Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Saturday, May 25, 2019

A Walk on the Haunted Side - Rose Pressey, Author


Devil’s Moon Pies
Makes approximately 12

COOKIE DOUGH
6 oz. unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup Steen's cane syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, ground fine
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. whole milk

MARSHMALLOW
4 tsp. powdered gelatin
1/2 cup water, ice cold, plus 1/4 cup at room temperature
4 tbsp. light corn syrup
3 tbsp. honey (clover or wildflower)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large grade-A egg whites

CHOCOLATE COATING
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate (61%–70% cacao)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or canola oil

PREPARATION
For the cookie dough:

Cream butter, brown sugar, syrup, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, for 1 minute.
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix with a fork. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix on low speed; slowly stream in milk. Continue mixing until the dough comes together. Press dough flat, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Turn out chilled dough onto a flour-dusted surface, then roll it until it is ¼ inch thick. Stamp out cookies using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, and while the cookies are cooling, start your marshmallow.

For the marshmallow:

Sprinkle gelatin over ½ cup ice-cold water, and set aside.
Combine ¼ cup room-temperature water, corn syrup, honey, and sugar in a small pot, insert candy thermometer, and simmer until mixture reaches 240 degrees. When the thermometer reaches 200 degrees—but not before—place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip on high.
Once the sugar mixture hits 240, remove it from heat, and stir in the bloomed gelatin. Then, while egg whites are whipping, slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture down the inside of the bowl to avoid spattering the hot syrup. Continue whipping for an additional 8 minutes, until the mixture stiffens. The pan will still feel warm to the touch but no longer hot.
Flip over half of the cooled cookies. Lightly coat a spoon with nonstick cooking spray, and spoon approximately a quarter cup of marshmallow onto each flipped cookie. Use the remaining cookies as tops; gently push down until you can see the marshmallow come just to the edge. While making the chocolate coating (see below), allow cookies to chill in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

For the chocolate coating:

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate has melted, then remove bowl from heat and let it cool slightly. Once the chocolate is no longer hot, but warm, slowly whisk in oil in a steady stream. Allow chocolate to cool at room temperature for about 5 minutes before proceeding with assembly.

Assembly:

Submerge chilled cookies in the chocolate, using 2 forks to gently lift the sandwiches out of the bowl. Let stand until shell hardens.



A Walk on the Haunted Side - Review by Martha A. Cheves

The old house stood on a small hill surrounded by oak, pine, and magnolia trees and overgrowth.  The Italianate-style structure had red brick with black shutters.  Of course most of the shutters were falling off or missing.  As far as I knew, no one had lived there since the 1970's.  I'd heard a lot of rumors about the place, but so far I didn't know fact from fiction.  There was something mysterious about the house.  Poking around by myself had seemed like a good idea earlier in the day.  Now that it was closing in or darkness, I was having second thoughts.  Even if there was a ghost, I was used to dealing with them.  I inched up the staircase, reminding myself to breath.  It was as if I was disturbing a presence that was in the house.  Not only that, but it felt like there were eyes on me with every step I took.  I stopped in my tracks.  A female ghost stood in front of me.  She was so close that I could almost tough her.  I'd seen ghosts before, but this one was by far the creepiest that I'd ever seen.  She had blood dripping from her head, claws for hands, and her eyes glowed green as she stared right at me.

Ripley Van Raden has returned to her hometown of Devil's Moon.  By day she works as the town's librarian.  By night she gives ghost tours.  Yes, she can see the ghosts when they want her to, but most of the time she gets an image of a dark figure or feels the 'chill' when a ghost is in her presence.  She even has one that has befriended her.  Her name is Annie and she was one of the original librarians in Devil's Moon.  She has passed on now but has learned to communicate with Ripley using text messages.  Local police officer Brannon Landon also has the ability to see ghosts, when they want him to see them.  This has given Ripley something in common with the officer.  But they soon find out that they have a bit more in common when Ripley finds a body at the cemetery one night while giving one of her ghost tours.

This is the second book in the Ghost Hunter Cozy Mysteries.  I read the 1st book titled These Haunts are Made for Walking and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Author Rose Pressey provides you with mystery, suspense, murder, humor and ghosts all in one book making the stories appealing to all.  And yes, it did have a surprising ending.  I'm now looking forward to reading book #3 Haunt the Haunt, Walk the Walk.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Death on Tyneside ( Agnes Lockwood Mysteries Book 2) - Eileen Thornton, Author



Cottage Pie (4 persons)

1 lb minced beef
1 large onion (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon plain flour 
Beef stock cube dissolved in half-pint hot water
Frozen mixed vegetables medley (small cut) Enough to suit the cook!
Red wine 
Cooking Oil 
Potatoes boiled and mashed.
Grated cheese
Salt & pepper.

Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a large saucepan.
Add minced beef, making sure it breaks up well.
When mince has browned slightly, add the finely chopped onion and mix thoroughly.
Add the flour and mix to soak up the juices.
Top up the beef stock with enough red wine to make 1 pint and add to pan. Stir well.
Then tip in the frozen vegetables
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
While mince is cooking, boil the potatoes and mash them thoroughly.
When mince is cooked, allow to cool, then tip into ovenproof dish
Cover with mashed potatoes and top with the grated cheese.
Place in the centre of a hot oven and cook until piping hot throughout. (About 30 minutes) Cheese will have melted and turned a golden colour.

This is an age-old recipe, but the wine makes all the difference. 
Adding the frozen veg to the mince, means you don’t have to cook anything extra - it’s all in one dish.
Can made early and frozen if using a freezer-safe dish.



Death on Tyneside - Review by Martha A. Cheves

"You want to be involved in solving this murder case.  Hasn't it sunk in yet how close you came to being murdered yourself, the last time you poked your nose into a murder inquiry?"

"Alan, I know I very nearly got myself killed a few months ago."  Agnes took his arm and they restarted their walk down the corridor.  "But I got through that.  Look at me.  I'm still here - alive and well, and ready to be involved in this case.  If the body had been found by someone else, then I might have stayed out of it.  Might,"  she repeated, wagging her finger at him.  "But it wasn't.  It was found by me.  And now I want to see it through."  She stopped walking and swung around in front of him.  "Alan, please, I need to see this through."


Agnes Lockwood has returned to Tyneside after spending a few weeks visiting her sons in Australia.  This is where she was from and the ties were pulling her back.  Or was it Chief Inspector Alan Johnson who was connected to those ties?  The two had gone to school together and Alan had always had a crush on her.  Now, after marriages and many years, they met again and Alan finds his feelings are still there and stronger than ever.  

In her first visit, she and Alan had eaten dinner and were walking back to her hotel when they found a body laying on the sidewalk.  The investigation into this murder almost got Agnes killed.  Now she's back and finds herself in the middle of yet another murder.

I've read everything Eileen Thornton has written and must say that she grabs me from the beginning and all the way through to the end.  She fills her writings with twists and turns that keep you guessing and flipping the pages to see what happens next.  I love her work and can't wait for Book 3 of the Agnes Lockwood Mysteries.

Friday, April 12, 2019

My Life For Her - Robert J. Saniscalchi, Author


Colombian Avocado Salsa

1/3 cup Chili (aja dulce, fresh, seeded and chopped)
1 ½ tsp. Habaneros (fresh, finely chopped)
6 Tbsp. White vinegar (distilled)
2 hard-boiled eggs (large, coarsely chopped)
1 ½ cups Avacados (firm, ripe, coarsely mashed)
1 cup Tomatoes (ripe, chopped)
1 cup White Onion (sweet, chopped)
¾ cup Cilantro (fresh, chopped)

Purée chiles, vinegar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender. 
Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.

Chill until ready to use.

My Life for Her - Review by Martha A. Cheves

With so many commuters bustling about, it was difficult to catch sight of the supposed drug dealer, but Tex spotted him as he slipped onto the train at the last minute.  As Rob followed him to the seats closest to the front door, Tex lowered his voice to a whisper and said, "That dude's either a crooked cop or a member of the cartel.  Worse, I think he's onto us.  We've gotta get rid of him, before our cover's blown."

Rob looked toward the rear of the car.  "Yeah, the dude gives me a bad feeling too."

Tex was silent as the attendant came around to check their tickets, but then he whispered, "Listen, Doc, if he comes into this car, we'll get up and head to the one in front.  You go through the door first, and I'll wait for him behind it."

"Then what?" Rob asked.

"Then... Well, I think I can handle it from there," Tex said with a grin.

Rob Marrino, is a 31 year old Vietnam Vet who is now a Pikeville, NJ policeman.  Life has had its up and downs as he and his wife Beth Anne deal with wartime memories and paranoia.  They have settled down quite well with Beth Anne working at the hospital while their two children are in school.  Then the bottom falls out when Rob does a high speed chase with a car that not only contains 2 Colombian drug runners but more drugs than the Pikeville police have ever seen.  It gets even worse when one of the  dealers is shot and killed with the surviving one promising Rob that he will pay for his interference.  Those words come back to haunt him when his worse nightmare comes true and he, along with a fellow Vet, end up in Columbia.

This book is so intent!  It's filled with action and narrow escapes.  I would like to see this one made into a "Made for TV Movie."

Monday, March 18, 2019

These Haunts are Made for Walking - Rose Presley, Author



Potato Soup

3 lbs. new red potatoes, washed and cut into chunks
2 qts. water
4-6 strips of uncooked, lean bacon
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
Salt & Pepper to taste

Remove as much fat from the bacon as possible and cut into small pieces.  Place potatoes, water and bacon in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat and cook until potatoes are tender.  Mash the potatoes leaving a few small chunks here and there.  Mix milk and 1 Tbsp. flour until smooth and pour into potato mix.  Bring to a boil to thicken.  Add another 1/2 Tbsp. of flour if needed.  Stir in cheese, sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. 

