We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday in November, and time for some good news to take you into December with a smile. The post I’ve chosen to share this month was brought to my attention by my friend Carol Thompson and is great news for anyone interested in keeping our marine habitats clean, but it’s especially exciting for me because the story comes from Ocean City, New Jersey, which is just a few miles from my home.

The story is about a program to incubate shellfish, and in particular clams, for the dual purpose of cleansing the ecosystem in the bay waters of the Atlantic Ocean and of building “habitat castles” that will help protect the low-lying barrier island from flooding. The incubator is also used to teach local students about shoreline ecosystems and marine management.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a worldwide blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

Your cohosts for this month are Lizbeth Hartz, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Roshan Radhakrishnan. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

A Hidden Gem

As many of you know, I have been working (forever, it feels like) on Book 2 in the Libraries of the World Mystery Series. In the first book, Trudy’s Diary, protagonist Daisy Carruthers uses collections from the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, to solve the mysteries. In Book 2, Dutch Treat, Daisy has taken a sabbatical from Global Human Rights Journal in Washington to work for one semester as an associate professor at a small college in New York City. As you might expect, the New York Public Library collections play a key role in this book.

I’ve done a great deal of research for Dutch Treat and a lot of that research has been about the main branch of the New York Public Library (the one on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street).

But the New York Public Library has more than just the main branch. In fact, it has 88 branches. And many of these are old—old enough to have been heated with coal in the early part of the twentieth century.

And how do you think the heating system worked when the library was closed?

Easy. Custodians were employed to keep the heating systems running overnight and on weekends. Those custodians and their families lived in apartments on the top floor of each library.

How cool would it be to live in a library??

This week, I’m sharing an article from Atlas Obscura that highlights one of the old custodian apartments: the one from Fort Washington. There are some interesting photos and some anecdotes from people who remember the custodians who took care of the libraries.

Enjoy!

Click here to be redirected to the article.

Until next time,

Amy

First Tuesday Recipes for October

It’s the first Tuesday in October! This year is going so fast, quarantines and lockdowns notwithstanding.

The three recipes I’ve chosen for this month are perfect for fall: they’re full of warm flavor, they’re great comfort foods, and everyone loves them.

***

Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 c. canned pumpkin (you can use homemade pureed pumpkin, if you prefer)

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. water

2 eggs

1 2/3 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. cinnamon

3/4 t. salt

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. ground cloves

Optional: 1/2 c. each chopped nuts and/or raisins/dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9 x 5″ loaf pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients (through eggs); beat well. In a separate medium bowl, whisk remaining ingredients. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and beat on medium speed until well-blended. Stir in optional ingredients, if desired.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Begin checking bread at 65 minutes.

***

Pasta Fagioli (with thanks to my mother)

1 T. olive oil

1 small onion, minced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 15-oz. can chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce

1/2 t. dried oregano

basil to taste

1 16-oz. can cannellini or white kidney beans

2 c. chicken broth (can use vegetable broth for vegetarian or vegan soup)

black pepper

1 c. (or more) pasta, depending on how much pasta you like in your soup (I use elbows or ditalini)

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven. When oil is hot, add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cover and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir once or twice, adding about a tablespoon of water if vegetables are sticking, then cover pot and simmer 5 minutes more until vegetables are very tender (mixture at this point is like the consistency of mush).

Add can of tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes, dried oregano, and basil to taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Add black pepper to taste, white beans, and chicken or vegetable broth. If you’d like thicker soup, you can either use an immersion blender until some of the soup is pureed or simply mash some of the beans against the side of the pot. Simmer for ten minutes. Add pasta and simmer for 10 minutes.

***

Angel Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 c. butter

1 pkg. dry Italian salad dressing mix (I use Good Seasons)

1 can golden mushroom soup

1/2 c. white wine

4 oz. onion and chive cream cheese

cooked angel hair pasta

Grease a slow cooker. Place chicken on the bottom.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add Italian dressing mix, soup, wine, and cream cheese. Stir well and pour over chicken.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve over cooked pasta.

Enjoy!

***

If you have any recipes you’d like to share, please email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll be happy to include them in a future post!

