Dec 292015
 

26065512

Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer by Joanne DeMaio

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1515120775
ISBN-13: 978-1515120773

 
Jane March’s greeting cards have lost their jingle. While worried about her job at New England’s Cobblestone Cards, she stumbles upon a forgotten box of her mother’s nostalgic paintings. They depict small-town Addison’s covered bridge and red barns and picket-fenced colonials. If only Jane’s designs could capture the same heart. When her mother shows her how with a Christmas to-do list of memories in the making, Jane gets checking.

Wes Davis has come home again, jilted and a little bitter. His autumn wedding’s off, and so is his holiday spirit. Even seeing the rustic wooden deer his father whittles by lantern light doesn’t help as he settles back into the shabby Victorian home of his childhood. It is only when Wes encounters the sparkling Jane March on his winding mail route that his cold winter heart begins to thaw.

As the fall months turn wintry, and the season merry, a funny thing happens in this charming Connecticut town: Jane and Wes check off items on that Christmas itinerary, together. But falling in love wasn’t included on the list. Or was it?

Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer is a treasured keepsake, reminding us that like winter’s first snow, life brings a beautiful flurry of its own unexpected moments.

Thoughts
This is a great book to read around Christmas time, or any time. The book takes place in Addison Cove, Connecticut, and is just like a place I would love to visit some day, or maybe live. I loved the people and the way they knew all about each other, the care they gave each other, and the way they looked out for each other. I especially loved the characters of Jane and Wes.

The way the author writes brings the town and it’s people to life in the pages of this book. They have real lives and real problems, just like we all do. It may sound silly, but I loved the way Wes talked to his dog. It reminded me of me talking to my dog.

This is a feel good book that makes you feel all comfy like you’re visiting with friends. It has a steady pace and keeps your attention. I loved revisiting Addison Cove and would love it if DeMaio would write more books centered around this town.

This is the sixth book by this author and I’ve read them all. She’s been one of my favorite authors from book #1, and has never let me down. I would highly recommend every one of them.

I can’t wait for another book from this talented writer.

Dec 262015
 

23014004

Celebrating Family and Friends: Recipes for Every Month of the Year
by Kay Robertson

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Reprint edition (April 7, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1476795738
ISBN-13: 978-1476795737

From New York Times bestselling author, star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty, and matriarch of the popular Robertson family, comes a savory new collection of recipes that gives you and your family plenty of reasons to sit down together and share a meal, love, and laughter.

Miss Kay is a master of the back-country, home-cooked meal. She has been cooking ever since she was a little girl and has perfected her skills through years of practice on the Robertson clan. After sharing some of her family’s favorite recipes in Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen, Miss Kay has gone back to her cupboard and pulled out more of her down-home, mouthwatering recipes, this time grouping her recipes around reasons to get together—New Year’s Eve spreads, special Mother’s Day meals, Fourth of July picnics, Christmas dinners, church potlucks, and everything in-between.

In addition to more than one hundred recipes, Miss Kay opens her heart to share hard-won wisdom and special memories, along with beautiful full-color photos and family pictures. And true to the Robertson faith, you’ll find scriptures sprinkled throughout Miss Kay’s newest collection of recipes.

Take a peek into the off-camera life of America’s favorite duck-loving family, the foods they love, and the wisdom and legacy that make a family strong.

Thoughts
This book is full of recipes for every month of the year starting with January. It has all the big days like Valentine’s Day, Mother & Father’s Day etc., but it also has recipes for other days like Wedding and Baby Showers, Picnics and Summer Fun, Grandparent’s Day, Family Reunions and Potlucks.

This is a book that I’ll go to from time to time when I need a recipe for a special occasion, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

I’ve made a pot of Black Eyed Peas every year for New Years day with only a few years missed. So when I saw this recipe in the book, I wanted to keep a copy of it and maybe give it a try because it has more ingredients than the one I have. I don’t know about your but it sounds really good to me. Check it out:

A Pot Of Black Eyed Peas
1 lb. dried black eyed peas
1 tbs. bacon drippings or vegetable oil
1 large or 2 small ham hocks
1 med. onion , chopped (about 2 cups)
2 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 green bell peppter, diced (about 1 cup)
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or water, plus more as needed
2 sprigs (3 inch) fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tbs. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne, or to taste

