Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekend Cooking-Frozen Cranberry Banana Salad

Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family by Christy Jordan

Today's weekend cooking recipe comes from the above cookbook. I highly recommend this cookbook. The recipe is also on Christy's website so instead of posting the recipe here I am leaving a link to her post. She has the recipe posted in steps so you can see exactly how the recipe comes together. Christy is just delightful. Her recipes make me think of home and family. I have loved every recipe of hers that I have tried. Many of the recipes are ones we all grew up with and perhaps have forgotten. Many are new to me recipes. All are wonderful and make one think of family. Check out Christy's cookbook and her website. She tells wonderful stories and she posts great recipes! She has saved dinnertime in our household many times! Click on the recipe title below to go directly to Christy's post.

Frozen Cranberry Banana Salad

With the hot weather we have been experiencing here, I am always looking for easy, cool things to make and eat. I had some bananas that needed to be used and I was not about to bake banana bread. I thought about this recipe that I had seen in Christy Jordan's cookbook and decided to give it a try. This recipe is super easy and very refreshing! I made mine with light sour cream and light whipped topping. I also left out the nuts. I just wasn't feeling nutty yesterday. Not only do these taste great but they look pretty on the plate! They would make a nice accompaniment to a nice sandwich or salad lunch plate. I had never heard of this recipe before seeing it in Christy's cookbook. Click on the title and check out Christy's great recipe! This is a recipe I will use again.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.
Weekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love. Be sure to check out all the yummy cooking posts on Beth's blog.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens


From the acclaimed author of Still Missing comes a psychological thriller about one woman’s search into her past and the deadly truth she uncovers.

All her life, Sara Gallagher has wondered about her birth parents. As an adopted child with two sisters who were born naturally to her parents, Sara did not have an ideal home life. The question of why she was given up for adoption has always haunted her. Finally, she is ready to take steps and to find closure.

But some questions are better left unanswered.

After months of research, Sara locates her birth mother---only to be met with horror and rejection. Then she discovers the devastating truth: Her mother was the only victim ever to escape a killer who has been hunting women every summer for decades. But Sara soon realizes the only thing worse than finding out about her father is him finding out about her.

What if murder is in your blood?

Never Knowing is a complex and compelling portrayal of one woman’s quest to understand herself, her origins, and her family. That is, if she can survive. . .

My Thoughts

Chevy Stevens has once again written a book that takes the reader on a wild ride! The reader gets a glimpse of the main character's sessions with her therapist as she learns who her birth parents are. Sara has always felt that something was missing in her life. She hopes that she will feel more complete after she finds her birth parents. Concerned with knowing about her family health history, she moves forward in tracking down her birth mother. Little does she know that she is opening a can of worms that should have been left closed. Her birth mother wants nothing to do with her. When the private investigator Sara hires uncovers a secret about her birth mother, it changes Sara's life forever and puts her in harm's way. Her mother is the only survivor of a serial rapist and killer. Sara does the math and learns this man may very well be her father.

Sara was not always a likeable character for me but I did feel for her. I didn't feel that I needed to like her to enjoy the book. She is flawed as a sister, daughter, fiancee and single mother. She sees a therapist so it is not surprising that she has issues with relationships. The therapist is silent in this book. We only hear Sara's side of the conversations in her sessions. I like how the author has left the therapist's side of the conversation open for us to imagine.

I won't say more about the story as I don't want to spoil it. This book is very intense, as was Chevy Steven's first thriller, Still Missing. I could imagine gloom and doom music in my mind while reading it. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, the story would take a turn I didn't see coming. This is a book you will not want to put down until the very end! I do not read many thrillers but I can't wait to see what Chevy Stevens writes next! She has turned me into a fan of suspense and thriller novels! I highly recommend this book!

I received this ARC for my honest opinion from the publisher. This is no way influenced my review.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WWW Wednesdays July 27 / High Summer Read-a-thon Update

It's already Wednesday. We have a rainy Wednesday here. Great day for reading and a read-a-thon. It's also WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Falling to Pieces(A Shipshewana Amish Mystery) by Vannetta Chapman

I was needing a lighter read after my last read so I decided to read this as it only has 11 days left on my Nook. My husband grew up not far from Shipshewana and I love it there. It'll be fun to read about a setting I am somewhat familiar with.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff

I finished The Orchard and loved it! You can read my review here.

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

I finished Never Knowing this afternoon. I haven't reviewed it yet but I will say that Chevy Stevens blew me away again! Wow! I hope to get the review up this week.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

I think this will be my next read. This is the much anticipated sequel to Shanghai Girls. I have high hopes for this one.

High Summer Read-a-thon Update

I am not keeping track of my minutes. I am trying to make this as easy and carefree as possible while getting some much needed reading done. I started yesterday and have finished one book. I am feeling inspired!

If you feel like you want might want to join in on the fun check it out here. You can start anytime and read as much or as little as you would like.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

High Summer Read-a-thon

I am so bad at these read-a-thons but I have fun participating. The High Summer Read-a-thon is being hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict. It actually has already started. I am late to the party, as always! It actually started yesterday, July 25 and runs through 11:59 pm on Sunday, July 31. Will see how well I do.

I'm starting out with the book I am reading now

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

I will post updates at some point this week. I think flying by the seat of my pants may work out better than having a strict plan. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mailbox Monday July 25

It's Monday again! Time for another Mailbox Monday post. Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Gwendolyn B. of A Sea of Books. Be sure to check out Gwendolyn's blog. Thank you Gwendolyn! Next month's hostess is Staci at Life in the Thumb.

I am pretty excited! I am going to host my very first giveaway next month. Be sure to stop by next month to enter. If you have any tips for hosting a giveaway I am all ears!

No review books for me this past week. That is okay since I have plenty to read. I did pick up a Nookbook and a paperback book at Walmart today. I must say I was a bit disappointed with the book section at our Walmart. It is sad and half empty. I love the book section at Target. Book jump into my cart there all the time.

Have you read either of these books? If so, did you like them? What fun books made their way into your home?

Farm Fatale by Wendy Holden

The must-have novel from smash UK bestseller Wendy Holden! Cash-strapped Rosie and her boyfriend Mark are city folk longing for a country cottage. Rampantly nouveaux-riches Samantha and Guy are also searching for rustic bliss—a mansion complete with all the fancy trappings. The village of Eight Mile Bottom seems quiet enough, despite a nosy postman, a reclusive rock star, a glamorous Bond Girl, and a ghost with a knife in its back. But there are unexpected thrills in the hills, and the two couples are soon swept up in various romantic entanglements, mix-ups, slip-ups, and unlikely seductions in their search for ever-greener pastures.

The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand

Adrienne Dealey has spent the past six years working for hotels in exotic resort towns. This summer she has decided to make Nantucket home. Left flat broke by her ex-boyfriend, she is desperate to earn some fast money. When the desirable Thatcher Smith, owner of Nantucket's hottest restaurant, is the only one to offer her a job, she wonders if she can get by with no restaurant experience. Thatcher gives Adrienne a crash course in the business...and they share an instant attraction.

But there is a mystery about their situation: What is it about Fiona, the Blue Bistro's chef, who captures Thatcher's attention again and again? And why does such a successful restaurant seem to be in its final season before closing its doors for good? Despite her uncertainty, Adrienne must decide whether she'll move on, as she always does—or finally open her heart…

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Lemony Cole Slaw with Raisins

I am always checking out new cookbooks and recipes. I found a few cookbook gems at my local public library recently. The only bad thing about that is now I want to buy these books. Trying them out from the library is a good idea since I do have a stack of cookbooks that I have purchased and have never really used. I think I will purge some of them and send them to the next library sale. I am very fond of this cookbook and wanted to share it and a recipe with you this week.

The Deen Bros. Take It Easy: Quick and Affordable Meals the Whole Family Will Love

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1St Edition edition (September 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345513266
ISBN-13: 978-0345513267

This cookbook is full of quick and easy recipes for those busy nights in our household. The recipes are made with everyday common ingredients that most people will either have in their pantry or will have no problems finding in their local grocery store. I hate when recipes have ingredients that take some searching to find. I'm all about good taste and ease when it comes to cooking everyday meals.

Jaimie and Bobby Deen are charming as ever. They know their way around the kitchen. You can tell that family time is important to them and isn't that part of what dinner is all about? I think most of these recipes are easy enough for a basic cook but are tasty enough for the more experienced cook. The recipes are easy to follow and well explained. They are simple enough that you could involve your kids in the preparation. This would be a great cookbook to use to get that busy family back to the dinner table.

This is one of the recipes I tried from this book and thought it would be a great one to share during this heat wave. We have been eating this the past few days. This coleslaw is very fresh and bright in flavor. It really hit the spot on these hot days. It made for a great accompaniment to a nice cool turkey and swiss sandwich. (Ignore the terrible picture! Good thing I don't have to make a living as a food stylist or photographer!)

Lemony Cole Slaw with Raisins
From The Deen Bros. Take It Easy: Quick and Affordable Meals the Whole Family Will Love

Serves 6

One 16-ounce bag coleslaw mix
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions(white and light green parts)
Finely grated zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon of black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, mayonnaise,raisins, scallions, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss well before serving.

There are many more recipes that I want to try out from this cookbook such as Mama's Yankee White Bean Pies, which are a fried patty sandwich made from cannellini beans. The picture in the book looks delicious! I need to wait until the heat wave is over. Bobby's Turkey Vegetable Goulash is another one that looks good and uses a crock pot. There is a chapter devoted to crock pot cooking which you know I love!

I also wanted to add that there are many healthy recipes in this cookbook as well. Some have the loads of butter that we think of when we hear the name "Deen" but there are a few healthy recipes that I will be trying out. It's a nice mix. Everything in moderation! I'll let you know how those healthier recipes turn out.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.
Weekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love. Be sure to check out all the yummy cooking posts on Beth's blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (July 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312581599
ISBN-13: 978-0312581596


The passionate new novel by the author of FIREWORKS OVER TOCCOA.

Grace Lyndon is a rising ingenue in the world of perfumes and flavors; a stiletto-wearing, work-a-holic in Atlanta, she develops aromas and tastes to enthrall the senses. Dylan Jackson is a widowed single father whose heart and hands have been calloused in the fields of his North Georgia apple farm. When Grace happens to taste an apple picked from Dylan’s trees, it changes both their lives forever.

Determined to track down the apple’s origin, Grace sets off in the middle of the night where she finds not only a beautiful mountain orchard in the clouds, but the mysterious man who owns it. In Stepakoff’s heartbreaking eloquence, their sudden yet undeniable attraction is threatened—leaving readers with a momentous finale that proves Jeffrey Stepakoff is a master craftsman of the heart.

My Thoughts

One of my favorite memories as a child is going to pick apples every fall. I will never forget the smells and tastes of the orchard. There is nothing like picking a fresh apple off the tree and biting into it.

When I saw Jeffrey Stepakoff's new book was titled The Orchard, I knew with my love of orchards and apple picking, it was a must read for me. His first book Fireworks Over Toccoa is a wonderful love story that I enjoyed very much. I was anxious to read Mr. Stepakoff's newest book.

The main character, Grace Lyndon is a confident woman who is always in control. I admired her confidence. Grace is a real go-getter. She is a savvy business woman. She develops scents and flavors for major companies and their products. I had never really given much thought to such a job but found myself immersed in learning more about this position. Jeffrey Stepakoff does a fantastic job explaining Grace's job and all it involved. I found it fascinating. I'll never look at scents and flavors the same again.

When Grace tries to track down an exquisite apple's origin, she runs into Dylan Jackson, owner of an apple orchard and his spunky daughter, Carter. Carter is a curious pre-teen who is wise beyond her years. Dylan is a widower, who is not quite ready to give up his deceased wife. The father/daughter relationship between these two is very endearing. Grace wants to research the apples on the family orchard for product development. Dylan is not ready to let anyone in his life or his orchard.

Mr. Stepakoff's writing had me imagining I was in the orchard where I could almost smell and taste the apples. I never knew so much went into growing apples. His writing is wonderfully descriptive. You will almost be able to hear the apple leaves rustling in the breeze. Even though I have never been to the mountains of Georgia, I had no problems picturing them in my mind.

Jeffrey Stepakoff has once again written a beautifully layered love story that builds as it goes along. I am amazed at the amount of research that must have went into this story. It made for a interesting story. I highly recommend this book. I found it romantic and enlightening. I'll be on the lookout for Mr. Stepakoff's next book.

About The Author

JEFFREY STEPAKOFF has written for more than a dozen different television series, including the Emmy-winning The Wonder Years, Sisters, and Dawson's Creek, for which he was co-executive producer. Author of the acclaimed novel, Fireworks Over Toccoa, he has also developed and written plays, TV pilots and major motion pictures, including Disney's Tarzan and Brother Bear. Stepakoff holds a BA in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and three young children. His fiction is published in six languages.

I received this book for my honest opinion from the book's publicist

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mailbox Monday July 18

It's Monday again! Time for another Mailbox Monday post. Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Gwendolyn B. of A Sea of Books. Be sure to check out Gwendolyn's blog.

The dog days of summer are here! We are in the middle of a heat wave, as is most of the country. No air conditioning here and nerves are wearing thin. It's too hot to do much of anything. I am doing what I have to do to get by and then sitting with my refillable bottle of water and a book. Many popsicles get eaten in the course of the day. All that snow I complained about all winter would be nice to jump in right about now.

I received one book last week for review. It looks like a good one.

Velva Jean Learns to Fly by Jennifer Niven

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Plume (August 30, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0452297400
ISBN-13: 978-0452297401


After Pearl Harbor, Velva Jean signs up for service and gets her wings, risking her life-and her heart.

Velva Jean Hart, the fiercely independent heroine of Jennifer Niven's spectacular debut novel, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, returns in a captivating adventure that literally sends her soaring. Bristling at the limitations faced by a woman in rural Appalachia and fuelled by the memory of her late Mama telling her to "live out there," Velva Jean hits the road to pursue her dream of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. But after a string of auditions, she begins to lose hope- until her brother pays her a surprise visit and treats Velva Jean to a flying lesson that ignites a brand-new dream: to become a female pilot. Funny, poignant, and utterly unforgettable, Velva Jean Learns to Fly will have fans cheering all over again.

I received this book courtesy of the publisher through Librarything Early Reviewers

What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Slow Cooker Revolution

Slow Cooker Revolution by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen

I love to watch America's Test Kitchen on my local PBS station. I have had many light bulb moments on how to fix many of my kitchen disasters by watching the program. When I saw that America's Test Kitchen had published a Slow Cooker cookbook, I knew I wanted to check it out. I love using my slow cooker but sometimes the end result doesn't turn out all that great. I do use the slow cooker every week regardless as it a huge time saver in a busy household like ours.

When I first received my cookbook I noticed that these were not the type of slow cooker recipes you can just dump in the slow cooker, plug in, hit the switch and be done. I must admit that I was disappointed. I am all about quick and easy when it comes to cooking. I decided to read on in the cookbook. Each recipe includes explanations on why they took the extra steps such as browning meats or veggies before adding them to the slow cooker. There is a paragraph before each recipe on Why This Recipe Works. For the first time in my slow cooker life I knew why some of my recipes did not turn out so well.

The first recipe I tried was Southern-Style Chicken and Dirty Rice. Rice and pasta in the slow cooker have been huge disasters for me in the past. I was skeptical at best. I read the explanation on using instant rice versus long grain rice in the slow cooker and moved forward making the recipe. I followed the recipe and found it really wasn't all that difficult. Sauces in the slow cooker have always turned out too watery for me but this recipe had me start the sauce in the skillet before hand along with the browning of the sausage and vegetables and it turned out perfect! I did double the recipe for my family of 5 large eaters.

I was very happy with end result! The extra steps made all the difference in the world! So much so that I would highly recommend this cookbook to those who really dislike slow cooker food. Yes, the recipes are a bit more work than your average dump and cook recipes. The helpful tips and explanations will help make your slow cooker cooking experience so much better in the long run. I can't wait to try more of the recipes in the cookbook.

It doesn't look very appetizing in this picture but let me tell you this was divine! The smells of it cooking all day had us all wanting dinnertime to arrive quickly. It was very mouth-watering! A salad and a piece of cornbread and you have a wonderful meal.

Even my oldest, who is one of my three picky eaters said it was very good and had two helpings. My daughter ate some of the leftovers for lunch the next day and said it was even better the next day. The best part was no gummy rice!

This is the recipe from Slow Cooker Revolution

Southern-Style Chicken and Dirty Rice

serves 6 to 8 Cooking Time 4 to 6 hours on low

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
8 ounces of kielbasa sausage, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, minced
2 celery ribs, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
2 cups instant rice
2 scallions, sliced thin (these I omitted because I forgot to buy them at the store)

1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown sausage well, about 3 minutes. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme,chili powder, and cayenne and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping up any brown bits and smoothing out any lumps; transfer to slow cooker.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to slow cooker and coat evenly with sauce. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low.

3. Break up chicken into bite-size pieces using wooden spoon. Stir in rice and 1 teaspoon of salt, cover, and cook on high until rice is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and serve. (unless of course you forget to buy the scallions)

I purchased this book for myself after reading so many fantastic reviews for it on other blogs. Bloggers do sell books!

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.
Weekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love. Be sure to check out all the yummy cooking posts on Beth's blog.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

I am a pansy for a good, summer beach read. I thought this book sounded like it would be a good read to add to my summer reading list. I was not disappointed.

I read Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews many years ago. I found it very funny and entertaining. When I saw Summer Rental, I knew it would be a book I would want to read.

Three friends, Ellis, Julia and Dorie decide to catch up with each other and rent an old beach house on North Carolina's Outer Banks for a month. When they arrive they find the house is not in the greatest of shape but stick it out there anyway. Ty Bazemore is the hunky guy who lives above the beach house garage. Ty seems to be attracted to Ellis from the get go. All of the characters are at turning points in their lives. Nothing that a month on the beach can't help sort out.

Dorie meets a mysterious woman named Maryn at the local diner who needs a place to stay. She invites Maryn to rent the extra room they have in the beach house. Maryn is not warm and fluffy at all and seems to be hiding a huge secret. She keeps to herself which makes the women even more curious about her.

There is mystery, romance, and friendship along with a bit of suspense and comedy in this book. The story comes together well even though each character seems to be having their own personal crisis. Mary Kay Andrews has a way of writing a book that will make you feel the sand between your toes even when you are not at the beach. Her characters can be serious one minute and hilarious the next. By the time I finished this book I had laughed, cried and at times, was on the edge of my seat. Some would say this book is predictable but I think predictable has it's place in the world. It made for a very satisfying read. This book was like comfort food for me. Pick it up and go on vacation without ever leaving your home!

I received this book for my honest opinion through Amazon Vine.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WWW Wednesdays July 13

It's Wednesday again! I can't believe how fast summer seems to be flying by. We are expecting another heat wave that will last longer. I stocked up on some handmade teas this past weekend at our local harbor market. I think I'll make a nice pot of ice tea and just hang out with a good book. No air conditioning here so hot summer days become lazy days. Maybe we will venture down to the beach and put our feet in the water. The water is usually freezing..ankle hurting freezing! It does cool you off!

Since it's Wednesday it is time for WWW Wednesday.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff

I am just starting this tonight. I loved Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff so I am very excited to dive into this book.

What did you recently finish reading?

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

I finished Summer Rental and should have a review up for it tomorrow.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

I read Still Missing by Chevy Stevens last year and it blew me away! I have high hopes for this book as well.

That is what I have been up bookwise this past week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mailbox Monday July 11

It's Monday again! Time for another Mailbox Monday post. Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Gwendolyn B. of A Sea of Books Be sure to check out Gwendolyn's blog.

I missed last weeks MM since it was a holiday. I was still getting caught up after being without power for days. This morning I started my day and just sat down with the computer when another bad storm came through and once again I was left in the dark. That wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have a sump pump in the basement. This time we were back online after 5 hours. Not bad at all. I only had to bail the sump pump pit a few times.

I also want to point out that there is a problem for some with the Google followers widget. I still show that I have followers on my dashboard so you are still there. It's just the widget that is not showing. Many people are having the same problem and they say they are working on it.

I received four books over the past two weeks, all for review.

These first two books I received through the Amazon Vine Program.

Next To Love by Ellen Feldman

Release date July 26, 2011

A story of love, war, loss, and the scars they leave, Next to Love follows the lives of three young women and their men during the years of World War II and its aftermath, beginning with the men going off to war and ending a generation later, when their children are on the cusp of their own adulthood.

Set in a small town in Massachusetts, the novel follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible—while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities—and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.

Beautifully crafted and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.

Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton

Release date September 13, 2011

A charmingly funny testament to second chances in life and love from the acclaimed author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter

Lisa Patton won the hearts of readers last year, her book Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter became a sleeper-success. Building on a smashing debut, Lisa’s poised to go to the next level—because whether in Vermont snow or in Memphis heat, Dixie heroine Leelee Satterfield is never too far from misadventure, calamity...and ultimately, love.

