My Take on Portrait of a Murder

Book Reviews

Art, murder, mystery, romance, are all combined in Portrait of a Murder by Kerry J. Charles. This is the first book in the Dulcie Chambers Mystery series. After finishing Portait of a Murder, I can not wait to start on the other books in the series.

Kerry J. Charles has quite an impressive resume. She has worked as a researcher, writer, and editor for National Geographic Magazine, the Smithsonian Institution, and Harvard University. She has also worked for major textbook publishers. All of this experience has surely come in handy at penning her own works.

The mystery is set on the coast of Maine. Dulcie Chambers is a curator for the Maine Museum of Art. She wants to acquire a watercolor by Winslow Homer to complete her exhibit. The museum’s director, Joshua Harriman, volunteers to go to Christie’s auction house in New York to bid on and hopefully obtain the watercolor. But before Dulcie can lay her sights on the watercolor, she instead comes across a body. She is now in a sticky situation, but police detective Nick Black is on the case.

I enjoyed Portrait of a Murder very much. At 137 pages, it was not a super long read, however, it was a page turner. There were just enough suspects to confuse things and keep one guessing. I would recommend this book and I am planning to continue reading the series. The next book is titled, From the Murky Deep. Sounds interesting already! As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on Rules for Visiting

Book Reviews

My latest read was a book I asked for and received for Christmas, Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane. Rules for Visiting was an easy read. This book will make one think of the way in which they live their life and the role friendship plays.

The novel is about May, a botanist, and how she decides to catch up with old friends, and perhaps find herself, during bonus time off from her work. May is a gardener at the local university. Being granted a months vacation from her job, May decides to take four seperate vacations to visit friends from her childhood through her college days. While May does have friends of her own, she is often intrigued by other peoples relationships with their frineds. Why does her life seem lacking? Will she find what she is looking for?

Kane’s novel is a wonderful read. A book about life that could easily be made into a movie. It also has plant and tree facts sprinkled throughout the book. This helps define the character and may also teach the reader a thing or two about plants. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…Bomb Girls

Book Reviews

I just finished reading Bomb Girls by Jacky Hyams. This book is about the women who worked in Britain’s munitions during WWII. The book is a rare treat, especially for those interested in history.

Bomb Girls starts out by introducing the reader to munitions factories and what it was like to work in one of these factories. But what is even better are the following chapters, the memoirs of the actual workers, the stories they tell of their life experiences. The chapters read as though the women are right there, telling their stories in person. Each woman tells a little about her life before working at the factory and then details of her experience at the factory and what she did after the war was over. The last chapter gives more details about each of the munitions factories that the women in the book worked at and what happened to the facility after the war.

This book was an easy read and kept me interested the entire time. I had no idea that once a girl turned 18 they were called up to work in factories of this kind during the war years. It was very dangerous work. Accidents happened and some were deadly. So what got these women through this stressful time? Friendship, doing what they thought was right to help their country, and the hopes of helping the men they knew and loved.

I highly recommend Bomb Girls. If you love history, have an interest in WWII, or want to learn more about women and their efforts during the war, this book is a must read. As always, Happy Reading!

I Have to Read What!

Book Reviews

Back in high school, my teacher assigned the class to read Dracula by Bram Stoker. What! I was none too thrilled to say the least. Of all the books, why on earth did she have to choose that! I had NO interest in reading a book about vampires, or so I thought…

I should have known that this particular teacher (who was one of the best) would not let me down. Shortly into the book, I was hooked. Dracula, of course, is a classic. This is with good reason.

Since high school, I have read Dracula a few more times. I just recently finished reading it again. It is one of the few books that I have read more than a couple of times. It is a great read around Halloween. I am also a fan of reading this book at night; helps to set the scene.

So the moral of my story is… it is hard to judge a book by its subject matter alone. It is a good idea to try reading books one would not normally choose. One never knows what they may be missing.

