Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Different Light - Mariah Stewart (Contemporary Romance)

Released January 2010

Technically, A Different Light is not new. The story's first release date was in 1995. However, Mariah Stewart pulled it out, fleshed out some scenes and reissued it for readers who may have missed it the first time around.

After the tragic death of her husband, a police officer killed in the line of duty, Athena Moran becomes a virtual recluse. She sees how the other officers' wives look at her as they think "that could have been my husband." The loss of her husband forever changed Athena's life and the only thing keeping her going is her pre-teen daughter who's also hurting.

When the mayor offers Athena a job as his assistant, she's hesitant to accept, but he's a family friend and deep down she knows it's time to get back on her feet. In a whirlwind of activity, she's not only his assistant, but he's urging her to run for mayor when his term is up. She can't figure out why. Soon she's elected and is first happy to have the former mayor advising her at every turn, but then she starts to question his decisions and finds herself surrounded by enemies who won't do a thing she demands.

Reporter Quentin Forbes is shocked to learn the woman he's been admiring and trying to forge a friendship with is running for the mayor's seat. He knows the previous mayor was up to no good and figures Athena's in on it. What was starting out as a good friendship soon turns into an all out war as he battles Athena at every turn and Athena tries to figure out what's really going on.

A Different Light features a heroine who at first seemed so naive that I didn't think I could ever like her. When she does come out swinging, you can't help but cheer for her.

As the chemistry between Athena and Quentin builds, the romance becomes a delightful aspect of the story. Some of those cherished sweep-you-off-your-feet moments blend into the action as Athena tries to turn a city council and city itself around.

Those who know my reading habits know I love stories that have multiple layers, but for this to work, those multiple layers must intertwine seamlessly. Mariah Stewart does a great job making sure everything melds while still keeping the spark between the characters alive.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's All American Food - David Rosengarten (Cookbook)

Released 2003

While some may use cookbooks simply for cooking, I like to sit down and study them. David Rosengarten, a self-taught chef who's appeared in Gourmet magazine and Food Network, offers a unique look at the foods that play an integral part in American culture. Included are a slew of recipes from just about every ethnicity you could imagine and short introductions into that specific culture.

It's All American Food has been a favorite in this household. First, the recipes work. Not only do they really work, but they taste incredible. The recipe for homemade pork sausage is incredible and the only sausage that is eaten on a weekend morning now. We also love the recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Rolls and buttermilk pancakes.

Within David Rosengarten's thick book (more than 500 pages) are sections for Jewish cuisine, Chinese-American, Cajun, Penn-Dutch and more. Feeling like a cold is ready to strike, I've spent the time making Jewish chicken noodle soup and while it takes a lot of time, it's well worth your patience.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shopaholic Ties the Knot - Sophie Kinsella (Chick Lit)

Released August 2004

Recently reissued for the Kindle, Shopaholic Ties the Knot picks up where Confessions of a Shopaholic left off. Whether you've seen the movie or read the first book in this long-running series, you'll find plenty of humor in Becky Bloomwood's attempt at wedding planning.

After Luke proposes in the middle of Becky's best friend's wedding, Becky is determined to have a charming marriage in her home country, England, but Luke's mother is tempting Becky with plans for a huge event held in the heart of New York. The problem is Becky is torn between an all-expense paid dream wedding and the wedding her mom is putting her heart and soul into arranging.

When the film studio purchased the rights to Confessions of a Shopaholic, they purchased the rights to the entire series. Whether there will be a movie for Shopaholic Ties the Knot is unknown. At this point, nothing is in the works. But then the first movie and first book were so different, including Becky's switch from being English to being American, it might be hard to successfully pull it off.

If you enjoy escapism, the Shopaholic books are all witty with just the right amount of romance thrown in. I love the relationships between the main and supporting characters. There are many layers to the story, it's not just Luke and Becky from start to finish.

I've enjoyed all of the Shopaholic books. Sure Becky's spending is always out of control and for whatever reason things always work out for her. I happen to prefer my books to not always stick to how life really works out. I get enough real-life situations on a daily basis that reading should be a way to escape for a few hours.

