Saturday, June 28, 2014
St. Martin's Press|June 17, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-312-38227-8
THE GLASS KITCHEN was a beautifully written, whimsical, and absolutely charming novel.
Portia Cuthcart's grandma owned a restaurant called The Glass Kitchen in Texas where patrons came to dine and get exactly what they needed. Grandma had "the knowing" and had three recipe books with recipes and sage advice written down in them. She would get "feelings", which she referred to as the "know" of certain meals she should prepare. These "knowings" were like an incessant itch that she couldn't scratch and had to rush immediately to cook up the meal or dessert she got "the know" about. Once made, she'd sit back and wait to see which customer or person came in requesting such a meal.
One day, Portia vowed to move to Manhattan, New York and open up The Glass Kitchen with her two sisters, Olivia and Cordelia. When Grandma dies and her Aunt Evie dies in Manhattan and leaves her an apartment there, Portia makes her move.
Portia becomes involved with the man upstairs in her duplex. Gabriel is a widow and has two teenage daughters. Things begin to heat up and soon a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs life like chocolate mixing with cream.
THE GLASS KITCHEN was absolutely impossible to put down. And, even at 373 pages I read it in one day. I just kept wanting to know: "...and then what happened, and then what happened." I couldn't stop myself. Don't miss out on this delicious and stirring novel. There aren't enough stars to rate this one!!
Friday, June 27, 2014
Grand Central Publishing | August 26, 2014 | Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4555-1033-7
I have read every book Drusilla Campbell has written and all of them have been top caliber and IN DOUBT was no different.
So, Sophie Giraudo is a defense attorney who has just opened a new practice in San Sebastain, California. She desperately needs new clients to pay the bills for all the new furniture and plush carpeting she just purchased. It isn't long before Sophie gets her wish when a quiet, introverted teenager named, Donny Crider, shoots the Governor at a crowded venue with lots of witnesses. He was arrested on the spot.
Sophie is intriqued as to why a seemingly quiet, layed-back boy would commit such a crime. Against the wishes of family, co-workers, and friends, Sophie decides to take on Donny's case. She knows it's going to be difficult to defend the boy but she delves in head-on vowing to learn all she can about this boy.
Obtaining the information she needs to mount a defense almost blows up in her face after meeting, Donny and discovering he is not a talker and not one to divulge information that could possibly save his own life. His mother is a nightmare and his father has been absent from his life for fifteen years.
According to the Prosecutor, this kid doesn't have a leg to stand on and is going to jail for a long, long time. Can Sophie somehow find a way through all the muck and mire to mount a proper defense to help, Donny?
In Doubt did just that, kept me in doubt throughout the entire story. I always think most books end up the way we think they should but not all. Read this one to find out what happens, it'll shock you to your core.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Scribner|August 9, 2011|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4391-6565-2
"That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist."
And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life's journey in Richard Morais's charming novel, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY. Lively and brimming with the colors, flavors, and scents of the kitchen, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is a succulent treat about family, nationality, and the mysteries of good taste.
Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. But when tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps.
The boisterous Haji family takes Lumiere by storm. They open an inexpensive Indian restuarant opposite an esteemed French relais-that of the famous chef Madame Mallory-and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family, does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restuarant, and slew of new adventures.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires. A testament to the inevitability of destiny, this is a fable for the ages-charming, endearing, and compulsively readable.
I don't have much to add to the Chapters synopsis of the book above other than to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I think Madame Mallory had a lot more to do with Hassan's success than everyone suspects, she was a very well-known and well respected chef in her time. I'll admit that I had no idea what half the dishes described in the pages of this book were but some of them sure sounded good and ones I'd certainly give a try. That is, if someone else cooked them for me! This is a book that would appeal to a large audience of folks and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
HarperCollins|June 3, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-06-213252-9
A sultry land of ancient magic, glorious sunsets, and soothing coastal breezes, three generations of strong women wrestle with the expectations of family while struggling to understand their complicated relationships with each other.
Best friends since the first day of classes at The College of Charleston, Ashley Anne Waters and Mary Beth Smythe, now 23 years old, live in Ashley's parents' beach house rent free. Ashley is a gallery assistant who aspires to become an artist. Mary Beth, is a gifted cook from Tennessee, and works for a caterer while searching for a good teaching job. Though they both know what they want out of life, their parents barely support their dreams and worry for their precarious finances.
While they don't make much money, the girls do have a million-dollar view that comes with living in that fabulous house on Sullivans Island. Sipping wine on the porch and watching a blood-red sunset, Ashley and Mary Beth hit on a briliant and lucrative idea. With a new coat of paint, the first floor would be a perfect place for soirees for paying guests. Knowing her parents would be horrified at the idea of common strangers trampling through their home, Ashley won't tell them. Besides, Clayton and Liz Waters have enough problems of their own.