As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on… Nottingham vs. Robin Hood

Book Reviews

I read the book Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk and was a bit disappointed. Is this the same Robin Hood that I remembered? Maybe it was time for me to refresh my memory. So here is where my research began.

My son was a HUGE fan of Robin Hood as a child. I even made him a Robin Hood costume for Halloween one year. So I went to the source to ask for a copy of The Adventures of Robin Hood. He leant me his copy, which I devoured. Now this was more like it!

Nottingham was a rewrite of the legendary Robin Hood story. It reads like a movie. Makaryk is writing his novel in a ‘what if?’ fashion, hence, changing things up a bit. He makes lesser characters have larger roles and greater characters have lesser roles. What has he done to Robin Hood?! In Makaryk’s version, it is made out that Robin Hood did not really want to help the poor and did the job only because he felt made to do it. Really! Come on! No, this was not how I remembered Robin Hood. I felt too much liberty was taken with the story, especially in the character of Robin Hood.

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green, was on point to me. This was the Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. This was the Robin Hood who cared for his followers. Every chapter was interesting and had me wanting to continue. While Robin meets the same fate in the end of each novel, they are in two completely different ways. I prefer the storyline and ending in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

While Nottingham is a well written book, I felt that the book took too many liberties with the storyline and characters. I could forgive most of the changes, but not those to the integrity of Robin Hood. Maybe I just prefer classics to be left alone. After all, if it isn’t broke, why try to fix it?

My Take on…Diary of a Wimpy Kid – The Deep End

Book Reviews

Jeff Kinney is at it again. His latest book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Deep End, is out. I pre-ordered my copy and happily found it in my mailbox a few days ago. I just finished reading the book. Being a fan of the series, I knew things would not go smoothly for the Heffley family. Of course, I was correct.

The story picks-up where we left off in the last book, Wrecking Ball. With the Heffley house left in shambles, they are forced to move-in with Gramma. Of course, this leads them into close quarters and in the needs of a vacation. Having seen how the Heffley’s other vacations have turned out, it was no surprise that this vacation would not exatcly find the Heffley family in paradise. However, when Greg’s mom is determined to do something, do it they do.

Pick-up a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Deep End, and join the Heffley family on their RV road trip. With the Covid pandemic, I think we can all feel a bit of what Greg and his family are going through on their vacation. But don’t forget to laugh.

As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on Dior by Dior

Book Reviews

I have just finished reading the autobiography of Christian Dior, Dior by Dior. Of course, I love a good autobiography. These are always better than biographies for me, as I get a sense of the person as they tell their tale. Dior by Dior was quite an interesting read.

For anyone unfamiliar with Christian Dior, he was, of course, a great Couturier. He was the man behind the famous fashion house, House of Dior, in Paris. His business grew to allow houses in New York and London as well. To go to a Dior show was quite a deal. In his book, Dior takes us through his process of designing a collection and what it takes to make the sketches a reality. I was very interested in how a Couture House worked. Dior explained this quite well. He also describes what it is like to attend a show at the House of Dior.

Dior tells of his early years, the houses he lived in, and how the friendships he formed when he was a young man influenced who he would become. There are a lot of interesting details of Dior, the man, that I did not know. He seemed most humble in his success.

For anyone interested in fashion or how the fashion industry works, I would highly recommend Dior by Dior. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…Two Novels by Wendy Jones

Book Reviews

I was gifted the book The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones. I thought to myself, what an odd book to give someone. Is this about funerals? How morbid!

The book, however, is not about funerals persay. It is about the life of a young man who happens to be an undertaker. Wilfred Price. Wilfred is an interesting young man. A very likable chap really. The book is based around the one mistake he makes, by asking a young woman to marry him and then deciding he has made a mistake. So before things get out of hand, Wilfred decides to take back his proposal. Of course, things are not as simple as that and so the story continues.

The book is set in 1920’s England. In a quaint village where everyone knows everyone and everyone wants to know everything. It is hard to keep secrets in such a place. Although there are secrets being kept, which will lead to complicate Wilfred’s life.

