Sep 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page where we share what books we received (or bought) the previous week.

Here's what I found in my mailbox last week . . .

STAINED GLASS (Father Dowling Mystery) byRalph McInerny. Sent to me from St. Martins Press. This is the latest in this very well established series. Although I haven't read any of the previous books, they sound very good and I will probablyback track and read some of the others as well. This book will be released on October 13th.

LOOT THE MOON by Mark Arsenault. This was also sent from St. Martins Press. Here's what Amazon says about this very promising thriller.

In this next electifying thriller from up-and-coming author Mark Arsenault, former journalist and beaten-down gambler Billy Povich returns to aid Martin Smothers, the Patron Lawyer of Hopeless Causes. Martin’s old law partner, the well-respected superior court judge Gilbert Harmony, has been shot by a thief who dies in a car crash. The cops close the case, but Martin doesn’t believe a two-bit shoplifter would suddenly kill a judge---somebody must have paid him to do it. The suspects range from a vengeful mobster to a jealous brother to the judge's widow, and---oops---his mistress and her son. And as Billy comes closer to the truth, it isn't long before the killer takes aim at him.

That sounds to me like a great story! This book will also be released October 13th.

JULIE AND JULIA by Julie Powell. I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Bonnie at Redlady's Reading Room! Thanks again Bonnie! I've read mixed reviews on this one so I'm anxious to see where it falls with me. I also want to read it before I see the movie.

What great books did you find in your mailbox last week?

Sep 24, 2009

BTT: Recent Sad

Continuing on with the 'most recent' theme, this week's Booking Through Thursday question is . . .

What's the saddest book you've read recently?

Well, a few come to mind, but the most sad book was TOMATO GIRL by Jayne Pupek that I read last year. I was literally in tears by the end. Even though it was a sad story about a little girl being forced to grow up way too fast because her parents were not able to take proper care of her for differing reasons, it is one of my all-time favorite books. It sounds strange that such a sad book could be a 'favorite', but this book really moved me, mainly because of Jayne Pupek's extraordinary writing. [Review here]

More recently I read THE LAST BRIDGE by Teri Coyne, another debut novel that blew my socks off! That book grabbed a hold of me and didn't let go. [Review here]

Lastly, DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS by Chris Tusa is a book I just read a few weeks ago. The circumstances of this story about a teenager living in the slums of New Orleans was very sad and shocking at times. This is a great example of contemporary fiction that doesn't hold back. [Review here]
For more BTT responses or to participate in this weekly meme, click here.

Sep 22, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Summer Kitchen

It's time for another teaser! Here are the rules...
  • Grab your current read
  • Let it fall open to a random page
  • Share two sentences without any spoilers
  • Name the title and page of the book your teasers are from
Today my teasers are from Karen Weinreb's novel THE SUMMER KITCHEN . . .

As she pushed past him to take her pocketbook from the leather chair and leave, he grabbed her hand roughly and spun her to face him. She tried pulling her hand free. "Let me go or I'll scream." ~ page 224

To read more fun teasers or to participate in this weekly meme, visit Should Be Reading.

Sep 21, 2009

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This week I'm planning to finish THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb, a book I'm beginning to really get in to. It's the perfect book for end of summer. The author and protagonist both love baking and cooking which comes out in the story and as the summer winds into fall, the seasonal baking begins. I also love that time of year, so I'm thoroughly enjoying the backdrop of this novel. I plan to be finished by week's end, with my review coming thereafter.

The other book I've just started and hope to make a good dent in is Charlaine Harris' DEAD UNTIL DARK. As so many of you know, it's the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse Mystery Series. There was a two month wait at my local library for this book, so I'm more than anxious to finally be able to get started. Vampires aren't typically something I read about, but I'm willing to try something new!

Last week I finished and reviewed Chris Tusa's DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS. This was an incredible story and one that I won't soon forget. You can read my review here. Definitely a book to read should you have the opportunity.

To see what other bloggers are reading this week or to participate in this weekly meme, visit J. Kaye's Blog.

Sep 19, 2009

Favorite Food Find of the Week: Say Queso!!

Have you ever ordered a dish from a Mexican restaurant and wondered about that smooth, creamy cheese on top? It's almost white and it's so creamy - much creamier than the store-bought shredded cheese you buy in the bag. I love to eat Mexican food so I tend to incorporate a lot of Mexican flavors into many of the dishes I make. This week I found two great cheeses that add great finishing touches to any meal.

Campesino cheese is a Mexican artisan cheese, meaning it is made by hand the old fashioned way and has a more complex taste than other mass produced cheese. It is a cows milk cheese often used in quesedillas. It's a softer cheese than cheddar, which helps it to melt nicely. Because of its
soft texture, it's important to keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to grate it.

