Ever Near by Melissa MacVicar

MacVicarEverNearWhere I Got It: Won a copy from the publisher (thanks!)

Narrator: Melissa Redmond

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (2014)

Length: 5 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 Secret Affinity

Author’s Page

Jade Irving is your typical highschool student – parties, boys, ghosts having tantrums…..Set on Nantucket Island, a place rife with ghostly activity, Jade has to come to terms with her new fund abilities. With the help of her grandmother and a strange ghost hunter, she tackles the mystery surrounding Lacey’s ghost. Her new boyfriend also provides support, but most of the battle is up to her.

I went back and forth on this one. First, I really liked that Jade’s family isn’t all of one ethnicity and it was especially refreshing to have a main protagonist that wasn’t Caucasian. The author lightly touches on the odd looks her blended family sometimes gets, but doesn’t dwell on it. On the other hand, Jade has a serious crush on her soon-to-be stepbrother, Charlie. In fact, they are living in the same house, bedrooms across the hall from each other. I guess there aren’t that many teen boys on Nantucket Island? Anyway, it gave me a little bit of an ‘ick’ factor to the story. I know, they are not blood related at all. But…..well, there’s just something ultra-convenient about having your beau be your step-brother and living in the same house. On the plus side, Jade is smart to be aware of and on birth control.

Next, I found it fun that there was this whole paranormal world going on and a lot of it was tied to history. So our heroine had to spend some time researching the history of her little tiny plot of Earth to figure out the motivations of the ghosts she dealt with. On the other hand, Jade spends much of her time screaming and crying and not getting much of anything done while she has her hysterics. In fact, it felt more like luck than anything else that she survived this tale. While I understand that it would be normal to be a bit freaked out when you find out you can interact with ghosts, I tend to like my characters to move through that hysterical phase really quickly so that we can get down to the figuring-stuff-out-phase. We didn’t get much of the latter in this book.

The characters were OK. Once established, they were pretty static. In fact, the most interesting character was the slightly creepy ghost hunter. He obviously has a tale or two to tell. The minor characters, for the most part, were interchangeable. Jade was fun when she wasn’t curled up in a little ball crying her eyes out (which was much of the story). Over all, it s was meh, ho hum tale for me.

Narration: Melissa Redmond did do a pretty awesome job narrating this tale. While it wasn’t really the story for me, she still pulled off the voices quite well.Her voice for Jade was excellent. She had distinct voices for both males and females.

What I Liked: Not your standard White heroine; interesting paranormal world; a bit of history; intriguing side character (the ghost hunter).

What I Disliked: The step-brother is the only potential boyfriend material in the book; the heroine spend much of the story crying and freaking out.

What Others Think:

Buried in Books

It’s a Book Life

Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Long and Short Reviews

The Story Goes…..

Pretty Little Memoirs

Jasmine Jade Reviews

Guest Post: Dinner Guests by Henry Herz

HerzMonsterGooseNurseryRhymesHello everyone, please welcome Henry Herz to the blog today. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Henry in the past as well as reading his wonderful children’s book Nimpentoad. He was also the editro for a great anthology, Beyond the Pale. We’re celebrating the release of his latest children’s book, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. Without further ado, enjoy the guest post!

