Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Jambalaya Jutice by Holli Castillo

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries (July 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610090209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610090209

Product Description


The murder of a hooker in a New Orleans crackhouse is destined to become another unsolved homicide until prosecutor Ryan Murphy takes an interest in the case.  Ryan has a connection to the victim and won’t back down until the murder is solved, even if it means she has to go undercover as a hooker herself and keep her fingers crossed that her detective boyfriend, Shep, won’t find out.  She’s also juggling her Strike Force cases, including the prosecution of a mobster murderer, a nasty domestic violence, and the armed robbery of Big Who’s strip club.  Not to mention a home invader she prosecuted is off of probation and might be following her. Being an outspoken pit bull of a prosecutor makes life dangerous enough for Ryan; trying to find a killer and hiding it from the one person who can protect her may end up being deadly.

Shep is on a secret quest of his own, investigating the identity theft of Ryan’s former best friend, Edie, who is presumed dead.  As he delves further into the case, he begins to question whether Edie may still be alive and out to harm Ryan.  Ordered by his captain, Ryan's father, to keep the investigation quiet, Shep not only has to lie to Ryan, but find a way to protect her from harm she doesn’t know exists.  He'll also have to figure out what to do if Ryan ends up discovering the truth, because secrets have a way of getting out.

Set against the backdrop of pre-Katrina New Orleans, Jambalaya Justice is the second in the Crescent City Mystery Series, which eventually follows Ryan through Hurricane Katrina and into the strange new world of post-Katrina New Orleans.

The third in the series, Chocolate City Justice, is in progress.

About The Author

Holli Castillo is a Louisiana appellate public defender and former New Orleans prosecutor.  She has a JD from Loyola University School of Law and a Bachelor in Drama/Communications from the University of New Orleans.  She worked her way through law school as a child support collector and undergrad at the now-defunct Can-Can Cabaret in the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. She has also held jobs as a stage manager, acrobat teacher, and of course, being from New Orleans, a waitress.

She lives in the metro New Orleans area with her husband, two children, dog, and deaf cat.  Her husband was the model for Big Who in her novels, and her deaf cat has a co-starring role in Jambalaya Justice.  When not working, writing or evacuating from hurricanes, she serves as the president of the PTA association at a magnet elementary school, and she and her husband own and operate a bar on the westbank of New Orleans, The Last Stand.

For more information, please go to

My Review

This is the second book in the Crescent City Mystery Series by Holli Castillo.  This is an entirely new mystery series to me.  You don't need to have read the first book to read this one.

Our heroine,  Ryan Murphy, is a New Orleans prosecutor whose father is a police captain and her four brothers are all members of the New Orleans Police Department.  Her boyfriend Shep is a member of NOPD as well.  Ryan has deep roots and many connections in New Orleans.  She is feisty and brave and sometimes a little naive.  And she is working hard at funneling a love of alcohol into a love of shoes....Jimmy Choo's of course.  This novel is set in pre-Katrina New Orleans.  I have only seen New Orleans post Katrina so it is good to be able to feel the pulse of the city through these pages.

Ryan has a heavy caseload and the story kicks off with the murder of a prostitute who had been an informer of Ryan's.  She becomes personally involved in the case and puts herself in danger as she strives to find the prostitute Cherry's murderer.  She also is haunted by the loss of a dear friend, Edie, whose story unfolds throughout the book.  I love the setting of New Orleans...I have always found that city incredibly fascinating.  There are great characters in this book who are completely fleshed out by the author.  Ryan's relationships are very realistic.  Twists and turns in the book kept the killer a mystery to me until close to the end.  In total, a very enjoyable read. 

I am looking forward to reading more of the Ryan Murphy adventures.  The author is planning to follow Ryan through Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath in upcoming volumes of the series.  Definitely looking forward to that.

Monday, August 29, 2011

August 27, 2011: Tomato Run to Keremeos....642 K

Due to the terrible weather we have been having on the West Coast all of the crops are behind this year.  My local produce store which usually has a giant bin of field tomatoes from the Okanagan by now, doesn't.  It was going to be a gorgeous day on Saturday so we decided to ride to Keremeos...the Fruit Stand Capital of Canada ... in the Okanagan to pick up some tomatoes and orchard fruit.  We headed out at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.  Breakfast in Hope at the Home Restaurant.  Highway 3, the Hope Princeton past the Hope Slide.  Just past Princeton is the beautiful Bromley Rock Provincial Park.

We arrived in Keremeos around 11:30 a.m.  We drove up and down the highway checking out the fruit stands and decided upon the Mariposa.

Shared a basket of late season bing cherries...soooo good!  Found a box and bungeed the fruit onto the back of the bike.   Ok, time to head home.

Was it worth it...of course...really just an excuse for a ride!  The tomatoes, bell peppers, nectarines, apricots and plums are all amazing! 