Comment:  The whole secret to this dish is boiling the bacon with the potatoes.  It cooks the flavor throughout the potatoes giving the dish a delicious smoky taste.

These Haunts Are Made For Walking - Review by Martha A. Cheves

The next morning was my first day as head librarian in Devil's Moon.  I'd been back in town for a couple weeks before I'd had to start work at the library.  That had given me time to start the haunted tour.  As soon as I'd moved back to town I'd decided to fulfill a lifelong dream - start a haunted tour.  This town was crawling with ghosts.  Well, not literally crawling, but you know what I mean.  So by day I was the mind-mannered librarian and by night I was the queen of spooky.  At least that was what Tammy told everyone.  I was ok with that description.

Ripley Van Raden has moved back to her hometown after a breakup with her ex-husband-to-be.  She has always loved the feel she got when surrounded by books, so what better job than being head of the library.  She would also be working with her best friend Tammy and a woman named Leslie.  Tammy would be enjoyable but after meeting Leslie Ripley knew things just weren't going to be that great.  She isn't sure but thinks it may be because Leslie possibly wanted the job as head librarian herself.

All goes well until the evening of her first day on the job.  The "Bookworms" book club came for their monthly meeting to discuss the book they are reading.  The outcome of the meeting put a true damper the day that started out so smoothly.

Oh yeah, there is also a 'library' ghost that not only can Ripley see but one who also sends her text messages.  This combined with the ghost tour ghosts, give Ripley a very interesting life.

This is a fun book to read full spirits, murder and a touch of humor.  Now I'm ready for Book 2 - A Walk on the Haunted Side.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Haunted Heist (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries) - Angie Fox, Author



Sugarland Peach Cocktail Syrup

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 ripe peach
Pinch of salt

You only need one peach for this syrup so pick a good one. It should give a little to pressure, but not be soggy at all. Rinse it off slice it into big wedges.  Add the wedges to a medium pot with the water and sugar. Put this over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. No need to bring it to a boil or anything. By the time it’s hot, the sugar should be dissolved.  Once the mixture is hot, you should be able to just pick out the peach skins which you definitely don’t want in the syrup. They should come right off!  The key to making this syrup really nice is to pulse it well in a blender. This emulsifies the peaches and makes a really smooth syrup.  Be sure to let the syrup cool off a bit before blending it!  Once the mixture is blended and cool, you can store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. It might separate a bit in the fridge, but just give it a shake before pouring it and it’ll be great. 

Drink Options
You can use this easy peach cocktail syrup in SO many drinks.
For starters:
2-3 oz. bourbon + 1 oz. peach syrup + dash of orange bitters + club soda
2-3 oz. gin + 1 oz. peach syrup + tonic
2 oz. tequila + 1 oz. peach syrup + 1/2 lime + 2 oz. lemonade + salted rim
2 oz. peach syrup + 8 oz. club soda or sparkling water

You get the idea. It’s incredibly versatile!

The Haunted Heist - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Frankie had the power to show me the supernatural world.  With his help, I'd been able to see and interact with some of the ghosts here in town.  We'd saved my house; we'd solved a murder.  Two of them, actually.  We'd made some positive changes in Sugarland, not that he cared about helping anyone but himself.  And I had been trying to free him.  It was just that nothing had worked yet.

So who is this Frankie that has the power to take Verity Long into the supernatural?  Why is she trying to free him and from what?  These are just some of the fun questions that you can find the answers to by reading the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Series.  I will tell you that Frankie lives in a trash can and Verity lives in a house she inherited from her grandmother.  But the fun part was learning how Frankie ended up in the trash can and why Verity is living in a house with no furnishings.

From the very first two books in this series - Southern Spirits and The Skeleton in the Closet, I found myself caught up in the suspense of a murder with a touch of humor.  I've laughed at the very odd pet that lives with Verity and how Frankie tends to get her into trouble in a world that most would never dream of visiting.  I feel for her as she struggles to make ends meet after her almost mother-in-law took everything away from her.  I feel joy for her as her feelings for Ellis grow.  And I hold my breath as she risks her own life to bring justice to those who need it.  This is a series that I hope will never end and I'm really looking forward to reading Book 4 in the series - Deader Homes & Gardens.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Last Train to Lime Street - Brian L. Porter, Author



Beef Pot Roast
(A favourite in the ill-fated Slimani household)

1 dessertspoon olive oil
1 (2kg) silverside roasting joint
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 160 C / Gas 3.
Heat a casserole pot on the hob over medium high heat. Add oil, and sear meat in the centre of the pan for 4 minutes. Turn meat over with tongs; sear all sides for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove meat from pan.
Arrange onion, garlic, and 1 bay leaf in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return meat to pan, place remaining bay leaf on top of meat, and cover.
Cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 150 C / Gas mark 2, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove roast to a platter to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice, and top with onions and gravy.



Last Train to Lime Street - Review by Martha A. Cheves

The funeral of Joey Slimani was indeed a low-key affair.  The small chapel wasn't even half-full as his wife, Trixie and two ex-wives led the small group of mourners, the three women sitting together at the front of the room, with Mary-Beth and Lana flanking the widow, like a pair of personal bodyguards.  

