The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Friday, April 15, 2016

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️COUNTRY COOKING from a Redneck Kitchen By Francine Bryson

Publisher:  Clarkson Potter
Pages:  240
Release Date:  March 29, 2016
Format:  Paperback

Book Description: 
Few people know that national pie champion Francine Bryson got her start on the cooking contest circuit at age sixteen with a savory stuffed pork loin—that won first place. In Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen, Francine invites you into her home to share recipes for everything that graces her Southern table: chicken dinners, savory pies, Sunday suppers to serve the preacher, make-and-take casseroles, dips and other redneck whatnots, backyard barbecue favorites—and, of course, three chapters devoted to her celebrated baked goods, including her most-requested holiday sweets. Feeding people is what Francine loves to do, and here are simple instructions for 125 dishes with 60 color photographs to help you to bring her Southern charm to your table.

Wanda's Thoughts:  I instantly loved this cookbook and I know it is one I will use often. So far I’ve tried just two recipes – Cheeseburger Pie and Meatloaf – and they were both delicious! The Meatloaf is the most flavorful I’ve ever eaten – just superb! I already have most of the recipes marked to try.

Country Cooking is a compilation of scrumptious Southern recipes, and the ultimate in comfort food. The recipes are easy to follow and require ingredients that are easy to obtain, and many that you already have in your food-pantry. Most of the recipes are really simple to make, with clear instructions, and require only a few steps to complete.

I highly recommend this cookbook. You will truly be inspired to try the many mouth-watering recipes. 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

⭐️⭐️THE JAPANESE LOVER By Isabel Allende

Publisher:  Atria Books
Release Date:  November 2015
Pages:  336
Format:  Hardcover
Genre:  Historical Fiction

About the Book: 
From New York Times and internationally bestselling author Isabel Allende, an exquisitely crafted love story and multigenerational epic that sweeps from San Francisco in the present-day to Poland and the United States during the Second World War.

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco's parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family's Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco's charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives. Written with the same attention to historical detail and keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel The House of the Spirits, The Japanese Lover is a profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.

Wanda's Thoughts: 
The Japanese Lover is the story of Alma Belasco. In 1939 Alma’s parents send her to San Francisco to live with wealthy relatives. It was there that she met Ichimei Fukuda, the son of their Japanese gardener. Their relationship is formed early on as children and continues through the rest of their lives.

And the story unfolds over a period of many years and Alma is living in Lark House, an elderly care facility. It is there that she meets Irina Bazili. Irina assists the elderly residents with their daily routines. Irina and Alma connect and secrets are slowly revealed.

The premise of this book was a good one, but unfortunately it never came together.

I found the book to be disappointing on multiple levels – the characters were shallow and the dialogue was flat. I found myself caring very little to what happened to both the story and the characters. The tempo of the story line moved at a very slow pace with too many unnecessary details. There were multiple subjects that went nowhere and the story felt disjointed. There was just nothing that swept me away or evoked many emotions.

On a positive note – there was historical information woven into the storyline that I found most interesting about the Japanese Internment during WWII.

My rating is 2.5 stars.

About the Author:Isabel Allende Llona is a Chilean-American novelist. Allende, who writes in the "magic realism" tradition, is considered one of the first successful women novelists in Latin America. She has written novels based in part on her own experiences, often focusing on the experiences of women, weaving myth and realism together. She has lectured and done extensive book tours and has taught literature at several US colleges. She currently resides in California with her husband. Allende adopted U.S. citizenship in 2003.