Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Runaway Wife by Elizabeth Birkelund

About The Runaway Wife

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (July 12, 2016)

Three beautiful French sisters entrust an American hiker with the mission of rescuing their mother high in the Alps. But what if she doesn’t want to be found?

Recently fired from his high-power finance job and dumped by his fiancée, Jim Olsen has come to the Swiss Alps to clear his head. At the charming Cabane des Audannes, he meets Clio, Thalia and Helene Castellane, who are on a quest of their own: their mother, Calliope, has fled to these mountains to escape her philandering politician husband’s most recent scandal. As snow threatens to descend upon the Alps, the women have come to bring their mother home.

But the sisters are at the point of surrender; it is time for them to return to Paris. Buoyed by wine and inspired by their beauty, Jim impetuously volunteers to assume their search, but soon realizes that he is in over his head. The Alps are filled with beauty and danger, not the least of which is Calliope’s desire to stay hidden. And all the while Jim finds himself haunted by the memory of her daughters and conflicted in his desire for them.

The Runaway Wife is a story of adventure, survival, and romance—and of a man’s discovery of a world outside his conventional life and a new vision of himself within it.

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Elizabeth Birkelund AP

About Elizabeth Birkelund

Elizabeth Birkelund is the author of one other French-inspired novel, The Dressmaker. As a freelance magazine journalist, Elizabeth was the personal finance columnist for Cosmopolitan and wrote for more than fifteen years for Working Woman, Self, and Glamour, among other publications. She lives in New York City. Connect with Elizabeth on Facebook.

My Review

Poor Jim Olsen.  His mission to get over his bad break-up with his fiancée and clear his head before beginning a new job on Wall Street is completely derailed once he meets the three sirens in the guise of the formidable Castallane sisters.  He and his friend Ambrose are seduced by their charms, and Jim agrees to a quest to find their missing mother Calliope.  Their father is a powerful French politician in the midst of a Presidential campaign, and he needs his wayward wife by his side which explains the constant whir of rescue helicopters in the area.   Jim isn't a very experienced hiker, and it's the end of the season.  When he leaves the comfort of the hutte and blindly searches for Calliope, he has no idea what trials face him in the treacherous Swiss Alps.

I am in awe of Birkelund's ability to craft unique, well-drawn characters.  I was so worried about Jim and his reckless decisions throughout the book.  He becomes a lotus eater to Calliope 's Calypso: He is on a deadline to return to New York to start his new job, yet he becomes less and less concerned about making his flight the longer he's in Calliope's company.  I must say that the duality of Calliope's character disappointed me in the end.  I was really pulling for her as well as Jim.  The ending is a wee bit ambiguous.  I would like to know more, but overall I enjoyed Jim's adventure in the Alps which is chock-full of suspense, beautiful scenery and quirky characters.

Apparently the Swiss hutte where Jim and Ambrose meet the Castallane sisters really exists.  This is a photo of La Cabane des Audannes.

Disclosure: I received a copy of The Runaway Wife from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party *plus* a Giveaway

Welcome to the Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party!  

Please play the following song for your listening pleasure while you visit my party.  It gives a clue to this year's theme.

Paul McCartney
"It's Only a Paper Moon"

Hurry!  Don't be late!  It's time for the Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party hosted by Vanessa @ A Fanciful Twist!

Anytime is the right time for tea!

Come right on in and don a hat crafted by the Mad Hatter!

Let's get this party started.  The Cheshire Cat has taken the most comfortable chair.

Be my guest and choose your teacup!

You chose a lovely teacup!

Are you ready for some tea and refreshments?  Mayhap some berries?

It's too hot today for hot tea, you say?

It truly is hot as blazes here in Central Alabama with heat indexes in the 100's.  How about some Southern Peach Iced Tea instead?

And if you'd really like to cool down, how about some lime sorbet?

I hope you've enjoyed the party.  Please take a posy home with you!

Here is my recipe for peach tea.  The homemade syrup will last in the fridge for about two weeks, but it's usually consumed within a matter of days around here.

Peach Iced Tea

Black Teabags (I used Lipton, three small)
two peaches, pits removed and sliced into half inch wedges
1 cup cane sugar
1 cup water

Make tea and steep according to taste.  While tea steeps, make peach syrup.  Combine peaches, sugar, and water in a heavy saucepan.  Heat on high and allow to boil.  Stir, and once sugar is melted, remove from heat. Smash peaches and cover pot for about twenty minutes.  Pour and strain into a container.  

