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Oooo, La La!

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By Gini Rainey

Okay, I’ll admit it!  I’m a slacker.  Actually, I took a couple weeks away from writing my blog, but the time was well spent.  My husband and I had a wonderful time in Paris.  Such a good time that I believe we experienced cultural overload.  Paris, like so much of Europe, is filled with so many wonderful treasures that to try and see all of it is nearly impossible.  We not only went to The Louvre, The D’Orsay, and the Musee Marmottan Monet, among others, but also went to Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, and Saint Sulpice (the largest church in Paris.  We took a half day side trip to Giverney  and walked through the gardens and home that inspired the artist, Claude Monet.  I even ran my right hand down the banister in hopes that a small amount of inspiration from the father of French Impressionism might cling to my painting hand.

Not being much of a walker, my pedometer didn’t quite know what to make of the nearly 5 miles a day that we covered while in Paris.  The only thing that saved me was the periodic stops  adult beverages we made at the sidewalk cafés that are a standard fixture in Paris.  One of the best was the Brasserie Les Deux Palais that was across the street from The Sainte-Chapelle (that has the most amazingly beautiful 40 foot high stained glass windows) and the Conciergerie (once the palace of medieval kings prior to being used as a prison).

We ordered the mixed cheese board and were pleasantly surprised with three kinds of cheese and three kinds of meat, along with a basket of crusty baguettes, butter, and mustard.  Our intent was a light snack, but after eating all of this along with a couple of glasses of red wine, we found that there was not need – nor room – for anything else .

My favorite French chef, Jaques Pepin, has a recipe for rolls and baguettes in his cookbook “Today’s Gourmet” that was published in 1991 by KQED, Inc., and while you might not actually be in one of Paris’ sidewalk cafés, you can certainly recreate the experience at home on your own patio and take pride in the homemade baguettes you made with your own two hands.

Pepin’s recipe has you placing 2 envelopes yeast, 2 cups tepid water, and ½ teaspoon sugar in the bowl of a food processor and it proof (sit) for 5 minutes.  Then, add 4 ½ cups bread flour, 1 cup rolled wheat, and 1 ½ teaspoon salt to the processor bowl and process for 1 to 2 minutes until the ingredients form a ball.  Grease a bowl with 1 teaspoon peanut oil and place the dough in the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours until double or triple in bulk.  Push down gently to let the air out and place the dough on a large cookie sheet and spread it out with your hands to a rectangle about 14 x 9 inches.  Cut the rectangle into four strips and move two strips to one side of the sheet and spinkle them on both sides with ½ tablespoon cornmeal.  They should extend the length of the sheet and these will make 2 baguettes.

Cut the remaining 2 strips into three rectangles and arrange next to the uncut strips and sprinkle on both sides with ½ tablespoon cornmeal.  These will make your rolls.  Oil the rolls and loaves lightly on top with 1 tablespoon peanut oil and cover gently with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour until double in bulk and sprinkle with flour.  Make lengthwise slashes or criss-cross slashes on the rolls and bread and place in a 450° oven and throw 2 tablespoons of water onto the oven floor, closing the oven door quickly to help create bread with a crustier exterior.  Repeat 5 minutes later.  Bake for a total of 22 to 25 minutes and remove from the oven when they are brown and sound hollow when tapped with a spoon or knife.  Cool on a rack and serve with your favorite cheeses and meats.  We had camembert, blue cheese and brie, along with hard salami, prosciutto, and ham, along with a nice red wine.  Who could ask for anything more, except for a wonderful French waiter standing by ready to refill your glass!

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Books

Spend the Summer Reading

“Bring Me Back”
by B. A. Paris
Just when you think an author can’t out do their last book, they jump right out there and do it!  Filled with even more deception and intrigue than her first two books, Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown, Paris’ latest book will keep you spell bound until you turn the last page.  Telling the story about the mysterious disappearance of Layla from the perspectives of Finn, his girlfriend, and his fiancé while moving between the past and the present, it’s no wonder that Paris has carved out her niche in the psychological thriller genre.

As Finn digs deeper to determine who might be behind the disappearance and strange emails, his list of suspects grows to encompass even his closest friends.  Because Ms. Paris is a master at building believable characters, the reader finds himself drawn into the intrigue and feeling a certain empathy for everyone involved.

In Bring Me Back, Paris explores how traumatic events can impact, not only the individuals immediately involved, but also everyone they come in contact with.  Not afraid to explore new avenues of intrigue and mystery, she has created yet another spell-binding page turner that will keep you guess till the very last page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – St. Martins Press

“The Sisters”
by Janet Kay
If you’re looking for a book to read this summer that is filled with history, ghosts, romance, and family discord, this is the one for you.  Set in current day Galveston, this story tells the story of Veronica and Isabella, two sisters who had once be in love with the same man.

