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CARSICK John Waters Hitchhikes Across America
By John Waters
$26.00 Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Anyone who’s lucky enough to live into their 70s might be inclined to rest on their laurels, enjoying the bounty of their golden years in peace and the quiet, certain that their wildest days are far behind them. However if you’re John Waters, acclaimed edgy film-maker and author, and a man who’s recently entered his seventh decade, you might have other thoughts. For instance, you might get the bright idea to hitchhike from Baltimore to San Francisco with nothing between you and the big-bad-world but a cardboard sign, a rucksack and a whole lot of moxy. Well, no surprise, he did just that and the result is Water’s hilarious new offering, CARSICK, which is not only brilliant, but is a testament to the fact that the Pope of Trash can still take a walk on the wild side and live to tell the tale.   

A memoir in three acts, Act I, “The Best That Could Happen-A Novella” explores Water’s best-of hitchhiking fantasies where-in he sticks out his thumb and pulls out a plumb in the guise of a drug dealer who gifts him millions in cash to fund his next movie, a stunt driver who gives him one of the wilder rides of his life and an old friend, long dead, who picks him up in the middle of nowhere and gives him a chance to say a proper goodbye. Act II, “The Worst That Could Happen-Another Novella”, explores the darker, fear-filled side of Water’s proposed hitchhiking adventure, which includes a gun-toting drunk who holds him hostage and an interlude with the law that lands him in jail. But when we get to Act III “The Real Thing”, Water’s sticks out his thumb in earnest; he takes us on the road with him, filling us in on the sights and sounds that reverberate against the rolling landscape of America, populated with a cast of characters as vast and varied as the geography itself. There’s the old farmer who picks Water’s up, taking him for a hobo who’s down on his luck, and the Hispanic woman who, although she doesn’t give him a lift, forces him to take $20 before driving off with her car-full of kids. Then there’s the Indie band that recognizes him, invites him in to their little world-on-wheels and tweets about the author’s trek across America, giving him unwanted but valuable advance publicity.

Written with the heart and soul of a warrior, this electrifying memoir called my name so loud that I had no choice but to read it from cover-to-cover in one sitting. It’s wonderful to see that Waters has not deviated an inch from his iconic status as a maverick, and it’s somehow comforting to know that he’s still hanging out there on the edge, an advance-team of one, scouting out the frontier of our culture and then doubling back to give us the scoop. But when all is said and done, the biggest take-away from this indefatigable tale comes down to one simple truth: when push comes to shove, you can still totally rely on the kindness of strangers. .


Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry

MRS. WHEELBARROW’S PRACTICAL PANTRY Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving
By Cathy Barrow
$35.00 Norton  

Local. Sustainable. Seasonal. These three little words have come to mean everything when it comes to the way we eat, where we shop and how we ultimately live our lives. Not only does the food we consume have an impact on our health, but the way it’s packaged has an impact on our planet. When Cathy Barrow took a good long look at these factors, she made a conscious decision to make some big changes in the way she and her husband fed themselves. Thus, a blog Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen was born, eventually leading her to create her comprehensive and marvelous new cookbook: MRS. WHEELBARROW’S PRACTICAL PANTRY.

Opening the cover of this exceptionally beautiful book is like opening a door to another world, where weekly trips to the Farmer’s Market in the spring and summer months led Ms. Barrow to preserving the foods that would carry and her husband and herself through months of winter meals, which tasted like the seasons that had long-since passed. You’ll learn the basics of both pressure and water-bath canning, which will give you the ability not only to can jams, jellies, chutnies and Pie Fillings but also tomatoes, peppers, pickles, soups, beans and every manner of vegetable under the sun. Step-by-step instructions accompanied by glorious color photographs of finished products, as well as process photo spreads, lead the way, making Barrow’s well-hewn techniques look almost easy. And she doesn’t stop there. She even walks us through the techniques such as brining, dry-curing, salt-curing and smoking so we can preserve meats and fish at home, and then she shows us how we can make our own cheeses from a creamy Ricotta to  a sturdy little Camembert that is nothing short of breathtaking.

