Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Stages of Me - Kathy Henderson, Author

London Broil & Kathy's
Special Sauce

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 jar mixed berry fruit preserves
1 cup white wine
1 tsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sweet roasted paprika
1 1/2 tsp. Tony C. spice
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash original
 tsp. garlic  herb spice
1/3 cup Agave Syrup
Mix together.  Pour over lean cut London Broil.  Place in refrigerator 2 hrs.  Bake at 350 degrees until medium well.  Slice thin.  Serve over rice.

The Stages of ME – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts
‘We all have a beginning, middle, and eventually an end.  The simple things can become so major in an appreciation of a true work.  We are all works of art with our own complexities.  I often find myself standing before a person as if in a museum, trying to observe the creation and realness beyond the layers.  We all have so many layers.  It is almost like a person’s life is a script on a theme tablet and he or she flips to the page that fits a situation.  You know it’s true!  In many ways this ties into our trust issues.  We all have them!  Do we trust enough to show our realness, or are we guarded out of fear?  Do we change our tablet daily?
Life is a ‘stage’ and our Director is our Maker.  He wrote the script and directs us through the many stages of Me as we go through life.  Author Kathy Henderson takes us through her own personal script as she discovers the different stages of her own life.  As we all know, life has its ups and downs and how we handle them and prepare for future stages depends on the faith we have not only in ourselves but also the faith we have in those touching our lives and more importantly our Director. 
Kathy loved helping people, so with the help and faith of her Director, she became a Therapist in Physical and Cognitive Rehabilitation.  She became the strength for those without strength.  She became the sounding board for those with no one else to voice to.  She even became the shoulder for those whose loved ones went on to a better, healthier place.  But when she herself was struck down with a rare muscular disease, she became one of her own patients. 
The strength displayed by this woman is amazing.  With her own health threatening to slip over the edge, she never gives up faith in her Director as He takes her from stage to stage in life.  When fear creeps into her children’s minds, she’s there to ease it away.  Even when her husband is diagnosed with a heart disease, she still stands her ground and follows the script given her. 
Kathy Henderson is an incredible woman with incredible strength.  As she explains to us, life comes in different stages and our Director will guide us through all of them.  The Stages of ME is a very uplifting book that everyone who has ever felt sorry for themselves should read.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Undertaker - William F. Brown, Author

"Brown Family Pumpkin Bread"

3 1/2 cups of flour
2 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tsp of baking soda

2 tsp of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup of water
2 cups of canned pumpkin
Nuts (optional)
Sift the dry ingredients together.  Mix the pumpkin,water, oil, and eggs together.  Pour into dry mixture and mix well.  Pour into 2 greased, medium loaf pans.  Bake in 350 degree oven (preheated) for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Cool completely before removing from pans.  It's great for the holidays!

The Undertaker – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds Dessert

TALBOTT, PETER EMERSON, AGE 33, OF Columbus, died Sunday at Varner Clinic following a tragic automobile accident.  President and founder of Center Financial Advisors of Columbus.  Formerly of Los Angeles, a 1999 graduate of UCLA and a lieutenant, US Army Transportation Corps.  By authority of Ralph Tinkerton, Executor (See also TALBOTT, THERESA JUNE, wife, accompanying).  Funeral services for both at 2:00 PM tomorrow, Greene Funeral Home, 255 E. Larkin, Peterborough, Ohio.  Internment, Oak Hill Cemetery, following.

‘That was me.  I was Talbott, Peterson Emerson, 33 years old, and formerly from Los Angeles.  I had graduated from UCLA and I had been a lieutenant in the Army.  Coincidence?  I didn’t think so.  There was only one of me and I didn’t die in the Varner Clinic or anywhere else last Sunday.  I was an aeronautical software engineer and I had never been to Columbus or heard of Center Financial Advisors much less been its President.  Still, when you’re looking into a set of hard, dark eyes and a .45 automatic, it’s hard to argue the fine points.’

According to the papers, Pete Talbott was dead.  He and his wife had both died in a car accident.  But…Pete was very much alive and living in Boston.  His death wouldn’t have bothered him that much if whoever was responsible for this notice hadn’t brought his wife Terri into the picture.  Terri had died of cancer and this funeral notice was nothing but a lack of respect to her making him determined to get to the bottom of both notices.  He would also have never learned of his own death had it not been for the big, burly man named Gino sitting next to him with a gun pointed at his head.  He would also have never met Sandy whose husband had died a year before but apparently had just died again.  Confusing?  Imagine what they felt as they uncovered several deaths that had taken place at least twice. 

Racing around the states, being chased by the very people who are supposed to protect them, Pete and Sandy find themselves being blamed for not only murders of innocent people but also those committed by the mob.  As the puzzle starts to become clear, Pete and Sandy begin to understand why people are ‘dying’ twice.  They also begin to understand who is behind this and why as they discover how high up the ladder the arm of ‘un’justice really reaches.

