Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Martha Stewart's Handmade Holiday Crafts: 225 Inspired Projects for Year-Round Celebrations by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Potter Craft (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307586901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307586902

Product Description


Join Martha Stewart for a celebration of handcrafted holidays all year-round!

New Year’s – Valentine’s Day – Easter – Mother’s Day – Father’s Day – Fourth of July – Halloween – Thanksgiving – Hanukkah – Christmas

Let Martha inspire your creativity with the most beautiful crafts. The 225 handmade projects include cards and greetings, decorations, gifts and gift wrapping, tabletop accents, party favors, and kids’ crafts, as well as more holiday-specific activities, such as egg-dyeing, pumpkin carving, and tree trimming. Each idea is sure to make the holidays more festive—and memorable.

My Review

I think I own most of the books that Martha Stewart and her staff have released and I treasure every one of them.  This is a wonderful craft book filled with wonderful ideas for holidays from Easter to Halloween to Christmas.  It is wonderfully illustrated.  Another treasure from the editors of Martha Stewart magazine.  Be sure to add to your collection.  It will be released tomorrow.

Review: Debbie Macomber's Christmas Cookbook: Favorite Recipes and Holiday Traditions from My Home to Yours by Debbie Macomber

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037389239X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373892396

Product Description


We call her the "Official Storyteller of Christmas"—but Debbie Macomber is more than that. She's someone who loves the holiday and all its traditions. Now she shares more than one hundred of her favorite recipes to help you enjoy this most joyous of seasons. You'll also find easy-to-follow instructions for crafts, decorations and gift wrapping—everything you need to create a beautiful and festive holiday.
What makes this cookbook unique is Debbie's personal memories and observations. Join her as she reminisces about traditions past and present, and discover the craft ideas she herself uses. As she says, "The holidays are about being with others. They're about celebrating and sustaining our personal community of family and friends."

In this beautifully illustrated book, she shows you how to serve a memorable meal, whether it's a sit-down Christmas dinner for a crowd, entertaining a group of friends at an open house or tea, or spending time with your children or grandchildren baking cookies and making gifts.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Oh, how I love Christmas. Give me an excuse to prepare a spread for my family or invite friends to the house, and I immediately head for the kitchen and reach for my cookbooks. (I've lost count of the number I've collected through the years. Cookbooks dating back to my years as a young wife and mother, even a recipe file from my teen years. I have notes from my grandmother, as well as my mother's recipes.)

What the holidays are really about is being with others. They're about celebrating and sustaining our personal community of family and friends, giving and receiving affection, reciprocating good times—and that so often takes the form of a shared meal.

Every year, for almost as long as I've been published, I've written a book that features some aspect of Christmas. It was my love of Christmas that brought those wacky and irrepressible angels, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy, to life. That goes for Mrs. Miracle, too, along with dozens of holiday-themed stories. My goal was—and is—to give you, my readers, something to take you away from the frantic activity of the Christmas season and yet ultimately reflect what it really means. To give you the gift of laughter and a few moments of respite and relaxation.

What I love most about the Christmas holidays is the traditions with family and friends. When Wayne and I were first married, we lived in western Washington State and our families lived on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. Traversing the mountain passes in the dead of winter wasn't always possible, so we had to start our own traditions.

I'll be passing on several of those Macomber family traditions in this cookbook. Take what you like and add your own unique twist. I offer them to you with a grateful heart for all you've done to support me through my publishing career.

I can say without hesitation that you're going to enjoy this cookbook. The recipes will leave you eager to get into the kitchen; the pictures are a feast for the eyes and will inspire you.

Please join me now and flip through the pages. As you read these recipes and Christmas craft suggestions, remember you'll be creating memories in your own kitchen, sharing a heritage of good eating with your family and friends.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

My Review

So many good books are being released tomorrow including this fabulous Christmas cookbook from Debbie Macomber.  It is filled with wonderful recipes, beautiful colorful photographs, crafts with instructions and shared memories and ideas from Debbie who is the author of wonderful books including the Cedar Cove series.

