And The Lucky Winner Is….

Rebecca Makkai

Great Believers

So many great comments about this book! I wish I had more than one for giveaway, but, alas, I do not. So, without further ado, the winner is Marilyn McCollister. Congratulations! You are going to love this amazing story.I will be sending you an email asking for your mailing address. The book will arrive directly from Viking, a division of Penguin Random House Publishing.

Thank  you so much to all of you for taking the time to comment. This is really an important book that I am totally behind.  Cheers!


Eating My Way Through Italy by Elizabeth Minchilli

Elizabeth Minchilli

Eating My Way Through Italy

I quickly devoured EATING MY WAY THROUGH ITALY by Elizabeth Minchilli!


Elizabeth Minchilli

I was a big fan of EATING ROME a couple years ago. When I heard about this new book coming down the pike, well, you can only imagine my excitement. And rightly so.

The sub-heading says: Heading Off the Main Roads to Discover the Hidden Treasures of the Italian Table.  That’s exactly what this book does. Minchilli takes readers on another journey inside the rest of Italy’s culinary treasure trove that’s just waiting to be explored. She shares stories of her own experiences and meals that have lead her off the beaten track to discover some of the lesser known places, people, and food.  That’s what I love most about this wonderful book.

This is food and travel writing at its best! After a lifetime of living and eating in Rome, Elizabeth Minchilli is an expert on the city’s cuisine. While she’s proud to share everything she knows about Rome, she now wants to show her devoted readers that the rest of Italy is a culinary treasure trove just waiting to be explored. Whether it’s pizza in Naples, deep-fried calamari in Venice, anchovies in Amalfi, gathering and cooking capers on Pentelleria, or hunting for truffles in Umbria, each chapter includes personal stories, practical advice, and recipes.  

I should mention that my header for the blog is a photo we took while at sea in a regatta on the coast of Amalfi. One of the most thrilling experiences we had in Italy!


Tuscan Artichokes

I couldn’t resist posting a photo I took in Tuscany of artichokes growing wild in a field. Not something I see around here.

When in Venice Elizabeth shows you how to avoid the crushing crowds and step off the beaten path where you’ll cherish a new experience and find luscious small eateries. She often visits the islands of the lagoon which are less traveled and where you will have an opportunity for a more unique and lasting experience.

She has a listing for visiting farms in Umbria and a recipe for a goat cheese and kale salad that will have you salivating.


Olive country

An entire chapter on olives and olive oil in Umbria.  And did I mention how glorious the photos are? They are magnificent.

Then she is off and fishing for anchovies off the coast of Amalfi. Holy cow. I had no idea. What a story there.

This is a book I will never part with. Period. Every time I pick it up it reminds me of traveling through Italy. If you’ve traveled through Italy, you simply must have this book. If you are thinking of traveling in Italy, or, just love everything Italian, this is your book!

I have linked to Minchilli’s website where you will see how accomplished this woman truly is. She offers day-tripping tours through Rome and many other cities in Italy.  You’ll meet local butchers, bakers, and discover out of the way cheese shops and eateries. Sign me up. I can tell you now that our next visit to Italy will entail at least one of Elizabeth’s offerings. Can’t miss it.

My amazing copy of EATING MY WAY THROUGH ITALY came from the wonderful publishing company of St. Martin’s Griffin in exchange for an honest review. I love it!!!

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai Giveaway!

Rebecca Makkai

Great Believers

Written with great strength and deep emotion, THE GREAT BELIEVERS is ambitious and filled with heart-felt characters that have nested in my memory and threaten to stay forever. This story made me think. Made me remember that time in the eighties when all the gorgeous young men were being taken.

Both stories; that of Yale, and that of Fiona, are powerful and compelling. Going back and forth in time between the eighties and present day Paris, this new novel is bound to be a force to be reckoned with. And rightly so!


begins in 1985 in Chicago  with a memorial service being held in the home of photographer Richard Campo.  Meanwhile, on the other side of Chicago, a funeral is also being held.  Why two services at the same time, in the same city? The young deceased man is gay. His parents will not receive any “gay” people at the funeral.  Nico Marcus had plenty of gay friends. Very dear friends who cherished their relationships with him. He also had a sister totally devoted to him. She chose to turn her back on the family affair, and attend the memorial service instead.


Rebecca Makkai

Nico was the first, but far from the last of the beautiful gay men who died so very young during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s and early 90’s. This is a story of one group of friends and how their world turned upside down while they were dying by the thousands.  It is also the very telling story of the horrors visited by their loved ones and caretakers.  It’s much more than just a story about AIDS.