Place the peas in a large bowl and add cold water to cover by 3 inches
Let soak at room temperature overnight
Drain, rinse, and drain again
Heat the bacon drippings or vegetable oin in a large pot
Add the hock and sear until browned on all sides, about 1 min. per side
Remove from the pot and set aside
Add the onion, celery and bell pepper
Cook, stirring often until tender, about 5 min.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. more
Add the drained peas and enough broth or water to cover them by 1 inch
Return the ham hock to the pot and push down into the peas
Add the thyme nad bay leaves
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partioall cover, and simmer until the peas are almost tender, about 30 min.
Make sure the top of the peas don’t cook dry
Add more broth or water to keep them slightly submerged as they cook
Stir in the vinegar, salt, pepper and cayenne, and continue simmering until the peas are tender and the liquid is thick and creamy, 10-20- min more
Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves
Remove the hock and pull any meat from the bones (discard bones)
Finely chop the meat and stir into the peas
Check the seasoning and serve warm

Tip:
It’s od to think that dried peas and beans can get too old, but they can. If they don’t get plump and tender enough to bite after soaking, then no amount of cooking wil make them fully tender.

A note from Miss Kay:
Black eyed peas are only one type of field pea. Try this recipe with others that you like, such as crowder peas or purple hull peas This dish is a must on New Years Day!

 

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Dec 222015
 

22774108

Save My Place by Olivia deBelle Byrd

Paperback: 154 pages
Publisher: Mercer University Press (September 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0881465011
ISBN-13: 978-0881465013

Blessed with an innate optimism and a magical childhood, Elisabeth Belle Sterling discovers that the path to happily-ever-after love is not as easily obtained as she had always imagined.

The Camelot-like love she longs for seems like only a dream until she meets the handsome Kincaid Patterson, a West Point graduate who carries a dark secret from his past.

Theirs is a passionate and unconditional love that has to confront a painful past, heart-searing separation, and the greatest of all tragedies. But the biggest obstacle is the loss of faith that threatens to undermine all that they have.

Set in the South during the 1960s and 70s against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Save My Place is a beautifully written love story of two people who search deep within their souls to save each other.

Thoughts
The book starts with Elisabeth being dumped and deciding to become an old maid. She then applies to he University of Georgia to get a masters degree in education. Then she meets Kincaid and her old maid idea flies out the window.

The author writes in a style that makes you feel like these people are your friends. I loved all the characters, especially Elisabeth and Kincaid. The love they felt for each other was immense, and they also loved the people in their lives very deeply.

The book is full of emotions. It’s funny, sad and also heartbreaking. It shows how love can conquer all, and bring people who have been torn apart by a tragedy, back together. And, you’ll have to read the book to find out the special meaning of the title, Save My Place.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a bit of romance, relationships, or southern fiction. It’s a short book and I read it rather quickly, but it left a huge impact on me and is one I would like to re-read in the future.

This book is one of my favorites of 2015, as is her 1st book, Miss Hildreth Wore Brown: Anecdotes of a Southern Belle (my review). I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Thanks to the author for this review copy, and for being so patient with me while I was trying to catch up on reviews.

Dec 192015
 

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Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill by Justin Smillie with Kitty Greenwald

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter (November 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0804186235
ISBN-13: 978-0804186230

A diligent crisping, a murmuring simmer, a slow roast, a ripping hot sear: mastery of the subtleties of heat and time is Justin Smillie’s hallmark. In this book, the celebrated chef of Upland explores the fundamental techniques of braising, roasting, and grilling–and shows you how to see them in new ways, to learn the rules to break them.

The chapters begin with thorough lessons on these basic methods. From there, the recipes evolve to feature variations on the techniques, altering ratios of moisture, intensities of heat, reversing expected processes. Sometimes the techniques are surprising, like braising chicken leggs in the juices created by overcrowding a pan of peppers. And sometimes the results are unbelievable, like tender peppercorn-crusted short ribs, made by first steaming the ribs before searing them to a spicy crisp.

This is a book about delighting in the details, about cooking by hand, about learning to see and smell and touch like a modern master. It’s a book you will keep, read, learn, and cook from for years to come.

Thoughts
This book is big and heavy, and the photos are beautiful. It’s all about Mastering New Ways To Braise, Roast, And Grill. There’s info on Foundations and Finishes. How to choose the right pot etc. The recipes are a bit lot different than what I cook, but I do want to give some of them a try. Some take more than one day, and some of the ingredients aren’t ones I’ve ever eaten before, like quail and rabbit legs. The name of some of the recipes are a bit misleading if you don’t read the recipe. Shrimp and Prosciutto Tea sounds like a tea right? I wouldn’t want to drink tea that had shrimp and prosciutto in it. But it’s actually a braising liquid. The author explains that it’s called a tea because it’s more of an infusion than a stock. Interesting!

