Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, although he was previously a novelist and a practicing attorney. He is an honest and ethical man, and devoted to hiPenn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, although he was previously a novelist and a practicing attorney. He is an honest and ethical man, and devoted to his family. He has taken on the role of mayor in the hopes of saving his hometown from corruption.
Penn’s father Dr. Tom Cage has been the town's well respected doctor for decades. He’s seen it all. And now he is being charged with the murder of his old nurse Viola. Tom and Viola worked together in the ‘60s, during the heat of the civil rights movement. Now she’s been found dead, and there is video footage of her death, leaving Dr. Cage charged with her murder.
Henry Sexton owns the local paper and has spent decades investigating the local branch of the Double Eagles, an off-shoot of the KKK. He's been driven to uncover the truth when no one else seemed to care, attempting to connect the Double Eagles to countless murders from the '60s, and leading back to one of the country's wealthiest men Brody Royal. Henry has often felt alone in his battle for justice, and his attempts to bring closure and validation to the surviving family members of murder victims.
I was very excited for the opportunity to read this book, as the subject matter is right up my alley. However I was unaware that this is #4 in the Penn Cage novels by Greg Iles. It's always a little disappointing to enter a series partway through, with the constant allusions to previous novels. There are characters that are reintroduced and mentions of past events. But this book stands on its own just fine. There was no need for me to have read previous editions in order to follow this one.
Penn is a very likable and believable character, as is his father Tom. Penn is engaged to Caitlin, who is a driven Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Sometimes her fierce competition to be the best and break the next story can bring her at odds with Penn, as she resents when he holds back information that she could use.
I found this story to be absorbing, if at times a little uncomfortable. The subject matter is often unsettling, but necessary. These types of stories are our history, particularly here in the south, and we mustn't forget our history, lest we repeat our mistakes. The KKK and other similar organizations are the most cowardly of all "activists". They perpetrate their actions cloaked in darkness and hoods and anonymity. They have a history of committing heinous crimes and cruelty, driven by a twisted belief that they are somehow superior.
For the most part, I loved this story. The first half felt like an A+ book that had me totally captivated as we unearthed all the mysteries that abound in Natchez and the civil rights era. The second half got a little overdone at times. I wasn't a fan of Penn's friend Kirk Boisseau, an ex-military friend and diver who felt a bit like a caricature. He at times was a little over-the-top, like some crazy surfer dude with ADD, and Kirk's relationship with his own girlfriend felt contrived and pointless.
But overall I have become a huge fan of Greg Iles, and the character of Penn Cage!
My final word: I loved this book so much I have already bought the first one in the series (The Quiet Game) in order to start from the beginning with Penn Cage.
This book shows the yellow underbelly of the cowards that fill the ranks of white supremacist groups, as well as the heroism of those who fight them, and who struggle to uncover the truth. The author has a wonderful quote from Aristotle that was very appropriate for this story:
“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”
This book spotlights both kinds of men, and does so expertly. Natchez will be burning in my heart and mind for a long time coming!...more
You know, I'm not a dude, but I tend toward eating like one. I like fatty, salty comfort food. I want nachos and chili and steak and grilled sandwicheYou know, I'm not a dude, but I tend toward eating like one. I like fatty, salty comfort food. I want nachos and chili and steak and grilled sandwiches. My hips are not happy about this. I need to trick myself into eating healthfully while convincing my stomach and brain that I'm still just as bad as ever!
This book can help with that little problem. The author offers up recipes that will appeal to any "dude", while making those who care about them feel okay about what they are feeding their dude. The full title says it all: "The Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty". That's me! I like to eat dirty!
The book is divided into chapters like Badass Breakfasts and Take-Out Favorites. The author starts out with an introduction on how how her boyfriend got her started on this path, leading to not only this book, but also the website Domesticate-Me.com. She was pleasantly surprised at the enthusiastic response she received from not only her boyfriend, but from plenty of dudes everywhere-- even a couple of NFL players.