THE GREAT BELIEVERS takes place over the course of 30 years. There are two story-lines, and some could even say there are three. The first story is the important telling of the beginning and height of the AIDS era in Chicago. Yale Tishman is one of the main voices. Fiona Marcus is the other.  Yale is the development director of a start-up Northwestern University art gallery. He’s in the process of trying to acquire a set of 1920’s paintings that could set his career. He shares his life with his partner Charlie who early on makes a fatal error in judgement that quickly sets the tone for the future.  Fiona, Nico’s sister, has taken the group under her wing and  becomes like family to them all.

As serious as this important topic is, Makkai has managed to insert witty remarks and asides that are crucial to making this story so readable.  Her writing is superb. Her story-telling is beyond reproach.  She’s managed to make the dialog simply realistic.  I felt I knew these people. With quiet assurance and a strong sense of place, I believe this novel will become a classic.

I lived through the 80’s as a young woman. I remember well the fear and prejudice that took over the country, and the world.  I was 30 during that time. Everyone was afraid; gay or not.  AIDS was very poorly understood back then.  Every gay young man was scared of testing positive for the disease.  This exquisite novel perfectly captures that moment in time.

There is a part of the story where Yale has discovered an older woman who posed as a model in the 20’s in Paris for an artist. She wants to speak to him about the set of paintings he gave her. She, in fact, wants to donate them to his gallery. Then the humor sets in. You see, her family is not so keen on this. They knew not of these paintings she’s kept hidden away all these years. I call this part of the novel the “comic” relief. I enjoyed it immensely.

The second part of the novel is set in Paris in 2015. Fiona has turned 50. She’s divorced and very bitter, and she’s searching for her estranged daughter, Claire. Claire may have given birth to a child, but we do not know this yet. Fiona hooks up with her old photographer friend Richard Campo, who is one of the last survivors of the group. These scenes in Paris present day are very atmospheric and help move the story into the here and now.

The AIDS epidemic has been widely written about  from the vantage point of New York City and San Francisco. Now we have the fresh perspective from a great writer who knows the business of Chicago and how this horrific disease ravaged this city.

Moving and deeply thoughtful, this roller-coaster journey shows not only the effects of AIDS on the victims but, the residual effects on surviving family and friends.

It is with great pleasure that I offer a copy for giveaway to one very lucky winner. Please leave a comment below to enter the contest. Please, no P.O. boxes, and only U.S. addresses, as usual. The very generous publishing people at Viking are providing the winner a copy of THE GREAT BELIEVER. Not to be missed. I am a huge advocate for this book and this author. I think it’s simply wonderful!

I will announce my winner on Friday, June 22. Good luck.


Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Karen White

Dreams of Fall

Karen White fans rejoice! DREAMS OF FALLING is now available for purchase at Copperfish Books

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

in Punta Gorda, Florida. What a wild cover. I love it. And it’s 20% off the cover price. Come and get it!

Something happened to a trio of girls back in 1950. Something that has been kept a secret for fifty years….

One young woman returns to the scene of the crime when her mother disappears. She never imagined returning.

So many secrets.  A gripping tale of friendship, family, and love!

Karen White


Karen White

is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen books. This new novel is gripping and perfect for summer. Enjoy! Brought to you by Berkley, a division of Penguin Random House.

The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

Ann Mah

The Lost Vintage

Just look at this drop- dead gorgeous cover! Love at first sight. I just wanted to click my heels like Dorothy and land smack dab in the picture.   Where is this, you may ask? Burgundy in the French wine region. Simply gorgeous.

A few years ago I came across a memoir called THE ART OF FRENCH EATING. It was by Ann Mah.


Ann Mah

It was sumptuous and beautifully written. I so enjoyed visiting all the towns and villages within a short train ride from.  The best part was learning all about the seasonal veggies and fruits in each area and the people who helped make her visits memorable.

In THE LOST VINTAGE a young woman named Kate is living and working in San Francisco. She is determined to pass the Master Wine examination and become one of only a few hundred certified wine experts in the world. She’s already failed the test twice. Bummer! When she looses her job she hops the pond and spends time at her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy, France. Nothing like jumping right in. Her cousin Heather and Heather’s  husband Nico have been living and overseeing the vineyard. And there is also Jean-Luc to consider. She was going to marry him and disappeared ten years ago. She’s not seen him since.

Mystery surrounds the cellar of the main house. But it’s what’s not in the cellar that turns out to be the show-stopper here.  When Kate finds a diary in the cellar, this story begins to pulse and throb.  And we find ourselves back in the days of the resistance during WW11.