Dinner Guests by Henry Herz

When I interview authors on my blog, I often ask them, “If you could have any authors over for dinner, who would you choose?” With the pending release of my debut picture book, MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES, I find myself thinking a lot about fantasy and mythological creatures. And which fantasy characters would I like to have over for dinner.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES includes a hydra, which could be viewed as a multi-headed wingless dragon. And when I think dragons, I think Pern, Earthsea, and Game of Thrones. So, my first guest would be Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons. An excellent choice, no? She’s beautiful, brave, and compassionate. She’s been robbed of the throne, but she’s not whiney about it. She can eat raw horse heart without complaint, so my cooking is probably safe for her. But, her dragons would probably wreck my furniture, and formally introducing her to the other guests would mean we wouldn’t start eating until midnight.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES features a dwarf, and that’s just the right character to keep those pesky dragons in check. While Gimli is well-known, I have to go with The Hobbit’s Dáin II Ironfoot. He earned renown as a young dwarf by slaying the Orc chieftain Azog at the Battle of Azanulbizar. Like his kindred, the Lord of the Iron Hills is tough and battle-hardened. But unlike some dwarves of Middle Earth, Dáin has wisdom. He knew that even though the goblins were defeated, it was not yet time for the dwarves to reoccupy their ancient home of Khazad-dûm. After the Battle of Five Armies, he rules the Lonely Mountain with the good sense to keep on good terms with the Elves of Mirkwood and the Men of Dale. But, he’d probably drink all my ale.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES also features a witch, an ettin, sprites, a werewolf, and a minotaur. And since the witch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a false one, I will instead invite Jadis, Queen of Narnia, Châtelaine of Cair Paravel, and Empress of the Lone Islands. What is it with the ladies and long names? You may recall her by the more convenient title of White Witch, played so deliciously by Tilda Swinton in the movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The seven-foot tall sorceress could teach a class on being cold and goal-oriented. She uttered the Deplorable Word in order to vanquish her sister, even though that eradicated all life in the world of Charn. She subsequently sends Narnia into a deep freeze, although that skill could turn out quite handy keeping my ale chilled (at least until Dáin drinks it all). Jadis is tall. She’s immensely strong. She’s petrifying. And I mean that both figuratively and literally. And Jadis has minotaurs, ettins, werewolves, sprites, and other assorted minions. But, she’d probably eat the Turkish Delight I prepared for dessert.

MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES briefly mentions an elf. The Lord of the Rings offers us many elves, but none more tragic than Fëanor. Here’s a guy born with a mithril spoon in his mouth. He’s immortal, his dad is High King of the Noldor elves, and Fëanor lives in Valinor, which is THE primo real estate in Arda. He is the most gifted gemsmith to ever live. He crafted the palantíri, and he captured in the three infinitely valuable Silmarils the light of Laurelin and Telperion, the two trees that illuminate the world. When Morgoth kills the two trees, Fëanor is told he can restore them by giving up the Silmarils. But his pride, anger, and hatred prevent him from doing so. Morgoth steals the Silmarils, and Fëanor convinces many Noldor to pursue Morgoth to Middle Earth, even killing on three separate occasions fellow elves that won’t do their bidding. Though Fëanor and countless elves die in the attempt, they fail to finally recover the Silmarils. What a douche.

Hmmm. Upon further consideration, maybe I should just have some authors over for dinner…

Learn more about MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES at http://www.birchtreepub.com/mgnr.htm

HerzMonsterGooseNurseryRhymesPlaces to Stalk Henry





A Memory of Light, Part II

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week,  Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is our host this week. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments at Sue’s. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 2-7. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Pevara and Androl have done some mutual Bonding, which seems to have created a rather uniquely intimate link between the two. Do you think that the other Aes Sedai /Asha’man pairs could create something similar, or do we have an example of mushy, romantic specialness in this case? Have you been surprised by the Red’s ability to work with male Channelers, or do you think that she is unusual for her Ajah?

I expect that other Aes Sedai/Asha’men bonds will happen – perhaps not in this book, but after the big battle is won and folks have a chance to get back to normal lives.

I think there are other Reds like Pevara that will be able to overcome their squeamishness towards male Channelers, if for no other reason than they don’t want to look weak and silly in front of other Aes Sedai.

I have to say that when Pevara had her little panic attack and Bonded Androl, without his permission, I wanted to slap her. Aes Sedai are such bullies. I did cheer a little when Androl turned around and Bonded her so that she could experience it first hand. I think this is nearly the only way the Aes Sedai can learn.

2) I was beginning to worry that Aviendha’s quadruplets would need to be the product of some sort of bizarre ‘virgin’ birth scenario, but now there is at least a biological chance that they could be created in the normal way! Yay! Do you really think that it was necessary for her to use sexytimes as a way to persuade Rand to grant her a boon? Were you disappointed or relieved not to have more details of what was obviously a rather extended night of baby-making?

I expect that Elayne will become injured in some fashion, perhaps end up in a coma, and Aviendha will have to raise her kids along with Elayne’s.

No, I think Rand would have granted her a boon just for getting a look at her tits. Though I am sure he is grateful for the sexytimes. Plus, the three ladies had to gather and discuss how they were going to handle Rand. I wonder what Min and Elayne did to distract themselves from the night of bedroom gymnastics they surely sensed through the bond.

Well, I think you all know me by now. I like the sexytimes to be as descriptive as the rest of the book, so, yeah, I would have enjoyed seeing how Aveidnah (who is super athletic) put Rand through his paces.

3) Apparently, being Turned to the Dark Side does not improve your intellect very much. Do you think that we will ever see a truly intelligent Darkfriend? Did the sequence with Dobser make you more hopeful of Androl and his party surviving against Taim’s attack?

No, I don’t think we will ever have a truly intelligent Darkfriend or Forsaken…. well, not one that can work with others. Cyndane/Lanfear has some cunning to her, but she despises everyone and has difficulty playing nice on Team Dark One.

Yes, I expect that Androl and Pevara will do some major ass kicking before this book is through and one of those asses may very well be Taim. Up until this week’s reading, I had expected that Logain (maybe with Rand’s help) would be the one to take out Taim. But now I suspect that Androl and Pevara will take out Taim, perhaps with Logain’s help (though he is merely a bit of a drool monkey right now due to his long imprisonment and ill treatment).

4) Rand is beginning to manifest some startling new powers and can now manipulate the Dream more successfully than Moridin. Do you think this will cause the Nae’blis to alter his plans and be more aggressive in his pursuit of Rand? It seems that Lanfear is managing to somehow slip away from his control via the mindtrap: or was that all staged for Rand’s benefit?

I think Rand’s new abilities within the Dream will irritate Moridin and while making him more aggressive, it will also make him more careless. Basically, I don’t think Rand is in increased danger on account of this.

I think Lanfear is indeed managing to escape Moridin’s complete control and this will also make him more aggressive and more careless. I don’t think he is cautious enough to have staged the whole Lanfear crying for help thing. Plus, Lanfear is not really a team player (and there are suspicions she was giving Slayer/Luc/Issam orders to kill Rand, which is in direct contradiction to Moridin’s orders).

5) And, yay verily, there will be much politicking and arguing and then Moiraine will appear and quote the Prophecy, thus creating peace and harmony amongst the leaders of the World. Did anyone else expect her to wink at Perrin in a conspiratorial way as she walked past him? Do you think that the new and improved Dragon’s Peace will hold and also stop the future we saw in Aviendha’s visions? Who do you think Rand expected Roedran to be?

So much to say here! First, I don’t know why Rand suspected Roedran. I expect that is something I will pick up on a reread.

1) Egwene almost cost the world not only peace, but existence with her inflated sense of importance. I am so glad Moiraine pointed it out (and in such a way that Egwene could swallow it).

2) Yes, Moiraine is extra awesome, and I definitely could see her and Perrin trading nudges and winks back and forth. They were the two even-headed ones on scene.

3) Aviendha was right to demand the Aiel be included in the Peace and Perrin was great to point out that they needed a job. The Aiel can not meet toh nor generate honor unless they have a task before them, be it small or large.

4) I think rand left out some folks and that may or may not cause issues later – like the Dark Tower and the Traveling Folk (though since they follow the Way of the Leaf, it may not be such a big deal for them). Perhaps even the Ogier should be allowed to sign the Peace and guarantee their rights in this new United Nations of Randland. And the newly risen Malkier, will they sign?