Barrow writes with knowledge and enthusiasm, making this book not only fascinating to read but as indispensable a tool for home cooks as a good set of knives or a reliable oven. The author wants to feed us, body and soul, and in the pursuit of this estimable goal, she peppers the pages of this large, glossy tome with Bonus Recipes, which require no canning at all, yet are designed to bring us to the table craving fresh, delicious food. And let me tell you, once you embark upon the path to living locally, you are certain to happily discover that there’s no turning back.


Murder On Edisto

MURDER ON EDISTO An Edisto Island Mystery
By C. Hope Clark
$15.95 Bell Bridge Books  

Following hot on the hells of her riveting Carolina Slade Mystery series, award-winning author C. Hope Clark hits it out of the park with the first installment of her new series, MURDER ON EDISTO, a fast-paced thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from word one.

Big city detective Callie Morgan is fighting for her life. Once a force to be reckoned with in Boston, she tangled with the Russian Mob, losing her husband to a fire that was obviously meant for her. Moving to her family’s cottage in Edisto Beach, South Carolina with her teenage son Jeb, she hopes to regain a sense of balance and peace. But unfortunately, peace is the one commodity that eludes her when, on the very day she moves to town, her childhood mentor and elderly neighbor is murdered in cold blood.  

Callie may have bowed out of the law-enforcement game, but clearly her instincts have done no such thing. She unofficially teams up with the town’s hunky and mysterious police chief, Mike Seabrook, to not only solve the murder but also the string of robberies, often coupled with force, that continue to pile up like a bad car crash in house after house on her block. It’s all Callie can do to stay focused on the present. While trying to outrun her demons with loads of unbridled moxy and a little too much booze, she slams headlong into them anyway, causing her to question not only her own behavior but also the behavior of everyone around her. This includes her new BFF and next-door neighbor Sophie, the local handyman Peters and the rich, handsome and overly-flirtatious neighbor Mason Howard, who’s extravagant Friday night parties are the talk of the town. She even questions the sincerity of the handsome detective who makes her heart race despite her efforts to keep her emotional distance. What will happen next is anybody’s guess, and the hits just keep on coming as Callie dodges blow after blow on her mission to catch her perp, all while trying to keep her ducks alive and in a row.

Undeniably addictive, this is a book you won’t want to put down. Replete with well-drawn characters, this is a read that won’t disappoint as Clark’s penchant for rapid-fire prose grabs you by the scruff of the neck and refuses to let go. As soon as I finished this great little mystery, I was ready to dive into the next installment of the Edisto Beach series which, I understand, is in the works. I guess I’ll have to wait. But I just hope I don’t have to wait too long.


Chicken Soup for the Soul

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL Touched By An Angel; 101 Miraculous Stories of Faith, Divine Intervention and Answered Prayers
By Amy Newmark with a Forward by Gabrielle Bernstein
$14.95 CSS 

From the wildly successful CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL franchise, which has sold over 100 million books to date, comes their latest anthology: TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL.

If you or someone you know has experienced a miraculous healing or intervention of some kind, it seems you are not alone, as is evidenced by the incredible experiences chronicled in the 101 personal stories included in this collection, bringing home the fact that miracles happen every day. Some of my personal favorites include Karen Trotter Elley’s “The Messenger”, which tells the story of her random meeting with a stranger who not only foretold of the most tumultuous time she’d ever experienced in her life, but affirmed that she would get through it by remembering that she was “in good hands”. And then there’s the hair-raising story “I Call Myself Bob” by Vicki Kitchner, about a car crash victim who is kept company by an angel while waiting for an emergency crew to locate her on the side of a snow covered mountain, where she had crashed during a raging storm, after dark. And in the story “Desert Angel”, as told by Mary Z. Whitney, a couple traveling through the desert in their motorhome are stranded with a flat tire, only to have  their prayers answered when a tow truck appears out of nowhere, supplying them with just the right tire which, of course, happens to be an unusual size.

Although I don’t have time to mention the dozens of other accounts that I found fascinating, each of the stories included here are unique and uplifting, making this a wonderful anthology to keep on hand. It will bring you inspiration on days when the going gets tough and remind you that keeping the faith is the one thing that is sure to keep your head above water; come what may. / Issue 164 - June 3912
Turnpage Blk

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