Books On My Table

I’m a lover of books and my choices are eclectic, depending upon my mood. I like a well-written story with action and thrills as well as those lighter stories with laughter and food–yes, even chocolate. Every now and then, I put together my list of entertaining books that I thoroughly enjoyed—some authors I sampled for the first time while others are like old friends.

If Dark Chocolate Demise, by Jenn McKinlay, doesn’t have you reaching for a delicious cupcake, then your snack-o-meter must be on the fritz!  Scottsdale, Arizona is doing its first “Annual Zombia Walk” and the Fairy-Tale Cupcakes crew, including baker, Melanie Cooper and  business partner/best friend, Angie DeLaura  are enthusiastically joining in the fun, providing the fancy cupcakes and a real coffin. But the fun becomes a nightmare when a real body, looking like one of their own, is discovered in the coffin. With the love-of-her-life, Joe DeLaura, staying away while prosecuting a high-profile Mafia boss, the realities of a Mafia boss’s revenge could be the real-deal. While Joe orders his numerous brothers to keep Mel safe, she charges ahead by baking her fairy Tale Cupcakes for her shop. With so much happening, Mel strives to ignore her numerous cupcake-eating-body-guards, does her best to de-stress and attempts to untangle her mixed-up love-life. Helped along by goodies like Dark Chocolate Demise, Marshmallow Mummies and Vanilla Eyeballs, Mel, Angie and her loyal crew eventually find the killer Zombie and their happy ending. This is my first Jenna McKinlay mystery but definitely not my last. Besides enjoying every cupcake crumb and calories, this cosy has a solid story, surprise twist and very likeable characters. Dark Chocolate Demise has the added bonus of some mouth-watering recipes to bake and nibble while enjoying this light-hearted read.

Nicola Furlong’s book Heartsong, is the first of the Sisterhood of Shepherds series chronicling the friendships, lives. loves and struggles of sisters Faith, Hope and Charly Shepherd.  Heartsong is Charly’s story of rebuilding the family nursery after a devastating storm wreaked its havoc on all the young stock. Fiercely independent, Charly must learn to accept help, even if it’s from her well-meaning, brown-thumbed brother-in-law who has yet to find his niche in early retirement. In the midst of the ups and downs of running a family nursery, the Shepherd patriarch reveals he has a secret—a promise made decades ago that he wants to fulfill before he dies. Nicola has written an inspirational tale that shows family is everything; love, loyalty and honour are unbreakable bonds. It is also a story of heartache, redemption, faith and new discoveries including the destiny of the Shepherd sisters on “Project Heartsong.” Besides being a well-known Canadian writer who loves chocolate, Nicola is also an avid gardener who knows her plants. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, especially if it contains another fabulous recipe like “Charly Shepherd’s Chunky Chocolate Cookies.”

Top Secret Twenty-One, by Janet Evanovich, has bounty hiunter, Stephanie Plum not only bringing back felons who skipped their court dates but is acting as mysterious Ranger’s assistant in hunting down an elusive and deadly Russian assassin. Both cases overlaps with Steph’s other assignments  and her boyfriend, Joe Morelli’s latest homicides. Somehow stuck with annoying Randy Briggs, the Trenton Hospital’s midget security guard, our fave bounty hunter dodges bullets, bombs and a pack of homeless Chihuahuas. While coping with all this, Stephanie muddles through Grandma Mazur’s bucket list which includes Joe’s scary Grandma Bella and a specific part of Ranger’s anatomy. Managing to escape the clutches of a killer. our fearless bounty hunter brings her felon to justice. But best of all, she gets to experience Morelli’s secret bucket list involving an egg-timer, a spoon and marshmallow fluff. Grab your copy of Top Secret Twenty One, a great any-time, light-hearted tale with plenty of laughter.

If you want something more with action, thrills and guaranteed to keep you reading through the night, then these stories will keep you turning the pages.

