Book Review – A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen

A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen,
Seasonal Recipes and Memorable Meals
Written by: Lucy Waverman
Published by: Random House Canada
Date: October 13, 2009
Pages: 304
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-0679314585

A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen is a lovely cookbook with easy to follow recipes, carefully organized by the months of the year. You can pick any month and find mouth-watering recipes — from appetizers and main course dishes to delicious desserts! Lucy incorporates seasonal ingredients into her traditional recipes and also includes them in a bunch of fresh, newly inspired dishes. Flavourful and unique, you’ll be the toast of the evening when you prepare these dishes for your guests.

A sample of the recipes inside:

Leek and Chicken Soup
Spiced Fruit Salad
Aromatic Mediterranean Shortribs
Apple Caramel Tarts
Chive Potato Cakes
White Chocolate Raspberry Tart
Asian Pear and Cabbage Slaw
Pumpkin Squares
Apple Strudel
Chicken Burger Stuffed with Portobello Mushrooms
Traditional Fried Fish
Triple Chocolate Attack
…and a whole lot more!

Lucy Waverman is a Cordon Bleu–trained food columnist with the Globe and Mail and Food Editor of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s Food & Drink. She is the author of eight cookbooks, including the James Beard–nominated and Cuisine Canada Gold Medal–winner A Matter of Taste (with James Chatto).

This softcover cookbook is well-bound and sure to put up with a lot of usage in the kitchen. There are some beautiful, full colour photographs that accompany some of the recipes. I would like to have seen more recipes that had pictures to accent them; as a visual learner, images help me to decide upon a particular dish. There is a table of contents at the beginning of the book and a detailed index at the back of the cookbook — both very helpful. All in all, a really great cookbook for someone who is looking to expand upon their basic cooking repertoire; you’ll find many distinctive, unique dishes from this cookbook! Many of the recipes remind me of some very tasteful, expensive restaurants and their signature creations!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

Read more about A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author’s Website
Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Bigger Damner Book of Sheer Manliness

Bigger Damner Book of Sheer Manliness, 2nd Edition
Written by: Von Hoffman Brothers
Published by: QNY
Date: October 15th, 2009
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0843717846

Book Description
From Amazon.com
“The von Hoffman Brothers are at it again with the Bigger Damner Book of Sheer Manliness, a revised and updated release of their 1997 classic Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness. This book is a rallying cry for every guy whose time has come to get back to his masculine roots and reclaim lost ground in today’s mixed-up world. Face it, after more than a decade since the original hit book’s debut, the time has come for guys to get a reminder that their favorite pastimes are here to stay and more fun than ever! And women, haven’t you wondered why so much of the male population shares a common love for cars, manly movies, beer, and WD-40? This book is an equal opportunity celebration of manhood, whether you’re a guy looking for new ideas and great suggestions, or a lady trying to figure out why that man in your life acts so passionately about the strangest things. Inside you’ll find musings on manly sports, dirty jokes, great chili recipes, 200 names for your “Johnson,” women we like, profiles of pioneers and outdoorsmen, advice to cure hangovers, limericks to help spread manliness through rhyme, and much, much more!”

This large, Coffee Table book will be the topic of much conversation and it is bound to bring brothers, fathers and uncles together for a side-splitting, eye-opening discovery…a vast collection of trivia, photographs, illustrations, jokes and more, await…a veritable smorgasbord of MANLY topics and all with the same sarcastic, masculine bent on the topics and commentary. It goes where few men have gone before and covers topics such as: guns, knives, food, jokes, women, sports, crazy inventions, movies, fishing and a WHOLE lot more!!! There are all kinds of illustrations, both black and white and colour; they are all handsomely printed with high quality and a tasteful presentation of the “Man-tastic” material. You and your buddies will have hours, upon hours of fun looking at and reading through the Bigger Damner Book of Sheer Manliness. I would be shocked if you didn’t try some of what you’ll read and see, right in your own backyard (not that I’d recommend it).
There is a fair amount of nudity, foul language and lots of crude, vulgar humour for those who dislike the afore-mentioned content.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

Read more about Bigger Damner Book of Sheer Manliness.
Find out where to buy this book.

Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Langenscheidt Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Love You to Death (ARC)

Love You to DeathLove You to Death
Written by: Shannon K. Butcher
Published by: Forever
Date: October 1st, 2009
Pages: 400
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0446510295
(Available NOW!)

Love You to Death is a spine-tingling, romantic thriller that will creep-you-out and scare you half to death!”

Book Description – From Amazon.com
“Delicate, expressive hands…long, graceful legs…One man is looking for his perfect woman–and he’ll stop at nothing until he finds her.
LOVE YOU TO DEATH
It’s been days since reporter Elise McBride has heard from her sister, Ashley. She’s convinced Ashley has met with some kind of foul play, especially when she learns that bodies of other missing women have surfaced in and around Chicago–all victims of a brutal serial killer. Convinced her sister is still alive, Elise vows to risk everything to save her…
The last thing ex-cop Trent Brady needs is more blood on his hands. Yet when he catches Elise breaking into her sister’s house, full of reckless determination and fear, he knows she needs his help. But just as desire ignites between them, a twisted madman sets his sights on Elise. Hell-bent on possessing her for himself, this psychopath won’t rest until he has his perfect woman.”

Love You to Death is a really great book! One of the best parts about this suspenseful, romantic thriller is the progression of the drama…the story keeps getting better and better! The serial killer character is so fascinating and horrifying at the same time…what amazing writing! Shannon’s portrayal of the serial killer is so lifelike and believable that I would LOVE to read non-romantic thrillers written by her…hint, hint. The romantic elements between Elise McBride and Trent Brady are sweet, but I found that the cold-blooded gruesomeness actually overshadowed the romance…and I’m so glad that it did! I think that Shannon Butcher has missed her true calling as a Thriller writer; I would have enjoyed seeing more of the killer’s character developed and explored. The story has very good flow, momentum and it keeps the reader’s attention riveted as tensions are heightened and the killer gets desperate.
I highly recommend this book to all suspense and thriller fans…if you don’t mind a little romance, you’ll really enjoy the rest of the story!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

Read more about Love You to Death.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author’s Website
Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – A Christmas Ball (ARC)

A Christmas BallA Christmas Ball
Written by: Jennifer Ashley,
Emily Bryan & Alissa Johnson
Published by: Leisure Books
Date: September 29th, 2009
Pages: 336
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 978-0843962505
(Available NOW!)

A Christmas Ball is a heart-warming anthology that offers you three romantic, historical love stories for the price of one; you can’t beat it!”

Jennifer, Emily & Alissa

The first story in A Christmas Ball is My Lady Below Stairs by Emily Bryan. Emily’s characters are refreshing and unique and the witty dialog between them is just what I’ve come to expect and I have always loved about Emily’s writing.
Jane Tate, the illegitimate daughter of nobility, is coerced into impersonating her legitimate half-sister to save the family from disgrace. It’s no surprise when Jane has the presence of mind and generosity of spirit go along with the plan to impersonate her sister for a short time and hopefully save the Somerville family’s name from disgrace. There is one tiny problem; Jane’s muscular beau Ian, doesn’t like the idea one bit! Tempers flare and adventures abound in this historical romance as Jane and Ian fight for their love and a future together.

The second story in this anthology is The Longest Night by Jennifer Ashley. I have never been a big fan of mixing paranormal elements into historical romances, but I’m sure that this story will still be a big hit with many readers.
Mary Cameron offers to chaperone the daughter of a deceased friend as a generous favor. While her charge is whirling with excitement and anticipation, Mary solemnly does her duty by the girl and accompanies her to a much talked about, Christmas Ball. Never far from her thoughts, the darkly handsome Valentin is the last person she expects to see again; yet here he is. Though some time has passed since their first, fiery encounter; sparks still fly between Mary and Valentin as they rekindle what they once had. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that Valentin has some amazing talents and he has a very colourful heritage.

The third story in the anthology is Traditions by Alissa Johnson. Alissa’s story was truly delightful to read; Traditions is just what I was hoping for!
William Renwick, Earl of Casslebury and Miss Patience Byerly are perhaps the most incompatible couple you could ever hope to find. As the fates would have it, William doesn’t have any interest in the average-looking Patience unless she can get him closer to her best friend and heiress, Miss Caroline Meldrin. As time passes and William gets to know both women better, he finds himself attracted to Patience because of her honesty, her generous nature and her intelligent mind. The sometimes humorous and always witty dialogue creates a touching, deeply sensual and very unique love story that made me smile, laugh and blush.

