Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl was a top food critic when she decided to take a job as the editor-in-chief at Gourmet Magazine, the culinary food magazine of its time. But in her new memoir we see she is so much more than the 10 year editor of Gourmet who sadly was their last as they shockingly closed in 2009.

When she was just 8 years old, coming from humble beginnings with a mother who was bipolar and spent hours and days and months in deep depression, and a father who not only adored Ruth, but adored his wife none the less, she read her first issue of Gourmet Magazine and she was hooked. It was then she made the decision to pursue something in the food industry, so when offered the job at the magazine she was frightened, honored and excited.

Feeling as if everyday would be her last, Reichl went on to change the magazine’s direction into the popular bibliophile it became under her tenure.

She tells stories in the book of making a bet of $100 that they would not lose subscribers if they put a dead fish on the cover (they did not), to writer David Foster Wallace’s travel piece about a Maine Lobster Festival and the killing of lobsters.

We also meet many of the eccentric personalities who graced the halls during her tenure. We see how her immediate family, her son Nick, a young child when she took the job and her husband Michael supported her and gave her sage feedback and advice. She also describes the aftermath of 9/11 and how the New York food industry bonded together to assist the first responders.

There are mouthwatering descriptions of meals she has had the pleasure of experiencing which make the reader wish they had been there to witness and taste. And if that is not enough, she even includes a few of her favorite recipes.

As a fan of Reichl, I loved her novel Delicious and her travel show on television, I ravenously “ate up” her stories and her life during her time at Gourmet.

Thank you #NetGalley #Random House #Save Me the Plums #Ruth Reichl
The book will be out on April 2.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

The Perfect Girlfriend is the incredible twisted story of a woman named Juliette who has fallen deeply in love with a pilot named Nate. Their relationship as far as Juliette is concerned is perfect. Until Nate decides it’s not and breaks up with her.

But Juliette’s love is unwavering. She will do anything to get him to come back to her. She just knows he still loves her. She will be the perfect girlfriend. So scheme after scheme she begins to get closer to her perfect dream. No one will get in her way.

This is the best thriller I have read in a very long time! Karen Hamilton, in her very first novel has created a love/hate story so perfect that I actually began rooting for Juliette! or is that just MY twisted mind! I don’t know.

I marvel at the intricacies of Juliette’s plans and how Hamilton was able to fit it all together and make the story work up until the last word. The story is narrated by Juliette so we are able to read her thoughts and feel her emotions, yet even to us the readers, Juliette never totally gives away all her cards. It is amazing to see just how far she is willing to go to get her happy ending. I cannot tell you how involved I became in her and Nate’s relationship!

I highly recommend this book.

Thank you #NetGalley #Harlequin #Karen Hamilton #The Perfect Girlfriend for the advanced copy. The paperback comes out March 26.

The Visitor by Ti Ca

The Visitor is a novella by first time author Ti Ca.

The story opens as Mrs. Langstrom is waiting for her husband Artie to come home for dinner on Christmas Eve to their lovely house and happy life. But all is not as it seems. Is it really ever?

There is a knock at the door and suddenly an unknown visitor is welcomed into the house which he describes as cold with no heat, no electric and no food.

The visitor it seems knows Mrs. Langstrom’s husband Artie. Thus begins the visitor’s story as to how they met, what Artie meant to him and their correspondence through the years to each other. Mrs. Langstrom begins to see clearly what her life was and what it is now.

It is everybody’s family story, one with happiness, sadness and great tragedy.

Thank you Ti Ca and Patritus LLC for the copy of the novella.

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

Maddie and Ian and their young son Charlie seem to be your average family. But no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors and in sick minds.

A chance meeting overseas when they were young, Maddie and Ian soon develop a mutual crush, even though Ian has a girlfriend. Maddie’s best friend Jo warns her that there is something off about Ian, but Maddie is not heeding the warning.

Years later Maddie and Ian reconnect after a few failed attempts, much to Jo’s angst and anger. Their relationship becomes strained and then ends with Maddie losing her best friend.

The couple move to Kansas and have Charlie. Both their worlds revolve around him. Although their worlds are very different from each other’s. During a family camping trip Maddie has a terrible accident. Due to a head injury Maddie begins to see a therapist and realizes she fears her husband and is frightened for their son Charlie.

Then there is a murder and a very suspicious police officer.

Not everything looks the way it seems does it? A story with twists and turns and an ending I never saw coming! Beautiful Bad is a psychological thriller you won’t be able to put down.
#NetGalley #ParkRowBooks

Thank you @NetGalley @ParkRowBooks @Annie Ward for the advanced copy. Beautiful Bad is available now.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Two things before I start. I was not, nor am I now, a fan of Star Wars. And, I was fortunate to receive a signed copy of Fisher’s last book The Princess Diarist weeks before she passed away.

I have always enjoyed Carrie Fisher as a writer, her one woman shows, her appearances in movies and television, and especially when she would be on the Graham Norton show which she happened to be just a few weeks prior to her death.

With all that said, The Princess Diarist is as funny and insightful as all her other books, filled with her honest opinions and hilarious storytelling. She explains how she happened to find her old diaries one day in her bedroom and began reading them. And then proceeds to show/compare her 19 year old Carrie Fisher to her 59 year old Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher.

The book (and diary) in part relay her secret affair with Harrison Ford during their 3 month filming of the first Star Wars movie in England. A bittersweet relationship with an older man whom she instinctively knew would end when their time in England ended and how a young 19 year old who unbeknownst to herself would be plunged into stardom would need to deal with it all.

She also gives hilarious accounts of meeting rabid fans at conventions and how the dialogue would flow between Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher and her fans.

Sadly, there are many references to her and her mother on passing away which are poignant and heartbreaking, not meant to be, I believe, while she was writing the book, which ironically was put together quickly, all quite significant in retrospect.

A quick funny read which I am sure all Star Wars and Carrie Fisher fans will enjoy. I am just grateful I get to keep the book in my collection forever.

Chocolate a la Murder (A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery Book 4) by Kirsten Weiss

Maddie Kosloski is the owner of a paranormal museum in San Bendetto. She is busy preparing for her Magic of Chocolate exhibit at the museum when she accidently finds the body of one of the owners of the chocolate store Reign dead, smothered in chocolate.

In the meantime her latest haunted museum piece is keeping her very “rattled”.

As Maddie searches for clues as to who would want to kill the chocolatier, the suspects keep adding up. As for her newest paranormal find, she needs to investigate its history to figure out why (and if) it is haunted.

She has assistance from her friends Adele and Harper as well as her boyfriend Detective Jason Slate. She perhaps gets her “extra sensory” help from her cat GD who keeps her on her toes.

This book 4 of the series and although there were references to the previous books (naturally) which went over my head, it was not a problem in understanding the story.

Chocolate a la Murder is a funny, cozy read on a snowy day (which I did) with a nice cup of hot chocolate!

The book has just come out. Thank you #NetGalley #Midnight Ink #Chocolate a la Murder #Kristen Weiss for the advanced copy.

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin is the most beautiful story of the beginning, middle and end of Maurice Hannigan’s life. It’s about what he loved, what he lost, how he loved and what he most regretted.

Over the course of one night, 84 year old Maurice Hannigan sits and drinks at a bar in a hotel he knows only too well, and toasts the five most important people in his life before he goes up to his hotel room to go to sleep for the last time. Through each of the chapters we learn of his all consuming love for his brother and his wife Sadie who he lost two years ago to the day. The story follows his life including the heart wrenching loss of his child, Molly, who although she died before being born has been his moral compass for most of his life. We feel the longing he has to be with the love of his life Sadie, and how proud he is of his only child, a son Kevin. We empathize with him when he questions if perhaps be could have been a better husband and father. We feel his unspoken hate and revenge for a family he feels destroyed his own. We understand him when he talks about regrets.

This is such a powerful book with so many lessons for one to take from it. You fall in love with Maurice and dread the book coming to its end, hoping there will be a different outcome. And then you cry. You feel as if you have lost a good friend.

A remarkable story which you will keep in your heart,

Thank you #NetGalley #When All Is Said #Thomas Dunne Books #Anne Griffin for the incredible read. The book will be out on March 5.

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries is a tale of murder, mayhem and with a ghost story thrown in for good measure!

English teachers are being murdered at Talgarth High School in England.

Clare Cassidy, an English teacher herself at the High School who is writing a book on Gothic writer R.M. Holland, the author of a short story entitled “The Stranger” and coincidentally the former owner of what is now the High School loves her job, her daughter Georgie and their dog Herbert, who is named after R.M. Holland’s own dog. She has had a case of writer’s block on her hunt for information on the reclusive Holland. Until now…

Then her best friend and colleague is murdered. Beside her body is a hand written piece of paper with a line from Holland’s short story. As the police begin to investigate, Clare, Georgie and even Herbert become embroiled in a murder mystery and ghost story which seems to revolve around Clare. She finds writing in her diary which is not hers, but matches the handwriting on the note found next to her friend’s body. Could she be the next victim? How did the writing get there? Everyone is a suspect, (except Herbert!). As the detectives try to put the puzzle together the story races to surprising conclusion.

I enjoyed the separation of sections in the book in which particular scenes are told by each of the main character’s perspective which gives the reader insights into what each was thinking and seeing as different situations occur.

Also, as a nice touch, Holland’s short story is told in increments as the book progresses. This gives the novel an eerie, haunted feeling. A Gothic thriller, The Stranger Diaries has twists and turns and mystery. It has ghosts and even witches. I hope everyone picks this book up!

Thank you #NetGalley #Houghton Mifflin Harcourt #The Stranger Diaries #Elly Griffiths for the advanced copy. The book will be out March 5.