Why is a fly circling the deli? What can you learn from your dog about aging? Is Mahjong the real game of champions?If you’re a fan of David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck, or Andy Rooney, you’ll love Brad Graber’s new release What’s that Growing in My Sour Cream? – a compilation of over 70 humorous essays on the joys, challenges, and absurdities of life in America. Drawn from Graber’s blog “There, I Said It!” Graber introduces listeners to his sharp observations on everyday subjects such as Facebook friends, the odd messages stuffed into fortune cookies, and awkward man hugs. A bold new voice, Graber’s humor and wit are on full display in What’s that Growing in My Sour Cream?.
Brad Graber writes novels because he grew up in a family where no one listened to him – so he made up stories about them. He’s the award-winning author of The Intersect and After the Fall, and writes a humor blog: There, I Said It! He currently resides in Phoenix with his husband, Jeff.
Derek Neumann is actor and voice professional in the recording arts and sciences who has studied at both the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the British Academy’s Midsummer at Oxford’s Shakespeare program.
The musings and observations of Brad Graber’s What’s That Growing in My Sour Cream are not only humorous and entertaining but also relatable. From germs on planes to germs in the home (I think Brad’s a germaphobe! HA!), to food on cruises and holiday meals, to family dynamics and aging gracefully (or not), I found topics and situations I’ve often pondered and was encouraged to find I’m not the only person lamenting the extinction of authentic customer service.
Compiled of posts from Graber’s personal blog, this audiobook is perfect for a relaxing evening or drive. Derek Neumann’s smooth, unhurried narration felt as though I was listening to the observations of a good friend, and just as I was ready for more, the book ended.
Graber’s insight and wit remind us not only that it’s never too late, but also that we’re never truly alone.
I volunteered to review this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Brad Graber. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Brad Graber’s top ten reasons you will love listening to What’s That Growing in My Sour Cream?
You see humor in everyday happenings
You enjoy Seinfeld, David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck, and the Chicken Soup Series
You think Mahjong is the true game of champions
You’re curious about what your dog can teach you about aging
You’re perplexed by the odd messages in fortune cookies
You keep walking into your spouse
You laugh at awkward man hugs
You’ve gone to the theatre and experienced the big head show
You’ve noticed that the medicine cabinet is now in the kitchen
Independent and capable Prudence Wedderburn, daughter of a vicar, is a
woman before her time. She not only manages the parish duties usually
performed by a vicar’s wife, she has learned the art of healing, and during
her father’s final illness, she also assumes some of his religious
duties—all actions welcomed by her village until her father’s death
abruptly ends her life as First Lady of Kenner’s Cove, Kent.
Well aware she must curb her independence—even learn to practice
subservience, a quality entirely unknown to her—Prudence accepts a
position as governess to a five-year-old girl in Cornwall. Where, alas,
rumors of her activities in Kent plunge her into difficulties with the
church, she clashes with her pupil’s father (an earl), finds herself
hip-deep in smugglers and Cornish legends, is befriended by a 500-year-old
cat, and discovers that someone—several someones?—want to kill
her. Finding a happy ending in a deluge of disasters will be the vicar’s
daughter’s greatest challenge.
About the Author
My mother was a highly successful author of children’s books, and for many
years it never occurred to me it was possible to have two authors in the
same family. I pursued a career in music, as teacher and performer, touring
in the first National Company of The Sound of Music. But only when my
children were off to college did I seriously consider trying my own hand at
writing. And discovered I loved it. To be able to create people, even whole
worlds from the imagination is a never-ending joy.
I was fortunate enough to win a number of writing awards, but after nine
print books, in 2011 I plunged into the world of e-books and never looked
back. It offers a level of creative freedom not to be found anywhere else.
As Blair Bancroft, I have become best known for books set in the Regency
period (early 19th c.)—Regency Gothics, Regency Historicals,
Traditional Regencies, and a series that reveals the darker side of the
Regency era (The Aphrodite Academy). I also write SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal,
Romantic Suspense, and Mystery, with a Medieval Young Adult and a Steampunk
thrown in for good measure. (I do enjoy experimenting with new
I now have more than forty books available through online vendors,
including a non-fiction compilation of all the Writing and Editing tips
posted to my blog since 2011 (Making Magic with Words).
I am an outspoken advocate of “out of the mist” writing. One of
my favorite sayings: I can hardly wait to sit down to my computer each
morning and find out what my characters are going to do today.
From Amazon bestsellers list author Roger L. Liles comes the second volume of his Cold War trilogy—THE COLD WAR BEGINS. The setting is war-ravaged Berlin in late 1946. Spies from both sides begin to move with relative ease throughout a Germany occupied by British, French, American and Russian military forces. Kurt Altschuler, our hero, soon becomes one of them.
