Have You Heard

Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 12:51am

Have You Heard About... Food in Jars

… all the benefits of preserving your own food? If you’re like me, you’ve heard about the better flavor, the lower price, the more natural ingredients, the satisfaction of eating something you made yourself, and all of the other advantages. However, you wondered when you would have the time, where to get the fancy equipment and tons of fresh produce, and where to store umpteen jars of pickled beets (not to mention what to do when you discover that you hate pickled beets, even if you did make them yourself). Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-round takes care of many of those concerns. Most of her recipes make just two to five pints and use fewer than ten ingredients, so you can try them without investing a lot in supplies or time. Ms McClellan gives clear, concise instructions on how to do everything from preparing the jars to cooling and storing the finished products, even suggestions for how to use some of the less common ones. She also explains why the steps are important, particularly when doing long-term storage.

The recipes have a sample of almost anything food-related that you could store in jars — jam, jellies, chutneys, pickles, whole fruit, granola, nut butters, soup stock, and mixes to make later. Most of the recipes use boiling water bath canning for long-term preservation, but some are designed for dry storage or freezing. Each section has a variety of familiar and exotic options. For example, the jams range from raspberry and blueberry to vanilla rhubarb jam with Earl Grey (yes, the tea), honey lemon apple jam, and even tomato jam, which sounds bizarre, but the recipe and description are tempting.

If you have fond memories of home-made jam, or want to store the extra tomatoes from your garden, or would like to make a unique gift for a few close friends, check out Food in Jars. With its variety of treats, you’re sure to find something you want to try (even if you hate pickled beets).


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 12:48am

Have You Heard About... Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho

… the undercover federal marshal who’s investigating a mining accident? In Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho*, by Janelle Mowery, you will get to meet Rebekah Weaver who was badly burned in a tragic accident. Deputy Marshal Nathaniel Kirkland is undercover trying to tie in several mining accidents that have happened in Silver City when he learns of Rebekah’s accident. Was her “accident” part of the plot involving the mines? As threatening notes start to appear all over town, these two try to investigate.

Nate and Rebekah do come together with the help of God in the end. This book is at times somber and yet humorous, with lots of twists and turns as the town eventually comes together to solve these so called accidents. The why’s of the accidents near the end was such a surprise that I almost fell out of my chair. I enjoyed this book immensely and it was hard to put down, so you need big blocks of reading time.

Silver City, Idaho, is a real place that you can find on a map. Every book in this non-series is excellent. Check them out for a new adventure in romance, history, heartbreak and humor.

*Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho, is part of the Love Finds You series of unconnected inspirational romance novels.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 12:20am

Have You Heard About... A Simple Act of Violence

… the political conspiracies brewing in Washington, D.C.? R.J. Ellory’s new mystery, A Simple Act of Violence gives the reader a fictional (but all too believable) insight into the political workings of the D.C. justice system. Detective Robert Miller is pulled into what looks like a typical serial murder case — four women have been brutally murdered, and their killer has tied a ribbon around each of their necks. However, Miller discovers that all of these women had false identities, and the more he discovers, the more he’s pulled into a conspiracy involving the CIA and a team of hired political assassins.

Even though I don’t usually go for stories with a political edge, this story had me hooked from the first page — well written, plenty of suspense, and full of plot twists to keep even the most experienced mystery reader guessing. This is a highly entertaining intellectual exercise, and a book that I’m very much looking forward to rereading.


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 12:16am

Have You Heard About... Chimpanzee

… comedian Tim Allen, a cute little guy named Oscar and the “rumble in the jungle”? Tim Allen, best known as “Tim the Tool Man” from TV’s Tool Time, is the narrator of Chimpanzee from Disneynature. As Tim describes what is going on in the African rain forest, you meet little Oscar, the cutest chimpanzee ever, that will melt you heart. Oscar and his mom are part of a group that takes care of each other. You’ll meet Grandpa, several aunts, uncles and cousins, and Freddy, the leader of the group. As Oscar learns about life from his mom, Tim is telling us what is going on in his best “tool man” dialogue that is at times funny and yet endearing.

As leader of this group, Freddy is always on the lookout for the best food (ants on a stick, anyone?) and safest places to stay (30 feet in the air).

Enter Scar, the leader of a nasty group of chimpanzees. Scar and his gang seem to want to take over the whole forest and all it has to offer. A battle for dominance leaves Oscar an orphan. How can little Oscar survive without his mom? Who is the “winner” of the battle?

Freddy becomes an adoptive parent. Through trial and error, you will see little Oscar thrive.

This is a family movie, but I recommend that parents watch it with kids under seven due to the battle scenes and one feeding frenzy. Nothing is graphic, but with the noise of these two scenes, little kids might not understand.

The photography is astounding. Keep watching and listening after THE END to see a little bit of how the movie was made.

Although this movie is in our Blu-ray collection, the case has both the Blu-ray and the DVD versions.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 12:01am

Have You Heard About... Bailey

… the rewards and challenges of elementary school? Harry Bliss’s Bailey takes us through a normal day for one student, who just happens to be a dog. Bailey may be the only dog in a school full of humans, but he has the same problems as everyone else. Will he miss the bus? What if he gets stuck on the slide? Being a dog adds a few problems, too – most students don’t eat their own homework or get in trouble for painting with their tails in art class. However, Bailey also has fun at school. He loves math and is a great dancer.

This is a sweet book with low-key humor. It would be particularly good for children who are nervous about starting school or a new grade. Bailey goes through a normal day, with some good times and some problems. The teachers and other students have a nice mix of reactions to Bailey and his sometimes odd ways of dealing with everyday activities.


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 12:57am

Have You Heard About... A Timely Vision

… someone with a talent for finding lost items? In A Timely Vision* by Joyce and Jim Lavene, you meet Dae O’Donnell, the mayor of Duck, North Carolina. Dae has the ability to find lost items simply by touching the person who has lost the item, but she’s not always happy to have this unique talent. When Miss Mildred loses her watch and asks Dae to find it, she finds a dead body instead. The body turns out to be 90-year-old Miss Elizabeth, Miss Mildred’s sister.

Kevin Brickman has just moved into town to reopen the once-renowned Blue Whale Inn. With Kevin’s help, Dae tracks down who killed Miss Elizabeth and why. A romance slowly develops between Dae and Kevin over the books in this quaint series filled with quirky characters and interesting historical facts.

Duck, North Carolina is a real place you can find on a map. I’ve been there several times and had a marvelous time. I highly recommend stopping for a visit if you are ever in the area. It’s not far from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

* Later books in the series include A Touch of Gold, A Spirited Gift and A Haunting Dream.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)

Post date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 12:23am

Have You Heard About... The Floating Staircase

…the rickety staircase rising out of a Maryland lake?  In Ronald Malfi’s latest book, The Floating Staircase, Travis Glasgow and his wife buy a house in Maryland with a distinctive feature: a staircase rising out of the lake behind the property.  But it’s easy enough to overlook, until Travis starts hearing weird noises and seeing shadows flit across the house.  He realizes that the ghostly incidents are connected with the staircase, and he begins to investigate.  But the more he uncovers about the house’s history, the more he realizes that some secrets can’t stay hidden forever.

This book takes the traditional haunted house story and combines it with an extremely compelling murder mystery – so compelling, in fact, that I found myself just as obsessed with the house’s secret as Travis Glasgow.  And the author does a fantastic job of taking the small ghostly incidents (a strange noise, a shadow flitting across a hallway) and transforming them into something truly unsettling.  A very impressive and entertaining ghost story.


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 12:21am

Have You Heard About... Sneaky Pie for President

… the cat who is running for public office? In Sneaky Pie for President, Rita Mae Brown’s co-author decides to throw her hat, er, collar in the ring. She talks with other cats, dogs, birds, horses, and even mice and fish to get support for her nomination.

On the surface, this is a fairly light-hearted look at politics. However, Ms Brown works in an impressive amount of information about the impact of animal-related and environmental concerns on the economy of the United States. From therapy animals and dogs fighting in the military to the cattle industry and different farming techniques, these topics affect everyone in the country. The story ends with Sneaky Pie announcing her candidacy to an enthusiastic audience of animals at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Extra materials include her campaign platform and promises, as well as a few slogans. Think outside the litter box!


Reviewed by Fran (staff)

Post date: Thursday, September 6, 2012 - 12:24am

Have You Heard About... The Night Circus

…the magic of Le Cirque des Rêves?  In Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, a fantastic circus travels the globe, popping up in the middle of the night, without warning.  It is only open after dark and often vanishes as quickly as it appeared.  Everyone who visits Le Cirque des Rêves is forever haunted by its beauty and mystery.  And in the center of the carnival are Celia and Marco, two young magicians who have fallen in love with each other and who have been unknowingly pitted against the other in a magical fight to the death.

This is a gorgeously written book.  Reading it feels like a marvelous dream, and every aspect of the circus comes alive in enchanting detail, from the impossible Ice Garden to the ever-changing clock at the entrance to the circus.  And, of course, at the heart of the novel is a beautiful and powerfully imagined romance.  I’m in awe of what Erin Morgenstern has created, and I can’t wait to read this one again.


Reviewed by Katie (staff)

Post date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 9:27am

Have You Heard About... Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida

… Cassie and her late husband’s plastic flamingos? Check them out in Sandra D. Bricker’s Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida*.

Cassie has no plans to live in the vacation home she and her late husband had in Holiday, Florida. It’s a small bungalow with tacky plastic flamingos on the lawn that her late husband just loved. Cassie needs to do a few renovations and get the bungalow ready to sell so she can get on with her life. Renovations always take longer they you expect. Start with, throwing out the plastic flamingos, talking to the zany neighbors in this retirement community, finding that the flamingos somehow keep ending up back on the lawn, and meeting a handsome neighbor who enjoys dancing as much as she used to.

Cassie isn’t very impulsive, but her neighbor down the street is and pushes Cassie into all kinds of quirky things, one being signing up for a dance class that is taught by handsome neighbor, Richard. Cassie and Richard seem to hit it off. The house is taking shape for the sale, but Cassie is falling in love the new renovations. Is she falling in love with Richard as well?

This is a laugh out loud type of book that I couldn’t put down.

*Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida, is part of the Love Finds You series of unconnected inspirational romance novels.


Reviewed by Terry (staff)