Rants & Raves

Book Review: "Fearless"

by Larry Johnson

The new offering by prolific author Max Lucado is in a word - Courageous! Max approaches a common malady with the wit, insight, and biblical base that readers have come to expect. In Fearless, the subject of fear is dissected and analyzed, and the cure concocted and applied from the author of authors - Jesus. He takes fear after common fear and brings the reader to the answer for that particular phobia in the pages of the Bible.

I was absolutely thrilled with this book. I didn't even realize how timely it is. I personally found myself dealing with some fears that I wouldn't have even characterized as fears! Time and time again, I found the answer in the Word of God!

I was especially pleased that the follower of Christ wasn't painted as having a "No Fear" sign on their back. He addressed fears for believers and non-believers alike! As Max says, "Don't Christ-followers enjoy a calendar full of Caribbean cruises? No!"

Fears are not drowned in the lake of psychology or positive thinking, they are put in the perspective of a holy, loving God who has the answers for our lives. Today. Now. The book is inspirational and practical and so relevant to the world in which we live. I hope that it is read by many and that each is pointed to the Savior who is it's hero!

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

by Erin Mawn

I was introduced to this book by one of my students while I was teaching literary terms. I was discussing the different points of view that literature has and when I was discussing the idea of the omniscient narrator, one of my students asked “Like in “The Lovely Bones”?” . Not having read the book myself, I asked her to explain the story to me. My student went on to explain that the story is being seen, literally from above, by the narrator of the story. However, “The Lovely Bones” differs from the usual type of omniscient narrator because unlike the majority of them, who are unnamed and who never reveal HOW they know the story or how they are significant to the story in any way, this dilemma is cleared up on the very first page of the novel:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”

The Dude Abides - Book Review

By Dwayne Eutsey

The Dude Abides CoverIn The Dude Abides—The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, award-winning religious columnist Cathleen Falsani offers a unique and engaging look at the “spiritual messages” she finds permeating the Coen Brothers’ movies.

Now, “spiritual message.” Odds are, that’s not what most moviegoers expect to find in the darkly comic and brutally violent cinematic vision of Joel and Ethan Coen. Neither is the word “gospel,” for that matter. While wisely resisting the temptation to cram their films into what she calls a “God-shaped box,” Falsani succeeds in tracing the theological threads she sees holding the “Coeniverse” together.

She writes, “While marked by murder, mayhem, deception, and all manner of chaos, there is an order—a moral order—to the world depicted in Joel and Ethan Coen’s films. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when the moral order is upset, the consequences can be dire, brutal, and swift.”

JELLY MUNCHKINS, A New Coffee Shop and Dollar Store Re-do

by Mary McCarthy

Dunkin DonutsOn my regular humor blog, www.pajamasandcoffee.com, I made a very small mention about how, when I was a kid, you used to be able to buy Jelly-Filled Munchkins. The internet and twitter and social media being what they are, SOMEHOW the CEO of Dunkin Donuts got ahold of it, sent me a tweet on twitter, and before I knew it, I found jelly-filled Munchkins have been added to our local DD! The first batch were AMAZING, very jelly-y, but the ones I bought last weekend had like hardly any jelly inside. Careful, DD, me and Dunkin Dave are tight now and I will rat you guys out if you get cheap on me!

The former Hayden’s Alley, which was opened-then-closed by Just Plain Joe’s and has been sitting empty for months and months is A-BUZZ with activity! How exciting is THAT?! When the “Coming Soon” sign went up I was so excited! You know what I miss the most? The little upstairs room that overlooks the courthouse (plus, unfortunately the UGLY POWER LINES that need to be BURIED when the state rips up the road again!). As a writer (and former council member), that spot was always one of my faves to hang out with a latte and a laptop. So, I hope the new shop still has that upstairs room open. I will post more details here when I know them- stay tuned!


by Mary McCarthybus

Welcome to Back to School season, everyone! Aahh, peanut butter and jelly, binder dividers, and thousands of trees falling as paperwork piles to the ceiling. So charming.

Forgive me, readers, while I step up onto this soap box for a tiny moment.

Did you know that it is the formal policy of the Board of Education of Queen Anne's County NOT to bus high school students who live within a MILE AND A HALF of the school? As in, a kid who lives at, say the Wharf, is supposed to walk to the high school in rain, darkness (they'd have to leave their house before 7 a.m.) or on icy sidewalks. Across a state highway. Twice. Past potentially unsavory characters outside the laundromat. Past several intersections at a busy shopping center with no crosswalks. Oh, and uphill both ways.

Ok, just kidding on the last one, but seriously?

Hollywood's Versions of "Little House" Fail to Impress

Little House on the Prairieby Erin Mawn

I am a fervent fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I own the whole collection of Little House books, all of her nine original books from “Little House in the Big Woods” to “The First Four Years”. I also have in my vast collection of books all of the prequels and sequels to her stories; the stories about Martha (her great-grandmother, Charlotte (her grandmother), Caroline (her mother, Ma Ingalls) and her daughter Rose. The prequels and sequels are written in the same simple style that made Wilder’s books so easily accessible to generations of readers. The stories possess the wholesome values that made these generations’ parents comfortable and able to enjoy the books alongside their children.

Meet Illustrator Michael Hague

Alice in Wonderlandby Erin Mawn

This post is not not about a book, but an illustrator. Some people do not understand what appeal children’s books have to a ‘grown-up’, but personally I cannot see how they are able to resists the temptations of them! Their covers call to me, the artwork inside is slipping into childhood again; to spend hours just leafing through books, absorbing the drawings and memorizing them so that I can see them again in my memory whenever I like is a great privilege.

I was fortunate enough to meet one of my favorite illustrators recently. I was visiting relatives in Colorado and was informed that there was to be a book signing with this illustrator, whom I had a corresponded with before on a couple of occasions.

Michael Hague has illustrated classics such as The Wind in the Willows, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, and The Secret Garden. He also illustrates books written by his wife, Kathleen Hague who has penned the popular books Alphabears and Good Night, Fairies.

Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier

by Erin Mawn "The Mysterious Private Thompson: The Double Life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier" I recently finished reading the biography of Sarah Emma Edmonds, one of the women who, during the Civil War, disguised herself as a man and fought in the conflict. It was a fascinating book- and I don’t think that’s just because I’m a “History geek”. I think anyone who is interested in women’s history, American history, the Civil War, or likes stories about spies would enjoy this book as well. The book is a fairly easy read; it explains ideas such as the ‘Cult of Domesticity’ which is well known to history scholars, but may not be familiar to other readers. The narrative of the book focuses mainly on the life of ‘Emma’, but in the chapters which deal heavily with the war and the military campaigns during it, the author includes much information about George McClellan. This is meant to help the reader understand the battles the Army of the Potomac fought in and the outcomes of these battles. ‘Emma’, or Frank Thompson as she was called, served in the Michigan regiment of the Potomac as a nurse, mail carrier, and a spy.

Perfection for Bibliophiles

Unicorn BookshopUnicorn Bookshopby Erin Mawn

If you’re not sure what a bibliophile is, then you’re probably not one. A bibliophile is a person who loves or collects books, although I think in many cases this is an understatement. This word enters my head numerous times a day as I wander about my house; every room in my home has some sort of book collection in it. History books (categorized by topic, of course) , classic literature, children’s books (despite the fact that I have no children, I have two bookcases filled with them), some precious signed copies of favorite books, and antique books that emit a wonderful musty smell that only old books have. . .I frequently attempt to reduce the number in my collection by giving them away, selling them or trading them but somehow I always end up bringing more books. I comfort myself with the idea that as long as my selection is ever-changing, it cannot be considered “hoarding” behavior.

In one of my recent efforts to rid myself of some excess books, I ventured out to The Unicorn Bookshop in Trappe, MD. It is one of those wonderful places where the bibliophile feels completely at home, and as a favorite literary (and film) heroine of mine once said, “There’s no place like home.” The store is packed from floor to ceiling with books for every browser and collector; most impressive is the selection of rare and signed books, including a drool-worthy authenticated, signed masterpiece signed by Samuel Clemens. (If that name isn’t familiar, then you’re definitely not a bibliophile).

Market Street Public House Offers Tasty Fare

Market Street Public HouseMarket Street Public House

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I finally had the opportunity to experience Denton's new Irish Pub - the Market Street Public House. (the opportunity being the kids were at Grandma's!) I've frequented Irish Pub's in NYC, Dallas and San Francisco - and I'm happy to report that Caroline County's Pub can hold its own with the big boys!

I'm speaking, of course, of the food! Think fish and chips, Stout Stew, Shepard's Pie, and an amazing array of hot sandwiches and wraps. Most of the lunch offerings were between $7 - $9, and the servings were bountiful.

We threw caution (and diets) to the wind and started with Cheese, Bacon & Ranch Fries ($5.75). Let's be honest - there are a LOT of nasty, process cheese topped fries out there - but these ROCKED! The melted Provolone cheese blended perfectly with the Ranch dressing (I'm not always a fan of Ranch dressing - but this was subtle and tangy). The real bacon pieces scattered throughout provided additional flavor. Fortunately, my husband's bowl of cheddar-topped beef chili arrived and I was able to neatly finish up most of the fries! Yum!


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