d'lish deviled eggsDeviled eggs are always a party favorite, and the first thing to fly off the table. D’Lish Deviled Eggs by Kathy Casey both pays homage to the classic deviled egg and dishes up creative, modern takes on tradition.

This isn’t just a recipe book; its pages are packed full with everything from how to make superb hard-cooked eggs every time, to filling and garnishing picture-perfect stuffed eggs. Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Deviled Eggs are sure to bring back fond memories of family gatherings, while inspired offerings like “California Roll” Deviled Eggs and Two-Bite “Carbonara” Deviled Duck Eggs add a delicious start to any dinner party. Kicky Devilish Green Eggs & Ham or Dirty Martini Deviled Eggs make perfect cocktail cohorts.

With recipe suggestions for tasty parties and seasonal and holiday pairings, D’Lish Deviled Eggs is the ultimate kitchen companion for dishing up America’s favorite appetizer. Chock-full of fab tips, from the history of deviled eggs to collecting vintage plateware, this book will definitely “egg you on” to head to the kitchen and get crackin’! A classy little guide to a classy little dish, D’Lish Deviled Eggs will open up a whole new world of ways to jazz up these one-bite wonders! (description from publisher)

~~Sigh~~ A windswept island, daring escapes from Nazis, British country estates, dancing with soldiers in London, writing Food Ministry brochures extolling the values of carrots to hungry British citizens and a funny little sister who bullies a young Princess Elizabeth at a aristocratic Girl Guides Meeting. The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper (a series of three lovely books: A Brief History of Montmaray, The FitzOsbornes in Exile, and The FitzOsbornes at War) are those kind of books where the narrator feels so natural, so familiar that I often forget that the stories in the book didn’t actually happen to me. Sadly, the memories are not all pleasant. These books are about a teenager’s family evolving and trying to survive World War II, all with the weight of a small country on their shoulders. I had originally written “evolving and surviving World War II,” until I remembered the pages and pages of sobbing while reading The FizOsbornes at War. Don’t worry, there is a wonderful ending.

Montmaray is a (fictional) tiny island monarchy between England and Spain whose already small population was decimated during World War I, and there are only a few village families left living in the shadow of a romantic, crumbling castle when 16 year old Sophie begins keeping her journal in 1936. Oh yes, ROMANTIC, CRUMBLING CASTLE. Sophie is actually Princess Sophie of the FitzOsborne Royal Family– she is one of three Princesses of Montmaray (the others being her stunning, intellectual cousin, Princess Veronica, and her younger tomboy sister, Princess Henry) and also the younger sister of the future King of Montmaray, charming Prince Toby FitzOsborne. However, Sophie’s royal title does not correspond to a royal lifestyle, at least not while she is living on a remote island in a stripped bare castle under the rule of her mentally ill uncle. Their wealthy aunt is forever trying to get the girls to move away from Montmaray and become a part of British Society, but their loyalty to Montmaray keeps them grasping to its shores until they have no choice but to fall into the lap of luxury. And then, of course, the war begins and Sophie’s home seems lost forever.

It is no secret among people who know me that my favorite book is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (I have written about it on the blog here and compared it to another fabulous book, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, here, and the Montmaray Journals shares much in common with Dodie Smith’s fantastic novel (which is pretty much the highest praise I will give a book!). Both stories are told in thoughtfully-written diary entries by quiet teenage girls in 1930’s and whose lives seem both beautifully ordinary and bohemian at the same time. Both girls fall in love with men named Simon. Both feel inferior to their prettier, outgoing relations. And yes, both live in ROMANTIC, CRUMBLING CASTLES!

P.S. I will just say, that for those of you who thought the end of I Capture the Castle was not a happy one (and I disagree with that! but now is not the place to discuss…), you will be very satisfied with the ending Sophie chooses for herself.

mistbornI read a review of this book that described it as “Lord of the Rings meets Ocean’s Eleven”, and I just knew it would be love at first page.  In Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson, the Final Empire has been taken over by the evil Lord Ruler and much of the population has been enslaved.  The oppressed citizens of the Final Empire (known as Skaa) are forced to work in the Pits of Hathsin mining the most valuable metals in the land for the Lord Ruler’s personal treasury.  No Skaa has ever escaped the Pits….until now.

