Monday, May 25, 2015

"Pomegranate Soup," by Marsha Mehran

"Pomegranate Soup," by Marsha Mehran
Beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small, sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of “crazed sheep and dizzying roads,” they might finally find a home.

From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streets–an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon Café, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of Ballinacroagh’s uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied–and by foreigners, no less.

But the mysterious, spicy fragrances work their magic on the townsfolk, and soon, business is booming. Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her red lentil soup, abgusht stew, and rosewater baklava–and with the transformation in her sisters. Young Layla finds first love, and even tense, haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous.

And in the stand-up-comedian-turned-priest Father Fergal Mahoney, the gentle, lonely widow Estelle Delmonico, and the headstrong hairdresser Fiona Athey, the sisters find a merry band of supporters against the close-minded opposition of less welcoming villagers stuck in their ways. But the idyll is soon broken when the past rushes back to threaten the Amnipours once more, and the lives they left behind in revolution-era Iran bleed into the present.

I don't remember where I saw this book advertised but it interested me enough that I thought I needed to read it.  I even thought this would be a good book for my choice for the book club.  I loved this book, and was sucked up into the story right away.  It was such an interesting concept to place the Amnipour sisters in a small village in Ireland and see how the locals would get along with the "foreigner's."  It made for a wonderful story and one that I am sure is played out all over the world.

It had it's funny moments and it had it's sad moments.  The way the author describes each dish, makes you almost smell the wonderful flavours and spices she puts into each dish.  Helping you along is a recipe to start each chapter.  So if you are interested in the food of Iran and that area, you can try the recipes. 

How the sisters integrate themselves into the small village where as with everywhere in the world, some people welcome you with open arms, so not so.  There will always be people who don't want change  and peeling away the layers of all the characters, reveals some interesting things.  Things you would never have guessed would be there.

Stars out of 5 : 5 I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and read it over a couple of days.  There is a sequel to this one called: Rosewater and Soda Bread, which I have just ordered from the library.  I have decided not to recommend this book as my choice for the book club, because although I loved it, I am not sure the other people will.  I do recommend you all reading this though as it is a fun book and not a hard read.

P.S. You will never guess in a month of Sunday's why Thomas McGuire wants to buy the pastry shop or what he wants to do with it!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"The Color of Tea," by Hannah Tunnicliffe

"The Color of Tea," by Hannah Tunnicliffe
After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land—a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets. As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of family have been shattered. She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea. 

Grace opens a café where she serves tea, coffee, and macaroons—the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones—to the women of Macau. There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family. But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface. Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghosts to rest and to begin to trust herself. With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaroon baked, Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.

I wasn't 100% sure about this book, but thought you know it could be interesting.  This book was super,   It didn't suck me in right away, but the more you read the more involved you got with the characters.  

Grace was such a fragile person that you just want to help her rise up again.  Rilla and Gigi need Grace as much as Grace needs her and the Marjory character although different make a perfect part of the "team."

The letter's to Grace' mum, didn't really help the book to my mind, although I understand why they were put in there.  The only thing I was disappointed with in this book; there wasn't a recipe for macaroons.  After reading about the delicious flavours of macaroons, and the different types of tea and coffee, I really wanted to make some.  I could really visualize the cafe and it would have been a place I would want to visit everyday.

Stars out of 5 : 4  A solid book and one I am thinking of nominating for our book club.  If anyone has read it, let me know what you thought.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Amish Promises," by Leslie Gould

"Amish Promises," by Leslie Gould
When Joel and Shani Beck arrive at their new home, they're looking for peace. Shani is thrilled to have Joel back from Iraq, but he needs time to heal, and the quiet of Lancaster seems just the place. They can't imagine any trouble with their Amish neighbors, the Lehmans, but things get off to a rocky start when their son is involved in an accident that injures one of the Lehman boys.

Eve Lehman has run her brother's household ever since the death of his wife, but Tim's a stern patriarch. Despite his protests, she's drawn to the new neighbor, Shani, and the two begin to form a strong friendship forged on faith and family. Things seem like they've quieted down until Joel's single and handsome army friend Charlie catches Eve's attention--a man unlike any Eve has ever met. Suddenly life for both families becomes more complicated than any of them could have ever imagined.

This was a lovely book, not a memorable book, but a pleasant book to read.  It was slightly different that is did focus a lot on the non-Amish family.  It was interesting also the way both the Amish and non-Amish families learned from one another and both overcome difficulties thanks to being close neighbours.  This is the second book I have read this month which involves PTSD.

All the characters were believable and I could see the author expanding on the characters lives and having sequels to this book.  This is the first in a series called "Neighbours of Lancaster County."

Stars out of 5 : 3.5  It was an okay book, nothing overly exciting.  A good book to read in a couple of afternoons.  It doesn't require a lot of concentration, but you will probably forget about it in a month or two.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Monday, May 4, 2015

"The Rosie Project," by Graeme Simsion

"The Rosie Project," by Graeme Simsion
A first-date dud, socially awkward and overly fond of quick-dry clothes, genetics professor Don Tillman has given up on love, until a chance encounter gives him an idea.

He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched questionnaire—to uncover the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver. Rosie is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent, strangely beguiling, and looking for her biological father a search that a DNA expert might just be able to help her with.

This is our book club choice for the month of June, yes I am ahead of the game!!

I am a huge fan of Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory.  I am glad I am as this made it easier to understand Don; as otherwise I would have been a tad confused at his behaviour.

You had to laugh out loud at some of the strange things poor Don does; all what seem to be perfectly normal to him, but to the rest of society, no!  The way he jumped into projects with 110% commitment made you want to hug him and wish why wouldn't other people do that.

It was a fast paced book and at times it left you wanting to have a breather.  I personally would find living with Don exhausting, but Rosie's character is perfectly matched to Don's.  For all his awkwardness Don is human and deep down has the same emotions as we all do; it's just sometimes they are hard to find.

Stars out of 5 : 3.5  I enjoyed to book, but if I had never read it, I wouldn't have missed out.  I enjoy Sheldon better......

"Together with You," by Victoria Bylin

"Together with You," by Victoria Bylin
When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her. Never again will she become personally involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny--and Penny's handsome father--tugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?

This was an enjoyable book.  I read it in one day as it was an easy read.  The story kept you interested and there was plenty of action in it.  I did learn a lot about Fetal Alcohol Effects, so I did gain something from reading this book.  I do ask you to read the author's notes at the end of the book, it explains things further.

Stars out of 5 : 4  Will I remember this book next month; probably not.  It is one of my shopping list books, where you can read it and think of other things at the same time.  If you see it in a bookstore or in the library it is well worth picking up.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

"A Love Like Ours," by Becky Wade

"A Love Like Ours," by Becky Wade
Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

I LOVED this book, it had me hooked from the very first page.  A childhood friendship that stands the test of time, with things happening in between hands to make things a bit more interesting.  It's a very believable story and one I am sure that has played out in real life.

You are rooting for Jake and Lyndie right from the beginning and the way the author describes the ups and downs you feel the same emotions that they do.  I will say I thoroughly enjoyed the Amber character as well and I feel as though her life could have been a story in itself.

Stars out of 5 : 5 an easy book to read.  If you are a sucker for a bit of romance this is one for you.  If you love horses this is one for you.  If you are looking for a book to while away a few hours this book is one for you.  Well worth reading as are the other two Porter Family Novels in the series: Undeniably Yours and Meant to be Mine.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

"The Tinderbox," by Beverly Lewis

"The Tinderbox," by Beverly Lewis With her parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller find...