Friday, 28 March 2014

The Divorce Papers: A Novel by Susan Rieger

A Novel
by Susan Rieger
Hardcover, 480 pages

The Divorce Papers is an epistolary novel by a woman who knows a thing or two about divorce.

Between affidavits, memos, emails, hate mails, and even published articles, we experience the pain and humour of one woman's journey through divorce after 17 years of marriage.

Not only do we learn about Mia and her discovery of self, but of the other players in the game - such as the lawyers.

Deeply original, The Divorce Papers balances loss and love and ordeal with love and humour and compassion. 


From the back flap:
Witty and wonderful, sparkling and sophisticated, this debut romantic comedy brilliantly tells the story of one very messy, very high-profile divorce, and the endearingly cynical young lawyer dragooned into handling it.

Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.

Debut novelist Susan Rieger doesn’t leave a word out of place in this hilarious and expertly crafted debut that shines with the power and pleasure of storytelling. Told through personal correspondence, office memos, emails, articles, and legal papers, this playful reinvention of the epistolary form races along with humor and heartache, exploring the complicated family dynamic that results when marriage fails. For Sophie, the whole affair sparks a hard look at her own relationships—not only with her parents, but with colleagues, friends, lovers, and most importantly, herself. Much like Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Divorce Papers will have you laughing aloud and thanking the literature gods for this incredible, fresh new voice in fiction.

SUSAN RIEGER is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She has worked as a residential college dean at Yale and an associate provost at Columbia. She has taught law to undergraduates at both schools and written frequently about the law for newspapers and magazines. She lives in New York City with her husband. The Divorce Papers is her first novel.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Healthy Slow Cooker

The Healthy Slow Cooker
135 Gluten-Free Recipes 
for Health and Wellness
by Judith Finlayson 
paperback, 352 pages

Evolution. We all take part in it. Some of us faster than others. Some of us slower. And life evolves and the times evolve. And eating trends and health concerns evolve. 

In the eighties everyone was fat-free (you know, 'cept chubby ole me). Now we know a certain amount of "good fat" is good for you. That we need some carbs and starches to live. That protein is essential. And how to balance proteins and how to read a nutritional guide. 

Also allergies and intolerances are on the rise. Food-wise. And that is what hits home the most. That food can hurt.

The Healthy Slow Cooker second edition focuses on the modern demands of somewhat restricted diets as well as the people that want to concentrate on eating healthy while avoiding triggering foods as well as dealing with time constraints.

Contents Include:
Nutrient Analysis
Using Your Slow Cooker
Starters and Snacks
Fish and Seafood
Beef and Veal
Pork and Lamb
Vegetarian Mains
Sides and Sauces
Diabetes Food Values
Selected Resource

Creamy Morning Millet with Apples, page 20, Breakfast, Vegetarian

If you’re tired of the same old breakfast, perk up your taste buds and expand your nutritional range by enjoying millet as a cereal. This recipe provides fiber and is a good way to start your day if you are looking to increase your intake of this nutrient, among others. It is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is difficult to obtain from food if you are a vegan. Don’t worry about making more than you need. You can refrigerate leftovers for up to two days and reheat by portions in the microwave.

•    Small to medium (11⁄2 to 31⁄2 quart) slow cooker
•    Lightly greased slow cooker stoneware

1 cup    millet (see Tips)    250 mL
3 to    fortified rice milk or organic soy milk     750 mL
4 cups    (see Tips)    to 1 L
3    apples, peeled, cored and chopped    3
1⁄4 tsp    sea salt    1 mL
    Chopped pitted dates, fresh berries
    and toasted nuts, optional

1.    In prepared slow cooker stoneware, combine millet, rice milk, apples and salt. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or on Low for 8 hours or overnight. Stir well, spoon into bowls and sprinkle with fruit and/or nuts, if using.

