Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Deepest Dark - Joan Hall Hovey, Author

Joan Hall Hovey's Dark and Stormy
  Date Squares

1 pkg. pitted dates
1 1/2 cups of orange juice
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups of rolled oats
1/3 cup water

In a pan, cook dates together with orange juice, 1/3 cup brown sugar and water.  Set aside.
Cream butter with remaining 2/3 cup of brown sugar.  Stir in flour, and add oats.  Mix until crumbly.  (It's easiest if you use your fingers.)  Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a lightly buttered 9" glass dish.  Spread date filling over crust.  Lightly press remaining mixture on top.  Bake in a 350 degree oven 25-30 minutes ( until light brown).  Makes 64 1" squares.

The Deepest Dark - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish - (I couldn't put this book down!)

She had started for the kitchen when she stopped in the doorway between the living room and kitchen, thinking she'd heard a noise outside.  She listened.  Heard it again.  A squeaking of the porch swing chain?...Hearing nothing further, but still wearing the same uneasy frown on her face, she continued on to the kitchen.  She was reaching into the drawer for a knife to cut the pie with when she heard the noise again.  She looked in the direction of the sound and that's when she saw the grinning face in the window.  Her heart lurched painfully but before she could cry out, something crashed against the back door.  It burst open and three men strode into her kitchen, big as life.  Three men she had never seen before.

Ethel and Hartley have raised their daughter and still lived in their country home where neighbors were not a walk away but a drive away.  In their 80's they had grown use to their solitude so when their uninvited visitors bust through their door they are at a total loss.

Abby used the facilities, washed her hands and splashed warm water on her face, patting it dry with rough brown paper.  When she came back out of the washroom, the woman was behind the counter. "Help yourself to the coffee, dear," she said.  "Freshly made."... "Thanks.  I needed that."  "You're welcome.  Don't know about you, but this rain is getting me down.  Awful about those three escapees, isn't it?"

Abby is on her way to the lake cabin her husband had bought for their secret get-away.  After the disasters she had faced just a few months earlier she wasn't sure of her real reason for going there.  She needed time away from everyone but with the bottle of pills in her purse, along with her depression, she just might make this her final resting place.

This book is one for the movies.  As the author brings the Ethel and Hartley, Abby, and the three men together it becomes a book that I had hard time putting down.  I actually read it in just three nights.  I hurt for Abby and her previous problems.  I felt for Ethel and Hartley as they are subdued by the three men.  I feared the three men as they prompted fear on everyone that came into contact with them.  But I learn something from reading this book.  There have been times that I go to the mountains alone just for the quiet.  As with Abby's lake cabin, my favorite place had no telephones and no TV... just peace and quiet.  Never again will I visit my favorite cabin without a phone!

So, if you want a real page turning, grip the edge of the chair and leave the lights burning read, you will surely have it with The Deepest Dark.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

After Armageddon - Brian L. Porter, Author

Conglomerate Salad
(Due to the mixture of stories this salad is perfect for this book)

1 bag boil in the bag brown rice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup light Caesar salad dressing
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken, cooked and diced
1 can (11 oz.) Mexican-style corn, drained
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Spinach leaves (optional)

Prepare rice according to package.  In a large bowl, combine Dijon mustard and Caesar salad dressing.  Toss in rice, beans, chicken, corn and green onions.  Chill or serve at room temperature.  Garnish with spinach leaves, if desired. 

Suggestion - Serve in large tomato with pulp and seeds removed.

After Armageddon - Book Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Imagine a world devastated by the unthinkable, a global war enveloping almost every nation on Earth.  Imagine the death, the disease and the wholesale slaughter of million upon million of our fellow beings.  This, then, is the post-apocalyptic setting for After Armageddon, as one solitary scribe attempts to set out in words, for posterity, the results of the terrible religious wars which rose from the intolerance and ignorance of fanatics from all sides of the religious spectrum, at some time in a future we have yet to meet.  Is this a portent of what may be yet to come, or a timely warning for mankind?

After Armageddon is just one of the short stories included in this book but I must say that due to the world as it is today it was one that hit home most.  It scared the heck out of me because it is so possibly true.  So if you don't read any of the other stories within this book's pages, make sure you read the 2nd story in the book titled After Armageddon.

