MJ’s Musings: Book Bingo: TBR Pile-WICKED GAMES

My local RWA chapter is once again running a Book Bingo challenge. This year’s Bingo board is 96% different than last year’s challenge. The only square that has not changed is the center square: Written by a CNYRW member. I think this year’s contest is going to be more challenging for me than last year’s was.

However, the first square I completed was YOUR TBR PILE (this included your Kindle version of the TBR pile).  I chose WICKED GAMES by Jessica Clare.

The novel is heavily based on the TV program SURVIVOR. I’m sure there are aspects of other reality shows mixed into the concept, particularly the “romance”-based ones.  I was surprised I liked the book as much as I did, having never watched television of this genre. Well-written and fast-paced, the story could have bogged down describing the challenges. It didn’t. Yes, important parts of the plot were predictable, but the book was still a fun read.

MJ Monday: MJ’s Movies-Snow Cake

Welcome to the debut of MJ’s Movies, where once a month–the second Monday–I’ll talk about a motion picture.

I tend to like quirky, off-beat movies. A friend recommended SNOW CAKEa 2006 independent release starring Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver.

This movie should be better known than it is.

Weaver plays a high-functioning autistic woman and Rickman plays a man who “accidentally” comes into her life for a brief moment.  Wikipedia calls the movie a romantic comedy, while IMDb classifies it as a drama.  Amazon.com says:

Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver form the quintessential indie-film odd couple in this intimately observed drama that makes a memorable detour from the usual high-concept, special effects-laden studio fare.”

So, so true. Parts are funny; parts are sad; it’s all compelling.

I was lucky because my library has a DVD available.

This movie should have gotten more attention than it received, if for no other reasons than Rickman and Weaver.

If you’re able to get your hands on a copy, grab and watch it. You shouldn’t be disappointed.

 

MJ’s Musings: “Do You Have Change for a Twenty?”

I dread having someone ask me this question.

People like me, who use ATMs, always have too many twenty dollar bills.  I’m fortunate that my bank’s ATM has an option with $5 increments, so when I withdraw cash, I make sure it’s $35 or $55 or $75 dollars. (If you take out $95, you get a $50, which sucks worse than a $20, especially since the McDonald’s next door will no longer accept $50 or $100 bills .)

So yeah, I usually do have change for a twenty in my wallet.

But if I make change for you, then I’m stuck with your $20, which defeats the purpose of my banking strategy.  And lately, it seems as if I’m asked if I can break a twenty a lot.

I need to start lying, and others need to change banks.

MJ Monday: Meals-Carol’s Casserole

Welcome to 2019! I’m shaking up my blog a bit this year. Mondays are now MJ Monday…where I talk about food, music, movies, my manuscript in progress, and motivation. This week is the debut of MJ’s Meals.

One of my retreat friends has been on a very restrictive diet, so when we were planning a recent retreat, we had to take her food situation under consideration. I love the challenge of finding and/or creating a meal that meets the affected one’s needs.

I had some leftover garlic scapes, which my friend could have. The only kind of oil she was allowed was olive oil. So the first thing I did was harvest chives (another food she could eat) and add them to the garlic scapes in my blender and pulverized them.

Then I added the pulp to olive oil in glass jar (my husband doesn’t understand my need to save glass jars with excellent lids on them).

I placed the concoction in the refrigerator for a week.  After the week was up, I strained the oil through a fine mesh tea strainer.

Voila! My very own garlic infused oil.

I dusted some chicken breasts with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and sautéed them in olive oil.  I find pre-cooking as much as I can when going on retreat is the way to go.

On the evening it was my turn to cook dinner, I cubed the precooked chicken and added it to diced sweet potatoes, a sliced sweet onion, and chunks of red bell pepper, all of which were on my friend’s OK-to-eat list. I drizzled in the infused olive oil and mixed it well.

Forty minutes later (in a 400F oven), we had our very first Carol Casserole.

It’s a keeper.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-Kiss An Angel

In 2019, my Thursday Thoughts blog will feature a review of a Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel on the first Thursday of every month.

This month’s review is one of my top three favorite SEP books: KISS AN ANGEL. My paper copy disintegrated, so I purchased it on Kindle.

When I learn people who are SEP fans haven’t read this story, I am shocked. The excuse I hear most often is, “Isn’t that the circus book?” accompanied by a wrinkled nose, as in, “Eww.” Really? You would pass up an wonderful story because the backdrop is a circus? The setting isn’t merely a backdrop. It is also the device that explains a huge part of the hero’s behavior and is the driving force behind the heroine’s growth. The circus–a traveling mud show–is a character; a living, breathing entity.You accept a football universe. Why not a circus, which is more varied?

This book makes me cry every time I read it. It is a marriage of convenience story combined with on-the-road elements. DAISY is coerced into marrying  ALEX by her father, who claims his only child needs to “grow up.” That he has an ulterior motive for the match shouldn’t come as a surprise. How, you ask, can a father in a contemporary novel force his daughter to do anything? SEP has that covered.

Alex and Daisy’s individual growth toward Happily Ever After is deep and emotionally moving.

As in all of SEP’s novels, there is a secondary romance. I’m not a huge fan of many of those romances. Some feel a touch creepy-icky to me. The one in KISS AN ANGEL is borderline icky, but it suits the characters involved, and plays a major role in Daisy and Alex’s HEA.

If I were to give out stars on a 1 to 5 scale, KISS AN ANGEL would receive five.