Kelsier is no ordinary Skaa; he is a Mistborn, a type of Allomancer who is gifted with special powers when he ingests metals.  After using his powers to escape the Pits, Kelsier vows revenge on the Lord Ruler.  He begins to assemble a team of other Allomancers, which includes a young girl named Vin who is just discovering her powers as a Mistborn.  Together, they devise the ultimate heist  in order to remove the Lord Ruler from power and free the people of the Final Empire.

This was such a fun book to read; it is fast-paced and exciting, and the magic system is unique and fascinating.  Sanderson’s impressive world building made the Final Empire really come alive.  And bonus, the trilogy is already completed!  As soon as you finish Mistborn you can check out copies of The Well of Ascension and The Hero of Ages right away instead of having to wait years and years for the thrilling conclusion.

The long awaited season has arrived – time to leave the snow shovel in the shed (fingers crossed) and start thinking about green and growing things. Here’s a selection of some of our newest gardening books.

beautiful edible gardenBeautiful Edible Garden by Leslie Bennett shows how to not only grow organic fruits and vegetables, but also make your garden a place of year-round beauty that is appealing, enjoyable, and fits your personal style. Artfully blending edibles and ornamentals together, this book demonstrates that it’s possible for gardeners of all levels to reap the best of both worlds.

 

 

lawn goneLawn Gone by Pam Penick – A colorful guide covering the basics of replacing a traditional lawn with a wide variety of easy-care, no-mow, drought-tolerant, money-saving options that will appeal to today’s busy, eco-conscious homeowner.

 

 

 

speedy vegetable gardenSpeedy Vegetable Garden by Mark Diacono explains how to sow, grow, and harvest soaks and sprouts, micro greens, edible flowers, salad leaves, and quick-harvest vegetables, as well as recipes that use them.

 

 

 

everyday rosesEveryday Roses by Paul Zimmerman debunks common rose myths and outdated care instructions, and instead imparts practical rose care advice in a fun and accessible voice. Readers will find helpful suggestions for choosing roses based on landscape need, tips on what to look for when buying roses, new techniques for the best way to plant roses, and sensible time-saving methods to maintain their roses throughout the year.

 

plantingPlanting: a New Perspective on Combining Plants by Piet Oudolf explains how plants behave in different situations, what goes on underground, and which species make good neighbors. Planting is an essential resource for designers and gardeners looking to create plant-rich, beautiful gardens that support biodiversity and nourish the human spirit.

sum it upPat Summitt was only 21 when she became head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers women’s basketball team. For 38 years, she has broken records, winning more games than any NCAA team in basketball history. She has coached an undefeated season, co-captained the first women’s Olympic team, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and has been named Sports Illustrated ‘Sportswoman of the Year’. She owes her coaching success to her personal struggles and triumphs. She learned to be tough from her strict, demanding father but motherhood taught her to balance that rigidity with communication and kindness. She is a role model for the many women she’s coached, 74 of whom have become coaches. Sum It Up is Pat’s remarkable and inspiring story.

Pat’s life took a shocking turn in 2011 when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, an irreversible brain condition that affects 5 million Americans. Despite her devastating diagnosis, she led the Lady Vols to win their sixteenth SEC championship in March 2012. Pat continues to be a fighter, facing this new challenge the way she’s faced every other – with hard work, perseverance, and a sense of humor. (description from publisher)

suspectScott and Maggie are new partners in the LAPD but they have a lot more than that in common – both are a mess after barely surviving brutal attacks that left their former partners dead, both suffer from severe PTSD and both are close to unfit for duty. The fact that Scott is a human and Maggie is a dog does not change that fact that they are just what the other needs in Suspect by Robert Crais.

Officer Scott James has just returned to work, still physically recovering from gunshot wounds that have forced him to give up his goal of joining the elite SWAT squad. He is haunted by memories of the night of the attack, when masked gunmen launched a surprise attack on a passing car, then turned on Scott and his partner when they tried to stop them. The cries of his dying partner calling for him as he lay helpless as his own life nearly bled out, rerun in his dreams every night. Desperate to find justice for his partner, he refuses a medical discharge and finds a position in the K-9 Unit where, he believes, he won’t have to worry letting down a partner again.