Dressed in black business suits sat Heinrich Braun and Stefan Schmidt, the two German pron producers who'd both had the recent business dealings with the dead man.  In the same row sat Michael Powell, the dead man's solicitor, William Jennings, the Slimani's butler/manservant/part-time lover to Trixie and an unknown man who Ross surmised was Slimani's American lawyer.  On the opposite side sat half a dozen men and three women who were adult movie actors and actresses who regularly appeared in movies made by Joe Slim Productions.  Seated behind the group of porn stars was a rather stiff-looking individual, the captain of South Mersey Golf Club, Graham Bull, here to pay his last respects on behalf of the club and its members.

Joey Slimani's nude body had been tossed from a bridge to be mutilated by an oncoming train.  He had been drugged and someone had cut his throat before the toss.  Detective Inspector Andy Ross and his Special Murder Investigation Team were called in to solve the mystery of why someone would commit such a horrible form of death and mutilation.  With Joey being a porn producer who produced movies of his present wife as well as his two ex-wives, the suspect list starts to take shape and the team proceeds with the idea that someone within the industry had a real hatred for Joey.

As always, with books written by this author, it became a page-turner, with me trying to make sense of just 'who done it?'  The culprit was a bit of a surprise to me, as was the reason.  This is Book VI of the Mersey Murder Mysteries.  It is a stand alone but I suggest you consider starting with Book I and follow this team through some truly interesting mysteries.

Last Train to Lime Street

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Merry Mersey Christmas - Brian L. Porter, Author


Classic Hot Toddy

¾ cup water
1 ½ ounces whiskey
2 to 3 teaspoons honey, to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
1 lemon round
1 cinnamon stick (optional, for garnish)

In a teapot or saucepan, bring the water to a simmer. Pour the hot water into a mug.
Add the whiskey, 2 teaspoons honey and 2 teaspoon lemon juice. Stir until the honey has disappeared into the hot water. Taste, and add 1 teaspoon honey for more sweetness, and/or 1 teaspoon more lemon juice for more zing.

Garnish with a lemon round and cinnamon stick (if using). Enjoy!

A Merry Mersey Christmas - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Unable to contain himself, Andy Ross took hold of his wife, one hand on each shoulder, and pulled her to him, gave her a short but loving kiss and whispered in her ear, "Someone just killed Santa Clause!" 

"Andy, don't play silly buggers with me.  Come on, what's happened to drag you out at this time of night?"

"I just told you.  Someone killed Santa," he looked her in the eyes and Maria could tell he was deadly serious.

So, why would someone kill the most loved person in the world?  Who would kill the most loved person in the world?  Of course this Santa is really Daniel Thomas, a mall santa that someone decided to give the gift of a knife in his neck.  But again I ask - why?

This short story will take you into the usual murder mystery that Andy Ross and his Specialist Murder Investigation Team are known for solving, but it also takes you to a kinder side of the team that you don't normally see.  It shows both sides of the writing art that evolves from Author Brian L. Porter.  And if you like this short story, you'll love the other books in the Mersey Series.  I sure have.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Songbird Girls - Richard Parker, Author



DUCK CONFIT - Serves Four

Ingredients

4 Duck breasts.
Tbsp Freshly chopped thyme
3 Cloves garlic finely chopped.
Salt.
Freshly ground black pepper
Three jars of goose fat.

Method

Sprinkle duck breast skin sides with plenty of salt and pepper Turn over and rub with more salt, sprinkle over thyme and chopped garlic. Cover with clingfilm and leave in refrigerator overnight.
Melt goose fat in a pan or slow cooker and turn heat down low.
Add a little oil to a skillet and seal duck breasts both sides.
Drop into the goose fat so they're completely covered and slow cook for four hours. 
Turn off heat and leave fat to set. You can leave it like this for a couple of days if necessary.
When ready to serve just remove breasts from fat, shake off excess and reheat in pan until hot.

Serve with red cabbage and potatoes cooked in the goose fat with a fat glass of red.

The Songbird Girls - Review by Martha A. Cheves

When steel struck the back of her head, Polly's brain briefly took her to a safe place.  She thought she was sitting at home in her armchair, the lounge quiet except for the clock ticking.  The sensation of the cushion beneath her seemed so real but consciousness and reality surged quickly back... She tried to scream, to alert the man who had got out of the Toyota but a hand was over her nose and mouth and her panicked exclamation was held inside her head.

Three years ago Detective Inspector Tom Fabian had put Christopher Wisher, infamous London serial killer, behind bars.  He'd murdered nine people.  Mutilated them in a way only he understood.  Wisher had confessed to the murders and each had his signature - a bird laying near the body with its neck broken.  This was withheld from the public so when Polly's body was found with the signature bird and Wisher in prison, Fabian could only believe this was a very well informed copycat.  And when Wisher passes on a special item to Fabian, he finds his life will be changed for a long time.

