Dinner and a Movie Monday – The Bookshop

The Bookshop is a 2017 film written and directed by Isabel Coixet, based on the novel of the same nameby Penelope Fitzgerald.[2The film stars Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Bill Nighy. It was shot in Portaferry and Strangford, County Down, Northern Ireland, and in Barcelona. The cinematography was spectacular.

Set in the late 1950s, the film opens with an explanatory voice-over narration. Florence Green, a widow, has decided to open a bookshop in the small coastal town of Hardborough, Suffolk, acquiring as her premises the Old House, a damp and abandoned property that has been standing empty for many years. After refurbishing it and moving in, she learns that Violet Gamart, an influential and ambitious local resident, had privately earmarked the Old House for her own pet project, a local arts centre – a project that she has no intention of dropping even though the property is no longer empty. Aided by several of the townspeople Mrs Gamart attempts to get Florence evicted, and the shop closed down.

Florence’s business does well enough for her to need help in the shop from Christine, the young daughter of a neighbour. Their best customer is the wealthy bookish recluse Edmund Brundish, who begins to have feelings for Florence as she introduces him to new authors. Learning of the threats to Florence’s business, he volunteers to emerge from his seclusion, to visit Mrs Gamart and tell her to desist. But despite everything, things do not go well.

This was a movie that touched my heart. Florence and Mr. Brundish were drawn together by their love of books. She had the courage to pursue her dream, despite a rich woman’s meddling, and he admired that.

This is a movie I recommend. It made me think about the characters and their story long after I finished watching it. And I loved the music as well.

Quick Apple Cake Recipe

When Mr. Brundish invited Florence to tea, he served a delicious looking bundt cake with it. This easy recipe makes a large cake with quite a few servings. 


  • apples
  • Eggs
  • 2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Light Olive Oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cup Flour
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • Oil for baking pan
  • Brown Sugar


  • Combine together eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla extract and salt. Using a mixer, beat until mixture is fluffy.
  • In small parts, mix flour and baking powder into the egg mixture.
  • Peel and grate apples on a large side of the grater. Mix apples into the cake batter. Stir to combine everything together.
  • Spray baking dish with oil. Sprinkle a bit of brown sugar on the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour cake batter into the pan. Bake at 325F for about 50 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the pan and let it cool to a room temperature. Enjoy!

Caleb’s Story (continued)

     An unearthly screeching came from out of the dark. Far back into the depths of the mine. It echoed in the air, growing louder and coming closer.

     “Hold him.” Owen handed the baby dragon to Caleth and drew his sword. Chills raced over the boy’s shoulders and down his arms. He couldn’t decide whether to run or hide, so he stood still, clutching Mowg to his chest with shaking hands.

     Floren raised his axe and Misa raised her wand. They stood in a circle. That way they’d have each other’s back. The elf grabbed him by the arm and shoved him in between them. He crouched down and made himself as small as he could. Mowg buried his head in the boy’s chest and shivered like a leaf.

     The first wave of man bats came at them, circling so fast they were only a blur. Somehow Misa managed to zap them with her wand. And as soon as they hit the ground, Owen or Floren lopped their heads off.

     For a while, it seemed like creatures would never stop coming. Calebth wondered how many there could be, but he didn’t dare look to see. And then everything went quiet. A few moments later, Owen grabbed his arm and pulled him to his feet.

     Floren aimed a kick at one of the carcasses. “That should be the last of them. Might be a straggler or two, but they won’t hang around. They’re cowards unless there’s a swarm.”

     A terrible odor rose up. Misa pinched her nose. “Oh, my stars. That’s awful. Why do they smell so bad?”

     Floren shrugged. “Beats me. Too late to ask now.”

     “Where is this gold you were telling us about?” Owen said as he wiped his blade clean. “We need to retrieve it and leave this place before anything else happens.”

     “This way.” The dwarf led them farther into the cave. Calebth noticed rocks glittering in the torch light. Floren bent down, plucked one off the ground and held it up for them to see. “I told you so. Didn’t I?”    

     They dropped to their knees and gathered up enough nuggets to fill a small bag within minutes. Owen got to his feet. “That’s more than enough. No need to be greedy. Let’s get out of here now.”

