Wednesday, September 30, 2015

All I Want - Review

All I Want (An Animal Magnetism Novel) by Jill Shalvis

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Pilot for hire Zoe Stone is happy to call Sunshine, Idaho, her home base.  But her quiet life is thrown for a loop when her brother's friend Parker comes to stay with her for a week.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent is a handsome flirt with a gift for getting under her skin.  And the situation only escalates when Parker hires her to fly him around the area while he collects evidence on a suspected smuggler.
Now she has to live and work with the guy.  But when they're in the air, she sees another side of him.  He's driven, focused, and sharp.  And while he enjoys giving her commentary on her blind dates, she quickly realizes with a shock that it's Parker who gets her engines going. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance/Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book: I can never pass up a Jill Shalvis book and I loved Zoe in the previous book in this series and couldn't wait to see her in her own story.

My Impression: Oh how I love a Jill Shalvis book!  The characters are fantastic, the chemistry is insane, and there's humor that keeps it light even though there are some pretty serious topics addressed.  This one didn't disappoint and there's kittens!  And Oreo!  I've always loved Bernese Mountain dogs because they're so pretty but Oreo is just awesome.  There was so much I loved about the book.  Obviously the kittens and Oreo but Parker and Zoe just in general.  I loved how he fixed things in the middle of the night and then pretended he didn't.  I loved his interactions with his sister and I loved Zoe's dealings with her sister.  It took me a little while to love them as a couple though I pretty much immediately loved them as individuals.  They bicker a lot which works for them but took me personally a little bit to get used to.
During the last half the book heated up to blazing and it seemed like every page was a spicy scene and that got a little too much for me so I ended up flipping a bit.  I would've loved to see them work together a little more because they made such a great team.  The ending more than made up for any flaws and now I seriously want a kitten!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Of course!  I want Kel's book soon!

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes, though I think it'd be better to start with the previous book - Still the One which is about Zoe's younger sister Darcy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books to Read if You Like Ghost Stories

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is Top Ten Books to Read if You Like a particular book or author.  For mine I've chosen ghost stories because I couldn't come up with a specific book or author and with Halloween right around the corner my mind has turned to things that go bump in the night in a not so creepy way.

1.  The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde - There is nothing spooky about this delightful story by Oscar Wilde about the ghost of an English manor that is suddenly taken over by an American family who aren't scared of ghosts in the least.  It's a longish short story and is worth tracking down.  There is also a movie very loosely based on the book starring Charles Laughton as well as several TV movie adaptations (one stars Patrick Stewart as the ghost and I feel like I need to track that down).

2.  Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels - This one is considerably more creeptastic than the previous entry but in an indulgent way.  There's history, romance and detective work all rolled into one in this book about a Georgetown home haunted by a young woman, her Revolutionary War soldier fiance, and her loyalist father.  I really could have made a top ten list just of Barbara Michaels books.

3.  House on Blackberry Hill by Donna Alward - When Abby Foster inherits a crumbling family estate she uncovers family tragedy and a host of family secrets.  With the help of a ghostly inhabitant she begins to unravel the secrets as she restores the house.

4.  The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson - There's not one specific ghost in this eerie book by Shirley Jackson but it's definitely got a good creep factor.  If you haven't read it it's worth picking up either in print or audio.  While it gets billed as a horror book I think it's more subtle than that.  The 1963 movie is good and scary and will make you think twice about hanging a hand off the bed.  While the casting of the 1999 movie is spot on that's about the only good thing about it.

5.  Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas - This is probably my favorite contemporary from Lisa Kleypas and the ghost story element is both comical and poignant.  Read the first 2 books in the series to really enjoy this one but skip the 4th.

6.  Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman - The ghosts in this book (and the rest of the series) are permanent fixtures and are actually pretty helpful when they're not being annoying.

7.  Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts - The family ghost may have her own agenda in this Memphis, Tennessee based trilogy.  The ghost story runs throughout all three books - Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lily - and is fascinating.  Plus the characters and the stories are wonderful.  Just enough creep to have some atmosphere but likable enough characters to keep you from getting too jumpy.

8.  A Veiled Deception by Annette Blair - A cozy mystery series with a dash of romance, tons of vintage clothes, and ghosts are pretty hard to pass up!

9.  If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell - Another ghostly paranormal series and this one is one of my favorites.  It's hard to renovate a house if you keep running into ghosts who want you to solve their problems but somehow Melanie Turner makes it work!

10. Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper - So I've heard that this isn't the best Molly Harper but I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't remember why I haven't picked up anything else by her!  This is light and fluffy with a house that needs to be restored and a good crop of ghosts and Declan who I was mostly in love with by the end of the book.

Do you have any ghostly reads coming up this October?

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Liar - Review

The Liar by Nora Roberts (Amazon link)

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Library

Description:  Shelby Foxworth lost her husband.  Then she lost her illusions...
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt.  He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs.  The man she loved wasn't just dead.  He never really existed.
Shelby takes her three year old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor.  But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover.  Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows - and threatens Griff, as well.  And an attempted murder is only the beginning... (from Goodreads)

Genre: Romance - Contemporary

Why I Picked This Book:  It's a new Nora Roberts.  I can't resist!

My Impression: By my calculation I've been reading Nora Roberts for about 15 years.  Early on I binged on her books and with the exception of her early books which are just a bit too dated I loved them all.  Lately, I've felt a little more meh about them.  I've enjoyed them because a meh Nora Roberts is still a pretty good read (with the exception of her early books of course) but the ability to hook me and pull me into the story was definitely diminished.  That was not the case with this one.  From pretty much the first page the story grabbed me and pulled me in.  It was the kind of read that I was almost reluctant to pick back up because I knew it'd be next to impossible to put it down.

I loved Shelby.  I was a little worried because I know a Shelby pretty well and sometimes it can be hard to separate the book character from the person in real life.  However, Nora's Shelby was so well drawn and fully fleshed out that from the beginning she held her own.  She's an interesting character.  She's bent but not broken from a bad marriage and still recovering from having her world drop out from under her when her husband dies and she discovers that nothing was what it seemed.  The emotion behind her homecoming and reuniting with her family was so real it almost brought tears to my eyes.