Have you ever picked up a book, started reading and decided you know the outcome after just a few pages?  That is what I thought about The Songbird Girls.  I just knew I had this book figured out from almost the beginning.  I was sure up until the last couple of chapters.  Boy was I wrong!  This book took me totally by surprise and I must say that I've finished the book and still don't know the ending.  This book is leading me into the next book that I hope will be out very soon!  I must see what I've missed and who is truly behind the story.  So, Richard Parker, please hurry and give us all the next book in this series.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Mystery of the Lost Avenger - Linda Maria Frank, Author



ORZO AND MUSHROOM CASSEROLE ALA LINDA

Cook up a box of orzo pasta, al dente. Fluids will be taken up when added to casserole.
Sauté 4 pkgs of mushrooms (choose the ones you like, a mixture is good) in 1 stick of butter. Brown lightly. Add 2 cups of white wine and reduce the mixture to a thick soup.
Arrange a large casserole by layering 1 bag fresh baby spinach, the mushrooms and the orzo.
Liberally lace with shaved parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle bread crumbs you have browned in butter on top.
Bake at 400 until bubbly. Add more wine if necessary.

You can add strips of barbequed chicken, shrimp, steak or salmon to this to make a hearty one-dish meal.


ENJOY!

The Mystery of the Lost Avenger - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Charlotte Wheeler suspected that sabotage was happening at the Grumman plant.  She was able to figure out the faulty hinges for the Avenger's bomb bay doors were being randomly replaced for the good hinges, by someone who had access to the plant.  Charlotte and her buddies checked all the planes and prevented the faulty parts from being switched.  They did their best to stop the saboteur, things got rough and Charlotte was attacked one night while she was waiting to catch him in the act.

Charlotte Wheeler was a WASP during WWII.  She not only helped build the planes, she also flew them to their destination where they were turned over to the fighting pilots.  She was scheduled to fly one of the bombers out but noticed a problem with the bomb bay doors.  While she went to check on something the plane was given to another WASP to deliver.  Her name was Brenda McPhee and she never made it to her destination.  Her plane disappeared.

Many years later Annie, who is Charlotte's great grand-daughter, finds out that the plane has been found and there was a letter inside that was written by Charlotte.  Through further research and the help of her boyfriend Ty, Annie decides to solve the mystery of the downed plane and who the saboteur was.

As with all of the Annie Tillery Mysteries, this one kept my interest.  It not only had some history, it also had a great mystery and of course a ghost.  Looking forward to reading the next in this series.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

PS: I Love You: A Paranormal Romance - Maggie Tideswell, Author


Honey Cake (Amber's favorite)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/8 cup milk
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1/3 teaspoon lemon juice


Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange rind. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Stir in the walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into diamond shapes. Pour honey syrup over the cake.
For the Honey Syrup: In a saucepan, combine honey, 1 cup sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.


PS:  I Love You: A Paranormal Romance (Roxanne's Ghost Saga Book 2) - Review by Martha A Cheves


He should have brought his tools with him.  Without their aid, he couldn't hear the whispers clearly enough.  Turning, he looked back at Ben's house on the hill, debating whether he should go back to fetch them or not. The portal might shift in the time it took him - they were not absolutes carved in stone - and he'd miss the opportunity.  He'd have to make do without the tools and channel his powers of concentration that much harder.

Slowly walking toward the headstone because it seemed the logical place for the portal to be, he kept his mind open and blank, receptive to any words that might fall into it like seeds into fertile ground.  He sensed someone talking.  Choosing a spot roughly equidistant between the three headstones, he sat down and crossed his denim-clad legs, his hands open-palmed on his knees.  

As in book one of this series, Jessica is still at the home that had belonged to Ben and Roxanne where she had gone to take up the position of the Nanny to their daughter.  In this second book Jessica is tortured by the missing Roxanne's sisters, especially the twin who has her sight set on taking Roxanne's place in her marriage to Ben and becoming the mother of their child.  And the tale continues from there.

This book is one that kept me going as I tried to make the connections between Roxanne, Daisy, the sisters and Ben.  And when the connection did come through, it was one that I never guessed making it a total surprise!  If you like a good love story, if you like a good paranormal story, if you like a good combination of both - this is a must read book.  I loved it!  But, read book one - Goodbye, My Love - 1st so you have the full story from the beginning.  You won't regret it.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Read and Gone (A Haunted Library Mystery) - Allison Brook, Author






Double-chocolate brownies
Carrie often makes double chocolate brownies for family occasions
12-16 brownies


INGREDIENTS
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2  cup sugar (I prefer Sugar in the Raw)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 –1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli chocolate chips)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  •  

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and line 8” square pan with parchment paper
  2. Stir eggs with sugar, vanilla and butter.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder and salt and stir into egg mixture.
  4. Add chocolate chips and nuts to mixture.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in pan.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes. Test with toothpick. Brownies done when toothpick comes out slightly moist.
  7. Let cool, then cut into squares.

