Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Foodie TBR

It's not really a secret that two of my favorite activities are cooking and reading so when I find a book that combines the two it's automatically going to end up on my TBR.  The problem is that there are a LOT of books that combine the two which has my shelves overloaded and books shoved into corners.  To keep books I really want to read from getting lost in the piles I try and rummage through every once in awhile and pull out a few that I really want to read soon.  This time I ended up with 4 nonfiction and 6 cozy mysteries.  Some have been out ages and a few are new releases.  Almost all of them feature recipes which makes me super happy!

1.  The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Finn - Kathleen Finn is an author I've been wanting to read since pre-blogging days and this was the first book I got.  I've managed to read (and love) 2 other books by her but somehow this one has been sitting on my shelf untouched for years.

2.  American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America's Back Roads by Pascale Le Draoulec - Not only does this involve food and books but it also has a road trip!  Plus lots of pie recipes.  I know nothing about this one other than the title and blurb but I'm looking forward to it!

3.  The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection by Michael Ruhlman - I've seen Ruhlman's name as a co-author on a number of cookbooks plus he's worked with Michael Symons who is one of my favorite chefs!

4.  Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life by Michael Lee West - I remember absolutely nothing about this or why I got it which means I have had it for far too long without actually reading it!

5.  Pies and Prejudice (A Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery #1) by Ellery Adams - Ellery Adams is a cozy mystery author I really haven't read which is weird because she has tons of books in multiple really great sounding series.  This one has pies!  And recipes for pies!

6.  Death by the Dozen (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #3) by Jenn McKinlay - Murder and cupcakes - what more could I want?  Other than a cupcake to eat while I'm reading about cupcake bakers solving murders.

7.  Irish Stewed (Ethnic Eats Mystery #1) by Kylie Logan - I'm so excited about this one!  I love the idea of exploring different cuisines with a good dash of murder.  I peeked at the recipe for Irish Stew in the back of this book and it sounds amazing!

8.  Death al Dente (Food Lovers' Village Mystery #1) by Leslie Budewitz - Budewitz has a series set in a spice shop that is really calling my name but I was able to get my hands on this one first.  This takes place in an old general store turned boutique market during a pasta festival!

9.  Death Eat Street (Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mystery #1) by J.J. Cook - Food trucks!  I love food trucks and just the title of the series has me wanting biscuits.

10. Murder on the Rocks (Mack's Bar Mystery #1) by Allyson K. Abbott - So this one is more drink than food but there are plenty of times where a good cocktail is as neccesary as a good meal so I'm saying this one counts!

Any foodie books coming up for you?

I'm linkup up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Linkups: The Obsession

It's Friday linkup time!  I'm linking up with the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, Book Beginnings of Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, and the Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice

This Week's Book Blogger Hop Question:
Do you always put a book cover in a post when you are mentioning a book or just text?

My Answer:
It depends.  If I'm just mentioning a book I usually don't but if a large chunk of the post focuses on the book (like this one!) I do.  Covers tend to be one of the major things that grabs my attention so I like to show them off!

Every year Nora Roberts comes out with a new stand alone romantic suspense title and every year I know I won't be able to resist picking it up.  This year's book - The Obsession is no exception.  I've actually been in line for the library's e-copy for ages but when I saw the print copy sitting on the new releases shelf I couldn't resist snapping it up.  I'm not very far in yet but so far I'm really enjoying it.  It's fast paced and twisty and everything I've come to expect from one of Roberts' stand alones.

The Beginning:
She didn't know what woke her, and no matter how many times she relived that night, no matter where the nightmare chased her, she never would.

My Thoughts:
Well that's an ominous beginning!  It definitely sets the mood for what happens next.

The 56:
"And when he'd finished with her, he'd have gotten another.  Who knows how many he'd have killed."