The book is well written. I can “see” the village and the characters very clearly. The book is amusing, funny, serious, mysterious, etc… A nice read.

I enjoyed The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals very much. So much so that I ordered the next book, that finishes Wilfred’s journey, before I had even finished the first. The next book, The World is a Wedding, takes right off from where we left off with Wilfred and the other characters. It really is a must read or however will one know what happens to Wilfred. The World is a Wedding is full of new adventures and surprises. It was not a disappointment and left the reader with a complete feeling at the end.

I would recommentd The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals and The World is a Wedding. I would also suggest getting both. One does not want to be left hanging at the end after all.

As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…Dinner Chez Moi

Book Reviews, Cooking

After having read both of Elizabeth Bard’s memoirs, I decided to give her cookbook a try. Mixed in with the recipes are little paragraphs of tips or “secrets” as the author calls them. I found those fun to read and read them straight away, as I was skimming the recipes. I decided to make a full meal including desert from Dinner Chez Moi.

I enlisted my daughter to help me prepare the meal. We made the Lentil and Sausage Stew (Lentilles aux saucisses fumees), even though it is summer here in California and rather warm. The author assured us that, ” This is a favorite dish in our house year-round-warm and comforting as a big bear hug. Friends and family request it each time they visit, even if it’s 100 degrees in the shade!”. Well, ok. If it is recommened in any temperature then let’s go for it! And go for it we did. Next on the menu were the Ham and Rosemary Cheese Puffs (Gougeres au fromage, romarin, et jambon cru). To top off the meal, we made the Butter Cookies with Orange-Flower Essence (Sables aux fleur d-oranger).

We made the butter cookies first. They take an hour in the fridge to chill and then fifteen minutes to bake. They were light and very flavorful. The orange rind and orange-flower water gave the perfect amount of flavor. Sometimes, flavors are not so distinct. Also, I found this to be a nice treat with very few carbohydrates per cookie. The sugar was a mere 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon. Nice!

Next, we made the stew. I have a go-to lentil soup recipe, however, this one might have surpassed it. It was easy to make and loaded with fresh vegetables. It took an hour to simmer, which is normal for recipes with lentils. I really liked the added touch of wine and sausage. Yum!

While the stew was simmering, we made the Cheese Puffs. I did not find the ham at the store, so we left it out. I figured since there was already sausage in the stew we did not really need more meat with the meal anyway. I used fresh rosemary from our garden. They smelled delicious. Again, this was an easy recipe to whip together. I found that they did not need the full time in cooking. As with all new recipes, be sure to watch the bake time so as not to over bake these puffs. As with the cookies, I found this recipe low in carbohydrates. Nice!

My take on Dinner Chez Moi by Elizabeth Bard is that I think it is a keeper. Three out of three recipes tried were winners. The bonus “50 French Secrets” are interesting and worth the read. The only question is, “What will I make next?”. As always, Happy Cooking!

My Take on… Picnic in Provence

Book Reviews

In a recent post, I gave my take on Lunch in Paris, a memoir with recipes by Elizabeth Bard. Having enjoyed her first book, I decided to follow her journey to the French countryside of Provence. Picnic in Provence is full of more of Bard’s recipes, this time with a flair for the French countryside.

In Picnic in Provence, the now pregnant Elizabeth and her husband set off on an adventure to Provence to visit the home town of Rene Char, a poet that her husband finds of interest. To their surprise and great luck, the home that Char used to inhabit is now available for purchase. Falling in love with Provence, the couple decide to leave Paris for the countryside. They learn to live at a slower pace and decide to become entrepreneurs as well. What town could not use an ice cream shop?

After reading Picnic in Provence, I am ready to pack a bag for France. After all, I am fond of lavender, French cooking, and ice cream. Picnic in Provence did not dissapoint. It was a perfect follow-up to Lunch in Paris. I highly recommend making some croissants and sitting down with a copy of Bard’s latest memoir. Au Revoir!