I love nectarines. They’ve always been my favorite fruit. There’s a recipe in this book for Pickled Nectarines! What? I have to try it to see how they taste pickled. There’s a recipe for Corn Milk. Never heard of that before, but it’s vegan. My son, his wife and kids are vegan. Wonder if they want to try this?

I love this book and think I’ll keep it handy so I can try recipes from it when I feel a bit adventurous in the kitchen. I’ll start out easy, and maybe try Braised Cranbery Beans. I’ve seen these beans in the store for years but never tried them. If you love to cook or want a different kind of cookbook with different recipes, try this.

Here is a list of random recipes in the book to give you an idea of what it’s about.
Lamb Stewed With Almonds And Tunisian Spices
Summer Clams In Corn Milk With Fresh Corn Relish
Olive Oil Cured Cod And Summer Tomato Panade
Chanterelle And Pea Conserva
Perfect Braised Chickpeas
Veal Meatballs With Gingered Buttermilk And Corn Two Ways
Grilled Lobster With Spiced Fried Rice

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

 

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

Weekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Dec 162015
 

28000446

Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers by Sally Allen

Award-winning writer and teacher Sally Allen knows that good books don’t just draw us in; they talk to us, shape us, and transport us to times, places, and minds different from our own.

In Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers, Allen deftly weaves personal stories with fifteen thematized, annotated, and illustrated reading lists for what to read next. By sharing some of the treasures in her library and the secret lives they reveal, she gives us permission to embrace the shameless book lover inside each of us. Unlocking Worlds is a testament to how reading passionately—and compassionately—can unlock the world beyond our back yard. Celebrating books and those who read them, Allen shows how the solitary act of reading can be a powerful thread that creates community and connection. Thought-provoking and eloquent, Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers is a must-have for anyone who can’t leave the house without a book in hand.

Thoughts
I love this book! It’s a book I think every booklover would enjoy. It brought back memories of books read and introduced me to many new books.

There is a long list of chapters, but a few of my favorites were Let Reding Change You, Novels About Connection, Community and Family, Novels About The American Experience, Novels That Thrill, Chill, and Keep You Guessing, Novels and Memoirs About the Reading Life, Books For Book Lovers, and Reconciling with the Inevitable: We Can’t Read All The Books.

There are literary quotes at the beginning of each chapter, and my favorite one was “Books are not made for funiture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house” (Henry Ward Beecher). Also, at the end of the book the author talks about the ways she makes sure she remembers what she’s read. She says she writes down the authors name, number of pages, genre, subject, and what version of the book she read. She also takes note of how she discovered or acquired the book, where and when she read it, intellectual/emotional experiences she had while reading the book, favorite lines/quotes, basic plot, setting characters, point of view, and whether she would recommend the book, and to whom.

I’ve added quite a few books to my tbr list, and I’m starting with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins which I’m getting from the library today.

This is a book I’ll add to the ones I keep close by to refer to from time to time. I seriously hope the author writes another book like this.

 

dc86b420-240a-442b-8769-5eecfbaf866c Award winning writer and teacher Sally Allen holds a Ph.D. from New York University in English Education, with an emphasis in writing and rhetoric, and a M.A. in English Language and Literature. She teaches writing, literature, and communications, leads book group discussions, and is the founder and editor of Books, Ink at HamletHub.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter

Buy the book:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

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Dec 132015
 
walk in the woods

 

A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson

 

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books; Mti edition (July 28, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101905492
ISBN-13: 978-1101905494

 

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes–and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.
 
For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz’s overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration,A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.

Thoughts
While this book was interesting, it isn’t all that I was hoping for. I though it was about them hiking the whole trail in a year, but they didn’t, and they took a few side trips also. The story is entertaining, but there are some things I don’t like, like making fun of people. That’s just not something I enjoy hearing or reading about. I also think there was so much in the synopsis that was left out of the book.

 

Even with all the negatives, I think I’d still like to see the movie since the movie is sometimes very different than the book, and I love Robert Redford.
Dec 102015
 

687c7ed3-de94-45e0-9b68-e3ba802d243e       01789f20-2c4b-4c7f-a44d-78477eba929d

 Series: The Travel Adventure of PJ Mouse (Book 1)  
Paperback: 72 pages
Publisher: FriesenPress; 1st edition (February 13, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1460237404
ISBN-13: 978-1460237403

Series: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse (Book 2)
Paperback: 60 pages
Publisher: First Choice Books; 1st edition (December 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1770845089
ISBN-13: 978-1770845084

 

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada (Book One)
687c7ed3-de94-45e0-9b68-e3ba802d243e PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world-discovering exciting new places and people along the way!
Come join PJ on his first adventure across Canada as he hikes on a glacier in the Rockies, finds a salt lake in the prairies, and walks on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia.

