Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FOODFIC: Gone for Good - Harlan Coben

You know how sometimes you read a book (or see a movie) and something just jumps out at you? It could have nothing to do with the main characters or furthering the plot – you might even be able to cut the scene without altering the story at all – but it’s the thing you’ll always think of whenever you hear the title, like Davy Jones playing the organ with his tentacles in Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

Anyway, that’s what happened for me in this book. In fact, I normally wouldn’t even review it at BWATE? since it’s not YA, but the most memorable scene involved food so bizarre that I had to blog about it.

Now, pretty much everything that happens is this book is shocking and hugely improbable; Will (the MC)’s brother Ken vanished after supposedly killing Will’s girlfriend (oh, and right after he – Ken – slept with her). Although Will assumed his brother was dead, 10 years later their mother utters a dying admission that Ken is still alive. While Will tries to process that bombshell, his new girlfriend Sheila takes off in the middle of the night, only to turn up murdered in another state. 

So, while looking into the 2nd girlfriend’s murder with the 1st girlfriend’s little sister, Katie (who’s 18, so maybe there’s my YA tie-in!), he discovers that the two dead girls who seemingly should’ve had no connection were actually sorority sisters in college. You guessed it - Next stop: sorority house, which is (of course) where the memorable foodstuff happens

On campus, Will and Katie meet Mrs. Rose Baker, house mother both now and back when Sheila and Julie lived there. Sadly, her husband passed away many, many years ago, and her life now revolves around mourning. Oh, not mourning him, silly! Princess Diana is the one she holds the candle for; music-literally, actually, playing Elton John’s Diana-tribute version of “Candle in the Wind” as her guests enter. Will (and I) can’t help but be shocked by the amount of Di paraphernalia: tea sets, pillows, figurines, shot glasses, thimbles, nightlight, sunglasses – you name it, Di’s on it. The kicker is when Mrs. Baker offers them cookies in the shape of Princess Diana’s profile; sprinkles formed the crown.

I’m impressed by both her ability to think up the idea in the first place and the time/work/patience she must’ve put in to perfect her creation, but I’d most like to ask her how she feels eating the face of her dead idol! Or perhaps the edible homage is a treat only for guests and she abstains.

I just know that I may not remember if Will ever finds his brother or his girlfriend’s murderer, but I definitely won’t forget Mrs. Baker’s cookies.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Punctuality Important? - BLOG HOP

Is punctuality necessary? Pandora asked.
Yes, I answered without hesitation.

And my 2 becauses were:
1. You never want to be late for dinner; and
2. The early bird gets the worm.

Then I thought, "Ooh, let me go find a cute moving image of a bird getting a worm for my top graphic."

Which led to YouTube.

Which took up the rest up of my day.

First, I typed in "bird gets worm,"
then HAD to click on "frog eats giant worm,"
and then (to see more cool worm videos!) broadened my search to "eating worms,"
which turned up more than one porn site. Seriously. (And yes, I admit I was curious, but too fearful of viruses of all kinds to click on one.)
I did click on "raccoon eating worms,"
which led to "triplet baby raccoons,"
then "dog nursing raccoons,"
then "dog nursing baby deer,"
then "dog catches shark,"
then "shark vs. crocodile,"
which suddenly reminded me of this wild (literally) documentary I saw a long time ago on "big cats," which showed a jaguar dive into a river and catch a caiman.

Of course I had to go looking for THAT video and, even though I didn't find it, I did find this one:


So, long story less long, I didn't write my post on punctuality.

Now, I could try to wrap this all up with some clever connection between the early bird getting the worm (where I began) and the early jaguar getting the caiman (where I ended up), but my retinas (and brain) are a little fried from all the viewage.

Instead, I'll just say that YouTube is super fun - and addictive - BUT punctuality is so important that I was able to tear myself away (as soon as I finished "bee vs. jumping spider") to make it to my friend's birthday party ON TIME ;)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Adrianne Ambrose, Author of What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader

What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader is the diary of Elaine Rewitzer, an eleven-year-old comic book loving geek who tries out to be a cheerleader.

