Lori's 2014 Mini-Challenge (A.K.A the "Challenge of Challenges") - First Thread

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Lori's 2014 Mini-Challenge (A.K.A the "Challenge of Challenges") - First Thread

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Modificato: Set 13, 2014, 9:11 pm

I intend to spend the remainder of the year reading books I want to read AND working on trying to finish some of my other current challenges. I have:
4 more books to read to complete my ROOTs challenge
6 more books read to complete my BINGO challenge
25 more books - or 5,807 pages - to read to complete my 75 book challenge
41 more books to read to complete my Commonwealth challenge
I don't see myself completing my Commonwealth challenge this year but I can at least continue to chip away at it. The other three challenges are do-able so this mini-challenge has been designed so that I can track my other challenge and miscellaneous reading for the remainder of 2014 here.

Of course, food discussions will probably continue here, as will postings of craft projects and whatever else I get up to.

Modificato: Dic 27, 2014, 12:11 am

My ROOTs Challenge

My 2014 ROOT challenge goal is to read 25 books off of my TBR pile. The only caveat is that the books I read for this challenge need to have been in my possession as of December 31, 2013. That includes the numerous e-books and audiobooks I have downloaded and failed to enter into my LT library.

Books read:
1. The Gatekeeper of Lies by Anthony Bruce -
2. The Curse of Malenfer Manor by Iian McChesney -
3. The Innocent Mrs. Duff by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding - -
4. The Conventionalists by Robert Hugh Benson -
5. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin -
6. Bleak House by Charles Dickens -
7. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père -
8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy -
9. Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi -
10. the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon -
11. Blue by George Elliott Clarke -
12. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen -
13. G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton -
14. The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco -
15. When Autumn Leaves by Amy S. Foster -
16. Little, Big by John Crowley -
17. H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton -
18. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen -
19. Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas, père -
20. The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire - (review)
21. Drood by Dan Simmons -
22. Giovanni's Room James Baldwin -
23. The Viscount of Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père -
24. The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard -
25. Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, père -
26. Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas, père -

Books Read (as part of this mini-challenge):
Giovanni's Room James Baldwin - (review)
The Viscount of Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père - (review)
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard - (review)
Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, père - (review)
Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas, père - (review)

Modificato: Nov 26, 2014, 11:33 pm

MY 2014 Reading Bingo Challenge:

I have decided to add to my reading challenges this year by attempting the Retreat by Random House Reading Bingo Challenge 2014. They are offering two bingo challenges this year: an original and a YA version. I have chosen to tackle the original card. Both cards for the Reading Bingo Challenge 2014 can be found HERE.

Wish me luck!

Reading BINGO 2014 books read:
B1 - Bleak House by Charles Dickens
B2 - The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
B3 - Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi
B4 - Leaving Earth by Helen Humphreys
B5 - Hounded by Kevin Hearne
I1 - The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. by Jack London
I2 - Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
I3 - Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories by Daphne Du Maurier
I4 - The Secrets of Casanova by Greg Michaels
I5 - Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix -
N1 - The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, père
N2 - The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips
N4 - A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
N5 - Hotel Paradiso by Gregor Robinson (2000 pub date)
G1 - The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley
G2 - This Innocent Corner by Peggy Herring
G3 - The Curse of Malenfer Manor by Iian McChesney (Europe)
G4 - The Inspector McLevy Mysteries - Complete Series 1 by David Ashton
G5 - The Dead Shall Not Rest by Tessa Harris
O1 - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
O2 - Always Love a Villain on San Juan Island by Sandy Francis Duncan and George Szanto
O3 - Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks
O4 - The Innocent Mrs. Duff by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
O5 - Blue by George Elliott Clarke

Books Read (as part of this mini-challenge):
Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories by Daphne Du Maurier - (review)
The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips - (review)
Hounded by Kevin Hearne - (review)
The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. by Jack London - (review)
Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix - (review)
Leaving Earth by Helen Humphreys - (review)

Modificato: Dic 28, 2014, 6:04 pm

My 75 Books Challenge

75 books might be a bit of a challenge for me this year as I plan on reading a number of classics and joining in a couple of year long reads, but it's all those darn chunksters that either crest or complete sweep over the 1,000 page mark as part of my 2014 reading plans that just might be my downfall.... or sweep me out to sea. I do have a back-up plan to protect me from failing this challenge because of all those "wrist breaking" books: I will track both books read and pages read. I will consider this challenge to be successfully completed whichever comes first: 75 books read or 25,000 pages read.

Books read (as part of this mini-challenge):
How to Cook up a Disaster by Rachel Elizabeth Cole - (review)
Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra - (review)
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas - (review)
Mãn by Kim Thúy - (review)
The Martian by Andy Weir - (review)
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest - (review)
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton - (review)
The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
The Terra-Cotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
Siberiak by Jenny Jaeckel - (review)
Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri - (review)
The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days - (review)
Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by Jonathan L. Howard - (review)

Modificato: Set 21, 2014, 4:14 pm

My Commonwealth Challenge

I will try to read a book set in - or by an author from - each of the current member states of the Commonwealth, as posted on the Wikipedia Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations webpage.

List of Member States:
Antigua and Barbuda - Mr. Potter by Jamaica Kincaid -
Australia - Sorry by Gail Jones -
Bahamas - Hotel Paradiso by Gregor Robinson -
Bangladesh - This Innocent Corner by Peggy Herring -
Barbados - Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl by Kate McCafferty -
Belize - Hot Ticket by Janice Weber -
Botswana - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith -
Cameroon - Sense Pass King: A Story from Cameroon and The Village of Round and Square Houses -
India - Love Across Borders edited by Naheed Hassan and Sabahat Muhammad -
New Zealand - UTU by Caryl Férey -
Pakistan - Basti by Intizar Husain -
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
South Africa
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom

Books read (as part of this mini-challenge):

Set 12, 2014, 11:22 pm

Welcome all.... this thread (and mini-challenge) is now open for business!

Modificato: Set 12, 2014, 11:27 pm

Book #50 - How to Cook up a Disaster by Rachel Elizabeth Cole
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: TBR
Format: ePub
Original publication date: October 1, 2012
Acquisition date: May 19, 2014
Page count: 68 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.70 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the Amazon.ca website:
Sadie Dawson's mother goes into labor hours before her great-grandfather's 100th birthday party and Mom refuses to cancel the festivities. Now it's up to domestically-challenged Sadie to host the dinner party--only she hasn't a clue how to cook a turkey. This could be the mother of all culinary disasters, but with the help of her two best friends, Sadie is determined to pull off the best dinner party in a hundred years.
I was surfing through my e-book library on my device one evening looking for something light weight to read as my 'read in bed' book and came across this short chicklit 'novellette' (short novella) that I had won through LT's Member Giveaway program back in the spring and then forgot all about it. I tend to like the occasional chicklit read and this one was no exception. Fun, slightly sassy and with a bit of a YA flair to it, I read the story from start to finish over the course of one hour and had a few giggles and chuckles along the way. Stories that involve a gathering of family members are the perfect backdrop for an author to have fun with plots and characters. Cole pulls off the 'derailing event' concept in an entertaining way that had me looking forward to finding out just what else could go wrong, or if it could be salvaged. If you like a light, breezy chicklit story, this DIY Dating Book 1 story may appeal to you.

Set 12, 2014, 11:29 pm

Excellent set-up to finish out the year!!

Set 12, 2014, 11:42 pm

Thanks Eva! Anything to keep me on track and still give me room to have some reading fun. ;-)

Set 13, 2014, 1:17 am

We are finishing out the year in very similar ways. I also hope to work on my Commonwealth Challenge, along with other committments, Cats and even some free reading.

Set 13, 2014, 7:15 am

How nice to finish your challenge early. I'll be sliding in at the last minute I think. No extra time for me this year.

Set 13, 2014, 10:53 am

I'll be cheering you on!

Set 13, 2014, 11:54 am

Hurray for mini-challenge! Enjoy!

Set 13, 2014, 12:56 pm

Congratulations on your mini-challenge startup. It looks like it could be a lot of fun.

I'm sure you don't need any suggestions, but I can recommend a couple for your Commonwealth challenge. Port Vila Blues by Garry Disher is set on Vanuatu. And, for the Solomon Islands: Devil-devil by Graeme Kent.

Both are mysteries that I really enjoyed. There is a second in the Solomon Islands series One Blood that is, if anything, better than the first.

Have fun. I certainly enjoy following your thread and reviews.

Set 14, 2014, 11:17 am

>10 DeltaQueen50: - I am looking forward to the free reading part, Judy!

>11 dudes22: - If I had chosen to do a larger challenge, I would still be plugging away at it. I will continue to cheer everyone else on with their challenges and I am really looking forward to seeing your completed quilt, Betty!

>12 mstrust: and >13 rabbitprincess: - Thanks!

>14 VivienneR: - Suggestions are always happily accepted here! Thanks!


I haven't really been in the mood for any reading this weekend... too busy enjoying the continuing summer weather. We watched the movie The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan and I have to say, it wasn't what I was expecting. Very opulent and dazzling eye candy for sure but it felt as though the movie was too busy being eye candy and didn't really get into the characters. Is it just me or did anyone else have a difficult time picturing DiCaprio as Gatsby?

Set 14, 2014, 6:57 pm

Another wonderful Sunday. I have been spending the afternoon curled up in a chair outside reading Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. I love the portrayal of Parisian life Baldwin imbues in this story.

Spent the morning baking bread - oatbran - and attempting some savory scones, because I had suddenly realized that I have run out of baked goods that I can take into the office as a mid-morning snack. I haven't made scones for a long, long time so I was rather happy with the results:

I used this Savoury Cheddar Herb Scones recipe with the following modifications:
- added 1/2 cup of chopped bacon bits
- used fresh rosemary, thyme, chives and parsley from my herb garden
- replaced the buttermilk with homogenized milk
- used a mustard seed-styled Dijon mustard.
This recipe was super easy to make and the finished product gets two thumbs up from my other half in the edible department. It is not quite a cheesy as I would like and I think I need to add more chopped fresh herbs next time. I plan to use this recipe as a base and continue to manipulate the ingredients a bit. Next batch (which I will probably make later this week) I plan on increasing the cheese (probably use a combination of medium cheddar and asiago or parmesan), add an extra teaspoon of mustard and use a bunch of fresh chopped dill and parsley for the herbs.

Set 14, 2014, 9:06 pm

Yum! Those look delicious! Now I'm hungry ;)

Set 14, 2014, 10:34 pm

If it wasn't too hot here in SoCal to go anywhere near a stove, I'd give those a shot! I've never made them with bacon bits, though, but tend to use an enormous amount of Parmesan.

Set 15, 2014, 6:14 am

That recipe does look good. I make a lot of scones, but usually sweet. I'll have to give these a try.

Set 15, 2014, 10:54 pm

Your scones look delicious! Isn't it wonderful that you can use your own herbs? I don't eat bacon but Eva's version with Parmesan sound enticing.

Modificato: Set 18, 2014, 9:20 am

>17 rabbitprincess:, >18 -Eva-:, >19 dudes22: and >20 VivienneR: - They were good and my second batch made last night with dill worked wonderful! I am very happy to have found such a versatile recipe that I can mix and match, so to speak. ;-)

Today we saw our first true indication that autumn is approaching. I am looking forward to a rainy day tomorrow - I will be working indoors all day so it can rain all it wants - and plan on sliding back into my more autumn winter dinner soup ideas. With my scones success, I am in the process of attempting some dinner rolls for tomorrow night's homemade broccoli cheddar soup. I don't usually use milk and eggs in my bread ingredients and I want to see if I can make Parkerhouse style bread rolls using my muffin tin so I am in experimentation mode this evening.

On the reading front, I have the following three books on the go:

Currently Reading:

Audiobook: Echoes from the Macabre by Daphne Du Maurier - a read that will fit my short story square in my BINGO reading card.
ebook: Done with Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra - A free Indiareads book that is proving to be a rather lightweight chicklit read.
Physical book: Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin - A ROOTs read that also fits the American Authors mini-challenge over on the 75 group

Set 21, 2014, 12:51 am

>16 lkernagh: Looking yummy ! One of the best thing last year in Edinburgh, was the scones, sugary or salty, I'm always ready for one :)

Set 21, 2014, 2:27 pm

>16 lkernagh: Cheese baked into bread-yum!

Set 21, 2014, 3:49 pm

>22 electrice: - Scones are great. So versatile!

>23 mstrust: - I know!


As I seem to forget which thread is my current thread, I have posted my challenge wrap-up over on my previous thread. I have been having a good and productive weekend, even though that wasn't quite what I had in mind. Yesterday was supposed to be a relaxing day of reading but one thing led to another - that whole chain reaction thing - that started with the breeze blowing my ready to harvest basil plant, not once, not twice, but three times to to deck floor so I spent some time harvesting and cleaning the leaves in preparation for making some pesto. Which them lead me to clean my Cuisinart hand prep blender as it has been shelved for a while, which lead me to notice that the toaster (beside it) was in need of de-crumbing which then lead to deciding that the electric kettle needed cleaning/ de-calcifying, and so on and so on.....

On the good news front, I have found a way to make use of the Hoopla services offered through my local library, even though downloading and listening to audiobooks is a problem for my iPod. We have a laptop that is linked to our TV and wi-fi for watching the offerings on Acorn TV and it just occurred to me that we can do the same thing with all the thousands of movies that Hoopla have in their system. Each library card holder is restricted to 12 borrows each calender month but between both of our library cards, we can watch for free 24 movies a month. Nice! We watched the John Candy movie Canadian Bacon last night, just cause. ;-)

Even with all of this unplanned activity, I still managed to get in some reading time and finished both my audiobook and my e-book. See reviews below.

Set 21, 2014, 3:55 pm

I noticed in your previous thread that you mentioned Local Hero! I'll have to watch that one, especially since it's a category in my challenge next year :)

How are you liking your Acorn TV? I haven't got around to subscribing yet.

Set 21, 2014, 3:58 pm

Book #51 - Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories by Daphne Du Maurier - audiobook read by Valentine Dyall
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: A Book of Short Stories
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: audiobook
Original publication date: 1976
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 352 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 2.80 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the Barnes&Noble.com website:
Echoes From The Macabre is a collection of short stories written by Daphne Du Maurier. The nine fantastical tales concerning the supernatural and mythical include:
Don't Look Now
The Apple Tree
The Pool
The Blue Lenses
Kiss Me Again, Stranger
The Chamois
Not After Midnight
The Old Man
The Birds.
I was really looking forward to some spine chilling, 'raise the hair on the back of my neck' kind of stories. Instead, I found the stories to be of a more subtle, disquieting nature and even then, some of the stories came across as rather flat. Don't get me wrong. Du Maurier does a good job of getting into the psyche of her characters. I just find her writing to take a rather 'matter of fact' tone that doesn't draw a reader like me emotionally into the stories. I listened to the stories over the course of one week. The reader of the audiobook I listened to, Valentine Dyall, has a wonderful older gravely voice that is perfect for stories that tend towards the horrific but even he was unable to get more that a slight reaction out of me to the stories. If I had to choose favorites out of the bunch, I would choose Don't Look Now for the Venice setting and the rising disquiet of one of the main characters and The Old Man for its surprise ending and how a writer like Du Maurier can get the reader to imagine one thing when something quite different has occurred. Kiss Me Again, Stranger was, well, a bit odd but an interesting post WWII setting. The rest of the stories, including Du Maurier's famous story The Birds were just average or less than average reads for me. I will admit that I prefer Du Maurier's The Birds over Hitchcock's adaptation. Du Maurier's story is focused solely on the rising human fear and dread of a looming apocalypse. I don't even remember the premise for the other stories - that is how memorable they were for me.

I would probably recommend these stories to a fan of Du Maurier or a reader who prefers their horror stories to be of a subtle, disquieting nature. None of the stories are scary enough to keep one awake at night, trembling in bed, that is for sure.

Modificato: Set 21, 2014, 6:32 pm

Book #52 - Done With Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: TBR
Format: ebook
Original publication date: February 7, 2014
Acquisition date: February 15, 2014
Page count: 159 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.20 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the amazon.ca website:
Travel journo, Kairavi Krishna (Kay) has had it with men. After a series of disasters (losers, philanderers, leeches, mama’s boys and possessive psychos), she is all too tempted to walk out on the prospect of ever finding love. Accompanied by her best friend and flat-mate Baani, she sets off for Goa, hoping to get away from her miserable love life and vowing to stay clear of the male species. Goa however, has a host of surprises in store for her. Ricky, her pesky ex-boyfriend, is busy painting the town red with his hot new girlfriend. Now what is poor Kay to do, other than overdose on vodka, smoke pot, get an outrageous tattoo and fall off the hotel balcony? She wakes up in the hospital to the tender ministrations of Dr.Vivian D’Mello—young, suave and handsome as hell. Will Kay stick to her guns or will she fall for his ridiculously sexy charms? And what’s up with the mixed signals he’s giving out?
This story was a free ebook download from the Indireads website, a publisher focused on making available stories of South Asian fiction. Having read and enjoyed their anthology of short stories Love Across Borders, I was more than happy when I received the email back in February of the free download offer for Done With Men. Probably geared more towards a slightly younger audience than middle-aged me, Kalra has written a breezy chicklit romance that, while rather unbelievable in places, makes for perfect escapism reading. While a bit gimmicky, I rather enjoyed the 'Thought Bubble' - Kay's inner conscience - that would appear from time to time with the odd comment/opinion. The characters, while fun, are really there just to help propel the story along, like a gang of friends so don't expect any deep, meaningful character development in this story. I will admit that as the story progressed, I started to weary of Kay, the whole pouty nature and all night partying and had to remind myself that she is only a young 20-something and the travel writer job is her first job after completing university.

A funny, entertaining read by a new writer and I hope Kalra will be writing more stories. This story may appeal to readers who enjoy the works of Marian Keyes or Sophie Kinsella and are looking for something with a more South Asian feel to them.

Set 21, 2014, 4:08 pm

>25 rabbitprincess: - I am really liking the Acorn TV subscription but my other half is already tiring of it. They do mix up the selections a bit - remove some offerings and add new ones - but it is a lot smaller than what Netflix has on offer. I still haven't felt the need to jump on the Netflix bandwagon. Maybe next year.

I highly recommend Local Hero! That is one of the few DVDs that we own and have watched about once a year for the past 10 years.

Set 22, 2014, 4:49 pm

Another book finished - This one fits my ROOTs reading:

Book #53 - Giovanni's Room James Baldwin
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge), ROOT
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: TBR
Format: Trade paperback
Original publication date: 1956
Acquisition date: July 14, 2012
Page count: 176 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.40 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the book back cover:
Set in the 1950s Paris of American expatriates, liaisons, and violence, a young man finds himself caught between desire and conventional morality. With a sharp, probing imagination, James Baldwin's now-classic narrative delves into the mystery of loving and creates a moving, highly controversial story of death and passion that reveals the unspoken complexities of the human heart.
Written with wonderful awareness and prosaic beauty, Baldwin gives the reader an insight into expatriate life in 1950's Paris and a young man's struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and his sexual identity. Underneath this struggle lies a love story, albeit a repressed one frought with guilt, as David struggles to avoid certain choices for reasons of social and familial acceptance. I found the feeling of isolation David experienced harrowing as he internalized his struggle and tried to put on a brave, indifferent front and a strong emotional theme of the story. The story is about awakening to reality. About climbing above the fog that society expects one to remain enveloped in. It is also about how trapped one can feel when society exhibits indications of refusing to accept someone for who they are.

