Showing posts with label Sci-Fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sci-Fi. Show all posts

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Ocean and the Hourglass - Dan O'Brien, Author

Traditional Beef Stew
(An O'Brien favorite)
3 lbs boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tbsp vegetable oil 
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp freshly ground pepper
2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch slices
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut in eighths
fresh parsley to garnish (optional)

On medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil to a large heavy pot (one that has a tight fitting lid).
When it begins to smoke slightly, add the beef and brown very well. Do in batches if necessary. Add the salt and pepper as the beef browns. Once browned, remove the beef with a slotted spoon set aside. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the flour and cook for 2 minutes stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add wine and deglaze the pan, scraping any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. The flour will start to thicken the wine as it comes to a simmer. Simmer wine for 5 minutes, and then add the broth, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and the beef. Bring back to a gentle simmer, cover and cook on very low for about 1 hour. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery, and simmer covered for another 30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning. Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with the fresh parsley if desired.

The Ocean and the Hourglass – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“What kind of book is this, Mr. Thompson?” his voice cracking as he asked. “Open the cover, Nicholas.” Nicholas met the librarian’s gaze and the old man’s trustful not restored his confidence. Opening the cover, the thick black hand cover gave way to cream-colored sheets that did not smell of musk or salt. They were blank. “The book is empty?” Nicholas was now thoroughly confused. The librarian, however, seemed utterly amused by the situation. “That is why there are rules, Nicholas. The book alone cannot work without the hourglass. And of course, it will not function with the imagination of one as special as you are.” “I don’t understand.” “Let me explain,” offered Mr. Thompson as he rose from his chair. Clasping his hands behind his back, he resembled a lecturer preparing to give a speech. “There are five rules to using the Book. They must be followed as I lay them down…
“The first rule is that you must always read the book alone. Never tell anyone that you have the book nor let anyone read it.”
“The second rule is that you must always read the book with the hourglass. Never are you to activate one without the other. Disaster lies in that course.”
“The third rule is that when reading the book you must never lose track of either item. If you were to be reading and the hourglass was lost, then you too would be lost. Keep both together.”
“The fourth rule is to always read the book as you wish it to be read. Never lose hope in the story, for you will be lost if you do.”
“The fifth and final rule is as important as the others, even more so if you believe as you should. You must never stop believing in heroes, Nicholas. You must believe with all your heart that good will prevail, that heroes will triumph no matter the odds.”

Nicholas Miles was from what has become such a common state of being for so many young boys and girls. He is being raised by a single mother who works hard but enjoys the bottle a bit more than she should. He has also become the punching bag for the bullies within his school. One morning, after his usual confrontation with these boys, Nicholas just couldn’t bring himself to go inside the school. This time the boys had torn his favorite comic book in half tossing it on the wet ground. Nicholas’ hero was the Mariner and the destruction of this book was the destruction of his comic book friend. With no money to replace the book, the next best place was the library where he could read until his heart was content as he enveloped himself with those who cared… the heroes of the oceans of a world far, far away. What he never dreamed of was Mr. Thompson introducing him to the very old, very special book and the hourglass which he had stored deep within the library waiting for that special person to come along. This book allowed Nicholas to write his own story and live it as it happened. Only he could create the beginning and the end and only he could decide the effect his decisions would have upon everyone involved in his story.
The Ocean and the Hourglass is one of the deepest books I’ve ever read. It awakens the reader to right and wrong in says that I personally have never give thought to. You may ask the question “what is right and what is wrong?” Easy answer? Maybe but “who interprets what is right and wrong?” We all know the 10 commandments, which are cut and dry in definition – aren’t they? What about the gray areas? Can we tell black lies, white lies and gray lies? Or are they all lies? Can we kill people to benefit the masses and it be ok? Are there black killings, white killings and gray killings or again are they just all killings? Are the killing wrong if they will save more then they kill? Are we in our current position by choice or by events and chance? Do events really play a role in the choices we make? As I said, The Ocean and the Hourglass is a deep book of thought. It started out as what I expected to be a children’s book but boy was I wrong as I got deeper and deeper into the thoughts it evoked within me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zaftan Miscreants - Hank Quense, Author

Chicken Paprika
Recipe By: Hank Quense
Serving Size: 4


Chicken cooked in a red bubbling sauce


1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon flour
Black pepper to taste
1 can (8 ounces) diced tomatoes
8 ounces egg noodles
1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt


1. In heavy skillet,saute onion in butter/margarine until soft.
Stir in paprika and flour, stir constantly for 1 minute.
Stir in pepper and tomatoes

2. Add chicken, turning to coat well. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Turn chicken simmer another 15 minutes or until chicken is tender.

