Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Sussex Downs Murder by John Bude

The Sussex Downs Murder
A British Library Crime Classic
Author: John Bude
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publishing Date:   May 5 2015
Paperback ISBN: 9781464203718
eBook ISBN: 9781464203725
Print Length: 210 pages

About the Book:
'Already it looked as if the police were up against a carefully planned and cleverly executed murder, and, what was more, a murder without a corpse!’

Two brothers, John and William Rother, live together at Chalklands Farm in the beautiful Sussex Downs. Their peaceful rural life is shattered when John Rother disappears and his abandoned car is found. Has he been kidnapped? Or is his disappearance more sinister – connected, perhaps, to his growing rather too friendly with his brother’s wife?

Superintendent Meredith is called to investigate – and begins to suspect the worst when human bones are discovered on Chalklands farmland. His patient, careful detective method begins slowly to untangle the clues as suspicion shifts from one character to the next.

This classic detective novel from the 1930s is now republished for the first time, with an introduction by the award-winning crime writer Martin Edwards.
My Thoughts:

There is something about a good British mystery that can't be topped. From the way the mystery is presented to the inquisitive detective, the Brits just know how to draw the reader in and keep them captive from beginning to end and believe me, "The Sussex Downs Murder" is no exception.

From the opening pages, we meet John and William Rother. Both run a business making and selling lime. When John leaves on a trip, he says goodbye to his brother and his wife, reminding the brother to take good care of the business. John's car is found abandoned with other clues that scream foul play.

Enter Superintendent Meredith... He has been called to lead the investigation and he leaves no stones upturned as he searches for answers - following lead after lead and suspecting first one then another. Full of great red herrings, this book will leave the reader guessing through to then end.

This captivating mystery was written in 1936 by Ernest Carpenter Elmore, an English theatre producer and director who penned his mystery novels under the pseudonym John Bude. He published more than 30 crime novels, this being the 3rd. Elmore died at the young age of 56 in 1957.

Recommended to those that love British mysteries, Agatha Christie, or any well written mystery that has some good red herrings!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes
A Novel
Author: Laura Dave
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: June 2, 2015
ISBN: 9781476789255
Hardcover: 272 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction

About the Book:
A breakout novel from an author who “positively shines with wisdom and intelligence” (Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I leave You). “Laura Dave writes with humor and insight about relationships in all their complexity, whether she's describing siblings or fiancés or a couple long-married. Eight Hundred Grapes is a captivating story about the power of family, the limitations of love, and what becomes of a life’s work” (J. Courtney Sullivan, Maine).

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…
My Thoughts:

"Eight Hundred Grapes" delivered something far from what I was expecting. I expected to find an average romance taking place at a winery. What I got was a story that was rich and full and complex but at the same time, so very simple and can be summed up in one sentence. It's a story about what one wants out of life and what will have to be sacrificed for it.

Within the beautiful setting of a vineyard, the story is rich with information of what it takes to masterful at making a great wine and also the lessons of life that come with it. The main character, Georgia Ford discovers herself and her true desires and needs when she returns home a few days before her wedding.

This mesmerizing look at Georgia and her return to find a not perfect family made this a wonderful and hard-to-put down story. Easy to read, yet complex to a point, I found a ring of truth to the situation: when we lose our rose colored glasses and see life for what it is.

I enjoyed Georgia and her struggles and found myself adoring Jacob and Dan. The shifting from present to past was not difficult because the past was in 3rd person and the present was in 1st person. The ending was a bit predictable but was truly satisfying.

If you are looking for a decent Women's fiction book to read this summer, look no further. "Eight Hundred Grapes" is a wonderful book that will entertain you with humor, drama and self-realization.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Monday, March 30, 2015

ASIAN PICKLES: JAPAN by Karen Solomon

ASIAN PICKLES: JAPAN
Recipes for Japanese Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Tsukemono
Author: Karen Solomon
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 9781607744788
Pages: 54 Genre: Asian Cooking, Pickling

About the Book:
A DIY guide to making the salty, sweet, tangy, and sometimes spicy pickles of Japan, featuring 16 recipes for traditional tsukemono as well as new favorites with innovative ingredients and techniques.

For Asian food aficionados and preservers and picklers looking for new frontiers, the natural standout is Japan's diverse array of pickled products and innovative flavor pairings that wow the palate. In Asian Pickles: Japan, respected cookbook author and culinary project maven Karen Solomon introduces readers to the unique ingredients used in Japanese pickle-making, such as koji rice, fermented rice bran, shiso leaf, miso, soy sauce, and numerous other techniques beyond the basic vinegar brine. And for the novice pickler, Solomon also includes a vast array of quick pickles with easily-accessible ingredients. Featuring the most sought-after Japanese pickle recipes--including Pickled Ginger, Umeboshi, and more--plus beautiful photography, Asian Pickles: Japan will help you explore a new preserving horizon with fail-proof instructions and additional resources.
My Thoughts:

A delightful book filled with a nice conversational prose as well as some interesting Asian pickling recipes. There is one thing to be said about the recipes - they may not taste exactly like you might think. Japanese cooking and pickling is quite a bit different than American cooking, and the recipes show that. I tried a couple of the recipes and questioned how they turned out. We have a Chinese friend that said they were perfect and that they are supposed to taste just like I made them!