Overall, a beautifully written story I am very happy to have finally read it.

Set 27, 2014, 6:01 pm

Hi everybody! After a rather damp and somewhat foggy week, the sun came out today. A little too cold for sitting outside to read - what with the cooler temps and the slight breeze - but I am always happy to see the sun, and the rain, for that matter. One doesn't have to shovel.

You know it is fall when the Girl Scouts/Guides are at the entrance to the grocery stores with their cookies on a Saturday! I am not a fan of their vanilla and chocolate sandwich style cookies but I love to support the troops so I purchased one box as I was leaving the store. Imagine my surprise when I discovered (after I got home) that the cookies were my favorites: The mint chocolate ones with the chocolate dipped coating! OMG! It has been over five years since I have last seen these cookies and my other half - after eating a cookie - was an absolute sweetheart to head out to the store for me and purchased four more boxes. It wouldn't have been safe for me to go back. I would have bought ever box they had and shanghaied the adults to give me a direct connection to their source. Sad, I know, but these cookies are just that darn good! At least this way I only have two cookie addictions currently in the house, the other one being these:

Discovered these three weeks ago on sale and all I can say is: Super YUM! Seriously, I am hooked!

On the reading front, I have managed to finish another book and have lined up my next reads.

Set 27, 2014, 6:02 pm

Book #54 - The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: A Funny Book
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Hardcover
Original publication date: August 12, 2014
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 320 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.30 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: adapted from the amazon.ca website:
Sir Humphrey du Val has had enough. Relegated to the Table of Less Valued Knights--Camelot's least prestigious spot--he has been banned by King Arthur from going on quests, and hasn't left the castle in 15 years. After a chance meeting with Elaine, a young maiden in search of her kidnapped fiancé, Sir Humphrey, along with his squire Conrad (an undersized giant) and Jemima (Conrad's elephant), sets off on a journey to find the distressed damsel's betrothed, hoping to restore himself to a place of honour at the Round Table. Meanwhile, Martha, an errant queen on the run from her new power-hungry husband, is in disguise and on a quest of her own to find her long-lost brother, the true ruler of her realm. The two questors literally collide on their respective quests. As they journey through countryside, castles and villages, they gather unlikely friends and enemies along the way. While each member of the party secretly harbours their own ambitions for the quest, their collective success, and the fate of the realm, rests on their grudging cooperation and unexpectedly interconnected lives.
I have yet to read my copy of Marie Phillips' debut novel, Gods Behaving Badly, but as a fan of all things Arthurian - okay, maybe not all things as I struggled with The Mists of Avalon and a couple of other books loosely based on Arthurian legends - but this did look like fun when I saw mention of it, so I requested my local library to purchase a copy. I like it when I get to request book purchases - I always manage to get first in the request queue for the copy with it arrives. The following quote from the amazon.ca website sums up my thoughts regarding this one rather well:
"The Princess Bride meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail in this funny, charming, and delightful tale about lesser-known heroes in Arthurian England."
This story is not a work of stellar comic genius, IMO, and it is also not overly original (as noted in the quote above), but it is an entertaining read that got more than a few chuckles out of me. Favorite characters for me are Sir Humphrey, who is a little rusty at this whole questing business, and the Locum of the Lake, the stand in for the real Lady of the Lake who has run off with Merlin, but all of the characters have that wonderful quality that makes even the evil characters more like bumbling buffoons on a mission of misadventure. Phillips manages to bring some interesting surprises to the story and while there is no cliffhanger at the end, Phillips did end with a perfect segue to lead into a second book.

Overall, a fun blending of bawdy humour and a viewpoint of lofty Camelot from some of Arthurian England's more 'fringe' characters.

Set 27, 2014, 6:05 pm

Currently Reading:

Audiobook: Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks - a non-fiction read for my Bingo challenge
ebook: The Viscount de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas - First of four books in the last volume of Dumas' D'Artagnan Romances series and part of my continuing journey to read all books in the series this year.
Physical book: Hounded by Kevin Hearne - Due to all the love here on LT for this series, this book is also a perfect fit for my Bingo challenge and the October random CAT on the 2014 category challenge group.

Set 27, 2014, 8:16 pm

>30 lkernagh: - your GS cookie time must be different from ours. We usually see them outside markets in March. Which reminds me - I might still have some in my freezer....hmmmmm...

Set 27, 2014, 10:17 pm

Actually, our (at least here in Victoria, and probably across BC) GG seems to have two cookie campaigns a year - one in the spring, and one in the fall. Twice the Yums!

Set 28, 2014, 7:33 am

That could be seriously dangerous.

Set 28, 2014, 11:33 am

Good thing I can stop eating after just one or two cookies. Of course, I now want one or two for breakfast..... ;-)


Last night was a lazy, stay at home kind of evening watching movies. We watched the Ben Affleck movie Paycheck and the movie Perfume, The Story of a Murderer. Paycheck was a good action thriller with a puzzle to unravel. I loved how there were 20 everyday items that Affleck's character had to figure out how and when to use them. As for Perfume, what a strange story! Very dark. At least I don't have to read the book now. Great performances by Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman in that one.

Today will be a quiet day puttering around getting some household chores done, making bread and relaxing with a book.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Set 28, 2014, 1:26 pm

>30 lkernagh: What a considerate other half you have! Mine would just have murmured something about lost opportunities and that would have been the end of it. I will have to watch out for GGs.

Set 28, 2014, 6:53 pm

LOL! He is considerate and a keeper. Of course, he was also motivated because he likes the cookies almost as much as I do. ;-)

Set 30, 2014, 11:47 pm

>30 lkernagh:
Combine the two words "Cadbury" and "biscuits" and you have all my attention! :)

And I realize that I thought that US and Canadian girl scout cookies were the same - evidently not. :)

Modificato: Ott 2, 2014, 6:05 pm

>36 lkernagh: What restraint with the girl scout cookies! Those sound like Thin Mints, which I cannot buy because I eat 2/3rds of the sleeve of cookies. Very intrigued by the Cadbury biscuits and it looks like a small package : ) I'll have to peruse the cookie aisle at World Market one of these days for them.

ETA: 2/3rds of the sleeve at minimum ; )

Ott 2, 2014, 5:08 pm

>40 aliciamay: Two-thirds of the sleeve? At that point, I'm eating the ENTIRE sleeve. Thin Mints are definitely my favorite! :)

Ott 2, 2014, 5:58 pm

>31 lkernagh: The Princess Bride meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail? That sets up pretty high expectations, doesn't it? :) Sounds like a fun read, though.

Modificato: Ott 2, 2014, 9:53 pm

>39 -Eva-: - I know! It is the best of both worlds! Like you, I thought - until today - that the US and Canadian girl scout cookies were the same. Imagine my surprise discovering that they are not the same. Each country has it own cookies, except I think the vanilla and the chocolate sandwich cookies are universal. It kind of shows that I was never a girl scout, doesn't it? ;-)

>40 aliciamay: - I do have some restraint when it comes to decadence but only because I am one of those cookie consumers that can be happy - for a short period of time - with just two cookies. You know I will be curled up in a corner whimpering once I have consumed my last cookie and there is no more, but right now, I am good. ;-)

I looked into the Thin Mints as I have never heard of them - ours are called "Chocolatey Mint" cookies - and while similar, there does appear to be a noticeable difference:

The Canadian Chocolately Mints are on the right, for those that have no knowledge of either cookie. The white bit is peppermint cream. The Thin Mints looks as though they have a dark chocolate coating. I love dark chocolate!

The Cadbury biscuits are a small package as there are only 8 biscuits, but sooooo good!

>41 christina_reads: - I would love to try the Thin Mints but it appears I will have to engage in cross boarder Girl Scout cookies. Makes me feel as though I want contraband goods or something!

>42 mathgirl40: - It does set a rather high expectation. I am not a big fan of Monty Python stuff but I think fans of Monty Python will find it lacking in bawdy, raunchy humour and fans of The Princess Bride may find the story falls a bit flat in the enchanting memorable characters category.

Ott 3, 2014, 11:27 am

Oh yum! Those Chocolately Mints cookies look delicious! I love Thin Mints but these look like a nice alternative.

Ott 4, 2014, 1:08 pm

This thread is doing my diet no good at all... >;-)

Ott 4, 2014, 10:23 pm

The Thin Mints are a standard over here, but I've not seen any sandwich ones. My favorites are Samoas!!

Ott 5, 2014, 2:12 am

Here in Australia we have Arnotts Mint Slice, and they are delicious. I hope you don't mind me putting up a picture Lori.

Ott 5, 2014, 3:49 pm

>47 Roro8:
We've finally gotten Tim Tams at the regular store here so at least I won't have to be envious of you for that! :)

Ott 5, 2014, 5:39 pm

>44 LittleTaiko: - Anything with chocolate and mint gets two thumbs up from me!

>45 Helenliz: - Hahaha! I know, every time I visit this thread I am reminded of the cookies in the fridge. ;-)

>46 -Eva-: - Samoas! I have seen a brand of cookie in the grocery store with the same ingredients of the Samoas so I totally understand why they are your favorites! Caramel, toasted coconut and chocolate over a cookie base.... YUM!

>47 Roro8: - Oh, those look good. I have seen some Arnotts cookies in the international foods aisle at the grocery store. Don't know if they have the mint slices. I must look the next time I go shopping... oh, wait.... maybe I shouldn't. ;-)

Pictures of food are always welcome on my thread.

>48 -Eva-: - It must be the Tim Tams that I have seen because that does sound familiar.


I have just been reminded that next weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. The other half has been tasked with shopping for the turkey and I have been spending time this weekend online getting recipe ideas for everything from cranberry sauce to stuffing mix as the goal this year is to make all of the dishes from scratch - or as near as sratch as possible.

It has also occurred to me that I never got around to posting my September stats. I will get around to that. Not much on the reading front, although I have, as of this afternoon, finished Hounded. I just need to whip up a quick review but that may not happen until tomorrow.

Ott 5, 2014, 5:40 pm


BOOKS READ (ranked from most to least favorite):
The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris - 3.80 /
How to Cook up a Disaster by Rachel Elizabeth Cole - 3.70 /
Drood by Dan Simmons - 3.30 /
The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips - 3.30 /
Done with Men by Shuchi Singh Kalra - 3.20 /
Guests on Earth by Lee Smith - 3.10 /
Echoes of the Macabre: Selected Stories by Daphne du Maurier - 2.80 /

Largest Book read: Drood at 800 pages
Smallest Book read: How to Cook up a Disaster at 68 pages.
Books still in progress at the end of the month: Hounded by Kevin Hearne, The Viscount of Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas and Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks
Interesting Fact: Nothing comes to mind.

2014 Category Challenge: (completed on September 11th)
World Cuisine - 7/7
Ye Olde Traditional Fare - 7/7
Lunch to Go - 7/7
Petit Fours - 7/7
Two Can Dine - 7/7
Scottish Pub Fare - 7/7
Smorgasbord - 7/7

My "Luck 'O the Irish" Race (books read versus pages read): Given the chunksters I plan on reading this year, my 75 group challenge will be considered completed whichever comes first: 75 books read or 25,000 pages read.

I am confident that Shamrock will continue to remain in the lead and I should be able to reach my pages read goal by the end of November. It is now just a question as to whether or not I can manage to read 75 books. Get ready to see some short books reviewed come December!

Ott 6, 2014, 10:33 am

Book #55 - Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: A Book Your Friend Loves
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Original publication date: May 3, 2011
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 289 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.20 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the amazon.ca website:
Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer. Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.
There is huge love here on LT for Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles books and after finally caving and reading the first book in the series, I can understand why. Hearne has a wonderful way of blending modern day life with the myth and legends of ancient times. For me, it was the 'down-to-earth' personality of our last of the Druids, the lively personality of his elderly Irish neigbour Mrs. MacDonagh and the conversations Atticus has with Oberon, his Irish wolfhound that gave new life to what could have been just another fantasy fiction story based in part on Celtic mythology. More a fun loving piece of escapism for the humour and banter than for any kickass fantasy battles, IMO, but still a good piece of urban fantasy to unwind with after a busy day.

Ott 7, 2014, 12:01 am

>49 lkernagh:
If you see them at the store, get some and try the Tim Tam Slam (although it was introduced to me as a Tim Tam Orgasm...).

Ott 7, 2014, 2:06 am

>52 -Eva-: I was going to mention that too. We call it the Tim Tam Bomb. Also, it is best done in the privacy of your own home as it is not very graceful. I have found it is best to nibble a tiny bit off two opposite corners prior to the 'use the biscuit like a straw' part. Another tip is to inspect the choc coating for any cracks or bubbles, because if there are any this trick won't work. Obviously, I like Tim Tam Bombs.

Ott 7, 2014, 8:23 am

>51 lkernagh: That series is still one I intend to get to at some point (am I the last holdout?) and your review has done nothing to dissuade me from keeping it on the wishlist.

Ott 9, 2014, 5:56 pm

>52 -Eva-: & >53 Roro8: OMG! I love Tim Tams but I have never tried the Tim Tam Slam. I am heading to the grocery store first thing tomorrow and getting a package of Tim Tams!

Ott 9, 2014, 6:55 pm

I just googled images of Tim Tams and got a lot of pictures of people looking like they are snorting milk through a cookie!

Ott 13, 2014, 11:40 am

>52 -Eva-: and >53 Roro8: - Those look soooooo GOOD! I really hope I can't find them in the stores... I don't think I can handle another cookie addiction. ;-)

>54 AHS-Wolfy: - I don't think you are the last holdout but it can sure feel that way with all the Iron Druid love on LT!

>55 DeltaQueen50: - Did you find them, Judy? Please tell me you didn't..... ;-)

>56 mamzel: - LOL! What an image!


A great weekend of fantastic food, friends and fun. We had a traditional style Thanksgiving dinner with roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potato and kale seasoned with smoked paprika, mashed potatoes, stuffing and lots of turkey gravy. Dessert was a homemade pumpkin cheesecake with whipping cream and a gingersnap crust. We celebrate on the Sunday so that we can just relax and enjoy the holiday Monday in quiet. Well, my other half gets the quiet, I will be cleaning the oven later today. ;-)

I have managed to finish a couple of books since my last post. Reviews to follow.

Ott 13, 2014, 11:41 am

Book #56 - The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas - translated from the French by Sam Taylor
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Original publication date: July 31, 2014
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 310 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.30 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the amazon.uk website:
One day a fakir leaves his small village in India and lands in Paris. A professional con artist, the fakir is on a pilgrimage to IKEA, where he intends to obtain an object he covets above all others: a brand new bed of nails. Without adequate Euros in the pockets of his silk trousers, the fakir is all the same confident that his counterfeit 100-Euro note (printed on one side only) and his usual bag of tricks will suffice. But when a swindled cab driver seeks his murderous revenge, the fakir accidentally embarks on a European tour, fatefully beginning in the wardrobe of the iconic Swedish retailer.

As his journey progresses in the most unpredictable of ways, the fakir finds unlikely friends in even unlikelier places. To his surprise - and to a Bollywood beat - the stirrings of love well up in the heart of our unlikely hero, even as his adventures lead to profound and moving questions of the perils of emigration and the universal desire to seek a better life in an often dangerous world.
I really, really enjoyed this story! A modern day fable of sorts, this is a funny, charming, feel good kind of story filled with wry humour but still strikes the right cords when it comes to conveying the transition of the heart and conscience of our hapless fakir. For a con man, Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod is a likeable fella who tries to resort to his con-man ways only when he needs to. The manner in which he finds himself trapped in an IKEA wardrobe is nothing spectacular but the journey he finds himself unwittingly embarked upon is well worth the read. In this story, Puertolas brings home the plight of illegal immigrants in search of a better life, who find themselves at the mercy of a country's interpretation of international readmission agreements, and who can be sent to countries that they are not originally from or have ever set foot in or traveled through. He manages to present the various countries' attitudes and policies towards immigrants in their flawed glory for examination. He even pokes fun at how a foreign name can make a listener hear something that sounds similar but conveys a very different mental picture in their mind when they phonetically piece the sounds together. Even the "story in a story" approach was a interesting touch, even if it didn't work all that well for me.

Overall, this wonderful feel good story with heart can be summed up nicely with the following quote:
"He had made an extraordinary nine-day journey, a voyage within himself during which he had learned that, by discovering all the other things that existed elsewhere, he could become someone else."
I can recommend this novel to readers who enjoy messages of conscience and meaning wrapped up in a fun, comic story. I noticed that the Penguin site recommends this book for readers of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, so it looks like I am adding that one to my future reading list.

Ott 13, 2014, 11:42 am

Book #57 - Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks - audiobook read by Johnny Heller
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: A Book of Non-Fiction
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Audiobook
Original publication date: 1969
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 464 pages / 16 hours, 54 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.95 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the amazon.com website:
What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened. Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance, with examinations of the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound. Five additional stories on equally fascinating subjects round out this wonderful collection to entertain and inform readers.
I tend to not gravitate towards non-fiction reads unless the topic fascinates me. I don't understand much of the machinations that go on on Wall Street but the business stories were enough to get me to check out an audiobook version from my local library. Originally published back in 1969, the book has recently been re-published by Open Road Media, so I was expected it to be somewhat dated in nature. From a historical perspective, the chapters about Ford and Xerox were fascinating and provided great insight into both companies. Topics that delved into accusations of disclosing corporate secrets and the Texas Gulf Sulphur case that established what continues to this day to be concerns regarding insider trading, this book really hits on a lot of topics that are still relevant today. I particularly like that Brooks, writing for The New Yorker magazine, wrote this chapters/articles with the average reader in mind. You don't have to be a corporate executive, banker or Wall Street stock broker to understand what Brooks is writing about. What struck a chord with me is how relevant, even today, these stories - written and published individually from 1959 to 1969 - are when looking at the world's continuing economic and financial crisis.

If I haven't convinced you to read this one, maybe two American business icons can. Bill Gates has recently posted on his blog gatesnotes, that this book, recommended to him by Warren Buffet back in 1991, is the best business book he has ever read. Now, two greats of American business can't both be wrong about this book, can they? ;-) Bill also likes The Rosie Project, another book I am hoping to get around to reading at some point. A free downloadable PDF of the Xerox chapter from Business Adventures can be found on Bill's blog here, along with a link to Bill's review of Business Adventures which does the book more justice than my review ever could.

Ott 13, 2014, 11:45 am

Book #58 - Mãn by Kim Thúy - translated from the French by Sheila Fischman
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Hardcover
Original publication date: August 26, 2014
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 160 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.80 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the amazon.ca website:
Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband--a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal. Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef. Gracefully she practices her art, with food as her medium. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body: they evoke memory and emotion, time and place, and even bring her customers to tears. Mãn is a mystery--her name means "perfect fulfillment," yet she and her husband seem to drift along, respectfully and dutifully. But when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair.
Kim Thúy has done it again. I fell in love with her debut novel, Ru, with its indelible, sensuous prose and quite power. She continues to enthrall and entrance with this second novel. Thúy has a wonderful way with words. She brings beauty and appreciation of the Vietnamese people - and of love - to the pages in a voice that envelopes the reader and draws them into the story, with a tranquil quietude and a sparseness of words. Thúy's vignette approach to storytelling works a marvel, held together by the delicate threads of Mãn's story. The descriptions of food are a gastronomic delight so I guess I should recommend that you do not read this one on an empty stomach.

