Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Michael W. Twitty & The Cooking Gene

I really don't have a book to talk about today. Instead, I'm going to share the information about a program I'm going to on Thursday night. The library is hosting Michael W. Twitty, author of a book called The Cooking Gene. So many of us are fascinated by our ancestry and family history. Twitty has combined his ancestry with the history of food.

Because I haven't been to the program yet, but find the topic interesting, I'm going to share the information about the book and its background. This comes from Amazon.

2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year | 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner inWriting | Nominee for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction | #75 on The Root100 2018
A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.
Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine. 
From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors’ survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia. 
As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

I can't wait to hear Twitty's story of uncovering his ancestral culinary history.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Bibliophile by Jane Mount

Several months ago I mentioned a book I was browsing through, Bibliophile by Jane Mount. It's
subtitled "An Illustrated Miscellany", and that's exactly what it is. It's a beautifully illustrated collection of miscellaneous lists and piles of books, descriptions of books grouped around one subject, beloved bookstores, libraries, quizzes, and so much more. If it's about books, Mount tries to include it in the book she illustrated.

Interested in writers' pets? Of course, there's John Steinbeck's Charley, a standard poodle. But, there's also Herman, Maurice Sendak's German shepherd named after Herman Melville. Jack Kerouac loved cats, especially Tyke. Mark Twain was a cat lover, and I've seen all kinds of quotes from him about cats.

There's a map of Fictional Planet Universe. I recognized Asteroid B-612 immediately from The Little Prince, but there were several other planets I'd read about, and so many were unfamiliar. It's been too many years since I read Robert Heinlein. I should have remembered Zorg, though, because I loved Calvin and Hobbes.

Are you looking for lists of dystopian novels? Books about journeys and adventures? Biographies and autobiographies? Mount has you covered, and she includes gorgeous illustrations of piles of books in each of her categories. There are "Books Made into Great TV"; Roots, The Handmaid's Tale, Lonesome Dove, Friday Night Lights.

Bibliophile is a weekend book, a browsing collection. When I talked about the book on a Thursday for "What Are You Reading?", I mentioned that I also bought a collection of notecards. Think of the book in the same way. It's a collection of notecards, illustrations, as Mount says, "An Illustrated Miscellany." It's just a comfortable book for anyone who loves books.

Jane Mount's websites are and

Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount. Chronicle Books, 2018. ISBN 9781452167237 (hardcover), 224p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sandie's Corner - No Sunscreen for the Dead by Tim Dorsey

Are you surprised to see a book review from Sandie Herron instead of "Have You Heard?" about audio books? Before Sandie turned to audios, she posted reviews here under "Sandie's Corner". Tim Dorsey's No Sunscreen for the Dead is due for release on January 15. Perfect timing for this review. Thank you, Sandie.

No Sunscreen for the Dead
Written by Tim Dorsey
Series:  Serge Storms Book 22
Publisher:  William Morrow (1/15/2019)

All I can say is Vintage Serge!  If you’ve never met him before, he’s a manic maniac who loves Florida and its history.  He crisscrosses the state compiling its oral history with his buddy Coleman, who is perpetually drunk or high or both.  In this outing, Serge visits Sarasota.  While eating shoofly pie at a local Amish restaurant, they befriend two retirees and offer them a ride home after missing their shuttle bus.  They discover that this couple has been scammed into buying a room full of humidifiers and dehumidifiers.  Serge finds the salesman’s card and makes sure he’ll never scam anyone again in a very unique way.

Meanwhile we meet Theodore Pruitt and his son Teddy in 1957.  Teddy loves rockets, models, and shortwave radio.   In 1970 while in high school, after one of his letters is read in Moscow, Teddy is befriended by Tofer, posing as a college student.  When Teddy’s draft number is chosen, Tofer encourages him to join the Navy in order to record all the movements of their subs with nuclear weapons. 