The contents include:

  • Merry Morning Breakfast
  • Christmas Tea
  • Appetizers
  • Christmas and Christmas Eve Dinner
  • Christmas Desserts
  • Christmas Gifts
  • Cooking With Grandma
  • Easy Family Dinners
Every recipe photograph had me drooling with anticipation.  I cannot wait to try out some of these inspiring recipes.  Highly recommend this gorgeous cookbook!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: Mule: A Novel of Moving Weight by Tony D'Souza

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547576714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547576718

Product Description


From an award-winning “savvy storyteller”* comes a page-turning, zeitgeist-capturing novel of a young couple who turn to drug trafficking to make it through the recession.
James and Kate are golden children of the late twentieth century, flush with opportunity. But an economic downturn and an unexpected pregnancy send them searching for a way to make do.

A winter in the mountains of California’s Siskiyou County introduces a tempting opportunity. A friend grows prime-grade marijuana; if James transports just one load from Cali to Florida, he’ll pull down enough cash to survive for months.

James navigates life as a mule, then a boss—from moneyhungry friends to gun-toting drug lords, from Sacramento to Tallahassee, from just making the weight move cross-country to making thousands of dollars a day. The risks keep rising, forcing him to the next criminal level. A kidnapping, a shootout, a bank vault—it all culminates in a swirl of action.

Absorbing and timely, Mule perfectly captures the anxieties of plunging into the criminal world and of being a young person making do in a moment when the American Dream you never had to believe in—because it was handed to you, fully wrapped and ready to go at the takeout window— suddenly vanishes from the menu.
*Entertainment Weekly

About the Author


Tony D’Souza is the author of three novels, including the award-winning Whiteman. He has contributed to The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Outside, Salon, Granta, McSweeney’s, O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Fantasy, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Sue Kaufman Prize, Florida Gold and Silver Medals for fiction, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and the NEA, Tony was nominated for a National Magazine Award for coverage of Nicaragua’s Eric Volz murder trial and spent three years in Africa with the Peace Corps.

My Review
Mule, which is out on Tuesday, is a great ride!  Oh heart was pounding as I followed James's adventures as a Mule.  A Mule is someone who transports drugs from one locale to another.  Being a mule was just the beginning for James.  Any illegal activity brings on heart racing as you the story moves from one tense situation to another.

I loved the Siskiyou County connection.  My father lived there for years and if there ever was a stranger more diverse place I've never found it....from all-American ranchers, to backwoods hippies to crystal loving wackos...they do have everything there.  It is no wonder James descent into a life of crime began there.

Excellent read that was praised by Entertainment Weekly this week.  Good job.

Review: Possum Belly Queen by Robert O'Hanneson

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610090187
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610090186

Product Description


The man who telephoned him implied he wants to do business with amusement ride rep Andy Zartanian, and Andy seriously needs to do some business. When they meet, it is clear within moments that the man doesn’t know Chance’s Aviator from the Log Flume. Annoyed at having his time wasted, Andy turns to go. The man hurries to explain he’s there on behalf of a wealthy Bostonian whose granddaughter was last seen with a carnie on a Virginia midway. His employer, the man says, is offering a handsome compensation package to Andy. All he has to do is track down the young woman and bring her home. Suspicious, but drawn to the financial upside, Andy signs on and starts refreshing his carnie contacts. But as Andy suspected from the get-go, it’s much more complex than simply extracting young Emily from her newfound companions. As he fights his way through the seamy backside of sparkling midways and festive crowds, Andy is reminded why his grandfather always said carnie life was the devil’s sandbox. 

About the Author


Robert O’Hanneson spent over twenty years selling amusement rides to carnivals and amusement parks worldwide. Now, he writes fulltime in California’s Central Valley. His novel, POSSUM BELLY QUEEN, is Dark Oak Mystery Contest’s 2010 winner. He co-wrote BLOODY SOIL, which was partially read on Fresno’s NPR station. His article INSIDE THE SILOS OF DOOMSDAY, was part of Military History Magazine’s issue on the Cuban Missile Crisis. His work also appeared in Fresno Magazine. As board vice president of the Yosemite Writers Conference, he planning of conferences, speaker acquisitions and generated scholarship funds for high school and college students.

My Review

Possum Belly Queen takes the reader into the world of the traveling carnival, an intriguing world that is unknown to most of us.  The writer, Robert O'Hanneson, whose debut novel is Possum Belly Queen, is very good. The story flows and it is a good story.  O'Hanneson who sold amusement park equipment for twenty years is very familiar with the world of the carny...both the good and the bad.

