Thursday, February 28, 2013

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten

Book: Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust
Author: Ina Garten
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Ina Garten strikes again. A new collection of recipes from the Barefoot Contessa. Recipes, of course, range from appetizers to desserts with a couple of drink recipes thrown in.
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: Ina's recipes are always a winner for me, especially when I am looking for a bit more upscale yet still easy to prepare recipes. One of my favorite things about this cookbook are Ina's tips and tidbits for the kitchen and entertaining. 

On that note, I found a large number of the recipes I wanted already posted on There was a large handful of recipes that I actually needed to copy from the book. 
Source: Library
Would I recommend? : Always, but maybe take a look at the library and for the recipes before paying the dollars to purchase the book.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Book: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Author: Deb Perelman
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: A collection of the author's recipes from her blog. Included were breakfast, main entrees, salads, sandwiches, vegetarian and desserts.
My rating: 2.5 Stars
My opinion: First, I must state that the photography in this book was gorgeous! On that note, although the recipes in this book looked good, I thought the better chunk of the recipes were a bit more "upscale" and used for entertaining purposes versus daily dinner recipes. I believe I targeted 10-15 of the recipes for copying. This was out of approximately 100 recipes.

The notes and tips section in this book are a must. She includes some really unusual tips that I loved.

One of the biggest things that irked me was how the recipes were laid out. Ingredients were laid out on one page and directions on another page. For a cook using this book in a kitchen, that would be mighty inconvenient. 
Source: Library
Would I recommend? : Maybe take a look at it from a bookstore or your library before purchasing.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The End of the Point: A Novel by Elizabeth Graver

Book: The End of the Point: A Novel
Author: Elizabeth Graver
Release date (if applicable): March 5, 2013

Synopsis: A family saga focusing on the multiple generations of the wealthy Porter family spanning approximately 50 years, from 1942-1999, and how their lives are continually impacted by their summer place in Ashaunt Point in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, even when the act of living takes them elsewhere. 
My rating: 2 Stars
My opinion: I felt this book started off incredibly strong, but rapidly dropped off following the period of WWII. I could never quite get into this book or grasp what this book was about after this period of time and felt that the author tried to cram too much of a storyline/periods of time into too short of a book.  Because of this, I couldn't connect with any of the characters past 1942 either. My recommendation would have been to either make the book longer and expand on it a bit or to focus on one period of time and keep it the same length. I was sort of reminded of the movie "Meet Me in St. Louis" without the endearing storyline/characters.

If push came to shove, I would have to admit that the description for the book on Goodreads is not what I walked away with. 
Source: Edelweiss for Publisher   
Would I recommend? : No
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Burning Air by Erin Kelly

Book: The Burning Air
Author: Erin Kelly
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: On a desolate farm, Far Barn, the wealthy and privileged McBride's make their annual trip for a bonfire after the death of the matriarch. Secrets and twists galore as good versus evil cross boundaries.
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: Ms. Kelly's books are always such a treat and The Burning Air is yet another one of those treats. I always liken her books to the "theory" of placing a frog in a pot of cold water on the stove and turning up the heat slowly. One doesn't know what is hitting until it's in their face! Her novels always start off pretty innocently with only hints of what is to come and then methodically reveal a plot so twisted that leaves readers asking what is real and what is imagined? In this case, it just happens to be who is evil and who is good?

Told from 5 points of view, each character releases a bit more about the story. Normally, I hate multiple POV stories, but gotta say that this one really, really worked for me.  To boot, we can't overlook Ms. Kelly's superb writing style that fine tunes with each release from this author. All add up to another rockin' masterpiece!
Source: Netgalley for Penguin
Would I recommend? : Always!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blog To Give: Villalobos Rescue Center Urgent Food Reqeust!

Today I was going to do a book review and save my Blog to Give post for the beginning of March, but Mother Necessity has shown her face again. As a reminder, A Book and A Review decided that for 2013, I was going to donate $1 to Villalobos Rescue Center for each post/book review I did.

Villalobos Rescue Center sent out a Facebook message towards the end of last week that their shelves were getting bare and the facility was in desperate need of Pedigree dog food. Fans of VRC, Tia and the television show Pit Bulls and Parolees answered the call. Food was sent to help this wonderful rescue. A Book and A Review sent a $40 gift card to cover what will be about 25 posts in the month of February.

UPS Puppies!

As with any rescue, though, this has only slowed the demand for food, especially when puppies fall from the sky or are literally delivered by their local UPS driver, a shout out was placed again, this time for Blue Buffalo Puppy Food and Innova Puppy Food to give the pups a wonderful start on life.

So, as offered monthly, here are the links to the Villalobos wish lists. Can you help puppies who had no say in how they came into this world or were treated once they did? I have yet to have a donation to this rescue not be appreciated!

