Book Review: The Fleur de Sel Murders

The Fleur de Sel Murders: A Brittany Mystery (Brittany Mystery Series)

The Fleur de Sel Murders opens with Commissaire George Dupin driving outside of his jurisdiction to the White Land of Brittany where salt is traditionally farmed to investigate a cryptic tip given by a journalist friend. Before he can investigate, however, Dupin is ambushed and injured by gunfire. Shortly thereafter, his journalist friend goes missing. To add complexity, Dupin must share jurisdiction with the local authority, including the Commissaire Sylvaine Rose, as they investigate who shot at Dupin, what happened to the journalist, and what is occurring in the unique environment of the salt marshes between the independent farmers, the co-operative, and big business.

What makes Fleur de Sel stand out beyond its beautiful descriptions of Brittany and the peak into the world of salt farming, is the characters. Dupin is almost quirky in the way he repeatedly responds to evidence in a subconscious way, writing vague notes in his notebook. Pairing him with the ultra-efficient, ambitious, and bluntly commanding Rose creates an interesting tension that holds the reader’s attention. Overall, Fleur proves an entertaining read.

(Reviewed through Netgalley.)

Book Review: Boundless Compassion & Prayers of Boundless Compassion

Boundless Compassion: Creating a Way of LifeJoyce Rupp, a member of the Servite (Servants of Mary) community, has spent a lifetime providing spiritual guidance as a retreat director, conference speaker, and prolific author of over a dozen books which have sold more than a million copies. Nevertheless, Boundless Compassion seems to stand out as the pinnacle of her work, perhaps because, as she notes, the call to compassion has been with her since her early days as a young member of her community. Here, Rupp begins with basic instruction in compassion which she focuses first on the self. Working in increasingly larger circles over several weeks, Rupp extends compassion until it includes to every living thing. She concludes the six-week process with advice on sustaining compassion over the long term in the face of suffering. While Rupp roots Boundless Compassion in the Christian tradition, Rupp cites scientific, medical, theological, spiritual, sociological, and psychological sources to explain and support her direction. For use by either the individual or the group, Rupp’s Boundless Compassion provides the keys to a transformation that, if followed with sincere dedication, has the potential to change the world.

Prayers of Boundless CompassionPrayers of Boundless Compassion is a companion volume to Rupp’s Boundless Compassion. Here she offers forty original prayers, blessing, and meditations. Rupp designed these prayers to correlate with each of the themes in her six-week course. However, this pocket-sized book can also stand alone and provide abundant material for spiritual contemplation and action. In either case, this small book cannot but help to solidly ground the reader seeking to live a compassionate life.

(I reviewed these book at the request of the publisher, who provided review copies.)

 

Book Review: Coffin, Scarcely Used

Coffin, Scarcely Used (A Flaxborough Mystery)

In the town of Flaxborough, one of its prominent citizens is found electrocuted in his house slippers on the crossbars of an electricity pylon. This rather bizarre death follows the altogether unremarkable death of his neighbor and fellow prominent citizen just a mere six months earlier. Was the electrocution a murder? Are the two deaths connected? And what seedy business could be occurring in this otherwise pleasant town? Originally published in 1958 as the first in the Flaxborough series, Colin Watson wrote a delightful mystery that did not require gruesome crimes and heart-pounding action to hold the reader’s attention. Instead, Watson relied on a solid mystery with a well-plotted ending and deliciously witty insights into small town life and personalities. Now that the Flaxborough series is in the process of being reprinted, a new generation of readers can enjoy a sense of nostalgia while puzzling over a mystery that withstood the test of time.

(Received from the publisher via Netgalley.)

Book Review: The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every DayAmerica’s Test Kitchen has created the definitive guide to Mediterranean cooking. Although brimming with amazing recipes, this cookbook has so much more. This book opens with a concise overview of the Mediterranean diet and meal planning. The authors proceed to five-hundred mouth-watering recipes that require mostly easily obtained ingredients and cover every aspect of the meal: small plates, soups, salads, rices and grains, pasta and couscous, beans, vegetables, seafood, poultry and meat, eggs, breads, and fruits and sweets. Many of the recipes are vegetarian and are clearly marked as such, as are quickly prepared recipes. Almost more significantly, the text is simply packed with additional information. The notes dispersed through the book contain valuable information for those wishing to ensure a good outcome and learn more about the intricacies of choosing ingredients and cooking techniques. The large, glossy pictures of the finished product typically found in cookbooks are traded for smaller pictures of the end product and important preparation details. Furthermore, nutritional information for all recipes is contained in an easily read chart at the end of the book. For those looking for the one book they need to master Mediterranean cooking, this is it.

(Originally reviewed for Seattle Book Review.)

365 Somethings Project: Week 11

Tonight, I’m getting down to brass tacks fast as I’m tired. The good news, however, is everyone is well, and I made pretty good progress on my 365 Somethings Project this week.

1. Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop: This week’s project involves adding water droplets and background and requires eleven steps. I got about half of them. I’m pleased with it so far, but it will look radically different next week.

Color Workshop’s Water Droplets Project, part 1

2. Knitting: I decided to shelve the Onami Cowl briefly and make a scarf for my mom instead. I’m using leftover yarn from a afghan I made for her in her favorite colors and making up the pattern as I go. This should be really fast, and I like it so far.

Mom’s Scarf, part 1

3. Beading Kit: I finished my last beading kit!

Vintage Garden Bracelet

4. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: This week the challenge topic was “story.” I’m pretty pleased with my entry.

That’s all folks. See you next week!

Happy creating!

Book Review: Cafe by the Sea

The Cafe by the Sea: A NovelHot summers are simply made for light novels that transport the reader to different and, preferably, cooler climes. Jenny Colgan, the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner, provides just the ticket in The Café by the Sea. Flora MacKenzie must return to her childhood home on the fictitious cold, stormy isle of Mure off of Scotland. Her London law firm wants to win an American tech billionaire as a client, and he does not want the view from his Mure home obstructed by a proposed wind farm. So, Flora is sent to discover the islanders’ thoughts on the billionaire and win them to his side. Unbeknownst to her firm, however, Flora fled her childhood home years earlier when her mother died, burning her bridges with her family and community as she left. Furthermore, she also has a terrible crush on her detached, self-absorbed boss, Joel. Can Flora mend her fences with her family, impress the client, and finally catch the attention of her boss? Although a little predictable, the characters and setting of Café will charm readers and provide an entertaining diversion during this hot season.

(Originally reviewed for Manhattan Book Review.)

Thought-Provoking Quote

“Rather, they point to what St. John of the Cross indicated as the most vital question at the end of our life: ‘Have you loved well? Was everything that was done, done for love’s sake?'”

Rupp, Joyce. Boundless compassion: creating a way of life. Sorin Books, 2018
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher and am in the process of reviewing it. However, this quote simply caught me off guard, and I had to note it.)

 

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Out of the World

This week’s challenge is: Out of the World. The idea is to “an invitation to explore the world around us as if it were new and mysterious.”

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

— Georgia O’Keeffe

African Violet

365 Somethings Project: Week 10

I have absolutely no progress to report this week. My youngest son ran a high fever for five days until a second trip to the doctor and an x-ray revealed the cause: pneumonia. The good news is that he responded quickly to antibiotics and began improving within two days.

I thought about racing into my office today and tossing together my last bracelet, hurriedly coloring another project, or attempting to get a few rows of knitting done, but I didn’t. I spent this week just exactly how I wanted: reading aloud to my son by the hour (The Mad Scientists’ Club, Stuart Little, The Swiss Family Robinson), making a dozen trips each day up and down the stairs for ice water, and checking his temperature through the nights. When the antibiotics began to work, I caught up on some much needed sleep.

The point of my project is to enjoy what I have. To race today to meet some imaginary deadline defeats the purpose. If I were feeling particularly philosophical, I’d say the urge to do so is simply my perfectionism rearing its ugly head in a new and different way.

And so, I report honestly that my project didn’t move forward this week, but it will next week. Until then. . . .