Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Promise Kitchen by Peggy Lampman ~ 2016

Two Women - Two Worlds - One table

Author: Peggy Lampman
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (August 16, 2016)
Publication: August 16, 2016
Pages: 396
Language: English
Cover design: Laura Klynstra
Cover photography: Jonathan Pollock / Getty Images
Author photographer: Close friends

"This book was provided by Peggy Lampman in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

3 Stars

Peggy Lampman
Peggy Lampman brings to the table a heart-warming tale of two southern ladies,  Shelby Preston and Mallory Lakes, who couldn't be more different from one another.

The tale is told in two parts with alternating chapters from Shelby, Mallory, and Miss Ann.  You will see how they get together through their love of food.

Shelby, who feels constricted in her poverty stricken life in a suburban town of Coryville, Georgia, dreams of becoming a chef.  A job that will bring a better life for herself and her daughter, Miss Ann.

Mallory, a newspaper food columnist in Atlanta is trying to pick up some threads of a breakup and tries to hold on to her job.  There are major changes at work, so she gets involved in writing a daily blog on the growing farm-to-table movement.

The tale covers a year's time of insightful thought, love, friendship, and of course - food.

A very slow read for me, where at times, I had a hard time getting back to it.  I did not feel the atmosphere I was expecting.  No smell from the peach trees, nor the stink from the pigs, nor any flower in bloom.  The setting was there, yet, not in the detail where it actually made me feel I was with the characters.

Repetitiveness was one issue for me.  Example - How many times, and in different ways, is it necessary to describe the jackalope's eyes?  I get Shelby's point on how she feels about that stuffed jackalope and his eyes 'following her', from the first couple of times.  Maybe after distinguishing Shelby's view of the jackalope, mention that issue with a bit less.  The reader knows all ready how that affects her.

This tale I felt was told to me instead of making me disappear into a fictional world that I need to have in order to escape reality for a moment.  I tried to feel with the characters - their heartbreaks, their joys - it wasn't there for me.  I read the words, but, wasn't evocative enough to  'being there'.

Inside the covers, the story was chock full of issues - racism, discrimination against Mexican immigrants, life of a single mom, spouses who cheat, there's bullying and prescription drug abuse, drinking and driving, drug dealers, the organic farm-to-table movement.  Folks, that is just a handful of the issues that are covered.  Hey, that's fine if you want to throw those issues in, but, cover them with how the characters have closure on them.  A sound closure.

I felt this tale had so much going on, yet, not enough 'meat' going on.

The ending came and my reflection was of love and hope, learning to forgive others, endearing friendship, how tight families are, and dedication to your offspring.

I will enjoy these recipes that are in the back - man, some of those sound so delicious - Chicken Gumbo Ya-Ya, Blue Cheese Chicken Salad Stuffed in Endive, Fried Green Tomato BLT, Bacon and Beer-Braised Brats with Apple Kraut - to name just a few folks.  Plenty more from where these came from, so, get hungry!

I would recommend this read if you are looking for a recipe book with a story.

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Here's where you can get your fingers on The Promise Kitchen:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $3.99 ~ Paperback $9.70 USD

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About the author  ~

 Peggy Lampman is the award-winning, best-selling author of THE PROMISE KITCHEN and THE WELCOME HOME DINER, both published by Lake Union Publishing.  She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan.  After graduating, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for Hill and Knowlton, a public relations firm.

She moved back to Ann Arbor, her college town, and opened up a specialty foods store, The Back Alley Gourmet.  After selling the store, she wrote under a weekly food byline in The Ann Arbor News and MLive.

Her free time is spent herding kids and indulging in her barbecue addiction with Big Green Egg cult cookery.

Connect with Peggy

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 The Welcome Home Diner: A Novel

Betting on the city of Detroit’s eventual comeback, cousins Addie and Samantha decide to risk it all on an affordable new house and a culinary career that starts with renovating a vintage diner in a depressed area of town.  There’s just one little snag in their vision.

