Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cookbook Review: The Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451661258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451661255

Book Description

There is some truth to the old adage “Most of the world eats to live, but Italians live to eat.”

 What is it about a good Italian supper that feels like home, no matter where you’re from? Heaping plates of steaming pasta . . . crisp fresh vegetables . . . simple hearty soups . . . sumptuous stuffed meats . . . all punctuated with luscious, warm confections.

For acclaimed actor Stanley Tucci, teasing our taste buds in classic foodie films such as Big Night and Julie & Julia was a logical progression from a childhood filled with innovative homemade Italian meals: decadent Venetian Seafood Salad; rich and gratifying Lasagna Made with Polenta and Gorgonzola Cheese; spicy Spaghetti with Tomato and Tuna; delicate Pork Tenderloin with Fennel and Rosemary; fruity Roast Duck with Fresh Figs; flavorful Baked Whole Fish in an Aromatic Salt Crust; savory Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Potatoes; buttery Plum and Polenta Cake; and yes, of course, the legendary Timpano.
Featuring nearly 200 irresistible recipes, perfectly paired with delicious wines, The Tucci Cookbook is brimming with robust flavors, beloved Italian traditions, mouthwatering photographs, and engaging, previously untold stories from the family’s kitchen.

About The Author

 Stanley Tucci has appeared in more than fifty films, including The Devil Wears Prada, The Terminal, and Road to Perdition, as well as more than a dozen plays, on and off Broadway. Stanley starred in Julie & Julia, opposite Meryl Streep, and The Lovely Bones, for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination along with Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG, and Broadcast Film Critics nominations.

My Review

Actor Stanley Tucci is the author of this wonderful Italian cookbook.  The first recipe is one of my favorite dishes to eat:  bruschetta with tomato.  The accompanying photo looks amazing and the recipe sounds delightful! 

The book contains the following chapters:

  • Appetizers and Salads
  • Soups
  • Eggs
  • Bread and Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Rice and Risotto
  • Vegetables and Side Dishes
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Desserts
At the beginning you will also find an introduction by chef Mario Batali, a history of Tucci's family and their love of food as well as a section on wine.

The photos are beautiful as they should be in a cookbook!  I love the sauce recipes in the Pasta section.  And the poultry recipes...chicken with rosemary, chicken cacciatore, simple chicken breast with sage, and roasted chicken with vegetables. 

A wonderful cookbook to add to your cookbook collection!

Review: The Beautiful Mystery: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312655460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312655464

Book Description

 The brilliant new novel in the "New York Times" bestselling series by Louise Penny, one of the most acclaimed crime writers of our time No outsiders are ever admitted to the monastery of Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups, hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec, where two dozen cloistered monks live in peace and prayer. They grow vegetables, they tend chickens, they make chocolate. And they sing. Ironically, for a community that has taken a vow of silence, the monks have become world-famous for their glorious voices, raised in ancient chants whose effect on both singer and listener is so profound it is known as "the beautiful mystery." But when the renowned choir director is murdered, the lock on the monastery's massive wooden door is drawn back to admit Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Surete du Quebec. There they discover disquiet beneath the silence, discord in the apparent harmony. One of the brothers, in this life of prayer and contemplation, has been contemplating murder. As the peace of the monastery crumbles, Gamache is forced to confront some of his own demons, as well as those roaming the remote corridors. Before finding the killer, before restoring peace, the Chief must first consider the divine, the human, and the cracks in between.

About the Author


LOUISE PENNY is the New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of seven previous novels featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Her debut, Still Life, won the John Creasey Dagger and the Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys Awards, and was named one of the five Mystery/Crime Novels of the Decade by Deadly Pleasures magazine. Penny was the first author ever to win the Agatha Award for Best Novel four times—for A Fatal Grace, The Cruelest Month, and The Brutal Telling (which also received the Anthony Award for Best Novel), and Bury Your Dead (which also won the Dilys, Arthur Ellis, Anthony, Macavity, and Nero Awards). She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

My Review

I won this fabulous book in a contest on Ms. Penny's website and couldn't be more thrilled to be able to review the ARC of The Beautiful Mystery.

In this outing we are not in the familiar setting of Three Pines but instead in an isolated monastery in the Quebec wilderness.  One of the monks in the abbey has been murdered...and he has obviously been murdered by one of the other monks.  It is a fascinating story of an order of monks who have been hidden away for centuries, the Gilbertines, who have only become known now because of a famous recording of Gregorian chants.

