"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." ~ Charles W. Eliot
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Child
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." ~ Louisa May Alcott

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just for Christmas


Each December, I like to read books with a holiday theme. I happened upon Just For Christmas when I placed my last book order and thought I would give this (new to me) author, Scarlett Bailey, a try.

Alex Munro has left Scotland for Poldore, Cornwall. She is escaping two majors incidents in her life. First, she declared her love for her best friend Marcus at his engagement party which backfired on her. Then she came home only to walk in on her father with his lover who also happened to be the lifelong next door neighbor. She had grown up without a mother so this was a major shock to Alex and she decided it was time to move away and find a new life.

Upon arriving in the little village, she found a dirty, rundown cottage which went along with the job. But worse, it came with a dog who was even dirtier and quite vicious at their first meeting. Bouy came with the job as harbour master. Alex did not want a dog and wanted to simply get settled in and hopefully start to become part of village life.

Alex is a likable character who becomes lovable as the book moves on and she starts to fit in with the village life. She is a young woman who is herself and loves doing her job which happens to be a position normally held by men. I enjoyed watching her bloom into being able to be the tomboy figure needed perhaps to hold such a male oriented job while discovering her female side as she gets to know a number of the humorous villagers. Add a pushy aristocrat who is organizing the annual Christmas pageant and has Alex in her sights and you have a fun, humorous read for the holidays with a little romance thrown in.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman is not only a book of historical fiction but of romantic love and love between a mother and their child. It is a story of how love can turn to tragedy and be healed again through that same love.

Tom is a WWI veteran who comes to the Australian town of Partageuse to take up his newly appointed position as lightkeeper on Janus Rock. The first person he meets upon arrival is a pretty young woman feeding the seagulls. Isabel is full of life and yet Tom loves his dear Izzy and asks her to marry him. This means a secluded life on the island where Tom guards the lighthouse. This duty is one that Tom takes very seriously. He is meticulous in his following of the rules of duty just as his flowing hand writing is as meticulous.

Izzy has had her third loss of a child. When a boat drifts on to Janus Rock, she thinks she is hearing the distant crying of her just buried son but a baby is found in the boat wrapped in a lady's cardigan laying alongside a dead man's body. Tom must do his duty and report the find in his log book immediately then signal for help. Izzy tends to the little helpless life of a distressed baby who is hungry. Her gift from God? At that instant a decision is made that will alter the lives of many people forever.

This book compels you to feel compassion in your heart to all those touched by a decision made whether right or wrong. It shows a face and heart behind all sides of a story. It shows you there is not only black and white to things but also grey where love resides. M.L. Stedman has given us a beautifully descriptive story of a beautiful landscape. A must read for 2013!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Broccoli-Leek-Mozzarella Quiche

We love quiche as a light and simple meal. I played with a new combination for dinner Sunday evening.

Broccoli-Leek-Mozzarella Quiche
This recipe is for a small sized quiche. My quiche dish is 6-1/2 inch. If making a larger quiche double the ingredients and increase the baking time.

3/4 to 1 cup broccoli rosettes
1 small sliced leek
1 ball of mozzarella
2 pinches mixed Italian herbs
2 eggs
freshly ground salt and pepper
puff pastry - 4 squares

Thaw the frozen puff pastry sheets and press in a buttered quiche dish. I used 4 squares which I left standing higher out of the dish to give the dough a rustic look.

Blanche the broccoli to take the bite out of the vegetable but not allowing it to get soft. Drain and place in the dish. Drain the mozzarella and dice. Place the cheese over the broccoli and then sprinkle with mixed herbs. Fry the leek in a pan until just turning glassy. Place over the broccoli-cheese.

Break two eggs in a glass measuring jug. Beat well. Add enough milk to bring it up to one cup. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the vegetable-cheese and place in a 180C/350F oven for 30 minutes.

This quiche seems wet when you slice it due to the mozzarella but just be sure the egg is baked through.

Eet smakelijk!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club


Does Wanda E. Brunstetter write a bad book? I don't think so. My mother and I fell under the charm of her books when she brought out the Daughters of Lancaster County series.

This book was enormously fun. Now I have to admit that I had to put it in my Audible basket because of the title alone...The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club. It just had to be part of this year's books list for me as a quilter. I was not disappointed...well...maybe I was when the book ended and I had to leave the story.

Emma Yoder decides to advertise for a beginner's quilting class. She is a widow and doesn't want to be a burden on her family. Her class fills up with participants and she awaits to meet them. What shows up on her doorstep are an amusing group of people that don't really fit well together. Pam and Stuart are a married couple going through marriage problems who were advised to do things together, Paul is a widower raising a baby girl on his own after loosing his wife in a tragic accident and wanting to finish the quilt she started, Star is an aspiring singer/songwriter who grew up with a rocky relationship with her mother and no dad, Ruby Lee is a preacher's wife who is questioning her faith as her husband faces problems in his church community and Jan who is a Harley biker who wants to find his creative side.

It was fun to picture these colorful characters in my mind as the story developed. They got the name Half-Stitched as they all seemed to be going through their own emotional problems. It also fits as they piece together their very first patchwork wallhanging during the class.

If you like Amish or quilt fiction, this is a fun book and will keep you amused and wanting to read more.

Happy reading!

Monday, November 11, 2013

At Home on Ladybug Farm


I picked this book up to read as I thought it would be fun while we were having a new and special wood floor put in our house. I was not disappointed. I loved the first book in this series called A Year on Ladybug Farm but this book was even better!

We are back on Ladybug Farm one year after the life changing decision was made to make this move. Cici, Bridget and Lindsay are still restoring the 100 year old house and farm. But this household is growing. Cici's daughter has left college and moved in. She wants to make a contribution to the farm and continue life there instead of going back to college. Lindsay has taken on fostering Noah who was camping out in the folly on the farm. He is now a part of the household and living in the house. Noah is not used to sticking around and family life. Throw in a pet deer, a flock of sheep with a possessed sheepdog and the hilarious housekeeper Ida Mae to make life on this farm always surprising and fun to read about.

This time we are able to glimpse into the story of the past on Blackwell Farm which was the original name of the farm. This past is becoming slowly visible during renovations. The discoveries are becoming better as they go along. And yes...I am being a little cryptic as I do not want to give anything away. If you love books about homes, history and family-village life, you will not be disappointed by this book. Be sure to read the first book before starting on this one though.

I am going to be ordering the third book now and am looking forward to my next visit to the farm!

Happy reading!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Wedding Dress

The Wedding Dress

When I started listening to The Wedding Dress, I had to get over the phony southern accent used by the narrator. Eventually, the story started to become magical enough to make me forget the irritation of her accent.

Charlotte Malone owns a wedding boutique. She is famous for being able to always find the perfect wedding gown for her clients. But she herself is unable to find the right gown for her upcoming wedding to Tim.

Tim decides out of the blue that he only wants to remain friends and not get married after all.

At an auction, Charlotte buys an old chest which is welded shut. She takes what felt like a very long time in the book to open the chest but finally calls on Tim to help her get it open. What she finds inside is a vintage wedding dress that looks brand new. While looking into who the previous owner of the dress was, a story of three brides begins to unravel in front of her. A story that could lead to a major discovery in her own life.

This is one of those books that reflects a parallel story along with present day. We hear the story of Emily and her engagement to Phillip alongside the story of Charlotte buying the chest. You know the connection must be that the dress Charlotte will find in the crate will be Emily's as you read and wait for the story of the connection. But you are brought to meet Hillary as the owner of the wedding dress when Charlotte finally opens the welded chest. Rhe story takes a mysterious twist as we hear Hillary's love story and how she got the dress and how. This takes us to meet Mary Grace and her husband. A dress made back in 1912 becomes a special garment with a magical quality.....

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nell's Quilt

Nell's Quilt

I just closed the cover on Nell's Quilt by Susan Terris. I am feeling very disturbed and not sure how to even start writing a review for this book. I bought this book thinking it would be about a young girl making a wedding quilt in 1899. I did not count on the dark and depressing story that would unfold in its pages. I know that eating disorders exist and it cannot be easy for the person experiencing them or their families but it was very unexpected that this is what the story is about.

I had no idea when I bought it as the book description is misleading once again. This happened to me once already this year in another book called The Fisherman's Quilt. What is sad to me is that the descriptions of Nell making her crazy quilt down to the stitches used were very good. The writing of things going on in the daily life of Amherst, Massachusetts in 1899 were also intriguing. But the dark nature of this book just left me asking what the author was thinking and why would she write it intended for the young girls she had as her target market?

As a quilter, I find it is leaving me with a dark cloud around me and I just want to put on an audio book to entertain me and quilt away these feelings of distaste from this book. Needless to say, I would not recommend it to anyone and would not want my child to read it.

Happy reading!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Julia's Chocolates

Julia's Chocolates. Cathy Lamb

"I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota."

This is the opening sentence to Cathy Lamb's novel Julia's Chocolates. I loved this sentence and sat back waiting for a new wonderful story to unfold in front of me. Had I know more details about this book I would not have bought it. It deals with female sexuality in a very open and naked way. So as I was reading the first third of the book, I was wondering if I would make it through it.

I am glad I pushed through my doubts as I just loved this story!

Julia is running away from Robert and his abusive behavior. She finally found the courage to walk away on her wedding day. She runs to her Aunt Lydia's farm. She arrives to be thrown into membership of the Psychic Nights. There she meets a few woman, Aunt Lydia's friends, of the small town of Golden, Oregon.

Lara is married to the local minister Jerry. He is kind and caring but Lara feels lost. She grew up a minister's daughter so should be made for the roll but finds she is hiding her true self.

Caroline is living a life on little means and is physic. She sees and hears cries of help from all over the world which is a heavy burden for her to carry.

Katie is a mother who is married to a drunk and abusive husband. She works hard running her own private cleaning business to care for her children. Yet her husband drinks their money away.

Aunt Lydia is an eccentric old lady. She has her own ideas and rules in life. She runs her farm with her pig and many chickens. She loves Julia with all her might and feels guilty for not having been able to take her away from her abusive mother when she was a child.

And Julia...who is very down on herself and trying to find her way to start a new life. She is recovering from spending her life being abused by her mother and fiancee. She has a gift for making chocolates. It helps her to make them to forget.