Benmont Pinch works at Life-Armor, a Tampa security firm which protects personal identities.  However, when clients sign “terms of agreement,” they disclose all sorts of personal information which another department in the company then sells to other clients.  Benmont is a genius with statistics and discovers a strange pattern in the last four digits of Social Security numbers.  Sequential numbers usually indicate twins, but Benmont discovers people in witness protection given sequential numbers.  He tells his boss who calls a friend in the FBI and suddenly all the data is classified. 

A rash of double homicides staged as murder-suicides are occurring all over Florida with no apparent pattern among them.  Benmont discovers a common element among them yet the lawyers for the company hush him up.

Serge continues to find members of the Boca Vista Lago Isle Shores Retirement Community who have been scammed and dispenses of those salesmen, which scares off the rest of them.  Serge and Coleman become unofficial members of the park, sharing their field trips, evening storm watching, and participating in aqua aerobics.  Sex, drugs, and rock and roll ensue.

All of these plotlines grow and combine, ultimately converging in one big bang.  Serge and Coleman have definitely added an irrepressibly chaotic chapter to Florida history. It’s all the genius of author Tim Dorsey who presents a (mostly) believable, madcap adventure gone awry yet under the control of Serge and his sidekick.  Dorsey can take some of today’s headlines and events and include them as elements of fiction that seem insane.  Even the craziest ideas become plausible, begging to be episodes on the “Mythbusters” television show.  Serge explains all before setting off in another Florida adventure I can’t wait to read.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Widows by Jess Montgomery

It's taken me a little while to read Jess Montgomery's debut historical novel. It's a compelling story
based on two historical figures, and the author has brought them together in a riveting story of two strong women. And, it appears to be the first Sheriff Lily Ross historical mystery.

Lily Ross was content to be the jail mistress in Bronwyn County, Ohio. Her husband, Daniel, is sheriff in the community that's dependent on mining. But, Bronwyn County has faced its share of mining disasters. Ross Mining Company's Mine #9 is called the Widowmaker after the cave-in that killed forty-two men. In September 1924, more men are lost in another cave-in, including several men who tried to rescue the miners. Lily's father was one of them.

Marvena lost her common-law husband when he tried to rescue miners. John and Marvena were attempting to organize the miners, urging them to unionize. Now, Marvena is the force behind the organizing. But, she's hoping Sheriff Daniel Ross, a childhood friend, will announce he's siding with the miners instead of his half-brother, Luther, who owns the mines.

While Marvena knows about Daniel's wife, Lily knows nothing of Marvena. Then men show up to tell her Daniel was killed, probably by a miner. It's only when Marvena shows up on the day of the funeral, looking for Daniel, that they discover their interest in the same man. But, Lily has marriage on her side, Daniel's children, and her pregnancy. She also has unexpected power after the Bronwyn County Commission asks Lily to be acting sheriff.

What do two young women have in common other than Daniel Ross? Determination, and "the sisterhood of widows". Lily's determined to find Daniel's killer, while she's still sheriff, and Marvena wants to learn what happened to her missing teenage daughter. But, both women care about the community, the miners, their wives, their children, their widows. How can two women take on powerful forces? Remember that "sisterhood of widows".

Montgomery's novel is based on the story of Ohio's first female sheriff, and the accounts of the organizing done by activist Mary Harris Jones, Mother Jones. It's a fascinating book, with more than just a couple strong women. It's a novel that strives to give women a voice in history.

Jess Montgomery's website is

The Widows by Jess Montgomery. Minotaur Books, 2019. ISBN 9781250184528 (hardcover), 336p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Have You Heard? - Donna Andrews' No Nest for the Wicket

I'll admit I'm behind in finishing a couple books. Saying that, it makes sense to share Sandie Herron's review of the audiobook of Donna Andrews' No Nest for the Wicket. Thanks to Sandie, as always, for her reviews.