The novel opens with Jean-Guy Beauvoir and Armand Gamache's daughter Annie newly in love and deciding how to tell her parents.  It is wonderful to see them so happy together.  They both have not had an easy time in previous novels.  Their new love is interwoven with the mature love of Armand and his wife.  However, work intervenes and Gamache and Beauvoir are off to the abbey.

Louise Penny comments upon the role of the church in the lives of the people in Quebec.  How it is no longer the important institution it once was.  How the church was built up on the backs of the poor. These thoughts echo those of my own relatives in Quebec.  As one travels around Quebec in all of the villages and towns you are immediately struck by the gorgeous church/cathedral that dominates the town.  These glorious churches were built using money that could barely be spared by the working people of the town.  The priest was the most important person in these villages and towns and he dominated those who were members of his church.  Today, the young people have left the church and these massive structures will soon be falling into disrepair I would imagine.

Louise Penny is an amazing writer. It is so hard to put this book down and get on with the day.  The novel deals with the relationship between Gamache and Beauvoir and how they both view this relationship in light of the tragedy that occurred several books back when Beauvoir was almost fatally injured.  It is both touching and tragic how Penny writes about this relationship.  I'm looking forward to their relationship in the novels to come. 

It is novel about the battles that rage within all of us.  And our addictions whether it be to music, to religion or to drugs.  What brings us joy and bliss.  Why are some addictions acceptable and some not?

Thought provoking and well written...The Beautiful Mystery is a joy to read and destined to be one of the most prized books of the year. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Scone Island by Frederick Ramsay

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1464200556
  • ISBN-13: 978-1464200557

Book Description

Ike Schwartz, Sheriff of Picketsville, Virginia, and Ruth Dennis, the President of a local university and Ike's fiancee cannot find peace and quiet be at home after a trying year of academic and local politics. So, they elect to seek asylum on Scone Island, a rocky island four miles off the coast of Maine. Its lack of electricity, reliable water supply, and phone service guarantee their seclusion and peace. The fact there has been a suspicious accident resulting in the death of the mysterious Harmon Staley should not concern them at all. And it doesn't until Ike's past as a CIA agent rolls in on him like the area's famous twelve foot tides. Two more murders involving former colleagues elsewhere in the country send Charlie Garland, Ike's old friend from the Agency searching the files for a connection. Stonewalling by the CIA, conspiracies, real and imagined, end with Ike and Ruth facing an unknown but determined number of assassins alone on the island.As if that were not enough, Ruth's mother decides to drop in on them just as the excitement begins. A late arrival by the Director of the CIA and Charlie only make things worse for Ruth who opts for Plan B-Las Vegas-in the hopes that she and Ike can finally get lost in the crowd. And good luck with that.

About The Author

 Dr. Frederick Ramsay was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois-Westside Medical Campus. After a stint in the Army, he joined the faculty of the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, teaching Anatomy, Embryology and Histology; engaged in research and also served as an Associate Dean. During this time he also pursued studies in theology and in 1971 was ordained an Episcopal priest. He is the author of several scientific and general articles, tracts, theses, and co-author of The Baltimore Declaration. He is an accomplished public speaker and once hosted a television spot, Prognosis, on the evening news for WMAR-TV, Baltimore. He is also an iconographer with works displayed around the world. He lives in Surprise, Arizona with his wife and partner, Susan.

My Review

I really enjoyed the last book in this series, Rogue, so I knew this one would be a great read....and it was.  Dr.Ramsey knows how to tell a story that flows.  I enjoy the bickering between Ike and Ruth.  His characters are all well drawn and a pleasure to get to know.

I've been to the coast of Maine where the book is set so between my recollections and his descriptions the setting came alive for me.  Ike's CIA past comes back to haunt him in this book.  There is plenty of action in this outing.

Good read...I'm thoroughly enjoying this series!  It is available on August 7th.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cookbook Review: America's Most Wanted Recipes: Just Desserts by Ron Douglas

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451623364
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451623369

Book Description

New York Times bestselling author Ron Douglas serves more than 200 copycat dessert recipes from your family’s favorite restaurants!
  More than a million home chefs across the country have enjoyed America’s Most Wanted Recipes, More of America’s Most Wanted Recipes, and America’s Most Wanted Recipes Without the Guilt, in which author Ron Douglas uncovers the best of the best recipes from hundreds of popular restaurants, including Applebee’s, Arby’s, Baskin- Robbins, The Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s, IHOP, and more. Within the pages of his fantastic cookbook series, they’ve found the answer to that daily, nagging question: What can I cook at home that will taste just as good and be just as much of a treat as eating out?

America’s Most Wanted Recipes Just Desserts features more copycat recipes, this time for the sweetest treats from some of the most deliciously decadent menus available.

Ron has perfected his versions of recipes from more than seventy-five different billion-dollar establishments. Think Applebee’s Deadly Chocolate Sin, The Cheesecake Factory’s Banana Cream Cheesecake, and Cracker Barrel’s Banana Pudding. Just Desserts will cover what Ron’s rapidly growing fan base craves: inexpensive, easy, and delicious dishes that the whole family can enjoy. Perfect for satisfying sweet tooths—at home and minus the cost of eating out. Holidays, birthday parties, and impromptu dinner parties will be even more fun to prepare and more memorable. Sweet!

About The Author

 Ron Douglas is a former finance director at JP Morgan and founder of the #1 copycat recipe website, RecipeSecrets.net and author of the New York Times bestseller America’s Most Wanted Recipes. He lives in New York with his wife and two children.

My Review

 This delectable cookbook featuring dessert recipes is filled with copycat recipes from restaurants across the United States.  I often drool over the desserts on menus but then when I'm finishing the main course I'm too full for dessert so it is wonderful to be able to replicate these recipes at home.

The book has recipes listed in alphabetical order by restaurant.  So if you have a favorite dessert at your favorite restaurant it is easy to look up.  It has recipes from most of the chains but also from unique restaurants across America including Burnt Creme from Clinkerdagger's in Spokane.  Sounds fabulous!!  It has recipes from some of the restaurants in Walt Disney World.

I was a little disappointed at first that there is not any photos but then I realized that I could easily look up the menus of the restaurant online and see the finished product there.

This cookbook is a delight; it's filled with amazing dessert recipes as well as a few extras such as some beverages.  I highly recommend this cookbook for everyone who loves desserts!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Deep Down: A Reacher Story by Lee Child

  • File Size: 1717 KB
  • Print Length: 58 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (July 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008ED5G9A

Book Description

In thriller master Lee Child’s exclusive eBook short story, Jack Reacher must track down a spy in soldier’s clothing—by matching wits with four formidable females. Three are clean—but the fourth may prove fatal.
Includes a thrilling preview of Lee Child’s hotly anticipated Jack Reacher novel, A Wanted Man!
Summoned by Military Intelligence to Washington, D.C., Reacher is sent undercover. The assignment that awaits him: The army is meeting with its Capitol Hill paymasters for classified talks on a new, state-of-the-art sniper rifle for U.S. forces. But vital details about the weapon are leaking—straight from the Capitol and probably into the hands of unidentified foreign arms dealers. The prospect of any and every terrorist, mercenary, or dictator’s militia getting their hands on the latest superior firepower is unthinkable. That’s where Reacher comes in. His task: infiltrate the top-secret proceedings and smoke out the mole. His target: a quartet of high-powered Army political liaison officers—all of them fast-track women on their way to the top.

About The Author

 Lee Child is the #1 internationally bestselling author of thirteen Reacher thrillers, including the New York Times bestsellers The Enemy, One Shot, The Hard Way, and the #1 bestselling Bad Luck and Trouble and Nothing to Lose. His debut, Killing Floor, won both the Anthony and the Barry awards for Best First Mystery, and The Enemy won both the Barry and the Nero awards for Best Novel. Foreign rights in the Reacher series have sold in forty territories, and all titles have been optioned for major motion pictures. Child, a native of England and a former television director, lives in New York City, where he is at work on his fourteenth Reacher thriller, 61 Hours.

My Review

A quickie from Lee Child to keep us amused until the next Reacher novel is out in September.  It provides a little more background on Jack Reacher's earlier life.  The story portrays typical Reacher behaviour and thoughts.  There is a few pages of A Wanted Man at the end of the short story.  Cannot wait until September when it comes out.

