Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Calling All Cooks - America I AM Comfort

"The smell in the kitchen, the unforgettable flavors - these powerful memories of food, family, and tradition are intertwined and have traveled down from generations past to help make us the people we are today." Tavis Smiley

Recipes include Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Seafood Gumbo and Peach Cobbler. Chapters are divided into baked goods, desserts, poultry and meats, vegetables, grains and beans, etc.

 Donna Daniel's story about the day her older sister announced she wanted to make lasagna and the subsequent trip to the Italian market in Philadelpia is a must read.  This special keepsake preserves African Americans' collective food history through touching essays, celebratory menus, many wonderful photographs and over 130 soul-filled and soul-inspired recipes that includes the name of   the donor.  A perfect blend of food, history, family stories.

There is something for everyone in this collection. This book has a tie-in with the Tavis Smiley touring museum exhibition on all things African American.

Note: This review is also posted on GoodReads.com

Friday, February 8, 2013

Found Objects

"My ninth-grade English teacher once assigned the class an essay on The Ideal Family. What the teacher expected, and what the other kids delivered, was Dad goes to work in a suit and tie ... Mom works part-time ...Timmy and Tammy help with recycling and do their homework .... My family life was nothing like that." Aldo Zoria, remembering.

The family lives comfortably in rural Vermont, the adults share household and parenting duties and a carefully created life. Dinners are eaten on the screened porch behind the house, conversations include the coming school year and what it means when things happen beyond our control. Their world is filled with misty evening fields, golden green hills in the distance, barn swallows and cats hoping for a handout. There are five of them, three adults and the two young children; a boy named Dom and his sister Jasmine. Marie is their mother.

Aldo Zoria, a successful edgy photographer is the careful narrator. He and Erica are married, have been married for a number of years. The adults, Marie and Aldo and Erica are portrayed as caring, respectful and intelligent. They are also lovers, a threesome, have been for a year. But change is headed their way. It arrives, as it often does, quietly and unannounced. Their peaceful existence will be forever interrupted by an unexpected guest who turns their world upside down. There will be no going back.

The author Peter Gelfan has chosen an unconventional story, he tells it well and tastefully. The writing flows swiftly, yet is economical and rather captivating. I predict readers will enjoy this up close view of a family forced to deal with their emotions and the inevitable fallout from their domestic decisions. 

 An advanced uncorrected reader's proof of this novel was provided by the publisher, Nortia Press, for review purposes. The words contained here are my own.

Note: A copy of this review appears on GoodReads.com

Mystery Monday - Dying Echo

Dying Echo
  by Judy Clemens

  Poisoned Pen Press
  August 2012

"Who were the three people she spoke of when Death carried her away?"

It was quiet that fall evening when Alicia McManus left her waitressing job at The Slope and walked home. She was tired and thoughtful and lonely. She was also nervous.

In the distance she could see the Colorado mountains and the ski lifts at the brightly lit resorts and the real restaurants. But in her mind she was thinking it was time to leave town ... after all, she had stayed in this town longer than she had been anywhere else in the past twenty years. She had messed up and now she wasn't safe. And neither were those around her.

Like her boss and her landlord, and Ricky. Especially Ricky. 

By the end of the first chapter we know that Alicia isn't her real name, she had made seventeen dollar and thirty-three cents in tips, it was a Thursday and a good night for company. But in the end she couldn't outrun her tragic past.

When Ricky is arrested his sister Casey Maldonado and her ever present companion Death show up to prove his innocence ... no small feat given her past and her own open murder warrant to worry about. Casey must sort the truth from the elaborate fiction of Alicia's life in order to clear Ricky's name, but as Casey investigates the woman's secrets it becomes clear just how alike their lives appear.  Can Casey save her brother and herself?

The author has chosen a unique idea for the series (This is #4 in the Grim Reaper - paranormal - Series) and it is apparent that she is an experienced storyteller. I suspect fans of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire Series) will enjoy this one.

A note from Annette Rogers* -

Dear Reader,
  What I like most about Casey Maldonado in Judy Clemens' Dying Echo is that she's unsparing and tough. Casey's often compared to Lee child's Jack Reacher because they both walk the earth fixing problems, solving crimes, and physically fighting to get their point across. They're our solitary knights, traveling the mean streets of mystery.
  Reacher has the edge of military experience, confidence, training, and intimidating physique. Casey's edge is less obvious. She's spent years on the run, trying to escape grief and loss from a deadly accident, tempering her body and mind by isolating herself socially....

