Category Archives: Memes

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 10-16-17 #IMWAYR #RIPXII

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Readers Imbibing Peril XII Challenge

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Slade House Readalong

Since my last update, I came to the end of Slade House by David Mitchell on audio. I hope the next book is already written, because Slade House must be the second of a planned trilogy or more (starting with The Bone Clocks). Discussion questions for the readalong were posted on Monday, so I hope eventually to do a discussion post!

audiobook cover imageBy the way, for anyone who’s worried about reading Slade House before The Bone Clocks, here’s a recommendation for reading them out of order.

On audio, I’m listening to two books that fit into the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge. On my iPod: The Likeness by Tana French, read by Grainne Gillis – the second book in her Dublin Murder Squad crime fiction novels. (This one is from the point of view of Cassie, instead of Rob, who was the narrator of In the Woods.) On CD, I just started listening to Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and son Owen King. I’m waiting for the downloadable version to come in from the library, but sometimes it’s more comforting to listen aloud to a scary story instead of having it go directly, privately, into your ear with no one else hearing what you’re hearing!

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This week I finally finished reading The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder. I almost didn’t, because I felt so sorry for the insecure characters – snarky as they mostly were – and their self-destructive behavior leading up to the wedding made me anxious.

If you liked The Nest by Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney, Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford, or (going way back) Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney, you will probably like The People We Hate at the Wedding. I sympathized most with the weed-addicted, well-meaning mother, but her adult children,  half-siblings – one successful and getting married, two floundering, career-wise, and in unhealthy relationships – are the main characters.

Recommended for anyone who likes to read about dysfunctional families and is prepared for some truly loathsome and regrettable behavior by people who can’t seem to stop themselves. If you prefer main characters to be not completely self-absorbed and have redeeming qualities that are somewhat obvious, best to go for something else!

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This past week, I started and put aside –for the second time – George & Lizzie, by retired librarian and reader’s advisory guru Nancy Pearl. It’s the author’s first novel and it struck me as a lot of “telling” and not enough “showing”, which would be a common writing mistake for a first-time novelist, but Nancy Pearl is an experienced book reviewer and writer of nonfiction, so I thought it must be a stylistic choice, a way to bring out the quirky, off-beat nature of the characters – young Lizzie and George. The narrative style didn’t work for me, however, and I got bored being told everything all at once.

Has anyone read it and can tell me to keep going with it? I’m a big Nancy Pearl fan and expected to love George & Lizzie. Maybe I should try it on audio?

Currently Reading

Something from the Nightside by Simon Green is a genre-blend of dark urban fantasy and noir crime fiction, which makes it ideal for October reading and the RIPXII challenge; it’s the first in a series I’ve been meaning to try for a while. (The series is up to eleven books now, I believe. Damn!)

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Taylor is the name, John Taylor. My card says I’m a detective, but what I really am is an expert on finding lost things. It’s part of the gift I was born with as a child of the Nightside.

I left there a long time ago, with my skin and sanity barely intact. Now I make my living in the sunlit streets of London. But business has been slow lately, so when Joanna Barrett showed up at my door, reeking of wealth, asking me to find her runaway teenage daughter, I didn’t say no.

Then I found out exactly where the girl had gone.

The Nightside. That square mile of Hell in the middle of the city, where it’s always three A.M. Where you can walk beside myths and drink with monsters. Where nothing is what it seems and everything is possible.

I swore I’d never return. But there’s a kid in danger and a woman depending on me. So I have no choice—I’m going home.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are, and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile!
This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

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Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny: Curried Roasted Squash Soup #weekendcooking

For far too many years, I hated winter squash and wouldn’t eat it. Pureed squash was watery, bland, and mushy, with a weird grainy texture. Squash soup was the same, except it came in a bowl and you had to eat more of it.

Once I discovered that roasting cubed winter squash in a hot oven with olive oil and herbs and adding savory apple and curry flavors to squash soup transforms this once-hated veggie into a must-have fall favorite, there was no going back to that slooshy scoop of tepid squash puree slowly seeping into everything else on the plate.

So, what could be better than combining the two preparation methods – roasting and currying – and making Curried Roasted Squash Soup? Finally, butternut squash lives up to its tasty-sounding name!butternut squash with Halloweenn potholders

There are recipes for similar autumnal soups all over the place, but this particular Curried Roasted Squash Soup recipe comes from the cookbook Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny (Storey, 2006).

We’re still having tropical weather in New England in mid-October, but the author has written it up on the publisher’s Web site as Polar Vortex Soup, and you’ll find the full recipe there. I tasted it at our library cookbook club meeting last month, where Dishing Up Maine was an alternate selection with other Maine cookbooks. Delicious!

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The recipe does call for 1/4 cup of brown sugar, which I’m planning to cut in half when I make it. The apple and cinnamon make the soup seem sweet already, so I don’t think we’ll miss the extra brown sugar too much.

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click or tap image to read foodie posts from other bloggers.

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Favorite Summer Cookbooks #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

Summer zoomed past with nary a Weekend Cooking post from me, so even though it’s fall now, I wanted to tell you about some of the cookbooks I cooked from (or wanted to cook from) this summer. We’re in the midst of a tropical heat wave as I write this, so it still feels like summer here in New England!

Two of the cookbooks are by mother-daughter team Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw. Linda Greenlaw is famous for being the country’s only female swordfish boat captain (She wrote The Hungry Ocean: A Swordfish Captain’s Journey) and has written several memoirs and started more recently to write mysteries. Martha Greenlaw also sounds like a captain, although she runs a different kind of tight ship – her kitchen.

The Maine Summers Cookbook
by Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw
Avery, 2011

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Recipes from a Very Small Island
by Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw
Hyperion, 2005

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These two were our main/Maine cookbook club selections this month, and they were universally liked. The funny and moving stories they contained of life in Maine  – especially on Isle au Haut, tiny island off the coast, where they are now permanent residents – made several cookbook club members go looking for Linda Greenlaw’s memoirs. I borrowed these from the library, but there were a lot of recipes I still want to make, especially after tasting a dozen different recipes at cookbook club.

As an example of Linda Greenlaw’s humorous writing, here’s a brief excerpt from the section on clambakes (she’s not a fan) titled The Beginner’s Guide to Clambakes or How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Lobster:

In preparation for a clambake, the following will be needed: lobsters, clams, corn on the cob, butter, hot dogs, marshmallows, two huge galvanized washtubs – one for the corn and one for the shellfish – firewood, several cases of beer, and as many ill-behaved children as you can find.

The first, and perhaps most critical, step toward a successful clambake is choosing the right location. Theories vary on this, but in my experience it is proper to choose a spot along the beach that is most uncomfortable. Make sure that your selected site meets at least two of the following criteria:

  1. There is absolutely nowhere to sit down.

  2. The beach is comprised of round rocks that shift when stepped on to ensure poor footing.

  3. There are sheer, jagged cliffs in the area for children to play on.

The recipe I made was simple and delicious – Smoked Salmon Spread with (Wasabi) Rice Crackers. It came from The Maine Summers Cookbook: Recipes for Delicious, Sun-Filled Days. It called for smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, minced red onion, and lemon juice. It’s a great gluten-free appetizer – for people who like smoked salmon, anyway – and can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to two weeks, which makes it a good party recipe.

The real hit of the night, though, was the Tomato, Caramelized Onion, and Brie Galette, followed closely by the Wicked Good Lobster and Black Bean Chili (not pictured.) I used a blue plate for my salmon spread and crackers contribution, thinking it looked so Maine, but didn’t notice until dessert that everything had slid to one side! #presentationfail

My personal favorite of the night was the Key Lime Rum Cake. One of the best-tasting cakes I’ve ever had! More lime flavor than rum.

All of the above recipes came from The Maine Summers Cookbook, but the cookbook club prize for most impressive recipe (if we gave out prizes) would have to go to Crab Madeleines with Citrus Tartar Sauce from Recipes from a Very Small Island.

The next one on my list is by Liz Barbour, a New England chef who has done two cooking demos at our library.

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Beautifully Delicious
by Liz Barbour
Photographs and design by Celeste Guidice
Creative Feast, 2017

Beautifully Delicious: Cooking with Herbs and Edible Flowers seems expensive if you look at price vs. number of pages (only 56) but the gorgeous color photography (what you’re paying for) is truly an integral part of the book. There are step-by-step photos of many of the recipes, as well as of the end results. The book is also packed with hints and recipe variations, so even though it seems short, there’s a lot there!

Because of the edible flowers and recipes like Honeydew Cilantro Salad (Liz made this for us at the library – delicious!) and Sparkling Basil Lemonade, I think of Beautifully Delicious as a summer cookbook, but most of the recipes don’t actually require edible flowers and fresh herbs and produce are available year-round. I made the Butternut Squash with Arugula and Sage and could easily see it (or its variation, Butternut Spinach Salad) as a fall recipe. The recipes are simple and don’t require the talents of a chef to prepare.

Beautifully Delicious is formatted as a high-quality ring binder with pages that turn easily and stay open at any point in the book. You can sample Liz’s recipes on her blog, but I believe the recipes in the cookbook aren’t available online – for obvious reasons!

I didn’t get to make many recipes from this last one on my favorite summer cookbooks list, but there’s always next summer!

Summer Cocktails
by María Del Mar Sacasa
Quirk Books, 2015

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I have other cocktail books which I also don’t get to use often enough, but being someone who likes to know the proper season for things, I liked having so many light, summertime drinks collected for me in one place.

I borrowed Summer Cocktails from the library, also, but it’s going on my birthday/Christmas present wish list. The pictures are pretty; the text is entertaining; and the book opens up and lies flat. If I owned this book, it would be a keeper!

P.S. My birthday’s coming up next month and I just found out that there’s a Winter Cocktails book, too!

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Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

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