It’s a recipe for disaster when bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright is asked to restore an antique cookbook….
Brooklyn has always been a little obsessed with food, but it was her sister Savannah who became a chef, graduating from the prestigious Cordon Bleu school in Paris. She and her classmates all went on to successful careers, but none of them achieved culinary superstardom like Savannah’s ex-boyfriend Baxter Cromwell.
When Baxter invites the old gang to participate in his new restaurant’s gala opening in San Francisco, Savannah looks forward to seeing her friends, and even asks Brooklyn to restore a tattered cookbook—an old gift from Baxter—as a present for him. But Brooklyn immediately recognizes that the book, which has strange notes and symbols scrawled in the margins, is at least two hundred years old. She thinks that it probably belongs in a museum, but Savannah insists on returning it to Baxter.
Shortly after receiving the gift, Baxter is found dead, with Savannah kneeling over him, bloody knife in hand, and the rare cookbook has disappeared. Brooklyn knows her sister didn’t kill him, and she suspects the missing cookbook might lead to the real villain. Now Brooklyn will have to turn up the heat on the investigation before Chef Savannah finds herself slinging hash in a prison cafeteria.
I listened to this book on audio book – and it was a great driving read. I always opt for murder mystery books when I am driving. They keep me paying attention, as I am constantly trying to pin the killer. This one definitely kept me on my toes. However, this is the 7th installment of the series, so I am a little behind. Carlisle did a good job of making this a stand-alone book, but I could have done with some more background on some of the characters and their relationships. As OCD as I am about starting a series at the beginning, with audio books it doesn’t bother me as much.
I loved the characters in this book… especially some of the males… they can cook and have accents from across the country. Carlisle nailed it with the characters in this one!
I was also fascinated with Brooklyn and her career as a bookbinder. I’m sure the previous six books have more information on how she got into that, which to me is worth going back and reading them. There was a bit of the binding in this book, but I would have loved to hear more. Total book nerd. Anything bookish. I’m hooked. What an awesome job!!
I give A Cookbook Conspiracy 4 out of 5 bookmarks and will definitely look for more of these books in the future.
Happy Tuesday! Thanks for stopping by today. If you didn’t stop by yesterday, scroll down and read my review on Cider Brook by Carla Neggers.
Today, welcome Carla to the blog to chat a bit about her book!
1. What made you decide to base Cider Brook in Massachusetts?
If you look at a map of southern New England, you’ll see a large body of water smack in the middle of
Massachusetts. That’s the Quabbin Reservoir. I grew up on its western edge. It was created about 75 years ago by demolishing, depopulating and flooding four small towns in the Swift River Valley to provide drinking water for metropolitan Boston. It’s a beautiful area of small towns and strong people, so it’s a natural for me to set Cider Brook and my Swift River Valley series there.
2. Is Knights Bridge based on a real place you’ve visited?
Knights Bridge is my own creation but it’s certainly inspired by small towns where I’ve lived, especially
by my hometown in the same area in west-central Massachusetts where Knights Bridge is located. Like
Samantha Bennett in Cider Brook, I’ve had adventures following rock-strewn brooks…although none
involved long-lost pirate treasure and a hunky firefighter!
3. What about a New England cider mill do you think creates the perfect backdrop for the book?
Apples and apple cider say autumn and small-town New England to me. An abandoned 19th cider mill on a picturesque brook amid old stone walls sparked my imagination. What secrets might it hold? Who built it? Why on this spot? It’s now owned by rugged, taciturn Justin Sloan. Justin is a guy’s guy and a man who knows who he is, but he’s also a man with dreams—one reason he owns a cider mill that his friends and family think he should tear down. Then treasure-hunter Samantha Bennett arrives in Knights Bridge, and where does she end up? In Justin’s cider mill…right as a fierce storm hits and catches the place on fire. You could say those are the first sparks that fly between these two.
4. You’re known for creating very real and relatable characters. What’s your secret to getting your readers to feel like they know them?
When my characters feel real and genuine to me—when they come to life on the page—I swear I would recognize them if they drove up to my Vermont hilltop and knocked on my front door. It’s a great feeling. It’s not so much about eye color and hair color but about who they are, how they act, what they would do and feel and notice in any given situation. That’s what makes them real for me, and, I hope, for readers.
Being rescued by a good-looking, bad-boy firefighter isn’t how Samantha Bennett expected to start her stay in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. Now she has everyone’s attention—especially that of Justin Sloan, her rescuer, who wants to know why she was camped out in an abandoned old New England cider mill.
Samantha is a treasure hunter who has returned to Knights Bridge to solve a 300-year-old mystery and salvage her good name. Justin remembers her well. He’s the one who alerted her late mentor to her iffy past and got her fired. But just because he doesn’t trust her doesn’t mean he can resist her. Samantha is daring, determined, seized by wanderlust—everything that strong, stoic Justin never knew he wanted. Until now…
There were several things I liked about this book. I really liked the setting. New England as the leaves are changing, I imagine is just magical. I’ve never seen it for myself, but it’s on my list of things to do. The scenery made me made want to go to a remote town (although mine is kind of remote already), find a small town job and enjoy the area. Same kind of thing that Safe Haven left me thinking. Small town beauty at its finest.
