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!

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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!

Book Talk Tuesday: THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE

In 2018 I worked to catch up on several series I’d fallen behind on. It’s odd how authors kept churning out books, even though I wasn’t reading!

9780804169905_handsomemansdeluxecafe-350x540One of the most prolific writers working today is Alexander McCall Smith. He’s perhaps best known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, but he has several other series as well. Isabel Dalhousie and The Sunday Philosophy Club is the other series I enjoy as well. It’s set in Scotland, and having been there once, I love revisiting Edinburgh and its environs.

Anyway, back to Botswana, Precious Ramotswe, and Grace Makutsi in THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE. I felt an earlier book in this series, THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY, which was the story of Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti’s wedding felt rushed and not edited and disjointed.

I’m happy to say that one was an anomaly, and the following books were back to his usual high standard, including THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE.

Grace and Phuti have married, built their new home and have their son. Grace has decided she wants to own her own business, like her husband and her business associate, Mma Ramotswe. Grace opens a restaurant.

Mma Ramotswe takes on a case of a woman who doesn’t know who she is. And Mr. JLB Matekoni is forced to let one of the apprentices go from the garage.

As usual, Grace’s shoes have a bit of wisdom for her, that she ignores. Grace and Charlie disagree about … well, nearly everything. Precious and Mma Potokwane share some fruitcake and discuss a case and human nature.

I love this series and THE HANDSOME MAN’S DELUXE CAFE is a worthy addition. I’m continuing in my quest to catch up. There are 4 more and I’ll be current. They are fairly quick reads, so I’m confident 2019 will see me all caught up. I’m still behind on my several of my other favorite series, but I’m working on it.

Stay tuned!

Monday Musings

Wow … Two months since my last post.

The last few months, my blog has devolved into mostly book reviews, and those are mostly of books I received advance copies of and committed to review. Which is great! I love receiving early releases, reading them, and sharing them with others. Especially when they’re from authors I’m going to snatch up and read anyway.

A couple of years ago, I did an overhaul of my blog. I received some good industry advice about what publishers and acquisitions people would look for when they considered my submitted fiction. They would visit my blog and evaluate if my posts were pertinent to my fiction and how many views I had, yada yada.

quote 130-3But let’s face it, no one–beyond my immediate family (any maybe not even they)–cares what I think about … anything. Not movies, not current events, not anything beyond book reviews.

I do have a few followers who like my thoughts about books. And I’m supremely grateful for every one of you!

But a curious thing happened when I changed the focus of my posts …

I lost interest.

So if I’m not interested, why would I expect anyone else to care??

Short answer: I wouldn’t.

So, I’m going back to my former format. But I’ll also retain elements of the new schedule.

Mondays: Monday Musings or Media Monday. Basically whatever I feel like talking about. I love movies and TV shows and podcasts and I like talking about them. Mondays were supposed to be about quilting, because I had a novel set in a quilt shop, but I complete only one or two quilts a year. It’s hard to blog weekly about that kind of production. 😉

Tuesday will still be Book Talk Tuesdays. Around May of last year, I decided 2018 would be devoted to catching up with favorite series I had lagged behind in. I did pretty well in that endeavor, so I’ll bring you all up to date as well.

Wednesdays will continue to be Wednesday Wanderings with tales of our travels or Woe! It’s Wednesday, when I talk about something personal, something I’m struggling with, something I don’t understand.

I will likely take off Thursdays, or will post an Author Spotlight on Thursdays.

Fridays will be devoted to food. Yes, Food Talk Fridays will be back. Restaurant reviews, recipes, whatever I feel like talking about.

Realistically, I know it’s January and I’m full of good intentions, and I may run out of champagne toast

steam and ideas by … ummm … May … but I’m hoping planning to be more consistent in 2019.

Here’s to good intentions! And even if I do less than perfectly with my posts, it’s okay. I’ll have improved, and that’s really all that matters.

 

Book Talk on a Wednesday: WAIT FOR ME

I was out of town last weekend and got the chance to catch up on some reading. This one was on top of the stack I took with me.

Loyal readers have been waiting patiently to see if Pete Brooks and Jess Tagg would be able to figure out their lives and that they belong together.

WFMFinally, they’re front and center in the last of the Montana Rescue books.
Pete has spent a year trying to forget Jess and trying to move on. Jess has spent the year trying to please her mother, her family, her former (and current??) fiance Felipe, and generally everyone except herself.

At last, Pete and Jess are in the same place, at the same time. Back in Mercy Falls for Ben and Kacey’s wedding reception. However, their reunion doesn’t go well.

Shae/Esme and Ned Marshall, last seen in Storm Front (Ty and Brette’s story, Montana Rescue Book 5), are driving Jess home when their pickup is run off the road. They don’t know who is after them. The man Shae is prepared to accuse as a murderer after running for five years? Someone angry at Jess or her family? Or a random crazy person?
Jess, Shae, and Ned are on the run in the Montana wilderness, injured and cold, with someone after them.

Pete and the rest of the PEAK Rescue team are also on the hunt.
It’s a race to find the missing trio.

I love the way Warren combines faith, suspense, adventure, and romance in this series. Wait for Me is a fitting conclusion. Pete and Jess both have to work through their pasts and their mistakes before they can embrace God’s forgiveness, grace, and each other.
I highly recommend this one!
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I received an advance copy of Wait For Me, in exchange for an honest review, which I’ve done.