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Cover Sweet tea and spirits

 

Title: Sweet Tea and Spirits

Author: Angie Fox

Series: The Southern Ghost Hunter Series (#5)

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci Fi & Fantasy 

Release Date: April 25, 2017

 

 

Southern girl Verity Long is about as high society as her pet skunk. Which is why she’s surprised as anyone when the new head of the Sugarland social set invites her to join the “it” girls. But this is no social call. Verity’s new client needs her to go in undercover and investigate strange happenings at the group’s historic headquarters. 

But while spirits are whispering hints of murder, the socialites are more focused on Verity’s 1978, avocado-green Cadillac. And when Verity stumbles upon a fresh body, she’s going to need the long-dead citizens of Sugarland to help her solve the crime. Good thing she has the handsome deputy sheriff Ellis Wydell on hand, as well as her ghostly sidekick Frankie. The bad thing is, the ghosts are now whispering about the end of a certain ghost hunter.

 

Sweet Tea and Spirits is the fifth book in the Southern Ghost Hunter Series and it continues the story of Verity Long and her fellow residents of Sugarland. Verity is an endearing character and she always strives for what’s right. When it comes to hard knocks, she’s had them all, but she continues to fight, both for herself and others in need. This time around a mystery caller sets her on the road to investigate the Sugarland Historical Society, a home with surprises that have been hidden from the town folk for generations. With the assistance of boyfriend/deputy sheriff Ellis, and her not always so friendly spirit sidekick, Frankie the German, Verity solves the murder mystery and provides some much needed closure to those still living in the home long past their living years.

I found this book to be as charming and enjoyable as the previous installments in the series. My favorite is still the original, Southern Spirits, but this book is a winner in its own right. Often my favorite aspect of books are the fun animal characters and Lucy, the skunk, is still right up there with the best of them. This was a quick read and I literally had a hard time putting it down. A true must read for fans of the genre and anyone wanting a thoroughly entertaining experience. This series is one of my all time favorites and I’m greatly looking forward see what Angie Fox has in store for us next.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2

 

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cover66633-mediumTitle:Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes

Author: John Besh

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Release Date: September 29, 2015

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Format: Paperback

Print Length: 224 pages

Source: NetGalley

 

In Besh Big Easy: 101 Home-Cooked New Orleans Recipes, award-winning chef John Besh makes his favorite hometown cooking accessible to a wide audience of cooks and readers.

In this, his fourth book, the award-winning chef John Besh takes another deep dive into the charm and authenticity of the cuisine of his hometown, New Orleans.
Besh Big Easy: 101 Home-Cooked New Orleans Recipes, is a fresh and delightful new look at his signature food. Besh Big Easy will feature all new recipes, published in a refreshing new flexibound format and accessible to cooks everywhere. Much has changed since Besh wrote his bestselling My New Orleans in 2009. His restaurant empire has grown from two to nine acclaimed eateries, from the highly praised Restaurant August to the just opened farm-to-table taqueria, Johnny Sanchez. John’s television career has blossomed as well. He’s become known to millions as host of two national public television cooking shows based on his books and of Hungry Investors on Spike TV. Besh Big Easy is dedicated to accessibility. “There’s no reason a good jambalaya needs two dozen ingredients,” John says. In this book, jambalaya has less than ten, but sacrifices nothing in the way of flavor. With 101 original, personal recipes such as Mr. Sam’s Stuffed Crabs, Duck Camp Shrimp & Grits, and Silver Queen Corn Pudding, Besh Big Easy is chock-full of the vivid personality that has made John Besh such a popular American culinary icon.

 

I admit it, I have an addiction to cookbooks. I also have a tremendous love for New Orleans and the fabulous cuisine of the city and region. Bring those two things together and there was no way I was going to pass up this book. Sometimes when you really love something your setting yourself up for disappointment, as things often can’t live up to the grand expectations you have of them. Happily, there was no disappointment here.

This book is filled with a great variety of recipes and is nicely organized into sections covering all of the basics and then some. I really liked the opening ingredients and spice jar pages, giving you a one stop shop for the items you’ll need to prepare the recipes, as well as options if you don’t have the specific ingredient needed.

I haven’t had a chance to try out any of the recipes yet, but I have my short list, or rather long list, of the ones I want to make. The entirety of my list would be too much, so here is my top ten must try recipes from the book.

  1. Crabmeat Ravigote
  2. Garlicky Baked Crab Claws
  3. Crawfish Beignets with Tabasco Cream Sauce
  4. Shrimp Remoulade
  5. Stuffed Artichokes
  6. Cajun Crawfish Bisque
  7. Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo
  8. Crawfish-Boil Potato Salad
  9. New Orleans Shrimp Etouffee (though I’d probably do crawfish instead)
  10. Jenny’s Crawfish Stuffed Chicken

As the list indicates, I really like crawfish and crab. And, though I’m usually very drawn to the dessert sections of cookbooks, I found the savory items here to be much more enticing.