One thing to keep in mind while reading this is that it's not just a romance.  Yes the relationship between Shelby and Griff is a major plotline but it isn't the only one.  To me this was the story of Shelby really discovering who she was and finding her home.  I loved all the side characters especially Emma Kate and Shelby's brothers.  I really wish this was a series because I'd love for Forest to get his own story.  Shelby's daughter Callie is a smidge too perfect but she's cute enough for that to be forgivable and I loved her and Griff together.

The mystery aspect of the story is interesting and I really enjoyed the hints and unraveling of it all.   While everything did kind of happen at the end it worked for me and I enjoyed the journey.  At 500 pages it does feel a little long but it was a super fast read.  I enjoyed this more than any Nora Roberts I've read in a really long time and I'm really looking forward to seeing what she's got next!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Oh definitely!  I've got several books of hers to catch up on and I'm looking forward to her new series.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Yes! If you like Nora Roberts and/or enjoy a homecoming 2nd chance type romance with a good dash of suspense I think you'd enjoy this one.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

This Week in Reading - September 27

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:

Remember how last week I was complaining that I had 2 requests pending on NetGalley that were taking forever?  Well they both came through this week and when I went to download them I noticed that the longest request had been in there 2 weeks and the other had been in for 8 days.  I think that tells you all you need to know about my patience!

Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes - I've read the 2 books in the Queen of Hearts series which I really enjoyed and I'm so intrigued by this take on Peter Pan.  It looks like it's designed to be more geared towards children so I'm very excited.  (NetGalley)

Death and the Brewmaster's Widow by Loretta Ross - I absolutely loved the first one in this series that came out at the beginning of the year so I'm really excited about this 2nd one.  It's a mystery series involving an auction house (which means old houses!) and a detective whose name is a Dorothy L. Sayers reference.  It's like my happy place of mysteries.  (NetGalley)


Reading:  Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain and A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd

Listening:  The Cat Who Blew the Whistle by Lillian Jackson Braun.  I used to read this series a long time ago and I remember why I stopped.  The mystery itself is enjoyable and I like the cats but there is so much extra information that I think if I had been reading this one it'd be a DNF.  As it is it's an okay listen but nothing to run out and get.

Watching: I've gone from nothing to everything!  I'm loving The Great British Baking Show and am having to restrain myself from ordering a bunch of cookbooks associated with it.  I'm also enjoying Dancing with the Stars and am fully team Alek Skarlatos though I pretty much like all of them.  Also, of course all the NCIS shows and am looking forward to the CSI finale tonight.  Oh and Doctor Who started!  I haven't watched the first but I'm so excited about it.  There's a few others too.  My reading is going to take a hit I think.

Off the Blog:

We seemed to have landed in the South's version of fall which means a day could be anywhere from 55 to 85 and sometimes both in one day.  I have no idea what to wear!  Luckily the Tornado doesn't get cold very easily so at least he's easy to dress in just his standard shorts and t-shirt with a jacket if it's really cold in the morning.

I've been cooking everyday but nothing particularly exciting.  I did pull out an old recipe for Oreo Truffles and we've been happily making ourselves ill on them.  I basically use this recipe but I only use 6 ounces of cream cheese instead of the full 8 because I find they hold their shape better.  I also use milk chocolate bark because I consider white chocolate an abomination that should not be mentioned.  I haven't tried the peppermint version she has listed but those might come out for Christmas and I might consider the white chocolate then.

I've been having the worst headaches since this summer and they're driving me crazy.  It's not really a headache because it starts in my neck but they're freakishly hard to get rid of.  I don't want to go to the doctor but I'm afraid I might have to.  When they show up they end up sapping all my energy which does not make me happy.  I think the root cause is a car accident I was in about 100 years ago (ok more like 15 but same thing) and at the time they gave me muscle relaxers but I'm hoping there's another way to handle them now.  Exercising regularly has helped some but they're still showing up at least once a week and just sap all my energy.  Has anyone had any problems in the neck area?  Any magic cures?  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: The Liar - Romantic Suspense Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday 
Wednesday: All I Want - Contemporary Romance Review
Thursday: The Forgotten - Romantic Suspense Review and is there a better way to start October than with zombies?
Friday: Usual linkups plus current book
Saturday: Sheet Pan Suppers Review with Recipe

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The School of Essential Ingredients and The Lost Art of Mixing - Review

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Rating:4 Stars
Source: Library - audio format

Description:  The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class.  It soon becomes clear, however that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen.  Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer.  Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives.  One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian's food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a pepper heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another.  Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen. (from Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction

Why I Picked This Book: I love foodie books and anything that mentions a cooking school normally grabs me pretty quickly!

My Impression:
Pro:  The characters in this book were really delightful.  They were all interesting people who were easy to relate to.  Bauermeister did a good job of focusing on one character at at time to really allow for development but still letting the story flow naturally.  I really loved everyone in this book though I especially enjoyed Claire and Chloe's stoires. The narration was done by Cassandra Campbell was perfect with the flow of the book.

Con:  It did seem a bit unrealistic that almost every character had some kind of huge emotional connection with food and can speak/think about it very poetically.

Overall: This is a warm book full of delicious sounding food and interesting people.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it to the point where I was coming up with extra cleaning projects to keep listening!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely!

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes!  Particularly in audio form

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister Rating: 2 Stars
Source: Library - audio format

Description:  Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together.  There's Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn't learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al's wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp.  And there's Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn't expect...
Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given.  A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind - and links that break - The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.  (form Goodreads)

Genre: Fiction
Why I Picked This Book:   I enjoyed The School of Essential Ingredients so I was thrilled when I saw that this book featured a number of characters from that book. 

My Impression:
Pro:  It was really nice to revisit Chloe, Isabel, Tom and Lillian.  I particularly enjoyed seeing Chloe again.  Cassandra Campbell once again did a fantastic job with the narration.

