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Monday, October 9, 2017

Seven, Five-Star Book Suggestions That Will Keep You Reading Past Your Bedtime


Three of these books made me laugh. Some of them made me laugh so hard I cried, and the rest of them were profoundly intriguing, providing valuable and memorable entertainment. Do you like fantasy? Mystery? Had a hard day and want to chuckle like you’ve never chuckled before? Take a look at my reviews and then hop on over to Amazon to order any of these in print or in eBook format. 



Wrath of Rhonda: 
One Cruise and So Much Trouble
Arch Font


         Somehow, Jerry Slider manages to sweet talk everyone in this book, even Rhonda the title character, who seems to despise everyone, forgives no one, is pathologically self-absorbed and cranky to a fault. Helen, Jerry’s wife tells him she doesn’t want to go on a cruise and suggests he should go with her friend Rhonda. The problems stemming from this outrageous suggestion commence in the beginning, setting the tone for this entertaining book. Imagine going on a romantic thirty-day luxury cruise from San Diego to the South Sea Islands with this unfortunate, insecure woman. Jerry however, is a desperate, determined man with some vague ideas on how to keep the peace. Some of those far-fetched notions will have you crying tears as if you were slicing onions. Whether Jerry is searching high and low for Rhonda’s future boyfriend or enjoying the panoramic vistas of Bora Bora, the author makes sure to lure you in with excellent descriptions and hilarious gags. In fact, there’s a bit about the thermostat that had me in stitches.
Anyone who has read my book, Penniless Hearts, will also enjoy this comedic adventure, which tours much more than the Hawaiian Islands but continues on to the Society Islands. The vivid details recounting lush volcanic reefs and lagoons are sensational, as are those of the sea spray onto the deck at night, even the scent of freshly baked French bread. I enjoyed the chauvinistic male viewpoint, which by the way, doesn’t go as far as misogyny because it is funny and in many cases probably true. The author hilariously criticizes women’s fashion, bathroom clutter and even makeup better than a standup comedian. When Jerry goes snorkeling, he finds out that the biggest shark encounter he’ll have is with the woman sharing his cabin. Will Jerry be able to use his negotiating skills to keep Rhonda from erupting like a volcano? Will diplomacy work? Read Wrath of Rhonda and find out!


Whatever Became of Sin?
Barbara Roman





The character of Harvard educated attorney Michael Warren, returns to a town that fills him with horrid memories, where he faces the most lecherous, evil men willing to do anything for profit. This is the unexpected bottom-feeding political underbelly of the otherwise happy town of New Orleans, Louisiana. A place that at one time, had an upscale housing development where he once lived with his wife Elaine and young daughter, Dominique. This time, Michael meets the beautiful temptress, Dr. Celia Stone who is smart, seductive and not as honest as she appears.
Near the very end of the book, the riverboat captain asks Michael what it will serve for him to re-open Pandora’s Box, but by this time, it’s too late. The box filled with treachery has spilled openly out into the Mississippi in “a plot so heinous that the devil would most certainly warm up a special place in Hell for him,” referring to Hardin Westwick, a ruthless developer who pays off the right men to get his way. Roman’s book however contains so much more than just a juicy scandal. Filled with sex, betrayal and the shameful racist behavior that makes mature men talk passionately about their pure bloodlines and how to maintain them, even resorting to calculated, perverse plans that include murder. The author uses names and phrases familiar to life in the South, to pull you into a Bayou shack, even cleverly displaying the colors, sights and sounds, even the smell of cooking to make you feel you are closing in on danger. There are so many intriguing moments that will have you turning pages faster to find out what happens, not to mention, there are shocking and unexpected surprises. If you like captivating and exciting stories, you’ll love Whatever Became of Sin?


  
Show of Hands: A Novel
Andrew McCarten


If Show of Hands were on America’s Got Talent, I can imagine Mel B’s enthusiastic, “Oh My God, I loaved it,” response and a smug Simon smiling from ear to ear. McCarten nails the stereotypical, slimy dealer with this story about a promotion at a car dealership. It’s the type of whacky public relations brouhaha I used to dream up for new car dealers while I worked in advertising; may heaven help my repentant soul. McCarten delves deep into our subconscious to lay out a story with incredibly interesting characters and enough twists to keep us guessing and laughing at the same time. The hilarious and clever moments won’t disappoint, may actually inspire and may even keep you awake. You’ll read until you feel akin to the stubborn contestants in this modern day battle, all of whom are riding into a dark figurative valley for a chance at winning a new car. You’ll keep one hand on the cover while you’re turning pages, because you’ll want to find out what happens to Walter, Betsy, Tom and Jess. Keep your hands on the book at all times and be rewarded with mind-blowing scenes involving Matt, Tayshawn and the two characters with the most to lose—Nat and Terry Hatch. Trust me on this one. You’ll love it!


