Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: Dinner Chez Moi

Dinner Chez Moi: 50 French Secrets to Joyful Eating and Entertaining

Dinner Chez Moi
Elizabeth Bard

This book was an absolute joy to read. Elizabeth Bard shows how anyone can incorporate a little bit of French flair into their eating and dining habits. I liked the fact that this wasn't just a cookbook - it was full of tips and ideas as well as recipes. I loved reading about the experiences the author had while living in France, most of which were told with humor and affection.

The recipes included in Dinner Chez Moi are straightforward and easy to follow. I personally loved the hint about cooking leeks with a little mustard and cream. This is now one of my favorite side dishes. I also loved the “After-School Madeleines”, which make a great sweet snack and cook in less than 15 minutes, perfect for morning or afternoon and not just for children. Speaking of children, parents will no doubt appreciate the section devoted to eating habits of French children. The differences in tastes and traditions make this a must for anyone interested in food. All in all, it's the perfect book for those who want to know more about the French lifestyle.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: Murder at the Mill

Murder at the Mill: A Mystery

Murder at the Mill
M.B. Shaw

When Iris Grey rents a cottage in an English village as a way of spending time away from her deteriorating marriage, she gets the opportunity to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby. He is not only the owner of the estate and cottage where Iris is staying, but he is also a famous writer with a popular television series to boot. Iris can't help being drawn into the Wetherby family circle which is full of interesting characters. But when Dominic's body is found floating in the water, Iris isn't convinced it was a suicide. With the help of Dominic's family and friends, she hopes to find out what happened.

As I read the first few chapters of this book, I wasn't convinced it was going to be an exciting story. It seemed too slow moving and slightly stilted, but the more I read, the more I got pulled into the complicated life of the Wetherby family. The author had a knack for creating multifaceted characters and combined with the twists and turns in the plot I felt the story take on a life of its own. By the end, I was totally smitten with Iris Grey and, happy to learn that there will be more adventures to come.

This review was originally written by me for City Book Review

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Review: New Nordic Gardens

New Nordic Gardens: Scandinavian Landscape Design

New Nordic Gardens
Annika Zettterman

As someone fascinated by the elements of Scandinavian design, I found New Nordic Gardens, a terrific book for getting to know more about how Scandinavians view nature, the outdoors and their gardens. This work focuses on gardens in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The author provides numerous insights on the importance of light, materials and simplicity of design. The book is well written and contains numerous garden examples illustrated with beautiful photography. It would no doubt be a great gift idea for gardening enthusiasts.

You don't need to live in a harsh northern climate to enjoy this book, either, or to adapt many of the ideas presented. The chapters, whether they cover, using color, light, materials or seasons will inspire new ideas for creating harmony within your environment, regardless of where that is. I personally loved the idea of incorporating more ornamental grasses in the garden. I will also be thinking more about how light, both during day and night as well as during different seasons, affects what and how I plant. All in all, I'm sure this is a book I will be coming back to again and again for ideas and inspiration.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Review: To the Land of Long Lost Friends

To the Land of Long Lost Friends (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #20)

To the Land of Long Lost Friends
Alexander McCall Smith

Mma Ramotswe, the owner of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, has been invited to a wedding where she encounters a long-lost friend. A friend she thought was dead. She is surprised to find her alive and well. The only problem seems to be that the women's daughter has been acting suspiciously. Of course, Mma Ramotswe can't resist the urge to investigate in the hope that she can find out what has caused a rift between her long-lost friend and that friend's much-loved daughter. At the same time, the part-time assistant at the agency Charlie is having his own problems. His girlfriend, Queenie-Queenie, wants to get married, but Charlie doesn't have enough money to satisfy her parents. What will he do to keep the girl he loves happy?

To the Land of Long Lost Friends is another one of McCall Smith's charming stories that take the reader into the heart of Botswana's culture, with characters that are wonderfully observed as well as warm and funny. I love how he elevates the mundane to something special. Mma Ramostwe, Mma Makutsi, and Charlie are always focused on what is good in life and the surrounding community. I can't wait to read more.

This review was written by me for City Book Review.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Review: Wild Dog

Wild Dog

Wild Dog
Serge Joncour

Franck and Lise have opted to get away from Paris and enjoy the outdoors. Lise selected a cottage in the Lot region of France so that the pair could get away from the bustle of modern civilization. She thought the idea of being so remote without telephone or wifi connection sounded like a great spot to relax. Franck, on the other hand, was less than thrilled at the prospect of being deep in the backwoods. He needed and wanted to stay in touch with work since he was in the middle of negotiating a deal with his new partners. The fact that the cottage and surroundings seem to be haunted by the past is another thing against it as far as Franck can see. But when he comes into contact with a stray dog, which he names Alpha, his view of nature may change. He may be forced to confront his view of the world from the remote cottage.

Wild Dog is a beautifully told story that shifts between the present and the early 1900s when the area was confronted by the first world war. The characters are richly developed, and I enjoyed the way the author slowly builds up the tale, allowing the readers to feel like they are part of the scene. Lise and Franck are like many couples today, in search of something they can't seem to find in the mists of all the stress encompassing the modern world.

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

Monday, May 4, 2020

Review: Maybe this Time

Maybe This Time

Maybe This Time
Jill Mansell

Mimi Huish decides to leave London after finding out her boyfriend, who is also her boss, has cheated on her with her best friend and roommate. Mimi's got a feeling she may never meet the right man, but since she's going to the Cotswolds to visit her father, she has decided not to focus on that. Of course, as soon as she arrives, she comes across Cal, a friendly, warm widower who might be just what she's looking for. Then again, he might be what all the local women are looking for as well. Will Mimi be the one for Cal or will he find someone else?

Maybe This Time is a heartwarming tale of friends, love, and missed chances. It was such a delightful read I didn't want it to end. I'm sure this sweet, charming tale will also leave you wanting more of Jill Mansell's world of cozy villages and enchanting characters.

Written by me and originally published by City Book Review.