The characters weren't as likable and with this kind of book that was crucial to my enjoyment.  While I liked Chloe, Finnegan and Isabel and their story I didn't love Lillian and Tom's story.  While I could sympathize with Abby she got on my nerves especially as there was no development with her.  Al's story was interesting at first but I really didn't like how open ended it was and his general apathy towards the events that unfolded in his life.  The ending was open ended which I was fine with in The School for Essential Ingredients but with this book it left me feeling like I had somehow missed the last chapter.

Overall: This was okay.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, but mostly on the strength of The School of Essential Ingredients

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Not really.  It was okay but I didn't think it captured the magic of the first book.

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Linkups: Death in the Clouds

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 Question:
Do you belong to Shelfari, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and other similar sites?  If so, can you list all the book sites you belong to so others can take a look at them?

My Answer:
I belong to GoodreadsLibraryThing, and Paperbackswap.  All are linked to my profiles and I love getting new friends - especially on Goodreads.  I'm probably the most active on Goodreads though I do get quite a lot of books from Paperbackswap.  Recently I was getting more books than I was sending out so I put my account on hold until I can get some books read but I should be back up in mid-October.  I love the format of LibraryThing but haven't used it too much.  I'm hoping to make better use of it at some point though.

Agatha Christie is the master of the locked room mystery and the master of coming up with twists on that classic mystery plot.  In And Then There Were None that locked room becomes an island and in Death in the Clouds the locked room is an airplane.

The Beginning:
The September sun beat down hotly on Le Bourget aerodrome as the passengers crossed the ground and climbed into the air liner "Prometheus," due to depart for Croydon in a few minutes' time.

My Thoughts:
As usual Agatha goes for setting the scene with the first line instead of grabbing you and running.  I do love the image of passengers just wandering around and climbing into the plane versus going through 95 security checks.  Definitely a different time!

The 56:
"We'll have to get down to this blackmailing business.  Everyone on that plane denies knowing Madame Giselle.  One of them is lying."

My Thoughts:
No one does blackmail better than Agatha!  This is my very favorite kind of Agatha plot.  Lots of suspects, no motives, and lots and lots of threads to unravel!

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Bedtime Book Tag

I was tagged for The Bedtime Book Tag by the awesome La La over at La La in the Library and I stole her graphic because it was adorable.  The Bedtime Book Tag appealed to me because I'm primarily a night time reader and am usually up way past my bedtime trying to squeeze in one more chapter!

1. A Book That Kept Me Up All Night
There are so many possibilities for this one but the one that came to mind is The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig.  I just had to find out what was going to happen.

2.  A Book That Made Me Scared To Sleep
I'd heard of Hitchcock's version of this story though I'd never seen it.  I'd always thought it sounded a little silly.  I mean how can birds be scary.  Than I read Daphne du Maurier's The Birds & Other Stories and changed my mind.  Birds are terrifying.  I've never felt quite comfortable seeing a whole bunch of birds together since.

3.  A Book That Made Me Go To Sleep
Browsings by Michael Dirda was like a nice cup of chamomile tea in book form.  Very soothing and relaxing.

4.  A Book That Left Me Tossing and Turning The Night Before In Anticipation Of It's Release
I'm weird about this one.  I don't really keep up with book release dates because for so long I've gotten all my books used.  I've gotten a bit better about it now but now I have enough review books that I haven't added to many to that stack.  I do remember counting down the days to the release of the 4th Bridgerton book!  Romancing Mister Bridgerton didn't disappoint!

5.  Books That Have My Dream Ship Between Two Different Stories
I think it would be fantastic to take Christie's A Caribbean Mystery, which is already pretty great in that it takes the quintessential English spinster Miss Jane Marple and plops her down into an exotic location, and throw in Patricia Wentworth's incredibly competent and governess-y Miss Silver.  Granted, the book would have to be turned into a short story because those two would make short work of any murderer!

6.  A Book That Would Be My Worst Nightmare To Live In
Pretty much any dystopian.  I'm not a fan of the whole zombie apocalypse end of the world thing.  I've gone without electricity for an extended period of time thanks to some tornado outbreaks a few years ago and decided then that any world that doesn't involve a hot water heater is not a place for me!  Since I don't read too many dystopian I'm going with The Hunger Games which I have read.

7.  A Book That Reminds Me Of Nighttime
Witch by Barbara Michaels.  Between the creepy mystery, the closeness of the woods, the closed minds of the townspeople and the evil lurking in someone's heart this is all kinds of darkness.  It's one of my favorite Michaels books but I haven't read it in awhile.  I think I need to dig this one up for an October read!

8.  A Book That Had A Nightmarish Cliffhanger
I wouldn't necessarily say that Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes has a nightmarish cliffhanger but it does end on a serious cliffhanger and there's no publishing date listed for the sequel which is pretty nightmarish in my world!  I hate cliffhangers to the point that will try to have the entire series before I start reading the first book just in case and I don't watch the season finale of shows I really like until the season premiere comes on.  It might be a sickness.

9.  A Book I Actually Dreamed About
I don't know if I've ever really had a dream with characters from books.  One time I had a dream that was an entire episode of Law and Order complete with full cast, cut screens, and that fabulous duh-duh sound that occurs every time a scene change.  But for the most part my dreams are jumbled and tend to disappear pretty much as soon as I wake up.  So I'm picking He's So Fine by Jill Shalvis because if I could pick a book to dream myself into it'd be this one.  Really any Lucky Harbor book would work but I loved Olivia and Cole.

10. A Book Monster I Would Not Want to Find Under My Bed
While the killer in this book is technically a human I've always found human monsters the most terrifying.  This book was really the first book that scared me to the point of double checking the locks and jumping at every sound.  I enjoyed the first few of the Kay Scarpetta mysteries but Post-Mortem's monster scared me the most.

