Readers' Favorite

July 14, 2021

Summer Reading, Movies, and Recipes

by Alison DeLuca

Whew, it's hot. Weather like this makes me want to run a 5K and read Anna Karenina, NOT.  Instead, I need fun, frothy novels for the beach or poolside as we face another humid thunderstorm. 

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My friend lent me The Newcomer: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews. Its fast-paced plot drew me in right away, and I haven't been able to put it down - between bouts of cooking for guests (but more on that below.) 

cover of The Newcomer
Buy The Newcomer at Amazon

After Letty discovers Tanya's corpse in her sister's fabulous apartment, she grabs her niece and a bag of cash. Then she's on the run to Florida, trying to discover what happened in Tanya's lurid past. After all - this was what her sister told Letty to do: "If anything happens to me - it's Evan. Promise me you'll take Maya and run."

While hiding out in a surfside hotel loaded with clique-ish seniors, Letty tries to stay incognito. But there's Joe, a hunky policeman, on the premises. Moreover, Evan (Tanya's ex) wants to find Letty and Maya. 

The first half of the book is Letty finding her feet in the metaphorical shark-infested waters of Florida. She inexorably makes friends and realizes the trials of trying to raise her 4-year-old niece. 

Up next on my summer reading list: The Guncle by Steven Rowley and Rock the Boat by Beck Dorey-Stein. 

Now that movie theaters are reopening, I'll be celebrating with popcorn and my best movie-friend at a showing of Black Widow. Nothing says Summer Movie like Marvel, and this one looks excellent. Not only is the film about my favorite Marvel hero, it also stars Florence Pugh and David Harbour. I have the feeling we might also be streaming this one later on Disney Plus for the family.

poster for Black Widow, the movie

Speaking of streaming, I want to watch the Fear Street trilogy being released on Netflix this month. Based on R. L. Stine's books, these movies go backwards in time from 1994 to 1666 to find the origin story of the evil surrounding the town of Shadyside. With Sadie Sink in the cast to keep my Stranger Things-heart happy, I can't wait to dive into this series. 

(Do be cautious, since the films feature R-rated language bloodletting. Not for young kids or the faint of heart.)

I mentioned entertaining earlier. We're starting to host small get-togethers, as we continue the move out of quarantine into seeing friends and family face-to-face. This means I have to cook and shake up some cold drinks. 

Last weekend I made my labor-intensive deviled eggs. They weren't too bad thanks to a few cooking tips:

1. Use older eggs, bought at least a week prior (two weeks if you can.)
2. Hard boil them the day before and cool overnight in the fridge. (I use the boil water, add eggs, boil for 30 seconds and simmer for 14 minutes method. Works perfectly.)
3. Peel under a slowly running stream of cold water.

Then you just have to devil the eggs, which can be done in less than 20 minutes with a frosting bag and large tip. 

For much easier apps, here are some quick ideas:

Crudites - Carrots, red pepper strips, pea pods and baby tomatoes are always popular
Hummus - It's hummus. From a bought container. Everyone loves it. 
Cheese plate - This from the woman who has zero talent in 'platescaping.' Add some turkey pepperoni, a bowl of olives, and some sprigs of fresh rosemary. Place a bowl of mini-naan nearby.
Bowl of nuts - Sounds obvious, right? But wait! Try this - warm them first spread out on a cookie tray in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes. (Obviously, be sensitive to guest allergies.)
Guacamole - Mash ripe avocados with fresh lime juice, chopped fresh garlic clove, fresh cilantro, season with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Add a few dashes of hot sauce if desired. Keep fresh by topping with the reserved avocado pits and saran pressed onto the surface of the guac. Serve with tortilla chips and those crudites.

Once you've put out these apps, your job is done. All you have to do is wave guests to a cooler of drinks and enjoy their company while staying cool.

The weather makes it difficult to be an energy-filled dynamo, but that doesn't mean we have to stay indoors and not be active. With a great book, an exciting movie, and some quick app recipes, this summer can be filled with fun. 

Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently, she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. You can find her at 

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