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Showing posts from February, 2010

Summer of Joy - Ann H. Gabhart (Christian)

Released February 2008

www.revellbooks.com


At heart, I did enjoy Summer of Joy. Big snowstorm that I didn't want to hit arrived in full force yesterday and knocked out power periodically, so I was the mood for some summer and figured, given the title, that it might make me thing of warm sunny days. 

This is the third book in the Hollyhill series. This time Reverend David Brooke is trying to muster the courage to ask his younger girlfriend to marry him. While he struggles with their age difference, Leigh dreams that he'll finally ask but isn't sure she's ready to tackle her parents who disapprove of his age.

There are also a few sub-plots. A new stranger in town is about to change the lives of a number of townspeople. A long lost resident returns at the wrong time. And, finally, a new teacher proves to be more than David's daughter and Leigh can bear.

All in all, this wasn't a bad book. My issue with it was that the arrival of the stranger fit well into the sto…

Girl in the Cellar - Allan Hall and Michael Leidig (True Crime)

Released March 2010

www.harpercollins.com

It's every parent's nightmare. Your child heads off to school and vanishes. In 1998, this exact scenario played out. Natascha Kampusch left for school following a great weekend with her father and an argument with her mother. Still upset over getting slapped, Natascha ignored her instincts when she saw a man in a white van parked near her school. That decision changed her life.

The man in the van, Wolfgang Priklopil, pulled Natascha into his van and took her to his very secure home. There he put her in a tiny hidden basement room and locked the door. For eight years, Natascha remained his captive. After her 18th birthday, Priklopil began to give her a little more freedom and started taking her to stores when he'd go out. When she felt the chance was best, she escaped. Girl in the Cellar examines Natascha's kidnapping, life behind locked doors and eventual escape.

I'm saddened that so much of the Austrian public opted to tak…

Le Cordon Bleu: Professional Baking - Wayne Gisslen (Cookbook/Textbook)

Released October 2000

www.cordonbleu.com

I picked up Professional Baking at this past year's Harvest Market, a huge rummage/bake/festival that occurs in my childhood hometown every fall. Book sales lead to incredible bargains and I spotted this gem on the $1 table at a library book sale.

With my 40th birthday quickly approaching, I've been somewhat moody as of late. Seems just yesterday that I was young, hanging out with friends and not a care, or responsibility, in the world. Now I'm a few days from 40, happy, yet wondering what else there is to do with life.

My daughter and I watched Julie and Julia a few weeks ago. She commented that I should do that some day, pick a cook book and work my way through it. My immediate response was that it's been done before. However, after desperation caused me to pull out Professional Baking, I started thinking. I love baking and always thought NECI would be a great school to attend, but I lack the money and at this point the time. …

Bundle of Trouble - Diana Orgain (Cozy Mystery)

Released August 2009

www.dianaorgain.com

Diana Orgain's first mystery novel holds plenty of appeal with the Mommy crowd. The heroine, Kate Connolly, is a brand new mom and learning things about infants and parenting as she goes. Any woman with kids understands that feeling and it helps draw you to Kate's character.

Things start off on the wrong foot before Kate's daughter makes her appearance. Kate and her husband are snuggled in for a 49ers game when they get a call stating a body found in the bay might be that of Kate's brother-in-law. Kate's husband hasn't seen his troubled younger brother, George, in quite a while and last they knew he was living on the streets. When her water breaks right after receiving the call, they do all they can to push news of the call to the back of their minds.

After Laurie's birth, they learn that the body turned out to be that of a local restaurant owner, but no one knows why George's bag were found at the scene of the c…

Good Eats: The Early Years - Alton Brown (Cookbook)

Released October 2009

www.stcbooks.com
www.foodtv.com
www.altonbrown.com

My entire family has been a fan of Good Eats since the very beginning. My son's interest in cooking comes from Alton's scientific approach. We own every Alton Brown cookbook, but what's been lacking is the information being pulled from each show into a book. With Good Eats: The Early Years, that information is finally available. Don't get me wrong, his other cookbooks are great, but there are times we want access to tips he's given on his shows and that's what I've been waiting for.

In Good Eats: The Early Years, Alton Brown shares tips shown in the first 80 episodes of Good Eats. In addition, he shares photos and behind the scenes info about these shows. For example, who knew that in an episode about chocolate that he was bleeding from a head wound while filming a portion of the show. It's snippets like that that create a new understanding of just how much effort (sweat, certainly b…

Cook the Books - Jessica Conant-Park & Susan Conant (Culinary Mystery)

Released March 2010

www.conantparkmysteries.googlepages.com

Hooked from the debut Gourmet Girl Mystery series novel a few years ago, I was eager to read the latest entry into Jessica Park-Conant and Susan Conant's culinary mysteries. Getting one of their collaborative culinary mysteries is always a treat and how well timed that they come out right around my birthday every year! The big 4-0 is looming, on top of winter blues, and a pick-me-up was definitely due.

In this latest offering, Cook the Books, heroine Chloe Carter is partially down in the dumps. The love of her life packed up and moved to Hawaii. On the bright side, her friend's new son is enough to make any woman happy and Chloe's been lavishing her new godson with gifts every chance she gets. Her credit card bills aren't so great though, so Chloe starts looking for a part-time job that she can balance with her college work.

She lands a great position as a writer's assistant. The son of a famous chef is wo…

Ghost Radio - Leopoldo Gout (Horror/Suspense)

Released February 24, 2010

www.harpercollins.com

It's a fascinating idea. A late-night radio show where callers share their stores of the unnatural including ghosts, disappearing towns and other surreal circumstances. The basic premise in the book is that Ghost Radio is about to go syndicated and host Joaquin isn't prepared for the change that's about to ensue.