Review: Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312642695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312642693

Product Description


Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction….
Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds--has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can't hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life.  And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina's Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he's hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he's ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity.  Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs?

Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.

About the Author


Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues.  A former journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.  Visit

My Review

Just as Hurricane Irene was heading toward North Carolina's Outer Banks I started reading summer beach read Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews.   No hurricane in the book but a good solid read perfect for summer that is set on North Carolina's Outer Banks in Nag's Head.  Great story about three female childhood friends in their mid-thirties who are all at crossroads in their lives. 

Good chick lit, good characters, great beach read.

Review: Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health [Hardcover] by William Davis MD

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609611543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609611545

Product Description


A renowned cardiologist explains how eliminating wheat from our diets can prevent fat storage, shrink unsightly bulges, and reverse myriad health problems.

Every day, over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat. As a result, over 100
million of them experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes and high blood sugar to the unattractive stomach bulges that preventive cardiologist William Davis calls “wheat bellies.” According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: It’s due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch.

After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain their health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the
disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic—
and its elimination is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In Wheat Belly, Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the
American public as “wheat”—and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new, wheat-free lifestyle.

Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who
have experienced life-changing transformations in their health after waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat
is an illuminating look at what is truly making Americans sick and an action plan to clear our plates of this seemingly benign ingredient.

About the Author


William Davis, MD, is a preventive cardiologist whose unique approach to diet allows him to advocate reversal, not just prevention, of heart disease. He is the founder of the program. He lives in Wisconsin.

My Review

This was a fascinating book to read but I also found it scary!  Scary in that I love bread, pasta, cookies, cakes...just about everything made with wheat.  Dr. Davis's research has proven that by eliminating wheat from our diets we can eliminate the dreaded fat tire around our midsection.  And that our health will improve by giving up wheat products.  Could the elimination of wheat from our diets really eliminate the obesity epidemic that is sweeping North America.  Read this book and find out!

Great book but I'm not ready to give up wheat products....yet.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: A Crack in Everything (Susan Callisto #1) by Angela Gerst

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590589440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590589441

Product Description


Politics, money, love . . . what could go wrong? 

Susan Callisto is pushing thirty and taking stock. Before she traded financial security at a Boston law firm for sandals and jeans in Waltham, she specialized in real estate law. Now she has reinvented herself as a political consultant for ordinary people seeking low-level office. Her income may be dicey, but Susan loves her new life—until her sometime boyfriend, Detective Lieutenant Michael Benedict, dumps her without a goodbye. Not one to mope, Susan uses humor and perpetual motion to push away the pain. 

Susan's new world is one where politics can turn deadly and even love may not survive. So when local high roller Charles Renfrow offers her a huge retainer to advise his political campaign, Susan is wary. Why would a scientist stalking the human genome want to be mayor of a small Massachusetts town? Finding the answer takes Susan through a maze of toxic secrets including those floating around Renfrow's biotech company. On her way to confront him, Susan instead finds the body of his beautiful assistant. Assigned to the case, Michael reenters Susan's life.

When Michael's suspicions settle on Roddie Baird, yet another, and favorite, of Susan's clients, Susan elbows her way into the investigation. She hopes to prove Michael wrong. As she probes—and lays her own life on the line—Susan uncovers a crack in everything….

About the Author


After law school, Angela Gerst moved from New York to Massachusetts where over the years she worked for literary journals, as a Boston Globe correspondent, as press secretary for the French Library, and most recently for Newton Magazine. Her interest in local issues involved her in organizing and running Newton campaigns for alderman and mayor, and from thence to creating the fictional world of Susan Callisto, political consultant. She and her husband live near Boston.

My Review

I really enjoyed A Crack in Everything which is the debut mystery novel by Angela Gerst.  Susan Callisto is a lawyer and a political consultant in Boston.  Her world is turned upside down when potential politician Charles Renfrow walks into her life.  Charles or Chaz as he is known is a charmer and he is the head of a biotech company that has questionable environmental concerns on the horizon.  His $20,000 retainer is too attractive for the struggling political consultant to pass up.  Then the bodies start piling up.  And Susan's ex Detective Lieutenant Michael Bennett walks back into her life.  As the plot thickens Susan has to examine all of the relationships in her life.  All of a sudden people aren't who they seemed to be.  As everyone's masks begin to slip, Susan realizes that everything in her life is filled with cracks...

Highly recommend this debut mystery novel.  I'm looking forward to the next installment in the Susan Callisto series by Angela Gerst.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Murder in the Chilcotin by Roy Innes

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Newest Publishers (October 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897126697
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897126691

Product Description


The third book in Roy Innes' mystery series sends RCMP Inspector Coswell and the newly promoted Sergeant Blakemore to the district of West Caribou in British Columbia, where the murder of a neophyte Mountie, the son of a local rancher, threatens to ignite racial conflicts that have been simmering in the region ever since 1885, when five First Nations men were hanged for treason. 

