Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Cooks and their Books - first post of 2024 recommending books and authors

Back in October I was tickled pink to spend a little time with Carrie Feron, enjoying catching up (and coveting the purse she was carrying . . .) while having a glass of wine and rocking away in a couple of comfy rocking chairs on the front porch of the Pat Conroy Literary Center.

While awaiting the evening's festivities to begin we struck up a conversation with Jonathan Barrett and Mary Greene, Mary is also known as The Cheese Biscuit Queen.

If you know me, you know I have always loved cookbooks.  

 I can sit down with one and read it cover to cover like a novel.

How fun to find myself talking cookbooks with two Southern cookbook authors!

Jonathan and Mary both have cookbooks which double as delightful memoirs, all of which I have bought since that evening, and each of which i am still thoroughly enjoying.

Here's what Cassandra King Conroy has to say about Mary's The Cheese Biscuit Queen Tells All:

"It’s hard to decide what’s more delicious in this food memoir/cookbook, the drool-worthy recipes or the delightful stories that accompany them. Mary Greene hails from a great big Southern family and a life spent in politics, which makes her uniquely qualified to share both her cooking secrets and hilarious tales and misadventures of Southern life."

And here's what Janis Owens has to day about Jonathan's Cook & Tell:

“Chef, raconteur, and old-school bon vivant Johnathon Barrett celebrates the most glorious aspects of Southern life in Cook & Tell.” 

So, folks here's my first post of 2024 recommending books and authors.

Once you've dipped into Jonathan and Mary's cooking and story telling skills, I encourage you to buy Jonathan's Ship Watch, his debut novel.

I loved it!  

Every word.

I admit to being a huge fan of Southern lit.   Why else would my favorite authors include names like Pat Conroy, Cassandra King Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, David Joy, Sarah Addison Allen, Pamela Terry, Dorothea Benton Frank . . .

I was hooked by Ship Watch from the minute I read the Amazon description:


Set around the renowned and historical homestead at the center of the drama, Ship Watch weaves together six intertwined relationships that extend from the gentrified city of Savannah and into the wealthy enclaves of Sea Island, Highlands, and Atlanta’s Buckhead. The novel’s characters are drawn in the loom by the family's elegantly formidable matriarch, Grand Martha, and form a multi-generational tapestry that includes the misfortunes of divorce and betrayal – but in more and even better measure opportunities for redemption, rediscovery, and the rarified gift of ‘second love.’ By combining an encompassing setting having a solid sense of place along with characters that are captivating and rather extraordinary, Ship Watch is a sometimes bittersweet, yet often comedic, Southern tour-de-force debut novel."

Who could resist??  Does this epitomize what we look for and hope to find when we pick up a new Southern novel?

And then, darn if he doesn't have his Atlanta launch at Manuel's Tavern.  

Oh my.  Cool.  Very, very cool.

Yes, I have a few Manuel's tales . . .

And having lived in Atlanta from 1968 - 1997, I was also pretty gobsmacked to run across familiar, and important to my life, locations while reading Ship Watch.

But aside from this novel becoming a little personal for me, it's just a damn good book.

Here's what a whole mess of folks have to say about Jonathan Scott Barrett's debut novel, Ship Watch:

Editorial Reviews

Come peek inside the kimono of Savannah’s bluest of blue-blood families. When ownership of Ship Watch, the family’s long-owned grand plantation on the banks of the Savannah River, is contested, proverbial long knives are brandished. Much of this engrossing tale depicts place — Savannah, Highlands, and Sea Island – where the wealthy make merry and hold court. —
Jameson Gregg, Georgia Author of the Year, Luck Be A Chicken

“Storyteller extraordinaire, raconteur, and old-school bon vivant Johnathon Barrett celebrates the most glorious aspects of Southern life in all four of his wonderfully written books”—
Janis Owens, award-winning and bestselling author of American Ghost and My Brother Michael

"Few areas of the country dazzle and intrigue the way the Low Country does. Barrett brings it to life in an epic tapestry of Southern culture that will leave you wanting more
." —R.J. Lee, author of the Bridge to Death Mysteries

“Set amongst the sumptuous backdrop of Savannah Georgia’s elite, Johnathon Scott Barrett’s debut novel, 
Ship Watch, is a compelling Southern saga of unyielding women and the alluring men they love, family tradition, and second chances.” — Robert Gwaltney, Georgia New Author of the Year, The Cicada Tree

“Ship Watch is the closest you’ll come to breathing the rarified air of the Southern aristocracy. Grab your cocktail of choice and settle in for excess and exes, second chances, and at least one epic Julia Sugarbaker-style setting-things-to-right takedown. - Jeffrey Dale Lofton, award-winning author of Red Clay Suzie

“Ship Watch, a stately Southern mansion built on the coast of Georgia in is only one of the intricate array of characters in this debut novel.. Readers will be transported into this down-home Southern story about April Anne Adams, a small-town Georgia girl, who finds getting everything she ever dreamed of doesn’t guarantee happiness, and Tripp Randolph, who is set to inherit Ship Watch if his soon-to-be ex-wife doesn’t win the mansion in their nasty divorce. April Anne and Tripp converge together and sparks fly. Not always in a good way. A page turner until the end.” – Ann Hite, 2012 Georgia Author of the Year and author of the award-winning Haints On Black Mountain: A Haunted Short Story Collection and Ghost On Black Mountain

"Meet Johnathon Scott Barrett, the literary first cousin to Fannie Flagg and Mary Kay Andrews. He joins their rank as he comedically writes about Southern life and Southern strife in this debut novel.— 
Jackie K. Cooper, Host of Entertainment Rundown and author of The Wisdom of Winter

"Readers will devour this deliciously dishy, multi-generational peek into the manners and mores of the Savannah, Highlands, Sea Island, and Buckhead moneyed elite.”.—Mary Kay Andrews,  New York Times bestselling author of 30 novels

You're Welcome!



Lesa said...

Thank you! I placed The Cheese Biscuit Queen on hold. Unfortunately, the library doesn't have the other cookbook. They sound fun!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Ship Watch isn't a cookbook, Lesa. Although he has written two or three, Ship Watch is his debut novel. Let me know what you think of The Cheese Biscuit Queen!