Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel

The Little Paris Bookshop
A Novel
by Nina George

Hardcover, 400 pages

I did not fall in love with this book right away.

I can't even tell you when I did. Certainly reasonably close to the start, but at least several pages in. I may have to go back and read the beginning again, now that I feel that I understand the book a little better. The magic of it. The absurdity and the poetry. The simplicity and satisfying gifts of the Odyssean journey of emotions for these strange characters.

It is a hard book to classify. And I don't think I have ever made so many notes on a novel before. I found myself reading quotes and paragraphs to people. Sometimes long distance.

There is no formula, no recognizable form. The author encourages writers to break the rules and forge their own paths.

And she definitely let the characters take their own paths. Do what they needed to do to heal. To forgive. To live.

Likely not everyone will love the book for what it is. But I did. I sure did.

The characters are mainly men but the tone is feminine. A tonic of a book.

From the Back Flap:

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.

NINA GEORGE works as a journalist, writer, and storytelling teacher. She is the award winning author of 26 books, and also writes feature articles, short stories, and columns. The Little Paris Bookshop spent over a year on bestseller lists in Germany, and was a bestseller in Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands. George is married to the writer Jens J. Kramer and lives in Hamburg and in Brittany, France.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The Wrong Man: A Novel of Suspense

The Wrong Man (430x648)
The Wrong Man
A Novel of Suspense
by Kate White
 Paperback: 336 pages 
• Harper Paperbacks; First Edition edition (June 16, 2015) 

A classic chiller that keeps you hooked and guessing from page to page.

I love a good mystery novel. I love it when they can grab me and keep me and fool me in an intelligent way, all while keeping me enthralled and entertained.

A good book that you feel compelled to bring everywhere you go and start reading at every opportunity. Like in the middle of a sailboat race, while the wind was resting. I might have gotten in trouble for taking my reading fixation that far, but I needed to know what was going on. That's the sign of a good book.

The only bad thing? Ending. When is the next one coming out?

Great book to take to the cottage this summer. Provided you keep a nightlight on, just in case.

From the Back Flap:

She wanted to be more daring, but one small risk is about to cost her everything­—maybe even her life. Bold and adventurous in her work as owner of one of Manhattan's boutique interior design firms, Kit Finn couldn't be tamer in her personal life. While on vacation in the Florida Keys, Kit resolves to do something risky for once. When she literally bumps into a charming stranger at her hotel, she decides to make good on her promise and act on her attraction. But back in New York, when Kit arrives at his luxury apartment ready to pick up where they left off in the Keys, she doesn't recognize the man standing on the other side of the door. Was this a cruel joke or part of something truly sinister? Kit soon realizes that she's been thrown into a treacherous plot, which is both deeper and deadlier than she could have ever imagined. Now the only way to protect herself, her business, and the people she loves is to find out the true identity of the man who has turned her life upside down. Adrenaline-charged and filled with harrowing twists at every turn, The Wrong Man will keep readers riveted until the final page. 

Add to Goodreads badge
Purchase Links

About Kate White

Kate White, the former editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, is the New York Times bestselling author of the stand-alone novels Hush, The Sixes, and Eyes on You, as well as the Bailey Weggins mystery series. She is editor of The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. She is also the author of popular career books for women, including I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: How to Ask for the Money, Snag the Promotion, and Create the Career You Deserve. Find out more about Kate at her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Dehydrator Bible

The Dehydrator Bible
by Don Mercer, Jay Nutt, and Jennifer MacKenzie
Paperback, 368 Pages

Do you DIY? Likely at least somewhat. There is such a good feeling with making your own meals. And growing your own food. Even some herbs on the windowsill.

Next step is preserving your foods. Freezing, canning - and dehydrating!

Yes, I have a dehydrator. I am an appliance junkie. Earlier cultures used the sun and heat to preserve foods this way. I think I could make the leap with certain foods.

Not only does dehydrating preserve your foods, but it concentrates the flavours. Carrots turn watery in the canner - but a dehydrated carrot retains flavour. And can be used in the Zombie Apocalypse. Unlike whatever is in the now defunct freezer.

The Dehydrator Bible starts with a section on dehydrating foods. Which, once you get used to it - is pretty easy. Times and process are important and the authors are tops in their fields in food preparation.

There are 150 recipes for dehydrating foods and another 250 for using the dehydrated foods you have made!

More than just leather and jerky, which is what I generally made. Until now!

Whether for camping or hiking, or to stock your pantry with seasonal foods - you will love having dehydrating as part of your repertoire.

They even have a few dehydrator recipes for crafts!

From the Back Flap:

This 50,000-copies-sold bestseller on food dehydration has been updated!

Whether you grow your own food, buy it locally from farmer’s markets or farmstands or even buy it from a regular supermarket, seasonality still affects its price and abundance. Therefore, it makes sense to preserve food for those times when it’s not as plentiful, or not available at all. Drying food is a wonderfully tasty and easy way to do this.

All of the wonderful original recipes are still here. What has changed is that the “Dehydrating Foods” section has been expanded to include even more comprehensive and complete information about dehydrating foods, along with even more tips and techniques.

The book includes more than 150 recipes for dehydrating herbs and seasonings, fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, and more than 250 delicious recipes that actually use the dehydrated foods as ingredients so you can put home-preserved food to work for you in your home, RV, boat or campsite.

The easy-to-follow drying instructions and time guidelines will make even a novice cook feel like a seasoned professional in no time. So plant a few extra rows of tomatoes or beans, pick a heap of strawberries at their peak or buy that big basket of freshly harvested carrots. Then load up your dehydrator. You’ll be thrilled to be cooking with your own dried foods the whole year through!

Dehydrate your own foods and make this simple twist on trail mix. From scratch! 
There are recipes for every time of day, home or away.

GORP with a Twist

“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts” has come a long way since we were kids. Combine as many dried fruits and nuts as you like to get your favorite combination, and pack several bags to satisfy munchies on the go.

Makes about 31⁄2 cups (875 mL)

1⁄2 cup    dried cranberries    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    raisins    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    chopped dried apricots    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    chopped dried pineapple    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    salted peanuts    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    salted cashews or almonds    125 mL
1⁄4 cup    dried sweet or sour cherries    50 mL
1⁄4 cup    dried strawberry slices    50 mL
1⁄4 cup    toasted pumpkin seeds    50 mL

1.    In a sealable plastic bag or bags, combine cranberries, raisins, apricots, pineapple, peanuts, cashews, cherries, strawberries and pumpkin seeds. Seal and store at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Be sure to drink plenty of water when snacking on dried fruits. You need to replace the liquid you’d normally get from fresh fruit.

Courtesy of The Dehydrator Bible by Jennifer MacKenzie, Jay Nutt, Don Mercer 2015 © Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow

Sick in the Head
Conversations About Life and Comedy
by Judd Apatow

Hardcover, 512 pages

My son bought me the entire season of Freaks and Geeks a couple of years ago for Christmas. The show was brilliant. I can't believe it didn't make it. But that was when I first heard of Judd Apatow. I admit, I am not the most up to date on the entertainment crowd.

But comedians I do know. Both of my sons have made sure my comedy repertoire is intact, and I have been known to introduce them to some of the earlier comedians.

To sum up: we are a funny family. So there.

I loved this book.

At first I was wondering how long Apatow could hold my interest with a series of interviews. No need to worry. Each conversation as is unique as the people in it.

I especially loved the cast interview for Freaks and Geeks.

Judd started interviewing comics as a young teen in high school. Some of the biggest stars he eventually became friends with and re-interviews in this book. It is wild to see the differences in both interviewer and interviewee, as the years and successes have accumulated.

A great read.

From the Back Flap:

From the writer and director of Knocked Up and the producer of Freaks and Geeks comes a collection of intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy from the past thirty years—including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne Barr, Harold Ramis, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham.

Before becoming one of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood, Judd Apatow was the original comedy nerd. At fifteen, he took a job washing dishes in a local comedy club—just so he could watch endless stand-up for free. At sixteen, he was hosting a show for his local high school radio station in Syosset, Long Island—a show that consisted of Q&As with his comedy heroes, from Garry Shandling to Jerry Seinfeld. They talked about their careers, the science of a good joke, and their dreams of future glory (turns out, Shandling was interested in having his own TV show one day and Steve Allen had already invented everything).

Thirty years later, Apatow is still that same comedy nerd—and he’s still interviewing funny people about why they do what they do.

Sick in the Head gathers Apatow’s most memorable and revealing conversations into one hilarious, wide-ranging, and incredibly candid collection that spans not only his career but his entire adult life. Here are the comedy legends who inspired and shaped him, from Mel Brooks to Steve Martin. Here are the contemporaries he grew up with in Hollywood, from Spike Jonze to Sarah Silverman. And here, finally, are the brightest stars in comedy today, many of whom Apatow has been fortunate to work with, from Seth Rogen to Amy Schumer. And along the way, something kind of magical happens: What started as a lifetime’s worth of conversations about comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes an exploration of creativity, ambition, neediness, generosity, spirituality, and the joy that comes from making people laugh.

Loaded with the kind of back-of-the-club stories that comics tell one another when no one else is watching, this fascinating, personal (and borderline-obsessive) book is Judd Apatow’s gift to comedy nerds everywhere.

Judd Apatow is one of the most important comic minds of his generation. He wrote and directed the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin (co-written with Steve Carell), Knocked Up, Funny People, and This Is 40, and his producing credits include Superbad, Bridesmaids, and Anchorman. Apatow is the executive producer of HBO’s Girls. He was also the executive producer of Freaks and Geeks, created Undeclared, and co-created the Emmy Award–winning television program The Ben Stiller Show. His latest film is Trainwreck. He was also the editor of the collection I Found This Funny. Judd Apatow lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leslie Mann, and their two daughters, Maude and Iris.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Truth According to Us: A Novel by Annie Barrows

The Truth According to Us
A Novel
by Annie Barrows

Hardcover, 512 pages

I have been lugging this five hundred page book everywhere I went for the last few days. When we were stranded on the edge of the highway with a flat - I was blissfully engaged in the pages and in another world. Same goes for the mechanic shop, travelling, any and all waiting I have had to do, and general stay-up-past-my-bedtime evenings.

The prose is delightful and takes you to another place.

Like many books - it took me a chunk to get fully immersed in their world. But when I did, I was in love.

I found myself just repeating sentences and paragraphs and turns of phrase, just to taste them in my mouth.

Slow down and discover the world of stories. True, bent, made-up. Doesn't matter, really. In the end.

Truth is both everything and nothing.

From the Back Flap:

From the co-author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society comes a wise, witty, and exuberant novel, perfect for fans of Lee Smith, that illuminates the power of loyalty and forgiveness, memory and truth, and the courage it takes to do what’s right.

Annie Barrows once again evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters. Her new novel, The Truth According to Us, brings to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.

In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. But once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues of ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business that occupies her charismatic father and the reason her adored aunt Jottie remains unmarried. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a new tale about the Romeyns. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

Annie Barrows is the co-author, with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a runaway New York Times bestseller that was named one of the ten best books of the year by Time and USA Today. She is also the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean as well as The Magic Half and its sequel, Magic in the Mix. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

The Best Natural Homemade Soaps
40 Recipes for Moisturizing 
Olive Oil-Based Soaps
By Mar Gomez
Paperback, 224 pages

Why, in this day of naturals and DIY projects, have I never tried to make soap before?

What an incredible gift - straight from the heart and hearth - to be able to give someone. Especially yourself.

My first inklings of soap-making inspiration came when I picked my son up from where he was boarding in the city. His landlady was crazy crafty and had freshly made soaps set out to (dry? harden?). Anyway, I was taken. I wanted to make soap.

That's why I got so excited when I found this book. My history of reading Robert Rose books has taught me that they are a great way to learn about a new hobby or interest. Everything you would ever need to know to get started is right there. Not intimidating - just straight up and fun. And inspiring.

