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Fall Madness Book Reviews for “Icy Sparks,” “The Bridge on Jackson Road”

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By Gini Rainey

“Icy Sparks”

By Gwyn Hyman Rubio

Set in rural Kentucky in the 1950s, Icy Sparks tells the story of a ten-year-old orphan, Icy Sparks, who is being raised by her grandparents.  As if life wasn’t difficult enough for Icy, she soon begins to display the symptoms of what we now know as Tourette’s Syndrome, but was unnamed, misdiagnosed and misunderstood in the 1950s.

Without revealing the diagnosis of Tourette’s until the last pages of this novel, Rubio lets now-grown Icy narrate her own tale of what it was like to live in a body that she, at times, had no control over and the reactions of the people around her.  With strong character development, it isn’t long before the reader feels a kinship with the spunky young girl who fights against the disease that periodically took control of her body and made her feel more vulnerable than any 10 years old should ever have to feel.

icyFrom the beginning of this book to the very end, Rubio takes the reader through a full range of emotions as experienced by Icy:  joy and sadness, hope, and disappointment, delight and misery.  She has succeeded in creating an unforgettable character who should be a reminder to everyone that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  Underneath all of the tics, gestures, and language, Icy was just a young girl who wanted nothing more than to be accepted and loved.

Even though this was Rubio’s debut novel, she managed to portray the central character with a strong will to survive and provided the reader with an inspirational story of overcoming insurmountable obstacles.

5 of 5

Copyright 1998 – Penguin Books

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“The Bridge on Jackson Road: An Anthology of Dark, Spooky Stories”

Phyllis H. Moore

bridgeJust in time for some good ol’ Halloween reading, this book is filled with the stuff nightmares are made of.  Although not necessarily blood-chilling, you’ll find that reading these stories might just make you take a second look behind you when you’re walking down a dark street or sitting alone in your home.

Named for a real location in south Texas where teenagers go on idle weekend nights, the Bridge on Jackson Road is a structure where, if you holler, you might hear your own voice come echoing back to you – or perhaps something else.

This book is easy reading at its best, but you might just want to take some time between stories to ponder exactly what might have been going on in the underlying mysteries of the dark and haunting tales.

Whether or not you are a believer of ghosts, spooks, and things that go “bump” in the night, this book makes a perfect companion for camp fires, stormy nights and spooky holidays.

4 of 5

Copyright 2016 – DelCorazon Interests

“The Girl in the Ice”

By Robert Bryndza

The first in a series of Detective Erica Foster detective crime novels, this book follows the search for a serial killer in all girlthe way to a surprise ending.  Someone in London is killing off prostitutes and leaving quite a trail that Foster begins to connect to the same person.  This Wall Street Journal and USA Today’s number one best seller is quite a genre switch from Bryndza’s usual romantic comedy novels and takes a hard look at the privileged lives and attitudes of a wealthy London family.

Back on the job after a hiatus from her last case that resulted in Foster’s husband’s death, Erica is having to overcome, not only feelings of guilt and loss but also face a group of peers that aren’t quite sure she’s ready to be back at work.  While you think you might have the end of this book figured out, be forewarned that nothing in this book is what it seems to be.  With as many twists and turns as a country road, this plot is about as complex as they come.

This book is full of brilliantly created realistic solid characters and great dialogue.  This book is absolutely riveting and full of more intrigue than you usually find in a debut novel. Bryndza has done a great job creating a character that will be able to hold her own through many more adventures in his series and I hope he plans on several.

5 of 5

Copyright 2016 – Bookouture

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Books

Duck! Here It Comes!

By Gini Rainey

For those of you who have been paying attention to the general theme of my cookbook collection, you may have noticed a trend towards those written by or about celebrities and or famous people.  That was one of my initial criteria when I started picking them up and mostly still is, unless I come across one that’s weird, unusual, or cheap!  Every so often I’ll go to my favorite eBay store, thriftbooks, just to see if they have anything new that fits the bill.  The cookbook I have in front of me today is one of those.  It’s “Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen” by Kay Robertson with Chrys Howard and was published in 2013 by Howard Books and was written by a celebrity and was cheap!  Score!

So, then I got to thinking “whatever happened to Duck Dynasty.”  I was never a viewer of the series – but I have the T-Shirt that my husband picked up for me in West Monroe, Louisiana on one of his many treks to Florida. I did watch a portion of one episode at one of my daughter’s following a family gathering.  About all I can remember about it was her family never missed an episode and were really into it.  I think that particular episode had some bird-hunting/killing/plucking/slicing/ dicing/cooking involved in it.  My other daughter and her family (who just happen to be vegans) had a hard time sitting there watching all of the carnage and eventually turned to other things to do and talk about.

The Robertson’s have pretty some strong family values and have actually built quite a financial empire over the past 30 plus years with their clothing line – Duck Commander.  Even though she spent a great deal of her time working along side her husband, Miss Kay raised a family and filled them, not only with good food, but also a stern hand nicely blended with warmth and love.

Her cookbook is filled, not only with great, rib-sticking recipes, but also with quite a few biblical references, anecdotes, and family photos.  Sharing that she uses a cast iron skillet or dutch oven to cook most of her recipes, she explains it’s because they can either be used on the stove top or in the oven and they heat up quickly. It’s also not terribly surprising that several of her recipes call for Duck Commander seasoning!

Well, if you’re lucky enough to own a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, here’s a fairly easy recipe to try out on your family.  First, heat your oven to 275° and season about 1 pound of tenderized round steak (tenderized round steak usually comes 4 to a package and I generally cut those in half to make 8 pieces) with salt and pepper and lightly sprinkle both sides with flour.  Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in your cast-iron Dutch oven (or cast-iron skillet, or ovenproof casserole dish) and brown the steaks on both sides and drain off the excess oil.  Add 2 celery stalks chopped in large chunks, 1 onion chopped in large chunks, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 bell pepper chopped in large chunks, 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes and 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce to Dutch oven along with the browned steaks.  Cover and bake for 1 ½ hours and serve with steamed potatoes or egg noodles.  You may not be a Duck Commander, but this meal will have you eating like one!

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Books

Programs Blooming at the Library

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New April Programs for All Ages at the Library:

Introduction to Finch Robots & Book Signing for “MOM LIFE: Perfection Pending”

The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Most events are free. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to tylerlibrary.com.

Children

All storytimes will be in Taylor Auditorium.

  • Leeme un Cuento/Read to Me Storytime (children 3-6 years old), Mondays at 10:30am
  • Lap & Play Time (babies up to 18 months) features stories, songs, and playtime with developmental toys at 9:30am every Wednesday
  • Toddler Explore Storytime (children under age 3) is on Wednesdays at 10:30am
  • Read Aloud Crowd Storytime (children 3-6 years old), Thursdays at 10:30am

April 7th (2-4pm) – LEGO® Block Party – Children ages 3 and up, bring your imagination for an afternoon of building and playing! LEGO® and Duplo Blocks are provided.

April 14th and 28th (2-4pm) – Makerspace – This continuing STEM education for children and teens will feature April 14th: Introduction to Finch Robots and April 28th: We’re at the Maker Faire. This will be held in the Library Treehouse.

April 21st (10:30am) – Movie Matinees – Families are invited to watch a fun feature length films in the library’s auditorium. A different movie will be shown each day. Pillows, blankets, and carpet friendly snacks welcome.

Teens

Every Tuesday (4:30-5:30pm) – Teen Tuesdays – If you are in Middle School or High School you’re in! The Library will have games, activities, and fun just for teens. Earn volunteer hours completing special projects. Descriptions for weekly activities can be found at library.cityoftyler.org/Programs/Teens. Events are:

  • April 3rd: DIY Calming Glitter Jars
  • April 10th: Intro to Coding with Finch Robots
  • April 17th: Robots cont. – Navigate a Maze
  • April 24th: Robots cont. – Draw with a Robot

Adults

April 7th (10am-12 noon) – EastSide Fiber Artists – An open gathering of all things fiber. Whether you quilt, knit, crochet, weave, spin, needle felt, etc. Bring your current or completed project and make some new friends.

April 13th (11:30am) – “Pass Along Plants” with Andie Rathbone will be presented as part of the Smith County Master Gardener Series.

April 14th (11am-12:30pm) – “MOM LIFE: Perfection Pending” Book Launch & Signing – Along with selling and signing copies of her new book during her stop at Tyler, Ethington will be discussing various parenting topics and opening up for a Q&A.

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Books

Historically Speaking

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by Gini Rainey

I was thinking this morning about all the incredible advances in technology that I have seen in my lifetime, and how much my dad would have loved all the gadgets we seem to have surrounded ourselves with the past 50 years. For example, just in my lifetime, I’ve seen telephones go from shared party lines with rotary dials to the incredible iPhone (virtually a computer in your hand) that not only can be used for staying connected, but takes a whole lot better photograph than my once treasured Canon SLR.

So, then I got to thinking about all the advances in the kitchen that have helped make the home maker’s life infinitely easier and how many of the old gadgets that I grew up with are now items of speculation in antique shops and vintage stores.  Sometimes just standing back and listening to people trying to determine their use is half the fun of spotting one “just like we used to have!”

Just for fun – can you name these gadgets?

So speaking of vintage, today I’m looking at The Martha Washington Cook Book and is the product of historian Marie Kimball who received special permission from The Historical Society of Pennsylvania to study the original manuscript that was used by Martha Washington for 50 years and then was passed down mother to daughter for nearly 100 years.  The original cookbook was published in 1940 by Coward-McCann, Inc., and the copy that I have was published in 2005.

With nearly 50 pages of historical background regarding the state dinners at the White House and the meals hosted at Mt. Vernon, Kimball has succeeded to paint a rather lovely picture of Martha Washington, who was the over-seer of all of meals prepared for family and dignitaries.  While we might not find many of the recipes included in the book to be something we might consider preparing, such as Marrow Pie, Lettuce Tart, Roasted Hare, or Stewed Calves’ Feet, Mrs. Kimball has fully adapted Martha’s cookbook for practical, modern use.  All the recipes have been proportioned to the current practice of a formula for serving six people, and she says that all of the recipes have been tested and taste great!

One of Martha’s recipes that jumped out at me was for apple fritters sounds absolutely yummy: Heat 1 cup ale and add ¼ cup white wine and the yolks of 4 eggs, the white of 1 egg, well beaten.  Mix together 1 cup flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon cloves, and ¼ teaspoon mace and combine the two mixtures.  According to Martha Washington “Your batter must be no thicker than will just hang on the apples.”  A little more or less flour may be needed.  Cut the apples into rounds – or what ever shape you please – and deep in the batter.  Drop in deep fat and fry a golden brown.  Drain on a piece of clean linen, (I bet you can use paper towels!) sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and serve.  Oh, my, nom-nom!

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