The Kill Switch by James Rollins, co-authored with Grant Blackwood, is the long awaited novel featuring Tucker Wayne and his loyal canine partner, Kane. Captain Wayne and his military dog, Kane, have been involved in Sigma Force assignments before but this is their first solo adventure showcasing the intelligence, abilities and stalwart teamwork of a military dog and his human partner. Completing one assignment of successfully protecting a Russian industrialist’s life,Tucker and Kane are assigned another task of bringing an arrogant Russian scientist, Abram Bukulov, back to America as quickly as possible. But no matter where they go, someone is betraying their whereabouts and they are relentlessly hunted by a team of deadly assassins, controlled by a mysterious Russian general bent on revenge and power. The Kill Switch is a heart-pounding thriller as on lyJames Rollins and Grant Blackwood can create—writing with real-time knowledge, up-to-date research plus a deep understanding of world politics and power. If you start this book, be sure you have no appointments or social engagements to interfere with a darn good story about a man, his almost human dog, a travelogue of lesser-known places they traverse and the evil people lurking behind public faces.

Don Easton is a former RCMP undercover operative who knows the criminal world extremely well. The Benefactor begins with the apparent accidental traffic death of a 75-year old woman until a closer look at the car links it to an organized Asian crime syndicate.. Undercover operative, Jack Taggart and his partner Laura Secord, once again dives into the gritty Vancouver criminal underworld—only this time, they uncover how extensive Chinese spies have set their tentacles uncovering both industrial secrets as well as the complex world of computer hacking of highly classified government files. Easton’s books have always been realistically entertaining as his characters are believable and the scenarios are right out of today’s headlines. He definitely knows his topics and has clearly lived through some of the hair-raising episodes. For exciting escapism and a darn good read, grab your copy of The Benefactor today.

Rick Molina is another writer who can take today’s headlines and build a credible story—Full Tilt is such a story. A young woman, burned beyond recognition and desperate to escape from whoever confined her, manages to gasp, “There are others” before she dies.  A search of the area where the fire began leads to the discovery of another body and a pendant, battered and charred but recognizable as a guardian angel.  Years ago, Kate Page and her little sister were each given a guardian angel pendant by their Mom. A devastating car accident plunges the car they were in into the river where 7-year old Kate desperately tried to hold onto her 4-year old sister’s hand, but the pull of the currents was too strong for young Kate and Vanessa was swept away..  Years later, a police enquiry about the angel pendant renews hope that somehow Vanessa survived. Now a leading journalist and single Mom to a young daughter, Kate begins an investigation of her own, wanting to believe that her sister is still alive. Readers are shown two sides of the story—the pain-staking and often heart-breaking police investigation as well as the traumatic ordeal of a sister, searching for her missing sib. It is an unbelievably sick psychotic who can patiently stalk and capture young women for his collection and enjoyment. It takes a certain calibre of writing to make this story believable and scary without sensationalizing it.  This is my first Rick Molina and it won’t be my last, but you will definitely want to keep a close eye on your daughters. . . .

Jayne Ann Krenz’s, story Trust No One is an entertaining, fast-read on a genre Krenz does best—mystery suspense with a big dollop of romance.  When Grace Elland finds her dream niche of creative marketing and blogging on social medias for her boss, motivational guru. Sprague Witherspoon, she puts her past behind her. But it all comes roaring back when she finds her boss’s dead body and a vodka bottle near him. Her recurring nightmare returns with a vengeance and being on the suspect list has Grace fleeing back to her lakeside childhood home for some peace and tranquillity.  Instead she begins receiving email from her dead boss.  Being an optimistic person by nature, she endures an uncomfortable blind date with her neighbour, a rich, pessimistic venture capitalist, Julius Arkwright, whop begins to realize something is troubling Grace. Threatened and stalked by someone, Grace turns to Julius for help. Now united as a team after a botched mugging, the pair make a list of potential suspects. With Julius’s mantras”Trust no one” and “Everyone has a personal agenda,” Grace stumbles onto the truth the same time Julius realizes who is behind everything.  Jayne Ann Krenz doesn’t disappoint. Trust No One is a suspenseful read with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.

Okay—that’s my list of entertaining books by writers who know how to grab your attention and hold it captive.  Let me know how you like these.