 

Buy The Book:
Author’s WebsiteAmazonAmazon.ca , Barnes & Noble

Thoughts
This is one of the best books for children that I’ve seen. It not only is a great story of a mouse who travels, it’s full of adventure and information on Canada. Emily finds PJ under a bench in the pouring rain. Her mother lets her take her home where they put PJ in the washer and dryer to clean him up. After his bath he feels so much better, even though he is a bit spinny headed.

The author tells the story through the perpective of PJ, who is a small mouse, so everything is bigger than it is for Emily and the other characters. On this trip, the family travels with a fifth wheel. They visit a lot of places including Niagara Falls. The authors daughter Megan’s illustrations are really cute and help you “see” the story.

This book would be a great gift for any child. It will not only give them a really cute story, it will take them on a trip where they will learn a bit about Canada.

 

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Queensland (Book Two):
01789f20-2c4b-4c7f-a44d-78477eba929d  PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world – discovering exciting new places, people, and animals along the way!

​Come join PJ on this, his second adventure, along the coast of Queensland, as he snorkels at the Great Barrier Reef, chats with a Loggerhead turtle in the midst of a great undertaking, and explores the tropical rainforest- until he has to be rescued by one of the local friendly wildlife.

Buy the book:
Author’s Website – AmazonAmazon.caBarnes & Noble

Thoughts
The adventure continues for PJ the Mouse in the second book in the series which takes him and his family to Queensland, Australia. This time they take a huge plane and PJ is a bit worried about how something that big can stay in the air. Soon though he is distracted, and starts having a great time. The trip takes him on great adventures. He and his family visit the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest, two places I’d love to see myself.

Like in the first book in the series, the illustrations by Megan are adorable. Not only is this a really cute story that I think all children will love, I think adults as well as children will love learning all the information about Queensland.

I’d definitely recommend this book as well as The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse: In Canada

Brand Products: PJ Mouse Stuffed Toy, Customized Stickers, Passport

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About The Authors

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Gwyneth Jane Page (Jane), who holds an MBA from Simon Fraser University, has called many countries home. She grew up in such places as England, Peru, the USA, and the Caribbean, and has also lived in Australia and Canada. She now resides in Victoria, BC with her husband and four children. The PJ Mouse books are based on Jane’s family trips with the real stuffed animal, PJ, who was found by Emily, Jane’s youngest daughter.

Megan Elizabeth, Jane’s second oldest daughter, has lived in Canada and Australia and travelled extensively with her family-and PJ. Having been artistic since she was a little girl, illustrating the PJ Mouse books has enabled her to combine her love of travel with her love of art. Megan completed her studies at VanArts and is now building her career as a professional photographer as well as an illustrator. She currently resides in Victoria, BC with her family.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Dec 102015
 

01789f20-2c4b-4c7f-a44d-78477eba929d

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Queensland (Book Two)

by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Meagan Elizabeth

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse (Book 2)
Paperback: 60 pages
Publisher: First Choice Books; 1st edition (December 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1770845089
ISBN-13: 978-1770845084

PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world – discovering exciting new places, people, and animals along the way!

​Come join PJ on this, his second adventure, along the coast of Queensland, as he snorkels at the Great Barrier Reef, chats with a Loggerhead turtle in the midst of a great undertaking, and explores the tropical rainforest- until he has to be rescued by one of the local friendly wildlife.

Thoughts
The adventure continues for PJ the Mouse in the second book in the series which takes him and his family to Queensland, Australia. This time they take a huge plane and PJ is a bit worried about how something that big can stay in the air. Soon though he is distracted, and starts having a great time. The trip takes him on great adventures. He and his family visit the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest, two places I’d love to see myself.

Like in the first book in the series, the illustrations by Megan are adorable. Not only is this a really cute story that I think all children will love, I think adults as well as children will love learning all the information about Queensland.

I’d definitely recommend this book.

Dec 102015
 

687c7ed3-de94-45e0-9b68-e3ba802d243e

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada (Book One)

by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth

Series: The Travel Adventure of PJ Mouse (Book 1)
Paperback: 72 pages
Publisher: FriesenPress; 1st edition (February 13, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1460237404
ISBN-13: 978-1460237403

 PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world-discovering exciting new places and people along the way!

Come join PJ on his first adventure across Canada as he hikes on a glacier in the Rockies, finds a salt lake in the prairies, and walks on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia.

