Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Royal Dragoneers - M. R. Mathias, Author

Popeye's Favorite Eggs:
In pan - med low heat, sauté 1/3 cup chopped shallots, 1/4 tsp thyme, and dash salt until shallots are transparent.
Quickly stir in 2 cups fresh spinach and wilt.
Beat 4 eggs in bowl with dash salt and pepper, and a splash of milk. Add a sprinkle of cajun seasoning if desired.
Stir eggs in with shallots and spinach. Cover with lid and turn heat to low. When eggs are cooked, top with a drizzle of truffle oil and serve with lightly toasted heavily buttered texas toast style bread.
Believe me these eggs are awesome. 
Find me and my books via the M. R. Mathias Connection Hub

The Royal Dragoneers – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘He saw that his bow was lying back where he had dropped it.  His knife wasn’t at his hip either.  Beyond the flames, he saw the shredded remains of the stag’s carcass.  The dragon had torn half the meat away in only a few seconds.  The trolls would have the rest of it, he figured.   After they had him.  A fist-sized rock slammed into his chest, knocking all of the wind from his lungs.  Other stones followed and the primitive troll beasts soon went into a frenzied ritual of howling and savage fighting over feeding position.  Luckily for Jenka, a well-thrown chunk of stone bashed into the side of his head and spared him from having to see himself being torn to pieces.  All he could think of as he slipped into unconsciousness was that he would finally get to see his father, and he hoped his mother would never have to gaze upon what the trolls left of his body.  After that was nothing but blackness.’
Sixteen year old Jenka De Swasso is out on a hunt in hopes of bringing fresh meat back to his mother.  When he spotted the aging stag he knew he would have no problem bringing it down but the sun was setting which meant he would have to track the stag after hitting it with his arrow and spend the night trying to protect it, as well as himself, from the trolls that lived in the woods around his home of Crag.  Jenka’s mother was Crag’s village kettle-witch, which meant she could cast spells and at times even heal.  Jenka’s father, whom he was very proud of, had died while saving the king’s son Richard.  With his father being one of the King’s Rangers, Jenka’s dream was to become one too.  And if he could get his stag back to town, it might just give him an up on his training to serve the king.  But, fate had it that the trolls would spot his fire and come in for the kill and the meal awaiting them.  What the trolls didn’t expect was an emerald green dragon named Jade to come to Jenka’s rescue.  The bond that formed between Jade and Jenka was eternal.  Jenka would find that there were others who were bonded to the pure dragons and along with them they will sacrifice all to save mankind. 
The Royal Dragoneers is a book of mystery, magic and love.  It stresses the strength of love between man and his devoted friends and in this case his dragon.  I must warn you though, The Royal Dragoneers is a very graphically visual book which should not be read by nor to young children.  I see this as an adult version of Harry Potter.  And since the story has come to no end, I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
301 pages

Monday, June 27, 2011

Old Loves Die Hard - Lauren Carr, Author

Cincinnati Three-Way Chili

As the owner of the Spencer Inn, the mountaintop five-star resort in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, Mac Faraday can indulge in the finest of food and wine cooked for him by his world re-known chef. But when he is home relaxing before the fire at Spencer Point, he loves nothing better than to sit down to a plate full of Cincinnati Three-Way Chili, the way his adoptive mother used to make when he was growing up in Georgetown.
To make this a real comfort meal, serve with a tossed salad, Texas Garlic Toast, and beer in a frosted mug.

Chili Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 large onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound chopped beef
1 1/3 cups canned tomatoes, with juice
1 green pepper, minced
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin seed, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon celery seed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon basil
1 small bay leaf
1 pound Spaghetti Noodles
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
16 ounce Can Kidney Beans
Chopped Onions

Heat the butter or olive oil in a dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic. Saute until golden brown. Add the meat and brown. Add the remaining chili ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until desired thickness, approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours. Simmering also blends the seasoning to bring out the flavor. Mac prefers to have his chili be “slightly runny”. Gnarly likes his chili thick. When the chili is about done, prepare the spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

To Assemble the Dish:
Layer Spaghetti Noodles. Top the spaghetti with chili. Sprinkle chili with Shredded Cheddar Cheese.
For Cincinnati Four-Way:
Spaghetti, chili, chopped onions, cheese.
For Cincinnati Five-Way: (Gnarly’s Favorite: after which he has to sleep in the guest room)
Spaghetti, chili, kidney beans, chopped onions, cheese.

