napa valley

Book Review: A Deadly Eclair by Daryl Wood Gerber

Posted on

A Deadly Éclair (A French Bistro Mystery, #1)A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A Deadly Eclair is the debut book in the ‘A French Bistro Mystery’ series written by Daryl Wood Gerber. I read the second book in this series earlier in the year after winning it in a giveaway contest. I enjoyed the characters and setting which led me to starting the series from the beginning. There’s something about the Napa Valley atmosphere full of wine, food, and culture that makes the books easy-to-read, immersive, and charming. I’ve been to many of the places being described or noted which helps ensure an even tighter connection to the story and the characters. It also helps that the books are well-written with the right balance of humor and knowledge (about wine, food, relationships, France).

Mimi’s husband died several years ago leaving her broke. After settling his debt and untying her emotional loss over all his lies, she moved back home to start anew. This book kicks off many months later once she’s decided to open a restaurant with the backing of a new partner, Bryan. He’s a pseudo-father figure for Mimi who lost her dad years ago. Bryan asks her to manager his niece’s wedding as part of her first few events. All goes smoothly until Bryan is found dead with one of Mimi’s famous desserts in his mouth… and, oh yeah, some jewels. Mimi’s surrounded by his family, his niece’s soon-to-be husband’s family, and some interesting friends. Which one of them had a past connection to Bryan that led to murder?

Throw in some wonderful side stories with how Mimi bonds with her new staff, opens her heart to going on a date for the first time, makes new friends, helps her mom overcome some new steps in her life, and tries to earn a living despite a few wondering if she killed Bryan to kick him out of her business. She’s tough, but caring. She’s a little nosy for my tastes, but it’s often typical of these types of series. Mimi has an investment in knowing who killed Bryan since it relates to her new inn, but at times, I felt like she grilled people a bit too much. Especially when they were her guests and she was trying to succeed with her new business. She’d annoy someone in one chapter, then they were friendly with her again in the next one. Maybe I just hold grudges a bit too long!

Now that I’ve devoured two, I can say I’m a series fan and look forward to the third which I assume will be published in mid-2019. I’ll be on the lookout for joining the blog tour or ARC team if possible.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Advertisements

Book Review: A Souffle of Suspicion by Daryl Wood Gerber

Posted on Updated on

Author Daryl Wood Gerber has been on my TBR list for ages, but I hadn’t gotten to reading from her collection in the past. When the second book, A Soufflé of Suspicion, in the French Bistro cozy mystery series was listed in a giveaway contest, I jumped on the opportunity. I was selected as a reader (yay!) and lined up the book for my late June reading list. I normally read series mystery books in order but I’m all out of time lately, so I just dove in to this cooking and killing edition. I’m now a fan and look forward to reading more from the author, especially given she has a few other series under different pseudonyms.

In this book, Mimi has just recovered from solving a crime in the last few weeks, and then another one happens. Renee, the sister of Mimi’s current chef, Camille, is found clobbered with a mixer in the kitchen. As details about Renee’s life unfold, there’s a possibility she was blackmailing someone, having an affair, or stealing information. Was she a good or bad person? We just don’t know… and at times, it seems like Camille had a few reasons to off her own sister, too. As a backdrop setting, it’s set in the delectable Napa Valley and it’s dessert week… so I was in love with the ambiance and the food/drink in this book.

I like the characters and see some long-term potential as they begin to settle into their roles as friends, enemies and in-between. Mimi as a lead is interesting, but its her connections to the rest of the town that provide all the great opportunities to be a sleuth. People just talk to her, yet she’s also constantly doing new things in the restaurant or meeting people to help re-build the town or her mom’s winery, so she has lots of relationships that can offer clues and secrets.

uffle

For me, this falls into the right spot for a cozy mystery. I like that the recipes are all listed at the end and not interspersed throughout the story, as I don’t enjoy having to flip tons of pages to find the next chapter. I really enjoyed learning about the restaurant business. Many of the names of places and some chefs are authentic, as I’ve been to the places when I visited Napa Valley in the past. I kinda wanna go back now and see exactly where some of these conversations and stores are in comparison to streets I’ve visited before. Kudos to the author for making it real. She’s undoubtedly been there, and I wonder if we’ve been to the same winery at the same time. Ha!

As for the mystery plot, it was in the middle in terms of obvious versus complex. There was more to it than I expected, but I pegged the killer from the beginning. There were a few strong red herrings and misleading side stories, but ultimately, it’s a classic story that works well in this background. I will definitely read more from the author and look forward to catching up on the first book in the series.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 140 – San Francisco, California

Posted on Updated on

San Francisco, California: a city where I lived for just under a year after a cross-country move from Long Island

san francisco.jpg

Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5) focused on interesting things about my life. I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me.

  • Weeks 1 – 5: Primary ethnicity groups and nationalities
  • Weeks 6 – 10: A to Z Favorites
  • Weeks 11 – 15: Colors with an important meaning
  • Weeks 16 – 20: Cities I’ve lived

Last week was the city where I went to college (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), but this week is the last place I’ve previously resided: San Francisco, California. Before we get into those details, a few interesting facts about this lovely place, as well as the Wikipedia link for more information.

  • Founded in 1776 by the Spanish
  • Became part of Mexico in 1821 when it won independence from Spain
  • California became a state in 1850
  • Often has earthquakes
  • Known for a large LBGT community
  • Home to the Golden Gate Bridge

homes.jpg

I loved hanging out at the park across from the famous 7 Sisters Homes

 

It was 2006 when my ex-partner and I decided it was time to move in together; the only problem, one of us lived in California and the other in New York. After living in Long Island for my first 25+ years, I decided it was time for me to move elsewhere. I discussed it with my mentor and boss, went back and forth a few times, and ultimately chose to quit my very promising career in the hopes I would learn more about the world, country, life and myself. I gave 12 week’s notice in September, then began searching for a job in San Francisco. It wasn’t easy, as hiring managers or recruiting companies want to meet you before they hire you. They also don’t usually understand or trust when people want to move cross-country. I coordinated a few interviews over a few days and hopped a flight to California.

I was later offered 2 of the 3 jobs I’d interviewed for, weighing the pros and cons of each opportunity. I had a full-time offer and a consulting contract. I ultimately accepted the consulting contract, even though I wanted the benefits and perks that come with full-time positions. We negotiated a deal that I’d work 3 months as a contractor, and if we were both happy, they’d make me a full-time opportunity. Sephora became my second home while I lived in San Francisco. I started as a senior project manager implementing Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, managed the deployment of a new store planning software package and worked with LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), their parent company, and Sephora Europe, to begin opening a new collection of stores in Canada and Mexico. Sephora made good on their promise and offered me a promotion to Store Systems Manager as a full-time employee.

We drove cross-country, taking a two-week vacation tour of about 12 different states. Unfortunately, due to the timing, we were on the road in January, which meant potentially bad weather. We encountered several ice storms and snow blizzards that pushed us further and further south in the hopes we could avoid them. We did well, except for Arkansas, when it was so bad, even the gas stations couldn’t accept fuel deliveries. We made an unscheduled stop for an additional 24 hours, but it was worth it. Had some good BBQ! I was not ready for driving in San Francisco on the hills. If you’ve not done it before, I wouldn’t recommend it. At some point, you’re on a 45 degree angle with your foot pushing so tightly on the break, you want to scream. And when the light turns green and you have to take your foot off the break, you roll a good 4 to 6 feet down the hill before you have enough juice to gun it across the intersection, which you can’t see because of the angle. And then… you don’t know if the pedestrians are gonna stop, so you freak out you might hit someone. Not my favorite place to drive.

But it was my favorite place to drive when it came to a monthly weekend trip up to the Napa Valley. It was about 90 minutes away, and I definitely checked out every single winery while I lived in California. It was amazing being able to spend so much time in a place you loved. Living in San Francisco was a dream I hadn’t even known I had. It was the first time I’d lived in an urban area. I took the cable car to work every day, which was about 1 mile away. It was so fun to jump on and off, sometimes while it was still moving. You’re literally inches away from the cars driving by you, but it never felt that unsafe. I’d walk home from work, which was uphill… and I’d be a sweaty mess by the time I’d arrived. But I had the best calf muscles on my block! I lived right at the top of Nob Hill in an old Victorian mansion home converted into apartments. It was right next door to Grace Cathedral, a beautiful and relaxing place of worship with fantastic bells.

The food was amazing. The people were friendly. The weather was near-perfect for me… 60s most days with a few dips below and jumps higher. I would head over to Oakland once a month to have Chicago-style pizza (my favorite kind), the only other place I’ve been able to get it besides Chicago. I adore the city and would love to live there again some day in the future. As you probably know by now, I don’t still live there; I’d received an unexpected call around October, after I’d been living in San Francisco for about 9 months. My former boss was re-organizing our department, curious if I’d be interested in coming back to NY with a promotion to a Director-level role. It was a hard decision, but my partner and I talked it out together for a few weeks. Luckily, he could work from home, as he traveled a lot.

I had dreams of reaching this professional level by the time I was 30, and suddenly the universe was giving me the opportunity to make it happen. So I took it. We packed up and I had to say goodbye to some of the best months of my life. I had also missed friends and family, which meant this was a win on many fronts. I arrived back in New York right before Thanksgiving and found the place in Brooklyn. That same week I adopted Ryder, my shiba inu, who will turn 10-years old next month. Time certainly flies… especially right now as I realize it’s an entire decade since I lived in San Francisco.

Life is a gift. You don’t always have the opportunity to choose where you want to live. But I was given the opportunity to not only move cross-country once for an adventure, but to move back again for a chance to achieve one of my major goals. And after that accomplishment, I propelled it a few steps further to Senior Vice-President before I gave it all up last year to focus on building my career in writing. Another major opportunity not everyone is given a chance to pursue. I am lucky. I am grateful. And I appreciate all of you for listening, reading and responding.

This ends the fourth group of themes I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Next Sunday, we start a new 5-week series of items I want to share with everyone. And I’ve already picked the topic… as I think about my career, ever since I started working at 10 years old, I’ve had somewhere between 12 and 15 different jobs / roles, but they all boil down to 5 professions or types of work. I think it’s time I shared all the positions I’ve held prior to my current one: soon-to-be published author… and I can’t wait to get started.

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Des @ Random Thoughts. Des and I met about 4 months on via our WordPress blogs. I can’t recall the specific reason, but it had something to do with books. She reads a lot, but this is not the most interesting thing about her. She lives in France! I found it so fascinating, I had to ask questions and become a little pest in my undying quest for information. We chatted a bunch, followed each other’s sites. I kept tagging her a few times on different games and awards, and she’d tell me she would get to them eventually… a few weeks later, one by one, she started knowing them out and I really got to learn more about her. She’s funny and very kind, reading each of my posts and commenting whenever it means something to her.  She has a “purple hearts” book rating system and has an archive of all her posts available to read prior book reviews and blogs. I think she’s someone worth following. If you don’t believe me, check out the below blurb from her About Me section and then go visit the site yourself:
    • “Welcome! My name is Des. I am a Filipina living in France with my husband. I enjoy doing a lot of things and below are the lists of stuff of what this blog is about: – books
      – jigsaw puzzle
      – life experiences
      – random musingsThank you for visiting my blog and I hope you had fun.”

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.