Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Finds - Books

I'm posting over here today at Should Be Reading.

Synopsis here.

Swipe (Swipe, #1)
Synopsis here.

The Mine
Synopsis here.

The Outcast
Synopsis here.

Friday Favourite Finds - Recipes

Mongolian pork chops. I could also see using this recipes on a pork tenderloin.

Recipe and Image Source

Carrot cake pancakes from Cannella Vita.

Recipe and image source

Potato gruyere tartlets from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Potato Tart 1
Recipe and image source

Basil tzatziki from Tasty Tricks

Recipe and image source

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading and is hosted by Bermuda Onion.

Danish Nisse

I was reading The Paris Vendetta which has it's main character living in Copenhagen and the Nisse was mentioned by a child at Christmas. Not knowing anything about Danish customs and never having heard this word before and since we were in Copenhagen earlier this year I thought I would use it as my WWW.
Danish Elf, Nisse - this story in Denmark revolves around the mischievous Danish elf, Nisse, who is known to play pranks on people. Living on a farmhouse and wearing gray woollen clothes, this elf is generally good to people but plays practical jokes on them during Christmas. Many people leave a bowl of rice pudding or porridge outside, so that he doesn't trouble them.

Christmas is one of the most popular festivals in Denmark, symbolizing the spirit of love and joy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

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.

I've been on a reading marathon this week in spite of things to be done. Getting my books from the library makes me read quicker (I think) as I have a deadline and suddenly a whole bunch of holds became available.

The Last Hundred Days

Synopsis here.
McGuinness did a great job of conveying the isolation, mania, hidden corners, mad luxuries of  Bucharest at the height of paranoia in 1989. 
I knew nothing of Romania.
 The descriptions make you feel the city around you and frustrated me with the amount of destruction of old buildings and churches that were carried out. The city is the most wonderful and noteworthy character. 
The main character wasn't my favourite but then he is only twenty one so he is immature and that may be part of the charm.

The Girl Below
From the book jacket:
After ten years in New Zealand, Suki returns to London, to a city that won't let her in. However, a chance visit with Peggy—an old family friend who still lives in the building where she grew up—convinces Suki that there is a way to reconnect with the life she left behind a decade earlier. But the more involved she becomes with Peggy's dysfunctional family, including Peggy's wayward sixteen-year-old grandson, the more Suki finds herself mysteriously slipping back in time—to the night of a party her parents threw in their garden more than twenty years ago, when something happened in an old, long-unused air-raid shelter. . . .

A breathtaking whirlwind of mystery, transgression, and self-discovery, Bianca Zander's The Girl Below is a haunting tale of secrets, human frailty, and dark memory that heralds the arrival of an extraordinary new literary talent.

Meh! Hated it. Abandoned.

From the book jacket:
Drowned, set in the idyllic countryside during a short-lived Swedish summer, gets under one’s skin from the first page, creating an atmosphere of foreboding in which even the perfume of freshly picked vegetables roasting in the kitchen becomes ominous.
   On the surface, the story couldn’t be simpler. A single young woman visits her older sister, who is married to a writer as charismatic as he is violent. As the young woman falls under her brother-in-law’s spell, the plot unfolds in a series of precisely rendered turns. Meanwhile the reader, anticipating the worst, hopes against hope that disaster can be averted.

This was labelled as a psychological thriller but it just felt like a boring, simple "love" story. 

Hocus Pocus
From the book jacket:
From the author of Timequake, this "irresistible" novel (Cleveland Plain Dealer) tells the story of Eugene Debs Hartke-Vietnam veteran, jazz pianist, college professor, and prognosticator of the apocalypse. It's "Vonnegut's best novel in years-funny and prophetic...something special." (The Nation).

This is satire at its best. His description of a country where the yen is a stable and accepted currency in the States  alongside the reduced dollar, a tank of gas costs a small fortune, the rivers are clogged with  plastic bottles, and a new ice age is bearing down on it all. Considering he wrote this in 1991 depicting a country ten years later is remarkable in his insights into today's world and economy.
I also loved the numerology games he plays throughout (I guess that's the analyst in me).

The Box Garden
From the book jacket:
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Stone Diaries. Charleen, a divorcee eking out a living as a poet and part-time assistant for an obscure scientific journal, returns home to attend her mother's wedding, and is caught up in a series of unexpected--and terrifying--events.

It's been years since I read anything by Shields.  This was published in 1977 so it was a little like a trip down memory lane for me. A time when women wore slips, you have to look up a phone number in the telephone book, the bus costs less than a dollar. 
The story of two sisters was also intriguing. How differently they remember the events of their childhood.
The way the main character thinks everything out in her head made me smile as it sounded like myself talking to me.
It was a very quick read for me.

Gone Girl
From the book jacket:
Marriage can be a real killer. 
   One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. 
   On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
   With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

I am hooked on this book, I cannot put it down!!
2012 books read (65 to date):
The Coast Road - John Brady
Still Midnight - Denise Mina
The Bulgari Connection - Fay Weldon
Good Bait - John Harvey
The Heretic's Treasure - Scott Mariani
Dead I Well May Be - Adrian McKinty
The Devil's Elixir - Raymond Khoury
A Darker Domain - Val McDermid
The Impossible Dead - Ian Rankin
GB84 - David Peace
The Emperor's Tomb - Steve Berry
Stonehenge Legacy - Sam Christer
Inquisition - Alfredo Colitto ABANDONED!
The Troubled Man - Henning Mankell
Nineteen Seventy-Four - David Peace
Faithful Place - Tana French
Dead Like You - Peter James
Brother and Sister - Joanna Trollope
The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton ABANDONED!
A Beginner's Guide to Acting English -Shappi Khorsandi
The Snowman - Jo Nesbo
The Leopard - Jo Nesbo
The Stone Cutter - Camilla Lackberg
Miramar - Naguib Mahfouz
The Gallow's Bird - Camilla Lackberg
Nineteen Seventy- Seven - David Peace
Timeline - Michael Crichton
Millennium People - JG Ballard
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
Birdman - Mo Hayder
Clara Callan - Richard B. Wright
The Paris Vendetta - Steve Berry
Little Girls Lost - Jack Kerley
The Reutrn of the Dancing Master - Henning Mankell
Nemesis - Jo Nesbo
Dublin Dead - Gerard O'Donovan
City of Bohane - Kevin Barry
This Beautiful Life - Helen Schulman
The Copenhagen Project - K. SandersenPrague - Arthur Phillips
Fortunes of War - Gordon Zuckerman
The Cold Cold Ground - Adrian McKinty
Before the Poison - Peter Robinson
The Mozart Conspiracy - Scott Mariani
Dancer - Colum McCann
Pig Island - Mo Hayder
Old City Hall - Robert Rotenberg
The Paris Wife - Paula McLain
The Last Good Man - A. J. Kazinski
Homesick - Roshi Fernando
Black Friday - Alex Kava
Only One Life - Sara Blaedel
A Perfect Evil - Alex Kava
People Like Us - Dominick Dunne
The Ottoman Motel - Christopher Currie
Even the Dogs - Jon McGregor
The Red Book - Deborah Copaken Kogan
Faith - Jennifer Haigh
The Salesman - Joseph O'Connor
The Last Hundred Days - Patrick McGuinness
The Girl Below - Bianca Zander ABANDONED!
Hocus Pocus - Kurt Vonnegut
Drowned - Therese Bohman

Blue Monday

Taken in Ireland a couple of years ago in Ramelton, Co. Donegal.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

While in Philadelphia for a few days in 2009, we stayed in a hotel right behind the Reading Terminal Market.

I was researching the history of the market.
I love this service mentioned on their site.
In later years, business flourished as suburban housewives began to take advantage of another aspect of the railroad’s involvement in the Market–a free market basket service on suburban trains. Under the system, the homeowner could arrange for her grocery order to be filled in the Market and the basket placed upon a train bound for her town and held at the station until she picked it up.

As soon as we checked in we headed out for a Philly cheese steak sandwich!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 7 - Les Andelys France

Around 7AM I woke and opened the curtains a little the sun was rising, and we were still sailing, I opened  only the curtains and the French balcony doors to enjoy the marvelous morning air. We lay in bed, under the duvet and blanket, watching mist on the Seine and listening to the water lapping against the boat as we slowly sailed towards Les Andelys.

Soon we saw the rosy fingers of dawn painting the sky.

After breakfast, we have the morning to ourselves to explore the town. Or you could take the walking tour of town or else a walk up to Richard the Lion-Heart's castle which we had passed on our sail to Rouen.
Les Andelys is a small river town that was home to King Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century. On top of the hill in town are the remains of the fortress that King Richard had built in one year to protect that portion of Normandy from French attack. It’s amazing after 800 years what still remains, but even more amazing to me was the view from that fortress. It was almost storybook perfect, with the winding river, the 12th century church and quaint timber houses on narrow twisting streets of cobblestone.

 We saw Orlando, our chef, going for his groceries.

We meandered back to the boat around 11AM as we set sail at 11:45AM for Paris.

Back onboard and I am writing this as I again have the curtains and the balcony door wide open. The sun glitters on the water in between clouds as we glide out of the lock and on towards Paris. 

This afternoon there are tours of the watch house and the kitchen. We toured the kitchen with Orlando the head chef as our guide.

The kitchen is small and there are six cooks including Orlando. Menus are dictated by the Corporate Chef and remain the same all season.
Everything is loaded at the beginning of the week and he will pick up fresh produce as we sail. Nothing is saved for safety reasons.

At 4PM we went to the lounge for freshly made crepes, snacks and cakes with coffee or tea.

Time to loll about until our farewell dinner!

Amuse Bouche - mousse of selected French cheeses

Salmon variation

Cappacino of forest mushrooms

Pan fried scallop with creamy green asparagus

Kir Royale sorbet

Filet of halibut with galic scampi on red and yellow pepper sauce with champagne risotto and mixed vegetables.

And dessert was baked Alaska!