In the Vines by Shannon Kirk

InVinesThe beginning chapters were a bit confusing to me but after you read on, so many secrets are revealed. Horrible secrets.

The story hops between time periods and our main character, Mary Olivia Pentecost aka MOP, is in for a world of hurt and disappointment. She is from a very wealthy family, wealthy as in filthy rich and knowing people with connections. Mop’s mother supposedly died in a horrific accident 2 years previous. In that time Mop is trying to reconcile her feelings, get over her grief and decides to visit her Aunt Liv at the big estate house. She finds her more than odd.

I am OK with a family story that’s a bit creepy but it was more of a horror story to me.  Described as a psychological thriller reeled me in but instead of a Gone Girl psycho-thriller (Yes, that has been a comparison made ad nauseum) it was  mentally gruesome.

The writing style was good but I honestly didn’t research this book enough before requesting to realize it was a horror story.  Way beyond the family drama meets Stephen King.  I’m not squeamish and very much enjoy a good murder mystery but this was a bit out of my comfort zone. Bloody hatchets, a nail gun and all out craziness …… Perhaps I should stick to the Peter Robinson, Tana French and Lee Child sort of themes.

Thanks very much to NetGalley for sending me this book. It’s always an adventure reading new material and authors. My review is based on my opinions and personal taste and I was not compensated for receiving this book.



The Sicilian Woman’s Daughter: Four Generations of Mafia Women

sicilianThis book didn’t grab me completely and I put it down a few times.  I like the cover and sometimes that’s the eye candy that draws you to a book.

This is one of those multi-generational stories and you learn about the women’s role in the Mafia families.  One of the main characters is Mary and honestly, I didn’t care for her much.  Therefore, it was hard to read about her vengeful side and her actions. There were so many characters listed at the beginning of the book that I thought I may have trouble keeping them straight but that wasn’t ever a problem.

One the plus side there is much food mentioned, the kind I like too – rich pasta dishes and bread.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through NetGalley and was not compensated for my review.  I’m sorry I didn’t like it more and that’s probably why it took me so long to get through it and write a short review.

Friday on my Mind & Dark Saturday by Nicci French


Friday on my Mind: This is the fifth book in the Frieda Klein series. It starts with a bloated corpse floating down the Thames River. Once the police have pulled the body out of the water they check for identification but discover there is no wallet or cell phone. The fully clothed body of the man has a hospital band which reads Dr. F. Klein.

Frieda is now a suspect in a murder.

It’s complicated being Frieda’s friend.” Reuben made that statement as a group of her friends and supporters were gathering, trying to figure out where she was. Frieda is accused of murder in this book and we are introduced to a new cast of detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department. My favorite detective, Malcolm Karlsson, is still making appearances in this series. Also a shadowy sort of character named Levin sits in and observes on an investigation. Not sure where he will fit in, reminds you of a CIA characters i movies.

Frieda puts me in mind of a more polished, cooler version of Jessica Fletcher of the Murder She Wrote stories. There is always a murder connecting and threading itself into her life. It’s not a cozy mystery for sure. I was sad to read this one as I liked the character who departed.

Foodie stuff….

“She went to the shops and bought herself enough for the next few days; milk, bread and butter, some bags of salad and Sicilian tomatoes, salty blue cheese, smoked salmon, raspberries and a little carton of cream.

Once home, she had a long bath, then roamed through each room, making doubly sure everything was in its proper place. She ate smoked salmon on rye bread and drank a single glass of white wine.”

Dark Sat Dark Saturday: This one started off so slow I almost didn’t get going. But then…..glad I finished it. Perfect ending to bring you into the Sunday book (which I read first ).

Freida Klein owes someone a favor and it’s time to collect. This rather shadowy character named Levin (who may or may not be involved with the Metropolitan Police) helped her out once. He’s very mysterious. Anyway, in return he wants her to evaluate a mental patient. This patient, Hannah Docherty, was accused of murdering her family 10 years prior. She is now in an institution, old before her time and clearly is being abused.

When Frieda is called upon to give an assessment she comes to the conclusion that Hannah may well have been innocent. Naturally this stirs up a hornets nest with the Commissioner of the Met Police, a man who seems to have a serious and unreasonable dislike of Frieda. Now add some eerie events which may or may not involve Dean Reeve, a stalker the police believe is dead. It gets real in this book!

Food and drink

Josef was cooking some rich, meaty casserole and Reuben was smoking a cigarette and drinking red wine out of a vast goblet.

