Book review: Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis

About Dishing Up the Dirt

Hardcover:  304 pages
Publisher:  Harper Wave (March 14, 2017)

Andrea Bemis, the creator of the popular farm-to-table blog Dishing Up the Dirt builds on her success with this beautiful, simple, seasonally driven cookbook, featuring more than 100 inventive and delicious whole-foods recipes and dozens of color photographs.

For Andrea Bemis, who owns and runs a six-acre organic farm with her husband outside of Portland, Oregon, dinners are inspired by what is grown in the soil and picked by hand. In Dishing Up the Dirt, Andrea offers 100 authentic farm-to-table recipes, arranged by season, including:

Spring: Honey Roasted Strawberry Muffins, Lamb Lettuce Wraps with Mint Yogurt Sauce, Spring Harvest Pizza with Mint & Pea Pesto, Kohlrabi and Chickpea Salad

Summer: Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Biscuits, Roasted Ratatouille Toast, Kohlrabi Fritters with Garlic Herb Cashew Cream Sauce, Farmers Market Burgers with Mustard Greens Pesto

Fall: Farm Girl Veggie Bowls, Butternut Molasses Muffins, Early Autumn Moroccan Stew, Collard Green Slaw with Bacon Gremolata

Winter: Rutabaga Home Fries with Smokey Cashew Sauce, Hoisin Glazed Brussels Sprouts, Country Girl Old Fashioned Cocktails, Tumbleweed Farm Winter Panzanella

Andrea’s recipes focus on using whole, locally-sourced foods incorporating the philosophy of eating as close to the land as possible. While many recipes are naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian, many others include elemental ingredients like bread, cheese, eggs, meat, and sweeteners, which are incorporated in new and inventive ways.

In short essays throughout the book, Andrea also presents an honest glimpse of life on Tumbleweed Farm – the real life of a farmer, not the shabby-chic fantasy often portrayed – offering fascinating and frequently entertaining details about where the food on our dinner tables comes from. With stunning food photography as well as intimate portraits of farm life, Dishing Up the Dirt allows anyone to be a seasonal foodie and an armchair farmer.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Andrea Bemis

Andrea is the writer, recipe developer, and photographer behind the food blog DishingUp TheDirt.com. Her recipes and Tumbleweed Farm have been featured in publications such as the New York Times, Well and Good NYC, and Eating Well Magazine. She lives on her farm in Oregon with her husband and dog.

Connect with Andrea on Instagram and Facebook.

REVIEW:

I’ve just finished reading through Andrea’s cookbook and can’t remember the last time I enjoyed reading a cookbook this much.

It was really interesting to read about what led Andrea and her husband, Taylor to where they are now as organic farmers on their six-acre farm in rural Oregon.  Andrea had never farmed or gardened (and she admits that hadn’t been much of a cook either) but the first two years of their married life together consisted of working on a sixty-acre organic vegetable farm in Massachusetts.  She began experimenting with new vegetables she had never seen before.  She grew to love her work in the kitchen.  She began sharing her recipes on a blog which “suddenly, had begun to attract a readership that extended beyond my parents”.

I carefully read through all the recipes in the book, eager to find something that I hadn’t seen before.  I began bookmarking the recipes that I am dying to try.  Here is a (preliminary ) list that caught my attention: (watch that drooling now…)

  • Honey Roasted Strawberry Muffins
  • Chicken & chickpea pesto summer salad
  • Brussel sprouts with toasted hazelnuts, lemon & parmesan
  • Honey & Cardamom whipped sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash kale salad with maple-bourbon dressing
  • Sweet potato tart with hazelnut oat crust

Many of the recipes are gluten-free or sweetened by honey.  I didn’t realize that you could grill scallions and romaine lettuce.  Some of the unusual flavour combinations are intriguing.

I really enjoyed the  photographs of “their life on their farm” as well as the different dishes featured in this book.  Their informative website contains background information as well as recipes for many different vegetables.  As a former farm girl, I will live vicariously through this book.