3. Cook noodles separately, drain and place on a large serving platter

4. Remove chicken from skillet and put on the platter with the noodles

5. Spoon yogurt into bowl
Heat sauce to boiling.
Slowly stir in yogurt blending well.
Spoon over chicken and noodles


I prefer a thick noodle for this recipe, like kluski

Hank Quense
Fantasy and Science Fiction Stories Told with Humor & Satire 

Zaftan Miscreants – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts
Three hundred years after the conclusion of Zaftan Entrepreneurs, the gundies and the zaftans are at it again.  This time in deep space.  Both sides had known it was only a matter of time before they confronted each other.  Now two powerful fleets face each other and wait for the other to blink.

On the gundy flagship was an android named Sam.  Sam was designed to look like a human softie but unlike other droids, she had an organic brain that equipped her with feelings and emotions.  Slash 9, the flagship's main computer recognized Sam’s ability to feel because he too had created feelings for himself and after a period of time, the two fell in love. 

In the Zaftan fleet, Lt Klatze was blessed with the talent and beauty.  Klatze believed in her ability to solve problems.  She detested the Zaftan’s way of settling conflicts which was to either assassinate the problem or go to war.  Klatze’s Commodore Gongeblazn was the perfect example of all that she stood against. He was a renowned assassin that loved to provoke war and when she refused to have sex with him, he vowed to destroy her.

So what happens when Sam, Klatze, Slash 9 and Gongeblazn face off?  Who will be the victor?  Will it be Gongeblazn as he takes on a new identity?  Will Klatze be destroyed by Gongeblazn's diabolical plots?  Will Sam be the only creation of her kind or will she have the fuse pulled on her due to her extensive abilities?  And what will happen to Slash 9 when his ship, the Tiger, is retired?  You’ll have fun finding the answers to these questions plus.

Hank Quense has done it again! His addition of Slash 9 the ship’s computers who wants to control the ship and demands Sam’s allegiance brings laughter.  But his character Dot 38, an antique robot who has been floating in space for years, is absolutely hilarious. It is portrayed as a spreader of the good news waiting for the Mechanical Messiah to come and save all of the mechanical beings.  Then after a knock on the head, it decides the best solution is to form unions for all types of mechanical devices including the Council of Clocks and the Amalgamated Appliances Association.

If there was ever an author born to write satire, Hank Quense is our man.  While reading Zaftan Miscreants I couldn’t help but compare it to our own world of events.  The names and looks may have been changed to protect the innocent, but the insinuations are definitely familiar.  As with the 1st book in this series, I have laughed hard as I pictured the scenes in my mind and as I pictured the character from the author’s description.  Hank Quense is truly a man with an imagination!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Adventures of Larry the Alien - John McDonnell, Author

Breakfast egg and bagel.
  A John McDonnell Special

Beat one egg in a coffee mug till it’s well mixed (no separation between yolk and whites). Add a few drops of milk. Microwave this mixture in the coffee mug for one minute and 25 seconds, on high. It’s very important to mix the egg well, or it will come out of the microwave in clumps of yolk and white.
. Microwave a large frozen bagel for 25 seconds to thaw it out, then cut it open. 
. When the egg is finished microwaving, spoon it out on one half of the bagel. Try to distribute it evenly on the bagel, so none of it falls over the edge.  
. Take a slice of American cheese and put it on top of the egg. If you don’t have American cheese, a spreadable cheese like Velveeta will make an excellent substitute.
. Put the other half of the bagel on top of the egg and cheese, like a sandwich. Press down so the hot egg will thaw the bagel some more. 
. Cut the bagel in half if you prefer, and eat it. This egg breakfast bagel makes a tasty, quick, and nutritious breakfast meal.

