Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Silent Prey - T. M. Simmons, Author



English Toffee
(My sister-in-law, Pat, gave me this recipe and it's great for easy Christmas gifts. It's also perfect for the holidays, since it's full of calories! - T.M. Simmons)
 
Ingredients:
 
1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, split in half
1 lb. Hershey's Chocolate Bar (plain)
(Pat said that she used two 5 oz. chocolate bars and it was plenty of chocolate.)
 
Melt butter, sugar and vanilla on medium high heat.
Add ½ of the pecans and cook until 320 degrees on the candy thermometer. The mixture will be a light caramel color and have a slight burnt smell. Do not overcook.
Pour onto a flat piece of aluminum foil.
 
Melt chocolate bar and spread over the toffee with a flat knife.
Top with remaining pecans.
 
After cooled, you can break into pieces and put into cute little boxes for gifts. Yum!
 

Silent Prey - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

She raced through the blowing snow, savoring the feel of the cold and wind.  Glorying in feeling... being once again.  Enjoying the fact that traveling was so easy, so quick.  Her feet flew over the snow, and merely thinking of a remembered place brought her to it.  No need for heavy clothing to impede movement or slow her down.  Even the tangled underbrush didn't present obstacles.  She had no recall of how long the non-existence of her grave had lasted.  Only slowly were the memories returning.  Most of them, at first, were the painful ones.  Children's beautiful chubby faces losing their plumpness and fading into skeletal skulls with only a layer of skin stretched over them.  Their cries fading near the end as their mother tried unsuccessfully to share her scant remaining body heat.  Finally, the thankfulness that they suffered no longer and her longing to join them.

In Silent Prey Simmons brings us Nenegean, who for some reason has left her grave and is wreaking havoc on the Northwood.  For some strange reason she steals children.  Then there is Dr. Channing Drury who has come to the Northwood from Texas to possibly join Dr. Silver in his practice.  Keoman Thunderwood is from the Ojibway tribe and is a Mide, or for most of us a medicine man.  As the electricity starts to fly between Channing and Keoman, she finds herself defending Nenegean where Keoman sees her only as a demon that must be done away with.  Channing reasons that Nenegean doesn't harm the children she takes but there are other children being taken that are being harmed so Nenegean believes she is protecting them from the real demon.  Keoman sees her as a being that has no feelings so she can't possibly 'think' anything through but only takes them because of the loss of her own when she lived many years ago.  No matter which is right and which is wrong, there are children that are being harmed and something must be done to keep them safe.

I've read everything this author has written and after reading each book I tell myself this is the best, it can't get any better... wrong.  Every book is always better than the last.  As I read Silent Prey I tried to understand the motive of Nenegean and when I finally did understand I tried to decide who the real demon was.  Well, as always, she kept me guessing until the end!  This is one heck of an author and I will always follow her books and impatiently wait for the next.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Golden Girl - Mary Kennedy, Author



Oatmeal bars(Mary Kennedy's own special recipe)

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups oats, either quick cook or regular
1 cup brown sugar (I use light brown)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz of jam (I usually use 14 oz)
1 and 3/4 sticks butter

Directions:
Mix dry ingredients. Cut in chilled butter. Place half the mixture in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Press down with fingertips. Spread jam on top. Spread the remaining oatmeal mixture on top. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Cool and cut into squares or bars.


Golden Girl - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat, Think With Your Taste Buds: A Book and A Dish

Amber Fielding may be young but that doesn't stop her from enjoying a life of luxury to its fullest.  Her father, who owns one of the best hotels in South Beach, has made sure she wants for nothing but also that a price comes with everything which includes her working for what she has.

Her beauty won her a feature in Teen Vogue and she has now become an item of publicity but the publicity manager her father found for her isn't quite what she had dreamed of.  Then she meets Nick Crawford who is doing a documentary on the architect of South Beach.  Not only is Nick 'hot' he also seems to have an attraction to Amber and has promised to include shots of she and her best friends in his documentary.  But... there is something not quite right.  He seems to be attracted to her friend Shay too.  And when he sends a beautiful arrangement of flowers to her friend Zia, that really struck a note with Amber.  He was becoming her boyfriend, wasn't he?

Being the owner of a hotel like the Fielding often has its perks.  One of the perks turned out to be Johnny Wilde and his band The Changelings booking the whole 11th floor of the hotel.  So when Amber is invited to the after party she can't wait.  This was going to be fun, or was it?

Author Mary Kennedy has written a book that follows Amber Fielding and her best friends through good times as well as bad.  She has given Amber character with morals as she takes her through trust and believing in people, but also shows how that trust can sometimes be deceiving.  This book is one that I feel most young ladies would enjoy reading and even learn a little from.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sprig of Broom - Susan Whitfield, Author



Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is basically a chicken stew. The “Coq” in its name
means “rooster.” Today we use chicken pieces.
It tastes even better the day after it’s made.