Have you ever read a book that keeps going and going and you see yourself running out of pages with no possibility of a ‘happy ever after’ ending?  That is what I was facing with The Undertaker.  As the pages ran out I could see no possible way for Pete and Sandy to escape cliff-hanger after cliffhanger.  Could this be one of those books that simply don’t end with a smile.  You'll have to read The Undertaker and find out for yourself.  I truly enjoyed sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the ending.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Escape 2 Earth 2012 - Lawrence Johnson, Sr., Author

Author Lawrence Johnson, Sr.'s
Shrimp Soup

3 Cups Clam Juice                                                
2 Cups Heavy Cream
10 1/2 oz Seafood Bisque                                     
1 tsp. White Pepper
2 lbs. Shrimp - peeled, deveined and halved       
1/2 to 1 Cup of  Townhouse or Ritz Crackers (Crushed)

1. Simmer clam juice and seafood bisque
2. Add shrimp - DO NOT BOIL.  When shrimp are pink stir in heavy cream.
3. Add white pepper
4. Turn off heat then add crushed crackers - stir

Escape 2 Earth 2012 – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts
‘Two tall male forms walked from the ship toward them.  This was it.  It was obvious from their attire that they were not from this world.  It was one of the coldest nights of the winter but the thin blue shimmering material worn by the visitors seemed more than adequate to keep them warm.  One of the aliens began to speak.  His voice was calm and welcoming.  “I bid you peace.  You have no idea how long we have waited for this moment to arrive.”  The two aliens bowed slightly under the moonlight while Will and Matt stood motionless and speechless.  “Your friend is injured, allow us to help.”  One of the aliens had dark blue hair, when he moved away from the light it actually looked black.  He motioned toward Art.  When they didn’t respond he picked Art up in both arms and carefully carried him up the small ramp and inside the ship.  The other alien was a little shorter with shoulder length reddish brown hair.  The shorter man did not speak but motioned for Matt and Will to follow.  Once on the ship the door silently slid closed behind them and once again the ship seemed to vanish.  Matt and Will were not the only ones amazed at the dramatic arrival of the aliens, the man who had shadowed them since their arrival at the airport was back.  This time he watched, with high-powered night vision binoculars, from a clump of trees on the other side of the clearing.  The stalker had shed his disguise.  He would be much easier for Matt to recognize now.  It was Matt’s nemesis, Dave.’
Matt and Will were not just best friends, they were also partners in a venture to photograph and hopefully find answers to the mysterious masses of ‘crop circles’ that had plagued the world for years.  But, as time passed and the answers with it, Matt decided to split the partnership and take a real job.  One that would keep him home where he and his wife Sara could hopefully start a family.  But, as predicted by Will, Matt would soon become bored with his position at America’s Pulse Magazine.  At least that was the case until Matt and Will met Arthur Collins.  Art was a computer whiz with CBT Electronics.  He and his team were in the process of building a new super computer.  Secretly he talked Matt and Will into allowing him to submit the data they had collected over the years into the new computer to see what it might come up with a pattern and therefore answers.  The answers calculated by this super computer would change the lives of not just Matt, Will and Art but the whole world.  By diagnosing the data, there appeared to be 3 symbols that kept appearing in the printouts.  They were 001, 034, AH and 2,012.  After many calculations 001 turned out to be San Andreas Fault, 034 – England, and AH – Averbury Hedge.  2,012 was the year which was 8 years into the future.  The year Earth would be destroyed.
So, where do the aliens come into play?  Are they here to help or to hinder?  According to them, they aren’t even supposed to be there.  If their planet officials found out, they could face death.  But can the trio believe what they tell them about the destruction of the world?  According to them, Earth cannot be saved but the people can.  How?  There are millions of people on the planet and no way to get off and even if they could, where would they go?
I’ve read books that have kept me on the edge of my seat but Escape 2 Earth 2012 had me even holding my breath at times.  Why?  So many of the happenings are so possible.  What are the pyramids really and how were they actually built?  What is Stonehenge and who built it?  Is it possible that there might be a planet out there that is on course to collide with Earth?  Would our government even tell us if there was no way to avoid the collision?  Escape 2 Earth 2012 is fiction but it sure makes sense of some of these questions.  This is a truly intense book.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Slade's Destiny - The Witchcraft Wars Book 3 - Tracey Alley, Author

(A Tracey Alley Special)

2 X Rashers of Bacon
1 X Can of Corn Kernals 440 g
5 X Eggs
1 x Small bottle of cream 300 g
1 x Sheet of short crust pastry

Chop 2 rashers of bacon into bite sized squares and lightly fry
Add one can 440g of corn kernals
In large mixing bowl add 5 eggs and 300mg cream
Grate 1 cup of cheese into mixture and stir well combining all the ingredients
After well mixed pour mixture into a lined dish with the short crust pastry on the bottom
Cook in moderate over for approximately 30 mins or until you can insert a knife and it comes out clean.

x = 1 of or 2 of
1 can corn kernals or
1 x can corn kernals

Slade’s Destiny – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

‘Ming could hear the click of armor and the rhythmic pounding of many, many feet as they drew closer.  She could feel her heartbeat increasing and pounding heavily in her chest, using the exercises and skills taught to her as a monk she tried to quiet her rapidly beating heart.  Panic and fear would only cause her to make mistakes; she needed a cool, clear and calm head.  It was one of the first lessons learned in the warrior training at the Black Lotus.  Less than an hour had passed before the group got their first look at the approaching army.  In spite of the lanterns it was still shadowy along the length of the underground roadway.  They could not be certain who they faced but she noted with a sense of relief that the army, and an enormous army at that, seemed to be primarily made of up the very dwarves that Zexsan had been leading them to see.  In the very back she could just make out a group of taller figures that indicated an almost equally large human following closely behind the dwarves.’

