Readers Imbibing Peril V!

This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year.  As the weather cools, the trees light up with their multi-colored leaves, and mens’ thoughts turn to football, my thoughts turn to the Reader’s Imbibing Peril Challenge.  Now in its’ fifth year (wow!), this is definitely one of my favorite challenge ever and I’m so glad Carl has brought it back again this year! I will be doing, as usual, Peril the First with some Short Story Peril thrown in for good measure. I have a massive pile of books to pull from this year, but have one clearcut goal – to read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.  It is at the top of my list!

  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (hahaha hahaha ha ha ha – is this the fifth year this has been on my list? Yes.)
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Heart of Darkness and Selected Stories by Joseph Conrad
  • Edgar Allen Poe stories!
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott
  • The Ghost Writer by John Harwood
  • The Seance by John Harwood
  • Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
  • The Sister by Poppy Adams
  • Nocturnes by John Connolly
  • Shirley Jackson short stories (I have a small collection on my iPod!  One is The Lottery!)

Reread possibilities

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Also definite, Jen and I have made it the 4th quarter read for the Classic Reads Book Club!  I hope you will join us in reading this fantastic book.)
  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Re-listen possibilities

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (actually, this is certain.  I already started it!)
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Carl has also added a new Peril this year – Peril on the Screen.  I’m not much for really scary movies, but I think I can find a couple to watch.  I definitely want to see the old classic ghost story The Uninvited starring Ray Milland.  It is one of my favorite movies ever, I just have to get my hands on it! 

I hope you will considering joining us.  Carl always has great prizes and we all have great fun.  See Carl’s Challenge Signup Post!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books.!

So, I bet you all know one thing I read this week.  Mockingjay!!! And it was excellent.  Really everything I could have wanted.  I’ve obsessed about it all week, to the point where I haven’t finished another book since.  Oh, except for Finny, which I also reviewed!

Which isn’t to say I haven’t tried!  I have way too many books going, which is probably part of my problem.  I have been reading The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stories, and Mr. Peanut!  Actually, I just started Mr. Peanut Saturday night in a fit of OMG-I-feel-a-reading-slump-coming-on and so far, it’s really good!  It’s… odd enough… crazy enough… to hold my attention.  Plus it’s on my nook and will self destruct delete on it’s on September 3rd.  And lucky for me, I’m reading it with Jen from Devourer of Books!

It goes without saying that I would love to finish all these books this week!  How was your reading week?

Weekend Cooking – Fig Jam?

So, yeah. I’m making Fig Jam.  And I have no idea what I am doing.  I have never ate a fig.  I have never touched a fig.  The only figgy anything I remember is Fig Newtons and that has been YEARS ago.  But apparently I’m getting some kind of reputation as a jam/jelly/preserve maker and my uncle’s stepdad LOVES Fig Jam.  He is also diabetic.  The Fig Jam recipe I have in my trusted book calls for 6 cups of sugar.

Do you see the hurdles I am facing people?

I am so totally winging it, so here’s hoping!

Here is what I did.

8 cups of chopped figs (this doubles my recipe)

4 cups of sugar (this is about 1/3 of what my recipe called for)

1 cup of lemon juice

A dash of cinnamon

2 packs of no sugar needed Sure-Jell Pectin

So. I chopped up all those figs.  I put them in the pot with the lemon and 1 cup of sugar and I let it sit for about 10 minutes, but stirring occasionally.  Then I put the pot on the stove on medium low and let it simmer for awhile.  Like, QUITE awhile.  Probably 40 minutes.  Oh, and stir, stir, stir!!  Then I turned it up to medium high.  I added the rest of the sugar.   Once it got to a decent boil, I added the pectin and the dash of cinnamon.  Once it was to a rolling boil, I let it boil for 1 minute.

Then I took it off the heat for 5 minutes, to let it cool, still stirring every once in awhile.  I put it in the jars and did a water bath.  Since I used pint jars, I let it boil for 15 minutes.  We’ll see how he likes it, I just hope it tastes okay!