The Misery Manifesto: 
A Self-Help Parody for the Self-Absorbed
Barb Best

When I reached the end of this book I tried to rework Barb Best’s Misery Manifesto using my own name, and came up with: “Brace before you fall--Always stand tall--Let no one see you weak--show them your gall.” Miserable, huh? Trust me--her version is much better. Anyway, I looked at my Medic Alert bracelet and it didn’t say anything about being a flake or a liar so here I am reviewing a fabulously hilarious book. “Let’s face it,” she writes, “Life is one long dusty Via Dolorosa.” From that point, I knew I was in for a true ode to misery. The talented author weaves stories and creates lists about things that make us miserable. Things many of us can relate to such as: attempts at being vegan, spandex, computers, smartphones, travel, pets, reality television, self-checkouts, moms who hover and more. Her shocking and satire-laced advice should be reason enough for mature readers to pick up this e-book and the smiles will make everyone pick it up again again, just in case they missed something. Did she really suggest private meetings with college professors with a lucrative goal in mind? What was that about goats? Does the word budget really come from Pig Latin and does it really mean “stop spending money on fun stuff?” If you’re looking to tickle your funny bone, then look no further. Maybe thaw out a piece of fruitcake, get comfortable and “outsource your worrying.”


Blood Sister
Kenna McKinnon


I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry after finishing this enjoyable crime-mystery, because it deals with the serious difficulties of mental illness. Kenna McKinnon uses her special perspective to portray the boundaries of sanity in a light-hearted manner. The author uses her main character Annie, as a way to shed light on the voices, medications and visions accompanying schizophrenia, thus educating readers while being entertaining at the same time. My favorite parts were the clever metaphors, similes and allegorical comparisons throughout the novel, pulling the reader down into a rabbit hole, into a work of true creativity.
After her father took up with a woman from Curacao and her mother passed away, Annie ended up alone and on the streets of Serendipity Island. After getting in and out of trouble, she finally receives medication and a job working undercover for the Justice Department. This time the case is a double murder and everyone’s a suspect, especially her Sudanese boyfriend Samir and his cousin Pepsi. But those awful, distracting voices make her doubt everything, until they hire a special investigator called Mark. That’s when she calls Tess the Avon representative with Attention Deficit Disorder for some coral colored lipstick. Annie’s working hard on the case but she has a newfound interest in her clothing and looks, which help develop confidence while dealing with condescending people who have known her for a long time. With Viking blood coursing through her veins, she knows she’s strong and faces all her fears. Will she crack the case? Read Blood Sister and find out.
Lines such as “You’re crazy as a rabbit with its ears caught in a sewing machine,” or “The sergeant was grinning like a dog eating cat turds,” had me laughing aloud.
This talented author not only pulled me into her story, but also into the scariest place of all: her mind. In other words, it’s a great book and I recommend it.



The Seasiders
A.J. Griffths-Jones


Thank you A.J. Griffith-Jones for taking me back, albeit virtually, to a lovely memory of a short visit to The Queen’s Hotel in Portsmouth, England. Though my stay was in the midst of a frosty winter, I still managed to walk along the shore savoring the views of the Isle of Wight. The Seasiders transports readers to a fictional beach hotel called The Sandybank Guest House where families and single travelers go to unwind while enjoying the hospitality of Grace and Dick Thomas. The rapport between the husband and wife landlords is stellar. He’s off for a pint and she needs help because it’s Thursday and the beautician Maureen is waiting to style Grace’s hair at the salon. There’s a plot device used here I rarely see, where the reader is pulled along a somewhat mundane daily routine only to end up in a whirlpool. The characters are charming and the language artistic and brilliant. The author uses words like twaddle and phrases such as “Jolly smart cravat too,” or chiller and cold store instead of refrigerator. Delightfully British in a Fawlty Towers meets Rosemary and Thyme sort of way. There are fantastic characters with side issues such as Elliot Moss, Hilda Price and Oscar Renfrew that I still haven’t figured out. But I don’t want to spoil anything by giving away too much, because there are subtle clues all the way through that I never picked up while enjoying the creative narrative, which eventually led gullible me over an unexpected cliff. When I had finished reading this novel, it reminded me of the short cartoon called Bambi meets Godzilla where Bambi is out walking on a lovely spring day, enjoying the flowers and the butterflies. A classic piece of music by Grieg is playing in the background to draw us further into a false sense of security. That’s when Godzilla shows up to flatten Bambi and the audience is completely flabbergasted. If you like surprises, you’ll love reading The Seasiders.