In the course of the story, Julia will discover she belongs in Golden and she has much to give others. I will not spoil the book for others by saying more as it is a book well worth picking up. This is a book that has you cheering for the women.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

16 Lighthouse Road

16 Lighthouse Road: Cedar Cove, Book 1

Well my mother was right. I finally read the first of the Cedar Cove books and loved it. Debbie Macomber has created a memorable place full of heartwarming people.

16 Lighthouse Road is the home of Olivia Lockhart. She is a family court judge. When Cecilia and Ian Randall seek a divorce in her courtroom, she denies them the divorce feeling they have not tried hard enough to make their marriage work. Sitting in the courtroom is her mother Charlotte. A woman who's heart is in the right place and loves to share her opinion.

Justine is Olivia's daughter. She has a career and a boyFRIEND with the emphasis on friend. Jack is the local newspaper's editor. He enjoys a fun banter of a new friendship with Olivia but is looking for much more. Grace is Olivia's best friend. She is about to become a grandmother but in the midst of it all her 35 year old marriage seems to be over when her husband Dan disappears.

I am not going to go too much into details as I would  not want to spoil the book for others. It is a book for anyone who loves a series where you can be drawn in and feel like you are really in a small town watching the people there. I know this is now started as a series on Hallmark Channel. I do not get that here but knew that Andie MacDowell was set to play Olivia. What a perfect match with the character in the book. Who knows...maybe some channel in Holland or England will pick this series up...

Happy reading!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Tangled Summer

A Tangled Summer

A Tangled Summer by Caroline Kington is a book that I saved for reading in the summer months. It is a fun book with humorous moments of the Tucker family just being themselves.

This books is set in the sleepy village of Summerstoke. Marsh Farm has been in the Tucker family for years. Gran (Elsie) set herself up creating a bedroom, kitchenette and sitting room in the attic when her husband suddenly passed away and allowed her son Jim to take over the farm along with his wife Jenny. But when Jim also suddenly passed away, the farm was left to the two grandsons, Charlie and Stephen. Both brothers seems to be at odds about how they want to run the farm. Charlie, a relic of a time gone by is also a schemer as well as a man of agriculture. Stephen who is the quieter brother is a dairy man.

The farm is running down. Elsie sees all that is not being cared for and with those worries combined with the wild oats seeming to be sewn by her granddaughter Alison, she decides she must act to challenge the family to put things to rights. The brothers must find a wife in a year of they will loose their inheritance. But Charlie is determined to save the failing farm in his own way While Stephen likes things the way they are. Ali is told she must go to university to become a vet.

This is a book that not only holds a humorous story line but also endearing characters. At one point in the book, Charlie is described in comparison to Pa Larkin  I loved watching the Darling Buds of May and could see the comparison. You could not help but love him by the end of the book. Stephen is the underdog and I love to root for the underdog. Thankfully my cheers were not in vein. Alison is coming of age. She comes across as a mixed up spoiled little girl but she has come of age by the time the family comes together for another meeting. Jenny is a mother that you just have to take to heart. She struggles with most things in life with the exception of knitting.

The villagers are there too. From Linda and Stan who run the pub to village post office and shop owner Rita to Jeff the local vet to The Merefield sisters and Nanny to Simon and his dog Duchess to Hugh and Veronica "just call me Vee" Lester to Paula and Lenny. With this cocktail of amusing characters, I felt I was reading book that could be easily turned into an itv film. A light fun and entertaining read that is just right for the heat wave we are experiencing right now in Holland.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Slice of Murder

A Slice of Murder (Pizza Lovers,  #1)

I borrowed this book from my mother's Nook and have really enjoyed the first of the Pizza Lovers mystery series by Chris Cavender.

Eleanor Swift owns the local pizzeria of Timber Ridge, North Carolina. Her sister Maddy works with her after Eleanor's husband Joe was killed in a car accident. When her delivery boy calls off sick, Eleanor decides to do a run to deliver a pizza to Richard Olson but, when she arrives at his house, she sees him laying in his kitchen with a knife sticking out of his chest. She calls local police chief Kevin Hurley but, to her surprise, he places her on this top of his list of suspects. The best way she sees to get herself off that list is to do some fact finding with her sister to find the real killer. The more they dig, the more they realize that most of this small town should be listed as a suspect.

I liked the banter of the two sisters, Eleanor and Maddy, in the start of this series. It was a bit predictable but then I kept trying to convince myself that the obvious must be wrong. So for that reason it must be a success right? It is Jessica Fletcher ... Blue Ridge Mountain style ... predictable but fun. But beware as it makes you want to have a pizza. And guess what we had for dinner tonight? Seriously ... we had pizza. *grins*

Happy reading!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Wild Goose Chase

Wild Goose Chase (A Quilting Mystery, #1)

Wild Goose Chase is the first is Terri Thayer's quilt mystery series. This is a book that has been sitting on my bookshelves for ages along with book two and three. Time to immerse myself in the fun of quilting, fat quarters, rotary cutters and murder. Being a quilter makes this book all the more fun to read. 

