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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sous Chef by Michael Gibney

Sous Chef
Sous Chef by Michael Gibney
My rating:         Nonfiction
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

How much do you know about what goes on in a restaurant kitchen?

I've worked in professional catering, but I've always managed to avoid this kind of high-pressure restaurant environment... and for good reason. This slim volume gives a blow-by-blow account of a typical day at a small-yet-aspirational restaurant in a big city. There are flaring tempers, culinary disasters, and even a visit from the critics to keep things interesting.

This is one of very few books I've read that are written in second person - but it works to put you in the shoes of the sous chef for a day on the line. A very quick read but one that definitely gives you a feel for the life of an exhausted, ambitious sous chef.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Murder Simply Brewed by Vanetta Chapman

Murder Simply Brewed
Murder Simply Brewed by Vanetta Chapman
My rating:         Mystery
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

I've read some of Vanetta Chapman's Amish romance novels before, and always enjoyed them, so I was intrigued to see how the gentle nature of the Amish setting could be incorporated into a crime novel.

To begin with, I should say that this story isn't set exclusively in the Amish community. Rather, the primary setting is an "Amish Village" shopping centre, which employs a number of the local Amish people, while being owned and run by the Englisch.

Hannah is a young Amish woman who works in a quilt shop. When she finds the owner of the neighbouring coffee shop dead, one morning, her life changes completely: she's asked to step up and manage the coffee shop, and though the police put Ethan's death down to a heart attack, Hannah can't stop wondering if there's more to the story. The manager of the Village, Amber, has similar concerns. Told from multiple perspectives, the story follows their attempts to uncover the truth.

I really enjoyed this story. As always, Chapman provides a charming insight into the Amish lifestyle, in this case demonstrating the reactions of a community under an unusual degree of tension. I also appreciated the threads of romance which run through this novel, on both the Amish and English sides. I wasn't quite sure that all of the clues came together (or rather, some red herrings were abandoned altogether rather than being explained away), but altogether it was a very sweet and satisfying read.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Perfect Match by Katie Fforde

Perfect Match
Perfect Match by Katie Fforde
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

A few years ago Bella moved to a new town, mostly to get away from the married man she was madly in love with. She's become a successful estate agent, and she thinks she's happy with boyfriend (and boss) Nevil... until Nevil starts making assumptions about their relationship, just as Dominic stumbles back into her life.

This book is a perfect illustration of why you wouldn't ever want to date your boss, as Bella has to balance her career ambitions against her personal happiness, fearing that she'll be fired if she breaks off her miserable relationship. Her suspicions that Nevil is involved in some dodgy dealings really don't help matters, and before long she's in over her head. Meanwhile, there are several charming scenes as she gets to know Dominic all over again, trying all the while to fix every client up with a perfect property.

Bella and Dominic are a perfect couple; I loved them both and was rooting for them to get together from the moment Dominic arrived on the scene. (Nevil, on the other hand, just annoyed me, but I suspect this was the author's intent!) I also hugely enjoyed the parallel storyline with Bella's aunt Alice, who is also rediscovering the joys of romance at a somewhat older age.

Overall, a charming book that I'm sure to reread.