Monthly Archives:: October 2010

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

October 31, 2010 Books 5

Oh my dear friends, it is with a downcast and depressed manner than I admit to you that for the second week in a row, I have not finished a book.  I cry tears of pain and remorse, dear friends, for it is very sad.  Very sad indeed.   This book blogger needs to finish a book!

It isn’t for lack of trying.

You remember last week?  When I said I had bookmarks in like, five different books?  Those bookmarks are still there, dear friends.  Some have moved, but not particularly far.  A couple not at all.  Sad.  So very sad.

My goal for the week is to finish at least 2 of these books.  Nightshade should be fairly easy to finish.  I think I have about 80 pages left in it.  Then I shall concentrate on another.  Hopefully.  Concentration is sorely lacking around there lately, lemme tell ya.  I am hoping this thing called life will calm down around here now!  Because geez.  Girl has to finish a book.

AND, as I have 3:51:00 left of Lonesome Dove, I think I can finish it this week too!  Woot!  For it is beyond amazing my dears.  I adore this book and am so glad I’m rereading it.

So, tell me.  Let me live vicariously through you.  What did you read this week?  What’s good?  I needs to know.

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!

 


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Where do I begin?

October 26, 2010 Books 11

Photo Credit: Neil Gaiman's Journal

So, I want to try a Terry Pratchett book, but I have no IDEA where to begin.  The man is so prolific!  Help?  Where do I start?  Should I start with Good Omens since I love Neil Gaiman so much?

Also, just for curiosity sake, if you could tell me any book or author I just HAD to try, who would it be? I’m feeling adventurous.

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

October 25, 2010 Books 9

Y’all, I did not get much reading done last week.  Well, no, I got quite a bit of reading done, I just didn’t finish anything!  I have bookmarks in:

  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – for the Classic Reads Book Club, in which I am woefully behind.  This is terrible because Chris is leading an amazing discussion.  I. Must. Catch. Up!
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2010, edited by – which I have on my nook from NetGalley and it is the best collection of travel writing I think I have EVER read.  Really.  It is truly fantastic.   
  • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – I lost this for a couple of days and when I found it, I didn’t immediately start reading it again, even though I am suitably intrigued by the story.  I must get back to it. 
  • Nightshade by Andrea Cremer - I don’t know, this weekend I was really wanting to read some YA.  Amy gave this a fantastic review and I caved.  I read half of it over the last two days.  It’s the first YA I’ve read in quite awhile that has kept me guessing, which makes me so happy.  I can’t wait to finish it.  
  • Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al  - which I have been reading forever!  It is a great collection, I’ve loved everything I’ve read it in so far, it’s just hard to get back too.  Although, in a way I kinda like that….

We won’t even discuss what I need to be reading.  I think I’m having a bad case of Reader’s ADD. I just flit from one thing to the next, zero attention span.  I don’t know what I’m looking for, but Nightshade and the Travel Writing collection have come closest to it so far.  What are you reading that’s good?  

 

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.!

 


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Weekend Cooking: Butters

October 24, 2010 Weekend Cooking 10

When I have free time at work, which isn’t often here lately, I love to surf around on foodie heaven site TasteSpotting.   One day last week, these two different butter recipes came up and I instantly knew I had to try them.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter

From BakedBree.com

2 (15-ounce) cans of canned pumpkin or about 4 cups of fresh
1 1/4 cups maple syrup
1/2 cup apple juice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put everything in a slow cooker.  Mix it up. Turn it on and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.  That. Is. It.  Voila!  You have yummy, easy, amazing pumpkin butter!  You can keep it in the fridge for one week or freeze it for up to 6 months.

This made 4 half-pints for me.

Super Slow Cooker Cran-Apple Butter

From MommieCooks.com

10-12 Apples, Chopped
3 Cups of Whole Cranberries
1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup of White Sugar
1 tsp of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp of Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Cloves
4 Shakes of Salt

Throw it all in your slow cooker and cook it on low for 12 hours.  Emulsify it smooth.

This made 3 pints for me.

Both are heavenly.  I had the pumpkin butter on a bagel with cream cheese and oh my goodness. The flavor is amazing!  Both of these recipes are so, so, so easy.  I’m so glad I tried them!  Jack supervised and gave his two bony fingers up!

weekendcookingWeekend 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.

