The Sisters of Blue Mountain by Karen Katchur

  • Title:  The Sisters of Blue Mountain
  • Author:  Karen Katchur
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  April 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  The Sisters of Blue Mountain is the story of Linnet and Myna. The sisters have been estranged for several years but are brought together when an unusual event occurs in their hometown.

Myna is a college professor in Florida and Linnet runs a B&B in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The inn is situated near a waterway that snow geese frequent on their migration each year. It’s a tourist draw that brings many people to the inn. This year something odd happened with the geese that has a profound effect on the town and the local businesses, including Linnet’s inn. At the same time, Myna comes home to see her relatives and to take a break from a relationship in Florida. The sisters will need to deal with some unfinished business that comes to light when a certain reporter comes to investigate the snow geese incident.

I thought The Sisters of Blue Mountain was an interesting mystery that grew to include more than the case of the snow geese. Linnet and Myna have secrets and are forced to come to terms with the truth. There’s also a murder that needs to be solved. Karen Katchur packed a lot into a few pages that seemed to turn themselves after a while. As you would expect all is wrapped up neatly by the last page. I enjoyed this unique mystery and look forward to reading more from the author.


 

The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews

On Sale Date: May 2, 2017
Hardcover | 272 pages
St. Martin’s Press
Cooking / Courses & Dishes
$29.99 USD, $41.99 CAD
ISBN 9781250130440, 1250130441

Description:  Perennial New York Times bestselling novelist Mary Kay Andrews brings to your kitchen a gorgeous cookbook full of her favorite recipes that Publishers Weekly has called, “a true primer on Southern cuisine.” Presented with the breezy air that have made Andrews’ novels a summertime favorite, THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK is sure to find a place at your kitchen table. From an early spring dinner of cherry balsamic pork medallions and braised Brussels sprouts with bacon, to Fourth of July buttermilk-brined fried chicken, to her New Year’s Day Open House menu of charcoal-grilled oysters, home-cured gravlax, grits n’ greens casserole, and lemon cream cheese pound cake, this cookbook will supply ideas for menus and recipes designed to put you in a permanently carefree coastal state of mind all year long.

You don’t need to own a beach house to enjoy Mary Kay Andrews’ recipes. All you need is a year-round appetite for delicious, casual dishes cooked with the best fresh, local ingredients. The book’s 16 carefree, crowd-pleasing menu plans are designed around holidays and occasions (“Low Country Boil,” “After a Day at the Beach,” “Game Day Dinner,” “Lazy Weekend Brunch,” “Easter Lunch”), but the 90+ delectable recipes can be mixed and matched to highlight your favorite apps, sides, mains, desserts, and beverages. (publisher)

My take:  One of my go-to authors is Mary Kay Andrews. Her novels are always entertaining and invariably land on my favorite beach reads list. That’s why I was so excited to receive a copy of The Beach House Cookbook. Andrews compiled her favorite recipes in a beautiful cookbook. The photos are gorgeous and will tempt the reader to try each recipe. Scroll down for one of those recipes. Lemon cake is my favorite and I can’t wait to try the Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake!

The book is divided into theme meals such as Low Country Boil, Fourth of July Dinner; Full Moon Party, and Christmas Brunch. There are many more and each one looks amazing. I especially enjoyed the short description and credit that MKA included with each recipe.

With Mothers Day and Fathers Day coming up soon, The Beach House Cookbook would be a wonderful gift for the cook in your life. Highly recommended.


About the author:  MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels, including The WeekendersBeach Town, Save the Date, Ladies’ Night, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former features writer for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she finds an outlet for her passion for cooking, entertaining, and decorating with vintage finds at the homes she shares in Atlanta and Tybee Island, Georgia, with her husband, Tom, and their two grown children, Katie and Andy, as well as grandchildren Molly and Griffin. THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK is her first cookbook.

Connect with Mary Kay Andrews online:
 *  *  *
THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK: Easy, Breezy Recipes with a Southern Accent
by Mary Kay Andrews
St. Martin’s Press (May 2, 2017)
Named one of Publishers Weekly‘s “Best Books of Summer 2017”

Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake
No Southern cook should be without a pound cake recipe in their repertoire. This recipe originated with my late sister Susie, who got it from her emergency room coworkers at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Later, on the advice of famed food chemist Shirley Corriher, I upped the moistness ante with the addition of extra egg yolks, vegetable oil, and sugar. Bake it low and slow, and you’ll have a triumph.
 *  *  *
Ingredients:
  • 7 large eggs, divided
  • 3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Powdered sugar, sweetened whipped cream, and lemon zest curls for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan; set aside.

2. Separate the eggs, reserving 5 egg whites and 7 egg yolks in separate bowls. (Save the extra whites for another use.) Beat the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

3. Beat the sugar, butter, cream cheese, and oil with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until the yellow disappears. Beat in the extracts.