A conversation between Reuben and Frieda after he has been diagnosed with cancer:

You’d be irritatingly stoical, not me. No one is going to say he lost his brave fight against cancer, “said Reuben.
“You haven’t lost it yet, anyway.” is Frieda’s reply….
“They’re not going to say that because I’m not in a fucking battle. I’m the battleground. That’s what. You remember that. Dying isn’t a moral failure, it’s not a sign of weakness.”

“I agree.”

“Good. Wine?”


I totally get Reuben here. Been there.

Another quote – this (to me) is a great description when the murderer’s identity is revealed and how the person reacts after some bluffing and bravado:

Frieda had seen dynamite demolish buildings from her consulting room window. After the explosion they would stand for a few moments, holding their shape, then their edges would lose solidity and all of a sudden the edifices would waver, then dissolve into a shower of bricks and mortar. Now XXX’s face lost it’s fixed expression of outrage; the body seemed to fold in on itself. XX was diminished.

I could just see that scene play out, it was tense.

So, food notes – not too many but I thought of an older recipe I haven’t made in years once I read about Josef’s meaty casserole. It’s called Julie’s Noodle Casserole. Check it out HERE.

Thank you to Goodreads for Dark Saturday.  I was a Goodreads winner!

Linking up with:

Heather at Spirit Blog for July Foodies Read

Joy for the British Isles Friday event

Beth Fish reads for the Weekend Cooking Series


The French Girl by Lexie Elliott


“We all have our secrets…

They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway…until they met Severine, the girl next door. “

I thought this was a good mystery – lots of people to suspect of killing 19 year old Severine. From the blurb above you’d think the story line was in present day France. Not so.

Ten years after the college get-together Severine’s body has been found in the bottom of a well. The last people to see the young woman alive are the six vacationing friends so they are once again drawn into the investigation. Everyone’s lives have changed so much in 10 years. Some relationships have fractured while others have deepened into a loyal friendship. There are some flashbacks but it’s basically lots of talking, remembering and suspicion about which one of the six killed Severine.

Tom, Seb, and Theo are good friends. It’s Theo’s father’s French country home where they gather and meet the mademoiselle next door. Kate was in a relationship with Seb, Lara is Kate’s best friend and Caro (Caroline) is friends with Theo, Tom and Seb. So, which of the six killed the French girl? Much is revealed about the characters and their relationships, fights, and basically lots of motive to go around.

I stare at Tom as Lara reseats herself and chatters on. He glances at me, but there’s nothing to read in his face. It was so smoothly done; I would never have guessed he was capable of such casual duplicity – once again he is the other Tom, but not Tom. I wonder, is anyone not who I thought? Maybe nobody ever really knows anyone.

Not too much food mentioned in this book:

Tom cooks “the world’s largest Spanish omelet”.

The conversation warms and expands again, slowly regaining volume after a moment of solemnity. More wine is called for and I eat chocolate profiteroles that I don’t really like because by now I’m drunk and will eat practically anything.

Girl’s night of ordering curry, drinking wine and watching a romcom.
Tom orders Kate vodka tonics on several occasions.

I’m all in for the vodka tonic and could do with a curry meal too but I plan to make that later this weekend.


I’m sharing with Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday as this is is a Scottish author and the setting is London. Also with Heather at Spirit Blog for the June Foodies Read.

More about the author: Lexie Elliott

The Secret of the Irish Castle {book 3} by Santa Montefiore

Novels with an Irish setting?  Bring it on!

This is the last book in the trilogy and I can say I enjoyed all the books immensely.  Book 1 is The Girl in the Castle, Book 2 is The Daughters of Ireland and The Secret of the Irish Castle wraps it all up neatly.  Perfect ending if you ask me.

The author does a good job of recapping things from previous books so you’re not lost if you haven’t read the other two books in quite a while.  That being said, you need to read these in order for the character development to make sense.

We continue with the story of Kitty Deverill , Bridie Doyle and Jack O’Leary.  Lots of scenes with the fun characters Harry Deverill, Boysie and Celia. There are ulterior motives for assisting one another with exposing Bride’s husband the faux Count – Rosetta wants to help her friend while Grace is helping so she can get back in Michael’s good graces and his bed.

There are times it’s a soap opera or Facebook drama but if you are a fan of the series, what a page turner.  It’s always nice to be an armchair traveler and visit Ireland.