5) Here is my biggest criticism of the Peace – Elayne will lead the armies! At first, I thought it was a joke or some sort of subterfuge by Rand. But, nope, he meant it. Sigh….OK, Elayne is an entertaining character and she has her moments. But she is entertaining because she keeps messing up and she has her shining moments because she has dug herself into yet another trap. The entire series, she has walked into one trap or another, acted on impulse and feelings instead of logic. In fact, just last book (like 300 pages ago) she was threatening to execute Perrin. So I am guessing that this is a plot point that Sanderson was committed to via Jordan and he hasn’t had a whole lot of time to make Elayne look competent. But I also expect that Elayne will be competent the rest of the book and this will be a huge character change for her with little reason/time to make it happen. I expect this point will continue to bother me. Some people believe that beauty = competence. Alas, that is not one of the magical qualities of this world.

You know who would make a good leader of the united armies? Someone who has a lifetime of training and experience? Someone who’s culture and training allows them to absorb new tactics and use them immediately? Someone who has Channelers and flying beasts to sends swift messages? Tuon/Fortunata, Empress of the Seanchan. So, I am quite surprised that Rand didn’t try to bring them into the fold by offering the Seanchan this chance to prove that they are worthy leaders to the folks of Randland.

6) Great Trees and a singing Ogier army, then Gateways bringing aid to Lan’s final charge. Discuss, with specific dimensions for the size of your grin and/or the number of tears shed! :D

This was pretty fricking awesome. I really enjoyed the whole scene of Lan’s final charge. He rallied the men, but didn’t lie to them about their odds. He had Nynaeve in his thoughts (but somehow couldn’t sense her exuberation at finding out Rand meant to go to his aid). The charge beginning and then suddenly being joined by 4,000 extra men. Then another gateway, and another, and another. Yes, that was great. I had dramatic theme music rolling in my head for the entire scene.

It was nice to see Loial and his mum too.

7) Mat is off in Ebou Dar doing something mysterious. Can we hope that he is trying to talk some sense into Tuon? Will he accept the Horn from Faile or run away screaming?

So Perrin knows that Mat is married to the Seanchan empress, right? Has he mentioned that to anyone? that could be a very important and useful piece of intel right now. I expect Mat is either trying to get some sexytimes with his wife (and he needs some after the Tower of Ghenjei) or arguing with her about how slavery is basically evil and she really needs to saddle up and ride with the White Hats on this one.

I think Mat will accept the Horn readily enough. He might not like it, but he already knows the necessity of it. I expect grumbling and perhaps a badger to mysteriously appear in Elayne’s sleeping quarters at some point (for ordering Mat to blow the Horn).

Other Tidbits:

Aviendha sneaking into Elayne’s tent was awesome! And she was just trying not to be a bother to the guards. But this also has me worried about the capability of the evil Aiel and the inability of Elayne’s guards and scouts to detect them.

Rand comes up with the first shower this Age has seen! Hooray! Maybe Aviendha will tell Elayne and Elayne will commission some castle engineers to make it possible for the royalty. And in perhaps 200 years, the middle class will have showers. Then all will smell better.

Androl! Gosh, this late-to-the-party side character is turning out to be pretty interesting. I could definitely enjoy a book (or trilogy) just about Androl and his adventures prior to the Dark Tower.

(Ooops! I read a chapter too far and this little comment is actually from Chapter 8). Elayne finally announces who the father of her twins is (though Bashere had to show her the logic in it). It was overdue and I am glad that whole Evil Mellar Daddy rumor can be put to bed for good.

I did like that Elayne was direct with Aiel, making it clear that they simply couldn’t run off and do their own thing, no matter how competent they believed themselves to be.


The Nameless One by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

GriffithTheNamelessOneWhere I Got It: Won a copy on Eargasms (copy provided by the narrator) (thanks!)