Vines: A Gripping Tale
Suzanne Y. Saunders


We’ve seen the Potter movies and of course fell in love with every Disney princess, but move over J.K. Rowling because Suzanne Y. Saunders is coming to town and if any DreamWorks producer is looking for something new, I would highly recommend “Vines: A Gripping Tale”. I can almost envision the gnarly, oozing vines on a billboard in Hollywood on Sunset and Vine! What a great marketing idea. But this story is no superficial little fairy tale. In fact, I see blockbuster written all over it. It’s a well-constructed piece of art complete with fairies, a sorcerer and supernatural intruders. There are damsels in distress, a handsome young blacksmith’s apprentice called Lance and a fascinating, original plot.
Saunders uses delightful and well-researched words to make the dialogue seem old without bogging readers down with ancient syntax. Painting the colors, the sounds and the smells of the Forbidden Forest, the author pulls us into deep dark woodland filled with dangerous vines. Hidden among the twisted and overgrown branches is a mysterious cavern with many life-threatening traps. With clever twists, you’ll come across the lying Vera who uses potions to stay beautiful and the evil Manix. You’ll meet the nobleman Terrence who owns a special protective sword and other wonderful, enchanting characters such as Milly, old man Bailey and Rennick.
“Rats and bats,” once you start reading you won’t be able to stop because Saunders casts a spell that will take you through the woods, leaving you breathless and wanting more!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tasty Recycling




This week, my blog is highlighting two seafood dishes
created from recipes found in this old cookbook,
 I picked up at a used book sale, for a pittance. 


To my delight, everything I’ve made from this book is super easy and tastes great. One of the things I like about this cookbook is that the ingredients used in most of the recipes are items I would normally have in my pantry or in my freezer. All I have to do is supplement what I have with a trip for some fresh produce and Voila--dinner is served.  If you're looking for healthy dishes that don't require tons of work and strange ingredients, then you'll like these recipes.  

First, I made the Tuna Bean Salad and I have to say with a modicum of hubris, that I think my version turned out better than the one they pictured in the book.

Bean Salad With Tuna--Professional Picture
Bean Salad With Tuna--photo by me.
Don't you think this one looks better?


A week later, I tried the Shrimp Creole and again, I think my version was tastier than the one pictured in the cookbook. Rather than retype the recipes, I took some photos and hope you’ll try them and enjoy them as much as we did. 




Proof, that gourmet cooking might be possible by taking a gamble on old books at a library or even a thrift store.

(In my humble opinion: between fast food, Big Pharma and those celebrity chefs, there's a conspiracy to make us eat unhealthy foods or we have to pay through the nose for the good stuff at fancy restaurants. Trust me, I love trying new things at restaurants, but cooking our own delicious meals some of the time, might help keep all of us off expensive and dangerous medications.) 


Bon Appetit. 



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Eve's Humble Apple

Summer is over? Whaaatttt? I can’t believe it. My favorite season is gone--just like that-- vaporizing into a humid weather report about hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, etc. Humidity is nothing in the big scope of things. Right?



I am so grateful that my cup 'runneth' over. Big time. Take a look at this apple of ours. The first and only apple on our fledgling apple tree from this garden, where we’ve lived since 2014, and while it's about the size of a golf ball, that little green apple reminds me, someone with the perilous name Eve, to be humble. To be thankful for the small things, such as apples. 
 It’s a magical touch of heavenly sweetness that grew in our corner of paradise. All by itself. All alone without other apples around to keep it company. Not enough for pie and not even big enough where I might tempt my husband to take a bite out of the minuscule morsel in order to find out if it is tart. Or filled with secret mysterious knowledge? Or worms?
 I can observe it and simply contemplate the reasons it came into my life. 




Remember this song? 
Maybe I'm supposed to remember this song because my mother liked it so much.

Hope you and your family are safe this season and always.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Meet Me at the Hemet Book Fair!