The story opens with  Andy Zartanian, former special ops who grew up with the carnival circuit, who is now a amusement park ride salesman being approached by a new client.  But this new client is not interested in purchasing equipment but is interested in Andy because of his combination of insider carnival knowledge and special ops training.  A wealthy Bostonian's granddaughter has apparently run off with a carny and Andy is offered a large fee to find the girl.  Reluctantly he takes it on and from then on it's a wild roller coaster ride to the finish. 

The insider view of carnival life is what makes this novel unique, but the fast paced well-written story keeps you reading!  Great debut novel!  Looking forward to more from Robert O'Hanneson.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: The Only Shadow in the House: A Sumach Travel Mystery by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Sumach Pr (October 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894549856
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894549851

Product Description


Though she is determined to stay focused on her writing, Elizabeth can't ignore the familiar goose bumps she feels when handsome wheelchair basketball coach Jared asks for her help to find out the truth about his mother's death. Once Elizabeth and Jared arrive in Redwater and begin to ask difficult questions about the past, they realize that not everyone wants this mystery to be solved...Can Elizabeth uncover the truth, and will her new relationship survive the investigation? In this fast-paced sequel to "Illegally Dead", Edmonton travel writer Elizabeth Oliver is excited to get back on the open road to research a new article when, suddenly, an unexpected romance leads to a new murder mystery.

About The Author

From Amazon Author's Page: 
I was born in New Westminster, B.C. and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. I married soon after graduation and moved to a farm where I had two children. When that marriage failed I began a long career of holding many as various jobs. I have worked as a bartender, hotel maid, cashier, bank teller, bookkeeper, printing press operator, meat wrapper, gold prospector, warehouse shipper, house renovator and nursing attendant. During that time I raised my two children and helped raise three step-children. I also had travel and historical articles published in magazines. Between 1990 and 2000 I researched and wrote seven Backroads Series books about Alberta, B.C., the Yukon and Alaska that were published by Lone Pine Publishing in Edmonton, AB.
I love change so I have moved over thirty times in my life living on acreages and farm and in small towns and cities throughout Alberta and B.C. I now live on an acreage in the Port Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island with my husband, five cats and four chickens. I currently work in a group home doing one-on-one support with a mentally and physically challenged man.

I belong to the Crime Writers of Canada, the International Association of Crime Writers/North American Branch, the Vancouver International Writers Festival, the Writers Guild of Alberta, the Federation of B.C. Writers, and the Port Alberni Arts Council.

My short story A Capital Offence received Ascent Aspirations First Prize for Flash Fiction.

My Review

I like how author Joan Donaldson-Yarmey sets her books in obscure places in Alberta.  This time it is Redwater...a small town outside of Edmonton that not many people have heard of...I only have because the company I worked at for many years built a cogeneration plant there.  This is the second book in her Sumach Travel Mystery series.  It is an enjoyable read particularly if you want to learn more about Alberta.  The author is a travel writer and her experience and expertise about the area shines through.

Good story filled with interesting characters. The mystery had me guessing until the end. I'm looking forward to the next Elizabeth Oliver adventure.

At the end of the book the article the fictional Elizabeth was researching during the book is included.  It is called Day Tripping From Edmonton.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Review: A Trick of the Light: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312655452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312655457

Product Description



"Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie [but] it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm...." --Booklist (starred review)

“Hearts are broken,” Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. “Sweet relationships are dead.”

But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow's garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara's solo show at the famed Musée in Montreal. Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, is called to the tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light.  Where nothing is as it seems.  Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart.  And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they've found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light.

About the Author



Louise Penny, author of the New York Times bestselling Chief Inspector Gamache novels, worked as an award-winning journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation before leaving to write crime fiction. Her first mystery, Still Life, was the winner of the New Blood Dagger and the Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys Awards; and was also named one of the five Mystery/Crime Novels of the Decade by Deadly Pleasures magazine. Louise went on to become the first writer ever to win the Agatha Award for Best Novel four times, as well as a second Anthony Award for The Brutal Telling and the Dilys and Arthur Ellis Awards for Bury Your Dead. Her novels  are bestsellers in the United States and Great Britain and have been translated into fourteen languages. She lives with her husband, Michael, in a small village south of Montréal where she writes, skis, and volunteers.