Pour tea into glasses and add syrup to taste.  I also like to add mint leaves and fresh peach slices.


Sorbet Glasses: Vintage
Tea Pitcher:  Lismore by Waterford
Syrup Pitcher:  Williams-Sonoma
Tea Glass:  Neiman-Marcus
Napkin:  Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic

All paper crafts were made from back issues of Daphne's Diary Magazine:

Coloring pages via Wonderland by Amily Shen:

Would you like to win a copy of this lovely coloring book?  Do you like to color?  Below is a cupcake and a plate I colored from the book:

I used Caran d'Ache colored pencils (box of 18)

Enter the contest below which starts at midnight tonight.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to visit our hostess Vanessa for links to all the parties.  Thanks so much for hosting, Vanessa!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Your Invitation to the Mad Tea Party 2016

You're invited to the Ninth Annual Mad Tea Party hosted by Vanessa @ A Fanciful Twist.  I've been busily preparing in this relentless heat.  I hope y'all will join us.  It's my favorite link party of the year!

See you this Saturday morning!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What We Had for Lunch: BLT Sandwiches

Hello, My Lovelies!  I hope y'all are staying cool.  With high nineties and heat indexes over 100, we're spending more time indoors (sadly).

Look at the tomatoes!  They'll be ripe soon!

We've been watering everything around our home relentlessly, and I wanted to share a few of our tomatoes with you.

Mrs. Powers is "watering" our tomato plant.

We're growing big boys and creole purple tomatoes.  The creole tomatoes aren't ripe yet.

Two of our first big boys.  Aren't they pretty?

I sliced the tomato thinly for our BLT's.

We're trying to keep gluten out of our diets, so I made the BLT's like a lettuce wrap, or like my favorite burgers from Burgerfi with stacked lettuce substituted for hamburger buns:


Summertime BLT's

Sliced Big Boy Tomatoes
Applewood Smoked Bacon, one rasher per person
Iceberg Lettuce
Stonewall Kitchen Sriracha Aioli 
Salt and Pepper

Wash lettuce and stack several lettuce leaves on a plate.  Add sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put a tablespoon of aioli on the tomatoes.  Stack more lettuce and add bacon.  Put both together and make a sandwich.  

Easy peasy and yummy!  I hope you try this....perfect for summer!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, July 15, 2016

Literary Friday: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!

Recently I read the Best.  Book.  Ever.  Seriously it's definitely the best book I've read during 2016: The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos.  I've read several of her books, and they are all fantastic, but this one is my favorite.

According to Goodreads:

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary — professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter Willow only once. 

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister — a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Told in alternating voices — Taisy’s strong, unsparing observations and Willow’s naive, heartbreakingly earnest yearnings — The Precious One is an unforgettable novel of family secrets, lost love, and dangerous obsession, a captivating tale with the deep characterization, piercing emotional resonance, and heartfelt insight that are the hallmarks of Marisa de los Santos’s beloved works.

My Review

I will never forget the characters in this book.  They are drawn to perfection, and having both Taisy's and Willow's points of view give depth and perspective that wouldn't have been possible without them. Alternating POV's don't help my opinion of Wilson.  UGH!  He is horrible and I hate him. Taisy's obsequious relationship with him made me want to hit something really hard.  Not only is her father responsible for tearing apart her family, he's also responsible for her biggest heartache she's ever experienced: her break-up with the love of her life, Ben.

Willow grows on the reader as she makes typical and not so typical teenage mistakes.  She matures and begins trusting and loving her big sister.  The dynamic between the sisters change when Taisy shares the story about her relationship with Ben.  This opens the door for Willow to share aspects of her difficult adjustment to high school after having been homeschooled her entire life. Willow has placed herself in a dangerous situation, and fortunately she has Taisy for advice and encouragement: she's the one Willow turns to in her darkest hour.  They both join forces to create the family they want against Wilson's better judgement, and that's the lesson of the book:  It is possible to decide what type of relationship one wants with others (especially family members) irregardless of strong, manipulative personalities who always want things their way.  

This is one of the best family dramas I've ever read.  The characters are engaging, the plot is a page-turner, and the complicated relationships ensure this novel's excellence.  There are a couple of sweet romances in the story that made me sigh.  These would not have been possible without interesting male characters who are willing to forgive and focus on what could be.  This book is being placed not only on my keeper shelf, but my favorites shelf.

What has been your favorite book of 2016 so far? Please share in the comments section!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill