Sunday, May 31, 2015

This Week in Reading - May 31st

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:

Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub - A mystery set in Lily Dale which at one time was quite the place for psychics and mediums and the like.  This involves a woman and her son looking for a fresh start after the death of her husband and what starts as a temporary stay ends up becoming more when the owner of the hotel's death turns out to be murder (NetGalley)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll - This is my Reading Assignment for June.  Somehow I've managed to never read this one so I'm curious to see how the book differs from the movies (Library)

The Flesh Taylor by Kate Ellis - I read one of Ellis' books years ago, loved it and then never could find anymore.  Over the last few years I've built up quite a collection but so far haven't read any of them! (Paperbackswap)


Reading:  A Watery Death by Joyce and Jim Lavene, Trust No One by Jayne Ann Kretnz, and Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts

Listening: Not a thing and there probably won't be anything until school starts back in August.

Watching: I'm still watching a lot of Murder She Wrote from Netflix on my Kindle.  Last weekend J and I watched The Conjuring which was one of the best scary movies I've seen in awhile.  We had talked about watching Annabelle this weekend but I'm not sure if I'm brave enough quite yet.  Emma and I are also watching The Bachelorette in all it's train-wreckness. We've been watching together for the last year or 2 and this is the last season we'll be able to watch together for awhile as next time it comes on she'll be at college.

Off the Blog:

I have tomatoes!  Okay, they're marble sized green tomatoes but still!  My garden is fully planted and I have an assortment of tomatoes and peppers, straight neck squash, cucumbers, zucchini, this golden zucchini that looked interesting, a lima bean plant that the Tornado brought home from school, and a butternut squash that is far more enthusiastic than I expected.  Herb-wise I have a few different kinds of basil, parsley, oregano, 2 types of mint and some thyme that already looks like it's trying to die.

We finally made it to the big Farmer's Market here the other night.  It's once a week but since it opened in April the weather has been either raining or weirdly cold.  There wasn't much produce yet but I did manage to get some eggs and a jar of vanilla chai pear butter.  There's also a vendor that sells this amazingly addictive kettle corn.  I don't even really like kettle corn but I can't resist this stuff.

I haven't been cooking anything interesting this past week.  We're still adjusting to school being out and there hasn't been time to do anything interesting.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Trust No One - Romantic Suspense Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I'd Like to See as a Movie or TV show
Wednesday: A Watery Death - Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday Linkups featuring current book
Saturday: TBD but something food related

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Get Your Bake On - Cookbook Review

Get Your Bake On: Sweet and Savory Recipes From My Home to Yours by Brian Emmett

So before I start this review I need to clear the air and admit I was firmly Team Darlene when this show was on.  But even though Brian wasn't the one I wanted to win I didn't hesitate when it came to requesting this cookbook.  I wanted to see what he could do and that lemon meringue pie on the cover looks delicious and I have a weakness for lemon meringue.

This book starts with the usual reference guide regarding needed materials, ingredients and measurements.  It explained enough about folding ingredients, whipping egg whites and other basics to be helpful without being complicated.  The recipes are broken up into 7 chapters ranging from the basics - pies, cookies and cakes - and getting a bit more ambitious with pastry dough, biscotti, souffles, and custards.  Before each recipe is a paragraph about where the recipe came from and if there is any tie into Brian's time on The Great American Bake-off.

In terms of usability there were a number of recipes that intrigued me - Key Lime Pie, Savory Bacon, Cheddar, and Chive Scones, Banana Tea Bread, Salted Peanut Butter Cookies and a few different kinds of cheesecakes.  The ingredient list was nothing overly fancy (though several do call for vanilla beans which are freakishly expensive but easy to find) and the ingredients are clear and concise.  There's also a pretty good helping of savory dishes which is unusual for a baking book.  There are several types of savory pies (onion, chicken pot pie) as well as foccaccia and recipes for both New York and Chicago style pizza.

I did have a few issues with this that were on the strictly personal front.  A number of his bread recipes call for a sourdough starter.  He includes the recipe for that and it really isn't that complicated but if I'm being honest that extra step will probably keep me from trying it for awhile.  While there are a number of recipes that look tempting this isn't really an everyday book for me.  In general the recipes given run more towards Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Tartlets, Croissants, and Mini Pavlovas with White Chocolate Coated Popcorn.  These all sound yummy but more something I would make for an event versus a Tuesday.  There will be both Key Lime Pie and Lemon Meringue on my July 4th table though!

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

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Linkups: Dead Room

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:
Can you read in a room with noise or do you have to have total quiet?

My Answer:
Thankfully I can read in a room with some noise or I'd never get any reading done!  I can generally read in a room where other people are watching TV or talking among themselves without too much trouble.   I actually have a hard time reading in total quiet so I use the classical for reading playlist off Amazon Music if I'm reading at night when everyone's asleep so I don't get distracted by every little sound.

A few days ago I was having kind of a crummy day.  Not like anything bad had happened but just a series of annoyances that left me cranky.  So I decided to take some time for a little library therapy and let myself wander the shelves and pick up books that caught my eye without worrying about my towering TBR or stacks of ARCs.  Dead Room by Heather Graham is one of those that I picked up.

The Beginning:
"The light was blinding.
For a moment it seemed as if nothing had existed before it, as if nothing could be greater than rising to meet it."

My Thoughts:
I'm guessing something bad has happened.

The 56:
""We are delight to see you, my dear.  If you'd refused to come, everyone would have understood," she said. There was real concern in her soft gray eyes, the kind that made Leslie feel the ache inside again, but she needed to get past all that."

My thoughts:
Things are still a little murky at this point.  There's an accident that may not have been one and stuff to dig up and lots of missing women.  So far I'm really enjoying this one!

