Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black Lightning - David & Linda Broughton, Authors

David Broughton's 
Chocolate Chicken

(The ingredients are all to taste.  David Broughton's nickname is 'TooTall' and from what he tells me, skinny people don't taste as they cook)

Lightly brown some chicken in a slight amount of oil in a big,  deep skillet.
When lightly browned, add mushrooms, if fresh, saute in butter with the chicken juices in the same skillet. Add diced onions and green pepper, saute until about half cooked. Add some water, or better yet chicken stock if you have it handy. cover the chicken. add some garlic, either fresh or powdered, but if you use powdered go lightly. You may add basil, fennel, or cilantro if you have it and like it. While it simmers, add three or five semi-sweet Hershey's chocolate kisses, two tablespoons of prepared cocoa mix, and a tablespoon of peanut butter, unless you're allergic, then of course you leave that out. Add some seasoned salt, some lemon pepper, then simmer until the water or stock is down to half. Baste well with the remaining liquid, cover with Swiss cheese, or whatever your favorite kind is. Allow to rest in the liquid. When you plate it, you can serve it on rice, with or without mushrooms. Portabello's are particularly good with this sauce over it.

The point here, is you can use things not ordinarily used as seasonings with the common ones to create new flavors. The chocolate and cocoa powder don't make it taste like chocolate, but give it a unique flavor, as does the peanut butter.
I also use peanut butter in my spaghetti sauce, just a bit, it adds a nice mellow flavor and cuts the acid of the tomato a bit.

This book review is written in memory of Linda Broughton who passed on to a better world last April.  Linda was the heart and love of the Circle H ranch series.  She is truly missed not only for her writing ability but also because of the person she was. Learn more about this beautiful woman by clicking on her name Linda Broughton

Black Lightning – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and A Book and A Dish

“I saw it all.  I was hiding in the closet, trying to stay safe from that man.”  Robinson raises her eyebrows, “What man?”  She blurts in her staccato way, “My stepfather—momma’s husband, Tom Gilcrest.”  Patting Josie’s back lightly, the detective asks, “So what did you see?”  Like a blast from a machine gun, the little slip of a girl fires out, “They were fighting again. I don’t really know over what, they were always fighting about something.  He shot her four times fast, then once more when she was lying on the floor.  He started soaking the house with gasoline.  When he went into another room, I snuck out.  I hid in the tool shed where the firemen found me.”  Robinson quits rubbing Josie’s back, to start writing things down, “So, we should only find the remains of one body?”  Josie replies only slightly slower, “No, there will be two.  I saw him dragging in a man… a dead man, I think.  I don’t know who it was.  He was dressed very raggedy, nobody I recognized.” 

Josie Stevens has just witnessed the murder of her mother by her stepfather.  Her father was murdered was murdered about a year earlier.  He grandmother, whom Josie was living with at the time, died after falling into a well and now her mother was gone.  Due to the fire, the only thing Josie has left in this world is the teddy bear with the big red heart given to her by her dad before he was killed. 

Detective Lizzie Robinson knows what it’s like to be alone.  At a young age she had found herself in the same position.  The only help Lizzie feels she can give this young girl is by calling her friend Natalie (Nat) Cohen who is the head of county social services child welfare and a ward of the court survivor herself.  So with the help of Nat Josie is placed in the care of Ben and Hannah who run a working horse ranch for orphans.  These two people took Lizzie and Nat under their wings years ago and helped shape them into who they are today.  Nat is sure they can do the same for Josie. 

As soon as Josie steps out of the car at the ranch she spots one of the most beautiful horses she’s ever seen.  She immediately climbs the fence and then onto the back of this black beauty, racing him across the corral and into the pasture.  This turned out to be a surprise to Ben since the black horse had been determined as too wild for the other kids.  He was amazed to see the kindred spirit that had immediately developed between Josie and the black horse.  What Ben didn’t know was that Josie could talk to the horses and they could talk back to her.  She was in a sense what some call a “Horse Whisperer.” 

Black Lightning is one of the most loving books I’ve read in a long time.  Josie has her love for the horses, Ben and Hannah have the love for all of the kids past and present that they’ve helped through the years.  They pride themselves in the knowledge that so many have gone to college and made something of themselves instead of just being allowed to slip through the cracks of society.  But love isn’t all that I found in Black Lightning.  It has just enough murder and mayhem to keep you wondering what will Josie’s stepfather do next to get his hands on the secrets he feels are hidden inside the teddy bear belonging to Josie.  This book turned out to be a real page turner that I really enjoyed.

