Book Talk Tuesday: A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR

I love romantic comedy. I love Scotland. So A Highlander Walks Into A Bar had me at its name. And it did not disappoint.

HighlanderIsabel Buchanan is surprised at the souvenir her mother, Rose, brings home from Scotland: a tall, estate manager with a brogue. Except he’s not really the estate manager, he’s the ninth earl of Cairndow, hiding his true name and identity. Soon, his nephew, slated to become the tenth earl, though hopefully not for a long time, follows him to Highland, Georgia.

Alasdair Blackmoor is concerned about the American woman who convinced his uncle to leave Scotland and Cairndow, so he detours from his business in New York to find out what’s what. Instead of the scheming fortune-hunter ensnaring his uncle whom he expected, he meets Izzy.

Their attraction is immediate. The sparks fly off the page. Their banter is witty and fun.

Alasdair unwittingly sets in motion a complication that he knows and the reader knows will end badly for all. I loved how Trentham resolved that.

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar is a fun and perfect summer rom com and I highly recommend it!

This book will be available July 30, but I suggest you pre-order it now so you can read it ASAP!

–For my friends and readers who prefer their reads to be sweet like their desserts, there is one sex scene.


I received a free advance copy of this book through NetGalley.

 

 

 

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Book Talk Tuesday: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot

It’s the beginning of summer so it must be time for a Susan Mallery novel!

Which is one my happy times of the year, along with Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the day the roadside strawberry stands open.

slide-feb2019-coverThe Summer of Sunshine and Margot, is about twin sisters Sunshine and Margot Baxter. Margot is an etiquette expert, hired to help Bianca, a famously outrageous movie star, tame her impulses and become the wife of a diplomat. Sunshine is a nanny, determined to put her impulsive and wild days behind her, to go to college, and make something of her life.

Alec, Bianca’s son, likes his quiet life in his quiet house with his quiet ancient manuscripts. Because he loves his mother, he’s prepared to accommodate her desire that her new etiquette teacher move into the house with them.

Declan is the widowed father of Sunshine’s newest charge. The one thing he doesn’t need or want is this growing attraction to his son’s nanny. They’re just beginning to heal after the loss of his wife. His feelings for Sunshine threaten to undo the lives of all three of them.

One of the things I particularly loved about this book is the way Mallery was able to present each character in so few words in the first pages, but I quickly felt that I knew them intimately. As a writer, that’s a part of the craft  I’m working on and I greatly admire Mallery’s skill.

I loved this book and highly recommend it! I couldn’t put it down!


I received a free copy of this book from the author.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Sweet Entanglement

Sweet Entanglement is indeed a sweet romance with enough talk about cinnamon buns to make anyone run to their nearest bakery for a dozen of their own.

seLauren Cooper is on her way to partner in her law firm when the man who broke her heart shows up as her newest client in Indigo Bay. No problem, she tells herself. She’ll handle his case and he can be on his way.

Jesse Brewster though has other plans and they don’t include rushing out of town. He’s going to be Indigo Bay’s newest home and business owner, having inherited a beach mansion from his uncle. However, someone in town is determined that Jesse’s restoration project will fail.

I enjoyed this sweet romance. Sweet Entanglement’s characters are well-written, their chemistry felt genuine, and the setting is a place I’d love to visit.


I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.

Book Talk Tuesday: CALIFORNIA GIRLS

Since I am one, it could be argued that I’m predisposed to like Susan Mallery’s newest women’s fiction book, CALIFORNIA GIRLS. Since I’m already a Mallery fan, that wouldn’t be far from the truth.

This one just may be my favorite of her women’s fiction books. It’s the story of three sisters who are all dumped by the men in their lives the same week.

cover-california-girlsFinola is a local morning television host in Southern California who finds out her husband has been cheating on her with a pop star. On live television.

Ali’s fiance’ calls off the wedding, but he doesn’t have the guts to do it himself. His brother has to break the news to her.

Zennie’s not heart-broken when her casual boyfriend bows out of their nascent relationship, but still it’s not nothing to her. And she’s surprised to find out just how much she misses Clark in the following days and weeks.

The three women travel somewhat parallel journeys of self-awareness and growth. Finola learns to accept her own part in the breakdown of her marriage. Ali learns to stand up for herself in her job as well as in relationships and her life. Zennie’s gift to her best friend also teaches Zennie what matters in life.