Original art contributed by Vicki Allen-Hitt


The Book Fair will be held on Saturday, September 23, from 9 am to 1 pm. It will be held at the Diamond Valley Arts Council, 123 North Harvard Street, Hemet CA 92543. There’s parking on the back (west) side of the building as well as on Harvard Street (in front of the building and across the street in a public parking lot just east of the DVAC.) 

I"ll be signing copies of Penniless Hearts, The Fifth Commandment and Theories of Her-An Anthology that contains three of my poems. My newest story Texting at the Gate is now available in a new fairy-tale collection titled, Once Upon a Broken Dream. I hope to be able to acquire a few copies from our publisher so I can display them at the book fair too.
That's me on the right. I'm saying Aloha to everyone
  at the Feldheym library, Meet the Author Event  in August.
Sharing my table is the super-talented,
 delightfully charming author, Suzanne Saunders.

I'm very excited about this event because it's my first Book Fair with the Diamond Valley Writer's Guild and it's much closer to home than the signing in August. Oh and before I forget, you can read one of my stories--The Dream in the summer issue of our Guild's magazine by clicking here: www.straitjackets.org

Hope to see you on the 23rd of September!
Free Admission!

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Creativia Publishing Family-Great Entertainment!



Growing up, among my family members, we had the sportsman, the dancing/sculptress, the comedian, the glamorous one and the singing poet. We all had our strengths and entertaining each other seemed to be one of our highest priorities. Long before reality television, we had backyard carnivals and weekend comedy shows. Sometimes we’d invite the neighborhood and other times we enjoyed creating smiles within the confines of our family. Usually I would sing. On the Fourth of July, I sang the Star Spangled Banner. At Christmas, my sister would dance like a Sugar-Plum Fairy and my brother told jokes or did John Wayne impersonations. Dad enjoyed a New Year Waltz, spinning Mom around and around until she was dizzy from too much Strauss. When we we were all tired from performing, we sat down to play Monopoly until at least one of us fell asleep on our fake pile of pink money.

So much has changed in the world today that families don’t have time to look up from their smartphones. After all, money isn’t pink and it isn’t easy to earn. Everyone wants to get behind the wheel of his or her own car instead of sharing a ride. Life is about self-fulfillment instead of togetherness. It’s about me instead of us--with them being the enemy. It’s really sad. I remember popping the popcorn for our neighborhood festival. We had games and offered Kool-Aid for a nickel.


Today, I’m more of a storyteller than a singing poet. Nostalgia graces my memories and I’m working on my second large novel, Penniless Souls which is a sequel to Penniless Hearts. I also wrote a short, faith-based fantasy titled, The Fifth Commandment about a young girl who wished for different parents, thus breaking the fifth commandment about honoring your parents. Right now, I’m glad to be part of the Creativia Publishing family. Recently, Creativia published an anthology titled, Once Upon a Broken Dream. Judging from the varied stories, I imagine there’s a comedian, a sportsman, a dancer or two among our talented members. Every author with a story in this anthology also has their own books and I'm sure you'll agree they are wonderful writers.

 I submitted a short faith-based story called Texting at the Gate. Please let me know if you like it. You can check it out here: 



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Peaceful Perspectives


Do you prefer original ideas from a famous author?
"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


The practical sound of science? 
"Peace cannot be kept by force. 
It can only be achieved by understanding." - Albert Einstein


Or...
 Do you find hope and strength in faith? 

"If we have no peace, 
it is because we have forgotten
 that we belong to each other." - Mother Teresa



Sunday, August 6, 2017

Beat the Heat at the Library on the 12th!

Saturday, August 12th!
Hobnob with local authors next weekend--
or
if you're the shy type and socializing isn't your thing, at least come 
say hello to me---Eve Gaal--I'm the author behind this blog--Intangible Hearts and the previous one: The Desert Rocks. I'll be showcasing and signing my novel
Penniless Hearts and a short novella: The Fifth Commandment.

I will also have on hand copies of an
 anthology about women, titled
 Theories of Her which features three of my poems. 

 Libraries are treasure troves 
of information and discovery.
 Create a family experience by 
meeting other immensely
 talented authors of 
children's books, young adult books, non-fiction, poetry,
 local history, non-fiction, even fantasy books. 
Readers of all ages are welcome!


The event is at the Feldheym Central Library 
at 555 W. 6th St. 
San Bernardino

1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there!