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Review: “Fool Me Once” by Harlan Coben

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By Tena Jerger

I’ve read a ton of Harlan Coben books and by “a ton,” I mean close to 25. Let me also say, I love a good “whodunit.” This year’s release, “Fool Me Once” is his latest impossible-to-put-down thriller. Harlan Coben knows how to spin a story, keep it moving along, and hold your interest. As always, you won’t want to put this book down.

From the Hardcover edition, “You think you know the truth. The truth you know is nothing. In the course of eight consecutive #1 ‘New York Times’ bestsellers, millions of readers have discovered Harlan Coben’s page-turning thrillers, filled with his trademark edge-of-your-seat suspense and gut-wrenching emotion.”

Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe – who was brutally murdered two weeks earlier.

Many, many other shocks follow throughout the book but the provocative question at the heart of the mystery is: Can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband – and herself.

The plot is thickened even more because Maya is already dealing with the nightmares from her combat experiences and the murder of her sister, Claire, four months earlier while Maya was stationed in Kuwait.

Implausible links arise between Joe’s death and her sister Claire’s, and Maya must face the possibility of even more revelations.

It has been said that “Coben is like a skilled magician saving the best, most stunning trick for the very end.” I totally agree; Coben’s books are definitely a guaranteed stay-up-all-night read. However, having said that, this latest book had so many characters in it that I got confused as to who did what when. I also thought some of the character development was thin at best, especially when developing Joe’s family characters of Maya’s brother in law and his children. I will not spoil the ending, but as long as you pay attention to all the character names in your head, you will not be disappointed.

As always, Coben’s stories have loads of twists and turns in each chapter building enough suspense to continue reading. The ending is great and once again, Harlan Coben spun a tale that sent me off in the wrong direction and gave me a spinning “wait, what?” ending.

Said of Coben, “Coben is simply one of the all-time greats – pick up any one of his thrillers and you’ll find a riveting, twisty, surprising story with a big, beating heart at its core.” — Gillian Flynn, bestselling author of “Gone Girl”

Coben’s latest is definitely not a disappointment.

Rating: 4 of 5, Penguin Publishing Group

To comment on this review please e-mail HERE.

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Books

A Good Pounding!

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By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with jenreviews.com.  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: https://eguidemagazine.com/janies-cakes-finally-oprah-realizes-something-weve-all-known-for-years/ In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past: https://janiescakes.com/  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here: https://www.jenreviews.com/cranberry-pound-cake-recipe/.  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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Food

Smith’s Bar-B-Que Opens in Jacksonville

ben wheeler

Smith’s Bar-B-Que had a great Ribbon Cutting on Friday, April 5. Smith’s Bar-B-Que is owned and operated by Gary Smith and has been in business for 11 years. They started in the Exxon parking lot but has now found a home at the Travis Towers parking lot at 558 S. Ragsdale. They serve ribs, brisket, sausage, pulled pork and their famous stuffed baked potato. You can also add beans, potato salad and peach cobbler. They also offer catering with no event being too big or too small. Gary Smith is a culinary school graduate, food service manager and the 1st to obtain his vendors permit from the City of Jacksonville. Hours are Friday and Saturday 11 am until…..

They are at 558 S. Ragsdale in Jacksonville, Texas and can be reached at 903.944.0036.

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Books

Artists in the Kitchen

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By Gini Rainey

I have many passions in my life, mostly leaning toward my right brain, but after working for over 25 years as a business manager/owner, my left brain seems to have shoved a lot of those passions to the side, but trust me – they’re still there!  So, when I come across a cookbook that has wonderful recipes that are paired up with amazing works of art from the National Gallery of Art, you can be sure this is one book I had to have. 

With notable chefs such as Julia Child, Jeremiah Tower and Alice Waters creating dishes and menus to compliment the art of Matisse, Pissaro, and Gauguin, to name a few, you can only imagine what a lovely and creative book this must be. 

While using paintings of the obvious subjects, such as Vollon’s Mound of Butter and Jean Simeon Chardin’s Still Life with Game for inspiration, I think the recipes that truly intrigue me are from the chefs who viewed such paintings as Raoul Dufy’s The Basket and Mary Cassatt’s Afternoon Tea Party, let their imaginations run wild and came up with what might have been in the basket or what Cassatt might served at her Tea Party. 

Pablo Picasso’s Le Gourmet was the inspiration for Nancy Silverton’s Butterscotch Sauce that would make a delicious topping for a bread pudding or a dish of Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla ice cream. To make the sauce, combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup, and 2 ½ tablespoons Scotch whisky in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the mixture just begins to smoke and turns an amber color.  Meanwhile, place 1 ¼ cup heavy (whipping) cream in another large saucepan, split a vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape its seeds into the and then add the pod.  Add 1 cup of butter and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

When the sugar mixture reaches the proper color, immediately stop its cooking by whisking in the cream mixture in small amounts, waiting a few seconds between additions to prevent it from boiling over.  Once all the cream mixture is incorporated, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.  Whisk in ½ cup of butter until combined.  The sauce will keep for several weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  To reheat, place the sauce in a bowl over simmering water.  If desired, add some toasted pecans or add a dash of sea salt to taste, and wow, you have got something really yummy going on there. 

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