I'm going to take the easy way out on the tagging and tag everyone.  This is a fun tag and I had a good time figuring out which books fit which category.  The downside is that now I want to reread about half of them!  I hope to see lots of answers to this one!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Browsings - Bookish Nonfiction Reivew

Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living With Books by Michael Dirda

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Edelweiss

Description:  Michael Dirda has been hailed as "the best read person in America" (The Paris Review) and "the best book critic in America" (The New York Observer).  In addition to the Pulitzer Prize he was awarded his reviews in The Washington Post, he picked up an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America for his most recent book, On Conan Doyle.  Dirda's latest volume collects fifty of his witty and wide-ranging reflections on literary journalism, book collecting, and the writers he loves.  Reaching from the classics to the post-moderns, his allusions dance from Samuel Johnson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and M.F.K. Fisher to Marilynne Robinson, Hunter S. Thompson, and David Foster Wallace.  Dirda's topics are equally diverse: literary pets, the lost art of cursive writing, book inscriptions, the pleasures of science conventions, author photographs, novelists in old age, Oberlin College, a year in Marseille, writer's block, and much more, not to overlook a few rants about Washington life and American culture.  As admirers of his earlier books will expect, there are annotated lists galore - of perfect book titles, great adventure novels, favorite words, essential books about books, and beloved children's classics, as well as a revealing peek at the titles Michael keeps on his own nightstand.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book:  It's a book about books and did you see the cover?  I'm not strong enough to resist that!

My Impression:  I've always had a massive sweet tooth and when I was a little girl my grandmother used to give me a Whitman's Sampler every year for holidays and I always loved them.  I loved the variety and the tiny little chocolates meant to be savored.  When I got a little older my parents would get me a small box of Godiva chocolates as one of my gifts for Christmas and birthdays.  I used to set on my bed with my pretty gold box and read the insert explaining which chocolate was which. After much debating and looking I would select one piece and nibble at it, savoring it until it was gone.
This book is the literary version of those chocolate boxes.  At the very beginning Dirda recommends that you read it in small doses which is precisely what I did and he was very right.  The chapters are short and cover a variety of topics all linked somehow to books and tend to ramble a little.  I think if I had tried to read 50 to 100 pages in a stretch it would've felt a little overly random but read little by little each chapter reads like a nice little treat at the end of the day.  The metaphorical chocolate caramel carefully selected from the pretty chocolate box.

The blurb pretty well sums up the variety of topics covered in this book.  Despite the accolades and awards Michael Dirda is a new name for me and I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  While in theory I love books about books there are times when they can be on the smug side where the author throws out obscure names and titles to prove how well read he or she is. While Dirda is most certainly better read than I am but I could easily relate to how he felt about books and all the other fun stuff associated with bookishness.  Each chapter was a delightful rambling little treat with which to end the day and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes, definitely!  He references another one of his books a few times called Classics for Pleasure that I would love to read.

Would I Recommend this Book?: If you enjoy books about books this is a must read.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is the Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR.  This is done 4 times a year and I look forward to it with each season chance.  I very rarely get even half of the books on this list read but it's always fun to dream!

1.  Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts - I was actually just about to start this one when I came across her newest book (The Liar - review next week) at the library and couldn't resist.  I love the intro on this one and am definitely planning on getting to this one soon.

2.  The Wanderer by Robyn Carr - I've been dying to try a book from Robyn Carr and I'm finally going to stop wishing and start on this one though it may end up waiting until after Halloween.

3.  Dead Bolt by Juliet Blackwell - I absolutely loved the first book in this series of a contractor who just happens to see ghosts and completely loved a novella that Blackwell wrote that I read last year that combined this series and another series involving a witch who owns a vintage clothing store.  I think a ghostly murder mystery sounds like perfect October reading!

4.  Trick or Deceit by Shelley Freydont - I read a book from her a few months ago and really enjoyed it.  This is another Halloween-y mystery.  I love the idea of a mystery series that focuses on holiday celebrations.

5.  Polish Your Poise With Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott - I enjoyed her previous book - At Home With Madame Chic last year.  The advice wasn't earthshaking  but it was an interesting read and got me thinking which is always a bookish win.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what direction this book goes.

6.  Pretending to Dance by Dianne Chamberlain - This is an author I just heard about within the last year or so but she quickly made it onto my read now list.  I'm excited about this one and I absolutely love the cover.

7.  Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal - I love the 40s, I love all things British and the covers on this series has been catching my eye since it first started.  I'm hoping all be able to dive right into Maggie Hope's world easily even though I haven't read the earlier books.

8.  Candy Corn Murder by Leslie Meier - This series has been around for ages and while the cutesy covers and pun-tastic titles have always caught my eye I've yet to read one.  This is another Halloween mystery I'm looking forward to tacking in October.

9.  No One Needs to Know by Kevin O'Brien - This is an author I've been hearing raves about and another one I'm adding to my October reading list where I'm hoping to tackle some creepier books.  This one definitely sounds chilling enough!

10. Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub - I don't know if you can tell but I've got kind of a mystery theme going this fall!  Last year I read a lot of Christmas books but not much on the Halloween side so this year I'm hoping to balance it a little more.

What's on your Fall TBR?  Are you doing any seasonal reading?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Come Hell or Highball - Review

Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Description:  In this Prohibition-era caper, society matron Lola Woodby agrees to recover a stolen film reel for its rightful owner, but before seh can retrieve it, the man in possession of the reel is killed.
30 year old society matron Lola Woodby has survived her loveless marriage with an unholy mixture of highballs, detective novels, and chocolate layer cake, until her husband dies suddenly, leaving her his fortune...or so Lola thought.  As it turns out, all she inherits from Alfie is a big pile of debt.  Pretty soon, Lola, and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta, are reduced to hiding out in the secret love nest Alfie kept in New York City.  But when rent comes due, Lola and Berta have no choice but to accept an offer made by one of Alfie's girls-on-the-side at his funeral: in exchange for a handsome sum of money, the girl wants Lola to retrieve a mysterious reel of film for her. It sounds like an easy enough way to earn the rent money.  But Lola and Berta realize they're in way over their heads when, before they can retrieve it, the man currently in possession of the film reel is murdered and the reel disappears.  On a quest to retrieve the reel and solve the murder before the killer comes after them next, Lola and Berta find themselves navigating one wacky situation after another in high style and low company.
Charming, witty, often laugh-out-loud funny, Maia Chance's Come Hell or Highball introduces a sparkling new voice in crime fiction.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book:  I can't resist a 20s setting and this is an author I've been wanting to try.