Weaving a spell around not only present-day Galveston, Kay’s story helps to explain the reason so many of the historical sites in this Island community are haunted.  From the pirate Jean Lafitte to the estimated six to twelve thousand people who lost there lives during the hurricane of 1900. Described as the deadliest natural ever in the United States, this storm took the life the of sisters’ grandmother, who continues in her afterlife as Isabella’s spirit guide.

If you are familiar with Galveston, and even if not, this book is an intriguing read that pulls you into its web of family deceit and mystery as the sisters strive to learn where they have come from and reconnect on a congenial level of understanding and acceptance.  It will definitely keep you turning the pages to find out where it all ends.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – World Castle Publishing

“Neema’s Reason to Smile”
By Patricia Newman
This delightful book, colorfully illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, tells the story of Neema and her mother who share big dreams for their life in Kenya.  Neema wants to go to school, while her Mama, who sews clothes by hand, dreams of a sewing machine and perhaps her own business. By not only entertaining, but also educating, Newman’s story sends the message to all that where there is a will, there is a way.

Motivated by actual students at the Jambo Jipya School in the town of Mtwapa, Kenya, where many kids are unable to go to school, Ms. Newman’s story provides inspiration to children of any age to never give up hope for a better life through education.

A lovely feature of this book are the glossary, discussion questions, and activities at the end of the book.  Although geared for younger children, the message won’t be lost on older readers.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – Lightswitch Learning

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Books

Book Worm Central: July Events & Book Signings

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July 31st (10am) – Club Read – Join the Club Read group in discussing this month’s read, “Beach Music” by David Graham. The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Club Reads’ events are free. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to tylerlibrary.com.

August 4th (3-7pm) – Book Bash will be held at Harvey Hall Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler. They are doubling the authors for 2018’s Book Bash – 80 authors are attending! There will be a free children’s reading at 12:30-2:30pm prior to the book signings beginning at 3pm. There will be multiple children’s authors present to read their stories and there may even be characters present to interact with the kids. Tickets will be on sale until the day of the event. Come on out and find a new favorite author as well as meet the authors behind the stories. For more info go to facebook.com/events/1715126465459268. Tickets are $12-$17. If you have a child 13 and under, they will be able to get in for $5 the day of the event. VIP tickets will get you in 30 minutes earlier and a tote bag full of goodies. The children’s reading is free to attend.

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Books

Chill Out With A Cool Book

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By Gini Rainey

Send Down the Rain – By Charles Martin 

In his thirteenth novel, this New York Times Award-winning author successfully weaves the lives of several different people into a wonderful tale of love and sacrifice that will leave you thinking.  Taking Joseph, a Viet Nam veteran with many scars to heal and Allie, who has recently lost her families business in Florida, Martin created a novel that is full of lots of raw emotion that will keep you turning pages until you come to the surprising conclusion. 

Joseph, a victim of PTSD, has chosen to live in his cabin in the Carolina mountains with his dog, Roscoe.  That is, until Catalina and her two children stumble into his life.  Making sure to get them away from her abusive, drug running captor, he loaded them up and drove them to Florida to meet up with her brother and close to where he and his brother had lived before they grew up and grew apart. 

Charles Martin has skillfully created such believable characters that you will find yourself totally immersed in the plot and all that takes place.  Without leaving your chair you will find yourself involved in the panic of flight, the angst of unrequited love, the unselfish sacrifice of a brother and the joy of rediscovering a lost love. 

This is a definite “must-read” for this summer and is guaranteed to keep you wondering until you turn 

Five of Five – Copyright 2018 – Thomas Nelson 

 

Lang’s Labyrinth: Forest of the Fae Book Three – By K. Kibbee 

This book came to me as an advanced reading copy from the publisher and because I love to read, I was excited when it arrived in the mail.  Then I realized it was “one of those books.”  You know, the kind I would never pick up on my own – one about goth, faeries, fantasy, changelings, etc.  I was also concerned that, because it was the third book in a series, I might not have a clue about what was going on. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Yes, this is a book about all of the above, however, it is also, on a much deeper level, about trying to figure out a mystery that was based on a secret code.  The main character, Anne along with her best friend Grace, who has been changed into a raven, is on a quest to solve the code so she can change Grace back to human form and rid the forest of all the faeries.  Along the way she meets some very interesting characters, and believe it or not, I found myself trying my best to solve the code too.   

I won’t even begin to let on how this book turns out for that would ruin all of the mystery and intrigue that Kibbee has created, but let me say it will take you on quite the adventure and make your summer reading most enjoyable.  Remember this too, don’t be afraid to try something new – you might discover you really like it – I know I did. 

Five of Five – Copyright 2017 – Incorgnito 

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