Ming is just one of the key elements that must put a stop to the witch Shallendara’s attempt to open the portals that will cause total destruction to their world.  Slade and his sister Ursula, as well as many others, have vowed to rescue their father King Erich after his kidnapping.  To do this they must stand against their older brother Ulrich who has taken over the throne.  Both realize his evilness and also the fact that he may have had a hand in the kidnapping as well as the death of their mother.  But time is running out.  Shallendara has learned what is required to open the portal.  She must acquire two of the three gemstones required for the opening.  When these two are brought together, the third will follow.  The mystery is her motive.  With the destruction of the world how does she expect to survive?  How can she be stopped?

Then there is Nexus who has worked with Shallendara as a joint quest to find the stones and open the portal.  But can she really trust him?  Is his motive real or does he have ideas of his own?  Will the two continue to work together or will they betray each other?

Book Three of the Witchcraft Wars has been a true page turner.  I couldn’t wait to see Slade’s Destiny would really become the end of the series or hopefully lead to a 4th.  I was completely surprised by the ending!  And to my delight, there are many possibilities for continuation.  Hopefully soon.  My advice, read the complete set of the Witchcraft Wars in order.  You won’t be disappointed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Smoke and Murders - Douglas Chandler Graham, Author


(A Douglas Graham Favorite)

1 Pound of sausage
2-1/2 cups of bisquick
8 oz package of cheddar cheese (shredded)

Let sausage and cheese stand at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Work cheese into sausage, then gradually add bisquick.
Roll into 1 inch balls and put on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes.

Smoke and Murders – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds Desserts
‘Inside the still smoky house, Lieutenant Bill Kenny of the Vinyard Police Department was approached by a tall, older man in a baggy brown suit.  He introduced himself as Virginia State Police Lead Investigator Bernard McNutt.  McNutt assumed he was introducing himself to the Vinyard police chief since Lieutenant Kenny was wearing a suit and tie instead of a uniform.  McNutt was surprised to learn that the chief wasn’t at the crime scene.  He had heard the firemen on the radio talking about the four bodies they discovered and had expected the top cop to be at a crime scene of this magnitude.  Kenny told McNutt the police chief left the heavy lifting to him and said he would be working more with him than the police chief.  Kenny explained that the police chief did all of the media releases, the glad-handling with business people, and dealt with the town officials, and he, Bill Kenny, handled the crime and workaday part of the Vinyard police business.  Then he informed the investigator of what they had found and as much as he know about the victims’ background.
Vinyard is a small town in Virginia.  Most of the residences were born there and never left.  Everyone knows everyone as well as everyone’s business.  So when ex-postal worker Brad Harmon, his wife and two children were murdered, the first person Investigator Bear McNutt suspected was Adam Brackett.  Bear has had his eye on Adam every since two girls that he had taken to his motel room disappeared to never be seen nor heard from again.  He couldn’t pin it on him then but he would get his, one way or another, for the Harmon murders.  But could Adam really murder the only friends he has really ever had?  The more Bear talks about the case, the more people are starting to believe he could and did. 
In Vinyard, you find the typical small town politics.  The council rules the police chief and the judge, at least they think they do.  The police chief rules his lieutenant Bill Kenny, so he thinks.  Bill Kenny rules the drug dealers in town, yeah right.  And the whole time, the major crimes are being committed by those that are sworn to uphold the laws.  The only results can be nothing more than disastrous. 
Vinyard is the story about a town that’s so corrupt that the only way it can correct itself would be to move everyone out and start over.  Yet the story is so believable that I have no doubt there are many towns out there just like Vinyard.  And I bet if you grew up in a small town or live in one now, you will be able to relate to a lot of the happenings in Vinyard.  I know I can. 
Smoke and Murders became a book that I really enjoyed and I think you will too.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Love of a Stonemason - Christa Polkinhorn, Author


Quantity (for one person):
for 1 egg yolk:
- half eggshell of Marsala
- half eggshell of dry white wine
- 2 small spoons of sugar

Whisk the sugar with the yolks very well, then add the Marsala and the white wine. Cook the whole thing in a double saucepan.
When the cream gets thick and hard, remove the pan from the fire.
The Zabaglione is ready to be served, hot with some cookies.

From the "ricette della nonna" ("recipes from the grandmother"), a summary of typical recipes from the Ticino Region by Noride Beretta-Varenna and Giovanna Sciaroni-Moretti, editions Dadò, Locarno.

Love of a Stonemason – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds Dessert

‘She saw the car just as she stepped into the crosswalk.  An old beat-up Fiat screeched to a stop within a few inches away from her.  Karla jumped back and dropped her portfolio, spilling its content onto the pavement.  Her heart thudded and she took deep breaths, trying to calm the queasy feeling in her stomach.  That smell.  Burnt rubber.  A young man got out of the car and stared at her, stunned.  “Are you all right?”  Karla still dazed, nodded.  She bent down and began to pick up her drawings.  A few pedestrians stopped but when they realized that nothing major had happened they walked on.  The driver’s dark voice rose to an angry pitch.  “Jesus Christ.  What’s the matter with you?  You practically threw yourself in front of my car.  I could’ve killed you.  Are you suicidal or something?”  “I’m sorry, I wasn’t watching.” Karla slid the papers back into her portfolio.  “Yeah, well, that’s obvious.  Wake up, for heaven’s sake.” 

Meet the characters:

Karla Bocelli is an artist whose first exhibition opens the following Friday.  The gallery belongs to a friend of hers who devotes time and money to help fledging artists showcase their work.  Karla’s mother and grandmother were both killed in a car accident when she was still a child, leaving her to be raised by an aunt.  Her father Arturo and her mother had never married and there was never a real father/daughter relationship between he and Karla.  He now lived in Peru with his wife and family.  The few times they had seen each other, the feelings were strained.  Then Karla finds not just one but two men of extreme importance stepping into her life.  Andreas O’Reilly and her art instructor Jean Philippe.

Andreas O’Reilly is a stonemason.  He not only makes head stones for the cemeteries but he also does sculptures.  His childhood, in ways, was like Karla’s.  His mother Emilia had married his father Robert but at an early age in his life they had divorced, he and his mother moved in with her brother and his father moved back to the United States.  His relationship with his mother is also strained.  He blames her for the nightmares he lived through as a child.  His chance meeting with Karla has brought life back into his existence.  But not without problems that must be dealt with for both of them.

Through Love of a Stonemason I have traveled to Peru, Florence, Switzerland and many other countries in-between.  I’ve experienced not just the beauty of these places but also took a history lesson in the arts.  Through the author’s description, I feel as if I’ve just returned from a journey that I’ll never be able to take in person.

As for the story, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a love story as beautiful as Love of a Stonemason.  When you combine the mistakes, the forgiveness and the love filling the pages of this book you can’t help but have a truly inspiring book.  It makes you realize that there are always two sides to each story and unless you listen to both, you’ll never be able to expel the resentment you might be feeling.  Great book!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chill Run - Russell Brooks, Author

Granny's Bajan Sweet Bread
(A Russell Brooks Favorite)

2 lb Self Rising Flour
1 lb brown Sugar
3/4 lb Butter
1/4 lb Shortening (optional)
1 grated coconut (approx 3 cups)
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg
Raisins - Optional
Cherries - Optional
Makes approximately 3 medium sized breads 

Coconut Filling (optional)
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 tbs Sugar
1 tsp essence
2 tbs water
• Put all ingredients in small pan & place on low fire
• Stir continuously for approximately 3 mins or until sugar is dissolved.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients together (except fruit). Mix butter & Shortening into mixture, using fingers, until mixture resembles large bread crumbs. Add fruit to mixture. Use enough liquid to bind mixture together. This could be coconut water, milk or just plain water. Knead dough for a few minutes. The longer you need the dough, the firmer the bread becomes. Sweet bread is traditionally a firm bread, but some people like it soft & crumbly. The choice is yours. Grease & flour loaf pan. Fill pan halfway with dough. Place a slender line of coconut filling lengthwise down middle of dough. Put remaining dough on top. Cut light crisscross pattern on top with a knife for decoration (optional). Bake for 30-45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
For a crisper top, place a small pan with water at bottom of oven while baking.

Chill Run – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds Desserts

Eddie bit down hard to avoid himself from trembling.  The finger that his father used to point at him came from the same hand that used to spank him.  Wait a minute.  Why am I being scared?  This is why I’m always on the ropes, because my father always instilled fear in me.  Edward’s eyes narrowed as he spoke.  “You quit school, left this house on your own, and got that little job at the bookstore.  Now you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, running around like a hamster in a wheel. Running around and not going anywhere – that’s you.  You squandered everything that your mother and I invested in you.  Once you decide to do something meaningful and stop writing nonsense, then I’ll help you.”  He then finished off the last of his sweet potato.  The tightness at the back of Eddie’s throat suddenly went away.  He felt his pulse beating hard in his neck, something he never felt before.  It was bad enough to be kicked when he was down. But now his dad had crossed the line.  I stood up to Patrick at the bar, why shouldn’t I stand up to you?  “Dad, all I have to say to that is that I can respect you all the way.  You came from nothing and you became a pharmacist.  You faced an uphill battle to become what you wanted.”  His father didn’t appear to hear what he said.  He wasn’t landing his punches.  “And that’s why you are so wrong, in every way.”  Eddie felt the shock and awe around him at the table as everyone simultaneously stopped eating.

Eddie Barrow, Jr. has finally confronted his father and stood up for himself.  Eddie had always wanted to be a writer but that wasn’t what his parents, especially his father, wanted him to become.  The lack of support from his family is what caused him to move out of their home and seek a life of his own.  But, of course, independence came with its own ups and downs.

Eddie’s best friend Corey, who had once saved his life, became his roommate but he had his own problems, mainly the lack of a job.  So when Eddie lost his own job there was nothing else to do but find another way to make himself known and stop the rejection letters that were coming in from the publishers after reading his manuscript.  Through the help of Corey’s girlfriend Jordyn, the perfect publicity stunt was set up and put into action.  They would never have guessed that this best laid plan would end up in murder with Eddie, Corey and Jordyn all three running for their lives.