The other stories within this book are at times dark as well as entertaining.  I found that I had to read at least one each night and when time permitted two.  The story 'The Devil You Know' takes place in Mexico after the death of a priest.  It will take you into the depths of crime as well as archaeological events in history.  You will follow a young lady as she is kidnapped  where the kidnapper finds out he made a really big mistake.  And then there is the story of a woman and her husband as they attend the 'festival'.  Will they enjoy it or will they find themselves lost forever?  You'll also go back in time to the year 1816 where you'll meet James who loves dead things.

So, if you enjoy a good scary story, this book is for you but be careful when you read them at night or you might be like me... hearing noises that I know aren't there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

And Don't Bring Jeremy - Marilyn Levinson

Cauliflower Casserole
(A Marilyn Levinson Special)

1 medium head of cauliflower
1 red pepper
1/2 large onion
4 mushrooms
4 eggs
1/4 cup of milk or yogurt
2/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons of slivered almonds
1/4 cup of bread crumbs
to taste:
fresh cilantro, cut up
fresh parsley cut up
red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

Cut the cauliflower into small pieces. Discard core. Cook in microwave until still firm. (Shall we say al dente?) If done the day before, refrigerate cauliflower.  Spray a deep casserole with oil. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut up and sauté the red pepper, onion, and mushrooms in olive oil, and set aside.  Beat eggs In mixing bowl. Add milk or yogurt, the cheese, breadcrumbs.   Mix together, then add the sautéed veggies and cauliflower.   Mix together, then add slivered almonds, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.   Mix and cover with Parm. cheese, a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and cinnamon.   Bake covered 40-50 minutes.

Be creative! Use broccoli instead of cauliflower, basil instead of cilantro, or a different kind of cheese. 

And Don't Bring Jeremy - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

I turned around to see what Eddie wanted.  
“We— Mark and Danny and me—well, we were thinking of going out for pizza before the game tomorrow.  At Gino's.  Want to come?”  
"Sure, why not?  I'll check with my mom and let you know."  I shrugged my shoulders, trying to shake the uneasy feeling that just took hold of me.  What was wrong?  
"Great.  Meet us there at twelve.  Bring your bicycle. Then we'll ride over to the field early and practice before the rest of the team comes”  
I suddenly knew.  “All right."  In spite of myself, Mom's drilling me to try to include Jeremy whenever I could won out.  "But is it alright if I— “ 
"And Adam—“
His voice cut across my question. "And don't bring Jeremy. Okay?"

Sixth grader Adam and his older brother Jeremy are new to the neighborhood, and Adam is finding it hard to make friends. When Adam joins a Little League baseball team, his mother sees to it that Jeremy, who has disabilities and no interest in baseball, is placed on the same team. Because Jeremy is awkward and always doing something to embarrass Adam, Adam is ashamed to have people know that Jeremy is his brother. When Eddie Gordon, the coach’s son, befriends Adam, he makes it very clear that he wants no part of Jeremy. 

Adam and Eddie spend more time together, and Adam finds himself saying nothing when Eddie calls Jeremy names and picks on him. Jeremy tells Adam that Eddie has done some bad things, but Adam defends Eddie. And then Eddie accuses Jeremy of ruining the sets for the sixth grade’s play. Adam learns a few home truths about Eddie Gordon and just how strong the bond between brothers can be.

When I started reading this book I felt the pain that Adam and Jeremy both felt. This book brings to light the emotions and difficulties children who have siblings like Jeremy must face.  Even though this is a book written for children/young adults, to me it is one that needs to be read by all young people who have a slower sibling. It needs to be read by all parents that have a child with any kind of handicap. It needs to be read by every teacher.  Actually... this book needs to be a #1 seller and read by everyone, young and old, whether you do or don't have dealings with a disabled or challenged child OR adult. I really feel it will help you to see that person in a totally different light. This isn't a hard book to read. I read it in 2 nights but learned a life's worth of knowledge.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nightmares Can Be Murder - Mary Kennedy, Author

(Pre-order now for this September 2 release!)