So keep reading?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Frenchman's Creek and a Great Expectations Confession

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Rating:  3 Stars
Source: Purchased

Description:  The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St. Columb to be ripe for any folly, anything to alter the tedium of her days.  But there is another Dona who longs for honest love - even if it is spiced with danger.  It is this Dona who flies London for remote Navron, finding there a hunted pirate.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I've reread Rebecca countless times and The Birds was one of my best books of 2014 even though I will never look at birds the same way again.

My Impression:  Whew this had a slow start.  I was probably about 20 pages in before I was interested at all and even then I wouldn't say I was hooked.  I had a hard time warming up to Dona who was spoiled and bored and looking for entertainment even (or especially) if it came in the form of a French pirate.  I had a hard time connecting with the love story partly because I didn't really like Dona and partly because Dona is married with children and even with the constraints of the time period I just couldn't get past it.  Then there's the whole part of Jean being a pirate/criminal which also didn't quite click with me.  It was interesting to see Dona take a step away from her aristocratic lady of the manor lifestyle and deal with life on a pirate ship but I always stayed detached from the story.  While du Maurier's prose is beautiful to me it felt like it kept me as a distant watcher instead of pulling me in.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes I would but probably more on the strength of Rebecca and The Birds then this one.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Ummm.... I'd recommend the author but probably not this book.

Challenges Met? The Reading Assignment Challenge (May)

And now for my Great Expectations confession:
I read Great Expectations when I was in 9th grade and hated it.  My review would've gone something like this: "Pip complains a lot.  He complains when he's poor, he complains when he's rich, he complains when he's poor again.  He really just can't be happy." I detested the book.  I disliked it so much that when I had to read A Tale of Two Cities a few years later I cheated and went the Cliff Notes route.
When I was making up my Classics Club list last summer I decided it was time to give Great Expectations another try.  After all I don't have a huge amount in common with my 14 year old self and my hair is much better so surely my opinion on books wouldn't be the same.
And it isn't but it is.  My review isn't all that different of the plot itself.  I still don't like Pip and really think he needs a good slap and a change of priorities.  I kind of liked him in the beginning and felt sorry for him but once he comes into money I was pretty much done with him.  He's just incredibly unlikable and I had a hard time having any interest in how his story developed.
But what I appreciated this time around that I didn't get the first time was the beauty of the writing. Dickens turn of phrase is fantastic and I love how easily and effortlessly he sets a scene.  I ended up putting down Great Expectations because I was really close to marching Pip to the Thames and drowning him but this will not be the last Dickens I read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fat Girl Walking - Review

Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love and Being Comfortable in Your Skin... Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Edelweiss

Description:  Brittany Gibbons from the blog Brittany Herself shares snapshots of her life including living with a father who suffered a traumatic brain injury, surviving high school, dropping out of college, pushing through anxiety, becoming a wife and mother and most of all learning to love herself in her own skin.

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  I've enjoyed her blog - Brittany Herself - for a couple of years and couldn't pass on the book.

My Impression:
I feel like a comparison to Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) is inevitable.  Both she and Brittany are bloggers with a pretty off the wall sense of humor, both have had their struggles with anxiety and depression, and both have husbands who ground them.  However, they have distinctly different voices and focuses (and Lawson talks about taxidermy a lot more).
There's a lot of talk about this book being "hilarious" and "laugh out loud funny" and I'm not sure I agree.  There's a lot more here than just funny.  There's learning to deal with parents who aren't in ideal situations, desperately trying to find a place to fit in in high school, finding the right guy and being terrified you'll lose him, and trying to balance to two very different self images of being a wife and a mom.  Mostly it's Brittany finding her voice and taking the readers along for the ride.  Brittany is funny.  I loved her sarcastic comments and appreciation for irony but most of all I really loved her honesty.
The really good thing about this book is I think it's easy to relate too.  The message is a good one regardless of your weight, marriage status or number of children.  And Brittany delivers it in a way that is honest and with just the right amount of humor.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes definitely!  I'll continue following her blog and if this book comes out in audio with Brittany doing the reading I'll be picking it up as well.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes. I think anyone who has looked in the mirror and been less than thrilled with what was looking back would enjoy this one.

Challenges Met?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Want in My Beach Bag

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books I'd Like to Have in My Beach Bag.  When it comes to summer my attention span is on the short side.  Between the kids being out of school and Alabama heat and humidity long thought provoking books just aren't happening.   For summer reading I tend to reach for contemporary romance, romantic suspense and maybe a cozy mystery or two.  I don't love historical romances for summer because all the layers of clothes just sound hot!

1.  That Chesapeake Summer by Mariah Stewart - I enjoy this series and the last book was my favorite so far so I'm excited to see how this one goes.  I'm especially excited because I've been really curious about one of the main characters.

2.  The Silenced by Heather Graham - I love Heather Graham's books.  Even when they suffer from insta-love or some minor plo holes they're so much fun it makes up for it.

3.  Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne - The first book in the series - Snow Angel Cove - was one my favorite of the Christmas romances I read and all kinds of intriguing comments were made about the main character of Redemption Bay.

4.  A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander - I absolutely loved the first mystery in the series and I can't wait to see what Jules is up to now.  I'll make sure to have a few pastries handy because I know this book will make me hungry!

5.  It's in His Kiss by Jill Shalvis - I'm not happy about it but I'm going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Lucky Harbor series is over and read the last trilogy.

6.  The Liar by Nora Roberts - It's the new one from Nora Roberts.  I really can't resist it.

7.  Murder at Beechwood by Alyssa Maxwell - A murder at a Newport mansion in the 1890s with lawn parties and sail boat races and all the rest.  Sounds perfect.

8.  All Lined Up by Cora Carmack - This sounds light and fluffy and fun.  I haven't read much (or really any) NA and this got great reviews.

9.  Sea Glass Sunrise by Donna Kauffman - I loved all the books in Kauffman's Blueberry Cove series and I'm excited to start this spin off series.