About the Author


ROY INNES is a retired eye physician and surgeon whose penchant for the arts, buried for years in the world of science, was rekindled upon retirement. His first novel, Murder in the Monashees, was released in 2005; Inspector Coswell’s exploits continued in 2008 with West End Murders. Innes is an avid hunter, a lover of classical music, and, despite his skinny frame, a gourmand. He lives on British Columbia’s lush Gabriola Island with his wife Barrie and his daughter’s cat.

My Review

Impressive crime thriller/police procedural from Roy Innes.  Innes has a wonderful insight into current and past First Nations issues in British Columbia.  He brings his insight to this well written and very enjoyable and esy to read novel that is the third in his series featuring RCMP Inspector Coswell and  Sergeant Blakemore.

There are not too many novels set in British Columbia so this series is a wonderful treat.  The Cariboo Chilcotin region of BC is incredibly beautiful.  Rolling hills are the setting for ranches, lakes full of fish have fishing lodges and camps for every price range, wildlife abounds and the rugged mountains are enchanting.  This region also is home to a large number of First Nations peoples who still harbour resentments toward the descendants of settlers who seemingly took over their region and forced their laws upon them.  Innes also touches on the scourge of the pine beetle that has plagued and decimated BC's forests.

It is in this fascinating landscape that the Murder in the Chilcotin is set.  The First Nations people who live in Anahim Lake are set against the ranchers and the people of William's Lake (Willy's Pond) right off the bat with the murder of an RCMP officer on native land.  As the bodies begin to pile up Coswell, Blakemore and newly deputized local native Richard Delorme realize that vengeance runs deep and the past lives on in the Chilcotin. Innes is obviously very familiar with the area and its issues.  There is hunting, tree harvesters, tree planters, hippies, and hidden marijuana crops.

Great writing and a great story make this a great read.  As authors such as Tony Hillerman exposed the realities of the Navaho Reservation to mystery readers, Roy Innes has brought the Anahim Ulkatcho Reserve to life for his readers.  Highly recommend this excellent mystery crime novel!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guest Review: The Beardmore Relics by Edgar J Lavoie

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: n/a yet (April 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980901731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980901733

Product Description


Alfred Vanderhorst, archaeologist, is convinced that the Beardmore Viking relics are genuine, not pawns in a hoax. It is his personal mission to prove they once did repose on an old mining claim near Lake Nipigon. When Vanderhorst fails to report in, Kennet Forbes is enlisted to find his missing colleague. Forbes, teacher at Thunder Bay University, soon finds himself embroiled in violence, murder, and mystery. Forbes, one-time war correspondent and former news man on national TV, rediscovers his old stomping grounds. He returns to the wilds north of Lake Superior, where he grew up. Forbes finds himself prowling a terrain full of prospecting trenches and mines with collapsing pillars. He finds more than he bargained for, including a couple of cold cases that nobody had known were cold, let alone cases. Forbes, amateur sleuth, works with the detectives of the Ontario Provincial Police, who can do things and go places he can't, and can keep the local crime family honest. Just when the natural order of the universe appears to have been restored, Kennet is saddled with an historical mystery, which the reader resolves.

Guest Review by D. Poulin

My little sister sent me a copy of this book for my birthday. I was born in Beardmore, so she thought I may be interested. I don’t typically write book reviews, however I couldn’t help myself in this case.

Initially, I found the book interesting simply because I am familiar with the geographic area and have been to the “tiny” places like Tansleyville and Macdiarmid (where I was baptized in 1956). But as I read on, the mystery, characters, and intrigue captivated my imagination and kept me guessing through to the surprising end. This is “an excellent read” with very impressive writing for a début novel. Kudos to E.J. Lavoie and I can’t wait to see what he has I store for us next…

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lillooet Loop or The Duffey Lake Road Loop

Saturday August 20, 2011

Sometimes I wonder why we often ride so far when the most beautiful scenery in the world is right in front of us.  Saturday morning we left home in Port Coquitlam at 6:55 a.m.  We rode through the cool fog with burst of sunshine through the Fraser Valley on Highway 7...the Lougheed Highway.  The corn is high in the fields...about time...I've been craving Chilliwack Peaches N'Cream corn!  

Near Dewdney in the Fraser Valley

We took a little detour into Hope to have breakfast at the Home Restaurant.

After breakfast we headed north on Highway 1, the TransCanada, through the majestic Fraser Canyon.  The canyon is famous for its seven tunnels.  The Fraser is quite treacherous at a point called Hell's Gate.  After a quick pit stop in Lytton we headed out on Highway 12.  It is such a glorious road.  Beautiful twists and turns along the Fraser.

This has got to be one of the stupidest signs I have ever seen:

We stopped in Lillooet for ice cream.  There was 5 tour buses there including one Trafalgar coach that had come from Whistler that morning on their way to Kamloops and then the Rockies.

We left Lillooet and headed out on the Duffey Lake Road toward Whistler.  This is gorgeous Seton Lake:

And of course Duffey Lake:

On the Mt. Currie reservation we hit 10 km of gravel where they are repaving the desperately needed the new pavement...put I felt like I was covered in dirt for the rest of the day!  A quick stop in Pemberton for water to try to recover from the dust and heat.  It was about 35 degrees Celsius by mid afternoon.  We rode past Whistler and Squamish.  I cannot believe the road signs that they put up for the Olympics giving every town, creek and body of water newly invented aboriginal names...oh my! 

The beautiful Howe Sound on the Sea to Sky Highway:

We arrived at Martini's on Broadway in Vancouver about 5 PM and had the most amazing pizza of course...none better anywhere...not even New York or Italy.

Home by 6:30...exhausted...sunburnt...about 640 K...amazing day!

Review: Art + Paris Impressionists and Post-Impressionists: The Ultimate Guide to Artists, Paintings and Places in Paris and Normandy (Art & City) [Paperback]

The Ultimate Guide to Impressionist Paris

In 19th-century Paris, a group of avant-garde artists stood up to the establishment and started a cultural revolution. Today, they’re known as the Impressionists. See Paris through the eyes of these revolutionary artists.

Step into the revolutionary lives of the Impressionists with Art+Paris, the most comprehensive guidebook to
Impressionism for the armchair traveler, lovers of Paris, and educators alike.

Illustrated with hundreds of beautiful, full-color photos and maps. this unique guide combines an introduction to late 19th-century art history with reproductions of famous Impressionist masterpieces, walking tours and detailed listings of the city’s art-related sites.

Art + Paris creates a vivid portrait of life in the 19th century and brings the reader along for the ride through four sections:

> A complete background course on Impressionism covering the dramatic lives of the artists and
the group’s struggle to be recognized by the establishment in comprehensive biographies and
engaging essays recounting their battle with the Salon.

> Illustrated listings of 150 must-see Impressionist paintings in Paris with the stories behind the art.

> Easy-to-follow tours that bring the reader into the streets of Paris to explore the places where the artists
lived, fell in love, found inspiration and placed their easels to paint these famous works.

> An extended-travel journey through the French countryside, exploring Normandy and the quaint
Paris suburbs where the artists learned to paint en plein air, out in the open air.

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Museyon Guides (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982232098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982232095

Product Description


Art+Paris goes far beyond the usual guidebook, combining a crash-course in art appreciation with dramatic, expert-written biographies of eight Impressionist artists and comprehensive listings of the most important, museums, galleries and historical sites that Paris has to offer. With this book reader will see Paris through the eyes of the Impressionists and their followers. From the Musée d'Orsay to the seedy cabarets of Pigalle, Art+Paris: Impressionists uncovers the places that inspired Manet, Degas and Van Gogh. Want to dig even deeper? Then travel beyond Paris to the suburbs and Normandy to find the scenic villages painted by Monet, Renoir and Cézanne. Intended for tourists and local art lovers alike, this must-have guide to contemporary art is filled with over 500 full color paintings, 300 photos and 17 maps.

My Review

I wish I had read this book before I visited Paris a few years ago.  This is a gorgeously illustrated book.  And it is packed full of fascinating information. 

It is divided into several sections:

  • What is impressionism?
  • Impressionists
  • How the impressionists broke from the salon.
  • Impressionist Exhibitions
  • Museum Tours / 150 Paintings
  • Paris Walking Tours
  • North of Paris and Normandy
The Impressionist that are covered in this book are:   Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Morisot, Caillebotte and van Gogh.  There is a biography of each impressionist artist and illustrations of their greatest works.  

The major museums of Paris are explored including which impressionist works of art are featured there.  For example, The Louvre houses pieces by Renoir, Degas and Monet.

There is a wonderful section on Paris Walking Tours.  I really enjoyed the walking tour named Islands, as I have walked that area extensively.  Next time I will be sure to have this book with me as it would have provided much more insight.  Both Renior and Monet painted the Pont Neuf.

I highly recommend this book for art lovers and travelers to Paris alike.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: The Accident by Linwood Barclay

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553807188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553807189

Product Description


In this mesmerizing thriller by acclaimed author Linwood Barclay, a typical American community descends into darkness, as an ordinary man is swept into one of the most violent mysteries of modern life.
It’s the new normal at the Garber household in Connecticut: Glen, a contractor, has seen his business shaken by the housing crisis, and now his wife, Sheila, is taking a business course at night to increase her chances of landing a good-paying job.

But she should have been home by now.

Waiting for Sheila’s return, with their eight-year-old daughter sleeping soundly, Glen soon finds his worst fears confirmed: Sheila and two others have been killed in a car accident. Adding to the tragedy, the police claim Sheila was responsible.

Glen knows it’s impossible; he knew his wife and she would never do such a thing. When he investigates, Glen begins to uncover layers of lawlessness beneath the placid surface of their suburb, secret after dangerous secret behind the closed doors.

Propelled into a vortex of corruption and illegal activity, pursued by mysterious killers, and confronted by threats from neighbors he thought he knew, Glen must take his own desperate measures and go to terrifying new places in himself to avenge his wife and protect his child.

Bold and timely, with the shocking twists and startling insights that have become trademarks of this new master of domestic suspense, The Accident is a riveting triumph, a book that moves at a breathless pace to a climax no one will see coming.

About the Author


Linwood Barclay is a former columnist for the Toronto Star. He is the #1 internationally bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including Never Look Away, Fear the Worst, Too Close to Home, and No Time for Goodbye, which has been optioned for film. He lives near Toronto with his wife and has two grown children. He is currently at work on his next thriller.

My Review

Wow...I love how this book is set in the suburbs.  I was captivated right away by the story. Soccer Moms trying to make some extra cash during these tough economic times.  Amazing where it can all lead to. 

This riveting novel by Linwood Barclay kept surprising me!  It is a wonderful thriller whose twists and turns make it impossible to put down.  The ending completely surprised me.  Love when that happens!  The characters are all oh so believable...anyone of them could be your suburban next door neighbour.  I've never bought a designer knock off purse but I sure have been tempted at the thought.  Never again! The events in The Accident are pulled right out of real life and that is what makes it so terrifying!

Highly recommend this wonderful thriller from Linwood Barclay.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cookbook Review: Quick Fix Gluten Free by Robert M. Landolphi

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; Original edition (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449402933
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449402938

Product Description


Gluten-free professional chef Robert M. Landolphi proves that a gluten-free lifestyle doesn't have to be bland and boring, labor-intensive, or time consuming inside Quick-Fix Gluten Free. In preparation for his follow-up to Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook, Landolphi queried fans about their biggest gluten-free challenges and created Quick-Fix Gluten Free in response to the dishes.
Divided into nine sections delving into everything from appetizers and breakfast to hearty, internationally inspired dishes, fan favorite comfort foods and decadent sweets and treats, Quick-Fix Gluten Free offers 100 fast and easily prepared recipes for crave-worthy dishes like Cinnamon Dusted French Toast, Kickin' Paella, Gnocchi with Roasted Garlic Butter and Parmesan Cheese, and Aunt Lil's Rich and Creamy Cheesecake. With a focus on fast, fresh and flavorful, these contemporary dishes are simple enough for everyday meals and delicious enough to serve to anyone--whether they are on a gluten-free diet or not.

Whether your choice to live gluten free is driven by the desire to lose weight, comply with a celiac diet, the need to avoid wheat because of mild allergies or the suspected link between gluten and autism, Quick-Fix Gluten Free proves that once-taboo foods like crusty breads, creamy pastas and indulgent cakes are no longer off-limits.

About the Author


Robert M. Landolphi is a professional gluten-free chef and graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales Culinary School. He is currently a Certified Culinary Arts Instructor and Culinary Operations Manager at the University of Connecticut. Robert also writes for a variety of print media and conducts regular radio and TV interviews across the country when he's not developing innovative, gluten-free recipes.

My Review

From Wikipedia: 
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often as "dextrin". A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease,[1] the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis,[2] and wheat allergy.[1]
Additionally, a gluten-free diet may exclude oats. Medical practitioners are divided on whether oats are an allergen to celiac disease sufferers[3] or if they are cross-contaminated in milling facilities by other allergens.[4]

I've been thinking a lot about eliminating wheat from my diet so this cookbook is very timely.  I had not really thought about flour being made from materials other than wheat.  In this cookbook wheat made from grains such as rice and tapioca are utilized.  I guess the main question is - will dishes taste the same using flours made with grains other than wheat?

For breakfast, the maple glazed fruit skewers sound really good!  Hmmm....and I love the Dijon Cream Sauce recipe.  Creamy chicken marsala...sounds to die for.  Pasta that come gluten free...interesting concept.

There is a chapter near the end on a gluten free pantry that is very helpful.  The author also discusses how he has experimented at great length to find flour mixtures that work with each type of cooking or baking.  I'm glad that someone else has already done the experimenting required to discover which flour blends work. 

