Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: Grace and Frankie Season One DVD

Grace and Frankie
Season One
  • Grace And Frankie Season 1

This Christmas DVD present is turning out to be a favorite. Of course with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin playing lead roles alongside Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston how could it not be. Grace, played by Jane Fonda and Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin, learn that their husbands, who are business partners, want to divorce so that they can marry each other. Of course the whole family, or rather both families will have to come to terms with the situation. 

It's hard to imagine a more dysfunctional family. If your looking for a funny series, it doesn't get much better than this one.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Cooking for Picasso

Cooking for Picasso

Cooking for Picasso
Camille Aubray

In 1936 Ondine, who is seventeen years old, is sent by her father, the owner of Café Paradis, to cook at the villa of a man who wants to paint Incognito in Southern France. Ondine sees this as her chance to get away from her family and life at the cafe for a while. The encounter with the famous painter is one that will change her life dramatically. In 2016 Celine a Hollywood makeup artist is in Antibes to look into the stories told to her by her mother about her Grandmother Ondine.

This smart, charming book is two stories in one. I have to say it's probably one of the most interesting books I've read (or listened to) all year. I say, listened to because I received an audio version of this book. It was my first experience with an audio book, and I just loved it, both the book and the experience. The packaging was beautiful as was the reading. The narrator, Mozhan Marno had a beautiful voice that made the story come alive for me. I think readers who enjoy books about France will love this one.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read (or rather, listen to) this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Review: Old Favorites

Old Favorites

I woke up to a gloomy, rainy, wintry Saturday and, although I have a pile of books that I need to read and hopefully provide you all with some interesting reviews, I found myself looking at my bookshelves, thinking about some of the books that I wish I had time to read again. At the top of my list is, The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov.  The story is set in 1918 during the Russian Civil War, and it follows the Turbin family who finds that the world they once knew is disappearing around them. I don't know what it was about this book, but I was so enchanted with Bulgakov that I had to read everything he wrote after that. While he, no doubt wrote books that are better known than this one, I still remember this one fondly.
The White Guard

I would also love to re-read P.G. Wodehouse Life at Blandings because it was simply hilarious. Luckily the BBC had a DVD available titled Blandings Castle, which, if I'm not mistaken, follow some of the episodes in this book. So, if I'm lazy, maybe I'll purchase the DVD instead.
Brazzaville BeachLife at Blandings

Snobs I also wish I could find the time to re-read Jillian Fellowes Snobs, and William Boyd's Brazzaville Beach, both of which were just great as far as I'm concerned. And last but not least I'm hoping I can find time to re-read Doctor Brodie's Report by Jorge Luis Borges because these were some of the best short stories I think I've ever read.
Brodie's Report

What do you think? Do you have any favorite books that you would like to find time to re-read? Leave me a comment below. I would love to hear about them.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: The Ghost Writer DVD

The Ghost Writer

The Ghost Writer
A film by Roman Polanski

If you're looking for an interesting political thriller that will keep you amused and guessing until the end, then this is a film I would recommend. The Ghost writer, the main character played by Ewan McGregor, has the task of writing the memoirs of the former British PM, played by Pierce Brosnan. As the ghost writer sets out on his task, the former PM gets tangled up in a scandal that just might ruffle some international feathers. The story is what makes this film so good but the cast of well known actors is another thing that made this interesting for me. It's one I've watched more than once. And for everyone who prefers reading to watching, this film was adapted from the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris. I haven't read it but if it's anything like the film I'm sure it's a good read.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: Stable Mates

Stable Mates

Stable Mates
Zara Stoneley

Lottie and her father Billy are devoted to the Folly Lake Equestrian Centre. But, when the owner Marcus, dies, it falls to his widow Amanda, (who incidentally hates village life and anything to do with horses) to decide it's fate. What would Lottie and Billy do without the centre. It was only by working there that Billy was able to get over the death of his wife, Alexandra. And what about all the other fun characters that round out this book? What does the village of Tippermere in Cheshire, England mean to them? If you're a fan of Fiona Walker, or if you enjoy country life, horses and village scandal then you will want to read along and find out what happens in Tippermere. It's fun, lighthearted and while I didn't think it had anywhere near the electric tension and conflict found in Fiona Walker's books, it was nonetheless entertaining.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: Silwan


Philip Graubart

Judah Loeb, a Los Angeles Times, crime writer is concerned he might be losing his job when an old college friend, Cliff offers him a job. The assignment is to write a book about the Israeli-Palestinian Problem. Judah hasn't been to Israel since he spent time there many years ago as a college student, together with his then-girlfriend Ilana. With help from his fifteen-year-old daughter Hannah navigating social media, he finds Ilana is now living in Jerusalem, married to he one-time best friend Moshe Weinstein.

When he and Hannah make their journey to Jerusalem, for research purposes they are invited to stay with Moshe and Ilana. Since they last saw each other, Moshe has become a renowned activist for causes affecting both Israelis and Palestinians. But the night after Judah and Hannah arrive, one of Moshe's assistants, a Palestinian, is killed. Moshe is arrested for the crime, even though no one can believe he did it. From here on Judah will have to investigate this crime as well as come to grips with how he feels about Ilana and the actions of Moshe.

Silwan is a skillfully written story that allows the reader to follow Judah in his quest do discover what really happened to the characters in this story. In a way it's quite subtle, but it very convincingly displays Judah's feelings of discomfort, and Hannah comes across as a very spunky but resourceful teenager. It was vividly written. I could hear, smell, and taste Jerusalem throughout the descriptions. I think it captured the chaotic nature of the city and its inhabitants very well. It also seemed to suggest that no matter how much Judah tried to focus on the big picture he was researching-- even though he was unsure why he was hired for the job-- he always came back to the questions that revolved around his relationship with Ilana and their past together.