Book review: In This Grave Hour: (Maisie Dobbs Series #13) by Jacqueline Winspear

About In This Grave Hour

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper (March 14, 2017)

“A female investigator every bit as brainy and battle-hardened as Lisbeth Salander.”†ó Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air, on Maisie Dobbs

Sunday September 3rd 1939. At the moment Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts to the nation Britain’s declaration of war with Germany, a senior Secret Service agent breaks into Maisie Dobbs’ flat to await her return. Dr. Francesca Thomas has an urgent assignment for Maisie: to find the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy, some twenty-three years earlier during the Great War.

In a London shadowed by barrage balloons, bomb shelters and the threat of invasion, within days another former Belgian refugee is found murdered. And as Maisie delves deeper into the killings of the dispossessed from the last war,” a new kind of refugee – an evacuee from London – appears in Maisie’s life. The little girl billeted at Maisie’s home in Kent does not, or cannot, speak, and the authorities do not know who the child belongs to or who might have put her on the ìOperation Pied Piper evacuee train. They know only that her name is Anna.

As Maisie’s search for the killer escalates, the country braces for what is to come. Britain is approaching its gravest hour – and Maisie could be nearing a crossroads of her own.

Purchase Links for In This Grave Hour

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Jacqueline WinspearAbout Jacqueline Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes†In†This Grave Hour,Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website, www.jacquelinewinspear.com, and find her on Facebook.

REVIEW:

WW II is looming and Maisie and her fellow Londoners are preparing for life under siege from the Germans.  Sandra and Billy, Maisie’s employees are back again at Maisie’s newly renovated office and she has re-opened her business as a private investigator.  She soon receives a request to solve a murder from an unusual source, a secret service officer from Belgium.  She needs to prevent further murders and pulls in a few favours from Scotland Yard to assist her as she must tread lightly when investigating in diplomatic circles.

At the same time, children are being sent out of London to be billeted in the countryside for safety reasons.  Several children are lodged at Chelstone, Maisie’s home outside of London.  A little dark skinned girl mysteriously appears with a group of boys and no one has been able to identify who she is or where she came from. Maisie is drawn to this little girl whose name is Anna and is determined to find her family.   Maisie’s father, Frankie and his wife Brenda are beginning to worry that Maisie is developing a stronger than normal attachment to Anna and don’t want her to be hurt when her family is found.

I really loved the way the author uses language that was common to the era. Several of the expressions were quite amusing and the characters that we know from the previous novels appear in this one as well. It’s been a pleasure to follow Maisie from a young girl to a mature woman, through one war and now into another.  I suspect there is another story in the works and can’t wait to read about happens next.

Book review: Journey to Munich: (Maisie Dobbs Series #12) by Jacqueline Winspear

  • Publisher:  Harper Collins
  • Publication date:  March 29, 2016
  • Genre:  mystery / crime / detective / suspense
  • Pages:  309

Description:

Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler’s Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue—the twelfth novel in Jacqueline Winspear’s New York Times bestselling “series that seems to get better with each entry” (Wall Street Journal).

It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .

Buy the book:   Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Harper Collins

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes In This Grave Hour, Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Connect with the author:  Website   Facebook 

REVIEW:

This a very different storyline from the other Maisie Dobb novels. Maisie has returned to England after a brief sojourn in Gibraltar and Spain. She is grieving the loss of her husband and unborn child and is at odds with herself, especially as she no longer runs her investigation agency. Her longtime and closest friend Priscilla takes Maisie under wing as Maisie tries to come to terms with her life.

An unusual request from the British government presents itself as Maisie is requested to go to Germany on a special assignment. Her skills as an investigator and psychologist will prove to be her greatest assets. Her cut-and-dry assignment spirals out of control and she must rely on her “secret service” training to protect herself. She unexpectedly finds that she becomes a pawn in an international game of cat-and-mouse between Hitler’s henchman and Great Britain.

This segment of the Maisie Dobbs novels was one of the most intense so far.

 

 

 

Book review: Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo

About The Fire By Night

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (January 17, 2017)

A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight’s riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.