Review: Heartbroken by Lisa Unger

  • File Size: 1956 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307465209
  • Publisher: Crown (June 26, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006UJW7FG

Book Description

A shattering new thriller about three women, strangers, on a heart-wrenching collision course none of them could have seen coming.
Long after anyone expected Kate to do anything with her life, she did. Using the journals left behind by her aunt and grandmother, she wrote a novel based on a very real generation-old love story that ended in tragedy. On the other side of town, Emily is about to set fire to her life. She’s in a dead-end job and is involved with the wrong man; she can feel herself being drawn into darkness, with horrific consequences. With nowhere to go, she finds herself on the run.  Without knowing each other, and with lives that couldn't be more different, Kate and Emily head to the same point on the map: Heart Island, an idyllic place in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks, owned for generations by Birdie Burke's family. The harsh and unyielding Birdie is at one with this island, which has a terrifying history all its own. She, too, has consequences to face.

is a tense, mesmerizing novel about the limits of dysfunctional families, of an island haunted by dark memories and restless ghosts, and of the all-too-real demons we must battle.  Wonderfully suspenseful, exquisitely crafted, and written with raw, emotional power, this is Lisa Unger at her very best.

About The Author

 Lisa Unger is an award-winning New York Times and international bestselling author.  Her novels have sold over one million copies in the United States and have been translated into twenty-six different languages.

My Review

 I really enjoyed this latest novel by Lisa Unger.  It was different from what I've come to expect from an Unger thriller novel but it was a very good story.  Unger has a fabulous writing style that really captivates me and I find it hard to put Heartbroken down!

Generational family story of a wealthy family who summer on their on island in a lake in the Adirondacks.  The drama mostly plays out on the island between the women of the family.  This dysfunctional family has a lot of ghosts in its past.  And in this story invaders with a nasty agenda traverse into their lives with terrible consequences.  

Great captivating read that I highly recommend.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Review: Shunning Sarah by Julie Kramer

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145166463X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451664638

Book Description

An insular Amish town . . . A secret that won’t stay buried . . . 
 Minneapolis’s star investigative reporter Riley Spartz is constantly in search of her next TV sweeps piece. When she hears that a young boy is trapped at the bottom of a sinkhole, she smells ratings. Little does she know just how big the story will be—not only does it involve a tragic murder, but the local Amish community as well. Once Riley is on the case, though, she sees that solving it will be anything but easy.

When Riley finds a clue the cops have missed, she uncovers a dark web of fraud and deception in the community—driven by motives as old as the Bible: sex and money. Riley will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice, and she is determined to do so before anyone—including herself—becomes the next target.

About the Author

Julie Kramer writes thrillers set in the desperate world of television news. A former news producer for NBC, CBS, and WCCO-TV, she’s won the Minnesota Book Award and the RT Book Reviewer’s Best First Mystery. She has also been a finalist for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. She lives with her family in Minnesota.

My Review

This is my first introduction to the Riley Spratz series by Julie Kramer and I am very impressed.  She has a captivating writing style that keeps you reading.  The main character Riley Spartz is a television news reporter whose investigative skills take her deep into a mystery in the Amish country of Minnesota.

Amish books particularly in the romance field are very popular these days.  I would imagine it is because in our complicated technology filled lives it is nice to go to a simpler place...the land of the Amish.  They live amongst us but are not anything like us.  They are a mystery to us.  The Amish tend to fascinate me as well.  I'll never forget a little Amish girl waving at me from the back of a buggy in Ohio as we rode by her family on our Harley early one summer morning.  And maybe she won't forget the leather clad Harley riding woman smiling and waving back at her.

Our murder victim Sarah was a young Amish woman who was being shunned.  She was no longer living among the Amish when she was murdered.  Shunning to most North Americans is a very mysterious concept but those of us who lived among the Mennonites who are very similar in belief but not as strict in lifestyle have no problem understanding shunning.  Why Sarah was being shunned is not revealed until late in the story and is of course integral to the plot.

Great story that had me guessing until the end. I learned a lot about south eastern Minnesota and I learned a lot about the television news business.  All in all I was very impressed by the easy flowing writing style of the author.  I will try to catch up on the earlier books and am looking forward to more from Julie Kramer.  Shunning Sarah is out on August 7th so be sure to pre-order a copy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451648138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451648133

Book Description

 Dave Robicheaux is back, in a gorgeously written, visceral thriller by James Lee Burke, “the heavy weight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed” (Michael Connelly).