The book includes a list of 14 "Dude Diet Commandments", with "rules" like "I shall eat more fish, poultry, and lean pork. Red meat is an indulgence, not a diet staple" and "I shall exercise on a regular basis. Such exercise will break a sweat. Sitting in a steam room or sauna does not count."
She then walks you through the basics of the Dude Diet, and how to be successful at it before leading you into a collection of recipes like Apple Pie Overnight Oats and Cheeseburger Quinoa Bake, and classics like Epic Meatloaf and Dude Diet Philly Cheesesteaks.
Now in full disclosure I admit that I tried the Skirt Steak and Avocado Quesadillas, and I must be honest and say that I was not a fan. However I also must say that I don't think this really reflects much on the recipe, but rather that I discovered that I am not a fan of the flavor or texture of skirt steak (which I'd never had before) nor whole wheat tortillas. With a few tweaks to suit my own taste buds, I think this recipe could be a winner. There are still plenty of recipes in the book that don't contain skirt steak. The Apple Pie Overnight Oats are at the top of the list, as well as Chicken Parmesan, Chopped Chicken Club Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing, and Double Chocolate Pound Cake.
My final word: This is a great idea for helping the dudes in your life, as well as yourself, eat more healthfully. We're talking hearty food cleaned up and made lighter without losing flavor. It's a homerun!...more
This story is narrated by Alice, who is assigned to assist Mimi by Mimi's editor Mr. Vargas. Mimi wrote a huge hit when she was nineteen, and has writThis story is narrated by Alice, who is assigned to assist Mimi by Mimi's editor Mr. Vargas. Mimi wrote a huge hit when she was nineteen, and has written nothing since (think Harper Lee). Now financial woes are driving her to write another novel.
When Alice arrives at Mimi's, she finds that she will actually be more of a babysitter to Mimi's son Frank than Mimi's assistant.
Frank...oh, Frank. How do you describe Frank? Well, he's described in the book as a miniature Charlie Chaplin. With the mind of Albert Einstein, he dresses like a 1930s movie star, and evokes in those close to him equal amounts of adoration and terror. He evoked the same emotions in me. I adored Frank, but I also don't really think I would choose to have a Frank in my life. Mimi isn't kidding when she says, "My life was so much easier before I had Frank." Frank who has to have scissors and matches hidden from him. For example, one time he uses a battery and wire to start a fire when Alice can't find matches. Dear Frank, who has outbursts (sometimes violent, but always attention-getting). Frank is a handful, but he is also very endearing. Mimi is a very accommodating mother, letting Frank be Frank. She seems hard and stern, but she has a soft side with Frank. Her love for him is evident.
Alice is doing her best to keep the house running, so Mimi can focus on writing. And she's doing a pretty fine (albeit thankless) job of it until Xander shows up and throws a bit of a hitch into things.
My final word: I really liked this story. It was sweet and touching and quirky, if sad at times. Alice is a fine and reliable narrator for the story, and she has an intuition on how to handle Frank. Mimi is a tough old bird, and she ironically has a lot of walls for someone who lives in a glass house. Frank is "misunderstood". In a Procrustean world that doesn't look kindly on "different", Frank is like a spotlight in a dark room. He stands out and at times he's somewhat glaring and ostentatious. This is a quick, sweet story full of interesting characters and offbeat moments. I will most definitely be recommending this one to my book club!
This story covers fifty years and several generations of two families bound together by infidelity, and the genuine affection that grew between the siThis story covers fifty years and several generations of two families bound together by infidelity, and the genuine affection that grew between the siblings of two broken families.
Fix is a cop in California, married to the moviestar-beautiful Beverly. They are the parents to two daughters, Caroline and Franny. Franny is just a babe and the center of a christening party when deputy DA Bert Cousins shows up at Fix's door with a bottle of gin. No one knows how Bert's appearance at this party will change the lives of all involved.
Bert and Theresa have three children at the start of their story, with one on the way, eventually finding themselves raising two boys and two girls.