Angus, a weary, beloved local, is strongly opposed to his neighborhood’s gentrification—and his concerns reflect the suspicion of the community.  Shocked by their reception, Addie and Samantha begin to have second thoughts.

As the long hours, problematic love interests, and underhanded pressures mount, the two women find themselves increasingly at odds, and soon their problems threaten everything they’ve worked for.  If they are going to realize their dreams, Addie and Samantha must focus on rebuilding their relationship.  But will the neighborhood open their hearts to welcome them home?

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

J159 by Renee Logan ~ 2017

I thought, hell, jury duty never sounded so good, but ...

When Eddie was taken by the system, he thought he was doing his civic duty, not being indoctrinated into a maddening isolation that would leave him fighting for his very breath.

Author: Renee Logan
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (April 29, 2017)
Publication: April 29 1, 2017
Pages: 248
Language: English
Author photographer: A friend who enjoys quiet recognition

"This book was provided by Renee Logan in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

4  Stars

Renee Logan
Could you imagine having to report for jury duty?  What a drag everyone says it is.  Right?
Sure there are those who feel civic duty is the stand-up thing to do so they jump on it; to each their own ~ it's jury duty.

Here in Renee Logan's novel J159 - some of you might wear a smile.  Some folks finish this jury duty wearing one of those smiles and tapping their back pocket as they get on with their lives.

Could you imagine reporting for jury duty - knowing you have no need to worry about making your mortgage payments, nor utilities, nor any monthly premiums - even personal.  Your property will be maintained and all (including Acts of God) repairs will be done promptly.

Sometimes the duty calls for months at a time right?  Your job is in the back of your mind?  No worries.  After you complete your jury duty, you will have your same job at the same level as you were, and where applicable - better.  Plus folks, you are are going to be paid for your services - cash.

Dr. Joyce Wyndham, creator of the Pure Juror System thought - The point is making sure the juror has no worries at all so his/her concentration is completely in the case at hand.  There will be no communication with the outside world.  All of your entertainment are movies and shows and the like that are reruns from years past.  No news or anything that could relate to the case at hand.
Sounds like a good idea for all around and you might be saying to yourself - there is always 'a thing'.  Here's the thing, jury duty is not less than three, not more than five years.

Did your smile go away?  Well, some smile, some frown, and some just shrug their shoulders and say hey, gotta go.  You see it happening around you in your daily life.  Folks coming out and getting back to what they were doing - hell, some even move away and start anew.  The court cases?  Exactly folks! pure justice - no if's and's or rebuttals.  The truly guilty go to prison.  And the truly innocent will do their job ....

This read folks will get you going right off the bat.  And if you are anywhere near the definition of curious, you'll be turning the pages.  Ms. Logan captures the isolation you might feel you should be going through.  Yet, what slowed the read down for me - but first a prelude - what else would you write about - was the constant talk of food.  No, I didn't get hungry, I was stuffed.  I was hoping (wishing?) for an enigmatic twist with the food.

A lab rat waiting for lights named Eddie is the protagonist of this tale.  Folks, when I started this read I was feeling as if the main character was a female - he is not female.  As the story went on ... Delighted by discovery, my face glowed with warmth, is one example that made me feel the character was from our species - feminine; there were a couple here and there that were peppered through the beginning of the tale that made me root for her.  Eddie, he's a he.  I still felt a feminine tone/air for this character as the tale went and I loved how this tale went.  Okay, maybe homosexual?

Lab rat?  Yeah, poor Eddie had to do exactly as the lights indicated.  Red - Wait. Green - You're good. From eating to getting some fresh air to having to get inside in a hurry to ... Eat. Wait. Wake. Wait.
Poor Eddie was living a life of complete isolation - even from other jurors.  No tainting of your decision on the case on hand.

Eddie, I mean Ms. Logan, was describing great inter-monologue as I read.  Major despair riddled off the pages.  Pulled me right in there with Eddie.  A lot of what was going on in his head had set my atmosphere and setting for me - the isolation is a killer.  The sub-plot was excellent, Renee.  The court cases that came and went, time itself and all the background for the tale was moving.

Talk about moving, your pace Ms. Logan was spot on coinciding with Eddie's growth into his nightmare.  It dug my rooting for Eddie a little deeper.

I was hoping for the friends of this tale were actually Eddie's foe and then a super nice twist for Eddie in the end.  The plot was excellent, though, I knew all along whom the ending was in favor for, so, that's why there was that hope for a twist. Some mystery-meat, twisty twist in the end, and more problems for Jack.  That's what I needed.  Folks, Jack is one of the most courageous men you will ever meet.  Pick this read up ~ All in all, this is a really good read folks ~

I needed more twist.  Recommend you ask?, Well yeah, of course, because listen, you really will enjoy getting isolated with Eddie.  I'll go ahead and say you're welcomed.


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Here's where you can get your fingers on J159:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $2.99 ~ Paperback $10.95 USD

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About the author  ~

Renee Logan is an Australian born writer, artist, and photographer.  She has lived in Europe and traveled the world, but proudly calls Texas, USA her home.

Renee has written and illustrated children's books and continues to do so in parallel to her love of writing thrillers, science-fiction, dystopian, mysteries, and general fiction.

With a predilection for oil painting and a vast array of photography interests, Renee's artistic works can be found among both private and commercial collections, as well as print media and advertising.

Connect with Renee

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Iron Line by L. M. Merrington ~ 2017

“There’s a ghost train that runs along here at night.
They say it carries the souls of those bound for hell.”

Author: L. M. Merrington
Publisher: PAC Books (December 4, 2017)
Publication: December 4, 2017
Pages: 177
Language: English
Cover design: Raewyn Brack
Author photographer: James Walsh

"This book was provided by L. M. Merrington in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

L. M. Merrington
What a terrific weekend mystery read folks!

This story was incredible. 

The Iron Line is a Gothic murder mystery set with secrets nestled within the rural fictional town of Tungold, Australia in the late 1800's.

A newly widowed young lady by the name of Jane Adams will take you on a journey to hell and back.

Becoming the new gatekeeper from Goulburn, she was capable of handling one daily train that ran through town - and then she deemed herself capable of settling her curiosity of the train that rumbled the tracks every now and then, deep in the middle of the night.

Locals call it The Ghost Train and it be best to run home and jump in bed and cover your head 'til its gone - lest you die.  Happenings before you know.

Curiosity killed the cat, yet she had to spy the train and once she did, she didn't die. Though she spied a sight she might've not should've -

yet again, not sure what happened exactly in town there with that murder too, but teaming up with Constable Ward seemed like a for sure plan.  'Even though being a woman', Jane is vibrant and outspoken and after seeing the logic, Ward concedes that two views are better than one.  Off they set to investigate a mysterious ghost train and a murder to them making no sense.

Constable Ward reminded me of Pierce Brosnan with his suave demeanor and I felt Jane looking at him with a cautious female want through the read.  Now she's thinking hold on here, hold on, slow the hell down.  Still wearing mourning threads.  Slow.  It.  Down.  And there were the spots in the read she did halt all, then, the rekindles, then ....

Both of these characters will wrap you with life in the 1800's - detailing for you the life one would expect back then.  I appreciated the temperament Ms. Merrington, all the characters were distinct with their garb and demeanors, and their patois was accented audibly for me  - thank you. 

The Iron Line is speckled with a bit of history of the land and times along with a handful of issues facing women since time started really.  Tip of my hat for voicing the violence of where one should feel the safety of tranquility at it's fullest Ms. Merrington.  Along with other issues peppered here and there that are alive and kicking and happening today right now as you are reading my review here.

As I was reading, Jane becomes more lovable by the page.  Stands her ground as her backbone is made of impenetrable granite at times.  She can't stand bullies.  Many of us probably could relate to Jane, not only for her perseverance, but as you read, for her other ingredients that make up her character.     

As the mystery of the ghost train and the murder - and the attempted killing! - continues, you are enveloped in the Victorian Gothic genre for the weekend.  Now folks, I'm down here on Earth, just as the lot of  you - Ms. Merrington pens a sentence that pulls the next one right afterwards and then the sentence pulls the next paragraph right after turning that into the next page which in turns a smile as you close the back cover.  Take my word for it.

Now I would venture to say the question of whether or not that I would recommend this read for your weekend pleasure is naught, eh?
Yep. Thought so.

Folks, you won't see the end.  This is a great mystery with the end having a twist - oh, twisting right around the corner ... and down the hill ~ you can't possibly see it  ~  however, you will absolutely love it!

~ enjoy!

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Here's where you can get your fingers on The Iron Line:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $2.99 ~ Paperback $14.99 USD

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About the author  ~

L.M. Merrington is an Australian author, freelance writer and consultant.  Her books include two Gothic mysteries, Greythorne and The Iron Line, and a non-fiction communications handbook, Communications for Volunteers: Low-Cost Strategies for Community Groups.  She is fascinated by the Victorian era and particularly enjoys writing Gothic stories and steampunk.

Join Ms. Merrington's mailing list on her site & receive a free short story, Reset.

You'll also get access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content, first-look book excerpts and more.

Connect with Ms. Merrington

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My Review

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Three On A Match: The Terror Project, Volume 2 by Kristi Petersen Schoonover / g. Elmer Munson / Melissa Crandall~ 2017

Three on a match: 
 (also known as third on a match or unlucky third light)
is a purported superstition among soldiers during the Crimean War to World War II
The superstition - if three people light their smokes off of one match, one of them will die.

Author: Melissa Crandall / g. Elmer Munson / Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Publisher: Books & Boos Press
Publication: September 5, 2017
Pages: 252
ISBN-10: 0997932929
ISBN-13: 978-0997932928
Language: English
Cover design: Ana Lucia Cortez
Foreword: David Daniel

4 Stars, 3 Stars, 5 Stars - respectively

"This book was provided by Stacey Longo in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

Stacey Longo
What a project Stacey Longo has going on around her; The Terror Project - 3 books, 3 novella's per book, 3 different authors per book - each heading for your dreadful and ghastly reading pleasure.

I would say this read was gripping, peopled with vivid characters and pulsed with suspense.  Loved it!

Her project starts with Triplicity: The Terror Project Vol. 1 by Stacey Longo / Tony Tremblay / Rob Smales ~ 2016.  In this read you will find, right along with Stacey, two gentlemen that puts terror rightfully in its place - in your mind.

Triplicity: The Terror Project: Volume 1 sets the stage for introducing part 2 on her terror project and I cordially invite you to read my review on Triplicity.

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Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Three On A Match: The Terror Project, Volume 2 starts with Splendid Chyna by Kristi Petersen Schoonover describing not all the dead rest in peace.

CeCe, the main character, is the vehicle for setting justice? and entering her own personal Twilight Zone?

Departing the abuse of her old man, whom is now in prison, and trading it in for the abuse of the Florida humidity with her loving new beau, Art, CeCe is starting afresh and wants to go through that good-vibe feeling one should go through when you start again.  The day she moves into her new home - it's raining.  Go figure, right?

She has a daughter of thirteen years, Eliza, whom is usually hushed and waved politely away in a sense during this read for me, (loved her small part), has an older brother, Devon, who is the dark and mysterious sixteen-year-old skateboarder.

CeCe is introduced to the ladies of the cul-de-sac, - gossip congregating at the pool -  while enjoying their drinks and planning a progressive dinner, they do a job filling her in with the history of the neighborhood.

As CeCe grasps the idea of their home is built upon an amusement park that never became, her life is not what she was expecting.  She tries to mend a broken teacup of Devon's from the move and from there on out the read explodes into a great ending.  From the relationship between her son and Art, the music she keeps hearing, all the ladies, her daughter Eliza, and Chyna - the story crescendos into an ending from out of nowhere.  Relief, did come, at least for

Kristi's atmosphere was penned for the reader to feel the eeriness throughout and her pace was wrote in a way you want to turn the page in hopes of relief will be there.  She made you feel CeCe's anxieties and who wouldn't love that in a read?  What slowed me was the gossip around the pool.  Not sure if it was the dialog or the setting or, the events surrounding the scene or maybe the whole mix, or ... sure can't pinpoint it, but, a great read folks, rest assured.

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All's Well That Ends
g. Elmer Munson
g. Elmer Munson

Cops.  Banks.  Clowns.

Had a blast trying to envision the scenes and I ducked my head here and there, yes.  But the story was too rushed for me to really enjoy the read.  I had to reread a few sentences here and there to understand who did what and when, and who shot who, and where did you pop up from?, and ... so forth.

Folks, depicting chaos and all the action is exciting when using these clown characters.  Crazy scenes were jumping out of the pages as the complete chaos told a story.  Some of you are really going to enjoy this even though I felt rushed.  I did feel the 'change of air' between outside events and inside events.

This is one bank-job you gotta read if you like grinnin' while you read.

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Melissa Crandall
Thicker Than Water
Melissa Crandall

When you start reading, Melissa will tell you a tale absolutely hooking you from start to finish.  And afterwards? one decent smile of satisfaction.

This was my favorite of the three.  Melissa has a way with prose.  Seasoned.

This tale reminded me of the debut novel Burial Rites (2013) by Hanna Kent.  Thicker than water is a witch story where the hoi polloi's view is thicker than the actual facts the accused is accused of.

All Cora Coleman is actually doing is waiting for husband Brendan to come back home, safely, from his whaling trip.  She gets accused of bewitching Owen at the social to make him come after her, even though he is engaged to another.  As all the trials and tribulations of Cora Coleman's days were unfolding, the ending I gasped as I read who was going to witness what.

The setting and atmosphere - I was there - thank you Melissa.

The character's in this tale were my vehicle for my enjoyment.  Owen, or I should say, smug Owen (boy, I'd like to take him outside and have word or two with him) and his lady Grace Ellison  were depicted exactly who they were.  In fact folks, every character had their own temperament which made them stand clearly apart from one another.

Tension, surprise, heartache, and disappointment play throughout, and you will enjoy yourself as you read how an innocent remark marks a most excellent read - "Mam, What's a succubus?"

Three On A Match: The Terror Project, Volume 2

In back of The Terror Project, there are the stories behind the stories.  A little back-drop of where the authors got their ideas.  So cool.

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Here's where you can get your fingers on Three On A Match: The Terror Project, Volume 2:

  •  Amazon ~ Paperback $12.99 USD

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About the authors  ~

Melissa, Elmer, Kristi

Connect with them:

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 Melissa describes herself as a “tea snob” and loves being outdoors and around animals. A proud native of Upstate New York, she currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Ed and their pets, a lovable Australian shepherd named Holly, and a “damn fine” cat named Ruby.

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 g. Elmer Munson is a New England writer of the strange and unusual as well as the horrors of everyday life. He lives with his family and a posse of various critters in a creaky farmhouse older than America herself.

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 Kristi lives in the Connecticut woods with her housemate, Charles, two cats--Poe and Mikey--and her husband, paranormal investigator and occult specialist Nathan Schoonover of The Ghostman & Demon Hunter Show (
She has a passion for ghost stories, marine life, and Tarot cards and still occasionally sleeps with the lights on.

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Stacey Longo
 Writer, creative wit, and beauty to boot. What more could you ask for in your favorite author?

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