4. Combine the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three additions. Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into slices, garnish with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and lemon zest, if desired, and serve.


Also from Mary Kay Andrews:

Praise for the New York Times bestseller The Weekenders – out in trade paperback May 2, 2017!
“Fast-forward to summer with this breezy mystery.” – RealSimple.com
“This book has all the makings of a beach read…The perfect blend of drama, humor, intrigue, and just a touch of murder.” – Bustle
“Atlanta’s prolific chick-lit queen returns to her roots as a mystery author with this frothy tale of divorce, shady real estate deals and murder…Venturing into plots a tad darker than usual, Andrews still finds room for humor, romance and zany characters worth spending a weekend with.” – Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Andrews’ novels, such as Save the Date and Beach Town, are the epitome of relaxing yet involving summer reads, and her latest is no exception…Andrews blends romance, intrigue, and soap-opera-like twists in this entertaining novel about a gossipy beach town.” – Booklist


One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

  • Title:  One Perfect Lie
  • Author:  Lisa Scottoline
  • Genre:  Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  April 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them. 

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.  (publisher)

My take:  One Perfect Lie is the first of Lisa Scottoline’s books I’ve read. It would be a perfect beach/pool read or one to read on a plane (I read it in a day). It could be described a few ways but I’ll stick with a suburban crime page-turner that picks up more steam with almost every turn of the page. One Perfect Lie is filled with characters who certainly can’t be trusted and then a few chapters later you’re not so sure. I enjoyed the twists that kept me guessing. The dramatic scene near the end played out in my mind’s eye as if on a jumbo screen. I loved that. Not wanting to risk a spoiler, I’ll stop here – except to say I look forward to reading more of Lisa Scottoline’s books.


LISA SCOTTOLINE is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of twenty-eight novels. She has 30 million copies of her books in print in the United States, she has been published in thirty-five countries, and her thrillers have been optioned for television and film. Lisa also writes a weekly column with her daughter, Francesca Serritella, for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and those stories have been adapted into a series of bestselling memoirs, the first of which is entitled Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog. Lisa lives on a Pennsylvania farm with an array of disobedient pets. Visit Lisa at www.Scottoline.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @LisaScottoline


Praise for ONE PERFECT LIE

“Entertaining…This fast-paced read culminates in a daring chase that would play well on the big screen.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Readers can be assured that the author nails the high school milieu, from athletic rivalries to sexting, and…they’re in for one thrilling ride on the roller coaster” Kirkus Reviews

“Scottoline keeps the pace relentless as she drops a looming threat into the heart of an idyllic suburban community, causing readers to hold their breath in anticipation.” Booklist


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Sisters of Blue Mountain

I want to Spotlight THE SISTERS OF BLUE MOUNTAIN because today is publication day. I look forward to reading it soon!

Description:

For Linnet, owner of a Bed and Breakfast in Mountain Springs, Pennsylvania, life has been a bit complicated lately. Hundreds of snow geese have died overnight in the dam near the B&B, sparking a media frenzy, threatening the tourist season, and bringing her estranged sister, Myna, to town. If that isn’t enough, the women’s father has been charged with investigating the incident. But when a younger expert is brought in to replace him on the case and then turns up dead on Linnet’s B&B’s property, their father becomes the primary suspect. As the investigation unfolds, the sisters will have to confront each other, their hidden past, and a side of Mountain Springs not seen before.

Karen Katchur has written a thrilling novel of sisters and the secrets that bind them that is sure to appeal to readers of her acclaimed first novel, The Secrets of Lake Road.


Praise for Karen Katchur:

“THE SISTERS OF BLUE MOUNTAIN is evocative, atmospheric and haunting. Equally suspenseful and heart-wrenching, Katchur expertly exposes the fault lines between sisters who share a past. I couldn’t put it down.” – Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of THOUGHT I KNEW YOU and THE VANISHING YEAR

“Katchur weaves a suspenseful tale of family secrets and what it means to keep quiet. For readers who relish complex family mysteries.” – Library Journal


About the author:

Karen Katchur lives in Eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters. She is the author of THE SECRETS OF LAKE ROAD.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends on April 12, 2017


The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

  • the-mothers-promiseTitle:  The Mother’s Promise
  • Author:  Sally Hepworth
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter Zoe have been a family of two, living quietly in northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life. 

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers, but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family.

Imbued with heart and humor in even the darkest moments, The Mother s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, and the new ways in which families are forged.  (publisher)

My take:  After reading the blurb for The Mother’s Promise I had no doubt it would be an emotional read. And it was. But don’t let that stop you from reading this novel. Yes, it’s about people facing devastatingly difficult circumstances but the characters were relatable on one level or another. I found myself asking What would I do? on more than one occasion.