10. And One Last Thing... by Molly Harper - I loved the one Molly Harper book I read and this one looks just as fun.

So what does summer reading mean to you?

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Poppy Factory - Review

Today I'm taking a moment to remember my kind-of-Grandfather - Arthur Cosby Bowden who was my grandmother's first husband.  By all accounts he was a kind man, smart and ambitious and he died in Italy on the march to Rome leaving behind a wife and 8 month old baby girl.  He's buried far from home in the American Cemetery in Florence.
I also want to take a moment to think of all the families - past, present and future - whose timelines will forever be measured in before the knock on the door or the phone rang and after the got the news.

The Poppy Factory by Liz Trenow

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Jess's transition into real life after serving as a medic in Afghanistan wasn't the easy step she thought it would be.  She finds her self trapped by her memories and lashing out at those she loves.

After a much earlier war Rose struggles with her husband's return which hasn't been quite what she expected.

Divided by 100 years can Rose's diary help Jess find her way?

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book:  The Forgotten  Seamstress (review here) was one of my favorite books of 2014 and I was excited to see more from Trenow.

My Impression:  I'm always a little scared to start a book by an author that I've really loved because I worry they'll let me down.  I'm very pleased to say that Trenow didn't let me down!  There are some similarities to this and The Forgotton Seamstress.  Both books involve 2 different timelines which each featuring a strong woman in a challenging situation.  The present timeline is told as it's happening whereas the older timeline is told in some narrative form - recordings in The Forgotten Seamstress and diary entries in The Poppy Factory.  But while the framework is similar the feel of the book is completely different.
I connected with Jess right away.  She's an interesting character and while she makes some terrible choices it's easy to understand why.  Trenow does a good job making her sympathetic even when I wanted to reach into the book, grab Jess by the shoulders and give her a good shake.  Not only did I hurt for her but I felt so sorry for Nate and Jess's parents as they were doing their absolute best to help her.
We get Rose's story in diary entries which isn't always a good thing for me.  In this case I never had any difficulty connecting to Rose or getting a sense of her voice.  It was a bit heartbreaking to watch Rose's optimism be replaced with worry and fear but I couldn't help but admire her.
Before reading this I wasn't aware the The Poppy Factory existed but I was interested to learn that this actually exists.
I enjoyed this as much as The Forgotten Seamstress though there were a few places that felt just a little too long.  This wasn't the easiest of reads giving the intense emotional issues but I felt that it was a worthwhile read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I love how Trenow weaves 2 different timelines together so smoothly.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Absolutely.  If you enjoy books with vivid characters I think you would enjoy this book.

Challenges Met?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

This Week in Reading - May 24

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:

Summer at the Shore by V.K. Sykes - I cannot resist a bed and breakfast book and this one was no exception! (NetGalley)

Mussled Out by Barbara Ross - I loved the 2nd one in this series so much that I immediately bought the 1st book (which of course I haven't read) so I was really excited to win this one in a giveaway hosted by Mark over at Carstairs Considers.  (Giveaway)

Trust No One by Jayne Ann Kretnz - I've been on the waitlist for this one at the library for what seems like forever so I was excited when I got the email saying my copy was available.  Now I just have to make sure I read it before I have to send it back.  (Library)


Reading:  Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons, The Dead Room by Heather Graham, Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts, and Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

Listening: Nothing.  It's been a crazy week and I haven't had much time to listen.  I don't expect to be listening to audio books much this summer.

Watching: My regular shows are wrapping up but J and I have been watching Deadliest Catch.  We started watching it during the 2nd season or so and I still love it.  I have no idea why it appeals to me since I don't like cold, I don't like fishing, I'm not really sold on boats and I'm not a huge fan of crab but I never miss an episode.

Off the Blog:

The Tornado letting his butterfly go at his PreK butterfly day

Emma with a couple of her friends after graduation.

So this week the Tornado became a Kindergartner in a Hungry Caterpillar themed day where they acted out the book, had caterpillar type snacks and then released butterflies that were part of their life cycle science project.  Then Emma graduated in a ridiculously long ceremony.  It was exciting but I expect to be more excited when she leaves for college in August.  Then Eleanor turned 20 and we all went out to dinner and she got a few little gifts including a Game of Thrones coloring book which I was pretty proud of myself for finding.  Paul finished up his junior year and has been enjoying being done with school.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Poppy Factory - Fiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Want in My Beach Bag
Wednesday: TBD
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday linkups with current book
Saturday: TBD but something food related.

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Medium Raw - Review

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Library (audio)

Description:  A look into the world of food from both insider and outsider Anthony Bourdain.  10 years after the success of Kitchen Confidential Bourdain is back with a different perspective and a very different life.  He touches on his personal life, his success, Food Network and a host of other chefs.

Genre: Memoir 

Why I Picked This Book: I got to like Bourdain while watching The Taste and was curious about this book.

My Impression:
Pro: My initial impression of Bourdain just off of TV appearances is that he's brash, loud mouth, crass and to be honest kind of an ass.  After listening to this book I don't think my initial impression was wrong but I think there's a lot more to be said for him.  He's also incredibly honest about everything around him including himself.  There are parts in this book where he comes off as smug or hypocritical but just as I'm beginning to think that he calls himself on it but with such a good humor it's likable.  I got a little teary-eyed in sections and the chapter on Alice Waters made me laugh until I cried.  He doesn't like Alice as well as a few other chefs but he's also able to point out their good points or at least the good they have achieved.  He's able to take a look at himself and why certain things bother him so much without coming off as full of self-pity or jealously.  This is an interesting look at Bourdain himself, the business he's built and the food world around him.

Con: There's not a real focus to this book and so some chapters can get a little long.  There's a chapter where he discusses heroes and villains that goes on too long and then he jumps to a chapter about his daughter.