Maggie has survived three tours of Iran and Afghanistan, saving hundreds of grunts with her IED sniffing talent until a suicide bomber kills her handler and snipers nearly kill her when she refuses to stop guarding his body; the Marines are only able to drag her away by throwing a jacket over her and manhandling her into the rescuing helicopter. No longer able to serve in the military and wary and suspicious of everyone, the LAPD may be Maggie’s last chance.

Award-winning author Robert Crais  (best known for his Elvis Cole mysteries) is a master storyteller, showing how these two damaged beings fight back and help and learn from each other using language that is lean yet evocative – you can feel the heat of Los Angeles, the terror of Scott’s panic attacks, Maggie’s joy as she accepts Scott. The information about the training and deployment of police and military dogs is fascinating but never overwhelms the story and the final chapters, where Scott and Maggie work together to bring Scott’s attacker’s to justice, are tense and action-packed.

Several recently published books focus on the wives of famous men – after all, who know the triumphs and failings of the great man better than the wife? Get an intimate, behind-the-scenes look of these historical men with these great titles.

aviator's wifeThe Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin – Despite her own major achievements – she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States – Anne Morrow Lindbergh is viewed merely as Charles Lindbergh’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

 

above all thingsAbove All Things by Tanis Rideout – Blending historical facts with imaginative fiction,  this title interweaves the story of George Mallory’s ill-fated 1924 attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest and a single day in the life of his wife as she waits at home in England for news of his return.

 

 

 

paris wifeThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain – Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash “beautiful boy” Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband’s career.

 

mrs lincolns dressmakerMrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini – A stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

 

z a novel of zeldaZ : a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler – When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, insists that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Zelda optimistically marries him and take the rest as it comes. What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time.

real irish foodPeople in Ireland are sometimes mortified by what Americans think of as Irish food.  That’s because the real thing is much subtler and more delicious than any platter of overcooked corned beef and mushy cabbage could ever be. Real Irish food is brown soda bread so moist it barely needs the yolk-yellow butter; fragrant apple tarts with tender, golden crusts; rich stews redolent of meaty gravy and sweet carrots; crisp-edged potato cakes flipped hot from a skillet directly onto the plate. Forget meatloaf or mac and cheese – this stuff is the original comfort food.

Real Irish Food by David Bowers is the first comprehensive cookbook to bring classic Irish dishes to America with an eye for American kitchens and cooks, and with tips and tricks to help reproduce Irish results with American ingredients. Transform plain white fish by baking it with grated sharp cheese, mustard, and crumbs. Discover that celery takes on new life when sliced, simmered in chicken stock, and served in a lightly thickened sauce. Homemade Irish Sausages, Potted Shrimp and Potted Salmon, Finglas Irish Stew with Dumplings, Whiskey Chicken and Roast Goose with Applesauce Boxty, Cally, Champ, and Colcannon AppleSnow, Almond Buns, and Summer Pudding, Elderflower Lemonade, Black Velvet, and Ginger Beer Cherry Cake, Custard Tart, and Brandy Butter.

From hearty roasts to innovative vegetable dishes, from trays of fresh-baked scones to rich, eggy cakes, and from jams bursting with tart fruit to everything you can do with a potato, there’s no food so warm and welcoming, so homey and family-oriented, so truly mouthwatering as real Irish food. (description from publisher)

my ideal bookshelfThe books that we choose to keep – let alone read – can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves.

In My Ideal Bookshelf, dozens of leading cultural figures share the books that matter to them most; books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world. Contributors include Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Keller, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Maira Kalman, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Miranda July, Alex Ross, Nancy Pearl, David Chang, Patti Smith, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers, among many others.

With colorful and endearingly hand-rendered images of book spines by Jane Mount, and first-person commentary from all the contributors, this is a perfect book for avid readers, writers, and all who have known the influence of a great book. (description from publisher)