Danny Roth has a lot of money and an expensive wine collection. When he decides to give an interview to a local newspaper letting the world know that he has a 3 million dollar wine collection you can guess what happens next. He gets a lot of attention from other wine collectors and one of them decides to steal his wine. After the robbery Danny contacts his insurance company to get his money. They hire Sam Levitt, former lawyer and wine connoisseur. The difference between the two men is Sam enjoys drinking wine while Danny collects it to impress people. Sam takes a trip to France to meet with former contacts and find out who stole the wine. And also to eat oysters, caviar and sample lots of wine.
I have never before read a book that had delicious recipes for items mentioned in the story. There are twenty-two sweet recipes scattered through the book. The story is an interesting murder of a woman who enjoyed men (perhaps too much!) and all the people involved in her life. Hannah Swenson, who owns a bakery and always seems to have extra sweets around to share with people (which we can bake from the recipes provided), has solved murders before, so this was a good opportunity to use her wisdom and attention to details to find out who did what.
As she is working on the case of the woman found floating in the pool, Hannah is also working out in the gym and dieting to lose weight so she could fit into a dress her mother had chosen for her to wear to a book launch party. Food seems to always be on everyone’s mind, but they do discuss the murder with enough people to bring out the guilty one. In fact, he almost does away with Hannah before she is rescued.
Now to try those recipes!!
Tess Dobson has been uprooted from her life in San Antonio and moved across the country to snowy Schenectady. Her mom has a wild idea about opening an ice cream shop there. So she packed up the car and moved Tess and her brother Jordan, who is deaf, to New York. Tess finds herself living in an assisted living facility surrounded by old people. She is worried that her mom’s scheme will not pan out and they will be broke and homeless. Her mom suffers from “Shooting Stars” (bipolar disorder) but refuses to go to the doctor or be medicated. Tess is more of an adult in this family than her mom. She takes care of her mom and her brother. And her mom can’t even really communicate with Jordan; she doesn’t know sign language very well and relies on Tess to relay information.
Tess is such a strong, creative young woman. She has the weight of the world, or at least the weight of her family, on her shoulders. Her mom is pretty useless and sick. Tess and her mom work their tails off on “A Cherry on Top” even though Tess isn’t sure about the venture. Tess is a character you can really admire. She is only a young girl yet she is parenting her mom and her brother. I really enjoyed how Kent integrated Jordan’s story into the book. In San Antonio, he never got the support or help he needed to cope with the world. In Schenectady he attends a school with a deaf program and is surrounded by people who truly want to communicate with him. You can really track his progress through the book as he becomes more comfortable and less likely to turn into FrankenJordan. Tess’s mom’s story is less heartwarming. Sure she finally gets the help she needs at the end of the book, but I don’t find her story quite as believable. She has resisted medical help for her entire life, but one event from Tess and she is suddenly gung ho to fix herself. I think it is great, but I find it a little hard to believe her transformation.
I haven’t even mentioned all the wonderful supporting characters in this book. They really add a depth to the story and bring a lightness that is a nice contract to the Dobson family drama. Tess’s new friends Gabby and Pete are wonderful and different and supportive. The people who live in Mohawk Valley Village are a great cast of quirky characters. Winnie, a retired nurse who now sings in a band, and Chief, an old Navy Man who takes charge and helps wherever he can, become like family to Tess and Jordan. This is a good read, but some of the drama may get you down a bit.
Isabel dreams of traveling the world but she has never left Oregon. She is envious of her friend who gets to go to summer camp and family vacations. Her mom has decided she wants to open a cupcake shop and she has moved the family to an apartment over the store. Isabel is not sure about the cupcake store but she wants to support her mom. Her mom is very enthusiastic about the store but she also suffers from depression and doubts. In addition to the cupcake store drama Isabel is determined to win a baking contest; the prize of $1000 and a trip to New York.
This is a great book for kids. Isabel is a strong determined young girl who has a lot going on in her life. I really enjoyed how she handles her family problems. She is very supportive of her mom even she has doubts. I like how she seems to roll with the punches but still has normal preteen reactions to things. Definitely a great fun read.
