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Review: Aquarium

May 19, 2015

Aquarium

Single mom Sheri does the best she can for herself and her 12 year old daughter, Caitlin.  She works hard but there’s never enough money so, rather than send Caitlin to after school care, she buys her a pass to the local aquarium.  That’s fine with Caitlin, though, because she loves spending time with all the fish there.  She meets an older gentleman who seems to like the fish as much as she does.   Caitlin begins to look forward to seeing him and casually mentions him to her mother, never imagining her mother’s reaction.  What follows turns their lives upside down.

When I read Diane’s review of Aquarium, by David Vann, I knew I had to read it.  It’s been a while since I’ve found a book as addictive as this one.  It’s the story of wounded individuals trying to make their way through life.  My life is very different from all of theirs, yet, somehow, I could relate to them.  Vann is a masterful storyteller and makes even the most damaged character seem redeemable.

Sheri is struggling to get past the consequences of her troubled childhood.  She loves Caitlin but doesn’t always make the best decisions for her.  Caitlin, with her love of marine life, is a breath of fresh air.  She wants her mom to be happy and hopes for a “normal” life.

The storyline of Aquarium is terrific!  It’s disturbing at times, to be sure, but also very relevant for many people today.  I didn’t see the ending coming but felt very satisfied as I finished the book. As an added bonus, there are full color photos of gorgeous fish throughout the book.  I can’t wait to read more of Vann’s work.

Review copy provided by Grove Atlantic. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

May 18, 2015

Mailbox Monday May 18

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   I’m back from the beach and have so much to do.  I’m not complaining, though, because this week is full of lots of fun stuff!  I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Monday

Tuesday

Friday

Saturday

 

 

What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Izzy Barr, Running Star

May 16, 2015

Izzy Barr

Izzy Barr loves sports, especially running, and there aren’t many people who can beat her.  Her half brother, Dustin, comes every weekend and he’s pretty good at sports as well.  Izzy really wants her dad to come to her events but he always seems to go to Dustin’s games.  Izzy understands that his games might be more important since he’s older, but that doesn’t really make her feel any better.  Izzy’s friends Annika and Kelsey are always there and she loves them for it but they can’t replace her dad.

Izzy Barr, Running Star is the latest edition in the Franklin School Friends series by Claudia Mills and, like the first two books,  it’s a winner!  There is so much to love about this early chapter book – well really, the whole series.  The books all stand alone so they can be read in any order.

First of all, Izzy, Annika, and Kelsey have different strengths and interests and they support and complement each other.  I love the fact that the characters in this book are diverse.

The storyline of Izzy Barr, Running Star is realistic and is one that many children (and their parents) can relate to.  It’s not always easy to make a blended family work but Izzy’s family tries hard and does the best they can.

With its great story, terrific characters, and wonderful illustrations by Rob Shepperson, Izzy Barr, Running Star is sure to be a hit with young readers!

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Blue Slip Media.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

 

Author event and giveaway: Ann B. Ross

May 15, 2015

Ann B Ross

It’s always a treat when Ann B. Ross comes to Fiction Addiction so I try not to miss it.  Ann has her PhD in English from the University of North Carolina and taught at UNC – Asheville for a while.  She’d written a few books but they were met with little success so she’d kind of given up on the idea until Miss Julia came to her.  Miss Julia Lays Down the Law is her 16th Miss Julia book, 17th if you include Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day and devoted readers take these books very seriously.

Ann said coming up with problems for Miss Julia to face is actually harder than writing the books.  She gets her ideas from sermons, listening to people, and observing small town life.  She tries to keep her eye out for anything unusual.  Many of her ideas are triggered by things that actually happened.  The idea for Miss Julia Lays Down the Law came from meeting a newcomer who thought everything was better where she came from.

I got Ann to autograph a copy of Miss Julia Lays Down the Law for one lucky reader.  To enter to win an autographed copy of MISS JULIA LAYS DOWN THE LAW, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open worldwide – one entry per person, please.  I will use random.org to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EDT Sunday, May 31, 2015.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

A Best Recipe from a Best Friend by Jennifer Scott

May 14, 2015

Last year I read, and adored, THE ACCIDENTAL BOOK CLUB by Jennifer Scott so I’m looking forward to reading her latest novel, SECOND CHANCE FRIENDS.  I’m also thrilled to welcome her here with a fun guest post.

In my newest novel, SECOND CHANCE FRIENDS, four ladies meet at a diner on the day a horrible bus crash takes place. Each of them are there alone, but they continue to come back to the diner to meet. Much of their friendship solidifies in a booth by the window of that diner. Karen drinks coffee. Joanna has a thing for Boston cream pie. And Melinda will forever be haunted by the huge breakfast she’d been eating at the time of the crash.

Friendships and food seem to go together. It is over our late aunt’s famous brownies and our gooey pizza dips and our secret recipe chicken fingers that we have some of our best friend moments. So I thought I would ask my best friend, Sonya, who is an amazing cook, to share with me her favorite meal. We have been best friends since 7th grade, and we live far apart now. But when I read the recipes she sent, it’s almost as if we’re sitting across that diner table from one another—sharing, comforting, bonding, loving. Enjoy!

Sonya’s Crab Cakes
1 Tbsp. Butter
½ Cup Sweet Corn Kernels
1 Cup diced and washed leeks
½ cup yellow onions
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. basil chiffonade (thinly sliced)
1 Tbsp. chives (or more, to taste)
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 ½ cups Panko bread crumbs, divided
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. lump crab meat

Melt butter in skillet. Add corn, leeks, and onion. Cook for two minutes. Transfer to another bowl. Stir eggs, herbs, and mayo into the veggies. Stir in salt, pepper, and ½ cup Panko. Fold crab meat into the veggies and form 8 crab cakes. Place 1 cup Panko in shallow dish. Coat crab cakes to cover. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute crab cakes in batches 1-2 minutes each side. Serve with champagne buerre blanc sauce.

Champagne-Citrus Buerre Blanc sauce
1 cup finely sliced shallots
2 cups dry champagne or white wine
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine first 8 ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan on medium-high heat. Cook 15-20 minutes or until liquid has almost evaporated. Reduce to low; gradually add one piece of butter at a time, whisking after each addition until melted. Strain mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer, discarding solids. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 1 ½ cups.

Brain Salad
6 cups spinach
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
1 red onion, sliced
½ cup chopped pecans
Dressing:
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
4 tsp. honey
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

About SECOND CHANCE FRIENDS:

Second Chance FriendsKaren Freeman, Melinda Crocker, and Joanna Chambers have never met—but every morning they get their coffee at the Tea Rose Diner.  Karen stops in on her way to the office job she’s held for more than twenty years, wondering how her sweet-faced boy turned into a misguided young man.  EMT Melinda fuels up for her days helping others, after nights spent worrying her fear of having children could drive her husband away.  And Joanna, with her long blonde hair and bohemian flair, digs into the Boston cream pie and hides—from her friends, from her family, and most importantly, from herself.

Their paths may have never crossed. But one morning, on the lawn of the Tea Rose, the three women collide during a searing event in the life of twenty-something Maddie Routh. In the nine months that follow, they return to the spot over and over. To discover what it means to be a mother, a wife, a lover, a friend. To find Maddie Routh. And to find themselves.  Despite the challenges they’ve faced, these four women unite to show us second chances do exist, if only we have the courage to see them.

weekend cookingI will link this up to Weekend Cooking which is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

May 13, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found three more words in my advance reader’s edition of The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy.

1. asthenia – “’I don’t want you getting the wicked asthenia.’”

Asthenia is a lack or loss of strength: debility.

_____________________________________________________

2. brume – “A ghoulish brume.”

Brume means mist or fog.

_____________________________________________________

3. guimpe – “Freddy sat with the reins in hand as she climbed in, the white guimpe hung around her neck like a flag of surrender.”

In this case, guimpe means a wide cloth used by some nuns to cover the neck and shoulders.

_____________________________________________________

What words do you want to celebrate today?

Giveaway: The President’s Shadow prize pack

May 12, 2015

President's Shadow giveaway

As a big fan of Brad Meltzer, I’m excited because the third book in his Culper Ring series is coming out soon!  To help celebrate, Grand Central Publishing is allowing me to give away one “Take a Trip Through the Archives with Beecher White” prize pack.  This great prize pack includes:

  • a copy of THE INNER CIRCLE
  • a copy of THE FIFTH ASSASSIN
  • a copy of THE PRESIDENT’S SHADOW
  • a National Archives tumbler

About THE PRESIDENT’S SHADOW:

The President's ShadowFollowing THE INNER CIRCLE and THE FIFTH ASSASSIN, #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer returns with The President’s Shadow.

A severed arm, found buried in the White House Rose Garden.
A lethal message with terrible consequences for the Presidency.
And a hidden secret in one family’s past that will have repercussions for the entire nation.

There are stories no one knows. Hidden stories. I find those stories for a living.

To most, it looks like Beecher White has an ordinary job. A young staffer with the National Archives in Washington, D.C., he’s responsible for safekeeping the government’s most important documents . . . and, sometimes, its most closely held secrets.

But there are a powerful few who know his other role. Beecher is a member of the Culper Ring, a 200-year-old secret society founded by George Washington and charged with protecting the Presidency.

Now the current occupant of the White House needs the Culper Ring’s help. The alarming discovery of the buried arm has the President’s team in a rightful panic. Who buried the arm? How did they get past White House security? And most important: What’s the message hidden in the arm’s closed fist? Indeed, the puzzle inside has a clear intended recipient, and it isn’t the President. It’s Beecher, himself.

Beecher’s investigation will take him back to one of our country’s greatest secrets and point him toward the long, carefully hidden truth about the most shocking history of all: family history.

About the author:

Brad MeltzerBrad Meltzer is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers THE INNER CIRCLE, THE BOOK OF FATE, and six other bestselling thrillers. His nonfiction books, HEROES FOR MY SON and HEROES FOR MY DAUGHTER, were also New York Times bestsellers. He is the host of the History Channel series Brad Meltzer’s Decoded and the Eisner Award-winning writer of Justice League of America. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School, he currently lives in Florida. You can find much more about him at www.BradMeltzer.com. You can also see what he’s doing right now at Facebook.com/bradmeltzer and Twitter.com/bradmeltzer.

To enter to win this great prize pack, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open to those with a US address only – one entry per person, please.  I will use random.org to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EDT Monday, May 26, 2015.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

 

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