Thursday, December 31, 2009

a review of "Death in the Stocks"

Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer
(Sourcebooks Landmark, ISBN 978-1-4022-1797-5)

If you would like to finish out your year with a funny, entertaining, cozy mystery, then once again I have a very nice Georgette Heyer book to offer for your consideration.

In the very early hours of the morning, the body of a dead man, dressed in evening clothes, is found on the village green, his feet in the stocks. The murdered man turns out to be the wealthy weekend visitor Andrew Vereker, and once police start to investigate the crime they soon determine that there are many people who, for various reasons, are not unhappy to find that Vereker has been sent on to his just rewards. Relatives, soon to be in-laws, business associates...all whom it seems greatly disliked the dead man and none of whom have an alibi. The very clever Superintendent Hannasyde is called in to solve the crime and he certainly has his work cut out for him with this cast of characters. Lucky for us, there is a lot of very funny and entertaining goings on for us to enjoy as that is accomplished.

Once again, as with the previous two Heyer mysteries that I have reviewed, I can totally recommend Death In The Stocks to fans of the genre, especially if you are a fan of these sort of English country house mysteries. I am not totally convinced if the culture she describes in her books ever really existed, and surely it does not now, some 60 or more years later, but it certainly is very entertaining. Heyer is the queen of witty, funny dialogue and the queen still reigns here. Great characters and great dialogue is what she excels at. If you have read and enjoyed the mysteries of Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayer and are not familiar with the perhaps lesser known Heyer, you need to check her out and Death In the Stocks is a great place to start.

I also must mention once again...because I love to repeat myself when I say something true...that I just love the look and feel and quality of these editions reissued by Sourcebooks. They are some of the nicest, high quality paperbacks that I have ever read.

If you are looking for a nice cozy to cozy up to on a cold winter night, perhaps with a cuppa tea and a slice of fruitcake (see my post from Saturday) run out and grab yourself a Heyer!

My thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for this copy to review.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday- On The Sixth Day of Christmas


Lighthouses..Even on the Tree

When Pigs Fly...

A Charlie Brown Tree

...for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On The Fifth Day of Christmas....Bandit Tuesday

This photo shows two things. First, that Bandit has lot of toys, although if I am not mistaken, that one is from last year. A very brave toy to have lasted a year in that little fellows paws.
Second, it shows that Bandit's 'mom', my niece got a fancy new SLR digital camera for Christmas and poor Bandit will have many, many pictures taken of him without question.

Christmas was a little overwhelming for him, all those toys, all that activity and visitors. There was crying involved. And now, as he explains on his
blog, he feels like he is a victim of the puparazzi!

Hopefully, the newness of the camera will wear off and Bandit will be able to take a nap and play in peace soon.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

...On The Second Day of Christmas...

What do you do on the second day of Christmas?
Eat Christmas Cake!! And there on the right is a photo of this years cake...before we cut into it.

As I have written before, I made a traditional Irish Christmas Cake weeks ago, have been letting it mellow and basting it with a wee bit of rum (I had no Irish whiskey, the more common substance used for that purpose) and we sliced it last night. It is a dark fruit cake, covered in a layer of marzipan and then covered with royal icing, which, for those not familiar with royal icing, dries very hard.

Here is a basic recipe, which I use with some changes, from Darina Allen, who is sort of the Martha Stewart of Ireland. It seems a bit daunting, but is quite easy once you assemble all the ingredients.

Darina Allen's Christmas Cake

225g (8oz) sultanas
225g (8oz) raisins
110g (4oz) candied peel, chopped
75g (3oz) stoned dates, chopped
75g (3oz) dried apricots, chopped
50g (2oz) currants
4oz (110g) very good quality glace cherries, halved or quartered
the zest and juice of an orange
the zest and juice of a lemon
a grated granny smith apple
25g (1oz) crystallized ginger, finely chopped
125ml (4fl oz) brandy or Irish whiskey
275g (10oz) butter, softened
275g (10oz) soft light brown sugar
5 eggs
50g (2oz) ground almonds
275g (10oz) plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

You will need:
23cm (9in) diameter cake tin or 20 x 20cm (8 x 8in) square cake tin
(I used a 10" round pan)


1. Place the dried fruit and the crystallized ginger in a bowl. Pour on the brandy or whiskey and allow to soak for at least 2 hours. (I cover the fruit in rum and let it soak, covered, for 2 days)

2. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper and wrap a collar of brown paper around the outside, which will help prevent the cake from drying out.

3. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Stir in the orange zest and ground almonds, then sift in the flour and spices and fold in gently. Fold in the dried fruit and any brandy or whiskey left in the bowl. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin. Bake in the oven for 2 1/2-3 1/4 hours (a round tin will take longer) until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake, still in the tin, with foil and allow to cool. Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin and cover again in foil until you are ready to cover it with almond paste.

I buy tubes of marzipan, instead of making my own as she does. I used 2 this year, but will at least double it next year, as there were cries for a thicker marzipan layer. Then you make some royal icing...
Now if you are not too concerned with raw egg safety you can use egg whites. Beat four egg whites until foamy, and then slowly beat in a lb. of confectioner sugar and a little lemon juice for flavor. If you don't want to use eggs, you can make it with meringue powder, available where they sell cake decorating supplies.

Now, a final word about the fruit. I add up the total weight of the fruit in her recipe and then just make up my own mix of the best quality dried fruits you can find. DO NOT use that nasty "fruitcake" stuff in the supermarket, in the little plastic tubs. I think raisins and currents are needed but for the rest you can use what you like...dried cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, pears...whatever. Just chop them quite small, raisin size, and aim for about the same total weight as she uses.

After it is cut, the cake will stay fresh for a long tine in an airtight container or you can cut it into slices and freeze them.

Lovely with a nice cuppa tea on a cold winter day.

Hope you enjoyed my contribution to the Christmas edition of Weekend Cooking, and be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wishing You and Yours a Happy Christmas!

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"


Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Favorite Christmas Video...

First of all, I don't really like The Little Drummer Boy. And I thought the David Bowie of this era was a wee bit creepy.

Yet, I think this is a charming video, the blending of the androgynous Ziggy Stardust and Mr. Christmas himself, two hugely different eras coming together in what has become a classic. A month after this was filmed, Bing Crosby would be dead of a heart attack.
The show's creators blended Little Drummer Boy and an original song, Peace on Earth, in a last minute attempt to make Bowie, who hated Drummer Boy, willing to go ahead with filming this segment for Bing's 1977 Christmas special.
This very nice song was the result.

And a short clip of a video from a group I just found online, L'Angélus, a beautiful version of another of my very favorite Christmas song...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday- A Snowy Week

...for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weekend Cooking... A Special Pennsylvania 'Dutch' Treat.

I was going to write about my favorite, go-to cookbook this morning but then I looked outside and changed my mind. It is a cold, snowy day here at the Jersey Shore, so my mind went to one of my favorite comfort breakfast foods...scrapple. Now, many of you who live out of the Mid-Atlantic states may not be familiar with scrapple. A few of you that are familiar with this delightful product may not share my fondness for it. I have actually seen people shutter at the mention of it. Oh, they are so, so wrong!
What is scrapple? Well, let me tell you if you are not so lucky to have grown up eating it.

Scrapple is made with pork, usually scraps, although I remember a TV show with Julia Child making it using a loin of pork. However, unless Julia is coming to your house to cook, the scrapple you buy will be made with pork scraps finely minced, pork broth, cornmeal and spices like sage, thyme, and black pepper. The resulting mush is put in a loaf pan to become solid, then sliced, dusted with flour and pan fried. For some reason, if you order it in a diner, another NJ specialty, they usually deep fry it, making it extra crispy on the outside. Something I am not sure I approve of. There are one or two commercial brands that you can buy in the local supermarkets, but for the best products, if you can, search out an Amish butcher to make your purchase. Because when it comes to scrapple, the Amish reign supreme.

