Non-fiction

Meet C. Hope Clark

 

CHopeClark

 

C. Hope Clark is a Southern gal to the core – born, raised, married, and happily still in the Carolinas. Her agricultural roots are deep, being the granddaughter of a Mississippi cotton farmer, so it’s not surprising that Clark received a B.S. in Agriculture from Clemson University and then went to work for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Carolina Slade, the lead character in the Slade Mysteries, was drawn from Clark’s own experiences at the USDA.

 

Hope is married to a long-time (former) officer of federal law enforcement, now working as a contract investigator. The opening scene to “Lowcountry Bribe,” is based on a bribery case that involved both of them in real-life. They married after that case, and now live on Lake Murray, in South Carolina, spending time on Edisto Island whenever they can. The settings for several of Hope’s books, while reimagined to protect the innocent, depict the countryside she loves and has traveled through for most of her life.

 

She founded and continues to run FundsforWriters.com, a site that Writer’s Digest has recognized as one of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for fourteen years. Hope has been published in multiple magazines, she speaks at writers’ conferences, her books are award winners, and she remains one of the most gracious, generous mystery writers in the business. And, wow, can she hook you with her stories!  🙂

 

Fun facts about Hope:

 

Her favorite dessert is Crème Brulee. She considers it “pure luxury.”

One of her inspirations in the writing business? Lisa Gardner.

She is a member of MENSA!

She loves seafood (as does Callie in the Edisto series) especially shrimp and crab, and has wonderful recipes for both.

Click here to see the recipes for Steamed Blue Crab and Citrus Shrimp.

 

The current list of C. Hope Clark’s Fiction:

 

The Carolina Slade Series:

“Low Country Bribe”

“Tidewater Murder”

“Palmetto Poison”

 

Edisto Series:

“Murder on Edisto”

“Edisto Jinx”

“Echoes of Edisto”

 

Non-fiction:

 

“The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success”

“The Shy Writer, Reborn”

 

It has been my pleasure to read all of C. Hope Clark's works of fiction. My reviews of two of the titles can be found by clicking on the links.

 

Book Cover - LowCountry Bribe

 

 

 

 

 Read the review here.

 

 

Book Cover - Palmetto Poison

 

 

 

 

Read the review here.

 

 

Book Cover - Echoes of Edisto

 

 

 

 

 

 Read the review here.

 

 

 

For information about C. Hope Clark's appearances, signings, and Funds for Writers, please visit www.chopeclark.com.  🙂

 

 

 

 

“It’s Not About the Coffee” by Howard Behar, with Janet Goldstein

 

Book Cover - It's Not About the Coffee

Howard Behar’s “It’s Not About the Coffee,” discusses the principles underlying the building of a world famous brand.

 

Behar spent about 20 years in various senior leadership roles at Starbucks. Despite the fact that he did not have an MBA, he and head of the company Howard Schulz, hit it off and Behar became the one to move the Operations forward and make Starbucks profitable. At the time Starbucks only had 28 stores.

 

Behar’s belief is that a company will thrive if it is built on a ‘People First’ philosophy.

His emphasis was not on the bottom line, but rather for the employees to know “Why are you here? Are you in the right place? Are you doing what makes you happy?”

 

This was a shift away from just selling the product and pushing the sale, to service and providing the best product with a smile. It was his sincere goal to make the customers happy to be in that store/chain. If that happened, then customers would come back again and again. An effective approach? Definitely. Today there are over 21,000 stores worldwide – over 11,000 in the USA alone.

 

“It’s Not About the Coffee” breaks the Principles of Personal Leadership into ten chapters:

 

1. Know Who You Are

2. Know Why You’re Here

3. Think Independently

4. Build Trust

5. Listen for the Truth

6. Be Accountable

7. Take Action

8. Face Challenge

9. Practice Leadership

10. Dare to Dream

 

Through it all, Behar appears to set aside the model of manager as a ‘me, my way’ leader and instead chooses the model of ‘we can work together in order to create the best result.’

 

Granted, there has to be a decent product to sell, but Behar’s guidelines in “It’s Not About the Coffee” give value to the employee as a thinking, contributing being, capable of being a partner in the success of the company.

 

Starbucks as a company hasn’t always made the best choices in the eyes of its customers – the logo change a few years back, the red holiday cup this year – but, think about it. What other company (besides Coke) has this kind of customer loyalty that lights up the internet with pro/con opinions when something changes? If you are a Starbucks customer, you are welcomed at each and every store, made to feel at home by its very décor, served with a smile and as you leave with that (some would say) overpriced cup of coffee, you know that you’ll come back again.

 

That satisfied customer feel is something that all companies should strive to deliver. It’s why I never go back to some (other) stores, why some chains fail in tough times, why I will return time after time to certain shops, even if they don’t always have what I need.

 

Full disclosure: I am a loyal Starbucks customer. It’s not because they brew the best cup of coffee in the world; I don’t think they do. But, they deliver consistency, familiarity, a comfortable environment, a decent product, and most of all, wonderful service from pleasant employees wherever I go in the country.