I did feel that the ending just faded away a bit. I think I might have preferred something stronger. It left me with lots of questions about why Judah and Hannah didn't confront Moshe about his actions more forcefully. Throughout the book, all the characters spent a lot of time giving opinions, reasons, and justifications for their actions or views, and at the end I think I was expecting more of this or maybe something less subtle. Nevertheless, I found this to be an engaging and entertaining book.

This Review was originally written for and published by San Francisco Book Review

Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: Rather Be the Devil

Rather Be the Devil (A Rebus Novel)

Rather Be the Devil
Ian Rankin

Retired but without a hobby, and suffering from health problems is how we find John Rebus in Rather Be the Devil. As a result, his attention has been turned to a cold case that happened in the 1970's when a wealthy socialite, Maria Turquand was killed at the famous Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh.

While examining the old case files, a seemingly unrelated local gangster Darryl Christie is attacked outside his home. There are several suspects and at least one has a connection to Anthony Brough, an investment banker, currently missing, and whose Grandfather was connected to the Maria Turquand case. Rebus is drawn into the Christie case by way of knowing both the victim and the investigating officers. But could there really be a connection that enables Rebus to solve the 1970's cold case?

Rather Be the Devil is a fantastic read with twists and turns that meander all over Edinburgh. It's carefully plotted, full of atmosphere and gripping as well. I found myself barely able to put it down. While I have to admit I've been a fan of the television version of Rebus for some time this is my first time reading a novel by Ian Rankin. I don't know what took me so long to read one but now that I have I can't wait to read more.

Thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: Effortless Healing

Effortless Healing: 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself

Effortless Healing
Dr. Joseph Mercola

If you are interested in alternative medicine or just learning more about how to look after your body and mind then Effortless Healing is a good place to start. It's filled with useful advice to help you make sure your body is functioning at its best. Dr. Mercola's nine principles are designed to make you think more about what you put into your body and why. He also provides clear reasons for recommendations both for and against certain foods, drinks or other products.

The book begins with the first principle with is devoted to the reasons why it is important to drink the best quality water available and moves on to eating more vegetables as well as getting more vitamin D from some sun exposure. It goes on to cover how you may be able to exercise less but burn more fat while doing so. I particularly liked learning more about principle six: Let Your Gut Flourish, which gives some detail about the numerous bacteria that live in our stomach and why they play a vital role in our health. It continues with other important aspects that can affect a body's well being such as getting enough sleep, and having a good laugh.

Overall, the book is full of helpful advice on how to help your body function at it's best. I loved the fact that every principle begins and ends with a short summary pointing out the important highlights. That makes this book easy to use both during an initial reading and when using for later reference. If nothing else, I think this book will encourage readers to think more carefully about what kinds of products they are consuming and how these may either help or hinder their overall well being.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review: Miranda's Big Mistake

Miranda's Big Mistake

Miranda's Big Mistake
Jill Mansell

This is my first time reading something by Jill Mansell. For quite some time I wanted to read one of her novels. I thought they might be a bit like the Fiona Walker books I love so much (especially her earlier ones). While this book wasn't exactly what I expected, it was a rather fun book.

Miranda, the main character is a girl who has a knack for finding the wrong guy. She's really done that this time when her new boyfriend Greg turns out to be someone's husband. He's married to Chloe, who he is dumping because she's pregnant and Greg doesn't see himself as a father. Of course, Miranda doesn't know this, and Greg isn't keen to tell her either but when she does find out it will change everything.

Read along and see what happens to Miranda and all the other fun and entertaining characters in this story. If you're like me, you'll find this one hard to put down.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Review: Heartland

  • Heartland: Season 8 (Canadian Version)

Last night I finished season eight of Heartland. This Canadian series is one of my favorites at the moment. It follows a family on a horse farm in Alberta. Way back in season one, it begins with Amy, the main character loosing her mother in a road accident. Afterwards, she takes over her mother's job as the local horse whisperer. Her sister Lou returns from New York to help keep the farm running and Grandfather Jack agrees to look after Ty a teenager with a troubled past. The stories follow their ups and and downs over the many seasons.

This is primarily a family drama about horses, ranching and small town life in Alberta. Its full of interesting characters that will appeal to both young and older viewers. Since it is now in it's ninth or tenth season you will have plenty of time to really get to know all the characters and their stories. While this series isn't as conflict driven and suspenseful as Mcleod's Daughters, another family drama, and long running series set in Australia, which remains my all time favorite, it is nonetheless one that I have enjoyed watching. I can't wait to start season nine as soon as I get a copy from amazon.

Let me know what you think if you have a chance to watch this DVD.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Review: The Fir Tree

The Fir Tree

The Fir Tree
Hans Christian Andersen

This is a beautifully designed little book. This Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale is about a fir tree that doesn't appreciate what he has until it's too late. The illustrations, done by Finnish designer and illustrator Sanna Annukka are wonderful. In fact, for me that was the best part of the book. They were both unique and colorful. Although this is a sad tale, it would make a great gift for a child or adult. I'm so glad I've had a chance to enjoy this simple but meaningful book.

Thanks to blogging for books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: The Lesser Bohemians

The Lesser Bohemians

The Lesser Bohemians
Eimear McBride

It's not often that I come across a book that I dislike so much that I can't bring myself to finish it. Unfortunately, this is one of those books. I had been looking forward to this book about a student attending drama school in London, if only because I was once a student in London as well. I thought this would be a book that I could really relate to. But, right from the start the writing style put me off. I found it tedious beyond belief and the experimental nature just didn't do anything for me. Rather than contributing to the story it just seemed to stand in the way of what might have been an interesting tale. So unless you are someone who really enjoys experimental fiction, this is one book you might want to pass on.

