“A Christmas Wish” list of favorite books by Deborah Burst

book cover

One of the great things about being a journalist is all the wonderful and talented people you meet. Listed below are some of my favorite writers and their latest work.

Gimme Some Sugar, Darlin’ is a lively memoir from a culinary point of view along with an introduction to everything Southern. The book follows what Laurance (Laurie) Daltroff Triplette calls a “Baby Boomer’s cockeyed” personal essay paying homage to the diverse cultural and culinary heritage of four Southern families. From Tex-Mex and Cajun to Delta Appalachian and Low Country and all points in between, a book for everyone from domestic divas to what Triplette calls, “our precious, home-ec deprived 19 year-olds.”

There’s forty pages dedicated to the secret lexicons of Southernness while the remaining recipes and cooking tips share recent and heirloom recipes spanning five generations. Sifting through the pages, Triplette owns a lovely cadence like a church choir in a slow and deliberate harmony gradually peaking to a raucous celebration.

A staple of maintaining a Southern Kitchen is more than just food, the book details how to set a table, table etiquette and the tools needed to stock a well primed kitchen. There’s a two page spread just on frying chicken, another on slow cooking, and no southern cookbook would be complete without a section on preserving, canning and quantity equivalents in preparing food for 100 people. The Cake chapter is sprinkled with traditional and heirloom recipes including the Apple Stack Cake, a multi-layered cake from an Appalachian community dating back to colonial times.

At first glance, you would say Gimme Some Sugar, Darlin’ is a smartly done cookbook, but that doesn’t give it justice. The handsome spiral bound pages wrapped in a hard-bound book bring back long-lost memories with a stinging urge to haul the kids into the kitchen for a cooking lesson.


Chasing the Wind is a sequel to Dancing on Glass written by award winning novelist, Pamela Binnings Ewen. An excellent wordsmith, Ewen also invests a great deal of research in historical accuracy which brings a heightened sense of place. Set in New Orleans, the scenes are so real you hear the street side musicians, crave the coffee and beignets and smell the sweet olive in Jackson Square.

Chasing the Wind explores the real-life dramas of Amalise Catoir, a young lawyer who has just returned to her career after a brush with death by an abusive husband. Starting a new life, Amalise leans on her childhood friend, Jude, and begins to feel that familiar closeness, but it may be too late.

Some call it karma, others believe it’s a higher power, but sometimes there seems to be a master plan–a blueprint in who we meet, when we meet, and why?

Ewen explores these mysteries in life and weaves an engaging plot bringing together a greedy investor, a young female lawyer, and an innocent child. Chasing the Wind is a love story spiced with mystery, ambition, and rivalry set against a fast paced, razzle-dazzle corporate transaction in Amalise Catoir’s law practice in New Orleans.

Suspense plus whimsy, bound together with love, Amalise begs the same questions that haunt women today on career, marriage and motherhood in a whirlwind of surprising emotions and conflicts.  http://www.pamelaewen.com/books/

The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans Part 2, The Last Beaucoeur is a sequel to David Lummis’ first novel, The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans: Part 1. His main character, Sammy Singleton takes a detour from writing a benign coffee shop guidebook to search for his friend Catfish Beaucoeur. Catfish disappears after being released from a New Orleans Central lockup charged with grave robbing, and leaves behind clues including a book of lynching photography and a disturbing handwritten poem.

Rarely does a book come along with writing so lyrical the words tap inside your head with a mind-altering rhythm. Like the first novel, the second digs even deeper in the Jim Crow south and the secrets it holds. A raw prose, much like screenwriting, Lummis drives the plot with heady characters and vivid scenes inside the New Orleans French Quarter and bohemian suburbs.

Against the backdrop of a monster storm bearing down on the city, Sammy frantically continues his quest with the help of Catfish’s childhood friend Lee Ann, who transports Sammy and the reader back to the 1960s and 70s.

The book explores the territory of the human heart as it weaves together a story of love, the saga of a slave-holding family and its place in New Orleans’ civil rights history, and a meditation on the meaning of a life and how our past inevitably shapes the here and now.


Another great thing about giving books as gifts–you can sit home in front of the cozy fire and order them online. That’s a gift in itself. Happy shopping and have a great Thanksgiving!