Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Salon: A Couple of Reviews

Another week has come and gone. It’s time once again to reach for your cup of liquid nourishment and join me as I share my thoughts on a couple of books. It was with a heavy heart that I began reading this first book. 

Sharlene Waverly is the new owner of the Honky Tonk bar in Mingus, Texas. She was given the bar and a colorful painted house by her former boss, Larissa Morley. Larissa was just continuing the tradition of passing the bar along to the next barmaid when she married.

The bar may have a new owner, a few new faces but thanks to word-of-mouth and the internet, it’s packed every night with people wanting to dance to vintage country music, shot a game of pool and fall in love. Sharlene decides to enlarge the bar and hires the best contractor in Texas. That’s when the trouble begins, but the nightmares are eased.

Holt Jackson can build just about anything a person wants. The only thing he can’t do is build the kind of life he had imaged for himself. Holt’s had to take on the responsibility of two small children after his sister dies in a car wreck. He’s all the twins have left in the world and he’s not about to let them down no matter what.

Growing up in a small Oklahoma town where the girls were expected to marry right after high school and start raising a family, Sharlene ran from that lifestyle straight two tours in Iraq. There she did top secret missions she has never told anyone about. Now she owns a beer joint and writes romance books. When her mother and father find out, she’s sure they’ll disown her.

The sparks between Sharlene and Holt start flying immediately, but both try to ignore them. As the days stretch into weeks, the two can’t fight their feelings any longer.

Sharlene can’t share her life with anyone because of the demons she carries from the war. Holt has to think of the kids first and provide a stable lifestyle for them over anything he wants. Author Carolyn Brown takes readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions as she draws them into the lives of this intriguing couple, their dilemma, and the quirky friends they have.

HONKY TONK CHRISTMAS is a stand alone book even though it is the fourth installment in the Honky Tonk series. It is also the last book in the series and the reason for my heavy heart. After reading just one book in this series, the characters come to life and you become a part of their world through the vivid storytelling techniques of Carolyn Brown. Having read all four of the books, I’ve come to enjoy the characters even more and didn’t want the series to end.

In this final installment, the author does a wonderful job of bringing back all the unique characters from the previous books for an ending befitting the Honky Tonk. Even though Luther has unplugged the jukebox and called closing time, the sweet music inspired by friends, family and happy endings will still play in the hearts and minds of those reading the series.

HONKY TONK CHRISTMAS isn’t just sexy cowboys, sassy women and a beer joint. It’s about how friends come together as family and home is where the heart is even though it may lead you to places you never thought you’d return to.

Author Carolyn Brown’s website is

Honky Tonk Christmas by Carolyn Brown, Sourcebooks Casablanca, @2010, ISBN: 978-1-4022-4201-4, Paperback, 384 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

HOW TO SQUEEZE A LEMON by Editors, Contributors 
& Readers of Fine Cooking

This fun and informative book will become a must have in your kitchen and cookbook collection, in addition to making a perfect gift for the chef on your Christmas list.

The book has answers to your culinary questions and will be a source of cooking information. It’s filled with cooking advice and helpful techniques, as well as numerous handy charts.

The book is divided into seven chapters, each packed with helpful information and tips. The chapters include: Equipment; Produce; Meat, Fish and Poultry; Pantry; Techniques; Wine and Beer; and When Things Go Wrong.

Some of the useful advice covers such topics as:
*Finding new use for old spice jars.
*Using a trouser hanger to hold a cooking magazine open hung on a  cabinet knob.
*How to keep bacon straight when frying.
*How to cut a lemon wedge without getting juice in your eye.
*To correct way to store chocolate.
*How to make your own baking powder.
*Using marbles when boiling water to keep from burning a pot.

This helpful book is a companion to HOW TO BREAK AN EGG, Fine Cooking’s first book of tips.

How to Squeeze A Lemon: 1,023 Kitchen Tips, Food Fixes, and Handy Techniques by Editors, Contributors and Readers of Find Cooking, Taunton Press, @2010, ISBN: 978-1-60085-326-5, Hardcover, 272 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


  1. The first sounds like a book I would really like.
    And I am sorry I have not been around- life has caught up with me very badly.

  2. Mason - Thanks for these reviews. One thing I really admire about your blog is the wide variety of books you read and review. I learn about new books just about every time I visit!

  3. So have I been squeezing my lemons wrong all these years? I've been squeezing directly from the lemon juice bottle.

  4. Oooo - they both sound like books I'd enjoy. Thanks for the tips - off to add to my Christmas wishlist :)

  5. Rayna, I completely understand about life catching up with you. I've had my share of those days lately too. HONKY TONK CHRISTMAS is a fun read.

    Margot, it does seem my interest in reading has been all over the genre board lately. While mysteries are my favorite, I do enjoy branching out from time to time. :)

    Alex, now where's the fun in squeezing from a bottle? You can't be very messy that way. LOL

    Jemi, hope you get all the books on your wish list this year.

  6. Thank You for review how to squeeze a lemon. I will add it to my wish list.

  7. Each of these sounds good in unique ways...I think I'd enjoy the Honky Tonk book the most, though.

    Here's my salon:

    (click my name)

  8. I loved the last passage in this post, Masy ;)

  9. Hi Mason and Carolyn .. Honky Tonk sounds fun .. especially if you're telling me I should go back to book 1 and then enjoy the next three too! Sounds a roller coaster ride .. and the ending seems very neat with lots of twists and plots .. thanks - I'll remember this.

    The Fine Cooking's book is definitely up my street - love these sort of things ..

    Thanks Mason .. good books for Christmas - as you say .. Hilary

  10. The Honky Tonk books sound great, Mason. I can see why you were a bit sad to be reading the last in the series.


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