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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 Wonderful Book, A Lovely Playground and a Snack- what could be more Fun!

Dana Deserves a Playground Too by Yael Manor Sometimes you just fall in love with a book, the illustrations, the characters and the story.  And that is what has happened here. Yael Manor has written a story for children that needs telling.  Dana is a young girl with a loving family and friends. She goes to the playground where her friends are playing happily. Dana is in a wheelchair and there is nothing there that she can do.  Not the swings, not the carousel, not the slide or the climbing equipment. Yael’s point is that Dana is not alone. Most community or school playgrounds simply do not welcome children who are physically challenged. Children like Dana are excluded from playing with friends. She told me how she was inspired to write this story.  “One day, I came across a story on Facebook about a woman who met a father and daughter at the playground. Due to a disability, the girl was confined to a wheelchair and unable to enjoy any of the playground facilities. All she could do was put her doll in the swing and push it, which caused great sorrow for her and her father. This story gave me the inspiration to write…

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“Reconstructing Jackson”- Heartbreak, Love and good food for Valentine’s Day!

  Holly Bush’s Reconstructing Jackson. The year is 1867. The Confederates have lost and the South is bitter, much in ruins.  Throughout the US, the former slaves are free yet most remain fearful, unable to exercise the freedoms they have been given. Enter Reed Jackson, lawyer, handsome and defeated Confederate officer. One leg amputated during the war, the other said to be too weak to use, Reed is in a wheel chair, angry, hopeless and uncertain about his future. His plantation and financé have been given to his younger brother and Reed is sent to the Aimes cousins in Missouri. Holly told me, “He knew the South could not support slavery forever, he knew his father was a cruel man, he knew that good people existed (his mother), he fought in a war he did not support but was expected of him, and he knew that the law must be followed blindly to begin our crawl out of our national conflicts.” So begins the historical romance written by Holly Bush. Reed is confronted with the historical reality of his era. His cousins own a boarding house and employ Beulah, a free Black manager, a bright, educated former slave. She is also a teacher, who elevates…

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