Old Loves Die Hard – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

“We did have a good marriage,” she choked out. “If I hadn’t made that one mistake—” Clasping her arms around his neck she tried to kiss him.
While diving backwards to dodge her lips, he released her hold on his neck. “You threw me out of my own home.” He folded her hands in her lap. 
“You were always such a gentle man.” Each word came out slowly and deliberately in her effort to appear in control. 
“Funny,” Mac said, “that’s not what your lawyer told the judge.” 
“Stephen told him to say that.” Her tears fell anew. “If he hadn’t seduced me – he made me all these promises and told me how you didn’t treat me right and how I deserved so much better than our little house in the suburbs with its little lawn and…He said that I deserved so much more and that he could give it all to me because I deserved more…” She tried to make her smile as becoming as possible in her condition. “What about us?” 
“There’s no us, Christine.” 
“You can’t abandon me like this Mac,” she cried. “I’ve lost everything. I’ve got nothing. When Stephen left…” She broke into heavy sobs. “Oh, Mac…” She collapsed into his lap.

Mac Faraday is Christine’s ex-husband. She left him for greener pastures that have now turned brown due to no more money on her part. Stephen Maguire promised Christine the stars but when her money ran out, so did Stephen. 

The divorce virtually put Mac on the streets. Christine was awarded their home and everything that went with it. But, to Mac’s surprise, he inherited his birth mother’s estate and everything that went with it. In other words, Mac went from being dirt poor with nothing but a policeman’s salary to becoming filthy rich and retired. Now, Christine wants another chance. 

When Christine appeared at Mac’s door, she had had more than enough to drink and he knew he couldn’t just put her out on the streets in her condition so he decides to put her up in the penthouse of the five-star hotel that was part of his inheritance. His plan was to deal with her the next morning after she sobered up. What he didn’t expect was to find not just Christine, but also Stephen–dead in his own private quarters of the hotel.

Old Loves Die Hard was a jewel to read. Mac is the perfect ex-policeman turned wealthy character.  Archie, the computer whiz that lives in the guest house, is taking on a more personal role in this Faraday Mystery. But my favorite character has to be Gnarly the Kleptomaniac dog.  Gnarly was actually a member of the military that was given a dishonorable discharge for reasons unknown to Mac. 

Old Loves Die Hard has everything…murder, suspense, politics, action and humor. As the plot of the story takes you back into the past, I feel the ending will come as much a surprise to you as it did to me. Author Lauren Carr, hooked me with It's Murder My Son so I'm asking her to "Please keep this series going!"

239 pages

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dragonfly Dreams - Franki deMerle, Author

"Snoqualmie Oatmeal"
(Major's favorite)

Take a bowl of hot oatmeal, cover with brown sugar and fresh blueberries, add butter and milk, stir, and enjoy.

Dragonfly Dreams – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘Shortly before 2:30 AM, Daphne awoke from a vivid dream.  She dreamt she was in Scotland and had just been widowed.  Her husband had been murdered.  It was some distant time in the past, and she was dressed in a long black gown with a stiff white headdress  She could feel the tightness of her corset contrast the softness of her gown’s material on her skin.  Richard was there, but other people in the dream were saying he was responsible for her late husband’s murder.  She was confused and didn’t know what to believe.  She had thought she could trust Richard, but a voice in the dream announced, “During the Protestant Reformation, these sides were divided.”  As she wondered what that meant, Richard captured her and took her against her will to a castle, where he raped her.  Then, when he left her alone with a woman companion to look after her, the two women escaped.  They disguised themselves as men and used bed linens to climb through a window and down the castle wall.  She was terrified.  She and her companion rode across the nearby border to England, where they thought they would be safe.  At first, when they told their story of what had happened, they were given sanctuary by kind people.  But after about a week or so, word came to the household from the authorities that she was to be held as a prisoner again.  She did not understand why.  Then she was told that Richard had also fled Scotland and was also imprisoned, but in another country.’

