May 10, 2021

It's Monday: Books Set in Cleveland and Tuscany, Italy

 New books from publishers/publicists

2207 South Green Road by Janice C. Spector, 

Two Bairns Press (June 22, 2021)

Source: Saichek Publicity 

Description: A poignant and humorous story of love despite dysfunction among an assimilating extended Jewish family riddled with secrets in suburban Cleveland during 1961.

The Bitter Taste of Murder: A Tuscan Mystery by Camilla Trinchieri

Genre: mystery series

Publication: August 10, 2021, Soho Crime

Description: The follow-up to Murder in Chianti. Ex-NYPD detective Nico Doyle is recruited by Italian authorities to investigate the murder of a prominent wine critic.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Reading Sunday Salon, and Mailbox Monday

May 6, 2021

A September to Remember by Carole: Review, Giveaway, and Guest Post:


Premier Virtual Author Book Tours presents A September To Remember by Carole Bumpus

A September to Remember: Searching for Culinary Pleasures at the Italian Table (Book Three) – Lombardy, Tuscany, Campania, Apulia, and Lazio (Roma) (Savoring the Olde Ways Series, 3) by Carole Bumpus

Publisher:  She Writes Press (April 27, 2021)
Category: Culinary/Travel Memoir & Non-Fiction
Tour dates: April 12-May 31, 2021

A September to Remember


This culinary travel memoir is an invitation to join in on a month-long trek through Italy, all in the search of the true Italian experience. Sprinkled with unforgettable characters, you will sup on sumptuous traditional foods, sip regional wines, and enjoy vast panoramas of extraordinary beauty. You may find yourself dancing at harvest festivals, climbing through Etruscan tombs, traipsing among Roman ruins, or bathing in ancient Roman termes (hot springs).

You may also enjoy climbing to the heights of wonder in Capri or to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. Or delight in soaking up the ancient and cultural history in Milan, Firenze (Florence), Amalfi, Pompeii, Lecce and Rome. You can bask in the sun and rugged beauty of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Adriatic Sea, or the gorgeous Amalfi Coast. Or you can chat for hours over family meals while collecting a compendium of regional and traditional recipes (cucina povera), while you capture a rare glimpse inside the secrets to the Mediterranean psyche. It is truly a trip of a lifetime.


A month-long trip through Italy starts in Milan and then ventures down to Florence, Tuscany, and finally to Rome, with many stops in between. Carole Bumpus and her husband Winston are true adventurers and travelers, savoring the local cuisine, customs, and enjoying the people and places they encounter along the way.

Local history, festivals in many towns, wine tasting, tours, resorts, all these are covered in historic detail by the author, who is not only interested in the cuisine and wines, but in the history of the buildings, cathedrals, palaces, architecture, and also the history of parts of Italy during WWII and the stories of how the local people fared. 

Let's not forget their trip to Pompeii, which in history was buried under ash during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Nor their trip down the scenic Amalfi coast.

Lovers of Italian history, food and wine, and the remarkable geography of the country will delight in this travel and culinary memoir. Mrs. Bumpus includes many recipes in her book, plus maps of the areas they visited during their month-long trip.

This is a comprehensive memoir, in that detailed history of the places are included, in addition to descriptions of the buildings and monuments and of the people themselves.

Lovers of travel, and especially those who love or are curious about Italy, will m ore than enjoy Carole Bumpus's observations and her unique experiences. 

About Carole Bumpus

September To Remember by Carole Bumpus

Multi award winning author, Carole Bumpus is a retired family therapist, who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She began writing about food and travel when she stumbled upon the amazing stories of women and war in France. Her historical novel, A Cup of Redemption, was published in October 2014, and her unique companion cookbook, Recipes for Redemption: A Companion Cookbook to A Cup of Redemption, was released in August 2015.

Books One and Two of her Savoring the Olde Ways series, Searching for Family and Traditions at the French Table, were published in August 2019 and 2020; her third book in the series, A September to Remember: Searching for Culinary Pleasures at the Italian Table is due out April 27, 2021. All five books have been published by She Writes Press which is part of SparkPoint Studio, LLC.


Giveaway: September To Remember by Carole Bumpus

"This giveaway is for 3 copies of 'A September To Remember', one copy per winner. Open to Canada and the U.S. only and ends on June 1, 2021.  Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.




