If you’re picking up this book in the hopes that it provides you with recipes for cooking in a teacup, you’ve picked up the wrong book. However, if you’re looking for a charming, self-reflective exploration of not only a life in food but an era, as well as a commentary on the societal experiences to be had within that era, then Cooking In A Teacup Before and After: An Autobiographical True Tale is here for you.
Nowadays, it seems hard to believe that a 21-year-old with no cooking experience (or even much life experience) would be left to her own devices in a kitchen in the Australian outback. But in 1952, that’s just what happened to Lesley J Mooney. Thankfully (for both Mooney and us, the reader of her autobiographical tale), she accepted the opportunity, acknowledging it, even subconsciously, for what it was: really interesting. So, here we are, in 2020, unpacking a book which lays out the experiences which unfolded before and after.
Mooney is really funny, and writes with a wry tone that makes each phase of her life joyful to hear about. While using the phrase “Ignorance is bliss” isn’t usually employed when it comes to the skill of cooking, and one book entitled “Country Woman’s Cookery Book” isn’t considered the overarching manual when it comes to culinary mastery, they certainly facilitated an hilarious starting point for Mooney’s attitude when taking on the challenge set out by her father to take the cooking job.
The structure of Mooney’s cooking experiences make a strong backbone to what, at the fleshy center, is a heart-warming autobiography of her life and becoming a woman in a conservative time in history. Having this structure in place gives the book good pace, and contextualizes the elements of experience and storytelling well.
Though perhaps a mild spoiler – it all goes well enough that Mooney thinks it appropriate to write about it all these years on. Even at the expense of a few bandaged up thumbs along the way…
Pages: 120 | ISBN: 1925959317
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Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals, by Timi O’Malley, is a fascinating journey through the author’s life. O’Malley brings her readers to her table where she fulfills their need to be nourished in more ways than one, and it is at that table where the author invites her readers into more diverse chapters of her life.
Connecting her love of culinary traditions with her belief that we are all connected through our purest and most basic needs, O’Malley makes it very easy to understand just how easy it is to achieve true happiness. Consuming Love sends a message of love and togetherness, but more importantly, it teaches us how we can find genuine satisfaction and fulfillment by just noticing the world around us, and by being consciously present within it. O’Malley masterfully intertwines her love of food with her experience to paint a wonderfully meaningful picture for her readers.
The people you will meet along O’Malley’s journey are incredible, but it is in O’Malley’s reaction to the personalities around her that seem even more so. She has deep respect for the people that have had an impact on her life, whether those people created positive experiences or negative. In fact, her reaction to everyone that she has shared meals with have one thing in common, and that commonality is a large part of what makes Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals so special. Everyone, it would seem, is a teacher, and over a plate of delicious cuisine is one of the best ways to be truly present with the people who pass through our lives.
For anyone who wonders about the nature of happiness and why some people are better at maintaining it than others, this book is a must read. Those interested in hearing of adventures across the country and into the far reaches of the globe would also be interested in this book. And for anyone who would like to gain a better understanding of the value of presence in our lives, Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals might just be the book you’ve been looking for. Timi O’Malley certainly deserves the full five stars for her offering to the table of life.
Pages: 150 | ASIN: B07L3Q91CG
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Gravity Games follows Nathan and his sidekick as they venture through an international conspiracy full of super-humans and super-villains. What was your inspiration for a novel that turns a foodie into a detective?
About Food: I love food and became intrigued with foodie mysteries but the ones I’ve read seem to have a disconnect between the mystery and the food. Food just happens to be part of the journey. I wanted to write a novel that made food a driver of the plot and the MCs. Top Chefs always talk about tasting as you go. The sense of smell can sample with every breath so it makes sense that someone who could collect that information would have far greater control over the cooking process. The best cooks always buy their own fresh food products and allow their senses to guide their selection. No tool is better than the sense of smell.
About the Sense of Smell as a superpower: If the MC has a super sense of smell, why not put it to other uses. In Nate’s case, he didn’t have a choice because he could literally smell murder. As a youngster I bought every Batman comic and read every Sherlock Holmes story. Both detectives (that’s what Batman was known for in the beginning) sniffed every piece of evidence. Recently scientists have discovered that the sense of smell may be the most powerful if all if our senses. We can detect scents important to us as low as a couple parts per billion. Try to pick out two red grains of sand in a billion grains of multi-colored sand.
Gravity Games has a fascinating set of characters that could easily have their own novel. What was your favorite character to write for?
I have two characters that I liked best for different reasons. Bonnie and Big Ed.
Bonnie Nakagowa plays Watson to Nate’s Sherlock but rather than being merely the recorder of events Bonnie serves four key functions:
1. Guide post / moral centre: If you become a world celebrity, you can lose perspective. Bonnie grounds Nate. Bonnie humanizes Nate and the story. She does this as both his conscience and protector. I wanted a strong, non-powered female to protect a superpowered male in a credible way.
2. The best comedy in my mind comes from duos e.g. Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis, etc. Nate is the straight man for Bonnie’s cringe humour / attitude. Humour is important to me because it both balances and enhances the darkness.
3. Bonnie is key to advancing the plot. She has insight into Nate and can provide needed background and carry out secret missions. She can also be an unreliable narrator because she may not understand everything that’s happening in Nate’s head.
4. Bonnie, of course, is the love interest.
Big Ed is just plain nasty. I hoped everyone would hate him. My youngest daughter proofread an early draft of Gravity Games and called me one night at 11 p.m.
“Why are you calling me so late?” I asked.
“I hate Big Ed. I’m not going to sleep so I thought you shouldn’t sleep,” she said.
Was it your intention to write a fun and quirky novel that moves along quickly, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I’m not sure that’s what I intended. It’s just the way I write. My first novel, Late Bite, features a vampirish character who has millions of social media followers and is host of the top-rated late night talk show, Late Bite. It has lots of quirky characters, laughs and lots of darkness. My projects all seem to fall in the same vein.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’ve completed Lycanthrope Rising, a continuation of the saga of Dragul Mangorian, the MC in Late Bite. It will be on sale Sept. 15.
I’m well into a sequel, prequel, and spin-off of Gravity Games.
The Gravity Games prequel [working title: Where The Nose Goes] is intended to be a permanently free YA novella about secret 14-year-old crime solvers Bonnie and Nate, which I hope to release as an eBook before Christmas 2017.
The Gravity Games sequel [working title: Murder On The Menu] picks up where Gravity Games left off with a non-superpowered Nate facing the world’s top chefs. Nate faces the loss of reputation and his $10 million a year contract. One after another, his competitors are murdered. Fingers point to Nate as the key suspect. Expected release date early summer of 2018.
The Gravity Games spinoff [working title and series: The Revenants, Justice Inc. series] features quiet accountant Rick Summers who has an attack of conscience after he escapes the clutches of Big Ed. He embarks on a mission to right wrongs committed by Big Ed and others and is ably aided by Matches, a transgender teen. The expected launch date is fall 2018.
Gravity Games, a dark and delicious thriller. Nathan Sherlock is the world’s most renowned celebrity chef and wine expert. His fans know him as Nate the Nose, a culinary artist whose incredible sense of smell helps him create dining experiences that jolt the mojo transforming aged couples into hormone raging lovers. But Nathan has a dark secret. Best friend Bonnie has helped him hide the true extent of his olfactory powers. He can literally smell murder. U.S. Homeland Security and CSIS, the Canadian anti-terrorism agency, go into panic mode when a scientist disappears along with all traces of his anti-gravity research. The joint FBI-CSIS task force needs Nathan to sniff down the terrorists before they drop an iceberg the size of Manhattan on New York City.
Posted in Interviews
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Pink Slips is a riveting tale of one woman’s desperate plight to keep her loved ones safe, even in the sights of a mysterious stalker. What served as the inspiration that made you want to write this suspenseful novel?
Fourteen years ago I was home alone with my newborn baby when I received a violent anonymous phone call. Flash forward to this year… I was working on a writing prompt asking to recount “receiving an anonymous phone call or note”. I instantly was transported to that frightful night. The story evolved as I fueled the idea with the “remembered fear” I experienced that night. I imagine that many women have had a similar scary situation, which made me think it would be a relatable story.
I found Betsy to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for her and her emotional turmoil in the story?
Betsy is modeled after me in some ways. I have some of the little habits that she has, including talking to her dog as if Barney understood her. I’m confident my two Tibetan Terriers understand every word I say! I fueled some of my fears and concerns for safety into her persona, however the violence she experiences is completely fictional. Like Betsy, I’ve had my share of pregnancy issues, giving me authentic experiences to draw upon. My marriage is very happy, whereas Betsy’s needs some work! The emotional turmoil within Betsy grew with her characterization. At first she was just a victim of a parking lot mugging, but as the story developed, she gets pummeled in every chapter. Once I read a article about writing, where it said, “…happy stories are boring… add conflict where you can.” I throw a lot at Betsy, but as the story progresses, so does her strength and belief in herself; so I guess the conflict was needed in my manuscript.
What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this book?
