Show Me 5 Saturday: Italian For Beginners by Kristin Harmel

A meme  by That’s A Novel Idea

Mr. Linky at Find Your Next Book Here

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1 Title:  Italian For Beginners by Kristin Harmel

2 Words that describe the book:  Italian Holiday

3 Settings or characters:

*  Rome – Kristin Harmel described the sights of Rome so well that I felt like I was there.  Cat’s friend Marco takes her on a memorable tour that was very romantic.  *sigh*

*  Karina – is the waitress who rents a room to Cat when she finds herself without a place to stay after her first day in Rome.  Karina pulls no punches with anyone and doesn’t expect anything less in return.  She’s about Cat’s age and is a single mother of a six year old son.  She was my favorite character!

*  Cat Connelly – has always put the needs of her sister and father above her own.  She’s ready for a little ‘me time’ and heads to Rome for a month after a co-worker gives her the push she needs.  I understood Cat and really pulled for her throughout the novel.

4 Things I liked/disliked about the book:

* I liked Kristin Harmel’s writing.  I’ll be looking for her backlist books.

* I really enjoyed the main characters – flaws and all.

* I loved my visit to Rome via a novel.  I liked that the author tells how the book came about and what she added from her own experiences.  There are a few recipes at the end too.   Now I want to watch Roman Holiday and pretend I’m Audrey.

* I was satisfied with the ending.  It had me smiling – and I love when that happens.

5 Stars or less for the rating: 4/5 stars

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Italian for Beginners

Back of the book: Cat Connelly plays it safe.  She’s an accountant with no debt who lives near her family in Manhattan.  She’s also thirty-four, unmarried, and with nothing promising on her romantic horizon.  After a humiliating incident at her sister’s wedding, she throws caution to the wind and flies off to Rome to find Francesco, the man she’d fallen in love with thirteen years earlier on a trip to Italy.   When Francesco turns out to be a dud, Cat is adrift on the streets of Rome, no safety net in sight.  With the help of an eccentric waitress with a spare apartment to rent, the handsome restaurateur who calls her Princess Ann, and the family secrets only Rome can unlock for her, Cat discovers that happiness can be found on the back of a speeding Vespa. . . but only if you’re willing to take a few risks.


All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

All I Ever Wanted (Hqn) by Kristan Higgins

Calliope Grey just wants everyone to be happy.  And to like her – because why wouldn’t everyone like her?  Ever since her parents’ messy divorce when she was only eight years old Callie has tried to make everything and everyone ok.  Where has that gotten her?  It’s her 30th birthday and probably the most unhappy day of her life.  She finds herself without a boyfriend,  living with her grandfather, trying to keep the peace with her crazy family, and wondering if she’ll ever find her happily-ever-after.

As usual, Kristan Higgins had me laughing out loud through much of the novel. There was also a scene that had me reaching for a tissue.  Her main character has a big heart and only wants to share it with someone who’ll love her back as much.

Callie’s quirky co-workers add a comedic tone as well as some drama to the story. There’s a rocking chair on the cover for a reason.  It symbolizes what true happiness could mean in her life.  The enjoyment of this book is finding out if and how Callie finds what she’s looking for.

I recommend  All I Ever Wanted to fans of Contemporary Romance.

Review copy from Julie Harabedian at FSB Associates

In My Mailbox/Mailbox Monday – July 25/26

 

at The Story Siren

at The Printed Page

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For review:

Holiday Magic (from Terri DuLong)

White Heat (from Chelsy at Big Honcho Media)

The Girls From The Revolutionary Cantina (from Cate at St. Martin’s Griffin)

Giveaway win:

The Half-Mammals of Dixie (from Bermudaonion)

My buy:

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

Gift certificate:

$15 Knit Picks gift card from HarperCollins Publishers (Book Club Girl on air show with Rachael Herron)

Show Me 5 Saturday: God Never Blinks by Regina Brett

A meme  by That’s A Novel Idea

Mr. Linky at Find Your Next Book Here

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1 Title:  God Never Blinks50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours by Regina Brett

2 Words that describe the book:  Life Lessons

3 Settings or characters:

* Regina Brett – Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist.

* Bruce, Brett’s husband

* Brett’s life

4 Things I liked/disliked about the book:

* Brett’s heartfelt sharing of her life experiences is something I could appreciate especially since we share some similarities in upbringing.

* I really liked the audiobook.  Her voice is so easy to listen to and her sincerity is apparent.

* I think any reader could relate to Brett’s columns about life’s ups and downs.

* I’m glad I listened to the audiobook.  It made a cross-state car trip go by in a snap.  That said, I think it may be even more meaningful if listened to one lesson at a time.  Each column lends itself to reflection and/or discussion.

