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Monday, October 23, 2017

Call Your Friends!

 A friend I haven’t spoken to for over seven years called me the other day and said he wanted to thank me. Thank me? I scratched my head and listened with a grateful heart.
“Eve,” he said. “I enjoyed working with you more than anyone else. Thank you.” And even though I wasn’t his manager or supervisor, he called to voice honest appreciation by telling me the work we did together had been fun and interesting. As we spoke, he told me about how he had suffered five strokes and part of his body had become paralyzed. His speech slightly slurred, my heart wanted to reach through the phone to embrace him. Such a talented individual—never a bad word about anyone—a fount of positive energy—he had taken on my enormous workload with a smile. If anyone should be thanking anyone, I should be thanking him.
In case you're too young to remember-
-phones used to look like this.
Do you have people in your life—perhaps among your FB friends who would love to hear your voice? Maybe you have thought about calling them but the busyness of life got in the way? Maybe now that you’re older, you have the courage to call or private message them, simply to thank them for being your friend. In most instances, you will probably make their day. Are you afraid to hear about the knee surgeries, the hernias and the hip replacements? You can respond to the surprises with kindness and prayers and they, I’m sure, will be thankful. The passage of time changes everyone but friendship can be eternal. It’s a flame that begins like a bonfire leaping high with excitement, burning like warm embers and unless occasionally stoked or prodded, can fade like smoke into the night.  

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.