The key theme in the book was shining the light on women’s safety in an information-sharing world. Nowadays, you can learn so much about people through social media, everyday forms we fill out, and even in medical offices. I’ve always tried to teach my children the importance of security, but this book highlights how we are all vulnerable. Another theme in the story, focuses on humans special contact with their pets. They are a part of our family and they rely on us. It’s only natural that there’s a mutual love and respect between us. Another theme is being “open” to your own intuition. We all have it (especially pregnant women), yet are often too busy, moving, talking, and “doing” every day, that we don’t always take the time to “listen”. There’s a lot to learn in silence.
Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into Betsy’s life?
One emotion Betsy shares with me is the intense pain and sadness from losing a pregnancy. No one can understand that feeling unless they experience it. A memory that I share with Betsy is time spent in the kitchen with “Grandma”. I grew up loving food, cooking, and learning from both of my Grandmas. I studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, so it felt natural to make Betsy an expert chef. She has much more working experience than I have, however I did publish a healthy living and eating book (Real Moms Love to Eat; Penguin/NAL, 2012), whereas Betsy hasn’t written her book yet, but I don’t put anything past her… I bet she will publish a cookbook soon 🙂
Betsy Ryan is pregnant with her third child, and receiving threatening notes from an anonymous person. During what should be a joyful time in her life, she’s forced to face a decade old memory, and relive one of the most devastating nights of her life.
To uncover the mystery behind the threats, she enlists the help of an unlikely, but oddly reliable source, her dog Barney. As the menacing notes continue to arrive, her husband is still out of town for work, and she struggles to keep her composure while shielding her two young sons from danger. She trusts no one except her parents, best friend Misty, and her extraordinary dog—who has proven to literally understand everything she says. Is this person out to harm her? And how do they have so much personal information about Betsy? She can’t help but think it’s the same person who attacked her at the train station almost a decade ago, and changed the course of her life forever. To save herself and her unborn child—Betsy must face her fears and find her strength, to reveal who is after her and most importantly…why.
Posted in Interviews
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With an intriguingly unique title, Gravity Games, “A Nathan Sherlock Foodie Thriller,” by John Matsui certainly piques readers’ interests right from the start. The crossover of foodie and thriller novel is not one that is commonly found on bookshelves, and Matsui cooks up a plot that is decidedly more interesting than any book reviewer’s lukewarm cooking puns. The novel follows the title character, Nathan Sherlock, and his sidekick, Bonnie Nakagowa, as they venture through an international conspiracy full of modern-day super-humans and, of course, a few supervillains.
Gravity Games starts off at a quick pace with a plotline that immediately pulls readers in. Nathan Sherlock, famously known around the world as “Nate the Nose” for his otherworldly sense of smell that renders him capable of creating literally orgasmic food and wine pairings, also dabbles in crime-solving. Thanks to his heightened sense of smell, Nate can conveniently detect the smell of murder, as well as other useful emotions, like fear, lying, and attraction. The novel seems to relish the fun and lightheartedness of being a foodie thriller novel: the last name Sherlock, the food puns, and the clichéd beautiful FBI agent. But the superficial fun can only sustain readers for so long, and unfortunately most of Matsui’s novel falls somewhat short of expectations.
Matsui’s thriller deserves a well-earned four stars for creating a completely unique plot and fascinating set of characters. The international mystery that dabbles in physics, finance, and genetics is certainly full of enough intrigue to keep readers motivated, and Matsui also weaves in modern issues like the Occupy Movement, sex trafficking, and the energy sector to keep the thriller somewhat grounded in reality. That perhaps, though, is Matsui’s downfall: by creating so many captivating characters and throwing in a myriad of plot twists, it is hard to follow the novel’s true focus. There are several competing story lines, and each is mesmerizing but feels squeezed for time in Matsui’s concise thriller. Matsui also packs his fast-paced novel full of one-of-a-kind characters, from mad scientists to vicious oil tycoons to mysterious ladies of the night. But apart from Nathan and Bonnie, most of the characters lack the development that their interesting backstories deserve, and it feels as if Matsui could have dedicated entire other novels to some of his supporting stars.
Matsui writes in clever and well-written turns of the tongue, keeping a quick stride to accompany Nate and Bonnie on their adventures. Gravity Games weaves an unbelievable, eye-popping series of events into one cohesive tale that culminates in a delicious finale, leaving readers drooling for the second installment of the Nate Sherlock Foodie Thriller Series. Part of the joy in reading about super-humans and fantastic events is simply how unrealistically fun they are, and Matsui embraces that. Though readers may be craving Aunt Lucy’s famous cabbage rolls by the end, readers will be craving a more thorough and in-depth novel by Matsui even more.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B01755YLN4
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