A wonderful story I highly recommend.

Ott 13, 2014, 12:23 pm

>57 lkernagh: Mmmmm your dinner sounds delicious! We follow the same approach as you, eating on the Sunday so that we can enjoy the holiday Monday.

Ott 13, 2014, 3:20 pm

>60 lkernagh: - I really like that cover - and the book sounds interesting too!

Ott 14, 2014, 6:31 pm

>57 lkernagh: Lori, I picked up some Tim Tams at the store today. I haven't tried the Tam Slam yet, I am waiting until I have some alone time - don't think this is something I want my husband to watch me do! I'll keep you posted.

Modificato: Ott 14, 2014, 10:54 pm

>63 DeltaQueen50:
Could we have pics, though? Or a video?! :) Hot tea is my choice since I don't drink coffee, but either works.

Ott 14, 2014, 11:48 pm

>64 -Eva-: You want pictures of me sucking my coffee up through a cookie!!! Nope, now way, it's not gonna happen!

Ott 15, 2014, 2:25 pm

>58 lkernagh: & >60 lkernagh: Excellent reviews and Book Bullets flying!

>65 DeltaQueen50: Yes, I'm with >64 -Eva-:, I want a video! Please!!!

Ott 15, 2014, 6:50 pm

I am sorry to disappoint you ladies, but I carried out the experiment with no cameras present. I am not a fan of dipping my cookies into my coffee or tea, but I gotta admit the melty, gooey, chocolate & coffee combination was pretty good. I did have to suck harder than I thought I would have to in order to draw the beverage up through the cookie. I may just have to try this again tomorrow!

Ott 16, 2014, 9:08 pm

>61 rabbitprincess: - I love a big dinner.... especially when there are leftovers! Leftover turkey was turned into turkey vegetable soup and tonight, into a curry. I think I would panic if I had to prepare a big dinner, knowing that I would have to go to work the next day.

>62 dudes22: - I agree, the cover is stunning! It is such a wonderful story... perfect reading while I was preparing Thanksgiving dinner since food plays such a large part.

>63 DeltaQueen50: - I have seen the Tim Tams in the stores and they look like a chocolate coated wafer cookie treat. I looked into what the Tam Slam is based on this 6 step process and I have to say, I already have a problem with step 2: I don't hold my biscuits that way! Good thing step 3 looks more 'normal'.

...... Soooo.... I just don't get it. Why do I have to take a bite out of each end of the Tim Tam before I dunk it in the drink of choice? I am so confused!!!

>64 -Eva-:, >65 DeltaQueen50:, >66 VivienneR: and >67 DeltaQueen50: - I am fine with no video recording of your Tim Tam Slam, Judy. It sounds like a gooey cookie experience!

>66 VivienneR: - Thanks!

Modificato: Ott 16, 2014, 10:23 pm

I love it when Monday is a holiday.... the rest of the work week just seems to fly by! I have a new TV addiction (on top of the return of Once Upon a Time):

AcornTV currently has the first episode available for free for non subscribers of their service, if anyone is interested in checking out this WWI series.

On the reading front I have two great books on the go at the moment: The Martian by Andy Weir as my audiobook read and Maplecroft by Cherie Priest as my e-book read. I love The Martian and I have to say that as much as I struggled with Priest's characters in Boneshaker, I find she is handling this alternate history of Lizzie Borden with quite a bit of mastery. The story is decidedly gothic/horror in atmosphere, making it a perfect read for me in the lead up to Halloween.

Modificato: Ott 17, 2014, 9:57 pm

>67 DeltaQueen50:
As long as you enjoyed it!

>68 lkernagh:
You don't dunk it! You bite off a small piece of two corners (I wouldn't bite the whole side off like they do in those instructions) so that the cookie works as a straw, put one of the corners into the hot tea/coffee and carefully suck the hot liquid through the cookie. As soon as you feel the liquid through the corner you have in your mouth, pop the the whole thing in your mouth, and it will "explode" (since the inside will be melted), hence the name. :)

ETA: Here's a great video of Natalie Imbruglia and Graham Norton showing us how it's done.

Ott 17, 2014, 4:14 pm

Norton looks so young in that clip, but it's a good explanation of the whole sucking through a cookie thing.

Ott 17, 2014, 9:31 pm

And let me tell you, they looked a lot prettier doing it than I did!

Ott 17, 2014, 9:37 pm

>70 -Eva-: and >71 mstrust: - Oh, I get it now.... o.O

>65 DeltaQueen50: - Oh, I wouldn't want pictures of my attempting that floating around the internet, either!

Ott 17, 2014, 9:38 pm

Ott 18, 2014, 5:30 am

>70 -Eva-: - oh - so that's how it's done. I don't think I've ever seen those around here.

Modificato: Ott 18, 2014, 7:33 pm

>70 -Eva-: great clip. That's exactly how it's done. It is sooo good.

Ott 19, 2014, 7:48 pm

I have been having a busy and wonderful weekend. Weather wise, we have had sunshine and somewhat unusually warm temperatures both days. High of 20'C (68'F) feeling like 24'C (75'F) both days. While I originally had plans to bring my herb garden indoors this weekend, I think it can stay outside for another week or two. I have been busy baking - autumn for some reason brings out the baker in me, more so than usual - so yesterday was spent baking bread (oat bran and spelt) as well as some rather decadent pumpkin, pecan and butterscotch muffins. I really need to find time to make another batch of crackers but I am rather busy right now creating my Halloween costume for this year. This is going to be the first year in a long time that I have actually dressed up in the office - now that I have admitted this in a public forum, just watch as I end up getting meetings scheduled for that day that would not be well served if I showed up in costume! ;-)

On the reading front, I have two more books finished and rather quick reviews written up.

Ott 19, 2014, 7:49 pm

Book #59 - The Martian by Andy Weir - audiobook narrated by R.C. Bray
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): RandomCAT - (October - read a Book Bullet)
Source: GVPL
Format: audiobook
Original publication date: 2011
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 385 pages / 11 hours of listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.60 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the amazon.com website:
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
What can I say that hasn't already been said by other reviewers of this fantastic story? Not much except that my inner adventure-seeking geekiness really enjoyed Watney's realistic "Can do / Oh, s**t!" approach to the circumstances he finds himself in. Favorite characters, besides Watney, are the communications person Annie Montrose - seriously, If I had to deal with the press on a daily basis in the form of media damage control, I would probably be just as crusty as she is! - and Physicist Dr. Venkat Kapoor. Kapoor has the best dead-pan one-liners that made me smile and cheer. R. C. Bray did a great job providing unique and identifiable voices for the various characters. You don't have the be a science geek or a science fiction fan to appreciate this story for the adventure ride it is!

Modificato: Ott 20, 2014, 11:17 pm

Book #60 - Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): RandomCAT - (October - read a Book Bullet)
Source: GVPL
Format: e-book
Original publication date: September 2, 2014
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 443 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.85 out of 5 /

Book description/summary: from the amazon.com website:
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one....

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny. But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness. This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.
I wasn't overly keen with Priest's zombie filled book Boneshaker but my interest in reading a book with some grounding in history caught my attention - that and a couple of reviews that I have read here on LT. Priest breaks interesting ground with this one. Firstly, this is an epistolary novel comprised entirely of journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings, giving the story a more personalized approach. I like epistolary novels. They can be challenging to write but I think that Priest pulled this off with some level of mastery. I also like the fact the Priest has taken the Lizzie Borden story and given it new good twist. There is a fantastic atmospheric gothic feel to this story - always a bonus for me! - and I did enjoy how the creepiness of the story and the hidden details are revealed, bit by bit. Downside for me was the somewhat redundant nature of some aspects of the story as well as a huge bone of contention I have with both Priest's books that I have now read. Why, of why does Priest insist on having her female leads engage in some form of reckless, mindless behaviour that does nothing but devalue the characters as heroes in my esteem? They don't come across as being more human with these flaws, just really annoying female characters I want to slap some sense into. It is the whole reason that I stopped reading The Clockwork Century books after reading Boneshaker - well that and the zombies. I am really not a fan of zombies. *sighs*

Overall, I do prefer this first book in The Borden Dispatches series and, unlike Boneshaker and The Clockwork Century series, I am actually looking forward to the release of the second book, when that happens.

Ott 19, 2014, 7:52 pm

Seeking book reading decision advice from my LT buddies:

I am struggling to find a scary read so that I can complete my "A Book That Scares You" Bingo square. So far, the following attempts to fill the square have failed to scare me:

Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
Echoes from the Macabre: Selected Stories by Daphne Du Maurier
Drood by Dan Simmons
The Quick by Lauren Owen

Nothing I have read this year has 'scared' me, so I am reaching out to LT readers for suggestions of something delciously spine tingling. If it helps any, the whole Friday the 13th movie franchise scared the begeezes out of me as a youth and some ghost stories - usually the re-telling of true sightings - can raise the hair on the back of my neck. I do have the following books lined up as possibilities but I don't want to be disappointed if they don't have that 'need to sleep witth the light on' reaction:

The Best of Edgar Allan Poe - short story collection
A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Help! Any suggestions are good suggestions if they are spine tingling creepy in nature.

Ott 19, 2014, 8:31 pm

I don't read a lot of books that are actually scary to me, but The Shining is one that I would never read at home alone. Of course, it's also really long.

If you're looking for something shorter, I thought The Turn of the Screw was creepy. Also, Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger is gothic and creepy. It's pretty suspenseful.

Ott 19, 2014, 8:33 pm

I'd probably go the obvious route and suggest Stephen King. I had to hide Skeleton Crew in the back of the bookshelf when I finished reading it (and I just recently gave my copy away), and there's a story in Nightmares and Dreamscapes ("The Moving Finger") that sounds terrifying.

Ott 20, 2014, 1:54 am

Tried any MR James? Not scary in a horror sense, there's no blood involved. But he twists the world such that something normal takes on entirely different guise. I looked sideways at the bed sheets for some days after reading one of them...

Ott 20, 2014, 7:55 am

Like >81 japaul22:, I thought The Shining was the scariest book when I read it. I had to actually close the book occasionally because I was afraid to read further. I Don't read that many scary books, but Stephen King at the time was someone I read who wrote scary books.

Ott 20, 2014, 8:00 am

>80 lkernagh: Or you could interpret that square differently -- I chose to read a book that scared me in a different way -- a book that I was intimidated by, one I had put off reading because it was "too hard".

Ott 20, 2014, 11:18 am

I haven't read NOS4A2 yet, but I read Hill's Heart-Shaped Box last Halloween and it was very creepy. I also found The Exorcist pretty dang scary, and well-written. And The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I hope you find a good one.

Ott 20, 2014, 5:05 pm

>83 Helenliz: I second the MR James rec!

Ott 20, 2014, 8:51 pm

Great suggestions everyone! I have avoided King up to now because I have heard that his books can scare the begeezes out of some readers. His books are easy to come by so I will consider The Shining as a possibility. I really liked The Little Stranger. It only slightly creeped me out but still a good one! I also like the suggestion of Henry James and The Turn of the Screw. I still remember the movie version of The Exorcist.... or what a minute, is that the Linda Blair movie, because if it is then I don't think I want to read the book if I have seen (albeit glimpses) of the movie. The Haunting of Hill House also sounds promising.

Thanks everyone!

Ott 20, 2014, 10:23 pm

I've read a couple of King's books (The Green Mile and Pet Sematary) and found them to be quite scary. I really enjoyed NOS4A2. I'm not sure if it's as scary as you'd like but it was a good read.

I took a book bullet from your review of Mãn! This sounds like a wonderful story and I also love Vietnamese food. I'll have to check out Maplecroft too. I did like Boneshaker and its sequel, and I have the third book of that series on my TBR shelf, so if Maplecroft is even better, that sounds great to me.

Ott 21, 2014, 3:17 am

I am a bit intrigued about The Martian after reading your review. It is definitely not something I would usually read but maybe it would work for one month in the SFFCAT next year. What do you think?

Ott 21, 2014, 7:06 am

#90 by Roro8> I would certainly encourage you to read The Martian. It is funny and interesting and upbeat.

Ott 21, 2014, 2:24 pm

>80 lkernagh: I've actually been scared by some of Agatha Christie's mysteries! Murder Is Easy, And Then There Were None, and Evil Under the Sun genuinely creeped me out...I've even had nightmares about And Then There were None.

Ott 22, 2014, 10:43 pm

>89 mathgirl40: - I thought The Green Mile was a fantastic movie! Of course, pretty much anything with Tom Hanks in it is a decent movie in my opinion.

I hope you enjoy Man should you get around to reading it. Maplecroft appeals to me more because it doesn't have that rudimentary dystopian feel to it like Boneshaker. Maplecroft is subtle and creepier. ;-)

>90 Roro8: - I second >91 majkia: recommendation that it is a funny, interesting and upbeat novel. Not your typical science fiction. Have you read Ready Player One? I saw mention over on the 75 group where one reader thought the two stories shared some of the same qualities and I completely agree with that statement. It would definitely fit the SFFCAT for next year.

>92 christina_reads: - Ha, I have also had weird dreams about And Then There Were None, which I remember by the now politically incorrect title of Ten Little Indians, so I can understand why some Christie mysteries would scare you! ;-)

Modificato: Ott 24, 2014, 11:28 pm

Book #61 - Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge), American Authors Challenge (75 Group)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: Project Gutenberg
Format: e-book
Original publication date: 1911
Acquisition date: October 15, 2014
Page count: 96 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.40 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the amazon.com website:
Set against a bleak New England background, the novel tells of Frome, his ailing wife Zeena and her companion Mattie Silver, superbly delineating the characters of each as they are drawn relentlessly into a deep-rooted domestic struggle. Burdened by poverty and spiritually dulled by a loveless marriage to an older woman. Frome is emotionally stirred by the arrival of a youthful cousin who is employed as household help. Mattie's presence not only brightens a gloomy house but stirs long-dormant feelings in Ethan. Their growing love for one another, discovered by an embittered wife, presages an ending to this grim tale that is both shocking and savagely ironic.
This is my first Wharton read, which was recommended by a couple of other readers here on LT as something I could easily fit into my October reading plans. One of the things I really liked about this one is Wharton's ability to paint a realistic picture of a northern winter in a small farming community where life can be a hard scrabble and everyone knows - or thinks they know - everyone else's business. Wharton has the ability to tell a story in straightforward language, almost with a meagerness of descriptive prose, as if she was writing in a manner to reflect the bleak the New England winter landscape of its setting. The book is described as being "a powerful tale with compelling characters trapped in circumstances they seem unable to escape." From a strictly character analysis perspective, I am not quite sure I wholly agree with that statement. For me, Mattie is nothing more than a vehicle - and a bit of an air-headed one at that - to drive the story forward. Ethan has his interesting aspects but I found him to be limited, and not just by his circumstances. It is really Zeena who I found to be the most compelling of these three characters and I found myself pondering over her character more than the other two.

Overall, a great introduction for me to Wharton's writing style and I will be adding more of her books to my future reading list.

Ott 23, 2014, 4:46 am

>93 lkernagh:. I haven't read that one either. They are not the type of book I would normally choose, however I am trying to open up to these possibilities ready for the CAT next year. I just need to figure out which month. There is heaps of time for that though.

Ott 24, 2014, 11:54 pm

>95 Roro8: - That is true. For me, I need a bit of fun in my sci-fi or it has to have other elements that I can relate to for me to really enjoy them.

Ott 24, 2014, 11:56 pm

Book #62 - The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli, audiobook read by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): MysteryCAT - Global Mysteries
Source: GVPL
Format: audiobook
Original publication date: 1994
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 240 pages / 4 hours, 5 minutes of listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.50 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the amazon.com website:
Early one morning, Silvio Lupanello, a big shot in the village of Vigàta, is found dead in his car with his pants around his knees. The car happens to be parked in a rough part of town frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers, and as the news of his death spreads, the rumors begin. Enter Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Vigàta's most respected detective. With his characteristic mix of humor, cynicism, compassion, and love of good food, Montalbano goes into battle against the powerful and the corrupt who are determined to block his path to the real killer.
It is always nice to come across a new series that makes for perfect listening during my walking commute to work. Not overly taxing to the brain and not a huge problem if you miss part of the dialogue because of sudden, unexpected traffic noise. I am still struggling a bit to place the time period of the story. Originally I thought 1980's but now I am thinking earlier, more 1970's. I also love the manner in which Camilleri presents Sicily. There is a love for the place, that is for sure, but he cannot help but take stabs at the corruption and chaos that is the everyday life of Camilleri's Sicily. Yes, the dialogue is a bit crass and crude but it fits the environment. Still not sure what I think about the characters, in particular Inspector Montalbano, but I am looking forward to continuing my audio adventures through Sicily with Montalbano as my tour guide.

Ott 25, 2014, 7:09 am

>97 lkernagh: I've still to start on that series despite having an omnibus containing the first two books on my tbr shelves for a while. I will get to it one of these days as I know it has quite a few devotees on LT. Glad you enjoyed it enough to want to continue.

Ott 25, 2014, 11:35 am

>97 lkernagh: I listened to that, and found it quite interesting in that it wasn't a rose tinted view of Sicily - he wrote about what made it bad as well as what made it good. Not sure I enjoyed it enough to pursue the series, though, although I imagine I'd pick it up in the library if I saw it.

Ott 25, 2014, 4:45 pm

>97 lkernagh: Like Dave, this is a series I intend to start, but I have so many on the go now that I keep moving it to the back burner. I know it's one that many people love.

Ott 27, 2014, 11:11 pm

>98 AHS-Wolfy: - I have already started the second book in the series, The Terracotta Dog and I have to say, Montalbano and his crew of misfit detectives are really starting to grow on me. Of course, it helps that I like characters with a somewhat cynical, wry outlook on the surroundings and the people they have to interact with. This may become my latest series addiction!

>99 Helenliz: - It does have that certain appeal for that very reason! Of course, it does make me somewhat concerned as to how realistic his portrayal of Sicily as I have never been there. I am thankful my local library has all or almost all of the books. I probably wouldn't be tempted enough to go out and by them, unless I found them in a used bookstore.

>100 DeltaQueen50: - I am now starting to understand the love for the series. It kind of makes me think of a Sicilian version of the TV show Barney Miller, if that makes any sense. ;-)

Ott 27, 2014, 11:14 pm

Book #63 - The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. by Jack London
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: A Forgotten Classic
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Trade paperback
Original publication date: 1963
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 208 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.70 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the book back cover:
"I have accepted a commission from you... The agreement was that I should order my own execution if you proved to my satisfaction that the assassinations achieved by the Bureau were wrong. You have proved it. nothing remains but to live up to the agreement."