Ingredients:

Step 1: Marinade Chicken Thighs
1 cup red wine (Tin Cup Merlot or a Beaujolais works well)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup onion, chopped fine
3 lbs chicken thighs (2 packages (about 10 pieces), frozen, skinned)

Mix first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Add skinned thighs.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 18 hours. Longer is better. Strain
off the red wine marinade, and save it. Discard bay leaves and
onion bits.

Step 2: Prepare Vegetables and Broth
2 slices low-sodium bacon
1 parsnip, cut into small chunks
¾ cup carrots, cut into chunks
1/3 cup flour
2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 small can tomato juice (6 oz.)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
2 onions, sliced the long way (or 25 pearl onions)

If using pearl onions, cut an X into them at the top before peeling,
and drop them (with peels on) into boiling water for two
minutes. Remove, discard water, and let onions cool. When cool,
the peels will slip off. Set aside. If using regular onions, use half
in next step and save remainder for last step.

Cook bacon in a deep skillet until crisp and crumbly. Remove
bacon and set aside. Place carrots, parsnip, and first portion of
sliced onion into skillet and sauté until onion is golden. Add 2
Tbsp. of flour (save the rest) and stir to coat vegetables. Cook
floured mixture 5 minutes, stirring often. Slowly add stock and
then tomato juice to pan. Add fresh thyme. Simmer 30 minutes.
Cool and strain to remove vegetables and thyme sprigs. Set aside.

Step 3: Brown chicken and mushrooms
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Reserved flour
1 package button mushrooms (8 oz.)
Dry the marinated chicken thighs with paper towels. Dredge
chicken pieces in flour until coated lightly.
Heat oil in a clean skillet. Place chicken pieces in hot oil and
cook until golden, not deeply browned. Do this in small batches
to keep the oil evenly hot. Remove chicken pieces. Save oil and
bits of chicken and flour in pan. Brush or wash mushrooms to remove
grit. Peel mushrooms, saving stems. Cut tops and stems into
rough quarters. Add to hot oil and cook until browned. Remove.

Step 4: Combine and bake
Chicken pieces
Reserved vegetable broth
Reserved red wine marinade
Reserved onion, bacon, and mushrooms
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Place browned chicken in an ovenproof pan. Strain the vegetables
out of the broth. Pour the broth over the chicken. Add the
reserved red wine marinade. Scrape bits from pan with mushrooms,
and add to chicken. Place reserved sliced onion (or peeled
pearl onions), crumbled bacon, and mushrooms around chicken
pieces. Bake for 1½ hours or until chicken is tender.
Traditionally served over egg noodles, with salad and crusty
bread. Serves 4 to 6.


from Killer Recipes submitted by Cash Anthony, author of “Yes, She Bites”, “A Bona Fide Quirk in theLaw”, and “The Stand-Inand numerous short films and screenplays


Sprig of Broom - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Many years ago I discovered the author John Jakes and fell in love with his Kent Family Chronicles.  This series started way back with this family following them from England to America.  They went through the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and taming the west.  I eagerly read every book until I reached those that took place around WWI.  That is when I stopped reading.  I love reading history, but only periods and the time from WWI until now has never interested me that much.

Now.... I've read the Bible from beginning to end and enjoyed it very much but I don't like history that takes place much after that, especially the history of Kings and Queens.  So when I saw that one of my favorite authors had written a book that dates in the year 1127 I thought, no way!  I've read everything written by this author but she has always written murder mysteries.  How can a suspense writer possibly write about this time period and keep the reader interested, especially me?

Well.... I read her book.  I was so infatuated with the story that I didn't want to put the book down.  Her story is basically about Geoffrey Plantagenet who married Dowager Empress Matilda who was the daughter of King Henry I.  Matilda had been married before but after losing her husband King Henry and Geoffrey's father made a deal for the marriage.  Geoffrey was very young when this marriage took place.  He was only 15 years old!  The story continues on through the trials that Geoffrey is put through by Matilda.  The death of King Henry and Matilda's journey to take his place.  The birth of their children.  Geoffrey's mistress and child.  And then Geoffrey's is ask to join the Knights Templar and vow to their code of honor.

Author Susan Whitfield has truly amazed me by writing a book so full of history, from a time that has always bored me, and made it so interesting that I want to learn more.  She is a great historian!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys - Linda Maria Frank, Author


A Wonderful Seasonal Treat - 
Poached Pears and Ice Cream

Peel, core, and halve your pears, Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou.
Place them flat side down in a large heavy skillet, and cover half way with apple juice.
Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar
Add whole cloves, allspice and a cinnamon stick.
Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered until the liquid becomes syrupy. Keep an eye on it.
Cool and add your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.
Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve with thin crisp cookies.
Hint: French Vanilla coffee or Lemon Ginger tea go very well with this dessert.



