Friday, April 01, 2016

Review: What We Find

What We Find Robyn Carr

About the Book:

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she's never faced before. She knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan's Crossing. 

Named for Maggie's great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide Trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie's eccentric father, Sully. When she shows up unannounced, he welcomes her with open arms, and she relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life. 

But shortly after arriving, Maggie's world is rocked once again and she must take on more responsibility than she'd planned. Though she's relieved a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, is willing to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man's eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. 

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

My Comments:

What We Find is a Robyn Carr romance.  Those familiar with her work will know that means a rural setting, a central gathering place and people finding love plus a steamy scene or two.  The rural setting is a campground in Colorado and the both he and she are high-powered professionals who have had something happen that made them reconsider lives built around work.  I enjoyed the book, but, as the saying goes, it is what it is--a light predictable read.  Grade:  B. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's Monday !

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book! Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus.  Since my books this week are kidlit in nature, I'm linking up here.

These two books, like the other ones in the series, feature children from the named country introducing us to that country.  We learn what they call their parents, what children's names are popular, what they eat, what they like to do for fun and what holidays they celebrate.  All the books follow pretty much the same storyline making it easy to compare countries.

Captain No Beard and his pint-sized crew of imaginary sailors are off on another adventure.  This time Captain No Beard learns the difference between being a leader and being the boss.  He learns that being stubborn is not a good thing.

According to the Amazon blurb, Cave Kiddos is a fun book about four Paleolithic children who share the experience of developing and learning important words and concepts. Join Alk, Haha, Lala, and Zee as they discover the world around them. However, if I hadn't read that, I'd never know it.  I must be in the minority; it got 22 Amazon reviews and the lowest was three stars.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Review and Recipe: Favorite Flavors of Ireland

About the Book:

Favorite Flavors of Ireland invites readers, cooks, and armchair travelers alike on a nostalgic tour of one of Europe's most beloved destinations. From her first visit in 1984, Margaret Johnson has forged an indelible bond with Ireland and Irish food, and she shares this unique relationship with you in her eleventh cookbook. You'll find recipes that have become her favorites along with a few recent discoveries that are sure to please. The book brings home all the classics Shepherd's Pie, Bacon and Cabbage, Seafood Chowder, Bread and Butter Pudding and provides an insightful look into the seasonal ingredients that shape the country's cooking. With over 100 recipes and evocative photos that transport you to the Irish countryside, this colorful collection will awaken your senses to the delicious food of this warm and welcoming land and keep those Irish eyes smilin' all through the year.

My Comments:

Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Today was a parade day here in New Orleans and after all the rain this week, it turned out to be a beautiful day.  One New Orleans tradition is that St. Patrick's Day parades throw, in a addition to beads, the makings of Irish stew--potatoes, carrots, cabbage and whatever else the riders decide you need.  I didn't make it to the parade today but if I had, this cookbook had plenty of recipes for potatoes such as Blue Cheese Potato Cakes, Colcannon and Dauphinoise Potatoes.  If I had caught cabbages I could have used them in the Colcannon or made some Braised Cabbage.

While the book doesn't have a picture of every recipe, it does have a lot of pictures of food, along with gorgeous photos of Ireland.  The recipes are arranged by season.  Most, if not all, call for either Kerrygold butter or Kerrygold cheese.  Luckily my review copy came with coupons for two free Kerrygold products.  I did some quick web research and learned that Kerrygold butter has a higher butterfat level than regular American butter does, so I was reluctant to try a baked goods recipe from Favorite Flavors of Ireland with American butter; however I had been asked to try a recipe from the book and report on my results.  I decided on an experiment.  I made Blueberry-White Chocolate Muffins.  The recipe makes 1 dozen muffins but the bag of blueberries I bought and the white chips had enough left to make a second batch.  I used the butter I bought with the Kerrygold coupon for one batch and regular American store brand butter for the second.  FYI, my store charged $6.99 for 1/2 pound of Kerrygold butter. Here is the recipe I used (p59) (Because I hate to type, I'm omitting the metric measures)

