed the Napoleon of crime” by Holmes–in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after the encounter at the Swiss waterfall, Pinkerton detective agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. Moriarty’s death has left an immediate, poisonous vacuum in the criminal underworld, and there is no shortage of candidates to take his place–including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones, a devoted student of Holmes’s methods of investigation and deduction originally introduced by Conan Doyle in “The Sign of Four,” must forge a path through the darkest corners of England’s capital–from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the London Docks–in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.

A riveting, deeply atmospheric tale of murder and menace from the only writer to earn the seal of approval from Conan Doyle’s estate, Moriarty breathes life into Holmes’s dark and fascinating world.

 

Aunty Lee’s Deady Specials by Ovidia Yu20530957

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (September 30, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062338323
ISBN-13: 978-0062338327

Rosie “Aunty” Lee, the feisty widow, amateur sleuth, and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant, is back in another delectable, witty mystery involving scandal and murder among the city’s elite.

Few know more about what goes on in Singapore than Aunty Lee. When a scandal over illegal organ donation involving prominent citizens makes news, she already has a list of suspects. There’s no time to snoop, though—Aunty Lee’s Delights is catering a brunch for local socialites Henry and Mabel Sung at their opulent house.

Rumor has it that the Sung’s fortune is in trouble, and Aunty Lee wonders if the gossip is true. But soon after arriving at the Sung’s house, her curiosity turns to suspicion. Why is a storage house she discovers locked? What is the couple arguing about behind closed doors? Where is the guest of honor who never showed up?

Then, Mabel Sung and her son Leonard are found dead. The authorities blame it on Aunty Lee’s special stewed chicken with buah keluak, a local black nut that can be poisonous if cooked improperly. Aunty Lee has never carelessly prepared a dish. She’s certain the deaths are murder—and that they’re somehow linked to the organ donor scandal.

To save her business and her reputation, she’s got to prove it—and unmask a dangerous killer whose next victim may just be Aunty Lee.

Sep 272014
 

The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat by Thomas McNamee

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Free Press (May 8, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439191506
ISBN-13: 978-1439191507

In the 1950s, America was a land of overdone roast beef and canned green beans—a gastronomic wasteland. Most restaurants relied on frozen, second-rate ingredients and served bogus “Continental” cuisine. Authentic French, Italian, and Chinese foods were virtually unknown. There was no such thing as food criticism at the time, and no such thing as a restaurant critic. Cooking at home wasn’t thought of as a source of pleasure. Guests didn’t chat around the kitchen. Professional equipment and cookware were used only in restaurants. One man changed all that.

From the bestselling author of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse comes the first biography of the passionate gastronome and troubled genius who became the most powerful force in the history of American food—the founding father of the American food revolution. From his first day in 1957 as the food editor of the New York Times, Craig Claiborne was going to take his readers where they had never been before. Claiborne extolled the pleasures of exotic cuisines from all around the world, and with his inspiration, restaurants of every ethnicity blossomed. So many things we take for granted now were introduced to us by Craig Claiborne—crème fraîche, arugula, balsamic vinegar, the Cuisinart, chef’s knives, even the salad spinner.

He would give Julia Child her first major book review. He brought Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers, Paul Prudhomme, and Jacques Pépin to national acclaim. His $4,000 dinner for two in Paris was a front-page story in the Times and scandalized the world. And while he defended the true French nouvelle cuisine against bastardization, he also reveled in a well-made stew or a good hot dog. He made home cooks into stars—Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Diana Kennedy, and many others. And Craig Claiborne made dinner an event—whether dining out, delighting your friends, or simply cooking for your family. His own dinner parties were legendary.

Craig Claiborne was the perfect Mississippi gentleman, but his inner life was one of conflict and self-doubt. Constrained by his position to mask his sexuality, he was imprisoned in solitude, never able to find a stable and lasting love. Through Thomas McNamee’s painstaking research and eloquent storytelling, The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat unfolds a history that is largely unknown and also tells the full, deep story of a great man who until now has never been truly known at all.

Being a food lover, I was really excited to have the chance to read this book. What I found inside the covers was way more than what I expected. The author takes you through the changes we’ve made over the years concerning not only the way we think about food, but the type of foods we eat. It also gives an in depth account of Craig Claiborne’s life.

To be honest, this was the best non fiction I’ve read in a very long time. The authors words seemed to pull me along from one page to the next page, and the next, and when I finally looked up to see what time it was, it was way past the time I had intended to read.

The book is not only full of statistics, it is full of heart. It’s very well written and is perfect for anyone who loves food or how we came to consume so much processed food instead of the healthy, made from scratch meals our grandmothers and great grandmothers made.

This book reads more like a fiction, and not the non fiction it is. I highly recommend this book!

Meet The Author:

I was born in 1947 in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up there and in New York City. I studied writing at Yale under the tutelage of Robert Penn Warren.

I am the author of The Grizzly Bear (Knopf, 1984), Nature First: Keeping Our Wild Places and Wild Creatures Wild (Roberts Rinehart, 1987), A Story of Deep Delight (Viking, 1990), The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone (Henry Holt, 1997)and Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution (The Penguin Press, 2007). My latest book, THE MAN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE EAT: CRAIG CLAIBORNE AND THE AMERICAN FOOD RENAISSANCE, was published in May 2012.