My heart went out to fifteen year old Zoe who dealt with social anxiety disorder. How would she handle her mother’s illness and the possibility of life after her mother was gone? I couldn’t even imagine Alice’s (Zoe’s mother) dilemma of who would see to Zoe’s care in the future. I thought Zoe’s school experiences rang true in how she was treated by schoolmates and teachers. Zoe’s friend Harry was a godsend in more ways than one – especially in making her see she wasn’t alone in how she felt.

Two professionals involved in Alice and Zoe’s case will become very important to them. Each is dealing with personal heartache but go above and beyond when it comes to supporting Alice and Zoe. The Mother’s Promise is a heartfelt novel that I can recommend to fans of Sally Hepworth and contemporary fiction.


About the author:

Sally Hepworth is a former event planner and human resources professional. A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, Sally started writing novels after the birth of her first child. Sally has lived around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the UK, and Canada, and now writes full-time from her home in Melbourne, where she lives with her husband and three young children. She is currently working on her next novel.

Visit Sally’s Website at: http://www.sallyhepworthauthor.com

Guest Post by Ethel Rohan – plus my review

Welcome to Ethel Rohan, author of THE WEIGHT OF HIM. I asked Ethel to tell us about the inspiration for her first novel. Thank you, Ethel, for sharing with us!

the-weight-of-him

I’ve always claimed my stories are inspired by character. First, the who of the story comes to me—a person, or sometimes even an animal or object. Then location, where the story takes place. Next, I set about filling in other essential details like what happens, and when, and how, and most importantly why. Recently, though, I’ve realized it’s more precise to say that my stories are sparked by startling moments.

Like the time a young man who had his leg amputated said the phantom pain made the limb “seem more there than it ever was.” From that seed, I went on to write the title story of my first book, Cut Through the Bone. Surgery that uncovered a dog’s hair deep inside the meat of my cousin’s ankle ignited another story, as did a neighbor’s vignette about how beekeeping brought him and his teenage son closer together.

ethel-rohan-author-photo_credit-to-justin-yeeFor my first novel, The Weight of Him, the startling moment was a snatch of conversation I overheard in a pub in Ireland—the grief might just kill her before the weight does. I couldn’t get those words out of my mind. What if, I wondered, grief or weight don’t kill this stranger, but instead drive her to do something remarkable. As with my other stories, once I fix on the startling spark the main character appears almost instantly. Immediately, I had a vivid picture in my mind of an anguished Irish man: Big Billy Brennan.

Why do certain moments startle me into storytelling, and countless others don’t? I suppose the moments that inspire me are those that most appeal to my imagination, my hopes and dreams, my fear and anger. I think that’s true of all artists: We create from that which pulls at us. The Weight of Him was very much inspired by, and centers on, the things that lift me and the things that drag me down.


About the author:

Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, GUERNICA Magazine, Tin House Online,The Rumpus, and many more. Born and raised in Ireland, she lives in San Francisco.


St. Martin’s Press 2/14/2017
Pre-Order Now at AmazonIndiebound & Barnes & NobleThank you!
Website: www.ethelrohan.com

Twitter: @ethelrohan


Praise for THE WEIGHT OF HIM:

“Rohan [is] one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the ‘ordinary’ and show just how extraordinary it really is.” —John Banville, Man Booker prize-winning author of The Sea

“Poignant and inspiring…When you’re finished, you’ll want to go for a long, grateful walk.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“Involving, terrifying and ultimately quite beautiful.” —Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me


  • the-weight-of-himTitle:  The Weight of Him
  • Author:  Ethel Rohan
  • Pages:  336
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life.

Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention—his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.

Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he rescues from disposal at the local toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of his pain, suffering, and the brokenness around him, that he and others will be able to realize the full rescue and change they need.

Set in rural, contemporary Ireland, Ethel Rohan’s The Weight of Him is an unforgettable, big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.  (publisher)

My take:  Billy Brennan is everyman. He may not feel that way though. For most of his life he’s hidden behind his weight hoping to avoid notice, to blend in. People just saw Big Billy – they didn’t look past his bulk. He grew up knowing he was a disappointment to the people who should have been most proud of him. He found acceptance and solace in food. Sure he found reasons to lose weight in the past but it always came back. After the suicide of his first-born son Billy needs to find a reason to go on. And he needs to find the reason his son took his own life.

I was impressed with how Ethel Rohan portrayed the grieving family. Each one moved through phases at their own pace and experienced guilt, blame, anger and utter sadness. Billy was easy to cheer on as his journey gathered steam. At the same time, his family’s reactions were completely understandable. They had no idea how Billy’s changes would impact their lives. I just wanted to hug them all and let them know things would eventually get better. The Weight of Him is a novel that ultimately left me feeling hopeful. It’s an emotional read and one I can recommend.