A successful investment banker, Clayton is too often found in his pied-a-terre in Manhattan - which Liz is sure he uses to have an affair. And when will Ashley and her brother, Ivy, a gay man with a very wealthy Asian life partner - ever grow up?
Then there is Maisie, Liz's mother, the family matriarch who has just turned eighty, who never lets Liz forget that she's not her perfect dead sister, Juliet.
For these Lowcountry women, an emotional hurricane is about to blow through their lives wreaking havoc that will test them in unexpected ways, ultimately transforming the bonds they share.
I absolutely fell in love with this story and it's characters. I adored Ashley, Maisie and Liz especially and found them to be the type of women I'd like to be friends with. The story was so interesting and held my attention from the first page until the last and I was sorry to see it end. I would love to see Ms. Frank write a sequel to The Hurricane Sisters as I think there is a lot more to tell about this wonderful family.
I'll definitely be passing the go-ahead around on this one!
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Random House Publishing|June 3, 2014|Hardcover|ISBN: 987-0-8129-9289-2
It's 1938 in San Francisco: a world's fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her definat attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.
The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.
And what a shocking betrayal it was. I didn't expect this to happen at all and was quite taken aback that something like this would threaten to rip all they had worked hard for apart. But somehow, Grace, Helen and Ruby had to continue on the best they knew how in order to maintain some sense of decorum and sensibility in their lives.
CHINA DOLLS is impossible to put down. Just like Lisa See's other novel 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan', CHINA DOLLS will have you turning page after page late into the night. The descriptions are so well done that you can picture in your mind's eye the inside of each of the clubs the girls play in, you see the patrons who frequent their shows and smell the odors wafting from the rooms and tables in the venues. It's like having a ring-side seat.
Once again, Lisa See has outdone herself with this marvelous piece of literature that I would highly recommend to anyone. You won't be sorry and it's worth it's weight in gold and gripping read.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Grand Central Publishing|May 6, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4555-5433-1
Still grieving the death of her prematurely delivered infant, Lila finds a welcome distraction in renovating a country house she's recently inherited. Surrounded by blueprints and plaster dust, though, she finds herself drawn into the story of a group of idealistic university grads from thirty years before, who'd thrown off the shackles of bourgeois city life to claim the cottage and rely only on each other on the land. But utopia-building can be fraught with unexpected peril, and when the fate of the group is left eerily unclear, Lila turns her attention to untangling a web of secrets to uncover the shocking truth of what happened that fateful year, in order to come to terms with her own loss and build a new future for herself.
I was literally glued to the pages of this book. I just couldn't take my eyes off the pages for even a second. The story was solid, the characters well fleshed out and original and the surprises just kept coming. I was literally rocked off my feet by the ending and had no idea what was coming as I was nearing the end. I think shock is even a mild word to describe the end, I didn't see, nor even considered this ending. What a powerful punch this story delivered. Hannah Richell has certainly penned a winner with THE SHADOW YEAR!
Monday, June 16, 2014
HarperCollins|March 24, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-231686-8
A smash self-published hit inspired by true events, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic - a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy's impact and it's lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.
Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old, Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Seamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.
Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction - and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.
I just couldn't put this book down. It was mesmerizing to say the least. Although a lot of stories have been written about the Titanic, this was an exception with a great storyline. I'll be recommending this one for sure.
Baker Publishing Group|June 3, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7642-1254-3
Flight instructor Jack Livingston has been raising his eight-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents' lives. When he travels, Natalie is tenderly cared for by her Amish nanny, Laura Mast, who loves the little girl as her own.
Eight excruciating years ago, Kelly Maine's baby was kidnapped. Determined to find her child, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. And now, with the clock ticking, one last clue from a private investigator ignities a tiny flame of hope: Just a few miles away lives a young girl who matches the profile.
Can this be, at long last, Kelly's beloved daughter?
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and was completely stumped as to who Natalie's birth mother was. At one point I thought for sure I had it figured out but I was wrong and I certainly never saw this ending coming. I was quite taken aback at finding out who really was her birth mother.
Reading CHILD OF MINE was like reading non-fiction, I had to keep reminding myself that this was a fiction novel and not a true story. It was so well-written and could have been taken out of the pages of the newspaper of the many other times we've heard about these very same cases.
Natalie had been kidnapped by her birth father and sold into the black market adoption ring never to be seen again for eight long years. Kelly Maine's jumped through every hoop possible to find the daughter she so very much missed. Lucky for her she had the backing of a wealthy couple who backed her up financially with a private investigator to help her track down possible candidates, but for years they all turned into dead ends. That is, until she heard about Natalie, could she be the one? Is Kelly's search finally over?