Chill Run is a fitting name for this book.  The twists and turns will keep the chills running as the trio has no choice but to find the real killers and expose them.  But how do you make that happen when the person in the background pulling the strings has people in his pocket that can prevent you from reporting what you know to the police?

Not only does Chill Run have the action, suspense and a laugh now and then, it also speaks to the reader.  Eddie’s family has shown no support for his choices in life.  They insist that he follow their dreams for him and not his own.  For a determined person like Eddie, this gave him no choice other than to do something he would have never even considered otherwise.  And now his only goal is to keep himself and his two best friends alive, again without the support of his parents.  Chill Run is a story that will keep you turning the pages to see what happens next.

To enter Russell's contest to win a free copy of his book simply write a comment and leave your email address with your post, but hurry because the contest ends 11/30/2011.  Russell will be giving away 10 copies of his book Chill Run.

Twitter - @AuthorRussell

Buy your copy today Chill Run

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Behind Closed Doors - Brian L. Porter, Author

Meat And Potato Pie
(Brian Porter & Character Albert Norris' favorite)  

  • 17 ½ oz lamb shin , cubed
  • 5 tbsp seasoned flour
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion , peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots , peeled and sliced into cubes
  • 11 ¾ fl oz beef stock
  • 17 ½ oz potatoes , peeled, cubed, parboiled
  • 1 packet of short crust pastry
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 medium saucepan with lid
  • 1 oven proof dish
  • 1 knife
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 pastry brush
  1. Dust the meat.  Sprinkle some flour over the cubed meat and mix it well together with your hands.

  2. Fry the meat.  Place the pan on a medium heat and add the oil. Allow to warm through and once warm add the floured meat and onions. Stir it all together with a spoon and allow the meat to brown, which will roughly take 3-4 minutes.

  3. Cook the meat.  When the meat is nicely browned add the carrots. Then season with salt and pepper. Stir it all together and bring it to the boil. Stir once more and cover with the lid. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for roughly one hour until the meat is tender.

  4. Preheat the oven.  During the last fifteen minutes of cooking the meat, heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade.

  5. Add potatoes.  Add the par boiled potatoes to the cooked meat and stir them in with your spoon.

  6. Transfer to oven proof dish.  Carefully pour the pan of meat into an oven proof dish, then smooth it over with your spoon.

  7. Cover with pastry.  Lay the pre rolled pastry over the dish and peel back the protective covering. Then continue to crimp down the pastry at the edges with your fingertips. Slice off any excess pastry and make several slits with your knife to help the pie breath. Then generously brush with the beaten egg wash to help it brown.

  8. Bake.  Place the pie in the bottom of the oven and bake for 40 min.

  9. Remove from oven & serve.  Remove from the oven when golden brown.

  10. Served with boiled potatoes, roast vegetables and thick gravy. 

Behind Closed Doors – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds - Desserts

‘Men have met their maker as a result of the greed and avarice of those who would turn the people of this fair city into denizens of the underground world.  Be warned that their deaths will be avenged.’  It’s true that a number of workers were killed in accidents, mostly cave-in, during the excavations of the original, and some of the newer tunnels.  This could be valid threats from someone with revenge in mind against the company, perhaps a friend or relative of one of the dead men.  ‘God will not allow this fiendish contraption, this infernal machine of the devil to prosper.  We will bring about its ruination and force the Metropolitan Railway to cease its operations forthwith, in the name of The Almighty.’”

These are excerpts from letters written to the owners, demanding that the operation of the Metropolitan Railway be stopped.  They were brought to the attention of Inspector Albert (Bert) Norris and his sergeant Dylan Hillman as they are being told by their Superintendent about a murder that has taken place in the underground railway owned by The Metropolitan Railway Company.  The murder takes place on the same night that Jack the Ripper made one of his own famous Whitechapel kills.  Could they be related?  Bert’s superior says no.  He is being told, from those high up, that this is an entirely separate act that must be handled as quietly as possible to prevent bad publicity from damaging the railway company.  But as other murders occur, again on the same days of the Ripper murders, it becomes quite difficult to keep these events quiet.

Author Brian L. Porter has always kept me in the dark with the endings of his books, but in Behind Closed Doors, I had him.  I determined who the murderer was and had the courts ready to slip the noose around their neck by the middle of the book.  Well…he did it to me again.  I wasn’t totally wrong but I was nowhere near the real truth that would convict the real murder.  I’m afraid my case would have been thrown out of the courts.  So, the master of deception has tricked me again. 

As always, Porter’s characters are believable and so real.  His descriptions of the scenes place you in the middle of the action.  One thing I can say with enthusiasm is this, ‘Watch out Sherlock and Watson…Norris and Hillman are on the case.’ And boy are they good!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Am More Than Just a Girl - Leah Oviedo, Author

Eggplant Lasagna

( Author Leah Oviedo says:  I never would have tried eggplant until I became a vegetarian. Turns out it's my favorite vegetable to cook with. Anything with marinara sauce and cheese is something I will eat, so eggplant lasagna is my favorite dish and the first eggplant recipe I tried. It is so simple!
*Gluten free noodles and fake cheese can be substituted for non-gluten and vegan eaters. My family has both so I have made that. It all tastes good. When in doubt use extra garlic!)

