Friday, January 23, 2015

All the President’s Menus {+ Giveaway}


All the President's Menu - Thoughts in ProgressWith the President’s State of the Union address this week, it’s a perfect time to welcome author Julie Hyzy to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her current release, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS, the latest installment in her White House Chef Mystery series.

Julie is joining us today to share ten tidbits about the White House Chef Mystery series. I’ll share my thoughts on this fun book and thanks to Julie and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more giveaway details.

Now let’s give Julie a warm welcome as she share her Ten Tidbits. Welcome, Julie.

1. If you’re a regular reader of the White House Chef Mystery series, you already know that the First Family is required to cover all expenses for personal meals, but that fact still amazes me and I feel the need to include it here. State dinners and official events are covered by the White House budget, but the family must cover its own expenses when it comes to food. And, because there are extra steps and higher costs involved in procuring ingredients, those bills can be pretty high.

2. The White House doesn’t respond well to direct questions about the residence. Before I even began writing the first book, State of the Onion, I called the White House to ask some questions about staff hours, kitchen layout, colors on the floor and walls, etc. I was looking for details not usually found in books. This would have been in 2006, I think. They were uneasy, but asked me to fax them a list of questions. I did. Never heard back. I followed up. Still never heard back.

3. Later, in 2010 or so, I was able to give a couple of books to a friend who knew a friend who was related to a White House kitchen staff member. I’d hoped the staff member would either read the books, or pass them to someone else in the kitchen¾or … dreaming now… the First Lady¾who would enjoy them and say something positive in the media. Nope. The lesson here: The White House is a hard nut to crack. (Unless you’re racing past the Secret Service that is… <grin>)

4. Although Hollywood loves the idea of a White House Chef solving mysteries, the Powers That Be don’t love it enough.

5. Ollie has a mind of her own. I have often set her up to walk into a trap, or to do something sketchy, and she refuses. Not kidding. She puts her foot down and says “No.” It isn’t until I revise, change the circumstances, increase her motivation, or reset the stage that she complies.

6. Speaking of Ollie’s strong-mindedness, whenever I’m uncomfortable or awkward (usually social situations where I know no one) I pretend I’m Ollie. Asking myself “What Would Ollie Do?” helps me banish my nervousness.

7. My friends tell me they see me in Ollie’s role when they’re reading the books. I see America Ferrera. 

8. I’ve had a couple of different “ghost chefs” assist me by coming up with the fabulous recipes for the books. My favorites include the stuffed cherry tomatoes, the bacon-wrapped green beans, the brownie bites, the cucumber slices with pine nuts (I substitute goat cheese for feta), and the hummus.

9. There are a couple of “oops” moments in the stories. A misnamed monument, a mis-identified landmark, a cell phone that mysteriously reappeared—and more. I appreciate readers letting me know when they spot these mistakes, and I generally thank the first to let me know by sending him or her a signed copy of a book from my other series. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do so for every sharp-eyed reader, but please know that I’m delighted that you care enough to point these things out.

10. I would LOVE a personal tour of the White House. They don’t have to feed me (though I wouldn’t turn down a dinner invitation), just let me roam a little. Secret Service can accompany me if that makes them feel better. All I want is to explore every inch of the building, from the bottom-est basement to the snipers on the roof. And take pictures¾lots of pictures¾to refer to as I write the next book. Can you imagine how much fun that would be?

Julie, thanks for joining us today and sharing these tidbits. Now that you mention it, America Ferrera would make a good Ollie.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Julie, let me share a bit of background on her.

Julie Hyzy is a New York Times Bestselling author with two award-winning series: White House Chef Mysteries and Manor House Mysteries. Her first experience with food included flipping burgers and chopping onions at a neighborhood hot dog stand. She traded that experience for a job as a singing waitress at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour—but gave that up when she started college (and because she couldn't carry a tune). 

Over the years, she's acted in community theater productions, appeared in television commercials, and crashed a previously all-male fraternity to become one of the first female brothers in Loyola University's Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi. Julie had dreams of becoming a writer, but family, friends, and frat brothers convinced her otherwise. Having held positions as junior officer at a downtown bank, office manager at an architectural firm, and financial advisor at a prestigious wealth management company, she realizes that the business degree was probably a good choice—but fiction is truly her passion. Now, with some well-earned life experience behind her, she's delighted to finally be able to make writing a priority in her life.

