Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.


Finished last week:
The Winter Ghosts

From the book jacket:
The Great War took much more than lives. It robbed a generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson's case, it took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. In the winter of 1928, still seeking resolution, Freddie is travelling through the French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. He stumbles through woods, emerging in a tiny village. There he meets Fabrissa, a beautiful woman also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, he will have stumbled across a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries.

I am sorry to say I did not really enjoy this book. This is extremely disappointing since I loved here first two books Sepulchre and Labyrinth. Kate Mosse did say in an interview that she is working on the third book to follow those two. 
The plot could probably have been written as a short story as there is a lot of rambling descriptions and meaningless background. Freddie is not a likable character at all, I'm afraid I had very little sympathy for him.
The story moved so slowly that I found myself scanning the pages just to move along. It was just plain boring and predictable.

Currently reading:
The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg



This is the second book in her series. I read the first, The Ice Princess, a few weeks ago and really enjoyed..
From the book jacket:
During an unusually hot July, detective Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck are enjoying a rare week at home together, nervous and excited about the imminent birth of their first baby. Across town, however, a six-year-old boy makes a gruesome discovery that will ravage their little tourist community and catapult Patrik into the center of a terrifying murder case.
The boy has stumbled upon the brutally murdered body of a young woman, and Patrik is immediately called to lead the investigation. Things get even worse when his team uncovers, buried beneath the victim, the skeletons of two campers whose disappearance had baffled police for decades. The three victims’ injuries seem to be the work of the same killer, but that is impossible: the main suspect in the original kidnappings committed suicide twenty-four years ago.
When yet another young girl disappears and panic begins to spread, Patrik leads a desperate manhunt to track down a ruthless serial killer before he strikes again.

Plan to start this week:
Winterwood
From the book jacket:
Once, Redmond Hatch was in heaven, married to the lovely Catherine and father to enchanting daughter Immy. But then he took them both to Winterwood. And it would never be the same again…  

In Patrick McCabe's spellbinding new novel, nothing--and no one--are ever quite what they seem. When Hatch, devoted husband and father, revisits the secluded mountains where he grew up, he meets Auld Pappie Ned. While he claims to be just a harmless local fiddler, a teller of tall tales, Ned sets off a cataclysmic chain of events in Redmond's life. From the mysterious disappearance of Redmond's daughter to the reluctant remembrance of a troubled boyhood to secret glimpses into an unstable marriage, everything soon spirals out of control. Narrated with hypnotic precision and fractured lyricism, Winterwood is a disturbing and unforgettable tale of love, death and identity from a masterful novelist. 


Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Blogs This Week



I've been a little obsessed with books this week.

Books
Book Journey
The Mystery Bookshelf - great blog with great challenges to encourage you to read other authors.
Book Snob Wannabe
A Trillian Books


Crafts
Crafty Moira has lots of inspirational ideas.

Recipes To Try



Cranberry orange scones

Easy Italian breadsticks in the bread machine

Apple cheddar quick-bread

Orange sour cream loaf-cake which I found by way of That British Woman's blog

Roasted broccoli cheddar soup which looks yummy for the colder weather we are getting.

Came across this site for homemade salad dressings. I've been meaning to Google for some so mission accomplished! DH LOVES ranch dressing a passion I do not share. I hate the bottled versions as they are full of unnecessary garbage.

Pumpkin cake balls I would probably makes these into lollipops.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Finds


What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading.



Repeat It Today With Tears

Found over at Reading On A Rainy DaySneak peek here.

Behind the Veils of Yemen, Audra Grace Shelby, 978-0-8007-9518-4
Sneak peek.
I had to go back through Gill's blog That British Woman to find the title of this book that I had remembered reading about.
Winterwood
Sneak peek
Found and bought at CBC book sale yesterday, caught my eye as cover states "winner of the Irish novel of the year award 2007".

Foodie Fryday - Atlantic Beach NC

When we were in North Carolina we went back to the Crab's Claw because we absolutely loved their food the previous time.

I'll let these photos speak for themselves.