According to the all knowing Wikipedia...
"Scrapple is best known as a regional American food of the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland). Scrapple and Pon haus are commonly considered an ethnic food of the Mennonite and Amish, or Pennsylvania Dutch...Scrapple is arguably the first pork food invented in America. The culinary ancestor of scrapple was the Low German dish called panhas, which was adapted to make use of locally available ingredients, and it is still called "panhoss" or "pannhas" in parts of Pennsylvania. The first recipes were created more than two hundred years ago by Dutch colonists who settled near Philadelphia and Chester County, Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries. As a result, scrapple is strongly associated with Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and surrounding eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and the Delmarva Peninsula.

In composition, preparation, and taste, scrapple is similar to the white pudding popular in Ireland..."
...another product I am very fond of. Have I ever mentioned the wonderful product that is Irish Black and White puddings? Well, we will save that for another day.

Scrapple is often eaten as a breakfast meat, with eggs and toast or pancakes. But my favorite way to eat it is as a sandwich, on a toasted Thomas' English Muffin (no other brand will do!) with a little ketchup. I have been eating that as long as I can remember, from the time I was just a wee Caite. My maternal grandfather died when I was about 7, but before he died the proper way to prepare scrapple was one of the important life lessons he taught me. Slice it not too thick, not too thin. Dust in a bit of flour and pan fry over low heat so you get a solid, crispy exterior while the center still remains soft. Don't fool with it, don't rush it. Get that English muffin in the toaster, the ketchup standing by. Best consumed with a cold glass of milk. Yum...

For the brave, I found a recipe online that sounds reasonable, with a minor amount of odd bits.

* 2 pounds ground lean pork
* 1 pound beef liver
* 1 cup buckwheat flour
* 3 cups yellow corn meal
* 4 tablespoons salt
* 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons sage
* 2 teaspoons ground mace
* 2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 2 teaspoons ground thyme
* 2 teaspoons whole sweet marjoram
* 3 quarts of water

In a large pot bring the water to a boil. Add beef liver and boil 10 minutes. Remove the liver and either run through a chopper or grab a knife and cut it in as small pieces as you can. Return chopped liver to the pot. Add the ground pork, a little at a time, and stir. Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl mix the buckwheat flour, corn meal, salt, and spices; add to meat and broth slowly, stirring constantly. Simmer gently for one hour, stirring frequently. Use lowest possible heat, as mixture scorches easily.

Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bounce the pans a couple of times so that the Scrapple settles, and let cool. Let the Scrapple set in the refrigerator overnight.

When you arise in the morning, remove the scrapple from the refrigerator and cut into to 3/8 inch slices.

To serve: Thaw slices and dust with flour. Fry in either bacon grease or lard until golden brown. Do not use a cooking spray. It will not taste right and ruin the scrapple.

This has been my weekly contribution to Weekend Cooking, so be sure to check out the other entries hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday...Cleveland Zoo

...for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday...Bandit. Naughty or Nice?

Well, Bandit is back home from the Sunshine State and anxiously awaiting Santa. Now the only question is whether he has been naughty or nice. Perhaps we should open it to a vote, relying on a year's worth of pictures to make that decision.

Granted, he is cute...but he is a bit of a devil too!

Maybe you remember this, for example...

or how about this?

I am just saying...

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Story...

*THE BAGPIPER’s TALE: a Personal Testimony*

As a bagpiper, I’m often called upon to play at weddings, military events, and funerals. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a grave side service for a homeless man. The man had no family or friends, so
the service was set at the county pauper’s cemetery in the Kentucky back woods.

I was not familiar with the backwoods and soon found myself lost. Being a typical man I didn’t stop to ask for directions. I finally arrived an hour late – the staff from the funeral home was long gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight.

There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down. The vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know
what else to do, so I started to play….

The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep.

They wept. I wept. We all wept together.

When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car.

Though my head hung low my heart was full.

As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

See, all the emotions, sadness and humor in one wee story!

My thanks to The Anchoress from whom I shamelessly stole this.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Very Cute Animal..Maybe the Cutest...