Obviously, daughter isn’t too sure! LOL


Weekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday Farmer's Market

Saturday Farmer’s Market is a new feature I started to showcase, well, gardens!  This summer especially, I have really come to enjoy everyone’s garden posts and I selfishly want to see them all, every week!  And as you all know, I’m all about the sustainable living!  So give me your garden photos, your gardening books you’re reading, even give me pictures of your Farmer’s Market loot from the week!  I want it ALL.

Okay, now here is my real post!  My poor garden. See?

However, my okra is kicking ass!  It just loves this hot weather.  I am definitely planting this again next year.

Look who is still hanging around?  He’s not going to like it when I go pull all those tomato plants up.  My garden will be looking very different next week!

Sometime this week (or maybe even today, if it cools off!) I’m going to pull everything up and plant these.  Well, everything but the okra!

As for my farmer’s market haul…I got some corn to freeze for this winter, some squash to fry up with some onions, some mountain apples, and this.  This. is. yummy.  I give you Garlic Rosemary Bread!!! *drool*

Yes, yes you do want some. It is so yummy! I think it shall be my supper.

Book Review: Finny

She started out life as Delphine, named by her father for the city where the Greek oracle was from, but she’d always had an independent mind about things like names, so she’d gone by Finny ever since she was old enough to choose.

Meet Finny Short, the precocious narrator of Justin Kramon’s remarkable first novel.   Finny is the smallest oddball in her oddball family.  Her father offers random quotes from random people at very random times.  Her mother is a shallow woman, more worried about how things look to other people than to her own family.  Her brother Sylvan gets on well with them.  Finny does not.  She is constantly picking little fights with her parents and, one night when things get to be too much, she “runs away.”

That night she meets Earl Henckel, kind, sensitive Earl, and instantly feels a connection to him.  She finds every excuse to sneak out of the house to meet with him, finally starting piano lessons with his father as a cover.  However, when her prim-and-proper mother discovers that Finny has been kissing Earl, it’s off to boarding school for her.  Here she meets Judith, a rich, beautiful girl who may or may not be good for Finny, and the cast is complete.

It is these two relationships, with Earl and Judith, that will shape Finny’s life.  It’s hard to tell from the first, if either will be good for Finny.  She instantly adores Earl, instantly seems to know she can’t live without him.  With Judith, however, it isn’t so cut and dry.

She felt the way she had when she’d just met Judith, as if this gorgeous young woman had handed her a heavy tray of glasses and Finny had to make sure not a single one dropped.

It’s really hard to say more without giving too much away and I am certain I can’t do it justice.  Finny is definitely one of those novels where I just want to say, “Read it, please!  Trust me.”  I came to this book with nothing more than the description from the publisher and that was enough to tell me I was dying to read it.  This fourteen-year-old misfit is a character you don’t want to miss.  She is wry, innocent, wise, and so endearing.  Earl is borderline too-good-to-be-true, yet also endearing.  I couldn’t help but love him. Justin Kramon is a remarkable new talent. Honestly, I would have never thought this was his first novel.  Finny is a funny, observant, and moving story with a unique love story and an unforgettable heroine.  I will definitely be watching for more from Kramon.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Written by Justin Kronin
Contemporary Fiction
Published by: Random House
Format: Paperback
Pages: 366
On Sale: July 13, 2010
ISBN: 9780812980233

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books.!

Y’all.  I had an AMAZING reading week.  I finished three books!!  I loved The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamka.  I listened to Need by Carrie Jones in less than two days!  Could the YA drought be over??  I’m thinking YES!  I slso finally finished The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman, which, will really quite good, I’m still processing just what I thought of it.

Then this weekend, I started not one, not two, but THREE excellent books!  I am reading Finny by Justin Kramon for a blog tour on Wednesday, so look for my thoughts on it then.  I also started The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone on my nook and then I started The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for the Classic Reads Book Club.  Our discussion with Trish of Hey Lady! fame starts today.  Some of you may remember how I said Atwood scares the poop out of me.  I’ve made reading an Atwood a New Years Resolution for many, many years, so I can finally cross it off my list with some excitement because DUDE, I AM LOVING THIS BOOK!  I still can’t believe it, but I read over 50 pages of it last night.  I just couldn’t put it down!

I reviewed the excellent The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Day For Night by Frederick Reiken, and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson last week.