Having watched her life turn into a nor’easter, 34-year-old Leelee Satterfield is back home in the South, ready to pick back up where she left off. But that’s a task easier said then done…Leelee’s a single mom, still dreaming of the Vermonter who stole her heart, and accompanied by her three best friends who pepper her with advice, nudging and peach daiquiris, Leelee opens another restaurant and learns she has to prove herself yet again. Filled with heart and humor, women’s fiction fans will delight in this novel.

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison

Release date is July 5, 2011

Shortlisted for the 2010 Orange Prize

England, 31st August 1939: The world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic, childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unraveling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair with unforeseen consequences. A story of longing, loss, and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation, The Very Thought of You is not just a love story but a story about love.

Received from Atria Galley Alley/Simon and Schuster

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Release date August 2, 2011

Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

Received from Crown Publishers through Shelf Awareness

What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Sarah Nickerson is vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting. She is also a supermom. She works many long hours and then tries to be there for her family. She takes both of her jobs very seriously. Juggling her job and her busy family life are enough to make one's head spin.

One fateful day, she is involved in an accident which forever changes her life. Driving to work, she tries to make a phone call which ends in disaster. She sustains a brain injury which leaves her not being able to feel or see anything on her left side. It's as though the left side of the world does not exist. Sarah's life is turned upside down.

I found Sarah's journey fascinating. At first I did not care for Sarah. I found her to be a bit overpowering and kind of cold. As the book progressed, Sarah struggles with not only her injury but also her life both past and present. She grew into a person I could respect and appreciate. I enjoyed seeing her develop a sense of humor as well. By the end of the book, I was a fan.

This is a beautiful story about human spirit and what really matters most. I found myself reading faster to find out if Sarah would recover or not. Would she go be able to go back to her high-powered life? Could she be satisfied with her life being different from what she was accustomed to if she did not recover?

This was the first book I have read by Lisa Genova but it won't be my last. The book was well written and well-researched. Lisa Genova has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and has a degree in Biopsychology but the book was easy to read and flowed very nicely. I was afraid the book might be full of technical terms that would leave me bewildered but that was not the case at all.

This book comes out in paperback July 26, 2011. I highly recommend it! Pick yourself up a copy!

Lisa Genova is working on her third book about a boy with autism, titled Love Anthony. I can't wait to read it! Until then I will be picking up Still Alice, which I hear is also a winner!

I borrowed this book from my public library and read it for the 2011 Just For Fun Challenge.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WWW Wednesdays July 6

Thank you all for your kind thoughts. My sister and brother-in-law hopefully will know something soon as to rebuilding their restaurant. Bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. They are doing okay. They just want to get on with rebuilding.

Our neighborhood is getting back to normal after the storm except for some minor problems. Today was kind of quiet. No chain saws or wood chippers to be heard. No convoys of power trucks.

I finally finished a book. Partly because our phone is down and might not be fixed for awhile. We live in a dead zone so for the most part our cell phones don't work well at home. It's kind of peaceful. Today I turned off the tv and am making an effort to get caught up on my reading. It feels wonderful!

It's Wednesday again and that means it is time for WWW Wednesday.

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

I am just actually starting this book. It should be a light, fun read which is just what I need!

What did you recently finish reading?
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Just finished this today and it is so good. It is coming out in paperback July 26. I'll have a review up this week hopefully.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff

Last year I read Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff and enjoyed it. I am excited to get to read his new novel.

Thank you again for all your kind words and well wishes.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fire and Wind

Sorry I have been missing in action for a few days! I was getting my day underway early Thursday morning when I got a phone call saying my sister's bar/restaurant was on fire. I spent the day with her and her family. It was a rough day for them. It was a bad fire but no one was injured and that is the most important thing. They were closed and the tenant upstairs got out safely. Hopefully they will be able to rebuild. My sister and her husband have poured their heart and soul into their place. They have done some beautiful things with the building. My heart goes out to them. But I am sure it will be just as fabulous when they get done rebuilding!

I got home from the fire a bit after 8 Thursday night only to have a horrible storm blow through. The wind knocked out the power. No one is sure what kind of storm it was. It acted like a tornado but I don't know what they have decided it was since we had no cable, tv or internet for a couple of days. We were lucky, as many have trees down and damage to their homes. We were okay. Our power finally came back on Saturday around noon.

Then the dog had a seizure. I am hoping the rest of the holiday weekend will be quiet and I can catch up on blogs and reading.

I hope you all are having a good holiday weekend as well!