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Showing posts from January, 2010

A Different Light - Mariah Stewart (Contemporary Romance)

Released January 2010 Technically, A Different Light is not new. The story's first release date was in 1995. However, Mariah Stewart pulled it out, fleshed out some scenes and reissued it for readers who may have missed it the first time around. After the tragic death of her husband, a police officer killed in the line of duty, Athena Moran becomes a virtual recluse. She sees how the other officers' wives look at her as they think "that could have been my husband." The loss of her husband forever changed Athena's life and the only thing keeping her going is her pre-teen daughter who's also hurting. When the mayor offers Athena a job as his assistant, she's hesitant to accept, but he's a family friend and deep down she knows it's time to get back on her feet. In a whirlwind of activity, she's not only his assistant, but he's urging her to run for mayor when his term is up. She can't figure out why. Soon

It's All American Food - David Rosengarten (Cookbook)

Released 2003 While some may use cookbooks simply for cooking, I like to sit down and study them. David Rosengarten, a self-taught chef who's appeared in Gourmet magazine and Food Network, offers a unique look at the foods that play an integral part in American culture. Included are a slew of recipes from just about every ethnicity you could imagine and short introductions into that specific culture. It's All American Food has been a favorite in this household. First, the recipes work. Not only do they really work, but they taste incredible. The recipe for homemade pork sausage is incredible and the only sausage that is eaten on a weekend morning now. We also love the recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Rolls and buttermilk pancakes. Within David Rosengarten's thick book (more than 500 pages) are sections for Jewish cuisine, Chinese-American, Cajun, Penn-Dutch and more. Feeling like a cold is ready to strike, I've spent the time making Jewi

Shopaholic Ties the Knot - Sophie Kinsella (Chick Lit)

Released August 2004 Recently reissued for the Kindle, Shopaholic Ties the Knot picks up where Confessions of a Shopaholic left off. Whether you've seen the movie or read the first book in this long-running series, you'll find plenty of humor in Becky Bloomwood's attempt at wedding planning. After Luke proposes in the middle of Becky's best friend's wedding, Becky is determined to have a charming marriage in her home country, England, but Luke's mother is tempting Becky with plans for a huge event held in the heart of New York. The problem is Becky is torn between an all-expense paid dream wedding and the wedding her mom is putting her heart and soul into arranging. When the film studio purchased the rights to Confessions of a Shopaholic , they purchased the rights to the entire series. Whether there will be a movie for Shopaholic Ties the Knot is unknown. At this point, nothing is in the works. But then the first movie and first b

Local Vermonter is Published

It's always an accomplishment to get published. I've had the thrill of seeing my work in magazines and newspapers, as well as online. For a family friend, the thrill is kicked up a notch by the recent publication of his novels through Lulu. Jack's books are available now. He started one during a NanoWriMo contest and stuck with it. I started to read it when it was still in the pre-publication stages, but life sidetracked met. Then files on my computer were lost when we had to restore after a particularly nasty trojan slipped past my antivirus program. Check his work out. Prices with Lulu are reasonable and you can purchase the download copy if you prefer.

Letters to Penthouse XXXVI - Editors of Penthouse Magazine (Erotic)

Released January 2010 I like to think I have an open mind, but then I receive these Penthouse "Letters to the Editors" collections and second guess myself. They can say the letters are written by individuals from around the country, but I still don't buy it. I'm certain they have a collection of ghost writers on their staff who come up with typical fantasies they feel their readers would enjoy. Maybe they do. I, however, find myself turned off very quickly. The very first "letter" in this collection involves a guy going out on a blind date set up by a former roommate. The blind date turns out to be exactly what he'd fantasied about and more. Other letters in this collection include a married woman whose husband allows her to have sexual trysts with a former beau. An older man recounting his affair with a female supervisor. A male inmate who encounters a very willing female staff member. Or, how about the man who gets m

Despite the Best Intentions

I'm reading, but not spending as much time behind the computer. My daughter's had viral bronchitis for a couple weeks now that's finally getting better. However, I managed to pick it up, I never seem able to dodge bronchitis. So while I feel like I'm about to hack up both lungs, I'm taking it easy. Reviews will be back soon.

Second Strong Quake Hits Haiti

In case you haven't heard, an aftershock hit Haiti again this morning, 6.1 on the Richter scale. I know how tight times are, but if you have any money whatsoever that you can donate to help the country recover, Amazon has a safe and secure page set up. Haiti Earthquake Fund at

Robert B. Parker (Obit)

Just heard that Robert B. Parker died. He died of natural causes, reportedly while sitting at his desk. So sad. You can read Penguin's Twitter here - Anyone who read his books or watched the 1980's show Spenser: For Hire will miss him. And I'm off now to pull out some of his books and see what I'll read in tribute to one of my favorites!

