Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: What to Eat in Restaurants Gluten Free Phoenix/Scottsdale Arizona Edition

by M. J. Joachim

Limited though this book was, I found there were some wonderful new restaurants I’d like to visit for eating gluten free, if I feel like driving across the valley. Author T. K. Kenyon compiled a nice selection of choices, and her organization is easy enough to follow. However, I wish she had included restaurants in the broader Phoenix area, instead of only those in Phoenix, Scottsdale and near ASU. 

It seems she missed the east valley entirely, which has some of the best gluten free pizza I’ve ever eaten. I’m referring to Red, White and Brew, which can make any of their pizzas gluten free. Their salads are also gluten free, complete with dressings of choice. They also have a few gluten free desserts to try.

Barros locations throughout the valley also have gluten free pizza, wings and salad including dressing choices. Yes, you can have wings with ranch and blue cheese dressing here. Their wings are so good too!

I’ve heard Vito’s also has an extensive gluten free menu full of pasta and pizza dishes too, though I haven’t stopped in yet. It’s on my list, because I have to see if their gluten free pizza is better than Red, White and Brew’s. Not to mention, they've won awards for some of their gluten free dishes.

Do you feel like having Mexican food? Try Macayos. They have an extensive gluten free menu and the food is delicious. And don’t forget Chili’s for some southwestern food.

Okay, so I’m getting carried away because it’s not always easy eating out when you’re gluten free, which is why I wish this book was more comprehensive and all inclusive. Would I recommend it for people who need to eat gluten free? Yes, because we need all the resources we can get. Would I recommend it if the market had lots of these types of books and resources readily available? hmmm, I’d have to give that one a bit more thought, depending on what was out there.

I hope this review was helpful to you, especially if you’re gluten free. What to Eat in Restaurants Gluten Free Phoenix/Scottsdale…is a portion of a larger book, What to Eat in Restaurants Gluten Free. I won’t be getting that one, because as much as this one gave me a few new restaurants to try, I’d rather do my research, make my calls and discover new restaurants as I need to. Part of the reason for this is because I don’t want to be limited to only the restaurants listed in the book. As you can see, I’ve discovered a few more on my own, before I ever started reading it.

Thanks for visiting Writing Tips today. It’s always good to see you here.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Gluten Free Beer, Parcher, Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 (I don’t know if it tastes good or not, but it looks like something for beer drinkers to try.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Book Review: Her Unwelcome Inheritance by J. Alexander Wooton

by M. J. Joachim

In this world of fairies, goblins and pucks, Alice in Wonderland readily came to mind. Perhaps it was all the swirling down holes that opened up in the ground out of nowhere. Maybe it was the talking animals, a mixture of real life and fantasy trying to convince readers and characters in the book that fairies are truly real.

Wooton takes us on a roller coaster ride venturing from fantasy to fiction to reality, all of which are possible at any given moment in the story. Sometimes it was hard to follow, but most of the time, Wooton wove his words carefully, describing in robust detail, all the many scenes, both active and passive, as they appeared.

Research, or rather lots of reading about fairies and the netherworld they live in, was clearly done to task, as proven by the lengthy list of books listed as references at the end of the book. Speaking of which, the last, oh, I’d say ten percent or so of the story, seemed to lack the detailed proofreading and editing that the rest of the book maintained.There were a few missing words, minor grammar glitches and such - nothing too distracting, but enough for any book reviewer worth her salt to notice.

As stories go, Her Unwelcome Inheritance was respectable. It wasn’t earth shattering or anything, but if you like stories about fairies coming to life, being part human and part fairy, fighting to preserve their fairy wonderland and cliff hangers, where you have to wait for the next book to come out to see if Petra, the main character, survives her daunting task, then you’ll probably really enjoy this book.

Thanks for visiting Writing Tips today. It’s always so nice to see you here.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: August Malmstrom (1829 - 1901), Dancing Fairies, PD-US

Reviewing My Review Process

by M. J. Joachim


I have a lot of fun writing reviews. For me, it’s a creative outlet, a blank canvas waiting to be explored. Much like a good food critic - good food critics don’t give you a list of ingredients and tell you how a dish is made. They savor every last morsel, devouring the entire meal placed pleasingly before them.

So it is with my book reviews. Presentation matters. The appetizer (or request) should never overwhelm or fill me up, especially to the point that I don’t want to bother with the main course (or book). Dessert is a simple “Thank you,” letting me know that you’ve actually read your full review.

It’s okay if you don’t agree with everything I said. I try to write fully balanced reviews, sharing pros and cons as much as possible, so others can make fully educated decisions about whether or not they’d like to purchase what I read (or saw, in the case of movie reviews).

I don’t write reviews to help boost or hurt sales. As a writer myself, I understand how difficult and time consuming it is to write and publish anything. Putting oneself and one’s work out there especially in this brilliant age of technology, takes guts in a market as saturated as ours. This is why I truly take time when reading and writing reviews, because as the author, you deserve nothing less from me. We’re a team working together in the vast world of publishing, and together we truly can reach a much wider audience and share our work in turn.

Thanks for visiting Writing Tips today. Your support means a lot to me. From one starving artist to another, here’s to taking one more step forward!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, Mobi book, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bindu, Canning, FlashTyme - Pass the Spaghetti, Please!

by M. J. Joachim



Bindu, oh the things you do
In your artsy, carefree way
Mixing up the mediums
You even find time to crochet

Owning and running an Etsy shop
With so many things at your store
Bindu, you amaze me
But then what are blog friends for?

Just giving a little shout out of thanks to you, Bindu, for commenting on and sharing so many of my blog posts. Happy Friday to you!


I’m still reading my latest book folks. I’ve also taken up canning recently. Just got a little tired of reading labels, and the more I read them, the more I wanted real food without all those chemicals and preservatives, not to mention soy, high fructose corn syrup and sodium.

I also revitalized my FlashTyme blog this week. Along with my flash fiction stories, you’ll be privy to almost anything that flashes through my brain (Warning: Things could get a little bumpy at times). I'm also including some very tasty canning (and other) recipes there, so I hope you’ll stop by and follow, because you never know what I might say or come up with next.

On that note, I made some killer spaghetti sauce last night, canned 6 jars too - recipe to be shared on FlashTyme at a later date; the leftovers are calling my name for breakfast. 


Hopefully I’ll finish my book today and post the review here this weekend. Happy Friday to all and thanks for visiting Writing Tips.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Links appreciated greatly, but please don’t copy any content here. Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, canned goods, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shadow and Luna Get Orlin to Dance

by M. J. Joachim



Shadow & Luna went out to play
One bright, sunny Arizona day
Shadow howled like few dogs can
Luna yapped til he said, “Oh man!”

Pat’s cat Orlin heard the commotion
He took the last train in fine locomotion
“Carol King ain’t got nuttin on me
I can dance like this! Just look and see!”

Shadow and Luna noticed Pat’s cat
Chasing cats is where they are at
With a yippy howl they jumped at the fence
Orlin just smiled, calling them dense

Until he got stuck in that mulberry tree
Poor Orlin was flung until he got free
Pat did his best not to hear Orlin’s call
For Orlin had many lives left in this fall

So Orlin, Shadow and Luna did play
In this rhyming game with Pat today
If ever there was so much fun to be had
Rhyming with Pat is totally rad!

Just a wee bit of thanks for all your comments on my blog, Pat!


I’m in the midst of reading another book and will be back with a review in the not too distant future. Thanks to all for stopping by to read and comment on my blog today and every day.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: M. J. Joachim, Shadow & Luna, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Review: The Halloween Collection from Indie Eclective

by M. J. Joachim

Creepy, morbid, weird and strange, The Halloween Collection from Indie Eclective is a flat out variety filled collection of Halloween stories ranging from ghosts and spirits to werewolves and vampires. Since the book is written by multiple authors, no two stories are exactly alike; all are capable of making skin crawl and hair stand on end.

Admittedly, I enjoyed some stories in this collection more than others. Not wanting to taint your views, I won’t tell which ones. Suffice to say, they all are written with a sense of Halloween flare, the type of stories easily shared on a crisp Halloween eve, before all the festivities where witches, goblins, zombies and black cats hit the streets.

In the spirit of Halloween, I recommend this book, but not for young children, and suggest you pick up a copy before the season ends.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. May your Halloween be filled with fun!

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Halloween in New England, jkb, GNU Free Documentation License

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step by Jeanette Raleigh

by M. J. Joachim


There’s something about a good western that almost always piques my interest. Just when you think it can’t get any better, you find yourself swept up in a fantasy world, where zombies come to life, drama unfolding with each passing stage coach on the dusty old road. Battles between good and evil, with guns a blazing, horses racing and saloons gone wild.

Entertaining, exciting and loooong…

I truly enjoyed reading The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step (Wow, that's a mouthful, isn't it?), and really got into the fictional fantasy world and characters. Raleigh writes an amazing story, detailed to perfection, a fictional fantasy. Oh, wait, I said that already, didn’t I? Perhaps because that’s where I wanted and needed the story to end multiple times. It wasn’t real, and I wasn’t prepared to gain a deep seeded, heart wrenching message, attempting me to take stock of my soul. I just wanted to enjoy a good story - about cowboys and zombies, not making my way to heaven or hell, regardless of the subtlety Raleigh used when trying to include the message.

Which is why this story could have ended so much sooner. There were many natural endings in The Zombie Cowboy Two-Step that would have left me perfectly satisfied and content. It’s like looking at a painting that’s completely over-painted. Something isn’t quite right, and you know it’s because there’s just too much there.

Forty-four chapters, easy enough to read through, not really time consuming at all - unless taken as a whole in a book that should have remained about zombies attacking a western town, without delving into the psyche and taking away from the fictional fantasy. Raleigh is a very good story-teller. There’s no disputing that fact in this review. There were simply too many messages detailed and expressed in this particular story that I would have preferred focused on cowboys and zombies, without all the guilt trip about making good decisions and saving my soul.

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to read this review.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved No part of this review may be copied. However, links to this post are greatly appreciated.

Photo credit: Zombie, JNL, Free Art License