Dewey Pellicano inherits her mother's quilt shop after her mother dies in a hit and run accident. It is the first time the shop Quilter Paradiso is setting up a stand at the state quilt extravaganza without Dewey's much loved mother. Dewey has taken over and is trying to install a new computerized sales systems while her sister in law Kym is trying to thwart it in all directions. Famed quilter Claire Armstrong offers to buy the shop from Dewey insisting she was already buying it from her mother. But when Dewey discovers Claire's dead body from an accident with a rotary cutter, she is stunned and wondering what to do next. When a second murder takes place, it is obvious that Claire's accident was not that at all and Dewey tries to piece together the puzzle of just who is at this quilt show with deadly intent before another body turns up. 

As with most of the cozy mysteries I read, I have trouble writing a review as I really would not want to give away any of the hints of the book. Dewey is a likable new sleuth. If you are a quilter like me, you will love this book. Even if you don't quilt yourself, it is a great start to a new cozy mystery series. 

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tea with Emma

I have been in a tea mood lately so decided to make myself a nice pot of hot Darjeeling tea and start reading Tea with Emmy by Diana Moody. This novella is part of a series of three. Each book stands apart. It was a nice read with a little Jane Austen thrown in. That can never be a bad thing.

Maddie and her friend Lanie have just returned from a trip to England where they visited Chawton and saw Jane Austen's cottage. While there they visited the tea rooms across the road from the cottage and Maddie got the idea to start a tea room of her own. She would bring Austen to Austin...Texas that is. On the plane, they seem to be annoying Scrooge who is sitting in front of them. Back home, Maddie discovers Scrooge's real name is Dr. Ian Grant and he is living in the guest house of the university which is across the street from her own home she shares with her grandmother.

Maddie decides that she wants to be a modern day Emma and do some matchmaking. But as with Emma in Jane Austen's time, it seems to go all terribly wrong.

A fun and quick romance that might have you running to make a cup of tea. I particularly enjoyed it as I dream of starting a tea garden myself. If only I lived out in the country.....

My only comment is the Christian theme to the book seemed forced and disconnected to the story.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Day Job

The Day Job: Adventures of a Jobbing Gardener

The Day Job - Adventures of a Jobbing Gardener is a book written by Mark Wallington. A fun compilation of stories about the people Mark worked for while gardening as a means to earn some money in 1980. While Mark's dream is to become a comedy writer and he continues to submit scripts to the BBC, he is getting to know many of the people who are the face of North London. In writing about the various people he works for, you cannot help but feel he has grown to enjoy the faces of his day job.

You cannot help but find the people like Joan and Jamie, Annie Kendal, Mr. Nugent, Major Chesney and Kenneth likable and endearing.

Mark has to do battle with his competitors Powerflowers.

You watch the friendship develop with Helen while you hear about his flatmate Neil and neighbor Mandy or his co-comedy writer Dick.

In short this is a book about people and that is what makes the world go around.

Happy reading!Heidi

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pasta with spinach and cream cheese sauce

We eat pasta often in our home. I love how I can test out new combinations or simply use up lots of delicious veggies in the fridge. Making tasty pasta dishes is not difficult or time consuming. This spinach and cream cheese sauce couldn't be easier to whip up when time is short.

Pasta with spinach and cream cheese sauce for two
Pasta of choice - I used fresh fungi tortellini this time but this is good with any pasta!
450 gr (one pound) fresh spinach - this slinks down to just enough for two
about 3 tablespoons fresh cream cheese with chives
2 tablespoons half and half
salt and pepper
handful of pine nuts
Parmesan cheese -flaked
Optional - slices of Parma ham

Cook the pasta according to instructions. Wilt the spinach in a large pan and drain. Add the cream cheese and half and half allowing the cream cheese to melt. Salt and pepper to taste. Toast the pine nuts. Serve your pasta on a plate pouring the spinach sauce on top. Sprinkle pine nuts and Parmesan flakes over the sauce. Top with slices of Parma ham that has been placed under a grill under crispy.

** Be careful to keep a close eye on the Parma ham under the grill as it does burn easily. **

Eet smakelijk!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Fisherman's Quilt

The Fisherman's Quilt

It is rare that I really lash out at a book but The Fisherman's Quilt by Margaret Doyle is awful! It is a shame that a tree was killed to print these pages. It might redeem itself by being thrown into our wood stove for a little warmth tonight.

I got as far as the third chapter and decided it was time to bury this book for good. For me, it is not often that I do not finish a book even if I am not enjoying it.

I am offended by the referrals of the publishers that this book will appeal to quilters. Even browsing through other chapters I had not yet read through, the quilting reference is very far sought. No quilters I know would enjoy only one reference to a thrown together quilt in the beginning and then moving on to a story of a whining and maladjusted drug using girl who makes a move to Alaska. Sorry but I know of no one among my quilting friends who would use or talk about casual buying, selling and using of cocaine as is done in these pages. On top of it all, I do not see the relevance to what the story seemed to want to develop into.

Happy reading!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Death in the Cotswolds

Death in the Cotswolds

The third book in the Cotswolds Mysteries by Rebecca Tope is Death in the Cotswolds. This book has a different twist as it is told by Ariadne who is DI Phil Hollis' Aunt Helen's neighbor.

