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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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Season of Silver Linings by Christine Nolfi

Release Date - July 17, 2018

I'd held off reading The Season of Silver Linings because I prefer reading holiday novels closer to the holidays. The third novel in the Sweet Lake series has been out for a few months, but it's still available in paperback or e-book.

Jada and her two friends have turned Wayfair Inn into a thriving business. As a pastry chef, Jada is plenty busy, but Linnie's upcoming wedding has everyone feeling a bit stressed. Linnie is weeks from her big day, but she still can't find a dress. Cat is newly married and focused more on her new husband. Jada's tackling an awful lot in these weeks before the wedding.

Her hands are full trying to convince her long-time friend's little girl that dress-up costumes are not suitable attire for a flower girl. She's battling her feelings for Philip, the girl's dad, and the guilt she can't shake off after Philip's wife's death. A stranger coming to the inn and asking all kinds of personal questions is a little too much.

Jada is pretty sure that stranger knows Philip's late wife, but she's not sure how they connect. She's certain to get to the bottom of it. She's falling hard for Philip and his little girl, and she won't let them get hurt.

I had not read the other Sweet Lake novels, so this was my introduction to all of the characters. I think I needed to read the other two. For much of the novel, I struggled to find a reason to bond with the characters.

The relationship between Jada and Fancy is endearing. I loved their interactions. I also liked the romance that slowly formed between Philip and Jada. The rest seemed like a big distraction. There's already enough conflict with Jada worrying about becoming a bigger part of Fancy's life and hiding a secret about the death of Fancy's mom. It just seems that everything else was unnecessary. 

I would have loved The Season of Silver Linings had it been all about Jada, Fancy, Philip, and the mystery guest. Adding Linnie's bridal panic and Cat's desire to be with her husband rather than holding up her end of the business felt unnecessary to me.