Thanks to Library Thing for allowing me to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: The Trouble with Mirrors

The Trouble with Mirrors (Alix London #4)

The Trouble with Mirrors
An Alix London Mystery
Charlotte and Aaron Elkins

Alix London, better known as the “art whisperer” has an antique mirror that was given to her by an old family friend known as Tiny, when she was a child. Alix doesn't think the mirror is particularly valuable, more of a keepsake really. But when she and the mirror are pictured on the cover of an international art magazine someone breaks into her Seattle condo and steals it.

Soon after the theft Tiny disappears. Alix, along with the help of her friend Chris, have to try and track down Tiny in order to find out the truth behind the mirror. Is it a valuable work, and could it be something that was stolen many years ago in Italy. The only problem is that the Italian mafia is also looking for Tiny and that might make Alix's search all the more dangerous.

This was a fun, entertaining and absorbing mystery. I liked the characters and the fact that it had several story lines running through the book. All in all, it was engaging, well told and an enjoyable read.

Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest view.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Review:Red-Handed in Romanée-Conti

Red-Handed in Romanée-Conti

Red-Handed in Romanée-Conti
Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen

While Benjamin and his wife Elizabeth are in London visiting Benjamin's elderly father, he is called to the Burgundy region of France. He and his assistant Virgile are needed at the Lemoine estate for the wine harvest. Not long after their arrival, the body of a female worker is found on a neighboring estate. Things get tricky when the police find some of her belongings in Benjamin's rental car. Luckily he has an alibi for the time of the murder. He and Virgile join forces with Police Inspector Cluzel to try and find the murderer and the motives behind it.

Once again the authors of this series have presented readers with another winning cozy mystery full of interesting characters, great scenery and good food and wine. I love the fact that this story was really two in one, with Benjamin's father in London and Benjamin's wine mystery in Burgundy. It was also nice that Elizabeth had a larger role to play in this story as well. I hope the writers never get tired of creating new mysteries for Benjamin and Virgile to solve, because I for one, never tire of reading them.

Thanks to Le French Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review: Almost Missed You

Almost Missed You

Almost Missed You
Jessica Strawser

Violet, her husband Finn and their young son Bear are on vacation in Florida when Finn and Bear disappear without a trace. Distraught, Violet returns home to Asheville, NC, where her grandmother and friend Caitlin try to help her find any leads that might help get her son back. But Violet is unaware that both Finn and Caitlin have some dark secrets that could hinder the search for Bear and his quick return.

This heart wrenching tale is full of emotional twists and turns throughout, which makes it a real page turner. The structure helps the reader uncover what has happened regarding the disappearance of Finn and Bear and also what transpired in the past that could lead to terrible consequences for all the characters involved in this story. Almost Missed You is one book I'm glad I didn't miss.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: French Country Cooking

French Country Cooking: Recipes and Stories from a French Village

French Country Cooking
Mimi Thorisson

I loved this cookbook! Firstly, its big and beautiful, just like a good coffee table book should be. The recipes were mouthwatering with clear cooking instructions and lots of gorgeous photos. Many of the recipes are recognizable from standard French cooking but, the recipes in this book often have a little twist which makes them more interesting to modern cooks.

I also liked the organization of the book. The fact that it begins with a section titled Goûter full of cakes and other afternoon pastries just whets the appetite for more. But in my opinion, what makes this book really good is the story the author tells throughout. It's so interesting and full of memorable characters that I couldn't help thinking that it would make a very entertaining film. Really I think No. 1 Rue de Loudenne reminded me of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence film because it seems to have all the elements, location, characters, good food and lots of fun. I don't think this is something that can be said about most cookbooks. So if you are looking for some great recipes but also some entertaining reading about how one family bought an old manor house and turned it into a restaurant, bringing back some of it's infamous past then this in one you will not want to miss.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.     

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Away with the Fishes

Away with the Fishes

Away with the Fishes
Stephanie Siciarz

It all starts with an anonymous ad in the local newspaper. A fisherman is looking for a girl with a bicycle, who can cook, and is willing to marry him. At the same time, an island girl, Rena Baker disappears and a mangled bicycle is found in the road. Is Rena's boyfriend Madison a killer? The police start an investigation, albeit without a body, which leads to a murder trial. Raul Orleans, the head of Customs and Excise on the island, finds strange messages painted on his house suggesting he should look for Rena and the connection she has to the long dead, Captain Dagmore Bowles, a former resident of Oh. The Island of Oh is a special place and not everything is always clear, but the Islanders are used to challenges and maybe even a surprise or two. As the murder trial nears, the community is a hive of activity, hoping for justice and answers in the bicycle case.

This charmingly written book was a delight to read from beginning to end. It's full of wonderful and memorable characters that really come to life through the humorous and lyrical prose. I found that Away With The Fishes was like a magical spell, taking me away to an interesting place that I didn't want to leave. The islanders' stories unfold to reveal intricate connections and surprising twists that made me want to know more about this exotic place and the lives of the people living there. I also liked the way the story weaves in and out between the present and the past, letting the reader really get to know the life of Dagmore Bowles as well as of the other characters.

This sweet and juicy tale was as satisfying as a dip in a clear blue sea on a hot afternoon. What a world it would be if only we could all live on an island like Oh, with a tropical flair and a little magic in the air. Hopefully, its not too much to wish for more dispatches from Oh!

This review was originally written for and published by Manhattan Book Review.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Review: Junkyard Dogs

Junkyard Dogs (Walt Longmire, #6)

Junkyard Dogs
Craig Johnson

Sheriff Walt Longmire has a body part on his hand, a part of someone's thumb to be exact. While he is trying to get one of his deputies to find the owner, a local junkyard owner and neighboring land developer are killed. At first it looks like a family dispute but, it may turn out to be far more. Walt and his team live through a long, hard winter as they try to piece together the events surrounding these deaths.

Once again Craig Johnson provides the reader with a rough, Wyoming landscape, interesting characters and riveting dialogue, which makes this a western mystery that is hard to put down.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: Radical Beauty

Radical Beauty: How to Transform Yourself from the Inside Out

Radical Beauty
Deepak Chopra, M.D.
Kimberly Snyder, C.N.

