All posts by Amy Caudill

About Amy Caudill

I am a a writer and dreamer of different worlds, who dabbles in paranormal and science fiction, a fan girl at heart who loves books and movies in equal measure. Join me as I explore and sample some of the best in media available as well as some original writing.

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Dead Beat

Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, #7) by

Jim Butcher (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review

What can I say about this latest volume of the Dresden Files?  Dead Beat pits our favorite urban wizard-for-hire, Harry Dresden, against a group of necromancers vying against each other for the ultimate power gain.  It also features a host of both friends and foes, new and old, and a chance to actually see the White Council of Wizards as the good guys, instead of just the overly suspicious and judgmental group out to prove Harry is up to no good.

Of course, the story starts with a seemingly low-key private investigation, followed quickly by Dresden being blackmailed by a vampire sorceress, and even includes a hint of a possible romance for the lovesick Harry (still heartbroken over Susan) that might just cost Harry his soul, his will, and everything he has ever stood for.

I had trouble deciding exactly what the title of this one meant-does it refer to Harry’s half-vampire brother who is living on the couch in Harry’s apartment, or to the fact that Harry does so much magic in the course of this adventure that he is wounded and exhausted for most of the story, or even to the fact that (spoilers) Harry is recruited as a Warden, a sort of cop for the Wizard’s Council, and assigned his home turf as his “beat” ?

This story contains a lot of different side plot points, and a lot of references and characters that newbies to the series may not get, but it’s still a fun ride, especially when Dresden calls for reinforcements by means of a reanimated Tyrannosaurus Rex named Sue.  I give this epic five stars for creativity, and am relieved that the series is still going strong.  After all, I have eight more volumes to read through before the release of the next story, Peace Talks, hopefully to be released in 2020.

Holiday Brunch Recipe-Goetta Casserole

 

family sitting near dining table and eating food
Family meals- such an important part of the holidays! Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Before I simply start sharing this recipe, there may be readers out there asking, what is goetta, and why should I care?

Goetta, pronounced “get-uh” is a dish that originated in southwestern Ohio, and was invented by German settlers in the 19th century.  It is a type of sausage made of ground meat (either pork, beef, or a mixture of the two), steel oats, and spices.  It can be fried in a skillet like sausage, or added to numerous dishes.  It is so popular in the Cincinnati area that it has its own annual festival.

 

Goetta- it’s a local  phenomenon!

My family is a transplant to the region, but goetta is one food that we’ve come to love, though we don’t eat it often because it’s definitely not the healthiest of fare.  However, for the holidays, we indulge and I often prepare this recipe for special breakfasts or brunches.  It does take time to make, because the casserole turns out best if it is prepared and then refrigerated overnight, before baking.  This also allows for a little less work in the morning if you have guests or excited children anxious to open presents.

Goetta Cassserole

Ingredients:

8 frozen hash brown patties, or one package frozen shredded hash browns

8 slices of goetta-one block (no pre-cooking required), or 1 lb bulk breakfast sausage, browned and drained

4 cups of any blend of shredded cheddar, Colby and Monterey jack cheeses

1 thinly chopped green onion, or equivalent in dried chives

7 eggs

1 cup milk

Season salt, plus ½ tsp table salt

¼ tsp pepper

Directions:

Place or press hash browns into a single layer in a greased 13 x 9 baking dish.  Liberally sprinkle with season salt.  Top with goetta, then cover with shredded cheese and green onion.

Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well combined.  Pour over other layers in dish, coating well.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or bake immediately.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake casserole, covered with foil, for 1 hour.  Uncover and bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown and knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Feeds 8-12 people.  Great served with fresh fruit and pumpkin bread.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

*If goetta is not available in your area, there is always the Internet.  Or, if you’re not feeling adventurous, the recipe would work for ordinary breakfast sausage as well, though make sure to pre-cook the meat before adding it to the casserole.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does, and I hope you’re doing well with all your holiday preparations and plans.

Till next time,

Amy

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Tomorrow marks Thanksgiving in the United States, a tradition started by peoples of two very diverse cultures sitting and peacefully sharing a meal.

Today, the meaning and emphasis placed on the holiday varies as much as the diverse groups who acknowledge this day.  For some, it is simply an extra day off work or a day to begin, or finish, holiday shopping.  For others, it’s about family, overeating, and falling asleep in front of the TV, with either a parade or football on the screen.

