Note to Readers

Roundtable Reviews receives many galley and ARC copies for review. Please understand that the finished copy may differ from the copies we have reviewed.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or galley copy of the book. I have no material connection to the publisher, agent, or author whose book/s I am reviewing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Psychological Suspense
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: January 7, 2018



I'm a huge fan of psychological suspense and thriller books. This is another great entry into that realm of books. If you love books like Gone Girl, pick up The Wife Between Us.

Since her husband left her for another woman, she's lurked in the shadows waiting to ruin everything. She tells her tale in alternating chapters with the other woman. That's what she wants you to believe, but her truth is likely far more than you could ever imagine.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Told in several parts, The Wife Between Us takes you on a twisted journey as you explore what seems like the ideal marriage. The first part introduces the wife and the woman that wife's husband is soon to marry. The next part delves further into the truth of the different relationships. The final part is the one that pulled a fast one and quickly revealed that I truly didn't know everything.

I admit that I had a good part of the story figured out early into The Wife Between Us. Despite knowing what I knew, I was hooked. I wanted to keep reading.

RTR's Bottom Line


From the characters to the mystery, I found this story to be addicting. I couldn't stop reading. I had to see how things turned out for the key characters. I wanted to know how things would end. I was never disappointed. What a read!



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Setting: Charleston, SC
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Release Date: January 2, 2018



This is book two in the Two Love Lane series. It's Greer's turn at romance. She dumped her beau and throws everything she has into creating the algorithms the women at Two Love Lane use to find customers their true love. She also believes that Mr. Right will come along, eventually.

She falls in love with a wedding dress at an auction and loses it to the only client they couldn't help. When she learns that despicable store owner plans to give the dress away, she wants to enter. The big problem is that she doesn't have a groom. While the rules don't say you have to have a groom, some of the competitions rely heavily on one.

Ford Smith spies Greer and knows she's the woman he desperately needs to paint for his upcoming art show. He arranges to attend the functions with her if she'll pose for him. There's one thing he's hiding, he's actually a baron and while he swears he cannot fall in love again, he's starting to fall for Greer.

Strengths and Weaknesses


A Wedding at Two Love Lane starts off strong. I loved seeing Greer go head-to-head with Pierre, but he was such an ass that I couldn't like him at any point in the story. I also felt there were a few unnecessary minor storylines, such as Ford's ex's surprise announcement and the bedroom makeover Greer agrees to. It created too many distractions that I never felt were truly necessary.

RTR's Bottom Line


I loved the first book in this series. Greer's story is powerful and so romantic, but I didn't find myself as enthralled as I was with Macy's story. I think I never loved having Greer's ex and his new fiancee be such a big part of this story. It's a good read, but it's not one that I'd need or feel compelled to read again.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Night Child by Anna Quinlan

Setting: Seattle
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release Date: January 30, 2018



Nora Brown is ready for her Thanksgiving getaway with her husband and daughter. After her high school English class ends, she's at her desk and gets a weird sensation. Looking up, she sees the ghostly face of a young girl with dazzling blue eyes. Nora is terrified.

When she sees the ghostly girl a second time while on vacation, she's very concerned and decides to seek counseling. Something's wrong, and she fears she may be going crazy. What's revealed may be the very ending of all Nora's ever known.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Nora's story is so vivid. It felt like I was there in the psychologist's office, in the classroom, in her house, and on vacation with them. The writing was exquisitely detailed.

I never really liked Nora's husband. As the story plays out, I felt a little more of a connection, but he still was never a favorite. Nora's little girl did work her way into my heart. I wanted to see all end well for the family because of her.

The ghostly girl plays a big part in The Night Child. I found myself eager to get to her chapters. The more I read, the more I understood what was happening. I was angry for every character at that point. So many layers lead to such a sad story.

RTR's Bottom Line


I would love to give this book a higher mark than I do, but the ending left me with too many questions. I can't give spoilers, so all I can say is that as gripping as this story was, the you-decide feeling I got wasn't satisfying.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Should've Been You by Nicole McLaughlin

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Swerve
Release Date: January 30, 2018




Sisters Becca and Hannah have always been close. Despite all, Becca has always harbored a crush on their neighbor Jase Beckford. She keeps it hidden because Jase and Hannah just have always seemed to be meant for each other.