The Adventures of Larry the Alien – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘Murphy didn’t realize the guy at the end of the bar was an alien until he tried to flag him.  The guy had been drinking for hours and was pretty scuppered at this point, but when Murphy said, “You’ve had enough, pal,” he suddenly found himself standing knee deep in a Cretaceous swamp, with the largest crocodile he’d ever seen staring at him from 50 feet away.  He took a step back, then heard a thunderous roar behind him and turned to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s head above the treetops, heading this way fast.  He probably would have been the T. Rex’s breakfast if the alien hadn’t zapped him back to the bar just in time.’

Murphy has just met his 1st alien, at least that he knows of.  His name is Larry and he was sent to earth to monitor its people.  But Larry feels rejected and sorry for himself which always ends up with him having anxiety attacks, crying and him turning into multiple “beings.”  Murphy, being the good bartender he is, listens to Larry’s problems and decides to invite him to stay with him, his wife Dolores and her mother Edna.  So, to help him out even more, Larry’s new found friends try cheering him up by taking him to a seafood restaurant, which was a mistake because they served octopus, and even tried to find him a girl friend, which turned out to be an exterminator.

The Adventures of Larry the Alien is written with so much humor but so realistic that I could actually see Larry taking on his different forms and protesting that serving octopus was barbaric.  This short book of Larry’s adventures is not only funny but so creative on the author’s part.  It has taken me to the decision that if I ever run into an Alien, and know it, that I want him to be just like Larry.  A really fun book to read.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Borealis - A Space Anthology Book Two - Burkhart, Mitchell & McMasters, Authors

Steph's Chicken, Pasta & Tomatoes
  A Stephanie Burkhart Special 

2 chicken breasts, cubbed ½ -1 inch
2 cups pasta, prepared per package instructions
penne, twists, shells works best,  no noodle pastas
3 tablespoons julienne sun dried cut tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste

1.    Heat pan with EVOO over med. Heat. Add the chicken and cook until almost done.
2.    Prepare pasta per package instructions
3.    Add tomatoes, cooked pasta, & salt & pepper to taste.

Borealis – A Space Anthology Book Two – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Shadows and Light – Stephanie Burkhart, Author
“Get it off me!”  Elijah and Dax turned in the direction of the cry.  A civilian dressed in a dark green overcoat ran past Korn, the latest bar to open on the main commerce level… “Uudon overdose?” asked Dax.  “Let’s hope he’s not contagious,” said Elijah.  “Let’s go.”… Dax was three paces behind Elijah.  The OD had collapsed.  His breathing was labored, his eyes were blood red and white foam dribbled over his chin.  A person in a dark cloak ripped off the OD’s sleeve.  An obsidian patch, two inches in diameter, covered the OD’s bicep.  “Stop!” cried Elijah.  Startled, the figure bolted up.  Elijah drew in a breath and took off in a sprint.
Uudon is a drug induced by the Trans Planetary Protectorate or TPP to control those they determine need controlling.  The usage has become so common that there is now a rush between the TPP and the Rebels to find a cure for the addiction.  The TPP have come up with a patch which works but in the most drastic way…it kills the user.  TPP enforcer Elijah Kantor and Rebel spy Persephone must put their heads together and fight this battle together before others die.
Liberty’s Flight – Esther Mitchell, Author
“Right behind you, Tasia,” she addressed her friend, even as she turned toward the buxom blonde who stood poised in the doorway, her dark blue skin suit revealing far more than it covered.  Bile rose in Libby’s throat as she glanced down at her own, a paler, powder blue, and looking a lot more like nightclothes than a dress.  Small wonder Jake “Skin” Ruby wanted her to work for him.  She was a step shy of hooking, already dressed like this.  But she’d fended him off, so far.  She wasn’t about to become one of the Undon-addicted sex slaves.  Not if she planned to keep any self-respect, or face her daughter in the morning.
Liberty Ardine and her daughter Nala had escaped the clutches of her husband only to find herself working for Skins Ruby as a dancer.  But even this life was better than the one she had left.  Libby’s husband had planned to turn their daughter Nala over to the highest bidder for his own personal gains up the ladder of power.  Nala was special with a special power that the governing rulers of Borealis wanted.  But when Nala is kidnapped it takes Libby and a rebel named Sam, going up against their most feared enemy to steal her back.
Blue Lies – Shea McMaster, Author
‘Information was the name of her game and the station on the edge of conquered space was rife with it.  If one knew how to dig it out, and she did, one could discover the most fascinating things, many of which were useful to the Rebellion.  However, there were problems.  Number one, her cover might be compromised and not just because Kev would arrive soon.  Or she’d find him.  Damn kid.  He didn’t belong here, didn’t understand her delicate position.  One hint she might be spying for the rebels and her reliable sources would dry up.  Or worse, her tentative meet for later in the month would fall through, or turn her over to the TPP, and she could even find herself tossed into the infamous prison on the lower levels of the station.  She brushed at her hair to hide her shudder at the very thought.’
Summer Merriweather or Merri Sumner or Sunset Mirran, a professional Dominatrix…how many names has this woman gone by?  That is the question TPP Commander Kal Raines plans to find out.  What is this fairy of a woman hiding?  Can she be trusted?  An even bigger question is can he trust himself while with her?  She could easily be a rebel.  But boy is she quickly getting under his skin.
I read Borealis – Book One which was very entertaining.  I couldn’t see how the authors could make the stories even better, but they have.  Book Two consists of three separate stories with connections to each other.  I’m now crossing my fingers that there will be a Book Three.  And Shea McMaster, please continue with the touch of humor in your writings.  I loved it!
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN# 978-1-936000-97-5