Aunt Helen has passed away and Phil brings Thea to her cottage to sort through his  aunt's things while spending a week together along with their three dogs. In the little village of Cold Aston, life is quiet while a pagan group is planning Samhain (which are the origins of Halloween) celebrations. This group is frowned upon by the Freemasons who are very active and secretive.

Ariadne sells knitted items and is juggling this with her planning for the upcoming event. She discovers one is her knitters dead having been stabbed by a knitting needle while taking a walk on Notgrove Barrow which is the ancient place designated for the celebrations. Life is turned upside-down for Ariadne as she is interviewed by police as to her and her friends whereabouts during the crime.

In the middle of it all, she seems to be befriending Thea who is being left alone more often as Phil works on the case during his week's vacation time. Will she and Thea stumble into the killer among the villagers?

If you like cozy mysteries that have all the atmosphere on a small English village can bring, this is a series I can highly recommend. I am off to book four now...

Happy reading!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan was a book I kept debating about getting. When my blogging friend over at Cornish Cream recommended I read it, it went right into my Kindle in the form of the Audible version. Thank you so much Barbara for recommending I do get it as I enjoyed it so much that I will be listening to the following book very soon too.

Issy bakes! When she is made redundant from her job, she decides to just go for it and create a cupcake café. She has the perfect little shop in mind to house this new adventure. Her first hurdle is to get a rental agreement for the shop while another woman is also trying for it. She wins out and sets up an adorable little place. Her second hurdle is to get people through the door. In the course of time, she starts getting to know more and more people in the neighborhood. These are characters you will enjoy meeting as they come through her door. It almost makes you feel like you are sitting at a corner table enjoying people watching as you sip on a latte and nibble on one of the cupcakes.

This is a fun book that is full of endearing people. It is a book that makes you cheer in the end. It was a perfect companion to quilting or crocheting while I listened.

Happy reading!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Lantern

If you enjoy a good ghost story and a mystery with twists and turns while also enjoying sense of smell and atmosphere, then Deborah Lawrenson's The Lantern is a good for you. I had read a number of reviews online and was prepared to be disappointed with this book. I was not at all disappointed and was surprised now at the reviews.

This is Eve and Bénédicte's story...one set in the present while the other is set in the past. On the surface, it is a ghost story set in a beautiful old and rundown farmhouse set in the Provence. Eve lives today and senses not being alone in the farmhouse she buys with boyfriend Dom. But as she meets Sabine in the village, she begins to wonder if she really knows Dom at all. She knew he had a previous marriage but her suspicious about his ex-wife Rachel keep growing stronger.

In the meantime, we meet Bénédicte Lincel who is the younger daughter of the farmer who lived in the farmhouse. She is the sister of the blind and scent gifted Marthe who became a famous perfumer in Paris. But this family is tormented and that torment seems to have seeped into the very stones of the farmhouse.

The ending twists and I love this quote from the book:
" All of which goes to show how dangerous it is to assume connections where there are none, to link events that have no link, to want tidy story-telling when real life is not like that, to draw too much on the imagination when it is often misleading."

If you enjoy being caught up in the senses as well as intrigue, I would say give this book a try. I really enjoyed it and it kept my attention to the very end. It is a book that I feel could have been a true story. A great summer read that will take you to Provence, France without leaving the comfort of your chair.

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Secret of the Knot Garden

I so enjoy reading really good children's literature and The Secret of the Knot Garden by Diana Harker did not disappoint.

Joanna is sent away from London to the village of Barton to live with the Ware-Gillows as it would bring her closer to her father who is a naval officer in Liverpool during WWII. She feels very alone but soon meets Dip and Tony from the village. They become friends in a worn torn English village. Joanne finds the stories of a ghost of a nun in the hall where she lives intriguing. The ghost is believed to be that of Colonel Sayer's daughter Alice who disappeared into thin air towards the end of the English Civil War 300 years ago.

Dip feels suspicious about Mr. Finch who has come to stay while searching for good grazing land in the marshes for the Ministry. When he decides to look into things an amazing discovery is stumbled on and possibly a Nazi plot with spies living among the villagers. He starts to go exploring along with Joanna and Tony. Will they find out if Alice's ghost is really roaming the village and Hall?

If you think you are too old for children's literature, you might want to think again and give this story a try. If you have children or grandchildren, it is an exciting read for them.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bookmarked for Death

Bookmarked for Death in the second in the Booktown Mystery series by Lorna Barrett. And my conclusion of this book? Bravo Lorna Barrett! Once again I am giving her book 5 stars. She knows how to make her characters leap out from the pages and become real. In fact, I want to move to Stoneham, New Hampshire. I want Tricia Miles to be my friend and neighbor. I would be safe as can be with her in the vicinity. And...well...she is a cat lover who named her cat Miss Marple so that alone earns 5 stars in my book. *grins*

Tricia Miles own the bookshop Haven't Got A Clue in Stoneham's book village. It is a shop specializing in vintage mystery books. She arranges a book signing for local mystery author Zoe Carter. The signing is going well but Tricia finds the persona Zoe Carter puzzling. She is more nun than intriguing author. But when she finds Zoe strangled in her shop toilet and the sheriff  Wendy Adams delighting on wanting to find proof that Tricia is the killer, Tricia has to start investigating her second murder in booktown.