My Thoughts:
I've read and watched enough serial killer books/shows that this is a familiar sentence.  This is basically the sentence the entire Criminal Minds franchise is based around - not that I'm complaining, I love that show!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?  Is there an author you can't resist if you see their newest on the shelf?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Better Get to Livin' - Review

Better Get to Livin' by Sally Kilpatrick

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Presley Cline has put aside dreams of Hollywood stardom and come back to Ellery, Tennessee to work in a beauty shop.  In truth, the dreams in question were more her mother's than her own.  Presley may have the face and body of a movie icon, but she lacks the stomach for it.  Yet a loving relationship and normal home life seem almost as unattainable as an Oscar.  Being able to see and speak to dead people certainly isn't helping.  Presley's first job, beautifying "clients" at the Anderson Funeral Home, is quite a change from working on a movie sest.  The place is home to dozens of hosts all hoping that Presley can help them move on - and also one very much alive owner, Declan Anderson. Like Presley, Declan is caught between following family expectations and his own aspirations.  But with a little meddling from loved ones and locals - both living and dead - Presley is starting to see that life is too short not to be who you want to be, and the most rewarding journeys involve some unexpected detours... (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction/Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  To be honest I have no idea.  I think I was in a NetGalley requesting fog and didn't realize what I was doing.  I do like ghosts so maybe that had something to do with it?

My Impression: Going in I had no expectations about this story.  I haven't read anything by Sally Kilpatrick before,  I hadn't seen many reviews for it, so I was kind of expecting your typical small town romance with maybe an extra dash of quirk.

Turns out there is so much more!  For one thing I have a hard time classifying this as a straight up romance.  There is a romance but it doesn't take up much of the book - especially in the first 2/3.  For starters this isn't your regular fictional small town with streets lined with cute little shops and friendly people.  This is an actual small town with financial struggles, people with old grudges (though there are plenty of nice people too), and warring funeral homes (okay this isn't so ordinary - or at least I don't think it is).  Declan, the reluctant director of one of the funeral homes, is relatively respected but hasn't quite lived down his high school nickname of "Cold Fingers" which is seriously killing his dating chances in Ellery.  But that doesn't bother him too much until Presley Cline blows back into town.  Presley has more than enough baggage of her own.  She's living someone else's dreams, dealing with a very public humiliation, and trying to come to terms with hoer own hangups and identity.  Throw in the being able to see and communicate with ghosts and a self-destructive mother and Presley is hanging on to her sanity for dear life.

After natural and man made disasters throw Presley and Declan together the story really gets going but the book focuses more on the two of them finding their way to who they want to be than on romance though we do discover pretty early on that they've know each other for years and each had a crush on the other.  The side characters are wonderful.  There are a number that would have been so easy to cast as a straight up villain but at no time does Kilpatrick take that route.  With one exception the characters are fully fleshed out, sometimes selfish, sometimes incredibly kind people.  I loved the feel of family in the funeral home even though the Andersons' didn't always realize how much they leaned on each other.

The structure is interesting as Declan and Presley share the narration in alternating chapters.  Their POVs and voices are so different that I never had any trouble telling who was who and I enjoyed being able to get to know them equally.  I was split on the ending - some stuff I had figured out, some stuff left me with my mouth hanging open but I enjoyed it all.

This was my first book by Sally Kilpatrick but I don't see it being my last.  She brings a unique voice and unusual well drawn characters to a pretty typical setting and it comes out refreshing and completely entertaining.