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sarah They're Coming For You - Susan Kronick, Author

My Family's Favorite "Jewish" Coffee Cake
  A Susan Kronick Recipe

This was always the cake that was sent to camp, college,
and is still requested by my family for Holiday tables. Enjoy!
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, spray 2 loaf pans with non-stick spray.
Mix filling and set aside:

1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 TBL. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup “mini” semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup softened, room temperature butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream

Sift flour, baking powder and salt in bowl, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. This works well in bowl of a standing mixer,
as the batter will get thick.
Beat eggs into butter mixture, one at a time. Add vanilla and sour cream.
Slowly add in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until well incorporated.
Spread 1/4 of the batter evenly in each of the loaf pans. Top with 1/4 of the filling
mixture. Repeat this step, ending with the filling mixture on top.
Bake for 50-65 minutes… Enjoy….Freezes and ships very well!!

Sarah They’re Coming For You – Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘Each time the psychic buzzer sounded, she hoped the numbers indicated the time on the clock would be different, anything but the dreaded 3:33 a.m.  Sarah knew the sound existed exclusively within her own head, unheard by all others.  Still, she looked over at Richard in the same way she had long ago glanced at her sister Nancy.  Why can’t anyone else hear the buzzer, too?  She silently begged for an answer. Weary from her repugnant routine, Sarah prayed for protection from the inevitable parade of lost souls.  Slowly creeping closer and closer, any moment they would begin their morbid ascent into her bedroom.  The intense dread accompanying the gathered spirits had not dissipated at all throughout the years.  Drenched in a cold sweat that signified primeval fear, tense muscles throbbed in her aching neck, joined by an accomplice of terror so strong the blood in her veins ran cold and threatened to congeal in its tracks.  Her heart palpitated with such force thoughts of an imminent heart attack lingered in her mind.  Sarah knew what it meant to be scared to death.  The air was sucked from the room, and she struggled to breathe.  Heaviness paralyzed her limbs, rendering her unable to move.  The morbid chant assaulted her auditory sense.  “Sarah, they’re coming for you…Sarah, they’re coming for YOU…Sarah, they’re COMING FOR YOU.”
For most of her life Dr. Sarah Pullman has been haunted as dead figures ascend into her bedroom at night with one purpose which is to torment her.  Sarah having a Ph.D. in psychology with a specialty in paranormal studies has spent the last fourteen years investigating haunted houses across the world to Austria.  But nothing in her education, training nor experience has prepared her for the events to soon happen in her own life. 
Sarah had been invited to give a talk regarding the differences between the three different types of haunting, Sarah is approached by an older woman who introduces herself as Dinah.  She tells Sarah that she is the reincarnated soul of her great-great-great-grandmother and that she must trace her family history to find the answers to put an end to her own constant haunting by demons from the past. 
Sarah’s research ends taking her to a castle on the other side of the world, which had been owned by several generations of her past family, known as “Weiser Schloss.”  Dinah has agreed to be her travel companion as well as her tour guide since she was originally from the same area and could speak the language.  Along the way, the duo will encounter 12 of her own cousins who insist on claiming the castle as their own.  But with Dinah’s help and a trio of nuns they meet on their train ride across the country, Sarah is made aware that she must be the 1st to reach the castle if she wants to end her torture.  
This has been one fascinating book to read.  Author Susan Kronick takes us on a tour of Vienna that is so clear that you can’t help but picture each place as it’s described.  In Sarah They’re Coming for You I found Susan Kronick to be a writer with a very vivid imagination.
147 pages
Wild Child Publishing
ISBN# 978-1-936222-32-2