Local Vermonter is Published

It's always an accomplishment to get published. I've had the thrill of seeing my work in magazines and newspapers, as well as online. For a family friend, the thrill is kicked up a notch by the recent publication of his novels through Lulu.

Jack's books are available now. He started one during a NanoWriMo contest and stuck with it. I started to read it when it was still in the pre-publication stages, but life sidetracked met. Then files on my computer were lost when we had to restore after a particularly nasty trojan slipped past my antivirus program.

Check his work out. Prices with Lulu are reasonable and you can purchase the download copy if you prefer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Letters to Penthouse XXXVI - Editors of Penthouse Magazine (Erotic)

Released January 2010

I like to think I have an open mind, but then I receive these Penthouse "Letters to the Editors" collections and second guess myself. They can say the letters are written by individuals from around the country, but I still don't buy it. I'm certain they have a collection of ghost writers on their staff who come up with typical fantasies they feel their readers would enjoy. Maybe they do. I, however, find myself turned off very quickly.

The very first "letter" in this collection involves a guy going out on a blind date set up by a former roommate. The blind date turns out to be exactly what he'd fantasied about and more.

Other letters in this collection include a married woman whose husband allows her to have sexual trysts with a former beau. An older man recounting his affair with a female supervisor. A male inmate who encounters a very willing female staff member. Or, how about the man who gets more than a haircut from a new hairdresser.

Language in these "letters" is usually very crude and to the point. They're also incredibly short, never more than a few pages long.

These collections always sell well, I won't argue that, but I supposed you have to be a die-hard fan of Penthouse to find any intrigue with these letters. I just don't.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Despite the Best Intentions

I'm reading, but not spending as much time behind the computer. My daughter's had viral bronchitis for a couple weeks now that's finally getting better. However, I managed to pick it up, I never seem able to dodge bronchitis.

So while I feel like I'm about to hack up both lungs, I'm taking it easy.

Reviews will be back soon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Second Strong Quake Hits Haiti

In case you haven't heard, an aftershock hit Haiti again this morning, 6.1 on the Richter scale. I know how tight times are, but if you have any money whatsoever that you can donate to help the country recover, Amazon has a safe and secure page set up.

Haiti Earthquake Fund at

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert B. Parker (Obit)

Just heard that Robert B. Parker died. He died of natural causes, reportedly while sitting at his desk. So sad.

You can read Penguin's Twitter here -

Anyone who read his books or watched the 1980's show Spenser: For Hire will miss him. And I'm off now to pull out some of his books and see what I'll read in tribute to one of my favorites!

Mulligan Girl - Rebecca L. Boschee (Contemporary Romance)

Released February 24, 2010

I have this minor issue with all Avalon Romances. In general, they are very similar to Harlequin or Silhouette romances, short and sweet and great when you want a character driven romance that doesn't take days to read. Given that, the publisher releases them in hardcover so the price is much higher. In this economy, I know I can't afford to pay $25 for a book that I'll read once and then pass on.

In Mulligan Girl, Ren Edwards has a dream career. She's paid to go shopping and evaluate customer service and sales. Using a fake persona, she heads online to a trendy golf club and purchases an anniversary present for her non-existent husband. Little does she know this purchase is going to change her life.

Despite the fact that the online purchase gets botched, the manager does all he can to make things right, including free golf and spa treatments. Once Ren meets him, she falls head over heels. Unfortunately, he thinks she's married and she doesn't know how to tell him the truth.

Mulligan Girl is a fast-paced story that pulls you into the story. I find the downfall is that it isn't a book I'll be talking about months or even weeks from now. It's good, but not outstanding. It would be suitable for teen romance fans though. Language is appropriate and the material is never overly sexual or over the top for the younger romance reader.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pork & Beans Bread Commentary

After reading Joanne Fluke's Plum Pudding Murder, I was somewhat disgusted by the thought of Pork & Beans Bread. However, I also happen to know that she's a great cook and nothing she's ever dished up has been inedible.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if it was possible to turn a soupy can of pasty beans into something delicious. I had a friend who'd given me boxes of canned food she'd inherited and couldn't use, so I decided to give it a shot.

