Book Spotlight

“I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!”

"Pay the Stake, Roll the Dice, Do the Dare. Getting divorced at twenty-five sucks. Teaching over-confident rich kids when you’re all but homeless sucks. In fact, every single aspect of Daisy Fitzgerald’s life is one big fail. Enter hot young chef, Xander. He’s a Knight-in-Shining-Cricket-Pads who knocks Daisy off her wedge heels and into his privileged world of It-girls, players and Michelin stars. High on cocktails & escapism, Daisy agrees to play Forfeit, the ultimate game of dares." #FORFEIT by Caroline Batten Daisy Fitzgerald in #FORFIET played a game of dare that led to a romantic kiss, but also “blackmail, betrayal, [and] revenge… “. I am not a daredevil. I never have been and never will be. But then, that’s me. Someone says I dare you and I am out of there fast. But apparently, there are a lot of people out there (especially young people) who are attracted to dares and challenges, especially when it involves social media. According to the article “Danger Ahead: Social Media Dare Games” on Netsanity.net (on which this blog is based) social media appears to ratchet everything up a notch. So, if you can do something wild and crazy, that’s fine; but if you…

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Handfasting- a commitment by joining hands

In the opening List of Main Characters in the book 1066: What Fates Impose, by G. K. Holloway, Edyth Swanneck is listed as “handfast wife of Harold,” the main character of the book. When I first read about Edyth and Harold in a novel long, long ago, I read that they were “handfasted” in marriage. When Harold took the throne of England (in the book I read) he needed a politically expedient wife and the Christian priests said that handfasting was no big deal and that Harold could just ignore it and get on with marrying his “real” wife in a Christian ceremony, which is what he did. At that time, I wasn’t too keen on “handfasting” nor Harold, for that matter! Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about the term and its origin. Apparently, the practice is over 7000 years old and was used in the English, Norse, Scottish and Celtic cultures. The word itself comes from Old Norse, “handfesta” which means to strike a bargain by joining hands. Hence, “May I have your hand in marriage?” “He asked her father for her hand in marriage.” Actually, it started out as a commitment between a man and a…

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Have you ever wondered how snowflakes are made?

Fawn faces a hungry arctic wolf, battles a fierce North Pole blizzard, and is the prisoner of a conniving sea captain intent on capturing arctic animals to sell to a New York City zoo!                           'Til the Last Snowflake Falls                      Have you ever wondered how snowflakes are made?                      I certainly have! Watch this!   How Do Snowflakes Form?

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The Earl Of Wessex – Sons of the Wolf

First creation (c. 1019) Wessex was one of the four earldoms of Anglo-Danish England. In this period, the earldom of Wessex covered the lands of the old kingdom of Wessex, covering the counties of the south of England, and extending west to the Welsh border. During the reign of King Cnut, the earldom was conferred on Godwin at some time after 1020.[3] Thereafter, Godwin rose to become, in King Edward's time, the most powerful man in the kingdom. Upon Godwin's death in 1053, the earldom passed to his son, who later became King Harold II and died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. In 1999, Queen Elizabeth II's youngest son, Prince Edward, married Sophie Rhys-Jones. Younger sons of the monarch have customarily been given dukedoms at the time of their marriage, and experts had suggested the former royal dukedoms of Cambridge and Sussex as the most likely to be granted to Prince Edward. Instead, the Palace announced that Prince Edward would eventually be given the title Duke of Edinburgh, which was at the time held by his father. This was unlikely to happen by direct inheritance, as Prince Edward is the youngest of Prince Philip's three sons. Rather, the title is expected to be newly created for Prince Edward after it "eventually reverts to the crown" after "both the death of…

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Sharing a wonderful romance book with friends – and a yummy Peach Cobbler!

  Olive Witkins was sure she had her days planned out. At 35, she was a spinster, worked at a Philadelphia library and took care of her parents’ house. She kept her hair in a tight bun, wore black clothes and kept herself all buttoned up. Then life intervened. With the death of her brother and his wife in 1891, Olive travels to the wilds of Spencer, Ohio to save their two children, fantasizing about the culture and family legacy she would bestow on Mary and John, how she would teach them and they would love her. Her dream shattered when she saw the hovel where her drunken brother had kept his family, not fit for human habitation. What her brother and his wife put their children through “rubbed raw all that she knew to be true…” With great difficulty, Olive rises to the occasion, mothers her niece and nephew with the help of her brother’s neighbor Jacob Butler. She begins to mother his 3 children as well. Despite her lack of experience and being used to Philadelphia life, “Olive felt more alive, more focused than she ever had before in her life…. I am done letting life go by.”…

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Drift away to Montreal in the 1950’s and enjoy a French delight!