In war-torn France, Jo McMahon, an Italian-Irish girl from the tenements of Brooklyn, tends to six seriously wounded soldiers in a makeshift medical unit. Enemy bombs have destroyed her hospital convoy, and now Jo singlehandedly struggles to keep her patients and herself alive in a cramped and freezing tent close to German troops. There is a growing tenderness between her and one of her patients, a Scottish officer, but Jo’s heart is seared by the pain of all she has lost and seen. Nearing her breaking point, she fights to hold on to joyful memories of the past, to the times she shared with her best friend, Kay, whom she met in nursing school.

Half a world away in the Pacific, Kay is trapped in a squalid Japanese POW camp in Manila, one of thousands of Allied men, women, and children whose fates rest in the hands of a sadistic enemy. Far from the familiar safety of the small Pennsylvania coal town of her childhood, Kay clings to memories of her happy days posted in Hawaii, and the handsome flyer who swept her off her feet in the weeks before Pearl Harbor. Surrounded by cruelty and death, Kay battles to maintain her sanity and save lives as best she can . . . and live to see her beloved friend Jo once more.

When the conflict at last comes to an end, Jo and Kay discover that to achieve their own peace, they must find their place and the hope of love in a world that’s forever changed. With rich, superbly researched detail, Teresa Messineo’s thrilling novel brings to life the pain and uncertainty of war and the sustaining power of love and friendship, and illuminates the lives of the women who risked everything to save others during a horrifying time.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Teresa Messineo

Teresa Messineo spent seven years researching the history behind The Fire by Night, her first novel. She is a graduate of DeSales University, and her varied interests include homeschooling her four children, volunteering with the underprivileged, medicine, swing dancing, and competitive athletics. She lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Connect with Teresa on Facebook.

MY REVIEW:

The newsreels often described the work of a military nurse as “glamorous” and “patriotic”. Kay and Jo, two young American military nurses and best of friends were assigned to different countries during WWI.  They came to realize very quickly that their duties entailed more than what they were trained for.  For Jo, trying to keep six men alive single-handedly at the French front surrounded by Germans and mine fields and enduring severe food, medicine and equipment shortages took both a physical and emotional toll. She learns to hold in her emotions as those she cares for as well as those she cares about can disappear in the blink of an eye without warning.

Kay, in love and stationed in romantic Hawaii soon finds herself a prisoner of war in the Philippines under the control of the Japanese.  Privation, intimidation and death threats are reducing the number of nurses and civilians every day. The only thing they can keep from the Japanese are their precious vials of morphine which they hide in their “victory rolls”.  (see picture below)

Both women long to communicate with each other and are out of contact for most of the war, neither imagining the horrific trials the other is facing.

This novel was extremely intense and descriptive for the first 180 pages or so. However, this scene building helps the reader to identify with the emotions that each of the women were going through and how it affected their choices after the war.  This type of book encourages you to do more research into the subject of military nursing.  Nurses suffered shell shock just as much as the soldiers in the trenches did (PTSD) and were often not given the recognition they deserved.  I look forward to reading more of Teresa Messineo’s work.

Book review: The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

the-golden-son-pb-coverThe Golden Son

• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 29, 2016)

The New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of Secret Daughter returns with an unforgettable story of family, responsibility, love, honor, tradition, and identity, in which two childhood friends—a young doctor and a newly married bride—must balance the expectations of their culture and their families with the desires of their own hearts.

The first of his family to go to college, Anil Patel, the golden son, carries the weight of tradition and his family’s expectations when he leaves his tiny Indian village to begin a medical residency in Dallas, Texas, at one of the busiest and most competitive hospitals in America. When his father dies, Anil becomes the de facto head of the Patel household and inherits the mantle of arbiter for all of the village’s disputes. But he is uneasy with the custom, uncertain that he has the wisdom and courage demonstrated by his father and grandfather. His doubts are compounded by the difficulties he discovers in adjusting to a new culture and a new job, challenges that will shake his confidence in himself and his abilities.

Back home in India, Anil’s closest childhood friend, Leena, struggles to adapt to her demanding new husband and relatives. Arranged by her parents, the marriage shatters Leena’s romantic hopes, and eventually forces her to make a desperate choice that will hold drastic repercussions for herself and her family. Though Anil and Leena struggle to come to terms with their identities thousands of miles apart, their lives eventually intersect once more—changing them both and the people they love forever.