Thoughts
This is one of the best books for children that I’ve seen. It not only is a great story of a mouse who travels, it’s full of adventure and information on Canada. Emily finds PJ under a bench in the pouring rain. Her mother lets her take her home where they put PJ in the washer and dryer to clean him up. After his bath he feels so much better, even though he is a bit spinny headed.

The author tells the story through the perspective of PJ, who is a small mouse, so everything is bigger than it is for Emily and the other characters. On this trip, the family travels with a fifth wheel. They visit a lot of places including Niagara Falls. The illustrations are really cute and help you “see” the story.

This book would be a great gift for any child. It will not only give them a really cute story, it will take them on a trip where they will learn a bit about Canada.

Dec 092015
 

4da2f3f1-cb93-4671-9999-20b4afa4ac39

The Thread That Binds by Alice Hayes

Sherice is a new mother, a sonographer, quilter, and wife; an overworked young woman whose elderly mother is slipping away from her.

Sylvie is a newlywed and recent immigrant, unemployed and virtually penniless. Her husband’s paycheck can’t even cover prenatal care, let alone a baby, and her due date is only drawing nearer…

Joanne’s unconventional pregnancy turns her world upside down, redefining her career and relationships, and even bringing to the surface long-buried demons from her past.

Payton is seventeen, pregnant, and on the run. She flees to her uncle in Georgia with the hope of making a fresh start, but discovers making it on her own is harder than she could ever have imagined.

Gloria is trapped in an unhappy marriage; in love with someone else. Her life is falling apart. With a baby on the way, would it be selfish to flee?

Five women, once strangers, form bonds. Set in modern day Georgia, this is the story of friendship that blossoms in the land of country music, sweet tea, and secrets kept locked tight behind closed doors. Moving, funny, and at times heartbreaking, The Thread That Binds is a lesson in empathy, strength, and the beauty of love.

Buy the book:  Amazon

Thoughts
I love books about relationships between women and this book is about the friendships these five women build and the bonds they share.

It’s filled with all kinds of emotions as they all search to find their way in a world that isn’t easy. Each woman has her own characteristics and struggles. Together they help each other through a difficult time, share secrets and build each other up.

The books is at times happy, sad, emotional and funny. I would recommend it to anyone who loves books about friendships and/or southern fiction.

 

Author’s Bio:
ac5e1302-af75-4e70-b23b-da8fa49f2a69 Originally from Winchester, England, Alice’s plans to read law at a British university were disrupted when she fell deeply in love with Georgia, USA, while studying abroad. After moving all over Georgia, Alice has finally settled in Athens and has no plans to go anywhere else.

She is a single mother to a three-year-old girl and a 65 lb hound dog. She likes coffee, wine, and anything edible with the words ‘salted caramel’ in its description.

At the time of publication, Alice is a 24-year-old history student working full time in a law office, and writing fiction at every stolen moment. She hasn’t slept in approximately two years. Her first published novel, The Thread That Binds won third place in World’s Best Story contest.

Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter

Link to Alice’s interview on World’s Best Story:7f667b2f-1ace-4782-ab60-b3f6961aa5e9

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

@AliceIsFierce   and @iReadBookTours

#womensfiction  #adultfiction #worldsbeststory

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Dec 052015
 

winemaker omnibus1 banner

SPECIAL SPOTLIGHT TOUR!

winemaker omnibus1

Authors Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN

Do you know a better combo than French wine and mystery?
Perfect for a cozy end of the year!
Join the tour,
sign up to do a simple spotlight
you will receive an easy file to copy and paste on your book blog,
and you will be entered in a contest to win a $20 gift card of your choice!

Eiffel Tower Orange

Jean-Pierre ALAUX And Noël BALEN

on  Tour

November 23-December 23

with

The Winemaker Detective:
An Omnibus

(mystery)

Release date: December 5, 2015
at Le French Book

309  pages

ISBN: 9781939474568

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

The ideal gift for mystery and wine lovers — An immersion in French countryside, gourmet attitude, and light-hearted mystery.

Two amateur sleuths gumshoe around French wine country, where money, deceit, jealousy, inheritance and greed are all the ingredients needed for crime. Master winemaker Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick Virgile Lanssien solve mysteries in vineyards with a dose of Epicurean enjoyment of fine food and beverage. Each story is a homage to wine and winemakers, as well as a mystery.

In Treachery in Bordeaux, barrels at the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion wine estate in Bordeaux have been contaminated. Is it negligence or sabotage?

In Grand Cru Heist, Benjamin Cooker’s world gets turned upside down one night in Paris. He retreats to the region around Tours to recover. He and his assistant Virgile turn PI to solve two murders and a very particular heist.