 Curried shrimp with apple and peppers
 Clam chowder
 CRAB LEGS!!!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recipes To Try - Turkey Club Casserole

Emeril Lagasse's Turkey Club Casserole

Happened to catch an episode of the Rachael Ray Show today and remained watching it as she had Emeril on as a guest.
He made this recipe for a turkey club casserole that blew me away. I just may have to make this for dinner some time!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



The Winter Ghosts

"Try again, Freddie," she said.
And in those three quiet words, three simple words, somehow there was a promise of an entire life to be lived if I could only that the chance.

Thirsty Tuesday - Spanish Red

Sangria in Mijas

Solobrena




 Mijas


Our condo - Mijas


Torresmolinos






Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?





It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.


Finished last week:
Chalcot Crescent
From the book jacket:
Fay Weldon in top gear: a wickedly sharp, history-bending, cosmos-colliding novel that tells the story of Frances, Fay's never-born younger sister. Its 2013 and eighty-year-old Frances (part-time copywriter, has-been writer, one-time national treasure) is sitting on the stairs of Number 3, Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill, listening to the debt collectors pounding on her front door. From this house she's witnessed five decades of world history - the fall of communism, the death of capitalism - and now, with the bailiffs, world history has finally reached her doorstep. While she waits for the bailiffs to give up and leave, Frances writes (not that she has an agent any more, or that her books are still published, or even that there are any publishers left). She writes about the boyfriends she borrowed and the husband she stole from Fay, about her daughters and their children. She writes about the Shock, the Crunch, the Squeeze, the Recovery, the Fall, the Crisis and the Bite, about NUG the National Unity Government, about ration books, powercuts, National Meat Loaf (suitable for vegetarians) and the new Neighbourhood Watch. She writes about family secrets...The problem is that fact and fiction are blurring in Frances' mind. Is it her writer's imagination, or is it just old age, or plain paranoia? Are her grandchildren really plotting a terrorist coup upstairs? Are faceless assassins trying to kill her younger daughter? Should she worry that her son in law is an incipient megalomaniac being groomed for NUG's highest office? What on earth can NUG have against vegetarians? And just what makes National Meat Loaf so tasty?


Frankly this book terrified made me as it talked about the state of the world's economies in the not so far future - the book is set in 2013. It was further brought to light as I saw David Chilton, The Wealthy Barber being interviewed this morning.
He speaks about consumerism and in the book consumerism has disappeared because no one has any money to buy anything. You can't sell anything you own because no one wants it. The following is from his interview:

"Q: Let’s talk about over spending – the tone of your book suggests you think people are too materialistic and self-indulgent. Is that fair to say?
A: Yes. Absolutely. It’s almost impossible to communicate to the public just how crazy some people’s spending is. I give a specific example in the book about a $500 hockey stick. I’ve seen families that are making no RESP contributions, but are buying multiple $500 hockey sticks in a year."


In the book Fay Weldon writes about consumerism:
"Consumerism just went out of fashion one day, like the hula hoop - one day everywhere, the next nowhere, for no apparent reason, and after that there was no going back."


Further currents affairs spoke to the issues in this book, such as the the crisis taking place in Athens.
Fay Weldon writes:
"Feels like 2010 all over again. That was the year Europe began to fall apart, and the idea of the nation state to assert itself - not that it had ever really gone away."
Occupy Toronto
Source - and even closer to home is Occupy Toronto taking place right now.

The NUG - the national government controls everything from food distribution  to jobs to who gets regular power supply (and therefore control the recharging of mobile phones and everything else). everything is public, nothing is private.


By then “it has become apparent,” reads the Guardian’s review, “that recession is not a temporary departure from the norm but an awakening from a happy but foolish dream of prosperity into a grim and enduring reality: this is how it is and it will go on like this, only worse.”


So enough with the gloomy, the book is good, the main character Frances is witty and a very spry 80 year old.  "I am not cynical. I am just old. I know what is going to happen next," says Frances. 
At one point Frances invites you to put the book down, give up and do something else. but I needed to go on.

However as I continued to read I found she was repeating phrases from earlier in the book. I wondered if this was meant to t reflect her age and memory lapses or whether it is just a padding technique. Since Frances seems to be a very lucid 80 year old I wasn't sure what to make of these repetitions.



All the dysfunctional, blended family characters made me laugh, but at times felt very unrealistic as the book went on. It began to drag a little but I had to find out what happened.
It does pick up in the last quarter as it all comes together with some strange twists. 