Use plain or vanilla-flavored rice milk. Vary the quantity of rice milk to suit your preference. Three cups (750 mL) produces a firmer result. If you like your cereal to be creamy, use the larger quantity. If using soy milk, be sure to purchase an organic version. Otherwise it is likely to be made from genetically modified soy beans.
Don’t pass on sprinkling your cereal with nuts (see Mindful Morsels, right) because you’re counting calories. About one‑third of the calories in nuts (and seeds) are provided by resistant starch, which means they are not absorbed into your bloodstream.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Can Be Halved (see Tips, below)

Courtesy of The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Thai-Style Coconut Fish Curry, page 52, Seafood

This luscious dish has everything going for it: a centerpiece of succulent fish, a sauce of creamy coconut accented with zesty Asian flavors and an abundance of tasty vegetables to complement the mix. Serve this over brown basmati rice to add nutrients and fiber and complete the meal.

•    Medium to large (31⁄2 to 5 quart) slow cooker

1 tbsp    olive or extra virgin coconut oil    15 mL
2    onions, finely chopped    2
4    cloves garlic, minced    4
1 tbsp    minced gingerroot    15 mL
1 tsp    finely grated lime zest    5 mL
1 cup    vegetable stock    250 mL
1⁄2 cup    fish stock     125 mL
2 tbsp    freshly squeezed lime juice    30 mL
2 tsp    Thai green curry paste (see Tips)    10 mL
1 cup    coconut milk    250 mL
2 tbsp    gluten-free fish sauce    30 mL
2 lbs    firm white fish, such as snapper,     1 kg
    skin removed, cut into bite-size pieces, if desired
2 cups    drained rinsed canned bamboo     500 mL
    shoot strips
2 cups    sweet green peas, thawed if frozen    500 mL
1    red bell pepper, diced    1
1⁄2 cup    finely chopped cilantro leaves    125 mL
    Toasted sesame seeds, optional

1.    In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and lime zest and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add vegetable and fish stock and stir well. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours.

2.    In a bowl, combine lime juice and curry paste. Add to slow cooker stoneware and stir well. Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, fish, bamboo shoots, green peas and red pepper. Cover and cook on High for 20 to 30 minutes, until fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork and mixture is hot. Garnish with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds, if using.

If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (11⁄2 to 31⁄2 quart) slow cooker.
Check the label to make sure your curry paste does not contain unwanted additives, such as gluten.

Makes 8 servings

Can Be Halved

Courtesy of The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Moroccan-Style Lamb with Raisins and Apricots, page 227, Lamb

This classic tagine-style recipe, in which lamb is braised in spices and honey, is an appetizing combination of savory and sweet. I like to serve it with gluten-free quinoa, which adds a new world twist to this Middle Eastern dish.

•    Medium to large (31⁄2 to 5 quart) slow cooker

1 to 2 tbsp olive oil    15 to 30 mL
2 lbs    trimmed stewing lamb, cut into     1 kg
    1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
1    onion, finely chopped    1
1 tbsp    minced gingerroot    15 mL
1 tbsp    ground cumin    15 mL
1 tsp    ground coriander    5 mL
1 tsp    grated lemon zest    5 mL
1⁄2 tsp    salt    2 mL
1⁄2 tsp    cracked black peppercorns (approx.) (see Tip)    2 mL
1    piece (1 inch/2.5 cm) cinnamon stick    1
1⁄2 cup    chicken stock    125 mL
1 tbsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice    15 mL
1 tbsp    liquid honey    15 mL
    Salt, optional
1 cup    dried apricots, chopped    250 mL
1⁄2 cup    raisins    125 mL
1⁄2 cup    finely chopped cilantro leaves    125 mL

1.    In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat. Add lamb, in batches, and cook, stirring, adding more oil if necessary, until browned, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

2.    Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Add ginger, cumin, coriander, lemon zest, salt, peppercorns and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a boil.