The women’s mother, Mary Jo, is a secondary character, as are the men in their lives.

The women, and Mary Jo, are distinctly different characters with different character arcs and paths, that all end with a “happily ever after,” that each earns her own way and that may not be what you expected at the beginning.

I loved this book and highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book, but was not required to post a positive review. That was my choice, because I positively did love it!

Book Talk Tuesday: A POPPY IN REMEMBRANCE

Yesterday’s topic was a World War I documentary, Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old. Today’s book review is a novel, A POPPY IN REMEMBRANCE, by Michelle Ule. The title is taken from the fact that poppies flourish in battlefields. The documentary showed more than a few poppies.

I loved both the documentary and the novel, for very different reasons.

poppy

Claire Meacham was born into a newspaper family. She has printing ink in her blood and a nose for news. It’s not her fault she was born at a time when women could be teachers and stenographers, but not reporters. Nellie Bly, excepted.

World War I has broken out in Europe and Claire accompanies her parents to London, Egypt, and Paris, assisting her father in his quest for war news to wire back to the States. While in London, Claire crosses paths with renowned Bible teacher Oswald Chambers, his wife Biddy, and daughter Kathleen. Her life is changed by loss, by love, and by the Chambers family. In many ways.

Michelle Ule has crafted a rare work combining historical detail, emotional and spiritual depth, and compelling story.
I highly recommend it!
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I received an advance copy of the manuscript in exchange for an honest review.

Media Monday: They Shall Not Grow Old

I had the opportunity last week to see Peter Jackson’s documentary on the first World War. Jackson, of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fame, was approached by the Imperial War Museums in Great Britain about making a WWI film for the war’s centennial end in November 2018.

Jackson is a history buff, particularly the first World War because his grandfather fought in it. He considered how to make a movie that was unique and original before accepting the assignment.

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The film is indeed unique and original.

Starting with archival film footage that was restored and colorized, Jackson then added voice recordings of veterans telling some of their experiences on the Western Front in Belgium.

The result is gripping, emotional, and will linger long after you leave the theatre.

There was an additional thirty minute “making of” documentary after the documentary, where Jackson explained some of the reasoning behind his directorial choices, as well as how he employed lip readers, sound effects, and so on.

The whole ended up being two hours of history, film-making, with a bit of personal memoir.

The documentary is in limited release. If you can find it, I highly recommend seeing it.

 

Food Talk Friday: Pizza!

Delicious fresh pizza served on wooden tableGreat pizza starts with a great crust which starts with a great dough. This recipe was mentioned by my friend, Ralaine, on Monday’s post. She shared the recipe with me. Her (Italian) husband gives it his full approval, so it must be good!



Ralaine’s Pizza Dough

 

2 ¼ cups of all-purpose or bread flour

1 teaspoon of fine sea salt

1 cup of lukewarm water

¾ teaspoon of active dry yeast

1 teaspoon of olive oil

 

Combine flour and salt

 

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the water and the yeast. Let is sit for 5 minutes or until it blooms. Add olive oil, and then pour in to the flour mixture. Knead until well combined – about 3 minutes, let it rest of 15 minutes. Then knead the rested dough for 3 minutes more. 

 

Scrape out the dough on a floured surface. Oil the side of your mixing bowl before returning the dough back to the bowl. Turn the ball of dough over to coat it with the oil, cover and let it rest and rise of 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)  

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Stud Muffin and I are planning a trip with friends to Italy in 2020. We’re already dreaming about the pizza we’re going to eat. Naples, which bills itself as the birthplace of pizza is definitely on the itinerary. We can’t wait!

pizza

We love all pizza. The simple margherita (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil). An obscene meatlovers. All veggies (well, maybe with a few pepperoni thrown on). Our standard go-to is pepperoni, olive, and mushroom. Something about that combo is delish. We love it.

In New York, we tried several different pizza places. John’s of Times Square (Fabulous!) A  by-the-slice, stand or sit-facing-the-wall place called Patzeria, also great and fun.

We haven’t really experienced a true Chicago deep-dish style. Hmmm … I wonder if there’s a local place … Off to do some research …

Chicago Style Deep Dish Cheese PizzaWhat is your favorite? Do you do homemade? Take out only? Chains? Local pizzeria? How about toppings? Everything? Anchovies? Cheese only?

I’m taking notes!