No Nest for the Wicket                                                                      

Written by: Donna Andrews
Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
Series:  Meg Langslow, Book 7
Unabridged Audiobook
Length:  7 hours and 1 minute
Publisher:  Dreamscape Media, LLC ( November 29, 2016)

While their home is undergoing extensive repairs, Meg Langslow and her boyfriend Michael are camping out in the barn.  They have plenty of room for other campers at their home for a weekend of Extreme Croquet.  The terrain of their yard along with the uneven field across the road in Mr. Early’s sheep farm along with a nearby cow pasture provide a perfect course, with the legs of sheep and cows providing extra wickets if needed.  Communicating by cell phones from distance positions in the course, Meg delays the game to find a lost ball.  What she finds is a dead female body at the bottom of a small cliff.  The woman was not a participant in the game.  Actually, no one seems to know who this woman was. 

Chatter throughout the game and while waiting for police Chief Burke to arrive had been about a nearby farm owner selling his acreage to real estate developers for an outlet mall to be built across the street from Meg and Michael’s new Victorian home.  Dissenting votes came from residents who said this was historic land, the site of a small local battle during the Civil War. 

Meg is wondering what happened to the professor from the University of Virginia who was to come pick up 23 boxes of the papers of Edwina Sprocket, former owner of their home, that they figured some historian would want to review.  Until the murder victim could be identified, Chief Burke advised to store the boxes in a safer place, so nothing could disturb them.  This meant that Meg and Michael had to go through them that night.  What they found included the original newspaper account describing the local battle.  They bring that to the town’s librarian for authentication, and she bursts into laughter.

The extreme croquet game was beginning to start up again the next day when a woman’s purse was found in the field.  Finally, the murder victim is identified, but even she isn’t whom she appeared to be.  As usual, Meg had discovered as much about the victim as Chief Burke was about uncover himself.

I truly admire Donna Andrews who can write such a hilarious mystery from such ordinary events, events that if taken singly would present laughter.  Bunch them all together, however, and it becomes bedlam.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to giggle to myself or even laugh out loud over the improbable but plausible plot around the unfortunate murder.  Ultimately, the solution to the murder is discovered in plain sight, but only after all the clues were uncovered.

Bernadette Dunne lends her tranquil voice to narrate this frenzy of events.  Told from the first person perspective of Meg Langslow, she mirrors her calm demeanor throughout the turmoil.  Dunne does equally well at portraying the characters crowding Meg’s life, including the various croquet players.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Winners & Holiday Leftovers Giveaway

Congratulations to the winners of the first giveaway of 2019. Both books are heading to Georgia. Charlotte W. of Covington won Manuscript for Murder, and Trish R. from Decatur will receive City of Secrets. The books are going out in the mail today.

No, I'm not sending out leftover food on my blog. I have mysteries, though, that are set at Christmastime. If the publishers can release them in October, I can send them out in January. Just check out the cover of David Rosenfelt's Deck the Hounds. No good deed goes unpunished. Lawyer Andy Carpenter stops to give some money to a homeless man and his dog, then later learns the man and his dog were attacked. The dog defended his owner, Don Carrigan. The attacker fled, but the dog is quarantined. It's the Christmas season, though, and Andy's wife, Laurie, offers them refuge above their garage. But, a news story causes more trouble when it's revealed Don is wanted for murder.

Or, you could win Carolyn Haines' latest Sarah Booth Delaney mystery, A Gift of Bones. Sarah Booth is dreaming of a merry Christmas and a little smooching, but journalist Cece Dee Falcon needs her help immediately. She received a box, containing a lock of hair, a photo of a pretty pregnant woman, and a note demanding ransom. Cece's family had a falling-out with that young woman, her cousin, Eve. Now, with the kidnapper demanding payment, Sarah Booth and her friends set out to save a woman's life at Christmastime.

Which mystery would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Your subject line should read either "Win Deck the Hounds" or "Win A Gift of Bones." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, Jan. 17 at 5 PM CT.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

What Are You Reading?

Welcome to Thursday, and "What Are You Reading?" I can't wait to find out your book choices this

Don't judge Jess Montgomery's book, The Widows, by the fact that I'm still reading it. I was sick for three days, and didn't read much of anything. I'll finish this and have a review on Saturday. Actually, it's an intriguing book featuring two strong, wonderful women. I'm recommending this book to my best friend, which I wouldn't do unless it was a terrific book.

I'm finishing The Widows. What are you reading this week?