Review of the Great British Baking Show 2018 Final

greatbritishbakers

I love this show!  This is the latest season that is streaming on Netflix right now.   Netflix has followed up on this season with holiday specials (the holiday Baking show is a no-miss one as well) but if anyone out there is a baking or cooking show fan, this is the show for you!  You are going to fall in love with the bakers, especially the three finalists.  What makes the British Baking show different than the ones you see on the Food Network is the camaraderie and genuiness of the hosts and the contestants.  I feel that most of them are honestly nice people and “real”.  The judges, Paul and Prue, are also true professionals and don’t put on a comedy act.  The hosts, on the other hand, do provide a comedic break amid the baking tension, and they come across as loveable and supportive of the contestants. The contestants don’t seem to put on any fake personas just for the sake of TV.  They are on the show due to their love of baking, and at the end, they seem to have formed a “family” of sorts.  Of course, there are some contestants that you relate more to than others, but that goes with any TV show.  After watching a few of these shows, don’t be surprised that you are going to hit your kitchen ready and willing to bake a few dozen pies and cakes!  This show brings out the baker in everyone!

To try some of these recipes at home, click on://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=storybooktree-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1849904839&asins=1849904839&linkId=57dc5b0b5ffd8e87374a099f18d1b4b3&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff

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Review of “The Passenger”

passengerThis is definitely a page-turner.

My attention was grasped almost immediately at the writing style. Lisa Lutz is one talented author.  She develops the mystery behind the main character (Tanya-then Amelia–then Debra) so well that the reader gets confused as to who she really is and what is the reason for her running away from her true identity. Some of the supposedly passing characters do make an appearance towards the end of the book which adds to the complexity of the plot.  The reader gets caught up in the plot and the mystery behind the protagonist’s “passage”, and it makes the book an engrossing read.  Recommend.

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Review of “He Said, She Said” by Erin Kelly

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This was definitely an interesting book , and it surprised me with its ending. I don’t want to brag, but I can usually predict endings to mysteries and thrillers once I’ve read the book halfway.  However, this one took a turn that I didn’t expect.  The middle of the book did get tedious, and I thought that the book was disappointing by then. It started off with a bang, but then the plot got mired in eclipses, pregnancy and legalities.  The protagonist , Laura, is real and likeable, and I felt that she did the right thing despite others warning her against her actions.  The plot is also true to the time, especially with the recent #MeToo media attention. However, do I recommend this book?  Despite the waxing and waning of the plot in the middle, I do recommend it.  It’s a page turner, and the format of the back and forth between the past and present keeps the reader interested.

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Review of “China Rich Girlfriend”

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What a nice, light read!  I like Kevin Kwan’s writing style and got hooked onto this trilogy only after watching the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” (catch my review of the movie on an earlier blog post).

The characters of Nick and Rachel are endearing, and the reader can definitely empathize with Rachel. Rachel is your “regular professor” who is thrust in the midst of billionaire families in Singapore when she starts dating (and later gets engaged) to Nick Young, a member of the ultra wealthy Young family in Asia.

This novel provides an insight into Rachel’s family, especially who her lost father is and how she, herself, has ties to the wealthy in Asia.

The reader gets throw into the soap opera-like dramas of the ultra wealthy first world problems, and the descriptions of clothing, cars and jewels are first rate. I think that this book is truly reflective of a different kind of lifestyle that most people in the US are not exposed to, and it shows a side to Asia that is both novel and eye-opening at the same time.

If you are looking for a light beach or airplane read, this is the trilogy for you.  I can’t wait to read the third one in the series!  I do recommend that you start the series with the first book since it will be difficult to connect with the characters if you start with the second or third books.

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Review of “The Breakdown”

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This was an amazing book!  It wasn’t so much the writing style as the plot that really grabbed my interest.  I simply could not put the book down since I found the main character, Cass, so empathetic and interesting. The use of dementia, murder, and marital issues all in one plot is definitely a reflection of how talented the author is.  I found this novel so much more interesting than her first one, “Behind Closed Doors”.  Albeit “Behind Closed Doors” was good in its own right, “The Breakdown” was definitely more of a page turner for me.

The main character, Cass, is a teacher and newly married to Michael.  The book is told from Cass’ perspective, and the reader is able to get a first hand view of Cass’ relationships with friends, colleagues as well as her husband. The reader also is able to feel her fear about a recent murder that occurred near her home. All in all, without adding in spoilers (which is so hard to do!), I highly recommend this novel!//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=storybooktree-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01M2BPO4O&asins=B01M2BPO4O&linkId=8ad00d75b6825b8e5e3f8cd7f2ae7014&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff

Review of AJ Finn’s “The Woman in the Window”

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This novel is a page-turner!  This was my first A. J. Finn novel and it definitely will not be my last! I enjoyed the writing style and the twists and turns that kept me wanting to read to the end.  If I didn’t value sleep so much, I would have stayed up to try and finish this book in a single night.

The author really described agoraphobia in realistic detail; I feel that I can empathize with people inflicted with this disease now that I have seen it from the main character’s, Anna Fox’s,  perspective.  It is interesting to discover how the main character developed the disease and how debilitating it is. The novel touches on alcoholism and isolation as well. However, the beauty of how AJ Finn depicts these issues are woven in a thrilling mystery plot that engrosses the reader.