Radical Beauty is basically all about finding the beauty hidden inside. It's about how to transform your life and your body from the inside out. It focuses on diet and how that can help create an external glow and how what you put on your skin can help or hurt you. It goes deeper than that and the authors give excellent tips on how to meditate as well as reach a spiritual path to find the real you. It includes helpful tips on how to meditate as well as recipes designed to cleanse your body and provide essential nutrients to help create an internal and external glow, which is nice.

I'm glad I had a chance to read this book as it's made me think about more than just my diet and the role it has on internal and external beauty. The authors are good at explaining why they think you need to incorporate certain ingredients into a diet. I also liked the fact that many of the basic yoga poses that they encourage their readers to do are not difficult. They explain why these poses are important and what role they play in helping the body.

This book has a lot to offer to those who want to focus on more than just reducing wrinkles. I particularly like the fact that authors encourage the reader to implement their suggestions at their own pace. So this is not system that focuses on eliminating something or following a stringent rule or practice. Basically, it is all about finding balance to create a more fulfilled life. With all this book has to offer, I'm sure I will be coming back to it again and again for ideas that can be incorporated into my daily routine.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Review Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories

Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories
Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories
Andrea Camilleri

Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories is a joy to read, from start to finish. Fans of Inspector Montalbano will be thrilled to have so many stories in one volume. Those not familiar with Andrea Camillieri's work will find this a great place to get to know the famous detective. The twenty-one stories follow Montalbano through various periods of his life, solving cases that highlight life in the Sicilian town and countryside.

Camilleri has as warm, witty, humorous style of writing that makes the characters jump off each page. When Inspector Montalbano isn't solving a crime, or playing a game of cat and mouse to catch a criminal, he can most likely be found in a nearby restaurant dining on locally caught seafood. With good food, wine and a beautiful sea view right outside his front door, life in Vigàta seems idyllic. But there is always something rumbling beneath the proud, dark Sicilian surface that will keep Montalbano and his team of detectives busy searching for answers to all the mysteries in this book. In short, there is only one Inspector Montalbano and that's what keeps us coming back for more.

This review was originally written for and published by Manhattan Book Review.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: The Curated Closet

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe

The Curated Closet
Anuschka Rees

This book has inspired me to think about my wardrobe in a new way and to think about overhauling my closet. It's beautifully presented and it offers lots of useful suggestions. For instance, the two week sample outfit plan made me think about how I could use what I have in my closet as well as what I might need to add.

I especially liked the section on Closet detox, since that is what I find most difficult. Personally, I always find it difficult to part with pieces I have had for a while, whether or not I really wear them. The section on color palettes is interesting and one that I have not seen in other clothing books designed to help the reader build a wardrobe. While I like the photos in the is book, it seemed to me it might have benefited from more photos or illustrations. The photos that were included seemed fairly basic and were perhaps not the most inspiring.

This is a good book for those who want to think more strategically about how to shop and how to create a good quality wardrobe. Its well written and well organized. It's no doubt a good resource tool for anyone interested in clothing and fashion.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange of an honest review.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review: I Am Half-Sick Of Shadows

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia de Luce, #4)
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is eleven years old, living in her family's somewhat decaying, but sprawling country house in post WWII England. Her most pressing interest is to ascertain whether Father Christmas actually exists. She has a plan for trapping him. But since the family finances aren't what they used to be, the house has been rented to a film company over Christmas. Flavia's interest soon shifts to uncovering a murderer when one of the film stars is found dead in her room.

I absolutely loved this book. Flavia is one of a kind, a little busy body with a keen interest in chemistry and an outlook on life that is humorous and charming. This book abounds in memorable dialogue and has a terrific country life atmosphere. After finally finding the time to read my first Flavia de Luce mystery, I can't wait to read more. It's a great little cozy mystery.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: In Memory of Bread

In Memory of Bread: A Memoir

In Memory of Bread
Paul Graham

This intelligent and engaging story follows Paul Graham's attempts to come to grips with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that leads to damage of the small intestine when gluten is consumed. It also follows his trials and errors learning to navigate a world full of gluten filled products that he can no longer consume. With so many people going gluten free these days this book seems well timed. I think it will be of particular interest to those who have, if not celiac disease, some other form of food allergy. Those who do not suffer from food allergies probably never stop to think how much life would change if they constantly had to be aware of everything they consumed. Luckily, the author seems to have had generous friends and family who supported him throughout his ordeal.

This book is about more than the author's personal journey because not only does it cover questions relating to the dominance of wheat in western diets and why celiac disease may be on the rise it looks at why wheat and gluten is so well matched to our current lifestyles. Also, if you have ever shopped in the gluten free aisle in the grocery store you have probably noticed the very high prices. Graham covers this aspect as well. Before reading this book, I was unaware of the cost involved in producing gluten free products.

The story also recounts the authors attempts to get to know less well know grains, which didn't always satisfy his wants or needs. While I can't imagine the upheaval this posed to the author's life I can sympathize with him a great deal. Especially, since he presents his struggles and accomplishments in a gluten infested world with humor and candor that makes this book an interesting read. His writing style is both intimate and elegant and frankly it made me think we should all probably appreciate the food we consume far more than we do.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review: DVD Whatever Works

  • Whatever Works

Whatever Works
A Woody Allen Film

Boris is disillusioned with life, what's the point he thinks. That's why he's jumped out the window in order to end it all, only to be denied the death he wants. Then Melodie shows up on his doorstep, a southern runaway from Mississippi, with no where to go. She seeks shelter with cranky Boris. From there the fun begins, first her mother shows up out of the blue and then her father. New York isn't Mississippi but they soon adjust, finding whatever works from them.