So, if you’re a horse fan, a fan of suspense and/or a fan of touching love, don’t miss Black Lightning.  It has it all.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Subspecies - Mike Arsuaga, Author


PAPA's Beef Stew
( A Recipe from Mike Arsuaga for those cold nights)

2 tsp. of finely chopped thyme leaves
3 large onions
3 stalks of celery
8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms
1 lb. red potatoes
1 lb. beef cut for stew
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup sherry
2 cups pre-sliced carrots
1/3 cup flour
1 32 oz. box of beef stock
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Remove stems. Chop thyme leaves.Slice onions and celery thinly. Cut
mushrooms into quarters. Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces.

1. Preheat stock pot on med-high 2 to 3 min. Separately, season beef with salt and pepper. Brown beef.
2. Stir in onions. Cook 10 to 12 min or until onion is soft. Stir in
sherry. Cook until most of liquid evaporates, about four minutes.
3. Add celery, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots plus beef and onions to heated stock. Stir in flour for thickener.

Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Serve.

Subspecies - Guest Review by Matthew Morrison 

In Subspecies, Mike Arsuaga suspends the readers disbelief in horrific mythical
creatures by creating realistic settings, emotive characters (creatures,
really), and a very compelling plot.  The reader is initially lured into what
appears to be a fast paced Action/Adventure/Mystery.  Only too late does the
reader discover that this is actually a classic love story of Vampire meets
Lycan.  Mike Arsuaga explores, in detail, the frequent and varied expressions of
the couple's monster love.  Even after spilling the blood of innocents, he stuns
the reader with a style that eventually evokes sympathy for the plight of these
poor predators. 

Author of "Subspecies, Inc." Best Erotic Book for 2011 on
            the Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll. The sequel
            "Children of Subspecies" won Best Cover. Both are
            continuations of award winning  "Subspecies" about the deep
            love between two special beings as they shepherd lycans and
            vampires (The Subspecies) to their destiny within Creation.
            Coming soon, episodes four and five, "The Tenth Legion" in
            February and "Lagrange Point" in May.

Check out the full synopsis and excerpts of all stories at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vanishing Act in Vegas - Morgan St. James, Phyllice Bradner, Authors

Lamb Chops with Sweet Rice
(This is one of those “take a handful of this and a pinch of that” recipes handed down from my mother. I’ve tried to translate it into real quantities, but feel free to take creative license. It has been one of my favorites for years... Morgan St. James  Phyllice Bradner)

4 to 6 Shoulder Lamb Chops
2 cups of instant brown rice
1-1/2 cups of water (after trying this recipe, you might want to adjust the amount of water to make the rice firmer or fluffier)
1/2 cup of golden raisins
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Sprinkling of cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the uncooked instant rice, raisins, chopped onion, water and cinnamon and place in the bottom of an oblong pyrex baking pan - size depends upon how many chops you use. You can also add sliced mushrooms and/or pine nuts as an option. Salt and pepper the chops to taste and arrange on top of the rice mixture. Cover the pan with tinfoil and bake at 350° for approximately 45 minutes. Time might vary due to the oven. The chops will be baked through, the rice will be fluffy and the flavor from the lamb seeps into the rice. There is a slight Mediterranean flavor to this dish.

Vanishing Act in Vegas (A Silver Sisters Crime Caper) – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish, Think With Your Taste Buds and Stir, Laugh, Repeat.

Poor Torch.  He finally lands a great contract as a special effects director in Las Vegas, bought a condo with a view of the strip and his grandmother and great uncle are planning on paying him a visit to help him ‘settle in.’  He loves them both but he also knows them very well.  Both are retired magicians and trouble seems to be what they conjure up the most. 

“Well, Mom, the last of my stuff is loaded.  I just wanted to say goodbye before I take off.”  She kissed him on the cheek, sensing her son couldn’t wait to hotfoot-it out the door and begin his life as a swinging bachelor.  Sterling turned the sound back on, but Flossie grabbed the remote and turned it off again.  She looked at her grandson and smiled sweetly.  “So, tottelah, your Uncle Sterling and I will be there in two, maybe three days.  You know your uncle is afraid to fly so we’ll just tune up the Caddy tomorrow and be on our way.”  “Whaa-“ Torch stared at her blankly.  “Torch, honey, you’ll need help getting things in order, and no one does that better than your Uncle Sterling and me.  I’ll set up your closets and kitchen and cook some good Jewish meals for your freezer and Uncle Sterling can putter around and help you hang pictures and do little odd jobs.”  Torch looked to his mother in desperation.  Flossie jumped up and tweaked him on the cheek.  “Look, Sterling, he’s so happy we’re coming, he’s speechless.  Good thing you bought a three bedroom.  I guess we’ll stay for three or four days.  Who knows, maybe longer if we get lucky.  Magic acts are big in Vegas again.” 