Leaving the coastal dunes of the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and heading east through Tuscany, your eyes widen at the pastoral beauty of the verdant rolling hills. Towering cypress trees march along roadways and over hillsides, as vineyards, sunflowers and olive orchards carpet the plains. Upon entering the Arno River Valley, you are surrounded by mountain ranges to the north, east and south, where you will discover the wonderous Renaissance city of Firenze. Florence, Italy.

Whether arriving by train, plane or car, the excitement for me has always been the same. It’s almost a physical assault of the senses: the wonderous scent of grilled meats like Bistecca alla Fiorentina or spiedini, skewered cuts of meat, sausage, and vegetables, or the savory aromas of rosemary-infused breads like pan di romarino, pizzas-by-the-pound, or herb-enhanced pasta sauces. Beautiful pasticcieria (pastry shop) windows feature pyramids of dolci (sweets) piled high in colorful arrays. Buttery tarts, bursting with custard-cream fillings, such as gianduja (hazelnut) or chocolate with orange zest, call out suggestively. And, then there are the robust wines from the nearby hills of Chianti. What to sample first?

Yes, Florence contains all of my much-loved passions: sumptuous foods, delectable wines, incredible history, art, architecture, and literature. Oh, my! Did I mention that Michelangelo walked these same streets? Or Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, or Botticelli? Did you realized their exemplary works of art helped to lift the pall of the Dark Ages to create the Age of the Renaissance? You can see many of their sculptures, paintings, and frescoes throughout the City, but especially in churches, cathedrals, and the Uffizi Art Museum. And don’t forget writers such as Dante, Petrarch, and Machiavelli also called this city home. Walking along the same streets as these historical figures makes history come alive. Come for the beauty and the sentient qualities of place. You will love it too. 

* * * * *

My favorite foods from Florence are: Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a succulent two-inch thick cut of beef steak or the delectable tagliarini al limone - pasta with a light yet piquant lemon sauce rises to a place with the gods.


* * * * * * *

Another favorite Italian city is Amalfi, which is tucked along the rocky coastline of the Salerno Peninsula facing exquisite azure waters. Although the drive to Amalfi is definitely an exercise in girding one’s loins, it is a drive worth experiencing. Yes, the narrow, circuitous road which climbs up, up and over craggy rocks and cliffs, then catapults you down and around a hundred hairpin turns and can suck the breath from your body as you peer over a sheer precipice to the sea a thousand feet below can give you pause . . . What was the question? Yes, driving is the only way to get there, unless you charter a boat.

Upon arrival, you can see you’ve arrived in Paradise. The entire city of Amalfi begins at the sea but immediately clambers up those same sheer cliffs where the residents live. There are wonderful, historical explanations for why locals enjoy living while clinging to hillsides, but the easiest explanation is to say it’s to avoid pirates! Yes, from the time of the Phoenicians, two thousand years of marauding pirates and traders have tried to force their way into the fortress of Amalfi.  

Lower Amalfi is a gorgeous seaside resort, with clean sandy beaches festooned with colorful beach chairs, umbrellas, and bar service. A smattering of waterfront restaurants caters to the many tourists who pile off buses or boats in order to sip a glass of wine, dine on supremely scrumptious seafood, or relax as they gaze out over the crystalline blue sea. Breathe!

As one heads up the steep streets into the walled city, a confluence of brightly decorated shops catches your attention. Here, the artistic flair can be seen everywhere, painted on walls, plates, dishes, cups, and across individual bottles of—oh, the town’s most famous drink, the glistening golden goodness called sfusato amalfitano or limoncello. You look around yourself, but you are surrounded by walls. “So where do the lemons grow?” you wonder.

You are standing in a tightly compacted city where many of the streets, known as alleys, are no more than one person wide and weave around and about like the inside of a pinecone. (Again, to ward off pirate attacks.) At the center of town is the Piazza Duomo, where one can stop for a bite to eat or drink. You are at the bottom of the stairs of a stunning black and white cathedral, the Duomo of Saint Andrew, which rises sixty-two steps above you. The Duomo appears to be a riot of stripes, arches, and mosaics with architectural touches gifted to Amalfi by conquering influences: The Moors, the Byzantines, and the Normans. Oh, plus a splash of Baroque.

From the Piazza, all hotels, restaurants, homes, and shops wend up the steeply terraced hills and continue along the narrow Mulini Valley where monumental cliffs rise 4,300 feet. Ah, there they are! In addition to homes and hotels perched precariously along terraces, are the lemon trees—a thousand lemon trees with their luminous and brilliantly verdant leaves and sunny yellow fruit catching the light from a scintillating sun.