3.    Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours, until lamb is tender. Add lemon juice and honey and stir well. Season to taste with salt, if using. Stir in apricots and raisins. Cover and cook on High for 20 minutes, until fruit is warmed through. Garnish with cilantro. Discard cinnamon stick.

If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (11⁄2 to 31⁄2 quart) slow cooker.
I prefer a peppery base in this dish to balance the sweetness of the apricots and raisins, so I usually use a whole teaspoon (5 mL) of cracked black peppercorns in this recipe. But I’m a pepper lover, so use your own judgment.

Makes 8 servings

Can Be Halved

Courtesy of The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Accident: a Novel by Chris Pavone

By Chris Pavone
Hardcover, 400 pages

Hold on to your hats, book lovers and mystery lovers! This combines both.

A breakneck-paced murderous mystery novel that centers around the publishing industry - and what has become of it since the internet age.

Nobody is safe in this game of hot potato with a scandalous exposé written by an anonymous author. The only things we know for sure - that it would ruin one of the most powerful men in the world, that it may or may not be true, that anyone who publishes it could make millions. And that everyone who reads the manuscript is in peril.

Publish? Perish? Both?

Cancel your plans for the weekend, it's time to dig in to this book-lover's breathless chase in The Accident.

From the back flap:
From the author of the New York Times-bestselling and Edgar Award-winning The Expats

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.

Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril.  The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became.

The action rockets around Europe and across America, with an intricate web of duplicities stretching back a quarter-century to a dark winding road in upstate New York, where the shocking truth about the accident itself is buried.

Gripping, sophisticated, layered, and impossible to put down, The Accident proves once again that Chris Pavone is a true master of suspense.

About the Author  

Chris Pavone is the author of the New York Times-bestselling The Expats, winner of the Edgar Award. 
He was a book editor for nearly two decades and lives in New York City with his family.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Age: a Novel by Nancy Lee

By Nancy Lee
Paperback, 288 pages

Wow. Gerry, the not always likeable character in this coming of age novel set in 1984 (contemporaneous to my own adolescence) is the only character that burns with the same deep shame complex that I felt at that age. (And, let's face it, still do sometimes.)

The emotion is raw. The writing original. The whole novel both hard to put down and sometimes cringe inducing. The way life is. Sometimes.

Gerry balances childhood and adulthood, vacant fathers and all too present step fathers, the desire to be good and be liked while searching out the bad and pushing people away. All while the threat of nuclear war looms large over her psyche. Her whole life.

A great book by a great new author.

From the back flap:

The Age, Nancy Lee’s electrifying debut novel, follows her celebrated story collection Dead Girls.

Set in Vancouver in 1984 as Soviet warships swarm the Atlantic, The Age tells the story of Gerry, a troubled teenager whose life is suddenly and strangely catapulted into adulthood.

Confronted by her mother’s newest relationship, confusion about her father’s abandonment, and anxieties about a looming nuclear incident, Gerry finds a kind of belonging with a group of misfits planning a subversive protest at the city’s upcoming peace march, but her fascination with their leader and her struggle with sexual identity create a rift between Gerry and her best friend, Ian. Bolstered by her grandfather, an eccentric news anchor in the throes of a bitter divorce, Gerry tries to put herself at the centre of the group’s violent plot. As the days leading up to the rally accelerate, Gerry finds herself escaping into a post-nuclear dystopia of her own creation.  Her real life and fantasy life alternate until a collision of events and consequences forces her towards life or death decisions in both worlds. 
At the heart of the novel is Gerry’s combative yet tender relationship with the older Ian, as she both yearns for and rejects his protectiveness towards her until it’s too late. Stubborn, tough, and unaware of her vulnerability until tragedy occurs, Gerry navigates a razor’s edge of emotion and events.

The Age is at once a heartbreaking journey through adolescent recklessness and desire and a portrait of a generation shaped by nuclear anxiety. Bold, original, told with piercing observation, mordant wit, and the same fearlessness that earned Dead Girls international acclaim, its arrival confirms Nancy Lee as one of Canadian literature’s most thrilling and compelling voices.