I also loved her comments on men.
"Men almost never leave a wife for an empty bed."
"Edgar would have made a good job of badmouthing me to her, as men so often do of the women who were once in their lives. That is, if they remember them at all."
"It is never sensible to put too much trust in men's continued capacity to look after you. They get swept up in some sexual or religious or radical fever and put you aside as trivial. And once out of your lives they forget about you altogether; their life with you is wiped from memory. You remember, they do not."


On children:
One's children are always remembering things one could swear they never said."








Currently reading:
The Winter Ghosts
From the book jacket:
The Great War took much more than lives. It robbed a generation of friends, lovers and futures. In Freddie Watson's case, it took his beloved brother and, at times, his peace of mind. In the winter of 1928, still seeking resolution, Freddie is travelling through the French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. He stumbles through woods, emerging in a tiny village. There he meets Fabrissa, a beautiful woman also mourning a lost generation. Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, he will have stumbled across a tragic mystery that goes back through the centuries.


I am finding this a slow read mainly because Freddie is annoying me!!


Plan to start this week:
The Preacher by Camilla Läckberg
This is the second book in her series. I read the first, The Ice Princess, a few weeks ago and really enjoyed..
From the book jacket:
During an unusually hot July, detective Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck are enjoying a rare week at home together, nervous and excited about the imminent birth of their first baby. Across town, however, a six-year-old boy makes a gruesome discovery that will ravage their little tourist community and catapult Patrik into the center of a terrifying murder case.
The boy has stumbled upon the brutally murdered body of a young woman, and Patrik is immediately called to lead the investigation. Things get even worse when his team uncovers, buried beneath the victim, the skeletons of two campers whose disappearance had baffled police for decades. The three victims’ injuries seem to be the work of the same killer, but that is impossible: the main suspect in the original kidnappings committed suicide twenty-four years ago.
When yet another young girl disappears and panic begins to spread, Patrik leads a desperate manhunt to track down a ruthless serial killer before he strikes again.

Monday's Child - St. Petersburg, Russia

Well, it's really children in St. Petersburg on a school trip.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins


blueberries

Source

I found this recipe over at Big Mama's Home Kitchen and I featured it in my weekly Sunday post of New Recipes To Try.


I made them and they were delicious. They also freeze well.
I would make a few changes. I reduced the amount of sugar.


Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Recipe from Keeping Up Cookbook

Muffin Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar I reduced this to 1 cup.
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk or milk
1 (8-oz) pkg cream cheese, cut into small cube
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin tins with paper liners, or spray well with non-stick cooking spray.  

In a large stand mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add buttermilk until batter just comes together.  Use a spatula to fold in cream cheese cubes, breaking up any large pieces.  Gently fold in blueberries and lemon zest.  Spoon batter into 16-18 muffin cups.  Prepare the crumb topping.

Crumb Topping:

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 T cold butter, cut into small cubes

In a bowl, stir together sugar and flour.  Cut butter into mixture with a fork or pastry cutter until it reaches a crumb-like consistency.  Sprinkle generously onto muffins.  

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until muffin centers spring back when touched.  Serve warm.

Saturday Snaps - Dingle, Ireland

Random shots of photos that I like.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Finds


What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading.

This will be my first linky for this topic.


birds
Found at Read Handed


What Was Lost - Catherine O'Flynn
Found over at BookBound

Turn of Mind
Found at Pages of Julia


Found at Ian Rankin's website. I am going to see Ian Rankin being interviewed by George Stroumboulopoulos next week. I am a huge fan of Ian Rankin's books so I am very excited that he has a new book out.  Ian is in town for the International Festival of Authors.



Found at Russell Banks. Same comments as above, Russell Banks will also be interviewed with Ian Rankin at the same show. I am also a big fan having read Cloudsplitter, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction.

Foodie Fryday - Erie, PA

When we were driving home from North Carolina in October we decided to stop in Eire, PA for lunch. Our first thought was Cracker Barrel as it is one of my favourite places to stop over the years. We don't have any in Canada. But on impulse I spotted a sign for Quaker Steak and Lube which we had never eaten at.
We loved all of it, the decor and the food. The wings were perfect and since my DH considers himself to be an expert then you know these were good.
And the fries - loaded Magna FrIes  A mound of crispy thick-cut seasoned fries, overloaded with Cheddar-Jack cheese and chunky bacon. Served with cool Ranch dip.