This is a Slow Loris, a primate from India, the Phillipines, Thailand and such parts and without question, one incredibly cute creature. Now if you read the comments on the post from Boing Boing, it is not an animal you should go out and buy. They are endangered, they bite and there is some issue of toxins, so just watch the video and say "awwwww...."

Thanks to Boing Boing!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekend Cooking... A Fine Holiday Punch

Ok, that is not a picture of the actual punch, since I don't have one, but just a generic punch. Which is why the wrong fruit is floating in it. Picture pineapple and cherries, in the shape of a wreath. Ok, now to tell you my secret "Everyone Loves This" punch recipe.

Ok, it is not actually mine but my sister-in-law's and has graced many a Christmas festive occasion. And while it's jolly red color and frozen ice wreath makes it excellent for a Yuletide beverage, it is actually very usable all year long. Quick to make, very tasty, impressive looking especially if you have a punch bowl on hand, and very versatile. You will notice that the punch contains no alcohol, so it is good for all young and old, teetotalers welcome to join the fun.

But...if you like your refreshments with a bit more kick, you can have a bottle of your favorite libation nearby and add a drop...or a healthy swig... to your individual glass as you desire. My recommendation would be a dark rum but the choice is yours.

Nancy's Punch

A day or two before the punch will be served, make the 'wreath'. Line a bundt pan with some slices of canned pinapple, and throw in a handful of maraschino cherries. Add pineapple juice cover (why you need 2 cans of pineapple juice, also the cans are smaller than the bottles of grapefruit), with a little grenadine for color and place in the freezer. When it is frozen solid, add a bit more juice to make the ice ring thicker and refreeze.

In a large container or ideally in a punch bowl add...

2 48oz. cans pineapple juice
1/2 64oz can apricot nectar
1 64oz bottle pink grapefruit juice
1/2 bottle grenadine
1 bottle sparkling white grape juice

It is probably best if the ingredients are all cold, but not required if you are out of room in the frig. If you have to choose between putting the dip or the juice in there, go with the dip. Just put all the ingredients in your container and stir.
When ready to serve, and if you are serving it in a nice big bowl, get the frozen 'wreath' form the freezer, dip the pan in hot water for a few seconds to loosen it from the mold and slide it into the punch to chill it.

I'll take a nice splash of Myers run in mine, thank you! And a couple of cherries!

Be sure to check out the other entries this week from Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

a review of "Life Sentences"

Life Sentences- A Novel by Laura Lippman
(William Morrow, ISBN 978-0-06-112889-9)

Cassandra Fallows is in the midst a crisis in her writing career. Having written two very successful memoirs, she is not prepared for the less than overwhelming acclaim that is greeting her third book, a work of fiction. And the future is looking even more bleak. Maybe the novel was not her best work.."Or perhaps the problem was more basic. She wasn't a novelist. She was equipped not to make things up but to bring back things that were. She was a sorceress of the past, an oracle who looked backward to what had been. She was, as her father had decreed, Cassandra incapable of speaking anything but the truth." Well, the truth as she remembers it anyway. It seems not everyone saw what happened, or themselves, as Cassandra did.

Her first book was about her childhood, growing up a white middle class girl in a racially diverse Baltimore in the '60s and about the three black girls who had been her best friends in school. There was Donna, from a politically successful family, the rather wild Fatima and the 'leader' of the group, the clever Tisha. But most of all that first book was about her family and the pivotal event of her father leaving her and her mother for another woman, an event forever tied in her mind to the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Her second book was about her rather promiscuous life, her two failed marriages and her less than successful relationships with the many men in her past. But now having told all she has to tell, and not sure her editors want to see another novel delivered to fulfill her book contract, she is very excited when a story on the TV news gives her a new idea. Talking about a woman in New Orleans who is suspected in the disappearance of her child, the newscaster brings up a local Baltimore case from years ago. The infant son of a woman named Calliope Jenkins had disappeared and while police suspected she had killed the boy, she simply refused to discuss it at all. She served seven years in prison for contempt, but never spoke about what happen to the baby. Not living in Baltimore when it happened, Cassandra was not familiar with the case, but then realizes that she had gone to school with the suspected murderer, that Calliope had been the quiet fifth girl on the edge of her schoolhouse group. So she decides that she will find Calliope and her other old friends, solve the mystery of what really happen and write another hugely successful book.