My Review

I have been looking forward to the release of the latest Chief Inspector Armand Gamanche Novel by Louise Penny with great anticipation and I have not been disappointed.  I was thrilled to see A Trick of the Light debut at number 4 on the New York Times Fiction Bestsellers list.  If you have not discovered this series yet then you are missing out on one of the greatest crime novelist of our time.  I read this novel as slowly as possible and savoured every word.

The village of Three Pines in the Eastern Townships of Quebec is off the beaten bath but beloved by those who know it.  I have been waiting for Penny to explore the relationship of Peter and Clara in light of the fact that Clara is proving to be a much more brilliant artist than her husband.  Peter is such a selfish man and Clara has been such a giving soul that I have been looking forward to Clara's one woman show in Montreal. 
After the opening of Clara's show, her childhood friend and nemesis is found murdered in the garden of Clara and Peter's home.  But it isn't the murder that take center stage but the relationships between all the characters in the story.  Penny is able to delve into the psyche of each of her characters in portray them in a way few authors are able.  The reader understands each person completely;  their disappointments in life,  their triumphs, their deepest thoughts are revealed. The masks are lifted and everyone's true characters are laid bare for the reader to see.  And what is it that everyone needs just as much as love...well to belong.  Don't we all just want to belong somewhere? 

The ending is pure perfection.

Louise Penny is a gem!  This book as well as the entire series is amazing.  I cannot get enough of Three Pines and its wonderful characters.  Bravo Bravo Bravo!!!  Absolute perfection once again Ms. Penny.  I'm already waiting for the next one!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Scrafitto by Steve Scarborough

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: CopTales (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610090217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610090216

Product Description


After fleeing the States, ex-homicide cop Mitch Sharp now has a great life as a commercial photographer in a Costa Rican resort town. He describes his new life in picturesque Quepos with a local saying, pura vida, “this is living.” His comfortable existence in the expatriate art community is shattered when someone begins attacking women and cutting them with a razor-like knife, deliberately splattering their blood on nearby walls. The local police are loath to investigate. The Latin macho society wants to ignore the socially uncomfortable crimes against women. Mitch is also reluctant to help, thinking he left that life behind. When the attacks escalate to murder, and Mitch's new love is targeted by the slasher, he can't avoid being drawn in. Isolated in a foreign country, Mitch must combine an unusual team of ex-pats with his investigative and photography skills to stop the killer from striking again. 

About the Author


Steve Scarborough is an author and retired Forensic Scientist with over 30 years experience in Law Enforcement with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (yes, the CSI) and the FBI. He is an accomplished technical writer with almost 30 articles in trade magazines and professional journals. He also has two published humor books, “Not Tonight Dear, I have a Computer” and “The Hired Defense Witness Jokebook.” Along with classes at forensic conferences, he regularly conducts workshops teaching forensics and crime investigation to writers. Steve lives in Las Vegas with his wife, two daughters and his two “adopted” daughters.

My Review

Wonderful change to have a mystery novel set in a locale that is different from most.  Scrafitto is set in the Costa Rican resort town of Quepos.  I took a quick peak at images of Quepos online and it is definitely a gorgeous tropical spot!

The author of Scrapito Steve Scarborough is a retired Forensic Scientist who has 30 years experience with the Las Vegas PD and the FBI.  His background brings the investigation of murders to life with realism that can only come from experience.  Mitch Sharp is an ex-homicide cop from Seal Beach, California who has escaped to Quepos for a new life as a photographer.  He has a successful business going and I actually learned a few photography tips from this book!  But a series of murders brings local police in search of his experience as a homicide officer to his door.  He was already growing concerned about the murders himself thus he is drawn back into his old profession.

Well written, good story that kept me guessing to the end.  Loved the setting and the realistic portrayal of the locals and the ex-pats that live there.  Looking forward to the next Mitch Sharp adventure.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Under The Dog Star: A Rachel Goddard Mystery by Sandra Parshall

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588800
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588802

Product Description

Something terrifying is happening to the dogs in the mountain community of Mason County, Virginia. “Missing Dog” posters cover the waiting room walls at Dr. Rachel Goddard’s veterinary clinic. A pack of feral canines roams at night, attacking livestock in a desperate search for food. Now a prominent physician, Gordon Hall, has been found dead, his throat torn open.
Sheriff ’s Department investigator Tom Bridger believes the killing was premeditated murder, with a trained attack dog as the weapon. But Dr. Hall’s son insists that the pack killed his father, and he organizes a group of men to find and shoot the animals.
Rachel and her friend Holly Turner make enemies by trying to move the pack to sanctuary. Tom, in love with Rachel, struggles to divide his time among the feral dog problem, the search for the dogfighting operation, and the hunt for Gordon Hall’s killer. It’s complicated by Hall’s five rivalrous children and a multitude of suspects—human and canine.