Essentially, Pork and Beans Bread is the combination of sugar, eggs, flour, vegetable oil, leaveners, cinnamon and walnuts or pecans. I opted for walnuts because: a. they're cheaper and b. I like the taste of them.

With that, I put a can of pork and beans into my blender and pureed it to a mushy mess. Because it was very thick, I went a step ahead and added the oil to the mix in the blender too, though the recipe didn't state to do that. I poured that mix into the remaining ingredients, turned on my Kitchenaid and let it do the work. After pouring the batter into two prepared loaf pans, I put them into the pre-heated oven and crossed my fingers.

At this point, there were two options. One, the bread was disgusting. Given the recipe came from Joanne Fluke, I figured it might surprise me, kind of like Campbell's tomato soup cake which is my favorite of all non-chocolate cakes.

The smell that filled my home was great. The bread smelled very much like zucchini bread. After it baked and cooled, I cut myself and my husband a piece and both of us were delighted with the results. It tastes a little like pumpkin bread and zucchini bread, but with a twist. It certainly is edible and he's already said anytime I want to whip up another batch, he'd be happy to bring it to work.

Lesson learned - don't judge a recipe by its ingredients.

He Said, She Said - Jay & Laura Laffoon (Non-Fiction)

Released January 2010

Here's something you may or may not already know about me. When it comes to parenting, relationship or general advice books, I find most of them to be useless. My mind's usually made up from the beginning because I real far too many where the so-called expert really has no true expertise in that field.

A college degree does not make a single person with no children an expert on child rearing and someone who works as a marriage counselor but is either single or divorced also has no true experience. When you give advice, I like to think you actually have some insider's knowledge because you've been there!

Marital advice to me is tricky. I've been married to my husband for 19 years this May. My parents have been married for coming on 50 years. Does that make me an expert? It certainly does where our marriage is concerned, but not every marriage is alike. I'd be more tempted to put my faith in what my parents have to say, but even then their relationship is far different to mine and my husbands.

Dynamics change, people are different. In fact, people should be different. If everyone had the same goals, ideals and thoughts, life would be very, very boring. Given that, I find most advice books only offer tidbits that might be of use and the rest is often best when taken with a grain of salt.

Now that I've stated my reservations, I'll get started on He Said, She Said. Jay and Laura Laffoon have been married for twenty-five years. This definitely makes them a more trustworthy source in my mind. Does it mean all of their advice will work for you? Probably not. However, the writing is absorbing. They incorporate many personal stories in their writing that engages the reader. I laughed at Jay's story about facing a potential criminal during what his wife swore was a late-night break in.

I'll agree with them on many points. You should take time out to say or show that you love your spouse every day. My husband never leaves the house in the morning without saying I love you and giving me a kiss, just as I make it a point, even though I work from home and could sleep in later, to be up to see him off.

Jay states every man should take a shower before going to bed. I have to disagree with him on this point. It's common for people to sweat as they sleep, especially if the room is warm of if there are too many covers. In addition, anyone who's had sex knows it can be messy and morning clean-up is essential. Around here, we are very aware of water usage because we're on a well shared with the neighbor and propane usage for heat. It's a steadfast rule that we'll take one shower a day, more is only allowed if someone's sick. My son insists on showering at night and my husband takes a morning shower, both using the same deodorant brand. It's always my husband who smells the freshest at the end of a day.

In the end, He Said She Said is filled with some good advice. It's not all going to fit your situation, but you may find some helpful advice in the chapters.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Life Gets in the Way

I've been bad. My goal was to read daily, but with exams last week eating into my usual routine, I just didn't read as much as I'd wanted.

Sure I picked up a book, but haven't finished one until this morning. Between high school shuttling for the weird exam schedule and then diving into the kitchen to test out an unusual Joanne Fluke recipe - details on that to come - the only thing I've read and finished was the newspaper.

Tomorrow, I'm getting back on track and keeping up with my read every day routine!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Plum Pudding Murder - Joanne Fluke (Culinary Mystery)

Released October 2009

Since the very inception of Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson Mysteries, I've collected each and every book for the outstanding recipes and charming storyline. The recipes included in these books are not for the calorie conscious. These are decadent baked goods whipped up by Hannah Swenson, owner of The Cookie Jar.

