31 January 2014

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines

  • Publisher: Adams Media (September 18, 2012)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440538919
  • Hardcover: 256 pages

At A Gimpse:

Bring Upstairs and Downstairs Fare to Your Table.
Nibble on Sybil's Ginger Nut Biscuits during tea. Treat yourself to Ethel's Beloved Crepes Suzette. Feast on Mr. Bates' Chicken and Mushroom Pie with a room full of guests. With this collection of delicacies inspired by Emmy Award-winning series Downton Abbey, you'll feel as sophisticated and poised as the men and women of Downton when you prepare these upstairs and downstairs favorites. Each dish finds its roots within the kitchen of the grand estate, including:
  • Mrs. Isobel Crawley's Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
  • Filet Mignon with Foie Gras and Truffle Sauce
  • Walnut and Celery Salad with Pecorino
  • Decadent Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Icing
  • Very Vanilla Rice Pudding
You will love indulging in the splendors of another era with the snacks, entrees, and desserts from this masterpiece of a cookbook.

(Photo source www.dailymail.co.uk)

Here are my thoughts:

As I browsed through other Amazon reviews of THE UNOFFICIAL DOWNTON ABBEY COOKBOOK I noticed two headlines: 
- The Feel of Downton Abbey (I guess it sums it up well!)
- Do not attempt these recipes at home...(intriguing!)

I admit I was more curious about the second review than the first...I have (yet) to see anything of this series and it is dubious I will if ever...Fans have swarmed our library for this loan and I am not sure I care to wait my turn (# 1089, really????) even if I am a fan of Dame Maggie Smith.

An attempt to procure the DVD first season resulted in a raccoon family raiding the ferry dock (where the parcel which included also a box of chocolates was held overnight...)
No chocolates were found and neither was the DVD...It would appear there are more than one type of fan out there...I could just imagine a whole bunch of raccoons enjoying the snappy reparties of the Countess of Grantham and Matthew Crowley under a midnight sky on the beach...

Back to this review: "Notwithstanding the cutesy chirps introducing the recipes, e.g., Lady Mary would "... enjoy this soup while in the midst of a fiery debate with Matthew," (yeah, right), anyone who cooks beyond the microwave will find at least four inexcusable errors in the first 60 pages. This does not inspire confidence in the remaining 182". 

Since I believe it is well worth a peek follow the link (HERE) for the 'rest of the story'...

In all fairness to the author, this book was meant to give the rest of us an idea of what entails in the preparation of a ten to fifteen courses meal! 

Also whilst I must agree with the above reviewer in most instances, I found some of the recipes reminiscent to those I recall my paternal grandmother requesting for her table (she did not have the staff available to the Countess but she none the less felt privileged to have one upstairs maid, two downstairs and a elderly gardener...the latter was suspected by many of us to be kept on the staff by my grandfather in need perhaps of male companionship - his household was filled with women including his own four daughters!)

Alas, time have changed...Such a setting is no longer (at least for some of us!) and women are more likely to wish to be served such appetizing courses - given the opportunity - than preparing such elaborate dishes themselves.

The Upstairs Anchovy Onion Tarts,  Mushrooms Vol au Vent, Classic Beef Wellington as well as the Sweet Lemon Curd recipes were familiar and the standard US/Metric measurements conversions  listed at the end of the cookbook would have been welcomed when I first became a bride!

For a peek at another way of life be sure to check it out!

4 Stars!

About Emily Ansara Baines:

(Photo source Independent.co.uk)

From Amazon:

Emily Ansara Baines's short stories have appeared in Narrative literary magazine and AngeLingo. She graduated with honors from the University of Southern California where she studied creative writing under Aimee Bender and T.C. Boyle. One day Emily will live in Paris and speak French while wearing a beret, but these days she makes do with navigating the streets of Los Angeles. Her favorite word is murmur.

Here is a link to one of a handful of blogs written by Emily (HERE)

Note to Readers: This was a library loan and reflects ONLY my opinion!

30 January 2014

I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan, Book review

  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (May 28, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778314950
  • Paperback: 336 pages


"I hope this letter gets to you quickly. We are always waiting, aren't we? Perhaps the greatest gift this war has given us is the anticipation…"

It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other's unwavering support.

A collaboration of two authors whose own beautiful story mirrors that on the page, I'll Be Seeing You is a deeply moving union of style and charm. Filled with unforgettable characters and grace, it is a timeless celebration of friendship and the strength and solidarity of women.

Here are my thoughts:

A world torn asunder, two women of vast different backgrounds reaching out across the miles and a friendship developed through a weekly correspondence becomes the subject of this unforgettable epistolary.

Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan surprised me when I found out they didn't meet until after the completion of this nostalgic novel. The authors of 'I'll Be Seeing You' exude a charm well worth noting in their combined writing and brings us a wealth of emotion no woman could resist!

On one hand there is Society born carefree Glory,  a twenty four year old wife and mother who lives in Rockport, Massachusetts. Fourty one year old Rita of Iowa City, Iowa is a mature and sensible homemaker who loves gardening, her scholarly husband Sal and their son Toby.

It is perhaps better to say this is one novel to indulge in when you find yourself a quiet moment, tucked in your favourite chair with a cuppa for it is a riveting read. As you discover the lifeline evolving from this beguiling correspondence you simultaneously uncover a vivid home front filled with the stark reality of wartime: the stars in the windows indicating the household's deployed, the rationing, the many adjustment countless women made as they carry the load once shared, the dreaded telegrams announcing losses and so on...

Glory and Rita face each daily challenge miles away but through their letters they share the good times and the bad ones. It is amazing to see their growth as women and friends. You find yourself envying such a deep relationship for its moral support in a heartbeat!

The inclusion of poetry and great wartime recipes was a welcomed sight and yes, as I read it I could hear in the background that famous song the novel's title will certainly remind you of!

A timeless story about strength found in love and friendship you will not want to put down and well worth 5 stars!!

Meet Suzanne and Loretta:

Image of Suzanne Hayes

Suzanne (Palmieri) Hayes wrote 'The Little Witch of Italy' and has the sweetest website (notice the poppies Folks!)
Find out more about this author (HERE)

Image of Loretta Nyhan

Loretta Nyhan had two books released in 2013--THE WITCH COLLECTOR, a mysterious paranormal thriller from HarperTeen, and an epistolary novel co-written with Suzanne Hayes, I'LL BE SEEING YOU, about two women connecting with each other on the homefront during WWII (Harlequin-MIRA).
Visit her at her blog (HERE)

A quick note:

As I mentioned the title of the book reminded me of of the haunting melody so popular in the 1940's...
It's been playing in my head since I opened the first page...

I'll Be Seeing You

I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day and through

In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children's carousel
The chestnut trees, the wishing well

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you

Note to Readers: This was a library loan and the review reflects ONLY my opinion!

29 January 2014

Announcing The Winner Of The Sinner's Garden...

The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (December 17, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401687380

I am happy to say that the winner of THE SINNER'S GARDEN by William Sirls is....

Noelle, that sounds really interesting. I'm going to write that one down. 


I'll be contacting you shortly to get your address and will post asap (seems this coming Friday is my next time off island!)

Thank you to those readers who entered and best wishes for the next time!

Also a heartfelt thank you to WILLIAM SIRLS and BOOKSNEEZE for this splendid opportunity!

28 January 2014

The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd, Book review (and Giveaway Info)

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (December 31, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401688363
  • Series: Whispers On The Moors (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 320 pages


Patience Creighton has devoted her life to running her father’s boarding school. But when the enigmatic master of the estate appears at her door, battered and unconscious, the young headmistress suddenly finds her livelihood—and her heart —in the hands of one dangerously handsome gentleman.
At twenty-five, Patience Creighton is already a spinster. The busy headmistress of Rosemere always expected a dashing man to sweep her off her feet and take her away . . . but that man never came. And since her father’s death, keeping the school running and her mother happy has been plenty to keep her occupied.
William Sterling dallied his way into financial trouble and mortal danger. When he is assaulted by his creditors’ henchmen on the road home from a tavern, he guides his horse to the doorstep of his tenant, the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. After being tended to by Patience, the wounded William rides off into the dawn—but makes a point to learn more about the lovely headmistress.
As he spends more time at Rosemere, something delicate begins to develop between William and Patience. But that will not deter William’s creditors. With little money to repay his debts, and less for the upkeep of his estate, it becomes clear that sacrificing Rosemere may be the only way to preserve his legacy. But it may also cost him his happiness.

Here are my thoughts:

Book # 2 of the Whispers On The Moor series, The Headmistress of Rosemere will bring entertainment to those Anglophile readers fond of dark English country settings, with a couple of mysteries and a whiff of scandal, a little romance, endearing heroines and dashing heroes. 

As such this latest novel by Sarah E. Ladd is the perfect novel to read at this time of the year and I felt, a notable improvement on the first book of the series!

In her previous novel 'The Heiress of Winterwood' (see review HERE) Sarah E. Ladd proved she enjoys immensely her craft as she describes picturesque plot lines and dramatic protagonists. 

In this second novel and a cover ready to draw you in, her style appears something of a cross between Jane Austen and Emile Bronte adding a dimension to her story any fan will appreciate!

However if Patience Creighton as the head of a provincial girls boarding school with her deep sense of duty coupled with loyalty seems as if she stepped out out of a Austen or Bronte novel, she is nothing like Jane Eyre and the nearby estate owner is no Mr. Rochester. 

At the age of 25 Patience believes herself destined to care for her ailing mother and in the absence of her brother runs Rosemere, their boardinghouse.  Any romantic notions therefore are seriously challenged when the dashing William Sterling finds his way on her doorstep whilst running away from danger.

With its hint of mysteries and deeper secrets, The Headmistress of Rosemere is a Christian novel guaranteed to please young and old alike! 

4 Stars!

Meet the Author:

Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. The Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. 

More info on her website (HERE)

Interested in the GIVEAWAY/FACEBOOK Party?
Then be sure to visit the link below for all information!

Landing page: 

I received this book free from LITFUSE as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.  

27 January 2014

A Giveaway From Our House To Yours....

~Photo courtesy of Willy at Hej Tjorven ~ 

To celebrate five years of blogging I thought to give a little something to one reader! 
75,500 viewers and nearly 1000 posts...It all adds up to a great feeling Folks!
Thank you for the sweet comments, I try answering each and everyone!

My first instinct was to make this giveaway package a surprise for the recipient but I imagine readers would prefer to know something of what will go in the package, right?
So for just a little peek...

(Plaque: wood 9.5" x 7.25" not including the holder)

No one would guess why I chose it, right? But each of us is entitled to Dream a little dream...
As promised the giveaway is international and will be run from today Monday the 27th of January 2014 until 7th February 2014!

All you have to do is place a comment on this post (including a way to contact you for mailing information) and one lucky reader will be selected via Random.org.

Thank you Readers and all the best,

25 January 2014

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher, Book review (and Giveaway Info)

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 7, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401687656
  • Paperback: 304 pages


God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.
What had become of His promise?
Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.
The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she'd misunderstood.
Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.
As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord? 
Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption, A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher’s emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His own time and His own ways.

Here are my thoughts:

I am absolutely certain that from its exquisite cover down to the contents, 'A Promise Kept' is a novel you will enjoy no matter your age! 
Robin Lee Hatcher shines in this tale of one woman coming to realize God answers all, in His own time and His own way and whilst 'He hates divorce, He does not hate the divorced'. 
Could it be we discover a little of Robin Lee Hatcher herself?

From its evocative onset you sense the apprehension of a middle aged Allison as she begins a new phase in a life riffled until now with bitterness. Her prayers were answered just not as expected and Allison comes to the realization she might have misunderstood the Lord.
Her alcoholic dependent ex-husband has left her drained after years of denial. Now accompanied by a little Papillon named Gizmo, she takes refuge in a Idaho mountain cabin deeded to her by her Great Aunt Emma, a nature photographer. 

There she discovers a couple of steam trunks: one holds a wedding gown, the other journals written by Emma betwixt the age of fifteen through ninety seven when she left the mountains for a nursing home.
Neither Allison or her mother however remembers anyone mentioning Emma was ever married...

Alternating between Allison and Emma's voices, the novel highlights the singular similarities between each woman's life. The author draws you in this inspirational story granting each one of us yet another proof of His everlasting love.

Unmistakably a 'la Robin Lee Hatcher', this novel is a joy to discover and the perfect gift for a sister, mother or friend! 

5 Stars!

Meet the Author:

Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

More information on her website

Interested in Robin Lee Hatcher's GIVEAWAY/FACEBOOK PARTY?
Then be sure to stop by LITFUSE for details 
(See Landing page link below).

Landing page: 

I received a copy of this title from LITFUSE Publicity Group to review . I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.