About the Author


Sandra Parshall grew up in South Carolina and has worked as a reporter on newspapers in South Carolina, West Virginia, and Baltimore. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a long-time Washington journalist, and three cats.
My Review
This is my first Rachel Goddard mystery by Sandra Parshall and I am hooked! I am going to have to backtrack and read the rest of the series. What a captivating book! 

Rachel Goddard is a veterinarian in Mason County, Virginia.  Their is a darkness in parts of the county.  Rumours of dog fighting abound.  When the owner/operator of the local hospital is found murdered it looks as if he has been killed by a dog.  And a pack of feral canines are terrorizing livestock in the county.  Who would have thought that in this terrible economy people would be abandoning their pets in the wilderness.  I had no idea such a thing happens...very enlightening.

Lots of twists and turns and interesting characters!  Highly recommend this mystery thriller!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Review: A Case of Hometown Blues by W.S. Gager

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Oak Mysteries (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610090179
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610090179

Product Description


When Pulitzer-winning reporter Mitch Malone's editor presses him for a favor, Malone breaks his vow to never return to his hometown. It seemed simple enough--lead a seminar for Flatville, MI's newspaper, keep a low profile and get back to the city post haste. But memories of his parents' death swarm him, and, to avoid solitude, he stops for a beer. In the crowded bar, Mitch is dismayed to see many of his former classmates--including the still-lovely Homecoming Queen, Trudy. Once the object of his teenage crush, Trudy joins Mitch. He quickly realizes she is upset and inebriated. Always the gentleman, Mitch sees her safely home, and returns to his B&B, still trying to shake memories of his parents' sad demise. The next day, he is stunned to learn Trudy was murdered and he is the prime suspect. The locals treat the murder charge as a slam dunk, and Mitch realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail. As he investigates, facts he thought he knew about his family unravel, and danger ratchets up. Can Mitch discover the truth that will allow his parents to rest in peace, or will he be resting with them? 

From the Author


W.S. GAGER has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional women golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character in the award-winning Mitch Malone Mysteries is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer.

My Review

A Case of Hometown Blues is my introduction to the works of W.S. Gager.  This volume is the third in a series featuring reporter Mitch Malone. It is not necessary to have read the two previous editions.  W.S. Gager's background is of a newspaper reporter and her expertise in this area shines through in her depiction of the newspaper world.

Mitch Malone had vowed to never return to his hometown.  He had buried the hurts of his past including the death of a childhood friend and the death of his parents far into an unreachable part of his memory.  He knew it was a mistake to return to his hometown.  He had begun his life anew away from Flatville.  He was a Pulitzer nominated news writer.  And he likes to keep to himself.  Being back in Flatville for a favor to his editor brings all the memories flooding back.  He is accused of murdering former high school beauty queen Trudy within a day of being back in town.  His old nemesis from his childhood is in his face constantly.  He knew he should have followed his heart and stayed away...

Good story with a great surprise ending.  Do we really know the people closest to us...or do we form images of them in our mind of what we think they should be...  I am looking forward to the next adventure of Mitch Malone.


Operation Yellow Ribbon was Canada's response to the 9-11 attacks on the United States.  I will never forget that day.  It has lasting effects on my life as I think it did for most people.  The horrendous events that happened ten years ago today changed our thinking and our perception of the world.  It caused me to re-evaluate my life and make some major changes that would change my life forever...and they were for the better.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver as it is today.  I drove to work on my first day back after spending five days in Calgary training and in meetings.  I had just been on a plane two days earlier.  I couldn't have driven more than a mile when I heard the news on the radio that a plane had hit one of the twin towers.  As I drove to work the story began to unfold.  I was in shock of course.  I arrived at work to silence and confusion.  The internet wasn't really working and we were all scrambling for news.  Luckily I had a radio at my desk so I listened to that all morning with others huddled around at times.