Marinara Sauce (1 jar)
Lasagna Noodles (1 package for a small dish, 2 for larger)
One whole eggplant (about 2 cups worth)
Cheese (sharp cheddar is my favorite) 2 cups
Oregano (2 tbsp)
Basil (1/4 cup torn up or chopped)
6x8 pan
Olive oil to spray

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees
2) Wash and cut up eggplant and basil. Put in bowl with garlic and oregano and mix it all together.
3) Grate or hand crumble cheese (this is always fun for kids who want to help).
4) Grease up bottom of pan with olive oil.
5) Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on bottom of pan.
6) Add layer of noodles, layer of cheese, layer of eggplant mix and repeat till you get near the top of the pan.
7) Lay out remaining noodles on eggplant mix and cover with cheese and marinara sauce
8) Stick in oven 20-25 minutes
9) Let it cool off a bit and then dig in!

I Am More Than Just a Girl – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts

‘You are not “just a girl”.  You are a human being who has strength, wisdom and a unique mind.  You have a million opportunities to grow and learn.  You are more than just a pretty face.  You are amazing and beautiful and have so much to offer our world.  You are equal to every woman, man and boy.  Your future is uncharted which gives you the chance to be whoever you want to be, do anything, and go anywhere.’

These are powerful words that each of us should not only listen to but hear as well.  Through the help and determination of women such as activist Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and my favorite Wilma Mankiller, the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation, women have been allowed to step out of their shells and become integral parts of life as we know it today.  And it isn’t stopping there but continuing on with YOU.

Through I Am More Than Just a Girl, Leah Oviedo has given the young women of today a map to follow as they mature.  She touches on topics such as loving yourself first and keeping positive thoughts about yourself.  She talks about angry emotions and offers ways to deal with and overcome them.  And she emphasizes the importance of taking care of your body and mind which if left to stress usually leads to physical illness.

I Am More Than Just a Girl is a book that I know would have benefited me as I grew up.  So many of the topics discussed actually pertained to my childhood but at that time and age there was no one around to tell me how to handle and deal with the situations as they occurred.  I want to recommend this book to EVERYONE who has a young woman in their life.  Even the happiest, most content young lady may still be struggling with problems of her own that she feels she has no one to discuss them with.  This book could very well help.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nate Rocks the World - Karen Pokras Toz, Author

Feta Chicken
(A Karen Special)

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 lbs)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (divided)
2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp pepper
1 package (4 oz) Feta cheese - crumbled
1 box couscous

Arrange chicken in baking dish
Drizzle with 1Tbsp of lemon juice
Sprinkle Cilantro and Pepper
Top with Feta cheese & drizzle remaining 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
Bake 350 for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through

Prepare couscous as per box directions - serve chicken over couscous
Nate Rocks the World – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts
“What in the world?”  I say quietly to myself.  I turn back around to look inside the house.  Everything I see is in shades of gray.  The blue couch in our living room is gray.  The green front door is now gray.  The grass and the trees, all gray.  Even Mom’s bright red van parked in the driveway is gray.  I look down at my body.  Sure enough, even my clothes are all gray!  I take a step outside.  It is a clear day, unseasonably warm for October.  There is not a cloud in the sky.  The sun – gray of course – shines white beams of light.  As I walk down the street, people I do not recognize start coming out of their houses wondering, as I am, what has happened.  I see a black spot in the sky growing larger.  At first, I think it is a bird, but as it approaches, I realize that it is actually a person…flying toward me.  A circle of people I don’t know, gather around me.  The man from the sky gets closer.  He lands directly in front of me, and I immediately recognize him.
Ten year old Nathan (Nate) Rockledge loves to draw.  His specialty…superhero cartoons where he Nate Rocks is the hero that saves the moment.  Give him a pencil and paper, a little quiet time and just about any situation and he will solve the problem as he saves the world.  In his cartoon world, even Captain Asteroid seeks Nate’s help to save the world from the evil Dr. Shadow.  Even the President seeks Nate Rocks’ help in recovering stolen spy equipment.  But what happens when the situation is real and not make believe?  Can the real Nate Rockledge stand up to the plate and become a true hero?
Nate Rocks the World takes the ordinary life of the Rockledge family and brings it to life as something most of us can actually relate to.  If you’ve ever had an older sister or brother, you can understand Nate’s relationship with his older sister Abby.  If your dad was like Nate’s you will see the humor in the stories he constantly tells about his own childhood.  And if you were unfortunate enough to have a mother that couldn’t cook nor sew you will definitely relate to the bad meals and bad Halloween costumes created by Nate’s mother.  This book is full of humor and sparked memories from my own childhood.  It’s light hearted and a really enjoyable book to read if you’re an adult and a fun book to have read to you if you’re still a child.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In the St. Nick of Time - K. M. Daughters, Author

 K's Pumpkin Bread
(Heroine Kay Sullivan Lynch's recipe)

