Book Review: Linda Howard-Mr. Perfect

Image credit: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo

I recently learned some people have stopped reading Linda Howard due to alleged racist comments she’s made on social media. I haven’t seen the comments, so I’m not going to judge.

I’ve also read that people think Mr. Perfect  is a dreadful book because of the way she treated one of the characters who some might consider marginalized. As an author, I’ve often been told as long as something is well-motivated, an author can do anything. And that is the case in this book. The motivation is . . . perfect.

Mr. Perfect is one of my favorite books of all time. It starts out with a group of friends–co-workers–who get together every Friday night after work for dinner and drinks. This circle of women reminds me of my friends and how much fun we have when we get together. One Friday night, these women laughingly put together a list of what they think would constitute the perfect man. Some of the items are ribald and made in jest; others are serious and thoughtful.

Little did these four women know their fun time was about to turn deadly.

The main character has just purchased her own home and is having issues with her cranky neighbor, who turns out to be a cop. A sexy cop. A sexy alpha male cop.

My biggest complaint about this book is the negative portrayal of a cat. It’s well known that Howard is a dog person. She doesn’t understand cats.

Five stars anyway.

 

MJ Monday-Movies: The Big Sick

The first time I viewed The Big Sick I was with my husband. My critique partners and I watched it again on a recent retreat. It’s a good movie. It’s a true story that takes the larger issues we in the US are facing today and brings them down to the personal level.

It’s the story of an aspiring comedian/Uber driver whose family came to the US from Pakistan and an all-American girl who meet and fall in love. But his family and heritage create problems that hurt the heroine. The heroine becomes deathly ill and is hospitalized, bringing her parents into the story.

We see how prejudice often stems from not understanding and that with effort–sometime a lot of effort–we can overcome our preconceived notions. All of this is wrapped up in a romantic comedy with laugh-out-loud moments and a happy ending.

Five stars.

Self-Help Review: The Artist’s Way

When I first joined RWA and started writing with focus in addition to serious intent, I heard about Julia Cameron’s seminal book The Artist’s Way everywhere. Blogs, Private chat rooms. Other books  People raved about their Morning Pages habit.

I bought a copy to see what the worship was about. The book is about creative recovery. Cameron has come up with a method for artists of every type to tap into their deepest reserves of creativity. It is a twelve-week program.

I’ve read the book several time. What many people don’t realize, is The Artist’s Way is book one of a trilogy, all of which are twelve-week programs. I own all three. I’ve read all three. (Walking in the World and Finding Water are the other two).

Cameron has solid advice in the books. The first step, the most important part of the process is Morning Pages. The first thing everything morning, an artist is supposed to write three pages of stream-of-consciousness thoughts. Even if one writes nothing but I have nothing to write for three pages, one must write it. Every morning. Three pages.

When I was the Book-in-A-Week Babe for my local RWA chapter, I used many quotes from the book as inspiration for the BIAW participants. One said to me, “Oh! I love The Artist’s Way!”

I tried Morning Pages. Actually, I’ve tried The Artist’s Way several times. Cameron’s way is not my way. I have learned I am a writer who must jump feet first into her work-in-progress first thing every morning. I don’t have time for Morning Pages. Tapping into the personal me distracts from the stories I’m trying to tell.

That’s me. Morning Pages, Artist’s Dates, and other Cameron prescriptions might work for you.

 

MJ’s Monday-Meals: Mexican Lasagna & Mexican Slaw

This meal started with this recipe for Mexican Slaw. A friend had made it on retreat and I loved it. I had made it for something–I can’t remember what now, but there were leftovers, so I decided to invent something to go with it.

Over the years, I have read and tried many recipes for “Mexican Lasagna.” I’ve even liked some. But on this night, I had to work with what I had on hand.

  • Chicken  (a pound or so)
  • 1 14-15 oz can corn, drained
  • 1 14-15 oz can diced tomatoes with chili seasoning
  • 1  14-15 oz can seasoned chili beans, drained BUT NOT RINSED
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 2 8″tortillas
  • 8 oz shredded Mexican Cheese blend

The first thing I did was preheat my oven to 350F.

Then I sprinkled the chicken with about a tablespoon and a half of the taco seasoning and cooked it in a frying pan.

While the chicken cooked, I drained the can of corn. I mixed the corn with the can of chili-seasoned diced tomatoes (something my supermarket sells). Then I drained the can chili-seasoned beans–I think they’re pinto beans with chili seasoning. The key here is to drain BUT DO NOT RINSE. I almost always rinse canned beans, but not in this case. I added the beans to the corn and tomatoes, then added the rest of the taco seasoning packet.

Once the chicken was done, I shredded it with two forks and added it to the vegetable mixture.

I sprayed a square glass baking dish with cooking spray, then laid in an 8″ toritilla.

I topped the tortilla with half the veggie-chicken mixture, then covered with half of the shredded cheese, then repeated the process.

Bake in the 350F oven for thirty minutes or until heated through and the cheese has melted. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then cut into 9 squares (I have a large pizza cutter I use for this).

Serve with the slaw.

Size Matters

I like to cook. I like new recipes. Sometimes, though, the recipes I newly discover are older recipes, and call for things I can no longer find. Particularly when it comes to sizes.

Whatever happened to four-ounce packages of cream cheese? I distinctly remember peeling back the foil on a small block of Philly. Perfectly sized for a recipe. Now I have to hope I can cut an eight-ounce block exactly in half. And what do I do with the other half? Bagels?

Remember when sour cream came in one cup (eight-ounce) containers? Maybe it still does somewhere, but not at my supermarket. A recipe calls for one cup. Yes, I can measure it out, but then what do I do with the remaining eight ounces? Tacos? Baked potatoes?

My husband would prefer I purchase milk a gallon at a time. But it goes bad. And it takes up too much space in the refrigerator. So I buy half-gallons. If the store carried quarts, as they did in my younger days, that’s what he would get.

Dairy, like produce, tends to go bad after a while. Smaller sizes would be helpful.