Then the planes started coming.  Huge planes flying low...minutes office was in direct line with the largest runway at Vancouver International.  I will never forget the unending arrival of the planes.  And I will never forget two U.S. F-15s escorting an Air China 747 right over the parking lot.  Thirty-four planes were diverted to Vancouver.  239 were diverted to Canada in total.  The pilots had never flown into Vancouver before thus the low height of these planes.

I've been to New York City twice since then.  The first time was in 2008 and I remember the NY firemen fiercely guarding Ground Zero.  In 2009 I remember seeing the site being rebuilt and I remember all the children on field trips there. 

Always remember.  Be vigilant and never forget.

Ground Zero:  October 2009

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553808079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553808070

Product Description


The papers have called me a monster. You’ve either concluded that I am a braggart as well as a sadist or that I have a deep and driving need to be caught and punished.  

In the sweltering heat of an Atlanta summer, a killer is pushing the city to its breaking point, preying on the unsuspecting, writing taunting letters to the media, promising more death. Desperate to stop the Wishbone Killer before another victim meets a shattering end, A.P.D. lieutenant Aaron Rauser turns to the one person he knows can penetrate a deranged mind: ex–FBI profiler Keye Street.

And you must certainly be wondering if I am, in fact, the stranger you seek.

Keye was a rising young star at the Bureau until addiction derailed her career and her life. Now sober and fighting to stay so, Keye picks up jobs where she can get them: catching adulterers, serving subpoenas, chasing down bailjumpers, and dodging the occasional bullet. With multiple victims, little to go on, and an entire police force looking for direction, the last thing Keye wants is to be pulled into the firestorm of Atlanta’s worst nightmare.

Shall I convince you?

And then it suddenly becomes clear that the hunter has become the hunted—and the stranger she seeks is far closer than she ever dared imagine.

An electrifying thriller debut, The Stranger You Seek introduces a brash, flawed, and unforgettable heroine in a complex, twisting novel that takes readers deep into a sultry Southern summer, a city in the grips of chaos, and a harrowing cat-and-mouse game no reader will ever forget.

About the Author


The Stranger You Seek marks Amanda Kyle Williams’s suspense debut.  She is currently at work on the next Keye Street thriller, Stranger in the Room.

My Review

Former FBI agent turned private investigator Keye Street is a great new addition to literary world of private eyes.  This is Amanda Kyle William's suspense debut novel and it is an enjoyable read.  Keye is a realistic heroine; Chinese-American, adopted after the murder of her grandparents, by a white southern family she has struggled with her demons by abusing alcohol.  Alcoholism ruined her career as a profiler with the FBI but she is still in demand with the Atlanta PD.  She is quickly drawn into the killer's world.  Lots of twists and turns.  Do you really know the people around you is definitely a theme in this book.

I found the writing style to be excellent.  The characters that inhabit Keye's world are all believable.  I did find that I was able to read the clues along the way quite easily and was able to suspect the right villain.

I'm looking forward to more of Keye Street.  Highly recommend The Stranger You Seek.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cookbook Review: Bobby Flay's Bar American Cookbook by Bobby Flay, Sally Jackson, Stephanie Banyas

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson Potter (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307461386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307461384

Product Description


When Bobby Flay looks at a map of the United States, he doesn’t see states—he sees ingredients: wild Alaskan king salmon, tiny Maine blueberries, fiery southwestern chiles. The Food Network celebrity and renowned chef-restaurateur created his Bar Americain restaurants as our country’s answer to French bistros—to celebrate America’s regional flavors and dishes, interpreted as only Bobby Flay can.

Now you can rediscover American cuisine at home with the recipes in Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook. Start with a Kentucky 95—a riff on a classic French cocktail but made with bourbon—and Barbecued Oysters with Black Pepper–Tarragon Butter. Choose from sumptuous soups and salads, including a creamy clam chowder built on a sweet potato base, and Kentucky ham and ripe figs over a bed of arugula dressed with molasses-mustard dressing. Entrees will fill your family family-style, from red snapper with a crisp skin of plantains accompanied by avocado, mango, and black beans to a host of beef steaks, spice-rubbed and accompanied by side dishes such as Brooklyn hash browns and cauliflower and goat cheese gratin. Bar Americain’s famed brunch dishes and irresistible desserts round out this collection of America’s favorite flavors.