In addition to the well written and easy to follow recipes, the best part about this book is the pictures. The photos of the finished recipes are mouthwateringly fantastic. Even more fabulous, however, is the additional photographs that are included throughout the book. They provide an additional depth and travelogue feel that makes you want to trek to New Orleans immediately. Well, I wanted to anyway. If you’re interested in a cajun/creole cookbook that covers traditional recipes as well as modern takes on classics, this is the book for you.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My gracious thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion review.

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cover71792-mediumTitle: Diner Knock Out

Author: Terri L. Austin

Series: Rose Strickland Mystery #4

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Release Date: October 20, 2015

Publisher: Henery Press

Format: Paperback, e-book

Print Length: 302 pages

Source: NetGalley

 

Rose Strickland’s life is complicated. Besides her waitressing gig, she works part-time for Andre Thomas, a PI with no faith in Rose’s ability to investigate, her love life with Sullivan has stalled, and her BFF, Roxy, has found a new bestie, leaving Rose out in the cold.

Determined to prove herself, Rose takes a case on the sly. As she searches for a missing MMA fighter, Rose discovers an illegal fight club, a group of ruthless businessmen, dead bodies, and a trail of drugs.

Hunting down clues that lead too close to home, Rose finds herself in the fight of her life. Can she beat the killer to the punch before she gets knocked out for good?

 

This is my first time meeting Rose Strickland, though it is the fourth book in the mystery series about her. Rose has quite an interesting and somewhat chaotic life. The daughter of well-to-do parents who preferred to make it on her own rather than live by her family’s rules, is struggling a bit to make ends meet. To get by she’s working a waitressing job, as well as working part-time for a P.I., Andre Thomas, who doesn’t seem to have a lot of faith in her abilities to do more than desk work. She’s determined to prove him wrong, however, and takes on a case of her own that leads her into a world that is much more than she ever bargained for.

Rose is a very relatable character and I found myself connecting to her right away. The fact that I hadn’t read the previous books was no detriment at all to my understanding of her history and my enjoyment of the book. She is surrounded by a cast of fabulously quirky characters, from her restaurant boss, Ma, who’s looking to bag herself a widow, to her friends, Roxie, Sugar, and Axton, all of whom are crazy in their own wonderful way. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Rose’s criminal kingpin boyfriend Sullivan, since we all love a bad boy, and his best bodyguard Henry, as they are both fantastic characters that play a very important part in the murder mystery plot.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish, and I will definitely be going back to read the previous three installments of the series. All of the characters are unique, realistic, and fun, and I want to jump in and be friends with each of them. I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author and continuing my friendship with Rose and the gang. I must add that the book did get bonus points for mentioning Veronica Mars. If you want to spend time with some fabulous characters for a quick, fun, and funny mystery, I highly recommend you pick up Diner Knock Out.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2

My gracious thanks to Henery Press and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion review.

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519UNunlqAL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in my…

Author: Adam Mansbach & Alan Zweibel

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Release Date: September 8, 2015

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Format: Hardcover ($12.99), Kindle, Audiobook

Print Length: 208 pages

Source: NetGalley

 

Ages 10 and up
Dear Mr. Franklin,

First of all, let me just say that this Assignment is Stupid. You are Dead. Why am I writing a letter to Some dead guy I’ve never even met?

This is the start to a most unlikely pen pal relationship between thirteen-year-old Franklin Isaac Saturday (Ike) and Benjamin Franklin. Before the fateful extra credit assignment that started it all, Ike’s life was pretty normal. He was avoiding the popularity contests of middle school, crushing hard on Clare Wanzandae and trying not roll his eyes at his stepfather, Dirk-the-Jerk’s lame jokes.

But all that changes when, in a successful effort to make Claire Wanzandae laugh, Ike mails his homework assignment to Ben Franklin and he writes back. Soon, things go awry. After Ike has an embarrassing moment of epic proportions in front of Claire involving a playground, non-alcoholic beer, and a lot of kettle corn, Ike decides he needs to find a way to win Claire back. With some help from his new friend, B-Fizzle, can Ike get the girl and make his mark in history?

 

I really wanted to like this book and initially I did. The cover is cute and the title sounds like a disgruntled teen whining about his life. And, for the most part, that is exactly what our main character, Franklin Isaac (Ike) Saturday, is doing throughout the book, whining about his miserable existence as an unpopular young teenager in search of popularity and the attention of his crush Claire .