Thus Ivan Dragomiloff, founder and mastermind of the secret Assassination Bureau, signs his own death warrant and sets off a lethal cat-and-mouse game, pitting himself against the very organization of ruthless killers he created to rid the State of its most pernicious enemies.
Left unfinished at the time of London's death in 1916, this "thriller" - for lack of a better word - was completed by Robert L. Fish and published in 1963. Some say that this book eerily foreshadowed the conspiracy theories that abound regarding the assassination of President Kennedy that occurred later that same year. My first impression upon reading this story was one of surprise. Having only previously read The Call of the Wild, this one, filled with philosophical, moralistic and socialistic ideals was a bit unexpected. The story definitely has a dated quality to it, and some of the finer details don't work very well upon examination, but I get the impression that London chose to write this story more as a vehicle to communicate his ideals than as a mere work of cloak and dagger vigilantism fiction. To that end, it does stand up to the test of time and rings as true today as it probably would have back at the start of the 20th century when London was writing it. If you are going to read it, don't expect to be blown away by the plot, the dialogue or the characters. The plot has some good bits but after a while, I could see how the 'game' was going to play out, just not the fine details on how it was going to get to its final conclusion. I found the characters to be rather flat and prone to repeating their lines and behaving rather 'lunatic' to choose London's own term to describe the majority of them. It is an okay piece of thriller story but I think it might readers will get more out of the story if they read it as a manifesto of sorts: London's manifesto against a social machine of such perfect creation that it can only be destroyed by destroying it creator.

The copy I read included an indication at the end of the story as to where London had stopped writing and Fish had picked up the story to complete it. It also contained some of London's story notes and a possible ending written by Charmain London, Jack's second wife. To give Fish credit, he managed to take London's unfinished manuscript and carried on with London's writing style, giving the story a cohesive flow to it. It appears, based on London's story notes that Fish deviated from London's proposed story arc. While I will never be able to compare London's ending to Fish's, I am not sure I would have appreciated the ending that London was proposing. I really did not like the ending written by Charmain, either, although it was more in fitting with the story as London had envisioned.

Overall, an interesting story that tends to find itself veering away from the chase at hand to delve into high brow theoretical discussions of morals and philosophy with statements like this one:
"The world is founded on morality. Without morality the world would perish. There is a righteousness in the elements themselves. Destroy morality and you would destroy gravitation. The very rocks would fly apart. The whole sidereal system would fume into the unthinkableness of chaos."
The following quote sums things up beautifully:
"It is the chaos of super-thinking," she said helplessly. "It is ethics gone mad."

Modificato: Ott 28, 2014, 7:29 pm

That cover, although not the story, seems to have been "borrowed" from another infamous character:

Nov 1, 2014, 1:46 am

>103 ELiz_M: - I love seeing similar pictures being used as part of the cover art for different books! So, Fantomas has the masked man holding what appears to be a sword while The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. has the same image holding a rose.


I cannot believe that we have already flown through October.... that can mean only one thing..... the "C" word will soon be bandied about, and I am not ready for the "C" word to become the focus of attention!


Time for a monthly recap and a Halloween post.

Modificato: Nov 1, 2014, 1:59 am

Halloween Update
As my other half and I had Halloween party plans I did something I haven't done in a number of years: I decided to wear my Halloween costume to work. Nothing wrong with that as the costume in question was 'office appropriate' and I wasn't the only one in the office to dress up this year. I don't usually post pictures of myself online as I am a rather private individual but I did figure out a way to post pictures of the costume (as well as a picture of myself in the costume) that I felt comfortable posting online.

Costume theme idea: Steampunk!

Here is a picture of the costume - front view - with accessories:

The skirt, white blouse, hat and grey scarf were thrift store finds. Seriously, I don't have time to sew a costume from scratch! I made the lace neck-piece from fabric store bought lace trimming. The cameo necklace (with matching earrings) are just some costume jewelry pieces I had on hand. The vest I did make based on fabric found in a local fabric store and inspiration found on line via Google. I added some ribbon and eyelet detailing to the vest to give it a corseted look, especially in the back, which you will see in the second picture below.

Here is a profile and back view of me in costume with a focus for the corset looking back of the vest:

and here is a close-up shot of the gloves and steampunk themed hat with the watchmaker's/gunsmith's glasses and the clockwork gears:

Story about the gloves: Back in my University days, I wore a rather eclectic/vintage wardrobe. I loved to wear skirts and blouses with men's suit jackets, fedora hats, scarfs and vintage cloth gloves. Fast forward a couple of decades to earlier this year when my ever wonderful Mom, while going through a dresser drawer in the family home, came across a stash of my old vintage gloves and scarfs, which she kept for me to pick up on my visit home back in September. The gloves in the picture above were actually flesh tone in colour and in need of some fine stitching repair but I saw the potential in them right away, and after making the repairs I bought some dark plum fabric dye (the gloves are actually a few shades darker than the light lilac colour you see in the picture). I also came home from that trip with a wonderful pair of elbow length white dinner gloves that have cleaned up beautifully. The vintage girl that I am loves my gloves! ;-)

Nov 1, 2014, 1:57 am


BOOKS READ (ranked from most to least favorite):
Man by Kim Thuy - 4.80 /
The Martian by Andy Weir - 4.60 /
Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street by John Brooks - 3.95 /
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest - 3.85 /
The Assassination Bureau, Ltd. by Jack London - 3.70 /
The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri - 3.50 /
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton - 3.40 /

Largest Book read: Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street at 464 pages
Smallest Book read: Ethan Frome at 96 pages.
Books still in progress at the end of the month: The Viscount of Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas - currently 31% in and about to start Chapter XXIII - The Terra-cotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri - roughly 3.5 hours left in this 7 hour, 48 minute audiobook
Interesting Fact: More a comment than an interesting fact: My star ratings are considerably higher this month, probably because I have been reading what I want to read with no commitments to any categories or reading plans.

My ROOTs Challenge:
Books read this month: 0
Books still to read to complete my challenge: 3

My 2014 Reading Bingo Challenge:
Books read this month: 2 - Hounded and The Assassination Bureau, Ltd.
Books still to read to complete my challenge: 2

My 75 Books Challenge:
Books / pages read this month: 5 books / 1,324 pages
Books still to read to complete my challenge: see My "Luck 'O the Irish" Race further down this post

My Commonwealth Challenge:
Books read this month: 0
Books still to read to complete my challenge: 41

No comment. ;-)

My "Luck 'O the Irish" Race (books read versus pages read): Given the chunksters I plan on reading this year, my 75 group challenge will be considered completed whichever comes first: 75 books read or 25,000 pages read.

With only 12 books or 2,205 pages left to go, I do not foresee any problems in completing my 75 books challenge this year. Let the fun reading continue!

Nov 1, 2014, 7:21 am

That's a great costume. Our local library had a steampunk month in August and had a dress-up day which I couldn't go to as we were away.

BTW - I was going through a box of lace the other day and came across some gloves. A couple of pair I remember from when I was a kid and there were a couple of leather pairs that came from my aunts. I've been thinking I might wear them for special occasions.

Nov 1, 2014, 3:21 pm

>105 lkernagh:. Great costume.

Nov 1, 2014, 3:24 pm

Great costume, Lori. I hope you had a fun Halloween. We had one of the quietest ones that I can remember which surprised me being how it was a Friday night!

Nov 1, 2014, 7:33 pm

What a great costume!!! We dress up at the office too, but I was late to get figuring out something this year so went with the "standard" Viking outfit - mainly because I already own a complete set-up. :)

Nov 2, 2014, 12:11 am

Thanks Betty, Ro, Judy and Eva! I had a lot of fun spending Friday dressed up. My supervisor was the only one who immediately knew my costume was steampunk - he is a steampunk fan himself. Given the city I live in it is not surprising that everyone figured out the Victorian era clothes, but the steampunk angle had to be explained to a number of people. One person did ask if I was Mary Poppins... LOL!

>107 dudes22: - What a great find!

>109 DeltaQueen50: - We had a great Halloween. We don't usually have trick or treaters in our area - although I understand today that there were some in the neighbourhood this year - but the house party we attending last night is in a part of town that has lots of kids so it was fun taking turns handing out candy to the little ones that showed up!

>110 -Eva-: - I will keep my costume pieces. Having a fall back position if nothing new comes to mind is a really good idea!


Taking things easy this weekend. I had a couple of rather late nights last week and my body is off its usual sleep patterns. I was lying on the couch reading this afternoon and dozed off, only to wake up three hours later when my other half was closing the curtains so I might have a bit of a struggle go to bed at my usual time tonight.

Nov 3, 2014, 10:49 am

Very cute costume. That was clever adapting the vest to look like a corset.
I liked your idea of choosing the number of pages as a challenge against the number of books. It's too easy to use shorties as a safety net for meeting the challenge.

Nov 3, 2014, 11:10 am

Great costume!

Modificato: Nov 6, 2014, 10:16 pm

>112 mamzel: and >113 mstrust: - Thanks!

>113 mstrust: - I ooh and aah the amazingly intricate steampunk corsets out there, like this one, but I am not up for investing in a full on costume just yet!

>112 mamzel: - I am thinking of incorporating a number of pages against number of books in my 2015 Challenge. Right now I am leaning towards 8 categories with a minimum of 8 books or 2,015 pages read in each category.


This weekend I have been taking things easy while I battle the onset of a head cold. So far it has remained as a sore throat with some sinus congestion and an overall lack of energy which I hope I can keep it from progressing into a full on cold.

Nov 6, 2014, 7:32 pm

Hope you feel better soon. People at work have started sniffling, so I'm thinking of arming myself with a spray bottle of Lysol and just let them have it if they come near. :)

Nov 6, 2014, 10:14 pm

>115 -Eva-: - So do I, Eva! I love the spray bottle of Lysol.... it would keep all the sneezing contagions away!

This cold is proving to be a bit of a bear to shake. I am not bed ridden but I have been going through the week with a bit of a fuzzy head and feeling slightly disembodied. Maybe that is a good thing! My nose up and decided at 3:30 this afternoon that it was a good time to start demanding some Kleenex attention at regular intervals so I think this weekend will be another one of taking things easy so that I can shake this thing once and for all.

On the good news front, I do have another book completed and a rather short review written for posting.

Nov 6, 2014, 10:14 pm

Book #64 - The Terra-Cotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli - audiobook narration by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Audiobook
Original publication date: 1996
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 352 pages / 7 hours, 28 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.00 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the public library catalogue listing:
Montalbano's latest case begins with a mysterious tete a tete with a Mafioso, some inexplicably abandoned loot from a supermarket heist, and some dying words that lead him to an illegal arms cache in a mountain cave. There the inspector finds two young lovers, dead for fifty years and still embracing, watched over by a life-sized terra-cotta dog. Montalbano's passion to solve this old crime takes him on a journey through Sicily's past and into a family's dark heart amidst the horrors of World War II bombardment.
With this second book in the series now under my belt, I admit I am growing rather fond of Montalbano as a character, even if I cringe at some of the food items he finds so divine to indulge in. I am not quite the seafood connoisseur that he is, although I am starting to wonder when vegetables will start to be mentioned. I find the cases he becomes embroiled with, as well as his relationship with his various underlings and the women in his life make for a nice escape from day-to-day reality for me. With this story, it was the uncovered 50 year old mystery begging to be solved that really captured my attention and made it such an enjoyable read for me. The whole locked room cave idea and the symbolic references that needed to be deciphered..... that is my kind of story! A good puzzle to noodle over between spurts of listening and I really liked the ending to this one. Looks like I will be extending my literary stay on Sicily a little longer as I have now started listening to The Snack Thief.

My only gripe has to do with the publishers, not the author of the book. The cover - see above - displays an unpainted terracotta dog in a seated but alert pose. In the story, the terracotta dog is painted grey and white and is lying down, with its front legs extended before it, hind legs folder beneath it and mouth open with a pink tongue exposed. Details, people. It is all about the details.


Nov 7, 2014, 1:32 am

>114 lkernagh: That corset link you put in is very impressive. As for your head cold, I hope you feel better ASAP. We had the flu go through our house and it was not nice, my son was so sick he lost 6kg in 4 days. Nice to see you liked The Terra-Cotta Dog. I've never heard of it before but it is always good to make progress with a series.

Nov 7, 2014, 1:47 am

Great costume Lori. I really like the hat and the vest.
Looks like I'm going to have to add The Martian to my wish list. All the reviews make it sound so good.

Nov 8, 2014, 12:50 pm

>117 lkernagh: Glad you enjoyed The Terra-Cotta Dog. I have that one on my tbr shelf. You're right about the details being important. It's really annoying when the cover doesn't match the story.

Nov 8, 2014, 3:52 pm

>118 Roro8: - I know! The detail in it is amazing!

he lost 6kg in 4 days.

That is a HUGE amount of weight lost! that must have completely tapped out all his energy stores. I hope everyone is feeling better now!

The Inspector Montalbano series is an interesting one, I will say that. Right now I am halfway through book three in the series and not overly sure I like the rather 'assholeish' behaviour of our lead character in this one. He was kind of sarcastic and chauvinistic in the earlier books but, wow, talk about having a bad attitude period. ;-)

>119 VioletBramble: - Thanks! I can happily recommend The Martian to you... what a brilliant story that can be appreciated by science geeks and the general audience.

>120 VivienneR: - I admit I am starting to pay more attention to the details, only because I am finding more and more grammatical and spelling errors in new books.... publishers should not be scrimping on proofreaders and art department staff, they really shouldn't.


I was still a little stuffy in the head when I woke up this morning so I continue to take 'get better' precautions like making sure my hair is dry before heading out in our cold fall weather. As Tuesday is a statutory holiday - Remembrance Day - I have booked Monday off as a vacation day and I am looking forward to a four day weekend puttering around and tackling some projects. Baking bread and some apple oatmeal muffins this afternoon and a lamb curry for tonight's dinner.

Craft wise, I need to get cracking on this year's Christmas card design, make a wreath for the front door and some new ornaments for the tree. I have some ideas on the go - which includes some experimentation with tea bag folding - and promise to post pictures when I manage to turn ideas into concrete tangible products that I can photograph.

Nov 8, 2014, 4:21 pm

Hopefully your four day weekend will be enough to allow you to get over your head cold. We are all better in our house. I have to admit, I am extremely curious about the tea bag folding you mentioned. I am looking forward to the pictures.

Nov 8, 2014, 5:04 pm

I was thinking of you and your card designs today when there was an article in the morning paper about a couple of local shops that specialize in stamping, etc. I've also tried tea bag folding before and find the thing I had the most trouble with was finding paper in designs that still looked good when folded small without buying the special papers that they make for it which mostly weren't something I liked.

Nov 9, 2014, 9:34 am

Great costume! I love steampunk novels; that costume seems to fit the theme perfectly, and the gloves are lovely.

I'm happy to see your positive comments on the Montalbano books. I've never read any of that series but I picked up one of the books recently at a cafe/restaurant with a book-exchange shelf. (I love cafes that offer those!)

Nov 11, 2014, 11:56 am

>122 Roro8:- The four day weekend has been what I needed to kick this head cold! Tea bag folding is a lot of fun, one you get a handle on the folds required to create the project! Borrowing the following description from this website,
Tea bag folding is a paper craft also known as miniature kaleidoscopic origami. It was created in Holland by a woman named Tiny van der Plaas. According to the story, she was in need of a unique and decorative birthday card. As she sat thinking, she began absently folding a colorful tea bag envelope that was on the table. Voila! Tea bag folding was born.

Unlike more traditional origami, tea bag folding uses several small identical squares of paper, usually eight of them, folded exactly the same way. These are either interlocked or they lay side by side. The end result is a symmetrical medallion which can be used on cards or as ornaments.
>123 dudes22: - Your problem with tea bag folding is the exact same problem I had with this project! It is so hard to visualize how a beautiful tile may appear once all the paper folds have been done.... it really changes the look! I refuse to buy special papers so I made do with printing tiles I liked off the web. I think I spent more time searching for tile designs and experimenting than I did in creating the cards once I had find the tile design I liked. ;-)

>124 mathgirl40: - Thanks! My other half has just informed me that he noticed a vintage steampunk shop has recently opened in town! I can hardly contain my excitement but I will hold off on going there until next weekend. I think the reason I really like the Montalbano books is they come across as kind of a masculine police procedural form of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone private detective stories. Not stellar literature but enjoyable.

I love it when, like you, I stumble across a book-exchange program set up in a cafe!

Nov 11, 2014, 12:00 pm

Craft Update:
I have finished my Christmas cards! This year, I decided to mess around with tea bag folding (a take on origami that uses small squares of paper). The hardest part of tea bag folding was not the folding, at least not once I got the process down and thank goodness for YouTube videos! The hardest bit was actually finding a tile design that I liked once I had made the medallion. I ended up deciding to use a white lace on red tile design generated using Robyn's Kaleidoscopes webpage and created these Paper Star Ornaments:

The sheets of paper in the photo on the left created the star seen in the photo on the right. I really like how the front and back of the star are so different. Shelving this idea away as a great tree ornament idea!

It was then just a matter of sitting down in front of the TV getting caught up on Anzac Girls, Once Upon a Time, and a Doc Martin marathon to make the paper stars, cut out and mount alternate tiles on some accent paper I had picked up at Micheals, and then finishing off the cards using some chocolate brown ribbon and pearl accents I already had on hand. End result:

This year, I went with the following verse for the inside of the card:
Whose heart doth hold the Christmas glow
Hath little need of Mistletoe;
Who bears a smiling grace of mien
Need waste no time on wreaths of green;
Whose lips have words of comfort spread
Needs not the holly-berries red—
His very presence scatters wide
The spirit of the Christmastide.
~ ~John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922), "The Christmas Spirit",
The Cheery Way: A Bit of Verse For Every Day, 1920

Here is a shot of the inside of the card, with the verse:

With the completion of the cards, today will be a relaxing day of reading and heading into town for the Remebrance Day cenotaph ceremony at the legislature.

Nov 11, 2014, 12:11 pm

Wow! That's a fantastic card! Anybody who receives one will keep it for life.

Nov 11, 2014, 12:17 pm

And a Wow! from me too! That is the loveliest Christmas card I've ever seen.

Nov 11, 2014, 3:22 pm

That card is beautiful! The tea bag ornament is amazing too! I did some origami back in the day, so I'll have to keep this technique in mind for ornaments and whatnot.

Nov 11, 2014, 7:51 pm

That came out really good! I tried a couple from papers that were included with a book I bought when I tried it, but never thought of printing my own tiles from patterns on-line. I'm going to check out that link.

Nov 12, 2014, 2:30 am

Wow! That looks fabulous! Thanks for the description. I would be pretty impressed if somebody sent me a card like that. There is no way it would be going in the bin after Christmas. How many of those little beauties did you make?

Nov 12, 2014, 4:15 am

These cards look truly amazing!

Nov 12, 2014, 9:23 pm

Thanks everyone! It has become a tradition for me to custom create annual Christmas cards. Definitely more work then some might think is worth all the effort but when I can do most of the work in front of the TV, the time invested is time well spent. ;-)

We are in for a short stretch of cold weather so I have pulled out my thick sweaters, tights and even my leather boots. I love crisp cold weather when clear blue skies (and not torrential rain) are on order so I am a happy fall weather loving girl this week!

Of course, that also means I crank up my cooking things like homemade soups, stews, casseroles and baking muffins, cookies and and other goodies. I have come across a wonder muffin recipe that I have discovered is quite versatile. So far, I have used this applesauce cinnamon oat muffin recipe to make apple oatmeal muffins with real apple chunks as well as wonderful cranberry coconut pecan oatmeal muffins. I am thinking of seeing if I can modify the recipe to use most of the ingredients for a non-oatmeal type of muffin. My other half is enjoying being my taste tester for these various experiments. ;-) Also, because I am trying to make healthier snack choices, I have recently expanded my repertoire of homemade cracker recipes by making a variation on this besan (chickpea) cracker recipe. I replaced the 1 cup of almond meal with 1/2 cup of barley flour and 1/2 cup unbleached white flour (I didn't have almond meal in the house) and I replaced the linseed and ground cumin with cracked black pepper and 3 tablespoons of blend of Harissa and Tuscan seasonings. So good!

Modificato: Nov 12, 2014, 9:50 pm

Book #65 - The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli - audiobook narration by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Audiobook
Original publication date: 1996
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 304 pages / 6 hours, 11 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.00 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the public library catalogue listing:
When an elderly man is stabbed to death in an elevator and a crewman on an Italian fishing trawler is machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat off Sicily's coast, only Inspector Montalbano, with his keen insight into human nature, suspects the link between the two incidents. His investigation leads to the beautiful Karima, an impoverished housecleaner and occasional prostitute, whose young son steals other schoolchildren's midmorning snacks. But Karima disappears, and the young snack thief's life, as well as Montalbano's, is endangered when the inspector exposes a viper's nest of government corruption and international intrigue.
Another great installment but I had some interesting mixed reactions as I was listening to this one. Previous stories have shown Montalbano's more playful sardonic side, as he playfully takes stabs at his work colleagues and the individuals he encounters. In this story, we see a rather nasty sarcastic side of our beloved Inspector. Even food is not the balm to temper his attitude so I started to get rather offended with how he pretty much jumped down everyone's throats, even his lady love, Livia. I will give Camilleri credit. He has given Montalbano a female love interest that is prepared to call him an "a**hole" to his face when he is acting up. Even his work colleagues call him the spade that he is acting like and ask "What gives?" so I let my emotions simmer down and decided to settle in and enjoy the story, which proves to be another one of those crime cases that shows how bureaucracy and corruption can make a crime seem like a walk in the park, in comparison. The story does go on to shed further insight into Montalbano's personality - including his jealous side - and I am seeing a very complex, intelligent character underneath all that bluff, gruff and single-minded food lover we have seen in the first two books in the series. As with any series, some interesting curve balls from some of the reoccurring characters made this another delightful audiobook read for me.

Get ready to see more Inspector Montalbano reviews as I continue to work my way through all of the books in the series! ;-)


On the topic of Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano series, I stumbled across the following Gaurdian Newspaper review of The Snack Thief. I knew that there was a TV adaptation of the books - review states that Montalbano is a softer man than in the books, rather sexy and constantly propositioned by the most elegant women. Not sure I like that idea. It is his rather crusty personality, his sardonic wit and his "food first, women get the occasional passing glance" that makes him a rather interesting fictional character. Adaptations of books always leave me a bit pensive - especially when I "think" I "know" the character, only to have some writer/producer/director decide to shape the character in a different way. I do like the idea of Young Montalbano series... sounds promising!

Nov 12, 2014, 11:57 pm

Lori, one look at those delicious apple cinnamon oat muffins and I could become a Snack Thief as well!

Nov 13, 2014, 5:04 am

Did you substitue the apples for the raisins? Or in addition to? Same amount? These look really good. I'm thinking of giving them a try.

Modificato: Nov 13, 2014, 9:30 am

>135 DeltaQueen50: - So tempting, isn't it, Judy! I love making my own muffins because I get to be in charge with how big the muffins will be.... I like smaller muffins, not the ginormous coffee shop kind.

>136 dudes22: - I substituted the apples for the raisins but you could probably do both. When I made the cranberry coconut pecan ones I used 1/2 cup of each - and cut the oats down by 1/4 cup - and the recipe still worked out great. I also cut the brown sugar in half, because the apple sauce I was using was sweetened and I don't like super sweet muffins.

Nov 13, 2014, 6:06 pm

I might give them a try. I made my Christmas fruitcakes today. I only use a little bit of alcohol to marinate the fruit in to soften a bit. But no slathering them with alcohol after they're cooked. I've also started making my cookie doughs and freezing them to cook closer to Christmas. I make a bunch of cookie trays as gifts so I need to start early. Maybe I'll try to make those muffins over the weekend.

Nov 13, 2014, 8:45 pm

I hope the muffin recipe works for you if you attempt it. I have never attempted to make fruitcake, probably because any fruitcake I have had has been the rather bad commercial kind. Smart idea to make the cookie dough in advance and store it in the freezer. My other half will be looking forward to shortbread and mincemeat tarts but I have a few weeks before I need to get cracking on those!

Nov 14, 2014, 7:12 am

King Arthur Flour has a complete fruitcake mix kit that I think makes a great fruitcake (and yes those commercial ones are mostly yuck). I'm going to try making some mincemeat tarts too and freeze them to cook later.

Nov 14, 2014, 7:22 am

Love fruit cake - but can;t stand marzipan, so I'm one of those people you find peeling off the outside and only eating the cake. But it has to be made nice and early and fed until Christmas. hic. I can't say I bother making one though - too many years of eating it until easter have put me off!

I do, however, make Christmas puddings. Usually in January. From a 1930s recipe (modified to convert the orange juice volume to spirits). They then sit in the pantry in the dark and get time to mature. And I tend to make enough for 3-4 years at once, so they are really dark by the time we get round to eating them. mmm, never had a bought pudding like them.

Nov 14, 2014, 10:36 am

The best fruitcake I ever had used dried fruits instead of the candied fruits. Helenliz, I'll eat your marzipan and you can eat my fruitcake!

Nov 14, 2014, 3:39 pm

This fruitcake has dried fruit, those sticky cherries, and no marzipan - matter of fact. I don't think I've ever had one with marzipan on it. Can't say that tempts me either. I had an aunt who used to make a plum pudding at Christmas time. I think the recipe even had suet in it. And she had an old steamer pan and a basin that it was made in. But instead of a hard sauce, she made a lemon sauce for it. I guess it was sort-of a sticky pudding. I should go pull out my mom's recipes and see if it's in there.

Nov 14, 2014, 9:19 pm

I am loving all of this holiday baking talk!

>140 dudes22: - I am still not sure I am up for attempting to make my own fruitcake, even with a good fruitcake mix, but it is nice to know that there is help for people who want to make a fruitcake and are a bit pensive about the whole process!

I am going to have to limit the number of tarts I make - I tend to eat them like they were potato chips - place a tray in front of me and before I know it, they are all gone. Not good for my waistline, that's for sure!

>141 Helenliz: - Joining you in not being a fan of marzipan. I remember years ago a friend of the family made the most amazing shaped and decorated marzipan and made gift packages out of them. They were so beautiful, they looked too good to eat, and I should have just continued to admire them because the taste was not what I was expecting. ;-)

Christmas pudding is another holiday item I have never consumed but I can see how a properly aged pudding could be a decadent delight to consume.

>142 mamzel: - Now I need to investigate the difference between dried and candied fruit.... oh, wait, are the candied fruits the ones that my Mom would purchase at the grocery store that appear to have a bit of a gelatinous, fake colour look to them? I don't like those....

>143 dudes22: - Cherries.... now you are talking! For some strange reason, I think that fruitcake is supposed to be topped with nuts - either chopped or as whole pecans - with some kind of a glaze on top. Whenever I see fruitcake in the stores with the marzipan topping the first thing that comes to my mind is a cream cheese frosting and I start to think that that might taste good and then I remember that it is marzipan. *sighs*

Nov 15, 2014, 4:03 am

I'd assume candied fruits might be similar to candied peel (I used to misread that as candid peel). Which (here at least) is citrus fruit peel preserved in sugar, dried and chopped into small pieces.

I can well imagine a plum pudding recipe having suet in it. My christmas pudding recipe has suet in it. The fat melts and coats everything in the cooking process - it's one of the things that seals everything in and means they last.

There's a certain group of people that eat their fruitcake with a slice of cheese. Not convinced...

Nov 15, 2014, 8:03 am

>144 lkernagh: - Lori - re: tarts - I'm that way about oatmeal cookies warm from the oven. I could eat a whole batch. Also - I do put chopped nuts in my fruitcake, but not on top although I think I have seen them that way in the stores. Another thing I do is bake them in small loaf pans (3x5 in) and freeze them. That way I have a couple for gifts and if I want some I'm not eating a whole big loaf by myself.

Nov 16, 2014, 12:38 am

Beautiful cards!! But I can't say I'm surprised since I've seen your cards before!

Nov 16, 2014, 11:42 am

>145 Helenliz: - Fruitcake with a slice of cheese? Nope, not for me, either. Don't like to mix sweets with savories like that.... I am more of a savory girl and like my cheese with an assortment of crackers or bread.

A lot of people are put off by the idea of suet in baking. When I have asked some of my fiends why they don't like suet they are unable to say why, they just have an aversion to something they have never had. Suet also crops up in a lot of traditional mincemeat recipes I have come across and I understand that you really cannot substitute the suet with some other type of fat.

>146 dudes22: - I can understand warm oatmeal cookies being addicting! Smart idea to bake the fruitcakes in small loaf pans. I am all for baking smaller treats that can be frozen and removed from the freezer in small quantities..... Not only is it better for my waistline, but it lets me enjoy the goodies over a longer period of time.

>147 -Eva-: - Thanks, Eva!

Modificato: Nov 16, 2014, 11:46 am

Happy Sunday, everyone! This weekend was supposed to be a weekend of taking things easy and reading. Yes, reading. So, what did I do yesterday, you may ask? Well, I started off early in the day grocery shopping. In the process I realized I had to go downtown to pick up more coffee for the house - we drink a locally roasted brand of coffee that is only sold through their coffees hops. Since I was downtown I made a detour into a couple of thrift stores and happily came away with some sheet music books for my next Christmas craft project. I was going to print off pages from the internet but this way I save on printer ink, paper and energy by taking apart the sheet music books instead. I then tackled four loads of laundry and since my other half was looking forward to homemade seafood chowder for dinner I decided to make a Parmesan foccacia for dipping in the chowder. By the time dinner was finished, I wasn't in the mood for reading so instead we watched The Reluctant Fundamentalist and I started painting pieces for my next craft project.

Today I will get in some reading time. Really, I will. I am determined to finish Viscount of Bragelonne today, as I have been reading this one off and on for the past two months now, and hopefully I will also manage to finish The Pale Blue Eye which is another book I have been reading off and on since the start of November. I have finished my latest Inspector Montalbano audiobook read The Voice of the Violin, but I haven't found the time to pull together a quick review of that one yet. I think I can do this and still manage to squeeze in some time today to make more chickpea crackers, lasagna for dinner tonight and I do need to fabric dye two articles of clothing.....

Nov 17, 2014, 12:50 pm

Lori, it's hard to keep up with you as you accomplish so much!

Nov 17, 2014, 8:21 pm

You're making the Inspector Montalbano series sound very appealing! I'll have to get to these books sooner rather than later.

I always enjoy the food talk on your thread! Unlike you and Helen, I love marzipan. However, I had an aversion to it for a couple of years after watching Diana Rigg in the super-creepy movie "Mother Love". If you've seen the movie, you'll know what I mean. Fortunately, I can now eat it again without shuddering. :)

Nov 17, 2014, 8:34 pm

>150 VivienneR: - Ha, I may accomplish a lot but I also tend to collapse exhausted in bed before 9pm most evenings! ;-)

>151 mathgirl40: - The Inspector Montalbano series has that addictive 'je ne sais quoi' quality about it that appeals to me. At times some of the dialogue comes across as rather crass but it suits the stories.


I managed to get a number of things finished yesterday. I tend to be very particular about the style of clothes that I wear so when I find clothes I like, I take efforts to keep them alive. I had two skirts and a pair of cotton pants that I absolutely love but over time and countless washings, the color in them have started to fade. Everything else about the clothing is fine so I decided it was time to give them a dye bath and resurrect them. The pants were a dark black/brown that responded well to a black dye bath. One of the skirts is a heavy navy blue skirt that also responded well to the navy blue dye bath it received. The second skirt was a bit of a challenge. It was a lovely autumn rust colour and not a colour of fabric dye that can be readily purchased at the fabric store, so I took a risk and created my own dye bath using hot water and half a dozen strong orange pekoe tea bags. The tea bath returned life to the colour of the skirt without drastically changing its colour. A successful Sunday, for sure!

.... even better, I have managed to finish some books and write reviews. ;-)

Nov 17, 2014, 8:35 pm

Book #66 - Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli - audiobook narration by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Audiobook
Original publication date: 1997
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 256 pages / 5 hours, 17 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.30 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the public library catalogue listing:
Montalbano's gruesome discovery of a lovely, naked young woman suffocated in her bed immediately sets him on a search for her killer. Among the suspects are her aging husband, a famous doctor; a shy admirer, now disappeared; an antiques-dealing lover from Bologna; and the victim's friend Anna, whose charms Montalbano cannot help but appreciate. But it is a mysterious, reclusive violinist who holds the key to the murder.
I have to admit that this one didn't appeal to me as much as the previous books in the series. This one had a bit of a 'what's next' feel about it as the re-occurring characters no longer have a great many surprises for us and even the whole Montalbano / Livia story arc just fell a bit flat for me. Even the crime to solve was kind of 'ho-hum'. The story did allow Montalbano some time to reflect and ruminate on his life a bit, so a little more insight into our lead character did surface. the mystery finally took on a new dimension rather late in the story that worked well in bringing things all together but overall, this one was missing some of the sharp Sicilian outlook, caustic humour and mafioso/bureaucracy triangles I had come to enjoy and expect. That being said, I will still continue with the series and have already started listening to the next book in the series, Excursion to Tindari.

Modificato: Nov 17, 2014, 8:51 pm

Book #67 - The Viscount of Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père - translated from the French
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge), ROOTs
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: Project Gutenberg / TBR
Format: e-book
Original publication date: 1847
Acquisition date: December 30, 2013
Page count: 488 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.20 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the amazon.com website:
It is May 1660 and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Valliere. D'Artagnan, meanwhile, is perplexed by a mysterious stranger, and soon he learns that his old comrades already have great projects in hand. Athos seeks the restoration of Charles II, while Aramis, with Porthos in tow, has a secret plan involving a masked prisoner and the fortification of the island of Belle-Ile. D'Artagnan finds a thread leading him to the French court, the banks of the Tyne, the beaches of Holland, and the dunes of Brittany.
I am going to start this review off with a bit of an explanation, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later is the third and last of the d'Artagnan Romances, following The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After. It appeared first in serial form between 1847 and 1850. In the English translations the 268 chapters of this large volume are usually subdivided into three, but sometimes four or even five individual books.
For this final push in my personal mini-challenge to read all of the books that comprise the d'Artagnan Romances in 2014, I have decided to read the English edition that comprise the text of The Viscount of Bragelonne on Project Gutenberg, broken down into the following four books: "The Vicomte de Bragelonne", "Ten Years Later", "Louise de la Vallière", and "The Man in the Iron Mask".

This one - which comprises the first 75 chapters of the last D'Artagnan advenure - was a bit of a let down after the wonderful fun and excitement of The Three Musketeers and the rather suspense-building story of Twenty Years After. Now 35 years into the D'Artagnan story, this first part is more focused on building the shifts in power that occurred in 1660 - where an exiled Charles II strives to return to the English throne and a young Louis XVI of France starts his transformation from a shadow king controlled by Cardinal Mazarin (Cardinal Richileau's replacement as the most important person in France) to becoming the Sun King. Not an awful lot of skirmishes or adventuring in this one. More about political events and the corrupt powers with near absolute control over matters. Political intrugues do capture my attention, but not to the same extent and out and out swashbuckling adventures of do first and think later do. Yes I realize that D'Artagnan is now in his early 50's and his friends are even older but an adventure that becomes predominantly back room politics and underhanded dealings is a bit of a let down after the previous adventures of the younger musketeers. D'Artagnan is still the naive individual we met in The Three Musketeers and still seems to find himself taking paths that might be less than ideal. At least experience has made him a more jaded individual, not quite so willing to blindly follow his masters and finally realizing that one does require some financial security as one grows older. While Athos plays a large role in this one with D'Artagnan, there is very little of Porthos, Aramis or even the Viscount of Bragelonne. One can only hope that the Viscount has a larger role in the next part, "Ten Years Later", but it does make me wonder why the English editions that broke this one into four books, didn't think to call the first book "Ten Years Later" as being a fitting explanation of where the story resumes from (ten years after the end of the adventures told in "Twenty Years After") and then called the second book "The Viscount of Bragelonne". Here is hoping that things start to pick up.... maybe with the Viscount taking the lead in the swashbuckling aspect of the adventures. Besides, Louis XVI - or at least Dumas' representation of him - is starting to intrigue me.

Modificato: Nov 18, 2014, 11:57 pm

Book #68 - Siberiak by Jenny Jaeckel
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: LTER
Format: Graphic Novel paperback
Original publication date: October 15, 2014
Acquisition date: November 14, 2014
Page count: 120 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.70 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from amazon.ca website:
In 1988, two years before the end of the Cold War, the US and the USSR held the world at nuclear ransom. Meanwhile, grassroots organizing is bringing American and Soviet youth together in missions of peace. What can a group of teenagers, on a raft on Siberia's Ob River, hope to accomplish? With sensitivity and humor, SIBERIAK tells the tale of one young person's journey of discovery and cultural immersion.
Memoirs in the form of a graphic novel is something that has been taking off over the past few years. Having enjoyed Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Lucy Kinsley's French Milk, I was curious to read Siberiak. Jaeckel has taken pen to paper, along with her personal experience as part of a three week youth citizen diplomacy trip to the Soviet Union. The story is heartfelt. As someone who has traveled the world extensively since I was 6 years old, I found Jaeckel's lack of foreign travel experience and her upbringing to be an important part in shaping her perceptions during the trip and how her experiences in turn re-framed her thinking as a result of the trip. The artwork is a more simplified black and white ink work that did not detract me from focusing on the story being told, a story about the universal language of friendship. When it comes to conveying emotions, thoughts and feelings - simple is the best medium. This book, and the memories Jaeckel evokes, has giving me some fond memories of my own to revisit from that time period.

This review is based upon a copy provided courtesy of the Librarything Early Reviewer's Program.

Nov 18, 2014, 10:05 pm

Book #69 - The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge), ROOTs
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: TBR
Format: Trade paperback
Original publication date: May 31, 2007
Acquisition date: December 30, 2010
Page count: 448 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.40 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from amazon.ca website:
At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet's body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man's heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It's a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, for the scandal could do irreparable damage to the fledgling institution. But he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling. The strange and haunted Southern poet for whom Landor develops a fatherly affection, is named Edgar Allan Poe.
Being a lover of historical murder mystery stories, I was really looking forward to reading this one. I wasn't expecting it to take me 18 days to read it, though. I was looking forward to flying through the book in 2-3 days, like I did with his wonderful 19th century French police detective Vidocq mystery The Black Tower and his interesting take on Dicken's The Christmas Carol and and adult Tiny Tim in Mr. Timothy. Bayard has shown some consistency in the stories I have read. They all have a dark undercurrent to them that oozes off the pages. Bayard is good with the atmosphere and even the character portrayals, but darn it all, he does have this habit of going too deep, delving too far into the details of his characters, setting the stage, or, in the case of this story, in losing track of whether he is creating a unique portrayal of a historical/literary figure or plotting out the story structure of the mystery at hand. I do love a well built story. The plot is tight, the setting is detailed/descriptive and the characters are for the most part well rounded, but by the mid-point of this story I was starting to groan about the slog I felt it was becoming. After some distractions in the form of other books, I came back to The Pale Blue Eye, determined to complete it. I am glad I did. The story continued to have its slogging bits but Bayard provides a very interesting conclusion and reveal that has now actually whet my appetite to go back and re-read the book all over again, with an eye for the subtle clues I did not pick up on my first read through. For straightforward mystery lovers, this book will probably drive you to frustration, until you get to the very end. For historical fiction lovers, this story may have its appeal but as the story has its schizophrenic issues of one minute being a straightforward historical fiction piece and then the next minute being a dark, brooding murder mystery piece, I struggle to find an audience that will completely love this one. After having read Dan Simmon's Drood, I can now see that the authors share some similar story telling tricks, like talking directly to the reader - Bayard refers repeatedly to 'Reader' while Simmons, in Drood refers to 'Dear Reader' - with a focus of trying to weave complex characters into a cohesive story.

Not my favorite Bayard novel but he continues to be a writer who's works I look forward to exploring further.

Nov 20, 2014, 12:12 am

>126 lkernagh: very cool star. I've never heard of tea bag folding. I'll have to show your thread to my sister. She's very crafty and always looking for projects. She's presently making a quilt out of all her old Donald Duck tee-shirts.

Nov 20, 2014, 9:33 am

I find tea bag folding oddly addicting once I have a pattern figured out and memorized. I am now on the hunt for some sparkly paper I can use to make ornaments out of.

Nov 22, 2014, 1:58 pm

Book #70 - Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: A Book that Scares You
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Trade paperback/catalog size
Original publication date: September 23, 2014
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 240 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.85 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from amazon.ca website:
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking. To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
I placed a hold with my local library for this book as soon as I saw the cover..... I love that cover. If you look closely, you can see the creepy face (and hands) of something staring out from behind the wall through the picture frames. A creepy and rather unique spin on the traditional haunted house story, I had to laugh that this is the second book in a little over a month where IKEA (or in this case, a ripoff of IKEA in the form of the fictitious store ORSK) is a major part of the story. As I don't read an awful lot of horror stories, this one appealed to me with its somewhat gimmicky approach of packaging the story like a retail catalog with its wider pages and each chapter starting out with a catalog description of an ORSK product and some products that probably shouldn't be in the catalog. It also appealed to me because it has almost an even balance of horror and spoofing satire. I mean really, how scared can one get when one is busy nodding their head at the clever way Hendrix parodies IKEA? Don't get me wrong, the horror is still there for horror fans to enjoy, its just that this is one of those horror books that you don't need to worry about turning out the lights and trying to sleep after finishing..... although I think it might creep out someone who might work a graveyard shift in some otherwise empty big box store and starts to see things moving in the shadows or hears dripping water. For me, the scary part of the story is how Hendrix's brings home the rather frightening corporate brainwashing these big box retailers engage in while training their staff, managing media relations and pitching their wares to their unwary victims customers.

A good story from start to finish and I may not be able to stop myself from scrutinizing the next big box store I enter in a completely different manner.

Nov 23, 2014, 9:00 pm

I have had a rather production weekend this weekend. Yesterday I messed around with some fabric dye converting a faded olive green cotton jacket into a lovely steel blue colour and otherwise just puttered around the house. Today was spend grocery shopping, returning library books - and getting completely drenched in a freak rain storm in the process. I also decided to get started with my Christmas baking so I made a batch of cranberry shortbread cookies. I am working on some finishing touches on a homemade craft wreath for the front door and dipping in and out of books that I currently have on the go.

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable weekend!

Nov 23, 2014, 9:02 pm

Book #71 - Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli - audiobook narration by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Audiobook
Original publication date: 2006
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 324 pages / 6 hours, 29 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.10 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: adapted from multiple summaries:
In two seemingly unrelated crimes, a young Don Juan is found murdered and an elderly couple is reported missing after an excursion to the ancient site of Tindari. As Montalbano works to solve both cases amid the daily complications of life at Vigàta police headquarters, he stumbles onto Sicily’s ghastly “new age” of brutal and anonymous criminality.
Excursion to Tindari has all the bits I have enjoyed from the previous installments of the Inspector Montalbano series: Montalbano's love life is back to its usual complicated form, Ingrid puts in another appearance - which is always great for entertainment value - and the boys (Augello, Catarella, Fazio)... well ... they continue to drive Montalbano to distraction in their own unique ways. Even better, the mafioso is back making things interesting. A little bit of everything in this one. With all of this going on, who has time to solve a murder or find missing people? ;-)

Lovely to see the series is back on track and looking forward to the next installment.

Nov 24, 2014, 10:52 am

>160 lkernagh: Cranberry shortbread cookies sound so good. I've been deciding what I'll make this year too. I know there will be Chocolate Crinkles because I haven't made them in a few years. Also some chocolate biscotti with a marshmallow frosting. Then probably something pumpkin because I have cans and cans of it!

Nov 24, 2014, 8:41 pm

>162 mstrust: - Sounds yummy!

Nov 26, 2014, 11:30 pm

Today provided to be a good day in a surprising way. At work today there was a book and bake sale to raise funds for Santa's Anonymous. Books, baked goods and proceeds going to charity.... three of my favorite things. Somehow the sale had completely slipped my mind. Luckily, my supervisor mentioned it mid-morning, since he knows I am an avid reader. I didn't make it in time to purchase any baked goods but I did still manage to score the following books:

np by Banana Yoshimoto
Lizard by Banana Yoshimoto
Black Seconds by Karin Fossum
Ablutions by Patrick DeWitt

I rather enjoyed Yoshimoto's Kitchen so no harm in picking up more of her books to read. I have never read anything by Fossum and I know, buying the 5th book in the series (if we go based on English publication order) is probably not the best place to start, but hey, I can always see about borrowing the earlier books in the series from the library. Even though I had some mixed feelings about DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers, I was interested enough with DeWitt's writing to add Ablutions to my book pile.

Now I have to impatiently wait for this weekend and the public library's booksale that will occur in one of the community recreation centers.

Nov 26, 2014, 11:31 pm

Book #72 - Leaving Earth by Helen Humphreys
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: The First Book by a Favorite Author
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Trade paperback
Original publication date: 1998
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 233 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.3 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the harpercollins.ca website:
On August 1, 1933, two young women, the famous aviatrix Grace O'Gorman and the inexperienced Willa Briggs, take off in a tiny Moth biplane to break the world flight endurance record. Their plan: to circle above the city of Toronto for twenty-five days. So begins Leaving Earth, a haunting evocation of an era when heroic women defied the limitations of their sex by embarking on perilous ventures. Sponsored by the Adventure Girl Almanac, "Air Ace Grace" and Willa soar above the city while below the Depression takes its toll and the shadows of the coming war lengthen. But as the days pass, the women's ties to humanity fall away, and the growing intensity of their connection becomes as gripping as the perils that besiege them. For the two pilots, there is no speech over the wind's rush, only an elaborate sign language in which they must invent the world anew. All the while, the endurance test wears on, its outcome jeopardized by fatigue, weather, mechanical breakdown, and the lethal efforts of a saboteur.
Having read - and loved, if not thoroughly enjoyed - The Lost Garden, Coventry, The Frozen Thames and The Reinvention of Love, it seemed some what fitting that I should read Humphreys' debut novel, Leaving Earth, to complete my Bingo Challenge. Humphreys tends to gravitate towards writing historical period pieces so I was no surprise to discover that her debut novel depicts a portrayal of Depression-era Toronto. What was surprising - don't ask me why - was how Humphreys' took a theme like aviation and managed to write about the endurance flight in a way that allows the reader to experience the grueling endurance along side the two fictional female pilots. Grace O'Gorman and Willa Briggs are composite characters of the amazing female pilots of the 1930's... Louise Thaden, Ruth Nichols, Bobbi Trout, Amelia Earhart, Frances Harrell Marsalis and Helen Richey. All amazing women who would not let society's perceptions confine and restrict them from chasing their dreams.

Humphreys' approaches her story from a number of different perspectives: Flashy and confident Grace who is used to the world being her stage; the younger and more inexperienced Willa who is lacking in confidence but eager to please; Grace's older, wiser and somewhat jealous husband Jack who holds the current endurance record his wife is determined to break and young 12-year old Maddy, one of Grace's biggest fan. These character dynamics and differing points of view are enough to create an interesting story but Humphreys goes one further by adding in the growing tide of antisemitism, giving us two stories: one story playing out in the sky, with spectators watching from the ground and a second story focused firmly on the ground, trying to see into the future. Ambitious undertakings for a debut novel but Humphreys doesn't stop there. Oh no, she proceeds to add an examination of language in a visual tactile form (as opposed to our usual spoken or written form) to the mix as well as an examination of love. In the end, this ambitious first novel has a lot going for it, including Humphreys wonderful prose but its a bit too much crammed into one package, and at the expense of any solid character development. I am also annoyed that some of the story lines just 'end', leaving me hanging.

Overall, a good female aviation story with great depiction of Depression-era Toronto.

This concludes my Bingo Challenge

Nov 27, 2014, 5:07 am

Looks like a really successful challenge year! Congratulations!

Nov 28, 2014, 2:37 pm

>159 lkernagh:
That's a brilliant cover!

>164 lkernagh:

>165 lkernagh:
Congrats on finishing the Bingo!

Nov 28, 2014, 11:37 pm

>166 MissWatson: - November is becoming one of my better reading months, which is a bit strange since it has been a busy month all around. Still, very happy with the progress made so thanks!

>167 -Eva-: - Books+pastries=heaven. LIKE and thanks!


I know, you all are probably getting tired of the Inspector Montalbano reviews but really, these stories are becoming an addiction with me, just like jigsaw puzzles. At some point, I will run out of Camilleri books to read... just not yet ;-)

Modificato: Nov 28, 2014, 11:45 pm

Book #73 - The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli - audiobook narration by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Audiobook
Original publication date: 2005
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 229 pages / 4 hours, 59 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 4.2 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the amazon.ca website:
Half the retirees in Vigáta have invested their savings with a financial wizard who has disappeared, along with their money. As Montalbano investigates this labyrinthine financial scam, he finds himself at a serious disadvantage: a hostile superior has shut him out of the case, he’s on the outs with his lover Livia, and his cherished Sicily is turning so ruthless and vulgar that Montalbano wonders if any part of it is worth saving.
Okay, so it took me six episodes to figure out what I love about the Inspector Montalbano series. The characters. It is all about the characters. Camilleri creates such fun, vibrant, leap off the pages and into your home kind of characters. Okay.... maybe not into your home, but you know what I mean. Of course, the icing on the cake for me is that all of the audiobooks I have listened to have been read by Grover Gardner who does an absolutely fabulous job with his character shifts. The Smell of the Night brings a lot of the best of the previous books to the forefront - Montelbano's relationship with Livia, the angst that has suddenly become Mimi's life, the melodrama that is Cat, the frustration of poor Fazio and even better, we get to fully see what a total jerk Montalbano, by his own admission, can be. Not sure I approve of the antics and tactics of Montalbano but it does make for entertaining reading. I also love how Camilleri gives the reader the unexpected. I can never predict where the Inspector Montalbano stories will go..... I am just along for the ride.

Nov 29, 2014, 10:59 am

Woke up this morning to discover that it had snowed during the night. Nothing huge.... a dusting, well, more like a 'crunching' based on the sounds the cars are making as they drive by. November is rather early for snow here on the island so I am looking forward to 'crunching' around in it a bit this morning and then an afternoon of baking, I think.

Nov 29, 2014, 1:48 pm

>170 lkernagh: We got an unusually early snowfall too in southeastern BC, then rain, which melted it, then a windstorm that dried up everything.

I bought a lot of Camilleri books at a library booksale and I'm reading your reviews with interest. Montalbano seems to be such an unattractive character that I've been slow to get to them.

Nov 29, 2014, 6:50 pm

>169 lkernagh:
My mum has started the series and loves the characters too, so I should get going on it soon!

Nov 29, 2014, 8:31 pm

>171 VivienneR: - Winter is such a weird season here this year. We seem to be oscillating between our normal wet, grey winter weather and the much colder but with clear blue skies winter of my Alberta youth.

For the first two books Montalbano came across as a rather crass, opinionated, control freak that always like to have the upper hand and who doesn't have a true appreciation of the fairer sex except from one male vantage point. While he is still crass, opinionated and a bit of a control freak, he also has a soft, vulnerable side that he doesn't want anyone to notice. In short, he is highly annoying any yet lovable at the same time. ;-)

>172 -Eva-: - The Montalbano books are addicting.... just a warning. ;-)

A cold day today and the snow.... well, that is pretty much gone. In my travels while out and about I found myself at the library book sale. Paid the early bird admittance fee and enjoyed a leisurely hour today looking and managed to come out with the following gently used (or in one or two cases, possibly unread) books:

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. - I still haven't found time to get around to reading The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet but no harm in adding more books to the reading pile.
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Stout - I loved Olive Kitteridge and the reviews that I have seen floating around here on LT (waves to Nancy (lit_chick)) so I jumped on this good as new copy.
Between by Angie Abdou - Never heard of the author but the premise seems promising and it is a perfect fit for my "Books with one word titles" for my 2015 category challenge.
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes - I am slowly dipping into fantasy fiction and this book is billed as being perfect for Game of Thrones fans so I thought, "Why not?"
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante - Its a Europa Editions books, need I say more? This is book two in the Neapolitan Novels series so I am now on the hunt for book one, My Brilliant Friend.
The Unreals by Donald Jeffries - From the back cover: "It's a note that sets in motion a rollicking adventure full of characters with names like Brisbane and Phosphate, classic cars like 1965 Dodge Darts, magical cornfields and top doo-woppers." I could not ignore a book with that kind of description!

Saving the best for last, I managed to snag a brand new, hardcover of Larry McMurtry's The Last Kind Words Saloon. Colour me one happy Library book sale girl. ;-)

Nov 29, 2014, 9:18 pm

"I found myself at the library book sale."

In a purely accidental, not-at-all-planned way, right? :)

Nov 29, 2014, 9:26 pm

>174 -Eva-: - But, of course. One doesn't 'plan' to arrive at a library book sale, does one? ;-)

Nov 29, 2014, 9:35 pm

Never. :)

Nov 29, 2014, 10:05 pm

Happy to see the Burgess Boys on your list - really enjoyed it!

Nov 30, 2014, 2:11 am

>173 lkernagh: What a great haul from the booksale! Angie Abdou lives (lived?) in the Kootenays region of BC. I've read one book The Canterbury Trail set in the area. It was about a group of skiers, boarders, snowmobilers who set off for a weekend in the mountains. She got the local attitude to snow conditions, drinking, smoking, spot on. In keeping with Chaucer's almost-namesake title, Canterbury Tales, it was quite bawdy but well done. I would certainly read another book by her.

I too lived in Alberta and still miss those blue skies.

Nov 30, 2014, 6:12 am

There's a local library book sale here later this week and I've been debating about going. I must say you were very restrained in your buying. I wasn't aware that Jamie Ford had a new book out. It sounds interesting and I did like HOTCOBAS.

Nov 30, 2014, 9:49 am

Very impressed with the McMurtry! Great find!

Dic 1, 2014, 2:17 pm

Our library's book sale starts this Saturday and it is expected to be huge because they were flooded with books after the earthquake. They figure that people didn't want to have to pick up the books again.

Dic 1, 2014, 8:45 pm

>176 -Eva-: - Hee, hee, hee. ;-)

>177 LittleTaiko: - I was really happy to find that one too, Stacy!

>178 VivienneR: - Good to know! I continue to be amazed at the local authors floating around BC. Sounds like she had fun when she wrote her contemporary version of The Canterbury Tales!

The clear blue skies - and cold weather - have remained for the past two days but the forecast predicts a return to rain by mid-week. I guess I will just have to take the sunny skies when I can.

>179 dudes22: - This was actually the first library book sale I have attended.... crazy, I know. This time, apparently they had a lot of children's books, which is great for all the families, so it was easy to be restrained about my purchases. ;-)

>180 rabbitprincess: - I was so surprised to see the McMurtry!

>181 mamzel: - Sounds like a book sale worth attending!


Yesterday was Grey Cup - the Canadian equivalent of the Superbowl - so I took advantage of the fact that I don't watch football and got in some good baking time, making bread, crackers, another batch of shortbread and gingersnaps. I attempted some maple walnut fudge but it didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped it would so its back to the drawing board on the fudge front.

Modificato: Dic 2, 2014, 9:39 am


BOOKS READ (ranked from most to least favorite):
The Smell of the Night by Andrea Camilleri - 4.20 /
Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri - 4.10 /
The Terra-cotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri - 4.00 /
The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri - 4.00 /
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix - 3.70 /
Siberiak by Jenny Jaeckel - 3.70 /
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard - 3.40 /
Voice of the Violin by Andrea Camilleri - 3.30 /
Leaving Earth by Helen Humphreys - 3.30 /
The Viscount of Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas - 3.20 /

Largest Book read: The Viscount of Bragelonne at 488 pages
Smallest Book read: Siberiak at 120 pages.
Books still in progress at the end of the month: Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas - currently just past the halfway mark - as my e-book and roughly halfway through my current audiobook, Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri
Interesting Fact: At over 3,200 pages read in November - counting what I have read in my books in progress - November has proved to be my second busiest reading month so far this year.

My ROOTs Challenge:
Books read this month: 2 - The Viscount of Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas and The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
Books still to read to complete my challenge: 1 - Ten Years After by Alexandre Dumas

My 2014 Reading Bingo Challenge:
Books read this month: 1 - Leaving Earth by Helen Humphreys
Books still to read to complete my challenge: 0 - Bingo challenge completed

My 75 Books Challenge:
Books / pages read this month: 10 books / 2,994 pages (books completed)
Books still to read to complete my challenge: see My "Luck 'O the Irish" Race further down this post

My Commonwealth Challenge:
Books read this month: 0
Books still to read to complete my challenge: 41

No comment. ;-)

My "Luck 'O the Irish" Race (books read versus pages read): Given the chunksters I plan on reading this year, my 75 group challenge will be considered completed whichever comes first: 75 books read or 25,000 pages read.

Without a doubt, "pages read" Shamrock blew across the finish line in a blaze of glory, leaving 'books read' Pot of Gold to continue to limp towards the finish line. Both will finish the race by Shamrock takes the book derby cup in 2014!

Dic 1, 2014, 10:41 pm

Congratulations on meeting your page target!

Nice book haul. I liked both Angie Abdou's The Bone Cage and Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen very much, so I'll be interested in seeing what you think of their other works.

Horrorstor sounds really fun. Coincidentally, a friend was telling me about this book last weekend. At the time, I found it hard to visualize, but now that I see the cover ....

Dic 4, 2014, 11:02 pm

>184 mathgirl40: - Thanks! I have checked my local library catalogue and they copies of both The Bone Cage and The Canterbury Trail so it is good to know that I can borrow copies of Abdou's other books.

I can see how it would be hard to visualize Horrorstor just based upon someone's description. The whole IKEA angle is what makes it such a great story, IMO. ;-)


I love the energy and vibe of December. Everyone is busy rushing about - including me! - and a lot of happy energy seems to be floating around. I always find January to be a bit of a downer month for me because it is usually a long, cold and rather dark month of blah weather after all the excitement of the holiday season. It is because of the January 'blahs' that I like to use November/December as the kick off months for new things I might get up to or try. After having an interesting conversation with some friends last week about the vibrant and growing craft beer industry, I came to the realization that I hardly ever 'experiment' with new brews. Time for a change, I think! I thought it would be rather fun to sample one new craft beer a week and what better time to start this new adventure than the holiday season and it's wonderful array of seasonal beers. Don't be surprised if beer reviews start to crop up on my threads. ;-)

Dic 5, 2014, 10:36 am

I toast to your new interest! A few years ago I was car travelling with my daughter and sampled beers brewed locally. I discovered one beer I really liked and found it is sold here at home for more enjoyment. I decided that, on future trips, instead of buying dust collectors for souvenirs I would buy consumables like cheese and coffee.

Dic 7, 2014, 8:03 pm

I don't drink beer myself, but I have a few coworkers who are hardcore fans (and there's a microbrewery at the ground floor in our office building), so I know I can handle beer-talk! :)

Dic 7, 2014, 9:18 pm

Mmmmm beer! I am partial to the odd pint, although I tend to drink them while dining out or if I'm visiting my parents, as they often have a few bottles on hand. I'll be keen to hear about beers to watch for on those occasions :)

Dic 7, 2014, 9:37 pm

>186 mamzel: - I happily accept your toast, mamzel! Sounds like a wonderful car trip you had with your daughter. I try to minimize the clutter I acquire so I love your idea of buying consumables on future trips!

>187 -Eva-: - there's a microbrewery at the ground floor in our office building Now, that would be handy for the end of the work week celebrations! ;-)

>188 rabbitprincess: - Given the annoying 'internal to Canada' restrictions on transporting/selling alcoholic products produced in one province for sale in another province, the majority of the craft beers I will be trying will be either BC-based or international in origin. I have my fingers crossed that at some point the political powers that be will resolve this stupid restriction, which, as my niece says with joy in her voice, she may some day be able to buy BC wines in Ontario. ;-)

Dic 7, 2014, 9:38 pm

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable weekend! Ours has been busy and productive so no complaints. I managed to get the tree up and decorated on Saturday, which was a 4-hour chore. Why 4 hours? Our place is small and over the course of the year the space where we usually put the tree was filled with other stuff that needed to find a new home. In the process of finding these items new homes I re-organized our linen closet and sorted through my sweater storage tote and managed to come up with 6 sweaters I never wear, so they went into the donation pile. So, 4 hours later, as my other half says, "Christmas was up." ;-)

After all that work I decided chili would be perfect for dinner. Perfect until the electric can opener decided to give up the ghost and stop opening the can of kidney beans for the chili. As per Murphy's Law, we didn't - until today - have a manual can opener. Since the can opener motor was still working fine - it was the mechanism that enables to can to turn has stopped working - I let my other half break into the casing to see if he could fix it. Imagine our surprise to discover the Cuisinart can opener had a plastic gear inside of all of that solid Cuisinart casing and it was the plastic gear that had broken. Not impressed, let me tell you. The good news is I have decided we don't need an electronic can opener so that is one less small appliance cluttering up my counter space.

After braving the shops for the new manual can opener - holiday shoppers were everywhere! - , I came home and made these eggnog cookies. Of course, I messed around with the recipe - used only brown sugar, loosely spooned into the measuring cup and tripled the nutmeg and added a half amount of cinnamon - and ended up with some very fluffy, cake like cookies. Keeping this recipe for future use, in fact I can see modifying the recipe to make spice cookies similar to spice cake. YUM!

On the reading front, I am STILL plugging away at Ten Years Later, which I am determined to finish this evening. In the meantime, I have another Inspector Montalbano review and my first beer review ready for posting.

Modificato: Dic 12, 2014, 9:53 pm

Beer: Winter Beeracle Winter Ale
Brewery: Dead Frog Brewery (Aldergrove, BC)
Beer Type: Strong Ale
alc./vol.: 7.5 %
Ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, yeast, vanilla, orange peel, hazelnut
Hops: 2 Row, Munich, Chocolate, Special B
Malts: Centennial, Willamette
IBU: 24
Product Availability: Seasonal - Early November through January
'Sample' date: December 5, 2014
Rating: Neutral

Beer description/summary: From the deadfrog.ca website:
Our Winter Beeracle is a warm, deep mahogany ale with rich, complex malt flavours and a sweetness to compliment the season. The warmth of the beer is punctuated by deep malt flavours from chocolate malts, a hint of vanilla in the aroma and flavour, and a dry citrus finish. All the flavours come together to create a rich, delicious winter ale.
Wow..... that is one dark beer and quite a substantial one, body-wise. As my other half said, "I have already finished dinner. I don't need a second meal." Good thing he wants to sample each beer with me.... there is no way I could drink one bottle of this beer on my own! I hadn't even finished my glass and I was ready for a nap. This is one heady beer. Have this with a turkey dinner and you will be out for the count! The flavour blend is alright but this is a sweet tasting beer, which is a negative for me as I tend to prefer pilsners, lagers and amber ales, but I still want to give each new beer the benefit of the doubt. On the positive side, this beer goes down really smoothly. No unappealing aftertaste or anything like that. I did not detect the dry citrus finish they refer to.... my taste buds were too busy trying to get past the malty sweet factor for anything else to come through. Not sure I would consider buying this one again but it does strike me as the perfect 'snowed in a ski lodge with a roaring fire, a bag of chips and no place to go' kind of beer.

Dic 7, 2014, 9:39 pm

Book #74 - Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli - audiobook narration by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Audiobook
Original publication date: 2007
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 276 pages / 5 hours, 55 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.3 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: adapted from the gvpl online catalogue:
While swimming along the Sicilian shore, Inspector Montalbano discovers a corpse. His pursuit of the cause of death intersects with the inquiry into a hit-and-run accident of a young boy who may have been victimized by human traffickers. The buying and selling of immigrant children, for slave labor, sex, and as a source of illegal organ transplants, is part of the evil underside of the opening of Europe's borders. That, combined with frustration with his department's repressive handling of security for the G-8 summit in Genoa and the corruption among his superiors and the politicians behind them, makes setting anything right seem like an exercise in futility. When he realizes that he may have inadvertently aided the boy's victimizers, his internal turmoil intensifies.
This was a more or less average story in the Inspector Montalbano series. The crimes that are the topic of this story - human trafficking - are reprehensible, for sure, but as with previous Montalbano stories, the crimes are only part of the story. This time, the personal Montablano focus is his disillusionment with his job. Montalbano predominantly runs his own solo investigations, relegating his work colleagues to the ranks of 'out of the loop' disgruntled secondary characters. Even Livia only receives minor attention. Thankfully, Ingrid in the picture or this would have been a bit of a downer of story for me. On the bright side, Camilleri introduces a new character, adding some levity to the story: a police officer - who's name escapes me as I write this review - who seems to have a goods emporium within easy reach of his desk. Apparently he has one of everything Montalbano seems to be in need of, from eye glasses to hip-wading boots!

Dic 7, 2014, 9:57 pm

>189 lkernagh: Ach, I'd forgotten about that silly restriction! It's especially pointless in Ottawa-Gatineau, since there are five interprovincial bridges spanning the Ottawa River and people often live on one side of the river and work on the other. If people can move that freely, then surely beer and wine can as well!

Dic 8, 2014, 6:57 am

We had friends here in RI from Indiana some years ago and went to a vineyard for a wine tasting. And they wouldn't ship wine to them in Indy. Not sure if that's still true but it seems kind of silly.

Dic 8, 2014, 12:07 pm

I would love to know where the logic is in that restriction! Does it date back to the American Prohibition?

Dic 8, 2014, 12:24 pm

I don't drink alcohol but I treated my husband to a couple of bottles of beer on his birthday last week. They were from a brewery in Fernie, BC. One, with a slight maple flavour was called Sap Sucker, the second, made with huckleberries was called What the Huck. He pronounced both of them excellent. I just liked the names. :)

Dic 8, 2014, 1:22 pm

>196 VivienneR: That sounds great and I'll look for them now. Two of my favorite sodas are a maple cream from New Hampshire and a huckleberry one from Jackson Hole, Wy.

Modificato: Dic 8, 2014, 11:17 pm

Stupid double-posts. ⇩

Dic 9, 2014, 6:08 am

>195 mamzel: - I think the guy told us it had something to do with the liquor distributors.

Dic 9, 2014, 1:48 pm

>195 mamzel: Thanks. That was an interesting article. I actually knew that there were different laws for different states. My son works for a company that ships wine and he has to keep track of them. I was curious about the Canadian laws.

Dic 9, 2014, 9:06 pm

>193 rabbitprincess: - What cracks me up - in a sad way - is it seems to be easier to lay my hands on some international products than it is on Canadian products. For the whole Ottawa-Gatineau area, and pretty much any border area, the rules are mind-boggling. I still remember doing beer runs from Alberta into BC... fun times when young but in my crankier middle age I want to be able to buy the product I like without involving some sleep deprived road trip. *sighs*

>194 dudes22: - It probably is still true, for certain states. Crazy!

>195 mamzel: - Well, the Canadian logic comes from older 1928 federal Prohibition- era legislation called the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act that is somewhat dated. The federal government has loosened this legislation up a bit but some of the provincial jurisdictions are not keen to open up their borders to a bunch of cross border liquor sales that don't pass through their liquor control boards. It seems to be just one over inflated control issue. ;-)

Here is a slightly outdated (2011) news article that I think does a great job of capturing the issue: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canada-s-weird-liquor-laws-1.1004724

>196 VivienneR: - I have made a note of those brews. Thanks for the positive recommendation! I like the idea of huckleberries in beer..... actually, I just like saying huckleberries. ;-)

>199 -Eva-: - Great article!

Dic 9, 2014, 9:07 pm

Book #75 - Ten Years Later by Alexandre Dumas, père
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge), ROOTs
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: TBR
Format: e-book (Project Gutenberg)
Original publication date: serialized October,1847 - January, 1850
Acquisition date: December 30, 2013
Page count: 441
Decimal/ Star rating: 2.90 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: adapted from the amazon.ca website listing:
Princess Henrietta's arrival in 1660 to the French court for her marriage to King Louis XIV's younger brother Philippe, throws the French court into complete disorder, where jealousies, scandal- hungry members of the French court and new power struggles for control of the country finances are at play.
Okay, this was not the swashbuckling adventures of The Three Musketeers. Not by a long shot. Given that so many of the characters in this one are the next generation, so to speak, I was hopeful for some youthful adventures. Instead, all we get is over 400 pages of drama of the jealous, lustful and scandal-hungry members of the French court, along with various pastoral fancies and a growing love triangle that can only become bad news for someone. Even the power struggles that arise between Fouquet, the superintendent of finance, and Cardinal Mazarin's clerk Colbert, don't have enough teeth to make them interesting. It all just comes across as petty antics. Aramis and D'Artagnan both play minor roles in this one, with Porthos and Athos only being vaguely mentioned. Nice to see Raoul taking on the role of the voice of reason, when he is in the picture, but for the most part, this one is all about French court life. What I did find rather odd - and it might have just been me - was not so much the lack of swords play and missing the whole protect, honor and glory thing, but the weird, almost Shakespearean manner in which the court activities during the fête at Fontainbleau are portrayed. It is because of this aspect, I can really only recommend this one to readers who might enjoy Louis XIV's court becoming a variation on Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. To its credit, the story does contain some wonderful references to the possible background of a mystery man locked up in the Bastille, and the secret that is larger than all other secrets. Foreshadowing for what is to come... too bad that bit only occupies about 25 pages of the story!

Onwards to Louise de la Valliere, but first, an interlude for something completely different as I don't think I am up for reading any more about this building love triangle right now.

Dic 10, 2014, 11:50 am

>202 lkernagh: I'm amazed that Canadians have put up with this. I hope there is a rate of alcoholism commiserate with the difficulty in procuring alcohol! Did Canada have Prohibition too, or were the laws put in place to support the U.S. Prohibition?

Dic 16, 2014, 11:15 pm

>204 mamzel: - Well, count me as one of the Canadians that just does not see the sense in keeping this kind of legislation on the books. In answer to your question, yes, Canada had its own spell/spat of prohibition. Funny, in a peculiar not "ha ha" way, this stupid legislation was brought in at the tail end of prohibition to try and address the fact that liquor control was - and still is - a provincial control thing. The legislation was brought in at the federal level as a way to control cross-border situations where prohibition gets dropped in one province but is still active in a neighboring province. The federal legislation has been loosened up to allow for cross-border shipment/sales but it is the provinces that are slow to remove the barriers.


Well geez.... December is just flying along at full speed! I have had no time for LT over the past few days, and not much time for reading either. Busy with Christmas activities when I am not at work. I managed to get my gift tins of homemade goodies out the door and into the hands of happy recipients, then had to bake more goodies for home, get cards into the mail the door and attend a couple of Christmas parties. It has been "Go, Go, Go!" When I do find a couple of spare minutes, I have been gravitating more and more towards my de-stress hobby: on-line jigsaw puzzles.

Hopefully, the holiday chaos activities have now crested and I am hoping to find more time for reading and LT during part of the holidays. In the meantime, can I entice you with a book review and a new beer review? ;-)

Dic 16, 2014, 11:15 pm

Book #76 - The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri - translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli, audiobook narration by Grover Gardner
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: audiobook
Original publication date: 2007
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 244 / 5 hours, 41 minutes listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.20 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: adapted from the amazon.ca listing:
The demands of a new case - the abduction of Susanna Mistretta, an attractive university student and daughter of a geologist - interrupt Inspector Montalbano's required down time from work. Unable to trust his colleagues to handle the case properly, Montalbano focuses on subtle anomalies—such as the direction the missing girl's motorbike was pointed—that suggest the kidnapping is more than the simple extortion attempt it appears to be.
A good story but rather light on the mystery side of things. The focus is more on Montalbano's inner turmoil as he comes to terms with a number of things: his age, his relationship with Livia, his work. Montalbano is more melancholy in this installment and the mystery plot is thinner than in the previous books. I was able to figure out the whos and most of the whys before the reveal occurred, which I usually cannot do. While there are some comic moments, this one felt more transitional, making me wonder what is to come in the later installments.

Modificato: Dic 17, 2014, 10:22 pm

Beer: Santa's Private Reserve
Brewery: Rogue Ales (Newport, OR)
Beer Type: Red Ale
alc./vol.: No idea (not disclosed on bottle or website)
Ingredients: free range coastal water (saaayyy what? "Free range" coastal water?), malted barley, hops, pacman yeast
Hops: Rogue Farms Newport (TM), Rebel (TM) and Freedom (TM)
Malts: 2 Row, Munich, C15, C40, C75, Rogue Farms Dare (TM) and Risk (TM)
IBU: 74
Product Availability: Guessing seasonal but the website and the bottle are both unclear. According to the Beeradvocate website this one has a "Winter" availability.
'Sample' date: December 12, 2014
Rating: Good

Beer description/summary: From the rogue.com website:
A double hopped Red Ale, reddish in color with a roasty, malty flavor and a well balanced spruce finish.
Ah, yes, this is more my kind of beer! Lovely amber colour, lighter body and with a eye-opening sharp bite to it. Maybe a bit too much on the sharp bite but at least it didn't put me to sleep! Kind of on the hoppy side and while one site I visited thought this would easily fit into the India Pale Ales category if it wasn't for its amber colour, I beg to differ. The sharpness of this beer can make some India Pale Ales I have had seem dull in comparison. As for flavour, well, nothing leaps out at me as being overly distinctive so lets just chalk this one up as being a darn good ale with a good bite to it, something I will purchase again and leave it at that.

Dic 17, 2014, 5:48 am

I'm not a beer drinker so I can't say I would want to drink this, but "free range coastal water" is an interesting ingredient. Here on the east coast, coastal water would be salt water. Can't say that sounds appealing in anything. Except maybe taffy.

Dic 17, 2014, 9:30 am

It is salt water out here on the west coast as well so I think they must mean something different or their marketing guys like to have fun. ;-)

.....ooooohhhhh...... salt water taffy..... YUM!

Dic 17, 2014, 3:55 pm

My husband loves the Rogue beers - not sure if he's tried this one yet or not. I'll have to pass your recommendation along to him.

Dic 17, 2014, 5:38 pm

I was at BevMo this morning and picked up a bottle of Trooper Beer for my husband's stocking. I have no idea what it tastes like but it was created by Iron Maiden and Robertson's. It has the band's mascot on the label, so I think he'll be happy to try it.

Dic 17, 2014, 7:54 pm

Mmmmm that sounds like a good beer! Amber is probably my favourite kind. Not too heavy, but not too light either. If I'm ever on the West Coast I shall have to take a look for it.

Dic 17, 2014, 8:33 pm

I'm enjoying the beer discussion as much as the book discussion! Speaking of beer and books, did you see this article about Margaret Atwood's collaboration with Beau's All Natural Brewing earlier in the year? Check out the #Bookbeer names at the end of the article. :)

Modificato: Dic 17, 2014, 9:34 pm

My husband recommends Saint Bernardus Christmas Ale.

Dic 20, 2014, 10:28 pm

>205 lkernagh:
It truly is go-go-go this time of year. I've been vegging in front of the telly when I've had down time rather than reading, but oh well. :)

Dic 21, 2014, 10:05 am

Hi Lori! Just stopping by and catching up. Good luck with the beer. Happy Holidays!

Dic 24, 2014, 4:10 pm

>210 LittleTaiko: - I am looking forward to trying more Rogue beers and happily taking suggestions!

>211 mstrust: - That sounds so cool!

>212 rabbitprincess: - Not too heavy, but not too light either. I love that description! Makes me think of Goldilocks but, darn it all, we can be choosy! ;-)

>213 mathgirl40: - No, I did not see that article. How great is that! I love that Atwood partnered with a microbrewery to create a limited edition ale. Herbs and botanicals instead of hops.... that would be interesting to sample! Thank you so much for posting the link, Paulina!

>214 LittleTaiko: - I haven't seen any Saint Bernardus Christmas Ale yet but I will keep my eye out for it. I am finding it rather fun to discover that the private beer and wine stores in town all care different selections of craft beers.... I am also discovering just how many of these stores there are on town. Crazy!

>215 -Eva-: - Vegging in front of the telly..... heaven! ;-)

>216 VioletBramble: - Thanks Violet!

