Recommendations

Books #34

I’ve read a few books lately that did not make the cut for me but I wanted to share a few of them anyways because they are apparently popular! The first was “The Party” by Robyn Harding. The characters were all so horrible I had a hard time liking the book. “Something in the Water” by Catherine Steadman was another one with unlikable characters. It was a story of things going horribly wrong because of one small decision. It kind of reminded me of that AWFUL movie “Very Bad Things.” And finally, “Sometimes I Lie” by Alice Feeney. Another popular book right now and I just didn’t get it. It was confusing and convoluted.

Anyways, let’s get to some of the GOOD books I’ve read lately…

 

1 ) Burning Ridge (Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #4) by Margaret Mizushima

Another good book in the series! In the latest installment, Mattie and her K-9 dog, Robo, are on a case when a charred foot in a boot is found in the forest. Robo leads them to uncover a horrific grave–a burned body. And that lead to more graves up in the forest being uncovered. Who are the bodies?

This case uncovers a lot of secrets and shocking things in Mattie’s own past that she didn’t know. It also brings her closer to Cole, the local veterinarian she’s been seeing.

The story is fast-paced and I always love reading about Robo and how he tracks bad guys. I also love the relationship she has with her dog partner. Great read!

 

2 ) The Wanted (Elvis Cole #17) by Robert Crais

“It seemed like a simple case before the bodies started piling up…”

Elvis Cole, private detective, is back. He’s contacted by a single mother who found suspicious items in her teen son’s bedroom–a rolex that costs at least $60k and thousands of dollars in cash. She hires Elvis to investigate and find out what is going on with her son. Except Elvis starts to unravel a complicated case involving a burglary ring and witnesses are being murdered. Who is also investigating these crimes and eliminating people?

The story is quick and fun to read. Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike are two of my favorite characters ever written in a book, so it was nice having them back. The characters are all well-developed and felt real, even the hitmen.

 

3 ) Tear Me Apart by JT Ellison

What a weird, crazy book!

Mindy is 17 years old and already a world-class skier with her eye on the Olympics. A tragic crash at a meet leads to a broken leg and a surprise diagnosis of leukemia. The cancer is not responding to treatment and she needs a stem cell transplant. Except when they test her parents she discovers that they aren’t related.

There were so many levels to the lies. Mindy’s aunt, Juliet, works for CBI doing blood analysis and tracks down her birth father and the lies and half-truths start unfolding even more. This was a pretty intense book and you really liked (most) of the characters. I guessed pretty early on what was going on but I didn’t guess the entire ending. There was clearly something a little off about Mindy’s mom, Lauren, but the ending was quite a creepy tale.

 

4 ) The Promise (Elvis Cole #16) by Robert Crais

Not sure how I read these out of order…! But This book was outstanding! So good! I could not put it down. The book was an exciting rollercoaster ride and all I wanted to do was sit in a comfy chair and read the book from start to finish.

Elvis was hired by a friend of Amy Breslyn’s. Amy is missing. Her friend Meryl is worried something horrible has happened. Amy’s son was recently killed in the middle east by a suicide bomber and she’s grief-stricken and possibly obsessed with what happened to her son. But as Elvis digs deeper, he uncovers lies by both Amy and Meryl and the real story comes out.

In addition to Joe Pike, super awesome side-kick, there is a K-9 office, Scott,  and his dog, Maggie, who are part of the story and a joyful addition. Love Maggie!

I did not guess the ending of this book at all. Fast-paced, well-written, easy to follow but lots of twists and turns.

5 ) Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

This was a really good read. I will be giving some spoilers, though, so be prepared and maybe skip it if you don’t want spoilers. The reason I’m giving spoilers is because the subject matter was brutal and there were several parts of the book where I quit and wasn’t going to read it anymore but I kept going back. I’m glad I did.

Ellen is a social worker. She’s spent 20 years of her career taking children away from unfit parents. So that is a difficult subject matter for a reader. The author doesn’t go into explicit detail about child abuse, but it’s a theme in the book, so it might be hard for some people.

