Ellen Stimson’s memoirs are very, very funny, but she takes her love of cooking, eating, drinking, and entertaining seriously. Now we can do more than just taste her culinary descriptions in our heads with this charming new Christmas book. Interspersed with gorgeous photography and delightful little holiday-inspired essays are ninety-eight homey recipes straight from her heart and her Vermont home. This is a book of traditions in the best sense, and anyone who loves Christmas – or has become just a little too busy to enjoy the season – will return to the comforts of An Old-Fashioned Christmas year after year.
A flea-breeding nut-job professor, an Animal House fraternity, a couple of Cluck-in-a-Bucket runs, and a molten Porsche means that Stephanie Plum is back on a new case. She's fresh from a breakup with Morelli (with a stress pimple that is practically its own character) and throwing herself into her work to track down her skip - a fraternity president named Gobbles, who may or may not have beaten up the dean trying to shut the brothers down. I still enjoy this series. Stephanie Plum can make even the bubonic plague laugh worthy.
I read cookbooks like novels - usually while I'm eating breakfast or lunch by myself - and this season is especially fun because we have more in stock right now than we do at any other time of year. Phaidon Publishing produces especially beautiful ones including Tacopedia (I mean, TACOS! Who doesn't love them, right?) and Vefa's Kitchen, which is touted as 'The bible of authentic Greek cooking', and Greek is a cuisine I absolutely crave. A few months ago I purchased Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Fast. It's HUGE, and I've been trying something new almost weekly. Mark uses a fresh approach to real food with lots of ideas for tweaking and substituting, and everything has been delicious; my only quibble would be lack of pictures. America's Test Kitchen's new 100 Recipes: The Absolute Best Ways to Make the Essentials might be the next addition to my library for the Mexican-Style Grilled Corn recipe alone. They test and retest so many times that every recipe is a winner, and their photos are mouth-watering. And speaking of mouth-watering pictures - Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime contains gorgeous photos of not only step-by-step instructions but of...cowboys. Really. Actual cowboys. Yum.The fun of the cookbook section right now is that we have everything - low calorie, comfort food, fast cooking and slow, quick and easy and classic preparation, and every cultural dish you can imagine. And if we don't? We can get it quickly. Just let me know. I can always us a new idea...
I was practicing our Direct To Home service (an option we used to use, kind of forgot about, and decided that we needed to start again - more on that subject later), so I hastily chose a book from a series I've read before but 'discovered' pretty late - as in Levine has written a lot but I haven't read a lot. Jaine Austen is always a pretty funny heroine, however, as a hapless Los Angeles freelance writer. Her checking account is usually in double-digits, her cat Prozac is usually outwitting her, her love life, her parents, and her wardrobe are ridiculous, and she manages to stumble into more than her fair share of murders. This time, instead of getting the new ad promotion for the trendy boutique Passions, she stumbles across the nasty manager Frenchie's body - done in by her own knockoff Jimmy Choo stiletto through the jugular. This is a funny, funny series cozy series. And the Direct to Home? It worked just fine.
Dan Marshall's life was just about perfect. He was living the carefree California dream with a job he loved and a beautiful girlfriend. His mother had battled cancer for years, but had always managed to beat it into remission, so Dan was caught off guard when she called to say that not only her cancer was back but that his young, healthy, marathon-running, beloved father has been newly diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Dan assumes his dad will be the first patient to recover from ALS - until his return home when the reality hits hard as his "spoiled white jerk" lifestyle starts to fall apart. Dan tells his family's story with as much humor, profanity, sexual reference, and alcohol as possible. Even during the worst year of their lives, this is one hilarious family and their story is an absolutely delightful read.
I just 'discovered' a new cozy mystery series, although I'm pretty late to the party, since Death on the Prairie is the sixth book the Ernst's Chloe Ellefson series. Chloe, a historical artifacts curator in Wisconsin, was thrilled when her good friend Miss Lila handed over an old quilt and tasked her with finding it a good home, because Miss Lila is convinced that the quilt was once owned - or even sewn - by Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. Chloe grew up loving the Little House books, and sets out with her sister Kari on a 'Looking for Laura' tour to both learn more about her favorite author and authenticate the precious quilt. A series of mishaps, accidents, threats,and even deaths make the puzzle even more difficult. This book was not flawless - I will say that it bothered me that Chloe, who wrote a Master's thesis about Laura Ingalls Wilder, seemed very ignorant of her life. But the story was fun and the twists near the end made it even more so.
Lucy Stone's husband Bill and his friend Evan have been working non-stop on their pumpkin catapult for the big contest. Lucy has had enough, but finds herself in the middle of another mystery when Evan goes missing on the day of the contest, is discovered when a vaulted pumpkin pops open the trunk of his car - and Bill is under suspicion as the last one to see him. This latest Lucy Stone mystery is out just in time for Halloween, and is an especially fun book for this month.
It's a little funny to me that new studies in mental health are showing that coloring has a positive effect against stress; thus the influx of 'adult' coloring books. Haven't children (and those of us who've never quite given it up) known this all along? Nevertheless, it's a fun trend. Saturn is carrying dozens of titles - and colored pencils and markers - but this is one of my favorites. It's not so thick that the pages won't lay flat, and it offers a great mix of intricate and simple designs of stylized flowers. And mental health aside, did I mention that coloring is just plain fun?
I'm backtracking in this series featuring Washington D.C. attorney Anna Curtis, having read her latest book - A Good Killing, set in Michigan - first. In Leotta's debut novel, the new federal prosecutor's client Laprea is killed, presumably by the abusive boyfriend from whom Anna promises her to protect - and the case becomes personal when Anna's public defender boyfriend is the one who got D'Marco off. Complicated by that deception, growing attraction to her new boss, and threats to her own life, Anna must figure out what really happened if she is going to keep her job - and her life. I very much enjoyed this tightly-crafted thriller; it is evident Leotta uses her own experiences as a federal prosecutor to add legitimacy to her storyline.
This delightful sequel to The Rosie Project finds Australian genetics professor Don Tillman working at Columbia, and married for ten months and ten days to "the world's most incompatible woman," Rosie Jarman. He's found a happiness he thought impossible, until Rosie's unplanned pregnancy leads to a comedy of disasters - and Don will have to decide if he can solve them all, or risk losing the love of his life. Simsion's characters are really, really funny - especially Don, whose lack of filters makes him frank and literal - easy to misunderstand, but also easy to like. This book is a new favorite...