My Impression: I've read a pretty decent number of historical mysteries but very few historical COZY mysteries which this most definitely in.  Think the setting and wardrobe of Phyrnne Fisher meets the zaniness and hi-jinks of I Love Lucy with a dash of murder and some showgirls.
The mystery is fun and interesting but more than that I loved the setting and the characters. I loved how very 20s the setting was.  It's definitely not just window dressing.  The clothes, the cars, the slang, and just general way of life ring true and really added to my enjoyment.  I liked that while Lola is clearly over her head she's not an idiot and is determined to not make something (anything but moving back in with her parents!) work.  Berta is the voice of reason and the source of cinnamon rolls and adds a bit of levity and common sense to the whole book.
This is on the cutesy side of the cozy spectrum as comedic mysteries frequently are but the 20s time period kept it from being over the top cutesy and kept it in the fun realm.  The mystery itself is interesting and I liked the way that Lola got involved.  Plus I'd dearly love Berta to make me a cinnamon roll or maybe some snickerdoodles!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I look forward to seeing where this series goes and I've had the Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery series on my TBR for awhile.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes, if you enjoy a mystery and like a 1920s setting this is definitely one to try out.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

This Week in Reading - September 20

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:

It's been another slow week around here book-wise!  I haven't made any new NetGalley requests though I have 2 still pending.  Why do some requests take soooo long?  I managed to escape the library without picking up any new books for me and I'm actually starting to feel like I'm making some progress with my review books.

So what to do as a reward?  Buy a book!  Makes total sense right?  I've been wanting to try the Celebration Bay series by Shelley Freydont since I saw the first review on the series and I've been wanting to read more Halloween-y type books for the month of October.  Factor those in with the fact Amazon had Trick or Deceit for $4 and I couldn't resist!  I'm excited to try this one especially since I read the first book in her new historical mystery series and really enjoyed it.


Reading: The Liar by Nora Roberts (loving it!) and All I Want by Jill Shalvis

Listening:  I'm almost done with The Weed That Strings a Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley which is the 2nd Flavia de Luce.  I'm trying to decide what to listen to next.

Watching: I'm still finishing up last season's series finale.  All I've got left is NCIS and Elementary.  

Off the Blog:

A few weeks ago I mentioned I was baking a Banana Cake with Hot Fudge frosting and said I would report back.  I'm just now getting around to that and I'm pleased to say it was delicious!  The cake has a very banana bread flavor but is lighter than banana bread and the hot fudge was really great with it.  I did leave out a little more than a cup of the powdered sugar which made the frosting more like a glaze but since it's in a 9x13 it worked out.  I think with the full amount of sugar it would've been way too sweet for me.  It was a fun change from the standard birthday cake and didn't last long!

Emma got a job with the athletic department at her University which is turning out interesting.  She basically makes sure athletes go to class.  The funny thing is that because it's through the athletic department itself she had to sign all this stuff saying she wouldn't date an athlete or give them any gifts.  Paul also has a new job after working for over a year at McDonalds.  He's still in food service but now at more of a deli that has the most insanely good avocado garlic spread and I'm not even a particularly huge avocado fan!  He's enjoying it much more and no longer smells like french fries which is definitely a plus.

The Tornado is enjoying kindergarten and is has his first field trip coming up to a big local farm and pumpkin patch.  We decided to keep him in the private school where he went to preschool and I'm really glad we did.  The public school he'll be in next year is excellent but I'm glad he's not gone for quite as long during the day for now.  

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: Come Hell or Highball - Cozy Mystery set in the 1920s
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR
Wednesday: Browsings - Bookish Nonfiction
Thursday: The Bedtime Book Tag
Friday: Linkups with Current Book
Saturday: Something Foodie

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Top Ten Favorite Pinterest Recipes

I have lots of cookbooks and I love them.  One of my favorite thing to do is watching a TV show I enjoy while flipping through a new cookbook and tagging the recipes that interest me.  However, when it really comes down to it Pinterest is my go to source for recipes.  I have lots of other boards - bookish stuff, home projects, cleaning methods, crafting, and holidays - but I mostly use it for the food.  However, with thousands of pins and more being added everyday it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume and not really use them.  I'm trying to work my way through the recipes so I can delete the recipes that don't work for me.

Today I'm going to combine 2 of my favorite things - Pinterest and Top Ten Lists - and make a top ten list of my favorite Pinterest recipes.

1.  Blue Moon Orange Chicken from Iowa Girl Eats - This recipe shouldn't work for my family.  My husband is not a fan of beer or fruit in a dish but it's amazing!  It's also quick and simple.  The shallots can be replaced with an onion if need be and I've used orange juice when I didn't have actual oranges.  This can be a light summer dish but I adore it with mashed potatoes so I can put a little of the sauce over the potatoes.

2. Butter Chicken from Cookies and Cups - This isn't the tasty Indian Butter Chicken but instead it's an incredible way to make breaded chicken cutlets.  She refers to them as chicken candy at some point in the post and she's not far wrong.  Even the Tornado who is against meat of all kinds eats this one.

3.  Balsamic Grilled Pork Chops from Six Sisters Stuff - I ended up only marinating this for 2 hours and it was still really good.  I also cooked it in a large saucepan instead of a grill.  Seriously amazing.  The marinade smells ridiculously good.  Like give me a straw and I'll just drink this kind of good.

4.  Slow Cooker Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin from Six Sisters Stuff - Balsamic is one of those magic words that will make me try a recipe every time.  This is another good one and a great one to serve with mashed potatoes.

5.   BBQ Pot Roast over Cheddar Ranch Grits from Plain Chicken - Despite being born in the South grits are one of the many classic Southern dishes that I'm just not a huge fan of (cornbread is another) but this is really good.  I love the combination of the barbecue with the cheesiness of the grits.  Don't be afraid to add more water to the grits if the texture gets too thick.

6.  Gouda Bacon Macaroni and Cheese by Shugary Sweets - This is so good.  Like so good it doesn't need bacon good.  I've served it as a side dish and as a meal.  You can make it way ahead of time and it reheats beautifully.