    Author David Riese was having coffee one morning in his usual café when Riva Weiss, an older woman author Dave Riese had spoken to from time to time came over, sharing a story about a passionate love she had when just 18. Building on what Riva had told him, Dave expanded the bones of her story to a novel of a wonderfully poignant romance. Being built on a true story adds to the depth and interest of this work. To this day, Dave is still in touch with Riva, who turned 88 this year. In 1951, the fictional Rebecca Wiseman meets and falls in love with Sol Gottesman at a YMHA dance. Despite coming from different social classes and families, the two are passionate in this first love. Based on a true-life romance, Dave writes a very romantic novel with a clear understanding of how both young men and women react to a first love. Sol woos Rebecca with beautiful flowers, fancy restaurants and whispered phone calls. Rebecca dreams of Sol, calls him frequently, quite forward for a young woman of that time, and even is the aggressive one romantically. Dave said that his ideas about romance did…

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A Great Thriller and Apple Tarts – Oh My!

Jennifer Alderson has created a fast-paced and suspenseful historical novel about art theft In the Netherlands. Two timelines connect the plot. In the contemporary timeline is the feisty Zelda Richardson, intern for an Amsterdam museum’s exhibition of still unclaimed artwork once stolen by the Nazis. Trouble begins when two women claim the same painting.  Zelda and her friend Friedrich become detectives in what becomes a dangerous game worth millions in artwork and a cover-up of murders. During the Nazi occupation timeline, priceless artwork was stolen from Jews, gays, dissidents, and other victims by the Nazi government and too with the assistance of officials and citizens of the occupied countries. Arjan van Heemsvliet is an art dealer trying to protect his artwork from the greed of the Nazis and at the same time, hide his homosexuality, a “crime” that could send him to a concentration camp. Jennifer has pulled together all of this data into an exciting and suspenseful historical novel. Zelda, our modern sleuth, is impulsive, courageous and smart as Sherlock Holmes in sniffing out clues. I immediately liked her!  Jennifer told me, “Zelda’s intellect is driven by her endless curiosity, a deep-seated need to be right, and her naiveté…

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Another Tasty Idea and a Great Book!

Kitchen Brigade by Laurie Boris Dystopian novels have a long and popular history, from classics such as The Time Machine, Brave New World and 1984 to the more modern Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale and Divergent.  Some take place in a specific time and place and some are vague or fantasies. Some dystopian novels use unknown tyrants while others use current US rivals, such as the Chinese, Cubans or Russians. That is the route of The Kitchen Rivals by Laurie Boris, which uses a specific enemy, the Russians and their allies, the Cubans, as the tyrannical rulers who have taken over the eastern part of the US. Its setting is also specific, taking place in the Hudson Valley, where the author lives. Laurie skillfully places the main scenes in the kitchen, where main character Valerie, now called Three, with her fellow chefs, including Chef Svetlana, under whom she had previously studied at the Culinary Institute of America create meals for the general, his staff and visitors. Food is an important focus in the novel.  While the kitchen chefs are prisoners, food still provides joy, love and artistry. It is used as payment, as for chef Four, and used horribly, as when the child Tomàs is forced to taste food in case…

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A Thriller & a Burger (Vegan) – Perfect!

  Of Half a Mind                                                                                                                                                                                                                            by Bruce M. Perrin Stanley Milgrom’s famous studies on obedience, prodded by bullying and authority, comes to life in Bruce Perrin’s Of Half a Mind. While both are ostensibly about memory and learning, they are in fact about submission and subservience to authority. Milgrom’s studies, of course, were at Yale with students who went home, disturbed after what they thought they had done. [No one was actually electrically shocked or hurt in any way.] Bruce commented, “Stanley Milgram’s studies in the 1960’s and 1970’s revealed an unexpected…

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Make a Cosmo, put up your feet and enjoy Been Searching for You!

    Nicole Evelina's Been Searching for You One might subtitle this book, “Searching for Romance in the Cold, Single World.” Each of Nicole Evelina’s characters handles being a singleton in individual ways. Annabeth Coe, the main character is a romantic, searching for “the head-over-heels heart-melting love,” while still recovering from a years ago disastrous boyfriend, Nick. Mia, her sexy good friend has no loyalties to her boyfriend or anyone else, we find. Miles, Annabeth’s best friend and work colleague, is Mia’s beleaguered boyfriend. Laine, Annabeth’s boss, is a career woman. Victor, a painter on the way to being discovered, seems to be a good fit until his career proves to need a more “perfect” partner. Alex, a literature professor, is still mourning his last girlfriend. Annabeth has a birthday tradition: she writes to her dream man and refuses to accept anything but her vision of a romantic partner. She’s pushed by friends and family to open herself to dating. “Where’s your boyfriend?” “You aren’t getting any younger.” “Tick-tock.” Like her main character, Annabeth, the author is in public relations and an historic fiction writer. Annabeth would rather stay at home with a good book and glass of wine rather…

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