Torch’s mother Godiva Silver DuBois and his mother’s twin sister Goldie Silver decide to take a trip to Vegas too.  Godiva is a famous advice to the lovelorn columnist who’s column is called Ask G.O.D.’  She is also the millionaire widow of Max DuBois which gives her the time and money to do whatever she wants at any given time.  Goldie is an over-the-hill hippi antique dealer from Juneau, Alaska and Godiva can easily afford to treat Goldie to the trip to Vegas.

Godiva loves to write her column but her favorite hobby is dabbling into the mysteries of crime with her twin sister.  So, when Goldie flew to Vegas from her home in Alaska the two twins put their heads together to solve the murder of Mara  the Magnificent.  What the twins also discover is that Mara isn’t just a magician, she is also Torch’s girlfriend and she has a secret that blows them all away!

I fell in love with the Silver Sisters after reading A Corpse in the Soup.  Their antics as well as those of their mother Flossie and their Uncle Sterling will keep you laughing along as you try to solve the murder that they always seem to step into.  Vanishing Act in Vegas was one that really lost me as an amateur reader detective.  Every time I thought I knew who had done what to who and why, I found myself scratching my head to come up with another solution because my original was all wrong.  I couldn’t help but wish I knew these people.  They were so much fun to be around even when they found themselves in trouble. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Confliction - The Dragoneers Saga Book III - Michael Robb Mathias, Jr., Author

Porcupine Meatballs
(Mathias' Special)
1 package of beef Rice A Roni
1 egg
1lb ground beef
salt and pepper
take rice a roni and set aside seasoning. mix together rice, beef, egg and S&P together. roll into balls. brown in skillet then add seasoning packet and two cups of water.stir until mixed, then simmer for 20 minutes. can be served over rice or noodles.
The Confliction – The Dragoneers Saga Book III – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish, Think With Your Taste Buds and Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Jenka started looking at a charcoal sketch of a Sarax, with marks and carefully written text detailing sensitive and dangerous parts of the thing’s strange body.  Then he saw something else and pointed it out to Lemmy.  He was showing Lem a drawing of a bee’s honeycomb full of little tiny Sarax.  The queen was larger, ten times as large as the Sarax.  It was bulkier, too, formed like a larva, or a giant grub, with several long snaking limbs on each side of an elongated torso.  I wonder if they really follow that thing, said Lemmy, as he took the parchment to study it closer.  Jenka’s mind had moved on.  He was searching for anything else they could use to more effectively destroy the beasts.  He found a small wooden chest and forced it open with a sealing blade.  Inside were several hundred golden coins with a strange feline animal on one side and two lines with a slash through them on the other.  He wondered, for a long time, from where they had come.  Then he pondered where the Sarax had come from and a certain fear of the unknown began to creep into him like a chill.
Jenka, Aikira, Zahrellion, Rikky and Marcherion, along with their dragon mounts, are all dragoneers.  In books I and II, they have survived the Gravelbone and his magic as he waged war on their land.  Through their own magic they have survived the threats of the Sarax that had escaped from their star ship.  It was now their duty to guard the ship in hopes of preventing other Sarax from escaping.  
But the Sarax was just the first metamorphosis stage of these aliens.  They fed upon human met which gave them the strength to cocoon and later change into foul ivory-horned vermin masters like Gravelbone.  After becoming aware of this, the dragoneers found themselves being faced with the threat that there was something even more powerful than the Sarax.  With this knowledge also came the knowledge that the other being would be many times more powerful than the Sarax and the Gravelbones combined.  Then came their job to destroy this being before it destroyed them as well as the people they have vowed to protect.  But can they succeed before it’s too late.  And will they all survive?  The chances look pretty slim.
I’ve read all three of the Dragoneer books and as each came to an end I looked forward to the next.  When I saw that this was the last book I felt a bit of disappointment.  That is until I read the last line of the book telling me an new book and I hope series will be coming out in 2013.  I have to say that Author Michael Robb Mathias has one strong imagination and knows how to put it into words.  I look forward to reading any and all of his books.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

When Nothing Else Was Right - Carol Costa, Author

Hershey Cake
(Carol Costa's Favorite)

1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium can of Hershey Syrup

Melt butter and blend with sugar.  Stir in eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking powder, and vanilla and mix well.