I do not want to go into too many details as I find the details in a cozy mystery make them fun to read. And Lorna Barrett is right up there as a favorite mystery writer for me. I am off now to put book 3 in my Amazon shopping basket for my next order.....

Happy reading!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Died on the Vine

Died On The Vine

Died on the Vine is a cozy mystery brought out for the ereader market by Joyce Harmon. It is available on both the Kindle and Nook.

Set in the Passatonnack Winery from Jack and Cissy Rayburn, a man shows up on Sunday afternoon claiming that Cissy first husband who was killed in Vietnam is not dead but missing in action. When this man shows up dead among the vines at the vineyard, Jack seems to be the one suspect with motive for killing as well as the owner of the murder weapon. Cissy has to do something to keep her husband from being arrested for the murder as she realizes that the police are not looking in many other directions. She teams up with her neighbor Julia to start investigating themselves. This leads them to freelance reporter and author Mary Nguyen who has a big secret about why she is looking into the murdered Col. Obie Winslow. A good first mystery as you cannot help but like Cissy and her Julia.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Up With The Larks...Starting Again in Cornwall

Up With the Larks: Starting Again in Cornwall

Just finished Up With The Larks...Starting Again in Cornwall, the memoirs of Tessa Hainsworth. A warm blanket of remembrances of Tessa's first year in Cornwall and becoming a postie. While she takes us through her trials and tribulations of getting grounded in her new country life, she allows us a look into her new found village life. We meet the others living there and almost become friends with them too. Tessa is dubbed Mrs. Posh Postie on her rounds but a year living in her cottage and participating in village life proves she is far removed from the posh London lifestyle she left behind.

I found myself laughing at situation or feeling so down her her in others. I think it is sharpened in the fact that we are also second homers. We have a tiny cottage in the north of Holland which is our home away from the city. I long to be able to do what Tessa did and move there to make it our home. I also understood her feeling of frustration as the emmets (tourists) clog up the roads and towns during the summer season. We have even faced a situation like hers of having to drive in reverse a long stretch of road due to a very rude male tourist who refused to let us pass once. I could really feel her emotions due to that shared common ground.

The only good thing about finishing this book is there are two more books to follow. I can revisit some of the wonderful people in Cornwall with Tessa at my side.

Happy reading!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberly

Death Comes to Pemberley (Unabridged)

I finally finished the audiobook Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James. I had been so looking forward to this book that I think the disappointment was all the sharper for it. I just found the story tedious and drawn out. It took me a very long time to make it through the story. I found no one to pull the story forward among the characters as there was in Charles Maddox in the book Murder at Mansfield Park. Perhaps it was also having read that book that this Jane Austen themed mystery really fell short of the mark for me.

Darcy and Elizabeth are planning a ball at Pemberley. The arrival of a carriage carrying the hysterical sister Lydia crying that her husband has been killed sets the house in an uproar. Darcy sets off with Colonel FitzWilliam to search the woodland for Wickham which starts the wheels in motion to bring a killer to justice.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dutch stir-fry

As I have mentioned before, we are big Brussel sprouts lovers. I have posted a recipe for sprouts with rice before but this one has not developed into this more spicy version. So here is a very tasty way to dress up Brussel sprouts with.....

Dutch Stir-fry
250 gr (about 1/2 lb) Brussel sprouts, cut in half and washed
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in strips and cut in bite sized pieces
1 red chili pepper, remove seeds and finely chopped
125 gr (about 1/4 lb) bacon lardons or chunks
3 spring onions, sliced
good pinch of thyme
3/4 cup of rice, cooked and set aside

Parboil the sprouts about 3 minutes, drain and set aside.

Fry the bacon and red pepper in a little olive oil adding thyme to the meat.

Now add the spring onions and finely chopped red chili. Then add the cooked sprouts to the mixture and warm through. Last, add the cooked rice, mixing well and serve.

Note:  The heat of your chosen chili pepper will determine the spiciness of this dish. Ours are mildly hot.

Eet smakelijk!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tom's Midnight Garden

I saw Tom's Midnight Garden as a film on TV a couple of years ago. Well...actually I only got to see half of it as I started watching it too late. I was totally charmed and knew I had to get the book of the same name by Philippa Pearce. I have not been disappointed. This is a wonderful story which ranks up there with classics like Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden and others.

Tom is not happy as he has to go stay with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in their apartment because his brother Peter has the measles. He knows there will be no place to play or others to play with.

One night the grandfather clock in the hall of the big old house now split up into apartments strikes 13 times. Tom investigates and finds himself traveling back in time. There he meets Hatty in her garden. A beautiful place that he plays in together with Hatty.

But this place is not there behind the house by day. Instead it is a small paved area with dustbins and a parked car. By night, he has adventures with Hatty but he does not seem to see at first that she is growing while he has only been away for a day. Tom convinces Hatty to leave him her skates under the floorboards and when he looks the next day...they are there. Surely Hatty and the garden are real! In the end, the secret of the garden is revealed as Tom is to return home to his family.