My essays, poems, and natural history writing have been published in Audubon, The New Yorker, Life, Natural History, High Country News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Saveur, and a number of literary journals. I wrote the documentary film Alexander Calder, which was broadcast on the PBS ‘American Masters’ series in June 1998 and received both a George W. Peabody Award and an Emmy. Many of my book reviews have appeared The New York Times Book Review.

After twenty-three years in New York City and five in rural Montana, I have lived in San Francisco since 1998–albeit with frequent returns to New York and as much of every summer as possible in Montana.

 

wkendcooking

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth @ Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

Sep 252014
 

Life on Hold

Life on Hold by Beverly Stowe McClure

A paper found. A secret revealed. A girl’s life changed forever. Myra Gibson’s life is a lie. For sixteen years her parents have kept their secret, but the adoption paper she discovers while cleaning the guesthouse tells the truth. As the past and present collide, Myra finally stands up for herself and begins a journey she may regret.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * The Book Depository

 

Praise for Life on Hold
All I can say is wow! Beverly Stowe McClure knocked this one out of the ballpark. The story of Myra and her search for the truth touched upon one of the fundamental needs of all children (and teens): the need for a father in their lives. Darby Karchut, author of the Griffin Series and other books for tweens, teens, and adults.

McClure exhibits rare talent in this story which follows a young girl on her journey to discovery as she struggles to be true to herself in this compelling coming-of-age novel.
Children’s Literary Classics Book Reviews (Silver Medal Winner 2012)

Teen readers can easily relate to Myra’s pain and rebellion. Part coming of age, part teen romance, “Life on Hold” is full of surprises. Peggy Tibbetts, author, editor, and associate producer.

 

Excerpt
As we drove to my house, I gazed out the car window. The moon, hazy around the edges, hung in the sky. Stars smiled down. The evening with Jeremy had been fun, like before his trouble, before KW, before I defied my mother. I tried to hold the happiness of the past hours in my mind, but a sour lump clogged my throat. Shivering, I rubbed my arms. I was as bad as Rachel, thinking only of myself, unconcerned about my mother’s feelings, ignoring the fact she’d worry if she got home before I did.
“You want me to turn off the air conditioner?”

Jeremy’s voice startled me. My thoughts had wandered. Lately, the past kept intruding in my life, making it difficult to concentrate on the present. I looked at Jeremy, who was looking at me, a thin wrinkle between his eyes. “What?” “You’ve got goose bumps.”

I stared at my arms. Tiny bumps dotted them, yet sweat dampened my palms. “I’m okay,” I said, as okay as I could be, considering I’d hung up on my mother, considering I was with Jeremy.

On the plus side, I was enjoying myself, except for the unwelcome phantom face haunting me every time I blinked ¾ KW. He would not go away. I wanted Dad to be my dad. He wasn’t, at least not my birth-dad. Since he wasn’t really my dad should I keep calling him Dad? Father? Or was Neil better? What about Stepfather? Why was it so hard to make decisions?

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BeverlyAuthor Beverly Stowe McClure
Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice. Her cats do not appreciate good music and run when she tickles the ivories. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

Beverly has several articles published in leading children’s magazines. Two of her stories have appeared in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL Anthologies. She also has nine books for children and teens published, with four more under contract.

Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

 

 

 

BookBlast Giveaway
$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/13/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Sep 242014
 

1852

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks (January 1, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439227143
ISBN-13: 978-0439227148

Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepard), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit.

First published in 1903, “The Call of the Wild” is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece. Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, “The Call of the Wild” is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.

 

Thoughts
I read this book as part of the Banned Book Week, hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. I had planned on reading a different book, but I messed up and ended up only having a little over a day to read a book and write a review, so after searching for a shorter banned book, I decided on this one. I’m so glad I did!!

I love anything to do with Alaska and/or sled dogs, and even knowing I’d probably love the book, it was far better than I expected. The book starts out giving info on Buck’s life and how he ends up and Alaska. From there, it quickly gets sad and then gets sadder. There are many things that happened in the book that made me cringe, but the author drew the story from his time as a gold prospector, and it’s an important part of the story.

I enjoyed reading about Buck, and fell in love with this dog that endured so much and never lost the wonderful spirit that he was born with.

London doesn’t use a lot of unnecessary words or descriptions, and that added to the loveability of the book for me. I could see everything so clearly in my mind and was sad when it ended.

I don’t remember having to read this in school, but I wish it had been one of the assigned reading choices, and think it should be in every school.

I loved this book so much that after I finished it, I got the audio version for my iPod, and plan on listening to it while I walk on my treadmill.

I’ve had this book on my tbr list forever and regret not getting to it sooner. I would recommend this book to everyone who hasn’t read it, and for those who did years ago, re-read it! It’s a 5 star!!

 

Why was the book banned?
The Call of the Wild, Jack London, 1903
Generally hailed as Jack London’s best work, The Call of the Wild is commonly challenged for its dark tone and bloody violence. Because it is seen as a man-and-his-dog story, it is sometimes read by adolescents and subsequently challenged for age-inappropriateness. Not only have objections been raised here, but the book was also banned in Italy, Yugoslavia and burned in bonfires in Nazi Germany in the late 1920s and early 30s because it was considered “too radical.”

 

To see a list of other banned books and why they were put on the list, go here