Narrator: Susan Eichhorn Young

Publisher: Self-published (2013)

Length: 1 hour 2 minutes

Author’s Page

The Bennets are Egyptologists and they are on the hunt for the tomb of a lesser known wife to a well known Pharaoh. She was a sensual magic user who was entombed and nearly erased from history for her wicked deeds. However, the Bennets are dedicated to finding her tomb and opening it.

Julian and Laura are persistent, I will give them that. Of course, in our modern day lives, where magic is all but dead, I too would not expect to false into an evil trap merely by opening an ancient tomb. This book felt like the opening chapters to a much longer story. We get just the barest hints of Egypt in the setting and there isn’t really time for sex. I say that because this book is billed as an erotica. (Please note the comments below by the author as she did not write this to be an erotic story. However, I double checked my Audible edition and the book starts with ‘the Nameless One by Kathryn Meyer Griffith, an erotic short story’. Hence my expectations for the level of detailed sex.) What little sex there is, is hinted at in memory or in erotic hieroglyphs on the walls of the tomb. In order for a book to be erotica by my standard, I need at least one steamy, detailed, active sex scene. This book flirts with erotic elements, never fully takes the plunge. Which is another reason I felt this was a good lead in to a more expansive story.

This book definitely has a hint of mystery to it as well. The wicked lesser wife was chiseled out of history for evil deeds, deeds that are hinted at but not defined. So I definitely want to know more about her. Plus Julian and Laura have this lovely committed relationship, both as Egyptologists and as lovers. So I want to know more about their lives and past adventures.

If you read the blurb on this book, then you know that not all make it out of the book alive. Those left alive must hunt the now freed wicked sorceress. This is another reason I hope there are further books in this series. I couldn’t find a series on Goodreads or Audible, though there appears to be at least one other book set in modern day Egypt (different characters).

While this book left me wanting more, it also left far too many questions open for me to be satisfied with it.

Narration:  Susan Eichhorn Young did a great job as the narrator. The story is told through Laura Bennet’s voice and Susan was a perfect match for her. She had no hesitation during the scenes that contained erotic elements. She had distinct voices for all characters.

What I Liked:  Plenty of mystery; left me wanting more; the cover art.

What I Disliked:  Way too many open questions at the end; this felt more like the opening chapters to a larger book than a self-contained story.

What Others Think: 

Hell Notes

Emeraldfire’s Bookmark

The Blind Eye by Marcia Fine

FineTheBlindEyeWhere I Got It: Review copy via the producer (thanks!)

Narrator: Christina Cox

Publisher: L’Image Press, LLC (2014)

Length: 7 hours 34 minutes

Author’s Page

This story entwines two tales: one in the late 1990s an the other starts in 1492. Alegra Cardoza is a Native Floridian, descended from Cubans, who is looking for a new job, and perhaps a new life. She applies for a position as secretary to a history professor (Harold Guzman). In keeping his life organized, she learns that he is researching a writing a historical fiction about the Jewish expulsion of Spain in the late 15th century. The narration drops in and out of the fictional book the professor is writing, so we get to know the characters (mostly the Guzman family) in his book pretty well.

Wow! Just, simply, wow! I really enjoyed this book. Was I ignoring noisy chores, like vacuuming, just so I could listen to this book a little longer? Hell yes! Did I carry my laptop around with me so I could sneak in a few minutes of listening pleasure here and there, yes, I did. Perhaps I even ignored my man a little (I’ve made it up to him and now he has a great book recommendation for his next listen).

Normally, when two stories are intertwined like this, I tend to strongly enjoy one over the other and kind of wish that the focus was just on the one I enjoyed. In this case, I enjoyed both equally well even though they were each quite different. They were intertwined quite well, showing the differences and similarities between the two times (especially for women).