Anna Fox , due to her agoraphobia, spends most of her day viewing her neighbor’s activities and happens to see a horrific event.  What unfurls is a series of plot twists that keep the reader guessing. Highly recommend. Click on this link to purchase:

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Review of “In The Woods” by Tana French

inthewoods

This was my first novel written by Tana French that I read.  I finished it last night, and it was a good read. However, I felt that the reviews caused me to have high expectations that were not met.  The end was a great segway into the next novel of the series, but I was hoping to have the ending tie up all the loose ends.  Now that there is a “cliffhanger”, so to speak, I am looking forward to the next novel.

The writing was excellent, and I really felt that Tana French developed her characters , especially the main one of Detective Ryan, extremely well and did not leave out any details. I felt like I was inside Ryan’s head and understood his flaws and intricacies of his personality.  He was not very likeable but this is what made him “human” in my eyes.

What I did not like about the book was the fact that the ending (or the the solution to the mystery) was not as exciting as the clues leading up to it.  The first half of the book was definitely more enthralling than the second half. What made me finish the book was simply to find out “whodunit”, but, needless to say, I was disappointed with the lack of thrills towards the end.

All in all, I do recommend this book, but don’t believe the reviews stating that this is the “one of the best thrillers” this year.

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Review of “Aunt Dimity and The King’s Ransom”

auntdimity

I enjoy the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton since the books tend to transport me to a cozy place.  This book did not disappoint.  I enjoy the easy repertoire between the main character, Lori, and her husband Bill as well as Lori’s innate ability to make friends wherever she goes regardless of their age and gender.

This novel begins Lori and Bill heading to Rye, a nearby town, for a weekend getaway sans kids.  Bill combined a work errand with the trip, so after dropping Bill off to his business colleague, Lori sets off for her deluxe hotel hoping to meet Bill later on in the afternoon. While on the road, Lori finds herself in the middle of a huge dangerous storm.

Due to the storm, Lori gets diverted to a town and is forced to spend the night at an inn called The King’s Ransom.  While there, she befriends a bishop named Bishop Wyndham and together they try and fathom what mysteries lie behind the strange noises they hear at night as well as the mystery behind the inn’s name.

This is a cute “mystery”, and there is no horror or gore involved. This is also not a thriller or even a romance; I think Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series are the epitome of the cozy mystery.  I enjoyed the setting and the characters.  The novel did get a bit mundane at parts, especially over the constant attempts at deciphering the mystery behind the inn’s name, but all in all, it was an enjoyable and light read.

Review of “Broken Girls” by Simone St. James

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This was an enticing page-turner that kept me wanting to read it to the end.  It did get slow at some parts in the middle of the book, but the mystery about a ghost and a murder made me want to finish it.  You can read it in one night if you were dedicated and had the time, but it took me several nights to finish it.  There is something flawed about the book that I simply cannot put my finger on—-it was a page turner but it didn’t excite me as much as other thrillers that I have read in the past.  I thought that the intertwining of the Holocaust was a nice touch by Simone St. James, but I thought that the ghost story was a bit over-kill.  Maybe it was the unrealistic hauntings that made me not want to grab this book every night before bed; I am not usually a fan of ghost stories unless they are the focus of the book.  This book had a ghost haunting more of “an aside” from the main plot of the book, and it took a while before I realized that the ghost really didn’t have much to do with the main plot.  The love story between Fiona and her police boyfriend was realistic in the sense that it was both flawed and true.  I thought that both of them were made for each other, yet the love story was also a side story.  The main plot was more of a “who-done-it” of the murder of a girl found buried in the grounds of an old school that was being renovated.  What brings Fiona into this mystery is that her sister was also found dead on the same campus many years ago.  All in all, I recommend this book; it is well written and the characters are believable. If you can get past the ghost interlude, this is a book worth reading.

Review of the start of Season 3 of ABC’s “American Housewife”

housewife

If you are a parent, this is a great TV show for you to unwind after a long day. I’m not sure about the appeal to the teens/children , but every parent will get the jokes and the laughter at the day-to-day ups and downs of parenting that the show highlights. The main actress is Katy Mixon who plays character, Katie Otto, a hilarious housewife, now turned working mom this season, who “tells it like it is”.  The family is middle class but lives in a high income suburb for the school district, and the son’s (Oliver played by Daniel DiMaggio) best friend showcases the economic differences of the Otto family and most of the kids at the neighborhood school.  Katie is mom to three fun kids, each with  entertaining personalities (especially those of Oliver and Anna Kat) and also plays wife to loveable, patient husband, Greg, played well by Diedrich Bader. Greg also has his own idiosyncracies.  I feel that these unique traits of the family members and how Katie deals with them are what makes the show so real.  An added twist to the show’s storyline is Katie’s daily breakfast with the “girls” played by hilarious Ali Wong (the rich and eccentric Doris) and Carly Hughes (the faithful friend and lesbian Angela).  The side tracks that involve Katie re-hashing her latest problems with Dora and Angela are a hoot to watch.

The latest season , number three that began in September 2018, shows the hard transition of Katie going from stay-at-home mom to a working mom now that her kids are older.  She loves her job as an event coordinator, but also depicts the guilt that almost every mom has about not being home enough for her children.  The support that Greg gives Katie is perfection, almost unrealistic to be honest, and her work-life balance seems a bit uncomplicated compared to most moms in reality.  However, that being said, this is a sitcom, and no one wants to see a struggling working mom on TV when they have played one in reality all day.  American Housewife is entertaining and makes me smile throughout the show which, I believe, is the point of watching TV at the end of a long day.