Making your way past the Piazza, you may discover stalls offering a profusion of ripe purple plums, dark figs, and enormous peaches, plus garlands of garlic, and string upon string of bright firecracker-red dried peppers. You will gasp at the size of the bright yellow lemons—definitely as large as grapefruits. You are offered a slice to taste and cower at the thought of sinking your teeth into an acidic nightmare. But, no, they are sweet! Who knew? And then, of course, you find yourself in a queue at a boutique filled with shelves of this world-famous limoncello.  You’ve waited long enough! It’s time. Buy one, or two! They’re small and oh my goodness, there is nothing better as an after-dinner drink than icy cold limoncello. And your tour in paradise has begun.

* * * * *

In addition to limoncello, one of my favorite dishes from Amalfi is a marvelous seafood dish called Risotto alla Pescatore -- risotto made with homemade seafood broth then piled high with plenty of cooked shellfish, such as shrimp, clams, mussels, and calamari. Oh, my! So delectable!

May 5, 2021

This Is How I Save My Life by Amy B. Scher: First Chapter, First Paragraph


This is How I Save My Life: A True Story of Finding Everything When You are Willing to Try Anything

This Is How I Save My Life by Amy B. Scher, April 10, 2018, Gallery Books

Genre: Memoir. A woman  travels from California to India in search of a life saving medical procedure to cure her Lyme disease.

From my Goodreads review: A true story on finding one's true self after agonizing illness and pain that could have been less dramatic, if only.... In India, Amy Scher, suffering from advanced Lyme disease, finds out that she has the power to heal herself, while undergoing embryonic stem cell treatment in India. 

First chapter, first paragraph:

December 2007

A sign with these words are not posted anywhere on our arrival, but it should be. 

I could have also used a sign that offered, GOOD LUCK ! or equally appropriate, one that said, HAVE YOU LOST YOUR ACTUAL MIND? In fact, the signs I need at my first point of entry into the country, are endless. 

First Chapter/First paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Yvonne@ Socrates Book ReviewsPost the first paragraph (or 2) of a book you are reading or plan to read soon.

May 3, 2021

Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly: It's Monday


Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly, April 1, 2021, Hodder & Stouton

Setting: London

Genre: thriller, mystery

Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. (publisher)

I've been a fan of Erin Kelly's unusual thrillers and this one seems to be just as good. I am eager to see how similar or different it will be from other books, movies about prima ballerinas vying to play The White Swan and The Black Swan in the classic, Swan Lake. 


World Book Day 2021 offered free copies of their chosen Kindle ebooks in April. I've read and like one short picture book, Some Day, for adults and kids, and have enjoyed reading some of the short stories in Amora. 

There are nine books in all, from nine different countries, all available now on Kindle Unlimited. 

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Apr 30, 2021

Her Enemy by Leena Lehtolainen: Book Beginning


Her Enemy by Leena Lehtolainen, a Maria Kallio Mystery #2, May 2013, AmazonCrossing

Genre: crime fiction set in Finland

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Detective Maria Kallio becomes a legal counselor but finds herself solving a crime as if she were still with the police force. A relative of her new boyfriend is found murdered and Kallio is motivated to investigate high society in the town of Espoo, Finland.

Book beginning:

The cherry trees were the first thing I saw when I woke up. The spring had been warm and now the trees were blossoming with fluffy, fragrant bunches of flowers. Antti always wanted to sleep with the curtains open so we could see the curled branches against the night sky. It made it hard for me to sleep, but I had gradually gotten used to it.  

Page 56:  

"Everyone is certainly dressed to the nines," I stuttered to her, and then smiled at a transsexual dressed in the guise of a 1960s housewife who danced past. People had strange fantasies - there really were people who wanted that old fashioned life. 

Would you read on?

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Apr 24, 2021

Sunday Salon: Ishiguro and Edmund White Novels

 A new purchase:

A Saint from Texas by Edmund White, August 6, 2020, Bloomsbury

Description: From Edmund White, a bold and sweeping new novel that traces the extraordinary fates of twin sisters, one destined for Parisian nobility and the other for Catholic sainthood. Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. (publisher)

I opened this book at the bookstore and decided to try reading it over a cup of hot tea. Intrigued by the story line and the characters, I then decided to buy it, along with the novel I came in to get, Klara and the Sun by Ishiguro. 

Two nice books for today!