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1 cup chopped walnuts

GREASE pan [recipe makes enough for a Giant loaf pan 11 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 3 1/4]
MIX all ingredients together with a whisk
BAKE at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hour
LET STAND 15 minutes before removing from pan

In the St. Nick of Time – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

“Two sidewalk Santas died on the street recently from heart failure, according to the death certificates.  Both were St. Nicholas Society to End Hunger volunteers who annually played Santa at outdoor locations around the city.  They collected money during the organization’s Christmas fund drive.”  He consulted a paper he had placed on the lectern.  “Both were active, healthy men in their seventies with no prior history of heart disease, according to one of the deceased’s wives.  I fielded a call yesterday from one wife, Mrs. Heller.  She believes her husband was murdered and insisted that we open a criminal investigation.  She stated that Mr. Heller passed a full-body physical two weeks ago, purportedly in perfect health.  I’m not sure where this will lead, but I could use a volunteer to do some of the legwork for me.”

Hand raised, Kay Lynch holds her breath in hopes that Flynn Dowd will choose her to partner on this case.  The case has caught her interest.  So far there have been three incidences of sudden cardiac arrest.  Each victim is an elderly man posing as a Santa but each has apparently had no heart problems in the past.  It may have been passed off as a coincidence until Santa number 4 passes in the same way.  So, Kay wants this case to help prove herself but she also wants it for another reason.  For the first time since losing her husband 2 years earlier, Kay has found someone she really wants to be around and with.

Kay Sullivan Lynch, along with her brothers, were all police officers.  When she married Mike Lynch, she hung up her badge and became a mother of 4.  After Mike’s death Kay decided it was time to go back to the living world.  She requalified for her position with the department and was assigned to her brother Pat’s precedent.  Her oldest daughter Mary and the twin girls took her new life without problems.  Her son Mike was a different story.  He felt she should have continued life as it had been before his dad died.  So, when she hooked up with Flynn, Mike made it known how he really felt about the situation.

In the St. Nick of Time has it all.  It’s has love but I wouldn’t really call it a love story.  It has murder and suspense but I wouldn’t call it a mystery.  It has family affairs and problems but it’s not actually a self help book.  And there humor but it’s not a comedy.  What is it?  It’s all of these rolled into one and I simply loved it.  The trials Kay goes through as she juggles her life on the force, at home and her personal life, and her solutions and decisions for handling life, are so real.  As for the Santa Slayer, I could see the possibility of that happening in real life too.  This was a very enjoyable book.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Plymouth Colony II - Sharolyn Wells, Author

Ground Beef Casserole
(An Author Sharolyn Wells favorite.This is a recipe my brother received from the diabetic camp he went to when he was 13. Our family loved it. It's a casserole.)
1 lb. ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can whole kernal corn, drained
1 small onion, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
6 cups egg noodles, cooked and drained
Brown ground beef, onions and red pepper until no pink shows in the beef. Drain and add the two soups and corn. Set aside. Cook egg noodles until tender. Use cooking spray to coat the sides and bottom of a 6 qt. casserole dish. Add ground beef mixture and noodles and mix well. Top with Panko bread crumbs. Cook at 375* for 45 minutes or until bread are golden.

Plymouth Colony II – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds - Desserts
...Teris wiped her fingers across tear-streaked cheeks.  “It looks bigger than our village.”  Her fingers tightened on her brother’s arm and her voice shook.  “Do you think they’ll separate us?”  Eric leaned over and kissed his older sister’s forehead.  “You worry too much.  Just remember, out of all the billions of people on Earth, the lottery selected very few.”  His brow furrowed.  “Although, I can’t help wondering why they chose us.”
“I don’t think, for a society this advanced, they would need me as a doctor.  I’m sure they have doctors of their own.  And you?”  She shrugged. “I’m sure they have police officers, too.”  Her woeful gaze darted to his.  “Mother said they wanted people of breeding age.  I don’t know why but this makes me nervous.”  She began crying again as she thought about her family.  Starting from today, Eric would be the only family she had left.  Her children, if she ever had any, would never know the special people her parents had been.  “I wish Mom and Dad had the same chance as we do.”  One of Eric’s shoulders rose and fell.  He pushed his raven hair behind his ear.  “Don’t think about Mom and Dad anymore.  You know they wanted this for us.  They told us to put our names in the lottery, even though they knew they would be left behind here on earth.”...

Teris and Eric Keyes were both chosen by a lottery to be to leave earth before it’s destruction by meteors.  Scientists reported that over one hundred meteors were traveling toward earth, some as big as the ones that took out the dinosaurs.  After the discovery, a planet that virtually mirrors earth agreed to take one hundred thousand young people off Earth and to the safety of their planet Kelkan.  The one condition was that they must be young and of a breeding age.  Due to a plague that had been spread years ago by the reptilian beings from Novari, many Kelkans died or were became unable to produce children.  Unless outside life was introduced to their world, the Kelkani people would become extinct.

Imagine being chosen to leave the world you know to be taken to one you don’t.  As with Teris and Eric, they, as well as the others, want to trust these strange people who look like Earth people but can you really believe in them enough to put your life into their hands?  How can you be sure their promises are real and there aren’t other reasons for them rescuing your people?  You know nothing about their cultures.  You don’t even know what they eat.  But what if their promises are all true and they are really helping to save your world and way of life by rescuing as many as possible. 