I wonder how many bottles of wine are still buried in the ground and in cellars in the French countryside.  I know Hitler commandeered much of it. But, we also know many vintners were able to safeguard thousands of bottles of wine worth many fortunes.

Throw in a romance.  Add some mighty find food. And you have a great summer read that takes place mostly in France.

My review copy came from William Morrow Books. Thanks so much! It’s so perfect  for summer and will be available for purchase on June 19. We will have copies at Copperfish Books

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

in Punta Gorda at 20% off  the week it goes on sale. Come on up and see us!

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

The Lost Family

Peter Rashkin is the chef of a very prestigious restaurant in NYC called Masha’s. He has named it after his wife who disappeared along with their twin girls during the Holocaust.  The year is 1965 and Peter  is still  consumed with guilt as he feels that if he had only listened, they would have fled Germany in time. Now he’s a haunted man. A man who’s thrown himself into his work, totally. Even though he’s incredibly handsome and a very eligible bachelor about town, he is only interested in forgetting the horror of his past life.  If only he’d listened…

When June comes along, she touches something inside Peter than has lain dormant for years.  She’s twenty years Peter’s junior  and the passion between them is explosive and  tangible. June becomes a famous  supermodel and  their relationship shifts. They fall in love. But Peter is still as flawed as ever. When June becomes pregnant all bets are off. And they get married.

What I haven’t told you is that June’s obsession with her weight is unprecedented.  Time after time we witness her ordering food, only to nibble at a lettuce leaf. So went the life of a model like Twiggy back in the day.  And she’s married to a most famous chef. Hm.

Once Peter and June’s daughter is born the boredom sets in for June.  And as Elspeth gets older she suffers the same anxiety about food and weight as her mother. We quickly learn how her parents have transferred their private  hells onto this child who they love dearly.

If only Peter could open up about his prior life. Tell June about it. But, sadly, he does not tell anyone the particulars. However, we do learn more in depth about what makes Peter keep his past buried. It comes bit by bit throughout the novel. What I love about this novel is that it is NOT a World War 11 novel. Yes, it’s dealing with the war and the horror the families dealt with. But, it’s about much more than the actual war. It totally hit a nerve for me. And, then there’s June’s story.   She’s vibrant and young and needs more from life than Peter is able to provide.

Told in no nonsense prose, THE LOST FAMILY  will draw you in and peak your interest with an  unsentimental telling.  That’s what I finally figured out was the uniqueness of what could have been just another war story.

What happens after June and Peter are married and have the child is predictable.  But, the telling and the personal insight are not. This is a novel to bite into and chew on. You’ll be thinking about it for a long, long time.

Jenna Blum

The Lost Family

Jenna Blum

is the NYT award winning novelist of THOSE WHO SAVE US. You may remember it some years back. Every bookclub was reading it.

My review copy arrived from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. It’s a real winner.






High Season by Judy Blundell

Judy Blundell

The High Season

It’s not the Hamptons. It’s the other end of the island. The end that is much more low key. That’s where Ruthie Beamish and her family live.  But the only way they can afford to live there is by renting the house out three months of the year. Of course those are the most wonderful months… Hey, it is what it is. Her teenage daughter hates this.  When the novel begins it’s that time of the year again. Yeah, you guessed it. Time to pack up their belongings and move out for the summer so some hotshot rich person can take over their home.

This novel takes place on Long Island, New York. But this is a novel we here in S.W. Florida can certainly relate to, especially during the winter months when our own roads are swollen past capacity and it seems as if no one in a vehicle has any idea where he or she is or how to drive… And, what is a turn signal, anyhow?

Ruthie and her husband are separated. They share a daughter who’s at “that” difficult age.  They’ve been managing to have a pretty good relationship until…. he finds someone. It was inevitable.  But the someone he finds is one of the beautiful people and so a whole lot of bitterness comes to the surface. And we begin to see a far deeper chasm between them than was earlier thought to be.

Ruthie works as head of the local art museum where she’s been at the helm for many  years. She feels quite secure there and enjoys her work. The “board” members love her. For now..

Suddenly, Ruthie’s job, her home, and her entire life are in jeopardy. Scrunched into a corner, she feels she has nowhere to turn.  And all her so-called friends have turned on her to save their own butts.

If you enjoy Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe, this could be your next summer read. I loved it! The venue is unique for me. The writing is great. The characters memorable. You will love adding it to your tbr pile for the summer.

My review copy came from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. I loved it!