Nancy Lee is an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Creative Writing Program. She lives in Vancouver, B.C., with her husband, writer John Vigna.

Lee’s first book of fiction, Dead Girls, was named Book of the Year by NOW Magazine, and was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, as well as in the 2001 Toronto Life Summer Fiction issue. She was one of seven writers selected by Margaret Atwood for a special CBC Radio feature on new writers to watch, and a jury member for the CBC’s “Canada Reads” program for 2003. She is the recipient of many grants, fellowships, and writing awards, including the Gabriel Award for Radio.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

250 Best Meals in a Mug

250 Best Meals in a Mug
Delicious Homemade Microwave Meals in Minutes
by Camilla Saulsbury
Paperback, 312 pages

Gone are the days I need to cook for five hungry people. Now it is often for one or two. It's hard to change your patterns in the kitchen. Kids grow up, move out. How do you cook for yourself?

250 Best Meals in a Mug gives you one dish meals that you can prepare ahead of time, stick in the microwave and have ready in minutes. No need to purchase microwave dinners or portion controlled meals, you have all that in the mug. Easy peasy.

Not that you would cook that way all the time. (Or maybe you would, what do I know?) But this is a very handy guide to getting you through those busy days that leave you feeling too tired to cook, especially since there is just you that day. Or me.

Homemade meals in minutes. In a mug. Perfect.

A sampling of the recipes:

Super-Fast and Easy Recipes:    Mushroom Barley Soup, Broccoli Basil Soup, Apple Pancake Puff, Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Mix, Cheese Fondue

Breakfast:    Banana Bread, Almond Flour Muffin, Green Onion Bread, Zucchini Bread, Apple Cinnamon Bread, Boston Brown Bread

Soups, Stews and Chilis:    Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Quinoa Minestrone, Miso and Mushroom Soup, Poblano White Chili, Koshari, Red Clam Chowder

Meatless Main Dishes:    Eggplant Parmesan Mug, Green Chile Quesadilla Mug, Chickpea Potato Masala, Curried Lentils with Yogurt and Tortilla, Korean Pajeon

Meat, Poultry and Seafood Main Dishes:
    Philly Cheesesteak Mug, Cauliflower and Ham Gratin, Shrimp with Roasted Peppers and Feta, Shepherd's Pie, Teriyaki Salmon

Dessert:    Sugar Cookie, Chocolate Fudge Cake, Blueberry Dumpling, Bananas Foster, Lemon Pudding Cake, Butterscotch Blondie, Panna Cotta.

Scrambled Eggs Florentine, page 82, Breakfast

You’ll return to this breakfast mugful again and again because it is so convenient and delivers serious satisfaction. The nutty accents of Parmesan cheese and nutmeg gently permeate the eggs, while the tomatoes and spinach proclaim freshness (despite coming from a can and the freezer).

12- to 16-oz (375 to 500 mL) mug
1 cup    frozen chopped spinach    250 mL
2    large eggs    2
Pinch    ground nutmeg (optional)    Pinch
Pinch    salt    Pinch
Pinch    ground black pepper    Pinch
1⁄4 cup    drained canned Italian-seasoned    60 mL
    diced tomatoes   
1 tbsp    grated Parmesan cheese    15 mL

In the mug, microwave spinach on High for 11⁄2 to 2 minutes or until thawed and warm. Using the tines of a fork, press down firmly on the spinach and drain off excess liquid.
Using a fork, beat in eggs, nutmeg (if using), salt and pepper until well blended. Stir in tomatoes and Parmesan. Microwave on High for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave on High for 30 to 45 seconds or until eggs are puffed and just barely set at the center.