Bobby also shares his tips for stocking your pantry with key ingredients for everyday cooking, as well as expert advice on essential kitchen equipment and indispensable techniques. With more than 110 recipes and 110 full-color photographs, Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook shares Bobby’s passion for fantastic American food and will change the way any cook looks at our country’s bounty.

About the Author


Bobby Flay is the chef-owner of six fine dining restaurants, including Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, and Bobby Flay Steak, and an expanding roster of Bobby’s Burger Palaces. He is the host of numerous popular cooking shows on Food Network, from the Emmy-winning Boy Meets Grill and Grill It! with Bobby Flay, to the Iron Chef America series, Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, and The Next Food Network Star. Brunch with Bobby debuted on the Cooking Channel in fall 2010. A New York Times bestselling author, he is also a contributing editor to Parade magazine. This is his eleventh book. His website is

Stephanie Banyas has been Bobby Flay’s business assistant since 1996. She is the coauthor of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!; Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes; Bobby Flay’s Grill It!; Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook; and Bobby Flay’s Grilling for Life. She lives in New York City with her beloved cat, Emily Rose.

Sally Jackson began working with Bobby Flay in 2001. A member of the theater company Eastcheap Rep, she is a New York City–based food writer and actress.

My Review

Another gorgeously illustrated cookbook!  This one if from Food Network's Bobby Flay.  It is also a very well laid out cookbook. I'm loving the Lobster Club sandwich with Green Onion Dressing.  A Cedar Planked interesting.  And Cedar Planked Salmon with a Pinot Noir Reduction..mmmmmmm.  And I just love the section on sides....Brooklyn Hash Browns, Fries Americain and home made Creamed Corn.  Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits...that's an interesting twist.  We have massive amounts of wild blackberries here in British Columbia so the Blackberry Souffle recipe looks like a winner.

There is also a section at the end with Kitchen Essentials including The American Pantry, Equipment Essentials and Cooking Techniques.

Excellent, innovative cookbook that is beautifully illustrated.

You can find some of the recipes included in this book here:
Bobby Flay's Website

Cookbook Review: Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking by Pamela Sheldon Johns

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449402380
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449402389

Product Description


Italian cookbook authority Pamela Sheldon Johns presents more than 60 peasant-inspired dishes from the heart of Tuscany inside Cucina Povera. This book is more than a collection of recipes of "good food for hard times." La cucina povera is a philosophy of not wasting anything edible and of using technique to make every bite as tasty as possible. Budget-conscious dishes utilizing local and seasonal fruits and vegetables create everything from savory pasta sauces, crusty breads and slow-roasted meats to flavorful vegetable accompaniments and end-of-meal sweets.

The recipes inside Cucina Povera have been collected during the more than 20 years Johns has spent in Tuscany. Dishes such as Ribollita (Bread Soup), Pollo Arrosto al Vin Santo (Chicken with Vin Santo Sauce), and Ciambellone (Tuscan Ring Cake) are adapted from the recipes of Johns' neighbors, friends, and local Italian food producers. Lavish color and black-and-white photographs mingle with Johns' recipes and personal reflections to share an authentic interpretation of rustic Italian cooking inside Cucina Povera.

About the Author


Pamela Sheldon Johns is a well-known cooking instructor and the host of culinary workshops throughout Italy. She has authored 14 cookbooks, many specializing in Italian food, such as Parmigiano! and Balsamico! Pamela has spent 20 years exploring and writing about the back roads of Italian food culture. She hosts many of her food and wine workshops from her farm in Tuscany, which was recently featured as one of the top 20 culinary workshops in Italy by Food and Wine magazine. She returns to the U.S. several times a year to teach cooking classes and promote her cookbooks.

My Review

This is a beautifully illustrated book which is more like a coffee table book than a cookbook.  I was so enchanted when I visited Italy so I just love the pictures of the Italian countryside in this book.  There are sixty recipes included that promote seasonal cooking as well as thrifty cooking.   I love the Pasta al Forno recipe which is an easy lasagna type recipe using a bechamel sauce instead of the American version using cottage cheese.  The bechamel sauce as a filling is a far more superior method.  As far as I am concerned it is difference between an amazing lasagna and an adequate lasagna!