The director of theology at the Universitie d’Aix has been murdered. There could be several reasons why. First, he was about to retire and not only the job is available but his rent free apartment. Also he has a large collection of expensive glass vases. And he was about to name the recipient of an elite fellowship that several students were hoping for. In this second book in a series of Judge Antoine Verlaque mysteries the crime is the main subject but also the food and wine of the Provence area of France. Verlaque also has the help of his girlfriend Marine Bonnet a professor at the Universitie. Bon Apetit!
Foster wants to become the first kid with a cooking show on the Food Network. Her specialty is cupcakes and muffins but she can cook anything. She practices for her show every time she cooks. The only problem is she and her mom just moved to small town Culpepper and who is going to discover her in Culpepper? They had to leave Memphis fast to get away from her mom’s Elvis impersonating boyfriend and Culpepper is where they ended up. Culpepper is a quirky little town with a reclusive Hollywood diva, a young documentarian without a camera and a host of other fun characters.
I love small town books. They always have the quirkiest characters. I think this book has a nice mix of crazy and sane. I like Foster’s ambition and determination to make it big. I also enjoyed the fact that she had a little dimension. She can’t read and she tries to hide that fact with everything she can. Once her secret is out she accepts the help of those around her. I do wish there would have been a little more development for Foster, but overall this was a fun little book.
This is a very sad story. Wilberforce has worked years developing his own software business. His finance manager Andy tells him he needs to find some friends and have some fun. Life isn’t all about work. While driving home one day he passes a wine merchant’s store and since he knows nothing about wine decides to stop in. He meets Francis Black and his friends and is encouraged to do some tasting. From that moment on his life changes, first for the better, but later for the worse. Francis has thousands of bottles of wine and no heirs to leave them to. He asks Wilberforce to take on this responsibility. Wilberforce agrees but then becomes an alcoholic, although he says he just enjoys drinking wine. I think Wilberforce was lonely and really needed friends but he didn’t realize he would become obsessed with wine. Sad story.
Sophie wants nothing more than to be an actress someday. She loves chocolate and musicals and her best friend Isabel. Sophie finds out that she has been selected to audition for a commercial and she is super excited until she learns who the commercial is for…Beatrice’s Brownies. Beatrice’s Brownies is a rival for It’s Raining Cupcakes the store Isabel’s parents operate. How can she be in a commercial for their competition? Especially when Cupcakes isn’t doing so well. How can she tell her best friend? It will break her heart, ruin her family’s business and destroy their friendship.
This is a nice story about friendship and what you do for your friends. Sophie doesn’t always make the best decisions but she really has everyone’s best interests at heart. She has to deal with wanting to be an actress, her friendship with Isabel, her new friendship with a boy and her family. Each chapter is about a different food (mostly chocolate) and there are recipes at the back. Sophie is going through a lot of things other kids her age go through and it makes for a fun, enjoyable story. I’m definitely going to have to read It’s Raining Cupcakes now.
Pie made me hungry for pie and all the recipes at the beginning of the chapters sure didn’t help (mainly because I can’t bake pie). Alice’s aunt Polly is the Piemaker of Ipswich. She loves making pies and gives them away in her shop instead of selling them. She has won 13 Blueberry Medals for the best pie. Then all the sudden Polly dies and leaves the town of Ipswich and Alice devastated. She leaves Alice her cat Lardo, named for her favorite brand of shortening, and leaves Lardo her secret pie crust recipe. This sets of a whole series of highjinks and leaves Alice’s mother fuming (she has always been jealous of Polly). It also starts the entire town baking pies trying to win the Blueberry now that Polly isn’t competition anymore. Lardo gets catnapped and drugged and Polly’s shop ransacked. It is up to Alice and her friend Charlie to figure out who is trying to steal the recipe.
I liked this little book; it was fun and made me hungry. I liked the twists and turns of the mystery. I thought I had it all figured out and then it turns out I was wrong! So I figured out the mystery along with the kids, which makes for a more satisfying read. I really liked the friendship between Alice and Charlie. He helps her with the mystery and with her grief. I actually didn’t realize this was set in 1955 until I started reading it, but found it didn’t read like a historical fiction book. There were a few things that seemed off for the setting; would someone really climb in a kid’s bedroom window and steal a cat in 1955? But overall I liked the innocence of the time and characters. It was a nice change from some of the more jaded current books I have read. I did find the mom a little off and unrealistic even if she did redeem herself in the end. And why an epilogue? Seriously it wasn’t needed; kids don’t care about epilogues.
I would recommend this one to girls who like mysteries and cooking and a nice light read.