Links to help:

 Amazon Wish List

 Cash Donations Link

 All photos from Villalobos Facebook Page

Friday, February 22, 2013

Unhinged by E.J. Findorff

Book: Unhinged
Author: E.J. Findorff
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis:Detectives Decland "Deck" Dupree, a new detective, and his partner, Ron Lacey, a "crotchety" experienced detective who has become quite cynical in his years on the force, have been called to a murder scene of a murder of a woman from the red light district of NOLA. They then find a second victim, a gay man who lives down the hall from the first victim, of the killer dubbed The Absinthe Killer due to empty bottles of the wicked spirit found at the scene. What is scariest of all? Not only that the victims were mutilated in ways not appropriate to describe in this book review, but the woman was Deck's first childhood kiss! As more murders rack up, each with some tie to Deck, and some poor, unsuspecting gay man, he is desperate to find who is at the end of these slaughters. However, there are those out there that don't want him to succeed.
My rating: 4.5 Stars
My opinion: I absolutely love the movies Tightrope staring Clint Eastwood and 8 mm starring Nicolas Cage. Unhinged struck me as a cross between the two. I have always had an affection for twisted books and seek them out when I need to satisfy my darker inner child. Normally, this affection is satisfied through my love of Nordic Noir books, as I find few American authors can go into the very dark and deep crevices of the mind where these thoughts hide. Mr. Findorff has found that spot and come out with a book so twisted, so scary that it leaves one holding their breath as to where the story line will take them.  To boot, some of the scenes are so twisted with a killer so convoluted in his thinking that one looks around to make sure they are alone. 

One other thing I loved about this book was the sarcasm of Detective Ron Lacey and those around him. Mr. Findorff really nailed the sarcasm that even with cringing at the savagery of the killer had me snickering at some of the comments made by the detective. Also, the imperfection of the characters. Again, totally politically incorrect, but still a hoot!

One thing that did drive me crazy regarding this book and the reason it will be dropped to 4 stars vs. raised to 5 stars is due to the formatting of the ebook. It looks like it can be how the author wrote the book and I found it very distracting at times. I don't know if that is present in the print version of this book, but it appeared just way too choppy for my likings!I was also able to see what other reviewers meant by leaving loose strings. I must admit that it didn't change my perception of the book that much.

 WARNING: If you are easily offended by gratuitous violence, sex and language...THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR YOU!! If like me, you aren't bothered, jump in...the water is warm and tinged red!
Source:  Downloaded for free
Would I recommend? : See Warning
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Magic in the Receiver by Paul Dillon

Book: The Magic in the Receiver
Author: Paul Dillon
Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Engaged Elena follows her father to the Greek island of Kefalonia and falls in love with the quaint island. When she remains on the island after her father leaves, she meets one of its' residents, the wealthy Ben. When she falls in love with Ben, Elena thinks she may became a permanent resident of the island. Will she break her fiance's heart or follow her own? 
My rating:2 Stars
My opinion: I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it either. The book also didn't have the pop that I expected the book to have given its' setting. To be honest, it was quite vanilla given the passionate setting of the Greek isles.  I found myself distracted frequently during the reading of this book. In reflecting on other Goodreads reviews of this book that have higher scores than mine, it describes deep descriptions of the island. I didn't see that though. Where there were "descriptions" it almost came off as forced or not appropriate to the scene occurring in the story. Being a lover of the Greek Isles, I was excited when approached to review this book, but, in all honest, was left kind of empty. 
Source: Author for Review
Would I recommend? : To the right audience.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany

Book: Heart Like Mine
Author: Amy Hatvany
Release date (if applicable): March 19, 2013

Synopsis: Grace McCallister never wanted to be a mother and was perfectly happy with that lifestyle choice. When she meets Victor Hansen, divorced father of two children, she thinks that she can handle being a part-time mother and is thrilled when they become engaged to be married. Then, Victor's ex-wife Kelli dies under suspicious circumstances. Suddenly, Grace is thrown into full-time mother status with 2 grieving children who only wanted their parents to reunite and, now, simply want to know why their mother has died.
My rating: 5 Stars
My opinion: I must admit that I became a huge fan of Amy Hatvany after reading her powerful novel Best Kept Secrets. Ms. Hatvany has a real talent for getting into the minds of her characters and offering her readers a voyeuristic view into their challenges and pains. This is clearly evident in Heart Like Mine.  On that note, I must state that her story paths are pretty clear. Don't be expecting mysteries or gotchya moments.  Do be expecting gut wrenching incidents or choices that lead to the characters growth or their demise. I have yet to walk away from the last three novels from Ms. Hatvany where I haven't been holding my breath or been deeply invested in the main character.

This book is told in first person point of view from 3 different characters which I tended to find annoying, but I was able to get through it with paying very close attention to who was "speaking".

On a side note, I have seen Ms. Hatvany compared to several contemporary women's fiction writers, particularly one in particular that irks me every time I see it. I find this to be incredibly unfair to Ms. Hatvany.  Not a single one of her books is formulaic in its' presentation nor has she come in with any sort of agenda in writing them. 
Source:   I was priviledged to be allowed to review this book for Washington Square Press through Netgalley. 

Would I recommend? : For the most part, I always recommend her books. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone