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FUDGE AND JURY: A Bakeshop Mystery ~Ellie Alexander

Monday, January 16th, 2017

“A delectable tale of murder and intrigue…This bakeshop mystery is a real page-turner, and we look forward to other in the series, just as tasty.” (Portland Book Review)

FUDGE AND JURY finds us in Ashland, Oregon in the most marvelous Bakery one can imagine, which is located just down the street from the Historic Ashland Springs Tower Hotel and the Shakespearian Festival Campus.   Ashland is one of the favorite sites on my list of best places to visit even though I have never seen a play or the Festival in my visits.  I have stayed at the Ashland Springs Hotel and eaten at the pubs after strolling through the wonderful downtown with its marvelous shops and lovely people.  Ashland is also known for it’s snow and ski adventures.

Juliet has moved back to her hometown with a broken heart.  She left Ashland to go to culinary school and then worked on a series of cruise ships where she met her husband Carlos, another chef, who omitted that he had a son and the discovery, was an undoing.   Our lead character has come home to TORTE her parent’s bakery; now run by her mom alone they are busy preparing for the March Chocolate Festival, the biggest Chocolate event in the Pacific Northwest.  The bakery is also getting a kitchen remodel with new ovens arriving and lots of painting and inventory.  Hands are busy and the rain is raining heavy and hard.

“Food is an expression of art and love.”

The book is part of a series and Alexander includes incredible descriptions of textures and smells of the lovely baking, coffee, and chocolate wafting through the building.  There is a cozy feeling to the whole adventure.  There is also a relationship theme to the story.  The workers at TORTE form an interesting group and community; it is evident that there is respect for each other and a joy in their efforts. They each experience the town’s citizens and good people as worthy of respect. At the chocolate festival, Juliet and her mother are encouraging to the other participants and assist the new entrants in their efforts.  It is this caring cooperative spirit that attaches to Juliet’s curiosity and questioning and assists in developing the solution to the murder!

This is a gentle read with some interesting problems to solve and certainly makes one want to read the next in the series and to eat some lovely food, especially chocolate.  Ellie Alexander has created a delightful read with FUDGE AND JURY.

A TLC Book Tours Book

“Ellie Alexander writes the bestselling Bakeshop Mystery series for St. Martin’s Press, set in the Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic, artisan pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw.

Ellie is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.”

Ellie Alexander Twitter 
Ellie Alexander Facebook

The Garden Plot
The Skeleton Garden
The Last Camellia

The Brevity of Roses ~Linda Cassidy Lewis

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

An ad for the Brevity of Roses appeared in my Facebook stream.  I could download a copy for just a few pennies for the next 12 hours and I had just finished my current review read.  What the heck, I will give this book a read!

Brevity of Roses was not disappointing.  This is just a great beach/vacation read and it is actually comforting to think that an older woman could attract such a young man from across a restaurant.  I found this quite plausible because I always enjoyed the students in my classes and they were younger, whereas the fellows my age were not so interested or interesting.

I liked the cultural diversity expressed in this book and how the author played with that theme.  I know many people do not think I like romance books and in general the closer they are to “porn” the less I enjoy them as a good read.  This book had a good story line and some good cooking going on!

I loved that the people did not have any money worries; most of the characters.  I liked that gardening was an element of the story and was incorporated as relevant metaphors.  I thought it was important that the characters resolved conflict and clarified their communications and this made for a delightful story line and follow through. Brevity of Roses allowed me to escape.

I had a bit of a problem with the characters in the first chapter.  So many were introduced and I did not know where that mob was taking me and who was important.   I opened the ‘notes and highlight’ tool on my reader and wrote down each character, then used the note as my reference point, which made the story more interesting as the secondary characters came and left from the telling.

If young Persian successful poet meets mature widowed, retired professor who grows roses and they both share good conversation and work through family issues while exploring the parameters of love is an idea that appeals to you I recommend this book.  Yes! There is a Brevity of Roses.

Would you like to recommend a good beach read or well written romance novel?  Looking forward to your suggestions.

If you purchase anything from Amazon from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Related Reading:
The Love Ceiling
The Swan Thieves
Hannah Coulter
The Highest Tide 

Five Great Reads to Add to Your List

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Here are some great reads that I wanted to share with you because I enjoyed them.  None of these books are on easy topics, but they are all valuable story lines and explore the concept of experiencing trauma and discovering recovery.

1. The Girl Who Fell From The Sky  by Heidi W. Durrow  Based on the author’s own  adapting to prejudice towards being a biracial individual as she relocated  to the United States.  The author premised the book around an incident she read in the newspaper soon after she arrived in the USA.  A gentle story of a young girl figuring out who to be after the death of her mother. Appropriate for young adult readers.

2. ROOM  by Emma Donoghue  This story is told by a five year old boy about how he experiences his life and his mother’s role in keeping him healthy and strong in the worst of circumstances.  I thought I did not want to read this story, but then Delia of RealDelia described it as a WOW and the next thing I knew I was hooked.  Very well written book – I would not recommend this book to  children – it is adult reading.

3. Imperfect Birds   by Anne Lamott    I read everything Lamott writes and I use her How to Write Book as my writing guide – Bird by Bird .   This story does not disappoint and it was hard to put down and go do something else.   This is a contemporary story about how dabbling in drugs helps to mask a teen’s emotions and confusions; those experiences which can enable them to mature and problem-solve. The story is told both by the mother and the daughter as they push against each other and sort out how best to encourage their growth.  Lamott’s ability to create the web of lies involved in covering up is just wonderful, and I wish I had read this story when I had an omitting teenager in my daily life.  The cues and words are all right there as a parental guide book for those with “good, smart kids.”