Except that not everyone is quite as happy as Cassandra about having her "bring back things that were."

Lippman is best known for her mystery series starring Baltimore private detective Tess Monagham, but this is a stand alone book, and not really a mystery. Yes, there is that central question of what happened to Calliope's baby and much of the book involves Cassandra seeking out all the people from her past that can help her find Calliope and discover the truth, but quite honestly, I found that part pretty easy to figure out. No, the real story here revolves about some other issues. It's about race and how the different people involved experienced the racial charged years in the 60's and 70's that formed this story. It's about memory, how subjective and flawed it can be, how what we think was true might actually be something very different. It's about friendship and family and what makes us the person we are.
And yes, there is that question of Calliope's baby and why she would rather go to prison for seven years than revel the truth.

I rather liked this book. Maybe I didn't love it and it was not what I expected having read a number of Lippman's other books. In fact, I felt at times like the people who showed up at Cassandra book signing for her novel, a bit disappointed she had gone on a different tangent from her previous books. Hey, what can I say...I like mysteries. But that being said, I found this an interesting, well written book. This book is all about the characters and Lippman does a wonderful job of painting them. It is not always a pretty picture she paints and it is hard to find anyone, perhaps with one or two exceptions, that is very admirable, but they are all interesting.
I also found the sort of behind the scene view of the life of an author interesting. Her trips to NYC to meet with her agent and editor, her worries about how she will pay back her big advance if this book falls through, how she feels when the much smaller than expected crowd shows up for a book signing of her novel. Even success is not without it's price.

If you are a fan of Lippman's Tess Monagham series, I would recommend Life Sentences but just be ready for something different.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

a review of "Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog"

Why My Third Husband Will be a Dog- The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman by Lisa Scottoline
(St.Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0-312-58748-2)

For many, especially we fans of crime and mystery novels, the name Lisa Scottoline will no doubt be familiar. The author of over a dozen best selling, award winning legal thrillers, always set in the Philadelphia area and populated by such great characters as Mary DiNunzio and Bennie Rosato, Ms. Scottoline has another writing outlet that you may not be familiar with. For years she has been the author of a weekly column in the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer, a column called Chick Wit. And happily, 70 of those columns have now been collected in this book Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, a title which both explains how fond she is of her menagerie of dogs, large and small (not to mention the cats and the pony..oh, and the chickens) and now unfond she is of her two ex-husbands. Or as she refers to them, Thing One and Thing Two.

Ms. Scottoline's essays are often very funny, at times quite touching but always, always someone you can relate to.
She and I share the love of many things, including bacon, "the meth of meat", Tom Colicchio and large, furry doggies. And books, oh yes, books...
"UnResolution Number Seven. I buy too many books. I love to read and have hundreds of books overflowing my bookshelves and stacked high on my dining room table, in piles. I love living around books, and reading is like traveling without baggage claim. Who needs a dining room anyway?
So maybe now you understand why I am single."
Which may not always be a bad thing...
"...all I am saying is that fact you live alone doesn't necessarily mean you're lonely. It means you're free to wear hats to bed."
Especially timely in this holiday season is her view on shopping.
"In the beginning, God created the Internet and shopping online. I was an early believer. Where shopping is involved, I get in on the ground floor, especially if I don't have to move from my chair. Shopping online was like having somebody bring you brownies and stuff them in your mouth.
in other words, impossible to resist."
You will meet the 'characters' that populate her real life, Mother "Earthquake" Mary, Brother Frank, Daughter Francesca, and BFF's Franca and Laura, all tied into, one way or another, some very amusing stories. Her mother, all 4'11" of her, resides most of the year in South Florida with Lisa's gay brother, and is what I would call a pistol. When she shows up in a column, you know you will be laughing shortly. To mention just a few of the life lessons she got from her mother,
"If you load the knives into the dishwasher pointy tip up, you’ll fall on them and impale yourself. Also you’ll go blind from reading without enough light. Reading in general ruins your eyes. If you eat baked beans from a can that has dents, you die of botulism. This was before people injected botulism into their faces. Nowadays, the dented can will kill you, but you’ll look young."
At times it is clear that her family may drive her crazy but it is also just as clear that she loves them fiercely. While they are often the source of a funny story, the person most commonly at the center of the joke is Ms. Scottoline herself.