The biggest news is MOCKINGJAY comes out tomorrow!  And I have the day off!!  I’m making lots of snacks tonight so I can hunker down for a Mockingjay readathon.  I cannot wait!
How was your reading week?

Saturday Farmer's Market

Saturday Farmer’s Market is a new feature I started to showcase, well, gardens!  This summer especially, I have really come to enjoy everyone’s garden posts and I selfishly want to see them all, every week!  And as you all know, I’m all about the sustainable living!  So give me your garden photos, your gardening books you’re reading, even give me pictures of your Farmer’s Market loot from the week!  I want it ALL.

It’s been a wild day in Casa CR.  The young son woke up WAY TOO EARLY this morning throwing up everything in his stomach. I had to go get him from his Mema’s house at 5 AM.  Seeing as how I didn’t go to BED until 3 AM, I am a little bit tired.

Kiddo is feeling much better now see? Thank goodness! Hopefully there is a nap in my immediate future.

So yeah, I just now went out to take some pictures of my poor, rapidly dying garden.  Well, not so dying.  The okra is going crazy!

This is what happens when you wait too long to pick your okra. You get monster okra!

But the tomatoes, they look rather drying up yes?

I figure they have about a week, maybe two tops.  I’m thinking of ripping them out and planting some collard greens. We love us some collards!  It just needs to start cooling down a little bit first.

Of course, I don’t think this guy will appreciate me doing that!

He isn’t the only creepy-crawly hanging on in the garden.  My basil has bloomed (I’m letting it go to seed) and the bees are LOVING it.

So? How doth your garden grow? I’d love to see your pictures, hear about the books you’ve read, or any Farmer’s Market goodies you got!  I didn’t get to go today 🙁

Book Review: Day for Night

This will be one of the very few times I ever use the publisher’s summary for a book.  But honestly, I have no. idea. how. to summarize this book.

As a child, Beverly Rabinowitz fled Europe with her mother during World War II. Almost half a century later, while vacationing in Florida with her boyfriend and his son, a chance encounter leads to a strangely lucid moment in which she senses that her father, long believed to have been killed during the war, is close by. It’s the first of many seemingly random events that in fact are guiding Beverly, and the people in her life, towards a startling discovery.

Over the course of Frederick Reiken’s provocative, intricate novel, Beverly will learn that her story is part of something larger, and brilliantly surprising. Because her story is not hers alone, but also that of a comatose teenage boy in Utah, an elusive, Sixties-era fugitive, an FBI agent pursuing a twenty-year obsession, a Massachusetts veterinarian who falls in love on a kibbutz in Israel, and a host of other characters. Day for Night illuminates how disparate, far-flung people can be connected, and how the truth of those bonds can upend entire lives. Each chapter is a small universe of its own, and together they form a dazzling whole.

Day for Night may be the most confounding, startling, and beautifully written books I’ve read this year.  It is, without a doubt, the most confusing by far, that is for sure.  I read this book a couple of months ago and I’m still confused.  I was lucky enough to read it with Jen from Devourer of Books.  We discussed this book for a week.  I’ve read countless reviews of the book, and summaries, and, I hate to admit it, but I feel I remain mostly in the dark as to what exactly happens in this book.

It is not my intention to speak in riddles, but I will suggest that it is very natural to see all of these things as a big puzzle you must assemble. I will suggest, as well, that certain pieces will not fit, not now or ever, and that you must learn to live with these ambiguities.  You must also learn to trust these ambiguities.  This is perhaps the most important thing I know.

This quote cracks me up.  Not because it is silly, it’s far from it. What makes me laugh is the part “it is not my intention to speak in riddles” because this book is like one giant riddle to me!  And I totally agree with “certain pieces will not fit, not now or ever” because there were certain pieces that didn’t seem to fit.  It’s like the author left me this secret message saying “It’s okay, you’re not going to get it, don’t worry about it!”  And I didn’t!

I recognize that we are all magicians in some way.  We are complicit in all we see and comprehend that what we see will never coincide with absolute reality.

