Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘secrets’

I Almost Fell Over

513qrbXXhOLWhere We Belong by Fox Brison.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

Hope you don’t think I’m an eejit, as a bi-sexual wanna-be lesbian Yankee (22% Irish I recently discovered with DNA), when I say how much I fawned over Where We Belong by Ms. Brison. What is their not to like about this story? It takes place in one of my favorite parts of the world (near Westport, Ireland), is about family, helping kids, and has two beautiful narrators who fall deeply in love. There are so many twists and turns, I almost fell over (and I was sitting in a chair while reading). Oh yeah, the love scenes and romance are also very hot, and intricately interspersed throughout.

Bri (who thinks she’s straight), finds out she’s adopted, and takes a construction job in Ireland to get away from her ex-boyfriend and look for her birth mother’s family. Upon arrival, she meets the administrator of the new home being built for dis-advantaged children, Elisha. Elisha falls for Bri (short for Brianna) upon first sight, but doesn’t want to cross the line of hitting on a straight woman. In the meantime, Bri’s feelings for Elisha are running rampant, but she doesn’t know what to do with her knew found urges, and attraction, or how to tell Elisha.

Without giving anything away, here are some lines from the beginning of this book, when Bri finds a letter in her parent’s attic. “Intuitively I knew that this simple piece of stationary was about to take the very fabric of my being and tear it asunder, thread by thread, still I slipped a finger under the seal anyway.” Not only does the letter change her entire life, it prompts her to move to Ireland and throw everything she knew about herself out the window. The people she meets in Ireland, Elisha (and her sister and father) and her neighbors (Patrick and Bridget “Biddy”), become like family, and that’s just the start of it.

This book includes all the aspects that draw me into a story. It is written well, has believable and likable characters, lots of romance, a wonderful description, and sense, of time and place, and makes the reader feel like you know these people inside out. If I met the author (Fox Brison) in person, I’d give her a big hug and thank her for writing such an entertaining and heartfelt tale. There is a lot of lesfic fiction these days (at least a lot more than their ever was in the past), and like other genres, some of it is good, some bad, and some so so. Where We Belong is very good.

No Other Choice

Secrets: In the shadows lurks the truth by Judith Barrow.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

51GqVk8eBwLEach of the eight short stories in Secrets are very well written, and involve characters from Ms. Barrow’s novels. They include Nelly’s attempt to escape a convent with her baby, before it is given away; a nurse (Hilda) who has cared for her cantankerous mother for many years; Edith, who has been abused by her husband one to many times; Gwyneth, whose previous husband shows up unwanted, and unexpectedly at her new home; the fate of Alun Thomas, and his brother, who are conscientious objects during the first world war; Hannah and her son, reacting to the death of Hannah’s father; a fourteen-year-old and his friend joining the army during “the war to end all wars”; and Doreen, who has a baby during an air raid.

Most of these tales show the lives of women who have few options, or choices in their lives, and the extreme measures they take to be set free, and/or have some freedom (no matter how momentary it may be). Though the characters are taken from the author’s novels, each short story stands on its own, and could be a book entirely unto itself. The description of each individual, and their situations, are done with precision and care. By the end of the first paragraph readers have a good sense of who is who, what is going on, and the dilemma that is presented. This is no small feat. To weave together such a tight narrative is not an easy task for most writers. Ms. Barrow seems to do it with ease, and presents the primary protagonist with honesty, and empathy.

Having sympathy, and understanding, for the main character of a novel usually takes some time. To create an instant connection between the reader and the woman, or man, in a short story is even more difficult to do. I felt such a connection, regardless of the acts, or actions, they took, with every person in this collection. Doreen, Stan, Hannah, Alun, Gwyneth, Edith, Hilda, and Nelly, each had me rooting for them to triumph, get away from, or take whatever action was needed, to survive, or make sense of the world within which they lived. There are also a number of surprise endings.  Secrets is a book I recommend, without hesitation. Without a doubt, Ms. Barrow’s novels are just as well written, and well worth your time and attention.

After School Class

51DkXJGlttL._SY346_Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Skye is not an ordinary mother in a small town, and it turns out not everyone else is either. Reluctantly, Skye (and her son Leo), allows herself to become friends with Thea (and her daughter Florence, and niece, Allie). She also becomes “very close” to the landowner (Zack). Nobody knows Skye’s work history (or so she thinks), and she wants to keep it that way.

Ninja School Mum isn’t strictly a romance, suspense novel, or mystery, but more of a delicious stew with all three mixed in. Told from different points of view by the main characters (Skye, Thea, and Zack), it feels like you’re being taken into their confidence. It is impossible to not like them all, and understand their motivations for what they do, and how they interact with others.

The writing is pragmatic, with thoughts, feelings, and situations, clearly defined and explained. There is lots of drama, tension, emotion, and humor within these pages. Soon after Thea has met Skye, and they are in a bakery with her infant daughter (“Flo”), Thea thinks, “Im lusting after a slice of cake while my breasts have a mind of their own and are ready to combust with enough milk to flood this shop.”

If you think you know who did what when, and whether someone is tracking down Skye because of her previous job, you should be forewarned to not make any bets on your conclusions. Ms. Chantree has taken several genres and story lines and converted them into something familiar, yet also entirely different. Ninja School Mum is entertaining, romantic, suspenseful, and well worth the money and time.

One Eye Blinking

586613838e010d433bacb209ce65ea56c69e859e-thumbFrom The Mistress’s Secrets. Book 5, Verse 66. An excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

What’s the sound of one eye blinking?

More cosmic questions at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

The Sensuous Safari

The Sensuous Safari
by Gabriel Constans

This smoothie has been used to entice foreign heads of state to reveal their nation’s most intimate secrets. When given a choice between The Sensuous Safari or money, nine out of ten dignitaries chose The Safari.

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Yield: 4 1/2 cups

1 cup peach nectar
1 cup boysenberry nectar
2 slices fresh pineapple
1 mango, peeled and sliced
2 bananas

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Pour into tall glasses and serve diplomatically.

The Smoothie Goddess

Great-Am-SmoothiesGreat American Smoothies: The Ultimate Blending Guide for Shakes, Slushes, Desserts, & Thirst Quenchers
by Gabriel Constans
(One of the first books of smoothies published in North America. Avery Publishing, 1997)

The Smoothie Is Born

Long ago and far away, in the land of hither and yon, there lived a legendary goddess. She wasn’t your average, run-of-the-mill goddess; she didn’t rule the earth, fire, love, or other elemental realms, but her magic surpassed that of all other gods. She was the keeper of the Original Smoothie Recipe.

Without her intervention, human beings would have remained in darkness. Out of her immense compassion, the greatest potion ever tasted by mortals was revealed. This extraordinary event, which changed drinking history forever, came to pass in the year 1981. It went something like this…

After months of frustration with unwholesome, commercial baby food, a man bade farewell to his family and friends and embarked on a perilous journey. He would travel to the ends of the earth to find a healthy food alternative for his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, one without sweeteners, chemicals, or food coloring.

He traveled countless miles through the desert, over the mountains, and across the sea, until he finally arrived at a cave in the deepest jungle of Freedonia. It was in the recesses of this dark cave that he began to contemplate his predicament – he was dying of thirst.

He repeated the essential question out loud again and again: “Is there anything to drink around here?”

After three days of thirst his throat was parched, his legs ached, and his mind began to wander. Suddenly, in the soft darkness of the cave, he heard a faint, soothing voice calling softly, “Smoothies… Smoooothies… Smooooooothies.”

“Who’s there?” asked the enthralled and terrified man.

As he rubbed his eyes, there appeared before him a goddess in the shape of a swirling, ten-foot-tall, ripe banana.

“I am the one and only. I am the great, incredible, spectacular, outrageous, humble, long-winded Smoothie Goddess.”

“Well, of course you are. Anyone could see that,” he replied. And then he asked the earthshaking questions, “What in heaven’s name is a smoothie?”

She glared at him as only a Smoothie Goddess can and said, “You mean you don’t know?” Then she remembered that she had been playing solitaire for eons and hadn’t told anyone her secrets. After so many years alone in a cave, you start to forget things.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Of course you don’t know. How could you?”

Without further hesitation, she revealed to him the secret potion of the gods – the smoothie. She instructed him in all facets of the art of preparing smoothies. (A blender, refrigerator, and electrical socket were conveniently located in the back of the cave, and powered by a solar panel outside.) She made him solemnly promise to reveal her smoothie secrets to all the people on earth and no one else.

After a week of intense instruction, the man returned to his home. From that moment on, everyone who met him could feel the presence of the goddess within him. Day after day, he blended his not-so-secret concoctions for babies, children, young adults, and grown-ups. His life was filled with peace and happiness as his recipes spread throughout the world’s kitchens.

He continues to share the secrets entrusted to him by the great Smoothie Goddess with all who seek the essence of cool refreshment. The legend of this historical event continues. Disciples of the Smoothie Goddess are being initiated on a daily basis. The man’s vision of the goddess in a cave, far from home, was the beginning of a never-ending story.

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