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Sunday, February 17, 2019

FOODIE MAZATLAN, by Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer

I'd like to take a detour today from the bump and grind of writing to a recent vacation of mine, a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico. Back in the day, these trips were filled with drinking and reverie; today the high points often center on food.

 

 

Good food begins with a trip to the downtown mercado.



 

Fresh fruit and vegetables, grown locally.



Mazatlan is also known for its seafood. Good restaurants have a fine assortment of dinners.


The cat looks on.



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Valentine's Day Traditions by Angela Crider Neary


The history of Valentine’s Day and its patron saint is shrouded in mystery.  Legend has it that St. Valentine of Rome defied Emperor Claudius II’s orders and secretly married couples to spare the husbands from war.  He was arrested and imprisoned.  While awaiting execution, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her a love note, which became the first Valentine’s card.   

Valentine’s Day as it is celebrated now is a bit of a controversial holiday if you ask me.  Some, like my husband in particular, believe it is a forced “Hallmark” holiday, or a corporate marketing ploy, where any gift or card is rendered devoid of meaning since you're damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.  If you fail to acknowledge the holiday at all, you may risk hurting your significant other’s feelings.  If you buy the typical card, flowers, or candy, this might be considered insincere or to lack originality.  

I can see where those with this mindset are coming from, but I don’t buy into it.  For me, any opportunity for a fun celebration or activity is good enough for me - especially if it involves the above-mentioned flowers and candy.  Also, how could an opportunity to remind someone of your love for them be bad?  It has been my delight over the years to send Valentine’s cards, not only to my significant other, but also to my parents, relatives, and friends, just to remind them that they are special to me.  And I’m sure many remember those grade school days when you filled out a card for each member of your class and dropped it in his or her decorated bag or basket.  

So, even if my husband refuses to celebrate, he will be getting a card and likely a small token of my great affection.  I read a statistic saying that women buy approximately 85 percent of all Valentines, so I won’t feel too bad if I don’t get one, myself.  

One year, I made chocolate truffles.


Another, I took my husband out for Champagne and oysters.


Yet another, I bought Valentine-themed soap and candles.


Last year on February 12, I experienced the horrible loss of my father.  Of course, Valentine’s Day was nowhere on my list of priorities.  In fact, I found myself in the drug store that week and was startled by all of the festive pink and red decorations that were, of course, in stark contrast to my bleak mindset.  That was probably the only year I haven’t celebrated or acknowledged Valentine’s Day in some form or fashion.  With the anniversary weighing heavily, maybe just what I need is a light-hearted holiday to take my mind off of things, even if just for a moment.  I decided to get a head start.  

I bought myself a pink “Love” T-Shirt.


And some festive heart socks.


I also received some beautiful flowers from some wonderful friends.


In the reading department, there are many Valentine’s-themed anthologies out there, as well as tons of romance novels that can easily fit the bill.  For my pick this year, I recently discovered HEARTS AND SPURS, a Prairie Rose Publications collection of nine Valentine’s Day love stories of the old west by some excellent western romance writers:  Kathleen Rice Adams, Linda Broday, Tracy Garrett, Tanya Hanson, Sarah J. McNeal, Phyliss Miranda, Cheryl Pierson, Jacquie Rogers, and Livia J. Washburn.  Kindle version only $.99!  



Do you have any special Valentine’s Day traditions?  Any plans for celebrating the holiday this year?



Angela Crider Neary is an attorney by day and writer by night. She is an avid mystery reader and especially enjoys reading novels set in interesting locales. She was inspired to write her first mystery novella, Li'l Tom and the Pussyfoot Detective Bureau: The Case of the Parrots Desaparecidos, by one of her favorite areas in San Francisco, Telegraph Hill.  Her second book, Li'l Tom and the Case of the New Year Dragon is now available.  To learn more, visit her on Facebook and Amazon.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Book Review: A Heart for a Heart by Cheryl Pierson

Valentine's Day is coming up, and what better way to start getting in the mood than with a book! :) 

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Blurb:

Kiera Leslie is all set to welcome Cory Tiger into her home as a foster child. Orphaned and with a learning disability, Cory is looking forward to living with his tutor. Until his uncle shows up...

Sam Tiger returns from military duty to find his deceased brother's son being taken in by a stranger. The boy needs his family—and Sam is it. He never expects the tutor to stand up to him and want to keep Cory. Then the worst happens—he finds himself attracted to Kiera.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Cupid’s got deadly aim!

My Review:

This is a sweet quicky insta-love story perfect to entertain for an hour or two.

I love reading short stories that still manage to give me a connection to the characters and not just fill the pages with lust. This story delivers!

Sam and Kiera have a special connection through Cory, both wanting the best for the boy. And just in time, the best for everyone is found. I loved Kiera's soft heart and gentle, vulnerable spirit. Sam totally was swoony with his protective instincts and honor.

My favorite moments? The first time Sam holds Kiera in his arms and then later, their first kiss. Both are sweetly real (read: almost awkward before the spark) and just sweetly perfect.

Purchase links:


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What's Going On?



WARNING: This rant, I mean post, contains spoilers for the following movies:  A Quiet Place, The Happening, The Bird Box, and How It Ends
 
If you are interested in any viewing any of those movies but haven’t, continue reading at your own risk.