Daphne Robin and her sister Deandra were both accustomed to strange dreams.  Deandra has dreamed, since childhood, that she was a soldier with lots of brothers.  In her dream she was a man and someone was beating her face in.  Daphne’s dream about Scotland came shortly after her marriage to Richard Gatorman, owner of a construction company as well as Daphne’s boss.  Scotland was a place Daphne had always wanted to go to so when the dream coincided with Richard announcing that they would be honeymooning in Scotland, she let her excitement override the possibility of a warning.  But, Richard had always been the perfect mate.  He was loving, caring and offered her everything she could ever want…so she thought.  The honeymoon would turn out to be the beginning of her seeing the true Richard she had married.  A marriage that she soon realized had been a big mistake.  The only out for Daphne becomes sleep in which her dreams have her flying the skies with a handsome man.  If it weren’t for her dream time she would probably give up on life itself.

Deandra, being an officer in the Army, enlists the help of her friend Major Ursa-Barrios to help Daphne escape the abuse being inflicted by Richard.  Major, as he likes to be called, has had his own dreams over the years.  In his dreams he would help a young lady and falls in love with her.  Could Daphne possibly be the woman in his dream?  Could Major possibly be the man in Daphne’s dreams? 

As Deandra, Daphne and Major come together, they start searching for the answers to their dreams.  Deandra wanting to know who the person getting their face bashed in is and who are the brothers.  Daphne wants to know who the woman in Scotland could be as well as who she soars the skies with.  And Major wants to meet the lady from his dreams.

Franki deMerle has done it again with a book of mystery, love and a certain air of suspense.  The more I read, the more I wanted answers to the character’s dreams but I wasn’t really expecting what the dreams actually turned out to be.

299 pages
ISBN# 978-1-4502-7244-5

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mysteerie Manor II - Sharon Hays, Author

Maryanne’s delicious salad dressing in Mysteerie Manor II.
Maple Dijon Delight

This makes a good sized portion of salad dressing so you will have some for later!
(You could also cut recipe in half to make less, just in case)

3 to 4 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 parts oil to 1 part Dijon; 6 to 8 Tbsp. of a light tasteless oil *(I like grape seed oil, as is light, healthy and tasteless, but you can use your own choice of course. Also good for sautéing, if you’ve never tried it)
Whisk well to emulsify, as you drizzle oil into Dijon mustard while it thickens.
Add ¼ C fresh tarragon
S & P to taste
1/3 cup Maple syrup
Whisk in all three ingredients to the emulsified mustard and oil.
½ to ¾ c Raspberry Vinegar:  Add and whisk to emulsify well, to get to your desired consistency.

* (Honey may be used instead of Maple syrup, but I guarantee you will love the syrup combination!)
There you have a tasty new dressing that will delight your taste buds and healthy as well! 

Mysteerie Manor II - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘The fateful day she walked into the Valencia Manor, her life had taken many turns.  What had started out as a property investment opportunity had become an intriguing nightmare of unexpected events and mysterious, supernatural phenomenon.  Murder, strange accidents and tragedy all took their turns in the bizarre adventures at the Valencia Manor.  But through all of the mystery and misery, it had become a reality.  The Valencia Manor would be legally transferred into Maryanne’s name today… Maryanne was reluctant at first, to accept the unbelievable gift of the Valencia Manor, because she felt so bad about the death of the lovely Mrs. Dirkshire.  Maryanne spent weeks trying to find other relatives who might otherwise be next in line to inherit the property, but after careful searching, to no avail and legal counsel, she felt more at ease in accepting the gracious offer.’
The Valencia Manor was built in the 1800s.  After several mysterious deaths it was put on the market and bought by John Farthington.  The deaths continued with his child and wife both dying while living at the Manor.  After succumbing to illness himself, Farthington moved in with his sister Irene Dirkshire.  He later died leaving the Manor to her.  She, in turn, decided to sell and contacted Joan Bishop to be her agent.  Joan and Maryanne O’Donnell were close friends and when Irene saw how much Maryanne loved the old Manor she wrote a new will stating that if anything should mysteriously happen to her it was to go to Maryanne.  Upon her death a few weeks later, Maryanne inherited the Valencia Manor.
The Manor wasn’t the only thing that Maryanne inherited.  She acquired all of the ghosts, both good and bad, that called the Manor their home.  So she decided to sell her home and move into the Manor, but before doing this she first had to have the place completely renovated.  After finding the perfect contractor, her plans progressed with a good offer being placed on her home and Maryanne and her new husband Mario made plans to move into what was to be their new home at the Valencia.  Maryanne had already had the Manor swept of its spirits by her physic friend Vivian but when the contractor took out a wall and found an unexpected guest, Maryanne had to call on her friend again.  Vivian found more than expected when she returned to the Manor and with Mario informing her of the mysterious deaths that had been occurring around the area she had no choice but to give them her idea that they may be dealing with the “undead.” 
Reading Mysteerie Manor and Mysteerie Manor II made me remember reading my very first “horror” book.  It was called Salem’s Lot.  I read it at night, which was a mistake, and had trouble sleeping afterwards. I couldn’t even leave a curtain open for fear that an unsuspecting predator would be looking in.  That was years ago, but these two books bring some of those feelings back.  Author Sharon Hays has succeeded in giving me the creeps, even while reading during the day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Necessary End - Diana Rubino, Author

Jeff Davis Pie

1 c. brown or white sugar
2 tbsp. unbleached or all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. half and half
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. butter, melted
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Ingredients for meringue:

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
 1/2 c. sugar

Combine sugar, flour and salt. Beat cream, egg yolks, and vanilla. Add to sugar mixture. Pour in melted butter. Spoon into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Top with prepared meringue and brown. Cool on a wire rack.
Note: You can use whole eggs in the filling, and omit the meringue.

A Necessary End - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

Booth felt like going behind the saloon and blowing his brains out, so maybe getting it off his chest would help.

 “The day after the election, I decided it was time to begin planning this capture plot we’d discussed in Montreal. So I went to Nettie Colburn Maynard, the Lincolns’ spiritualist, to get information on his whereabouts. Not for any other reason,” he emphasized sternly. “But during the very first visit, strange things started happening to me. She went into trance and conjured up what she believes is a spirit who’s been haunting me ever since, haunting me in the hotel room, backstage at the theater, everywhere. I’ve had this recurring dream where I’m in ancient times, Rome or some old place like that, everybody dressed in tunics, and they’re waiting for me so we can murder somebody. And in real life, I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, feeling someone behind me. It’s all very unnerving. Some days, I can barely get through.” He paused for a sip. 

Sam hunched forward, anticipating every word. 

Booth went on, "I began to think there was something to all the mumbo-jumbo. It even started to bother Alice. She feels cold drafts in the room and sees things moving about like I do. It’s not just me going loony. And now I’m convinced someone from the spirit world is after me to do this deed to Lincoln, and won’t leave me alone until I do."

This is John Wilkes Booth’s conversation with his childhood friend Samuel Arnold.  Arnold, David E. Herold, Mary Surratt and a few other handpicked friends and acquaintances were all responsible for several failed attempts to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln.  Most of their attempts were foiled by actress Alice Grey. Gray was solicited by Senator John Parker Hale to help protect the president by acting as a spy against Booth.  What neither of them expected was for her to fall in love with Booth and even more unexpectedly was for Booth to fall in love with Gray.  His love for her was so great that he asked her to marry him.   
With all attempts to kidnap Lincoln failing, the surrender of Lee and the ending of the war, Gray knew Booth would give up his attempts allowing them to lead a normal life.  But as history proves, that was simply not to be.   