4. Apologia to My Second Child (Psychology Today article)  by John Hodgman – you know the PC guy on all those funny ads and often a commenter on The Daily Show .   This is an essay from Psychology Today, that made me laugh and brought me to tears as he shares with his yet to be born male offspring.  It is pure pleasure to read – just a joy to discover.

5. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder This is the story of Dr. Paul Farmer’s  quest to cure the world; focused on the cure for Tuberculosis (TB) and particularly antibiotic resistant TB.

I could not put this book down.  I was so impressed with this fellow’s work and efforts that I just sat down and almost did not move until I had read cover to cover.

Not only do I honor this man for the work he does and the change he is bring to our global community, but I wish to encourage you to read this story and figure out a way that you can connect with his efforts or share his story with others.

Whereas I do not think my actions will take me to South America  any time soon, I am so grateful for the work that he is pursuing  I wanted to give this story a Shout Out right here and now.

What books are you most grateful for having read?  What books have inspired you? Here’s a spot to shout out your favorite good reads…..look forward to your suggestions.

Feel free to share this list by using the share buttons.

I did not receive any copies of these books and was not asked or paid to review them. If you order these books and purchase new books from Amazon or Powell’s, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

What are you reading these days?   Have you discovered any of these books already?  What did you think?    Let me know your thought about Hodgman’s essay – please.

I would like to just add that I do not review, recommend, or write about books that I do not like or did not find some level of enjoyment – I have made 2 exceptions.

Related Reading:
American Wife

Breakfast With Buddha

The Highest Tide

The Help

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation ~Jon Gertner

Monday, March 12th, 2012

THE IDEA FACTORY is an incredible read, it is a powerful read; I was so excited by the title when asked would I review the book on my blog.   I thought the IDEA FACTORY was about opening up the reader’s creative ideas and creating opportunities, rather it is a work of History.

The book does excite the creative juices and get one to do some poignant thinking; it was wonderful to fire up those skills and enjoy such a well written book.  Gertner  has  a command of words that was refreshing.   The book is about the period of history 1940s to 1970s when Bell Laboratories, Western Electric, and AT&T had a benevolent monopoly on communications in the USA, particularly as they related to the development of superior telephone service.  The innovations which came out of this monopoly are still being visited today and are creating massive amounts of new technology at an even faster pace.  The innovations that were established by the Bell Labs are the foundation of our technological world today.

Bell Laboratories wanted communications services, “the best, the fastest and the most economical” in the world.   So they went about finding bright young minds who loved the sciences and mathematics and engineering, and inventing and were CURIOUS.   Most were from rural settings and were encouraged by a teacher to find grant money and get themselves to a good school.  Then the Bell Labs set about discovering the “best among the best”, usually referred by their faculty and hiring them to create and invent and produce the equipment they needed to keep communications growing, being more successful and meeting needs.  They paid each young man $1 as they entered the work force for any patents they might develop and gave them a lab – Doors must remain open so other disciplines can wander in and get involved – they were given a problem to solve or several problems to solve.

How to get long distance services across the whole country – from coast to coast.

How to develop a cable that would survive under the ocean?

How to use a single cable to carry 1,000s of calls – clearly

These young men found each other and metallurgists, and chemists, and mechanics to start discussion groups and to problem-solve.   They wandered around and wrote on blackboards in the various labs.  They challenged each other and teased each other until a solution immerged.   The list of what they produced is amazing and the stories of how they came up with these solutions fascinating:

  • Switches
  • Cables
  • Masers to lasers
  • Water proofing
  • Transistors
  • Secret Codes for the WWII
  • Calculators
  • Computers
  • Radar
  • Microwave Antennas
  • UNIX
  • Atomic Bomb
  • CCE = Digital Photography
  • 13 Nobel Prize Winners!

Although institutions such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, and others have great minds working together, they are similar but not as innovative or inspiring with the new, they are creating within a niche. “….the NET is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation.” Nicholas Carr.

The downfall of this experiment was when they had to give up their monopoly and break apart the different sections so that they were not all working together without need for grants.  With the monopoly the BELL LABS did not have to learn how to find funds or market.  The biggest problem was that the USA downgraded education as a priority particularly math and sciences; modern society wants rules, answers, and control and thus curiosity is not encouraged.

“I just don’t think they make people like the kind of people we had; not that nature doesn’t make them just that the environment doesn’t make them.”   Dr. Lucky

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to be amazed by history and to jumpstart their curiosity.   I also enjoyed this book because it made me feel closer to my Father who was one of those brilliant, curious, intelligent young men of those times, who came from a similar background and created an education system that outshined anything else that was in existence and it came to the attention of the Kennedy family.  When President Kennedy was shot it burst the trajectory my Father was on and other people just did not have the foresight to comprehend his work, though many prestigious universities called him to teach and promoted his concepts.

I was also fascinated with the chapter about the Seattle and New York World’s Fairs as I attended both and went to the Bell Lab’s displays and house of the future.

So has anything surprised you recently and been different from your expectations?  Would you have read the book if it had turned out to not be what you expected?   Were you pleased with the outcome?

Penguin Press  and TLC book tours sent me a copy of this book and I promised them a review.

tlclogoIf you order anything from Amazon or Powell’s    I will receive a few beans in my bucket. (Kindle)

Related Reading:
Shiny Objects
The Swan Thieves
The Social Animal
The Procrastination Equation