Creole Belle begins where the last book in the Dave Robicheaux series, The Glass Rainbow, ended. Dave is in a recovery unit in New Orleans, where a Creole girl named Tee Jolie Melton visits him and leaves him an iPod with the country blues song “Creole Belle” on it. Then she disappears. Dave becomes obsessed with the song and the memory of Tee Jolie and goes in search of her sister, who later turns up inside a block of ice floating in the Gulf. Meanwhile, there has been an oil well blowout on the Gulf, threatening the cherished environs of the bayous.     

Creole Belle is James Lee Burke at his very best, with beloved series hero Dave Robicheaux leading the charge against the destruction of both the land and the people he has sworn to protect.

About the Author

 James Lee Burke is the author of thirty previous novels and two collections of short stories, including the New York Times bestsellers The Glass Rainbow and Feast Day of Fools. He lives in Missoula, Montana.

My Review

The biggest miracle that happened this year was that James Lee Burke's publisher sent me this book for review.  What a huge honour.  James Lee Burke is America's greatest living novelist.  His writing illuminates the human character in a way that no author comes close to.  And what a gifted storyteller...what an imagination.  Every novel he has written is such a treasure.

After the Glass Rainbow, the message boards were filled with readers worrying that Dave and Clete had their final adventure.  But everyone's prayers were answered when it was announced that Creole Belle would be released in July and that it was the next Dave Robicheaux book.  The sighs of relief flooded the internet!

Creole Belle is an amazing novel.  The novel opens with Dave recovering in a hospital in New Orleans.  A mysterious visitor appears in the middle of the night.  It is singer Tee Jolie Melton.  Was she a vision in his morphine haze or was she really there...he believes she was but his daughter Alafair and wife Molly are a little concerned with what they decide is just a vision.  The search for Tee Jolie consumes Dave when he returns to work as a detective.  When her sister shows up dead, floating in the bayou encased in ice his concern and determination to find her increases to the point of obsession.

Clete is well Clete and we wouldn't have it any other way.  He believes that a young woman Gretchen is his long lost daughter.  Without telling her who he is he sets about looking after her.  But he soon finds out she is more than capable of looking out for herself.  New side of Clete for us readers to revel in.

Louisiana is once again one of the main characters of a Burke novel.  He lives and breathes Louisiana like no other author can.  Mirroring recent news stories, a large oil company has had an oil spill in the Gulf.  Louisiana seems to keep taking the punches...Katrina, Rita, the disappearing coastline and now an oil spill further destroying Louisiana's delicately balanced ecosystem.  If there is anyone to tell this story it is James Lee Burke.

This book is amazing.  One of the best of the year.  What a story.  What revelations.  If you haven't pre-ordered your copy yet do it now!  This incredible book will be available on July 17th.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cookbook Review: Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today's Sweet Tooth by Julie Richardson

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (July 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1607741024
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607741022

Book Description

A charming collection of updated recipes for both classic and forgotten cakes, from a timeless yellow birthday cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, to the Christmas standard, Bûche de Noël, written by a master baker and coauthor of Rustic Fruit Desserts.

  Make every occasion—the annual bake sale, a birthday party, or even a simple Sunday supper—a celebration with this charming collection of more than 50 remastered classics.

Each recipe in Vintage Cakes is a confectionary stroll down memory lane. After sifting through her treasure trove of cookbooks and recipe cards, master baker and author Julie Richardson selected the most inventive, surprising, and just plain delicious cakes she could find. The result is a delightful and delectable time capsule of American baking, with recipes spanning a century.

Each cake has been expertly tested and retooled using the best ingredients and most up-to-date techniques. With precise and careful guidance, Richardson guides home bakers—whether total beginners or seasoned cooks—toward picture-perfect meringues, extra-creamy frostings, and lighter-than-air chiffons.

A few of the dreamy cakes that await: a chocolatey Texas Sheet Cake as large and abundant as its namesake state, the boozy Not for Children Gingerbread Bundt cake, and the sublime Lovelight Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Chocolate Whipped Cream. With recipes to make Betty Crocker proud, these nostalgic and foolproof sweets rekindle our love affair with cakes.