Tender and bittersweet, The Golden Son illuminates the ambivalence of people caught between past and present, tradition and modernity, duty and choice; the push and pull of living in two cultures, and the painful decisions we must make to find our true selves.

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Shilpi Somaya Gowda APAbout Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She holds an MBA from Stanford University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.

Find out more about Shilpi at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

REVIEW:

Most Indian parents dream that their child becomes a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. Combine that with a marriage to a good family and their expectations are fulfilled.  In The Golden Son, Anil Patel’s father, as patriarch and arbitrator of the Patel family and village, decides that his son should be sent to America to study to be a doctor.  Anil has reached his potential in India and longs to study and work in an American hospital.

Upon his arrival in America, he quickly realizes that not everything is in black and white. He wants to adapt to the culture of his new country, but doesn’t want to give up the traditions of the old.  Anil is shocked by the prejudice shown toward Indian immigrants. He hopes to find respite back home but after having spent several years in the US, discovers that he somehow doesn’t quite fit in with the culture he once knew.

The author deftly weaves in different characters into Anil’s life.  These characters help shape Anil as he desperately tries to please his family in India as well as his hospital superiors.  To be honest, I much preferred reading more about these other characters than the main character because they were so beautifully brought to life.   I would love to see another novel that continues on with their lives.

There is plenty of intense drama in this story so be prepared to stay up late reading it.

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Book review: The Dude Diet by Serena Wolf

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  • The Dude Diet by Serena Wolf
  • Publisher:  Harper Wave
  • Published:  October 25, 2016
  • 352 pages
  • Cook book / cooking

ABOUT THE BOOK:   From chef and creator of the popular food blog Domesticate-Me.com, 125 outrageously delicious yet deceptively healthy recipes for dudes (and the people who love them), accompanied by beautiful full-color photography.

Dudes. So well intentioned when it comes to healthy eating, even as they fail epically in execution—inhaling a “salad” topped with fried chicken fingers or ordering their Italian hero on a whole wheat wrap (that makes it healthy, right?).

There are several issues with men going on diets. First, they seem to be misinformed about basic nutrition. They are also, generally, not excited about eating “health food.” You can lead a dude to the salad bar, but you can’t make him choose lettuce.

Enter Serena Wolf—chef, food blogger, and caretaker of a dude with some less than ideal eating habits. As a labor of love, Serena began creating healthier versions of her boyfriend’s favorite foods and posting them on her blog, where she received an overwhelming response from men and women alike. Now, inThe Dude Diet, Serena shares more than 125 droolworthy recipes that prove that meals made with nutrient-dense whole foods can elicit the same excitement and satisfaction associated with pizza or Chinese take-out.

The Dude Diet also demystifies the basics of nutrition, empowering men to make better decisions whether they’re eating out or cooking at home. Better still, each recipe is 100% idiot-proof and requires only easily accessible ingredients and tools. With categories like Game Day Eats, On the Grill, Serious Salads, and Take Out Favorites, The Dude Diet will arm dudes and those who love them with the knowledge they need to lead healthier, happier lives—with flattened beer bellies and fewer meat sweats.

BUY THE BOOK:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

01_29_16_DUDE_SERENA_PORTRAIT_106_pMEET THE AUTHOR:

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not someone who can claim a lifelong love of food and cooking. In fact, I was an upsettingly picky eater until college, and my only culinary role model was my mother, a woman well-versed in the art of burning things. So it came as quite a shock to my family and friends when, after graduating from college in 2009, I announced that I was moving to Paris and enrolling in culinary school.

I honestly had zero desire to become a chef. I simply wanted to master some domestic skills, practice my French, and maybe find the perfect red lipstick—all while figuring out what to do with my life. I told myself that I’d spend three months completing the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu, and then I’d come home and get a real job.

Since you’re now reading my food blog, things obviously didn’t go according to the original plan.

