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Showing posts from January, 2012

Chocolate Passion: Recipes and Inspiration from the Kitchens of Chocolatier Magazine - Tish Boyle & Timothy Moriarty

Released October 1999 Tish Boyle Wiley Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Granted, Chocolate Passion is an older cookbook. It is, however, about one of my very favorite foods - chocolate. Chocolate Passion is a collection of recipes taken from Chocolatier Magazine, now Dessert Professional. You'll find everything in here from cakes to ice creams and cheesecakes to cookies. There are also dozens of color pictures to go with the decadent recipes. There are recipes for milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. The variety is one thing I appreciate, though I admit, I jumped right to the dark chocolate treats. The very first thing I decided to make was the cover shot, the chocolate-raspberry cake. I love dark chocolate and raspberries together. Recipes are set up to make them very easy to follow. I think anyone who can read and measure will have no problem with some of these recipes. That said, I do have one issue with this cookbook, all measurements are in cups and

The Fallback Plan - Leigh Stein

Released January 2012 Leigh Stein Melville House Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Graduating college should be the first step to a prosperous life, but Esther isn't finding that a degree is worth much. Six months pass without finding a job forcing her to live with her parents. Even Starbucks and Petco have nothing for her. Desperate, Esther agrees to babysit for friends of the family. Amy and Nate recently lost a child and their older daughter needs a nanny so that Amy can focus on her art work. It pays $9 an hour, which is better than nothing Esther figures. On another front, Esther's in love with her best friend, though he's in a steady relationship. The more she works for Amy and Nate, the more she finds herself drawn to him.She's also convinced that her anxiety and borderline depression are the result of a brain tumor. Not sure what she really wants from life or what's wrong with her, Esther must face her fears, her demons and life in general. I think y

April's Fool - Blanche Marriott

Released February 2012 Blanche Marriott Avalon Romance Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Every year, April Vaillancourt and her friends gather to pull an April Fools prank. The best prankster gets a free meal. As her friends are all in married or getting married, talking about being in love and considering children, April decides she wants to prove she has a special someone too. After a miserable relationship that ended up in a broken heart, she really wants to show her friends that she can move on without Stan. Putting her photo editing skills to good use, she creates a wedding album that fools all of her friends and wins her the free meal. The wedding album, however, gets left behind. Michael Goode is stunned when his co-worker comes in with a wedding album. Michael is certain he's never met the bride and cannot imagine how she got the pictures of him. With a little investigative work, Michael learns who the "bride" is and decides to pay her a visit. He never expe

Bond Girl - Erin Duffy

Released February 2012 William Morrow Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Kick in your pants fiction is something I always appreciate. I like stories told with such brutal honesty that I often forget it is fictional and not real. I'm pretty sure that some of the material in Bond Girl could only have come from the author's personal experiences during her 10 years on Wall Street, but whether or not it is exaggerated is left to the reader to decide. As a young girl, Alex Garrett found herself immersed in the world of high finance thanks to her father's innovative "Bring Your Daughter to Work Days," occurring long before the national event started up. Her love of Wall Street developed early, but she had no idea what the world was really like. After college, Alex lands what she believes is a dream job at Cromwell Pierce. Little does she know that her days are about to become filled with planting herself on a folding metal chair trying to make sense of what her co

Redwood Bend - Robyn Carr

Released February 28, 2012 Robyn Carr Harlequin Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Moving from Vermont to California is challenging for any woman, but moving twin five-year-old sons all the way across the country is extremely challenging. Katie Malone knows she needs to be closer to her brother, Connor ( Hidden Summit 1/12 ) so that her boys have a male role model. She never expects to deal with a flat tire and meet her dream man all in one night though. If there's one thing Dylan Childress knows, it's that he is not the marrying kind. His parents went through more marriages than he can count and developing a lasting relationship is just not in his DNA. Yet, if Dylan could ever settle down, he's pretty sure Katie is the woman he'd want. Changing her flat is just the start of what could change his life forever. Redwood Bend definitely tugged at the heartstrings. I liked Katie's character. She's been through a lot with her military husband dying before the

