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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

After the Fire by Will Hill

Release Date - October 2, 2018


It's been a while since a book has caught my attention and had me refusing to budge. I found it and am so glad I did. I'd been on a bit of a reading slump because a number of books I picked up were okay but nothing special. This is special. It may not be easy, but it is going to leave a lasting impression.

If you were alive or know of the Waco siege, this book is going to tug at your emotions. There were times After the Fire was a little hard to read. I was pregnant when the Waco siege happened. I remember reading how a 10 year old was one of Koresh's wives. It outraged me. The second I started reading Will Hill's book, I knew where he'd come up with the inspiration from his story. I loved that it was told from the viewpoint of a surviving teen. I got her fear, her anger, and even her hope. 

Moonbeam is the storyteller and heroine. She's one of the survivors of a Waco-like siege of the place where she's grown up, the Lord Legion's compound. It's her story to tell, but she's been raised to believe that outsiders are evil and only those living in the compound are trustworthy. She knows things, however, and part of her wants to reveal everything. But, to do that she must trust in strangers, and that's a hurdle only she can overcome.

I had such a hard time getting anything done while reading After the Fire. I didn't want to go do the grocery shopping, though I needed to. I didn't want to work. I didn't want to take the dog for his walks or cook dinner. I was hooked. I had to read through the chapters and let Moonbeam tell me everything. 

Now that I'm done, I'm putting this book on my list of the best YA novels in 2018. It broke my heart. It made me truly happy. It had me smiling and grabbing Kleenex interchangeably. It made me angry. I felt so many emotions, but the one I liked the most was hope. I felt hope for Moonbeam as she explored her past and came to terms with what her future could be. Hands down, I loved After the Fire.



Friday, October 19, 2018

The Nightmare Before Dinner: Recipes to Die For: The Beetle House Cookbook by Zach Neil

Release Date: October 16, 2018



Zach Neil's The Nightmare Before Dinner: Recipes to Die For: The Beetle House Cookbook is a Halloween-themed cookbook that offers tempting recipes from Beetle House restaurants. The cookbook offers recipes in these categories:


  • Sauces and Dips for the Recently Deceased
  • Nightmares Before Dinner
  • Herbs, Plants, and Cauldrons
  • Platos de los Muertos
  • Tricks and Treats
  • Poisons, Potions, and Elixirs
  • Put the FUN Back in Funeral


Starting with Sauces and Dips for the Recently Deceased, there are recipes for items like homemade ketchup and a very cheesy Cheshire Sauce that looked tempting based on the photo of grilled baguettes with the sauce. There's also a vegan version of the Cheshire Sauce.

Nightmares Before Dinner is all of your appetizers. I loved the spin on shrimp cocktail that has a raspberry cocktail sauce. The Beetle Bacon Bread doesn't sound good for you, but it certainly sounds delicious.

Herbs, Plants, and Cauldrons is next. These are all the recipes for soups and salads.. The recipes that most caught my eye are the Barbarous BBQ Beef Ramen and the beef stew. This section is pretty limited with five recipes.

You'll find the main dish recipes under Platos de los Muertos. I love the picture and recipe for The Silence of the Lamb Chops. The raspberry glaze paired with the compote-like apple mix sounds amazing. Shrimpy Hollow also sounds hearty and perfect for the current cooler weather.

In Tricks and Treats, you'll find all kinds of sweet treats. I need to try the Blood Orange Cheesecake when blood oranges are available again. I'm always a sucker for chocolate cake, so the Red Velvet Midnight Espresso Cake caught my eye.

Poisons, Potions, and Elixirs is the section where you'll find cocktails and beverages. I'm not much of a cocktail drinker, so this section is a little less appealing to me. I stick to beers. There are recipes like the Big Fish Bowl or the Franken-Martini.

Finally, there's the meal plans under Put the FUN Back in Funeral. The meal plans incorporate recipes found in the book plus decorating ideas.

If you're looking for a cookbook that pairs clever recipe names with tempting recipes, Zach Neil's The Nightmare Before Dinner: Recipes to Die For: The Beetle House Cookbook delivers. It's packed with recipes and some also have photos so that you can see the final product before you attempt it. It's ideal for the person who loves Halloween any time of the year.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Christmas in Evergreen by Nancy Naigle

Release Date - July 10, 2018



Evergreen is a magical town where the Christmas spirit tries to remain throughout the year. The town's Christmas-themed diner and its snow globe are rumored to really make your wishes come true.

Allie Shaw is selling her veterinary building and heading to Washington D.C. She wants to see if she and her boyfriend can really make a go of it. It's a big change, but it's one she's ready for. Even if it means leaving the Christmasy town she loves behind.

At the airport, a winter storm cancels flights. She books a room in the airport hotel and discovers the next morning that flights are still canceled. She has no choice but to return to Evergreen for Christmas.

Ryan Bellamy and his young daughter are still moving on after his wife's death. He plans a sunny beach getaway for Christmas. His daughter isn't convinced that Florida is the place Santa will really be. When their flight is canceled and they learn flights are still canceled the next day,  he takes a stranger up on her offer. She'll drive them to her hometown, Evergreen, until the airport opens again.

Ryan never expects to find himself falling for a town like Evergreen or a woman like Allie. He knows this stop is only temporary, but his daughter wishes on the town's snow globe that it could be their new home.

Any time a novel has Vermont for a setting, I try to pick out the author's inspiration for the town he or she creates. Christmas in Evergreen is written as the book form of the Hallmark movie. It's set in Evergreen, Vermont. There is no Evergreen, and try as I might, I couldn't pick up on the inspiration.

My best guess is St. Albans or Swanton. They're the only towns on Rt. 7 that are north of the airport that have a Main Street with businesses. The kicker is that I can't think of any towns in Vermont that would be cut off if there was a rock slide. There are always backroads available.

The other issue is that in my lifetime, I cannot think of a time when the airport was closed for more than a day with a big snowstorm. I looked up last winter's stats as we had a cold, snowy winter. Weather cancellations occurred on 0.67 percent of all flights. A news story said that on one of our biggest storms, the airport had to cancel six flights as they'd spent the prior day treating runways in preparation. For any reader who isn't familiar with Burlington. There is also no airport hotel that's connected to the airport. One is in the planning stages, but it's years away.

Does all this really matter? Not really. I admit that. It's just one of those things I pick up because I have lived here for almost all of my life.

The main romance is charming. I loved the speed at which the romance between Allie and Ryan grew. I really liked the interactions between Allie and Ryan's daughter. They were so tender and you just knew they had to end up together.

The book ends with a recipe for sugar cookies. It sounds good and I'm going to try it this Christmas.