In The Woods by Tana French{Book 1 in the Dublin Murder Squad series}

I am revisiting my Tana French novels. I’m a die-hard fan of her novels.

Novel Meals

inTHEwoods Going to the bookstores on weekends provides me with ideas for books I want to read. Years back I saw Faithful Place, Tana French’s third book in her Dublin Murder Squad series. If a title and jacket description grabs me I usually check on the author’s other publications. For some reason I didn’t – it was enough for me that the story took place in Ireland and it was also a mystery. Love both.

Recently I finished In The Woods, French’s first book. The book starts with the story of three children who disappear in the woods one afternoon. Jamie, Adam and Peter are very tight friends and have always been so for the twelve years they have lived in the neighborhood. One day they go off playing and don’t come back. Parents start a search, the garda is called in and they eventually find Adam Ryan clinging to…

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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

missingIf you have been reading this blog for a while you’ll know I love a police procedural. DCI Banks and Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad are my absolute favorite series. This book by Susie Steiner grabbed me early on with stylings from Peter Robinson and Tana French.

Manon Bradshaw is the main focus with strong supporting cast of fellow officers and detectives. Sir Ian and Lady Miriam Hind, a high profile family, reports their daughter Edith missing. There is enough evidence littering Edith’s town home to suggest she has been the victim of foul play. A broken wine glass and blood on the floor, the front door unlocked and ajar, coats spilled into the hallway as if a struggle took place.

What happened to the brilliant Cambridge student Edith Hind? The first 72 hours are crucial in finding a missing person alive so the clock is running from the start of this novel.

The things I liked about Manon Bradshaw was the character was written so well, she was so real. The job is her life and thus, she is a 40-year old single woman trying her hand at internet dating, but always putting her job ahead of her social life. I liked her resolve and total focus to her work and solving this “misper” (missing person). I liked her partner Davy and his optimistic approach to everything in his life. I liked her boss Harriet and how the interactions were so believable. But, I am a police procedural junkie so this book really captured me!

Sir Ian Hind, the missing girl’s father, is a royal surgeon who’s employed by the Queen. He is very high society and expects special treatment, obvious from his conversations in the book. You could almost feel sorry for him. As the story moves along you wonder if Edith is alive or did she just skip out on everyone? All is revealed about 40 pages from the end. Everything fits together and there is a big fat twist to the case that will surprise you.

This isn’t a slam dunk, a mystery you figure out early on. That’s a wonderful thing to be surprised when you are reading a mystery.

Food and Drink: there wasn’t much mentioned but I wanted to share the little bit I ran across.

Vodka tonics and pints of bitter and beer, also a Monkfish Stew. Bacon roll, sausages, egg yolk bursting over buttered toast.

Christmas meal at the police station while Manan is on call: “Her canteen lunch of Shepherd’s Pie and Boiled Carrots has collapsed into the four corners of it’s yellow polystyrene box. Brown gravy, Bistro infused, the mince pebble-dashing her throat as it goes down. Piped mash – has it ever been a potato”

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT – so read no further if you have an interest in this book.

My opinion here…..ok I did not like how Manon was suddenly completely besotted with Alan Prenderghast. At the same time, I was hoping the story wouldn’t wrap everything up in a neat tidy ending where everyone gets what they want. Sometimes there shouldn’t be a happy ending so I was grateful Manon and Alan didn’t hook up permanently.
The mystery behind Edith’s disappearance was indeed solved but I came to dislike her by the end of the book. She’s selfish, she didn’t think once of calling to end the massive and expensive manhunt and more importantly, let her mother know what became of her. What an awful thing to allow…..in this, the author carried off the story brilliantly as I felt enough emotion to dislike a character. Well written.

Would I read more by this author? Absolutely! Let me read more about Manon Bradshaw and follow her police career.

Here is the author’s website:  Susie Steiner

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from LibraryThing. All opinions are my own.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday and Kirsty at The Overflowing Library for the British Book Challenge. Also Adding my review to Goodreads.
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F*ck That: An Honest Meditation by Jason Headley

fkThat This book is meant to be a humorous meditation aimed at those who enjoy the humor of say…Saturday Night Live. I have been to Jason Headley’s website before and there are many funny short videos, stories and essays.

While the sentiment is basically – Shake it off – there is language that may offend some folks. I completely get the attitude though as many times, 98% of the time it’s at work, there are people you just want to shake…or curse….or wonder why you have given 29 years to state government and yet your experience and education are completely ignored on many important issues.

Whew – I guess that hit close to home!

The photos are lovely, calm scenes you would expect to see in motivational posters.  The message is to take a deep breath and don’t let the bastards get you down.  Leave the frustrations behind when you clock out for the day or when you have an unpleasant social or family engagement.  I totally get it.

If you would like to check out Jason Headley’s website you’ll find more tongue in cheek humor, not all of it is R rated.

I received this book complimentary from Blogging for Books program. All opinions are my own.

Tasting Rome

romeThe Ex-Pat dream…..living in another country and exploring the food, art and culture. This book isn’t an Italian cookbook. This is a memoir about life in Rome and it’s filled, chock filled, with recipes and history about the dish and the area. The photos are incredibly vibrant and you want to leap into the page, grab one of the savory pies (Tortas) and immerse yourself in the experience.

Of the many things I enjoyed looking through this book is the focus on using fresh and seasonal ingredients. I am a pasta addict and have to limit the number of times I could have it on our dinner table. There are enough pasta recipes to keep me going for a long time. I’ve made cacio e pepe before but never thought to use it as a filling for suppli. What is suppli you may ask? Fried rice formed in balls and filled with mozzarella or mincemeat or the wonderful peppery cacio e pepe. Roman street food. I want some.