Gorgeously illustrated book that is a definite must for cookbook collectors and lovers of Italy.

Cookbook Review: The World's Greatest Christmas Cookies: A Sweet Collection of Recipes, Tips & Decorating Ideas, and Inspiration for the Season by Rebecca Currington Snapdragon Group

  • Spiral-bound: 160 pages
  • Publisher: DayMaker; Spi edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616263954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616263959

Wonderfully unique, The World’s Greatest Christmas Cookies will delight your taste buds and make your Christmas season even sweeter! Featuring scrumptious cookie recipes, organized into fun categories including no-bakes, cutouts, and more—plus great cookie decorating tips and ideas—this big book has you covered for the entire Christmas season and beyond!

My Review

This cookbook is a must for Christmas bakers!  Simple recipes with gorgeous illustrations.  Excellent, easy to use layout.  It is also spiral bound which is essential for a cookbook.  

The chapters are:

  • Drop Cookies
  • Bar Bookies
  • No Bake Cookies
  • Rolled Cookies
  • Filled Cookies
  • Frosting
  • Index

Wonderful recipes all in one beautiful volume.  What more could you ask for!

Cookbook Review: Canal House Cookbook Volume No. 1: Summer Recipes

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing; Original edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692003177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692003176

Product Description


CANAL HOUSE COOKING, VOLUME N° 1, SUMMER is a collection of Christopher & Melissa's favorite summer recipes, ones they cook for themselves all through the long lazy months. 

About the Author


Canal House is more than just Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton's studio—it's their workshop, dining room, office, kitchen, lair, lab, and atelier devoted to good ideas and good work relating to the world of food. The duo writes, photographs, designs, and paints, but in their hearts, they both think of themselves as cooks first.

And every day they cook. In the middle of the day they stop their work, set the table simply with paper napkins, and have lunch. So it came naturally to write down what they cooked, thus bringing about the Canal House Cooking series.

This series is a seasonal collection of Christopher and Melissa's favorite recipes—home cooking by home cooks for home cooks. With a few exceptions, they use ingredients that are readily available and found in most markets in most towns throughout the United States. All the recipes are easy to prepare, all completely doable for the novice and experienced cook alike. These two women believe the everyday practice of simple cooking and the enjoyment of eating are two of the greatest pleasures in life.

My Review

This is a good cookbook full of summer recipes.  Chapter titles include:  How Many Ways Can You Use Olive Oil and Lemon, If It Tastes Like Chicken, and Two Steaks Feed Four. I love the Too Many Tomatoes chapter. And the Pork Loin Cooked in Milk looks amazing.  Great photos and illustrations.  Easy recipes with fresh local ingredients.

For some reason on Amazon, Vol. 1 is listed at $19.95 while the remaining volumes are listed at $13.29 so perhaps they will drop the price on this volume as well.

Two recipes at this link

To buy Canal House Cooking, Vol. 1 from, click here.

For the Canal House web site, click here.

Review: The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061706515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061706516

Product Description


Some secrets can’t be kept . . . .

Years ago, they were all the best of friends. But as time passed and circumstances changed, they grew apart, became adults with families of their own, and began to forget about the past—and the terrible lie they all shared.

But now Gordon, the youngest and wildest of the five, has died and the others are thrown together for the first time in years.

And then the revelations start.

Could their long-ago lie be the reason for their troubles today? Each one of these old friends has to wonder if their secret has been discovered—and if someone within the circle is out to destroy them.

About The Author

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.

Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since. She is the daughter of Theo Lippman Jr., a Sun editorial writer who retired in 1995 but continues to freelance for several newspapers, and Madeline Mabry Lippman, a former Baltimore City school librarian. Her sister, Susan, is a local bookseller. 

My Review

Great new book from Laura Lippman that examines the dynamics within families and friendships.  Five childhood friends are all haunted by a secret from their past.  A secret that affected not only them but their immediate families.  Lippman utilizes first person plural instead of having one narrator for this book which I am not sure I really liked.  It was helpful as it allowed to see inside of everyone's head and heart.  The last 10% of the book was the most exciting.  I loved the surprise ending.  Not my favorite Lippman book but all in all a great read. I loved that Tess had a cameo (looking forward to the next Tess book).