Opt for bags, as opposed to boxes, of frozen chopped spinach, as it is easier to remove small amounts at a time.
Freeze the remaining tomatoes in a small sealable freezer bag. You can freeze the entire amount in one bag, or portion out 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) per bag so that the tomatoes are recipe-ready. Be sure to label the bag with the contents. Store for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator or microwave before using.

Prep Ahead Option
Measure the spinach into the mug; cover and refrigerate (decrease the cooking time in step 1 to 30 seconds). Using a fork, beat the eggs in a small airtight container, then add the nutmeg (if using), salt, pepper, tomatoes and Parmesan; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Courtesy 250 Best Meals in a Mug by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Barbequed Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps, page 208, Meat Mains

Ready-to-use Chinese hoisin sauce delivers a deep, round intensity to plain chicken, turning it into something sumptuous. Earthy mushrooms and a scattering of green onions ensure that each forkful is a hit.

16-oz (500 mL) mug
1⁄2 cup    frozen sliced bell pepper     125 mL
    and onion stir-fry blend   
1    can (5 oz/142 g) water-packed     1
    chunk chicken, drained and flaked   
1⁄4 cup    drained canned or jarred     60 mL
    mushroom pieces   
2 tbsp    hoisin sauce    30 mL
2    large iceberg, romaine     2
    or butter lettuce leaves   
1 tbsp    sliced green onions    15 mL

In the mug, microwave stir-fry blend on High for 11⁄2 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Drain off excess liquid.
Stir in chicken, mushrooms and hoisin sauce until blended. Microwave on High for 45 to 60 seconds or until warmed through.
Spoon half the chicken mixture into each lettuce leaf. Sprinkle with green onions and any of the suggested accompaniments, as desired.

Suggested Accompaniments
Toasted or roasted chopped almonds, peanuts or cashews; crunchy chow mein noodles

If a frozen pepper and onion stir-fry blend isn’t available, use 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) mixed sliced fresh bell peppers and onions and, in step 1, cook for about 2 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp.
Hoisin sauce is a thick Chinese sauce akin to American barbecue sauce. Look for it where soy sauce is shelved in the grocery store.

Prep Ahead Option
Measure the stir-fry blend into the mug; cover and refrigerate (decrease the cooking time in step 1 by 30 seconds). Measure the chicken, mushrooms and hoisin sauce into a small airtight container; cover and refrigerate. Place the lettuce leaves and green onions in a small airtight container; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Courtesy 250 Best Meals in a Mug by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Double Lemon Cake, page 277, Desserts

Heaps of citrus zing, minimal ingredients, delicious, ready in minutes — what more
could you want from a lemon cake?

16-oz (500 mL) mug, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray

3 tbsp    all-purpose flour    45 mL
1⁄4 tsp    baking powder    1 mL
1⁄8 tsp    salt    0.5 mL
1    large egg    1
3 tbsp    granulated sugar    45 mL
2 tbsp    vegetable oil    30 mL
1 tsp    finely grated lemon zest    5 mL
11⁄2 tbsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice    22 mL

1⁄3 cup    confectioners’ (icing) sugar    75 mL
11⁄2 tsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice    7 mL

Cake: In the mug, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using a fork, beat in egg, sugar, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice until very well blended.
Microwave on High for 11⁄2 to 2 minutes (checking at 11⁄2) or until risen and center is just set. Let cool slightly or entirely in mug. Eat directly from mug or gently remove to a small plate.
Icing: In a small bowl or cup, use a fork to stir confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over cake.

Using oil, instead of butter, in this recipe helps to keep the cake extra-moist.
You can use 1⁄8 tsp (0.5 mL) lemon extract in place of the lemon zest.

Prep Ahead Option
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in the mug; cover and store at room temperature. Whisk the egg in a small airtight container, then add sugar, oil, lemon zest and lemon juice; cover and refrigerate. Prepare the icing in a small airtight container; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Courtesy 250 Best Meals in a Mug by Camilla V. Saulsbury © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.