With that said, the recipes appear to be quite authentic. It also appears that some of these may be an acquired taste. If you like Asian cooking (real Asian - not the Americanized type) or you are an adventurous cook, then you may really enjoy this book!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

Hello From the Gillespies
Author: Monica McInerney
Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP NAL
ISBN: 9780451466723
Paperback: 624 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction

About the Book:
For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth....

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken away from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways….
My Thoughts:

It is said that everyone has two different lives: a public life and a private life - one we share and one is where we keep all our family secrets hidden from everyone. What would everyone think if they KNEW about all the things that go on behind closed doors?

"Hello From the Gillespies" is a story about what happens when secrets are revealed. Enter Angela - a wife and mother who shows the world how wonderful her life is. Every year she sends out the Christmas newsletter telling about the family and all the great things going on. It is again time to write the newsletter, but she is having a hard time with it because things aren't bright and shiny - so instead she writes a long email newsletter telling exactly what is happening and exactly how she feels. This email was never to be sent, but something she needed to do to get things off her chest. Great idea, except the email IS sent.

A humorous account of what happens when one accidentally airs their dirty laundry and how a family deals with the hidden truths, feelings and situations. Although light-hearted, this story rings with truth and I'm sure everyone can identify with it at some level.

Although a fun read, this 624 page tome was just a bit too long and detailed for my taste - personally, I think it could have had the same effect being it a bit shorter. It was definitely worth reading - the humor kept it light enough to enjoy, but there was a bit too much drama at times and I found myself skimming those parts.

Overall, this is still a book worth reading and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who likes women's fiction with a touch of humor.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The New Lean for Life by Cynthia Stamper Graff, Reginald Allouche, M.D.

The New Lean for Life
Outsmart Your Body to Shrink Fat Cells and Lose Weight for Good
Authors: Cynthia Stamper Graff, Reginald Allouche, M.D.
Publisher: Harlequin Nonfiction
ISBN: 9780373893034
Hardcover, 320 pages

About the Book:
Lose up to 20 pounds in 4 weeks!
750,000 success stories.
Over 15 million pounds lost.
It's your turn to get lean for life!

Stop fighting your body with traditional diets that slow your metabolism, and discover the program that has helped hundreds of thousands of people get lean—for life. The New Lean for Life is proven to shrink fat cells twice as much as conventional diets through four powerful phases.

Phase 1—Prepare your body for fast weight loss.
Phase 2—Shrink your fat cells without feeling hungry or deprived.
Phase 3—Recalibrate your metabolism so that you can eat more food without gaining weight.
Phase 4—Stay lean for life by committing to one high-protein day a week.

The Lean for Life program has been used for over 40 years in Lindora Clinics to help over 750,000 people lose millions of pounds—with an incredible 79 percent keeping weight off!

Now this classic bestseller has been completely revised and updated based on groundbreaking new research about the brain's role in weight loss. The New Lean for Life uses a revolutionary "smart carb" program coupled with powerful behavioral modification to shrink fat cells while stabilizing blood sugar, healing inflammation and establishing new habits that will sustain a leaner, healthier you. The easy-to-follow daily plans anticipate your thoughts, needs and cravings before they hit so that you are sure to stay on track and succeed. Results are quick—you'll experience rapid weight loss in just 4 weeks—and lasting. And best of all, you won't feel hungry or deprived!

Now it's your turn. Join the Lean for Life movement and lose weight—for good.
My Thoughts:

While going through my list of books, I am embarrassed to have discovered that I never reviewed this one. At the time I received it, I decided to test "The New Lean for Life" and see if it would hold up to its claim. Yes it did work. I lost weight - 24 pounds to be exact and I was excited! Then I slipped and went off the diet and never went back on. Sadly, I gained almost all the weight back.

This seems to be the problem for me with all the structured type diets. They restrict where I feel deprived and after a while I get bored and boom - back to the dark side (they have cookies!). My problem is I need to learn how to eat things I love along with a good diet. A healthy approach and I didn't find it with this method.

I know that this method works for others - I've read the success stories, but if you don't make the diet into a lifestyle that you are happy with. If you have that type of an outlook, you will probably have success, but if you don't look at it as a lifestyle, you may end up in the same boat I did (and do).