In this latest offering, Hannah once again stumbles across a dead body. This time she's gone to collect payment from a new customer, Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot. It seems someone didn't like the owner's business ethics.

During her normal routine, Hannah learns more about the owner and how investors in his business, including Mayor Bascomb, may have been getting scammed. Determined to unravel the mystery, Hannah, along with help from friends and family, tries to get to the truth behind the murder.

If you've never read one of Joanne Fluke's mystery novels, you may want to catch up. The author does a good job breaking down the various characters. However, there is so much background to Hannah and her pals that I think reading the stories in order would help out, especially when there are numerous sub-plots in this one.

Beyond the actual murder mystery, there is also the introduction of a man from Hannah's past. She's definitely not interested in speaking to him. In fact, she rather coldly blows him off leaving readers to wonder more. That sub-plot seems to take backstage to the sub-plot involving Norman's secretive mother who suddenly begins blowing her friends and family off and no one can figure out why.

The long-standing love triangle between Mike, Norman and Hannah is also a prominent part in this story. As a long time reader, I admit I'm growing tired of it. It seems Hannah really has made up her mind, but seems to enjoy playing the men off each other. I honestly would like to see her character mature and finally make up her mind. I think it's due time.

Recipes include:

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
Pork and Beans Bread
Minnesota Plum Pudding
Orange Julius Cookies
Shrimp Louie Spread
Cranberry Scones
Scandinavian Spuds
Jeweled Pork Roast
and much, much more.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend Reading

I'm in the middle of reading a couple books by a very favorite author Joanne Fluke. If you enjoy cooking or have a sweet tooth, I cannot recommend her books highly enough. I've tested many of the recipes in her culinary mystery series and have yet to find one I didn't love.

I'm a little behind in her series, but this weekend I decided to catch up. It's 8 below as I speak, so staying inside is definitely warranted!

So watch for:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cookbooks Galore

Because we thought someone was coming over last night, I pulled out a few favorite cookbooks to get ideas for snacky/appetizer type foods we could have ready. Because I knew we'd also have beer out, I wanted something that wouldn't add more carbs than we were already having.

All recipes are simple and require few ingredients which makes them even better. I did the Buffalo Steak Bits, a huge hit with my buffalo chicken wing loving son and then used the Smoked Pecan recipe but used almonds.

If you do tend to socialize and want easy recipes that won't pack on the pounds, I do have to say this is one of my favorite cookbooks for quick snacks.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pieces of Sky - Kaki Warner (Historical Western Romance)

Released January 2010

I have my buddy Jen to thank for my interest in historical westerns. I hated history in school and avoided it in the romance novels I read. However, but after meeting Jen in an online book club, she gave me a number of authors to try because she knew I'd love them. She was right.

Truth be told, it's the cover art to Pieces of Sky that made me pick the book up and start reading. Forget the back cover blurb, the cover art said it all. Whoever chose that artwork needs a raise!

In Kaki Warner's new novel, Jessica Thornton abandons her sister in England hoping to find her brother who headed off to America with hopes of striking it rich in gold. Jessica is pregnant due to a horrifying event that she can't share with anyone. Instead, she makes up a story of being a widow.

In the New Mexico Territory, the stagecoach Jessica is riding crashes. Badly injured, he ends up at the ranch of Brady Wilkins, a man with a few secrets of his own. Together, the pair forge a new life, as he realizes he is falling in love and she starts to let down her guard. But can she trust him enough with the secret she needs to share?

I loved everything about this book. The characters come to life, nothing is easy for any of them and the author doesn't sugar coat things for the sake of an always happy storyline. The writing is gripping and keeps you interested from start to finish. Never once did I feel the need to skim pages due to a slow down in action.

I cried at times, laughed others and ended up hoping that the author revisits Brady and Jessica in the future. I'm assuming that might happen as a teaser for another Blood Rose Trilogy novel was offered.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Coming Undone - Lauren Dane (Erotic Romance)

Released January 2010

Erotic romance is a genre I try to like because the story lines often sound intriguing but the delivery usually falls short. I realize that a bias is one of the biggest hurdles with this genre. I'm all for an erotic romance, but to me you can create an erotic story without relying on trashy language. Erotic romances tend to rely heavily on the trash talk and repetitive use of using crude terms during romantic scenes. I'm not sure why publishers, or perhaps authors, insist this is the only way to go, but they all do.