7.  Easy Homemade Flour Tortillas from Mom on Timeout - I make these all the time and they're so tasty!  I'm not a big corn tortilla lover but am quite the fan of the flour tortillas.  Plus I love that this is all made from pantry staples so it's easy to throw together.  I don't always let the dough rest the full time.  Sometimes it's just not that kind of day!

8.  Individual Garlic Bread Braids from Foodie with Family - These are impressive looking rolls that aren't nearly as difficult as they look.  I do have to reteach myself to braid every time I make them but then I've never been that great at braiding anyway.  Mine always end up a little bigger so I end up cutting the loaves in half but they're still pretty!

9.  Andes Mint Grinch Cookies from Six Sisters Stuff - These are some of my favorite holiday cookies.  They're cool and minty without being too aggressive. It's basically a more buttery Andes mint.  I make them around St Patrick's Day and call them Leprechaun cookies or I make them and leave out the food coloring and just call them Andes Mint Cookies.  Regardless, of what you call them they're super good.

10. Soft Batch Style Chocolate Chip Cookies from Picky Palate - The cookies are everything chocolate chip cookies should be (unless you like those thin crispy ones in which case these aren't for you).  They texture and flavor is awesome.  I microwave the butter until about half melted so I don't have to pull out my mixer.

This is my Top Ten Favorite Pinterest recipes for now though I could probably easily do a top 100!  Where do you get most of your recipes?  Are there any food blogs I simply must check out?

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Linkups: The Liar

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 Blogger Hop Question:
Where do you keep your passwords for all your different sites?

My Answer:
I'm a bit all over the place.  For some sites I keep the passwords remembered on my computer (and am seriously in trouble if my computer "forgets"), there's one password for the organization the kids play soccer through that I keep on my phone because the website is insanely complicated as is the password, and then I have a few sensitive passwords written down but unlabeled scattered about.

This week I'm reading another Nora Roberts.  I had an old Nora Roberts that had been on my TBR stack for far too long last week that I had just started last week.  However, when I went to the library Friday afternoon her newest book was there and I just couldn't resist picking it up.  So I put down Whiskey Beach and set it aside for another time and am now just about to start The Liar.

The Beginning:
In the big house - and Shelby would always think of it as the big house - she sat in her husband's big leather chair at his big, important desk.

My Thoughts:
Her husband doesn't come off as particularly nice here.  I get the impression he's kind of distant and full of himself.

The 56:
And the sign for Mountain Spring Campground, where her brother Forrest had worked one long ago summer, and where he'd gone skinny dipping - and a little more - with Emma Kate Addison, a fact Shelby knew as Emma Kate had been her closest friend, diapers through high school.

My Thoughts:
It sounds like she's coming home and is feeling a bit nostalgic.  I really don't know too much about what this one is about so I'm curious to read it and see what exactly is going on.

So what do you think?  Keep reading?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Beyond the Books: My Favorite Food

Today I'm participating in one of my favorite memes -Beyond the Books hosted by KissinBlueKaren - where we answer non-book related questions and get a peek beyond the books.  This week's topic is My Favorite Food

It's hard to think of just one!  For years the answer would've been a simple Creme Brulee and before that cheesecake but while I still love sweets I'm not sure they're really my favorite anymore.  Then there's the whole thing that what I order in a restaurant doesn't reflect what I eat at home.  I like to go a bit unusual when we're out to eat and order something I can't make or that my family wouldn't eat.  Butternut squash, Gorgonzola, and horseradish (though not with the first two) are normally the magic words to get me to order something.

However, in terms of food I crave more than any other and food I make at home it's probably the cheeseburger in it's many many forms.  Some of my favorites are - the Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger from Cookies and CupsSliders with Chipotle MayonnaiseKung Pao Chicken Burgers (minus the peanuts) from Iowa Girl EatsCopy Cat Steak-n-Shake Frisco Melts from Jam HandsClubhouse Turkey Burgers (I use chicken) from Iowa Girl Eats, and tons of others.

I'm a follower of Bobby Flay's rules for burgers.  I used 80/20 Ground chuck formed into a nice sized patty with a good dent in the middle to keep from shrinking.  Then I heavily salt and pepper the outsides.  Then it's a hot skillet over medium hot heat and as little handling of the burger as possible so that nice crust can form.
If you're a cheeseburger lover his Burgers, Fries and Shakes book is a must have.  It's mostly the same burger with different sauces and toppings and everything I've made from the book is amazing.  Like I'd rather have a burger at home than in a restaurant amazing.  It took me awhile to decide what recipe I was going to share but this one seems to be the family favorite.

The Garlic Butter Burger:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 cloves garlic
1/2 small shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80/20)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
4 hamburger buns, split

Combine the butter, garlic, shallot and parsley in a food processor and process until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste.  (I microwave the butter until it's really softened but not liquid and combine in the seasonings with a fork).  Scrape into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.  The butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  Bring to room temperature before using.
Divide the meat into 4 equal patties (I tend to do 6).  Form each portion loosely into a 3/4 inch thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Brush the buns with about 4 tablespoons of the butter, using roughly 1/2 tablespoon for each half.
Cook the burgers, using the oil and brushing them every 30 seconds with the remaining garlic butter.  *Add oil saute pan and heat over high heat until oil begins to shimmer.  Cook the burgers until golden brown approximately 4 minutes per side.  To add cheese top each burger with slice of cheese and cover when there's about 1 minute left in cooking time*
Meanwhile, toast the buns.  Place the burgers on the bun bottoms, cover with the bun tops and serve immediately.

I've added cheddar cheese and it's been pretty tasty but cheeseless is pretty good too.

What's your favorite food?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Peril By Ponytail - Review

Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: Kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

Description:  Hoping for a romantic honeymoon at an Arizona dude ranch.  Marla and Dalton arrive to find a series of mishaps plaguing the resort.  A nearby ghost town is suffering similar problems.  Is it a coincidence that Dalton's Uncle Raymond owns both properties? When the patriarch asks for their help in finding the culprit.  Marla and Dalton eagerly accept.  News of a local forest ranger's death raises the stakes, especially when they learn the man was Raymond's friend.
Since sleuthing comes more naturally to Marla than horseback riding, she throws herself into the investigations with her usual zest.  But as she digs deeper, she discovers skeletons in the family closet.  Someone means to drive Raymond out of business, and the reason may be linked to his past misdeeds.  But Raymond isn't the only one with secrets.  The trail leads Marla from an environmental activist group to saguaro poachers to water rights proponents to an old copper mine beneath the ghost town.  She'd better saddle up, rein in the clues, and find the killer before she becomes the next spirit inhabiting the haunted hillside.(from Goodreads)

Genre: Mystery

Why I Picked This Book: I love a good cozy mystery and this one involves a ghost town!