Scrumptious - Amanda Usen

Released January 2012 Amanda Usen Sourcebooks Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Marly Bennett's seen her father walk out on her, as well as having a month who bounces from husband to husband, and she knows marriage is not something she wants. Why commit to one man who will walk away in the end? For that reason, she makes it a point to enjoy sexual encounters without commitment. Joe Rafferty's mother's dying wish was that he would stop having affairs and find the right woman. Joe, however, say how much his parents fought and doesn't think marriage is all it's cracked up to to be. Soon, Joe and Marly find themselves working to help save a mutual friend's restaurant. After Olivia's head chef husband is literally caught with his pants around his ankles in the restaurant, Olivia fires him and needs Marly, her dessert chef, to help out on the main line. Olivia also recruits Joe, a talented chef. Putting the two together in the kitchen leads to more heat th

Smitten - Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt & Denise Hunter

Released December 20, 2011 Colleen Coble Kristin Billerbeck Diann Hunt Denise Hunter Thomas Nelson Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth I'm a sucker for stories set in Vermont. I've read some over the years that have completely gotten the state's geography wrong and others that were pretty spot on. The romantic anthology, Smitten , by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter is one of those that is spot on. While Smitten is a fictional town, I imagine Waterbury in my head as I'm reading it. The only difference is that Waterbury's death hasn't the closing of a mill town, it's the flooding resulting from Hurricane Irene that ravaged the city. Big businesses like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has moved much of their plant to another town and are talking about moving some of the business out of state. Ben and Jerry's is moving much of their production to another town. Businesses along the main drag were severely flooded and many e

Going Off Topic: Alton Brown

I'd planned to have another book finished today, however life got in the way again. Alton Brown and Hannaford proved to be my undoing this time. It's no secret that I love to bake. When I found a bunch of red bananas at Hannaford for less than normal bananas, I decided to buy them up. Then, I found walnuts in their bargain bin and bought those too. Bananas and walnuts -- well they were just begging me to turn them into bread. I love banana bread. Usually, I go with the recipe in my breast cancer cookbook, but I've discovered I prefer baking by weight rather than standard cup, tablespoon or teaspoon measurements. Alton Brown's cookbooks are all set up by weight. Pulling out my trusty Kitchenaid - it's pink and I don't care if pink goes with my gray/green kitchen, $50 from every sale goes to the Susan Komen Foundation, so it's important to me to only buy the pink mixer. Anyway, his recipe for banana bread uses oat flour. I didn't have any oat flour

The Lavender Lover's Handbook - Sarah Berringer Bader

Released April 2012 Lavender at Stonegate/Sarah Berringer Bader Timber Press Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Of all my gardens, my herb garden is my personal favorite. I love watching honeybees on my sage bushes and collecting mint for teas, gathering chives for salads or using fresh oregano in pasta dishes. Lavender is the one thing I haven't successfully gotten to thrive. I think I may have learned why after reading The Lavender Lover's Handbook . Sarah Berringer Bader, owner of Lavender at Stonegate, offers an in-depth look into lavender. Beautiful pictures show the different varieties and landscaping designs that incorporate lavender. She discusses companion plants, craft ideas, recipes, care and even reasons why every garden benefits from lavender. What I learned along the way is that the farm where I buy my lavender is wrong. They told me to plant it and leave it alone. Turns out that after all these years, I should have been pruning my plants. It's no wonder