To me, and I have no idea if this is correct, it seems as if Reiken was trying to imitate life with this book.  There are so many things in motion around us, things we have no idea about, but affect us in so many ways.  That slow car in front of you on the way to work this morning may have prevented you from having a serious accident.   The man you had a chance encounter with at Starbucks may turn out to be your boss someday.   There are just so many things affecting your life and this book seems like an attempt to represent that.

As a result, the human brain must make a narrative.  This I can say with certainty, and yet each narrative we choose will reach a point at which it no longer suffices.  One narrative must inevitably be abandoned for another.  In this way, any narrative sequence defers meaning, even beyond the point at which it appears to end.

It almost feels like Reiken took some random (and do I mean random!) things and attempted to tie them all together into a narrative.  He made a narrative, like the quote says.  It was random, it was connected, it was baffling – but it was also beautifully written.  This book has some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read this year.  These three quotes, besides being, in my mind relevant to my interpretation of this story, are my favorites for how amazing they are.  So yeah, whether I “got it” or not, I feel like I kinda “got it.” Hmm…that doesn’t make sense.  Or does it?  My best advice is read it.  Read it with a friend.  Read it with your book group.  And be prepared to think.

Also, I found this interesting – from Fizzy Thought’s review:

And while I was googling for cover images, I stumbled across the meaning of the title. Day for night is a cinematographic technique in which night-time is created by the use of special lights. In other words, you’re creating the illusion of night-time. Hmmmmm.


Day for Night
Frederick Reiken
Category: Baffling Contemporary Fiction
Published by: Reagan Arthur Books
Format: Hardcover
On Sale: April 26, 2010
ISBN: 9780316077569

Purchase from

The Book Depository | IndieBound | Powell’s Books

Other reviews by:

Devourer of Books | The Book Lady’s Blog | Fizzy Thoughts | Booking Mama | She is too Fond of Books… | S. Krishna’s Books | BermudaOnion | Beth Fish Reads

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Book Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic ruled the world.

This is the moving story of William Kamkwamba and his stories of growing up in Malawi, Africa.  Malawai is a place where magic, superstitions and a corrupt government rule the world and where science is a mystery.  It is a place of uncertain meals, drought, and hunger.  William and his family are not wealthy, being poor tobacco and corn farmers, but they are happy.  Everything is fascinating to him and reading of young William’s exploits, alone and with his friends, was probably my favorite part of the book.

Although Geoffrey, Gilbert, and I grew up in this small place in Africa we did many of the same things children do all over the world, only with slightly different materials.  And talking with friends I’ve met from America and Europe, I now know this is true. Children everywhere have similar ways of entertaining themselves.  If you look at it this way, the world isn’t so big.

It is this inquisitive attitude that saved him when drought forces William to drop out of school, after his family can’t pay the fee for him to attend.  William had a voracious appetite for learning and a curiosity that would not be stopped.  He decided to educate himself and turned to the small library in his village and the power of books.  It is through books, one book in particular, that William feeds his hungry mind.

William is a man after my own heart. More often than not, if I want to learn something, I turn to a book.  William does the same thing.  And when William discovers an American text book, Using Energy, his life changes in ways he probably never dreamed of.  I am a lover of words however, not a technical person at all, so some of the more technical parts of the story were difficult for me.  However, the strong narrative made it easy to keep going.  I just had to know what happened to William!  He’s the kind of guy you just root for.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the very best of what I love about nonfiction.  Not only did I learn of a culture that I knew little about, I found it to be fascinating.   William may not have had the best life, being hungry, without schooling, and poor.  But he had his imagination and he knew how to use it!  William is the kind of scrappy, persistent, and dedicated kid that you can’t help but root for and love.  I was reminded so much of myself in William; curious, tenacious, not the smartest in the class, but where William and I part company is how he used his wits to change his life.  William serves as an inspiration to those who may think they can’t do it.  This young, poor kid from Africa did it; he is now a student at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire.  If he can do it, so can you.  Give his story a read and see just how inspired William will make you.

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind
William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Published by: Harper Perennial
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
On Sale: August 2010
ISBN: 9780061730320

Purchase from

The Book Depository | IndieBound | Powell’s Books

Please see TLC Book Tours for other stops on this tour.  And thank you to TLC and the publisher for my copy of this book.

I am a Book Depository, Powells, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.