     Floren took them another way out so they wouldn’t run into the goblin brothers who were probably still lurking at the main entrance. They traveled until sunset, stopped at an old abandoned mill and made camp for the night. Misa went down to the river and caught three or four fat salmon. She brought them back to Calebth. “You can grill these for our dinner.”

     His heart sank. The boy knew how to start a fire, but that’s about as far as it went. He didn’t know the first thing about grilling fish. He chewed on his bottom lip and pondered. How hard could it be? A little wild onion, salt, and pepper. Spear them with a sharpened stick and put it over the fire to cook. That’s what Granny always did.  

     He crouched at the edge of the coals to keep an eye on things. It was nice and warm. Made him yawn. He must have dozed off because the next thing he knew Floren had grabbed the stick and was waving it around, trying to extinguish the flames.

    “You’ve ruined our supper!”

      Calebth blinked at him.

     “What’s wrong with you?”

     “I’m sorry. I-I guess I fell asleep.”

       Misa scraped off a spot and winked at Calebth. “It’s just blackened a little on the outside. Makes for a smoky taste.” She scraped off a spot and took a bite. “It’s fine.”

       While they were arguing over whether or not it could be eaten, Owen sat on a rock a few feet away, alone except for Mowg. The little dragon wouldn’t let the ranger get out of his sight. He followed him everywhere, tipping his head from side to side like a puppy and squeaking like he was trying to talk.

     Owen frowned. “What is he trying to say? Can any of you speak dragon?”

     Misa laughed. “Pretty sure he thinks you’re his mommy.”

     “How can that be?”

     “Makes sense,” Calebth said. “You were the first thing he saw when he hatched.”

      Floren snorted and fell over, laughing.

Dinner And A Movie Monday – Brooklyn


Eilis Lacey is a young woman from a small town in southeast Ireland, where she lives with her mother and sister, Rose. Eilis is unhappy with her life. She sees no future there. Her sister writes to an Irish priest in Brooklyn who arranges for her to travel to New York City.

where she takes bookkeeping classes and meets Italian-American Tony Fiorello and falls in love.When her sister suddenly dies of an undisclosed illness she had kept secret, Eilis tells Tony she must return home. He shows her a plot of land on Long Island that he intends to build a house for them on and proposes. Eilis seems hesitant but agrees. They marry at the courthouse without telling anyone.

Once back in Ireland, Eilis temporarily takes her late sister’s old bookkeeping job and gets attention from a wealthy bachelor. A completely different life than the one she left behind in Brooklyn. When gossip goes round about Eilis, she’s reminded of what life was really like living in this small town. She leaves for Brooklyn the next day because she wants to be with her husband. On the crossing, she offers guidance to a young woman making her own first trip to Brooklyn.

Eilis makes her journey from Ireland to New York in the 1950s, along with approximately 50,000 other immigrants (around a quarter of which moved to New York) as a part of the second minor wave of migration. Many of these citizens were in search of steadier jobs and a happier lifestyle. There were also smaller surges of immigrants from many other countries at this time, leading to modern day America becoming a vast land of many different cultures. You’ll enjoy this movie. Saoirse Ronan takes us through her journey to New York. We see her courage and determination while she struggles to pursue her version of the American dream.

Brooklyn is adapted from Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name. It has been named one of “The 10 best historical novels” in 2012. The novel and the film have equally been praised for their refreshing perspective on the plight of the Irish immigrant. They both depict a realistic story.

Irish Stew

The ingrediants for Irish Stew depend on who you ask. Traditionally, it’s made with neck mutton chops or kid, potatoes, onions, and water. Others would add such items as carrots, turnips and pearl barley; but the purists maintain that they spoil the true flavour of the dish. The ingredients are boiled and simmered slowly for up to two hours.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Please use beef chuck stew meat that is well marbled with fat. Lean stew meat will end up too dry.

Save prep time by prepping the onions, carrots, and potatoes while the stock with beef is simmering in step 2.