This month I’m ranting about my newest pet peeve in movies. All movies start with a script/story and as such have a beginning, a middle, and an end. During the course of the story some issue(s) is/are resolved, i.e. the murderer is caught, the heroine gets her happily-ever-after, the dog finds its way home, etc. However, two of the four movies I listed above leave gaping holes in the plot and numerous issues unresolved. So, what’s the point of the movie?

Let’s start with A Quiet Place. Out of all of the movies listed above, it is the only one I liked. I enjoy movies about humanity struggling to survive against all odds and this one told the story well. It opens in a greatly changed world where what’s left of humanity is struggling to survive knowing that any noise can result in an immediate and messy death. What a great concept! The movie centers on a family who is not only trying to survive in this new world but also attempting to raise children, one of whom is deaf, and give them somewhat normal lives. Naturally, their attempts are met with varying levels of success; all stories need some level of conflict/difficulty to keep it interesting. However, during the course of the movie you get hints of what caused the disaster by getting glimpses of obviously non-human creatures haunting the countryside. Then, by the end of the movie, the family has stumbled across a tool that can be used to fight back. Not only does this tool aid them in their time of need, it’s something that can be scaled up and used world-wide. All in all, a creative story told well.

The Happening is similar. Humanity is being destroyed by an unknown foe. To some extent the story was well told and suspenseful. However, when you reach the end and learn that the trees did it (yes, you read that right), it suddenly becomes two hours of your life you will never get back and a preachy lecture on eco/environmentalism. Is there anything inherently wrong about wanting to protect our world and all of the plants, animals, etc. that inhabit it? Absolutely not. I am extremely eco-concious but this was way too over the top for me. The trees did it? Seriously?

Image courtesy of www.depositphotos.com
 
Next up, The Bird Box. Sigh. After all of the hype around this movie, I expected much, much better. I was greatly disappointed. The Bird Box is basically A Quiet Place with the addition of blindfolds and gaping plot holes. Never are you told what caused the phenomena causing people to commit suicide. Is it aliens? You never see one. The only shadowy shape glimpsed against a covered window is quite humanoid. Are the trees rebelling again? Maybe. The only indication that the villains are about to strike is a sudden gust of wind. And the ending? Somewhat touching but incomplete. The group of travelers reaches safety. The End. Wait. What? Yes. They are safe but only temporarily. It’s only a matter of time before their safe haven is discovered by the humans under the thrall of the unknown aliens/trees. Do the folks running the safe haven have enough blindfolds to go around? A bunker for everyone to shelter in? Weapons and ammo to fight off the bad guys? (Based on the safe haven, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding NO!) And who is working on a way to fight back and end the conflict? Apparently no one. An unsatisfying movie all around in my opinion. And don’t even get me started on the so-called Bird Box Challenge. *uses mom voice* Don’t be stupid. Just don’t.

How It Ends. I have seen zero hype for this movie, and after watching it, I understand why. I sort of stumbled across it on Netflix and thought it sounded interesting (and it had five stars) so I watched. What a mistake. When the move opens we learn that our hero, whom I shall call Mr. Metrosexual (or MM for short), and his girlfriend are expecting. Now they have to break the news to her parents. MM does not care for his soon to be father-in-law; the two have nothing in common. (Welcome to reality movie dude.) Almost father-in-law is former military, loves his country, and has no problem with owning guns; Mr. Metrosexual with his custom suits, shiny shoes, and fancy car, can’t get behind any of that. As luck would have it, Mr. Metrosexual is grudgingly visiting his girlfriend’s family on the east coast when the never explained disaster strikes, knocking out the power grid, all but sporadic communications, and stranding the pregnant girlfriend on the west coast. MM and almost father-in-law grudgingly agree to work together to drive across country to rescue the girlfriend. Mr. Metrosexual is horrified that not only is his almost father-in-law packing heat but he expects him to do so as well. Oh the humanity! It only takes one looting and near car-jacking to get Mr. Metrosexual to rethink his stance on guns. Once again, there is zero information given as to what is actually causing the earthquakes, storms, et cetera. Is the world under attack by aliens? Has the planet had enough abuse and decided to rid itself of the annoying parasites living on its surface? Who knows? Certainly not the viewers. Even worse is that over the course of the three or so days covered by the movie, Mr. Metrosexual goes from almost fainting at the sight of a gun to taking out bad guys with perfect head shots – from a moving vehicle. Oh, give me a break. *gags* So, of course, when our hero reaches the west coast, the city his girlfriend is in is nothing but rubble. She, of course, has survived with the help of a somewhat mentally unbalanced neighbor. When the movie ends, the couple is in a car, speeding down a highway as yet another earthquake destroys the road behind them. How does this resolve anything? It doesn’t. What. Is. Going. On? Are they just going to keep driving forever hoping to outrun whatever comes their way? Good luck with that. I’m pretty sure neither of them knows how to siphon fuel andgasp—there are no functioning gas stations. For a movie named How It Ends it tells you absolutely nothing about how it ends.
 
Thanks for listening to me vent. I feel better now, LOL. What are your pet peeves in movies or books?
 

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