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread
(One of Ali's favorite)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strawberries, rinse, dried and chopped

1. Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan. I use "Pam for Baking."
2. Use an electric mixer to cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.
3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. Blend flour mixture with butter mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk and only stir until just combined; do not over mix.
5 Carefully fold in strawberries. Dough mixture will be thick.
6. Bake in a 350°F oven for 50 to 60 minutes

Nightmares Can Be Murder - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

I felt a little chill go through me, but I tried to keep my tone neutral and plastered a bland expression on my face.  "Bad dreams happen for a reason, Taylor," she said carefully.  Her voice was now barely a whisper, her eyes were full of shadows.  "They have something to tell us, and the message becomes apparent soon enough.  You know what they say, the truth always comes out in the end."  She paused.  "Oh, and tell Barney he can find that little catnip mouse - the blue one with the orange tail - under the refrigerator.  He lost it a week ago, and I finally had a dream about it last night."

When Taylor Blake left Chicago to help her sister Ali get her candy store business in Savannah, GA up and running, she finds herself involved in more than chocolate.  It doesn't take long to learn that Ali not only has a slow running vintage candy business but also a Dream Club that meets at the store.  It also doesn't take her long to realize that these people are actually serious about their dreams as well as their meanings.  So when one of the members tells of a dream she had where a man is murdered while Latino music is playing in the background, she suddenly becomes a bit skeptical when the dream comes true.  Could the dreamer be the one who actually killed him?  No matter what, Taylor will find out!

I thought I had this book pegged within the first 50 pages.  Then I decided I was wrong but after about 100 pages I knew who committed the murder.  Wrong again.  At about 150 pages I simply couldn't be wrong and knew who it was and why.  Finally I'm at page 260 and know who the killer is but not the why.  That I didn't learn until the last 10 pages.  This book turns with every page!  I loved it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Orange Moon Affair - Afn Clarke, Author

Veal Marsala with Asparagus Tips
 An AFN Clarke Recipe

This recipe is based on a meal that my character Thomas Gunn has at London's Royal Overseas League in Chapter Six of The Orange Moon Affair.

Both my father, my mother and I were members of the Royal Overseas League and it was there as a family that we celebrated my father's award of the MBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for his services to the British Community in Libya during the 1969 revolution. He enjoyed veal marsala very much and this recipe is dedicated to him. We lived in Libya for many years and travelled back to UK by car (ferry from Tripoli to Siracusa) through Sicily and Italy enjoying the food. Libya was once an Italian colony and one of my fondest memories as a teenager was enjoying Spaghetti Bolognese served in big white bowls in an Italian restaurant in one of the Italian style piazzas of what was then Istaklal Street in Tripoli on a balmy summer evening..

4 Veal cutlets about 4oz each and 1/2" thick
3 Eschallots
Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds ground
1 Brown mushroom
1 Porcini mushroom
1 Shitake mushroom
2 white mushrooms
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup Marco de Bartoli Vignas la Miccia Marsala Superiore Oro DOC
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
16 fresh Asparagus
4 medium roasting potatoes
1 Rosemary sprig
3 Green onions
8 small salad tomatoes de-seeded
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Italian dressing
2 bottles of Pienantroj Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2007
Serves 4

Preparation is the key word here. If you don't get everything in order then you're going to be behind all the way.

So let's start with the potatoes. Heat the oven to 180°C or 160°C for a fan oven. I use the Heston Blumenthal method, which delivers every time. Peel so they have sharp edges, cut into quarters and boil in well-salted water until they start to crack and are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Take them out gently, you don't want them falling apart, and cool in a colander.

While the potatoes are boiling grind the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar until you have a medium fine powder, mix with salt and ground black pepper, then rub well onto the veal cutlets. Do not use too much fennel, you want a delicate taste not an overpowering one. Cover and set aside for a few minutes so the seasoning settles with the meat. Cut the asparagus stalks at the point where a sharp knife goes through easily. Slice tomatoes and deseed, then slice again into thin strips. Dice green onions. Cut mushrooms into 1/2 centimetre slices. Take the rosemary sprigs and strip off the leaves into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix with a little salt and ground black pepper. Not too much.

Once the potatoes are cooled, toss them in the rosemary olive oil, lay on an roasting tray and put them in the oven. Cook for 1 to 11/4 hrs. turning every twenty minutes until golden and crispy.

Heat oil and butter in a frying pan and sear the veal cutlets on all sides. Do not overcook, the idea is to seal the outside and leave the inside still pink. It will cook to temperature in the sauce. Take out and leave to one side while the sauce is prepared. In the same pan sauté eschallots and mushrooms until they soften, cook a further two minutes to remove a little water from the mushrooms.

There are many ways to thicken sauce, but I always make a roux and then add the sauce ingredients to it. It's more time consuming but the texture is so much better and I don't like the flour on the meat. So take your vegetable stock that you so loving made yesterday and heat it to boiling, turn it down then melt the butter in a saucepan. Add flour stirring until the roux thickens to a soft glistening paste. Cook for two to three minutes stirring all the time to make sure the flour is cooked through so you don't get the taste of flour, then remove from the heat, stir in your vegetable stock and marsala a little at a time making sure there are no lumps. Add more stock and marsala until the sauce is the consistency you want.

Add the mushrooms and eschallots to the sauce and cook gently for about ten minutes. Taste the sauce and season accordingly. Bring back to boil and add the veal and cook for about five to seven minutes until the interior of the meat is to temperature.

Now for the asparagus. I like to saute them with the tomato strips, garlic and green onions and enough olive oil to coat but not drench. Use a high heat and cook until the outside of the vegetables are browned a little.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and plate up, drizzling Italian dressing on the potatoes. Garnish veal marsala with the parsley and pour generous glasses of Pietantonj Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2007 and enjoy.

Before & After
For an appetizer, a really fresh bruschetta works well.  Here's an easy recipe:

Fresh basil leaves torn and mixed with olive oil, finely diced garlic, diced plum tomatoes and diced red onion on slices of garlic and rosemary foccacia bread that has been drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven.

And to finish the meal, a cheese platter with grapes and black pepper crackers. Cambozola cheese is creamy with a hint of blue vein and goes very well with the rest of the bottle of Marsala. Add whatever other cheeses and grapes take your fancy. While not strictly Italian, Cambozola is a mix of French Brie and Italian Gorgonzola with just the right tang to set off the meal.

Serves 4

The Orange Moon Affair - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

 "I saw the FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missile spearing up toward us from the far ridge.  My reactions were slow and for a fatal moment I watched the white smoky trail from the rocket motor arc its way through the sky.  I pulled on the collective and kicked the anti-torque pedals to port, almost escaping the oncoming death, but the rocket slammed into the tail boom.  The earth spun in a lazy arc as the helicopter arched over backwards at fifty feet above the rocky desert as I lost control, spiralling to the ground, pieces flying in all directions, the only section remaining relatively intact being the forward cockpit, saved because the main rotor head deflected the impact.  There was no pain, just a smashing, grinding, splintering sound.  I felt a violent lurch as my head slammed into the side door, then silence."  

When Thomas Gunn's father Sir Ivan Gunn talked to him about taking over the family business, Gunn Group Industries, Thomas had declined.  He decided instead to join the military.  After eight years as an officer in the Special Forces Support Group, Thomas was injured and now spends his life on board his fifty-seven foot Fountaine Pajot with the love of his life, Julie.  But when his father was kidnapped and then murdered, Thomas was forced to take over the company.  It didn't take long for him to understand that someone had been transferring money into a project that only his father knew about, or so he was told.  And when Julie's father started tracking the project, its people and those running it, there was nothing to be found.  With billions of dollars being transferred to the project, someone was getting rich but who.

This book has more ups and downs than the biggest roller coaster.  There are government conspiracies that take in some of the top names all around the world.  Thomas and the few he feels he might be able to trust, find themselves running all around the world tracking those involved as well as the money.  Try as I may, I did not guess what was actually going on until it was exposed to me by the Author near the end.  This book was one I didn't want to put down.  It was one that irritated me (in a good way) because I couldn't guess the ending.  And it's one that I recommend, especially to the male readers who love a good espionage, action book as well as those female readers who want a book that will really grab them too.  I loved this and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series The Jonas Trust Deception.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Compulsion - Jennifer Chase, Author

3-Way Spinach Artichoke Dip
(Emily's favorite)

1 small can (8 ½ ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
Combine artichoke hearts, spinach, cheeses, mayonnaise and garlic in a medium bowl; mix well.
Enjoy as an appetizer, light lunch or party dip.

