By J. Ryan Stradal
If you love great food and humorous, quirky writing then you will fall in love with KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST, J. Ryan Stradal’s award winning novel, now in paperback, that dishes up a banquet of characters who explore life, love and the culinary arts in the great state of Minnesota.
Lars Thorvald loves food and fatherhood. He loves his wife Cynthia, a fellow employee at, Hutmacher’s, a trendy lakeside restaurant in the Twin Cities, almost as much. But soon after the birth of their daughter Eva, Cynthia runs off with a well-known sommelier in search of a life that doesn’t include motherhood or Lars. Ever the dedicated father and foodie, Lars remains undeterred and he instills his passion for food in his baby daughter whom, against her pediatrician’s orders, he feeds the finest heirloom tomatoes and roast pork shoulder from local purveyors.
As Eva grows so too do her talents in the kitchen. And by the time she reaches her twenties, she has become a sought after chef that throws pop-up dinner parties where clients pay $5,000 to partake of her legendary cooking for one night. Throughout her rise to fame and fortune, Eva keeps her head and heart intact as those around her become embroiled in the drama that daily life provides. And as their stories are interwoven with hers, a menu of life’s lessons, along with a host of fabulous recipes, are served up with a side of irony and a dash of irrepressible longing.
J. Ryan Stradal has whipped-up a winner here by combining a colorful use of language, wit and wisdom that goes above and beyond to deliver a temptingly delicious story. Larger-than-life characters strike at the heart of the human experience making this a book un-put-downable. Like a bottomless bowl of the most wonderful soup you ever tasted, Stardal’s debut novel is extraordinary, wonderful and a compulsively enjoyable read that you hope will never end.
SEAGAN EATING The Lure of a Healthy, Sustainable Seafood + Vegan Diet
By Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey
$15.00 Tarcher Penguin
Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey, authors of Vegan Cheat Sheet, had been strict vegans until recently, when they began “cheating with seafood”, something that could make them seem like traitors to their creed. But in their defense, they had come to realize that omega-3 fatty acids were the missing link in their all-vegan regimes. In their new cookbook SEAGAN EATING, the duo outlines their refreshing approach to a sustainable, plant-based diet and tells us why they decided it was high time that things got a little fishy.
First things first, we are given a SEAGAN STAPLES SHOPPING LIST in order to get the pantry stocked with all the ingredients we’ll need to get started. Next, a SEAFOOD BUYER’S GUIDE gives us the skinny on how to get the freshest fish we can. Then we’re off and running with TWENTY-ONE DAYS OF SWOON-WORTHY MENUS which gives us three weeks of swimmingly delicious dishes that will set us on the path to newfound protein which, when combined with tried and true vegan recipes, are sure to please.
DECADANT SEAGAN AND VEGAN RECIPES offer up meals like Crab Mac and Cheese, Black Cod Curry, Brazilian Fish Stew and Salmon with Dill in Foil which sound so good I want to devour the pages they’re printed on. Add to that, recipes for vegan dishes like 10-Minute Flatbread Pizza, Sweet Potato Pie and Creamy Cauliflower Mash and you’ve got the makings of a vegan feast. Of course, no meal is complete without a decadent dessert and you’ll have lots of choices here that range from Power Blondies to Peanut Butter Cookies and Coconut Whipped Cream/Icing which make you want to jump for joy.
Delivered with wit and wisdom, this is a cookbook you can really sink your teeth into. And when you dive into the extra information provided here about GMOs and Fish in a Flash-Five Easy Preparations and Recipe Hacks, you’ll realize that you truly can have your fish and eat it too.
MOVIE STAR BY LIZZIE PEPPER A Novel
By Hilary Liftin
From New York Times bestselling author Hilary Liftin comes her debut novel, MOVIE STAR BY LIZZIE PEPPER, now out in paperback, a faux-memoir about a rising starlet who reaches the pinnacles of fame and fortune in the Hollywood firmament.
Lizzie Pepper is a mid-level, girl-next-door star of television and the silver screen who is trying to outrun her good girl image. When she begins a love affair with Rob Mars, one of the biggest move stars on the planet, her life takes a drastic right turn which looks like the answer to her prayers. Rob seems like he’s just as perfect in real life as he is on-screen and after sweeping her off her feet, he soon proposes. As the couple becomes an endless source of red meat for the tabloids and paparazzi that dog them non-stop, Lizzie tries to maintain some semblance of normalcy in her life and career to no avail.
But before she can say “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille” she is transported to a world of private island vacations, multiple homes, publicists, stylists and the upper echelons of wealth and fame. Soon, Lizzie finds that she’s pregnant with twins and puts her own career on hold to devote herself to her new husband and the joys of motherhood. But Rob is not what he seemed to be at first; he’s full of secrets and surprises, many of which revolve around his devotion to a cult-like organization, One Cell, from which he claims to derive his acting chops and the ability to control the larger-than-life universe in which he orbits. And as she’s drawn ever deeper into One Cell herself, Lizzie tries to ignore the warning signs that her life is no longer her own. As her family and friends, who slowly but surely are kept at bay, try to warn her about the secret society that has essentially taken her captive, Lizzie strives to extricate herself from the clutches of the cult and the husband she thought she knew. But as things get crazier and crazier, she finds herself in a conundrum of the highest order which has disaster written all over it.
Ms. Liftin is no stranger to the Hollywood scene she writes about, as she’s worked on 15 memoirs with such notables as Tori Spelling, Miley Cyrus and Mackenzie Phillips. This novel is a dishy delight that will keep you turning the pages, as fiction follows fact in a mind-bending chase through the world of celebrity. A wonderful guilty pleasure, this well-written tale of excess and exclusivity is a poolside read if ever there was one.
I AM HERE NOW A Creative Mindfulness Guide and Journal
By The Mindfulness Project
$16.00 Tarcher Penguin
In this crazy work-a-day world, it’s easy to become distracted. Even if we meditate every day, our minds can drift when we get stressed and we can get lost in unpleasant thoughts that take us far from a centered, well-balanced life. Luckily, there are simple tools which we can access anywhere, any time that can help us reign in the inner terror all of us subject ourselves to and these are outlined in the wonderful new book from The Mindfulness Project, I AM HERE NOW.
Part journal, part field guide, this handy little book offers us exercises that can easily bring us back from the edge of insanity and into the land of reason and calm. The Mindfulness Quiz gets us going and once completed, we understand our individual needs and the ways in which we can reach mindfulness in our daily lives. Learn how mediation builds the “mindfulness muscle” with tips on finding the perfect spot in your home in which to do your daily practice and places outside your home where you can also practice mindfully, like your favorite park, on a hilltop or even while riding the subway or bus.
Next, a variety of Breathing Exercises help you to find your center quickly. And other good-for-you tips like Digital help you understand why letting go of your cell phone for a few minutes and Standing Still can make all the difference in your day. Create a Wheel of What-ifs so you can tell the difference between worry and wondering. Really Hungry is an exercise that helps you discern the difference between emotional and physical hunger and Sleep Aid gives you the tools to fall asleep when your mind is caught on the hamster wheel of circular thought.
All in all, this handy-dandy, well-written guide will put you in control of the moment which is, after all, the place we truly reside. And once you have that first moment in your grasp, you’re sure be able to let go of the crazy and embrace a little sanity in your everyday life.