Happy Publication Day!

Chinatown Pretty

  • Publication Date: 9/22/20
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Genre: Arts & Photography|Multicultural Interest
  • Authors: Andria Lo and Valerie Luu

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Stunning photography paired with poignant stories of the Chinese seniors that live, shop, and play in the Chinatown districts here in the U.S.

The photos capture the essence and spirit of the grandmas and grandpas dressed in the signature style associated with Chinatown residents; and oooh, the stories of their hardships and immigration will touch your heart.

An excellent book that is sure to grace your coffee table or library shelf.  Five stars.

I received a digital copy of this book from Chronicle Books through NetGalley.  The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

My Favorite Thought Today

Christian D. Larsen

“Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”

Favorite Thought Today

Lau Tzu

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”

Happy Publication Day!

Their Silent Graves

  • Publication Date: 9/17/20
  • Publisher: Bookouture
  • Genre: Mysteries & Thrillers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It may be your worst nightmare come true — being buried alive! After a couple of gruesome discoveries, it’s up to DI Gina Harte to find the perpetrator of these horrific murders.

In The Silent Graves, you are presented with several points of view and different time periods which made for a mysterious, but interesting read. As you read through the novel, you will discover that not all things are what they seem and that your “aha” moment will not happen until the end. So continue to read and good things come to those who wait.

The Silent Graves was my first novel from Carla Kovach; and although I’m not usually fond of detective novels set in the UK, I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more from this author. If you are a reader that enjoys murder mysteries, you will find that The Silent Graves fits the bill.

4.5 stars, rounded up. I really liked it.

I received a digital ARC from Bookouture through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

Today’s Thought

Bob Marley

“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”

Let’s Fix Lunch!

  • Publication Date: 9/15/20
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Let's Fix Lunch! is so much more than a recipe book.  It is a book of tips, resources, and it is also a handy reference to use in the reduce, reuse, recycle trend.

There are gorgeous photographs of every dish and they all made my mouth water.  You'll want to try every recipe because every dish looks so delicious.

Let's Fix Lunch! is an excellent book to have in your kitchen library.  It can be used not only for lunches, but just about any meal.  Rated it five stars -- I loved it!

Checked Out For Murder

Publication Date: 9/8/20

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Surprisingly good! My very first Cozy Mystery and I really liked it. After an intense series of hardcore mysteries and thrillers, “Checked Out for Murder,” was the perfect respite. The book is entertaining, yet has enough mystery to keep the reader engaged in the story. I couldn’t wait to find out “whodunnit.”

“Checked Out for Murder,” is the fourth book in the “Haunted Library Mysteries.” I didn’t read the first three, but now I can’t wait to read them in order. There’s no carnage and violence. It a pretty “clean” read that I found to be well written. The only thing that I wasn’t particularly fond of was the presence of a ghost. But that really didn’t deter my enjoyment of the book.

Four stars — I really liked it. I received a digital ARC of the book from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

Murder Most Sweet

Publication Date: 9/8/20

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Murder Most Sweet is only my second Cozy Mystery and I’m really liking this genre. This book is actually better that my first since I didn’t have to contend with a library ghost. Set in a small town called Lake Potawatomi, WI, it is the perfect warm and comfortable setting for the story to take place.

The protagonist is not only an accomplished writer, she is also an accomplished baker (hence the bookish baker mystery.) The protagonist has an Eskie (American Eskimo dog) and what a delight that is. You dog lovers will really enjoy the relational aspect between dog and human. It just adds to the storyline.

Murder Most Sweet has a great combination of light mystery and light romance. However, I thought there was an abruptness to uncovering the perpetrator. Maybe that was just me. Overall, a good read. An added bonus — real recipes you can use at the end of the book. I’ll need to try some — especially the Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe.

I received a digital ARC from Crooked Lane Books through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

Just the FAQs About Me — An Interview with a Newbie

I recently read a blog post from a fellow newbie book blogger and got inspired to create a Q&A about me. Here it goes:

1) When did you start your book blog and why?

I started my blog in August, 2020. Probably like everyone else, I wanted to display my love of books, share my reviews, and possibly snag some digital ARCs. I love being able to review an ARC and get invited to participate in a Blog Tour.

2) Other than reading, what else do you enjoy doing?

Where can I start? My list can go on and on…I’ll go with my top ten, then: Video gaming, quilting, Hawaiian quilting (there’s a difference between regular quilting and Hawaiian quilting,) Crocheting, Needlepoint, Latchhook Rug Making, Cooking, Gardening, BBQ Smoking, RV Camping. It’s not in any particular order. But if it were, I’d start with RV Camping (We have a 5th Wheel and boondock.)

3) Name a few authors that you follow religiously and get their latest releases.

I love the Pendergast series by Preston&Child, along with the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. I’m pretty much caught up on both series so I pretty much wait with baited breath for the next installment from each author.

4) What is your least favorite genre and why?

There’s a few but my least favorite is historical non-fiction. Granted, I’ve read a couple and the exception was, 82 Days On Okinawa. Other than that, I don’t particularly like this genre, because History was my worst subject in high school and beyond.

5) What is or was your occupation?

Well, I was a senior commercial underwriter for an insurance company. Almost the same thing as a mortgage underwriter or a publicist that accepts or denies requests. Only, I used to accept or deny requests for business insurance coverage. Yeah, I was considered an A**hole by some insurance agents. I got to retire early. Thanks to my hubby that wanted me to get out of the rat race and stress. God bless him in his wisdom.

6) I noticed that you’re a former Hawaii Resident. Why did you leave HI, and why move to AZ of all places?

If you have seen the prices of housing, food, and gas, you will understand why we left AZ for a “greener” pasture. Can you image the price of a gallon of milk being $7 for a gallon? Or the price of gas being close to $4.00 per gallon? Fresh vegetables and fruits are almost double the cost of what we pay here in AZ. Besides, AZ was our favorite vacation spot while we lived in HI so naturally we wanted to live in a State that we were comfortable with.

7) What genre have you come to appreciate more?

Well, it took a while, and I really didn’t care for those “Hallmark Channel-type” romance novels. But something changed. Maybe it’s because of the authors’ execution. Now, I look forward to non-cheesy romance novels from authors like Debbie Mason, Suzanne Goldring, and Nancy Barone.

8) What’s the most difficult part of blogging for you?

For me, it‘s not about time, but content. I struggle to find content that will attract others to my blog I have all the time in the world, but I struggle with different content to keep people engaged. I sometimes wish I had a magic wand .

9) You mentioned you love cooking. What is one recipe that you love and have adapted that you are willing to share?

There are a couple — I adapted a traditional osso bucco to a chicken version, and there’s a clam/Spanish chorizo linguine that I adapted to a shrimp/Spanish chorizo linquine.

10) On a Personal Note. What else do you want to share?

I’m generally an introvert (believe it or not.) But, given the right circumstances, I can be your best ally, or worst enemy. That’s just me in a nutshell.

That is all

I hope that I have shared enough information about me to give you an insight on what makes me tick. Carry on fellow readers and book bloggers. May the book blogging force be with you.

My Favorite Quote Today

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

No Room at the Little Cornish Inn

Publication Date: 11/5/20

Publisher: Aria & Aries

Rating: 4 out of 5.

No Room at the Little Cornish Inn is a delightful light romance novel set during Christmastime. It is the perfect novel for those readers wanting to cozy up to read a book with a warm quilt next to a glowing fireplace.

Rosie Anderson and her son Danny were all set to enjoy the Christmas holidays with family and friends until those plans are dashed by her boss. Instead, Rosie must head out to The Old Bell Inn to perform an inspection of the Inn’s operations and staff — a witch hunt.

After a bristling confrontation with the Inn’s manager, Mitchell Fitzpatrick, Rosie must find it within herself to keep an open mind. After all, it is the holiday season.

There’s a bit of a rough first few chapters, but No Room at the Little Cornish Inn ended up being a four star read for me. Get through the rough patch and you will be rewarded with a charming and delightful read, as a Christmas romance should be.

I received a digital ARC from Aria & Aries through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

My Favorite Quote Today

John Lennon

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

Jacket Potatoes

Recipe/photo courtesy of Good Food team

Most of the books that I read and review contain at least one or two references to different foods. In the book that I’m currently reading, The Girl Without A Name, by Susan Goldring, there is a reference to “Jacket Potatoes.” Not knowing what this was, I just had to Google it. Low and behold, it’s a jacked up version of baked potatoes. Naturally, I snagged the recipe for it and here it is:

Ingredients

Plus any or all of the following

Method

  • STEP 1Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Rub the olive oil over the potatoes and put on the top shelf of the oven. Bake for 20 mins.
  • STEP 2Turn down the oven to 350 degrees F. and bake for 45 mins-1 hr until the skin is crisp and the flesh soft.
  • STEP 3Cut a cross on top of each potato, squeeze the sides, add the soured cream and your favorite toppings.

A Little Snack

Little munchies while you read.

Photo Courtesy of Catherine Toth-Fox

As a former Hawaii gal, there are a few foods that I miss. One of them is the Hawaii-Style Chex Mix. This Chex mix is not your regular Chex mix in that the mix has a sprinkling of furikake (a Japanese seasoning,) which gives it that “umami” or savory flavor.

The Hawaii-Style Chex Mix is pretty much a staple snack in most Hawaii offices during the holiday season. So, as we approach Halloween, I just had to prepare some to munch on while I’m reading.

Here is the recipe. Courtesy of Hawaii Magazine/Catherine Toth-Fox:

Hawaii-Style Furikake Chex Mix

Ingredients

  • Half a 12-ounce box of Rice Chex cereal
  • Half a 12-ounce box of Corn Chex cereal
  • 2 to 3 cups of Cheerios
  • 2 to 3 cups of Goldfish Baked Crackers (any size or flavor is fine)
  • 2 to 3 cups of pretzels (any shape)
  • Optional: Cheetos, roasted peanuts, Honeycomb cereal, Fritos, Bugles—really anything you want.

For the syrup:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (or sub with agave or honey)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 to 2 T. soy sauce
  • A splash (or more) of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 bottle nori goma furikake (Available in most Asian markets)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a pot over medium, melt butter and add corn syrup, oil, sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat.

In a very large bowl—or maybe two bowls or pans—combine all the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Add the syrup to the combined dry ingredients and toss well. Make sure everything is well coated. Then add the furikake seasoning and toss until everything is evenly coated. Transfer to either lined baking pans or foil pans and bake for about an hour. Remove from oven and cool completely on racks. Store in an airtight container.

Of Mutts & Men

Publication Date: 7/7/20

Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Of Mutts and Men is the 10th installment of the series featuring Bernie Little and his canine companion, Chet of the Little Detective Agency. Together, Bernie and Chet solve crimes in an almost unbelievable way.

Narrated from Chet’s point of view, the story is entertaining and sprinkled with a lot of witty humor. However, the humor does get a little wearisome as it does take away from the entire plot.

Without getting into too much detail, Bernie is invited to a meeting by a hydrologist at a canyon only to find the hydrologist murdered — throat slit from ear to ear. Evidence gathered at the scene leads to a petty thief. But all evidence against this thief is circumstantial. Now it’s up to Bernie and Chet to find the real killer.

A book and series well suited for teens and some YA fans. Very entertaining for me. 3.5 stars rounded up — I liked it.

I received a digital ARC from Macmillan-Tor/Forge through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

Maric’s Reprieve

Publication Date: 4/18/19

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Maric, an honorably discharged NZ Special Air Service (SAS) captain, gets recruited by an old comrade to lead a squad to quash a diamond smuggling operation. An operation that is funding a Taliban commander.

The novel Maric’s Reprieve is the first installment in the Unsung Warriors series — a set of military fiction novels. The author, Eric Thorpe, has done a very good job in developing the characters and executing an exciting narrative.

Because I am not particularly a fan of special ops military novels, I had a difficult time finishing the book. However, I will add that if military fiction is one of your favorite genres, you will certainly enjoy Maric’s Reprieve.

All bias aside, and based on the author’s writing style, knowledge of combat, and plot execution, I am rating it 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

I received a digital copy from the author through BookSirens. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

Catkwondo

Publication Date: 9/1/20

Publisher: Capstone

Genre: Children’s Fiction

If it were not for my familiarity with martial arts, this book would be uninteresting. However, I did like the values and tenets that are taught — such as patience, courtesy, integrity, and perseverance to name a few. There are quite a few Korean terms and they are translated at the end of the book. I would have preferred that the translations appear at the beginning so that I least I had a preview of the terms and pronunciations.

Illustrations were not that appealing — something about the oversized heads and eyes were a little off-putting. Overall, an okay read. Not the best, but not the worst.

I received a digital ARC from Capstone through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.