Many follow the latest trends, using items
like flavored balsamic vinegars and coconut
oil, or recommending a
Himalayan salt block and
cast-iron skillets for cooking. The author’s style
is friendly; her instructions are easy to follow,
with a few tips sprinkled
throughout; and each
recipe has a nicely photographed finished dish. She also notes
recipes that are vegetarian and/or gluten-free. Despite largely precision instructions,
the cookbook is best suited for readers with
some intuitive knowledge of cooking so they
won’t be thrown when a dish takes longer to
brown than expected or they’re told to add
some ingredients to taste. That said, this is
a lovely cookbook that offers an enticing
blend of recipes. The second in the author’s
Eclectic Entertaining series, it will whet the
cook’s appetite for a third.
By K. A. Keith.
2016. 495p. iUniverse, $26.95 (9781491781296).
This gripping second book in a fantasy
quest, filled with clever characters and exciting action, continues the story of knight
Apieron and his band of
adventurers as they journey to save Apieron’s home
country of Ilycrium from
the forces of evil. A demo-ness thought long-defeated
returns to the land. Meanwhile, the king has been
assassinated, and Apieron
believes his family is dead. Teaming up with
elves, dwarfs, a thief, and other allies, he
faces foes to save Ilycrium. The influence of
classic epics, and authors such as Tolkien and
By Alan Cameron Roberts.
2016. 346p. iUniverse, paper, $19.95 (9781491792414).
Zany characters and improbable occurrences give this mad tale of art theft,
forgeries, missteps, and mayhem a distinctly
Carl Hiaasen flavor. A Michelangelo painting belonging to a Mafia don in exile is
stolen from an American museum. Brilliant
artist Anton Bakeur is hired to re-create 12
copies, which will be sold as originals to pay
the inheritance tax on the ancient English
castle of Lord Herbert and Lady Margaret
Reynolds. The Reynolds host Bakeur and his
slow-witted assistants at a lakeside cottage.
Meanwhile, the governor and incompetent
law-enforcement officials hire the world’s
two leading art-theft detectives, who fall in
love and seem to lose sight of their mission.
When law enforcement and the Reynolds’
crew collide, an indescribably funny scene
results. A master of dialogue, Roberts’ bad
guys are so endearing that readers will hope
they accomplish their crazy schemes. Though
the pacing is somewhat uneven, and the
wealth of characters can sometimes be hard
to track, the conclusion is absolutely boffo.
Overall, this book is a blast.
Eclectic Entertaining: Small Plates
and Dainty Desserts.
By Barbara Stafford.
2016. 200p. illus. Eclectic Entertaining, $30
Cooking-instructor Stafford assembles her
favorite collection of small plates and dessert
recipes in this glossy, colorful, well-produced
cookbook. The dishes are indeed eclectic, a
mix of trendy recipes, such as Grilled Watermelon and Goat Cheese Bites, and “classics,”
such as Festive Fruit Pizza with a cookie crust.
Martin, is clearly felt here. But there’s more
character diversity than generally seen in
medieval Europe-esque fantasy stories, most
noticeably the inclusion of female characters
in the main cast and combat roles. The book
also offers a wide variety of imaginative creatures, including the Aeralds, winged steeds of
the elves, and a race of demon apes. There are
even some humorous moments to break the
tension. The language is sometimes archaic,
but, otherwise, the author tells the story with
clean, modern prose, creating a tale readers
will heartily welcome to the epic series.
The Highmore Circle.
By Cricket Reynolds.
2017. 404p. iUniverse, paper, $28.99 (9781532006760).
This utterly engaging, humorous romance
follows Gracie Anderson, a thirtysomething
college professor who finds her dating life
so empty that “an exciting Friday night for
me was People magazine hitting my mailbox
a day early.” She reluctantly
agrees to attend a support
group for those contending with parental loss, at the
insistence of her best friend,
who believes it might help
Gracie meet a man. However, Gracie’s mother died
20 years ago, and the group
turns out to be for motherless daughters.
Against the odds, she becomes involved with
a participant’s brother. As their feelings for
each other deepen, a past boyfriend reappears, and soon Gracie must choose between
the two—all while coming to terms with
the emotional scars left from her mother’s
passing. Despite its slapstick beginning, the
book transcends farce. Reynolds touches on
the significance of losing one’s parent and
the effects of lingering grief. She displays
an ear for witty banter while offering em-
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