Witty, a unique view of the world around her, not afraid to be the butt of her own jokes, all wrapped up with a wee dash of sarcasm, makes for a funny, entertaining collection. Get a copy for yourself and, especially if they are a fan of her fiction, a copy as a gift for friends or relatives. If you are feeling stressed, just whip out this book, read one or two of the 70 essays and I can assure you you will be feeling a little better and will most likely have a smile on your face. If not ROTFL.

My thanks to the folks at Amazon Vine for this book.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday...Basilica of St. Louis and the Gateway Arch

...for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Awaiting Tuesday Thinger...Bandit!

Since I am off to work for the next twelve hours...with no access to my blog...and there is no Tuesday Thinger question up yet (ok, it is 4 am..) I though I would at least post the second half of my Tuesday post.
Bandit Day!

Especially since he is always so anxious. He e-mailed me yesterday looking for it. I had to explain it was Monday.

Here he is with his fox. He loves his fox. He ripped the fox's tail off though.

Happily, no doubt Santa will bring wee Bandit a new toy or two in a few weeks.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Musing Monday...and Why I Love Emily Post.

Let's check out this week's question from Rebecca at Just one more page...

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about library etiquette…

For the regular library patrons among us: do you have your own idea of what constitutes proper library etiquette? Is there anything you always try to do? Anything you hate when others do?

Well, I am not sure that I can claim to be a 'regular' library patron. I think of myself more as a re-discovering irregular patron. Usually, I go online, look for a book that never seems to be at my branch, requiring me to put it on hold. It comes in, they call, I go pick it up, attempting, often unsuccessfully, to ignore the books for sale just outside their door as I get off the elevator.
I have no business borrowing library books, with all my TBR books, let alone buying more while I am there.

So my point is...and I do have that I don't usually go browsing around the library. I am in, check out, I am out of there. Just too, too many temptations in that place. Not a lot of time to observe etiquette. Also, I have to limit my library exposure because if I start wandering the shelves, I find myself straightening them and fixing misplaced books and such. It is a little weird, but some people are so careless...and I have a wee touch of OCD.

Now...I do admit I have recently stayed around a bit on a few occasions. I was using their Wi-fi. It is nice that libraries have not only books, copies of the New Yorker I am too cheap to buy just to look at the cartoons, but now they also have free Wi-Fi. Of course, so does Borders and they sell tea and cookies too! But I digress.

I will not get into my iTouch wi-fi issues, but let me just say I am always in search of a nice hotspot nearby. And while I was there, because I am a bit of a fussbudget and on my way to becoming one of those nasty old ladies, always complaining about things, in my short visits I have noticed a few things that I consider poor behavior. I hate when parents do not control their children and let them become an annoyance to other people. That applies to all public places. I do not believe the library is a day care center or that we, the patrons or the librarians, are suppose to be sure other peoples kids are not climbing the book stacks just to see if they can. I also do not think the librarians are suppose to clean up after you. If you take something off a shelf, put it back. Throw your trash out, don't leave it on a table..ow worse, the floor. Bottom line, just leave things as good or better than you found them. Be considerate of other people around you and leave things in a nice condition. Is that too much to ask?

Again, that applies everywhere. Maybe I just think that people that use the library, and therefore should have a fondness for books, should be held to a higher standard than non-readers. Or it could just be that old lady thing taking me over.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weekend Cooking...A Special Cookie

For this week's Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads, I have a recipe. I enjoy baking from time to time and especially this time of year. So here is one that I saw on the internet and that piqued my interest. I must admit I have not made it yet.

I am waiting for when I have a few days off from work. You may see why when you read it...

Tequila Cookies, Wheeeeee!

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup or brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 2 cups of dried fruit
  • 1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila
Sample the Cuervo to check quality.

Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add one peastoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it’s best to make sure the Cuervo is still ok, try another cup just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the frigging fruit off the floor.

Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaters just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Who geeves a sheet.

Check the Jose Cuervo.

Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table.

Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven.

Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Don’t forget to beat off the turner.

Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the wishdasher.

Ok, I thought you stressed out bakers might need a

My thanks to The Anchoress for this amusement.


Friday, December 4, 2009

a review of "Evil At Heart"

Evil At Heart- A Thriller by Chelsea Cain
(Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-0-312-36848-7)

In this, the third installment in Cain's serial killer series, all our favorite characters from the first two books, Heartsick and Sweetheart, are back. The terribly scarred, both physically and emotionally, Detective Archie Sheridan, his friend and police co-worker Henry Sobol, the slightly flaky, purple haired journalist Susan Ward and of course, the beautiful, glamorous and extremely twisted serial killer Gretchen Lowell, again terrorizing the city of Portland, Oregon.

At the end of the second book, Gretchen had escaped from police custody and six months have now passed. Archie, our troubled hero, has spent the time voluntary signed into a mental hospital...for reasons you really need to read the first two books to begin to understand. I don't guarantee you will really totally understand Archie when you read them, but that is part of the appeal of these books. The relationship between our cop and our serial killer is unusual and quite troubling, to say the least.

When the last book ended, Archie and Gretchen had made a promise to each other. She would stop killing and he would stop trying to kill himself. But now, after six months, some things have surfaced that lead police to believe that she may be back in town and up to her old ways. Or is something else going on? Because since her escape from police, a strange media obsession has grown up around the beautiful, if horrible, Gretchen and it seems the internet is full of serial killer fan clubs, consumed with ever aspect of her crimes. Is she back or is this the work of a copy cat? It seems Archie will have to pull himself together, check himself out of the hospital and get back to work, because no one knows Gretchen better then he does or has a better chance of finally figuring out what is really going on.

This is a worthy sequel to the previous book, even if I am not sure it is quite as good as those two. The first two were truly excellent in my opinion while this is very good. Part of the reason, I think, is that the character of Gretchen and her relationship with Archie is just so unusual, so shocking when it is first presented in the first book but by now, if you have read the other books, you are a bit more prepared for that aspect. Secondly, she does not play quite as large a role in this book as in the others and her presence is missed. On the plus side, this book highlights the character of Susan much more, and her growing friendship with Archie and she is a great addition to the team. Also, for the more queazy, this book is not quite as gruesome as the other two. Yes, I will warn you they are pretty gruesome, this one just not quite as much.

For fans of Cain's previous books in the series, this is a must read.
For those new to her work, if you are looking for a really exciting murder thriller, I strongly suggest you start with the first book, Heartsick and work your way through the series.

(Another great book from my local library..)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

a review of "The Hunger Games"

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(Scholastic Press, ISBN 978-0-439-02348-3)

Here I am, once again, stepping outside my normal reading fare and reviewing a Young Adult book...and once again I am very happy I listened to the recommendations. Having read so many excellent reviews of this big hit from last year, I finally checked to see if my local library had a copy, which happily they did.

Now for the two of you who have not read this book yet, let me give you a brief run down on the plot.

The book is set in some near future or alternative history of North America. There is no United States of America in this world. North America (not sure if it includes Canada or not) is now a nation called Panem, made up of 12 districts, all overseen by the Capital, which is located somewhere west of the Rockies, perhaps where Denver is now located. But there were not always 12 districts. Once there were 13, but the 13th district revolted against the central government and was destroyed. In order to remind the remaining districts of the overwhelming power of the capital, the government instituted the Hunger Games, a horrible, violent, voyeuristic spectacle. Two young people, between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen by lottery every year from each district, and the 24 engage in a fight to the death, each year in a different sort of setting...all televised in excruciating detail on live TV.

