Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Christmas Garland

by Anne Perry

It's not too early to pick up a Christmas mystery.  Trust me.  This story is not light and fluffy or covered in tinsel and sparkling lights.

Anne Perry has presented us with a themed mystery every year since 2003.  A Christmas Garland is the 10th.  As is appropriate with each Christmas tale, snuggle up with a warm quilt with a cup of tea.  A crackling fire would be nice, too.

A Christmas Garland is set in 1857 India.  Lieutenant Narraway is a young soldier who is assigned by his superior officer to defend a medical orderly accused of murder.  The court hearing is mostly for show, as all the evidence points to the orderly and yet, the orderly swears to his innocence.  Amid the horrors that war brings, the families of Cownpore who have suffered great loss, strive to maintain a semblance of hope and reason during the holiday season.

I always enjoy Perry's historical novels for both the mysteries and and the historical atmosphere she captures and writes so well.

 ** I received a  copy of A Christmas Garland  from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Taste of Home Cooking School

I love Taste of Home magazines.  Flipping through the pages and drooling over those delectable pictures and even reading the recipes is a favorite past time of mine.

This is a new cookbook from the people at Taste of Home with pictures of every recipe and lots of good tips and cooking advise.  As the title implies, it's like a cooking school at home.  There are lessons on measuring such items as shortening, shortening, brown sugar, etc.  It identifies different types of cutlery, cookware, and  bakeware and what's the best use of each.

I tried several recipes - some I'll make again and others I wasn't too impressed with.

One I really like was My Take on Mom's Meat Loaf.  It uses fresh mushrooms and turned out excellently.  Cold meatloaf sandwiches the next day were supremely good.     Another keeper is The Gourmet Scrambled Eggs.  I served them for dinner with fried ham slices and fresh fruit.  My husband and I thought they were especially yummy.

I tried two soups, neither of which we liked very well.  Wild Rice Soup intrigued me because it was made with ground beef instead of chicken.  Don't get me wrong - I love chicken and wild rice soup.  After the first try, my husband suggested adding noodles.  That was a big improvement.  I also, sliced up some left over fresh mushrooms that I didn't use in the meatloaf.  I am tempted to make this again, with some modifications, because I loved the ground beef and wild rice together.

Yankee Bean Soup caught my attention because of the addition of molasses.  I love navy bean soup but this recipe was very lackluster, even with the molasses.  Darn, I wanted this to be good.

The last failed recipe was the tantalizing-sounding Pumpkin Creme Brulee.  My husband loves creme brulee so I thought I would spoil him.  I followed the recipe to the tee and it turned out terrible.  I thought maybe it was under cooked so the next day I baked it another 40 minutes.  The taste was okay but the consistency was yucky so we threw the rest out.

Overall, I thought this cookbook was hit and miss.

 ** I received a  copy of Taste of Home: Cooking School  from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

It's Murder Son

by Lauren Carr

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery that has a little bit of everything.  There's the Cinderella story - only in this book it's a deserving police detective that inherits mansions, land, money, a restaurant, and more.  Along with his famous mother's assets is a personal secretary who is cute, fun, and smart.  And then there's the dog - more of a liability, perhaps.

Of course, there is murder, and not just one.   To solve these murders, our police detective must look closely at love triangles, neighborhood animosities, get-rich quick schemes, and even a mob connection.  The story has lots of twists and turns and unexpected elements.

Carr writes well and the story flows easily from beginning to end.  I liked the main characters and hope to see them in a follow-up book.  I would love to read more books by Carr even if  her next book is a stand alone.

I just looked and discovered that this book IS part of a series.  It's book 3 of the Mac Faraday Mysteries.  Hooray, that there are 2 books I am looking forward to reading.  Shucks, why do so often I find myself in the middle of series?

***Note added several hours later:  Thank-you to Lauren Carr for leaving a comment and providing the correct information about her Mac Faraday series.  It's Murder, My Son is book 1.  Next is Old Loves Die Hard, then Shades of Murder.  Out in January is Blast from the Past.   Oh, goody!  I'm in with the first book and have 3 more to look forward to.

 ** I received a  copy of It's Murder, My Son  from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.