Review: Key Lime Pie, by Josi S. Kilpack

Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie
Josi S. Kilpack
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Product Description (from
When Sadie Hoffmiller’s new friend, Eric Burton, receives word that his missing daughter’s body may have been found in Florida, he immediately packs his bags. Sadie is determined to stay home and prove to everyone that she is not a busybody. But when she senses Eric is hiding something, Sadie is compelled to take action. Before she knows it, she’s in the heart of Miami, trying to piece together a trail that might just give Eric the answers he’s so desperately searching for. In the process, Sadie finds herself in the company of some colorful characters and some good ol’ southern cooking. But despite the drama and intrigue, all Sadie really wants is to go home … as soon as she does just one more thing.

Includes eight new mouthwatering recipes, tested and approved by the official bakers of Sadie’s Test Kitchen

While I’ve been reading culinary mysteries for decades now, ever since I first discovered Diane Mott Davidson’s work, I haven’t really read a lot of them recently. I mean, yes, Cleo Coyle’s coffeehouse mysteries do have recipes, but she puts them all at the end of the book. Josi S. Kilpack’s Key Lime Pie is the first I’ve read in a long time that has the recipes after each chapter, and while it took me a while not to find that jarring – it pulls me out of the book – eventually I was able to simply sink into the story.

I like Kilpack’s protagonist, Sadie Hoffmiller, woman of a “certain age” and ersatz detective, a lot. She’s smart, confident about most things, but retains a bit of the reserve that women who aren’t twenty tend to embrace. It’s nice to read a book about adults, and even see the way adults who are a bit older than I am handle relationships. I could see Sadie’s attraction to Eric – he’s a bit younger, a bit of a mystery, a bit of a scoundrel – but I like that she was honest with herself about him, and about her feelings for Pete, the steady, stable cop.

As to the story, while I thought the plot was interesting – follow your friend to Florida and help him find his lost daughter who may be dead – at times I thought things were just a little too convenient, a little too easy. Yes, people were injured, and people were killed, and yes, the ending provided a plausible resolution (I can’t say more without spoilers) – it was probably just me being overly picky as I’d read this novel in the middle of a personal marathon of the first four seasons of Bones (thank you, NetFlix).

Overall, I like Sadie, and I like Kilpack’s storytelling, and I’ll probably go read the earlier books in this series for a better picture of the character and her world.

I did not try the recipes, however. Well, not yet.

Goes well with key lime pie (obviously) and really good coffee.

Booking Through Thursday: Rewrite


On Thursday, October 14th, Booking through Thursday asked:

If you could rewrite the ending of any book, which book would it be? And how would you change it?

Even though I have a laptop and a netbook and an iPhone and a Kindle already, I spent a good part of last night surfing laptop deals lusting over the newer tech I don’t have. I say this because it’s the reason I’m answering “Booking through Thursday” on Friday morning at eleven.

As to rewriting the ends of novels: Sometimes I wish Jane had not returned to Rochester at the end of Jane Eyre, because I don’t think their relationship was terribly healthy. I maintain that J.K. Rowling’s final chapter of the Harry Potter saga, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a cop-out meant to appease fan-girl shippers. (I also maintain that Snape would have known how to avoid death by snakebite, and in MY world he’s alive, but that’s not the actual ending, just the precursor to it.) I don’t believe that most people marry their high school sweethearts, and I think Hermione would have quickly outgrown Ron – or, as often happens – Ron would have embraced adulthood and grown beyond Hermione – he’s the more well-rounded of the two.

It is Dracula, however, that has an ending which really irritates me, although it didn’t do so until I read Fred Saberhagen’s series of post-novel pastiche/sequels, beginning with The Dracula Tapes. Why does it it annoy me? Read the passage again:

As I looked, the eyes saw the sinking sun, and the look of hate in them turned to triumph.

But, on the instant, came the sweet and flash of Jonathan’s great knife. I shrieked as I saw it shear through the throat. Whilst at the same moment Mr. Morris’s bowie knife plunged into the heart.

It was like a miracle, but before our very eyes, almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.

If you read it carefully, you note three things:

1) Dracula’s throat was sliced, but he wasn’t beheaded.
2) His heart was pierced by another knife – NOT a wooden stake.
3) He crumbled into dust.

A casual reader would dismiss this as a death scene, except that earlier in the novel when listing Dracula’s powers, Stoker tells us that he can crumble into elemental dust. I maintain, therefore, that the ending of Dracula is flawed because Stoker did not follow the rules of his own world – rules he created. Either the scene needs to make it explicit that the Count’s head was separated from his body, OR, Stoker was leaving it open for a sequel, and I just can’t credit Stoker with that much forethought.

So, yes, I would rewrite Dracula.

Review: When Life Throws You Lemons, Make Cranberry Juice, by Shari Bookstaff

When Life Throws You Lemons...
When Life Throws You Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice
Shari Bookstaff
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Product Description (from
When my kids were learning to walk, I remember walking behind them, ready to catch them if they stumbled backward. I never dreamed that thirteen years later my kids would be walking behind me, ready to catch me if I stumble backward. I was 42 years old when I was diagnosed with a benign, operable brain tumor in July 2006. Doctors predicted a short hospital stay followed by a speedy recovery. Complications arose, giving me lifelong obstacles that I never could have prepared for. A divorced mother of two beautiful, talented, wonderful children, I had high hopes for a bright and happy future. I tried online dating, which got me a few cups of coffee, but no real dates. A couple of dating disasters later, my dating karma was beginning to change when my brain tumor was diagnosed. My life since that fateful day has been focused on regaining basic human functions: breathing, swallowing, walking, etc. I am working again, and trying to be a good mother to my two beautiful, talented, wonderful children. Putting a positive spin on life’s disasters doesn’t always work, but looking for, and accepting, positive things in spite of life’s disasters works. Instead of making lemonade out of lemons, I add life’s sweet sugar and cranberries to my lemons. This makes life much more palatable.

First I have to say that the title When Life Throws Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice, is perfect. It completely conveys author Bookstaff’s feisty attitude. She’s been through a hellish experience and is still dealing with it, but she’s retained her sense of humor, and that’s admirable.

What I really loved about Bookstaff’s book was that she’s really candid. She talks about how her brain tumor affected her life, her work, her family and while she isn’t bringing us into the bathroom with her, we still get a really good picture of her life, with situations that probably everyone with any kind of disability foes through – friends not knowing how to act, or merely drifting away, having to re-learn to do some of the things most of us don’t even think about, and having to be a support system for her children while needing support herself.

While I enjoyed Bookstaff’s voice in this book, however, there were times when the structure felt a little uneven, as if she’d taken us from point A to point R and then we were backtracking to point C and heading for point W, before getting to the end.

That aside, however, I found this book to be entertaining, educational, and enlightening.

Also, it made me want cranberry juice, with lime.

Goes well with a tall glass of cranberry juice and a slice of lemon pound cake.