When Becca's dream Christmas proposal is anything but, she heads back home for the holidays. There, a steamy encounter with Jase has her questioning many things. One of the most important is if there is a chance for her to finally have her chance with Jase.

Jase has always had a crush on Becca. After learning she despised him, he's remained close to the family and been a very good friend to Hannah. Deep down, it's Becca he's always wanted. Could a Christmas miracle be in store for the pair?

Strengths and Weaknesses


Overall, this is a charming romance. It's clear that it's part of a series, though I never felt that it couldn't stand alone. You could tell, however, that past romances were at play as hints of other "Man Enough" couples were laid out with one gathering.

The story is short and goes by fast. I loved the chemistry. I also loved that Hannah had to own up to her past bitchiness. Teen or not, that's not an excuse for the lies she told.

This was the perfect book for bedtime. I could keep reading, get the story in one session, and go to sleep with a case of the warm and fuzzies.

RTR's Bottom Line


Short, sweet, and swoon-worthy! That sums up Should've Been You.





Monday, December 18, 2017

Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels

Setting: Yosemite
Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Release Date: December 19, 2017



The opening caught my attention. A couple get lost and struggle to return to their base camp. When they get there, things aren't right. Someone's covered in a dark stain that appears to be blood. The story skips back at this point and introduces the characters.

Tennis teammates and friends Grahame, Rhody, Colin, and Ceo decide to head off on a trek through Yosemite National Park. Things don't go as planned when Rhody backs out. Everyone's going to have to chip in more now to cover expenses. It's also a little odd that Grahame insists on carrying a heavy ax, and Ceo invites a group of young women none of them really know at the last minute.

In Yosemite, things continue to go downhill. The section they planned to explore is on fire, so they choose to go up Snow Creek Falls instead. It soon becomes clear to Ellie and her friends that these guys have their issues, and this may be a far more deadly trip than any of them could ever expect.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Bad Call starts off with a bang. I was hooked with the opening chapter. A few chapters in, I found myself losing focus. As the guys met up with the girls, I struggled. It took a bit before I got back into the flow of the story. It takes a while for the action to really begin.

It's a story of survival, friendships, secrets, and nature. The pacing moves swiftly, and that opening paragraph definitely set the stage for the events about to hit. I just wish it hadn't taken so long to get to the actual point where the introduction tied back in and action picked up.


RTR's Bottom Line


I never loved the characters. The guys reminded me a bit too much of some of the jocks from my high school days. I liked Ellie and her friends better, but I still never found myself connecting with them either.

In the end, Bad Call hooked me, lost me, and then hooked me again. I'm so glad I stuck with it, but I'm not sure it's a book I'd keep permanently to read again and again.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Every Dog Has His Day by Jenn McKinlay

Setting: Bluff Point, Maine
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 2, 2018



Bar owner and nice guy extraordinaire, Zach Caine is happy doing his thing. He loves his job. He has a cozy home and no responsibilities other than to himself and his employees. He's settled in for an afternoon football game when a knock on the door disrupts him. He never expects to see two young girls on his doorstep. Their foster kitten is on his roof and they need his help.

Single mom Jessie Connelly knows all she needs to know about her bachelor neighbor. His antics in the veterinary clinic where she serves as office manager didn't start them off on the right foot. He's certainly good-looking, but he's not one for a commitment and Jessie's had enough of men who like to come and go as they please. Her daughters, however, have really taken a shine to him and his foster dog.

When a snowstorm and resulting power outage strand the four and their pets together, Jessie's surprised by her feelings. She can't ignore that Zach seems like he could be Mr. Right. Zach's equally taken by the single mom and her daughters. Could she really be the woman that changes his bachelor ways?

Strengths and Weaknesses


I found no real weaknesses in Every Dog Has His Day. It's a heartwarming story where the focus is on building relationships. I loved the passion between Zach and Jessie, but I also loved how quickly they could turn it off to focus on what was best for the girls. They made a great team!

Having read this book, I feel compelled to go back and read the other books in the "A Bluff Point Romance" series. Every character made me smile. By the time I was done reading, I wanted to become a member of the Maine Crew.


RTR's Bottom Line


I've missed other books in this series. Despite that, Every Dog Has His Day turned out to be a charming, warm-hearted romance. I didn't want to stop. I was caught up in the blossoming romance between Zach and Jessie. I adored his interactions with her two young daughters.