Note: if you like, you can melt the chocolate chips before adding them to the mixture.


Read and Gone - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Jim sat down at the kitchen table while I made up a plate with slices of turkey and ham.  I also warmed up a huge piece of lasagna in the microwave.  He ate quickly and neatly as usual.  My father was a thief, but he believed in good clothes and good manners.  When he asked me to serve him more, I knew he probably hadn't eaten since yesterday.  "Coffee?" I asked.  "Please, Black, two sugars."  "As always," I murmured before I could stop myself.  I was annoyed that I'd kept his habits close to my heart.  He shot me a grin.  "You remembered."  "Why are you here? I asked as I slipped a French roast pod into the Keurig.  "I need your help, Caro."  "Do you know Benton Parr, the jewelry?"  "I've met him since he's on the Library Board with Uncle Bosco.  And I've spoken to him a few times on the phone.  He's giving a talk Tuesday evening on 'Gems: How to Tell the Real from the Fake."  "Benton Parr's a thief!"  I started to laugh but immediately froze when I caught his furious expression.  "We nabbed seven million dollars worth of perfect loose stones.  My retirement fund.  Parr took the lot for safekeeping.  I've tried contacting him several times this past month, but he refuses to answer my emails and calls.  I'm afraid I need to ask you to act as a go-between and retrieve my share of the stones."

Carrie Singleton has had her father come in and out of her life for as long as she can remember.  She spent her childhood being ashamed of him while he served time in and out of jail.  Now, just a few days before Christmas, he has shown up at her home wanting her help to recover jewels that he and another man have stolen.  Who does he think he is?  She should just tell him to get lost, which she hopes he will do soon but not before he is attacked and hospitalized, leaving her to take care of him while he's in town.

The first book in this series, Death Overdue, was a very enjoyable read.  Carrie moved to her father's hometown and found herself a job working as the Program and Entertainment Director for the local library.  She also found herself becoming the major factor in solving a murder.  In Read and Gone, Carrie is again involved in several murders as well as the search for the jewels her own father helped steal.  The question is, was he involved in the murders too?

This book takes you around many curves.  There are many suspects to choose from, keeping the reader running from one to the other until the end.  I must say I was surprised.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Cassie's Tale - Brian Porter, Author



Slow cooked lamb shanks with roasted root vegetables recipe
(Perfect recipe for cold winter nights like when Cassie was found)

1 tbsp olive oil
4 lamb shanks
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4-5 thyme sprigs
1 chicken stock pot
500ml pomegranate juice
450g Tendersweet or Chantenay carrots, trimmed
300g frozen peas
handful mint leaves
3 tbsp pomegranate seeds (optional)

Cooked slowly, this easy lamb shanks recipe makes a great alternative to a Sunday roast or Easter lunch. Simmered in sweet, tangy pomegranate juice, the lamb shanks become meltingly tender and the sauce develops a rich, meaty flavour. Serve with mashed potato for a traditional feel, or some simple couscous for a hassle-free side.

Preheat the oven to gas 3, 160°C, fan 140°C. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over a medium-high heat, add the lamb shanks and brown all over, turning with tongs. Once browned, remove the shanks to a plate and set aside.

Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic and a pinch of salt to the pan and fry for 4-5 mins until softened. Return the lamb to the pan, add the thyme, stock pot and pomegranate juice. Season to taste and bring to the boil, then cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hrs.
Remove from the oven, turning the shanks over in the liquid so they cook evenly, and add the carrots. Return to the oven for a further 1 hr 30 mins or until the shanks are tender and the carrots are cooked through.

Transfer the shanks and carrots to a plate and discard the thyme sprigs. Set the casserole over a high heat on the hob and simmer for 10 mins or until the sauce has slightly thickened and reduced.

Stir in the peas, then return the shanks and carrots to the casserole. Allow to simmer for 3-4 mins until the peas are cooked and the everything is heated through. To serve, garnish with the fresh mint and pomegranate seeds (if using).

Freezing and defrosting guidelines
The cooked lamb shanks can be frozen if making ahead. Follow the recipe to the end of step 3. Leave to cool completely then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. To reheat and serve, place over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the dish is heated through then continue to reduce the sauce and add the peas as in steps 4 and 5.



Cassie's Tale - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Cassie was found one rainy night when a lady named Linda heard cries and whimpering coming from the direction of the garden of a house she was walking past.  She stopped to try and discover where the noises were originating from and actually climbed the wall into the garden and there she discovered the source of the crying - a tiny, wet and bedraggled, shivering little pup with nowhere to go to get out of the rain.  Barely twelve inches long, she was a grey haired, little terrier with a long tail that curled upwards and with white 'socks' on the bottom of her paws.  After being passed to what was thought to be her 'forever' home, Cassie ended up being rescued yet again and ended up being taken in by Brian, Juliet and their 'pack' of four legged bundles of fur. Cassie's Tale is her story from her first rescue to date.

I've had dogs my whole life and when I read Cassie's Tale it brought back memories of each individually.  Cassie is so full of spirit with antics that make her unforgettable.  When I read about her being a ball thief and how she would take a ball away from dogs as large as a Rottweiler, Doberman or West Highland Terrier, it makes me think about my own West Highland who does the same.

When I read about her cow pat rolls, I remembered my poodle named Peaches who would head straight for the cow pasture when I took her camping with me.  She always looked for the biggest, freshest one she could find.  Thank goodness I also camped near a stream.

When I read how she was found, I remembered Tipsey who was living in a storage facility with nothing to eat and no place to get out of the summer heat.

And then she reminds me of my Soul Mate Jesse who chooses those he likes and when.  Fortunately for me, he really loves me and stays at my side always.

All-in-all, if you're a dog lover you can't help but enjoy this beautiful book about Cassie and her ups and downs.  If you aren't a dog lover, who knows, after reading this you must might become one.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sea Cliff - Mary Deal, Author



ZUCCHINI-TOMATO PIE

 2 cups  Zucchini, chopped
1 cup Tomato, chopped
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups Milk
3/4 cup Bisquick
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper



Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or spray 10 inch quiche dish or 10 x 1 1/2 inch pie plate.  Sprinkle zucchini, tomato, onion and cheese to cover bottom of dish.  Beat remaining ingredients until smooth (15 seconds in blender on high; 1 minute with hand beater). Pour over ingredients in dish.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool five minutes. Serve.

Sea Cliff - Review by Martha A. Cheves

All her life, her father reminded that she didn't know how to do anything competently.  He'd painfully flick her ear, or slap or kick her when he was frustrated.  He'd use a board if he had one in his hand.  He destroyed what little self-confidence she had and denied her any opportunities to prove her abilities.  In one way or another he'd convince himself he was right...  and it wasn't just Rachael that was rewarded with his abuse... He griped about raising two kids alone.  He cursed her mother for having died, then mumbled something about it being better anyway because she was another burden to him.  He was vicious and self-serving.  Rachael's brother Brandon's grades were poor.  He had a broken arm and ended up making excuses about how it happened.  

Rachael is a writer and the book she is working on at the moment is about the life of a fictional woman who has gone through abuse as a child.  Her character finally meets a man who seems to be able to take her as she is, hang-ups and all.  But due to her abuse, the character has a hard time accepting affection of any kind... just like Rachael herself.

I don't normally read romance novels.  Most seem to be the same - girl meets guy, they have their problems, they have their heated intimate times, fight, finally get together and live happily ever after.  This book was so different.  The author talks about the abuse and the damage it can do to a child and how it carries on into adulthood.  And on top of that, she has written a beautiful story that I, who doesn't like romance novels, had trouble putting down.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Never Say Goodbye - Richard Parker, Author

Releases August 14, 2018

TOM FABIAN DEVILLED EGGS

Makes 8 (16 halves)

Ingredients

8 eggs
3 tbsp chipotle mayo
Healthy sprinkle of smoked paprika (better depth of flavor than ordinary paprika)
Healthy sprinkle of garlic powder
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
Sprinkle of salt
Sprinkle of white pepper
(Tsp of English mustard if you want them even hotter)

Directions

Boil eggs for 10 minutes. Tip away hot water and add cold. When they're cool, peel off shells and cut each egg in half
Scoop out yolks and put into a bowl. Add all ingredients and mix thoroughly with a fork. Spoon or pipe back into each egg half. Sprinkle eggs with a little of the smoked paprika to decorate.



Never Say Goodbye - Review by Martha A. Cheves

"Whiting hadn't made any connections between the four victims.  Each one had been murdered in a different area of the city."  Metcalfe consulted his note.  "First was female - an affluent black law student, second was a white, mail, middle-aged taxi driver.  Third a white teenage girl who worked in a supermarket and the fourth a geriatric white female, Janet Wells.... "But no witnesses."... "no.  First victim was attacked in a car park at night, second under a railway bridge, third in the garden.  Janet Wells was the first victim of a break-in.  As far as we know, the attacker wasn't interrupted on any occasion."  

DCI Alec Metcalfe has just updated Detective Tom Fabian of the latest information on victims that seem to be randomly chosen.  Each is stabbed several times, hopefully killing them, before they are stabbed with a knife to the face mutilating their facial features.  None of the victims knew each other nor had anything in common.  So, why were they chosen?

This was another of those books that took me all the way to the last few chapters before I was informed as to who and why!  I had one suspect at about 70% into the book but found that I was totally wrong and totally shocked as to who and why.

If you want a great suspense, murder mystery, I have to recommend Never Say Goodbye .  It held my interest to the extent that I finished it in under 5 nights!  Yep, that good.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Very Mersey Murder (Mersey Mystery Series Book 5) - Brian L. Porter, Author



Scouse
(The best scouse this side of the Mersey)

Serves: 3

400g beef (preferably a tough cut like chuck or even flank)
30ml oil
salt and pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 stock cube (preferably Knorr®)
500ml hot water
2 bay leaves
a few sprigs thyme
4 large carrots, cut into 15mm chunks
6 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 cm chunks
pickled red cabbage, to serve

Method
Prep: 15 min.  Cook: 2 hrs. Ready in 2 hrs 15 min.