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Book Review: Mr. Peanut

October 22, 2010 Book Reviews, Books 10

When David Pepin first dreamed of killing his wife, he didn’t kill her himself.  He dreamed convenient acts of God. – page 1

I have been striving to read more challenging books this year, and I didn’t think I would meet a book more confusing, more complicated, and more verbose than Day for Night by Frederick Reiken this year.  Thenl I picked up Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross and wow.  I read it a couple of months ago, have read many other reviews, synopses and such and I still do. not. have. a. clue.  I know what the book was about, yes, but then again, I feel like I have no idea what the book was about.  Let’s see if we can pick it apart and put it back together in a way that will make you want to read it.  That way you can come back and tell me all about it.  I need you to go read it and come back and tell me all about it.

And be sure you take notes as you write.  I would be at least five times more confused if I hadn’t.

So there are these three guys.  They are all (by all appearances) desperately in love with his wife.  All three men have entertained the idea of murdering his wife.  Two quite possibly have murdered his wife.  (I hope that is grammatically correct.)  The other just knocked his up and I am still undecided if she actually agreed to that, but anyway, she’s having a baby.  Two of the women definitely have mental issues, one to the point that she will not even leave her bed, the other to the point that she looses over 100 pounds.  One of these couples was real; like really alive.  Like, they actually lived and Ross is using part of their story for his story, you know, to make it extra special confusing.  To top it all off, I (personally) get the feeling that no one seems to like women or marriage much in this book at all.  (The author has said otherwise, that is it actually pro-marriage, but anywho.  I do not (personally) see it.) (Why am I so parenthetical lately?)

Couple number one is, at first glance, happy.  David and Alice Pepin have been married for thirteen years.  David adores her, despite her weight, which is significant.  In fact, he seems to find her more beautiful fat than skinny.  He can’t imagine life without her, yet from page one he is fantasizing about something (or someone) killing her.  Before long she is dead and he is both deeply distressed and the number one suspect.  Enter the two detectives; Ward Hastroll and Sam Sheppard.  If you remember, I mentioned one of these couples were from real life.  If you have seen the Harrison Ford/Tommy Lee Jones movie The Fugitive or the television show of the same name, you know the story, for those shows were based on the story of Sam Sheppard, a man accused, tried and convinced of killing his wife in 1954, and eventually cleared and set free.  Somehow Sam is alive and well in contemporary New York and is a police detective.  Ward Hastroll is his partner.

What follows in the dissection of the three marriages, almost down to the molecular level.   There is lots of depression, violence, love, hate, fear, confusion, fear, hate, love, violence, depression, and food allergies.  Yes, food allergies.  Where do you think those peanuts come in?  Ah, but we’re venturing into spoiler territory, so let’s leave that alone.   No one in these three marriages seems particularly happy.  In fact, they all seem pretty miserable.  The action goes back and forth between the three stories.  Each man grapples with his feelings for his wife, his desires, his ideas of marriage, love, and his morality.  In the end, I’m not sure any are left happy.

Ross’s writing is evocative.   He can definitely write a beautiful phrase and for that alone I would probably read another book by him.  For instance:

We tell stories of other people’s marriages, Detective Hastroll thought.  We are experts in their parables and parabolas.  But can we tell the story of our own?  If we could, we might avoid our own cruelties and crimes. – page 22

Isn’t that lovely?

In the end, my thoughts are like those of the Library Journal, who says in their review, “Recommended for ambitious readers.”   I’m just not sure either of us means that in a good way.  Mr. Peanut is definitely a challenging read and I’m not sorry to have read it.   The rapid back and forth between couples, time, and stories gave me a bit of reader’s whiplash.  If forced to give a definitive opinion, I would say I did like it.  I just didn’t love it.  I’m left feeling uncomfortable with the way each man thought about his wife and that’s why I didn’t love it. 

This is probably the worst review I’ve ever written, but I’m just tired of messing with it.  I do apologize…

Other, more educated opinions:

The New York Times Book Review – Scott Turow  - …the daring, arresting first novel by Adam Ross, an author of prodigious talent, which takes as its theme “the dual nature of marriage, the proximity of violence and love”…Mr. Peanut requires considerable decoding. This can be annoying, a little like going to a dinner party where all the guests seem bright and amiable but insist on speaking another language. Yet over all, the novel is an enormous success—forceful and involving, often deeply stirring and always impressively original.

The New York Times – Michiko Kakutani – From the first page on, it’s clear that Mr. Ross…is a literary gymnast. He’s a sorcerer with words, whose David Foster Wallace-like descriptive powers have given him the ability to conjure everything from a pretty Hawaiian beachscape to the slow-motion horror of a car accident with color and élan.