Until next time,

Amy

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

 

It’s the last Friday in September, and time for some good news to take you into October with a smile. The post I’ve chosen to share this month was brought to my attention by Carol Thompson and is great news for everyone, but especially interesting for those of us who live near the ocean.

It’s about an experiment to reseed the ocean floor with sea grass off the coast of England. The process was carried out successfully in the Chesapeake Bay here in the United States and the scientists who made it happen are now working with teams in Europe and Australia to foster far-reaching sea grass restoration. Sea grass, I learned, has huge potential in the fight against global warming and is an important habitat for fish and other sea creatures. I highly encourage you to read the article.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a worldwide blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

Your cohosts for this month are Eric Lahti, Shilpa Garg, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Sylvia Stein, and Peter Nena. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Release Day!

Today’s the day! Ghouls’ Night Out is here! Many thanks to everyone who has preordered the book. If you’d like to order the book now, click here! If you haven’t ordered a copy and want to know a little bit more about it, here’s the blurb:

“Halloween is just around the corner and the goblins are out in force in Juniper Junction. A crotchety merchant, a malicious next-door neighbor, and some ghoulish trick-or-treaters are causing hair-raising problems for Lilly Carlsen’s boyfriend, Hassan Ashraf, and things are about to get much worse.

When Hassan finds himself at the center of a police investigation following the deaths of two of his tormentors just days apart, Lilly is ready to help in any way she can to bring the real fiends to justice.

But with Lilly’s daughter having trouble adjusting to college, her mother continuing a downward spiral into dementia, and possible romantic strife on the horizon between Lilly’s brother and her best friend, Lilly’s Halloween is beginning to look especially frightful.”

***

To help celebrate my new release, the first three books in the series are on sale!

The Worst Noel is just 99¢ (click here to order)

 

Dead, White, and Blue is $1.99 (click here to order)

 

Be My Valencrime is $2.99 (click here to order)

 

As always, thank you to everyone for your support. And don’t forget to leave a review after you’ve read a book—the reviews are important for authors!!

Until next time,

Amy

 

A Day in the Life…in GIFs

The life of a writer is one thrilling day after another. I thought I’d share a typical day with you because it’s not fair that I keep all this fun to myself. I don’t think my days are atypical of writers in general, though I can’t speak for J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.

***

School starts this week. I don’t know about where you live, but here in my school district the kids are going to school two days a week in person. On those two days, my day will start thusly…

wake up coffee GIF by good-morning

Okay, let’s be honest. Every day starts like that.

 

Then I walk the dog. This is what it looks like. How she has that much energy every morning is baffling.

dog walk GIF

 

Because I don’t go anywhere except to walk the dog and go to the grocery store, I dress like this:

amy poehler yolo GIF

I could dress up, but why? Being comfortable is my superpower.

 

Since March, our clothes dryer has been broken. So most days I do laundry and hang it outside. Come winter, we will have to bite the bullet and buy a new dryer. And while I’m outside, I take a few minutes to pull some weeds.

travel sky GIF

 

My real work starts as soon as I’ve hung the laundry out. It’s about 8:30 a.m. by this time. That’s when I get online, check email, and visit all my social media hangouts, with the exception of Twitter…

Pop Tv GIF by Schitt's Creek

…and my book sales dashboards and sales pages.

Confused Kelsey Grammer GIF by CBS All Access

Sometimes this is good news, sometimes it isn’t.

 

But good news or not, after the real work begins. And this is the best part of the work day, even when the words won’t flow.

excited new girl GIF lisa simpson writing GIF

 

Lunch!

hungry ready to eat GIF

 

After lunch, I tweet. It takes up too much time to do it before lunch and to tell you the truth, I don’t love Twitter. My refusal to do it before lunch is my small way of rebelling.

social media twitter GIF by RealityTVGIFs

 

Then I write again. By now my creative juices are flowing and it’s time for everyone else to leave me alone.

fail seth meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers

Are you still with me? It’s been a whirlwind of a day.

