Book Talk Tuesday: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

I’ve seen this book by Alan Bradley around and highly recommended for a while, but I just got to it recently.

Flavia de Luce is ten years old and a budding chemist. She’s particularly interested in poisons and in the beginning of the book, she distills an elixir of poison oak extract and inserts it into her teenage sister’s lipstick. She waits with anticipation to see the results so she can add to her research journal.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Flavia’s two sisters are extremely self-absorbed, as is her father. He is still grieving Flavia’s mother’s death when Flavia was very young.

They live a quiet life in 1950 England. Until a stranger turns up dead under a cucumber vine in their kitchen garden.

Except he wasn’t really a stranger. Flavia had been awakened in the night and saw her father and the stranger arguing in Father’s study.

Flavia turns into a sleuth to figure out just who the man was and why he came to visit her father. When Father is arrested for the man’s murder, Flavia’s learns just what she’s capable of … and where she missed the mark.

I enjoyed this one a lot. Flavia is a completely new kind of narrator with a distinctive voice. I have the next book in the series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, on Mt. TBR and hope to get to it soon.

If you enjoy British cozy’s I think you’ll like this. I wouldn’t call it strictly a cozy, but it’s close.

Media Monday: Food Network Star

We’ve been watching this show since it The Next Food Network Star. Well, since season two. We liked Guy Fieri in Season 2. In fact, he made an appearance in Visalia shortly after he won and Darling Oldest and I took a little road trip to see him in person.

We enjoyed Melissa D’Arabian in Season Five and we’ve watched her show semi-regularly. We weren’t huge fans of Season Six’s Aarti Sequeira, but I agree she has a unique viewpoint. We loved Justin Warner from Season Eight and have been disappointed that Food Network never utilized his talents and he’s pretty much disappeared from the network.

The current season is underway now. Stud Muffin says he doesn’t want to watch, but if I settle in for the episode and he’s around, he’s soon sitting and watching with me.

For a reality competition show, there are certain elements and “characters” who seem to appear every season.

fnsThere’s almost always a “mean” competitor who trash talks the others. In past seasons, this person was kept long after they should have been eliminated, I’m certain just for the drama element and yes, I’m talking about Penny Davidi in Season Seven and Danushka Lysek in Season Nine. Both of them have also been on Chopped and seemed quite humble in contrast to their Food Network Star performances.

This year, the smart-aleck jerk was eliminated early on. Matthew Grunwald has the distinction of being the only contestant eliminated because a judge changed her vote in the middle of sending a different competitor home. Matthew smirked as she mentioned the other person and she stopped, said, “I want to change my vote,” and it was bye-bye Matthew.

Last night was the top three competitors turn to film their pilot shows. Sunday the winner will be announced. I think all three of the finalists can do a good, solid show, but I think Jay and Eddie have the best chances for sustaining a show in the long haul.

Do you watch? Who’s your pick for a winner this season?

Book Talk Tuesday: IT’S IN HIS HEART

IT’S IN HIS HEART is a fun and funny and sweet and sexy debut from Shelly Alexander.

I scored a free early copy as part of Amazon’s Kindle First program and I’m so glad.

It's In His Heart by Shelly Alexander
It’s In His Heart by Shelly Alexander

Ella Dennings has decided to spend the summer in Red River Valley, New Mexico. It was her late husband’s cabin and she wants to spend some time there before she moves on with the phase of her life. She never expected to run into Cooper Wells there, her husband’s best friend and the cabin’s co-owner.

Coop’s got his own reasons for spending the summer in Red River Valley. He left behind some legal troubles and a scandal and he just wants to lie low until he can reclaim his life. He never expected Ella to show up, drenched, with a dog and a laptop in tow and he certainly never expected to find her so sweet and beautiful. They didn’t used to get along. When did she change? Or did he change?

As if a dead husband/best friend wasn’t enough to come between them, Ella is also harboring a secret: she’s the secret author of the erotic books that have all the women in town tugging their men into the bedroom.

I enjoyed this one a lot! Shelly Alexander has a flair for relatable and real characters. If you enjoy a fun romance with a heart, this one is for you.

Disclaimer: as well as the free copy, I also am acquainted with Shelly through Romance Writers of America® but this is an honest review. It’s worth grabbing! Oh, and the sex is pretty graphic, definitely pushing my personal preferences, but I could skip those parts easily enough. But since a lot of my readers prefer sweet romance, I like to give a heads-up.

Media Monday: Firefly

We’re often a bit late to the party so we just blew through Firefly and finished off our binge-watching with Serenity, the movie conclusion to Firefly’s one season.

We watch Castle, so I suggested Firefly as a Nathan Fillion summer show to watch.


Firefly was a 2002-2003 Fox Network show that lasted just one season of 14 episodes.

The setup: 500 years in the future mankind has moved from Earth to other planets. Some planets are wealthy, some are now populated with subsistence farmers and live like pioneers during the westward expansion of the United States.

Captain Malcolm Reynolds fought in a war for the losing side. The powerful planets banded together and forced the rebellious outer planets to join their Alliance. Mal now has an old space ship and a crew who flies around the solar system delivering cargo and passengers and sometimes getting involved in local issues.

Overall, we enjoyed both the show and the movie, Serenity, made in 2005 to give closure to its fans.

The show definitely needed a bit more time to figure out its focus and hit its stride. But I also see why it didn’t get picked up. The stories were sometimes clunky and awkward. I’m glad they were able to do the movie though, as it tied up several loose ends. If you watch Firefly, you’re going to want to watch Serenity.

I knew an episode or two of Castle had Firefly references, so I found a list of all the Castle episodes (I think there are four) with a wink and a nod to Fillion and/or his Captain Reynolds role, so now I’m checking old Castle recordings on the DVR so we can rewatch those and actually get the joke this time.