1.   Enjoy with your favorite chips or crackers as a dip.
2.  Spread on sliced bread or baguette and heat in oven.

3.  My favorite - use mixture inside a wonton wrapper. Follow cooking instructions with wonton wrappers.

Compulsion - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Detective Rivas wastes no more time and clicks on the first email.  It quickly loads several photos and a video showing a man clearly digging in a deserted rural area.  The detective's blood turns cold and he feels sweat trickle down his neck.  He watches the man in the cheap neon Hawaiian shirt talking to himself explaining how sometimes dying is the right thing to do and how brave the little boy was to die for him... clicking on the other emails, Detective Rivas obtains detailed metro-scan maps fro the Yuma county assessor's office and clear photographs of the suspect with a complete background of criminal and personal history.  An entire detailed investigation unfolds in less than five minutes in front of him from a phantom super sleuth.  He is just one of many who has been blessed with the help of this serial killer hunter.

Detective Rick Lopez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office has his own serial killer to deal with.  Women are turning up dead after being tortured.  He is convinced that this is not the work of just one serial killer but a team of two, which is extremely rare.  Apparently the killer will remove an arm from his victim and replace it with the arm of the victim before her.  This in itself is a puzzle but Lopez knows that the killing will go on until the killer is found and destroyed.

Emily Stone is a loner.  Her parents were murdered when she was only twelve and she sent from her home in Indiana to live with her uncle in California.  Over the years she has seen her share of crime.  Stone crazy men abducting and molesting children and now her attention is being turned to women being abducted in her own town by a deranged killer.  Something has to be done and soon but apparently the police haven't a clue as to the person's identity.

Someone is sending high-tech emails and evidence to the police departments that lead them to the arrest of serial killers.  Who, no one knows.  Could it be a policemen?  Could it be Emily Stone?  Or is it someone you would least expect?  As I read this story I had my killer nailed about half way through the book.  Well, I was wrong.  The first killer was eventually revealed but not the second.  I was firm in my decision as to who the second was.  Again I was wrong.  See if you can figure this one out before the end of the book.

This is the first in the series and I can't wait to read the next titled Dead Game so I've already bought it and have it in line to read.  If it is anywhere as twisting and full of surprises as Compulsion I will find myself up late reading again.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Echoes of Mercy - Lynette Hall Hampton, Author

Barbecue Cups
(One of Willa's favorite)

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. minced onion
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 can biscuits
3/4 shredded cheese

Brown beef - drain.  Add barbecue sauce, onion, sugar and mix well. Place each biscuit in a greased muffin tin. Press dough up the sides of muffin cup. Spoon mixture into cups and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 375 - 400 for 10 to 12 minutes or until dough is brown.

Echoes of Mercy - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and a Dish

"As I said, I noticed you bring the flowers for your husband's grave,"  I was grappling for words to explain the situation.  She nodded and I went on.  "Shortly after you left, there was a disturbance in the graveyard.  Something exploded and I'm afraid Mr. Kingsfield's tombstone was destroyed in the mayhem."  "Oh my goodness."  She put a dainty hand at her throat, "What caused the explosion?"  "We're not sure."  I looked at her expecting more of an outburst.  When it didn't come, I went on.  "We felt sure you'd want to know about it."  "Of course I do, and it was kind of you to come tell me."  "The grave is fine.  There will have to be some soil added and grass planted but other than that, it will be ok."  "That's good.  I wouldn't want to think that Leo's body was disturbed."  She picked up the teapot.  "Would you like more, Willa?"  I shook my head and sipped the tea already in my cup.  I was trying to understand what was going on in Elva Kingfield's mind.  She was taking the news awfully well.

Reverend Willa Hinshaw had the duty of informing Elva Kingsfield that there was a bomb in the flower basket that she had placed on her deceased husband's grave.  From the way this aging lady was acting, could she possibly have been the one to place the bomb in the basket or is someone else simply trying to do away with this little lady with hopes of inheriting her rather large estate?   After getting to know Elva, Willa is sure she had nothing to do with the bombing.  But when Elva starts insisting that her deceased husband is paying visits and her niece Penny tries to solicit her help to have Elva committed, Willa knows that there is someone sinister behind the scenes.  And this all proves true when Willa starts receiving warnings to stay away from the family or face death herself.  Now she has the responsibility of helping save this lovely woman from her own family.