Mr. Peanut
Written by Adam Ross
Category:  Literary Fiction
Published by: Knopf
Format: eBook
On Sale: June 22, 2010
ISBN: 978-0307270702
Rated: 3/5

Other varying opinions:

Devourer of Books The Book Lady’s Blog | my books, my life

I got my copy from the library, downloaded it in fact, to my nook.  :P FCC

I am a Barnes & Noble affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links.


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Book Review: Clockwork Angel – The Infernal Devices Book #1 by Cassandra Clare

October 19, 2010 Book Reviews, Books 8

It is no secret that I think Cassandra Clare’s writing is a ton of fun.  I read her first trilogy, The Mortal Instruments in one week at the beach last year and they were among my favorite reads of 2009.  You can read about that here (City of Ashes), here (Bones) and here (Glass).  Clockwork Angel takes the awesomeness that is Cassandra Clare, adds in lots of Victorian and steam punk awesomeness and takes it all to a new level of just plain ole super awesomeness!   There is a lot of awesome in Clockwork Angels and I think if anyone can get me back into YA, it’s probably Clare.  She’s just that good.

Sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray is fresh off the boat from American and looking for her brother, when two – unusual– women meet her at the dock.  These women, called the Dark Sisters, tell her that her brother has sent them to meet her and bring her home with them.  In actuality, they have kidnapped her, with the intent of training her to do what she was born to do.  Tessa is a Downworlder, a warlock, born with the extremely rare ability to transform, at will, into someone else, anyone else as long as she has held something that once belonged to them.   The Dark Sisters’ master, The Magister, wants to claim Tessa, and her ability, for himself.

The Shadowhunters, those warriors dedicated to saving the world from demons, save her at the very last moment (as usual).   They swear to help Tessa find out what she is, and to help her save her brother from the evil Magister.  Of course, there are two handsome, emotionally scarred boys just waiting to fall in love with her, and have her fall in love with them.  They boys fascinate her; James with his fragile health and tragic patrician features and Will, the resident bad boy of scathing wit and the violent mood swings.And of course, he is quite the handsome lad himself.  We will comeback to the boys un moment si vous plait.

The Victorian London of Clare’s world is familiar and yet unique at the same time.  And she did her research.  I could smell the gas lamps, but I do have an active imagination.  I just felt so there!  Which, in my eyes, is where Clare is amazing.  I get so lost in her stories that it’s like I am there.  And really, isn’t that all we ask of an author?  To take us out of ourselves and into another place, where our problems don’t matter for a few minutes of the day?  I digress and apologize, for this review probably will be all over the place.  I am all over the place.  Hence, the all-over-the-place-ness of this review.  Anywoo.  I felt like I was in Victorian London, okay?  lol  And I love me some Victorian London!  I love me some angst and there is plenty of that here.  Three teenagers, one girl, two boys, of course there is angst!

Which brings me back to the boys!  The boys.  They are full of lovely angst.  But, alas, I had a tiny problem with one of the boys.  Will.  Will is Jace.  Will is (in this book anyway) a carbon copy of Jace Weyland from the first trilogy of books.  Witty, wild, devil-may-care… it is attractive, but I’m seriously hoping Clare is going to be a one-trick pony with this type of character.  I am sincerely hoping Will deviates from the typecasting going on here in the next book.  Because I really want to like Will, but if he is just going to be a copy cat, well, I don’t find this the sincerest form of flattery when you copy yourself.  As for the other boy, James, I adored him.   He’s Jace/Will’s complete opposite and one of the reasons I continue to have faith in Clare.   He’s very un-Simon and very un-Alex which is very good.  (Simon and Alex are in the first trilogy as well.)    I want to heal him, for he’s a sickly lad and for no good reason either!  But that’s a spoiler, so you’ll have to read it to find out how and why.

Tessa is, as most girls are in this genre, tougher than she looks.  And like most girls in these books, she doesn’t know herself, at all, yet, but she’s in for a crash-course in knowing herself.  She learns A LOT in Book 1.  I mean, for all she knew she was a regular ole teenager, coming to meet her big brother in the big, exciting city of London and then hello! She finds out she’s a warlock!  Who can shape-shift into other people!  And hear their thoughts and stuff!  That is a big thing.  A big, big thing.  And she handles it with aplomb.  (I have always wanted to use that word. I finally worked it in!) (I’m being very parenthetical today, aren’t I?)  Sure, she cries a few times, but who wouldn’t? Big things are started with this, Book 1, and I am way excited for Book 2.  Here’s hoping Will grows into his own character!  If you have stuck with me to the end, I love you, because wow. I’ve been having writer’s block, so I kinda let myself ramble and wow. Did. I. Ramble.  I am sorry.