My Impression: This was my first mystery in the Bad Hair Day series and while the series is quite established I had no problem jumping right in.  The mystery starts as Marla and Dalton are just arriving in Arizona and the hunt for the saboteur is immediately on.  The history of the region and the mining operations was interesting but not overpowering.  The mystery itself was intriguing and I liked how Marla and Dalton really worked together and talked out their theories.
There are several mysteries happening at once but it never felt like it was muddled together or that one was less interesting.  I really wanted to find out why Raymond and his sister were estranged, what caused the feud between Raymond and Hugh Donovan, who is sabotaging the ranch and ghost town, and who killed the ranger.  The conclusion did not disappoint and I'm pleased to report that there were no TSTL moments!  Marla and Dalton did get into some risky situations but Dalton was involved with the police and they took adequate precautions.  Marla was a bit on the nosy side as frequently happens with amateur detectives but she was enough of a part of the legitimate investigation that it worked.  It was obvious that Cohen had researched the area as the setting really rang true.  This really felt like it was taking place in Arizona mining country and I especially enjoyed Marla and Dalton's trip to The Poison Pen Bookstore.
I would have liked more time spent in the ghost town but that's just because I'm fascinated with the whole concept.  This is on the cozier side of the cozy genre so if you're not a big cozy fan this may not be for you.  However, if you enjoy a good mystery in an interesting setting this is definitely worth reading.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: I would.  I'm looking forward to seeing how Marla and Dalton work when they're at home.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you like cozy mysteries and/or enjoy a Western setting this is a fun read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Signs You're the Main Character in a Historical Romance

Today's topic for Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is a Freebie.  Awhile back I did a list on the Top Ten Things I've Learned From Cozy Mysteries and had such a good time with it that I decided to tackle another favorite genre - the historical romance.  So this week's topic is Top Ten Signs You're the Main Character in a Historical Romance.

1.  You have 2 or 3 friends/sisters that are of a similar financial/social positions but have very different personalities.  If all of you have different hair colors that's even better.  It's best if you can give your group a nickname.

2.  Your family is one season away from total financial ruin and you marrying well is the only hope of salvation.  Or your family is very wealthy and you're a target for fortune hunters.  There is no in between.

3.  You have a physical trait that you are quite sure makes you a freak show - you're too tall, your eyes are too big, your hair is too wild and/or curly, or you're (heaven forbid) too curvy.

4.  You have no patience for small talk and could care less about balls but are forced to go for some reason - usually either a marriage crazed mother or the fact that the financial security of your entire family hinges on you making a good marriage.

5.  You have an unusual hobby - astronomy, geology, geography, linguistics, botany, or something else completely unacceptable for a young lady.

6. Despite receiving (and at times delivering) lectures on how important your reputation is and how vital it is to never ever be caught in a compromising situation with a man it never occurs to you that slipping off into the garden/library/conservatory/alcove to make out (or more) is not a good idea.

7.  You've suddenly started spending lots of time with a tall broad-shouldered man who eschews the typical colorful fashions and wears muted colors or just black and white.  Especially if he's been out of the country for secret reasons and has previously avoided social gatherings like the plague.

8.  Your aloof older brother's handsome and charismatic friend who you've always kind of had a crush on comes into town for an
extended visit.  Conversely, if your friend who has always had a crush on your older brother suddenly starts spending lots of time with said brother it's not your book.  Be patient, your book is probably up next and the charismatic friend should be along shortly.

9.  You and a man you don't really like are for whatever reason involved in a fake courtship/engagement.  The reasons don't have to make sense but you do require you to spend an ordinate amount of time together.

10. Your brother has died in the war and his bestest friend has shown up and is taking an unusual amount of interest in you.  He keeps talking about finding you a suitable husband.

So did I miss anything?  What do you think is a sign you're the main character in a historical romance?

Monday, September 14, 2015

A is for Arsenic - Review

A Is For Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup

Rating: 5 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  People are fascinated by murder.  The popularity of murder mystery books, TV series, and even board games shows that there is an appetite for death, and the more unusual or macabre the method, the better.  With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but poisons are so inherently more mysterious.  How are some compounds so deadly in such tiny amounts?
Agatha Christie used poison to kill her characters more than any other crime fiction writer.  The poison was a central part of the novel, and her choice of deadly substances was far from random; the chemical and physiological characteristics of each poison provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer.  Christie demonstrated her knowledge (much of it gleaned by working in a pharmacy during both world wars) in many of her novels, but this is rarely appreciated by the reader.
Written by former research chemist Kathryn Harkkup, each chapter takes a different novel and investigates the poison used b the murder.  Fact and fun-packed, A is for Arsenic looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both when Christie was writing and today.  (Goodreads)

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book: Really all I needed to see was Agatha Christie's name on the cover and I was in.

My Impression:If this book had been written for me I'm not sure I could've been more pleased with it!  This has been one of the books I was most looking forward to this month and it didn't disappoint.  I knew I was going to be happy when I saw that the chapters were not only divided by poison but had a book connected to it:
A is for Arsenic - Murder is Easy
B is for Belladonna - The Labours of Hercules
C is for Cyanide - Sparkling Cyanide
and so on down the alphabet.

Each chapter tells you everything you've ever wanted to know about each poison - the chemical makeup, the history, famous cases involving that poison, antidotes and treatments, and Agatha's experience with it and how she used it in her books.  I loved reading about the ins and outs of the poison and seeing the real life cases that Agatha must have seen as well as seeing how it all tied into her books.