While working behind enemy lines as an OSS agent in France during World War II, Kurt learns that intelligence collection involves both exhilarating and dangerous encounters with the enemy. He relished every moment he spent as part of the vanguard confronting the Nazis.
That war has been over for 18 months when he is offered a job as a CIA deep-cover agent in the devastated and divided city of Berlin. He jumps at the opportunity, but is concerned that his guise as an Associated Press News Agency reporter will offer little action. He need not worry. Soon, he is working undercover, deep inside of Russian-controlled southeastern Germany. Eventually, KGB agents waylay him and tear his car and luggage apart. His chauffeur is beaten. He is threatened with prison, torture and death.
Enter Erica Hoffmann, a very attractive, aspiring East German archeology student. Any relationship between an undercover CIA agent and an East German woman is strictly forbidden; she might be a KGB or Stasi agent or operative. But he cannot help himself—he has fallen hard for her. Kurt strives assiduously to maintain their tempestuous, star-crossed relationship.
Eventually, Kurt works to counter the efforts of Russian and East German spies, especially a mole who is devastating Western Intelligence assets throughout Europe. He also must work to identify and expose enemy spies who have penetrated the very fabric of the West German government and society. He frequently observes to others that: “the spy business is like knife fighting in a dark closet; you know you’re going to be cut up, you just don’t know how bad.”
Almost one hundred years of relative world peace was shattered in 1914 and again in 1939 with two devastating world wars. Tens of millions of military personnel and civilians on both sides were killed. By 1945, most of the world’s population was exhausted by war and craved peace. Over 11 million displaced survivors roamed Europe in search of a meal and shelter.
Because Germany was viewed as being directly responsible for both conflicts, the Allies demanded it surrender unconditionally. In May 1945, the Four Powers—the French, British, Americans, and Russians—began to take over their agreed-to areas of occupation in that country.
Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, decided to take advantage of the instability caused by the second war to further the communist goal of world domination. When hostilities ended, Soviet troops occupied most of central Europe. Using rigged elections, palace coups, outright force, and even murder, the Soviets began imposing communist regimes on Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and of course, East Germany.
In his Iron Curtain Speech, Winston Churchill noted that a new era had started less than a year after World War II hostilities ended. This new era would last for the next forty-three years. It is best characterized as a confrontation between two radically different political, social, and economic ideologies for control of the world—America and the Free World versus Russia and the Communist World. This conflict is known in history as THE COLD WAR.
It was given this name, because with few exceptions—Korea and Vietnam—this was not a shooting war. America and her allies sought to contain communist expansion using every means short of war. In addition to a massive arms buildup, this is the era of spy versus spy. Much like a chess match, one side would seek an advantage and the other would attempt to counter that move with one of its own.
Conversations between characters in this novel are in both English and German. In English, contractions are used for informal conversations and there are no familiar verb forms. In German, there are no contractions and the familiar form is used in everyday conversations with close business associates, friends, and relatives. The main characters in this novel speak both English and German fluently and switch from one to the other. Thus, if a conversation appears stiff and formal, it is in German. The presence of contractions in a sentence means that they are conversing in English.
Wednesday, November 13, 1946
Four hours after my propeller-driven, British Overseas Airlines DC-3 left Heathrow, it descended into Gatow Airport in the British Zone of Occupation. The cloud cover cleared as the aircraft passed over the familiar sights of the River Havel and the Wannsee.
The AP’s Berlin photographer, Ben Stevens, greeted me at the bottom of the metal stairs, “You must be Kurt Altschuler—Welcome to Berlin.”
“Thanks. I don’t know if they told you but I was born and raised here in Berlin. I’m anxious to see the city.”
“You’ll be disappointed. Central Berlin is still a mess. I’ve reserved a room for you in a pensione in Charlottenburg. Owners of those larger houses and mansions have been forced to take in boarders or divide them into small apartments. The furnished apartments I checked out for you were expensive and fairly shabby.”
After we retrieved my luggage, Ben hailed a taxi. Soon he and the driver were negotiating the fare. The driver said, “Elf zigaretten—Eleven cigarettes.”
They finally settled on eight as a fair price.
“I’ve read that the Reichsmarks are essentially worthless and everyone demands American cigarettes as a medium of exchange.”
“American-made Chesterfields, Lucky Strikes, and Camels are worth the most,” Ben replied. “British Players are a close second. The current going rate is seven Reichsmarks per cigarette. So, we’re giving the taxi driver the equivalent of 77 marks for the 20-mile ride into central Berlin. As you can tell, each mark isn’t worth much.”
“How did cigarettes become the medium of exchange?”
“A significant part of the German population smokes and they are only allowed to purchase forty cigarettes a month at the rationed price—so cigarettes are in significant demand on the black market.”
“How did the Reichsmark become so valueless?” I asked.