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Apr 22, 2021

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe: Book Beginning


A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe, April 7, 2020, St. Martin's Press

Genre: historical fiction

Setting: 1930s Indochine (Vietnam)

An American woman accompanies her French husband, a Michelin heir, to his vast rubber plantations in Indochina. Vietnam is a French colony during this period, and the novel focuses on the lavish lifestyles of the French in Indochina of the 1930s. 

Book beginning:

Jessie   November 20, 1933

The house of a hundred suns. That's what my tai xe called it. The first time he ferried me to the train station, in a black Delahaye as polished as a gem stone, he slowly circled the building, avoiding the rawboned rickshaw drivers. I craned my neck, watching as the car's exhaust left a trail behind us like a mollusk's track, and tried my best to concentrate on his words, not the quick tempo of my heart. 


Page 56:

"Did you arrive today? You must have. And then you are dragged out to the jungle on your first night in Hanoi."

"I don't mind," I lied.


 Would you read on?

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Apr 19, 2021

It's Monday: What Are you Reading?


The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths, June 29, 2021. Netgalley

Genre: mystery set in Northern England

There’s nothing Ruth Galloway hates more than amateur archaeologists, but when a group of them stumble upon Bronze Age artifacts alongside a dead body, she finds herself thrust into their midst—and into the crosshairs of a string of murders circling ever closer. (publisher)

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Apr 16, 2021

Why I Never Finished My Dissertation by Laura Foley: Poetry Book Tour

 Laura Foley, author of WHY I NEVER FINISHED MY DISSERTATION, on tour April 2021

Why I Never Finished My Dissertation

Publisher : Headmistress Press (August 18, 2019) Paperback : 108 pages

Named one of seven Best Indie Poetry Books of 2019 by Kirkus.

Foley’s writing may appear sparse and reserved but it harbors a subtle power. The poet’s greatest strength is her acute sense of observation. She possesses the ability to thread sensuousness into the fabric of everyday life. . .This is a dazzling volume of poetry that delights in crisp imagery and tender recollections.
—Kirkus Reviews


The poems in this collection covers the story of the poet's life, from her young teens through adulthood, two marriages, and many travels. It also praises nature and its soothing effects. 

One of the themes in the poetry is of the calming stillness of nature versus the foolishness of men. ("What Stillness") Scaling a mountain, she finds Nature brings things together for her, reveals who she is. (Fractalization") The oneness of nature and finding beauty even in harsh death, when all returns to the earth. ("Tulips") The power of nature to reveal the self ("Fork")

"I note the flash 

of a yellow-feathered finch,

the glint of sun,

a dove's underbelly,

soft with reflected light,

as it glides, bending left -

as a chill wind begins, 

stripping me of pretense." (Fork")

Family life is very prominent in the poems, from the conception and birth of her daughter, her daughter growing up and living far away from her, and later missing her presence. 

The poet's husband and her later second marriage to Clara features in the poems prominently. Her first marriage to a professor almost forty years her senior, reveals  "emotional manipulation, power wheel of privilege."  

"I don't wish to accuse him now,

so long gone, but I see anew,

in my move away from him,

the smile I couldn't erase, 

even at his death, 

said everything I'm learning now. ("The Smile")

"Visiting My Sister in the Mental Ward" is revealing. She also meditates on deaths in the family, events that make her ponder about daily life. 

She relates as a Grandmother and a grandmother's presence at the birth of children and their place in the family.

I didn't read the news.

I raked a rainbow

of pungent autumn leaves,

played abroad with happy dogs,

held my granddaughter in my arms,

and sat beneath an amiable maple,

attentive to current events.  ("One Day")   

Vignettes of family life, a new marriage, being a grandmother, all are revealed in the this brief poetic film of the writer's life. 

I enjoyed reading "Why I Never Finished My Dissertation" tremendously, the poet's relation to nature, her reflections on her life and marriages, her parents, her daughter and grandchild. At the end of the book of poems the poet sings the praises of life in "Gratitude List," where daily things are appreciated, like sleeping late, the midnight storm, the morning swim, green tea with honey, her food, the reeds, and "the sand between our toes."                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

About Laura Foley

Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including Joy Street, Syringa and Night Ringing. Her poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. For more information on Laura’s work, please visit her website

Laura Foley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, April 5th: Welcome to Nurse Bookie

Wednesday, April 7th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, April 8th: @megsbookclub

Friday, April 9th: Openly Bookish

Monday, April 12th: Eliot’s Eats

Tuesday, April 13th: Savvy Verse and Wit

Wednesday, April 14th: 5 Minutes for Books

Thursday, April 15th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, April 16th: Book Dilettante

Monday, April 19th: Seaside Book Nook – excerpt

Tuesday, April 20th: Lit and Life

Wednesday, April 21st: @babygotbooks4life

Thursday, April 22nd: @emzi.reads

Friday, April 23rd: @pages.for.sanity

Purchase Links

Headmistress Press | Amazon

Mar 28, 2021

Sunday Salon: New Reads

 Recently finished:

Central Park by Guillaume Musso, March 16, 2021 by Bay Back Books.

