Gumbo Tales

Gumbo Tales is an ode to New Orleans food and culture, written by a transplant experiencing it all for the first time. | A review by

Gumbo Tales is an ode to New Orleans food and culture, written by a transplant experiencing it all for the first time. It explores gumbo, of course, as well as po-boys, red beans and rice, king cakes, and even turducken. As she eats and cooks her way through the classics of New Orleans, Roahen also finds her place in New Orleans’ widely diverse culture, as she makes her way through events from Mardi Gras parades to Hurricane Katrina itself.

My husband and I picked up this book during a recent trip to New Orleans, but I didn’t get around to reading it until well after our vacation was over. And whether or not you’ve been to New Orleans yourself, this book is sure to leave you in the same boat as it left me–longing to visit and see what you’re missing out on. Roahen’s descriptions of the food and the cooks who prepare it are entrancing. Her love for her new home is evident in her painstaking attempts to find and recreate the best of New Orleans, even if that means chasing crawdads around the kitchen or calling every butcher in town to find one who will stitch up a turducken monster.

Check it out if you’re interested in the culture and food of America’s European city. You won’t be disappointed (unless it’s over all the wonderful food you aren’t eating!).

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

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Review Copy: Louisiana Fever

Louisiana Fever is chock-full of medical examiner details and New Orleans flavor. #spon | A book review by Newbery and Beyond

Note: I received a digital copy of Louisiana Fever from the publisher for review consideration.

Sometimes, you just need a good old-fashioned, best-seller type of mystery to get you through.  Fortunately for me, Louisiana Fever was just that kind of book.  Set in New Orleans, this book is the latest in the Andy Broussard / Kit Franklyn mystery series.  It follows medical examiner Broussard and his assistant Kit as they attempt to identify the mysterious man who contacted Kit and met her at a restaurant with a handful of flowers–just before dropping dead.  When Kit disappears and Broussard comes in contact with a mysterious and deadly disease, the stakes are raised, and time threatens to run out for both of the partners.

Be forewarned–this book is not for the faint of heart.  While I was fascinated by the in-depth descriptions of the autopsies and the forensics Broussard and his assistants used to figure out the cause of death and search for clues about the mysterious new disease, they are definitely not for everyone.  The mystery itself is interesting and suspenseful.  The disease that Broussard is investigating and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Kit’s kidnapping begin to converge, and the team has to work quickly to solve both pieces of the mystery.  The New Orleans setting also works very well here.  My husband and I took a trip to New Orleans this summer, and I was excited to recognize many of the street names and landmarks mentioned in Louisiana Fever.  I got a little annoyed at the Cajun accents that several of the characters had, but I’m not a fan of written-out accents in general.

My one regret about reading this book without having read any others in the series is that Kit’s character was not very well fleshed out in Louisiana Fever.  Because she is either missing or kidnapped for the majority of the book, we don’t get to see her character develop or interact with Broussard.  I also felt like Kit majorly overreacted to some of the events that occurred near the end of the book.  Sure, she just got kidnapped, but how old are you, Kit?

If you’re into TV shows like CSI, you’ll love this book.  It has that same flair for keeping things suspenseful, fast-paced, and tied to the character of the city it’s set in.  Just try not to get too queasy during the forensic medical examinations!

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

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