 

Then I make dinner. I love to cook.

mary berry cooking GIF by BBC

Note: the kids don’t always love what I make, so they suggest alternatives. This is usually my response:

Bounce No GIF

 

Later, when the dinner dishes are done (because the dishwasher is also dead), I go for another walk because I’m trying to lose weight.

tired fox tv GIF by Kicking & Screaming

 

Finally, it’s time to relax and read a good book.

book read GIF

 

Bedtime!

chris farley mornings GIF

When do I clean, do you ask?

Simple: it gets done when it gets done.

sweeping mrs. doubtfire GIF by Hollywood Suite

Credits: tumblr.brockurealities.com; fox.com/kicking-and-screaming; hgtv.com

First Tuesday Recipes for September

Soup, Vegetables, Pot, Cooking, Food

It’s September 1st! You know what that means: we’re one step closer to lower humidity, cooler temperatures, and less weather-induced fury on my part. Today I’m sharing three fall-ish recipes that I hope you’ll try. Let me know what you think. And if you’ve got a recipe you’d like to share, email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and I’ll be happy to post it!

Before I continue, I’m going to engage in some shameless self-promotion for just a moment. Today I’m being interviewed by Dr. Summer Watson, author, podcaster, filmmaker, coach, and speaker, on her KORE Women podcast. Just click the link and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to have a listen: www.KOREWomen.com/podcast‬

And now for the recipes!

***

Fall Apple Sandwich

2 slices cinnamon raisin bread (you can substitute any bread, but the cinnamon raisin really elevates this sandwich)

2 oz. deli ham or turkey (I prefer the ham)

1 oz. cheddar cheese, sliced thin or shredded

1 apple, peeled, cored, and thinly-sliced

butter

 

Preheat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Layer ham, cheese, and apple slices on one piece of bread. Place the other piece of bread on top. Butter the top of the sandwich. Place sandwich, butter side down, on the griddle and butter the bottom slice. Cook until cheese is starting to melt and bread is golden. Flip sandwich and cook until cheese is completely melted. This is delicious with a dollop of your favorite mustard on the side.

 

***

Chicken and Apple Salad

Dressing:

1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 c. Dijon mustard

4 T. honey

2 T. lemon juice

2 T. apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

 

Salad:

1/4 t. pepper

1/8 t. salt

3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast

cooking spray

8 c. salad greens

3/4 c. chopped red pepper

1/2 c. celery, thinly sliced

1/2 c. red onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 1/2 c. Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1/2 c. shredded smoked Gouda cheese

1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

 

Make dressing: combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.

Preheat broiler and coat broiler pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken. Broil chicken for about 5 min. per side or until juices run clear. Slice chicken into 1/4″ pieces. Combine chicken, salad greens, red pepper, celery, and onion in a large bowl; toss gently. Whisk dressing again and drizzle over salad. Sprinkle with cheese and almonds.

***

Ham and Bean Soup

16 oz. navy beans

ham bone (I wrap mine in cheesecloth so the yucky bits don’t get into the soup)

3 c. diced ham

1/2 t. basil

1 sm. onion, chopped

1/4 t. pepper

2 med. celery stalks, sliced

1 med. carrot, chopped

 

Soak beans in 2 qts. water overnight. Drain water from beans and add another 2 qts. water. Combine beans with all other ingredients except celery and carrots. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours, covered, stirring occasionally. Stir in celery and carrots. Simmer for 30-60 minutes. Remove and discard ham bone before serving.

 

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Amy

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – New Releases, Offers, Reviews – #Mystery Amy M. Reade, #Romance Linda Bradley, #Thriller Iain Kelly

What a treat to find a spotlight on Ghouls’ Night Out and Cape Menace this week on Sally Cronin’s blog. You can check it out, along with some great-sounding books from two accomplished authors, on Sally’s blog. Thanks again, Sally!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new look Author Updates where I share new releases, offers and recent reviews for authors on the shelves. If you are a new author and would like to be included in the cafe please check out the links in this post: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore FREE author promotion.

The first author with news is USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade with a new release in time for Halloween.  Ghouls Night Out (The Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series Book 4) on Pre-order for September 15th.

About the book

Halloween is just around the corner and the goblins are out in force in Juniper Junction. A crotchety merchant, a malicious next-door neighbor, and some ghoulish trick-or-treaters are causing hair-raising problems for Lilly Carlsen’s boyfriend, Hassan Ashraf, and things are about to get much worse.

When Hassan finds himself at the center of a police investigation following the…

View original post 839 more words

Reading Round-Up: August Edition

For the entire month of August, I’ve been thinking that the last Tuesday was actually next week. Imagine my shock when I learned it’s today. Luckily, over the past month I’ve been working on this post each time I finish a book, rather than waiting until the day before the last Tuesday and then writing the whole thing.

Anyway, August was a good month for reading! I’ve finished seven books since my last Reading Round-Up, and it’s an even more eclectic bunch than last month. Let’s get started!

 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. I read this for my book club, and if it hadn’t been assigned, I might not have chosen to read it. I think World War II stories are important, but I have to read them really far apart from each other or I just find them too overwhelming.

Let me start by saying this book is very closely based on a true story, which I find absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it, but only before and after you’ve read something very light-hearted. If you’re looking for a happy book, this isn’t the one for you. It takes a lot to get me to cry while I’m reading, and this reduced me to a puddle. Read my review here.

***

Dead Man’s Prayer: A gripping detective thriller with a killer twist (DI Frank Farrell, Book 1) by [Jackie Baldwin]

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin. I first heard about this book, the first in the DI Frank Farrell series, on Twitter when I started following author Jackie Baldwin. I was intrigued at first because I love books set in Scotland, but once I started reading the intrigue factor jumped into the stratosphere and I couldn’t turn pages fast enough. Are you looking for a thriller that will leave you breathless? You’ve come to the right place. Read my review here.

***

Out of the Woods by Patricia Gligor. This is the third book in the Small Town Mystery Series. In this book, Kate Morgan confronts the man who left her, a pregnant teenager, eleven years ago. For the sake of their daughter, she tries to make the best of the situation, but his return causes some problems, not the least of which is the reaction of her fiance. And when questions arise about the man’s possible involvement in a number of horrifying home invasions, what will she tell her daughter?

This is a great book and although it’s classified as a mystery, it crosses genres into women’s fiction, family drama, and suspense. It’s got it all. Read my review here.

***

Sea Wife: A novel by [Amity Gaige]

I really looked forward to reading Sea Wife by Amity Gaige. Billed as psychological suspense, it’s the story of a family (husband, wife, two young children) who leave their lives behind for a year and sail around the Caribbean. Unfortunately, it’s all psychological and no suspense. The main character, Juliet, suffers from depression and, it would appear, anxiety, and the story ends up being a morose tale of a marriage that has gone stale and the disturbing thoughts of a woman who doesn’t think she was ever meant to be a mother. I gave the book 3 stars and you can read my review hereAs I noted last month when I shared a book I didn’t really like, don’t let my review put you off from reading the book. There are plenty of glowing reviews for this work of literary fiction.

***

The Orchardist: A Novel by [Amanda Coplin]

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin was a book club pick. I’m glad I read it, but I didn’t like it. It was depressing, entirely bereft of any semblance of happiness for any of the characters, and looooong. As in, almost 600 pages. The book spans many years, and I often felt like I was reading it in real time. On the other hand, in taking a look at the many reviews this book has garnered, I am clearly in the minority. There are lots of people who think this book is beautiful, moving, and melancholy in a good way. It’s just not my cup of tea. I think it’s because I like my reads to have at least a little bit of action and some character growth, and I saw almost none of that in this book. If you like a character-driven story, this might be for you. Read my full review here.

***

Untamed by Glennon Doyle is a work of art. I listened to this memoir on CD, and hearing the book read by the author was a great experience. This is the first time I’ve heard a book (at least, not a children’s book) read by the author and though I have my doubts about fiction writers voicing their own work, for a memoir it was a wise choise. Read my review here.

***

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel by [Natalie Jenner]

This book has been on my radar for a while, and I was eager to read it. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner doesn’t disappoint. Read my review here.

What have you read this month? I hope you’ll share your reads in the comments.

Until next time,

Amy