This is a sweet, passionate romance that was entertaining and uplifting. In a world where the news is rarely happy and the weather is dismal, Jenn McKinlay's latest romance offered the escape I needed. I thank her for that.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Setting: Seattle, Washington
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 2, 2017



Two decades earlier, Virginia Troy was one of several children caught in a raging inferno that was deliberately set by a cult leader. The cult leader vanished and was assumed to have drowned. Virginia lost her mother that day.

When one of the surviving former cult members delivers a series of paintings to Virginia's art gallery and then jumps off a cliff. Virginia suspects there's far more to this case than the suicide police suspect. She turns to Cabot Sutter.

Cabot was another child rescued from the fire. He also lost his mother that day. Now a private investigator, Cabot teams up with Virginia to see if their hunch is correct. The pair is certain that the leader survived and that he's convinced Virginia has something he wants.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Every page of Promise Not to Tell convinced me that this book is the first in a series. It was vividly clear that other books will follow. If that doesn't happen, I'll be shocked.

A lot of the story focuses on the case, but there's also in-depth segments into Virginia and Cabot's anxiety that stems from being locked in a barn that was set on fire. The bond they have, even though they've lived different lives, is clear from the start.

The mystery aspect kept me guessing. I had part of it solved, but not all of it. I knew who was doing things, but I wasn't sure why. I like that there was that element of surprise when the revelation hit. I would say this book is more mystery/suspense than romance. If you like mysteries, you'll enjoy this read.

RTR's Bottom Line


I enjoyed the ride that Promise Not to Tell took me on. It had twists. There was plenty of tension to keep me on edge. I do want to know if there's more to come, however. I looked at the author's website and it doesn't say anything. I can't believe that there's not more to this gripping suspense though.






Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Happiness In Between by Grace Greene

Setting: Cub Creek, Virginia
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union
Release Date: January 31, 2017



Sandra Hurst gave her husband two changes. She divorced him once, but took him back in hopes that he really had changed. Sadly, this marriage has proven that he's just as emotionally abusive as before. Leaving her home in the middle of the night, Sandra doesn't know how to start over, but she's going to start over.

She learns that her aunt needs a house and dog sitter. Sandra heads to rural Virginia where she finds her family's home structurally sound but in desperate need of a good cleaning and a few repairs. Her aunt's dog is missing, so that's one of her first goals. She soon finds the dog, but it's actually her young neighbor's dog. This starts a new friendship between Sandra and the boy and his father.

It's not going to be easy, and her husband isn't quite ready to give her up, but Sandra's ready to put her feet down. It's her time to prove she's tougher than anyone knew.

Strengths and Weaknesses


One thing the author did well was to portray emotional abuse. It's harder to prove emotional abuse to others, but that doesn't mean it's not there. I have a friend who's been in emotionally abusive relationships multiple times. It's not easy watching it and certainly not easy for those trapped in it.

The Happiness In Between has a charming setting. I loved reading the chapters and watching the house become a home. I felt drawn to Sandra and others within the town. There are times it was a bit predictible, but I really didn't care. I just wanted to see how things played out.


RTR's Bottom Line


What could have been a dark, sad plot turned into an uplifting one. I love that Sandra didn't dwell on the past as much as she could have. She dove into her projects and started living life on her terms. It's an easy read, and one that proved to be different to what I was expecting.




Friday, December 8, 2017

Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault (Excerpt and Recipe)


Excerpted from Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault © 2017, Text by Simon Thibault. ©2017, Photographs by Noah Fecks. All rights reserved. Published by Nimbus Publishing

“Cooking from many of these old recipes wasn’t always easy. The majority of the recipes only had a basic list of ingredients, and they rarely included directions, let alone detailed ones. So not only did I have to decipher what to do and in what order, but I also had to figure out how to record that information. It was like having a stilted conversation that was decades long: You need this much of this, and that much of that. You know what to do. I was determined to gather the same strength of character and ease in the kitchen that these women had, if only in the smallest of doses. Reading through these impeccably scripted notebooks, I found myself wondering about these recipes: How hot did this oven need to be to bake this cake? (350 F, apparently.) Was it a coincidence that the blood pudding/sausage recipe was written on the same page as one for doughnuts? (Fresh pig’s blood also means fresh pig’s fat, enough for deep-frying those wonderful treats.)”

