Sunday, October 11, 2015

Slade House

by David Mitchell

My husband recently read Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and loved it. Then we watched the movie and with his help I was able to follow the imaginative story.

So when I saw a new book by Mitchell being offered on NetGalley, I requested it.

Slade House is a perfect Halloween ghost story.  There's a good plot, interesting characters, remarkable set-up that only needs the spirit of one human every nine years.

Not a typical genre for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I'm glad I got to read it just before Halloween.

Thirteen Ways of Looking

by Colum McCann

Both the cover and titled caught my attention on this book. Thirteen Ways of Looking is a collection of short stories.  This is one of those books that I have a hard time reviewing.  I loved it but I don't want to give anything away.

The writing was beautiful, but it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the book.  At times the voice was an old man loosing his mind and at other, even withing the same paragraph, was the voice of a narrator.  I didn't notice that as I got further into the book.  Maybe the editing got better or I got used to the style.

Other than that complaint, the writing was beautiful and descriptive. The reason I don't know what to write is because I suspect there was symbolism that I missed or didn't understand.  This is a book I want to read again and study the poem about crows so I can understand their connection.   

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Magic of Jello

I love reading cookbooks and looking through the pictures.  And even though I don't cook often I do enjoy adding a sticky note to recipes that look yummy and are easy to make.  If they promise to be worth the effort I will occasionally spend the time necessary to wow my family with something special.  For instance, I don't bake cookies but I have to try the Gingerbread People because they are made with butterscotch pudding!

I have tried and loved many of the recipes in this books or variations of the recipes.  My mom use to make Sunset Salad every time she served Sloppy Joes.  Sunset Salad is orange Jello with shredded carrots and crushed pineapple stirred in.  Sometime mom would add cabbage instead of the pineapple.  We loved it.

This book includes lots of kid friendly ideas like Worm Cake, Witches Brew, No-Drip Pops, and a favorite treat of my family - Jigglers.  Remember Jello doesn't have any fat and is low in calories but high in flavor so it's perfect for kids treats.

Another family favorite is Poke Cake.  This book includes a recipe for Rainbow Cake which is a layered cake with each layer featuring a different color Jello.  Every year for his birthday, my husband requests Raspberry Poke Cake frosted with Cool Whip.

Something I haven't tried yet is Slurpies made with Jello and Ginger Ale (or pop of choice).  The picture looks like shaved ice from one of those expensive stands.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Beautiful Blue Death

by Charles Finch

First off - I love this cover and I'm not sure why.  Is it the colors?  Or the old fashion apothecary bottles?  Or is it because it makes good use of the 'rule of thirds?  It's probably all those mixed together because I can't pinpoint any one reason but I do find it very appealing.

A Beautiful Blue Death is the first of the Charles Lenox mystery series.  I love it when I actually start a series at the beginning.  The first part is a slow going as the stage is being set and the characters introduced.  I rather like Lenox, a Victorian gentleman who is also an amateur sleuth.  A dear lady-friend of his asks him to look into the death of a former domestic. Joining the story as an aid to Lenox is an alcoholic, washed up doctor.  At that point in the book I threw up my arms in despair as I realized this was merely a remake of Sherlock Holmes.  Add to the mix of characters a brother who works in the Parliament.  "Oh no," says I.  "This is really too much!"

I continued reading, however, and discovered that, although Lenox, the doctor, and the brother resemble the Sherlock characters, there were qualities in the characters that endeared them to me and I also grew interested in the plot.  As Lenox narrowed down the list of suspects and was convinced of the guilty party, that person turned up murdered.

I look forward to reading the next in this series and watching the character development and the relationships between the major characters.

Just checked and discovered there are already six books in this series.  I better get reading!  The covers continue to appeal to me so I am going to show them here as a reminder of the correct order.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The World of Poo

by Terry Pratchett

I have enjoyed reading several Pratchett novels but this little "fairytale for all ages" was not one of them.  Early on I thought first- or second-graders would giggle shamelessly if their teacher were to read this to them but closer to the end I realized they would be as bored as I was.

There were a lots of vocabulary words to talk about poo or going poo, such as doing one's business.  And I suppose there was even occasion for learning new things, such as hippos whirling their tail around so as to splatter the poo as far as they can to mark their territory.  This would be especially memorable if the children could watch a video in science showing such a thing.

That said, I would suggest not bothering with the book.  Talk to your husband, children, or grandchildren to learn what there is to know about poo.  It dawned on me as I wrote that last sentence that Pratchett is from England so maybe the husbands, children, and grandchildren over there don't talk about these things in polite company.  Thus, the need for this book.