  • 1 1/4 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 teaspoons of salt (more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup of Guinness extra stout
  • 1 cup of hearty red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 1/2 to 2 cups)
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots and/or parsnips (3 to 4 carrots or parsnips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

The Wall


because i never knew you
nor did you me
          i come

because you left behind mother,
father and betrothed
and i wife and children
          i come

because love is stronger than enmity
and can bridge oceans
          i come

because you never return
and i do
i come

          DUONG TUONG Washington, D. C., November 21, 1995

The older I get the more I think about our country and the sacrifices some have made on its behalf. Especially on days like today. I came across this poem, wtitten by Duong Tuong, a Vietnamese writer after visiting the wall in l995. I love its touching simplicity. A child of the 60s, I witnessed daily casualty count on the evening news and saw college students protesting while others burned our flag.

The thing I remember the most was the day my high school principal came over the loudspeaker and requested a moment of silence for a former student who’d graduated only months earlier and had enlisted. He was killed shortly after he arrived in Vietnam.

I remember seeing him in the halls at school. A nice guy. Always smiling. Barely 18. Just a kid. Gone in a minute. Someone I knew. Someone my age. That’s when I realized the war was real.

Hidden Treasure

The Brattle Book Shop, founded in the Cornhill section of Boston in 1825, has been in the hands of the Gloss Family since 1949. Over the years George and his son Kenneth built this shop into one of the largest antiquarian book shops in the country. Photo courtesy of Melissa Fulgham
The country’s oldest antiquarian bookstore, the Brattle Book Store has over 200,000 used and out-of-print books, magazines and more. Photo courtesy of Melissa Fulgham

My granddaughter visited this store (the lucky girl) and was browsing through the shelves. She picked up a book at random and it fell open to this passage. Beautiful, don’t you think?

Happy 4th of July

However you chose to celebrate this day, whether it be out at the lake, at a cookout with family, or enjoying fireworks with friends, I hope it’s a safe and happy holiday. Sometime during today, please stop and take a moment to remember what this day should mean to all of us.

Red Skelton was always a favorite of mine. Never failed to make me laugh, and sometimes brought me to tears. This was one of those times.

This says it all…

Writing Your Novel’s Blurb

Story Empire

Ciao, amici. We’re wrapping up the Story Bible series of posts today. If you missed one or more of the posts, you can find them, in order of post date, by clicking the following links:

Today, we’re discussing how to write the back-of-book blurb.

writing the blurb

You’re probably wondering why a blurb, which isn’t needed until you’re ready to publish, is something I include in a story bible, which I create before I start writing even the first book in the series.

Three reasons.

One, your blurb covers only the most important and most marketable parts of your story. Keeping that in mind as you write will enable you to stay focused on what the most crucial parts of your story are.

Two, when you have a series, you want all your blurbs to follow the same format. That’s easiest…

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Dinner And a Movie Monday – The Accountant

The Accountant

The American crime thriller stars Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambour and John Lithgow. Chris Wolff (Affleck) is a small-town Illinois CPA with high-functioning autism that makes a comfortable living. Beneath the surface, however, he’s a brilliant forensic accountant who uncovers insider financial deceptions, often for criminal and terrorist enterprises.

Through flashbacks we see how his father, an army officer in Psychological Operations subjects Chris and his younger brother, Braxton to a brutal regimen of stoicism and martial arts training. Later, while serving time, he is mentored by an accountant for a mob family who turns FBI informant.

Eventually he’s hired to audit Living Robotics Corporation by the company’s founder and his sister. When he discovers that over $61 million has been embezzled from the company. Lamar dismisses Chris and pays off his contract, leaving him distraught because he wasn’t able to finish the audit.

He spends the rest of the movie methodically eliminating the killers sent after him while he figures out who did the embezzling and why. There’s a twist to the movie, and I guessed it early on, but it wasn’t obvious, and I like the way it unfolded.

The movie wasn’t on for long, and I didn’t hear much about it, but I think it was a good movie. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Affleck had autistic tendencies in real life. His portrayal was convincing and I loved the plot twist.

No recipe this time. Nothing to cooking bacon, eggs and toast. Use an iron skillet and pay close attention to the bacon or it will burn. Chris Wolff’s meal illustrates some of his tendencies. Which is really funny, because I remember my father being very particular about the way his food was served.