Overall: Despite some ramblings I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Like gave my kitchen an unplanned deep clean so I could keep listening kind of enjoyment.  He definitely doesn't pull his punches or watch his language but he is as much a target as anyone else.  If you're all interested in the world of food or are intrigued by Bourdain himself this is not to be missed.  The audio is read by Bourdain and is very well done.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!  After reading this I'm curious about Kitchen Confidential which I never read.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes.  I think any foodie person would enjoy this.

Challenges Met? Library Challenge, Foodie Reads

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Linkups - Frenchman's Creek

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:
Why would you stop reading a book?  Too long, wrong genre, bad language, not what you expected, or something totally different?

My Answer:
None and all of the above.  While there aren't many books I've DNF'd lately when I do it's usually because of a build up of little irritants.  I'll be reading along getting more and more irritated and than something will happen and I'll think "Nope.  That's one too many." and that's the end of the book.  There have been a few where I've gotten to page 50 and thought "I do not care about these people, I do not care what's going to happen and really I have very little idea of what HAS happened." and that's the end of that book.

This week's book is actually my Reading Assignment book for May and one I'm very much looking forward to.  My first introduction to Daphne du Maurier was in the form of Rebecca and was probably when I was 11 or so when my Grandmother suggested it one summer when I was staying with her and looking for something to read.  While I read it and enjoyed it and went onto read it multiple times I never really read anything else by du Maurier until I discovered her novella The Birds not too long ago.  Since then I've been determined to read more of du Maurier's work and Frenchman's Creek is my first attempt.

The Beginning:
"When the East wind blows up Helford River the shining waves become troubled and disturbed and the little waves beat angrily upon the sandy shores."

My thoughts:
Not much indication about what's going to happen but it definitely sounds like the narrator is familiar with the moods of the river.

The 56:
"You are puzzled, aren't you," he said, laughing down at her, "because you expected to find me drunk here on the floor, surrounded by blood and knives and bottles and shrieking women."

My thoughts:
I've only read a couple of pages so I really have no idea what's going on here but she seems to have a really awful impression of him and he seems to be amused by it. I'm definitely intrigued!

So keep reading?  And what makes you decide not to finish a book?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Henrietta Who? - Review

Henrietta Who? by Catherine Aird

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Early one morning reserved but ordinary Grace Jenkins was found run down in the road in the quiet village of Larking.  Her daughter, Henrietta, returns home to identify the body and sort through her mother's possessions.  But it turns out that Grace had a lot of secrets and no one is sure who Henrietta really is.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I've been in a classic mystery phase lately and I've enjoyed the one previous book of Aird's that I had read.

My Impression:  Reading this book I kept thinking that if DI Sloan and his colleagues had had access to Google this book would've been 25 pages long tops.  However, lucky for us this book was published in 1968 long before everything was stuck in some kind of database or other, and we get about 160 pages of mystery upon mystery.   Who is Grace Jenkins?  Who is Henrietta?  And who is the man in the picture? There are so many questions and every answer seems to lead to 3 more questions.  I was worried that the ending would feel rushed or that the book itself would feel overstuffed since the actual page count was pretty short. Aird managed to perfectly balance all the details and while everything came together fast it didn't feel rushed. I thoroughly enjoyed my 2nd Catherine Aird book and am really looking forward to reading more and getting to know Detective Inspector Sloan a bit better.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  She's made my authors I want to binge read list.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you enjoy mysteries you really should give Catherine Aird a try.

Challenges Met?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Alice's Portrait - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway

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Welcome to the tour for Alice's Portrait by Juliette Harper! This is a sci-fantasy novel that is adult but clean and appropriate for young adult readers. 
Alice's Portrait by Juliette Harper
A year after Kate, Jenny, and Mandy Lockwood inherit The Rocking L, the sisters try to concentrate on their collective and individual futures. In the previous book in The Lockwood Legacy series, Baxter’s Draw, the women made startling discoveries about their father’s secrets, but are mistaken in their belief that everything has now come to light. In Alice’s Portrait, the ghosts of Langston Lockwood’s past once again confront his daughters, forcing them to re-evaluate their understanding of their father and of what it means to be a Lockwood.


My Review:

I can't really review this book without talking about the series as a whole because each book blends easily to the next and I couldn't stop reading!  My favorite of the 3 was the first - Langston's Daughters (which is free if you have a Kindle.  Go here and I'll be surprised if you're not going back to get Baxter's Draw.) but Alice's Portrait comes in a close second.  While unraveling all of Langston's secrets was page turning and incredibly entertaining what really made this book was the characters.  The three sisters are so different it would have been very easy to make them caricatures but instead Harper made them complex and multi-faceted.  I loved seeing Jenny and Kate's relationship and how they tried to protect Mandy who really was quite capable of taking care of herself.  We don't see too much of Mandy and Joe in this entry into the series but there was so much going on it worked.  Alice's Portrait like the other 2 is only about 150 pages so really all read can be read as a longish book.  I rated Alice's Portrait 4 stars, Baxter's Draw 3.5 stars, and Langston's Daughter 4.5 stars. I loved all of these characters and given the end of Alice's Portrait (which resolved all the current mysteries but made it possible for another to start) I'm hoping there will be a 4th book.  I don't want this to be my last visit with the Lockwood sisters!



Juliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson. Like the characters of their debut series, The Lockwood Legacy, Juliette is a merging of their creative energies. Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan from a long line of hardheaded Scots, knows the world of the Lockwoods like the back of her hand.“We decided to write under a pen name because neither one of us by ourselves could have created Kate, Jenny, Mandy, and their world,” says Pauletti. “Juliette is a little bit of us both. We want to be her when we grow up.”

“Patti teases me that I just don’t want to own up to writing a book with romance in it,” Williamson adds, “but that’s not true. I like the Lockwood women and the way they tackle everything life throws at them. And before we’re done, they’ll be ducking a lot. I imagine coming into the office every day and saying, ‘Okay Juliette, what’s going to happen now?’ She tells us, and we get it down on paper.”