Would I Read More From this Author/Series?:  Definitely!  This is the 3rd book set in Ellery, Tennessee and I definitely plan on picking those up and can't wait to see what comes out next.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes!  There's so much going on here that I think even readers who don't typically reach for romance would find something to enjoy in this one!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Address to Die For - Review

Address to Die For (A Maggie McDonald Mystery #1) by Mary Feliz

Rating: Very Good
Source: NetGalley

Description:  For professional organizer Maggie McDonald, moving her family into a new home should be the perfect organizational challenge.  But murder was definitely not on the tp-do list...
Maggie McDonald has a penchant for order that isn't confined to her clients' closets, kitchens, and sock drawers.  As she lays out her plans to transfer her family to the hundred-year-old house her husband, Max has inherited in the hills above Silicon Valley, she has every expectation for their new life to fall neatly into place.  But as the family bounces up the driveway of their new home, she's shocked to discover the dilapidated condition.  When her husband finds the caretaker face-down in their new basement, it's the detectives who end up moving in.  What a mess!  While the investigation unravels and the family camps out in a barn, a killer remains at large - exactly the sort of loose end Maggie can't help but clean up... (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  A professional organizer and a 100 year old house!   I couldn't resist it!

My Impression:  Last time we moved I swore I would never do it ever again.  I was 7 months pregnant which meant I could do just about nothing which drove me crazy.  J spent every night after work cleaning up our old house so we could turn it into a rental and that was first priority as we wanted to be paying 2 mortgages for as short of time as possible.  In the meantime I tried to do what unpacking I could at home which wasn't very much because my doctor kept threatening bed rest as it was.  But my move was a vacation compared to the mess Maggie McDonald lands in!
For starters the house that was promised to be turnkey ready isn't and what's weird is that it was 5 months ago when Maggie and her husband had done a walk through.  How could it have gone to great shape though a little dusty to looking like a tear down in 5 months?  When the caretaker is found at the bottom of the basement stairs deceased and the police investigation turns up evidence that the state of the house is more due to vandalism than dilapidation it becomes very evident that the move isn't going to be the organized calm that Maggie had hoped for.

I really liked Maggie.  She's in a situation that has spiraled out of control - especially when Max ends up halfway around the world for a few weeks thanks to his new job - and is trying to keep her footing to keep things moving forward and provide her kids with some kind of routine.  She feels like a real person with kids, a husband who travels a lot, and just too much to do.  I've been in her shoes and think she and I would get along!  I liked her children too.  They're good kids but they read pretty true.  They're trying to be helpful and responsible but sometimes they really just need that permission slip signed and turned in yesterday and go into full meltdown because it didn't happen because they didn't actually mention it to anyone.  I loved Tess too with her dual personality wardrobe and her matter of fact view of her surroundings and the people that inhabit them.  It's obvious that the author has spent her share of time on the school volunteer circuit.  While the bulk of the characters are likable people even if they have their quirks there's always a few that just make things harder than they have to be or have their own inflated view of their own importance.  It was fun to watch Maggie try and establish her place in her new community.  I also enjoyed hearing about Maggie's job as an organizer.  While she isn't actively working because of the move she does rely on her skill set quite a bit and each chapter is headed with an organization tip or reminder from her notebook.

I also really enjoyed the mystery and there's a lot going on!  There's vandalism, murder, arson, and any number of things that may or may not be connected.  This is a full book as Maggie tries to figure out what's going on, get to know her new community and try and protect her family.  The mystery itself made sense as did Maggie's reasons for investigating.  This was a great introduction to the series and to Maggie McDonald.  I'm already looking forward to my next visit to Orchard Valley and seeing what trouble Maggie gets into next!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  I can't wait for the next book!  I'm looking forward to spending more time with Maggie and her friends.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  If you like cozy mysteries this is a great one to pick up.  While there is a lot going on it never once was confusing and I just loved getting to know Maggie, her family, and Orchard Valley.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I've Read Set Outside the US

This week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic from The Broke and The Bookish is Ten Books I've Read that are Set Outside the US.  I'm also taking the UK out of the mix because I go there a LOT fictionally and it'd get kind of boring if every book I listed took place in London!  This made it a bit more of a challenge as I tend to not get too far outside my comfort zone geographically.

1. France -  The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown - This might be cheating because 50% of the book takes place in Tennessee which is basically half an hour away from me BUT the other 50% is wonderfully gloriously Paris and not just Paris but Paris in 1924!