There were a few food items mentioned but it’s the usual tea, scones, biscuits, cake and fish.  For a fancy dinner salmon mousse, roasted duck and pheasant were served.

I received a copy of this lovely book from LibraryThing. All opinions are my own. A+

The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen


This past February my book buddy Katherine (who writes at I’d Rather Live in a Library) read and reviewed The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen.  Her review is HERE and, if I may say, I ought to just point you in her direction as she mirrored my athoughts with this book.

The story is told in two timelines.  We go back and forth between present day England and Italy with the bulk of the narrative in 1944 Italy.

in 1973 Joanna Langley returns to her childhood home after her father Hugo dies.  While cleaning out his home she finds letters addressed to a woman named Sofia who lives in Italy.  It’s clear her father was deeply in love with Sofia yet he never spoke about her or his war service.

Joanna plans a trip to Italy to see if she can locate Sofia and learn more about her father.  During her stay she meets a wonderful woman who mothers her and tries to teach her to cook.  She also has run-ins with Sofia’s son, now a handsome  businessman and heir to an estate by the man who adopted him after Sofia abandoned him.

Or did Sofia abandon her young son? The plot thickens!  While it turns into a predictable story line it kept me interested.  The end was wrapped up too neatly and wasn’t believable but that doesn’t take away from the overall story.  I particularly loved the scenes in Tuscany and all the food and drink.  Reading this made me hungry!

There is quite a bit of food mentioned in this book and I think it would make a fine candidate for Cook the Books!

  • Roasted lamb
  • A soup of beans, macaroni and vegetables
  • Bruschetta with chicken liver mixed with anchovy, tapenade and thin slices of fennel with goat cheese.
  • Fagioli al fiasco sotto la cenere – white beans cooking with rosemary, sage and garlic.  It’s put in a Chianti bottle and cooked slowly overnight in the embers of the dying fire. Spinach, mushrooms and garlic slowly simmering.
  • Rabbit ragu started with pancetta, onions, sage, garlic and tomatoes.
  • A platter of fresh tomatoes, a slab of white cheese, a few sticks of salami, a bowl of olives and a big crusty loaf of bread.
  • Fried zucchini blossoms and artichokes
  • Mushroom risotto, aubergine Parmesan and panna cotta
  • Limoncello, mussels and clams in cream sauce, Florentine beef steak and a rich almond cake with gelato for dessert.

“Joanna had grown up with simple English cooking – steak and kidney pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, lamb chops and takeaway Indian and Chinese.”


I was planning on the soup and life got in the way so I made the side dish of spinach and mushrooms to go with one of our dinners.

Rhys Bowen in a New York Times best selling author.  She was born in Bath England, studied at London University and now lives in the United  States. This is my first book authored by Bowen but I would now like to read more.  In particular I’d like to acquire In Farleigh Field as the setting is World War II, an era I like to read about.

Linking up with:

Heather for the June 2018 Foodies Read

Joy’s British Isles Friday

Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Series

Ireland the Best by John McKenna and Sally McKenna


Ireland the Best by John McKenna and Sally McKenna

What a wonderfully comprehensive guide for touring Ireland! Having traveled there for two vacations I can say that this is THE guide to take along if you are planning a trip.  I’ve used other guides in the past but this one will have a place on my travels next time.

If it’s a particular county you are looking for you can easily click on to that section of the book. This will be fabulous for planning a trip in the future as well as a handy reference guide while traveling.  Plus it’s on my Kindle so that makes it super easy to tuck into a purse.

One of the sections I am interested in is the prehistoric sites such as Newgrange and the many dolmens. I have been to Newgrange once and it was magnificent. Also the Hill of Tara, but how can you go wrong if you are interested in passage tombs?
There are sections devoted to gardens, literary places, graveyards, castles, abbey and cathedrals and much more. The Strolls, Walks and Hikes section is a must-read if you are heading to Ireland as there are so many beautiful places to hike.

It’s mentioned how the food has improved over the years and I can say that the tired old stereotype about food in Ireland and England is incorrect. We have had some wonderful meals with fresh produce, seafood and fruit that was a real treat.

The index is very detailed and well laid out so you can search out a particular subject easily. Here is a photo of one of the pages, may be hard to read but it’s a good example.


This book was published in March 2018. Check it out at Netgalley and kindly request a copy for your Kindle or other reading device. I can say, this will remain on my Kindle for future travels.

Much thanks to Netgalley giving me access to this to this advanced reader’s copy.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday