Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Now My Life Begins - Shirley A. Roe, Author

Abigail’s Scottish Oatcakes
(And Shirley's Favorite) 

This oatcake recipe makes a good-sized batch of Scottish oatcakes.

•5 cups of oatmeal
•1 cup of flour
•1/2-1 cup brown sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
•1 tsp. salt
•1/2 tsp. baking soda
•1/2-1 cup butter or lard (use smaller amount for a fat-reduced diet)
•1/2-1 cup water

Stir first 6 ingredients until crumbly.
Press into a buttered cake pan until mixture is 1/2-1" thick. Bake in a 325 degree oven until golden brown. Slice into generous-sized rectangles.

Shirley A. Roe, authorDreams and Nightmares
A Call to Faith and Freedom
The Whittaker Family Reunion
Return to Whittakerville
Snow Eagle
Now my life Begins
all available on

Now My Life Begins – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

‘The train began its approach to Edinburgh’s Waverly Station.  Jenny stared in fascination at Edinburgh Castle, perched high above the city, with its high rock precipice protecting all that had lived within the walls.  “Waverly Station!” shouted the conductor.  “Watch your step.”  Jenny stepped onto the busy platform; people bustled to and fro.  Several trains arriving and departing the station filled the air with black soot and noise.  Swept up in the flow of people, Jenny found herself climbing the steep grade to the street above.  Tentatively, she looked around at the huge city.  Never in her life had she seen so many people or so many buildings, which made it all a little overwhelming.  A cart sped past, causing her to jump and bump into a stranger.  The man scowled at her.  “Sorry, so sorry.”  Her apology fell on deaf ears.  Everyone was rushing somewhere and all were oblivious to the shy woman from Watsworth, clutching her worn suitcase for dear life.’

Jenny Barstow had received a letter confirming her position as assistant to the City Clerk of Edinburgh.  She had grown up in the small town of Watsworth and since her only living family was her uncle, she had no real ties to the town.  That is unless you count Tim McKitterek as being a tie.  She and Tim had known each other forever and in each of their eyes, they just knew that one day they would marry.  But that wasn’t to be.  Tim worked at the mines and after his father up and left, he was the sole supporter of his mother and her six children.  It took every penny he made just to keep them afloat.  He would never be able to leave Watsworth and Jenny knew it.  Her only choice was to go alone and hope that one day things would be different and just maybe he could join her.

What Jenny didn’t bargain for was finding that her position had been filled by Ian Murphy, nephew of Lord Provost of Edinburgh, John Murphy.  So here she is.  The farthest she has ever ventured from her little town of Watsworth, hungry, no job here nor back home, no place to live and just enough money to make it back home with hopes of something working out for her there.  Then comes her “knight” in the form of an elderly man by the name of Zachariah Taylor. 

I’ve read several of Author Shirley A. Roe’s books and they just keep getting better.  Now My Life Begins takes the reader through not one but both World Wars with their destruction not only to property but human lives and mentality as well.  She not only tells a beautiful story that is quite realistic but she throws in history along the way allowing you not to just possibly learn something new but to also make the story even more believable.  I’ve totally enjoyed her words and stories of love as the characters survive what was sent their way in the form of life.  This is truly a beautiful story.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For - Sibel Hodge, Author

Cranberry Cosmopolitans which feature in the book
As well as a Sible Hodge favorite

40ml Vodka
15ml Cointreau
15ml Fresh lime juice
30ml Cranberry juice

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and blend well. Add crushed ice and a slice of lime - perfect! 

Be Careful What You Wish For – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts
“I arrived at the gym one morning to get some equipment sorted out for the boxers.  It was still really early so I assumed no one would be there, but when I went in, I could hear Vinnie and Levi arguing in the locker room.  I heard the word ‘contract’ mentioned a few times.”  Terry frowned.  “I think they were arguing about Levi’s contract with Vinnie.”
“Do you know the terms of the contract Vinnie and Levi agreed on?”
“No.  It was signed a long time ago when Levi was twenty, and he would never tell me.  Levi was always secretive about what was in it.”  Terry took a sip of coffee.  “Anyway, after I heard Levi mention the contract, curiosity got the better of me and I listened outside.  The thing is…”  Terry paused and bit his lip.  “The thing is…I’m pretty sure Vinnie told Levi to throw the fight.”  Terry gave me a sheepish look.
I let this sink in for a minute.  “What do you mean, ‘pretty sure’?  What did Vinnie say exactly?”
“Well I heard Vinnie say, ‘You’re still under contract with me – you do what I (*^!#) tell you.  You will take the hit.’  Terry gave me a knowing look.  “Later on, when Vinnie had left, I tried to ask Levi if Vinnie was ordering him to throw the fight, but Levi dismissed it.  Levi told me he was the world champ, why would he need to take a dive?”  Terry looked up at me with worried eyes.  “I tried again to get out of Levi what was going on, but Levi just said they were arguing about a personal matter.  I didn’t really believe him at the time, and now…with what happened last night, I think Levi really did throw the fight.”
Amber Fox, also known as “Foxy” has watched the video of the world heavyweight boxing champion Levi Carter where he lost the match in the 6th.  According to her boss and ex-fiancé Brad, owner of Hi-Tec Insurance, Levi did something during the 6th that is unheard of.  He allowed himself to be distracted by bank CEO Carl Thomas as he yelled something to him from outside the ring causing a the referee to declare a ‘Technical Knockout.’  So, what is the problem?  Why would Levi throw the match and lose his title?  That’s what Amber has been given the task of finding out. 
One thing that really peeked Amber’s attention was the fact that Vinnie Dawson is Levi’s manager.  Amber has a history with Vinnie from back when she was on the police force.  She put his cousin Lee away for armed robbery and since Lee and Vinnie are close, she feels Vinnie still holds a grudge against her.  And this is all proven to be true when Amber starts receiving some very undesirable packages in the mail as well as a sudden infestation in her apartment of the one creature she fears...spiders. 
Making the investigation even harder comes with the murder of a couple of the suspects and then the disappearance of Levi.  Amber is sure Vinnie has some kind of hold over Levi and is probably blackmailing him but for what?  Hopefully she will find the answers before it gets not only Levi killed but herself too. 
I met Amber Fox when I read Sibel Hodge’s book The Fashion Police.  Her character is one of my favorite.  She is so real and so are her personal life problems.  Between trying to decide if she should continue a relationship with her ex-boyfriend Romeo or give in to her ex-fiancé Brad’s proposal, Amber finds herself in total confusion.  Plus she must deal with her retired policeman Dad who has taken on the neighborhood watch program and spends a good bit of his time undercover either dressed as a woman or a stinky bum.  This book has it all…murder, love and humor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Covert Element - John L. Betcher, Author

Mexican Cartel Fajitas
(A John L. Betcher favorite)

  • 4 Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 lb guacamole dip
  • 2 oz fresh cream
  • Fresh lime wedges for garnishing.
  • Place the sliced skinned chicken in a bowl with salt, pepper, garlic and lime juice. Toss to coat chicken. Let stand for thirty minutes.
  • Peel the thinly sliced onion, de-seed and slice the peppers.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Then fry the onions and peppers for 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for additional 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Place the tortillas under a broiler or on a flat fry pan, for about a minute and turn once.
  • Spoon chicken and pepper mixture onto each tortilla, then the top with a spoonful of guacamole and fresh cream.
  • Roll up the tortilla and serve hot with lime wedges.

The Covert Element – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds
‘Whether drugs or not, it was hard for me to imagine that the scene I had observed this morning could possibly portend anything but headaches and misery for the residents of Ottawa County.  “But twenty-three dead…When’s the last time that sort of mass execution happened in the U.S.?”  Beth stared into space.  “Gotta be when that crazy Hennard guy drove his pickup truck through the front window of Luby’s Café in Texas way back in – what was it – ’91?  Long time ago, anyway.”  “This morning’s atrocity looked like something out of Kosovo.  Like an ethnic cleansing.  Or like the mob sending someone a message.  But we don’t have ‘the mob’ in Minnesota…just a few rag tag street and motorcycle gangs that shoot each other once in a while.”  I thought for a moment.  I could see Beth was trying to make some sense of all this, too.  “I s’pose Hells Angels is the closest we’ve got to any organized crime syndicate,”  I said.  “But if it was a biker gang, the BCA should find evidence of motorcycles all over the place.  I didn’t see any tracks around that house this morning.  Still…you never know.”  I was out of ideas.  Maybe some solid police work would give me new options to consider soon.  In the meantime, while ruthless killers roamed loose in or around Ottawa County, I would sleep very lightly indeed.’
James Becker, Attorney-at-law, called “Beck” for short, came back from a smoldering meth cooking lab where 23 men had been killed.  Beck had been invited to go to the scene by his friend Ottawa County Chief Deputy Sheriff, Doug Gunderson, also known as “Gunner.”  The biggest problem was, how were 23 men talked into lying down on the ground while each one was individually shot in the head with the same gun?  But that is exactly how they were found outside the lab as it burned.  Beck believes there has to be more to the story but after the BCA appeared on the scene, he and Gunner are left out of the loop.  So what do they do?  They create their own “loop.” 
After Beck is contacted by another friend Terry "Bull" Red Feather, an American Indian who served his country as an Army Ranger, he becomes convinced that this “little” meth lab is just the beginning of something even bigger.  And after a conversation between Bull, Beck and Bull’s military comrade Master Sergeant Fuentes, they know that the Mexican drug cartel known as Los Cinco, is involved. 
Following Beck, Bull, Gunner and Beck’s wife Beth, as they take on one of the largest cartels in existence, keeps you on the edge of your seat.  And then there is Ralphael Santos who has worked his way up from the ground floor to become the head man and leader of Los Cinco.  He will have you quickly turning the pages just to see what evil he will inflict on his next victim.  But wait until you see who his victims really are.
I’ve read several books written by Author John L. Betcher.  He has a way of writing that makes you feel as if you’re on the sidelines watching the events take place.  His knowledge of the topic he is writing about educates to happenings that you only read bits and pieces of in the local papers.  He brings out the full truth as to how things are toned down and released on a need to know basis only.  The Covert Element is a perfect example of his great style of writing.
264 Pages
ISBN# 978-1461084532

Friday, August 12, 2011

Drama Queen Rules - Terry L. White, Author

Dream Cheese Cocktail Spread
(A low calorie favorite from Terry White)

1 8 oz. pkg low fat cream cheese
2/3 cup Apricot Jam
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)

Put cream cheese on an attractive dish.  Mix jam and pepper flakes.  Pour over cream cheese.  Serve with baguette or whole grain crackers and stand back!

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

‘When I saw Skip wheel out of that parking lot in Paradox, I knew for sure I was going to break up with him.  I have known girls who had men in prison and I wasn’t about to spend every Saturday afternoon waiting for a thirty-minute visit with some con.  That wasn’t my idea of a good relationship at all.  I wanted better, and I had a plan.  All I had to do was to save up some money and enroll in the community college over to the county seat and get a degree in social working so I could help people  I never should have told anybody about it though.  All I got was a hard time.  People don’t like to think you are getting too big for your britches, and they won’t hesitate to say so. 

“What makes you think you are smart enough to go to college?” Emma Grace sneered and turned up Judge Judy when I told her what I was going to do.  “Ain’t you the one who had to do seventh grade twice?”  She took a big swig of her diet cola and burped loudly.  Emma Grace always thinks she is so smart, but she always acts so ignorant.’

Lainey Cook was just standing in line when the “big robbery” took place at Bailey’s Market in the Adirondack town of Paradox, killing the owner Hop Bailey and the store’s bag boy.  Turns out that the customers in the store stuck together and beat the heck out of the robbers by throwing everything from bricks of lard to frozen vegetables at them.  This detained them until the police got there, which wasn’t too soon or the robbers just might have been found beaten to death with food.  No one seemed to know who these men were nor where they came from but Lainey knew who turned out to be the getaway driver as he steered the car from the back of the store.  It was none other than her boyfriend Skip Boyer.  That was also the day that Skip became Lainey’s ex-boyfriend.  Which was ok too because Skip left town in hopes of avoiding the police and being hauled in for armed robbery and accessory to murder.

Lainey put her foot to the ground and started working even harder on her dream to go to college.  She was determined to bring herself out of the trailer park she had lived in her whole life no matter what her sister Emma Grace and their mother might say.  And all was going well until Skip showed up, took what little money she had, as well as her car and Lainey herself. 

I can describe Drama Queen Rules in two words – seriously funny.  The trials and tribulations that Lainey finds herself going through would “seriously” put most of us under or at least make us give up.  Lainey, on the other hand, handles her kidnapping by Skip with tolerance and humor.  She has a determined mind that won’t give up its dream no matter how hard times become nor what hardships might come her way.  Author Terry L. White has a way of telling her story in a style that reminds me of one other writer – Louis Grizzard.  She turns a back woods life into a success.  I loved every page I turned and when the book ended, I wanted more! 

155 pages
ISBN# 978-1-4535-1104-6

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Travelers - M. T. Bargeman, Author

Ointment for Skin Irritations- Bugbite
(A very special recipe from M. T. Bargeman)
¼ cup Crisco
1T. Cloves, ground
1T. Peppermint leaves
1T ginger
1T Turmeric
1T. Rosemary leaves
1T. Oregano Leaves
Let the Crisco set out until it is room temperature. In a mortar and pestle, combine slat and herbs, and grind them to as fine a powder as possible. Mix this with the Crisco, then with a spoon, place in tins. I use old candy tins like the ones Altoids come in. Once the mixture has been placed in the tins, and is level, and the excess has been wiped off the tin with a clean dry rag, close them up and set them in the sun for two hours. Use liberally for bug bites, especially chiggers, cuts and scrapes. This will stop pain and itch and keep the cut or scrape clean. To bandage or not will depend on the depth of the cut. For extra relief, keep it in the fridge.

The Travelers - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds - Desserts
“The dragon is part of the reason you’re here now.  It has been a growing problem for some time now.” 

“Then why doesn’t somebody kill it?” she said, as if she wondered why this was a novel concept for him.

“It can’t be killed.  That’s the problem.  Only the Phoenix can kill the Dragon.”

“Well, go get the damned Phoenix, then!”  she half shouted.

“It isn’t that easy.  The Phoenix can only be spoken to by certain people.  It will ignore all others.  We need you to find the Phoenix.”

“Hold the phone!  I don’t do quests.  I get paid to find people, check out cheating spouses, find long lost friends and family.  I also find missing people.  That’s it.  No quests, no Yellow Brick Road.  Hell, I’ve never even been to Kansas, and I hate little dogs.  No.  Take me home.” she said.

Lord Sir Eugene of Nodde was on his own quest which was to find the Green Witch who was strong enough to wake the Phoenix.  And that witch turned out to be Twila. Sole owner of her own detective agency which specializes in the search and rescue of missing people, mainly children.  So, after taking a job that would take her away from her own son for a few weeks, Twila goes in search for a missing boy.  But, to her surprise, she herself is kidnapped by none other than Eugene of Nodde and taken to the ‘Other Place.’

Cynthia, who is the apprentice of Lady Robin, both of the ‘Other Place,’ has been sent back to the world in search of Robin’s brother, Joseph.  Joseph is the only one that can lead the army that will  work with the Phoenix to destroy the Red Dragon and save not only ‘Other Place’ but also ‘World.’  Cynthia’s quest will also include rescuing Joseph from an institution where he was committed by his mentor from the FBI.  Joseph was on the search with Twila when she was abducted by Eugene.  Using the connections of his agency with the Red Dragon, Stuart Barnes had Joseph hospitalized to keep him from helping with the quest to destroy the dragon.  

Author M. T. Bargeman takes us on a trip between two worlds – ‘World’ which is earth and ‘Other Place’ which is its counterpart.  In ‘Other Place’ magic can be performed only by the women, which gives Lady Robin, Cynthia and Twila an advantage as they combine their strengths to perform what must be done to save both worlds.  The Travelers is a book of mystery, suspense and love.  I’ve enjoyed this book and am anxious to read the next chapter that will take the Travelers into their war with the Red Dragon.

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