2. Canada - Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery  - Well all of L.M. Montgomery's books take place in Canada but the Anne books have placed Prince Edward Island in a special place in my heart.  My husband and I were talking about the top 5 places we want to visit and PEI is pretty high on my list!

3.  The Channel Islands - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - This might be another cheat since it's technically a British Crown dependency but I got such a feel of Guernsey itself with this book and Guernsey is cut off from anywhere else during the Nazi occupation that I'm going to count it.

4.  Egypt - Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas - This is another dual timeline book but both take place in Egypt though most of the characters are British.  I enjoyed the modern day timeline but Egypt during World War II was fascinating and not something I knew really anything about.

5.  Greece - Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts - I loved visiting Corfu in this book.  I could just feel the sun and smell the salt.  Roberts' is wonderfully descriptive.  While I did enjoy the story overall I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because of the setting.

6.  Ireland - Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore -  Ireland should have been billed as a character in this richly drawn book of a young woman trying to reconnect with herself and a family she never really knew.  And there's a ghost!

7.  Jamaica - Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming - In the 2nd half of the 2nd James Bond book he spends half the time in Jamaica trying to finally hunt down the source of smuggled gold coins.  There's lots of talk of the water, the superstitions, and the sea life.

8.  Italy - Wings of the Falcon by Barbara Michaels - I'm not going to lie - the bulk of my Italian history knowledge came from this book AND this was also the reason I wrote a research paper on Etruscan burial art and funerary practices in college.  This is such gothic-y fun that I've reread it probably a dozen times and would love to reread it again soon!

9.  Iraq - They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie - Christie actually wrote a number of books set in the Middle East but most take place on archaeological digs.  This one is much more of a international intrigue with one of her girls with no families but a great deal of common sense main characters.  So much fun!

10.  Australia - Tumbledown Manor by Helen Brown - To be honest I didn't love this book but I did love the Australian setting with all the wildlife you can expect to run into if you're living off the beaten path.  I just couldn't get over how the kangaroos were viewed as basically big pests whereas in the US we get so excited about them

Where has your reading taken you this year?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ramblings from the Stacks: Magic Words in Book Blurbs

I started thinking about this topic when J and I were having dinner at a new restaurant.  While we were waiting for the waiter we discussed what we each planned to order and discovered that we had each guessed correctly what the other person was going to order.  This isn't too big of a shock considered we've been married for quite some time and have eaten who knows how many thousands of meals together but we started talking about how we knew and it all centered around magic words.

I know if I see a menu item that involves "roasted garlic" J is most likely going to order it.  Same goes for "balsamic".  I'm slightly more complicated.  Basically if he sees a main course with a description of something he can't imagine why anyone would want to eat that he figures I'll order it.  Otherwise, it's dishes that involve "butternut squash", "horseradish", "balsamic", "caramelized onions", or "gorgonzola".

We have our anti-magic words too.  Words that will make us run the opposite direction of a dish.  Neither of us will order dishes with shrimp (I'm allergic, he thinks they're rats of the sea) or olives.  I really really dislike olives.  Like I have a full on rant about my dislike of olives.

All of this got me thinking about books.  In all those pretty shiny new books that come out every week what words jump out at me, make me pick some books over others?  These are some magic words that will make me grab a book that I know absolutely nothing.

1.  Ghosts

2.  Old diaries or letters - particularly if they're discovered hidden somewhere

3.  Unexpected skeletons

4.  Dilapidated or old houses (especially if the plot includes any or all of the above)

5.  Starting a restaurant or bakery

6.  Someone leaving their old life behind to figure out what they really want to do (as long as they're not leaving their children behind or wrecking a good marriage with a solid and understanding spouse who is devastated by this.  I don't like those at all.)

7.  1920s anything - especially London or Paris

8.  Homefront during either World War I or World War II

9.  Books about books, libraries, or bookstores

10. Multi-generational relationships - I think this may because of my relationship with my grandparents but if there's a book about a grandchild/grandparent relationship I'm on board

 On the other side of this are the words and themes that will make me fun away faster than a dish full of olives

1.  Civil War settings

2.  Death of a child - especially if it's a just turned my head for a second kind of accident

3.  Abduction stories that are told through the eyes of the victim

4.  Zombies

The good thing is I seem to have more Magic Words than Olive Words!  What about you?  Do you have certain words that will make you pick up a book that you know nothing about?  Words that make you hesitate even if it's by a favorite author?  And do you like olives?  If so, are there particular ones I should try to get past my hatred of them?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

This Week in Reading July 17

It's Sunday Post time!  This is hosted by the awesome Caffeinated Book Reviewer and gives us all a chance to recap our week.

What I Got:

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham - It's Heather Graham and a Krewe series book.  I barely even look at the blurb anymore! (NetGalley)

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn - I'm so excited about this one!  I'm really looking forward to revisiting the Bridgerton family.  (Paperbackswap)

Pecan Pies and Homicides by Ellery Adams - Technically I haven't read the first book in this series but I have them all and do plan on starting it soon.  In the meantime I will keep collecting them! (Paperbackswap)

Privy to the Dead by Sheila Connolly - I really love this series from Connolly about a Historical Society director.  I'm looking forward to catching up on it. (Paperbackswap)

The Obsession by Nora Roberts - I've been waiting patiently for an e-copy of this one from the library but the Tornado and I were at the library earlier this week and there sat a print copy! (library)

Bon Appetempt: A Coming of Age Story (with Recipes) by Amelia Morris - Since I was already getting one book at the library I decided why not two!  This one jumped out at me because of it's cute cover and the title.  It sounds like it's project style memoir with cooking which I'm all about!  (Library)


Reading:  A Hometown Girl by Mariah Stewart and An Address to Die For by Mary Feliz

Listening: Podcasts - I've really been enjoying Overdue about books you should have read by now and Read It and Weep which tears apart pretty bad books, movies and shows.

Watching:  J and I got the first season Northern Exposure from the library and have been watching it lately and really enjoying it.  I forgot just how great that show is!

Off the Blog:

Pokemon Go has taken over our lives this week.  The Tornado is obsessed and I have to admit it's pretty fun.  I don't understand all the fighting or the strategy but I'm all for the collecting!  We've gone on a few walks through our neighborhood, a few local parks, and downtown when we went to the Farmer's Market the other evening.  This weekend we're heading to the big outdoor mall to see what we can find there.  We're also planning to go see The Secret Life of Pets and go out to dinner and do a little shopping but Pokemon Go will play a pretty big part!  We'll probably also stop by the bookstore and I'm torn between some retail therapy and the knowledge that I'm not sure if I have any more corners to cram books into.  Not surprising but my book acquiring has greatly outpaced my book reading!

I had been thinking about the whole Pokemon Go thing but hadn't downloaded it or looked into it but on Monday Eleanor and her boyfriend came over and they'd been playing it.  So we talked about it for awhile and it sounded pretty fun.  And then Emma and her boyfriend came up from the town their school is in and they've apparently become obsessed with it.  We went to dinner and Emma's boyfriend and the Tornado (who incidentally have the same name) spent most of the meal discussing the game and going through all the Pokemon the boyfriend had collected.  After 2 nights of Pokemon Go talk there was no way we were going to get out of playing!

We're closing in on the end of summer.  The Tornado has one week of camp left and next week we'll see who his teacher in and a couple of weeks after that school will start.  This summer has flown by and I'm not quite ready for it to end!

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Ramblings from the Stacks - Magic Words
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books I've Read Set Outside the US
Wednesday: Address to Die For - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Better Get to Livin' - Fiction/Contemporary Romance Review
Friday: Friday Linkups with Teasers from my current book
Saturday: My Foodie TBR

Have a great week and happy reading!