Many though, choose to remember that this day was originally envisioned as a time to give thanks for the blessings of enough food, a safe home,  freedom from religious persecution, and good neighbors.

group of people making toast

Family, food, and time together.  Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Thanksgiving is also a time to remember there are those out there who do not share the blessings our ancestors celebrated- enough food to eat, and a safe and warm home.  Please consider sharing what you can with your local foodbank, the Salavation Army, or another local charity.

Above all, have a safe, and happy Thanksgiving!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Christmas, The Krewe and a Large White Rabbit

Christmas, The Krewe and a Large White Rabbit by Heather Graham
Christmas, The Krewe and a Large White Rabbit (Krewe of Hunters) by

Heather Graham (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review

Combine a group of people who are capable of interacting with the dead, recruit them to an elite FBI unit, and then send them out in couples to fall in love-the improbable premise for the paranormal romance series by author Heather Graham somehow just works, making The Krewe of Hunters a very entertaining series.

This e-novella is a direct sequel to Haunted be the Holidays, and picks up as the main protagonists of that story, Brodie and Kody, are about to be married, on Christmas Eve.  While they’ve chosen to wed at a historic Virginia tavern that friends have just restored, there wouldn’t be much to the plot without a little conflict.  In this case, the drama is introduced by a rabbit-costume-and-gas-mask wearing, machete wielding escapee from a nearby mental institution.

Kody is soon following the Rabbit through snow-covered woods, and learns he is trying to protect her and some “Golden Dragon” from the “dragon slayers.”  Despite the odd appearance of this character, his ramblings raise a number of questions, especially when a couple of very suspicious guards from the institution are looking for the Rabbit, and carrying high-powered rifles.

Brodie, with assistance from Krewe members coming to the wedding, learn the Rabbit is actually a distinguished military veteran, suffering from PTSD.  Still that doesn’t explain his behavior, until further clues point that while the Rabbit, a.k.a. Captain Avery, retired army veteran, has actually witnessed something illegal and deadly happening at Virginia Hansom Hospital.  Now the Krewe have to keep Avery safe, uncover the conspiracy at the hospital, and arrest the involved staff, and all before the Christmas wedding.

What struck me about this story is that despite numerous Lewis Carroll references, Captain Lynch did not go off on a tangential journey into Neverland, but rather became quite lucid as soon as the drugs were out of his system.  While the analogy being played out could have made an interesting story, it would have been a quite different one, and might have been detrimental to the general plot of this short novella.  As it was, the story was quickly but satisfying resolved of the main conflict, and proceeded to the wedding and the romantic end.  I will say that one scene very near the end brought me to tears, as Kody was allowed to see the spirit of her late father on her wedding day.

I was in the mood for a light-hearted Christmas story when I “picked up” this e-book, and I was happy with my purchase, as this book rates a solid four stars.  I would recommend it to any readers who want a quick read in paranormal, romance, adventure, or urban fantasy genres.

 

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1) by

50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

From the mind of the great Agatha Christie sprang one of her most intriguing characters-Belgian detective Inspector Hercule Poirot.  His exploits have been chronicled, not only in the author’s books, but also in numerous movies and television specials.  In more than one episode, the popular show Doctor Who pays homage to the iconic writer, including a “behind the scenes” of Dame Agatha’s process for this particular novel.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles opens as Poirot’s Watson, Hastings, is staying with old friends while he recovers from injuries suffered fighting in World War I.  He has not seen Poirot in a number of years, but he is suddenly on the scene when Hasting’s host at the estate of Styles is murdered under strange circumstances.

A number of doors locked from the inside, a house full of potential suspects, several different possible methods for administering poison to the victim, and questionable identities of multiple personages make for a case that is beyond the local constabulary, so Poirot is soon on the scene.

While Hastings privately worries that age and time have cost Poirot his sharp faculties, the detective begins his investigation, leaving Hastings (and everyone else) wondering what clues he has discovered but is reluctant to share.  The story ends with a typical confrontation that unites all suspects, and those previously not suspected, in a scene where Poirot reveals all.

Agatha Christie’s body of work in general and in this novel in particular are considered classics because her stories are ageless.  While technology and society move forward, the mysteries she pens still appeal to readers because she weaves so many details, false blinds, and seemingly contradictory plot points into her work that are perfectly explained in the end.

I recommend this book to any lover of mysteries, and award it five stars for its originality, and depth of intrigue.

This post was so lovely I just had to share- thank you Donna Cameron for showing us the way:

There’s a commemorative day, week, or month for nearly everything: iguana awareness, kiwi fruit, be nice to New Jersey, toasted marshmallows (all actual commemoratives). As a rule, I ignore such days, excepting National Ice Cream Cone Day, July 21, because, well . . . ice cream. One other day I like to observe is coming […]

via World Kindness Day is Wednesday, November 13 — A Year of Living Kindly

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Here Comes The Witch

Here Comes The Witch by Ani Gonzalez
Here Comes The Witch (Main Street Witches, #1)by

Ani Gonzalez (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review

What do you get when you cross a New York jewelry designer, whose ancestors were famed for making elixirs and casting curses, with a contractor from a small Southern town, noted for its haunted houses and paranormal events?  Apparently, a cozy mystery with paranormal elements that includes a vengeful ghost and a chance for romance and a new life.

The first book in Ani Gonzalez’s Main Street Witches series features a business deal garnered between Liam Hagen and Kat Santelli Ramos to end the curse placed on the historic Hagen House so Liam can sell it, sharing the profits with Kat whose dream is to open her own jewelry store.  The catch is, the only way to end the curse, according to local santerra guru and neighborhood exorcist Yolanda is for Liam and Kat to marry, and live in the haunted house together.

While navigating the rocky road of “marrying” a complete stranger, Kat and Liam also have to deal with the local paranormal/ghost hunter crew filming their every move, and a ghost/spirit/curse that is reluctant to dissipate.   Kat will also have to accept that her ancestors were witches, and like it or not, she has inherited their gifts, which she will need to learn about if the curse is to be truly ended.

This was the first book I’ve read by the author, and I was fascinated by the fact that she has already created a rich backstory that includes a number of colorful residents of Banshee Creek and a complete history of multiple paranormal entities.  Her background characters seem well-developed, but are only utilized as comic relief or scene fillers.  I hope that future volumes will include more of this potential entertaining ensemble cast.  The plot contains multiple twists on the way to a resolution I was able to predict about ¾ of the way through, but still contained a well-written climax, and a satisfying resolution.

This series seems to take witchcraft, magic, ghosts, poltergeists, and the like as accepted truths, but doesn’t delve too deeply into the scare factor.  The result is a light-hearted romantic comedy with a spook factor that is eerie but not too terribly scary.  This book, and presumably series, is perfect for those readers who want a taste of the paranormal without being scared out of their minds.

I award this novel four stars, and recommend it to readers of the paranormal, and cozy mysteries, who are interested in a heroine/romantic protagonist who also possesses magical powers.

 

 

 

 

Signs that you’re not ready for Halloween

I apologize that my posts have come at an erratic pace lately, but life is a bit chaotic at the moment, and I’ve been trying to clear some things up.  I hope I can get back to a regular day of posting soon or at least by the end of the holidays.   Meanwhile, I put together this list of issues that I’ve experienced, (not all at once, thankfully) and hope that some of you will be able to relate.  Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

pexels-photo-1480861.jpeg
Photo by Александар Цветановић on Pexels.com

Signs that you’re not ready for Halloween:

  • You arrive at work, and discover, in place of your expected coworkers, there is a dragon, a puppy, a kitten angel, and half a dozen assorted cats plus a few adults dressed as Disney characters.  Oops, you forgot that today was the costume contest.
  • Your spouse/kids/dog found your hidden stash of Reese’s Cups that you were saving for trick-or-treaters (honestly!) again.
  • You’ve lost your head, that is, the life-like skull that was part of last year’s graveyard display on your front lawn.  You don’t have time to look for another one, and they’re out of stock on Amazon.  Oh, well, you will just have to scatter the bones further and maybe carve an extra pumpkin?
pumpkin display
Welcome one and all! Wait, I’m not ready yet!  Photo by Artie Siegel on Pexels.com
  • It’s nine p.m. and your teenager informs you that they need a costume for a party they were invited to two weeks ago, which takes place tomorrow.  Also, they need a ride and snacks to satisfy a crowd of ravenous teens.
  • You visit your favorite craft store that had Halloween decorations on sale last week, and find nothing there now but aisle after aisle of Christmas trees, ornaments and decorations.  Really Halloween isn’t over yet!
  • You send your spouse to the store for milk, and he comes back with donuts, more candy, and a giant inflatable coffin, but no milk.
  • You make it to the grocery store and the candy aisle looks like a warzone, or perhaps a tornado blew through.  There are Snickers and Hershey bars on the floor and half of the bins are empty, and you really don’t want to know what that trampled mess on the floor used to be.  Also, they’re all out of Halloween Oreos.
  • You see a group of costumed children going down the street but they bypass your house, then you realize you forgot to turn on the porch lights, and consider chasing after them.  How else are you going to get rid of that ten pound bag of candy you managed to order at the last minute?

 

Here’s hoping that everyone out there has a stress-free and safe Halloween this year!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula by

50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

Since Halloween is less than two weeks away, I decided there was no better time to read one of the original classics that helped spawn the entire genre of horror literature- Bram Stoker’s vision of Dracula.

 The author’s work, originally published in 1897, relied heavily on local superstition as the author created a series of characters that represented archetypes of good and evil in a battle of supremacy.  So chilling were the characters and scenes designed for this classic, that it has been imitated and referenced in countless plays, movies, and television series and books today.

As told through a collection of journal entries made from different points of view, added to by “newspaper clippings” and eyewitness accounts, the story from the first page reads like a dry and rambling travelogue, but the reader is quickly drawn in as each successive entry gives clues to the dawning realization that circumstances are far from normal.

Johnathan Harker, a name that will be familiar to any who have read or seen any version of the story of Dracula, is a new solicitor whose current assignment is to travel to Transylvania to deliver papers to the Count, whose has just purchased a property in London with the intention of relocating to Britain.  Johnathan through observation and accident discovers clues about the Count’s true nature and is imprisoned in the castle, left to his fate amongst three female vampires when Dracula leaves for London.

Johnathan escapes, and manages to return to England separately, but very ill with “brain fever,” in reality a state of shock and denial, for what he has learned.  Mina Murray, his fiancée, is summoned to his side to tend to him, and leaves her friend Lucy, whom she had been caring for, in the care of Dr. Seward and Professor Van Helsing.

Lucy has exhibited symptoms of an illness, including severe and recurrent loss of blood and sleep-walking, which defies conventional explanation.  It is only when Van Helsing begins to put together clues from Lucy’s dreams, with accounts from the Harkers’ experiences, unusual behavior from one of Dr. Seward’s patients at the asylum, and reports of inexplicable events around London, that he begins to realize the truth.

The quest to stop the vampire will lead the company on a perilous adventure through graveyards, abandoned churches, and finally on a journey back to the Count’s lair in Transylvania to save the soul of his latest victim.

This novel, though written more than one hundred years ago, still contains the power to terrify readers today.  The language, though somewhat affected by the vernacular of the time, is not difficult to follow, and the essence of the story is so chilling that it is no wonder it has become a classic that is much imitated today.  The original version of Dracula deserves five stars for its timeless appeal to readers of the horror and paranormal genres.  Give it a read!

 

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Blood Rites

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
Blood Rites (The Dresden Files, #6) by

Jim Butcher (Goodreads Author)
50275498

Amy Caudill‘s review

  

This latest adventure involving Chicago’s only consulting wizard begins with a typically unexpected situation- Harry is running from a winged monkey throwing flaming excrement at him while carrying a box of puppies- and this is only the opening scene.

Harry Dresden is quickly assisted by Thomas, a White Court energy vampire who wants Harry to do him a favor in return.  Naturally, Harry’s protective nature leads him to agreeing, and soon is on his way to meet Arturo Genosa, an erotic film producer who is under a curse that is killing all the women around him.

The source of this malocchio “evil eye” is elusive; all Harry really knows is that it is driven by vengeful hatred, and there are plenty of suspects surrounding the strangely affable porn maker.

Of course, Harry has more than one scary situation to deal with- a war that he accidentally started with the vampires of the Red Court has attracted the attention of a powerful Black Court vampire who is also a wizard, and who has it in for Harry.  Harry is forced to form an assault squad, consisting of himself, Lieutenant Murphy, a mercenary named Kincaid, and his old mentor Ebenezar McCoy to attempt to take out the Black Court vampires and their thralls before the citizens of Chicago become a feast for the most dangerous of the undead.

All the while, the conspirators who created the curse on Genosa are waiting in the wings, to unleash their final assault on Harry and his newly-discovered half-brother, as revenge against Harry’s mother, who died giving birth to Harry.  If they all survive, Harry will have something he’s only dreamed about his entire life, an actual family.

Author Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series is well-known for its deep plots, outrageous battles, and tantalizing glimpse into the paranormal, but readers can also be delighted in the growth of the characters as the series progresses.  Having been previously introduced to the series by means of an anthology, I am reading through the novels in order and am continuously amazed how much detail and thought are placed into the development and continuation of plot and character development as the series ensues.

Harry Dresden, a wizard with enormous power and potential, is showed as a flawed individual with emotional issues, insecurities, and doubts- in short, a human being that the reader can sympathize with while also cheering him on as he battles the supernatural and struggles with day-to-day living.

In my opinion, The Dresden Files keeps getting better and I award Blood Rites a well-earned five stars.