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Review: The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo

Title: The Violinist of Venice
Author: Alyssa Palombo
Publisher: St. Martin's
Publication Date: December 15, 2015
ISBN: 9781250071491
Number of Pages: 437
How I Got It: from publisher
Format: paperback
Read the Goodreads Description Here
My Review:
I am drawn to any book that is set in France or Italy. I was not sure how much I would enjoy this book however since it looked "romantic." Romance novels are not my preferred reading so I told myself "Give it a try and if you don't like it after 30 pages, move along." Well, I read almost half the novel in my first sitting. The short chapters of this paperback had me flying along and I wasn't rolling my eyes at the actions of the main characters. The story held my attention with its forbidden loves, illegitimate children, and betrothals. I enjoyed being transported to 18th century Venice and Alyssa Palombo's Adriana d'Amato is one of the most relatable characters I have had the pleasure of reading about in quite some time. 

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review: The Southern Baker by the editors of Southern Living

Title: The Southern Baker
Author: the editors of Southern Living
Publisher: Oxmoor House
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
ISBN: 9780848746421
Number of Pages: 304
How I Got It: library
Format: Hardback
Goodreads Description:
The South is rich in many traditions, and one of its most important is baking. From creating the perfect biscuit to accompany Sunday Dinner, or baking the perfect pie to welcome a new neighbor, baking in the South is about more than just creating something delicious, it's about sharing special times with family and friends. Now, the experts at Southern Living magazine deliver the ultimate compendium of the South's most cherished recipes for such Southern Staples as fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits, decadent Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread, or flaky Pie Crust. Also included are inside tips and tricks - "Baker's Secrets," in-depth tutorials and instructions on ingredients and tools to begin, and specific techniques direct from the legendary Southern Living test kitchen. Whether you're a novice or a pro, young or old, Northern or Southern, The Southern Baker will become your go-to guide for all of your baking needs, and might make you one of the more popular people in your family.My Review:
The photographs are lovely and the recipes are all fairly straightforward. I tear lots of recipes out of Southern Living magazine and I like the idea of having a collection featuring my favorites. When it comes to southern cooking and baking, there is the appeal of the butter, the pies, and the pecans. The mouthwatering cover will draw you in but each recipe and corresponding photo will keep you drooling. I especially love the cornbread feature. It's time I graduate from the box mix and this will be the first "real" cornbread recipe I try. 

Review: Troublemaker by Leah Remini

Title: Troublemaker
Author: Leah Remini
Publisher: Ballantine 
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
ISBN: 9781101886960
Number of Pages: 234
How I Got It: Library
Format: Hardcover

Inside Covers:
Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost. That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices. Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes. But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever. Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

My Review:
My mouth dropped on the first page and I loved every page after. I read Jenna Miscavige's memoirs a few years ago so I was semi-familiar with some of the terminology like "going clear" and "auditing sessions" but Leah gave additional insight into Scientology from the angle of celebrity. Her storytelling is blunt and hilarious, just like every time I see her on television (as herself or as her character on King of Queens, Carrie Heffernan.) While Remini gives some insight into the religion / cult of Scientology, this is specifically about her journey. It was utterly fascinating. I challenge anyone to read the first page and not be immediately hooked!