Food is often a source of angst for tween girls like Elaine, but the excerpt I'd like share is not about her own food issues, but her grandmother's. Elaine, her mother, and sister are trying to please her paternal grandmother who has some very specific ideas about a proper Thanksgiving dinner:

12:02 p.m.
         Usually Grandma doesn’t eat Thanksgiving dinner with us. She only shows up later in the evening to have a slice of pecan pie. She doesn’t like pumpkin. I think she usually has dinner with my dad first, but she never says anything about it. That’s fine by us, because then we can have whatever we want for dinner just as long as we hide the leftovers before Grandma comes around. Sometimes we don’t even have a turkey because none of us really like it that much. One year we had Chinese food.
         This year Grandma said she was coming for the whole dinner and everything. No offense to Grandma, but she’s making things a lot more stressful than they have to be. She’s insisting on a full Thanksgiving dinner with linen napkins folded perfectly and a matching tablecloth and everything traditional. That includes a big turkey with stuffing, yams, rolls, green bean casserole, peas, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, whipped cream, and cranberry sauce. It all has to be homemade. Nothing can come from the store or out of a can. Mom tried to get out of it by saying, “That’s too much food for two women and two girls to eat.” But Grandma was really stubborn about it. She said, “I want my granddaughters to know what it is to have a real, traditional American Thanksgiving.”

4:25 p.m.
         A real, traditional American Thanksgiving is a lot of work. The turkey is so big, Mom had to get up in the middle of the night to put it in the oven so it would be done in time. Amy and I had to peel a mountain of potatoes, set the table, help with the pies, and keep an eye on the oven because our timer doesn’t work. Grandma just got here, and she’s already complained about everything. Stupid stuff like:
         1) Our tablecloth has a stain on it. – Just a tiny one and you can barely see it.
         2) Cranberry sauce from a can is tacky.
         3) We don’t have proper, matching water glasses.
         4) Amy should know how to set a table properly. (I told Grandma that’s she’s only five, but she said, “That’s no excuse.”)
         There is a bunch of other stuff, but it would take too long to list everything and I’ve got to get back to helping Mom.

5:18 p.m.
         I’m starving! I feel like we’re never going to eat!

5:23 p.m.
         Okay, dinner is almost ready. I just put out the cranberry sauce. I love how it slides out of the can but still keeps the same shape. In fact, it’s my favorite part of Thanksgiving. I love being the first person to cut into the cranberry sauce, so I put it on the table near my chair.
         I just heard Mom grumbling in the kitchen. Something about how, “If the old lady wanted a traditional meal, she could have at least offered to help.” I feel bad for Mom. She is totally exhausted.

10:12 p.m.
         Thanksgiving is finally over! As soon as we started eating, the first thing Grandma said was, “Well, I’m sorry to say it, but this turkey is a little dry.” I thought Mom was going to lose it, but she didn’t. She’s really good at not yelling, even when Grandma deserves it.
         After dinner, Grandma said, “Elaine, did you enjoy your traditional Thanksgiving?” I said, “It was really great, but I think it would be a lot better if we had it in a real, traditional house. Maybe next year we can have traditional Thanksgiving at your place?” Mom was drinking a glass of water, and she must have swallowed the wrong way because she started coughing really hard. Grandma’s face got all pinched, and she said something about her house not being set up for small children, which is stupid because my dad and his brother grew up there. After Grandma left, Mom gave me a big hug and said, “Honey, you’re a gem!”
Belle Bridge Books was kind enough to publish What I LearnedFrom Being a Cheerleader. It’s available online and at select Barnes and Nobles stores.

For those readers who like comedy, but prefer a little more YA (or even A), I’m also exploring the wonderful world of ebooks with my YA vampire comedy, Fangs for Nothing, and my barbarian parody, Confessions of a Virgin Sacrifice. Both available on all ereaders for 99 cents.

Thanks for inviting me to guest blog, Shelley!

Thank you for stopping by and sharing some food for thought, Adrianne!

You can find Adrianne at:

Or follow her at:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

SheWrites HOP - Welcome Hungry Readers!

What perfect timing for a double-length SheWrites Bloggers Ball!

Since I did an introductory post for my first ball, and a hop topic for my second, this time I'd like to show another side of BWATE? - GUESTS!

My current post (9/14) is a FoodFic look at Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge by Ramey Channell, whom I met during my first SheWrites Ball; my upcoming post (9/21) will feature Adrianne Ambrose, who's stopping by to talk about her book, What I Learned From Being a Cheerleader.

I hope you enjoy *meeting* these other wonderful women as much as I did, and feel free to dig through the archives to meet many more! 

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FOODFIC: Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge - Ramey Channell

This book started sweet-talking me during the intro, where the author describes “blackberries and wild plums, wild grapes and muscadines.” (Although I did have to look up muscadines; they’re a type of grape used to make wine, jelly, syrup, and sauce, in case you were wondering :)

As I’m sure you can already tell, Alabama-based Sweet Music hits a very sentimental note, even for readers who didn’t grow up in the South. The story of 8-year-old cousins Lily Claire and Willie T. speaks to everyone who’s ever known the magic of childhood imagination, had an eccentric relative or two, lived an old wives’ tale…or been warmed from within by a home-cooked meal.

The feel-good food is (as with any true Southern tale) peppered throughout the book, from a breakfast of eggs, grits, bacon, and biscuits, to “cinnamon sweet persimmon cookies” after the first frost, to the spread of everything from butter beans to pecan pralines that Aunt Rachel’s going to make for the family gathering after Harold’s funeral. But even beyond that, there are scenes real enough for readers to see, hear, smell, and practically taste.

The best of these for me was the 4th of July BBQ – a holiday event that evokes almost universal memories for all Americans. Lily’s dad cuts open a huge watermelon “so red and ripe inside, it popped open with a loud cracking sound, and the air was filled with the luscious sweet smell.” Remembering that day in your own life, now? You’ve surely been there at least once!

For such a short book (just over 100 pages), Sweet Music packs in several such walk-into-the-scene moments, and then  if you want to really bring the story to life, the recipes for some of the Southern treats are tagged on at the end, too. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Sandra Humphrey, Author of Hot Issues, Cool Choices

          Although my currently published books don’t use a lot of food, the new YA novel I’m working on, Letters From Camp, revolves around a summer camp for kids with behavioral and emotional problems, many of which are food-related.

          To get the flavor of Camp Weeping Willow, take a dash of bulimia and anorexia, a dab of hyochondria, a dollop of depression and some spicy anger issues mixed with just a touch of self-mutilative behavior and you’ve got a recipe for a most memorable summer.

          The first meal introduces not only a sample menu, but also a glimpse at some of the drama to come. The scene features Megan (our 14-year-old protagonist) and Trisha (one of her cabinmates) at lunch in the mess hall, otherwise known fondly by the campers as the “barfeteria.”

          While Leslie tries to avoid looking at the burned hot dogs and gloppy baked beans, Trisha’s busy inhaling everything on her plate. In Megan’s words, “I’m beginning to wonder if this Trisha girl is for real. Anyone who gets that excited over dogs and beans is definitely a few fries short of a Kid’s Meal.”

          Which brings us to Jennifer, who’s sitting across the table from Megan and Trisha. Megan tries not to stare at Jennifer’s purple fingernails which are so long they could be classified as lethal weapons. But, like most things you aren’t supposed to stare at, she can’t drag her eyes away from them. As Megan watches, the fingers attached to the purple nails pick up pieces of hot dog bun and stuff them up the sleeves of her sweatshirt. Again, in Megan’s words, “I’m thinking that maybe I should say something to her. Yeah, right. Like, ‘Hey, Jennifer, did you know you just stuck your hot dog bun up your sleeves?’ I don’t think so!”

          Megan even views Mrs. Anderson, the camp director, in culinary images: from her ice-creamy voice to her “doughy face with little raisin eyes and lips like my dad’s Polish sausages.”

          Although Megan doesn’t have an eating disorder herself, she finds that food can sometimes provide solace in a tumultuous world she has no control over. Watching a pot of soup simmer on an old cast iron stove, she entertains some interesting visuals. “I liked the way the carrots and potatoes snuggled together with the chicken and some green stuff I didn't recognize. Kind of like friends hanging out together.
          Food plays a recurring role throughout the book as Jennifer deals with her anorexia, Trisha and Rachel face their obesity issues, and even Andrea struggles with hypochondriacal concerns about hygiene issues, both as they relate to food in particular and to life in general.

          So if you want to spend your summer hanging out with some most-definitely-not-your-run-of-the-mill campers, then come along and join us at Camp Weeping Willow!

Happy Reading!
Sandy Humphrey, Retired Clinical Psychologist & Children’s Author

Thanks for stopping by and sharing some food for thought, Sandy!

You can find Sandy at:

Friday, September 2, 2011

FOODFIC: Green Angel - Alice Hoffman

Green is a 15-year-old girl whose mother has always assured her that her path in life “could be found in the garden.” So when her parents and sister are all tragically killed by a bombing while they’re in the city selling their vegetables, you’d assume she’d turn to her garden for solace. (Especially since they died “at the height of our harvest, [leaving] row after row of new zucchini and purple onions, of peppers that were shiny as frogs and blueberry bushes that were thickening with fruit.”) 

Sadly, what wasn’t destroyed by the raining ash that now coats her whole world was scavenged by looters, most of whom are other newly-orphaned kids. So she’s left with only Onion – a dog, not a crop.

And ironically, Onion-the-dog is the one doing the crying – mourning their family when Green cannot. He sheds the tears while she keeps busy just surviving, and not only is she resilient; she also turns out to be quite industrious. When the pantry is empty, Green goes out into the woods, gathers chestnuts, pounds them into flour, and makes her own bread. By finding a way to make something warm and life-sustaining from cold little earth-marbles, she emerges as one hopeful young stalk pushing up through the ash.