My early cooking school days were mildly traumatic (which is unsurprising given that the only dish I’d successfully “cooked” up to that point was a burnt grilled cheese), but after a couple months, I had become a completely different person. I was gutting and filleting fish, deboning chickens, breaking down whole rabbits, and whipping up hollandaise sauce without breaking a sweat. The most insane part? I loved every second of it. Realizing that I’d found my (very unexpected) calling, I enthusiastically signed on to complete the full diploma program and never looked back.

Since graduating from LCB in 2011, I’ve worn a few different culinary hats—private chef, culinary instructor, freelance writer, recipe developer, nutritional spirit guide, etc.—but blogging has easily been my most rewarding pursuit, both personally and professionally. (So trite, but so true.) I started this site on a whim while in Paris with no goal in mind other than to casually share some of my new culinary skillz with other domestically-challenged souls (i.e. my friends at home, who I assumed would be the only ones interested in reading it). There was a lot of pink, Julia Child quotes, and Blackberry photos on domesticatemoi.blogspot.com back in the day, but I had a clear vision: Help others get their shit together in the kitchen. And make it fun, dammit.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook   Instagram   Pinterest  YouTube

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REVIEW:  

Written primarily with men in mind, The Dude Diet’s “tough love”  approach to nutrition and the idiot proof nature of the recipes outlines in simple terms (in dude language) why eating healthy (along with exercise) can help you feel better both physically and mentally.  While directed primarily at men, this book is an excellent source of information and recipes for anyone who loves to eat but who isn’t particularly interested in cooking.  Gorgeous photographs and humorous descriptions (plus nice big page numbers) make this cookbook very user friendly. (check out Selena’s videos on YouTube)

In this cookbook you will find:

  • The Dude Diet Commandments
  • Cravings decoded (i.e. the cause + the fix)
  • Dude Diet portion size guidelines
  • Pantry essentials (what every dude needs in his kitchen – food)
  • Equipment essentials

The next part of the books is broken down into different recipe chapters (with some of my favs):

  • Badass Breakfasts  (apple pie overnight oats)
  • The Classics (1-hour pulled pork)
  • Game Day Eats (brown rice jambalaya with shrimp and chicken sausage)
  • On the Grill (fiery pork and pineapple skewers)
  • Serious Salads (summer roll salad with shrimp and mango)
  • Take-out Favorites (sesame orange chicken)
  • Sexy Sides (chipotle mashed sweet potatoes with goat cheese)
  • Back-pocket Recipes (go-to frittata)
  • Chronic Cocktails (grapefruit beergarita)
  • Sweetness (caramelized peach crisp sundaes)

With winter coming, I’m looking forward to using this cookbook with my friends. (dudettes) Thanks Selena!

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Book review: Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman

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  • Title:  Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman
  • Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Publication date:  (October 18, 2016)
  • Genre:  Women’s fiction / general fiction
  • Pages:  320

ABOUT THE BOOK:   A poignant breakout novel, for fans of J. Courtney Sullivan and Elin Hilderbrand, about a single mother who inherits a beautiful beach house with a caveat—she must take care of the ornery elderly woman who lives in it.

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the glittering homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. Everything changes when a former employer dies leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance. A house in Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: The deceased’s eighty-two-year old mother Edith.

Edith has Alzheimer’s—or so the doctors tell her—but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room, or bring dark clouds in her wake. And now Liza’s gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left—like a chaise or strand of pearls—to a poorly dressed young woman with a toddler in tow.

Maggie and Edith are both certain this arrangement will be an utter disaster. But as summer days wane, a tenuous bond forms, and Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s held close for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might just lead them each to what they are looking for.

BUY THE BOOK:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   HarperCollins 

6a0120a73fd4ec970b019aff273dfb970d-800wiMEET THE AUTHOR:   Zoe Fishman is the critically acclaimed author of the upcoming Inheriting Edith, (Morrow, November ’16), Driving Lessons (Morrow, April ’14), Saving Ruth(Morrow, May ’12) and Balancing Acts (Harper, March ’10). Her books have been translated into German, Italian, Dutch and Polish. She’s the recipient of myriad awards, including Target’s Breakout and Emerging Author Picks, a NY Post Pick, a Mom’s Choice Award and a Barnes & Noble Hot Read.

Interviews and profiles of her have been featured on NBC’s “Atlanta & Co.” and FGTV, as well as in Publisher’s Weekly, Mobile Bay Magazine, The Atlanta Jewish Times and The Huffington Post. Her articles have been published in Time Out and on FoxNews.com, among others.

Zoe worked in the New York publishing industry for thirteen years in the editorial department of Random House, the rights department of Simon & Schuster and later, as an agent for two boutique literary firms before moving to Atlanta in August of 2011 with her husband. Now the mom of two little boys, she’s working on her next novel and teaching writing at The Callanwolde Fine Arts Center.

Connect with the author:   Website   Twitter   Facebook

REVIEW:

“Hey, if you were going on a road trip with two old ladies and a two-year-old, what would would you bring?”   –  “Valium” Sam answered.

Maggie and Edith don’t exactly hit it off.  They are both unexpectedly thrown together when Edith’s daughter dies and leaves her Sag Harbour home to her former friend and housecleaner.  Throw in a feisty, Jewish girlfriend Esther (Edith’s) who doesn’t hesitate to “tell it like it is” (she’s my favourite character) and we see a few fireworks.

An engaging novel that shows that we don’t always have the answers, heck, we don’t always have the right questions but somehow we fumble through life and can feel pretty good about what we’ve accomplished.  The dialogue was candid and refreshing and I really enjoyed the repartee between Edith and Esther.  I really didn’t get what was happening between Maggie and Sam, the signals were “all over the place” and didn’t feel there was enough development in this part of the story.

A light read despite the fact that the overall theme was about how to deal with an Alzheimer’s patient in a dignified manner.

Considerable strong language was liberally used throughout the story as well as mature themes that may not appeal to some Christian readers.

 
Sunday, October 16th: #redhead.with.book
Tuesday, October 18th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Thursday, October 20th: BookNAround
Monday, October 24th: Reading is My Super Power
Tuesday, October 25th: The Book Bag
Tuesday, November 1st: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, November 2nd: bookchickdi
Thursday, November 3rd: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Friday, November 4th: Books and Bindings
Monday, November 7th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, November 8th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Wednesday, November 9th: she treads softly
Thursday, November 10th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, November 17th: Tina Says…
Friday, November 18th: Art @ Home
Tuesday, November 22nd: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, November 28th: Becklist
Wednesday, November 30th: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, December 1st: Readaholic Zone

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Book review: The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore

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  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition
  • Publication date:  (September 27, 2016)
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  576 pages

ABOUT THE BOOK:

International sensation Santa Montefiore presents the first book in a trilogy that follows three Irish women through the decades of the twentieth century—perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Hazel Gaynor.

Born on the ninth day of the ninth month in the year 1900, Kitty Deverill is special as her grandmother has always told her. Built on the stunning green hills of West Cork, Ireland, Castle Deverill is Kitty’s beloved home, where many generations of Deverills have also resided. Although she’s Anglo-Irish, Kitty’s heart completely belongs to the wild countryside of the Emerald Isle, and her devotion to her Irish-Catholic friends Bridie Doyle, the daughter of the castle’s cook, and Jack O’Leary, the vet’s son, is unmatched—even if Jack is always reminding her that she isn’t fully Irish. Still, Jack and Kitty can’t help falling in love although they both know their union faces the greatest obstacles since they are from different worlds.

Bridie cherishes her friendship with Kitty, who makes her feel more like her equal than a servant. Yet she can’t help dreaming of someday having all the wealth and glamour Kitty’s station in life affords her. But when she discovers a secret that Kitty has been keeping from her, Bridie finds herself growing resentful toward the girl in the castle who seems to have it all.

When the Irish revolt to throw over British rule in Southern Ireland, Jack enlists to fight. Worried for her safety, Jack warns Kitty to keep her distance, but she refuses and throws herself into the cause for Irish liberty, running messages and ammunition between the rebels. But as Kitty soon discovers, her allegiance to her family and her friends will be tested—and when Castle Deverill comes under attack, the only home and life she’s ever known are threatened.

A powerful story of love, loyalty, and friendship, The Girl in the Castle is an exquisitely written novel set against the magical, captivating landscape of Ireland.

BUY THE BOOK:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Santa-Montefiore_SMEET THE AUTHOR:  Born in England in 1970 Santa Montefiore grew up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at Sherborne School for Girls. She read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University and spent much of the 90s in Buenos Aires, where her mother grew up.

She converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefiore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha in London.

Website   Twitter   Facebook

REVIEW: 

For all you fans of Downton Abbey, this Irish family saga will be your next big addiction. You’ve got drama, scandal, romance, fantasy and plenty of nail-biting action.

Kitty comes from an Anglo-Irish family.  Her mother rejected her when she was young and despite being raised by a harsh Scottish governess, Kitty is allowed to “run free” with her best friend Birdie, the cook’s daughter.  Their friend Jack, an aspiring vet, is their protector and companion. Kitty’s grandmother is indulgent and loving and together they annoy Kitty’s mother whose goal is have all her children marry into the English aristocracy.

As the three young people grow, their lives are thrown into turmoil as the Irish revolt in an attempt to claim their independence from Britain.  Kitty loves Ireland and Jack with equal intensity and puts herself in danger when she actively participates in the protests and underground activities.  Plenty of unexpected turns of event and plot twists will keep you reading until the wee hours.

Lyrical and beautifully written, The Girl in the Castle is the first in a series of three novels.  I look forward to the next chapter.

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Book review: The Yard by Aliyyah Eniath

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  • Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books; 1 edition (April 5, 2016)
  • Publication Date: April 5, 2016
  • Pages:  (292 pages)
  • Genre:  Literary fiction

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz is brought to a familial complex, The Yard, to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a wilful and rebellious girl, and his guardian’s daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most “righteous” blow of all?

Praise

A haunting tale of family, commitment, love…and being true to yourself.  –Roslyn Carrington, author of A Thirst for Rain

The author’s voice speaks in warm and sometimes cold filmic pictures of the universal language of love, honour, commitment, belief and family. When a remote outsider, a young boy, is drawn into and under the beguiling machinations of a devout extended family, there’s disruption in their cultural fabric and hierarchy, that challenges the decisions of a determined young girl’s head and heart. –Peter Jarrette – Author ofBrighton Babylon

On a gem of an island, in a private family enclave, boy — orphaned, rough, longing for acceptance — meets girl — sophisticated, manipulative, afraid of tenderness. The Yard is a sensitive tale of romance, hurt and forgiveness skillfully spun by emergent author Aliyyah Eniath. –Barbara Bamberger Scott — Editor, A Woman’s Write

BUY THE BOOK:    Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Aliyyah-Enaith-Gary-Jordan-2014-web--480x480MEET THE AUTHOR:

Aliyyah Eniath was born in Trinidad and Tobago; her ancestors hailed from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s a director at Safari Publications, a magazine publishing house, and founder/editor-in- chief of Belle Weddings (Caribbean) magazine.

Her debut novel The Yard (literary, romance) is published by Speaking Tiger Books in both paperback and ebook formats.

She explores the ideas of breaking free from imposed boundaries (familial or otherwise), understanding and feeling supported in who you are, overcoming self-doubt, and finally being true to yourself. Her writing looks at strict religious ideologies and their potential consequences and begs for a softer approach and innate understanding and compassion towards every human being.

She writes from the perspective of East Indians whose forefathers were brought to Trinidad from India through the British colonial indentureship scheme in 1845.

Find out more about Aliyyah at her website, and connect with her on Facebook andTwitter.

REVIEW:

“and for the millionth time in her life, she wished to be normal.”

A deeply moving and emotional love story about a boy and a girl.  Behooz, a boy with no memory of his past or family and Maya, a girl who belongs to a large, extended Muslim family but who has yet to determine where she belongs, form an unusual friendship.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Yard although I did have a hard time comprehending why such a thoughtful and gentle boy would allow himself to be treated with such an unloving and aloof manner by a girl he truly felt a connection with.   Although as a young person Maya is selfish and willful, we see her grow and mature as time passes.

The family dynamics were well developed but I was curious how a family of such extreme differences of belief within the same religion were able to tolerate each other.  I found it hard to believe that British raised men were “instantly” converting to Islam and the “insta-love” situations were a little unbelievable.

In my humble opinion, fewer characters would have allowed more character development of the the main persons in this book.  I would have enjoyed reading more about Maya and Behrooz.

The dialogue was well written and I enjoyed the conversational quality in the book.  I look forward to reading more by this author.

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Book review: The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson

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  • The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson
  • Publisher:  Harper Collins
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Literary fiction / historical fiction / biographical
  • Published:  March 8, 2016

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

During the long, hot summer of 1888, an extraordinary friendship blossoms between Anton Chekhov and Zinaida Lintvaryova, a young doctor. Recently blinded by illness, Zinaida has retreated to her family’s estate in the lush countryside of Eastern Ukraine, where she is keeping a diary to record her memories of her earlier life. But when the Chekhov family arrives to spend the summer at a dacha on the estate, and she meets the middle son Anton Pavlovich, her quiet existence is transformed by the connection they share. What begins as a journal kept simply to pass the time becomes an intimate, introspective narrative of Zinaida’s singular relationship with this doctor and writer of growing fame.

More than a century later, in 2014, the unexpected discovery of this diary represents Katya Kendall’s last chance to save her struggling London publishing house. Zinaida’s description of a gifted young man still coming to terms with his talent offers profound insight into a literary legend, but it also raises a tantalizing question: Did Chekhov, known only as a short story writer and playwright, write a novel over the course of their friendship that has since disappeared? The answer could change history, and finding it proves an irresistible challenge for Ana Harding, the translator Katya hires. Increasingly drawn into Zinaida and Chekhov’s world, Ana is consumed by her desire to find the “lost” book. As she delves deeper into the moving account of two lives changed by a meeting on a warm May night, she discovers that the manuscript is not the only mystery contained within the diary’s pages.

Inspired by the real friendship between Chekhov and the Lintvaryov family, landowners in the Ukraine, The Summer Guest is a masterful and utterly compelling literary novel that breathes life into a vanished world, while exploring the transformative power of art and the complexity of love and friendship.

Buy the book:  Harper Collins   Amazon   Barnes & Noble

9d1d2272-3ed4-45bf-ad2f-1d6891930112Meet the author:  Alison Anderson spent many years in California; she now lives in a Swiss village and works as a literary translator. Her translations include Europa Editions’ The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and works by Nobel laureate J. M. G. Le Clézio. She has also written two previous novels and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Translation Fellowship. She has lived in Greece and Croatia, and speaks several European languages, including Russian.

Connect with the author:   Website   

REVIEW:

please remember me…

A testament to friendship, this novel encompasses the lives of three women, a young woman doctor from the 1880’s living in the Ukraine, a Russian émigré living in modern day London and a translator living in France.

The diary of doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova captivates Ana. She  is requested by Katya of Pollyana Press  to translate Zinaida’s diary from Russian into English.  The presence of Anton Pavlovich, a renowned Russian writer and playwright in Zinaida’s diary piques Ana’s curiosity as she continues to translate conversations held between the two.

The gentle prose and Zinaida’s reflections about her own short future and her friendship with Anton Pavlovich draw you into their intimate and sometimes frustrating relationship.

Three different stories with a common thread throughout and a surprising ending will keep you turning the pages until the end of the book.  A lovely combination historical fiction, memoir and literary fiction.

Tour schedule:

Tuesday, May 24th: BookNAround
Wednesday, May 25th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, May 26th: A Bookish Way of Life
Friday, May 27th: Curling Up by the Fire
Monday, May 30th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, June 1st: Just One More Chapter
Thursday, June 2nd: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Monday, June 6th: Reading Reality
Tuesday, June 7th: A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, June 8th: #redhead.with.book
Wednesday, June 8th: Emerald City Book Review
Thursday, June 9th: Olduvai Reads
Monday, June 13th: A Book Geek
Monday, June 13th: Reading to Distraction
Wednesday, June 15th: Queen of All She Reads
Thursday, June 16th: Worth Getting in Bed For
Friday, June 17th: I’m Shelf-ish

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