Secrets in the Fairy Chimneys - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

We were in a valley of shapes I couldn't believe were not made by humans, humans with a fabulous imagination.  Conical formations called fairy chimneys in various sizes spread away from us in every direction.  The color of bleached bones, they sat majestically among the gray-green brush and white clay like soil.  The air shimmered from the heat.  I could smell the odor of clay mixed with a faint herbal scent that must have come from the brush.  Some of the fairy chimneys had windows and doors.  Could people actually live inside?  It was dry here, and hot.

Anne Tillery has joined her boyfriend Ty at an archaeological dig in Turkey.  He and his best friend Cedric are at the dig representing Vermont University.  They will be working alongside a Dr. Atsut who is in charge of the project.  Ty, Cedric and Dr. Atsut are trying to prove that human remains at one of the earliest known archaeological sites in Turkey contained DNA that would link them to the first humans that evolved in Africa.  But, accidents and missing artifacts seem to be plaguing the site and there is even fear that it may be shut down.

As I've found out in other books of this series, Annie is quite a detective.  Hopefully she, with the help of Dr. Atsut's twin children, will be able to make the connections that will end the accidents and theft before the Turkish government steps in to put a halt to everything.  In doing so, Anne finds herself escaping two attempts of kidnapping which leaves her no choice but to call her own father for help.

This book gave me so much history of the Fairy Chimneys that I had to see for myself if they were real.  They are and they are amazingly beautiful!  Seeing what these unusual cities look like made the book even more enjoyable.  As I read I was not only enticed by the story but I could also picture where events were happening.  If you like mystery as well as archaeology, you'll not want to miss reading this book.

Fairy Chimneys

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mistaken Identity - Patricia Gligor, Author



Greek Almond Cookies
(Patricia Gligor's Mother's Recipe)
(Makes 40-50 cookies)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

¾ cup sweet butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
4 eggs separated, at room temperature
3 ¼ cups flour
¾ lb. almonds, shelled and chopped
8 oz. confectioner’s sugar
8 oz. orange or raspberry preserves

Cream butter and sugar together
Add baking powder and egg yolks, one at a time, to the batter
When the yolks are blended, add the flour, one cup at a time; beat to form soft dough
Beat the egg whites in a bowl until fluffy but not stiff
Shape the dough into round, flattened balls 1 inch in diameter
Dip each cookie individually into the egg white mixture and then roll in the almonds
Make a grove in the center of each cookie and place on cookie sheet about an inch apart
Bake for 30 minutes; allow to cool on sheet; then dip in confectioner’s sugar

Place ¼ teaspoon of preserves in the center of each cookie

Mistaken Identity - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Ann couldn't stop screaming.  What she was seeing was beyond horrible.  She stood there staring at the young woman's body, wanting desperately to run away but unable to do so.  It felt like her feet were mired in quicksand, her legs too heavy to lift.  Several minutes went by but to her it was as if time had stood still.

Ann, her sister Marnie and Ann's two children Danielle and Davey, are on vacation on Fripp Island.  Ann and Marnie are there for a little R&R, Danielle is there for the history and Davey is there to find buried treasurers.  But what they really find, or should I say Ann finds, is the body of a dead woman.
Clara Brunner is an elderly lady that Marnie has known for years.  When she joins the vacation party she delivers just about everything the group wants, plus.  For Marnie and Ann, who has solved a couple of mysteries in the past, she provides the gossip that is going around about the murder and all those connected. - Jenny Harrington married Mark Hall.  Jenny's father Robert Harrington is married to a woman named Alison who is only a couple years older than Jenny.  Jenny's ex-boyfriend Tod made the statement that if he couldn't have Jenny no one could.  Jenny's mother is upset about being cut off from Robert's money now that Jenny is married.  And Jenny's bridesmaid is upset because she is in love with Mark.  Whew...  So who is the murdered woman and who killed her?  I stayed on the edge of my seat trying to figure this one out.

This book is full of mystery, but not too heavy, and lots of history.  Clara fills the vacationing group, as well as the readers, through some of the history of Fripp Island along with that of Beaufort, making me want to know more and maybe even visit the two places myself.  It is also filled with many possibilities of other stories that I hope the author will branch off with.  I will tell her this - I'll be watching for stories about the Detective, who is single; Marnie and Sam; Clara; and of course Ann.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Mersey Killing - Brian L. Porter, Author



Lancashire Hot Pot
(A Brian Special)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
325g chopped onion
675g cubed leg of lamb meat
1kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
30g butter
475ml chicken or lamb stock

Prep: 20 min., Cook Time: 2 hrs. 
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Saute onion until soft and deep golden in colour. Remove from pan and set aside. Add lamb to pan and fry (in batches if necessary) until a rich chestnut brown in colour, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain fat and reserve.
Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas mark 5.