The Baker's Daughter - Sarah McCoy

Released January 24, 2012 Sarah McCoy Crown Publishing Group Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Simply put, The Baker's Daughter is one of the warmest, most emotional books I've read in months. I cried, laughed, and really just couldn't put it down. Elsie as a senior cracked me up more than once, but Elsie as a teenager, well the things she endured just broke my heart. In 1945, Germany is at war and most people know what happened to the Jews. Teenager Elsie Schmidt helps her parents run their bakery, while her older sister left to have her son and become part of the Lebensborn Program. Connected to her sister by only letters that come sporadically, Elsie finds herself growing more and more concerned by Germany's actions. Especially after she witnesses the cruel treatment of a young Jewish boy during a Christmas party. Eventually, she ends up hiding the boy and hopes her actions will not lead to her family's ruin. In present day, journalist Reba Adams is tryi

Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know - Ray Hilborn

Released April 2012 Oxford University Press Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know takes a hard look at the fishing industry and people's consumption of fish today. It's not a secret that many fish are no longer thriving. Cod is one fish that is usually mentioned by the media about having dwindling numbers and being overfished. People turn to fish like tilapia in hopes of finding a new source of white fish that is in abundant quantities. The decline in fish populations is something I've grown up being extremely aware of. My grandfather was a North Sea fisherman. Decades ago, monkfish was known as "trash fish" and people refused to eat it. Some fishermen would throw them overboard or trash them, my grandfather would bring them home to his wife and daughter knowing the meat in the tail was boneless and incredibly tasty. Fast forward a couple decades and now I find it virtually impossible to find monkfish in stores and on the

Blue Moon Promise - Colleen Coble

Released February 14, 2012 Colleen Coble Thomas Nelson Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Her father's been murdered, her step-mother doesn't seem interested in raising their children, and that leaves Lucy March completely alone raising her younger brother and sister in a rental house. Worse, Lucy loses her job and her landlord announces she has one week to vacate because he's sold the property. Lucy doesn't know what she's going to do. It's at that moment that Henry Stanton shows up with an offer. He wants Lucy to enter a marriage by proxy with his son. Nate's been too busy running their cattle ranch to look into providing heirs and his father's had enough. Lucy doesn't like the idea of marrying a man before she's even spend time with him. However, someone's been following her around and when that stranger breaks into their home, she's desperate to get away. Marrying Nate seems to be the only possible solution to her problems. Whe

The Stubborn Dead - Natasha Hoar

Released January 2012 Natasha Hoar Carina Press The Stubborn Dead is very short, yet I was actually surprised at how well author Natasha Hoar managed to create what felt like a full-length story in just under 80 pages/20,000 words. Paranormal fans will find a lot to like in what I hope is the first part of a series. Rachel Miller is one of the Order of Rescue Mediums and after finishing up one job, she receives an urgent call from a woman who has a wraith invading her home. Wraiths are a little trickier, but Rachel is up for the challenge. Little does she know that this is not your ordinary wraith, she's about to go head to head with an entity long expected to be extinct. If Rachel fails to do her job, orders are to have her powers removed permanently. No matter what happens, Rachel knows she cannot fail. The story starts off with a bang as Rachel is in the middle of a challenging removal and the suspense and tension keeps building from there. I found it very hard to pu

Head Over Heels - Jill Shalvis

Released December 2011 Jill Shalvis Hachette Book Group Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Chloe Traeger's never stayed in one place for long. After inheriting one-third of a run-down oceanside inn, Chloe reluctantly gets to know her half-sisters (Tara from The Sweetest Thing (A Lucky Harbor Novel)  and Maddie from Simply Irresistible (A Lucky Harbor Novel) ) and starts selling her homemade skin creams and beauty products around the small town of Lucky Harbor. Her attraction to the town's sheriff, Sawyer Thompson, makes no sense, but she can't help but find herself enchanted by his charms, even when they're arguing. Sawyer doesn't have time in his life for a woman, so why is it that he can't get Chloe out of his head. After one kiss, it's clear that he'll never be able to get enough of Chloe, but with his job, he can't afford to get into a steady relationship. These two polar opposites want nothing more than to stay away from each other, but