Dice the meat if not already done into whatever size you prefer, remembering the size will shrink slightly.
Heat the oil in the pan to a medium temperature and add the meat. Season very well at this early stage with salt and pepper. Stir and turn until just brown all over. Do not drain. Add the onions and continue to stir on a medium heat for around 10 minutes; the onions must not brown.
Add the stock with the water (or 500 ml of good homemade stock) and bring to the boil. Add the bay and the a few little twigs of thyme, stir, cover and when bubbling, reduce to medium heat. You want the stock to bubble but not violently for 1 hour.
Uncover and add the carrots and potatoes, turn up the heat until bubbling throughout and reduce slightly. Leave for another 45 minutes to 1 hour with the lid off the pan so it reduces. When the veg has been cooked through but retains some firmness, the best way to check is to see if it falls easily off the end of a fork without cracking or breaking, then it is normally done perfectly.
The stew should reduce once the veg is added and the lid, but you may need to add more water or perhaps turn the heat up to ensure the liquid is as thick as good gravy.
Taste and season again if necessary. Serve in a bowl with the red cabbage and plenty of juice on the top. Really delicious.

Serving suggestion - Yummy with a nice bottle of real ale!
Tip - Really important that dish is well seasoned!



A Very Mersey Murder - Review by Martha A. Cheves

A woman is brutally raped and murdered, her body left close to the old disused lighthouse in Hale.  Then came a second and finally a third murder.  All being committed by who the police feel is the same person.  One was a barmaid, one worked with animals and the third was a policewoman.  These murders happened thirty-nine years ago with no arrests being made and the case assigned to the cold case files.

This is the information Detective Inspector Andy Ross has just given to his people that make up the Merseyside Police Specialist Murder Investigation Team.  His biggest concern regarding this cold case is that there have been two more recent murders that are very similar to those from thirty-nine years ago.  The first being a barmaid and the second being a veterinary student.  If the person doing the killings now continues to follow the original murders the third will be taking place within just a few days and that person will be one of their own... a police woman.

I've read every book this award-winning author has written.  His Jack the Ripper series kept my nerves tied into knots from beginning to end.  I've read this series - Mersey Mystery - and I will admit that the 1st book was good, the second was better and as I read the third and forth they got even better but I must say that book five takes me back to the Ripper series!

As I read murder mysteries I judge their ability to fool me by how quickly I can come up with the guilty party.  If I have at least the person figured out by around 20% into the book it is a good book.  If it takes me 50% to decide who it might be, that is a very good book.  And 75% marks the book as an extremely good mystery.  But when it takes me all the way to the end and the author has to finally inform me as to who the murderer is I rate that book one of the best.  For me this book fits in with the Best.

Now I'm waiting on book 6!  But if I were you, start with the full Mersey Mystery Series which can be seen at http://getbook.at/MerseyMysteries .


Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Doctor's Tale - Claire Applewhite, Author



Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 cup spinach, chopped
½ cup sun dried tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS
In a large skillet, add olive oil and cook the chicken on medium high heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown on each side and cooked until no longer pink in center. Remove chicken and set aside on a plate.

Add the heavy cream, chicken broth, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese. Whisk over medium high heat until it starts to thicken. Add the spinach and sundried tomatoes and let it simmer until the spinach starts to wilt. Add the chicken back to the pan and serve over pasta if desired.

The Doctor's Tale - Review by Martha A. Cheves

Did anything I did make a difference?  I didn't know what I believed anymore.  I saved the life of a desperate woman with no future, and impulsively ended the lives of two others.  While I climbed the steps to my apartment, one thought ran through my mind:  I ended three lives.  At that moment, I could not ignore my over-whelming doubts.  Had medical school been the worst decision of my life.  Was I meant to become a physician?  Like a dead animal, the pungent odors of Division Sixteen festered in my mind.  Over and over, I heard Freeman's cruel wisecracks, the drone of Skelton's lectures, and Mrs. Raines' desperate pleas.  If I did not become a physician, what else would I do?  "Plan B" did not exist.  Could I face another day?

You've just met Thomas Anthony Spezia, Intern at City Hospital.  He made the decision to become a doctor after repairing the broke wing of a bird when he was just a child.  Now he finds himself facing some of the worse decisions he has ever faced.  How does a doctor make the decision of helping someone live as opposed to allowing them to die?  Which choice will allow you to live with yourself?  Which is best for the patient and which is best for you?

The Doctor's Tale is full of life and death.  It takes you on a journey that only a doctor can understand, and only then after many years of experience.  The events that take place had me wondering how I would have reacted if faced with the situations that many doctors are faced.  It has made me stop and think about my own doctors.  I've always seen them as my healers but never given much thought to me being just one of their patients.  Me being just one of their problems.  And me being just one of the decisions they must make every day.  This book was a real eye opener.

 
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