“At the Potsdam conference, the four victorious powers agreed to use the old Reichsmark as the medium of exchange in all of occupied Germany. In a gesture of goodwill, some American idiot gave the Russians a set of Reichsmark printing plates. They have been using the money they print to pay for everything—tens of billions are now in circulation and no government is guaranteeing its value—as a result, Marks are almost worthless.
Berliners in our zone are allowed to purchase 800 calories worth of near-starvation rations at low fixed prices, but they must barter for enough food to survive. So, they trade antiques, cameras, watches, jewelry, silver, and fine china for cigarettes, the de facto local currency.”
“And the cigarettes are straight from the American Post Exchange?”
“Yeah. One of our soldiers can buy a carton of 200 cigarettes for a dollar at the PX and sell it for around 1,000 marks. He can then take the marks and exchange them at the American Express Bank on their bases for $100, which he can ship back to the States in a good old American Postal Money Order. Every month, three times the monthly pay of all of the American military personnel in the occupation forces are being shipped back to the States.”
“So, the black market is where everything is bartered or traded for the lowly cigarette?”
“I don’t smoke and didn’t think about bringing any with me.”
“Don’t worry. I have a friend who’ll supply both of us,” Ben offered.
Our taxi sped into central Berlin on one of the autobahns Hitler had built ten years earlier for the 1936 Olympics. Occasionally, we would have to avoid debris from a destroyed overpass or slow for a hastily repaired section of the road, but otherwise, traffic was light and our trip into the city was quick.
I thought back over the events of the last month and how I’d ended up with a cover as an Associated Press (AP) reporter. My German language skills and a CIA generated resume recounting my exploits as a U.S. Army Information Officer on the front lines in Europe got me the job in Berlin. Only two people in the States knew I worked for the CIA. For my protection, I never went near CIA Headquarters in Washington.
On successive days, I had meetings in New York with a senior CIA agent in a Roosevelt Hotel room, and the AP’s European News Chief at their office in Rockefeller Plaza. They both gave me essentially the same instruction—”find out what is going on over there and report it back to us.” I had to find out what the Russian military, civilian authorities, and spies were doing, as well as cover the political and economic news in central Europe. Sources and documentation were paramount for both.
Ben interrupted my reverie by pointing out, “As you can see, the west side of Berlin suffered little damage; the bombing and shelling focused on the government and industrial facilities in the central and eastern parts of the city.”
Once we left the autobahn, I began to recognize streets and eventually asked the driver, “Please turn right at the next corner and drive slowly down this street.”
As we neared my old home, the neighborhood looked the same. Relieved, memories came flooding back—learning to ride a bicycle down the sidewalk along here and playing soccer with my buddy, Jacob, on his front lawn over there.
A minute later, I asked the driver to stop. It was almost surreal— except for the façade, my home was just a pile of burned-out rubble, while the houses on either side were fine.
For years, I’d yearned to return to the vibrant city I’d known in my youth. Now I sat in stunned silence while the taxi drove us to my nearby pensione. Thomas Wolfe’s rumination was correct; there is an end to all things, no matter how much we want to hold on to them, “You Can’t Go Home Again”.
About the Author
Roger L. Liles decided he had to earn a living after a BA and graduate studies in Modern European History. He went back to school and eventually earned an MS in Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.
In the 1960s, he served as an Air Force Signals Intelligence Officer in Turkey and Germany and eventually lived in Europe for a total of eight years. He worked in the military electronics field for forty years—his main function was to translate engineering jargon into understandable English and communicate it to senior decision-makers in the government.
Now retired after working for forty years as a senior engineering manager and consultant with a number of aerospace companies, he spends his days writing. His first novel, which was published in late 2018 was titled The Berlin Tunnel—A Cold War Thriller. His second novel The Cold War Begins was published in late 2020 and is the second volume in his planned The Cold War Trilogy. This trilogy is based on extensive research into Berlin during the spy-versus-spy era which followed World War II and his personal experience while living and working in Europe. He is in the process of writing its third volume of the trilogy which will be titled The Berlin Tunnel—Another Crisis and takes the story into 1962 and the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
A #1 Wall Street Journal, Amazon Charts, USA Today, and Washington Post bestseller.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen’s shocking and empowering true-crime story of three sisters determined to survive their mother’s house of horrors.
After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now.
For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.
Harrowing and heartrending, If You Tell is a survivor’s story of absolute evil—and the freedom and justice that Nikki, Sami, and Tori risked their lives to fight for. Sisters forever, victims no more, they found a light in the darkness that made them the resilient women they are today—loving, loved, and moving on.
From legendary playwright August Wilson comes the powerful, stunning dramatic bestseller that won him critical acclaim, including the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize.
Troy Maxson is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less. This is a modern classic, a book that deals with the impossibly difficult themes of race in America, set during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.
Now an Academy Award-winning film directed by and starring Denzel Washington, along with Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Viola Davis.