Dispatches from the Gilded Age by Julia Reed

Dispatches from the Gilded Age: A Few More Thoughts on Interesting People, Far-Flung Places, and the Joys of Southern Comforts

Forward by Roy Blount, Jr.

In the middle of the night on March 11, 1980, the phone rang in Julia Reed’s Georgetown dorm. It was her boss at Newsweek, where she was an intern. He told her to get in her car and drive to her alma mater, the Madeira School. Her former headmistress, Jean Harris, had just shot Dr. Herman Tarnower, The Scarsdale Diet Doctor. Julia didn’t flinch. She dressed, drove to Madeira, got the story, and her first byline and the new American Gilded Age was off and running.

And so begins this collection of essays from Julia Reed. A Southern Treasure.

I remember the Scarsdale Diet and the shooting of the doctor and the trial. Such drama! With one century ending and another beginning, Julia gives us a look at so many people, places, and food! Those hot olives!!

So many of her best profiles. One of which we just lost today as I write this. Andre’ Leon Talley. A veritable who’s who of the time. The Bush family, Madeleine Albright, and so many more. Dining at favorite restaurants, what food was popular as well as the fashions of the time.

Her writing style is relatable as well as hilarious at times. This is one of those books that you find yourself reading again. As a Mississippi former resident, I loved this book. The South at its finest.

NetGalley/August 23rd, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press


Fresh mozzarella, tangy tomato sauce, and murder: the perfect recipe for a delicious first entry in Mindy Quigley’s Six Feet Deep Dish, a delectable new series…

A cozy mystery with Pizza!!

Delilah O’Leary is finally opening her gourmet deep-dish pizzeria! In the resort town of Geneva Bay, Wisconsin. Also famous as a mob hangout back in the day.

Delilah’s dream is being financed by her uber-rich boyfriend who breaks up with her the night before their opening. Although he was kind enough to leave the cat.

Things are crazy busy at the soft opening and they don’t get any better when Delilah finds her aunt holding a gun and her caregiver dead.

Enter the local police detective, Calvin Capone, yes that Capone. Not bad on the eyes, but the investigation could tank her opening, and with the rich boyfriend gone, she can’t even make payroll.

Delilah isn’t satisfied to sit and wait for her aunt to be cleared so she pokes her nose in and almost loses it.

This is the first book in this series. While I enjoyed the story, I really didn’t get a feel for pizza so much. And I really don’t like books that rely on a rich man to save the poor girl. But I’ll give the next one a try.

NetGalley/SMP Paperback August 23, 2022


From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work.

A well-documented book about Death. The people who deal with death, such as morticians, detectives, crime scene cleaners, embalmers, and the men who carry out executions.

Through interviews with these people, Ms. Campbell tells their stories. Why do they choose to work in such a grim and sad world? But death is part of life and thank goodness we have these people.

I wanted to be a mortician so I can understand her interest in the field. But I wonder too if it changes them in a fundamental way? We are fascinated with death in the Western world. But also terrified of it.

I enjoyed reading about all of these people and it was also very informative.

Good Job!

NetGalley/ August 16, 2022, St. Martin’s Press


Marnie owns her business, Wish and Co. and she is a shopper. For all of the men who don’t have time or the talent to pick gifts for their own families. She is really good at it. Until this one time.

Two gifts. Two women. Only one is a wife. And when the gifts go to the wrong people, a family is torn apart and Marnie’s career may be over.

She makes a deal to keep her client but the deal may be the end of a love affair and a family.

This fits neatly into the trope of a poor girl meets a rich man and all her dreams come true.

It was light. Too light and too cookie cutter.

NetGalley/ August 16, 2022 RHPG


Stay Awake

From the opening pages, this book exudes tension! Heart pounding terror and confusion on every single page.

This is the story of Liv Reese. Liv has just woken up in a taxi with absolutely no memory of how she got there. Confused and scared she is dropped off at her apartment building. Only she has lost her purse and her phone. Ringing the bell in hopes her roommate, Amy, will be there to let her in. Only it’s not Amy who answers. The couple who does now live in their apartment and are tired of her showing up. What?

Stumbling outside confused she looks at her hands to see ink everywhere with messages. STAY AWAKE! Trust No one. And the name of a bar.

Going back two years, the last thing she remembers is answering the phone at her desk at the trendy magazine she writes for. And then nothing. She knows she was living with Amy and dating Marco.

Digging in her pockets she finds a bloody knife wrapped in a t-shirt. When she catches the news, it is all about a murder that just took place. The weirdest thing is what is left in blood on the window. STAY AWAKE! What has she done?

Changing her look and going into the magazine gives her some clues, but she needs to find out what happened and why she can’t remember. But someone out there remembers. And that someone is going to make sure she forgets permanently.

The tension never lets up. It was like a puzzle you just can’t figure out. I read this all at once because you couldn’t just stop! So yes, I did stay awake long past my bedtime.

Goldin has such a complex and twisty writing style that I love.

NetGalley/August 9th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press


A Key West Food Critic Mystery

Can we all just appreciate the tropical beauty that is this cover? So peaceful and lush.

But not for Hayley Snow, the food critic for the Key Zest Magazine. Things almost never slow down in the Keys and Hayley’s hot cop husband is as busy as she is. Not to mention that his father is in town and Hayley has yet to meet the imposing man.

