The Cottage Kitchen by Marte Marie Forsberg

Marte Marie Forsberg

The Cottage Kitchen

It’s that time of year again. I’m hunting and gathering for holiday cookbooks.  THE COTTAGE KITCHEN is  wonderfully filled with pristine photographs of the English countryside  and dreamy delicious recipes to go with. Toss in a photographic English Pointer dog named Mr. Whiskey,

English Pointer

Mr. Whiskey

and you’ve got a great gift to give or to keep for yourself.

Marte has divided her book into seasons. Each section has starters and sides; mains; desserts; and drinks.  I think you’ll find something wonderful you will want to make in each season. I sure have.  I did jump right into summer with her recipe for tomato tarte tatin with burrata.  She actually discovered this recipe while living in France. And, to tell you the truth, that is where I first heard of it.  I had heard of doing apple, but she has stepped it up and made it savory. Yum.  Using all fresh summery ingredients, it’s something we here in S.W. Florida can create almost all year round. I know I will.


Tomato Tarte Tatin With Burrata

There’s a great section called Afternoon Tea that I think you will love. Plus, I loved the pictures she’s added of her mom.  Of course mom is making some scrumptious delights.

Marte Forsberg Is a professional food and lifestyle photographer, tastemaker, and creator of the blog The Cottage Kitchen. She lives in a charming cottage in the English countryside with her English Pointer, Mr. Whiskey. How cool is that!

This is much more than a cookbook. This is the story of one woman’s settling into  a new life and home.  The writing is divine and will draw you into Marte’s life.  The food and the dog will make you stay.

My gorgeous finished copy of THE COTTAGE KITCHEN was provided through Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. This one is a real keeper! Published by Clarkson Potter.




Jojo Moyes Giveaway!


Paris For One

PARIS FOR ONE by Jojo Moyes is now available in trade paperback.  It’s a fabulous book, as are all of her books, this one told in short chapters.  Reads like a dream.  It’s just delicious.

Lucky someone out there. I have a copy for giveaway! Please leave a comment below and you are entered to win. With all the craziness going on in our world today, we sure can use a little Jojo Moyes. As always, I have to limit the giveaway to no P.O. boxes, and only U.S. addresses.

I’m including a link to a great reading group guide for those of you who might be reading along with your book club.

A big thanks go out to Penguin Random House for providing my giveaway book. Plus, when I announce the winner on Saturday, October 28, I will have some very exciting news about a very special upcoming book!

Good luck!

What Am I Reading For Halloween?

Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

THE RULES OF MAGIC by Alice Hoffman is actually a prequel to her wildly popular PRACTICAL MAGIC that was published in 1995. It went on to be made into a fabulous movie starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock.

I am not far into this very special edition. I thought it quite appropriate for this month. I don’t  usually read books about witches or goblins, or even Halloween in general. I thought it was about time when I realized what THE RULES OF MAGIC was all about.  I will keep you updated and post a review soon.

Leopard At The Door by Jennifer McVeigh

Jennifer McVeigh

Leopard At The Door

The cover photo featuring an eerie acacia tree in Africa captured my interest immediately. Then I saw that the author was Jennifer McVeigh who wrote THE FEVER TREE  a few years ago. I knew right then that I wanted to read this book.

It’s 1952: Kenya. Rachael Fullsmith is about to step foot onto  land she’s not touched in six years. Not since her father took her to England after her mother was killed in a freak accident when she was only twelve. And he left her there…

Rachael is returning to her father’s farm in Kenya against his wishes. But she has always only felt that Africa was her home.  She arrives to a once-familiar home that is now almost foreign. There’s another woman living with her father. And she’s taken over. It’s not pretty. Of course they don’t get along.

Kenya is in the midst of a revolutionary movement called the Mau Mau rebellion. I’m linking to information about this since it really happened. It’s harsh, true, and terribly blunt. You see, this is not your martini and party novel of Africa. This novel set in Kenya is based on a story McVeigh was given in a small suitcase by a man her father once knew. His grandmother had left photographs that spur this story and bring it to life.

Rachael feels unease before she’s even done unpacking. This new woman has a teenage son who she can tell is not comfortable with the situation. But there’s much more to that story, too.  The rift that occurs between the woman and Rachael is made even wider by the father’s lack of involvement.  And it begins.

Rachael recalls the farm as it was when her mother was alive. Mom was caring and loving and took care of the African people who worked the farm. This new woman is a fascist and a mean spirited person. They resent each other. But the tension is becoming thick between the Africans and the Europeans. Murders have been reported. Some of the victims are whites who have actually helped and worked with the blacks. Everyone is nervous and Rachael’s dad begins sleeping sitting up with a rifle pointed at the door.

With all this angst continuing to grow Rachael finds herself becoming closer and closer to her old tutor Michael. This is bound to come of no good since he is a black African.  Throw in a fierce secret that Rachael has been keeping since the day her mother died. This novel becomes a complicated emotional rollercoaster.

I would never want to live anywhere I had to fear for my life. And that is what the people of Kenya do each night. They fear they will be hacked to death by the mau mau. And many are.  It is ruthless. And quite harsh.  But it is brutally honest. The research proves it. And, in fact, you can be sure, that as accurate as the telling is here, the reality must have been even harsher.

Is there a love story here among the ruins. Yes, of sorts. And you can see that it isn’t possible to end well. But it is realistic.

McVeigh has spent time in East Africa.

Leopard at the Door

Jennifer McVeigh

She has traveled extensively. And spent nights under the moon. The scenes she creates are eerie and so tangible that at times I felt myself wondering if I could actually hear the hyena screaming in the night outside my window… And her sun rises and sun sets are devastating.  You will certainly be transported.

My absolutely gorgeous finished trade paper copy of LEOPARD NEXT DOOR by Jennifer McVeigh, arrived on my doorstep curtesy of Putnam Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

Maurice Will Be On The Move In One Month

I can hardly believe I will begin my lectures in a few short weeks. The hurricane season has completely derailed many of us in this area. Not because we’ve suffered any physical damage. But the stress of the event has taken its toll. You would think I could have taken that time to read like a crazy person. But, NOOOO, I could not concentrate for more than a week. I have spoken to others and they say the same thing. But, now, I’m back and reading full time to catch up. So many great books coming out soon and into 2018. I’m looking over my list and admit there are some serious novels coming up. I must decide how or if I will present many of them. I like a diversity in stories for clubs. But I don’t want a series of nothing but doom and gloom. We need a nice mix of serious literary reads as well as lighter well-written books.

I’m excited as always to see my club members and hear what they are reading.  This year I have more future books than usual. I am trying to read more ahead so I can bring  even more to the table.

Happy Reading!

Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser

Jessica Strawser

Almost Missed You

I was at the library the other day and by chance picked this new novel up and took a look at it. Like I have time  to even think of squeezing anything not on my to-read list right now. However, the premise of this story grabbed me.  I read it in one day. Gulp.

ALMOST MISSED YOU is no literary read. But it’s compelling and the story-line kept me turning the pages. That the novel is set in Asheville, North Carolina, Cincinnati, and Florida, is not too shabby at all.

Okay, picture a happy family: mom, dad, three-year-old Bear. Vacationing on the beach in Florida. Everyone says Violet and Finn were made for each other. And now they have a cute little guy. But, something is definitely WRONG.  Finn takes their little boy up to the hotel room for his nap and leaves Vi relaxing and having some quiet time alone for a change.  To say she is shocked when she gets back to the room and finds it completely emptied of Finn and Bear’s things, is a gross understatement. There she stands, thinking she must have the wrong room because the only things in it are her own. Finn and Bear have vanished. It’s as if they never existed.  Well, that sure got me going.

Any relationship that seems to good to be true usually is. Finn and Violet had first connected on a beach in Florida several years ago when Finn was visiting for the wedding of his best friend. Violet was vacationing alone and really good about it. But they met and before they could even find out each others names, an accident on the beach distracted them and they were separated.  Finn had tried to find Violet by putting an ad online.  But someone else answered the ad….

In chapters that alternate voices, we learn the back story.  Finn’s best friend is Caitlin  who also becomes Vi’s best friend when they have their children within months of each other.  Caitlin knows all about Finn.  Caitlin’s husband George seems so easy-going. But you gotta watch those guys.

Secrets kept rarely end up being good. I enjoyed the pace of the book.  I liked the mystery. It’s a good book to read when you just need something quick. I found it satisfying.

With blurbs by Garth Stein, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Adriana Trigiani, and Lisa Scottoline, you can be assured it’s a good book. Then there’s the blurb on the front by Chris Bohjalian: ” An exploration of the mysteries of marriage, the price we pay for secrets, and just how easy it is to make the worst choices imaginable.”


Houseless And On The Road

Jessica Bruder


When I picked up NOMADLAND  I had no idea what I was getting into. I actually thought it was about retired people just traveling happily across America. WRONG!

This eye-opening new book from journalist Jessica Bruder might have you taking a second glance at that nice couple in the campground. Are they just vacationing or, are they on the move working seasonally anywhere that is hiring?

Many people lost their homes during the great recession. Others lost their jobs. Some lost their nest eggs. Well tens of thousands traded their homes for “wheel estate.”

We follow Linda May aged 64 as she pulls her faded yellow camper named the “Squeeze Inn”  across the country working seasonally wherever she can. Bruder kept pace with Linda for three years and 15,000 miles.  You can’t help but love Linda’s determined,  upbeat, forge- ahead ways.  She’s been a cocktail waitress, an insurance executive, and a trucker. She’s not afraid of hard work.  And hard work is what she does. She’s been a campground host and worked for Amazon as one of their seasonal workers. Walking miles and miles in ten-hour shifts, it’s back-breaking work. They even have wall-mounted fixtures filled with ibuprofen.  The holidays run from October until two days before Christmas.

Grandparents are living in old school buses and vans.  Executives lost their money in the crash. Divorce has caused some to lose homes and livelihoods. There are more nomads on the road than you can imagine. We just don’t have the numbers. What we do know is that people have given up living normal lives. They want to be off the grid as much as possible. They are not afraid to work. They just have to find it and go where it shows up.

I found myself humbled by this book. I think most of us take it for granted that we must live in a house or a condo or an apartment.  We would never consider giving up everything. But what if we had to?

Many years ago Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an import book called NICKEL AND DIMED. She went undercover and worked menial jobs and then wrote about it One of the places she worked was Key West. Another eye-opener.  Check it out.

Immersion journalism. Nice name for important work.

I borrowed my copy of NOMADLAND from the library. I ate it up and licked the plate.