Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Friday, March 20, 2020

Anxiety Baking

It's a thing and in normal circumstances, I'd be all over the recipes being posted. (I especially like the recipes for quick breads because bread is the staff of life and it's ALL good.) But I'm living in a household with someone on a strict diet and I'm not mean enough to fill the place with good smells. (I  used to live in an apartment overlooking a grocery store with an in-store bakery. When they baked their cinnamon rolls and honey bran muffins, it was all I could do not to run over and buy a dozen. (They also fried their own chicken, which was even worse. And it was GOOD fried chicken.)

So, not doing any baking. But that doesn't mean I can't write about baking and live vicariously. About a year ago I bought a series of cozy covers from the awesome Lou Harper of Cover Affairs. They were meant to be cozy mysteries, but I decided instead to make them cozy romances in the vein of my Halliday Theater and Meredith Manor Hotel stories. (And by "my," I mean books written under the name Katherine Moore. I borrowed my pseudonym from my maternal grandmother. My other grandmother was also named Katherine, called Kate, so I still have a 'sudo on reserve if I need it.)

The stories are set in the small town of Heaven, Washington--a place not unlike the small Pacific Northwest town where I actually live. I've already fallen in love with the characters and am having a lot of fun pairing them up and adding recipes. (I used to be a food writer and was the "Chocolate Editor" for for a year. I've also worked as a caterer. So food is one of my passions.)The books are going to have a lot of really good recipes (I am friends with a woman who's just been voted one of the top pastry chefs in Portland), but here's an instant gratification recipe that's a variation of those "cake in a cup" recipes you can find online.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Notorious Minds boxed set Cover Reveal

What does it take to commit the perfect crime?

Delve into these dark and twisted tales by twenty USA Today and International Bestselling Authors. No matter what kind of crime story typically catches your imagination, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Conspiracies, political plots, and yes, even murder, are just a few of the crimes waiting inside this box set. Discover a narcissistic grandmother running an underground syndicate, or a support group bent on murder…and even a serial killer who turns his victims into fairytale creatures.

Prepare to delve into an elite killing team who made a mistake, an oil rig filled with secrets ready to explode, and a reporter uncovering a treasonous plot.
Uncover how fatal passion, jealousy, and fear can be to a group of royal marines and learn from a detective who is far from home fighting demons from his past in order to stay alive.

This fantastic boxed set comes from Fire Quill Publishers, and will be on pre-order from today (St. Patrick's Day) for 99 cents until publication day (October 13, 2020). AND if you preorder now, there are goodies!! See how to grab the bundle here.

Order on:


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Reading for the Apocalypse

In a parallel life I would have been an epidemiologist. Ever since I read Guns, Germs, and Steel, I’ve been fascinated by the interaction of plagues and society. (Another book along the same lines that has been in my library for years is Plagues and Peoples, along with Ken Alibek’s book about the bio-weapons lab he ran. It’s called Biohazard and it will keep you up at night.) Laurie Garrett’s book The Coming Plague is a sobering, informative read. You might have seen her interviewed on The Rachel Maddow Show recently. She did not have good news about COVID-19. And the Band Played On, the monumental work about the AIDS epidemic by Randy Shilts (who died of AIDS at 42.) is a must-read.

I’ve been thinking of fictional plague books lately. I’ve read a lot of them, and am wondering what else is out there that I haven’t read. I subscribe to the service K-lytics, which tracks genres in books, and a few months ago dystopian books—particularly ones featuring disasters like plagues and EMP episodes—were all the rage. I’m wondering if people are still fascinated by those “what if” books now that we’re in a real-life plague crisis of our own. Would reading those books now allay anxiety or make it worse? Could anything be worse than refreshing news feeds every two minutes?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell: a review

When a teenager is lured into an obsessive relationship with a teacher 30 years her senior, the emotional fallout lasts for decades.

This novel seems inspired by novelist Joyce Maynard’s relationship with J.D. Salinger. Seeing the May/December romance through the filter of the #metoo movement is an ingenious way to explore the characters, both in their past and in their present. It is also reminiscent of Philip Roth’s THE HUMAN STAIN. It is, of course, crafted to be current and controversial, but mostly it’s a little creepy. (In the 2000 sections where Vanessa is 15, it is genuinely disturbing seeing the way Strane “grooms” her. No wonder her mother reacts the way she does. The writer also brings in Monica Lewinsky and her infamous relationship with President Clinton. “She seems nice,” Vanessa says when she and her mother watch Lewinsky’s interview with Barbara Walters. Her mother, seeing the situation from a 20th century perspective, is not convinced.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

To be added to the TBR list--The Grace Kelly Dress

Or more accurately--the To Be Read Bookcase. (I've gone way beyond a bookshelf of unread books.) This one had me at the cover. The Eiffel Tower? You know I'm there. It also comes with a lovely recommendation from author M.j. Rose, so bonus.  (I trust other writers when they tell me a book is good.)
Here's the book description: 
Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

Brenda Janowitz' work is new to me, so lucky me--because she already has a handful of wonderful-sounding books in her backlist, so I'll have days of fun reading. Check out her book on Amazon (The book is everywhere, but I have a Kindle, so Amazon is my go-to.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

It's Women's History Month. A few thoughts.

I don't know about you, but the history classes I took in high school and college (Women's History wasn't yet a subject) were pretty devoid of women. There was Betsy Ross and Dolley Madison, possibly Abigail Adams. There was Harriet Tubman and Sacajawea and Madame Curie and Florence Nightingale.  There was Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt. (Amelia Earhart offered to give Eleanor Roosevelt flying lessons but FDR vetoed the plan.) And there were was Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great, two of the greatest, most influential monarchs who ever lived. (And no, Catherine the Great did NOT die the way you think she did.)

Madame C.J. Walker
And then there was...who else? Marie Antoinette? Joan of Arc? I learned the name of every single explorer who ever traveled up the St. Lawrence River or set foot on the South Pole or traveled across the Sahara Desert. But none of my teachers ever mentioned Wu Zetian or Nellie Bly (I wanted to be a reporter when I grew up. I was crazy about Nellie Bly.)  There was no mention of female astronomers, mathematicians (R.I.P. Katherine Johnson), or explorers. I learned about Henry Ford but not about Madame C.J. Walker.

So many amazing women have touched and changed history. This month I'm going to catch up on my reading about them.

Allison Pataki, the author of The Traitor's Wife (Benedict Arnold was the traitor in question), has written an engaging article on 7 Forgotten but Extremely Influential Women from History. Check it out here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

New Project Demon Hunter book!! Reviewof Unmarked Graves

I’m a long-time fan of USA Today bestselling writer Christine Pope, and the Project Demon Hunters series is probably my favorite. (While I love paranormal romance, I really love urban fantasy, and these books hit my reading sweet spot. (They are a little darker, a little scarier, and a little edgier. Unmarked Graves is probably my favorite book of the series so far.
The pace is fast…and the story opens just moments after the last book ended with Will and Rosemary’s ill-fated encounter with the demon Caleb Lockwood. Will doesn’t know where he stands with Rosemary, the police are skeptical of the story they’re both telling, and worst of all, that missing Demon Hunters footage is in Caleb’s hands. If he destroys it…

All the characters we’ve met over the last four books are here, plus Rosemary’s mother Glynis, who is exactly the sort of supportive mother you’d expect to have raised her brood of witch daughters. She’s warm and has a sense of humor and I wouldn’t mind if she ended up with a book of her own.
As always in her books, Christine makes the locations come alive with details that let the reader know she has actually lived in the places where she sets her books. In this case, I have lived in some of the same places, and it’s a treat to relate her supernatural doings to the real-life places I’ve been.