Happy Mother’s Day

I got in this “Mom” thing late in life. By the time I met my Hubby, his son was almost 18 and at a sort of rebellious age. T knew his own mind, had definite ideas about his Dad’s love-life, was finding his own independence and buried himself by working on his numerous cars–one at a time, of course–while hanging-out with his friends and girlfriend.

I wasn’t into being anyone’s “step-mom” and figured I simply had a nice friendship with someone I liked; who had decidedly different ideas on leisure activities; who trusted me to navigate the unfamiliar streets of Vancouver to visit his family and who was brave enough to continue ballroom dancing with a partner who had 2 left feet to begin with and still had 2-left feet when we finished our classes. When J finally popped the question, there was no hesitation in accepting as we had known each other for a few years. By then, the thought of having a 21 year old step-son was not as daunting as I had first thought. T had evolved into a responsible and kind adult. While J and I enjoyed our engagement period which became a lengthy one, T married his high-school sweetheart and started a family.

The day I married T’s Dad, I officially became wife, step-mom and grandma to a 2-1/2 year old grandson and an 8-month old granddaughter.

Today, my two older grandchildren are hard-working, responsible young adults who have definite goals in life. My two younger grandchildren are active little girls who love everything in their world including their big brother and big sister.

Moms have a tough job. They deal with not only all the good positive stuff of motherhood but also the negative stuff like colds, flu and stuff kids get into as well as the day-to-day running of an active household. And for many others, there’s juggling in a full-time job as well. When Mom-job and day job collide, she manages to deal with both while keeping calm and relatively sane.

I feel very blessed to be a step-mom and grandma on Mother’s Day. I got here the easy route and appreciate what Moms go through. To all the Moms out there, know you are doing a great job. To all the Grandmas out there, you know you have done a terrific job when you look at the happy faces of your grandchildren. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you–give yourself a well-deserved pat-on-the-back!

The Luck of the Scoop

When we were kids, I remember how we would scrupulously check our cookies to see if a sib had a bigger cookie or one with more raisins, nuts or chocolate chips. There would inevitably be a noisy outburst of “He/She has more raisins, nuts or chocolate chips in his/her cookie than I do.”  Mom would just sigh and say, “It’s the luck of the scoop—no one has more stuff in their cookie. And, all the cookies are the same size. It’s the scoopful of dough and you just have to live with it or forget about having a cookie.”

As we grew older and hopefully wiser, Mom’s words, the “luck of the scoop” stayed with me.  After all, that’s what Life is all about. It’s not just choosing that right fork in the road but the luck of the scoop that includes the good things and not-so-good things tucked in there. And, those scoops of Life includes any choices we make along the way—supported by our knowledge, bolstered by our experiences and pushed along by our impulses and Lady Fortune’s smiles.

An Open Letter to Pigs (And Other Picky Eaters)

Originally posted on Eva Lesko Natiello:

3716715546_49b16e795e_b

photo by David Merrett

Dear Pigs,

By the way, may I call you that? Pigs? It’s meant with the utmost respect, and after all, it is your name. Believe me, pig. I’ve never used your name in vain when referring to perverts or sleazeballs. I don’t know who started that. Uncool. Nor have I ever said, “Go clean up, you filthy pig!” to either of my kids or my husband. Even that time when they were so foul I wouldn’t let them in the house without hosing off in the backyard first. I’ve read that elephants and rhinos are much dirtier than pigs, but the dirtiest of all, obviously, is the dung beetle. Just so you know, whenever possible I do correct people by saying, “Go clean up, you filthy dung beetle!”

Okay, that’s not why I’m writing you. I need to talk to you about the state of pigs…

View original 7 more words

Pretzels

My first introduction to a pretzel was the cracker-like, snack-food kind—tiny, crispy. slightly salted and perfect with beer or a glass of wine.  I didn’t know they also came the size of a dinner plate; a twisty bread hot out of the oven with a slightly salty, crispy outside and a soft inside. My cousin demonstrated how to eat it slathered with hot mustard, but I preferred mine unadorned, tearing pieces of it and savouring the warm dough. Being young and skinny, both of us enjoyed our hot pretzels without any guilty thoughts of bread control.