You won’t be disappointed with this book; I promise! So go on out there and pick up a copy for yourself and maybe grab a few extra copies as stocking stuffers! I recommend this book for historical and paranormal romance fans!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it

Read more about A Christmas Ball.
Find out where to buy this book.

Author Websites:
Emily Bryan, Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson

Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Dorchester Publishing for sending me a copy of this anthology to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Ripley’s Believe It or Not! 2009

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Seeing Is Believingripleys seeing is believing
Edited by: Rebecca Miles (Managing Editor), Judy Barratt and Sally McFall
Published by: Ripley Publishing a Jim Pattison Company
Date: August 4th, 2009
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1893951457

The latest Ripley’s Believe It or Not! hardcover volume is the 6th in the series and it certainly seems to go the extra mile. The cover is vibrant with a very eye-catching (pun intended) hologram on the front cover. With hundreds of full-colour pictures and photographs, most of which are highlighting some of the bizarre content inside, you are not going to get bored with this book. The majority of the tidbits or factoids are inside are in point form with some of the more outrageous ones highlighted or spotlighted on partial or full-page spreads with really big photographs. Each page is printed in full colour (unless they are black and white photographs). With 31 museums all over the world, you’ll definitely want to plan a visit for your family; you will all have fun trying to figure out if the outlandish displays, claims and interactive features are real or not. Or, you could just save some of your money and buy this book instead!

This book’s content is sorted into the following categories:

Strange But True
Extreme Earth
Incredible Feats
Unusual Customs
Crazy Creatures
Travel Tales
Fantastic Food
Body Oddity
Strange Sites
Artistic Licence
Amazing Science
Beyond Belief

Here’s a tiny sample of what’s in store for you:

Big BurgerPlaying Scrabble While Skidiving, Guy Blows Up Baloons With His Eyes, A 9 year old’s $10,000 5-day Shopping Spree, Edible Organs, Exploding Toilets, 9,000 lb. Ball Made From Rubber Bands, Elephant Man, Lava Surfer, 100 Person-Strong CheeseHuman Kite, Toilet Paper Wedding Gown, Two-Faced Kitten, 2,000 lb. Cheese Sculpture, 15 lb. Burger, Barnum and Bailey “Freakshow” Showcase, Magnetic Man, Pulls A Van With His Eyelids and much, much more!!!

Scrabble Skydiving

You, your family and friends are going to have hours upon hours of hackenwerth-balloonsenjoyment from Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Seeing Is Believing. You’ll be grossed-out, amazed, disgusted, surprised and just plain shocked by some of the foolish, idiotic, imaginative and hard-to-believe stuff inside; most of all, you’ll be getting your money’s worth!
I’m not sure if I personally believe all of the claims and pictures, but I’ve enjoyed this book, regardless!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Read more about Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Seeing Is Believing.
Find out where to buy this book.

Publisher’s Website

A special thanks to Wellons Communications for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Love in Bloom

Love in BloomLove in Bloom
Written by: Sheila Roberts
Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: 2009
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0312384814

Love in Bloom is a wonderful story that deals with several important issues within a close-knit community; I would love to live in Heart Lake!”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“Hope Walker survived early breast cancer at just thirty-years-old, but a mastectomy left her with a lot of scarring—and some serious fears about dating. Hope owns Changing Seasons, Heart Lake’s most popular flower shop. When it comes to love and relationships, she’s able to work magic through her expert flower arranging…for everyone but herself. Then one day a handsome contractor starts coming into her shop, but Hope knows he’d rather have a whole woman than someone like her.
When Hope stakes a plot of ground at Heart Lake’s community garden, she finds that a woman can grow all sorts of things there: flowers, herbs, vegetables and even friendship. As she gets to know the two women who share neighboring plots, they discover that they can learn a lot from each other—not just about gardening, but about life. And Hope realizes that in order to live life to the fullest, sometimes you have to take a chance on love.”