I expected a fun little coming of age story via the unique supernatural tangent of Ike getting advice from his namesake founding father via the time traveling letters that they exchange. I love the idea of the story and as an adult reader I appreciated some of the humor and historical features. That being said, this book is listed as being for ages 10 and up. Sadly, that is truly misleading, as this book is in no way appropriate for a 10 year old. We already live in a society where there is a huge and misguided attempt at not allowing kids to be kids, and giving them adult responsibilities and interactions long before they should be experiencing them. Books like this, where kids are being taught to make “jungle juice,” as well as chug wine coolers,  just encourage that irresponsible attitude that kids are just adults in small bodies. Putting the inappropriate content aside, the end is completely ridiculous and not at all satisfying. Clearly the sole purpose is to release a follow up book to see what happens to the main character and the history that he has damaged. If a second book is in the works, please don’t bother, or at the very least list an appropriate age group for the target audience.

♥ ♥ 1/2

My gracious thanks to Disney-Hyperion and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion review.

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cover50226-mediumTitle: A Mickey Mouse Reader

Author: Edited by Garry Apgar

Genre: Nonfiction (Adult), Biographies & Memoirs

Release Date: October 7, 2014

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Format: Hardcover

Print Length: 417 pages

Source: NetGalley

 

With Contributions by Walter Benjamin, Lillian Disney, Walt Disney, E.M. Forster, Stephen Jay Gould, M. Thomas Inge, Jim Korkis, Anna Quindlen, Diego Rivera, Gilbert Seldes, Maurice Sendak, John Updike, Irving Wallace, Cholly Wood

Ranging from the playful, to the fact-filled, and to the thoughtful, this collection tracks the fortunes of Walt Disney’s flagship character. From the first full-fledged review of his screen debut in November 1928 to the present day, Mickey Mouse has won millions of fans and charmed even the harshest of critics. Almost half of the eighty-one texts in A Mickey Mouse Reader document the Mouse’s rise to glory from that first cartoon, Steamboat Willie, through his seventh year when his first color animation, The Band Concert, was released. They include two important early critiques, one by the American culture critic Gilbert Seldes and one by the famed English novelist E. M. Forster.

Articles and essays chronicle the continued rise of Mickey Mouse to the rank of true icon. He remains arguably the most vivid graphic expression to date of key traits of the American character—pluck, cheerfulness, innocence, energy, and fidelity to family and friends. Among press reports in the book is one from June 1944 that puts to rest the urban legend that “Mickey Mouse” was a password or code word on D-Day. It was, however, the password for a major pre-invasion briefing.

Other items illuminate the origins of “Mickey Mouse” as a term for things deemed petty or unsophisticated. One piece explains how Walt and brother Roy Disney, almost single-handedly, invented the strategy of corporate synergy by tagging sales of Mickey Mouse toys and goods to the release of Mickey’s latest cartoons shorts. In two especially interesting essays, Maurice Sendak and John Updike look back over the years and give their personal reflections on the character they loved as boys growing up in the 1930s.

 

As a big fan of Mickey Mouse and all things Disney, I was very excited when this book came my way. “A Mickey Mouse Reader” is a great compilation of various articles and critical essays that cover the rise of Mickey Mouse from his inception to the present day. I really enjoyed the variety of takes on “The Mouse” that are presented here, as they ranged from fun and charming, to insightful, to downright harsh. It was really nice to see all of the differing opinions and how they have changed throughout the years.

On the downside, however, the first third of the book is often very repetitive. I love reading and learning about Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney, but one can only read the same exact thing, in almost the same wording, so many times before becoming extremely bored. And, as a big Disney fan, I was surprised to find myself bored in the beginning.

The book does greatly improve however, and I found it to be an overall fun and interesting read. We all have different opinions about everything and Mickey is no different, so I found the varying feelings about this true American Icon to be very enlightening. Not only did Mickey change throughout the years, but so did the general opinion of him, as well as his creator. I think all Disney fans will find this book to be enjoyable, but I’m not sure about its mass appeal. For myself, I was intrigued and I think the book is a great historical encapsulation of the importance of Mickey Mouse in our lives and culture.

 

♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2 

My gracious thanks to University Press of Mississippi and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion review.

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cover66999-mediumTitle: Night of the Living Demon Slayer

Author: Angie Fox

Series: Demon Slayer, Book #7

Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Release Date: May 31, 2015

Publisher: Angie Fox/Season Publishing

Format: Paperback, kindle e-book

Print Length: 206 pages

Source: NetGalley

 

Lizzie Brown is all for letting the good times roll…until a dark voodoo church rises up in the bayou outside of New Orleans. Now ritual fires are burning long into the night and the dead are having a hard time staying that way.
Lizzie goes in undercover to put a stop to the madness. Good thing she can count on her sexy shape-shifter husband, as well as her Grandma’s gang of biker witches. Too bad nobody’s watching her trusty dog, Pirate, who has become way too friendly with the phantom haunting a long-forgotten Victorian-era seance room.
Secrets and spirits abound. Nothing is what it seems. And when legions of the dead threaten the city, there may be no stopping them.