This is my first reading of this author's work and I must tell you that I'm hooked.  The reading is easy, not too many characters to get them confused, and the mystery keeps you guessing.  I loved every word of it and can't wait to get my hands on another of her books.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Murder in the Air - Marilyn Levinson, Author

Johanna’s Fruit Mousse

1 cup crushed strawberries or peaches (if using peaches, remove peel)
 3/4 cup sugar (if canned or frozen fruits are used decrease sugar to at least 1/2 cup)
 dash of salt
 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Mix fruit, 1/2 cup sugar and salt and chill thoroughly. Fold in whipped cream. Beat egg whites until stiff, then beat in gradually remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Told into fruit cream mixture.  Pour into large bowl and place in freezer. Takes about 4 hours to get firm.  Makes about one quart.

Murder in the Air - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Lydia Krause is present when the discovery of a body puts a stop to all work on the Twin Lakes' newest addition that includes a miniature golf course and putting green. The body is removed and sent to the lab, which estimates it was in the cellar between fifty and seventy-five years. There is no ID, but they determine that the remains are that of a male between thirteen and seventeen years of age.  As to what happened to him, why and how he ended up in the cellar is anyone's guess.

Lydia’s boyfriend Detective Sol Molina, who referred to her as "Miss Marple after her help in solving murders that took place in Twin Lakes a few months earlier, warns her to stay out of this investigation. And stay out is exactly what she plans to do. She has more important things to occupy her time, such as her job and attending the eighty-fifth birthday party for a friend and neighbor Daniel Korman. But that changes when Daniel visits her, hinting that he might know something about the body though apparently he isn't ready to share his suspicions. At his birthday party, Daniel announces his engagement to his beloved Evelyn, upsetting many members of his family. Daniel is a very wealthy man, and they see Evelyn as someone out for his money. Then the unexpected happens. The day after Daniel's party he is rushed to the hospital writhing in pain. Hours later he is dead.

Does someone want Daniel dead before he marries Evelyn? It appears that two of his three children are up to their ears in debt and could use his money.  But they don't know he has already changed his will leaving most of his money to Evelyn, to go into trust for his kids after she passes. That could prove to be a danger to her life.  

With all that is going on around Lydia, there is no way she will let her friends down and not try to get to the bottom of this situation, even though Sol doing his best to keep her from investigating.  She is one spunky 59-year-old lady. This is the second book I’ve read in this series. My first was A Murderer Among Us, which hooked me on the characters of Lydia and Sol. These books are light reading mysteries that are hard to put down. And despite the many books I read, I still had a hard time coming up with the truly bad guy until the end.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Contrived - Jay Deb, Author

Cottage Cheese Lasagna
(a Tyler special)

1 lb.  extra-lean ground beef
3 cloves  garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp.  dried oregano leaves
1 jar   (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 large  tomato, chopped
1 egg
1 container  (16 oz.) Cottage Cheese
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
9  lasagna noodles, cooked
1 pkg.  (7-8 oz.) Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brown meat with garlic and oregano in large saucepan. Stir in spaghetti sauce; simmer 5 min., stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes. Mix egg, cottage cheese and Parmesan until blended.   Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Top with layers of 3 noodles, half the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1 cup sauce; repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce; cover with foil and bake 30 min. or until heated through. Top with remaining mozzarella; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted. Let stand 5 min. before serving. 

Contrived - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Tyler arrived in Dallas from New York to attend his father's 69th birthday party.  His flight was late getting in, and he checked his watch - 9:05 p.m. - as he stepped off the plane.  He had grown up in Dallas, but now lived in New York City with his girlfriend, Lisa.  He had graduated Harvard cum laude and was working as a fund manager at a hotshot hedge fund company on Wall Street.  He had not visited Dallas in three years.  Lisa didn't like his family, particularly his dad and Tyler couldn't blame her.  His dad alienated many in the family with his philandering nature.  Over the years, Tyler felt as though he had been losing touch with his family.  He was looking forward to this trip as a way to reconnect with his dad and his two brothers - Wolf and Ron.

What Tyler walked into was no longer a birthday party but a murder scene.  Someone had been shot in the head in one of the upstairs bedrooms and Tyler's nephew Nick was the one to find the body.  With blood on his shirt, he was also a suspect.  Then came the 2nd murder.

This book takes you through so many possibilities.  I shifted from one suspect to another with almost every chapter.  I would convenience myself that I knew who did the killings and possibly why but seems I was wrong each time.  This book will really keep you guessing.  This is the 1st book I've read by Jay Deb but I hope it won't be my last.

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