Another cheese I discovered this week is Tetilla cheese. This Spanish cheese is also made from cows milk and is considered to be a semi-hard cheese. It's almost white, very creamy and has a hint of sweetness to it. Tetilla cheese is also perfect
for grading.

I used the Campesino cheese this week when making my own version of grilled, stuffed burritos. The cheese melted nicely on top of the hot filling and gave it a nice mild flavor in contrast to the spiciness of the other ingrediants. Keep in mind this cheese is not limited to Mexican food, I even use it when making breakfast skillets.

Along with these great cheeses, there's a condiment that I always look for when ordering a dinner at a Mexican restaurant and that is pico de gallo. If it has pico de gallo in it, I'm all over it! This salsa-like condiment goes with just about anything and some people even use it instead of a regular salsa. I thought I'd share my recipe for a simple pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

4 plum or Roma tomatoes (seeded and diced)
3 Jalapeno peppers (seeded and finely chopped)
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
3 Tbsp lime juice

Simply mix all of the ingrediant together and serve! Be sure to add the salt last because the lime juice and salt work off of one anoher and you don't want to end up with salty pico de gallo.

Now that I know how easy it is to make great pico de gallo at home, I will never have tacos or burritos without it! I always make it first to give the ingrediants time to meld. Using the Campesino cheese and my homemade pico de gallo, my Mexican dinner was restaurant quality and so yummy!

I hope these tips are helpful to you the next time you have a Mexican dinner night!

Sep 17, 2009

BTT: Recent Enjoyable

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is . . .

What's the most enjoyable, most fun, just darn entertaining book you've read recently? (Doesn't necessarily mean funny, just GOOD)

A few months back I read THE FIXER UPPER by Mary Kay Andrews [Review here] and that, for me, was just pure entertainment. I have been an MK Andrews fan since I first read SAVANNAH BLUES years ago. The thing that always draws me to her books is her ability to come up with the most interesting and fun characters - not only the main characters but the supporting characters as well. They are always original and give the story depth. They're not just created to help fill up pages, they play an intricate part of the story. With the stand-alone THE FIXER UPPER, Andrews introduced us to a new set of characters living in a small Georgia town. The protagonist, Dempsey Killibrew, a Washington D.C. lobbyist, finds herself in trouble with the FBI, thanks to her boss, and high-tails it to Georgia to escape the press and humiliation and to figure out what her next move should be. She picked this hole-in-the-wall town because her father inherited the old family home there and he convinces Dempsey to 'just go down there, clean up the place and we'll flip it and make a bundle'. The problem is, her father hasn't seen the place in decades so Dempsey has a rude awakening when she gets there.

This was a completely entertaining novel that was pure fun.

Recently Reviewed -

Sep 16, 2009

Library Loot: Sept 16

Library Loot is hosted weekly by Eva (A Striped Armchair) and Marg (Reading Adventures). It's a place for us to share the books we've borrowed from the libarary each week. I haven't borrowed any books lately so this is my first Library Loot post in a few months. However, I did take a trip yesterday and picked up a book that I'd been waiting on since early July.

With all of the wildly popular vampire-themed books out there, I thought it was time for me to jump in and get my, I mean my feet wet. This isn't typically the genre that I read, but Staci at Life in the Thumb helped to persuade me to try the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse Mystery Series. So I brought home from the library the first book, DEAD UNTIL DARK. I like the idea of this being a Southern Vampire Series, mainly because I love Southern Fiction! And I've read so many other bloggers saying how they adore Sookie! Now it's my turn to get introducedto her!

I am so excited to get started on this book. It sounds like pure fun! What great books did you bring home from the library this week?


Recently reviewed:

Sep 14, 2009

Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa (ebook)

Let me first start by saying that this book is not for everyone. This is not light reading and it's not necessarily what you'd want to take on your family vacation, in my opinion. That said, you'll notice that I gave this poweful novel by Chris Tusa a high rating and there are several reasons. But first, let me tell you a little about the book.

DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS is the edgy, haunting story of Hailey Trosclair, a 16 year old girl living with her parents and older brother, Cyrus, in the slums of New Orleans. The story is told through Hailey's eyes and with her voice. Hailey's family has had nothing but bad luck recently and she is scared that her family is falling apart. All her parents do is fight, so Hailey slips in and out with no one really keeping an eye on her. It's not that her parents don't love her, they're just so caught up in their own problems that they just don't notice Hailey half of the time. She lives in fear that her parents are going to get a divorce. And to make matters worse, the home they are living in is about to be in forceclosure. Hailey is desperate for God to answer her prayers and save her family.

Things only get worse when Cyrus starts hanging out with Moses, a self-proclaimed follower of Christ who has his own ideas of how to interpret the Scriptures. Hailey, having asked God through her prayers over and over to help her family, is vulnerable and easily influenced by this dangerous man.