In Nightmare in Burgundy, a dream wine tasting trip to Burgundy turns into a troubling nightmare when Cooker and his assistant stumble upon a mystery revolving around messages from another era.

This made-for-TV series is “difficult to forget and oddly addictive” (ForeWord Reviews).

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33d13746-4a10-44c7-beed-d3e7404bd482  Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen,
wine lover and music lover respectively, came up with the idea for the Winemaker Detective series
while sharing a meal, with a bottle of Château Gaudou 1996, a red wine from Cahors with smooth tannins and a balanced nose.

 

 ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS

Anne Trager loves France so much she has lived there for 27 years and just can’t seem to leave. What keeps her there is a uniquely French mix of pleasure seeking and creativity. Well, that and the wine. In 2011, she woke up one morning and said, “I just can’t stand it anymore. There are way too many good books being written in France not reaching a broader audience.” That’s when she founded Le French Book to translate some of those books into English. The company’s motto is “If we love it, we translate it,” and Anne loves crime fiction, mysteries and detective novels.
***
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 University of Colorado 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, along with a number of titles in the Winemaker Detective series. 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.
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Dec 042015
 

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Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (July 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0761184996
ISBN-13: 978-0761184997

A perfect and irresistible idea: A cookbook filled with delicious, healthful recipes created for everyone on a tight budget—and a cookbook with a strong charitable component: With every copy of Good and Cheap purchased, a second copy will be given to a person or family in need.

While studying food policy as a master’s candidate at NYU, Leanne Brown asked a simple yet critical question: How well can a person eat on the $4 a day given by SNAP, the U.S. government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program informally known as food stamps? The answer is surprisingly well: Broiled Tilapia with Lime, Spicy Pulled Pork, Green Chile and Cheddar Quesadillas, Vegetable Jambalaya, Beet and Chickpea Salad—even desserts like Coconut Chocolate Cookies and Peach Coffee Cake. In addition to creating nutritious recipes that maximize every ingredient and use economical cooking methods, Ms. Brown gives tips on shopping; on creating pantry basics; on mastering certain staples—pizza dough, flour tortillas—and saucy extras that make everything taste better, like spice oil and tzatziki; and how to make fundamentally smart, healthful food choices.
 

Thoughts
Good and Cheap. Two of my favorite things when it comes to food. So when I saw the title of this book I placed a hold for it at my libray. Luckily they had a few copies so I didn’t have to wait to get it.

The books contents are an Introduction, Breakfast, Soup & Salad, Snacks, Sides & Small BItes, Dinner, Big Batch, Pantry, and Drinks & Desserts, Index, About the Author and Acknowledgments. There are also Conversion Tables for Oven Temperatures, Approximate Equivalents, Liquid Conversions and Weight Conversions.

There are bright photos to go with the recipe, and each recipes has a tab at the top of the photo that tells you how much the recipe costs per serving and the total cost.

I like this cookbook, it has many recipes I’d like to try. Some of them have a few ingredients, but most of them more than a few. The good thing is the ingredients can be found at a decent price, hence the “Cheap”.

Want a copy of this book? You can download a free PDF copy here

I downloaded it to my computer and then sent it to my Kindle so now I have it both places, which is very handy!

 

wkendcookingWeekend Cooking is hosted @ Beth Fish Reads

Dec 042015
 

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Really Good F Words: Your Interactive Guide to Self-Care by Lorrie Forde

Influence Publishing
ISBN: 978-1771411240
Published November 1, 2015
Softcover, 238 pages
Content Rating: G

Where are you on your priority list? A key question in measuring self-care. Uncover your own customized strategies for moving further up that list as you bring this thought provoking and interactive book to life around your own kitchen table. Connect with friends and get your sense of self back with doable self-care strategies.

Author Lorrie Forde invites you to break all the old rules about not writing in books—this one is yours to write in, reflect back on, and share as you choose. Make it work for you! This is not another thing to add to your ‘to-do’ list. Let the pages do the work and before you know it, you’ll be laughing with friends, reconnecting with your passion, and the envy of your peers as you figure out what ‘feeds you’ and where your ‘weak spots’ are. How long will it take till you’re using “F” words all the time and your cookie jar is overflowing? Analogies like this cookie jar and using really good “F” words help us to laugh at reality and a little laughter really can make all the difference.

Buy the book:    Amazon  ~   Barnes & Noble

 

Thoughts
That title got your attention didn’t it? In this case, the “F” words are good ones.The author does a wonderful job of showing how important, and easy, it is to be happier. Not only is this a self-help book, it’s also a workbook where you can write (gasp!) in the book to keep track of your progress. I had the PDF version and transferred it to my Kindle, so I used a piece of paper. Good thing since I don’t know if I could have written in the book.