Alegra is a modern woman in America. She has a full time job, has a boyfriend, lives her life the way she wants to. She also sucks at dating and lets her sisters bully her into make-overs all too often. Her life is at a cross roads when she applies for and gets a job with Professor Guzman. Pretty soon, the two are headed to Spain for his further research. There, she learns of his manuscript. As the two become friends, he starts asking her for her opinion on certain scenes. This causes Alegra to question her own ancestry even to the point of wondering if some of her ancestors were New Christian Conversos who hid their Jewish faith in secrecy, which was eventually all but forgotten over time.

Meanwhile, back in the late 15th century Spain, the Guzman family are being expelled from Spain. The head of the family, Hermando, makes all the decisions for his wife (Estrella) and daughters and he has decided they will leave for Portugal. Unfortunately, Hanna has had a child outside of wedlock and her father refuses to take her with them. However, Estrella won;t give up easily and baby Belina ends up being raised by her grandparents and auntie Grazia. The Guzmans face many hardships throughout their years, mostly due to anti-Semitic views and politics. Even once they become New Christians (at least in public), they can’t seem to shake the prejudice and fears of others. This story line held some of the most moving scenes both of kindness and of horror.

Since the story bounced back and forth between the two tales, the professor and Alegra could talk honestly about the fate of most women in 15th century Europe. The professor would argue for authenticity in his writing; Alegra would argue that certain scenes were sexist or that women wouldn’t want to read that (rape scenes or women essentially being sold into marriage). I tend to side with the professor on this point – something can still be historically accurate and be considered sexist by today’s standards. The latter doesn’t mean that things didn’t go down that way. Still, there are no rape scenes in this book (which is fine with me) but the author was able to acknowledge the likelihood of such occurrences via this plot device.

The New Christians and the hidden Jewish faith was very intriguing. In my ignorance, I had assumed that many European Jews had to hide (or at least curtail) their faith during the Inquisition until either they moved out of harm’s way or until the Inquisition passed (years? decades?). I did not think that generations would keep their Jewish faith a secret. The Inquisition was not officially abolished until 1834! So, plenty to learn here in a fascinating historical fiction. This book was both entertaining and educational – a keeper on my shelf!

Is it too much to hope for another Alegra/Professor Harold historical adventure? I hope not!

Narration: Christina Cox was an excellent pick for this audiobook. There are plenty of Spanish words and Spanish-speaking characters. Her Spanish accent was excellent with the rapid fire Spanish that I am use to and none of the over enunciated silliness that comes with non-Spanish speakers. She also did a great job with the Guzman women – they each had distinct voices and yet sounded similar enough to be related. She also had a variety of voices for the male characters. I especially liked her voice for a fired up Alegra.

What I Liked: Educational and entertaining!; Great skill in twining the two story lines together; Alegra questioning her own ancestry; the cover art; very satisfying end.

What I Disliked: This is a tiny thing that did not diminish my enjoyment of the book – Alegra comes to suspect that some of the traditions that her older relatives kept were actually Jewish religious observances. However, she never really follows up on this, querying other family, etc. I would have liked to see that little string tied off.

What Others Think:

Jewish Book Council

Barbara Watkins

Spook by Mary Roach

Chupa isn't spooked.

Chupa isn’t spooked.

Where I Got It: The library.

Publisher: W. W. Norton (2005)

Length: 311 pages

Author’s Page

Note: My review of Spook was originally published on Dark Cargo on April 10, 2012. It has been reformatted and published here with permission from Dark Cargo.

What is it about Mary Roach books? I have read all four out there (Bonk, Stiff, Packing for Mars, and Spook) and fervently look forward to the next one. I don’t care what subject it will be on; I know I will be one of the first at the library to pick it up.

In Spook, Roach takes us through the history of human attempts to quantify, contact, and plan for the afterlife. Roach just does not hold back in her investigative journalism, asking all those pesky, pointed, icky questions and telling us readers truly what she found out and how she found it out. Let me share a few little tidbits with you. Y’all love my tidbits.