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Cultured Food for Life by Donna Schwenk

Cultured Food for Life
How to Make and Serve Delicious Probiotic Foods for Better Health and Wellness
Author: Donna Schwenk
Publisher: Hay House, Inc.
ISBN: 9781401942823
Paperback: 256 pages

About the Book:
Cultured Food for Life is a part of a new genre of cookbooks gaining popularity among a growing demographic of health and wellness aficionados. In this work, fermentation guru Donna Schwenk introduces readers to the healing properties of kefir, kombucha, cultured vegetables, sprouted flour, and sourdough. Fermentation has been used in food preparation for thousands of years, but in the past few decades it has moved from being a commonplace kitchen ritual to being something done only by a few health-conscious proponents. Most fermentation now is done at factories, whose processes strip away some of the abundant vitamins, minerals, and healthy bacteria that make this way of preparing foods so beneficial. But Donna Schwenk is working to bring this staple of food preparation back to readers by showing that these now-unfamiliar processes are actually easy and fun. And by doing this, she opens the door to a world of foods that can help rid readers of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, allergies, acne, hypertension, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. After telling the astonishing story of how she healed herself and her family with these probiotic foods, Schwenk walks readers, step by step, through the basic preparation techniques for kefir, kombucha, cultured vegetables, sprouted flour, and sourdough plus more than 120 recipes that use these foods to create dishes to please any palate. With recipes like Herbed Omelet with Kefir Hollandaise Sauce, Sprouted Ginger Scones with Peaches and Kefir Cream, Kefir Veggie Sprouted Pizza, Apple Sauerkraut, and Sprouted Brownies Kefir Cupcakes, along with inspirational stories from Donna’s family and friends, readers will enjoy a diet that’s as delicious as it is healthy.


Visit Donna's website at: http://www.culturedfoodlife.com/

My Thoughts:

Donna's story is not unusual. Cultured foods have been around for centuries, but somewhere along the way, we have forgotten how important these foods are to us. As we continue down the road of prepared foods and fast foods, we are losing the most valuable asset we have - just good plain food. This is the key to both health and wellness and Donna shows the reader this.

Filled with some delicious recipes, the reader (no matter what type of diet one is on) will benefit by following Donna's suggestions, recipes, and simple eating habits. This way of eating certainly won't harm anyone and all it can do is help. If you have problems with any of the ailments that she describes or just want to eat better before you are affected, grab a copy of this book NOW. This book will lead you on a more healthy lifestyle without being drastic. Kefir and other foods are easy to make and not expensive at all. There's really nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain by reading this book!

Highly recommended!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

A Winter Discovery by Michael Baron

A Winter Discovery
Author: Michael Baron
Publisher: The Story Plant
ISBN:9781611880274
Paperback: 60 pages

About the Book:
Reviewers have rejoiced in Michael Baron's "emotionally charged relationships" (RT Book Reviews), "deep sensitivity" (#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs), and "talent and depth" (Romance Writers Reviews), while calling his work "a masterpiece" (Book Reviews R Us), "unforgettable" (Fresh Fiction), and "beautiful" (My Book Retreat). Now Baron presents us with his first novelette and his first holiday story, a touching, luminous, and openhearted tale of love, wonder, and revelation.

Returning to the characters of his first novel, When You Went Away, Baron takes us again into the world of Gerry Rubato, a man who has been marked by loss and revived by love, and his son Reese, now five, who celebrates life at a remarkable level but is only now starting to understand that he was robbed of the chance of ever knowing his mother. Reese is old enough now to get caught up in the excitement of the Christmas season and he throws himself into it with abandon. His sense of celebration takes on entirely new levels of meaning, though, when it leads him to an unexpected and most remarkable discovery.

At once buoyant and poignant, and filled with irrepressible spirit, A Winter Discovery is a story of that will take you to new places in your heart.

Michael Baron is the fiction pseudonym for a successful author of nonfiction books. He is the author of five novels, When You Went Away, Crossing the Bridge, The Journey Home, Spinning and Anything.
My Thoughts:

This holiday story will warm your heart and is perfect for holiday reading as well as any time you want a nice sweet story. Centered around a 5 (almost 6!) year old boy named Reese, who lives with his step-mother and father and has an older sister that is in college. Reese wants nothing more than to spend some time with his mother. She died not long after he was born, so he doesn't know her, but he feels the need to want to get to know her.

Reese is a delightful child who has a very vivid imagination. This imagination will charm you and make you smile. He's adorable and funny and he makes the reader want to grant him his wish.

Put this on you must reads for your holiday reading or just any time you may want a good short story that warms your heart. This could be considered the second story in the "series". It follows "When You Went Away" but can also be read as a stand alone. The reader won't feel like they have missed anything.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

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