* Annette Rogers is the Acquisitions Editor at Poisoned Pen Press.

Note: A copy of this review is posted on GoodReads.com

Why We Write ... A New Book For Would-Be Wordsmiths.

Why We Write

20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do

Meredith Maran - Editor

Twenty of America's bestselling authors share tricks, tips, and secrets of the successful writing life.

Anyone who's ever sat down to write a novel or even a story knows how exhilarating and heartbreaking writing can be. So what makes writers stick with it? In Why We Write, twenty well-known authors candidly share what keeps them going and what they love most—and least—about their vocation.

Contributing authors include:
Isabel Allende
David Baldacci
Jennifer Egan
James Frey
Sue Grafton
Sara Gruen
Kathryn Harrison
Gish Jen
Sebastian Junger
Mary Karr
Michael Lewis
Armistead Maupin
Terry McMillan
Rick Moody
Walter Mosley
Susan Orlean
Ann Patchett
Jodi Picoult
Jane Smiley
Meg Wolitzer


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Be Still My Soul

If you haven't already read Joanne Bishchof's novel, Be Still My Soul,  you're in for a treat. This first novel  set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is from Multnomah Books and kicks off her   Cadence of Grace   series.  Though My Heart is Torn, Book Two is available for preorder, and Book Three releases later this year. Already popular with fans, this is an author to follow.

     It was an innocent enough kiss between shy Lonnie Sawyer and bad boy Gideon O’Riley. But innocence like opportunity is in the eyes of the beholder and Joel Sawyer, Lonnie's hateful and abusive father is all about opportunity. Moving quickly he makes a secret deal with Gideon’s father, uses force to arrange the marriage between this young couple and gets rid of his eldest daughter in the process. For Joel Sawyer it is a match made in heaven.
     Marrying Lonnie was the last thing Gideon wanted to do. “Is there nothing … that be done to … prevent this?”
     Feeling hopeless and all alone, Lonnie’s eyes flew heavenward: “You don’t know him…. It’s as good as done now. There will be no reasoning with him.”
     As the shot-gun wedding approaches faithful Lonnie quickly realizes that the Appalachian community is whispering rumors and lies about her behavior. Gideon is angry and sure his life is truly over. They both know the truth, but the truth doesn’t seem to matter.
     Only Lonnie’s aunt Sarah seems to understand the value and necessity of faith in God and that the only opinion that truly matters is God’s and that He always knows the truth.
    Joanne Bischof has written a Christian novel that explores some of the lessons that each of will face as we journey through life. While “shot-gun” weddings are rare today, feeling alone, physically and emotionally depleted, misunderstood, impatient, and the importance of owning our own actions are themes that each of us can appreciate.  Joanne also shows us the value of those who nurture and sustain us in this life. Connect with her here:  http://www.joannebischof.com/
Be Still My Soul is published by Multnomah Books. (c) 2012

A copy of this novel was provided by Multnomah Books for the purpose of review. The words are my own. A copy of this review appears on GoodReads.com

Author Joanne Bischof Talks To Readers & Writers About Her Novel Be Still My Soul

Author Joanne Bischof discusses her novel and the writing process.

Mastering Your Life Right Now

Three o'clock is always too late or too early
for anything you want to do.
Jean-Paul Sartre
1905  -  1980
Do you spend more time looking back over your life than talking about the future? Are your regrets keeping you from making the most out of the years in front of you? Are you living your life to the fullest? Do you need help making a successful plan for the years in front of you?
20,000 Days & Counting,The Crash Course for Mastering Your Life Right Now is here is help you take the first step and the next to change your thoughts. Robert D. Smith provides the tools to help you change your mind-set.
This book is genuine, direct, life changing, inspiring and short. There are quotes you will find yourself repeating throughout the day. 
This book is life-changing (a statement I do not make lightly!). It is one of those books you will share with others.
Notice: A copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson for review. The words are my own. A copy of this review has been posted on GoodReads.com.