AUTHOR ONLINE: Website | Goodreads | Twitter
The author will be giving away $100 Amazon Gift Card (INT) to the winner of the below Rafflecopter.  The giveaway ends May 20th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Things I've Learned from Cozy Mysteries

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is a freebie.  Since I've been reading a lot of cozy mysteries lately and watching a lot of Murder She Wrote (where each episode is essentially a cozy mystery) the trends that exist in the genre have been in my mind.  It is a genre that I absolutely love so I decided to have a little fun with the trends.  So the Top Ten Things I've Learned from Cozy Mysteries as Told Through Eyes of the Main Character:

1.  You will find a body in the vicinity of your store on an annual basis.

2. If you are the relative, friend, or significant other of a small business owner you will be a murderer, suspected of murder, framed for murder, or if you're really unlucky, actually murdered.

3.  The police in your town will either be:
a) incredibly incompetent and/or corrupt
b) a long time family friend
c) your husband or boyfriend and if you're really lucky will have an ex on the force who is out to get you.

4.  Beware of visitors.  They will either be victims or murderers within 48 hours of arrival.

5.  If you get in a public argument with someone and at any point say something that sounds even vaguely like a threat they only have about 12 hours left to live.

6.  Your store, diner, restaurant or home will be set on fire, broken into, or vandalized at least once a year.

7.  People who move to your town are up to no good.  They are either targeting another resident or hiding from someone who is out to get them.

8.  Every small town has at least one boutique, one bookstore, one diner, one antique shop and one gift type store.  Don't get to friendly with the other owners.  They're either about to die or going to kill someone.

9.  The mayor very rarely fills an entire term as he/she is either murdered or arrested for murder midway through.  Unless you're the mayor.  Then it will be the police chief.

10.  You will have a pet.  It could be a dog or a cat but it could also be a bird, a rabbit,or even a tortoise.  Your pet will have an attitude and you will discuss the case with it.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Just One Taste - Review

Just One Taste (Pine Mountain 4.5) by Kimberly Kincaid

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Jesse Oliver was a medic in Afghanistan but is finding peace as a sous chef at the Double Shot in Pine Mountain.  That is until a water pipe bursts in his apartment building sending him to the lake house of an old friend and right next door to that friend's sister.
Kat McMarrin values her personal space and is not thrilled about living in close quarters with her brother's old Army buddy.  But as they slowly get to know each other as the fix up the cabin maybe close quarters isn't such a bad thing.

Genre: Romance

Why I Picked This Book:  I had been kind of mad at myself for not getting the previous one in the series - Fire Me Up - so I couldn't resist this one.  Plus, not only is Jesse a sous chef but they're fixing up a house!

My Impression:  I loved this story and I absolutely adored Jesse.  Contemporary romance novellas normally don't really work for me - especially when it involves a new relationship - but this one was hit all the right notes.  For starters Jesse is on my top ten list of favorite romance heroes.  I love strong and silent and he is definitely both.  He listens to Kat and tries to understand her interests.  Plus, he remembers details for one really sweet gesture towards the end.  I loved that he talked about his own demons but it took him awhile and I loved that he wasn't over the top stubborn in realizing that everyone might be right.  The scene with him and Gabe towards the end was really nice.
Kat was an interesting character as well and had her own demons and insecurities.  I liked how direct she was and how honest with everyone.  I could understand her need for her own space, especially with her upbringing.  The glimpses we get of Double Shot and the people who work there were nice and definitely made me look forward to reading more books from this series.
With as much as I loved the storyline and the characters I was a little disappointed by the ending.  It was sweet but I wanted more which I suppose is one of the downsides of a novella.  I also found it a little difficult to believe that Kat's brother was unaware that Jesse and Kat lived in the same building since it's a small town that he also lives in but I could overlook that.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Jesse and Kat's story and if this is what Kincaid can do with a novella I can't wait to read one of her full length novels.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm looking forward to catching up on the Pine Mountain series and seeing where it goes.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you enjoy contemporary romance and haven't read any Kincaid this is a great one to try.

Challenges Met?  Foodies Read

Sunday, May 17, 2015

This Week in Reading - 5/17

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:

The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

The Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchey

Truth or Dare by Jayne Ann Krentz
I won the giveaway hosted by Rita over at View From My Home and these were the three I picked.  All three are authors I've really enjoyed and am wanting to read more from so I'm excited!

D.I.Y Cookbook from America's Test Kitchen - This cookbook is all about making condiments and pickled things and relishes and all that kind of thing.  I'm not sure if I'll be making prosciutto anytime soon but I'm hoping to tackle the jams chapter soon. (Purchased)

The Art of Sinning by Sabrina Jeffries - The latest from one of my favorite authors and the first in a new series.  (NetGalley)


Reading:  Alice's Portrait by Juliette Harper for a blog tour this week.  I read the first two in the series early this week and LOVED them!  The Body in the Birches by Katherine Hall Page and Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts.

Listening: I'm almost done with Bossypants and am not sure what I'm going to get next or if I'm going to get anything.  With summer coming up my audiobook time will probably take a hit.

Watching:  J and I discovered Happyish on Showtime a couple of weeks ago and are really enjoying it.  Other than that I'm recording a lot of movies like Holiday with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant and The Alphabet Murder and others in the classic realm but haven't actually watched any of them yet.

Off the Blog:

We have a busy week behind us and a busy one ahead.  The Tornado had his PreK program this past week which was adorable and Emma finished her senior finals and is officially done with high school.  Her graduation is coming up and while I'm looking forward to seeing her graduate I'm not looking forward to the ceremony as it will be looong.  Her class is around 600 kids so I plan on having my phone charged up so I can play on Pinterest or something,. Eleanor's birthday is also this week and it looks like she'll be able to come to town this week to celebrate.  Paul is really the only one without a big event but since school will be ending I think he's okay with that.