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Penguin Books|September 25, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-14-312227-2
"Stewart O'Nan's thirteenth novel is another wildly original, bittersweet gem like his celebrated Last Night at the Lobster.
Valentine's weekend, Art and Marion Fowler flee their Cleveland suburb for Niagara Falls, desperate to recoup their losses. Jobless, with their home approaching foreclosure and their marriage on the brink of collapse, Art and Marion liquidate their savings account and book a bridal suite at the Falls ritziest casino for a second honeymoon. While they sightsee like tourists during the day, at night they risk it all at the roulette wheel to fix their finances - and save their marriage. A tender yet honest exploration of faith, forgiveness, and last chances. THE ODDS is a reminder that love, like life, is always a gamble."
According to the above synopsis of THE ODDS from the Chapters website, the book sounds like an interesting read. However, quite the opposite is true. I just couldn't get into this story at all. I found is painfully boring and slow with no excitement or anything to even entince me to try to keep reading further. I did give it a good try and perservered through the first five chapters but just couldn't push myself any further. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Berkley Trade|June 24, 2008|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-425-22164-8
Davinsky Labor Camp, Siberia, 1933: Only two things in this wretched place keep Sofia from giving up hope: the prospect of freedom, and the stories told by her friend and fellow prisoner Anna, of a charmed childhood in Petrograd, and her fervent girlhood love for a passionate revolutionary named Vasily.
After a perilous escape, Sofia endures months of desolation and hardship. But, clinging to a promise she made to Anna, she subsists on the belief that someday she will track down Vasily. In a remote villate, she's nursed back to health by a Gypsy family, and there she finds more than refuge, she also finds Mikhail Pashin, who, her heart tells her, is Vasily in disguise. He's everything she has ever wanted but he belongs to Anna.
After coming this far, Sofia is tantalizingly close to freedom, family, even a future. All that stands in her way is the secret past that could endanger everything she has come to hold dear.
If you read Kate other book "The Russian Concubine", you'll love THE RED SCARF just as much if not more. This was a totally gripping read.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
HarperCollins|September 19, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-208160-5
For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires.
For Feng, that means becoming the bride of a wealthy businessman in a marriage arranged by her parents. In the enclosed world of the Sang household-a place of public ceremony and private cruelty-fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir.
The life that has been forced on her makes Feng bitter and resentful and she plots a terrible revenge. But with the passing years comes a reckoning, and Feng must reconcile herself with the sacrifices and terrible choices she has made in order to assure her place in the family and society-even as the violent, relentless tide of revolution engulfs her country.
Both a sweeping historical novel and an intimate portrait of one woman's struggle against tradition, ALL THE FLOWERS IN SHANGHAI marks the debut of a sensitive and revelatory writer.
I absolutely fell in love with this story and was astounded that a male author could write the roles of females so well. He clearly has an understanding of what and how women think, feel, and act.
Feng was forced to marry her husband after her sister died. She was only weeks away from marrying this man when she passed away and to save face, her family forced her younger sister, only seventeen to marry him instead. Feng knew her place in the new Sang household but as the years went by she became an embittered woman and plotted a revenge that she would eventually be sorry for, but once something has been done, it's impossible to take back. I was glued from the first to the last page and would have liked the story to continue on for another couple of chapters to tie up a couple of loose ends but I suppose the author has given us permission to conjur up our own endings in these matters.
I'll definitely be looking for more of Duncan Jepson's work in the future. This book comes highly recommended!
Sunday, June 1, 2014
ECW Press|May 1, 2014|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-77041-083-1
The stigma of mental illness and the power of a mother's love come together in this achingly honest novel. Widely acclaimed for her ability to tell emotionally powerful stories that capture the real lives of women, bestselling author Heather A. Clark tackles the subject of childhood mental disorders. ELEPHANT IN THE SKY is told from both nine-year-old Nate's point of view and that of his mother, Ashely, an overworkd ad executive who struggles with a demanding workload and the worry that she's not spending enough time with her family - especially as her son's battle with mental unbalance and paranoid delusions escalates. The two narratives converge in a deeply moving tale of a family dealing with mental illness. ELEPHANT IN THE SKY is a story about unconditional love, and it articulates a complicated, real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity. It looks at what it means to be different in our society and beautifully explores the distance a mother will go to protect her child.
ELEPHANT IN THE SKY was a riveting read. The characters were well fleshed out and the situation of dealing with mental illness was real, it was like reading a true story. I felt that Ashely and her husband were a bit slow on the uptake in picking up the fact that their nine-year-old son was exhibiting behaviours that were very inappropriate for his age and felt they should have sought help for him much sooner than when they did. However, they finally did become involved with the right people and the story moved at a steady pace holding my attention page after page after page.
This was one book I really enjoyed! Heather's first book was titled: Chai Tea Sunday and was also an excellent read.