Good Taste by Jane Green

good-taste-by-jane-green

  • Title:  Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends
  • Author:  Jane Green
  • Genre:  Cookbook
  • Pages:  192
  • Published:  October 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Description: A lush and gorgeous guide to all things food and entertaining from Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Jemima J, The Beach House, and Falling.
 
Jane Green’s life has always revolved around her kitchen…

… from inviting over friends for an impromptu brunch; to wowing guests with delicious new recipes; to making sure her ever-on-the-move family makes time to sit down together. For Jane, food is enjoyable because of the people surrounding it and the pleasures of hosting and nourishing those she cares about, body and soul.

Now, Jane opens wide the doors of her stunning home to share tips on entertaining, ideas for making any gathering a cozy yet classy affair, and some of her favorite dishes, ranging from tempting hors d’oeuvres like Sweet Corn and Chili Soup, to mouthwatering one-pot mains like Slow-Braised Onion Chicken, to sinfully satisfying desserts like Warm Chocolate and Banana Cake.

This book is Jane’s perfect recipe for making a wonderful life complete with friends, loving family, and moments filled with good food, good times, and, of course, Good Taste. (publisher)

My take: At first glance Good Taste has a rather unassuming cover – until you take a closer look at the photo which shows the author readying a dining table for an outdoor meal. It looks quite inviting and lovely.

And that’s exactly how I felt about the cookbook – welcomed by author Jane Green to take a look at her favorite recipes and give them a try. She personalized each one with an anecdote about the family or friends a recipe bring to mind. I loved that.

The book is divided into Beginnings (starters and soups), Middles (main courses), and Endings (desserts). Gorgeous color photos accompany each recipe which is something I really appreciate. I’m not an accomplished cook by any stretch of the imagination so I like to have a clear goal in mind of what my finished product should look like 🙂

There are several recipes I can’t wait to try including: Tomato Tart Tatin; Slow-Braised Onion Chicken; and Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle. The photos of all three are gorgeous and what I really love is that after reading each recipe I feel confident I’ll be able to make them.

Good Taste would make a wonderful gift for the cook in your life this holiday season.

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The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward – Excerpt and Review

The Angel's Share (7:26)

Excerpt from THE ANGELS’ SHARE by J. R. Ward

Toyota trucks were not supposed to go seventy-five miles an hour. Especially when they were ten years old.

At least the driver was wide awake, even though it was four a.m.

Lizzie King had a death grip on the steering wheel, and her foot on the accelerator was actually catching floor as she headed for a rise in the highway.

She had woken up in her bed at her farmhouse alone. Ordinarily, that would have been the status quo, but not anymore, not now that Lane was back in her life. The wealthy playboy and the estate’s gardener had finally gotten their act together, love bonding two unlikelies closer and stronger than the molecules of a diamond.

And she was going to stand by him, no matter what the future held.

After all, it was so much easier to give up extraordinary wealth when you had never known it, never aspired to it—and especially when you had seen behind its glittering curtain to the sad, desolate desert on the far side of the glamour and prestige.

God, the stress Lane was under.

And so out of bed she had gotten. Down the creaking stairs she had gone. And all around her little house’s first floor she had wandered.

When Lizzie had looked outside, she’d discovered his car was missing, the Porsche he drove and parked beside the maple by her front porch nowhere to be seen. And as she had wondered why he had left without telling her, she had begun to worry.

Just a matter of nights since his father had killed himself, only a matter of days since William Baldwine’s body had been found on the far side of the Falls of the Ohio. And ever since then Lane’s face had had a faraway look, his mind churning always with the missing money, the divorce papers he had served on the rapacious Chantal, the status of the household bills, the precarious situation at the Bradford Bourbon Company, his brother Edward’s terrible physical condition, Miss Aurora’s illness.

But he hadn’t said a thing about any of it. His insomnia had been the only sign of the pressure, and that was what scared her. Lane always made an effort to be composed around her, asking her about her work in Easterly’s gardens, rubbing her bad shoulder, making her dinner, usually badly, but who cared. Ever since they had gotten the air cleared between them and had fully recommitted to their relationship, he had all but moved into her farmhouse—and as much as she loved having him with her, she had been waiting for the implosion to occur.

It would almost have been easier if he had been ranting and raving.

And now she feared that time had come—and some sixth sense made her terrified about where he had gone. Easterly, the Bradford Family Estate, was the first place she thought of. Or maybe the Old Site, where his family’s bourbon was still made and stored. Or perhaps Miss Aurora’s Baptist church?

Yes, Lizzie had tried him on his phone. And when the thing had rung on the table on his side of the bed, she hadn’t waited any longer after that. Clothes on. Keys in hand. Out to the truck.