How am I just now discovering J. Crew Factory?  I love J. Crew's shorts but never wanted to pay J. Crew prices but then I stumbled on this website and am very happy.

Starting this week the Tornado will be out of school and I'm scrambling to figure out what we're going to do.  I don't want to entertain him the entire time as he needs to play on his own but I do want to do some fun things.  I'm thinking lots of hiking and scavenger hunts this year.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I'd Like to Meet
Wednesday: If Only - Fiction Review
Thursday: The Sussex Downs Murder - Classic Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups featuring Henrietta Who?
Saturday: Cookie Love - Cookbook Review

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Just One Taste - Contemporary Romance Review
Tuesday: Ten Things I've Learned From Cozy Mysteries
Wednesday: Alice's Portrait - Fiction Blog Tour Review
Thursday: Henrietta Who? - Classic Mystery Review
Friday: Friday Linkups featuring current book
Saturday: Get Your Bake On - Cookbook Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cookie Love - Cookbook Review

Cookie Love: More Than 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary by Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy

I've been in a baking book kind of mood lately and this book specializing in cookie and cookie techniques from James Beard nominee Mindy Segal was impossible to resist.  The book is well photographed and will make you want to immediately run out to your local bakery followed by a trip to the grocery store to stock up on whatever ingredients you're missing.  For the most part that wouldn't be too many.  I could make most of these recipes from my pantry though I was short on butterscotch chips and chocolate discs.  They also frequently call for both kosher salt and sea salt flakes and I ended up just using the sea salt flakes that I normally use for baking.

It took awhile to decide which cookies to start with.  There's "Any Which Way But You Will Never Lose" Snickerdoodles, Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (which used the chocolate discs - cue mouth watering), Ginger Sorghum Cookies, Peanut Butter Peanut Brittle Cookies, and 2 different variations of shortbread with different variations of each one, as well as countless others.  After much flipping back and forth I went with Brownie Krinkles - a little more interesting than the regular chocolate chip but not too exotic as to scare my rather wimpy family.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (I just used large because that's what I had)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (I used 2 teaspoons flakes and left out the kosher)
1/2 cup canola or sunflower oil (I used canola)
1 3/4 cup can sugar

For coating:
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted

In a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) barely simmering water in a pot melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula.  Keep warm.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the vanilla.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salts.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the oil and sugar on low speed for 1 minute.  Add the melted chocolate and mix to combine approximately 30 seconds.  (I don't have a stand mixer so just used a good sized mixing bowl and a spatula and had no problems)
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  On medium speed add the eggs and vanilla, one egg at a time, mixing briefly to incorporate before adding the next, approximately 5 seconds for each egg.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.  Mix on medium speed for 30 to to 30 seconds to make nearly homogeneous.  (Still just used bowl and spatula.  Worked beautifully).
Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until the dough comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds.  Do not overmix.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.  With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, at least 30 minutes or overnight. (I went with overnight)
Heat the oven to 350F and line a couple of half sheet pans with parchment paper.
Put the confectioner's sugar in a bowl, ensuring there is plenty of room in the bowl to roll the dough in the sugar.  Using 1 3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) ice cream scoop portion the dough into 12 mounds and roll into balls.  Coat the balls completely and generously with confectioners' sugar.  The dough should resemble snowballs.
Evenly space the balls on a prepared pan.  Add a generous pinch or two more of confectioners/ sugar to the tops.
Bake for 8 minutes.  Rotate the pan and bake for another 3 to 4 minutes (I didn't do this because I forgot).  The cookies will form crinkles and will be set in the middle.  Let the cookies cool on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes.  Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

I had high hopes for these after seeing the cookie dough itself.  It was glorious - glossy, smooth, and oh so chocolate-y and the cookies themselves did not disappoint.  They were brownie like in texture with just the right amount of gooey-ness.  They're on the soft side so may not be the best for packing and gift giving but for cookie trays they're pretty and just unique enough to be interesting.

Next up I'll be tacking the 2 different kinds of short breads!  If you love to bake this is a great resource with interesting but not too crazy spins on traditional.

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Linkups: Henrietta Who?

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:

If you see a book you like but see it is 400 or 500+ pages, will you still read it?

My Answer:

In theory, no.  Length has never been a deciding factor on whether I'll read a book or not.  However, since things have gotten a little out control over here in my TBR fort and I'm pretty sure NetGalley is trying to kill me I have noticed that I tend to avoid super long books. At least until I get things in better shape around here!

This week's book in Henrietta Who? by Catherine Aird.  Despite my love all things classic British mystery related Aird is a new author to me.  I only discovered her a few years ago and since then I've only read one of her books.  The good thing about this is there's now a good sized list of books for me to discover and if they're all as good as A Most Contagious Game and Henrietta Who? has been so far I'm in for a treat!

The Beginning:
"Harry Ford was a postman.  He was a postman of a vintage that is fast disappearing - that is to say he still did his delivery round on a bicycle."

My Thoughts:
I'm pretty sure this type of postman has completely disappeared by now.  This isn't the most compelling beginning but in another couple of paragraphs Harry is going to make quite a discovery!

The 56:
"He nodded. "Knowing you mother I should say a good reason," He hesitated. "She'd got all this worked out, hadn't she?"
"It rather looks like it.  I...I don't know what to think.""

My Thoughts:
I'm just a few pages away from this one so I have a pretty good idea what's going on.  If I was Henrietta I wouldn't know what to think either!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Sussex Downs Murder - Review

The Sussex Downs Murder John Bude with forward by Martin Edwards

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Two brothers, John and William Rother, live together at Chalklands Farm in the beautiful Sussex Downs.  Their peaceful rural life is shattered when John Rother disappears and his abandoned car is found.  Has he been kidnapped?  Or is his disappearance more sinister - connected, perhaps, to his growing rather too friendly with his brother's wife? (from

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: Once I saw that this was part of the British Library Crime Classics I couldn't resist.  Especially since this is an author that I was previously unfamiliar with.