Mulligan Girl - Rebecca L. Boschee (Contemporary Romance)

Released February 24, 2010 I have this minor issue with all Avalon Romances. In general, they are very similar to Harlequin or Silhouette romances, short and sweet and great when you want a character driven romance that doesn't take days to read. Given that, the publisher releases them in hardcover so the price is much higher. In this economy, I know I can't afford to pay $25 for a book that I'll read once and then pass on. In Mulligan Girl , Ren Edwards has a dream career. She's paid to go shopping and evaluate customer service and sales. Using a fake persona, she heads online to a trendy golf club and purchases an anniversary present for her non-existent husband. Little does she know this purchase is going to change her life. Despite the fact that the online purchase gets botched, the manager does all he can to make things right, including free golf and spa treatments. Once Ren meets him, she falls head over heels. Unfortunately, he think

Pork & Beans Bread Commentary

After reading Joanne Fluke's Plum Pudding Murder, I was somewhat disgusted by the thought of Pork & Beans Bread. However, I also happen to know that she's a great cook and nothing she's ever dished up has been inedible. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it was possible to turn a soupy can of pasty beans into something delicious. I had a friend who'd given me boxes of canned food she'd inherited and couldn't use, so I decided to give it a shot. Essentially, Pork and Beans Bread is the combination of sugar, eggs, flour, vegetable oil, leaveners, cinnamon and walnuts or pecans. I opted for walnuts because: a. they're cheaper and b. I like the taste of them. With that, I put a can of pork and beans into my blender and pureed it to a mushy mess. Because it was very thick, I went a step ahead and added the oil to the mix in the blender too, though the recipe didn't state to do that. I poured that mix into the remaining ingredie

He Said, She Said - Jay & Laura Laffoon (Non-Fiction)

Released January 2010 Here's something you may or may not already know about me. When it comes to parenting, relationship or general advice books, I find most of them to be useless. My mind's usually made up from the beginning because I real far too many where the so-called expert really has no true expertise in that field. A college degree does not make a single person with no children an expert on child rearing and someone who works as a marriage counselor but is either single or divorced also has no true experience. When you give advice, I like to think you actually have some insider's knowledge because you've been there! Marital advice to me is tricky. I've been married to my husband for 19 years this May. My parents have been married for coming on 50 years. Does that make me an expert? It certainly does where our marriage is concerned, but not every marriage is alike. I'd be more tempted to put my faith in what my parents have t

Life Gets in the Way

I've been bad. My goal was to read daily, but with exams last week eating into my usual routine, I just didn't read as much as I'd wanted. Sure I picked up a book, but haven't finished one until this morning. Between high school shuttling for the weird exam schedule and then diving into the kitchen to test out an unusual Joanne Fluke recipe - details on that to come - the only thing I've read and finished was the newspaper. Tomorrow, I'm getting back on track and keeping up with my read every day routine!

Plum Pudding Murder - Joanne Fluke (Culinary Mystery)

Released October 2009 Since the very inception of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson Mysteries, I've collected each and every book for the outstanding recipes and charming storyline. The recipes included in these books are not for the calorie conscious. These are decadent baked goods whipped up by Hannah Swenson, owner of The Cookie Jar. In this latest offering, Hannah once again stumbles across a dead body. This time she's gone to collect payment from a new customer, Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot. It seems someone didn't like the owner's business ethics. During her normal routine, Hannah learns more about the owner and how investors in his business, including Mayor Bascomb, may have been getting scammed. Determined to unravel the mystery, Hannah, along with help from friends and family, tries to get to the truth behind the murder. If you've never read one of Joanne Fluke's mystery novels, you may want to

Weekend Reading

I'm in the middle of reading a couple books by a very favorite author Joanne Fluke. If you enjoy cooking or have a sweet tooth, I cannot recommend her books highly enough. I've tested many of the recipes in her culinary mystery series and have yet to find one I didn't love. I'm a little behind in her series, but this weekend I decided to catch up. It's 8 below as I speak, so staying inside is definitely warranted! So watch for:

Cookbooks Galore

Because we thought someone was coming over last night, I pulled out a few favorite cookbooks to get ideas for snacky/appetizer type foods we could have ready. Because I knew we'd also have beer out, I wanted something that wouldn't add more carbs than we were already having. All recipes are simple and require few ingredients which makes them even better. I did the Buffalo Steak Bits, a huge hit with my buffalo chicken wing loving son and then used the Smoked Pecan recipe but used almonds. If you do tend to socialize and want easy recipes that won't pack on the pounds, I do have to say this is one of my favorite cookbooks for quick snacks.

Pieces of Sky - Kaki Warner (Historical Western Romance)

Released January 2010 I have my buddy Jen to thank for my interest in historical westerns. I hated history in school and avoided it in the romance novels I read. However, but after meeting Jen in an online book club, she gave me a number of authors to try because she knew I'd love them. She was right. Truth be told, it's the cover art to Pieces of Sky that made me pick the book up and start reading. Forget the back cover blurb, the cover art said it all. Whoever chose that artwork needs a raise! In Kaki Warner's new novel, Jessica Thornton abandons her sister in England hoping to find her brother who headed off to America with hopes of striking it rich in gold. Jessica is pregnant due to a horrifying event that she can't share with anyone. Instead, she makes up a story of being a widow. In the New Mexico Territory, the stagecoach Jessica is riding crashes. Badly injured, he ends up at the ranch of Brady Wilkins, a man with a few secrets of h

Coming Undone - Lauren Dane (Erotic Romance)

Released January 2010 Erotic romance is a genre I try to like because the story lines often sound intriguing but the delivery usually falls short. I realize that a bias is one of the biggest hurdles with this genre. I'm all for an erotic romance, but to me you can create an erotic story without relying on trashy language. Erotic romances tend to rely heavily on the trash talk and repetitive use of using crude terms during romantic scenes. I'm not sure why publishers, or perhaps authors, insist this is the only way to go, but they all do. Given that, the storyline in Lauren Dane's Coming Undone appealed to me. I really wanted to read it. Overall, it's a fantastic story. Single mom Elise Sorenson escaped an abusive marriage with her young daughter and is trying to start a new life in Seattle. She meets sexy neighbor Brody Brown who spent much of his teen years raising his siblings after his parents' unexpected deaths. He's become a renown

The Brightest Star in the Sky - Marian Keyes (General Fiction)

Released January 21, 2010 There's nothing I love more than curling up in front of the fire with a good book. The Brightest Star in the Sky goes a step farther by being a great book! I always enjoy Marian Keyes novels, her chick-lit especially. She's Irish, so they include that sarcastic sense of British humor that makes me feel at home, kind of a session with my aunts on "girl's night." Not everyone will get the language because despite what people think, there is a world of difference between English and what we speak here which I dub American. With upwards of 500 pages, this is a good meaty story that draws you in with engaging characters, a substantial plot and then that twist that made me hit myself for not realizing a key point sooner. Ms. Keyes did an exceptional job making something so obvious become so difficult to deduce. The characters in The Brightest Star in the Sky are numerous. The story begins with a spirit visiting the var

Who Killed the Pinup Queen - Toni L. P. Kelner (Mystery)

Released January 2010 The second installment in the Where Are They Now mystery series finds freelance reporter Tilda Harper tracking down former guest stars of a popular western television series. Cowtown's former producers decide to open a theme park dedicated to their series and they need former stars to help with fundraising and promotions. Meanwhile, Tilda is also busy finishing up a story on pinup models of the 1950s. After interviewing one woman, she returns later to pick something up only to find the former model's body and a huge pool of blood. Someone killed the poor woman and Tilda soon learns that she may hold the key to solving the murder. The problem is that she doesn't know what the killer wants, and the killer will do what it takes to make sure Tilda doesn't figure it out. Cozy mysteries are always great for a snowy day and we certainly got more than our share in this weekend's storm. With 22 plus inches covering my yard, I w

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management (Non-Fiction)

Reissued August 2008 You must remember that the original Mrs. Beeton's Guide to Household Management was written in 1861. A lot has changed in terms of the roles of women. That said, if you want to see exactly what day to day life was like for a woman in Britain's Victorian era, this is a must read. I actually have a copy of this given to me by my mum who figured since I was always borrowing her copy for the recipes, I should have my own. If you want authentic recipes for British classics like Christmas Pudding, pork pies or bangers, here is your book. Obviously, the advice on child rearing, doctoring a sick family member and cleaning tips may not appeal to all. There is some truth in what she says. Other information, such as the colostrum that comes before your breast milk lacking nutrients and not beneficial to a newborn has since been proven wrong. I do agree that when someone is sick, they should be exposed to fresh air via an open window or

Three Books in Review Process

I'd hoped to have a review ready today, but I started one book on Friday night and then ended up getting another in the mail Saturday that sounded really good. In typical fashion, I started reading the first chapter and got hooked. So now I have two books going at once. Add to it my quest to find a recipe and I turned to a very old Mrs. Beeton's book that was the Ms. Manners of its time and now does tend to make me thankful times have changed. So in the next few days, expect reviews for:

The Would-Be Mommy (Harlequin)

Released February 2010 While Christmas is over, I still have my kids home, my husband's on vacation and I have family and friends popping by. Given that, I'm finding it hard to fit reading into my routine at the moment. With that, I received a Harlequin American Romance a few days ago. The good thing about Harlequin romances is that they are short and sweet. You know you'll get a happy ending and the books are easy to fit into a busy schedule. I've always been a sucker for single parent storylines and that's what Jackie Diamond delivers. Only this time, the woman inherits a baby in an unusual manner. Jennifer Serra is the PR director for Safe Harbor Medical where a recent press conference on the Safely Surrendered Baby law brings an infant into her life. The teen mother insists Jennifer must adopt her infant daughter and will only release the infant if Jennifer agrees. Jennifer suffered her own loss and would love to add a baby to