 

Another fun ride from Angie Fox.

Night of the Living Demon Slayer is the seventh book in the Demon Slayer series. Though I haven’t read the previous books, I had no problem becoming fully immersed in this novel and its fabulous cast of unique characters. I’m sure those who have read the entire series got even more enjoyment out of it, but for me it worked quite well as a stand alone story.

Angie Fox has the wonderful ability to create the best quirky characters around. The story centers around Lizzie Brown, our resident demon slayer, as she and her entourage venture to New Orleans to assist a friend in need. When they get there they find much more than they bargained for, however, in the form of a variety of ghosts, dark spirits, and voodoo zombies. The story is enthralling and the action is almost non-stop. When the most normal of the characters is a demon slayer you know you’re going to be in for an interesting read. Along for the ride, literally, is Lizzie’s grandmother and her entire coven of biker witches, as well as her talking dog Pirate, and Flappy the adorable dragon. Quite a ways into the book her husband Dimitri, a shape shifting Griffin, makes an appearance. My only criticism is that I would have liked him to show up sooner, but it makes sense for the story that he shows up when he does. Still, I really like him, so the more the better. The same with Pirate and Flappy. They are just too adorable and I can’t get enough of their antics. If you’re looking for a fun and funny read that is well written and perfectly paced I recommend you pick up Night of the Living Demon Slayer. I will definitely be going back to read the previous books in this series and will be looking forward to more fun from Angie Fox in the future, especially the second book in her Southern Spirits series.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

My gracious thanks to Angie Fox/Season Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion review.

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cover65372-mediumTitle: The Witch of Bourbon Street

Author: Suzanne Palmieri

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: June 30, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Format: Paperback

Print Length: 336 pages

Source: NetGalley

 

Situated deep in the Louisiana bayou is the formerly opulent Sorrow Estate. Once home to a magical family-the Sorrows-it now sits in ruins, ever since a series of murders in 1902 shocked the entire community. Now the ghosts of girls in white dresses shift in and out of view, stuck in time as they live out the past on repeat.

When Frances Green Sorrow is born carrying the “signs” of the so-called chosen one, it is believed she will bring her family back from the brink of obscurity, finally resurrecting the glory of what it once was and setting the Sorrows ghosts free.

But Frances is no savior.

Fleeing from heartbreak, she seeks solace in the seductive chaos of New Orleans, only to end up married too young in an attempt to live an ordinary life. When her marriage falls apart shortly after having a son, she returns home again-alone-just out of reach from the prying eyes of her family. But when her son disappears, she is forced to rejoin the world she left behind, exposing her darkest secret in order to find him and discovering the truth of what really happened that fateful year in the process.

Set amidst the colorful charm of The French Quarter and remote bayous of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana, Suzanne Palmieri’s The Witch of Bourbon Street is a story of family, redemption, and forgiveness. Because sometimes, the most important person you have to forgive…. is yourself.

 

If you know me, you know I wasn’t going to pass up a book set in New Orleans. The Witch of Bourbon Street is the first book I’ve read by Suzanne Palmieri and it didn’t disappoint. The story follows multiple generations of the Sorrow family throughout both New Orleans and the bayou country of Tivoli Parish, with its main focus being on Frances Sorrow. She has lived a melancholy life, as can be said for much of her family both past and present. Their surname isn’t in name only as they very much live a sorrowful existence on a variety of levels. The family had once lived in prominence, but fell from grace after some tragic circumstances. When Frances was born she was believed to be the family’s saving grace. She was having none of it, however, and her decision to flee her family home was the beginning of her own personal sorrow.

The book started off a bit slow for me, but the grand descriptions kept me going until the story picked up pace. I found myself really connecting with Frances and the family circumstances that drew her away from her ancestral home and then ultimately back to it. It was her family obligations that made her feel the need to escape when she was young, and it was family obligation that brought her back into the fold to try to save her son. I really enjoyed the family dynamics between all of the generations, both living and dead, and the thread of the importance of forgiveness that is weaved throughout. Ultimately the book is about love and acceptance, and how to bring those aspects into your life even under the most tragic of circumstances. My favorite part of the book, however, is the inspirational messages. I found a lot of great quotes within this book that I will be looking back on in the future when I need a little boost to my own spirit.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My gracious thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion review.

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