Joaquin knows a bit about the supernatural. He's survived two accidents that almost took his life. His best friend also survived one but died in the other. His show is big and going bigger, so when unusual calls start coming in to both the radio and to Joaquin at home, he can't help but drop everything to find out who this caller is and why he's so persistent, leading Joaquin to things even he'll have a hard time explaining.

Great premise isn't enough for me. I loved the opening and loved the radio callers' stories. I loved reading Joaquin's backstory involving the first and second accide…

Angel's Den - Jamie Carie (Christian Fiction)

Released February 2010

www.jamiecarie.com

Marrying the most attractive bachelor in town, Eric Montclaire, is a dream come true for Emma Daring. However, she soon learns that her husband is not a kind, loving man after his abusive nature appears on their wedding night. Ashamed to tell her family, Emma hides her bruises with face powder and does all she can to keep Eric's temper assuaged.

It isn't long before Emma learns Eric's ordered a man killed in order to gain possession of a journal tied to Lewis and Clark's expeditions. Eric hires a cartographer to follow the clues in the journal to find an area to set up shop out west. At the last minute, Eric decides that Emma must accompany them to keep her from revealing information about the murder. The cartographer, Luke Bowen, recognizes Eric's cruel side and vows to keep Emma safe.

As their voyage gets underway, Luke and Emma face the biggest challenge of their lives. Not only must they keep their growing attraction fo…

200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads - Judith Fertig (Cookbook)

Released August 2009

www.fireflybooks.com/robertrose

Bread making is a soothing activity that I've always enjoyed. Judith Fertig's 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads: No-Knead, One Bowl appealed to me because using only one bowl obviously cuts down on dishes.  The question became just how effective are these recipes.

I invested in a KitchenAid years ago because kneading is not something I always enjoy. If I have stress I want to burn off, kneading is a wonderful action. If I simply want to fill the house with the scent of freshly baked bread, kneading is a time consuming pain. All recipes in 200 Fast & Easy Artisan Breads require no kneading. Simply beat the dough with a wooden spoon and you're done.

I'm going to work my way through the book one recipe at a time. Using the very first recipe, I measured and mixed the flour, yeast, salt and water and got started. The entire process took less than ten minutes and that's including the time it took to open a new bag…

Cajun-Creole Cooking - Terry Thompson (Cookbook)

Released January 1987

It's Superbowl Sunday and given that the Saints are in it, I'm bypassing all chili and wings recipes and cooking up a Cajun storm. Around here, we love Cajun food, though some ingredients are difficult to find. Given that, I hit up the stores last night to try to find Andouille sausage, having to settle for Chorizo instead. Stocked with smoked ham, shrimp, mushrooms,fresh bread, plenty of tomatoes, rice and some pie crust, I'm ready to whip up some cornmeal pie, jambalaya, creamy mushroom bites and Creole shrimp.

The problem soon became finding my favored cookbook by Terry Thompson. While I'm not sure exactly how authentic the recipes are, I know they've never failed me. The problem was the cookbook was no where to be found.

Over the years, Cajun-Creole Cooking has become extremely tattered. The binding is long gone and the cookbook ended up getting into a mess of papers, but I did find it eventually. With the stove warming up, the cooking is…

Horror Movies Galore

For as long as I can remember, I've been a horror movie buff. I love creepy scenes and music setting the stage to be frightened. However, the list of decent horror movies seems to be diminishing as I get older. Every now and then a movie comes out that makes me jump, but overall, I seem to spend more time laughing at the writing, acting or dialogue.

Last week, my son asked me if I'd ever watched Mystery Science Theater 3000. I'd never heard of it but after hearing it involved a man and his two space pals watching cheesy horror flicks and making commentary about them, I had to give it a try. And soon, I was completely hooked.

If you have an XBox 360, PS3, Blue-Ray player or a Roku box and a Netflix account, you have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of downloadable movies that you watch on your TV. With the gloomy days of winter and freezing temperatures, we spend more time inside than out for now, so movies are a great way to spend family time. Our attention as of late…

Apple Turnover Murder - Joanne Fluke (Culinary Mystery)

Released February 23, 2010

www.murdershebaked.com

If you've yet to read Plum Pudding Murder, I suggest you might want to refrain from reading the entirety of this review. There is a spoiler involved that relates to that previous book. In Plum Pudding Murder, Hannah is with her mother when a man from her past reappears in her life. The plot of Apple Turnover Murder continues that storyline.

******************

If you've already read the previous book, or simply don't care to have part of the secret revealed. Here you go:

In Apple Turnover Murder, Norman has to go out of town, so Hannah's cat-sitting his cat much to her cat's delight. As she loses valuable bed space, she's also got a huge order in the works. The mayor's wife has asked her to create a thousand apple turnovers for a fundraising event. Not only has Hannah never made turnovers, she's not certain it's possible to create that many turnovers in a matter of days. With help from a few friends, …

E Squared - Matt Beaumont (Satire)

Released February 2010

www.letstalkaboutme.com

When you read as much as I do and also spend hours a day coming up with articles, the need for a change of pace often arises. Don't get me wrong, I love most genres, but sometimes I get sick of the written word. Words lead to sentences, sentences to paragraphs and paragraphs to pages. If it's not intriguing, it becomes far too easy to let the mind wander.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of reading a novel that didn't include the atypical paragraphs and pages, instead the entire story was told through emails. I was fascinated by this change of pace. Matt Beaumont's latest novel continues a story I missed.

E Squared returns readers to the innermost dealings of an ad agency. At the helm is David Crutton, a family man whose absence from his family is quickly apparent, who struggles to get control of the rather untraditional Meerkat360 agency. With staff members who come and go as they please, never come in at all or come up…