Genre: thriller, mystery

Source: Netgalley

The book is not what it seems. A Parisian detective wakes us handcuffed to a musician from Dublin, in Central Park, NY. How they got there, seemingly overnight, and why, are questions they set about finding the answer to. There is no question of going to the local police as the Parisian finds herself covered in blood though she herself is uninjured. Also, she is carrying an unknown gun. They decide to find answers on their own.

There follows a set of adventures of discovery and mystery, with a complete twist at the end that is totally unexpected. 

I gave this tantalizing thriller four stars, for the plot alone.


New books from Netgalley, to be read:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, September 29, 2020, Viking.

Genre: fantasy

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality.

Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg, May 4, 2021, Minotaur

Genre: police procedural set in Northern China

Only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, seems  interested in justice for a murder victim.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Mar 26, 2021

To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan: Book Beginning and Review


To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan, September 22, 2020, William Morrow
Genre: mystery, psychological thriller
Setting: Bristol, England

I liked the unusual plot, the persuasive characterization, and the realistic conclusion to the mystery. Lucy Harper is a successful mystery writer whose husband Dan, a failed writer, takes the time to manage her accounts, her home, and her success. But Lucy is haunted by the disappearance years ago of her three-year-old brother, when she was only nine. She blames herself even now, and confides the story only to Dan. 

She is also haunted by the "real" and continued presence of Eliza, the police detective heroine of her mystery books, a character that was her childhood imaginary friend who she makes into the very popular heroine of her novels. 

Dan becomes a mystery himself when he makes decisions for them without consulting Lucy. A new house near the area where she grew up, an area which Dan knows carries upsetting memories for Lucy. In unraveling Dan's actions, his motives, and his own disappearance, Lucy finds out more about what is going that impacts her life. 

I thought this deserved a five star rating, as I literally "couldn't put it down." 

Book beginning:

I typed "The End," clicked the save button, and clicked it again just to make sure. I felt a huge relief that I had finished my novel, and on top of that a heady mixture of  elation and exhaustion. But there were also terrible nerves, much worse than usual, because typing those words meant the consequences of a secret decision that I'd made months ago would have to be faced now. 

 Page 56:  

They've rejected the book, I told Dan, and the concerned expression fell from his face and shattered on the floor like a piece of dropped porcelain. 

Would you read on?

The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Mar 15, 2021

It's Monday: Magpie Murders and The Eighth Girl

 Currently reading: 

The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung, March 17, 2020, William Morrow

Genre: psychological thriller

Setting: England

Imagine a girl with eight separate personalities, each vying with each other for dominance and each appearing at will in the mind of their host, the original personality.

Alexa Wu is a damaged young woman who nevertheless aims for a normal life as a photojournalist, while she manages the eight personalities, any of which can appear at any time and take over, even for short periods of time. Her mental disorder is the fascinating  "Dissociative identity disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder."

I've just begun the book and am eager to see how, or if Alexa makes it, with the help of her new psychotherapist, Daniel, himself a recovering alcoholic. 

And who or which personality is the Eighth Girl, I wonder. And how does she fit into the plot?  I haven't gotten to that part of the book as yet.

Author Maxine Mei-Fung Chung is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, and training psychotherapist. Originally trained in the arts, she previously worked as a creative director for ten years at Condé Nast, The Sunday Times, and The Times (London). This is her first novel. 

For book club:

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, June 6, 2017, Harper

Genre: mystery set in England

I read the first part of the book a year ago today, and am rereading the entire book for book club meeting in April. Here is what I said about the mystery on goodreads:

Three mystery story plots in one book. A story by a fictional author and then another story about that author himself. Both stories woven together, though it makes for a long book. Very clever plotting and characterizations.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

It's Monday: Books Set in Cleveland and Tuscany, Italy

  New books from publishers/publicists 2207 South Green Road  by Janice C. Spector,  Two Bairns Press (June 22, 2021) Source: Saichek Public...