No one else was on I-64 as she headed for the bridge to get across the river, and she kept the gas on even as she crested the hill and hit the decline to the river’s edge on the Indiana side. In response, her old truck picked up even more speed along with a death rattle that shook the wheel and the seat, but the damn Toyota was going to hold it together because she needed it to.

“Lane . . . where are you?”

God, all the times she had asked him how he was and he’d said, “Fine.” All those opportunities to talk that he hadn’t taken her up on. All the glances she’d shot him when he hadn’t been looking her way, all the time her monitoring for signs of cracking or strain. And yet there had been little to no emotion after that one moment they’d had together in the garden, that private, sacred moment when she had sought him out under the blooms of the fruit trees and told him that she’d gotten it wrong about him, that she had misjudged him, that she was prepared to make a pledge to him with the only thing she had: the deed to her farmhouse—which was exactly the kind of asset that could be sold to help pay for the lawyers’ fees as he fought to save his family.

Lane had held her, and told her he loved her—and refused her gift, explaining he was going to fix everything himself, that he was going to somehow find the stolen money, pay back the enormous debt, right the company, resurrect his family’s fortunes.

And she had believed him.

She still did.

But ever since then? He had been both as warm and closed off as a space heater, physically present and completely disengaged at the same time.

Lizzie did not blame him in the slightest.

It was strangely terrifying, however.

Off in the distance, across the river, Charlemont’s business district glowed and twinkled, a false, earthbound galaxy that was a lovely lie, and the bridge that connected the two shores was still lit up in spring green and bright pink for Derby, a preppy rainbow to that promised land. The good news was that there was no traffic, so as soon as Lizzie was on the other side, she could take the River Road exit off the highway, shoot north to Easterly’s hill, and see if his car was parked in front of the mansion.

Then she didn’t know what she was going to do.

The newly constructed bridge had three lanes going in both directions, the concrete median separating east from west tall and broad for safety purposes. There were rows of white lights down the middle, and everything was shiny, not just from the illumination, but a lack of exposure to the elements. Construction had only finished in March, and the first lines of traffic had made the crossing in early April, cutting rush-hour delays down—

Up ahead, parked in what was actually the “slow” lane, was a vehicle that her brain recognized before her eyes properly focused on it.

Lane’s Porsche. It was Lane’s—

Lizzie nailed the brake pedal harder than she’d been pounding the accelerator, and the truck made the transition from full-force forward to full-on stop with the grace of a sofa falling out a second-story window: Everything shuddered and shook, on the verge of structural disintegration, and worse, there was barely any change in velocity, as if her Toyota had worked too hard to gain the speed and wasn’t going to let the momentum go without a fight—

There was a figure on the edge of the bridge. On the very farthest edge of the bridge. On the lip of the bridge over the deadly drop.

“Lane,” she screamed. “Lane!”

Her truck went into a spin, pirouetting such that she had to wrench her head around to keep him in her sights. And she jumped out before the Toyota came to a full stop, leaving the gearshift in neutral, the engine running, the door open in her wake.

“Lane! No! Lane!

Lizzie pounded across the pavement and surmounted barriers that seemed flimsy, too flimsy, given the distance down to the river.

Lane jerked his head around—

And lost one hold of the rail behind him.

As his grip slipped, shock registered on his face, a flash of surprise . . . that was immediately replaced by horror.

When he fell off into nothing but air.

Lizzie’s mouth could not open wide enough to release her scream.

____

Posted by arrangement with New American Library, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © J.R. Ward, 2016.


JR Ward (dog) - Photo by Andrew HyslopJ.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 15 million novels in print published in 25 different countries around the world.  The books in her popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series have held the #1 spot on the New York Times hardcover, mass market, eBook, and combined print/eBook fiction bestseller lists and have debuted in the top 5 on the USA Today bestseller list.  Prior to her writing career, Ward worked as a lawyer in Boston and spent many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard’s world-renowned academic medical centers.  Ward currently lives with her family in Kentucky where she has learned to enjoy and appreciate all things Southern.  Connect with her online at www.jrward.com, Facebook.com/JRWardBooks, and Twitter.com/JRWard1.

Photo credit: Andrew Hyslop


  • The Angel's Share (7:26)Title:  The Angels’ Share
  • Series:  The Bourbon Kings, #2
  • Author:  J.R. Ward
  • Genre:  Romance; Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  July 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  In Charlemont, Kentucky, the Bradford family is the crème de la crème of high society—just like their exclusive brand of bourbon. And their complicated lives and vast estate are run by a discrete staff who inevitably become embroiled in their affairs. This is especially true now, when the apparent suicide of the family patriarch is starting to look more and more like murder…
 
No one is above suspicion—especially the eldest Bradford son, Edward. The bad blood between him and his father is known far and wide, and he is aware that he could be named a suspect. As the investigation into the death intensifies, he keeps himself busy at the bottom of a bottle—as well as with his former horse trainer’s daughter. Meanwhile, the family’s financial future lies in the perfectly manicured hands of a business rival, a woman who wants Edward all to herself.
 
Everything has consequences; everybody has secrets. And few can be trusted. Then, at the very brink of the family’s demise, someone thought lost to them forever returns to the fold. Maxwell Bradford has come home. But is he a savior…or the worst of all the sinners?  (publisher)

My take:  If you loved last summer’s hit The Bourbon Kings  I think you’ll love The Angels’ Share just as much. It continues the saga of the Bradford family – brothers Edward, Lane and Max and sister Gin. Each sibling has his/her own personal drama in addition to the larger drama of their father’s death. Was it suicide or something else?

This family is the definition of dysfunction yet blood will always be thicker than water. Even if begrudgingly, family loyalty is a certainty with the Bradford siblings. Lane exemplifies that loyalty and rises to lead the family in the darkest of days.

Filled with colorful supporting characters, The Angels’ Share is a fast-paced and entertaining novel that I think makes the best kind of beach read. At times it seemed overly dramatic (think night-time soaps from the 80s) and I enjoyed it all. I can’t wait for the next book!


 

Once Upon A Wine by Beth Kendrick

  • Once Upon a Wine (7:26 NAL)Title:  Once Upon A Wine
  • Series:  Black Dog Bay, #4
  • Author:  Beth Kendrick
  • Pages:  336
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description: From the “sharp, sassy, [and] surprisingly emotional”* author of Put a Ring on ItNew Uses for Old Boyfriends, and The Week Before the Wedding, a new novel set in the charming seaside town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware…
 
Cammie Breyer needs a big glass of cabernet—her restaurant failed and her chef boyfriend left for a hotter kitchen. Just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, her Aunt Ginger calls with a surprise. She’s bought a vineyard. In Delaware. At Ginger’s command, Cammie returns to Black Dog Bay, the seaside town where she spent her childhood summers with her aunt and her cousin, Kat.
 
The three women reunite, determined to succeed. There’s only one little problem: None of them know the first thing about wine making. And it turns out, owning a vineyard isn’t all wine and roses. It’s dirt, sweat, and desperation. Every day brings financial pitfalls, unruly tourists, romantic dilemmas, and second thoughts.  But even as they struggle, they cultivate hidden talents and new passions. While the grapes ripen under the summer sun, Cammie discovers that love, like wine, is layered, complex, delicious, and worth waiting for…  (publisher)

My take:  When Cammie’s aunt buys a vineyard on a whim she calls her niece and daughter for help. Cammie doesn’t have anything to lose at this point so she leaves California and all her disappointments for a new adventure at the Delaware shore. She also reconnects with Ian, the guy she left behind years earlier to pursue her dreams. Cousin Kat, Aunt Ginger’s daughter, is in the middle of an early mid-life crisis. Will she be able to get it together enough to help her mom and cousin make a go of the vineyard?

Once Upon a Wine is the latest addition to the Black Dog Bay series. It features a new dog, the vineyard’s new mascot, Jacques. He has his own twitter account that soon rivals a Kardashian’s! While the women wait for the grapes to ripen they hope to find success with their strawberry wine. They’ll also learn if the adage “Bloom where you’re planted” will hold true.

I thought this book was very cute and funny and sweet. If you’re familiar with the Black Dog Bay series you’ll recognize many of the characters from previous books who make appearances. But the book can stand on its own. It’s a light, fun novel that is perfect for a beach read. Recommended to fans of the series, Beth Kendrick, and novels featuring adorable dogs.


About the author:  Beth Kendrick is the author of twelve women’s fiction novels, including Put a Ring on It, New Uses for Old Boyfriends, Cure for the Common Breakup, The Week Before the Wedding, The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service, and Nearlyweds, which was turned into a Hallmark Channel original movie. She lives in Arizona with two big rescue mutts and vacations at the Delaware beach, where she devotes a great deal of time to eating local strawberries and drinking wine. You know, for research. Visit her online at BethKendrick.com, Facebook.com/BethKendrickBooks, and @BKendrickBooks.

Blog Tour Review: Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt

  • Now and Then Friends (7:28)Title:  Now and Then Friends
  • Series:  Hartly-by-the-Sea #2
  • Author:  Kate Hewitt
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  July 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they’ve also grown apart…
 
After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—inclulding the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .
 
A lifetime of drifting in other people’s currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.
 
Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .  (publisher)

My take: Author Kate Hewitt takes readers back to the Lake District village of Hartley-by-the-Sea where we meet Claire and Rachel. These two twenty-somethings were friends when they were very young but circumstances beyond their control put an end to that friendship. Claire was very sheltered by her family and Rachel had to grow up too fast. They meet again as adults but still carry the hurt from the lost friendship.

I liked all of the characters in this book. I think most readers could relate on some level with each one. These people have experienced loss, some more deeply than others. Because of their experiences, they have trust issues and live rather closed-off lives. I enjoyed how Hewitt brought them along as they gained new perspective on their lives and the people closest to them.

Ultimately, Now and Then Friends is an uplifting novel of families and friendship. I enjoyed it. Recommended to fans of Kate Hewitt and women’s fiction.

By the Numbers by Jen Lancaster

  • by the numbersTitle:  By the Numbers
  • Author:  Jen Lancaster
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  June 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Actuary Penny Sinclair has a head for business, and she always makes rational decisions. Knowing that 60 percent of spouses cheat and that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, she wasn’t too surprised when her husband had an affair. (That he did so with a woman their daughter’s age? Well, that part did sting a bit.) She just made sure she got everything in the divorce, including their lovely old Victorian house. And as soon as her younger daughter has her hipster-fabulous wedding in the backyard, she’s trading it in for a condo in downtown Chicago…

Well within the average market time in her area, Penny gets an offer on the house. But then life happens. Her children, her parents, and her ex come flying back to the nest, all in need of Penny’s emotional – and financial – support. Spread thin, Penny becomes the poster child for the “sandwich generation,” when all she really wanted to do was make managing director, buy a white couch, and maybe go on a Match.com date… (publisher)

My take:  Penny Sinclair is a recently divorced actuary with an almost empty nest in suburban Chicago. She’s planning her daughter’s wedding and once that takes place she can get on with her life. Penny is set to accept a big promotion at work. She also wants to sell her house and move to a smaller place downtown. Can it be that simple? In a word, no.

Penny has to deal with the results from her parenting decisions when the kids were young and she was climbing the ladder at work. She felt guilty and took the path of least resistance which worked at the time but did a disservice to them all in the long run. Despite all that I found Penny to be a sympathetic character. She was doing her best to keep things on track while maintaining her sanity – not an easy task. When Penny thought things couldn’t get more hectic her parents move into her guest room and her ex-husband into her den. Didn’t anyone get the memo about her plans??

Jen Lancaster’s novel about a woman whose chickens have come home to roost had me alternately cringing and laughing out loud. By the Numbers is an entertaining story, perfect for the beach.


About the author:

Jen Lancaster is the New York Times bestselling author of eight memoirs and five novels. She has appeared on the Today Show, The Joy Behar Show, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and their ever-expanding menagerie of ill-behaved pets. Author websites: jenlancaster.comfacebook.com/AuthorJenLancastertwitter.com/altgeldshrugged

Blog Tour – Flight Patterns by Karen White

  • Flight Patterns (6:30 blog tour)Title:  Flight Patterns
  • Author:  Karen White
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  May 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Georgia Chambers has spent her life sifting through other people’s pasts while trying to forget her own. But then her work as an expert of fine china—especially of Limoges—requires her to return to the one place she swore she’d never revisit…

It’s been thirteen years since Georgia left her family home on the coast of Florida, and nothing much has changed, except that there are fewer oysters and more tourists. She finds solace seeing her grandfather still toiling away in the apiary where she spent much of her childhood, but encountering her estranged mother and sister leaves her rattled. 

Seeing them after all this time makes Georgia realize that something has been missing—and unless she finds a way to heal these rifts, she will forever be living vicariously through other people’s remnants. To embrace her own life—mistakes and all—she will have to find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past and the secrets she was forced to keep… (publisher)

My take:  Flight Patterns is a novel about a family with secrets, long-held hurts, and an unsolved mystery or two. Two sisters, Georgia and Maisy, have been estranged for over ten years but are brought back together when Georgia is sent by her New Orleans auction gallery to research a china pattern for a man from New York.

I enjoyed all aspects of the Limoges research Georgia did and how it worked into finding her way back home. I also loved the storyline about the beekeeping her grandfather did. Each chapter begins with a short passage from his beekeeping journals and corresponded with what transpired in that chapter.

The setting of Apalachicola, Florida with its humidity and flora and fauna added a lot to the novel. Flight Patterns is full of interesting characters – some quirkier than others, some stranger than others, and some who know just when to impart their quiet wisdom.

Quotes I marked while reading:

“Sometimes all we need to do to forgive our parents is to understand their childhoods.” 

“If you want things to change, you have to stop waiting for someone else to make the first move.”

Flight Patterns is a novel about learning to forgive and how that will impact a person’s life. I really liked it.