Spread 1/2 of the potatoes in the bottom of a 22x33cm (9x13 in) baking dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place browned lamb and onions on top, then sprinkle with thyme and season to taste. Cover with remaining potatoes, season to taste and dot with butter. Pour stock over all.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Cook's note:

If hot pot is drying out while cooking, add more stock as needed. If it is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil.

A Mersey Killing - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds: A Book and A Dish

When an old wharf and dockside warehouse renovation uncovers the skeletal remains of a murder victim, Detective Inspector Andy Ross and his team are given just over a week to determine who the remains belonged to or drop the mystery as a cold case.  After all, it had been a cold case for over 30 years now so how could they possibly determine who the victim was much less who the killer was.

Judging by their research the body had to have been there from around the 1960s.  Dental records from that far back were slim in help without a name to go with the teeth.  The victim did have a break in the leg but again, there were probably hundreds of kids who broke their leg in the same area of this break.  This was becoming a helpless mystery that may never be solved, that is until two brothers walked in to see if the remains might be those of their sister who disappeared in 1966.

Apparently she and her boyfriend had made plans to go to America in hopes of him pursuing a career in music.  He and the two brothers, along with another young man had formed a band that simply wasn't going anywhere.  They were called Brendan Kane and the Planets and Brendan was the boyfriend.  When the group broke up Brendan decided to go solo but knew he, just like the Beatles, he would only make it big if he went to America.  Then one day he and the sister, Marie, disappeared.  Hopefully they were in America living a comfortable life but the brothers had a bad feeling that Marie never made it to America and was instead dead.

So, is the body that of Marie?  Or could it be the body of Brendan?  As the team put their clues and facts together they find themselves faced not only with the bones from the past but also with a murder that takes place just within a few days of finding the remains and yes the two are very well connected.

I've read everything written by Brian L. Porter and he has never left me disappointed but always wanting more and this book was no exception.  I must admit that I had a clue after a certain character appeared within the book but still would have never guessed the final ending.  This book kept me turning the pages as the action moved smoothly between the 1960s and the 1990s in such a way you were led from one era to the other without noticing the changes in time, making the whole story a seamless roller coaster of memories of times past.   So keep writing Mr. Porter. You have a fan for life in me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Devil's Pawn - Marilyn Levinson, Author




Marilyn’s Gazpacho

According to Wikipedia: “Gazpacho is a soup made of raw vegetables and served cold, usually with a tomato base, originating in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia.” That said, soups and stews lend themselves to personal interpretation. Here is my version of gazpacho, with careful attention to taste and prep time.

24 ounces of tomato or V-8 juice
4 tomatoes
2 cucumbers or 3 kirbys, seeded and peeled
1 red pepper, cored and seeded
½ - 1 Vidalia Onion (to taste)
2 -3 garlic cloves (to taste)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional)
A few sprigs of fresh parsley
A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste

Cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, red pepper, onion, and garlic into small pieces and put into food processor, one ingredient at a time. Add oil, parsley, cilantro,  salt and pepper. When mixture is coarsely chopped or smooth according to your taste, pour mixture into large bowl. Stir in juice. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours. When serving, offer cut-up pieces of scallion and croutons for topping.



Devil's Pawn - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

He pointed to a chair, but I remained standing near the doorway.  His office gave off negative vibes that kept me on my guard.  I didn't much like this relative who had shown up out of the blue at the high school I'd been attending back in Pennsylvania.  He’d had the right credentials and looked enough like my dad to convince me he was my father's older brother.  Since I'd just lost my immediate family, I had no choice but to come live with Raymond Davenport and his wife in upstate New York.

Simon Porte has lost his mother, father and younger sister.  He has no family until his Uncle Raymond shows up to take him into his home and make him the son he and Aunt Mary had never had.  At least that's what he thinks is the case. But after living with them for a short period of time he finds Uncle Raymond a bit strange. Even a little frightening.  But what can a 15 year old do? Run away? Where to? There’s no one to take him in.  And to make matters worse, he discovers he has a great-aunt named Lucinda who looks like the witch in some of the story books he and his sister Lucy used to read.

A young girl Simon taught to swim in the day camp where he works is murdered. Could someone in his 'strange' family have something to do with this girl's death?


Author Marilyn Levinson has entertained me in the past with her creative writing, but this book has to be the best yet.  I sat up late at night just turning page after page.  Hopefully she'll writes a sequel to this character which I can't wait to read.  This is truly a 'Give me More' book.

Read more books by Marilyn Levinson by going to her Amazon site.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Run-Away Couple - Maggie Tideswell, Author



Beef Bourguignon(A Marcus Special)

Marinade:
5 cloves garlic, smashed
3 fresh bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 ribs celery, halved
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
One 750-ml bottle red wine, such as Burgundy
4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
Stew:
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardons
1 pound cremini or white button mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 to 4 cups beef stock
3 fresh bay leaves
1 bundle fresh thyme
1 pound red bliss potatoes, quartered
1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish
Crusty bread, for serving

Directions

For the marinade: Combine the garlic, bay leaves, carrots, celery, onions and wine in a large bowl or container. Add the beef; cover and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. (This is a really important step: it makes a huge flavor difference.)

For the stew: Remove the beef from the marinade. Strain the veggies and bay leaves from the marinade and discard. Reserve 2 cups of the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a large, wide pan or Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with salt and toss with the flour; do not flour the beef until you're ready to brown it. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan, but be sure to not crowd the pan; you will need to work in four batches. Brown the meat well on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan to a baking sheet.

After the first two batches, deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of the reserved marinade, scraping up any browned bits. Drain the liquid into a small bowl. Add more olive oil to the pan to coat and cook the remaining two batches of meat. Add the meat to the baking sheet. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup marinade, scraping up any browned bits.

Add the bacon and cook until it gets brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic and onions, and season with salt. Cook until the mixture starts to soften and becomes very aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup marinade and deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits, 1 minute. Add the beef. Stir to combine and cook until the wine has reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add enough of the beef stock to just cover the surface of the beef. Toss in the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Cover the pan, bring the liquid to a boil and put in the oven.

Cook the beef for 2 hours. During the last hour of cooking time, add the potatoes. Cover the pan with the lid and put the stew back in the oven to cook for an additional hour.

Remove the pot from the oven and skim off any excess grease from the surface of the stew. Garnish with the chives and serve with crusty bread to sop up all the sauce.



The Run-Away Couple - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Lightning flashed through the tiny leaded windows, followed a few moments later by rumbling thunder.  That musty, earthy smell of old buildings hung in the air.  That must be what the inside of a grave smelled like.  Goosebumps covered Piper's arms.  There was no railing, leaving a pit around which the stairs curved.  Piper leaned against the stone wall until the wave of nausea eased.  It was eerily quiet.  Piper heard slow footsteps on the stairs below her.  Somebody real was in the stairwell with her.  Piper ran up the last few steps to her floor.  About to rush for her door, she staggered half a step back when it creaked open and a woman came out of her room.  The woman had a basket in one hand like a chambermaid but cleaning rooms at this time of night?  The woman wore a long black cloak, the hoody of which had been pulled up over her hair and face.  Who was she?  "Hello, can I help you?" Piper said.  The woman partially turned her head and peered at Piper past the hoody with a very clear blue eye.  When she heard something behind her, Piper spun around and screamed.

Piper's sister Eloise was getting married.  Piper was to serve as her maid-of-honor and until she reached the chapel of this ancient lodge she had no idea that the best man would be Marcus.  Both sisters had known him since childhood.  He spent as much time at their house as he did at his own.  He and Eloise were best friends but Piper had been his pawn.  He loved to play pranks on Piper making sure he got the best of her and many times even making her cry.  And now she had to put up with him at her own sisters wedding.  Without a doubt he had a prank to prank all pranks in mind to really make a fool out of Piper.  But this time she would be prepared.  There was no way he would ever get the best of her again.

After the wedding Piper started wondering about her sister's choice for the wedding.  What had she been thinking to have her wedding in a lodge that was so creepy.  She was ready to go to her room, gather her belongings and head for home.  She didn't want to spend another hour in this place nor with the best man Marcus.  Seems those plans just weren't going to happen any time soon.

This book takes you to a 'haunted' lodge where Piper's sister and soon to be husband will say their vows.  You'll learn the story of the 'haunts' and why they occur.  But... you'll never begin to guess the ending of this beautiful, erotic love story.  It sure ended with a surprise for me.  Now I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series to see what surprises Author Maggie Tideswell has in store for her readers.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Terror in a Teapot - Morgan St. James & Phyllice Bradner, Authors



Flossie's Fabulous Noodle Kugel

8 oz. pkg. of Wide Egg Noodles
1/4 lb. Butter (melted) (margarine substitute optional)
1 cup Golden Raisins
3 Eggs (beaten) (4 eggs optional)
4 heaping Tbsp. Sour Cream
4 oz. Cream Cheese (softened and rolled into tiny balls)
1/2 cup Sugar (to taste) mix with a small amount of cinnamon for taste and color
1 cup Milk (a little more if you like it more moist)
Package Cornflake Crumbs (optional)

Mix all ingredients with cooked noodles that have been rinsed in cool water.  Put in 8 x 10 (or similar size) Pyrex pan that has been greased with a little butter or margarine.  Top with packaged cornflake crumbs (optional) and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about an hour.  Cool and cut into squares for serving.  (You can double the recipe and freeze some, too.)
(Based on a recipe from the authors' mother, Rosetta.)


Terror in a Teapot - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Goldie Silver
- Owns an antique shop in Juneau, Alaska
Godiva Olivia DuBois - Author of the famous relationship column Ask G.O.D.
Caesar - Famous TV chef - or is he?
Flossie Silver - Female magician.
Sterling Silver - Male magician.
Two Ladies from the Russian Orthodox Church - church ladies.
Father Innocent - Retiring Priest.
Rimsky - Father Innocent's helper.
Father Augustine - Priest that will take over for Father Innocent.
Two very ugly ladies - Very possibly not 'ladies.'
Boris & Igor Dumkovsky - two very mean Russians.

Now, just what can all of these people have in common?  Well, Goldie and Godiva are twin sisters.  Caesar is Godiva's boyfriend, Flossie is the mother of the twins and Sterling is their father's brother, known to them by the affectionate name of 'Unk.'  

But where is the connection between the 'family' members and the other characters?  It all has to do with The Seven Deadly Samovars, or Tea Pots if you live in America.  It seems the Tea Pots were shipped from Russia to Goldie's shop but were lost in transit.  The Church Ladies had ordered one through Goldie as a retirement gift for Father Innocent.  When they are finally discovered they seem to live up to their name 'Deadly.'  People start dying, Tea Pots start missing and the mystery starts spinning as the twins do a little detective work to track down the missing pots and find the killer or should I say killers.

This book, as all Morgan St. James and Phyllice Bradner books, gives you suspense, humor and a special surprising twist at the end.  I can't get enough of their writings and hope they come out with yet another Silver Sisters Mystery very soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Belle and the Officer - B. J. Robinson, Author


Recipe for a Southern Barbeque
(B.J. Robinson's Special Recipe)


I’m from the South and my husband is from the North, so I was used to Southern barbeques. What he called barbeque was simply plain grilled to me, so we had to mess our differences. He grills his with no sauce, and I use Kraft honey barbeque sauce on mine. He enjoys steaks and burgers. I enjoy those, but I also enjoy hot dogs and chicken legs as well as boneless lemon-pepper chicken breasts, which he doesn’t like. I like to make homemade potato salad, but he doesn’t eat it. He opts for a baked potato. That’s okay. I have leftover potato salad, and the flavor goes through it, and it’s even better the next day.

In the South, we use barbeque sauce. I thought since this book was a book about the North and South, and the characters enjoyed barbecues and fish, I provide a southern barbeque. The northern one is easy. Just put it on the grill plain, at least my husband’s version.

Step 1: Grill the meat until lightly browned and sauce. Some put sauce on it while it is raw. I do. He waits. It works either way. I like mine not burnt, but dark and a little black won’t hurt me.

You can also barbeque fish or shrimp. Love them both.

Step 2: The Potato Salad:

Peel, wash, and clean about three pounds of potatoes or use a five-pound bag if you have someone else to help you eat the salad. Boil potatoes and three eggs. Peel eggs and chop. Dice pickles, olives, green onions, and use about one teaspoon mustard, if you like it. Leave out the onions if you don’t care for them. Some people do not use the mustard in the potato salad and use only mayo. I like both. If you like, you can use spicy mustard. I usually use the yellow.

Mix and include the mayo to taste. Season with salt, pepper, or seasonings you enjoy. Tip: If you refrigerate the potato salad and let it get cold, and you have used the green onions, you will find the flavor goes through it more. You will need to refrigerate it regardless to keep it from spoiling, but some people like to eat it while it’s fresh and hot. I enjoy mine cold.

To me, a barbeque is not one without potato salad. I have discovered I also enjoy the Amish potato salad and if I don’t have time to make my own, I will buy a container of it from Publix, but I still like my homemade the best.


The neat thing is you can make the potato salad to suit your tastes by putting in or leaving out what you please. If you’ve never tried a southern barbeque, you might find you like it. However, my husband still doesn’t eat potato salad and will put no sauce on his meat. He wants it just plain grilled. We used to enjoy this potato-salad recipe for family gatherings of any type. It goes well with many dishes besides barbecue. Fried chicken and potato salad is a given. It goes well with beef stew. For the Fourth of July, we always had barbeque and potato salad. Enjoy. 


The Belle and the Officer - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Alice held the cold metal key in her palm.  She'd keep it on her until her beloved returned.  He didn't have to tell her to visit and remember him.  Memories fought each other in her mind.  Visions of them on picnics, at family barbecues, fishing in the great Mississippi River that ran behind their homes.  He didn't have to tell her to remember.  How could she ever forget?

Lonnie was the love of Alice's life but there was a war going on and he had decided to defend the South.  He promised her that it would be a short war and over in no time, then they could announce their engagement, be married and love forever in the home he had built for her.  'Oh please let that be true, she prayed.'

To pass the time and be of help Alice worked in the hospital that housed the southern boys who were wounded.  She became the light in the eyes of some of the patients giving them hope and encouraging them to hang on and get well so they can go home to their own families.  Then came a Union Colonel named Bert Russell with his own wounded and needing a place for them to be care for.

As Alice got to know Colonel Russell, she couldn't help but feel a slight tingle in her heart but how could that be when she loved Lonnie.  So when Lonnie shows up in the hospital in a Union uniform instead of a Rebel, Alice found her whole life about to change.

This is a beautiful love story as well as a story in history.  The feelings Lonnie had for Alice as well as the feelings Bert developed for her had me cheering both on and wanting more.  The outcome will leave you wanting more too.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Vanishing Mind of Ruth Swerdloff - Fran Lewis, Author



Baked Parmesan Chicken
(Mom's Favorite)

2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup panko or dried coarse baguette breadcrumbs
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Mix the mustard, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the cayenne in a medium bowl. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat completely; set aside.
In a medium shallow bowl, combine the parmesan and panko. Dredge the chicken pieces in the panko mixture, coating evenly and heavily, and pressing the coating into the meat.

Put the chicken on a rack set over a baking sheet, spray with a quick burst of cooking spray and put the sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting or serving.

The Vanishing Mind of Ruth Swerdloff - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

How do you say goodbye when you are still here?  How do you say goodbye before your thoughts, desires, and wishes disappear from your mind?  What happens when all that's left of you is a human shell?  Everyone invites guests to their homes for dinner, or just to talk.  But, some guests overstay their welcome and others are just plain annoying.  Uninvited guests can be escorted out and asked to leave, hopefully never to return.  One uninvited guest mad its way into my mother's mind and refused to leave.

I've known people who have family members that have literally lost their minds.  Or better yet, lost everything stored within their minds.  They forget where they are, where they are going, who they are and who the strangers that keep showing up might be.  They forget to eat or can't remember if they did eat.  They forget the names of their favorite food and even their own children.  As the days go by they lose more and more of what took years to fill their minds.  Eventually that full mind is empty and hollow.  What causes this?  You've probably already answered that question with that terrible disease called Alzheimer.

I've personally never been exposed to Alzheimer but after reading The Vanishing Mind I feel that has changed.  The way the Author combined the experience as a caregivers/family member and the journals written by her mother when her mind was still there enough to write, you can't help but feel as if you're a part of the family or at least a close friend.  The insight I found through this book has me watching my own loved ones more closely with the possible chance that they may show some of these signs.  I'm also watching myself too.

Author Fran Lewis goes one step further in helping those who are faced with this dreadful disease.  She has included tips for the caregivers stressing on how to speak in a way that may be a little easier for them to understand; how to help them with simple things like eating, dressing and bathing;  how to find activities that they may understand and enjoy;  and she even gives you a list of agencies that can be beneficial in helping you with their care, understanding their problems and most important - how to deal with your own feelings.

This is a book that I recommend to everyone - young and old.  It might just be the book that will help you better cope with those you love who just might experience this heart breaking disease called Alzheimer.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Girl With Pencil, Drawing - Linda Maria Frank, Author



Irma’s Apple Cake
(An Annie Favorite)

4 to 5 apples, peeled and sliced
5 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
Combine and set aside.

In another bowl, hand mix the following:
3 Cups unsifted flour
2 1/3 Cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 Cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 Cup Orange Juice
8 oz. can walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda


Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a Bundt Pan.  Alternate batter and apples in pan, starting with batter.
Bake 1 1/2 hrs.


Girl With Pencil, Drawing - Review by Martha A. Cheves Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

He busied himself rummaging through the kitchen drawers, two sets of panic-stricken eyes following his every move.  He found some emergency candles and went into the small dinette adjoining the kitchen.  He lit them, let the was drip onto some paper plates from the counter and affixed the candles to the plates.  There were six candles in all.  Was he into satanic rituals?  He came back into the kitchen and turned on all the gas jets at the range and the oven, leaving its door ajar.  He blow out the flames, letting the gas escape freely.  "Bye, bye, ladies."  He hurried out the back door locking it behind him.