There are many different ways in the book to help you become more fulfilled, one of which is to join or start a support group that focuses on being positive.

I think this is a great book for anyone who wants to be more content with their life. With the author guiding you in this journey, it’s like having your own personal self-help coach.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to work on making you a priority in your life, and being a more content person.

 

8384d8ac-8053-4c67-a75f-06919b712793 Lorrie Forde is a daughter, a mother, a sister, a grandma, and a friend. She learned the hard way that balance is her secret ingredient in the analogy of a full and healthy ‘cookie jar’.

During a twenty-five year career in post-secondary education and through her work as a professional Executive and Life Coach, Lorrie has gathered the research and the tools she needed to bring this book to life. “I believe everyone deserves to have a coach and this book was a way for me to make that possible. I invite my readers to have fun with the process and to trust that their answers will come—they always do.” Lorrie loves to fill her days with adventure and laughter. She enjoys her work and says, “I work hard but I work to live—I don’t live to work.”

Connect with the author:   Website  ~ Twitter  ~  Facebook

 

Win 1 print copy of Really Good F Words and a coaching session worth $125 from Mountaintop Coaching

(USA & Canada)

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Dec 032015
 

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Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch

After an exhausting day at work, hitting the drive-thru or nuking a pre-fab meal is all too often the go-to decision for feeding a family. Cooking a meal from scratch using fresh ingredients can seem beyond the average person’s time, energy, or financial means. But with mounting evidence pointing to processed food and our industrial food system as the culprits behind many of our nation’s health problems—including obesity, diabetes, and cancer—it’s now more important than ever to be fully informed about what goes on your family’s dinner plates.

If you’re ready to take control of your food choices but don’t know the difference between grass-fed versus grain-fed, pastured versus free-range, or organic versus sustainable, read this book to discover:

• How to create your own thirty-month plan to convert your family from junk food to real food, without a revolt!

• Recipes and advice on planning and prepping meals so you can make homecooked a habit for your family

• Instructions for getting the most out of produce using techniques such as lacto-fermentation, dehydrating, and canning

•  introduction to the world of farm-direct sales, including tips on locating local farms, seeing through marketing buzzwords, and shopping with CSAs Ditching the Drive-Thru exposes the insidious hold the commercial food industry has taken over the fast-paced lives of the average American and the danger these processed foods and diet plans pose to our health, environment, and emotional well being.

Learn how to break free from the grind and return to a simpler relationship with food from farmers, not factories, and home-cooked meals that are created in your kitchen, not on a conveyor belt.

Buy the book:    Amazon   Barnes & Noble

 

Thoughts
This book was not at all what I was expecting. While it did have a lot of information, it just didn’t give me what I was looking for. One minute the author was writting about how awful animals are treated, the next minute she was talking about eating their meat, or eggs. I just felt that there was more negative talk about food in general than I wanted.

To be fair, the author seems to know her stuff and seems to truly want us all to eat better.

There are a few pictures scattered throughout the book and a few recipes, I might try the one for Homemade Greek Style Yogurt.

I do know that a lot of times, liking a book or not can depend on your mood. So please don’t let my review convince you to pass on this book. I know it’s getting a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews, and for that reason I plan on reading it again in a few months or so to see if my thoughts change. At this time I would give this a 3 star rating.
Author’s Bio:
524823e1-36ed-470b-8985-5349ddea9183 J. Natalie Winch lives in southern New Jersey, not far from where she grew up, with her husband, two children, and dogs. When she isn’t mothering, teaching, grading, or making lesson plans, Natalie runs the Hebrew School at her synagogue, coaches soccer, teaches lacto-fermentation classes, writes the occasional entry for her blog Food Empowerment (tradsnotfads.com), and fights the dust bunnies that threaten to take over her family room.

Connect with the author:   Website

 

Win 1 of 20 copies of Ditching the Drive-thru
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Nov 302015
 

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Drowned By Corn by Erika Hayasaki

 One morning in 2010, four teenage boys in a small Illinois town went to work in a grain bin—one of those towering silver cylinders that contain corn and dominate the midwestern landscape. But something went terribly wrong. By day’s end, some would be alive. Others would not. A close-knit community would be devastated, forced to endure. This gripping true story centers on what happened to one courageous and flawed young man who survived, and how his life quickly spiraled out of control in the next two years. It is a story about love, unbreakable friendship, and “king” corn

Thoughts
This is a Kindle Single but it didn’t seem short to me at all. It’s a true story that had me glued to the pages, not wanting to stop for a second. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for these boys, or the emotions the survivors still carry today. A very gripping story.

I loved how the community pulled together. A very good book!

Nov 282015
 

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The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

 Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she’s in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?

As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her new found reality.

Thoughts
I know many of you loved it, but for me it was just ok. I liked Riley somewhat, but the way she let her father’s “friend” and the friends daughter treat her rubbed me the wrong way. I would have told her and her daughter to hit the road. Also, her brother seemed like he was having a permanent pitty party.

Maybe it was just my mood as this is the last book I read as my husband was getting worse and we all were faced with the possibility of losing him. I may give this another try sometime. But probably not.

Nov 252015
 

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Number The Stars by Lois Lowry

 Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

Thoughts
This is another emotional read. What Jews went though during this time is horrific.

This book shows not only the bad things that happened to this family, but also the compasion the Johansen family had for others. Every character was well written and added to the story. The book is short at 136 pags, but it’s packed full and takes you on a journey you won’t soon forget.

Nov 232015
 

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The Ladies Room by Carolyn Brown

 Secrets told in the church ladies’ room are supposed to stay in the ladies’ room. But that doesn’t mean that what Trudy overhears there during her great-aunt Gertrude’s funeral won’t change the rest of her life.

Trudy has a daughter in the middle of a major rebellion; a two-timing husband who has been cheating for their entire married life; and a mother with Alzheimer’s residing in the local nursing home. She doesn’t really need a crumbling old house about to fall into nothing but a pile of memories and broken knickknacks.

Billy Lee Tucker, resident oddball in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, lived next door to Gert, and in her will she leaves him the funds to help Trudy remodel the old house. That’s fine with Billy Lee, because he’s been in love with Trudy since before they started school. And just spending time with her is something he’d never ever allowed himself to dream about.

A beautiful home rises up from the old house on Broadway, and right along with it rises up a relationship. But is Trudy too scarred from what she heard in the ladies’ room to see a lovely future with Billy Lee?

Thoughts
The first couple of paragraphs had me thinking that maybe this book wasn’t for me, but that has never stopped me from reading on. And the more I read the more I liked it.

This book runs the gamut on emotions. First of all, Trudy’s husband was a jerk, and I wasn’t a fan of her daughter either. But I loved Trudy and Billy Lee Tucker. I loved that Trudy had the gumption to do what she wanted, wear what she wanted, and change what she wanted. This book was good. I loved it.

Nov 212015
 

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Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

 Born to white plantation owners but raised by her enslaved black wet nurse, Mattie, Lisbeth’s childhood unfolds on the line between two very different worlds.

Growing up under the tender care of Mattie, Lisbeth adopts her surrogate mother’s deep-seated faith in God, her love of music and black-eyed peas, and the tradition of hunting for yellow crocuses in the early days of spring. In time, Lisbeth realizes she has freedoms and opportunities that Mattie does not have, though she’s confined by the societal expectations placed on women born to privilege. As Lisbeth grows up, she struggles to reconcile her love for her caregiver with her parents’ expectations, a task made all the more difficult as she becomes increasingly aware of the ugly realities of the American slavery system. When Lisbeth bears witness to a shockingly brutal act, the final vestiges of her naiveté crumble around her. Lisbeth realizes she must make a choice, one that will require every ounce of the courage she learned from her beloved Mattie.

This compelling historical novel is a richly evocative tale of love, loss, and redemption set during one of the most sinister chapters of American history.

Thoughts
The relationship between Mattie and Lisbeth was such a touching story. They had a bond that is mostly reserved for a mother and daughter, and I suppose in actuality that’s what they were.

The book is a very emotional read, and is hard to get through without pausing from time to time to take it all in. At least for me it was.

All the characters are well written. It’s hard to comprehend that this is the authors first book, it’s that good. Anyway, the book left me thinking about it for days after I was finished. There are some good times in the book too and that gave me a teeny reprieve from the heavy stuff going on.

Nov 192015
 

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

 On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

Thoughts
I absolutely loved this book! It will definitely be on of my favorites from 2015.

I loved following Filkry as he slowly became less grumpy and more open to being happy, and to loving and being loved. His relationship with Maya was, in my opinion, the best part of the book. I would have never imagined that he would accept her the way he did and it gave me the warm fuzzies.

A. J.’s relationship with Amelia surprised me too, and I got caught up in the unlikey romance of these two. All the other characters were ineresting also, and I wanted the story to go on and on. I was a bit sad with the way it ended, but it still was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time.