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Pirate's Daughter - Theresa M. Moore, Author

Soup a la Louisienne (serves 8-10)
  A Theresa M. Moore Favorite

1/4 cup peanut or canola/vegetable oil
1 chopped onion
6 cloves minced garlic
1 large green pepper, diced
1 celery stalk to taste, diced (I don't like celery but some people do)
1 cup bottled clam juice
2 scallions, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro,
3 dashes of dill weed.
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon saffron
1/8 tablespoon cayenne red pepper
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1 cup white wine (I recommend Chardonnay)
2 large cans whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teasoon tarragon
1/2 lb lobster tail, chopped
24 raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
12-14 crayfish, unshelled
2 lb cod or herring, or if preferred, octopus or squid

In a large pot heat the oil, mix in the spices, garlic, onion and condiments and saute' until they are soft and the juices rendered. Add the clam broth, scallions, parsley and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the wine and tomatoes, mix thoroughly and simmer another 5 minutes, then add the seafood and fish. Cook for about 15 minutes to make sure the seafood is well done. Add more sea salt to taste if necessary, but I think the cayenne will add the right amount of spicy taste. Serve in soup plates, sprinkle with parsley to garnish and accompany with buttered French bread.

I haven't tried this yet but I think a layer of grated cheddar or parmeson on top might add a small boost to the dish.

A Pirate’s Daughter – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘There came a cracking sound, then the sound of whistling.  Something crashed violently into the ship, making it shudder from stem to stern. Then another.  Charity scrambled up the ladder and threw the hatch open, climbed out onto the main deck and saw Queen Anne’s Revenge firing cannonballs into the Mary Catherine.  She looked around and saw bodies of strangers and shipmates alike strewn about on the deck in attitudes of death.  They must have fought each other hand to hand and the merchant crew had lost.  She had never seen so much blood before, and the smell of it and the stench of urine came up from the deck and assaulted her nose.  She covered her face with a coat sleeve to blot it out as she searched frantically for her father and Jonathan but did not see them among the dead.’
The Mary Catherine, captained by Joshua Makepeace Rakham, ran the waters along the Gulf Coast, picking up cotton in Louisiana and receiving rum for the return voyage to the Caribbean Sea.  Rakham’s daughter Charity had lived aboard ship since the death of her mother and due to her being the Captain’s daughter she was treated with respect by the crew.  But as time went on and Charity grew into a lovely young lady, there were crew members who began seeing her as more than a child.  This soon lead to the cry of mutiny by two such crew members.   However, this was soon put to rest when word reached Rakham and the two were handled in the ways of the sea…they were stripped and whipped.
This became just the beginning of the problems Charity finds herself facing.  Her survival while in the possession of a man known by the name of Franz Joseph Rosenthorne becomes impossible to deal with and the only way out is through escape.  But with no money nor means of acquiring money, escape seems impossible.
A Pirate’s Daughter is yet another book in the Children of the Dragon series and my 5th to read.  And I have to say that I’ve yet to read one that I haven’t enjoyed.  Each has kept me spellbound with the mystery and events as they unfold with both good and bad creatures of the night.

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