 

When I saw “It’s Not About the Coffee” for sale in an airport, I picked it up, curious about the business model that would take a regional company to international success story in a couple of decades. Great read for anyone who is interested in seeing how one of the guys at the top did it.

 

 

Reader Favorites – New Reviews 2014

 

Book Cover - Upstairs at the White House

It’s always fun to discover which new reviews get the most attention during the year. The most popular reviews were ReTweeted dozens of times, shared on Facebook, and Google+, and got some attention on Pinterest. There were old titles, new titles, fiction and non-fiction, seasoned authors and debut authors in the mix. Several were best sellers.

 

In case you missed the reviews, here are the 2014 favorites on NightstandBookReviews in alphabetical order by author. Click on the titles and take a look:

 

Lucy Burdette, “Appetite for Murder

 

Robert Dugoni, “My Sister’s Grave

 

Robert Dugoni, “The Conviction

 

Sarah Graves, “Triple Witch

 

Edith Maxwell, “A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die

 

Leigh Perry, “A Skeleton in the Family

 

MJ Rose, “The Book of Lost Fragrances

 

Barbara Ross, “Clammed Up

 

Daniel Silva, “The English Girl

 

JB West & ML Katz, “Upstairs at the White House

 

Lynn Chandler Willis, “The Rising


Happy reading!

 

Favorite Cookbooks for Gift Giving

 

Book Cover - Baking

I am happy to say that I know quite a few really good cooks and bakers. They use fresh ingredients, cook/bake from scratch and (deservedly so) take pride in the results. These gals and guys know their way around a saucepan and have discovered go-to cookbooks to use as reliable references when checking on a new technique or when working with an unfamiliar food. Sometimes, they use the cookbooks to expand their repertoire of tasty entrees and/or desserts.

 

The Nightstand Book Reviews subscribers were invited to contribute their choices for favorite cookbooks (suitable for holiday gift-giving). Take a look at the list and their comments.

 

Pat Bee uses:

The New Doubleday Cookbook! My husband found this cookbook years ago and it is a great one! Lots of information regarding cooking – not just recipes.

My other favorite is Baking by Dorie Greenspan. Haven’t had a failure with any of the recipes and the final product is delicious, especially the biscotti. (Note from Patti: I’ve had the biscotti. Yummy!)

 

Rony G Cambell suggests:

My son found a cookbook The Country Farmhouse Cookbook by Sarah Banbery. I’ve never come across a cookbook with so much love, detail and absolutely outstanding recipes, all with brilliant photography to accompany them.

It covers everything from growing, to final preparation. Soups, snacks, egg & cheese dishes, fish & shellfish – the list goes on until the final Homemade Drinks & Sweets.

It gets used at least once a week in our house.

 

Toni DeLuca praises:

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz.  It made a famous world-wide list for top cookbooks.  It includes recipes as well as stories of Paris. 

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast. There are over 900 pages but it really is a helpful book.  He is very health conscious and gives clear directions. He writes for the NYTimes and is on PBS.

From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart:

Meatless: Vegetarian recipes.  Not complicated and even meat eaters would enjoy the recipes.  I made several of the recipes – Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Gratin & Roasted Tomato Tabbouleh are two. 

One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals From Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot and More. 

 

Edith Maxwell has contributed to:

Cozy Food: 128 Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes! Nancy Lynn Jarvis compiled this. It includes many delicious recipes from many well-known (and some not so well-known) mystery authors. I have recipes in there for Baba Ganoush, and Tomato-Bean Salad with Eggs. 

Check out www.edithmaxwell.com for links/info about Edith’s books, featuring amateur sleuths that are also talented cooks.

 

Liz Mugavero loves:

Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr and Chad Samo. Kris is a wellness advocate who has been living with cancer for eleven years and has improved her health and lifestyle with her food choices. The recipes in this book are vegan and many have gluten free options. All are plant based. It's definitely my go-to cookbook!

Check out www.lizmugavero.com for links/info about Liz’s fun, pet friendly murder mysteries that include recipes for pet treats.

 

Brian Stewart suggests:

For curry fans (like me) you can’t look past Atul Kochhar’s Atul’s Curries of the World. Tried many of them, and all are fantastic (top favourite is the prawn and mango one!!)

 

Lynn C. Willis recommends:

My favorite cookbook is my Hershey's Recipes. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate! It's only 30 pages but every page is filled with some kind of goodie made with Hershey chocolate. Chocolate Raspberry Dessert is nearly truly zen-worthy. I found this book in the dollar bin at Target and consider it the best dollar I've ever spent. (Note from Patti: Hershey now has multiple titles for chocolate recipe cookbooks. The link takes you to one of the many.)

My second favorite cookbook is The Chandler Family Recipes – a book my cousin put together a few years ago and distributed at our family reunion. She spent years gathering the recipes of our grandmothers, mothers, great aunts, aunts and fellow cousins and compiled them in spiral-bound books she photocopied herself. I gave one to my own daughter and one to my daughter-in-law as something to pass on to their own daughters. (Note from Patti: You can’t purchase the Chandler collection of recipes, but isn’t it a great idea for a future gift?)