Given that, the storyline in Lauren Dane's Coming Undone appealed to me. I really wanted to read it. Overall, it's a fantastic story. Single mom Elise Sorenson escaped an abusive marriage with her young daughter and is trying to start a new life in Seattle. She meets sexy neighbor Brody Brown who spent much of his teen years raising his siblings after his parents' unexpected deaths. He's become a renowned tattoo artist and is ready for that next step in his life now that his siblings are older. Elise certainly appeals to him.

Elise hides secrets that make her fear no man could ever love her. Brody seems to enjoy spending time with her daughter. But she fears entering into another relationship when her last one ended up so horribly wrong.

I've read many romance novels in my lifetime and was surprised to find Elise was one of the first abused heroines that was able to move past her abuse with relative ease. This doesn't mean every angle was easy, but she didn't cower in the corner and that was refreshing. Elise and Brody together are simply mesmerizing and Elise's little girl adds to the charm.

With that, I would recommend this book. However, if you're like me and have issues with erotic romance meaning toss in vulgar terms, you'll have to get used to overlooking that aspect.

The Brightest Star in the Sky - Marian Keyes (General Fiction)

Released January 21, 2010

There's nothing I love more than curling up in front of the fire with a good book. The Brightest Star in the Sky goes a step farther by being a great book! I always enjoy Marian Keyes novels, her chick-lit especially. She's Irish, so they include that sarcastic sense of British humor that makes me feel at home, kind of a session with my aunts on "girl's night." Not everyone will get the language because despite what people think, there is a world of difference between English and what we speak here which I dub American.

With upwards of 500 pages, this is a good meaty story that draws you in with engaging characters, a substantial plot and then that twist that made me hit myself for not realizing a key point sooner. Ms. Keyes did an exceptional job making something so obvious become so difficult to deduce.

The characters in The Brightest Star in the Sky are numerous. The story begins with a spirit visiting the various apartment dwellers at 66 Star Street. Readers have no idea what the ghost's ultimate goal is, but it's fun trying to figure it out.

Katie just celebrated her 40th birthday, has never married, her ex-boyfriend is about to marry another, and while she has a beau, he's a workaholic. In a nutshell, Katie's starting to feel like an old maid.

Twenty-something Lydia drives a taxi for a living. Her mother is developing what seems like Alzheimer's and Lydia spends her time shuffling between work, her apartment and her mother's home. Lydia's newest roommates, both male, drive her mad, so she's confused when she keeps ending up in bed with one of them.

Maeve and Matt fell madly in love, married and spend every possible minute together. Despite their perfect appearances, both hide a secret from those around them. One that the spirit is desperate to unravel.

Elderly Jemima is a psychic and senses the ghost. However, her quiet life changes when her former foster son lands a television show on gardening and moves in with her. He's a ladies man and throwing the apartment into chaos as he works his charm on the various woman.

The story revolves around the lives of the characters intermingling. Affairs happen. Relationships seemingly appear out of no where adding a good dash of romance to this novel. As the ghost makes trips into their pasts, more about each character is revealed to the reader. The ultimate goal of the story, however, is determining the spirit's intentions and how each relationship ends up.

One of the biggest drawbacks to this book, and it's not really a bad thing, is that every time I put it down, I was itching to get right back to the story. I wanted to know how things turned out. In the end, time got away from me. I lack a clock down here near the woodstove and my well meant intentions on being in bed by 9:30 were shot when I finally headed upstairs only to find out that it was past 10:00 and even then I couldn't sleep because I wanted to read more. Not many stories tug at me that way.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who Killed the Pinup Queen - Toni L. P. Kelner (Mystery)

Released January 2010

The second installment in the Where Are They Now mystery series finds freelance reporter Tilda Harper tracking down former guest stars of a popular western television series. Cowtown's former producers decide to open a theme park dedicated to their series and they need former stars to help with fundraising and promotions.