Tom's Midnight Garden XXIII

This is the most magical story. I wonder that I had never heard of it before chancing upon the film. It is full of the charms of the garden, house and villages described in its pages. It is filled with a touching friendship across time. This books is for children of all ages. I promise you will be also be filled with its charms when you read it.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is the first in the new (to me) Magical Cats Mysteries by  Sofie Kelly. And what a start she makes with this one!

Kathleen Paulson has moved from Boston to small town Mayville Heights in Minnesota to oversee the renovations of the library. While orientating herself in her new temporary hometown, she stumbles onto a big old abadoned house called Wisteria Hill. Cats galore are wondering around there and two follow her home. She adopts these two cats naming them Hercules and Owen. Or is it as cat rules go...they adopted her. But she feels like her mind is playing tricks on her when she seems to see Owen literally disappear into thin air. But when Hercules goes through a solid wooden door right in front of her eyes, she begins to think she might be becoming the 'crazy cat lady' she doesn't want to become.

But the restoration of the library seems to hit one snag after another with as many mishaps to boot. The biggest mishap seems to her to be finding not only a dead body at the local theater but finding the dead man in question also had spilled some blood in the library before he died. When a note supposedly from her shows up in his pocket, she decides she needs to find some proof of her innocence before it is too late. Sofie is helped along by several new friends and her cats making her feel like Mayville Heights is starting to feel like home.

This book has all the right ingredients with its cozy mystery set in a characterful small town and cats.

Happy reading!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Snyder County Quilting Bee - Story one

The Snyder County Quilting Bee - Volume 1 - Nanette's Needle and Thread

When my mother read the first sentence of this short story, she wanted to read it and lent it to me. The Snyder County Quilting Bee is a series of short stories by Marsha Hubler. But when I read the first sentence, this quilter and stitcher broke out in hives...lol.

"I hate quilting! I hate sewing! I hate anything that has to do with needles and thread!" These are the thoughts of Nanette Peachey but she has to go to the Saturday quilting bee with her mother. Nanette would much rather be out in the barn tending her beloved horses. She is trying to come up with a reason to get out of going to the bees. Her mother comes up with a solution and she is pleased. But when she is out riding with her future husband, she looses a border of a quilt she was working on. Will it turn up?

A fun short story which once again left me wishing I had the complete short stories to read.

Happy reading!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pastures New

Pastures New is yet another entertaining book Julia Williams which has a gardening theme. This really attracts me to her books especially with my longing to get back out into the garden.

Amy Nicolson sells her apartment and takes her son to the Suffolk village of Nevermorewell to start a new life. She is missing her boyfriend and son Josh's father so much after his death that it seems the best thing to do. Right away, Amy starts to feel part of the community and meets many new people through the allotments just outside her back garden. The house she has rented comes with one of those allotments which is just perfect for Amy. Part of her trying to deal with her grief was taking a gardening course so she is looking forward to getting out and digging in the dirt.

She has however gotten off to a bad start with Dr. Ben Martin. A series of mishaps seems to make them see each other in quite a bad light. But then when Amy looks again, Ben is a very handsome man who makes her feels comfortable in her new surroundings...

She meets her neighbor Harry who becomes the father to her and grandfather to Josh that they never had...

She runs into Saffron while walking to school one morning with Josh. What she doesn't know is that she and Saffron share a love of gardening that will bring Amy a new job...

With Gerry who is Saffron's ex-husband and his girlfriend Maddy, her landlady Caroline who was traveling the world but suddenly shows up to upset everyone, Linda the pole-dancing teacher and Edie and Ada with their cakes, there is a fun mix of characters in this little English village. Julia Williams has a way of making the villages she writes about come to life in your mind's eye.

Happy reading!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Vineyard

The Vineyard by Barbara Delinsky (2000)

The Vineyard was my first book by Barbara Delinsky. My mother brought it to me after she read it herself since the setting is a vineyard. My husband and I love wine and drink a glass with most of our evening meals so she thought this book would appeal to me. She was right.

I loved the setting of the Rhode Island vineyard of Asquonset. The descriptions of the Great House had me wishing I could really go there.

Olivia is a photo restorer who needs to find a new job. Her boss has decided to retire and is closing down his business. She discovers a letter among the mail in the office one day asking her boss Otis for any referral he has for someone to come to Asquonset for the summer to help the owner Natalie write her memoir. Olivia convinces Otis that she is the person for the job. It will give her the summer to look for a job and a school for her daughter Tess who is dyslexic. Natalie not only gives Olivia the job but arranges for Tess to have a tutor, a tennis coach and sailing lessons at the local yacht club.

Olivia falls easily into her role but does not plan on confronting her feelings when she meets Simon who in charge of the vines. Simon is Carl's son. Carl is going to be marrying Natalie that summer. But Natalie's own children have something to say about the situation with their father only being dead for six months...if only they knew Natalie's real story.

A sweet love story definitely to be enjoyed with a glass of a tasty vintage.

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Butterfly summer

Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway

I seem to be on a roll lately with really fabulous books. I just finished listening to Audible's Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway and read by Kate Harbour. This is added to my list of good reads. For the description of the butterfly garden alone, this book is worth the read. But who would have thought that a modern ghost story could take place in this setting?

Becky and her mother move to Oakbridge where her mother will start a new job back in her tiny home village. Becky is often alone as it is summer so she spends her days keeping herself entertained at the butterfly garden where she meets Rosa May. They quickly become good friends but Becky wants to keep her friend a secret as her mother would forbid her going to the garden fearing the lake. One day Becky finds a photo in a shoe box under her mother's bed. Her mother is laying in the hospital with a baby wrapped in a pink blanket. Who is this baby and where is her father who left when Becky was very small? Many questions begin to build up for Becky who is afraid to ask her mother as she is not well. But secrets do come out and some secrets change lives forever.......

I am adding the book trailer for this book which might tempt you more to read this book...


Happy reading!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Chocolate-chestnut heaven!

Yesterday, we were in chocolate-chestnut heaven so I am renaming Nigella Lawson's Mont Blanc. *grins* This is an amazing pudding that will leave you scraping the bottom of your dish and wanting more.....

Chocolate-Chestnut heaven
4 blocks (approx. 40gr) of Lindt supreme dark chocolate (I used 90% cocoa)
chestnut puree
200ml whipping cream
2 or 3 small meringue rings

Chop the chocolate and throw into a deep (wine) glass. Top the chocolate with two tablespoons of chestnut puree. Whip the cream and then add the meringue rings crushed mixing well. Layer on top of the chestnut puree. Keep a little of the meringue to dust the top of the cream. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to eat it.

Just look at those yummy layers...enjoy!

Eet smakelijk!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chocolate Wishes

I just closed the book Chocolate Wishes by Trisha Ashley with a sad heart. This book brought me back to the village of Sticklepond after my first visit in her book A Winter's Tale.

Chloe has spent her life raising her little brother Jake. One Easter, she makes him chocolate Easter eggs bringing an idea to her mind of creating chocolate wishes. They are winged hearts with a message inside much like a fortune cookie. She has thrown herself into a thriving online chocolate business and left love behind her when her grandfather informs her that they will be moving to the village of Sticklepond where she will have her own cottage, walled garden and chocolate shop. Her grandfather and aunt will live in the house connected to the shop which is also a museum. Her grandfather is the famous author Gregory Warlock who is setting up a museum on witchcraft and pagan traditions. But what will the new vicar have to say?

Chloe's best friends Felix and Poppy live in the village so she falls into life there easily. Felix seems to see Chloe in a different light but, when ex-fiancee David shows up wanting to move to the area as well as an ex-pop star vicar who is a ghost of the past, Chloe might have a hard time keeping to her desire to live life as a single woman with a thriving business.

This story is a fun story about life, love and families. But in Trisha Ashley's style, the characters are brought to life in the pages of her books. You cannot help but be pulled in with characters such as Chloe, Felix, Raffy and Poppy or the Gothic loving brother Jake, eccentric grandfather Grumps or colorful aunt Zillah or imposing Hebe Winter. The villagers come to like in this wonderful story. I would recommend you first read A  Winter's Tale as many of the characters are mentioned again in this book. But that being said, it could easily be read without the first book too.

Happy reading!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Merry Little Christmas

A Merry Little Christmas

Perhaps it seems strange to review a Christmas book mid-January but don't let this title fool you. It does start and end with Christmas but with a whole year in the life of Cat, Pippa and Marianne in between. Welcome to Hope Christmas...a little village in England. Cat, Pippa and Marianne all have families and lives which give them challenges but also love.

Cat is a cooking writer and host of her own show. She juggles it all with her caring husband Noel raising her four children.

Pippa is a farmer's wife to Dan with a special needs child Lucy to care for along with her two loving sons.

And last but not least, Marianne has twin babies to care for along with her beloved step son and farmer husband Gabriel. She works part time as a teacher.

But when life starts to throw many challenges and tests in their way, these three friends really pull together in ways that carry them through. By the end of the year, all they want is A Merry Little Christmas.

This is my second book by author Julia Williams. I really enjoy how she pulls you into the villages she writes about. You are there with the families sharing in their ups and downs. I found myself a little bothered by some of the language in this book but I know that is life now. But regardless, I will be looking for more books by this author as I enjoyed this one as much as The Summer Season.

Happy reading!

Note: I have put word verification back on this blog. Someone with no life and too much time on their hands has put almost 200 spam comments on a previous book review. I hope this will not stop anyone from commenting on my blog as I love reading your comments. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Brontes' Christmas

The Brontes' Christmas

A book compiled with excerpts of writings of the three Bronte Sisters as well as counterparts of their day. It describes the sober celebrations that the sisters might have shared under the watchful eye of their Aunt Bramwell and their father and  reveals the tradition Charlotte had of taking spice cake to families around her. A chance to read stories and poetry of the season.

An enjoyable anthology of stories and poetry which I enjoyed reading spread across the 12 Days of Christmas.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Amish Knitting Circle

Amish Knitting Circle- Beginnings

This is the first of a series by Karen Anna Vogel. It was described as written in the style of The Pickwick Papers in a series. I borrowed this one from my mother's Nook and really enjoyed it. It is very short and leaves you wishing the complete book was there before your eyes to read if you are a fan of Amish fiction.

Granny Weaver is spinning the wool from her six sheep one afternoon when she decides to set up a knitting circle. Inviting the women in her community that she is praying for, in this first volume, you meet the various Amish women.

Happy reading!