Thursday, September 18, 2014

At Last!

Kindle Voyage - image from amazon

There's good news for kindle owners today. No, not the announcement of 7 new devices (although the new Kindle Voyage looks good to me), but at long last kindle owners have been granted the ability to share books. It's called "Family Library" and will be available for all Kindle eReaders released since August 2010, from the Kindle Keyboard onward. A software update is all that's required.

Your "family" may consist of two adult accounts and up to four kids accounts. Since my kids are technically adults, I wasn't aware of amazon's designated kids accounts. However, this still presents a dilemma... I must now choose between linking my library with my mother or my sister. It's a good thing my daughters don't read on kindles.

P.S.  Don't worry, Mom. I've got you covered!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bring on the Backlist!

Yesterday's Top Ten Tuesday asked about authors we've tried once and want to read more. I'm a day late, but decided to play along anyway. Here's my list:

1. Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings)
This will certainly appear on my year-end favorites list. The Position is just $1.99 for the kindle edition now. Have you read it? Can you recommend any of her other novels?

2. Ken Follett (Fall of Giants)
My first book was both long and the beginning of a trilogy. Winter of the World  is on my shelf and the third installment, The Edge of Eternity, was just released.

3. Anne Enright (The Forgotten Waltz)
Beautifully written, maybe a little depressing. Her prize-winning novel, The Gathering, will be next.

4. Graham Greene (The End of the Affair)
Was it the novel or Colin Firth's narration?  Either way, I definitely want more.

5. Claire Messud (The Woman Upstairs)
I was so impressed with this novel, I picked up The Emperor's Children at the library book sale.

6. Elinor Lipman (The View from Penthouse B)
I'm sorry it took so long for me to finally read one of her novels. The Inn at Lake Devine will be next.

7. John Williams (Stoner)
This one is actually an all-time favorite, so I really hope his other books are as good.

8. Junot Diaz (This is How You Lose Her)
A complete surprise...I never expected to love this book. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is near the top of my TBR pile.

9. W. Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil)
It's been over five years, but I still plan to return to this author.

10. Daphne DuMaurier (Rebecca)
Why have I never moved beyond Rebecca? Maybe My Cousin Rachel will be next...

Visit The Broke and the Bookish for more Top Ten Tuesday posts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Intro: The Haunting of Hill House

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson

I sat down to begin The Haunting of Hill House on Saturday afternoon, posted a photo on Instagram, and received an interesting piece of advice shortly afterwards: Do not read this book before bedtime! Horror isn't my usual genre, so of course that got my attention.

A quick look at the goodreads summary convinced me not to take any chances.
First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
The Estella Society is hosting a readalong in conjunction with the R.I.P. IX challenge. It runs through the end of the month, so there's plenty of time if you'd like to join us... there's safety in numbers!

What do you think of the intro? Are you brave enough?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weekly Update: September 14

Is it really mid-month? September has been crazy-busy. That laid back summer weekday pace is behind us and weekends fill up so fast. First, we had an amazing Labor Day with all of our daughters home. Last weekend  was our annual Girl's Outing - an overnight with my mother and all three of my sisters in honor of Mom's birthday. And today, we are off on a day trip to visit Twin A . That should mean a wonderful brunch somewhere in Rhinebeck, NY.

On the reading front:

I finished An American Tragedy  by Theodore Dreiser yesterday! Just under 900 pages and I almost hated to see it end! Published in 1925, it's based on an actual murder which occurred in the Adirondack Mountains of NY in the early 20th century. A couple hundred pages (at least) could easily have been cut, but it was still a great read. I'm glad the Classics Club Spin dealt me this title.

I'm 33% done with A Murder is Announced  by Agatha Christie, but didn't pick it up at all last week while I was focused on  An American Tragedy. It's on my kindle, so that means it will be my bedtime reading this week.

R.I.P. IX - I finally got around to signing up, and will participate in the group read of The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson hosted by The Estella Society. I borrowed the book from my library and started it yesterday. Terri sent some very helpful advice - do not read before bed! This is going to be fun.

On the blog recently:
Review - We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas
Review -  Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family by Mark Leslie
Review - The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones
Cookbook Review - Weber's Real Grilling
Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Classics

In the kitchen:
Fall arrived with a vengeance this week. Last Friday, we flirted with 90 degrees and two days ago we never hit 60.  Comfort food was definitely in order, so I broke out slow cooker and tried  a Crock Pot Potato Soup... it definitely hit the spot!

Mostly football right now, but I'm excited about a few upcoming series. First, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History  filmed by Ken Burns hits PBS tonight. Season 2 of The Paradise  begins on Masterpiece September 28. Season 1 is available on Netflix Instant now if you need to catch up or would like a refresher.