One summer morning Ellen is rushing to work, late and frantic, while her husband takes their two older kids to soccer and as Ellen is rushing, she gets a phone call from one of the kids of her clients calls her. The mom’s boyfriend is abusing their mom and the two girls have locked themselves in the bathroom. They are terrified their mother is dead. Ellen jumps into action and turns the car around to go to their house. The police come, Ellen is trying to explain the situation to the cops, a crowd of neighbors gather outside and as the police go inside and rescue the two girls, there’s a commotion behind her. Ellen turns to find that her infant daughter, Avery was in the car seat in her van and she hadn’t known.

This the spoiler because as soon as this happened, I quit the book for a bit. AVERY SURVIVES. I seriously could not deal with an infant dying in a hot car. But thankfully, by the end of the book, she’s ok.

Except Ellen gets arrested for child neglect and investigated for child abuse. There’s a protective order that says she can’t go near Avery while she’s in the hospital. It’s an absolutely horrific situation and you just feel awful for Ellen.

Despite the rough subject matter, it was a well-crafted story with very real characters. I think every parents has that fear that one mistake could lead to something life-changing. So this is very relatable.

Happy reading!

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Inspiration

One of the things that I liked about doing Sunbasket for a few weeks, besides getting to try new things we wouldn’t normally try, is it inspired us to try some recipes on our own–like we used to do. When we first started dating, we’d get together on the weekends and try new recipes (our favorite cookbook was one of Martha Stewart’s) and we’d try new recipes each week. We’d open a bottle of wine and spend several hours in the kitchen cooking, talking, having fun.

That has obviously changed. Sadly, the leisurely cooking evenings kind of disappeared, especially when we had Logan. Quick dinners were a must. We definitely got into a rut with the same five or six meals and it got boring. So Sunbasket was a nice change.

In the spirit of that, we tried some fun recipes that were really good.

The first was one of the Sunbasket recipes in one of the books we got in our deliveries. It was slightly hard to follow the recipe because there weren’t measurements, but we were able to “wing it” and kind of guess on the amounts of stuff. And it was SO DELICIOUS! It might be one of my favorite meals we’ve had in a long time,

Salmon with Dijon sauce, quinoa, and green beans

The above is the recipe we worked off. Michael cooked the salmon and green beans and I made the dijon sauce (it was so so good!!). I subbed out wild rice instead of the quinoa because it was quick and easy.

Topped everything with the sauce, capers and chopped parsley.  Everything was so delicious. I am still thinking about that meal and the sauce was amazing. Like, want-to-lick-the-plate amazing. We will most definitely be making a variation of this recipe again soon!

The next recipe was kind of a “throw everything in the pot” kind of meal, but it turned out great. We had leftover chicken from when Michael smoked it, plus I had to use up the chicken broth and coconut milk from the previous recipe. So…coconut chicken curry soup!

I didn’t follow a recipe so I’ll just give a rough idea of what I did. What’s nice about this soup is that can add whatever veggies or meat you have on hand. Tofu would be great. Broccoli, spinach or kale would be good, too.

Saute in toasted sesame oil:

Diced onion

Diced Shallots

Cubed Sweet Potatoes

Chopped Carrots

Green Beans

Minced Garlic

Add 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup water and bring to a boil then reduce heat

Add a can of coconut milk (I used light coconut milk)

Add turmeric, curry powder, pepper and powdered ginger

Add 1 spoonful of Ground fresh chili paste

Dash of fish sauce

Let simmer for as long as you want

When you’re ready to eat the soup, squeeze some fresh lime juice in it and top with cilantro. 

The soup turned out great. I was really happy with it. It was savory, sweet and spicy–all my favorite things! And, I had the soup for lunch the next day and it was EVEN BETTER!

Finally, the last new recipe we tried was this one from The Kitchn:

Skillet Chipotle Chilaquiles with Eggs

The flavors in this dish were really tasty. We both loved the smokiness of the chipotle peppers and sauce.

We will most definitely make this dish again! The only flaw was our fault, the eggs were overdone so they weren’t runny and that kind of makes the dish.

 

Topped with cojita cheese, avocado chunks, diced red and white onions, cilantro and a little bit of lime juice. So so good! Another winner!