I’ve always had a fondness for certain eras of history, the 1800s being one. Reading the John Wilkes Booth story was like stepping back into time for me. A lot of what I read, I know from reading the history books to be declared as being true.  I had read that Booth was an actor, that he was at one time engaged to Lucy Hale, the daughter of Senator Hale. Reading history books told me that Mrs. Lincoln was heavy into mediums and spiritualists in hopes of contacting her two deceased sons.  And I may have even read somewhere that Booth kept a diary.  So, the writing of A Necessary End was a pleasure in reading for me. I’ve always said that if the history novels written by John Jakes were to be made into history books, kids would enjoy history and learn more.  I feel the same way about A Necessary End’s author Diana Rubino.  She has made reading the history of this event enjoyable. 

Now I leave you with one question.  Did John Wilkes Booth really die in that burning Garrett tobacco barn or did he escape to live a ripe old age?

Find on Amazon

Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: Moongypsy Press 
ISBN-10: 1463557132 
ISBN-13: 978-1463557133

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sojourn With A Stranger - Keta Diablo

Crockpot Spinach Dip
(A favorite recipe from Keta Diablo)

§  8 ounces cream cheese cut in cubes
§  1/4 cup whipping cream
§  1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
§  2 tablespoons chopped pimento
§  1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
§  1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
§  2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
§  2 teaspoons grated onion
§  1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme, crumbled

4  Combine cream cheese and cream in slow cooker.
4  Cover and cook on LOW until cheese is melted, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
4  Add remaining ingredients; cover and cook on LOW for about 45 minutes longer.
4  Serve with raw vegetables, crackers, or crusty bread cubes

Sojourn With a Stranger - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

“The doll was on my pillow when I returned to my room.”
“What madness is this?” Derek paced the hallway.  “Someone is up to no good.”  When he stopped to look at her, she reminded him of a frightened child.  Her cheeks were pale, her eyes ringed with dark circles.  “I’ll get to the bottom of this.  The Bible and Baby can not walk from that trunk in the attic,” he looked toward the ceiling, “and suddenly materialize in your bedchamber.” 
“Poor man.  The master has finally met a problem he doesn’t understand and doesn’t possess the ability to control.”
 “What is that supposed to mean?  I tell you, someone in the manor dupes you, Raine.”
 “No, Derek.  A spirit placed the objects in my room, a tormented, recently passed spirit.”
“You drag the ghost into the conversation again.  Tell me, what are you insinuating?  You mean to say Cinda’s-?”
“How would I know?”  She hissed the words and wrung her hands.  “You can’t expect me to know what evil machinations occurred before I arrived.”
“Evil?”  He felt his forehead wrinkle.  “Nothing evil transpired.  Lucinda lost her mind, took her life.”  Despite the facts surrounding his wife’s death, a niggling fear crept up his spine.  “If evil played a part, I swear I wasn’t aware of it.”
* * *
Derek Stafford’s father Julian never misses a chance to express to his two sons that the first to provide him with an male heir will inherit Stafford Manor.  Lyman, being the oldest of the two has tried unsuccessfully to produce the male heir but so far his efforts have produced three daughters.  Derek, through an arranged marriage, tried with the death of each child and his wife Lucinda losing her mind, ending with her walking into the river committing suicide.  So, as time goes on, Julian’ pressure for an heir strengthens.  

When disaster strikes one of the ships owned by the Staffords, leaving two dead and one 18 year old young lady alive, Derek and Julian come up with an idea that is sure to produce a male child.  All they have to do is convince the girl, Raine Brinsley, to go along with their scheme and acquire a little help from the Madeline, the local ‘healer’ and all problems will be solved.  What they never expected was the ghost of Lucinda to come into the picture as a protector for Raine.  Lucinda tries desperately to make Raine understand that her life and the death of her babies were not natural and that she will be next if the killer isn’t exposed.  But will Raine understand the clues before it’s too late?

 Sojourn With A Stranger is a story that includes greed, a touch of history and is iced with the paranormal.  By combining all of these into one story Author Keta Diablo has created a beautifully, erotic love story that keeps you on the edge. It was a very enjoyable read.

Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Buy Sojourn With a Stranger on KINDLE:
Also available on NOOK:
Keta Diablo’s Author Web Site:
179 pages

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