The Egyptians had everything from daily life packed away with them for the afterlife, including single-seater toilets. Apparently, all functions continue as normal in the afterlife. Just something to look forward to.

There have been a few people, sometimes even doctors, who try to weigh the human body as it dies to see if there is a quantifiable loss – the soul leaving the body. A few other people tried this same experiment with dogs, cattle, goats, and mice. Results have been mixed. Does your soul weigh upon you?

Masters of the seance had a brief period where they played around with low lighting, mysterious smokey incense, and ectoplasm from the beyond. The ectoplasm, upon close examination, was usually cheesecloth draped around the spiritual channeler. People eventually started to catch on to this and the lady seance leaders had to get creative on where to hide the ectoplasm until it was needed…..like in their panties.

If you have not checked out a Mary Roach book yet, I strongly encourage it. Her books are some of the most enlightening, and entertaining, non-fiction out there.

What I Liked: So many intimate details!; educational; not only are tricks of the trade discussed, but also the true mysteries that folks are trying to figure out.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is another great book from Mary Roach.

What Others Think:

John Hawks Weblog

The Skeptic’s Dictionary

East Coast Research & Investigation of the Paranormal

Genre Lasagna

The Cast Iron Cookbook by Sarah Sophia

SophiaTheCastIronCookbookWhere I Got It: Won a copy on Eargasms (copy provided by the narrator) (thanks!)

Narrator: Tiffany Williams

Publisher: Good Living Publishing (2014)

Length: 1 hour 1 minute

Series: Book 3 The Essential Kitchen Series

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it stands alone quite well.

This book is about cooking with cast iron pots and pans. It includes some tips about maintaining your cast iron cookwear plus the 30 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few desserts. At the end, the author gives a weblink for free dessert recipes using cast iron cookwear.

First, let me explain that I know almost nothing about cast iron cooking. If I had an older relative who habitually cooked with cast iron, I don’t recall it. No, I know of cast iron cooking from my man. He LOVES his cast iron for camping trips and he has occasionally gotten out the big fry pan at home. I will tell you that he almost always waits a week to clean it after use, which drives me a little nuts. I am not allowed to ‘clean’ it in the sink or in the dishwasher. That is his chore, one he puts off. It is a heavy thing to wield and I have to use both hands to easily move it around. I live on a farm. I lift 50 pond hay bales. So that gives you an idea of how heavy this pan is for it to cause an ache to my wrists whenever I try to manipulate it.

The author starts off with providing basic knowledge on the reasons for using cast iron (even heating, non-stick surface) to the proper maintaining of it (no dishsoap, no metal scrubbie, etc.). She doesn’t beat it into you with repetitious sentences, so the book doesn’t get bogged down in these basics. Then it is off to the recipes!

This is the audioversion of the book, so you might think that listening to recipes read out loud would be silly. However, the vast majority of these recipes were so simple that listening to the book was quite enjoyable. Besides, I am one of those people that finds a recipe to be more of a recommendation than a dictation. So while I can’t repeat any one of the recipes back to you, I can pop into the kitchen and start making some tasty food based on the recipes I heard. Also, if you pick up the written version of the book, this could be a good companion to it. My favorite part of cast iron cooking (should I give it a serious go) would be the ability to start something on the range (like frying sliced potatoes) and then popping the whole thing (food and pot/pan) into the oven for finishing. The strawberry pie recipe is a huge temptation for giving cast iron cooking a go!

Narration:  Tiffany Williams did a great job. During the chatty parts of the book, she sounded like your friendly neighbor who popped over for tea and a cookie swap. She read off the recipes in a clear voice, never rushing or sounding bored. She never ‘droned’ on as one might if they were forced to read a phonebook out loud.

What I Liked:  Simple instructions for maintaining your cast iron (I expect this would also be good advice for any armor one might have lying about); many of the recipes are quite simple; the ability to use cast iron on the range as well as the oven; strawberry pie!

What I Disliked:  Nothing – this was a great cookbook!