My Impression:  John Bude is completely new to me so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started this.  While I do enjoy most classic mysteries if not handled correctly they can come off as dry and dated.  After reading the interesting forward by Martin Edwards which provided a short and entertaining biography of Bude I was predisposed to like the book and the contents did not let me down.  There's a certain lightness and matter of factness that make even what's a pretty grizzly murder not feel that way.  While the mystery might not have been as intricately plotted as what I have come to expect from Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and while I was able to guess the killer early on it was still fun to watch it unravel.  The characters were all likable (well those that are supposed to be) and I particularly enjoyed Bude's detective Superintendent Meredith who possessed an intelligent mind and a sense of humor.
The writing is a bit dated but for the most part I found it entertaining - especially in the careless way the dealt with evidence.  I did like that this mystery dealt with the details of the investigation versus the characters and the behind the scenes.  For the most part the reader views the crime and the developments through Meredith's eyes which was a little unusual.  This isn't an intense page turning read but instead more of a gentle stroll in another time with a murderer or two lurking about!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm thrilled to discover a new-to me author with a good sized backlist.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you enjoy classic British mysteries this is definitely worth the read.

Challenges Met?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

If Only - Review

If Only by Norma Budden

Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Author in exchange for an honest review

Description:  16 years ago, as a young and frightened high school student, Demi Glenn gave birth to a daughter and gave her up for adoption.  Now, Demi feels that she must find the daughter that she only saw for a brief moment all those years ago.  When 2 private detectives are unable to give her the answers she needs she turns to the only person left - her high school boyfriend and her daughter's biological father who never knew.

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I'm always intrigued by adoption stories.

My Impression:  I thought that this story was unique in the focus of the story.  Most adoption stories that I have read focus on the child who is trying to find his/her parents while If Only focuses on the the birth parents.  It was interesting and heartbreaking to see the effects of carrying this secret for so long on Demi and it was hard not to feel sorry for her as she felt that she was doing the right thing at the time.  It's also very easy to understand her "what might have been thoughts" .

But, while I understood her "what might have been" thoughts I did get frustrated with Demi as her visions seemed to be on the unrealistic side and never really seemed to realize the challenges for both her and David as well as their child if she had chosen to keep the baby and inform David.   While, the pacing was good throughout the book there was too much internal discussions for my taste.

While this book ended up not being quite for me the characters were developed and the pacing never dragged.  I enjoyed that this one focused more on the emotions than the investigation involved.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Probably, while this one didn't necessarily work for me I still found it very readable which is always a good sign!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you are interested in adoption stories I think you would be interested in this one.

Challenges Met?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I'd Like to Meet

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Authors I'd Love to Meet.  I had a hard time with this topic as I'm not crazy about the idea of meeting people no matter how much I love their books.  I'd have no idea of what to say!

1.  Agatha Christie - This would probably be awkward for both of us (and would require time travel) because from all reports she never knew what to say to fans but I would love to meet her and maybe get some insight into how some of her twistiest books came to be.

2.  Dorothy L. Sayers - I haven't read as much of Sayers' books as I have of Christie's but I feel like I got to know her a bit in The Golden Age of Murder and she came off as so much fun.  She was smart, sarcastic and adventurous with just enough issues to give her an edge.

3.  Jenny Lawson - Really I just want to go shopping with her to some random antique or junk store.  There's no telling what she'd fin and her observations are always hilarious.

4.  Barbara Michaels - Because this woman knows everything - vintage clothing, Egyptology, roses, history, and all kinds of other things.  I'd just love to listen to her talk!

5.  Jill Shalvis - Because her books are such entertaining she seems like she'd be lots of fun to grab coffee with.

6.  Daphne du Maurier - I have some questions I want answered about Rebecca!

7.  Lisa Kleypas - There are a few characters I want updates on.  Especially Sebastian and Evie and most of the couples in the Friday Harbor series.

8.  Mindy Kaling - I love her book and she just seems like so much fun.

9.  J. Maarten Troost - I love his travel stories and always find him entertaining.

10. Ernestine Gilbreth Carey - I want the real scoop on what it was like growing up in the Cheaper by the Dozen family and I always liked her.

Who would like to meet?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall - Review

Dewadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: Publisher

Description:  Honeychurch Hall and the town of Little Dippington are in an uproar as plans to run a new highspeed train through the town spell certain ruin.  When accident claims a local woman and a consultant for the train project goes mysteriously missing Kat is drawn in whether she wants to be or not.  Add in a shady uncle with a past to protect, a mother with more than her share of secrets and a house maid at Honeychurch who doesn't seem quite right and Kat's in over her head.

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and could not wait to continue with the series.

My Impression: Once we again we are back ta Honeychurch Hall and back with Kat through her many adventures.  Dennison writes with such a breezy wit that it's impossible not to be entertained and drawn into the stories.  I could picture Honeychurch and the Carriage House and Eric's junkyard.  The issue with the train and the devastation that it would cause in the village was very real and the villager's frustration seeped from the pages.  It was nice to get to know the villagers a bit better as the previous book had mostly focused on the residents of the Hall.

The main issue I had was all the connections to the previous book.  There were so many characters involved in the current mystery and then thrown in half from the first book and it could be difficult to keep all the whos and whys straight.  While I like watching Iris's past unravel it did get a little confusing.

Despite the flaw I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery.  It reminds me very much of a modern day Agatha Christie or Patricia Wentworth with engaging characters, bright and snappy banter, and a well paced and intricately plotted mystery.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  At this point the series is an autobuy for me.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, but this is a series best read in order.