About The Author

JULIE RICHARDSON is the owner and head baker of Baker & Spice, a small-batch bakery and café in Portland, Oregon. She is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and the coauthor of Rustic Fruit Desserts. Her sweet tooth led her to open her first bakery, Good Earth, in Ketchum, Idaho. Upon moving to Portland, she fell in love with the farms and fruits of the Pacific Northwest and launched Baker & Spice from a stall at the farmers’ market in 1999. Julie spends most days baking cakes, croissants, and pies or teaching classes at SweetWares, her retail bakeware shop. When Julie is not baking, she can be found digging in her garden. She lives in Portland with her husband, Matt, and their many four-legged friends.


My Review

Yum,yum,yum....I want the Pink Cake on Page 121 and I want it now!  Chocolate cake with a raspberry butter cream icing...looks and sounds divine. In fact every cake in this delightful new cookbook is divine.

The cookbook is divided into several sections:

  • Hasty Cakes
  • Everyday Cakes
  • Little Cakes and Light Cakes
  • Flips and Rolls
  • Layer Cakes
  • Fillings, Frostings and Icings

The book starts off basic tips and techniques for cakes which will be helpful for every baker, new or old.  The first recipe in the book, Berry Long Cake with Ginger Crumb sounds amazing as well as easy to make.  This would be amazing for breakfast (for those of us who are known to eat pie or cake for breakfast!)  How about some Wacky Cake!  Or the Harvey Wallbanger!  I know my better half would adore this Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing.

In these busy days when few people take the time to bake, it is wonderful to discover this ode to baking days of old...when time was slower and people took the time to sit back and appreciate a wonderful piece of a homemade cake!  If you collect cookbooks like I do, are a baker, or just love drooling over beautiful photos of cakes then this book is a must for you!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Review: The Exceptions by David Cristofano

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446567353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446567350

Book Description

From David Cristofano, the Edgar Award-nominated author of "The Girl She Used to Be," comes a poignant, darkly witty story about the ties that bind us together . . . and the choices that rip us apart. 


"No loose ends." It's the Bovaro family motto. As part of the Bovaro clan, one of the most powerful and respected families in organized crime, Jonathan knows what he must do: take out Melody Grace McCartney, the woman whose testimony can lock up his father and disgrace his entire family. The only problem: he can't bring himself to do it. 

Had Jonathan kept his silence, Melody and her parents would never have been identified and lured into the Witness Protection Program, able to run but never to hide. So he keeps her safe the only way he knows how-by vowing to clean up his own mess while acting as her shield. 

But as he watches her take on another new identity in yet another new town, becoming a beautiful but broken woman, Jonathan can't get her out of his mind . . . or his heart. From the streets of Little Italy to a refuge that promises a fresh start, Jonathan will be forced to choose between the life he's always known, the destiny his family has carved out for him, and a future unlike anything he's ever imagined. 

About The Author

 David Cristofano has earned degrees in Government & Politics and Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and has worked for different branches of the Federal Government for over a decade. His short works have been published by Like Water Burning and McSweeneys. He currently works in the Washington, D.C. area where he lives with his wife, son and daughter. THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE is his first novel.

My Review

To say that I loved David Cristofano's debut novel The Girl She Used To Be would be an understatement.  I devoured that book as I raced through it.  The Exceptions is not quite the same heart pounding pace, at least not at first but by midway through the novel I couldn't put it down.  This is Jonathan's story.  The Girl She Used to Be is the same story from Melody's perspective.

This is mob story, a story about the witness protection program but most of all it is a love story.  Jonathan and Melody's story will touch your heart.  You will be rooting for them! It is interesting to be reading a story that is vaguely familiar at all times yet different.  The twists and turns are amazing.  Lots of new surprises. 

And what is the witness protection program....Ghosts among the real. Think about it.  How well do you really know the people you work with, go to church with, or live next door to you. 

Both books are excellent.  Read The Girl She Used To Be now and be sure to pick up a copy of The Exceptions in August.  Great title!  Loved the ending!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: The Lost Ones by Ace Atkins

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (May 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399158766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158766

Book Description

 Fresh from ten years as a U.S. Army Ranger, Quinn Colson finds his hands full as the newly elected sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi.  An old buddy running a local gun shop may be in over his head when stolen army rifles start showing up in the hands of a Mexican drug gang.