While I really loved this one to me it's more of a reference book than a read from start to finish so ebook wasn't the format I wanted to go with.  I've already ordered my print copy and can't wait for it to get here!  I'm looking forward to adding this book to my Agatha collection

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm hoping for more books tied into the great mystery authors.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  If you are an Agatha fan - particularly if you own all her books - you must get your hands on a copy of this one.

Challenges Met?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

This Week in Reading - September 13

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 Liar by Nora Roberts - This was on the featured table when I went into the library the other day and I couldn't resist.  I've been in line for the ebook copy for ages so I snapped up the print copy.  (Library)

Operation Slow Down Book Acquiring is back up and running again.  I have 2 requests pending at NetGalley but they're both for books from authors I've read before so not random.  I've also been trying to get in a little reading done during the day so I at least FEEL like I'm making more progress on the scary stack of review books.


Reading:  Peril by Ponytail by Nancy J. Cohen, Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance, and All I Want by Jill Shalvis

Listening: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley.  This is the 2nd Flavia de Luce and so far I'm enjoying it.  Jane Entwistle's narration is fantastic.  

Watching:  Now that the fall season is about to start I'm catching up on the season finales for some of my favorites - the NCIS shows and Elementary especially.  I don't like cliffhanger endings to the point I keep the season finale until the season premier comes on and then watch them together.  And that's you peek into my craziness today.

Off the Blog:

School starting is always like a fresh start for me as well.  I work on getting more organized and setting schedules and routines and the whole bit.  This year took a little while longer with getting Emma moved to her dorm but I'm now full in a routine and loving it.
All summer I'd been kind of toying with how to add in more time to do projects or other things that I really want to do and it seems to be working.  I've got at least a day a week where I can really focus on a project.  I got an old end table from a thrift store awhile ago that I want to paint.  I'm getting this fantastic octagonal end table that was my grandmother's from my dad next week and I've got to figure out how to give it a bit of an update without messing it up.  Right now it looks a little too 1968 (which is when it's from) than I'd like.
I also finished The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up.  It was okay though probably could've been easily condensed down to an article versus a book and had quite a bit of information that I didn't find applicable.  It did, however, inspire me to do some purging in my closest and drawers.  I get rid of 2 giant bags of clothes and you really can't tell that much of a difference but everything isn't as jammed which is nice.  I did try the vertical folding in the drawers and am a convert and it's just as easy to maintain as regular folding.
I'm having a bit of a reading struggle right now.  I have a number of Christmas books that are coming out at the end of this month but no part of me is ready to start reading them.  And really are you ready to read reviews of books full of snow and holiday wonderlands?  Do you think it's beyond awful if I put those reviews off until November?  And really why are these books coming out in September anyway?

On the Blog:

What Happened:

What's Coming Up:

Monday: A is for Arsenic - Nonfiction Review
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Signs You're in a Historical Romance (freebie)
Wednesday: Peril By Ponytail - Cozy Mystery Review
Thursday: Beyond the Books - My Favorite Food
Friday: Friday Linkups with Current Book Excerpts
Saturday: TBD but something foodie

Have a great week and happy reading!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cooking as Fast as I Can - Review

Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef's Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness by Cat Cora
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: NetGalley
Description:  Remarkable candid, compulsively readable, renowned chef Cat Cora's no holds-barred memoir of Southern life, Greek heritage, same sex marriage and meals that have shaped her memories.
Before she became a celebrated chef, Cathy Cora was just a girl from Jackson, Mississippi, where days were slow and every meal was made from scratch.  Her passion for the kitchen started in her home, where she spent her days internalizing the dishes that would form the cornerstone of her cooking philosophy incorporating her Greek heritage and Southern upbringing - from crispy fried chicken and honey drenched biscuits to spanakopita.  But outside the kitchen, Cat's life was volatile.
In Cooking as Fast as I can, Cat Cora reveals, for the first time, coming of age experiences from early childhood sexual abuse to the realities of life as a lesbian in the deep South.  She shares how she found her passion in the kitchen and went on to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America and apprentice under Michelin star chefs in France.  After her big break as a co-host on the Food Network's Melting Pot, Cat broke barriers by becoming the first ever female Iron Chef.
Cooking as Fast as I Can chronicles the difficulties and triumphs Cora experineced on the path to becoming a chef.  She writes movingly about how she found courage and redemption in the dark truths of her past and about how she found solace in the kitchen and work, how her passion for cooking helped her overcome hardships and ultimately find happiness at home and became a wife and a mother to four boys.  Above all, this is an utterly engrossing story about the grit and grace it takes to achieve your dreams.  (from Goodreads)

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Why I Picked This Book:  I've seen Cat Cora as an Iron Chef and other Food Network shows for years but knew very little about her and this seemed like a great way to fix that!

My Impression:  Going in I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I'd seen Cat Cora around on different shows for years but didn't really feel like I "knew" her.  She came across as friendly, hardworking, incredibly competent, but somewhat reserved.  In this book she does not pull her punches and tells her story in an impressively matter of fact way. She takes us through her happy childhood, the pain and betrayal of her childhood sexual abuse, coming to terms with her sexuality as a teenager, and through her life as an adult as she began to build a career and finally her brand.  Through it all she doesn't come off as angry, looking to blame, or even asking for pity or sympathy but at the same time she doesn't sugar coat anything that happened and is perfectly willing to admit her own responsibility when things go bad.
What I found the most fascinating was when her career began to intertwine with the Celebrity Chef movement and Food Network taking off.  I had always wondered how you go from cooking in the back of a restaurant to becoming a household name and how you develop a "brand".  It seems so effortless from the outside so I thoroughly enjoyed an inside look.  I also really loved the little glimpses she gives of behind the scenes at Iron Chef America.  The book ends open ended (with full disclosure on her DUI) but in this format it didn't bother me.  I hope for the best for Cat and Jennifer and can't wait to see what she comes out with next.
Even if you aren't a Food Network follower I think this would be still be a fantastic read and if, like me, you read cookbooks for fun there's an extra dash of enjoyment.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Oh definitely!  As it is, I'm looking forward to trying out her cookbooks and keeping a closer eye out for her television appearances.

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Definitely!  This is a great read - especially for food lovers.

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