Check out www.lynnchandlerwillis.com for info/links to Lynn’s award-winning mysteries.

 

I have some of the above titles on my shelf, but have asked Santa to bring me the ones I’m missing.  J

Happy shopping everyone!

 

P.S. If you are subscriber to Nightstand Book Reviews and would like to add a cookbook title to the list, please email me with your suggestion. 

 

 

“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand

 

Book Cover - Unbroken

Resilient: Attribute of someone who can "bounce back" after shock or injury, whether of the physical or psychological kind.

 

Before Louis Zamperini, the subject of Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken,” became an Olympic runner, he had been a juvenile delinquent, getting into so much trouble that some thought he might not survive his teenaged years. He was restless, reckless and unimpressed by boundaries or rules, outsmarting his targets at every turn. His parents tried, but were unable to rein him in. He was unbowed by physical or verbal threats. Then in high school, his brother helped save Zamperini from himself by persuading the principal to let him race. Over the next year, training consisted of being hit with a stick, running over hills and trails, and running until he dropped. Eventually, running was all he wanted to do.

 

As he matured, he became one of the best distance runners in the world, but WW2 broke out and Zamperini’s future changed. He joined the Army Air Corps, and then was shot down in the Pacific after Pearl Harbor. Despite the ordeal of drifting over 1000 miles in open seas for 47 days with no provisions and surrounded by sharks, he and another airman survived, only to be captured by the Japanese once they reached land in the Marshall Islands. His non-stop harrowing experience at the hands of torturers who never heard of the Geneva Convention would have broken a different man, but Zamperini had an incredible inner strength that brought him through. Resilience.

 

This non-fiction account of his courage and endurance in the face of inconceivable challenges has been on the NYT bestseller list for over 165 weeks. In “Unbroken,” Hillenbrand’s descriptions are gritty, raw and oh, so real. I smelled the decaying bodies. I was in the water when the enemy aircraft shot at the raft. I was terrified when Watanabe (a guard who singled him out) came close and demonstrated the worst form of man’s inhumanity to man.

 

We civilians would hope that this kind of mistreatment does not occur if our loved ones in the military are wounded or captured by the enemy. We also hope that they will return to us mentally and emotionally unscarred by whatever traumas they have experienced, but we know this is not always the case. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a very real possibility for people serving at the front lines and while nobody gave it a name in WW2, Zamperini must have been a clear example. That Zamperini was capable of forgiveness years later is remarkable in itself, but his action of forgiveness moved even his former enemies.

 

Hillenbrand has shown once again that truth is sometimes more riveting than fiction – remember her engrossing retelling of the story of “Seabiscuit?”

 

Zamperini died July 2, 2014 at the age of 97. His son, Luke, gives talks about his father’s inspirational life and Zamperini’s legacy will also live on in an upcoming movie.

 

Please visit www.laurahillenbrandbooks.com for more information about future plans for “Unbroken.”

 

 

“The Southern Living Garden Book”

 

Book Cover - Southern Living Garden Book

 

Many of you have seen photos of a variety of flowers and shrubs in my garden. “The Southern Living Garden Book” is my go-to gardening reference whenever I want to expand the beds and need to research compatible plants and shrubs.

 

My hectic travel schedule defeated any year-round gardening plan I had while living in perpetually drought-stricken north Texas.  The intense heat required me to partner with neighbors or landscapers so that thirsty plants could be nurtured during the many 100+ degree weeks I was away. Eventually, I downsized the gardening attempts to a few pots on the patio.

 

Interestingly enough, the most successful arrangement involved two enthusiastic neighborhood children – eight and ten year old boys. I can only imagine the wild water fights on my patio while the flowers were getting their daily drinks, but my plants never looked better than during that summer.

 

But, now that I’m in North Carolina and my traveling days are severely reduced, I am ready for more extensive gardening adventures once more and my savvy cousin-in-law (a Master Gardener) recognized a need. “The Southern Living Garden Book,” contains over 7,000 plant listings, more than 1,000 color photos, additional color illustrations and new plant hardiness maps.

 

An important part of any gardening book is a “What-can-I-grow-in-my-garden-with-its-special-needs?” chapter. The category is tackled nicely in the section referred to as the ‘Plant Selection Guide.’  There are thirty-four plant lists (with photos) that help with areas such as hedges, screens or borders and other specialty spots. There are pages devoted to showy perennials, attractive plants for birds, and a wealth of other information – all keyed for climate hardiness, sun and water needs.

 

If you are not fortunate enough to live within driving distance of a nursery, a list of mail-order garden suppliers is included in the resource directory contained near the end of the book.

 

“The Southern Living Garden Book” is a substantial coffee table size, meant to be studied and used as a planning guide. Great investment of less than $30. if you have a gardening vision in mind; a beautiful and practical addition to my shelves.

 

 

 

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