How about a tempting recipe? We have more recipes from Pantry and Palate posted on the Facebook page!



RÂPURE / RAPPIE PIE MAKES 1 L ARGE PIE, SERVES 4– 6

1 (4 pound) whole chicken, preferably a stewing hen
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 medium onions, minced
3−4 carrots, diced
2 tablespoons oil or butter
12 cups cold water (or enough to cover chicken in the pot)
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons minced salt pork (optional)
2 tablespoons salted onions, plus additional 2 teaspoons* (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

• The first thing to do is make the chicken stock. This can be done the day
before. In a pot large enough to accommodate your chicken, sauté onions
in the butter (or oil) until translucent. Add 1 teaspoon of salted onions if
you have them. If not, add a bit of salt to onions to help them sweat.
• Add chicken and cover with cold water, about 12 cups. Add the bay laves
and carrots. Cover the pot and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to keep the
bird at a gentle simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, or until meat is almost
falling off the bone, but not quite.
• Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the stock through a sieve.
(At this point you can refrigerate your stock until you need it, or just keep
it warm if you plan on making the rappie pie at the same time.)
• Shred the chicken into small pieces, discarding the bones and skin. Set
aside.
• Grate your potatoes on a box grater or rasp. Take your time, or you’ll
end up with bloody knuckles. (Alternatively, you can use a juicer to
simultaneously pulverize your potatoes and remove much of the water.
The texture will be mildly different, but highly comparable.)
• Place portions of the rasped/grated potato into muslin or kitchen towels.
Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. You will be adding stock to it
afterwards, and you want to get out as much of the liquid as possible. (Tip:
Squeeze the potatoes into a large measuring bowl. Let’s say you squeeze
out 7 1/2 cups of potato water, you should add back in about 10 cups
of stock. This is the ratio you’re trying to achieve. Adjust accordingly.)
• Bring the stock to a roiling boil. You need it to be as hot as possible to
scald the potatoes properly. Heat your oven to 425˚F.
• Put the potatoes into a large bowl, big enough to accommodate at
least twice its volume. (If you don’t have a bowl big enough, do this in
batches, making sure to keep your stock as hot as possible for scalding
the potatoes.) Break up the potatoes using a hand mixer. Mix in half
of the hot stock using a hand mixer, and stir it all together, making
sure to moisten the potatoes as much as possible. Mix in the rest of the
hot stock and keep stirring. The mixture will thicken, but keep stirring
for about 2−3 minutes after adding the last of the stock. Taste for
seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and the salted onions as you go.
• Pour enough of the potato pulp to cover the bottom of your casserole
dish. Add roughly 1/2 of your chicken, tossing it over the potatoes. Add
enough potatoes to just cover the chicken, and then add more chicken,
finally covering that with the rest of the potatoes.
• Place the rappie pie into your oven. Bake at 425˚F for 30 minutes, and
then turn down the heat to 375˚F and bake for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Occasionally baste the top with butter (or small dice of salt pork) to
help the crust brown. The dish is ready when the crust on the top is nice
and set and golden brown.
• Serve warm with loads of butter, or possibly a little molasses on the side.