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Photo credit

The recipes are easy to follow and I love that they are titled in Italian followed by the translation. This book is certainly appealing to both the armchair traveler and those who love to cook. If you have an interest in Rome and the wonderful foods as well as a historical perspective, this is the book for you. It would make a great gift for someone who likes these topics.

I received this from the Blogging for Books Program.  All opinions are mine 🙂

 

Perfect English Cottage By Ros Byam Shaw

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When I requested this book from the library I didn’t know what a treat I was in for.  This is gorgeous book.

It’s a large book, giving you full benefit of the elegantly photographed and organized pages.  The book is divided into categories such as Romance, Character, Holiday, Elegance and Simplicity.  My favorite is under the Romance section in the profile of Literary Legacy.

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Not all the beautiful old cottages were as lovely as they are now in their restored state. The author reminds us some of those cottages housed large families who lived in close quarters, one big room, and in squalid conditions. While some of those have been restored many were destroyed, newer buildings put in place keeping the “theme” as close to the time period as they can.

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If you like looking at design and the architecture of English cottages, this is definitely a book to acquire. You can get interior design ideas, gardening ideas and more by perusing the photos. I was further educated about the author, Ros Byam Shaw, a Brit living in Devon.

Ms. Shaw is a frequent columnist at The Telegraph. Check out her article HERE about a home in Somerset.

Shaw has also authored many other books such as Perfect English Farmhouse, Old House New Home and Country Escapes. There will be many of her books to give me an English Fix.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday and Kirsty at The Overflowing Library for the British Book Challenge

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All Roads Lead to Austen. A book for the beach or other lazy times

austenYears back we took a family vacation and visited several counties in England,  On my birthday we visited Bath.  You would be amazed how much  Jane Austen memorabilia you can find there.  For me it was intriguing to walk where Miss Jane Austen lived.

This book, All Roads Lead to Austen, called to me as it was about travel, adventure and, of course, Jane Austen books.  I have to admit straight away that I did not finish this book.  I just plain ran out of steam and got a little…..bored.

The idea of spending a year traveling in foreign counties is very intriguing and adventurous.  I know this not only by reading as much as I did of this book, but because I have done just that.  Decades back I traveled around Europe for an entire year and half.  No plans in particular, just roaming and enjoying other cultures.  That is an adventure in itself, although my father didn’t quite agree with that sentiment at the time. LOL

I could relate to that part of the story about picking up books from the countries she visited. Being a bookworm I am guilty of packing a suitcase with books from foreign places, dragging heavy luggage along to enjoy my treasures when I got home. The author did manage to come up with a good reading list from the countries she traveled.

Talking about the Austen novels with her book “clubs” was also enjoyable. But I started losing interest in her nattering on about her family, her mother and the sometimes pretentious observations about her love life. Do I believe she honestly met a Mexican man and moved in with him without knowing much about him? No, I don’t. Maybe it happened but it seemed exaggerated. So did her affair with the Argentinian.

Basically, there wasn’t enough Jane Austen in a story with a title All Roads Lead to Austen. That’s my humble opinion.

Now, one day I need to post about my trip to Bath and Austen-centric wanderings there.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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Make Me by Lee Child

5114SvyFceL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_This year I planned to read all of the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child….if I could. I read the first book in the series (The Killing Floor) and found it to be a bit gruesome. Lots of action, some intrigue, but grisly.

My husband has read all of the series. As a matter of fact, he was finishing up Make Me while I was reading book 1…….he told me that book 1 was indeed a more gruesome book than any of his others. That being said, after we finished Make Me it may also go in the bordering-on-horror style book.  But only at the end….if that makes any sense.

By the way, you don’t have to read these books in order as it’s not a continuing storyline. Therefore, I grabbed the last book when Doug was done with it and read Make Me.

Okaaaaaaaay…….these are my only two references to this series and now I am having my doubts about continuing. It’s formulaic writing with a plot consisting of Reacher ending up in a small town, finding himself in the thick of some trouble that he had no part in, meeting a woman (a few are FBI agents), violent engagements he always wins, bedding the female lead in the book, and then it wraps up.

What I liked about this book was Reacher’s deductions and observations on ordinary events, For instance, Reacher and Chang needed to search a room for clues on the Chang’s partner, another former FBI agent who disappeared. Think about the usual places you would check a room. Reacher points out hiding places we’d never think of such as the inside of the air conditioner near the filter in a plastic pouch for service records. Or the inside of the folding louver doors – no one ever sees that part of the door. Brilliant hiding place.

What I didn’t care for in this book was the grisly imagery at the end. Reacher and Chang found out what happened to her partner and discovered a truly evil illegal business. The descriptions of what they found are disturbing and I don’t want them in my head. Like a song that gets stuck, you want to think of something else to replace it and I most certainly need a happy storyline to push this out. It’s dark, it’s disgusting, it’s frightening that such a situation could exist and it’s purely evil. There is a difference between villains and evil, wicked people.

I’d avoid this book, even if you enjoy a suspenseful mystery, because you will have trouble ridding yourself of the imagery. Or maybe that’s me and a small minority of readers. Next I will be reading something cheerful, or chick lit, or a memoir. I may try another Jack Reacher book but strike three and I’m done. Let’s try that another time.

I have just started The Finest Hours by Michael J. Tougias and  Casey Sherman and so far, I am hooked.

Happy reading!!

Linking to The Overflowing Library for the 2016 British Book Challenge.

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