If your looking for a laugh out loud funny film then Whatever Works is surely one to watch. It covers the themes of life, love and death in an intelligent manner. It's another great example of Woody Allen's work.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Review: Story Genius

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)

Story Genius
Lisa Cron

Story Genius definitely got my creative juices flowing. It is well written and easy to follow. It is, however, not necessarily a book that one can skim through. I think you really have to sit down and go through it step by step. Basically, it is like a course (without the classroom). The author goes over the many things that writers do wrong as well as analyzing why these errors are so pervasive. Then she proceeds to describe the essential things that a story needs in order to keep the reader riveted to the page.

The book helped me see “the error of my ways” in that I often spend too much time “plotting” a story without thinking about some of the other essential elements this author feels a story must have in order to be successful. These elements are basically “what if” and “why” questions, as well as understanding why something matters to the character within the story. For me, I was able to think about character development as well as the overall story development in a new and more creative way. Another good thing about this book is that it focuses on one case study of how a story is created. The reader can get a “behind the scenes” look at how an author comes up with an engaging story using all the examples in this book. I found this particularly useful.

I only wish it came in a larger print. As it is, the print is a bit small, which makes it somewhat tedious to read. Since this is a book one needs to work through, I think that is a bit of a negative. But having said that, if you are someone trying to write a story but just can't seem to get that spark on the page, then this is a good book to consult.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Review: The Secret Ingredient of Wishes

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes
Susan Bishop Crispell

Rachel has the ability to make wishes come true, though, they haven't always turned out the way she expected. As a child she managed to wish away her younger brother when he was being a pest. Unfortunately, for her she erased everyone's memory of her brother and she was forced into therapy for insisting that she had a brother. After years of suppressing her ability to grant any wishes she finds the wishes are stronger. She leaves her hometown and ends up in a place called Nowhere, North Caroline. It's in Nowhere where she meets another woman able to bind secrets by baking pies. With her help Rachel may learn to use her abilities without causing havoc in her life and the lives of others. Along the way she may find love and a home in Nowhere.

I think it was the beautiful cover that sparked my interest in this book. How could anyone not like a book that features a mouthwatering pie on the cover? The book had a unique story line and it was warm and memorable. The author was able to present the impossible in a way that seemed real enough. The relationships between the main characters were well developed and it contained the right amount of humor and drama. A few recipes thrown in would have been a bonus but overall, this book was as sweet and juicy as a peach on a hot summer day.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Paris Nights

Paris Nights: My Year at the Moulin Rouge

Paris Nights
My Year at the Moulin Rouge
Cliff Simon

Cliff Simon, a South African native, got the chance of a lifetime when his friend Gavin informed him that there was a position as a dancer available at the famed Moulin Rouge in Paris. He didn't hesitate to get the next plane to Paris where he would spend the next year in the cabaret troupe: first as a swing dancer, then as chorus boy, and ultimately as a principle performer. This book explores his year in Paris, which was full of fun, friends, adventure, and the hard work of regularly performing two shows a night.

If the aim of a good memoir is to let the reader into someone's life and give them a taste of some interesting and unique experiences, then this book definitely measures up. It gives the reader information about the author's early life and what he did before he moved to Paris. That in itself was interesting and set the stage for his year in France. The book was entertaining as well. I got a real sense of the author's character and personality. Some of the adventures mentioned, especially the one involving the shady Jean Paul, were fascinating. I had the feeling that "Cleef," as his French friends referred to him, never experienced a dull moment in the City of Lights.

I particularly liked the fact that none of the anecdotes were left unfinished. The reader found out exactly what happened to all the characters mentioned in the book. The inclusion of numerous photos was a great idea. It made me feel like I had a better connection to the author, his friends, and family. And while this book was meant to cover his year in Paris, I appreciated the fact that the ending told me how the author's life progressed after he left Paris. It's clear that he enjoyed a good challenge and was not afraid to take risks, which no doubt led to his ability to create a life he enjoyed and memories he could share with others.

Originally written for and published by San Francisco Book Review.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: The Glorious Heresies

The Glorious Heresies

The Glorious Heresies
Lisa McInerney

Maureen has just killed a man. It was an accident of course but, now her son Jimmy has to call in a local guy, Tony to clean up the mess. Unfortunately, for Tony, he recognizes the dead man but he neglects to tell Jimmy. From this point on events take on a life of their own and we meet other characters, like Tony's son Ryan, who is about to slide down the slippery slope into the world of drug dealing and all that comes with it. Ryan's girlfriend Karine, is trying to stay with him through thick and thin but it gets harder every day.

Maureen is haunted by the ghost of the dead man and a lot of other things in her past. She hasn't yet found a way of dealing with it, but she keeps looking. Then she meets Georgie the former girlfriend of the dead man. Once a prostitute, Georgie has been taken in by a cult. She means to find Robbie, the deceased. Of course that isn't in the interest of anyone, least of all Georgie. As their lives intersect they are all caught up in something that can't be undone. Nevertheless, they are all looking for something, love, meaning, redemption but will they find it on the dark, seething streets of Ireland?

This book is bold, brash, sad, funny and oh so good. It's hard not to get wrapped up in the destructive lives of these memorable characters. McInerney has a unique style and the ability to weave a fabulous tale that's hard to put down. This is clearly Irish storytelling at its best.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: Nice Work (If You Can Get It)

Nice Work (If You Can Get It)

Nice Work (If You Can Get It)
Celia Imrie

Several expats living in the south of France, Bellevue-Sur-Mer to be exact, want to start a restaurant. Things get off to a rocky start when they need to come up with money they don't have for all sorts of renovations. More importantly, the building they have leased seems to hold some family valuables that the late owners' extended family will stop at nothing to get back.

Not all of the local expats want to go into the restaurant business, Sally for instance has to disappoint her friends when she decides she just isn't up for the challenge. But it isn't long before she is caught up in a whirlwind romance with a handsome, mysterious Russian millionaire. Although, he may turn out to be more of a nightmare than the man of her dreams.

While this book started a bit slow, the pace picked up as I went along. There was enough action and development in the story to keep me interested in how things would turn out. I did feel that the characters could have been more developed because often they seemed to blend in to each other and I had to remind myself, which character I was following. This was especially true with the numerous female characters. I just didn't get a real visual image of each character, which would have made for a more engaging story.

Overall, I found it fun, entertaining and light reading. A good book to take to the beach or just to relax with if you can't get to the beach.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: All Around the Town

All Around the Town

All Around the Town
Mary Higgins Clark

This is my first time reading a Mary Higgins Clark novel. Although I see her books all the time in the bookstore, I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to actually read one. In this particular story, Laurie a twenty year old college student is accused of killing one of her professors, Allan Grant. But Laurie is suffering from a multiple personality disorder, largely caused by the fact that she was abducted when she was four years old. Now its up to her older sister Sarah to prove that Laurie didn't kill Professor Grant. Not only does Laurie's extra personalities make this difficult, it is also hard to see who else could have had a motive for the killing.

This is a fascinating story full of tension and suspense. There are many interesting characters involved as well as a multi-layered plot and enough twists to keep readers turning the pages. I personally found it hard to put down.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review: Dishing the Dirt

Dishing the Dirt (Agatha Raisin, #26)

Dishing the Dirt: An Agatha Raisin Mystery
M.C. Beaton

When a new therapist Jill Davent comes to Carsely, a village in the Cotswold, she stirs up no end of trouble. For one thing, she is spreading rumors about Agatha Raisin, the village's local private investigator. After Agatha confronts Ms. Davent, she ends up dead. Of course Agatha feels compelled to find a motive and a murderer. Not easy, when the police consider her the number one suspect.

What follows is a fun lighthearted mystery in which Agatha's colleagues, friends and an ex-husband lend their help in trying to catch the killer before he or she strikes again. The story is full of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Agatha Raisin is a loveable character full of contradictions and with a knack for attracting the wrong men. The other characters are well depicted and occasionally eccentric.

Overall, the story is an entertaining one. I can't think of a better way of spending a lazy afternoon, curled up on the sofa, following Agatha Raisin on the hunt for a killer. This is definitely a book that will appeal to those who enjoy the typical English village murder story.

Review Originally written for and published by Manhattan Book Review

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review: Modern Potluck

Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food to Share

Modern Potluck
Kristin Donnelly

Modern Potluck is full of fun and interesting recipes that could definitely improve most “potluck meals”. I also think these recipes could be used for any type of large or small gathering. One good thing about the recipes is that they are already designed to feed larger numbers. So you don't have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make enough for a crowd. I particularly like that many of the recipes cater to vegetarians and are often gluten free, which means if you want to make something that all your guests will love you will not have to look far in this book for something interesting.

I especially appreciate the notes at the beginning regarding salting and seasoning and how to find the best balance by seasoning a dish as it is being prepared. The useful rules about a potluck dinner also are full of common sense advice that one might tend to forget. For example, if you are making a dish for a potluck meal held outside your own home, you will need to think about how well the dish will travel, or what additional supplies you might need to have on hand at the time of serving the dish. Overall, I think this is a useful cookbook for those who want to make something modern but not overly complicated. The photos are appealing and the recipes are clear and easy to follow. Some of my favorites dishes include, Indian-spiced spinach yogurt dip, many bean salad, spiced carrot and goat cheese strudel and the lemon-berry bundt cake. I could go on and on there are so many good things in the book. Just keep in mind, the next time you need to cook for a large group this is a book worth consulting.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Review: The Witch's List

The Witch's List

The Witch's List
Andrew Cairns

Sandy Beech is a good Scottish, catholic boy who doesn't believe in black magic, witches or anything involving the supernatural. He is quite sure there is a logical explanation for everything but, is he right? Sandy is drawn to dark skinned women, especially those from Africa. His first girlfriend Gabriella is from Kenya but their relationship doesn't last, due to family pressure, on Gabriella's side and what they see as cultural differences. Although he is warned by a mysterious dying nun to stay away from African women, Sandy isn't able to get over Gabriella for a long time. Eventually he finds her replacement in France where he is an Erasmus exchange student. Roquelle or “Rocky” for short is from the Ivory Coast and she has all the exotic characteristics Sandy is looking for. After an initially peaceful marriage things take a turn for the worse when the pair aren't able to conceive a child. Sandy hopes a visit to the Ivory Coast and Rocky's ancestral village will get their relationship back on track but what he finds might surprise everyone. The Witch's list may draw him into a world he is not sure really exists.

Initially, I was drawn to this book by the terrific cover and I'm happy to say that the book as a whole did not let me down. It was engaging and well written. Having studied in a Scottish University and having done some research in West Africa both parts of this story appealed to me. The descriptions were captivating and the characters were well portrayed. Throughout the story I felt like I was right there with Sandy in the middle of the action, peering over his shoulder. I'm happy to see from the back cover of the book that this is the first of a trilogy. I can't wait to read more.

Thanks to Cosmic Egg Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: The Marseille Caper

The Marseille Caper

The Marseille Caper
Peter Mayle

Francis Reboul, a wealthy business man, propositions Sam Levitt to take on the job of being the front man for his development project in Marseille. Francis can't do it himself, since the head of the development committee that will decide on the project winner is his sworn enemy. Sam and his partner Elena Morales are happy to make the trip to the south of France to help out. But there are other investors keen on landing the rights to develop one of the last waterside plots in Marseille, and they just might pose a problem for Sam and his friends.

Once again Peter Mayle provides a fun, lighthearted and utterly enjoyable read, with glimpses of great food, culture and a relaxed lifestyle in the south of France. Having seen the DVD: A Year in Provence, based on Mayle's first books, I wonder why no one has made any attempts to make this book and the previous book in this series The Vintage Caper, into a film. The location alone would make it worth watching. Until that happens, if you can't get away to France this summer, but wish you could, I recommend this book. It might be the next best thing to being there.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: Hello Bicycle

Hello, Bicycle: An Inspired Guide to the Two-Wheeled Life

Hello, Bicycle
Anna Brones

Lately, I've noticed more and more people out and about on their bicycles. My city has also recently introduced a bike share program and it wouldn't surprise me if dedicated bicycle lanes spring up next in the town. For this reason, I was drawn to this book, wondering if I should dare to take up bike riding myself.

It seems strange to think that as children most of us, myself included, practically lived on our bikes, riding around the neighborhood with no fear of traffic, rain or anything else for that matter. But somehow as we aged we ditched our bikes, either for more interesting entertainment forms or because we just didn't have time to ride. The longer we went without riding the less likely we were to get back on again. So, I asked myself if it might be time to join all the other riders out there, who have rediscovered the joys of riding or never lost it.

Hello Bicycle aims to make this easier by reminding the reader why riding a bike can be fun and healthy as well. The book is full of helpful hints and tips, such as how to choose a new bicycle,change a flat tire, and inventive uses for old bike tubes. It also covers safety issues and introduces one to the equipment needed for riding safely. I also appreciated the section which included some interesting recipes for boosting energy and items that are easily portable. While I didn't think there was anything that was particularly earth shattering or unique in this book it is full of common sense advice for anyone wishing to get a bike for the first time or get back on one after considerable time.

Thanks to blogging for books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: The Panama Papers

The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money

The Panama Papers
Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier

I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, for me it simply raised many more questions than it answered. Ostensibly, the book is an attempt to let readers know how the authors, journalists at Süddeutsche Zeitung, a major newspaper based in Munich, Germany came to be in the possession of 2.6 terabytes of data from a Panamanian law firm Mossack and Fonseca. This law firm is accused of setting up shell companies for well known politicians, wealthy individuals and, in some cases, known criminals. While the author points out that it is not illegal to own a shell company, the case made in this book is that Mossack and Fonseca did not follow established practices of due diligence in order to weed out risky clients. It appears from the data presented in the book that Mossack and Fonseca cared very little about the process of due diligence and they were not concerned whether their clients were high risk individuals or what their motives were for creating shell companies.

One of the first things that disturbed me about this book is the fact that the journalists were associated with an organization entitled International Consortium for Investigative Journalists, based in Washington, D.C.. One of the main financial contributors to this organization is the billionaire George Soros, himself no stranger to controversy. But nowhere in this book are we assured that Mr. Soros is not also a beneficiary of such legal constructs. Something which I would have expected. The source of the data leak is simply referred to as John Doe. The fact that I have no idea who the source is or was, makes me very weary about receiving all this information and taking it at face value. Throughout the book, I was wondering who this person could be and what his motives were.

Finally, at the end of the book John Doe provides some answers to these questions. He tells the reader that he is not working for any government or intelligence service or as a contractor for either. Yet, I wonder throughout the book why there are so few American individuals and corporations mentioned. John Doe further informs the reader that although he feels something should be done to stop people using shell companies to evade taxes and to stop law firms like Mossack and Fonseca from providing cover for these people, he is too afraid to reveal his identity, for fear that it might ruin his life. Somehow the fact that he wanted to have his cake and eat it too, just annoyed me. It seems alright for him to pass judgment on all the people he exposes but neither they nor the reader of this book can do so regarding him and his use of, what is after all, stolen data.

Also, I have a problem with the fact that both John Doe and the authors who interpret the data condemn the actions of wealthy individuals and politicians for using the services like those provided by Mossack Fonseca but they themselves have no problem stealing the data and then using it to create a book that can be published and sold to the public, thereby generating revenue for themselves and others.

On a more mundane level, I found the book somewhat repetitious as it kept coming back to the same individuals and companies over and over. For those who follow international news regularly there seems little of note to be found in this book.

Thanks to Library Thing and One World Publications for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Every Frenchman Has One

Every Frenchman Has One

Every Frenchman Has One
Olivia de Havilland

This was a delightful little book, originally published in 1961 by the Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland. While she appeared in numerous films, I remember mostly her role as Melanie in Gone with the Wind. After a divorce in 1953, she met and married a Frenchman and moved to Paris. This book follows her attempts to come to terms with life in another country. Its humorous, well observed and rather insightful. She covers topics such as fashion, health, education, housekeeping, renovations and more.

I think my favorite chapter was “La Place de la Discorde”, the descriptions were keenly observed and seemed remarkably modern. I found myself laughing in practically every chapter. And I'm actually surprised that with her ability to write with such style and humor she didn't publish more works about her experiences. The interview at the end of the book done in May 2016 on the occasion of her 100th birthday was also a nice inclusion.

Overall, I completely enjoyed this charming book, both for its nostalgic feel and it's warm wit and humor.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Review: The President's Hat

The President's Hat

The President's Hat
Antoine Laurain

The President's Hat is a captivating tale which is easy to read and hard to put down. It begins when President Mitterrand forgets his hat in a Parisian Brasserie. This sets off a chain of unforeseen reactions. Firstly, when its found by Daniel Mercier a fellow diner in the Brasserie. Realizing that the hat belonged to the President, Mercier decides to start wearing it as if it were his own. Like a magic charm, the hat brings him luck, and a large dose of self confidence thereby changing his personal circumstances for the better. Unfortunately he looses the hat. But, it is found on a train by Fanny, who likes that the hat contains her initials F.M. on the inside rim. Wearing it also gives her the courage to end a romantic relationship that has no realistic future.