Pour into a greased 13 X 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

When Nothing Else Was Right – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds

The door to the back office was suddenly flung open and all three hundred pounds of Vinnie, the accountant, filled the doorway. “Marko, Jake, come in here.”  Jake rose from his chair.  He didn’t like the sound of Vinnie’s voice and his fat face was all flushed like he was upset over something.  “What’s wrong?” Jake asked, trying to sound casual.  “Just get in here,” Vinnie said.  Marko stood at the door and motioned for Jake to enter Vinnie’s office in front of him.  Jake shrugged and walked through the door ignoring the prickles of fear that were racing down his spine.  Marko closed the door quietly behind them and looked at Vinnie who had moved back behind his massive metal desk.  “Is this some kind of a joke?” Vinnie asked, directing his question to Jake.  “What?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  “You don’t, huh?  Well, The Silver Moon took in a hundred grand and change Saturday.  Barney’s had some high rollers that stayed all night Friday and half the day Saturday, so their take was twice that much and Maury booked ten g’s on Saturday night.  “Yeah,” Jake said, feeling the sweat beginning to drip down into his shoes.  “How much is missing?” Marko asked before Jake could say anything else.  “All of it.”  “That’s impossible. It was all there when I put it in the safe yesterday.”  Vinnie took the duffle bag and turned it upside down on the desk.  Scraps of newspaper fell out.  “Beth.”  Jake spat out her name like it was a morsel of spoiled food.  “Beth took it.”

Jake Carlson is a money runner for Marko Senese.  The day before Jake was to turn in the weekend collections, his wife Beth disappeared.  He had watched as she went into the convenience store but never saw her come out.  How could a woman 6 months into her pregnancy walk out of a store and not be seen.  Even his search of the store turned up nothing.  All he could assume was that she either slipped past him and had gone home or she had left him again and was with her mother.  He didn’t feel that she had any reason to leave him.  He hadn’t abused her since she became pregnant.  But again, the search of their home and a call to her mother had turned up nothing.  Now Jake finds himself in real trouble.  Marko’s money is missing and the only thing that could have happened to it was that Beth had taken it.

Dana Sloan is an investigative reporter.  She and her boyfriend Al Bruno, a detective with the Crescent Hills PD, had stopped by the convenience store while Jake was searching for Beth.  They both assumed she would make it home when she was ready.  But when Beth’s mother asked that Dana look into her daughter’s disappearance, concern for Beth’s well being prompted Dana to do a little research on her own.  And when Jake admitted to the police officers that came to interview him that he had killed Beth, Bruno decided he too needed to do a bit of researching. 

Two murders and an attempt on Dana’s life seem to be connected to this case and send Dana all the way to Los Angeles as she follows her theories that Beth is alive and well, at least for now.  She even voices her opinion to Marko himself after he pays her a visit and asks that she find Beth.  It wasn’t until Dana heard a song being sung by an actress in one of her mother’s soap operas that she knew she was right.  And the real clincher was when the credits rolled after the show and Dana recognized the name of an attorney’s daughter who had been missing for 19 years.  Now Dana must get to Beth before anyone else does and bring her back to Crescent Hills. 

Dana and Bruno actually work on this case together.  In the past, Bruno has tried his best to keep Dana from becoming involved in cases that caused him to fear for her safety.  Dana, on the other hand. stayed irritated with Bruno for withholding information in cases that she felt could be solved with a little help from him.  He still wants to get married and settle her down.  She wants to continue her career and hold off a bit.  Who will win this battle?

When Nothing Else Was Right is, as usual, another Costa book that kept me guessing.  I did come up with the right murderer about ¾ through the book but the situation with the missing daughter was a surprise to me.  This was a real page turner.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ancient Memories - Terry L. White, Author

Red Bean Succotash
(A Terry L. White favorite)

