I love to read, recommend books and open the world of reading to others. I tutor to ensure that the next generation of readers will know the joys of a good book because their reading skills have improved. I am an avid reader, especially of mysteries and fiction. I believe that two of the world's greatest inventions were the public library and eyeglasses!
Playing Dead is a most enjoyable traditional mystery. An added bonus of this read are the insights that readers are given into dog training. The dogs of the novel are quite talented.
Molly Madison has moved, along with her two dogs, to a new area. Readers will find out what led to this change for her. It was dramatic. Note too that Molly has been in law enforcement so, while she may not be the officer on the case, she has much to offer in the investigation of a murder.
The victim was known to many in the agility competition (for dogs) world. She managed to alienate just about everybody. Therefore it is no great surprise when she is murdered. Readers will observe that there are many motives and suspects but will they be able to solve the crime before Molly?
This title is the second in a series. I did not read the first one but that in no way diminished my enjoyment of this book. I will likely go back to read the first story.
Playing Dead was a fun and quick read. I recommend it to those who like their mysteries with good plots and not much gore. In addition, dog lovers will find much to enjoy here.
Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for this title. All opinions are my one.
Imagine 500 good recipes all in one book. What a great resource! The authors base this book on “plant forward eating” and care about healthy food; this does not in any way mean that the food will not be delicious. This was clear from the book’s first photo of Olive Oil Brownies.
Here are recipes for everything from quick breads to desserts, from appetizers to pizzas and so much more. In addition there is a lot of information about healthy eating.
I would enjoy a day where I begin with Apple Dutch Baby for breakfast. Perhaps I would follow this later in the day with Mock Risotto with Zucchini or Chicken Tandoori Skewers. For dessert, I might have those aforementioned brownies.
All in all, this book appears to be a great resource and just right for those who have resolved to eat more healthfully in 2023.
Many thanks to NetGalley and The Experiment for this title. All opinions are my own.
From the Publisher
Greek-Inspired Baked Chickpeas with Tomatoes & Feta
Two 15-ounce (425 g) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
One 14.5-ounce (411 g) can diced tomatoes
4 ounces (113 g) crumbled feta
¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lemon, quartered, optional
Per Serving: Calories 409; Protein 12 g; Carbs 40 g; Dietary Fiber 9 g; Added Sugars 9 g; Total Fat 23 g; Sat Fat 6 g; Omega-3s 220 mg; Sodium 655 mg; Potassium 346 mg
Makes 4 servings
This delicious recipe is very easy to prepare. Simply combine all of the ingredients, bake for 45 minutes, and dinner is ready. This dish can be enjoyed on its own or paired with roast chicken, grilled shrimp, or grilled lamb chops. Having a piece of hearty whole grain bread at the ready for sopping up the sauce is a wonderful way to enjoy every morsel.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, oil, honey, oregano, and red pepper flakes in an 8-inch (20 cm) square baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, until much of the liquid has evaporated and some pieces of feta have started to brown.
Serve with lemon wedges on the side for an optional burst of bright acidity to balance the flavors.
Principles & Practices of Cooking à la Heart
Focus on Flavor Use less salt and choose lower-sodium ingredients. Use more spice blends that don’t rely on added salt for flavor.
Prioritize Plants Use more whole grain flours in your baking, and intact whole grains to your meals. Use more fruit and vegetables in all their glorious forms.
Pick Powerful Proteins Choose healthy sources of protein from plants and animals. Eat more seafood! Snack on nuts and other nourishing nibbles.
Embrace Enjoyment Enjoy desserts made more thoughtfully with better-for-you ingredients. They still taste incredible!
My only wish is that Deborah Crombie wrote faster and more frequently. Her Gemma Jones and Duncan Kincaid mysteries are among my very favorites. This American author writes a terrific British set series. I have been reading them ever since the first title, A Share in Death, was published in 1993. Over time, the characters and their relationships change and develop, keeping readers riveted. For full enjoyment, the books could be read in order but that is not strictly necessary; enough backstory is provided to keep a new reader from being lost.
In this, the 19th, entry, a young doctor has been murdered and hers is but the first, not the only, death. Sasha had friends and family. She also had a complicated work relationship with one of the nurses at her hospital. The case is brought to both Duncan and Gemma along with their teams. It goes to Duncan because of the murder and Gemma because of there being knife crimes.
Readers get to know Sasha’s family which includes a brother with some tricky history. They also get to know her artist roommate; she too has a brother who may well be suspicious. Sasha was supposed to have been meeting him on the night that she was murdered.
Regular readers of the series will be delighted to catch up with Duncan and Gemma’s children. They will also be interested in finding out how Doug (Kincaid’s team) and Melody (Gemma’s) are doing after the events of the previous books.
The book and series are just a delight. Mark your calendar for this title’s release date!
Many thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for this title. All opinions are my own.
“We can always count on her for fabulous plots…But what puts Deborah Crombie among the greats is her sure hand in raising her characters off the page.” — Louise Penny, New York Times bestselling author
“Nobody writes the modern English mystery the way Deborah Crombie does—and A Bitter Feast is the latest in a series that is gripping, enthralling, and just plain the best.” — Charles Todd, New York Times bestselling author of The Black Ascot and A Cruel Deception
“A Bitter Feast is a rich banquet for mystery lovers. Three cheers for the chef, Deborah Crombie!” — Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author
“Deborah Crombie continues to push the envelope, writing books that are new, different and better and better. Richly layered, character-driven, and with an evocative sense of place, A Bitter Feast truly transcends the genre.”
— Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness series and the international bestseller The Tuscan Child
When readers pick up this book or see a picture of its cover, they will be given hints of important aspects of A Month of You. There are two people who seem to care for one another but also an hourglass. What will that signify about the relationship between Jess and Alec? It is complicated based on all that Jess brings to the table.
Jess and Alec’s relationship is not the only one that impacts Jess. There is also Jess’s relationship with her mother who has a very serious illness. Jess is aware of how this does and will impact both of them. How will she manage to cope? And, what about Jess’s nine rules. Should they always be followed?
Readers who enjoy stories that may bring tears, like Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, may well want to spend time with this title. It is the author’s first published books so maybe all is not perfect but it offers quite an emotional read. I look forward to seeing what this author writes next.
Many thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark for this title. All opinions are my own.
Movie lovers and fans of Audrey Hepburn may now the movie Sabrina. This is the film that inspired this novel’s title and some of the story line. Much like Sabrina, Emma has grown up on a luxurious estate where her parents are servants/staff. Also, as in Sabrina, there are two men who capture Emma’s interest. Henry is the grandson of the estate’s owner while Leo is the son of the estate owner’s driver. Will she find true love with either of them?
The story takes place in the present with many chapters that detail the past and Emma’s experiences as she grew up. Emma was not immune to tragedy but neither were Henry or Leo. Leo and Emma discover something rather unsavory about Leo’s grandfather; are they right about his connections in the past? Also, what happened to beloved cook Fleur? A niece of Fleur’s also wants to know.
When the story opens, the grand estate is part of a plan for a luxury housing development. Emma is aghast and goes to an open house to learn more. She would like to prevent the sale. While there, Emma is reconnected with Leo and meets Fleur’s niece. Readers, the pages just turn from here as relationships build along with the plot.
I very much enjoyed this novel. Fans of women’s fiction with some historical context, should mark their calendars for this title’s release date.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for this title. All opinions are my own.
Pub date: 18 April 2023
Praise for The Audrey Hepburn Estate
“A complex family tale of love and deception. Brenda Janowitz always delivers delightfully complicated stories that leave me with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart!” —KRISTIN HARMEL, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names
“Brenda Janowitz strikes again! Fast-paced, emotional, and unputdownable. Janowitz skillfully weaves the past and present as Emma’s love triangle persists then and now.” —LISA BARR, New York Times bestselling author of Woman on Fire
“Janowitz adeptly crafts a tale that is sentimental yet enigmatic, and readers will find themselves engrossed by this absolute treat of a book.” —PAM JENOFF, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Sapphire
“The Audrey Hepburn Estate is as charming and elegant as Miss Hepburn herself and, also like Audrey, hides a huge heart. This book is smart and sweet and funny.” —JENNA BLUM, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Family
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres so I am quite delighted to be part of this blog tour. Many thanks to Justine Sha and Sophie James for this opportunity to tell you about Ms. Jenoff’s latest work of historical fiction (she has written many).
Code Name Sapphire
On Sale Date: February 7, 2023
Fiction / Historical / World War II
About the Book:
A woman must rescue her cousin’s family from a train bound for Auschwitz in this riveting tale of bravery and resistance during World War II
1942. Hannah Martel has narrowly escaped Nazi Germany after her fiancé was killed in a pogrom. When her ship bound for America is turned away at port, she has nowhere to go but to her cousin Lily, who lives with her family in Brussels. Fearful for her life, Hannah is desperate to get out of occupied Europe. But with no safe way to leave, she must return to the dangerous underground work she thought she had left behind.
Seeking help, Hannah joins the Sapphire Line, a secret resistance network led by a mysterious woman named Micheline and her enigmatic brother Matteo. But when a grave mistake causes Lily’s family to be arrested and slated for deportation to Auschwitz, Hannah finds herself torn between her loyalties. How much is Hannah willing to sacrifice to save the people she loves? Inspired by incredible true stories of courage and sacrifice, Code Name Sapphire is a powerful novel about love, family and the unshakable resilience of women in even the hardest of times.
About the Author:
Pam Jenoff is the author of several books of historical fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers The Lost Girls of Paris and The Orphan’s Tale. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master’s degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania. Jenoff’s novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia, where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.
Micheline threw the still-smoldering Gauloises cigarette to the ground and crushed it with the high heel of her black leather boot. Then she marched across the darkened Paris street and grabbed the man she’d never seen before by the lapels, throwing him back against the stained brick wall of the station.
“Kiss me!” she ordered in English, whispering tersely.
The airman, his crew cut a dead giveaway despite his French civilian clothing and chapeau, stood motionless, too surprised to move as Micheline reached up and pulled him toward her, pressing her open mouth against his. His musty scent was mixed with a hint of tobacco. The streetlight cast a yellow pool on the pavement around them, illuminating their embrace. Micheline felt the man’s body responding against her own. The navy beret which covered her red curls tilted off-center, threatening to fall to the ground.
A second later, Micheline broke away and brought her mouth close to his ear. “If you hope to live, follow me.” Without another word, she started away down the Rue des Récollets. She sensed the one-two beat as he hesitated, followed by the rapid pattern of his footsteps against the icy pavement. She strained hard to make sure she did not hear anyone else following them but did not dare to look back.
Micheline slowed, allowing the airman to catch up. When he reached her, she moved closer, linking her arm in his and tilting her head toward his shoulder. Anyone watching would have thought them just a smitten couple.
Micheline had spotted the airman a few minutes earlier, standing on the pavement outside the Gare de l’Est, a half kilometer from the intended rendezvous spot, looking out of place. It was always that way with the Brits, scared and barely out of school. The passeur, a girl from Brittany called Renee, was supposed to escort the airman. Her instructions had been simple: deliver the soldier to the Hotel Oud-Antwerpen, where a local contact would take him and hide him for the night. But Renee had never shown. Something must have gone wrong and she’d panicked and fled, leaving the airman alone.
Another ten minutes outside the station and the police would have picked him up. There was already a gendarme at the corner, watching the solider too steadily. That might have been what spooked Renee. Micheline, who was in Paris on an unrelated errand but was aware of the planned pickup, had seen the stranded airman by the station and knew she had to intervene. But Micheline had no way to lead him away on the open street without attracting attention. So she had resorted to The Embrace.
It was not the first time she had feigned passion in the service of the network. The Sapphire Line, as it was now called, had formed almost immediately after the war started. They had a singular purpose: ferrying downed British airmen from the Dutch or German borders across Belgium and occupied France to freedom. This was the hardest part of the journey, getting the airmen across Paris from Gare de l‘Est where they arrived to Gare d’Austerlitz where they would set out for points south. It was a few days across France to the Pyrenees, with only a brief stop or two for rest. When the line worked, it was brilliant. But when it failed, catastrophe. There were no second chances.
When they were several blocks from the station and out of sight of the policeman, Micheline pulled the airman into a doorway. He looked as though he expected her to kiss him again. Instead, she adjusted his chapeau in the classic French style so as not to give him away as a foreigner. The disguise, consisting of secondhand, outdated trousers and a too-large shirt, would not fool anyone. And if the clothes did not give him away, his tattered army boots certainly would. He would be forced to take those off farther south anyway. The evacuees tied their shoes around their necks and replaced them with alpargates, the strong laced sandals necessary for crossing the Bidasoa River into Spain.
“Where are you from?” Micheline demanded. She hated to speak aloud out here, but she had to verify that he was actually an airman and not a German spy before taking him to one of their safe houses. If the line was infiltrated even once, it would spread like a cancer, and the entire network would be gone.
The airman paused, his trained instinct not to answer. “Ely in Cambridgeshire.”
“What is the most popular movie in Britain right now?”
He thought for a second. “49th Parallel.”
“Good. What type of plane were you flying? How many men?”
“Halifax. Six. I don’t know if the others made it.” There was a choke in his voice.
“I’m sorry.” There were a half-dozen other questions she wanted to ask to verify his identity, if only there was time. But they had to keep moving. “Come.”
She started walking again more briskly now, savoring the familiar surge of adrenaline that rushed through her as she led the airman to safety. Though just twenty-three years old, Micheline had risen quickly to the top of the network, and she seldom got to undertake rescues herself anymore, instead overseeing operations from her headquarters in Brussels. But the job was fluid and changing. Sometimes, like now, when the mission called for it and there was no one else, she had to jump in. She had nearly forgotten how much she liked being in the field.
As the bell of the church of Saint-Chappelle tolled eleven, Micheline calculated mentally, judging the best way to protect the airman for the night. They had already missed the rendezvous with the contact at the hotel who would have hidden him. Paris was the most dangerous segment of the escape line, but it was often necessary because so many of the trains ran through the French capital. An airman could not simply be dropped at Gare de l’Est and expected to make his way across the city to the southern stations where the trains left for Lyon or Marseilles. No, he had to be individually ferried through the back streets and alleys by someone who knew the city and how to avoid the security checkpoints, and who spoke impeccable French in case they were stopped and questioned.
When they reached the banks of the Seine, Micheline led the airman across the Pont au Change and into the shadowy alleyways of the Left Bank, clinging to the shadows. The cafés were already closed, barkeepers turning chairs onto tables, snuffing out the candles that burned low. She forced herself to walk at a normal pace and not to run. Her close-fitted trench swished smartly below her knees. She looked to the passersby like she belonged in the throngs of students who frequented the Latin Quarter.
Thirty minutes later they reached the safe-house apartment on Rue de Babylone. Micheline took the airman’s hand and led him up the stairs to the apartment, a room which was bare except for a mattress and a weathered armoire and a sink in the corner. He would stay no longer than twelve hours in the city, just enough time to rest and carry on.
Inside, the airman looked weakened and confused. “We went down quickly after we were shot,” he offered, saying too much, as they all did. “They hit the fuel tank.”
“Are you wounded?”
“No. There were others, though. Someone will look for them, right?” She nodded, but it was a lie. The network could not spare the resources to go back and search for those who were wounded and presumed dead. He opened his mouth to ask something else, but she put her finger to her lips and shook her head. It was not safe to say too much anywhere, even here. The airman’s eyes widened. She had seen more than once how very afraid the young soldiers were, the ones who panicked or cried out in their sleep. They were eighteen and nineteen, not more than boys, and thousands of kilometers from home. Micheline herself was just a few years older and sometimes wondered why she could be strong when they could not.
“Empty your pockets,” she instructed firmly. There were too many times when a well-intentioned Brit carried something sentimental from home which would be a dead giveaway if he was stopped and questioned.
The airman glanced around the apartment. Then he turned back toward her hopefully, as if the kiss had been real and matters might continue here. “Did you want to…?”
Micheline stifled a laugh. She might have been offended at the overture, but he seemed so naive she almost pitied him. “Here.” She rummaged in the armoire for new clothes. Then she threw the clothes at him and gestured toward a screen that offered a bit of privacy at the far end of the room. “Get dressed.” He moved slowly, clumsily toward the divider. A tram clacked by on the street below, rattling the cloudy window panes.
A few minutes later, he reemerged in the simple shoes and buttoned shirt of a peasant farmer, an outfit that would help to get him through the south of France to the Pyrenees. She took his old clothes from him. “There’s bread in the cupboard,” she said. “Stay away from the windows, and don’t make a sound. Someone will come for you before dawn. That person will have a key. Don’t open the door for anyone.”
“Merci,” he ventured, and it seemed likely that it was all the French that he knew or understood.
“Bonne chance,” she replied, wishing him luck.
Without waiting for a response, she walked briskly from the apartment. She wondered uneasily whether he would still be safely there when the new passeur arrived to claim him for the next leg of his long journey home or whether another calamity would befall the already-struggling network.
Excerpted from Code Name Sapphire @ 2023 by Pam Jenoff, used with permission by Park Row Books.