The hat passes to several other interesting characters, who also experience surprising changes in their lives. There's Pierre Aslan, who is deeply depressed and hasn't be able to do his job properly for twenty years. Finding the hat changes his life. My personal favorite is Bernard Lavallière, who undergoes a personal metamorphosis after acquiring the famed hat. But Daniel Mercier is determined to reclaim the hat again. What will ultimately happen to it if he succeeds? Will President Mitterrand ever see it again? These are the intriguing questions answered in this charming story. Set in the 1980's it's full of nostalgia and contains characters and events that I hadn't thought off for some time, making it like a trip down memory lane. It's a fun and delightful book that I'm going to remember for a long time.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallic Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: The Eskimo Solution

The Eskimo Solution

The Eskimo Solution
Pascal Garnier

This short novel is basically a story within a story. The main character is an author, working on a story about Louis, his main character. In the story, Louis has found a way to help many of his friends by killing off their elderly parents, so that the children or dependents can inherit property or money and live happily ever after. As the overall story develops, so do events in the authors own life. These events start to mirror his fiction and his own life seems to almost overwhelm him.

By the end of the book I got the feeling that the main character was living two different lives, a real one and a fictional, the differences between the two being not that great. It's an interesting tale, which is well observed and cleverly written. It is, however at times a bit confusing as the story switches abruptly between the author's own story and the fictional story. This “blurring” of the lines seems to reinforce the sense that reality and fiction become one and the same.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I can't wait to read more of Garnier's work. But for newcomers I would recommend starting with Moon in a Dead Eye where the structure of the story is much more straightforward.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallic Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: As the Pig Turns

As the Pig Turns (Agatha Raisin, #22)

As the Pig Turns
MC Beaton

At the annual pig roast in the Cotswold town of Winter Parva, a body is discovered, roasting on the spit, no less. As there is no head attached, it's hard to tell who it could be. Agatha Raisin suspects it might belong to a local policeman, Gary Beech. Officer Beech is despised by the village because of his ability to find endless reasons for handing out tickets. So there is no lack of suspects. The only person interested is Gary's ex-wife and she hires Agatha and her team to investigate.

MC Beaton has once again provided the reader with an entertaining “whodunit”. Agatha is her usual “bossy” self. In fact, in this novel she's been interfering too much into the personal life of Toni, a younger female member of staff. Which leads to conflict and the possible loss of a valuable member of the team. But Agatha is strong willed. Even though this case has her more frightened than usual she is determined to see it though.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Review: A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches

A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches

A Super Upsetting Cookbook about Sandwiches
Tyler Kord

I think I can honestly say this cookbook is unique and unlike any other I have ever read or owned. I laughed out loud so many times while reading it, it should have been a crime. So, I'd like to make a toast, (or rather raise my asparagus sandwich) to Tyler Kord for making it okay for me, or anyone else for that matter, to have a sandwich anyway I want. To hell with what everyone else thinks!

Of course, if I'm really really honest, I'm not sure I'm going to try a lot of the recipes in this book (especially the difficult and time consuming ones) because frankly, I'm just too lazy for that. But, I loved the book nonetheless because it made me think about all the ways I could make a sandwich with unexpected ingredients. Some of my favorite recipes in this book were the Famous Rap Battles of History, Don't Cry for me Argentina and pretty much anything that included meatloaf. I really like the fact that recipes for sauces and topping were included. I liked the recipe for Mayo and all the additions one could add to make an interesting variation. I've never made Mayo, again I'm lazy, but I like to think that one day I might give it a try, just to see if I can.

Overall, this was a fun and entertaining book. It's good for anyone who loves making sandwiches, and it's perfect for those who want to be creative with their sandwiches.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Review: Dead is Dead

Dead Is Dead

Dead is Dead
John Lansing

Jack Bertolino is an ex-cop, now private detective working as a bodyguard to film star Susan Blake. She has been cast as the lead star in a film based on one of Jack's previous cases. Susan needs a bodyguard as she has a nasty stalker but, while in the process of filming a shooting a few blocks away, a gang member and a six-year-old innocent child are killed. Jack takes on this case in an attempt to find out who really killed the innocent girl and finds himself involved in a complex world of high art, drugs, money, and murder.

Right from the start, chapter one told me this was going to be a good book. It set the stage well with a gripping and suspenseful scene, letting me know that the story would be an interesting one. The book was both complex, nuanced, and layered, letting the reader into the minds of the main characters. The characters were also interesting and often had multiple layers which allowed me to understand even the darkest characteristics and motives they possessed. I also enjoyed the structure of two stories in one. On one hand there were the attempts to solve the murder of the gang member, Tomas Vegas, and the innocent child, Maria Sanchez, while also trying to protect Susan Blake from a mysterious stalker.

This was my first book in the Jack Bertolino series even though this is the third novel, I felt the author gave me enough background about Jack that this was easily read as a stand alone book. It did, however, make me want to read the other books in the series. Particularly since this one made me feel so much a part of the action. Whether a character was catching a wave off the coast or in a shoot out, I felt the descriptions were superb, giving the reader the sense of being right there with the characters in the middle of the scene.

Overall, it was a book that I couldn't put down, a real visual feast, which would make a great film. It's a book that packs a punch and I feel sure that anyone who reads this will be hooked on the Jack Bertolino series.

Review originally written for San Francisco Book Review

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review: The Edible Flower Garden

The Edible Flower Garden: From Garden to Kitchen: Choosing, Growing and Cooking Edible Flowers

The Edible Flower Garden
Kathy Brown

This is an excellent book for anyone interested in edible flowers. It's well written and provides detailed information. For example, it includes recipes for classic ways to utilize edible flowers, such as floral oils, butter and teas. There is also a useful recipe detailing how to crystallize flowers, which can then be used for all types of decorating. For the novice gardener there are plenty of growing tips and a plant directory with complimentary pairing ideas. The wonderful photos will no doubt inspire you to create something unexpected and magical.