This week we have a hamster (tasty!), a Queen, some death, deceit and teenagers, Venice (no Paris this week sorry!), and some fun in the kitchen (sans hamsters).

Let us begin!

John has just finished a current staff favorite, Breed by Chase Novak. “I'm not sure if I've been punked, or if I should be scared of my co-workers, or if they just have a sick sense of humor.  When Sally plopped a copy of Breed on my desk and told me I had to read it, followed soon afterwards by Jen pointing at it, exclaiming, ‘Yes! Let me know when you are one-hamster-in!’ Well, I had to make it my next book.  I mentioned the other day, after reading The Last Werewolf that I thought the horror genre had been pretty well strip-mined.  Well, Novak has somehow hit upon a new kind of high-grade ore.  This book stands alone as an example of what happens to authors who were not properly nurtured as children, but somehow grow up to produce something wickedly twisted, yet humorous in its absurdity.  The reason this novel works is because it walks the fine line between gruesome and sublimely entertaining, and it walks that line like it owns it--with a twinkle in its eye and a spring in its step.”

Ann, who I am sure you remember has been under the weather is back!  She has crawled out of her sick bed to report on Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower by Alison Weir. “I am not finished this book yet but I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Ms. Weir is telling the story of Katherine Grey whose sister Jane is executed under Queen Mary and Kate Plantagenet who was the daughter of King Richard, the last Plantagenet King. She loves her father but must come to terms with the imprisonment of her cousins, the two young princes in the tower. Her father had his young nephews brought there so there would not be a challenge to him being king.  This book is very well written as it goes between both women and their respective time periods. They both had to face many challenges.  I am so looking forward to finishing this book, but I think I will miss these two women very much.”  We can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to have a little Ann back in our day. 

Jeannie is as always doing two things at once!  “I just started J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. I am anxious to see what the very talented creator of Harry Potter can give the reading public in Adult Fiction. Rather than dragons and wizards, Rowling is telling a story about a small town with big problems, including death, deceit and teenagers with their problematic behaviors and angst. Cue the social worker with her own problems! So far, about one fifth of the way through a 500 page book, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, but at least their connections are clear. The tone of the book is what I think of as that clever, irreverent, rather blunt English style portraying dysfunctional people.  I am listening to Willful Behavior by Donna Leon. Being fairly new to the Detective Mystery genre, I especially like Leon's style for short trips in the car. Leon has featured Commissario Guido Brunetti of Venice, Italy in almost two dozen murder mysteries. Her characters are believable, her plot is compelling, and the language is plain enough to follow while driving. I am having a bit of trouble getting used to the very English (sometimes Cockney) narrator, but the story is so engaging that this is mostly forgotten in the search for the killer. Add to this the discovery that the dead girl's grandfather may have collaborated with the wrong side during the war and secreted away millions of lire worth of artwork  and I am hooked!”

Those who know me know how much I really love playing in my kitchen.  So after Pat T. pressed this Book on CD into my hands I can now be found driving around town listening to The Kitchen Counter Cooking School How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices Into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flynn.   After graduating from The Cordon Bleu in Paris, Flynn was at rather a loss.  What would she do next?  While shopping in her local grocery, she came upon a woman filling her cart with what I like to call crap: nothing but processed boxed “food” items.  When Flynn asked this woman about it, she confessed she did not know what to do with fresh food.  Here comes the light bulb moment!  Flynn opens a “school” of a kind with 9 volunteers and teaches them one lesson at a time about how to care for yourself and your family through food.

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