A drunken moment between Bert and Beverly grows into something more, and it destroys two families, but out if it a new one is born. Caroline and Franny live most of the time with their mother and Bert in their new house in Virginia, and in the summer Bert's kids join them. During those long summers in a sleepy town and on family trips, the kids grow to genuinely care for one another. They become true siblings, watching one another's back. Well, all except that darn annoying Albie, the baby of the group, who is the hyperactive sort and drives everyone nuts!
This story follows these kids as they grow up, as their parents grow older, and as these kids begin having kids of their own. The story slowly builds up and then slowly unravels the truth behind what happened one terrible day that bound them all together forever.
My final word: This is a really great story. It's full of rich characters that you really get to know. It's written with sensitivity and humor and compassion, and there is a nice balance that keeps it from getting to heavy. Sometimes there will be a little allusion to something, piquing your interest, and only later in the story shining a light on the matter to more fully explain what happened and how you came to be here. Our book club has come to love this author, and I know that we will be adding this one to our reading list. Well done, Ann Patchett! I feel as if I just left a family reunion and miss everyone already!...more
I bought a cast-iron skillet years ago, but I have barely used it. I've never been sure just what to do with it. I mean, you can't cook without non-stI bought a cast-iron skillet years ago, but I have barely used it. I've never been sure just what to do with it. I mean, you can't cook without non-stick coating, right? So I was eager to learn from this book how to use my cast-iron skillet; how to care for it.
This cookbook is slightly different from most cookbooks, as there isn’t an extensive introduction. Usually a cookbook has fairly detailed intro that gives a glimpse into the thought that went into the cookbook, history, cooking equipment, cooking techniques, etc. This book does that, but in much briefer style, and after a dozen pages you are diving into the recipes. I liked this! They got to the point, told you what you needed to know, and moved on to the meat of it!
You learn about the different types of cast-iron. Not only the traditional skillet, but also griddles and pots and specialty pans. You learn how to best "season" the pan (so you have no need for that non-stick coating I mentioned earlier), and a "seasoned" pan vs. enameled cast iron, and what not to do with cast iron.
It's broken into chapters for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Sides and Snacks, and Dessert. All recipes are cooked in a cast-iron pan, whether on the stovetop, in the oven, or over an outdoor fire. Classic recipes like Fried Chicken or Steaks with Red Wine Sauce, something a little more unexpected like Baked Crab & Shrimp or Charred Eggplant Dip, or a dessert of Cranberry Upside-Down Cake.
Each recipe is showcased with a full page picture and the recipe title boldly stretched across it. Bright and colorful and yummy photography, simple and easy-to-read ingredient list, and numbered recipe steps.
I decided to make the Korean Short Ribs (galbi). The recipe called for "flanken-cut beef short ribs", and I had no clue what "flanken-cut" was. It would have been nice if it had explained this. Regardless I just used what I had on hand.
The ribs were marinated for 24 hours in a soy sauce/rice marinade with scallions, pears, onion, garlic and ginger. Then they were cooked in a hot cast iron skillet.
However I am guessing from the picture in the book that "flanken-cut" means cutting the short ribs even shorter, right through the bone. This means that the ribs are normally much thinner than what I was cooking. Which means that my ribs weren't cooking through, and after much cooking and smoking (the recipe warned about the smoke), the ribs were still rare. So I decided to stick them in the oven to finish. Thank heavens for the cast iron skillet! Easy transfer from stove top to oven!
I cooked the ribs to medium well. They were then served with rice, lettuce, scallions and extra heated marinade.
Put a piece of meat in the lettuce with some marinade and scallions, and pop it in your mouth. Chase it with some rice drizzled with marinade.
The trouble is that my skillet is now coated in cooked-on marinade, and it does not want to come clean. Which leads me to my only real complaint: This book didn't give me explicit instructions for how to clean off cooked-on food and grime, nor what type of scrubbing pads I could use (rather than what I can't use).
But that's really my only complaint. The book is concise at under 100 pages, beautifully done, with tantalizing recipes. It's informative and inspirational, and I love it!...more