Clockwork Angel: The Infernal Devices Book 1
Written by Cassandra Clare
Category: Young Adult
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 496
Format: Hardcover
On Sale: August 31, 2010
ISBN: 978-1416975861

Purchase from The Book Depository or Barnes & Noble

Here are what more lucid people had to say about this book:

The AuthoressJenn’s Bookshelves | StephSu Reads | There’s A Book

Thank you to Traveling ARC Book Tours for my copy of this book.  Which is no longer in my possession, in case you are interested FCC.  So there.

I am a Book Depository and Barnes & Noble Affiliate and will make a very small profit if you buy a book through one of my links, which goes to hosting, giveaways, etc, etc, the end.


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Saturday Farmer's Market

October 16, 2010 Saturday Farmer's Market 6

This is the first year I’ve tried to grow anything new after September and I am so surprised by how much is growing!  Look!

Collards!  Which look suspiciously like clover!  I have to thin them out soon. :(

And the spinach! She is a-growin’!

And, amazingly enough, I have more carrots coming up now than I did this spring!

What I am the happiest to see, however, is autumn!  It is finally in my yard!

*sigh* Beautiful.  This is my burning bush, which is getting so big and, well, burning red! I just love it.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I have more zombie roses!

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Book Review: The Recipe Club

October 13, 2010 Book Reviews, Books 8

When I first opened this book, I gasped in shock (and then with glee!).  It’s a deceptively normal paperback book, but when you open to the first page, you see color.  And then, when you go to the next page, there is more color.  And then, if you finger rapidly through the book, you see even more color!  Every single page of this book has something in color.   Pink title text, pink boxes for recipes (yes! recipes!), and it helped add to the fun of this book.

At first glance, The Recipe Club has an intriguing premise.  Two lifelong friends, Lilly and Val, grow up together, writing each other cozy little letters all the time.  They are within visiting distance of each other, but they seem to enjoy writing to each other on the side.  They decide to form club, The Recipe Club, and included various recipes with their missives; delicious sounding things like Lovelorn Lasagna, Double Date Blintzes, and Cloud Nine Stuffed Peppers.  All their recipes are included in the book and wow, some of them sound fantastic!  The two friends are vastly different.  Val is smart, shy, and ambitious.  Lilly is dramatic, a real ‘show person’, who loves to sing, dance and act.  Each girl struggles to find their place in the world, away from their parents, and seek solace and advice from each other.  They sustain each other for many years, until something happens in their early twenties that tears the two close friends apart for over twenty years.

The epistolary framing is interesting here, but I’m not entirely convinced that it works.  Being the 1906s, and being young, I can see where that would be fun.  I had a good friend in school that I corresponded with constantly simply because we liked getting mail.  And I have read several epistolary novels that I thoroughly enjoyed.  In this case, however, I felt that it held back the characters just a bit.   It made this a very quick read and I never felt entirely connected with the characters.  It took me a long time to figure out who was who and which parent went with which kid.  The letters were not a typical back and forth; sometimes three or four letters from one girl would be together.  Then, about three-fourths of the way through the book, it abruptly changed to a more traditional third-person narrative and it was jarring.  I almost felt lost, as my brain had to change gears a bit.

These were minor quibbles as I did enjoy the book.   Once I figured out who was who, I came to care about Lilly and Val and wanted them to end happily.  They felt like real friends, as both got on my nerves constantly, but not in a bad way!  I suppose they reminded me a lot of me and my friends.  I loved being reminded of my childhood friend and our love of writing letters to each other.  It makes me want to grab a sheet of paper and write her a nice, long letter now!  Don’t you miss letter writing, just a bit?  There is something so romantic about taking pen to paper and writing your thoughts and feelings to someone you care about so much.  It means so much more than just an email, or even a phone call, in my mind.  Anyway, all in all, this is a nice, light, fun read for the beach or on a day when your brain may be a little bit tired.   A fun read, to be sure.

The Recipe Club
Written by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
On Sale: September 2010
Paperback, 342 pages
ISBN: 9780061992292
Rated 3.5 out of 5

Please visit other stops on this tour.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my copy of this book.

Purchase from Barnes & Noble or the Book Depository


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