Dic 24, 2014, 4:10 pm

Wow. I cannot believe that it is December 24th. Christmas eve afternoon here on the coast. I have been busy with holiday activities and unexpected events consuming my time and only now poking my head into LT after a week long absence. The past five days have been a particularly interesting trial. After my electric can opener decided to give up the ghost and I refused to replace it with another electric opener, some of my kitchen appliances have been protesting, with the toaster deciding to stop toasting bread and the electric kettle deciding that it may - or may not - decide to automatically shut off once the water has boiled. The Christmas tree lights - which were working perfectly when tested prior to decorating the tree - have decided to only half work now that the tree is decorated so only half of the tree is light up. Do you have any idea how hard it is to buy a string of Christmas lights the last week before Christmas? It's is impossible. And can someone please explain to me why one is not able to purchase replacement mini-lights? Most curious. I will start shopping online for new lights for next year. In the meantime, we will stick with a half-lit tree this year. *sighs* As annoying as those minor problems are, the loss of hydro (electricity) for the majority of Sunday after a rather stormy Saturday was... well,.... quaint. It has been a while since I last bathed by candlelight and boy was a glad I had replaced the electric can opener with a new manual opener. ;-) Lastly, my other half is suffering through day three of what is proving to be a rather nasty cold. Poor guy, I know he is not doing good when all he does is shuffles around with no energy saying "I'm sick.". He is now tucked up in bed and we are planning a very quiet Christmas eve and Christmas day.


I want to wish all my wonderful friends here on LT a Merry Christmas and a safe, happy holiday season filled with warmth and joy.

Dic 24, 2014, 4:53 pm

Thanks for your beautiful card and wishes. All the best to you and yours!

Ace Hardware is my go-to place for replacement bulbs. They've never let me down. Hopefully you have one nearby.

Dic 24, 2014, 5:18 pm

Sorry you're having a trying week. I hope your Christmas makes up for it!

Dic 24, 2014, 7:48 pm

Have a joyful, peaceful Christmas, Lori. I've loved following your thread(s) this year and the great food discussions we had.

Dic 24, 2014, 8:54 pm

Merry Christmas, Lori! I hope your other half feels better soon and that your appliances resume behaving themselves. The Appliance Santa probably has them on his naughty list :P

Dic 24, 2014, 9:41 pm

Just wishing you a Merry Christmas, Lori and a wonderful year ahead. I hope things pick up for you and your OH soon.

Looking forward to sharing your reading and all the book bullets coming from your thread in 2015!

Dic 25, 2014, 6:04 am

Merry Christmas Lori and a Happy reading New Year!

Dic 25, 2014, 4:07 pm

Merry Christmas Lori. I hope your other half experiences a miraculous recovery and is able to enjoy a lovely Christmas meal with you.

Dic 26, 2014, 9:17 pm

Christmas day was quiet and relaxing. We watched some fun flicks - I can recommend the movie Now You See Meif you like movies with slight of hand and robbery like The Italian Job or the Ocean's 11/12 movies - and got stuffed on dinner. Today was another relaxing day as I don't go out and join the frenzy that can be Boxing Day sales at the stores. I will venture out tomorrow, instead. ;-)

On the good news front, my other is feeling better - YAY! - and we have enough turkey for a week of leftovers. Tonight's dinner was a creamy turkey asparagus soap and fresh out of the oven oatbran bread.
I also have some book (and beer) reviews for posting.


>219 mamzel: - I don't think we have an ACE Hardware but I will double check as I could be happily surprised. Thank you for the suggestion!

>220 mstrust: - It could have been a lot worse and luckily, my most recent audiobook read helped me laugh at most of the minor annoyances. Christmas was exactly as I like it, quiet. ;-)

>221 DeltaQueen50: - My Christmas was exactly as your wished for me, Judy so thank you for that wish!

>222 rabbitprincess: - The appliances have been behaving... they must have received coal in their stockings when I wasn't looking. ;-)

>223 VivienneR: - Thanks! The card is lovely!

>224 dudes22: - Thanks Betty!

>225 Roro8: - Thanks Ro! Well not a miraculous recovery, he has still managed to bounce back and is no longer shuffling around being sick so I am very happy about that!

Modificato: Dic 27, 2014, 12:14 am

Book #77 - The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days by Ian Frazier - audiobook narration by Cynthia Nixon
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: audiobook
Original publication date: 2012
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 244 / 7 hours listening time
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.60 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: adapted from the amazon.ca listing:
Structured as a daybook of sorts, the book follows the Cursing Mommy—beleaguered wife of Larry and mother of two young boys—as she offers tips on how to do various tasks around the home, from DIY air conditioner maintenance to unusual Thanksgiving table centerpieces, only to have these otherwise mundane tasks end up horribly wrong. Her voice is somewhere between Phyllis Diller’s and Sylvia Plath’s: a hilariously desperate housewife with a taste for swearing and large glasses of red wine, who speaks to the frustrations of everyday life while she struggles to remain philosophical as everything is crashing around her.
I have never read any of Frazier's contributions to The New Yorker magazine or his humour collection Coyote v. Acme. I placed a hold on a copy of this audiobook purely on a whim and because of it's very chicklit-styled cover. I want to call The Cursing Mommy - no, we never do find out her name - the modern Erma Bombeck. I love all of Erma Bombeck's books. The Cursing Mommy is a stay-at-home mom who struggles to keep it all together while dealing with two challenging kids (one has a thing for starting fires and other forms of delinquent behaviour, the other for fainting at school) and Larry, her husband who's capacitor obsession/hobby is slowly taking over their house, while at the same time fending off unwanted advances from Larry's creepy boss/client. Written in epistolary format covering the events of one calendar year, I love how Frazier has given voice and very human expressions to a character who fluctuates between moments of calm philosophical meditation and full on profanity-infused venting. Cynthia Nixon is absolutely perfect narrating this one, making it so easy to visualize our frustrated lead character. There is an awful lot of swearing in the book, as is alluded to by the title, but there are a lot of really good funny bits too, such as the book group's obsession with reading anti-Republican political tell-all books about the Bush administration (with a segue into Regan territory); the insane things that as a parent volunteer our heroine (really, what else can one call her?) finds herself doing for her son's school; the crazy private-run healthcare company that jacks up premiums whenever the CEO needs an influx of cash and lets not forget the parking lot style grocery store they have (don't ask, I would just struggle to explain that one). On the downside, while the situations our heroine find herself in are all different, the fact that she always ends up lying on the floor screaming for help - except for the one time she ended up in a tree - gets a bit tedious as the story progresses.

Overall, a rather unbelievable story with some charm to it and a wonderful way to de-stress or, in my case, to put any stress of the holiday season into perspective, with a chuckle and a smile.

Dic 26, 2014, 9:21 pm

Book #78 - Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas, père
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge), ROOT
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: TBR
Format: e-book (Project Gutenberg)
Original publication date: seriallized October, 1847 - January, 1850
Acquisition date: December 30, 2013
Page count: 395 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.10 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: adapted from varous sources to be spoiler-free:
Picking up where Ten Years Later left off, Louis XIV's court continues to be one filled with behind doors intrigues and power struggles. While our four musketeers engage in musings or intrigues of their own, it becomes a question as to how far Louis XIV will go to get what he desires.
A slight improvement over the silly melodrama that was Ten Years After but still filled with a fair bit of unnecessary fluff. I can now see why these books may have appealed to 19th century readers: Dumas goes to great pains to perpetuate what we now know as "the soap opera". The D'Artagnan Romances are a soap opera. It has all of the right elements: characters in love/conflict/alliance; a plot that is drawn out in small doses over a huge swath of time; some repetition of information to refresh the reader's memories; and the whole heart-ache angst bit. I am not a big fan of soap operas so that is probably why I am struggling a bit with this one. Characters who pose and posture and don't really seem to get down to the business at hand without monologuing try my patience. The good news is that Louise de la Valliere did have some good bits that now have me looking forward to reading the last book in the series, The Man in the Iron Mask. I just wish the journey to this point had not involved some 3,600 pages of text. Dumas was as prolific a serial writer as Dickens, if that can be imagined! He must have been paiod by the word, just like Dickens' was. ;-)

Onwards to The Man in the Iron Mask.

Dic 26, 2014, 9:23 pm

Beer: SteamPunk Dunkelweizenbrau
Brewery: Longwood Brewery (Nanaimo, BC)
Beer Type: Dark Wheat Ale
alc./vol.: 5.00%
Ingredients: Undisclosed
Hops: Undisclosed
Malts: Undisclosed
IBU: Undisclosed
Product Availability: Year round
'Sample' date: December 18, 2014
Rating: Good

Beer description/summary: Adapted from the longwoodbeer.com website:
Get gears turning with this dark wheat ale, created through the fusing traditional taste with modern technique. Light bodied and crisp, Dunkelweisen is crafted with 35% White Wheat, giving it a refreshing graininess.
Well, hello. No self respecting steampunk genre lover - like me - should be able to see this one sitting on the shelf and just walk on by without trying it. Yes, it was the label that caught my attention, and pretty much nothing else. Isn't that the whole point of 'experimenting'? ;-) My other half nailed the description for this one on the initial swig: Taste of a Guinness without the heavy body of a Guinness and a smooth, clean finish. No after taste. For flavours, there is definitely a roasted coffee malt overtone and a bit of bubbly effervescence to it. That is on the initial taste. It loses the effervescence rather quickly, but that is okay as I am not expecting a beer version of champagne or sparkling wine. What is interesting is the nose give a stronger malty/hoppy impression that makes the lightness of the brew to be a bit of surprise. On the downside, by the time I had reached the bottom of my glass, my initial exuberance for it had died down. It had started to warm up - really I do like to linger over my beer - and with it came a flat drink with a beery, yeasty aftertaste that no longer differentiates it from other more mainstream brews. What started out as a "Great" rating ended up as a "Good" rating.

Modificato: Dic 27, 2014, 12:19 am

Beer: Down Easy
Brewery: Hoyne Brewing Company (Victoria, BC)
Beer Type: Pale Ale
alc./vol.: 5.20%
Ingredients: Filtered water, malted barley, choice hops yeast (Hoyne Proprietary Ale Strain)
Hops: Cascade, German Select, Tettnanger
Malts: Canadian Superior Pale, Bairds Maris Otter, Crystal
IBU: Undisclosed
Product Availability: Year round
'Sample' date: December 22, 2014
Rating: Great

Beer description/summary: From the feast-of-ale.bc.ca website:
The Down Easy is our contribution to the amazing range of classic Pacific Northwest Pale Ale's. It carries a rich maltiness, is light amber in colour, and is finished with distinctive Cascade hops.
Aptly named, this light ale goes down smooth, with a crisp, refreshing flavour. Even better, it does not develop the beery, yeasty aftertaste like Steam Punk or other beers tend to do. This beer has a mid range, leaning towards the mild end of the hops spectrum, with the malts playing a subtle role in the flavour department. Overall, a wonderful beer for slow sipping. I am just surprised that I have never heard of this brewery, considering it is practically right at my front door. Of course, it is tucked away in a semi-industrial zone I never frequent, but still, always good to know I can buy directly from the source if I cannot find the product in one of my local shops. ;-)

I love looking at label designs almost as much as I like to look at book covers. The design for Down Easy is great as they appear to change it up over the seasons. the setting of the curvy river stays the same but while my purchase had a winter scene of skaters skating on the frozen ice of the river, their website shows a summer scene of people floating down the river on inner tubes.... a great summer fun tradition on the Cowichan River.

Dic 26, 2014, 9:29 pm

Beer: Ginger Beer / Spiced Orange Ginger Beer
Brewery: John Crabbie & Co. (Edingburgh, Scotland)
Beer Type: Ginger Beer
alc./vol.: 4.00%
Ingredients: Carbonated water, sugar, alchohol, grape juice concentrate, citric acid, caramel, ginger extracts, yeast, potassium sorbate, sodium metabisulphate, ascorbic acid, wheat.
Hops: N/A
Malts: N/A
Product Availability: Year round
'Sample' date: December 23, 2014
Rating: Neutral

Beer description/summary: From the crabbiesgingerbeer.com website:
Crabbies original is a refreshing, light bodied ginger beer with a spicy fresh ginger flavour, notes of citrus and a warming finish. Spiced Orange offers the same refreshing tasate as the original but with a lighter ginger proflie and a zesty orange flavour.
I will start off by saying that in my youth I used to enjoy Shandies, which, for those of you that do not know what a Shandy is, they are a beer mixed with ginger ale or 7-Up, usually as a half beer half soda mix. The Shandies of my youth were great summertime thirst quenchers so I was looking forward to sampling the two Crabbies offerings when I saw them in the store. The Crabbies offerings are nothing more than adult ginger ales, and a heck of a lot sweeter. They probably would go down really well on a hot summer day.... probably a bit too well, but I just cannot get past the overly sweet taste of these ginger beers. If they took the sweetness down a couple of notches with the original ginger beer, I would probably like it more. That way, the ginger taste, which is quite strong, would be the focal point, and would not have to compete with the sweetness factor. The orange spiced one doesn't really come across as organgey or spicy compared to the original, just lest gingery. Overall, I won't be racing out to the store to buy more. Now I need a palette cleanser.

Dic 27, 2014, 9:46 pm

Belated Merry Christmas to you!! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Looking forward to more of your beer and book reviews.

Dic 28, 2014, 11:34 am

Down Easy sounds good and I'll see if my local shop carries it. Thanks for the fun reviews, it's so nice of you to do all that drinking for us ;)
>227 lkernagh: I worked with Bombeck's son for a short time many years ago. Surprisingly, not a great sense of humor.

Dic 28, 2014, 1:09 pm

>232 LittleTaiko: - Thanks Stacy!

>233 mstrust: - Wow, guess the humour gene didn't make it to him. That, or he didn't like the lens his mom's writing placed on the family.

Dic 28, 2014, 1:10 pm

I have two more books I am hoping to finish before I wrap up 2014 but in the meantime, I just have to post the year end book quiz that I steal every year from Stephen (Ape). Just fill in the answers with books you've read this year!

Describe yourself: The Keeper of Lost Causes

Describe how you feel: Blue - because Christmas is over for another year.

Describe where you currently live: The Village of Round and Square Houses

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Essex County

Your favorite form of transportation: I have absolutely nothing for this one.

Your best friend is: Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer - Better to keep him as a friend than an enemy, although he tends to be a rather unreliable friend. ;-)

You and your friends are: The Three Musketeers - not really, but still a fun concept.

What’s the weather like: Rounding the Mark - stormy but with some clear skies predicted.

You fear: The Patience of the Spider - I hate spiders.

What is the best advice you have to give: How to Cook up a Disaster - More of the "don't do this" type of advice.

Thought for the day: Sense and Sensibility

How I would like to die: Twenty Years After - Just don't ask me "After what?". ;-)

My soul’s present condition: Hounded

Dic 28, 2014, 6:04 pm

Book #79 - Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute by Jonathan L. Howard
Challenge(s): 75 Group, 2014 Category (mini-challenge)
Reading BINGO square: N/A
CAT(s): N/A
Source: GVPL
Format: Hardcover
Original publication date: October 1, 2013
Acquisition date: N/A
Page count: 352 pages
Decimal/ Star rating: 3.40 out of 5 /
Book description/summary: from the amazon.ca website:
Beyond the wall of sleep lies the Dreamlands, a world formed by dreams, but not a dream itself. For countless millennia, it has been explored only by those with a certain detachment from mundane reality, its strange seas navigated and its vast mountains climbed by philosophers, mystics, and poets. Well, those halcyon days are over, beatniks. Johannes Cabal is coming. Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, is employed by the mysterious Fear Institute to lead an expedition into the Dreamlands, an expedition to hunt and destroy the dread Phobic Animus, the font of terrors, the very source of all the world’s fear. They will enter exotic lands where magic is common and monsters abound. Cabal will encounter witches, vile abominations, and far too many zebras. And, when they finally come close to their goal, Cabal will have to face his own nightmares. But for a man who communes easily with devils and the dead, surely there is nothing left to fear. . . .
Not as good as the previous Johannes Cabal books but a good read for the interesting world build and the unexpected twists Howard presents to the reader. Sadly, Cabal has become a more tempered individual with each new book in the series. I kind of miss the perpetual sarcasm and complete intellectual snobbery that would emit from Cabal. As the book explains,
"A year or two before, he (Cabal) would not have cared, but then he had been a soulless creature. Now he found himself very occasionally making decisions that were not entirely logical."
Don't get me wrong. Sarcasm still streams out between Cabal's lips, fueled in part by the three members of the Fear Institute who journey with Cabal into the Dreamlands. As I mentioned, the world build is pretty good - don't try to compare it to the Dreamworld of Neil Gaiman's Sandman series - and worthy of reading for that alone, even if the pacing of the story is a bit sluggish in places. Of course, I should mention that Howard ends The Fear Institute with a cliff hanger for the next book in the series, but it is not much of a cliff-hanger unless I am completely mistaken, so if you do find The Fear Institute to be a really good read for you, I suggest you have the next book in the series ready at hand - something I haven't done but will rectify.

Dic 29, 2014, 1:20 am

I doubt that I will manage to complete another book before 2014 ends, so now seems like a good time to migrate the fun 'officially' over to the new group. For those of you who haven't found it yet, my 2015 thread in the new group can be found here.

Closing out my 2014 challenge thread with my top 10 reads of the year.

Top 10 Reads in 2014:

Little, Big by John Crowley
The Complete Essex County by Jeff Lemire
Man by Kim Thuy
The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Quick by Lauren Owen
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Laidlaw by William McIlvanney
the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon

Dic 29, 2014, 8:48 am

Nice wrap-up! Man and The Martian are two books that I'd like to read, so I'm happy to see them on your top-10 list.

I also think it's great that you list Essex County as a place you'd like to visit. I live in nearby Waterloo County, so do visit if you make it there. :)

Dic 29, 2014, 2:58 pm

I love that my favorite books are all so different in subject matter and writing style!

One of these years I will make it out to Ontario. If and when that happens, I will make sure to have Waterloo County as part of the trip plan!

Dic 29, 2014, 6:01 pm

>236 lkernagh: Shame that this one doesn't quite live up to its predecessors and thanks for the warning on the ending. Maybe I'll just pick both up as part of my imminent thingaversary. I did like your wrap-up too.

Dic 29, 2014, 6:06 pm

>240 AHS-Wolfy: - If it helps any, Johannes is still Johannes, just muted and with a bit of .... well,.... dare I say it.... a conscience?! I am hopeful that book four in the series will at least partially bring back the litany of scathing comments I have grown to enjoy so much. We shall see. ;-)

Dic 29, 2014, 9:20 pm

Hmm, Johannes will be interesting with a conscience, but he needs to be very sarcastic as well. Thanks for the heads-up about the ending!

Dic 29, 2014, 9:31 pm

Part of me hopes that The Fear Institute is the usual 'growing pains' books that authors write once they realize they have a serial on their hands and try to mix things up a bit. I have my fingers crossed that in book four Howard has returned full reigns back to Johannes and the sarcasm will runneth over. ;-)

Dic 29, 2014, 9:41 pm

It had better be! I love that series too much for it to go awry!

Dic 30, 2014, 11:39 am

>235 lkernagh: Fun! Definitely stealing that for myself. :)

Dic 31, 2014, 10:00 am

Have a happy new year! Thank you for being such a fabulous thread-hostess -- all those amazing food and beer discussions encouraged some of my own baking (while listening to audiobooks, or course!) I hope you find dozens of good books in your 2015 reading!

Dic 31, 2014, 12:23 pm

>246 ELiz_M:

Great fireworks!

See you next year. Your thread is always interesting.

Dic 31, 2014, 2:49 pm

>246 ELiz_M: - Thanks Eliz! Love the fireworks display! May your 2015 be equally grand!

>247 hailelib: - Thanks!


For all my wonderful visitors, you have made 2014 a delightful year. I look forward to following your reading adventures in 2015.

Gen 2, 2015, 8:47 am

Happy New Year Lori!