2 C All Purpose Flour
1 tsp baking poweder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C  granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 cups buttermilk (I used full fat store brand)
4 Tbs Kerrygold butter
4 oz white chocolate (I used Nestle chips)
1 tsp lemon zest
1.5 cups blueberries
12 tsp prepared lemon curd (optional) I opted not to use it

  1. Preheat oven to 400.  Grease a standard muffin pan and dust with flour; tap out excess.  (I used papers instead).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.  Set aside.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and white chocolate.  Microwave on medium high for 1 minute. Stir.  Microwave at additional 10-15 second intervals, stirring just until melted.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.  Stir in the the flour mixture and then stir in the melted chocolate, lemon zest and blueberries.
  5. Divide the batter into the prepared pan and place a tsp of lemon curd on the top of each one (if using).  Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.

Muffins made with Kerrygold

Muffins made with American butter
 My conclusion?  There was no discernible difference between the two sets of muffins.  They were the same size and pretty much the same shape.  They all tasted great.  Considering that I can get a pound of American butter for about $4.00 vs. $6.99 for 1/2 pound of Kerrygold, I won't be using Kerrygold for baking.  

Muffin with Kerrygold

Why do photos like this look so good when food bloggers post them?

 However, once I opened up those warm muffins and applied butter, the Kerrygold was the clear winner.  It tasted so much more buttery without getting that fake flavor like microwave popcorn.  I will be hording what is left of it to put on toast or even popcorn.

Muffin made with American butter
Muffin made with American butter
The muffins were great; the family loved them and they wanted to know when I'd be making more.  

I'd like to than the publisher for making a review copy available for review and for providing the Kerrygold coupons.  Grade:  A

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Review: The Promise of Forgiveness

The Promise of Forgiveness

About the Book:

When it comes to family, Ruby Baxter hasn’t had much luck. The important men in her early life abandoned her, and any time a decent boyfriend came along, she ran away. But now Ruby is thirty-one and convinced she is failing her teenage daughter. Mia is the one good thing in her life, and Ruby hopes a move to Kansas will fix what’s broken between them.
But the road to redemption takes a detour. Hank McArthur, the biological father Ruby never knew existed, would like her to claim her inheritance: a dusty oil ranch just outside of Unforgiven, Oklahoma. 
As far as first impressions go, the gruff, emotionally distant rancher isn’t what Ruby has hoped for in a father. Yet Hank seems to have a gift for rehabilitating abused horses—and for reaching Mia. And if Ruby wants to entertain the possibility of a relationship with Joe Dawson, the ranch foreman, she must find a way to open her heart to the very first man who left her behind.

My Comments:

I enjoyed this story of love, family and new beginnings.  Ruby is a woman who has had to make her own way in the world.  One year when she was a young teen her father inexplicably seemed to reject her; and as often happens when girls do not feel loved by their dads, Ruby sought love from another male--a boy who impregnated her but who was not ready to be a father.  Shortly thereafter, her parents died in a car wreck so she was a young single mother with no family.  Years later, she was the mother and her teen daughter was looking for love in all the wrong places, so she decided to move to a new town.  As they were preparing for the move, Ruby received a letter from someone she did not know existed, her biological father, offering her an inheritance.  She decides to stop and see him during their move.  

During the story we come to see how much living in the past can limit our futures.  In a lot of ways Ruby is still mourning the loss of her father's love and the lack of love she got from the father of her daughter.  She is afraid to trust men and that lack of trust keeps her from loving and being loved.  Jack is mourning the loss of the love of his life and had never chosen to move past it.  All the main characters in this book have a lot going for them--they are their own worst enemies and I enjoyed watching them help each other to grow and learn to take chances again.

There is a "who dunnit" subplot to the story that just never rang true.  Still, it was a minor enough part of the story that it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

While it is mentioned that couples are intimate, we are on the other side of the door when it happens.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B.

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