Love in Bloom is a really inspirational story that combines gardening and a group of well-intentioned people. When I accepted a review copy of this book I didn’t know how the author planned to deal with some of these heavy issues in an engaging way. Hope Walker owns and operates her own flower shop in Heart Lake. She has a big heart and wants to make her community more beautiful and happier by arranging and selling her flowers. As a cancer survivor, Hope realized that she needed to make everyday count and did her best to encourage a positive spirit in everyone she met. When Hope meets Jason Wells one day, her heart starts racing and she can’t help how much he affects her. Unfortunately, Jason seems to have eyes for Bobbi, Hope’s younger sister. The story progresses nicely and I enjoyed the inspired way that the author had the characters interact with one another. I was pleasantly surprised when the storyline didn’t get bogged-down by some of the seriousness and I enjoyed the depth of character and winding plot; it made for a more compelling read. Love in Bloom is a really brilliant story that runs the gauntlet of emotions. There were lovely romantic moments that charmed me and then there were heart-wrenchingly sad moments that tore at my heart. This story vividly illustrates that love can bloom in the shadows of loss, in the glow of success and that it can happen at any age. All of the characters are really well developed and unique; I felt for each of them in their own circumstances. An added bonus: there are a few helpful gardening tips scattered throughout the book.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Read more about Love in Bloom.
Find out where to buy this book.

Link to the Author’s Website:
http://www.sheilasplace.com/

Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://us.macmillan.com/default.aspx

A special thanks to Sheila Roberts for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Losing Kei: A Novel

Losing Kei: A NovelLosing Kei
Written By: Suzanne Kamata
Published By: Leapfrog Press
Date: January 1st, 2008
Pages: 195
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0972898492

Losing Kei is a stirring novel that probes beneath Japanese tradition and reveals the strength and the power of a mother’s love.”

Product Description – Amazon.com
“A young mother fights impossible odds to be reunited with her child in this acutely insightful first novel about an intercultural marriage gone terribly wrong.
Jill Parker is an American painter living in Japan. Far from the trendy gaijin neighborhoods of downtown Tokyo, she’s settled in a remote seaside village where she makes ends meet as a bar hostess. Her world appears to open when she meets Yusuke, a savvy and sensitive art gallery owner who believes in her talent. But their love affair, and subsequent marriage, is doomed to a life of domestic hell, for Yusuke is the chonan, the eldest son, who assumes the role of rigid patriarch in his traditional family while Jill’s duty is that of a servile Japanese wife. A daily battle of wills ensues as Jill resists instruction in the proper womanly arts. Even the long-anticipated birth of a son, Kei, fails to unite them. Divorce is the only way out, but in Japan a foreigner has no rights to custody, and Jill must choose between freedom and abandoning her child.
Told with tenderness, humor, and an insider’s knowledge of contemporary Japan, Losing Kei is the debut novel of an exceptional expatriate voice.”

Losing Kei is a wonderful book; this story guides the reader through a gauntlet of emotions while it reveals some distressing Japanese customs, laws and rituals. Suzanne Kamata writes an intensely-poignant novel that will tug at the heartstrings of any mother or father who reads it; Losing Kei transported me to Japan where I stayed from the beginning of the book right through to the end. The time-line alternates between Jill Parker’s current life and her not to distant past. When Jill, an American artist, marries a Japanese man and gives birth to his son, she feels truly blessed to be so fortunate. At the same time however, Jill feels intense pressure to conform to traditions and customs that are not her own. The narrative is gritty and very realistic; much of the story has a melancholy undertone and it’s tinged with a bruised sadness. Emotions are raw and vibrant; you can picture Jill’s struggles in your mind’s eye and feel her emotional pain as your own. Duty, inherited responsibility and a unique way of life threatens to destroy Jill’s hard-won happiness and take her away from the one she loves most in the world. As time passes and more of the story unfolds, Jill’s biggest fear becomes reality when she loses her beloved son, Kei.
Just ask yourself: what lengths would you go to, too get YOUR child back?
I highly recommend this book!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Read more about Losing Kei.
Find out where to buy this book.

Link to the Author’s Profile:
http://www.suzannekamata.com/

Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.leapfrogpress.com/index.html

A special thanks to Sheri at A Novel Menagerie for sending me a copy to review, on behalf of the author.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy