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!

My Take on…Lunch in Paris

Book Reviews, Cooking

I decided to read Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard for a fun summer read. After all, if I can not get to Paris, why not read about it. From the first chapter, I was suddenly transported to Paris.

Lunch in Paris is a memoir slash cookbook. Bonus! The book starts with Elizabeth (an American from New York living in London) meeting a Frenchman for lunch in Paris. They had met at a conference in England. This was a weekend visit that would ultimately change Elizabeth’s life. I will not give out all the juicy details. I will leave that up to the reader. I will, however, say that this book was delightful. It was a good choice for a summer read. One that I did not want to put down.

Elizabeth comes across as very likable and funny. Besides being a good book and making me feel like I was in Paris, the book also has recipes. Since I love to cook this is a treat. But not only does it have recipes, it has lots of recipes. I am talking recipes at the end of each chapter. I am talking more than one recipe per chapter. As many as three recipes per chapter. The back of the book also has an index of the recipes for easy reference.

Luckily, when I finished reading Lunch in Paris, I could keep my summer vacation in France going. I had also purchased Bard’s second book Picnic in Provence. So now I am following Elizabeth to the French countryside. My take on that will be out shortly.

So, if feeling the need to escape quarantine, pick-up a copy of Lunch in Paris. Not only a good read but a cookbook to boot. There is even a recipe for Zucchini Flowers Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mint. Super! I still have a few zucchini flowers in the garden. This time I know to check for bees first. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on: Married to Laughter

Book Reviews

Jerry Stiller passed in May of this year. He was 92 years old. I loved watching him as the over-the-top father, Frank Costanza, on the hit television show Seinfeld. Married to Laughter is a book written by Jerry Stiller about his life growing up in New York, meeting and marrying actress Anne Meara, and his life as an actor.

Jerry Stiller was nothing like the character he played as Frank Costanza. He was an actor after all. He attended Syracuse University, where he studied Theater. He worked in clubs and the theater. Even while working on Seinfeld, he worked in theater. He was an actor and he was driven to act. Not only was this his way to earn an income but it was his passion.

I find it interesting to read autobiographies. I feel like I get to know that person better by reading about them in their own words. One gets a sense of who they are and what they are like. It was interesting to hear the stories Stiller told of his life and what his thoughts were on what was happening at the time. I would recommend Married to Laughter to anyone that enjoyed Stiller’s work. I would also recommend it to anyone interested in theater or acting. The book gives a good sense of what it is like for an actor and the struggles they face at keeping the jobs coming in. It takes a lot of drive. As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Kingdom of the Blind

Book Reviews

The suspended head of the Surete du Quebec, Armand Gamache, receives a letter informing him of a meeting to discuss a will. Curiously enough, Gamache has been named executor of a complete stranger’s will. As he arrives at the meeting place, which turns out to be an abandoned farmhouse, his neighbor, Myrna Landers also pulls-up in her car. Going inside they are met by the Lawyer and are introduced to a young builder named Benedict who was also named as executor to the estate. Not one of the three persons named executor knew the deceased. How odd…

And thus begins the novel The Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny. The threesome decide to accept the role of executor and will find themselves not only asking why they were named executor to a complete stranger’s will, but who done it. Gamache will also try to solve his own mystery. The mystery that got him suspended from the Surete.

With likable characters, such as Gamache’s unique neighbors, and plenty of mystery, The Kingdom of the Blind is sure to keep one guessing and intreaged. This novel has two mysteries in one book that are unrelated to each other. So, it is a bit of a bonus. This is not the first in the Gamache series. Choose to start at the beginning or jump right in with this page turner.

As always, Happy Reading!

My Take on… The Word is Murder

Book Reviews

I just finished another book by Anthony Horowitz, The Word is Murder. This was another winner for Horowitz. In this book, Anthony writes himself, as an author, into the book. Interesting…

The book is set in England. Chapter one starts out with Diana Cowper going to a funeral parlour to arrange her own funeral. Later that very day, she is found murdered in her own home. Coincidence?

Ex-police detective Daniel Hawthorne is on the case helping the department solve the murder of Diana Cowper, who is the mother of the famous actor Damian Cowper. Anthony, who has been hired by Hawthorne to write a novel about him, is tagging along taking notes for the book. However, Anthony is not sure he likes Hawthorne and not at all sure writing this book is a good idea.

How will the case unfold? Grab a copy of The Word is Murder to find out. As always, happy reading!

My Take on…The Ghosts of Eden Park

Book Reviews

Author Karen Abbott’s The Ghosts of Eden Park set in real life jazz-age America is an interesting read. This nonfiction piece is about bootleg king George Remus and his life as a bootlegger and where it led him. Remus was a famous bootlegger well before the famous Al Capone.

George Remus was a German immigrant who worked in a pharmacy, then practiced law, and ultimately bootlegged whiskey. He was a multimillionaire who threw grand affairs and lavished his guests with expensive gifts. Prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is out to get Remus. She sets investigator, Franklin Dodge, on the case. Dodge, however, plots to get his hands on Remus’ money and his wife Imogene. The outcome…murder.

Karen Abbott has written an interesting work of nonfiction with The Ghosts of Eden Park. According to her note, every word between quotation marks actually is taken from a government file, archive, diary, letter, newspaper article, book, a hearing or trial transcript. The transcipts were so long that she could accurately describe scenes, conversations, and the characters themselves.

The book reads like historical fiction although it is in reality nonfiction. For anyone interested in life as it was in the 20’s, this book is sure to please. Happy Reading!

My Take on…The Masterpiece

Book Reviews

I often pick up books off the shelves by their cover designs and titles. Fiona Davis’ book The Masterpiece had a title that screamed art and a cover that screamed historic novel. I then flip to the back and read the summary. This one was right up my alley.

Fiona Davis starts her novel in 1928 New York told through the eyes of Clara Darden. Clara teaches illustration at the Grand Central School of Art. Chapter two takes the reader to 1974 New York told through the eyes of recently divorced Virginia Clay. Virginia has an appointment with the Trimble Temp Agency, which takes her to a law office located in the Grand Central Terminal . The chapters will take turn throughout the book telling each lady’s story.

Clara will try to make her way in a very male dominated field. Just when she thinks she has the perfect life, the Great Depression hits. Losing everything only to start over when another major tragedy will shake her world.

Virginia is finding herself after her divorce. Her new job is paying the bills and that is all. She comes across an abandoned art school within the Grand Central Terminal where she finds a watercolor. When she tries to find out more about the artist, Clara Darden, she seems to have opened up a can of worms. Let the mystery begin.

I enjoyed this book and by the end found it very hard to put down. (“Fionia Davis ‘The Master of the unputdownable novel.'” — Redbook) I enjoy historic fiction and found this piece to be very interesting. I also enjoy a good mystery and The Masterpiece did not disappoint. The twists in the ending took me by surprise and made for an interesting read. Two thumbs up for Fiona Davis and The Masterpiece. Pick up a copy and see how this one plays out.

My Take on… Cover Her Face

Book Reviews

This is not my first P.D. James mystery nor will it be my last. In Cover Her Face, P.D. James has created an interesting murder mystery with so many suspects that it is hard to be quite sure who did it in this who done it. However, the cool Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh has things under control.

The Maxie’s have hired an assistant maid, Sally Jupp, recommended by Miss Liddell at a dinner party. Miss Liddell runs St. Mary’s Refuge, a home for girls like Sally who are with child. Sally and her baby, Jimmy, move in and Sally starts helping Martha, the Maxie’s maid. Martha is not too keen to have Sally around nor are Deborah Maxie or house guest, Catherine Bowers, who has her eye on Deborah’s brother Stephen. Sally seemed no trouble at first, however , things become uncomfortable and then Sally is found dead. Cheif Inspector Dalgliesh is called to the Maxie house to solve the murder. Could it be someone in the home or did someone from outside make their way inside? It seems Sally has her fair share of enemies and so the mystery begins.

Care to find out more? Read Cover Her Face to find out who did it. It is a worthwhile read and is the first in the Dalgliesh series by P.D. James. Happy Reading.

My Take on Murder in the Smithsonian

Book Reviews

Christmas is always a good time for me to replenish my reading stash. I had totally run out of books before Christmas. Scandalous! So, now that the new year has arrived, my book supply is once again stocked-up. One of the books I received for Christmas was Murder in the Smithsonian (A Capital Crimes Novel) by Margaret Truman.

This is the first time I have read one of Margaret Truman’s books. The Capital Crimes Series is a series Truman wrote with the setting being the Nation’s Capital. I was drawn to this particular book in the series as it takes place in the Smithsonian and I found the museum setting interesting.

Murder in the Smithsonian starts with the death of Dr. Lewis Tunney. Tunney, a historian, finds out about an international art ring which leads to his demise in the middle of a reception at the famous Smithsonian Museum. His fiancee, Heather McBean, flies in from Europe to find out what happened to her beloved Lewis.

While in Washington, Heather is befriended by Captain Mac Hanrahan who promises that this case will not go unsolved. However, Heather finds herself in danger more than once and does not know who she can trust. Can Hanrahan solve the case before something happens to Heather? Pick up a copy of Truman’s Murder in the Smithsonian to find out. The ending is full of surprises.

My Take on… Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Book Reviews

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a novel written by Maria Semple, was hilarious. It is written in the form of correspondences (e-mails, letters) in a light easy to read style. Once started, this book is hard to put down. The book was recently made into a movie as well.

The book focuses on Bernadette, mother to 15 year old Bee and wife to husband Elgin, who works at Microsoft. They live in Seattle where they moved after Bernadette feels the need to escape Los Angeles and the demise of her architecture career. It is in Seattle that Bernadette has run-ins with fellow parents at her daughter’s school and her anxieties lead her into much concern.

As a reward for good grades, Bee has chosen a trip to Antarctica. Bernadette is on board until she learns more about the trip and her anxieties take hold. Then, Bernadette disappears. Where did Bernadette go? Read the book to find out…