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Search tags: Reviewed-for-Netgalley
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review 2020-05-24 15:05
The Clockmakers Daughter
The Clockmaker’s Daughter - Kate Morton

by Kate Morton

 

Elodie, is getting married soon, but she doesn't seem all that interested. She's a likeable character with a strong sense of her own independence and a love of researching the past, which is part of her job. Although her part in the story is set in modern day, she has the feel of a Victorian character out of place.

 

I really enjoyed reading this at first as the writing is very good and I could identify with Elodie in many ways, but as the chapters went on I felt it became very slow. There are interesting time jumps, but they aren't done as smoothly as they might have and the connection between Elodie and Ada had a lot of potential, but again, things just took forever to progress.

 

I think this story could have been shorter and tightened up. Some brilliant creative ideas were in there that deserved to hold my interest more than they did.

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text 2020-05-24 14:58
The Ciphers of Muirwood
The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood Book 2) - Jeff Wheeler

by Jeff Wheeler

Second book in a series.

 

The story begins around the same time the first book was ending, so there is just a little crossover. An Earl is to be executed for refusing to sign an oath of submission. It's a shocking situation that violates everything the king's sworn oath to the Medium as a Maston stands for, and is witnessed by a loyal kings man who is imprisoned with his sons through a tower window. He realizes then that he and his sons must escape somehow, because they are likely to have their turn soon on the chopping block.

Meanwhile Maia has reached Muirwood Abbey and is settling into her studies, while dealing with mixed reactions from the other students due to her banished status. But there is no rest for Maia. Even more shocking news comes and the safety of the Abbey is compromised.

 

This is not a five star series, but it's really holding my attention and I'm looking forward to reading the third book. This one has fleshed out the characters who were introduced in the first book and some of them have developed significantly. I sometimes want to shake Maia and tell her not to be so naive, but she's generally a good character and I think she'll turn out alright in the end.

 

That is the one problem with this volume, it doesn't end. It's not exactly a cliffhanger, but an important situation is left unresolved so that reading the third book is compulsory. Luckily I have it waiting, but I don't like series books that hold me hostage!

 

Worthwhile Fantasy read.

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review 2020-05-24 14:56
The Christmas Cookie Plate
The Christmas Cookie Plate: 50 Years of Award-Winning Cookie Recipes From The Russell Kitchen - Julie Schoen

by Julie Schoen

 

I don't normally read much of the introduction to cookbooks but go straight for the recipes. This one was an exception as the author's story about her mother and grandmother's talents for baking was actually very interesting. I also found myself actually reading through the recipes rather than picking and choosing a few of especial interest as I usually do.

 

I found myself saying "I'm going to have to try that," on many of the first recipes, though the bulk of them were pretty standard and there were an inordinate number using coconut, which I do like but not in everything! I started reading too close to Christmas this year to do some trials for my holiday baking, but I'll be trying out some of these recipes through the year and I expect some, like candy apple cookies, will make it into next year's holiday baking plans.

 

A lot of the recipes use ingredients only available in the U.S., and one was even made from a German Chocolate cake mix only available in the U.S., so they aren't all the treasured family recipes that the introduction would lead me to believe. Still, a few of them look really good.

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review 2020-05-24 14:46
The Cat in the Christmas Tree
The Cat in the Christmas Tree - Peter Scottsdale

by Peter Scottsdale

 

This is written for children, and as such some of the dialogue isn't quite realistic but more of a cleaned up version like you often see in children's books. The plot holds together reasonably well and the magical transition was very good.

 

There were some good messages about learning to respect the property of others and not bullying, however, I have an issue with a few other messages that come across.

 

First of all, the father is in total charge of the family and the mother doesn't argue when he threatens to get rid of the cat. This gives a bad impression of relationship dynamics as well as of a father's role. To me, he's totally evil and his wife should divorce him and keep the cat so her son will be happy!

 

My other issue is with calling the cat bad for jumping into the tree. Really? You bring a real tree into a home with a cat and expect him not to jump into it immediately? The author is a cat lover and owner so he should know better than that! Also, when the cat is destroying things he shouldn't or biting, why aren't the parents making any effort whatsoever to teach him parameters? Cats do learn, and not by whining at them that they shouldn't do that as if they understood every word. (Secretly I do believe they understand every word but that's another matter.)

 

All things considered, the story has some brilliant elements from a Christmas magic point of view, but I would not buy it for a child because of these unacceptable messages about fathers and cat discipline.

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review 2020-05-24 14:35
The British Table
The British Table: A New Look at the Traditional Cooking of England, Scotland, and Wales - Colman Andrews,Christopher Hirsheimer

by Colman Andrews

 

Traditional British cookbooks can be difficult to find in England. Seriously, ethnic cookbooks are everywhere but apart from BeRo and Mrs Beeton, the more modern cookbooks tend to pass over the Brits.

 

This one is full of beautiful, full color pictures and information the author has picked up while traveling in the UK. Some of the observations made are interesting to read from an American self-professed Anglophile's point of view.

 

The recipes start out with good, basic recipes for oatcakes, porridge, bacon rolls, etc., then it gets fancy with Omelette Arnold Bennett, which I've never heard of. It struck me as the sort of thing you would find in a good restaurant.

 

Some of the soups were a bit fancy, also more like restaurant fare than home cooking. The chapters cover Breakfast, Soups, Fish and Shellfish, Poultry and Rabbit, Beef, Pork and Lamb, Wild Game and Offal and Savory Pies and Puddings. These are followed by Vegetables, Desserts and Confections, and then even cover sauces and condiments, Teatime and drinks.

 

They deviated from English food on Gnocchi, which is Italian. But this was followed by some traditional Scottish recipes and soon came back to English with fish and chips. It seemed to me there was a lot of fish and seafood, but we do have a history of that on this island nation. Some Indian recipes were included, which is a popular cuisine here since colonial times, and the poultry section even included grouse, which you won't see in the usual cookbooks.

 

I maintain that my Yorkshire Pudding recipe is better, but there were several recognizable traditional recipes. I didn't know what to make of the vegetable recipes. It seemed directed at vegetarians, and someone ought to tell the author that builder's tea means milk and one sugar!

 

I think this might make a good first cookbook for Anglophiles who have an interest in the history of British cuisine. I don't know anyone who makes their own mayonnaise in modern times, but the overall balance gives a nice taste of the history of food in Britain.

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