Challenges Met?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

This Week in Reading - May 10

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:

Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor - When Jessica was 28 a brain aneurysm burst in her brain and caused her to reevaluate everything.  (NetGalley)

Flipped by Ines Saint - The blurb on this one reads like someone took a list of my favorite topics and put them in one book.  The setting is a history rich small town with storybook architecture. One of the main characters is a perfumer who wants to restore a beautiful but ramshackle old house.  She is forced to interact with the other main character who is a house flipper.  All we need is them to find a packet of letters or a diary hidden in the wall and maybe a ghost or two.  (NetGalley)

Murder at Beechwood by Alyssa Maxwell - A Gilded Age murder mystery that takes place in high society Newport, Rhode Island.  Yes please! (NetGalley)

The Forgotten by Heather Graham - Because apparently Heather Graham is trying to kill me.  I can never resist her books!

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak - This is actually not part of her Whiskey Creek series but sounds like it's a bit of a thriller involving old family secrets.  (NetGalley)

French Creek by Daphne du Maurier - This is for my Reading Assignment Challenge and ever since reading The Birds I've been wanting to read more of du Maurier's work.  (purchased)

How to Marry a Marquis and What Happens in London both by Julia Quinn - This is all Quinn over at Quinn's Book Nook's fault.  Her historical romance series made it impossible for me to resist picking these up again! (Purchased)


Reading: Henrietta Who? by Catherine Aird and Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts which is a reread but I couldn't resist.

Listening:  I finished the David Sedaris book and have just downloaded Bossy Pants by Tina Fey.  I have actually read the book but I have a feeling this one, like Amy Poehler's Yes Plese, will be better in audio form.  

Watching: I'm catching up on CSI: Cyber and hoping it won't be cancelled because I'm enjoying it.  I'm still watching Murder She Wrote and the guest stars on there are amazing!  Brian Cranston from Breaking Bad plays a tennis player at one point and Courtney Cox is one of Jessica's many many nieces.

Off the Blog:

Eleanor came home for a few days which was nice.  Her boyfriend had dinner with us one night so it was good to get to know him a bit.  We're basically on count down to Emma's graduation and the end of school for Paul and the Tornado.

I discovered these Sargento Balanced Breaks the other day at the grocery store and I'm loving them.  I have a sugar disorder and can get really shaky or even pass out if I don't stay balanced and these are perfect for that and pretty filling as well.  I've pretty much just started buying them in bulk.  I made these brown butter chocolate chip cookies from The Recipe Critic and they were amazing!  Probably one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes.  I was almost done when I discovered I didn't have the tablespoon of Greek yogurt the recipe called for so I substituted sour cream and it worked perfectly.

On the Blog:

What Happened:

Monday:Summer on Lover's Island - Contemporary Romance Review
Wednesday: Killing Weeds - Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Review + Giveaway
Thursday: The Corpse with the Sapphire Eyes - Cozy Mystery Blog Tour Review + Giveaway
Saturday: 400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites - Cookbook Review

What's Coming Up:

Monday Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall - Mystery Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I'd Love to Meet
Wednesday: If Only - Fiction Review
Thursday: TBD
Friday: Friday Linkups with current book
Saturday: Cookie Love - Cookbook Review

Have a great week and happy reading!

400 Calories of Less with Our Best Bites - Cookbook Review

400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites by Sara Wells and Kate Jones

When I first started looking around on food blogs Our Best Bites was one of the first ones I found and it quickly became one of my go to places for tasty and easy weeknight dinner inspiration and yummy desserts.  I thoroughly enjoyed their first cookbook and the Puffy French Toast recipe is borderline life changing.

Lately, they've started going a slightly new direction and I've got to say that I'm loving it!  While still focusing on family friendly everyday foods they've started including healthy and low calorie into the mix.  What I love is that the food is just naturally low calorie.  You're not substituting or using no-fat or hard to find ingredients.  The foods naturally rely on fresh flavors and herbs and spices versus trying to take a high calorie recipe and trimming it down.  Looking at the recipe you wouldn't think - "oh this is low calorie".   You'd just think this sounds tasty!

The recipes lean mostly towards the main dishes with a handful of dessert, breakfast and snack recipes.  The snacks are intriguing and I'm especially looking forward to trying the Oven-Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips and Roasted Garlic Chickpeas.  Both sound incredibly easy and perfect for packing.

When it came to testing a recipe I had a hard time deciding just what to try!  There's a Creamy Cajun Pasta, a Braised Italian Chicken, Crispy Parmesan Chicken Tenders, Banh Mi Tacos and Cheddar Bacon Burgers with Caramelized Onions.  Finally after much flipping and mouthwatering I settled on the Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Italian Roasted Vegetables.

The Pot Roast was very simple.  You take a 3 lb bottom round roast, season it with Steak Seasoning and seer on both sides.  Put it in the slow cooker, top with a sliced up onion, 10 crushed garlic cloves, onion soup mix, 2 cups vegetable both and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar.  Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours and ta-da your house smells fantastic and you have a tasty main course.  Next time I'll probably use a chuck roast instead of the bottom round as those tend to get more tender.  Other than that the flavor is amazing and everyone loved it!

Then while the roast was cooking in the slow cooker I chopped up some carrots and potatoes and sprinkled them with a little pepper and Italian seasoning and drizzled with olive oil.  After a quick bake in the oven I had a flavorful and delicious side dish.

While the roasted vegetables were delicious and oh so easy I think I would prefer mashed potatoes with the roast to help soak up the yummy broth.  Next time I'll probably just roast carrots and throw in some onion and save the potatoes for mashing.

The recipes are easy to follow, the ingredients are easy to find, and the results never disappoint.  If you're looking for quick and tasty weeknight dinners that even picky eaters will eat this is a great choice!

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