I also enjoyed the treasure hunting aspect of this, but felt like the book could have used more. She tried to wrap it up in a nice neat bow, but I would still have liked more pirates and treasures.
I was also a fan of the characters. Justin really reminded me a lot of my husband. Strong silent type. Doesn’t have much to say, but makes a point when he does speak. I felt a connection with him instantly. And he saved a girl from a burning building! Double points! I also loved the big family aspect with the Sloans. My mom comes from a big family, so I can always relate. Even Sam’s family was intriguing. A whole family of hunters and expeditioners? And they head all over the world for their jobs? What fascinating lives.
I didn’t love the love story in the book. I liked it ok, but didn’t love it. I was impressed with Justin insisting on Sam going to the house to stay, but wasn’t impressed when he left her out another night in the rain. I get it, they only just met and she’s not his responsibility, and that she is a bit hard headed, but put your foot down man! Give her a dry and warm place to stay and don’t let her say no. I was also a bit put off by Sam at times. I know she was searching and trying to put the past in the past, but I felt like I knew more about what she was looking for than she did and she was just on a fishing expedition.
I give Cider Brook 4 out of 5 bookmarks.
Now this is the 3rd book in the Swift River Valley series and I have not read the others, but I definitely would consider following the Sloan family in the future.
Make sure to stop by tomorrow for a Q&A with Carla Neggers!
Ugh! Is it really only February? I am so sick of winter and the cold and snow! I am all about the novelty of the first snow of the season. It’s pretty and it normally means Christmas is around the corner (since it normally happens in late November/early December). But after Christmas, I am ready for warm, outdoor running weather.
We have been lucky the past few winters. Last year our winter was so mild, my husband was able to golf year-round. I think there was only one weekend he couldn’t golf due to wintry weather. This year, it’s been months since he’s been able to hit the links.
It’s been such a cruddy winter that nearly every school in our coverage area has missed all of its allowed calamity days. In Ohio, there has been a push to add more calamity days since nearly the whole state is facing this issue.
I commute an hour to work each day. In year’s past, I have stayed with coworkers, or at a hotel when it snowed. It was a handful of times a year, at most. This year, I have stayed a DOZEN times! But this year, I don’t dread it nearly as much. I have a couple of coworkers that live close to the station. We have dinner and watch Friends and have gal time. I look forward to coming home each time, spending time with my husband and sleeping in my own bed, but if anything, this wonky weather has bonded the three of us together. Oh and I get to sleep in an hour in the mornings. And one day I even walked to work.
Oh and get this! A couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend at my cousin’s house. When I got there Friday, I couldn’t believe how much more snow she had at her house compared to mine (and my house has had much more than where I work). It was dry all day Friday and Saturday, then we woke up Sunday to snow. We got 3 to 5 MORE inches than what we originally had and I got snowed in. Yes, I got snowed in! That hasn’t happened to me since 2003 when we had a mondo ice storm.
This winter is definitely leaving its mark. And one of our meteorologists says March may be one of the top 10 snowiest March’s on record. This does not make me a happy girl!!
This winter weather has also cramped my reading style. I think we all have this wonderful thought in our head that when it snows, readers always curl up with a good book, a blanket, a fireplace maybe and a hot cocoa. That has NOT been the case for me this winter. I’ve done ok reading so far this year, but I feel like I am behind. When I’m with the girls, we chat and watch movies and tv and have fun. I still get in a little reading before bed, but not the curl up in a dark and quiet room lit by a fire. I’m not complaining through. I am still ahead (or on top of) the reading game… and will give up a little reading time for friend time.
I know I’m not the only one feeling the winter blues! Spill it. What’s driving you most nuts about this winter??
When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?
It is 1892. On a hot summer night scented with jasmine, Miranda Whitestone hosts a dinner party at 34 Marguerite Avenue. Watching helplessly as her husband is seduced by her glamorous neighbour Lucinda Eden, she can have no idea of the consequences the evening will have.
For the history of Marguerite Avenue is more chilling than Serena could have imagined, and the fates of two women – the beautiful renegade Lucinda and the ‘good wife’ Miranda – will reach out from the past to cast a shadow over Serena’s own future.
The Room Beyond is a thriller that delves beneath the romance and grandeur of a London house and finds a family haunted by the legacy of past wrongdoings. As the suspense grows and the fog thickens, will Serena be able to give up all that she has come to love? Will she ever escape?
This book is told through two different times. The time when Miranda Whitestone and Lucinda Eden live on Marguerite Avenue. And the time decades later when Serena moves in.
There is something strange – off even – about Marguerite Avenue. It doesn’t take long for Serena to figure this out, but putting her finger on exactly what it is takes some time, and even a little research.
I was intrigued about this story from the time I started reading. Both stories – past and present – kept me gripped. I wanted to know what happened in the past to bring such a creepy story to to the present and what is keeping it alive today.
I loved the intrigue and mystery and the haunting tied to this story. The unknown gave me a bit of anxiety and I was on the edge of my seat until I was in the know. The only thing I did not love was the sci-fi twist to it. I really hope when I get so into a book that it will have a believable explanation. I do like sci-fi, don’t get me wrong, but I’m a true crime fiction girl. I always like a reasonable explanation and like to be able to put myself in the shoes of the characters.
I give The Room Beyond 4 out of 5 bookmarks.