Plymouth Colony II will make you realize that disasters are possible and hopefully rescues are too.  This was quite an interesting book that gave me food for thought.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Winds of Wildfire - Ronald P. Chavez, Author

Red Chile Sauce
(By Chef Ronald P. Chavez)


½ cup red chile-fine
¼ cup red chile-coarse
1/2 cup flour
½ cup cooking oil
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
½  pound  pork
1 large diced onion
6 cups broth

Combine pork, onion into two 2 gal. pot filled ¾ with water.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Boil until pork is tender, usually 30 minutes.

Combine both fine and coarse chile, flour, salt and garlic.  Stir dry until well blended.  Remove pork and set aside to cool.  Pour 2 cups broth after it’s done into combined dry mix. Take care to stir broth as you dip from large pot to assure good flavor. Stir chile mix until well blended into a smooth uncooked sauce.

Remove bones if any from cooked pork.  Dice boneless pork into ½ inch squares.  Set aside.Now comes the moment of truth.  Your sensibilities come into play here.  Pour ½ cup cooking oil into 2 gal. pot.  Heat until it feels hot to the hand above the pot.  Do not allow to burn or smoke.  Once oil is hot, turn off heat.  This is a must.  You do not want to burn the chile.

Now you need all the angels you can muster.  Pour uncooked  chile mix into hot oil. Stir quickly and constantly.  Don’t worry about pouring all the chile mix.  At this point the stirring is paramount.  The remaining mix can be added after oil completely absorbs the chile mix.

Next: turn heat back on medium hot. Stir constantly, until a roasted chile aroma tantalizes your sense of smell.  Add pork and mix it into chile sauce.

Pour 2 cups of broth into the roasted chile mix.  Stir!  Stir!  Stir! Until sauce is creamy in texture.  Bring to a boil.  Stir!  Stir!  Stir!  Now simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often with last cup of broth added for desired thickness a little at a time as chile sauce simmers and thickens.

Done! Kept covered in the frig, it’ll keep for weeks.  Pour over eggs, enchiladas, potatoes, meats, beans.  Stretch your imagination and satisfy your appetite and warm your heart.  Have a chileee day!

Options:  substitute chicken, beef, fish, any kind of meat will do.  Or you can eliminate all meat for veggie sauce.  Your call.
To order New Mexico chile contact Chef Chavez at

Winds of Wildfire – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts.
‘Taos Pueblo is home to the Tiwa trib.  The first Spaniards named it pueblo, town, because they lived in a multi storied adobe complex.  The Pueblo has stood for over a thousand years on its original lands, even though it’s called a reservation or rez for short.  These ancient people have never known a forced march to a government imposed location which is the common stipulation for the word “reservation.”  Their long history has been preserved mostly by a secret oral tradition.  The tribe enjoys an autonomous form of government as well as full citizenship in the United States.  They rule themselves through elected tribal officials.  Their lands extend to Blue Lake, nestled in the pristine valley high up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and in various sized patches in and around Taos.  No outsiders are allowed to enter the Blue Lake lands without special permission for they are held to be sacred.  The pueblo compound is open to the public for a fee.  At the approaches to the Pueblo stands a casino, where they have not lost the art of scalping.’
Billy Stonewofl works as a guide  for tourists that visit the pueblo.  Like most of us he’s possessed with his own personal demons.  Billy’s demons consist of drugs and alcohol and have taken him to the brink of suicide.  Through the grace of his god, this wasn’t to happen.  To live with or hopefully destroy Billy’s demons he has decided to revert back to the ways of his people.  He will go to the mountains, find a cave to call home and live off the land.  What Billy didn’t expect was to find one more demon to add to his collection.  This demon came in the form of gold.  Will this add to Billy’s depressing life or will it be the answer to his prayers?  I think the answer will surprise you.
Donato Atencio is Spanish American.  His demon came in the shape of losing his wife.  Her death brought him to the edge of suicide.  Even though he came close to his final destruction, he stopped and decided to take one day at a time.  In doing so he became a volunteer caretake for the 18,000 acres of land surrounding Taos.  He made a stipend of $10.00 a day, living quarters and all the fresh air he could breathe.  He owned nothing and owed no one.  But he still carried his demon with him wherever he went in his lonely world.  Would his living one day at a time finally run out and allow him to end it all?
Amee Brooks brought her demons all the way from Boston when she bought her small farm outside the village of Questa.  The man she had loved with all her heart had deceived her.  He had turned her away from the desire to love again and turned her into a recluse.  To add to her demon was a neighbor who cut off her weekly water supply that was the lifeline for her small garden.  Fighting him would be impossible.  He was a native and she was a white outsider.  Would her demons talk her into giving up and moving back to Boston?
Billy, Donato and Amee have nothing in common yet they have everything in common.  The three have to deal with their losses and move on with life but aren’t quite sure how.  Will they be able to help each other?
Winds of Wildfire became a book of thought for me.  It made me think about things in my own life and how I have handled them and how I might have handled them differently, making me wonder if I made the right decisions when faced with my own demons.

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