Leone's Italian Cookbook - Gene Leone

Reissued 1997 Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth When my aunt died, she left behind her cherished, very dog-eared copy of Leone's Italian Cookbook . After marrying her very Italian, NYC husband, building up an array of Italian staples that reminded him of his grandmother's cooking was important to her and Mama Leone's was the cookbook that inspired her to become an amazing Italian cook in the comfort of her kitchen. Having that copy in my own kitchen is equally satisfying. If you're unfamiliar with Mama Leone, she was more than the star of a Billy Joel song. She cooked up amazing dishes in an Italian restaurant that ran from the early 1900s to the 1990s. What you'll find in Leone's Italian Cookbook is an array of Italian recipes that don't disappoint that her son Gene collected and shared with the world. My favorite recipe in this entire book is the Italian gravy she made. Packed with meats, herbs and spices, this recipe requires a lot of time slowly si

Freebie from Susan Mallery

Fool's Gold Series As a special gift to her readers, Susan Mallery is giving away a special cowboy calendar widget that you can add to your computer, or print out a Fool's Gold: Cowboy Country calendar, and add some eye candy to your day! Visit for more information.

Canal House Cooking, Volume 7 - Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

Released January 17, 2012 Open Road Media Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth I love rustic Italian cuisine. I've always said that if I could move away, the Mediterranean is where I'd head--Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal all have piqued my interest over the years. This is one reason I eagerly dove into Canal House Cooking Volume 7 . Part of the draw to these countries is the availability of fresh foods, year round. I live in Vermont and here what farmer market's exist, and there are not many, are only held in summer months. The rest of your time, you're stuck with what you froze from your garden or what is shipped to the area from southern states. Canal House Cooking Volume 7 details Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton's journey to Italy. They decided to rent a house, purchase foods from locals and experience true Italian cuisine. Throughout this cookbook, they discuss their experiences and share amazing recipes for things like homemade pasta, including

Ruby Red Heart in a Cold Blue Sea - Morgan Callan Rogers

Released January 2012 Morgan Callan Rogers Viking Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth I don't think it took long before I realized I had another book to add to my keeper shelf. I try to limit the number of books I keep because of the size of our house, but Ruby Red Heart in a Cold Blue Sea is an amazing story. It's part-mystery and a solid coming of age story set in a quaint ocean town in Maine. Florine Gilham starts her 12th summer off by getting into a little trouble. She and her friends decide to head to the summer homes and set off firecrackers, but one of them sets a porch on fire. That leads to Florine's mother reducing her hours and keeping her daughter under close watch. Soon the town's moved on and forgotten about the kids' prank, school resumes and Florine is back to her routine of making bread with her grandmother, watching for her father's lobster boat to return and spending time with her three buddies. It's not long before Florine's m

The Odds: A Love Story - Stewart O'Nan

Released January 2012 Stewart O'Nan Viking Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth Years ago, I read Stewart O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster and loved it, so I was eager to read The Odds: A Love Story. In O'Nan's latest tale, Art and Marion Fowler are on the brink of bankruptcy after both lose their jobs in the troubled economy. Their grown children no longer depend on them and Art's indiscretion is something Marion cannot forgive. With their finances in shambles, the pair are ready to sign divorce papers and start anew. With one last hurrah, the couple head off to Niagara Falls staying in the honeymoon suite of a fancy casino. They honeymooned here, so it seems fitting that their marriage ends where it began. Between sightseeing and fine dining, the couple take what money they have left and hope that Lady Luck might smile on them bringing an end to their problems. The Odds isn't a lengthy story. At just over 190 pages, it's a quick read, yet still

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! Usually the start of a new year brings around the either dreaded or anticipated New Year's Resolutions. Last year turned a chapter for me. After years of freelance writing, I landed an editing job and have been busy balancing personal time, editing and writing. Some days it's been a struggle to find time for all three and this year organization is top of my list. There are far too many days when I'm putting in a 10 hour work day and then realize that I still need to get laundry done, meals prepared and things set up for the next day. I need a better system, so that's my goal this year. Anyone have tips or really worthwhile books on organization to share?