At the same time, an abused-child case leads Quinn and his tough-as-nails deputy, Lillie Virgil, deep into the heart of a bootleg baby racket and a trail of darkness and death. And when the two cases collide, Quinn and his allies are forced to realize that, though they may be home from the war, they are now in the fight of their lives.

About the Author

 Ace Atkins, a former journalist, has written ten previous novels. Most recently, Atkins published The Ranger, the Edgar-nominated first novel in the Quinn Colson series, and was selected by the Robert B. Parker Estate to continue the highly popular Spenser series with Robert B. Parker’s Lullaby.

 Atkins began his writing career in 1998, at age twenty-eight, when the first of four Nick Travers novels was published. In 2001, he earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his investigation into a 1950s murder. That murder inspired his 2006 novel White Shadow, which was followed by three further history-based crime novels—Wicked City, Devil’s Garden, and Infamous. Atkins lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

My Review

My introduction to author Ace Atkins was with The Ranger which was an incredible read.  The Lost Ones is the second book in the series.   And an excellent addition to the series it is.

Freshly returned from a decade of active duty in the Middle East, Quinn Colson is now the Sheriff of Tibbehah County in northeastern Mississippi.  In some ways time has forgotten this corner of the south but in other ways it is well into the twenty-first century.  The story revolves around Mexicans and gun running.  And how these two things have brought chaos to Tibbehah.

Quinn's sister has returned once again and this time we are given an insight into how she became the lost soul she has become.  She is not the only lost one in this well written novel by Ace Atkins.

I'm looking forward to more Quinn Colson in the future.  Well written, timely novel of the new south.  Ace Atkins is making his name as a crime writer to watch. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cookbook Review: 4 Ingredients Christmas by Kim McCosker

  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (October 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007EE4OMU

Book Description

The internationally bestselling author of 4 Ingredients returns with a gorgeous, full-color collection of easy, delicious, money- and time-saving recipes that are perfect for the holiday season—all using four or fewer ingredients.
The holiday season can be the busiest, most expensive time of the year for home chefs. But creating mouthwatering, festive meals doesn’t always mean spending a fortune—and hours upon hours—in the kitchen. In 4 Ingredients Christmas, Kim McCosker, co-creator of the bestselling 4 Ingredients books, puts culinary joy back into the season with simple recipes that are short on fuss but long on taste. 4 Ingredients Christmas shows how to provide delicious, home-cooked meals, from elegant brunches and fun snacks for Santa, to main courses and tradition-worthy desserts; cook with fewer utensils—one teaspoon, one tablespoon, and one measuring cup; and spend less time at the sink and more time enjoying your company.

     The ideal cookbook for busy, budget-conscious cooks, 4 Ingredients Christmas takes the mystery out of preparing cost-effective, home-cooked holiday meals that the whole family—including the chef—will love.

About The Author

Kim was born in Stanthorpe, Australia, and raised there until moving to Mundubbera, Queensland where she lives with her husband Glen and three sons Morgan, Hamilton and Flynn. 

Website:  http://www.4ingredients.com.au/recipe-categories/christmas

 Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/4ingredientspage

My Review

This is a fabulous cookbook filled with simple four ingredient recipes and lovely mouth watering photos!

The book is divided into the following categories:

  • The Night Before Christmas
  • Brunch
  • Nibbles
  • Soups and Salads
  • Mains
  • Sides
  • Desserts
  • Sweet Treats
  • Drinks
Really loved the Sweet Treats section of course:  Coconut Creme Truffles, Lime and Macadamia Fudge, Reindeer Bark, Salted Caramel Charms....yummy or what!  The author is Australian therefore some of the recipes have a summer Christmas theme such as the Garden Bed Pavlova. Lots of sensible, simple recipes to help make Christmas a little easier!  Be sure to add this one to your cookbook collection!

This brunch recipe was recently posted on the Facebook site:

HAM AND CHIVE QUICHES: No pastry, no problems.


6 ham rounds
6 eggs
1 tbsp Chives or Parsley (Gourmet Garden blend)
OR 2 tbsp. of fresh chives or parsley finely chopped if you don't have the gourmet garden blends at home.
1 cup grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180C/360F.

Line large non stick muffin cases with ham rounds.
In a small bowl beat eggs and add Chives or Parsley and season with sea salt and pepper. Pour into ham lined muffin cases and sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until set.