So - who is going to make soap with me this summer?

Luxurious, moisturizing olive oil–based soaps made easily at home.

There are only three essential ingredients required to create these luscious soaps: water, olive oil and caustic soda. Olive oil is used because it has the highest rating as a soap-making ingredient — its properties are known throughout the world. It’s the most beneficial oil for your health and has been used since ancient times thanks to its virtues for glowing hair and skin. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and has the added benefit of being available everywhere.

Once you have these three key ingredients, there are a number of other wonderful ingredients you can use to customize a soap that’s perfect for you. These ingredients include a wide range of natural products, like beeswax, cocoa butter, clay, kaolin, seaweed, goat’s milk and egg yolks. And because soap is such a sensory experience, there’s a comprehensive section on essential oils that create the air of perpetual breeze we all want out of a good soap. You’ll learn the history and therapeutic uses of these oils, along with everything you need to know to choose the perfect scents.

The fascinating history of soap is sure to enthrall, and handy preparation, utensil and ingredient guides ensure that you have everything you need to create store-quality soap at home.

Contents include:
Essential Ingredients
Soap Making Overview
Step-by-Step Instructions
Helpful Tips

Helpful Tips for Making Your Own Soap
From: The Best Natural Homemade Soaps

Natural Is Best

Remember that these soaps have a therapeutic function. In other words, in addition to cleansing, they can help you correct specific problems, generally on the skin. People do not need soaps with bright colors or artificial scents (that’s what perfumes are for).

Making Infusions

In some recipes, you’ll use an infusion instead of water as the base. Prepare it as you normally would any infusion: heat water to a boil and pour into a bowl that contains the herb or plant you’re going to use. Cover it and let it stand for 5 minutes. Strain and weigh the quantity you need for the recipe.

Adding Additional Scent

The amount of essential oil added to each soap recipe is intended as a guideline. You can add a larger amount to the mixture if you so desire. About 1 tbsp (15 mL) essential oil—around 300 drops—per 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of soap is the highest recommended dose. This amount will yield an extremely fragrant soap.


The soaps in this book create more lather with hot water than with cold water. The only exception is Clay Soap (page 167), which shouldn’t be used with hot water, because it may cause red bumps on the skin. However, when used with cold water, it produces a spectacular effect.

Drain Soap Well

Don’t leave homemade soap in a soap dish without a grate in the bottom. The bar will soften up too much, and it will begin to melt away if it stands in water.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Jesus Cow: A Novel by Michael Perry

the Jesus Cow
The Jesus Cow
A Novel
by Michael Perry
Harper Hardcover, 304 pages

The Jesus cow is a delightful, light-spirited tale of a farmer in mid-life whose newborn bull bears a remarkable resemblance to "Our Lord and Savoir, Jesus Christ".

Harley's first words when encountering this apparition? "Well, that's trouble."

And it is. For him, for the town: an eclectic assortment of small town bodies, busy and otherwise, and for his new relationship. Such as it is.

With the arrival of this miracle, everyone's lives are faced with upheaval. Harley in particular.

Ultimately he has to decide what kind of man he is and what his beliefs are.

The nature of man (and woman) and of course the nature of spirituality are handled deftly with humour and an unexpected gentleness in amidst all the chaos.

A fun read that does make you think.

From the Back Flap:

The New York Times bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and bighearted tale—a comic yet sincere exploration of faith in the face of the modern world.

Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor's heart; a Hummer- driving developer hooked on self-improvement audiobooks is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm; and inside his barn lies a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. Harley's best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to sidestep the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called "a scene."

Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door—and Harley's "miracle" goes viral. Within hours, pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a per- centage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy, calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and in the process raise enough money to keep his land and, just maybe, win the woman in the big red pickup?

Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and souvenir snow globes. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.

Add to Goodreads badge
Purchase Links

Michael PerryAbout Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a humorist, radio host, songwriter, and the New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books, including Visiting Tom and Population: 485. He lives in rural Wisconsin with his family.
Find Michael at his website,, and connect with him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.