For more on Julie and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s a brief synopsis of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS:

It’s an old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. But when a tour of the White House kitchen by a group of foreign chefs ends in murder, it’s Olivia Paras who finds herself in the soup…
Due to a government sequester, entertaining at the White House has been severely curtailed. So executive chef Olivia Paras is delighted to hear that plans are still on to welcome a presidential candidate from the country of Saardisca—the first woman to run for office—and four of that nation’s top chefs.
But while leading the chefs on a kitchen tour, pastry chef Marcel passes out suddenly—and later claims he was drugged. When one of the visiting chefs collapses and dies, it’s clear someone has infiltrated the White House with ill intent. Could it be an anti-Saardiscan zealot? Is the candidate a target? Are the foreign chefs keeping more than their recipes a secret? Once again, Olivia must make sleuthing the special of the day…

My Thoughts ……….

Author Julie Hyzy continues to evolve the characters in this tantalizing series bringing a fresh fascination while keeping the traits and flavor of the individuals we’ve come to love. The characters are likable and realistic.

The story flows quickly with action and suspense as the author combines all the facets into a well-blended tale. Her rich descriptions places the reader in the middle of the setting. The mix of conspiracy and intrigue topped with suspense holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end.

To enhance the story, Hyzy shares mouth-watering recipes for a complete Presidential menu.

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS is full of intrigue, thrills, witty dialogue and amusing characters.

All The President’s Menus by Julie Hyzy, A White House Chef Mystery Book #8, Berkley Prime Crime, @2015, ISBN: 978-0425262399, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MENUS. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Julie Hyzy’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks for stopping by today during Julie’s visit. Have you ever been on a White House Tour? What room would you most like to see in the White House?

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

23 comments:

  1. Thank you Mason, Thank you Julie. Interesting that the First Family has to pay for their meals unless they are entertaining. I wonder whether the same applies here in Australia - and suspect it does. I am sure that I wouldn't be told if I asked though.
    I love the idea of a character with a life (and a mind) of her own.

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  2. I imagine the White House would be a little suspicious of a request for the layout. Do they host tours anymore? Or is that a thing of the past?
    Odd the family has to pay for their own meals. Then again, the president does pull down a decent salary.
    Congratulations, Julie.

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  3. This is a very good series..

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  4. Unique theme to the series; thank you for the chance to win :)

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  5. I love this series and I'm looking forward to reading this latest installment!

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  6. I have not been to the White House but I would love to go tour it. I think just the history of it would be neat to see.

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  7. Mason - Thanks for hosting Julie.

    Julie - Thanks for sharing those 10 tidbits. I always think it's interesting to find out what goes on behind the scenes at the White House. Wishing you much continued success!

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  8. I have never been to the White House but would love to see The Oval Office.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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  9. Love-love-love this series! The 10 Tidbits are fascinating but I do wish Julie could get a tour.

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  10. A delightful series and wonderful feature and giveaway. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. Julie, thanks again for stopping by and sharing this background on Ollie and the series. I can only image how difficult it would be now to get a floor plan for the White House. Wishing you much success.

    Hi, all. Thanks so much for visiting today.

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  12. Oh, that's so going to the to-read list!

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  13. Very interesting, and I'm sure very frustrating trying to find out info about the White House. Can you send your "ghost chefs" to my house?? LOL.

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  14. I was very interested in your wish for a tour. Found this website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events. I knew that things had changed since I was in school. Sometimes it is lucky to be older! Back when I went on a tour of the White House, we lined up. had to store our camera and purses with a guard and we had a tour guide. My mother was extremely thrilled because she had turned her head and saw Jackie Kennedy in the Rose Garden. My mother talked about that so much. We did get to see the Oval Office and for me that was the highlight of the tour. Back then there were no barricades. We just walked over.

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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  15. I remember touring the White House as a kid, there's pics of us right out front. I really found Julie's ten tidbits very interesting. Wonder how much they have checked her out over the years as she tries to gain access for authenticity! Thanks!

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  16. How fascinating! Considering the President's relatively low salary ($400,000 is less than what many CEOs make), I would think meals would be paid. I learned something new today!

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  17. Outside only. Bobbipad @gmail.com

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  18. I would love to read this book—thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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  19. a series that's in my TBR pile....so need to start it soon!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

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  20. I've never been to the White House. I would love to take the complete tour!

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  21. I have never been on a tour of the White House- but it would be interesting. I think it is awesome that Julie did so much to try to get the answers to her questions. I can see why they might be a little top secret. But just think- because of that so few people know the details of the real White House kitchen. :)
    ~Jess

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  22. I loved the tour of the White House I took several years ago.

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  23. wow what a lot of great trivia about the White House and First Family. Scholastic.com has a nice site too of facts about the White House. i recently read Camelot's court - Kennedy White House by Robert Dallek. This series sounds very interesting to me. mardox(at)consolidated(dot)net

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.