As you can tell, I am still wavering on whether to become gluten free or not.  This book is a great resource for those who have made the decision either by choice or necessity to become gluten free.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: Champagne For Buzzards by Phyllis Smallman

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Mcarthur & Company (September 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552789128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552789124

Product Description


With its seven foot snakes and nasty horses, Florida ranch country can be as dangerous as the mean streets of any big city. Sherri Travis doesn't do country. She likes it even less when she meets Clay Adam's psychotic neighbors and finds a dead man in the back of her pickup. With fairy lights dancing through the Spanish moss and violent men closing in, the surprise party Sherri plans for Clay turns deadly.

About The Author

...Good Morning America...picked the Sherri Travis series as one of the top six for a summer read in 2010.

Phyllis Smallman's debut mystery, MARGARITA NIGHTS,was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger by the Crime Writers of the UK, nominated for the Malice Domestic in the US and won the first ever Arthur Ellis award for Unhanged Arthur. The Crime Writers of Canada also shortlisted Margarita Nights for best first novel.

Sex in a Sidecar and A Brewski For The Old Man followed. January Magazine named A BREWSKI FOR THE OLD MAN in the 10 best mysteries of 2010.

Champagne for Buzzards, the 4th book in the series, will be out in the US in 2011.

Phyllis Smallman was a potter, spending much of her time on a beach in Florida, before moving to British Columbia and turning to a life of crime.

"characters you'd love to have a drink with and a sense of place that captures the essence of the Sunshine State"...The Hamilton Spectator

See additional reviews and excerpts at

My Review

This is the first novel in the Sherri Travis Mystery series that I have read although it is the fourth book.  It is preceded by Margarita Nights, Sex in a Sidecar and A Brewski For The Old Man. It is not necessary to have read the first three to enjoy this book.  I wish I had as Sherri Travis is a wonderful, spunky character that I'm looking forward to learning more about.

Sherri Travis, our heroine, owns and manages a bar called The Sunset in Jacaranda, Florida.  Although Sherri grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, her beau Clay Adams is a wealthy man who had recently purchased a ranch, called Riverwood, in nearby Independence.  While Sherri is attempting to ready the ranch for a surprise birthday party for Clay, she encounters his sinister neighbours as well as discovers a dead body in the back of truck.  You would think the buzzards circling her would have tipped her off immediately but she is rather distracted by the party planning!  While the quaint, tourist filled Jacaranda is Sherri's usual haunt, Independence is mired in secrets and evil.  A corrupt sheriff, scary gun-toting neighbours on ATVs, and the mysterious search for a "dangerous" man provide for the thrills in this book.  What Sherri discovers when she starts digging is heart wrenching....

This is a great story told by a talented author...the story just flows nice and easy like a southern breeze.  I enjoyed the characters who Sherri is surrounded by.  All in all a great read.  I'm looking forward to reading more Sherri Travis books by Phyllis Smallman.

Excellent prices for these novels in the Kindle version on the Amazon site.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Second Son (Kindle Single) by Lee Child

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 161 KB
  • Print Length: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (August 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services

Product Description


In this new short story from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child, available exclusively as an eBook, a young Jack Reacher knows how to finish a fight so it stays finished. He knows how to get the job done so it stays done. And, in one of his earliest challenges, he knows that his analytical brain is just as important as his impressive brawn.

Okinawa, 1974. Even at thirteen, Jack Reacher knows how to outwit and overpower anyone who stands in his way. And as the new kid in town, that’s pretty much everyone. His family has come to the Pacific with his father, who’s preparing for a top-secret Marine Corps operation. After receiving a rude welcome from the local military brats, Reacher and his older brother, Joe, intend to teach them a lesson they won’t forget. But it’s soon clear that there’s more at stake than pride. When his family’s future appears to come crumbling down, it’s the youngest Reacher who rises to the occasion with all the decisive cunning and bravura that will one day be his deadly trademark.

Second Son also includes a thrilling excerpt from Lee Child’s forthcoming novel, The Affair.

My Review

Short novella that provides a bit of insight into the childhood of Jack Reacher.  The reader is able to see Reacher's family dynamic in action.  And we are able to see how the adult Reacher became who he did.  Great treat for Reacher fans!

Review: Darkness, My Old Friend by Lisa Unger

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307464997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307464996

Product Description


The New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Lies and Fragile returns to The Hollows, delivering a thriller that explores matters of faith, memory, and sacrifice.

After giving up his post at the Hollows Police Department, Jones Cooper is at loose ends. He is having trouble facing a horrible event from his past and finding a second act. He’s in therapy. Then, on a brisk October morning, he has a visitor. Eloise Montgomery, the psychic who plays a key role in Fragile, comes to him with predictions about his future, some of them dire.

Michael Holt, a young man who grew up in The Hollows, has returned looking for answers about his mother, who went missing many years earlier. He has hired local PI Ray Muldune and psychic Eloise Montgomery to help him solve the mystery that has haunted him. What he finds might be his undoing.

Fifteen-year-old Willow Graves is exiled to The Hollows from Manhattan when six months earlier she moved to the quiet town with her novelist mother after a bitter divorce.  Willow is acting out, spending time with kids that bring out the worst in her. And when things get hard, she has a tendency to run away—a predilection that might lead her to dark places.

Set in The Hollows, the backdrop for Fragile, this is the riveting story of lives set on a collision course with devastating consequences. The result is Lisa Unger’s most compelling fiction to date.

About the Author


Lisa Unger is the New York Times bestselling and award winning author of ten novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and daughter.

My Review

Darkness, My Old Friend is the second Lisa Unger novel to be set in The Hollows.  I am a huge Lisa Unger fan and am pleased to report that her latest is even more thrilling than her earlier books.

This is a story about change and it is story about the darkness in our lives.  Jones Cooper and his wife are back as is psychic Eloise Montgomery from Fragile, Lisa Unger's first book set in The Hollows.  Jones no longer is a detective with The Hollows Police Department...and he has a lot of changes to face in his life.  Michael Holt's mother disappeared twenty years ago.  He hires Eloise and PI Ray Muldune to find out what happened to her.  His father has just died and he is ready to find out the truth.  Young Willow Graves has been moved to The Hollows from New York.  The fifteen year old has trouble fitting in wherever she goes and it is no different in The Hollows.  I found the story of Paula Carr the most haunting.  All of these stories come together in the darkness that consumes The Hollows to make for a thrilling tense story.

Highly recommend this excellent mystery/crime thriller from Lisa Unger.  If you can, read Fragile first but it is not necessary.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Blog Tour and Review: The Bum Magnet by K. L. Brady

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; Reprint edition (March 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451613709
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451613704

Product Description


Charisse Tyson’s got it all going on . . .

She’s a savvy, successful real-estate agent with a quick wit, a low tolerance for BS, a gorgeous size-14 body, and a thirst for top shelf vodka. Despite her dream house, luxury car, and appetite for life’s best—like fine dining and hot men—she seems to have her own special talent for attracting players. Why do all of her ex-lovers belong in the Losers Hall of Fame?

There was Lamar, the hazel-eyed Adonis who sowed more wild oats than Quaker. . . Sean, an expert at juggling relationships . . . Marcus, whose lips wandered as often as his eyes . . . and others, too.      But just as Rissey swears off sex and vows to dump her emotional baggage, she meets house-hunting client Dwayne Gibson. There’s no way she can resist his seductive smile and rock-hard body. . . . Will Dwayne turn out to be the biggest bum of them all? Or will this time be different?

About The Author

The Bum Magnet Virtual Book Publicity Tour August 2011  

K. L. Brady is a D.C. native but spent a number of her formative years in the Ohio Valley. She’s an alumnus of the University of the District of Columbia and University of Maryland University College, earning a B.A. in Economics and M.B.A., respectively. She works as an analyst for a major government contracting firm and is an active real estate agent with Exit Realty by day—and writes by night (often into the wee hours of the morning). She lives just outside of D.C. in Cheltenham, Maryland, with her son and lives to eat chocolate, shop, read, and write.

Her upcoming adult novel, THE BUM MAGNET, will be published by Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books in March 2011. THE BUM MAGNET was the winner of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Multicultural Fiction, as well as the Third Place Grand Prize Winner for Best Fiction of 2010. Moreover, the African Americans on the Move Book Club recently named her their 2011 Female Author of the Year. You can visit K.L. Brady’s website at

You can find K. L. Brady at: (fan page) (relationship blog, under construction) (self-publishing tips and advice)

Watch the Trailer Here

The Bum Magnet Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, August 1
Guest post at
Tuesday, August 2
Interviewed at Examiner
Wednesday, August 3
Book spotlighted at Book Marketing Buzz
Thursday, August 4
Guest blogging at Romance Junkies
Friday, August 5
Book reviewed at Book Reviews by Molly
Monday, August 8
Interviewed at Blogcritics
Tuesday, August 9
Book reviewed at Just Another Book Addict
Wednesday, August 10
Interviewed at Review From Here
Thursday, August 11
Book reviewed at Mad Moose Mama
Friday, August 12
Interviewed at The Hot Author Report
Monday, August 15
Book reviewed at Mysteries Etc.
Tuesday, August 16
Guest blogging at Literarily Speaking
Wednesday, August 17
Guest blogging at  Literal Exposure
Thursday, August 18
Guest blogging at
Friday, August 19
Monday, August 22
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Wednesday, August 24
Guest blogging at The Book Bin
Thursday, August 25
Book reviewed at Lynn’s Corner

My Review

Charisse is a forty-something woman trying to figure out love and life.  She has everything she needs in life except the most important  This book follows the adventures/misadventures of Charisse's love life. She does learn an important lesson that we should all note:  when you stop trying so hard and let your guard down things all come together.  It is a hilarious book at times that has you laughing out loud.  It is a brave woman that re-examines her past relationships and who continues in her quest for love.