When Hayley and a friend take their pups over to Geiger Key for a peaceful lunch and dog run, it should be relaxing enough. And it is. Until Ziggy digs up more than sand on the dunes. Local Davis Jager, an avid and very serious birdwatcher, who is also out on the beach identifies the body as one GG Garcia. Garcia has a lot of enemies. He’s loud and brash and is buying up all the real estate he can get his hands on to create even more tourist destinations. The locals aren’t so happy with that idea.

Of course, Hayley isn’t going to just let a dead body go without an investigation. When she and her trusty sidekick, Miss Gloria pay Davis a visit they find out later he was attacked in the parking lot. So, he isn’t a suspect? Maybe.

They find more mysterious things as they help Hayley’s mother with the funeral reception at the Women’s Club. A very old cookbook and a box of notes about some of the members. What a find! Full of recipes from the original cookbook the women put out in the 1940s. Some of them sounded gross, but some of them weren’t recipes at all, but a diary!

This was a good installment of the series. Hayley and Nathan are getting into a married routine and things are looking up for her at work as well!

And as usual, Ms. Burdette has included all of the delicious recipes!

Netgalley/ August 9th, 2022 by Crooked Lane Books

WILD is the WITCH by Rachel Griffin

When eighteen-year-old witch Iris Gray accidentally enacts a curse that could have dire consequences, she must team up with a boy who hates witches to make sure her magic isn’t unleashed on the world.

Iris Gray and her mother run a wildlife refuge in Washington. It’s not where she is from but that place no longer wanted witches nor did her father who stayed behind.

But she loves her days at the refuge and when she gets frazzled, she does what her Grandmother taught her to do. She creates a spell, puts it in some herbs, and burns it. Much like writing a letter but not sending it. No one gets hurt and she feels a little better.

Her life would be fine if it weren’t for the annoying intern, Pike Alder. It’s a mutual hate feeling. And he has made it clear he despises witches.

So she takes her frustrations out in the same way, only this time before she can push the magic into the herbs, an owl dives in front and takes the curse. These birds are amplifiers of magic and unleashing the curse could harm not just Pike, but much further.

The Witch’s Council has already given her a pass once and she knows if she doesn’t get the curse back, she will lose her magic for good. And Pike will probably die turning into a mage.

Pike doesn’t know the real reason she is so bent on finding the owl, but he volunteers to go with her.

Along the way, they both will learn a lot about each other, magic, and themselves.

This is a YA book and I can see why it’s popular.

NetGalley/August 2nd, 2022 by Sourcebooks Fire

Listening Well by Heather Morris

Listening Well: Bringing Stories of Hope to Life

Bringing Stories of Hope to Life

Heather Morris is one of my favorite authors. The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and Cilka’s Journey show what a great storyteller she is and also what a great story listener she is. And that is what this book is about. Listening. “Stories are what connect us and remind us that hope is always possible.”—Heather Morris  I love that.

In this work, she shares her talent as a listener. Something she used when first meeting Lale Sokolov, the tattooist at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was the subject of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey.

She shares her own story and how she honed her listening skills and gives us good advice on improving our own. A skill that will benefit all of our relationships. Personal and work. Listening is an active thing. You can tell when someone is listening to you and engaged and when they are not. Long after we are all gone there will be stories. Because someone listened and shared.

Always a pleasure.

NetGalley/August 2nd, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

August, the Sunday of Summer

Can it really be August already? July has gone by in a long string of over 100-degree days. And not a drop of rain. Parts of our state got rain this weekend but we got 19 drops on the windshield. But it cooled off for a day.

July was a month I don’t want to repeat. OU Boy had another stent put in and then had to have his kidney function tested and I was sucking down Albuterol like water! I am allergic to everything in this state including my own dog. So I have been on a journey to allow her to stay. Flonase in the mornings, Clairton at night, and a huge Hepa filter machine. They suggested I keep a sterile room so that is my bedroom. For the past few days, I have been able to sleep through the night without a breathing treatment. So basically we are falling apart here.

The water levels are so low at the reservoir and the lake that kayaking is challenging. We still go and try In separate boats.

Today I am still in mourning for the prolific author, Stuart Woods who passed on the 22nd. If I had a book boyfriend it would be the infamous Stone Barrington. Although according to my husband I am a carbon copy of him. I loved the cheeky way he signed off each book. Don’t write me, I won’t answer. If you have an idea for a book then write it. Always made me laugh.

This week I am doing media for Bullet Train. I adored this book and badgered everyone I knew to read it. So read it before the movie.

How is everyone doing this summer? Reading pile caught up yet? Has anyone gone on vacation? Kids going back to school?

Also looking for new shows to binge on BritBox!


BLACK DOG by STUART WOODS (Stone Barrington #62)

Stone Barrington is back in New York City. Hoping for some downtime but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for him.

I’m excited about this one. Joan, who is one of my favorite characters, is front and center in this one. Introducing her uber-rich aunt to Stone. Her aunt has somewhat of a chequered past but is also married to one of the wealthiest men in the world. Or she was until he recently died.

Although she’s sixty, she looks forty and has the hots for Stone. And who wouldn’t? She also wants to give him millions in business and make him the executor of her will and her stepson’s trust. The stepson is too bad for a black sheep even. And boy does this Eddie character not have a moral bone in his body.

He is desperate and we all know desperate people do desperate things. Like murder and forgery.

This was a very humorous book. Stone always has a good sense of humor but who knew about Joan?

Woods always gives us a good time with Stone, Dino, and Joan. This one was especially good!

NetGalley/02 Aug 2022 Penguin Group/Putnam

Stuart Woods passed away on July 22, 2022 Our hearts will be broken and grateful for all of the wonderful books we enjoyed!