Back on Track

New reviews coming soon! I'll be importing my work from the past two years, but in the meantime,
I'm reclaiming my small place on the web.

Saturday, February 8, 2003

Cookbook Review

Cooking With Bananas
by David Woods
ISBN-10: 0595242731
Review by Heather Froeschl

If I ever get stranded on an island covered with banana plants, I hope I have a copy of this book with me! David has covered the complete possibilities of the banana in "Cooking With Bananas". Call me conservative but I'll likely stick to the bread and dessert sections. However, for the more daring there are such dishes as Chicken and Banana Casserole, Banana Citrus Seafood Stew and Tropical Fruit Stir fry.

I don't know if Elvis preferred mayonnaise on his "Nanna" sandwiches or not, but David offers a recipe for one. My kids are very interested in the sweets section, including the Banana Nut Pops and Frozen Chocolate Bananas. Whatever gets them to eat more fruit is fine with me!

David has been kind enough to give us a little introduction to this versatile fruit, with nutrition values and choices of varieties available. I love David's cookbooks. They offer a new look at staple foods, with a unique twist. The occasional typo, here and there, only adds to the charm of these titles. Have fun with your food!

Fiction/Paranormal Review

A Ghost Among Us
by Debora ElizaBeth Hill
ISBN-10: 1929374143
Review by Heather Froeschl

Never before have I encountered a ghost I like so much as Sir Jerome Kennington. We should all be so lucky to have a spirit so full of life in our homes.

Three women rent a house in Hampstead that comes furnished with antiques and its own resident earth bound spirit. What follows is a wonderful story of the three living together, as only women can, sharing and supporting each other through career challenges, men troubles and decisions of what to wear.

Deirdre Hall is a television show host who falls for a guest rock star. Charlotte Lewis is a photographer who wants desperately to capture the essence of the souls in London, and Natalie Ladd is a painter who ends up wowing the crowds at a gallery showing. In between the inspiring lives these ladies lead, they find the time to make love with their boyfriends, liberate a lab full of test animals and help sort out the mystery that has their ghost remaining on the earthly plain.

Jerome was murdered, and he needs to discover why and by whose hand. There is an evolution here of this lost soul. At first he can only be seen by the three women, the first in 200 years to do so. Then he discovers that others can see him as well. He was trapped in the house that at one time was part of his own estate, but as time goes by, with the women to help him, he finds he is able to travel about. Jerome shares with the girls, his understanding of life and death and reincarnation: shocking one of the boyfriends.

And then there is Deidre's boyfriend, the rock star, who looks exactly like Jerome. Though he is not a Kennington, it is possible that he is a descendant and turns out to be a clue to a piece of the puzzle.

The author has succeeded in bringing a group of friends to life for the reader, even the character who has been dead for so long. Attention to detail is given at just the right moments. The research that was involved, in portraying Jerome's story from the 1800's, was obviously enjoyed by the author, as the details of the period are wonderfully vibrant.

I savored this book to the very end, which turns out to not be the end after all. The second novel, Jerome's Quest, I am told will be available shortly. I look forward to it with much anticipation.

Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Historic Novel Review

The Texas Republic
by Joe L. Blevins
ISBN-10: 1553691407
Review by Heather Froeschl

The birth of the great state of Texas was a bloody battle on many fronts. History can be quite interesting when told through the journal entries of a freed slave, a brother to the Cherokee, a soldier in Sam Houston's army.

Andrew teaches himself to read and write, using the Bible for his primer. In his journal he details life and death, chores and challenges and even sketches the important people and places in his life. Through his words we see the history of Texas and the people who built it. Attacked on the trail to a land grant, Andrew is wounded, his wife killed. The Cherokee take him in and heal him, adopting him as a brother. He later marries the tribe's dream interpreter, Say-te-qua and eventually they have a son.

The Cherokee are asked to be scouts for Sam Houston's army in the struggle to free the Texas territory from Mexico. Andrew and his brother-in-law, Red Bird, take up arms and join the battle. Through it all, Andrew finds comfort and guidance in the Bible, and finds a friend in Sam Houston.

Andrew's family grows with the birth of sons and the adoption of others. Their farming community develops into a settlement, complete with schoolhouse, church and blacksmith. Through trade with the forts and local tribespeople they are able to exist. For a while, the people live side by side in guarded harmony. Later, with the threat of Indian War, Andrew and Red Bird help Sam Houston to broker peace among the tribes.

This book is full of real history, from Texas being a Mexican state, through its being independent, to the days of its becoming the 28th state of the US. But more so, it is the history of the Native Americans and the freed slaves, and the settlers of the land. It is the description of the day to day living that makes this book so interesting. The realities of life and the struggles of conflict, an acknowledgement of the reality of how the native peoples were treated by our government, are details which cannot be overlooked.

The author has relayed stories that were passed down in his own family. He has compiled and drawn from research over the past 25 years in order to make this book as historically correct as possible. His illustrations add a colorful flavor to the tales and added glossaries give understanding to the reader. There are countless references to the Bible that add to the depth of the story and demonstrate the impact that it must have had on freed slaves, the native people, and settlers alike.

For anyone wishing to understand better the history of our nation or the state of Texas, I cannot think of a better source that would be as entertaining and personal.