Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Reviewer is Writing Some Too…

by M. J. Joachim

For the past few months, I’ve been working on writing and publishing a couple of book ideas I’ve thought about for a few years. Then yesterday, I woke up at 4 am and started writing another book I happened to be dreaming about. So much of yesterday was devoted to cranking out ideas, before they vanished into thin air. By the afternoon, I felt like I short-changed the other book I’ve been working on, so I put in a couple of hours on it too. This morning has been all about yesterday’s new book though. It seems to want to be written, and as much as I’m enjoying working on the other one, this one won’t leave me alone.

As a reviewer of people’s books, I feel a little more nervous than usual about publishing my new books, hopefully before the end of the year. It’s not that my work isn’t solid or anything. And believe me, I’m being completely anal to make sure it is solid before I put it out there. It’s just that…well, yea, it’s just that…

Along with writing, I’m also reading. More reviews coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by,
M. J. 

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: Baroness Hyde de Neuville, Economical School, PD-US

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: On Mother’s Lap by Ann Herbert Scott

by M. J. Joachim

As I was cleaning and moving book shelves around the other day, I came across a few old stories I used to always read to my kids when they were little. Now that I’m a grandma, I guess I’ll have to read them to my grandchildren too. These are books to be cherished and passed down for generations; one of them is On Mother’s Lap.

Affirming a mother’s open arms and unending love, Scott introduces us to a Native American family doing what all families seem to do. Young ones sleep, while older siblings need to be quietly entertained. But the older siblings are full of energy, and they need affirmation from mother as much as the little ones do.

As an adult reads this story, children will be focused on the detailed and delightful pictures illustrated by Glo Coalson. Beautiful care was taken to make this book a pleasure for everyone. One of the reasons I bought this book so many years ago is because it clearly shows that families are families, and even though we may look a little different, or decorate our homes differently, or eat different foods, we all have a lot in common too.

On Mother’s Lap truly is a wonderful book, with a subtle and very valuable message too.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting Writing Tips today. I really appreciate it when you visit here.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: The Mother, Anchise Picchi (1911 - 2007), Public Domain

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: Incredible Home Canning Solutions by Martha Millhouse

by M. J. Joachim

Never mind the typos and some formatting issues, let’s get into the heart of what this book claims to do - offer canning solutions to newbie canners. As a newbie canner, one who has thoroughly done my research, I might add, this book was a total disappointment for me. 

Hot water baths preserve both high and low acid foods, but you wouldn’t know that by reading this book. I put this book down thinking, “I’m sure glad I did so much research before I read that one!” Otherwise I might think I need two types of canners, and I’d constantly be trying to figure out the ph value in any foods I wanted to can.” It’s enough to make any newbie, wannabe canner, forget the whole thing! Intimidating readily comes to mind. And no, you don’t need to have a pressure canner to can low ph foods.

You simply need to add the extra acid - a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to the recipe, as required according to the recipe. You also need to know how long to process your jars in the hot water bath, something completely omitted in the recipes provided in the book. However, pressure canning times were provided with those recipes. It helps to know what size jars too, because different sizes of jars are processed for different amounts of time.

Don’t even get me started on how to check to see if jars are sealed correctly. Suffice to say, this chapter wasn’t included in the book. All we were told was to check to see if jars are sealed and if not, reprocess within 24 hours. Considering this is a book written to help newbie canners, don’t you think knowing how to tell if jars are sealed correctly would be valuable information?

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the gist. I won’t be recommending this book for numerous reasons. If you want to learn to can, visit youtube and watch their canning videos. There are also some very thorough blogs out there - tons of recipes included, and the classic Better Homes Cookbook has a wonderful section on canning in it. Plus there are some great university sites with all sorts of information on canning, complete with pdf’s you can print to keep copies of necessary processing times for all sorts of foods.

Canning isn’t rocket science, and truth be told, it’s very easy to do too.

I’m so happy you stopped by today. Thanks, and I’ll see you again soon!

M. J.

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

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