When I was a young girl I loved reading the Nancy Drew mysteries and to this day I still enjoy the style and mysteries of the young 'detective' but you can only read them so many times before you know them by heart.  Well... Author Linda Maria Frank has brought my young memories back.  Annie Tillery is today's Nancy Drew!  In fact, she is great at getting herself into trouble but working it out in a fashion that would make Nancy proud.  In Girl With Pencil, Drawing Annie goes to art school and finds that her instructor/teacher is mixed up in a murder that Annie doesn't believe she committed.  Can she prove her innocence without getting both of them killed?  What do you think?

This the second book in the Annie Tillery Mystery Series.  I've read the first, loved it and couldn't see how it could get any better.   Well it does.  I'm now looking forward to reading the third book to see what Nancy, oh excuse me, Annie gets into and how she gets through it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dead Burn - Emily Stone Series - Jennifer Chase, Author


Anytime Protein Blast Smoothie
(Emily's Favorite Energy Drink)

Ingredients:
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup milk (or almond or soy milk)
¾ cup strawberries (or any preferred berry)
½ banana
2 handfuls spinach (or kale leaves)
1 Tbsp. peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 tsp. honey
 
Prep:
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more milk for a thinner smoothie, or less for a thicker smoothie. (Makes 1 serving)
 
Note: This is a great morning boost or a replacement meal. Use organic whenever possible.


Dead Burn - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

The man pushed his hands deep into his coat pockets, nervously pressing the thumbs against the forefingers, each time with more force, staying in the moment, wanting to experience life dwindling from another person, but not just any person - a sinner.  The screaming had stopped... The burning building captured the man's soul and deep seeded emotions with the hypnotizing and inviting spirits.  It amazed him each time with a wondrous performance.  A sin repaid.  The arsonist patiently waited for a hidden message to exit from the fire to commend him on his sacrifices of righteousness, but it never did... The deeds piled up, and once he reached the appointed number, the words would push him to the next level...

Emily Stone has finished a energy straining rescue she knows there is no time for rest.  Apparently there is a serial killer that is targeting those who have escaped justice and those who helped them.  And his mode of revenge is death by fire.

With each death, the clues evade the police as well as Emily.  With each fire there is only one specific victim in the carefully executed fires.  Could this be a different kind of serial killer?  As the bodies increase the case gets colder and colder leading Emily and her team in directions that fail to find a connection.

This is my 4th Emily Stone Series book and I have to say that as one ends I tell myself that the next one simply couldn't be better, but I'm wrong - it is.  This series has me turning pages, biting my nails and sitting on the edge of my chair.  Author Jennifer Chase just gets better with every book.  I would love to see these books made into a series of movies!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Phantasms in the Infirmary - Ram and Julie Gulrajani, Authors


Spinach Pie

Wash the spinach after removing the thick white stalks.  Roll up the leaves and cut very fine, place in a bowl and add salt.  Pour sufficient boiling water to cover and then squeeze out the water.  Now take 3 bunches of spinach, 3 beaten eggs, two Tbsp. of grated cheese, salt, pepper, a little garlic and a little oil.  Line a deep Pyrex dish with a pie crust and fill with the spinach mixed with all the other ingredients.  Make two wells and drop 2 eggs very carefully.  Cover with more crust, brush over with milk and bake for 2 hrs.



Phantasms in the Infirmary - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Not so long ago I took a friend to the hospital for an endoscopy.  In the past this was done at one of the smaller facilities but my friend had changed doctors and he only did the procedure at the hospital.  As we boarded the elevator I noticed that the nurse pushed the button for us to go down, not up.  OK, there are a lot of floors that I've never been on in this hospital and with all the new construction we are probably just going to another above ground floor in the back.  As we stepped off the elevator and started walking down the hall I started feeling closed in.  I felt like I was walking into air that was really thick with something but I had no idea what.  I sat by my friend's bed as they prepared him for the procedure and since there was only a curtain between us and the next patient I could hear his conversation with one of the nurses.  He was telling her that he was born in this hospital 80 years ago.  She proceeded to tell him that we were in the oldest part of the hospital in the basement which at one time was actually the morgue.  I still didn't make the connection between my feelings and the location until I started reading Phantasms in the Infirmary.

Even though Authors Ram and Julie Gulrajani created a single hospital for the events to take place, they are still stories from several hospitals that have been passed on by hospital workers over the years.  Both Authors work in the medical field which brings them in contact with those who have experienced the events as well as those who have heard the stories.  Many of the hospitals have long histories of being everything from asylums, orphanages, workhouses, convents and monasteries in their past.  They also all have one thing in common - death.  Some even carried the ghosts of these deaths into the halls of the modern hospitals.

Is this what I was feeling while in the basement/old morgue of the hospital I was in?  After reading this book of ghosts from the past I'm pretty sure that was exactly what I felt.  Read Phantasms in the Infirmary for yourself and see if you agree.

 
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