5 Stars or less for the rating:  4/5 stars

Thanks to Bonnie at Redlady’s Reading Room for passing her copy to me.

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God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours

Back of audiobook case:

“It took me 40 years to find and hold on to happiness.  I always felt that at the moment I was born, God must have blinked.  He missed the occasion and never knew I had arrived. . . I ended up confused by the nuns at age 6, a lost soul who drank too much at 16, an unwed mother at 21, a college graduate at 30, a single mother for 18 years, and finally, a wife at 40, married to a man who treated me like a queen.  Then I got cancer at 41.  It took a year to fight it, then a year to recover from the fight.

When I turned 45, I lay in bed reflecting on all life had taught me.  My soul sprang a leak and ideas flowed out.  My pen simply caught them and set the words on paper.  I typed them up and turned them into a newspaper column of the 45 lessons life taught me.” – Regina Brett, from the Introduction.

She added 5 more lessons when she turned 50.

Waiting on Wednesday – July 21

The Life You've Imagined: A Novel

Pub. date:  August 17, 2010

From Goodreads:

Are you living the life you imagined? Is there anything you’d have done differently if you could? Those are the questions asked in Kristina Riggle’s unforgettable new novel.

In high school, Cami and Anna were as close as they could be…now, years later, both have returned to their hometown to face the people they had once left behind.

Anna must confront her mother, still distraught over the abandonment of her husband, and come to terms with choices she had made years before. While Cami returns home to stay with her alcoholic father, she must face a secret that she thought was long-since buried.

This is a novel that digs deep and touches the heart of the issues so many women face-the quest for perfection, the hope of love, the value of family and importance of always striving for your dream.

at Breaking the Spine

The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken

The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition

“There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who don’t cook out of and have NEVER cooked out of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK, and the other kind…The I HATE TO COOK people consist mainly of those who find other things more interesting and less fattening, and so they do it as seldom as possible. Today there is an Annual Culinary Olympics, with hundreds of cooks from many countries ardently competing. But we who hate to cook have had our own Olympics for years, seeing who can get out of the kitchen the fastest and stay out the longest.” – Peg Bracken

Philosopher’s Chowder. Skinny Meatloaf. Fat Man’s Shrimp. Immediate Fudge Cake. These are just a few of the beloved recipes from Peg Bracken’s classic I HATE TO COOK BOOK. Written in a time when women were expected to have full, delicious meals on the table for their families every night, Peg Bracken offered women who didn’t revel in this obligation an alternative: quick, simple meals that took minimal effort but would still satisfy.

50 years later, times have certainly changed – but the appeal of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK hasn’t.

This book is for everyone, men and women alike, who wants to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible.

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I remember hearing buzz about The I Hate To Cook Book when I was a teen.  At the time I wondered why a cookbook would be titled as such but fast-forward a couple of decades and I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner for my family on a daily basis.  Looking back I wish I had Peg Bracken’s book in those days.

When I had a chance to review the 50th Anniversary edition of The I Hate To Cook Book I grabbed it.  Author Peg Bracken died in 2007 so her daughter Jo wrote the forward that tells about her mom and the book.  Following the forward is Peg’s introduction where she explained how and why the book came about. Bracken’s wit is apparent throughout the book making it an enjoyable read as well as a go-to reference.

Many of the recipes seemed familiar to me (maybe my mom had this book?).  They use ingredients found in most pantries such as cream of mushroom soup, canned vegetables, fruits, tuna, etc. The recipe directions are easy to follow.   Saturday Chicken (p.20-21) earned a thumbs up at my house.  (I added a small can of mushrooms to the recipe)

Saturday Chicken ingredients

Saturday Chicken

  • 1 cut-up fryer (or any 6 good-sized pieces of chicken)
  • salt and garlic salt
  • paprika
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup
  • 1 cup heavy cream (don’t cheat and use milk; the cream makes a lot of difference)
  • chopped parsley

Take your chicken and salt and garlic salt it a bit, then paprika it thoroughly.  Next, spread it out, in one layer, in a shallow baking pan.  Dilute the soup with the cream, pour it over the chicken, and sprinkle the chopped parsley prettily on top.  Bake it, uncovered, at 350 for one and a half hours.


Fresh out of the oven


Saturday Chicken (right) with baked potato and green beans


The chapters cover pretty much any type of dinner situation: Potluck Suppers; Company’s Coming; Luncheon for the Girls; Little Kids’ Parties.  Also included are helpful hints, equivalents, and substitutions.  I think The I Hate to Cook Book would be a great addition to any cookbook collection.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group