Great read for women. Warning:  Spicy language and situations. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307596850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307596857

Product Description


Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers.

Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working at a mailing-list company, dizzy with the mixed signals of a boss who claims she’s on a diet but has Isabella file all morning if she forgets to bring her a chocolate muffin. Mary thinks she might cry with happiness when she finally meets a nice guy who loves his mother, only to realize he’ll never love Mary quite as much. And Lauren, a waitress at a Midtown bar, swears up and down she won’t fall for the sleazy bartender—a promise that his dirty blond curls and perfect vodka sodas make hard to keep.

With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering, what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. These are the years when everyone else seems to have a plan, a great job, and an appropriate boyfriend, while Isabella has a blind date with a gay man, Mary has a crush on her boss, and Lauren has a goldfish named Willard. Through boozy family holidays and disastrous ski vacations, relationships lost to politics and relationships found in pet stores, Girls in White Dresses pulls us deep inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life. 

About the Author


Jennifer Close was born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago. She is a graduate of Boston College and received her MFA in Fiction Writing from The New School in 2005. She worked in New York in magazines for many years and then in Washington, D.C., as a bookseller. Girls in White Dresses is her first book.

My Review

Awesome debut novel by Jennifer Close. I was ready for a funny, chick lit book after reading Triple Crossing.  This book is a perfect blend of hilarity and the poignant reality of being a young woman in New York City.  The twenties are such an emotional time in any young person's life...what am I going to do with my life?  Am I ever going to get married?  Jennifer Close captures those feelings perfectly and blends in a dose of fun and laughter. I kept catching myself laughing out loud!  I loved the endless parade of showers and weddings that seem to fill everyone's twenties.  Six showers for one bride!..that was just crazy...

This is a heartwarming story about women and the friendship that they share with one another. I had a hard time putting this book down.  It is a easy but captivating read.  Excellent book to read on a lazy summer day.

I highly recommend this great book!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Review: Triple Crossing by Sebastian Rotella

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (August 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316105309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316105309

Product Description


Valentine Pescatore, a volatile rookie Border Patrol agent, is trying to survive the trenches of The Line in San Diego. He gets in trouble and finds himself recruited as an informant by Isabel Puente, a beautiful U.S. agent investigating a powerful Mexican crime family.

As he infiltrates the mafia, Pescatore falls in love with Puente. But he clashes with her ally Leo Mendez, chief of a Tijuana anti-corruption unit. Politically charged violence escalates, plunging Pescatore into the lawless "triple border" region of South America and a showdown full of bloodshed and betrayal.

Writing with rapid-fire intensity, Sebastian Rotella captures the despair and intrigue of the borderlands, where enforcing the law has become an act of subversion. TRIPLE CROSSING is an explosive and riveting debut.

About the Author


Sebastian Rotella is an author and award-winning senior reporter for Propublica, an independent organization dedicated to investigative journalism. He covers issues including international terrorism, organized crime, homeland security and immigration. Previously, he worked for 23 years for the Los Angeles Times, serving as bureau chief in Paris and Buenos Aires and covering the Mexican border. He was a Pulitzer finalist in international reporting in 2006. He is the author of Twilight on the Line: Underworlds and Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border (Norton), which was named a New York Times Notable Book in 1998.

Excellent article on the Mulholland Book Site here.

My Review

Excellent debut novel by Sebastian Rotella. Triple Crossing refers to the three country junction of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina in South America which is similar to the Mexico/US border with its smuggling of people and goods.  Corruption and militaristic governments are the norm in the area.  I have dozens of friends who grew up in Mennonite colonies in the area and I have heard endless stories of violence and corruption that has existed for decades.

The story follows Border Patrol rookie Valentine Pescatore from the US/Mexican border near San Diego to the Triple Border area.  Rotella paints a vivid picture of the realities of both border regions where political corruption and organized crime intermingle to form this lawless landscape.  Violence is a daily occurrence.  Mexicans are no longer the only migrants trying to cross into the United States.  South and Central Americans along with Asians are also crossing illegally.  They are known as OTMs...Other Than Mexicans.  The organized crime element in the form of global mafias are moving migrants across borders in all regions that have uncontrolled borders.  The book focused on middle eastern mafioso in the Triple Border region.  

This was a really interesting book besides being an excellent crime thriller.  I haven't been in Tijuana since the mid 1970s and all I remember was extreme poverty, shacks made of cardboard and children trying to sell us paper flowers in the street.  I remember giving my Canadian flag pin to one of the young boys who asked for it.  A lot has changed since then.

Highly recommend this informative and thought provoking crime thriller.