At 16, Hailey is a bright girl who is trying her best to find answers to some of life's biggest questions, all while trying to survive the day to day in the slums she lives in. There's no doubt the most important thing to her is her family, but Hailey is, after all, still just a kid.

This is one of the grittiest novels I've read in awhile. While reading, I was at times uncomfortable, angry and even horrified. You get thrown into the story on page one and it moves quickly thereafter. I have to say that even though this is fiction, things like what happen in the pages of this bold book are happening right now in real life in our cities. it's not candy coated and filled with fluffy dialogue. It's real, honest contemporary fiction that packs a punch.

Even though my childhood was the polar opposite of Hailey's and I can't relate at all with what she went through, I still felt a connection to her. I didn't want her to give up on her faith and I cringed at so many of the things she did.. Hailey is an incredible character and Chris Tusa did an amazing job of telling her story with dialect that was spot on.

Again, this book isn't for everyone, but I promise it is worth the time in reading it. I'd like to thank Chris Tusa for graciously sending me an ebook of this gem of a novel. Born and raised in New Orleans, he is a writer and poet as well as an English Professor at LSU. This is an author I will most definitely be looking out for in the future.

Read the first chapter here

Author: Chris Tusa
Publisher: Livingston Press (AL)
Published: March 2009
Pages: 170
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5 (Highly Recommend!)

Sep 13, 2009

[TSS] Rainy Reading Day

After a pretty sluggish and hot summer, I'm looking forward to the cooler temperatures that this time of year brings, although here in Florida it takes a bit longer to actually arrive. I awoke this morning to the sound of pounding rain on my rooftop and it was a beautiful sound. We don't get many early morning showers this time of year so it was a welcome surprise. Not only has the weather been sluggish here where I live, but my reading has been as well. But with fall's arrival, my appetite for reading has returned full force!

Since I spent pretty much the whole day yesterday watching college football, today will be spent reading. I'm in the middle of THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb and enjoying it a lot. But today I will be finishing Chris Tusa's debut novel DIRTY LITTLE ANGELS. This story is based in New Orleans in present time. It centers around 16 year old Hailey, a girl trying to figure out the answers to some of life's toughest questions while also trying to keep her parents from getting a divorce. Chris was kind enough to send me an ebook copy the other day and I am planning to have my review up tomorrow or the next day.

After that, it's back to the SUMMER KITCHEN and the story of Nora Banks. Her family lives in the ultra rich area of Bedford, New York where every family has a nanny and 100,000 dollar vacation homes in faraway locales. But Nora's life is turned upside down when her husband is arrested for white collar crimes. Nora learns quickly who her friends are and how strong a woman she really is. Like I said, I'm only halfway through this one, but it is keeping my attention and I'm enjoying it very much.

Well, the rain has stopped and the sun is heating up quickly. I'm off to grab a bagel and another cup of coffee and dive in to my book! Happy Reading!

Sep 12, 2009

For Readers Who Love To Cook...And Eat

This is the time of year that I start spending more time in the kitchen and I know many of you enjoy cooking (and eating) just as much as I do. So today I wanted to tell you about two great blogs I've discovered recently while looking for something different to cook. Not only do these sites share great recipes but they also have fabulous giveways!! And who doesn't love winning stuff, right?

The first blog is Real Mom Kitchen hosted by Laura. She is a mom of 3 who has loved cooking and baking her whole life. She shares so many yummy recipes that aren't complicated. She is also always on the lookout for good deals and shares them with her readers. Speaking of which, she has over 300 loyal followers. You can also find coupons and links to other great sites on her blog. Everytime I visit, I come away with some great food ideas!

Another great gem of a site I've discovered is Our Best Bites, hosted by Sara, who lives in Idaho and Kate, living in Louisiana. As their site says...they offer 'tips, tricks and tastes from two real-life kitchens'. There is so much information here including a recipe index that makes it easy if you're looking for something specific. There's also coupons and giveaways, not to mention these two women have such great personalities! I really enjoy their site. Apparently, the word is out because they have over 900 followers to their kitchens!!

So the next time you're looking for something new to make, take a few minutes and check out these two great sites. I've tried their recipes and I haven't been disappointed yet!

Sep 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Summer Kitchen

It's Tuesday and that means it's time for a Teaser! Here's how it works...
  • Grab the book you're currently reading
  • Let it fall open to a random page
  • Choose two teaser sentences to share
  • Be careful NOT to include any spoilers
  • Name the book you took your teasers from
Today, my teasers are from THE SUMMER KITCHEN by Karen Weinreb...

It had been easier to believe things would somehow right themselves. But now just knowing how different things would look when she raised her eyes was wnough to bring home the full horror of her situation. ~ page 108

For more teasers visit MizB at Should Be Reading.