Meanwhile, Tilda is also busy finishing up a story on pinup models of the 1950s. After interviewing one woman, she returns later to pick something up only to find the former model's body and a huge pool of blood. Someone killed the poor woman and Tilda soon learns that she may hold the key to solving the murder. The problem is that she doesn't know what the killer wants, and the killer will do what it takes to make sure Tilda doesn't figure it out.

Cozy mysteries are always great for a snowy day and we certainly got more than our share in this weekend's storm. With 22 plus inches covering my yard, I was happy to have something to take my attention away from what was happening outside. While I may live in Vermont, I generally loathe snow, people who cannot drive in it and anything related to cold. If I had my choice, I'd move south, but...

With Tilda, I have to admit I like her character's spunk. As a freelance writer, I easily sympathized with many of her issues. In this book, she meets a potential new beau and where that romance leads I won't say, but I will say I cheered her choices along the way.

Tilda's best friend is a gay married man (gay marriages are legal around here and the book is set in Massachusetts). Cooper is a riot and his attributes complement Tilda's. My concern is that he seems to fill the role as fashionista friend and I find that is becoming a cliche. I know many gay men and not all of them dress stylishly or enjoy shopping for the latest fashions.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management (Non-Fiction)

Reissued August 2008

You must remember that the original Mrs. Beeton's Guide to Household Management was written in 1861. A lot has changed in terms of the roles of women. That said, if you want to see exactly what day to day life was like for a woman in Britain's Victorian era, this is a must read.

I actually have a copy of this given to me by my mum who figured since I was always borrowing her copy for the recipes, I should have my own. If you want authentic recipes for British classics like Christmas Pudding, pork pies or bangers, here is your book.

Obviously, the advice on child rearing, doctoring a sick family member and cleaning tips may not appeal to all. There is some truth in what she says. Other information, such as the colostrum that comes before your breast milk lacking nutrients and not beneficial to a newborn has since been proven wrong. I do agree that when someone is sick, they should be exposed to fresh air via an open window or a trip outside. As far as I'm concerned, remaining in bed where germs have congregated makes no sense.

Most of this book does contain recipes, but towards the end the recipes for homemade household cleaners and general cleaning tips are equally enjoyable.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Three Books in Review Process

I'd hoped to have a review ready today, but I started one book on Friday night and then ended up getting another in the mail Saturday that sounded really good. In typical fashion, I started reading the first chapter and got hooked. So now I have two books going at once.

Add to it my quest to find a recipe and I turned to a very old Mrs. Beeton's book that was the Ms. Manners of its time and now does tend to make me thankful times have changed.

So in the next few days, expect reviews for:

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Would-Be Mommy (Harlequin)

Released February 2010

While Christmas is over, I still have my kids home, my husband's on vacation and I have family and friends popping by. Given that, I'm finding it hard to fit reading into my routine at the moment. With that, I received a Harlequin American Romance a few days ago. The good thing about Harlequin romances is that they are short and sweet. You know you'll get a happy ending and the books are easy to fit into a busy schedule.

I've always been a sucker for single parent storylines and that's what Jackie Diamond delivers. Only this time, the woman inherits a baby in an unusual manner.

Jennifer Serra is the PR director for Safe Harbor Medical where a recent press conference on the Safely Surrendered Baby law brings an infant into her life. The teen mother insists Jennifer must adopt her infant daughter and will only release the infant if Jennifer agrees. Jennifer suffered her own loss and would love to add a baby to her life, but the media attention is throwing her for a loop. She made mistakes in the past that might affect her chances with this baby.

Ian Martin is a reporter who becomes fascinated by Jennifer and the baby. When he wins a nursery full of baby furniture, he immediately donates it to Jennifer and the infant girl, but realizes that he needs to be part of their lives, if they'll have him.

Most romance readers know that romances must have a happy ending. Harlequin books may not be as meaty as some other romance novels, but they always deliver a satisfying match up. Jackie Diamond doesn't fail to deliver a tender story. For an hour of my time, I was swept away by Jennifer and Ian's romance. More books in the Safe Harbor series are scheduled, so I'll be happy to catch up with the couple in the months to come.

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

 Release Date - October 25, 2022 After his dad's death, Adam Stillwater and his mom do everything in their power to keep the family...