Two ears fresh sweet corn cut from the cob or
1 can whole kernel corn, or 2 cups of frozen corn
1 can dark red kidney beans
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Cook corn and cut kernels from cob and combine with kidney
Beans, milk, sugar and butter. Simmer about 15 minutes until
sauce is thickened. Serve hot.
Ancient Memories – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish; Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds
What do you do with yourself when your life is over?  I don’t know about everyone else, but when my mother passed away and I no longer had to be at her beck and call every minute of the livelong day, I started signing up for things.  I took telephone calls at the local bottle museum… passed out juice and cookies for the semi-annual blood drive… joined single groups one week and un-joined the next.  Mother had left me well, off, I can’t complain about that at all… After she was gone, I didn’t need to work unless I wanted to, but I had remained home most of my adult life, to cater to her endless needs and petty complaints.  I was ready for some excitement.  If not excitement, then perhaps, the next best thing – a little mental stimulation.  “Creative Writing class offered by Adult Education.”   I had been planning to begin the Great American Novel for the past forty-five years… Now that I had time I figured it couldn’t hurt to learn a little bit about the art of writing before I began.
Nancy Hunter signed up for the writing class that was being taught by Harriet Blake, newspaper reporter, prize winning author and aspiring novelist.  The one point that Harriet pressed to install in her students was to write about something that you know something about.  This just might put a damper in Nancy’s idea of writing romance novels since she had spent most of her life taking care of a mother who spent most of her life making Nancy’s life miserable with her demands and derogatory remarks.  Love was something Nancy had never really known.  Or had she? 
To Nancy’s surprise and delight, Peter Allen decided to take the seat next to her.  His lovely deep blue eyes, handsomely tanned face and a pair of wide shoulders were just what she needed.  Maybe the class would turn out to work for her yet.  Over after-class coffee with Peter, Nancy couldn’t help but feel that she knew him from somewhere.  She believed in reincarnation, could he have been someone from another life?  That thought was apparently all she needed to begin her novel of Ancient Memories.
As I read Ancient Memories I wasn’t sure that what I was reading was Nancy’s imagination novel or if she was remembering past lives.  As Nancy inspires to become an author she takes you back in time to Ancient Egypt, then into the 1400s and on into 1800 Canada.  The history within her stories are amazing, as well as savage.  But how does Peter fit into the picture?  Could he be someone from her past lives?  Nancy seems to think so.  Take a journey into Ancient Memories and see what you think.  I know I really enjoyed my journey through time with Nancy’s and Author Terry L. White’s novel Ancient Memories.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Bad-Dog Book - Joni B. Cole, Author

(A Joni Cole Special)

2 cups shredded natural Swiss cheese (8 ounces)
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic cut in half
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons kirsch, dry sherry or brandy
Dunkers: French or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes; small red potatoes; pieces of broccoli, cauliflower, or mushrooms
Chopped fresh chives

Place cheese and flour in resealable plastic bag. Shake until cheese is coated. Rub garlic on bottom and side of fondue pot; discard garlic. Add wine. Heat over simmer setting just until bubbles rise to surface (do not boil).l Stir in lemon juice.

Gradually add cheese mixture, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly with wooden spoon over low heat, until cheeses are melted. Stir in kirsch. Sprinkle with chives.

Keep warm over simmer setting. Spear Dunkers with fondue forks; dip and swirl in fondue with stirring motion. 21 servings (2 tablespoons each).

Another Bad-Dog Book – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of A Book and A Dish, Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds
‘I had found myself up, thinking about all the ways my husband and I weren’t best friends:  how we had nothing in common (children don’t count), and how we were going to end up in just a few short years like so many other empty nesters who look at each other across the middle cushion of their corduroy couch and think, Wow.  What now?  Why am I with this person?  I hate corduroy.
‘my eight-year-old daughter...asked me if she could have an end-of-summer party…  “I want it to be a water party,” my daughter said… Over the next couple weeks, my daughter winnowed down her guest list to six best friends and we loaded up on squirt guns and other water-party supplies.  The morning of the event, she came downstairs already dressed in her bikini, and handed me a piece of a paper.  At the top she’d printed – Mommy’s Dos and Don’ts.  “What’s this?” I asked.  It’s a list,” she explained, “so you know how to act at the party.”
These are just two of the many fears and ‘crises’ faced by the author as she, as well as her family, move on into the world of ‘getting older.’  While reading I couldn’t help but remember some of these very incidents in my own life.  The story ‘The Boy of Summer’ reminded me of the boy who occupied, maybe not my time but my mind during my summer at age 13. Joni's story ‘A Few Minutes of My Time’ reminded me that I’m computer blonde so when people talk to me about anything technical I have to ask that they speak English and not ‘computerish.”  And believe it or not but we all go through ‘Identity Theft.’   It happens every year on December 31st when we make our New Year’s resolutions.  We spot someone and decide we want to look, act and be that person.  So we proceed to try our best to steal their identity for ourselves.
The stories included in Another Bad-Dog Book bring the reader both laughter and recognition.  I have to recommend this book for both women and men.  If you’re a woman I feel you will be able to relate to most of the events and feelings that take place as the author goes through her ‘midlife crisis.’  If you’re a man, this book can be a great tool in helping you understand why the women in your life have taken on a personality that is totally different from the one you fell in love with.  Believe me, male or female, you can’t help but love this book.


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