When her younger sister is chosen, 16 year old Katniss steps forward and volunteers, as allowed under the rules, to take her place. In all likelihood, she is stepping forward into her own death. But Katniss is a survivor, with a keen mind and some helpful survival skills and she promised her little sister she would fight to win. Since her father's death some years ago in a mining accident, she has been the one sneaking outside the district fences and hunting game for food, as her father had taught her, to keep her mother and sister from starving to death. But now the game she is hunting is human, including the seeming very nice Peeta, the young man from her own district.
In order for her to live and to be able to go back home, every one of them must die.

I can't say that when I first read about the book I found the plot terribly appealing. Quite honestly, it sounded extremely violent, like a reality show gone very, very bad. However, that was not really the case. Yes, people kill and get killed but I didn't really see that as the center focus of the story. Katniss is a great character, a very smart, appealing young woman. Seen through her eyes, this alternative reality, this dystopic nation is disturbing real and believable. Katniss wants very much to live, but as she survives the first wave of deaths, she also realizes that the game, being watched live by the nation, is as much about PR as it is about skills or strength. And she must make the decision about how far she will go and what she will do to protect her own life. This story is as much about friendship and loyalty and compassion as it is about death.

I found this a well written, compelling story that I enjoyed a good deal, more than I actually though that I would. You can be sure that I put my name at once on the unfortunately long hold list at my library for the second book in this three part series Catching Fire.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday...Juneau, Alaska

Oh my, forgot it was Wednesday and I was unprepared. Here are a couple from the Great Alaskan Trip this last summer.

...for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Thinger...Why I am Disenchanted With Library Thing

Let's see if Wendi at Wendi's Book Corner has found another overlooked Library Thing feature for our enjoyment...

Questions: Have you had a chance to peak at the Quick Links section on the book page of your favorite book(s)? Were you surprised by any of the covers or lack thereof? Did you click on any of the covers to see where it would take you? Have you heard of WorldCat before?

Oh, I really should be out Christmas shopping, but I read the question, went over to Library Thing to check it out...and then I got very mad. Ok, not actually very mad, more like slightly disappointed. You see, before I had a chance to check out this week's question, I saw I had a new comment! How exciting...until I read it and found that once again I had not received an Early Reviewer book. That makes a full year, 12 months without being picked. No, I don't really need the book, but I am starting to take it personally. I was a good ERer. I really was! I read the book at once, reviewed it right away. What more could I do? And ya all know what a Library Thing fan I am...and this is how I am repaid. I am cut to the quick. The quick I tell ya!

Ok, now that I have that out, let's go back to the question.
I LOVE the Quick Link section on LT! Now, usually I go to the "Get this book" link, which we discussed last week. I find the variety of information there very useful, a quick, one stop way to check a variety of sources for a book.

But no, I had not ever looked at the WorldCat link. Cats scare me a bit...even my imaginary kitty, Kitty. So the title alone was enough to keep me away. But Wendi is very brave and checked it out first. I admit that I had no idea what it was until Wendi pointed it out and yes, it is another cool site. Gosh, there is just so much information out there on the internet, isn't there? But...I must say that I prefer the "Get this book" link, at least after a quick look. For example, while WorldCat list the libraries that have the book, the "Get this book" lists a lot more systems closer to my home and with my local county system, lists each separate branch where as WorldCat has just the whole system as one link.

Now I admit, I do love all the covers! I have said it before, but I am a shallow, superficial person. Covers are important to me. I have bought..or not bought..books because of the covers and it is fascinating to look at the variety of lovely, pretty covers. Especially with an older book that has many editions out there.
Odd..I looked at The Lighthouse by P.D.James. About 25 different covers, but they all are very similar, all blue or blue/gray, all similar images.
Then...I looked at Kafka on the Shore by Haruki MuraKami. About 45 covers, and the variety is huge. All quite bizarre and all very different.
I wonder why?

Speaking of cats (WorldCat ya know), I hope you checked out the video in the post just before this one. As the guy who posted it on YouTube said, it may be the happiest 15 seconds you will ever see.
But speaking of the cutest things you will ever see, let's check out the cutest puppy in the universe. After all, Tuesday is Bandit Day!

Surprised Kitty Cat

A small dose of extreme cuteness...

I want one...