So, it was a revelation to see that food trends had taken a new twist–pardon the pun. I always enjoy seeing “something old becoming new again,” but who would have put the lowly pretzel in the retro box?

I now think  of pretzels as the “perfect” food. You know, like a pizza that has your carbs, proteins and veggies, pretzels can be dressed up or down the same way.  There is a new pretzel cart in town. When I saw the pretzel cart, I dashed over to check it out. I love to nibble on the plain, hot twisty dough, but now I can add my choice of melted cheese, tiny cocktail sausages, teriyaki baby prawns, crispy bacon and a scoop of tangy salsa—see, carbs, proteins and veggies on a dinner plate size pretzel!

And, for all you chocolate lovers out there, there were also chocolate dipped mini-pretzels for dessert.  Heavens, what next?  Oh wait—I just spotted something new at my supermarket—chocolate dipped potato chips. . . Pul–leez tell me that’s not so!

Scrubs

sammee44:

Thank you for writing such a great post on being a Writer. I have reblogged you on chocofigbee.com

Originally posted on From the Laundry Room:

I am a writer.

When asked, upon meeting someone new, “What do you do?” these four words are tough for me.  Lately, I’ve been wondering why.

“I am a writer,” sounds silly, whimsical, not quite, “I’m a circus performer,” but close.  They are fine words, even great, when I am in front of my computer, or when I close my eyes at night and wonder what the hell I’m doing.  I tell myself, “I am a writer.”  It’s what I do, but it doesn’t seem to ring glorious and confident out in the world, the real word.

The declaration, “I’m a writer,” is often met with, “Ah…” or “Really!?”

See?  Sort of the circus performer or the ballerina response.

After the initial surprise, the next step is what I call The Legitimizer.  People need to know if I am really a writer, a legitimate writer, and that always revolves around…you guessed it.

“Are…

View original 699 more words

Almost April and Shorts

The old adage, “Time is wasted on the young” makes tons more sense to me now than when I was in my 20s.  Back then, Time seemed to drag forever, especially on slow work days and when there was someplace exciting to be when the work day was over. Now it seems, Time is racing and even though obstacles and barriers are placed in its path, nothing and no one will slow its progress.

Checking my calendar, I suddenly focused on the fact that March is sprinting for the finish line and morphing into April–a super month of warmer sunshine, that colourful blast of more bountiful blooms in the gardens and best of all, less clothing. By less clothing, I’m thinking, stash away the heavy sweaters and winter coats–bring on the light jackets and short sleeve tops. The weather here may be warmer but it’s still too fickle deciding upon rain or sun, so only a hardy few are showing off by wearing tees, shorts and sandals. Did I mention that the few hardy souls have buff bodies and legs that go on forever?

Being short has its disadvantages. When I wear my shorts, what you see is all the leg view you’ll get. And that segues nicely into my next thought—I am on a searching-for-the-right-shorts mission. Like searching for the right bathing suit, finding the right pair of shorts can be quite daunting. Many are designed for itty-bitty waists and have enough spandex to lock a body into a highly contained package guaranteed not to pop open with a strategically placed zipper/button/snap in the right location. When the right body slithers into it and zips/buttons/snaps it closed, it looks spectacular–everything fits as it should and the person wearing it can still breathe quite normally. The length is short enough so that the wearee cannot bend over unless she wants to be arrested. There is still room enough to insert a tiny hand into the tiny front or side pockets.

My ideal pair of shorts must have an elasticized waistband with no zippers, buttons or snaps to worry about. It definitely has to have two deep side or front pockets for snacks, parking meter money, cellphone, keys and hanky. It has to be short enough to be called “shorts” and when I bend over, I’m definitely safe from being arrested for indecent exposure. AND my perfect shorts has to look good,  feel good and be in my favourite colour.  Simple, right?

I did find my ideal version of the perfect shorts but it was in the big ladies department. The small could fit me quite comfortably in one leg hole. Okay–back to my mission.  This may take my entire Spring/Summer.  Hmm-mm, where did I pack away my fave pair of faded denim shorts from last year? After all, it took me 10 years to have it “seasoned” with that faded, slightly ripped, holey look and best of all, it still fits!