RÂPURE
/ RAPPIE PIE
MAKES 1 L ARGE PIE, SERVES 4
6
1 (4 pound) whole chicken, preferably a stewing hen
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
2 medium onions, minced
3−4 carrots, diced
2 tablespoons oil or butter
12 cups cold water (or enough to cover chicken in
the pot)
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons minced salt pork (optional)
2 tablespoons salted onions, plus additional 2 teaspoons* (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
The first thing to do is make the chicken stock. This can be done the day
before. In a pot larg
e enough to accommodate your chicken, saut
é
onions
in the butter (or oil) until translucent. Add 1 teaspoon of salted onions if
you have them. If not, add a bit of salt to onions to help them sweat.
Add chicken and cover with cold water, about 12 cups. A
dd the bay laves
and carrots. Cover the pot and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to keep the
bird at a gentle simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, or until meat is almost
falling off the bone, but not quite.
Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the stock t
hrough a sieve.
(At this point you can refrigerate your stock until you need it, or just keep
it warm if you plan on making the rappie pie at the same time.)
Shred the chicken into small pieces, discarding the bones and skin. Set
aside.
Grate your pota
toes on a box grater or rasp. Take your time, or you
ll
end up with bloody knuckles. (Alternatively, you can use a juicer to
simultaneously pulverize your potatoes and remove much of the water.
The texture will be mildly different, but highly comparable.)
Place portions of the rasped/grated potato into muslin or kitchen towels.
Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. You will be adding stock to it
afterwards, and you want to get out as much of the liquid as possible. (Tip:
Squeeze the potatoes into
a large measuring bowl. Let
s say you squeeze
out 7 1/2 cups of potato water, you should add back in about 10 cups
of stock. This is the ratio you
re trying to achieve. Adjust accordingly.)
Bring the stock to a roiling boil. You need it to be as hot as
possible to
scald the potatoes properly. Heat your oven to 425
̊
F.
Put the potatoes into a large bowl, big enough to accommodate at
least twice its volume. (If you don
t have a bowl big enough, do this in
batches, making sure to keep your stock as hot as
possible for scalding
the potatoes.) Break up the potatoes using a hand mixer. Mix in half
of the hot stock using a hand mixer, and stir it all together, making
sure to moisten the potatoes as much as possible. Mix in the rest of the
hot stock and keep sti
rring. The mixture will thicken, but keep stirring
for about 2
3 minutes after adding the last of the stock. Taste for
seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and the salted onions as you go.
Pour enough of the potato pulp to cover the bottom of your casserole
d
ish. Add roughly 1/2 of your chicken, tossing it over the potatoes. Add
enough potatoes to just cover the chicken, and then add more chicken,
finally covering that with the rest of the potatoes.
Place the rappie pie into your oven. Bake at 425
̊
F for 30 m
inutes, and
then turn down the heat to 375
̊
F and bake for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Occasionally baste the top with butter (or small dice of salt pork) to
help the crust brown. The dish is ready when the crust on the top is nice
and set and golden brown.
Serve warm with loads of butter, or possibly a little molasses on the side.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner

Setting: Cambridgeshire
Genre: British Crime Novel
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: July 4, 2017



Manon Bradshaw balances her work as a detective with her pregnancy and new role as the adoptive mom of a 12-year-old boy. She's moved to Cambridgeshire with her new son, sister, and nephew. What seems like a new start is anything but.

A man dies in a stranger's arms in a local park. That man happens to be her sister's ex. Her sister was missing for a number of hours that afternoon and evening, and Manon's son is seen on camera at the scene. This case involves too many of Manon's loved ones, so she's pulled from the investigation. The last thing this pregnant mom wants, however, is to be told she's off the case.

Strengths and Weaknesses


This is my introduction to Manon. I did not read the previous novel. Maybe I needed to? I never really connected with her character. She did things that bugged me as she investigated. I don't want to go into spoilers, but I simply struggled to really like her. She's pregnant and I get the pregnancy emotions, but they often overshadowed the rest of the story, so that got tiring.

The ending left me cold. Again, no spoilers, but read it and comment. I'm curious to see if others were as bothered by one aspect of the ending as I was.

RTR's Bottom Line


The plot in Persons Unknown had merit. I wanted an edge-of-my-seat crime procedural focusing on the murder and solving it, and at times I got just that. There were just too many other characters thrown in and too much daily-routine drama that wore me down.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2018

Genre: Reference
Publisher: World Almanac Books
Release Date: December 5, 2017



The latest edition of The World Almanac and Book of Facts is out. In this book that's the perfect gift for a trivia buff, you'll learn things like:

  • How much do military members make?
  • What's the population of Aurora, Colorado?
  • What celestial events are coming up in 2018?
  • Which U.S. National Park System site received the most visitors?
  • What are the current crime rates in the biggest U.S. cities?


The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2018 is broken into nine sections:


  • Special Features: Year in Review
  • Economy/Business/Energy
  • Health and Vital Statistics
  • Personalities/Arts/Awards
  • Science and Technology
  • Consumer Information
  • U.S. History/Government/Population
  • World History and Culture
  • Nations of the World
  • Sports


You don't have to spend a lot to get this comprehensive book of facts that are ideal for forming questions for a friendly trivia battle, looking up statistics for an article you're writing, or simply learning more about the world around you.

I have little to complain about, but I do try to look at all the pros and cons. One thing I will say is that the print is very small. If you have problems with small print, I highly recommend getting the hardcover edition that has larger print.



Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ramen at Home by Brian MacDuckston

Genre: Cookbook
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Release Date: November 21, 2017



Are you craving a steaming bowl of ramen on a cold winter's day? Brian MacDuckston's guide into all things ramen can help you make the popular dish whenever you're craving it.

Ramen at Home contains many recipes. The cookbook is broken down into the following chapters:


  • Soups and Tares
  • Noodles
  • Toppings
  • Shio Ramen
  • Shoyu Ramen
  • Miso Ramen
  • Tonkotsu Ramen
  • Others
  • Side Dishes


As you read the book, you'll learn the differences between these ramen dishes and master how to make them. There are plenty of recipes to help you on your journey. As I'm waiting on some of the harder-to-find ingredients to arrive, right now the recipe for the broth I'm using is very simple and contains dried kombu (kelp), dried shiitake mushrooms, water, chicken, apple, ginger, and garlic. I have the Power Pressure Cooker XL, so I can set it up and let it slow cook all day with ease.

Making noodles from scratch is on my list of things to do as soon as I have the time. Once I can master that, I'll be on my way to creating some amazing ramen recipes. For now, I'm using dried noodles sold in the grocery store. Even using these, the ramen I've made is far superior to anything I've had locally. The recipes are easy to follow and taste fantastic.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Ramen at Home takes the reader on a culinary journey into one of Japan's beloved dishes - ramen. This cookbook is packed with recipes and information. My early childhood involved a few years living near San Francisco. My love for Japanese food started there. I'm very content with a bowl of ramen, some sushi, and a sampling of seaweed salad. It's also very hard to find authentic Japanese in my area.

Let's start with the author's background. Brian MacDuckston is the host of a YouTube channel dedicated to ramen. Ramen Adventures is worth a closer look if you haven't heard of it. He lives in Japan and shares his knowledge of all things ramen. His book showcases that beautifully. I've reviewed and read other Japanese cookbooks but few actually start with recipes for homemade noodles. To me, that's the most important part of a qualify ramen. You want those noodles made from scratch.

What amazes me is just how in-depth Ramen at Home really is given the book's smaller size. It's only 200 pages and that's counting the index and glossary. He covers everything in this book. He talks about the equipment you need. The ingredients. The stocks and toppings. the assembly, other uses for the noodles, and other recipes for things like gyoza and Karaage, one of my favorite dishes.

RTR's Bottom Line

Buy this book. Ramen at Home is a must-have for anyone who loves Japanese cuisine. The stories are worth reading, but the recipes are exceptional. We have a Japanese-born, British citizen staying with us for a month. He looked over the recipes and said they are pretty authentic to the foods he's grown up with.

If you need help finding ingredients and lack an Asian food store like me, I find that you can find them on Amazon.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon

Setting: New York
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: St. Martins Paperbacks
Release Date: December 5, 2017



Belfast McGrath keeps busy handling the kitchen at her parents' Irish inn. She's discussing the possibility of catering another couple's wedding when she spies a picture that brings her back in time. Almost two decades earlier, her best friend disappeared without a trace. People in the town always suspected Belfast knew more than she would admit to. Seeing her friend's picture in the paper is the proof she needs to know that Amy is still alive.

With the picture in hand, Belfast sets off in her spare time to uncover the truth. Why did Amy leave, and why has she never contacted anyone to at least let them know she's okay?

Strengths and Weaknesses


Humor is a driving force in Bel, Book, and Scandal. Belfast isn't one to back down from a challenge. I loved her honesty and some of her and her siblings' antics. I found myself eager to remain in their world. It provided an escape from everyday life. Once I started, I found it hard to put the story down. I always enjoy finding a book that's lighthearted and gripping at the same time.

This was my foray into Belfast's world. I am sad it took so long, but I'm also delighted I found her. The book is a quick read, but one that kept me entertained from start to finish.

RTR's Bottom Line


I loved Bel, Book, and Scandal. As I eagerly read every page, I tried to solve the mystery. Part of the reason for Amy's disappearance was easily figured out. The other part did surprise me.

I'm a fan of cozy mysteries and Maggie McConnon's book hit all the marks. I haven't read the other books in the series, but I didn't feel I was missing any vital details. I'll be catching up on Belfast's other adventures soon!