Finally, have you heard that Olive Kitteridge, based on the novel by Elizabeth Strout, will be an HBO miniseries? That one is coming in November. We've never paid for HBO... perhaps the time has come.

This should all make the wait for Downton Abbey  a little more bearable. And college basketball isn't very far away, either!

This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

R.I.P. IX: Better Late...

R.I.P. IX - It's that time again, and I'm late to the party. This is the ninth edition of Readers Imbibing in Peril, a favorite of bloggers everywhere. Our host, Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, invites us to read:

Dark Fantasy.

The event runs through October 31, and the rules couldn't be simpler:
1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.

Carl is offering several levels of participation.

I've chosen Peril the Second - read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P. categories. My plan is to read A Murder is Announced  by Agatha Christie and another book still to be determined.

I will also participate in Peril of the Group Read. Andi and Heather of The Estella Society are hosting a readalong of The Haunting of Hill House  by Shirley Jackson which will run from September 1 to October 1. I just picked up a copy from the library yesterday and can't wait to get started. All the details are here.

Have you chosen your peril?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated Classics

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is underrated books or authors in a particular genre. Most of you know I can't pass up an opportunity to talk about classics, so here is my list of ten underrated classics. These are all books I have enjoyed and think should be read more widely.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
This is my current read and, while it may be overly long, it's very good. I've already added Sister Carrie  to my "must read" list.

Why is Anne the lesser Bronte? She was way ahead of her time with this novel.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
This is Yates' most popular novel. His books tend to be depressing, but he is an amazing writer. 

The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
I read this book nearly a decade ago during a week-long snowstorm - a very memorable experience. The miniseries is excellent, too.

Independent People by Halldor Laxness
This saga from the Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic author is a "huge, skaldic treat filled with satire, humor, pathos, cold weather and sheep."

The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Do not miss this Persephone classic!

The Cairo Trilogy by  Naguib Mahfouz 
These three novels (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street) by the Nobel Prize-winning author tell the story of a Muslim family in Cairo during Britain’s occupation of Egypt in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Therese Raquin by Emile Zola
My introduction to Zola, "Therese Raquin  is a clinically observed, sinister tale of adultery and murder among the lower classes in nineteenth-century Parisian society." I loved it!

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Angle of Repose receives more attention, but Crossing to Safety  is my favorite.

Stoner by John Williams
A truly beautiful novel. "John Williams’s luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world."

Have you read any of these books? Which classics do you think are underrated?
Visit The Broke and the Bookish for more Top Ten Tuesday posts.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cook It Up: Weber's Real Grilling

Summers are short in central New York, so we take advantage of every moment - boating on the lake, relaxing on the patio, grilling, and eating outdoors. That made choosing an August project for Trish's Cook It Up! cookbook challenge a cinch. Weber's Real Grilling has been on my shelf for years. I bought it to go with a Father's Day grill so long ago that the grill is history. The cookbook, however, remains on the shelf, woefully underutilized.

Now it's decision time. Should I keep it or donate it to the library book sale? The first think I did was look through the book for comments on recipes we've already tried. I found just two:

  • Halibut with Grill-Roasted Lemon and Caper Dressing - very good! try with swordfish, too
  • Bottle o' Beer Chicken Thighs - pretty good

I would have sworn there were others. Since I almost always make some sort of notation, perhaps they weren't worth a comment?

Anyway, the book is printed on very high-quality paper and each recipe is accompanied by a color photograph. There is an introduction to grilling, tips on choosing a grill, and a discussion of basic techniques and handy tools. Chapters include starters, red meat, pork, poultry, fish, veggies and sides, and even desserts. Each chapter offers additional information specific to the category - for example, cuts of meat, what to look for in purchasing beef, how to tell if its done, etc. There are even post-it flags in the back so you can mark your favorite recipes.

Armed with my own supply of post-it flags, I marked nearly 20 recipes to try. In the end, one fish, one red meat, and one chicken recipe made the cut.

Halibut a la Tunisia

Halibut is one of my favorite types of fish. This recipe calls for making a paste of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, paprika, coriander, cumin, garlic, kosher salt and pepper. It is spread on the fish, refrigerated for an hour or so, and then grilled. The recipe was okay, but there are so many tastier ways to prepare halibut I doubt I will make it again.

New York Steaks with Corn and Avocado Salsa

We used a filet and a strip steak, and rubbed them with the mixture of chile powder, paprika, garlic, kosher salt, oregano, and pepper as directed. After the steaks were grilled, they were topped with the corn and avocado salsa, made according to the recipe. The result...meh. I prefer the spice mixture my husband has perfected over the years, and the salsa wasn't that great either.

Tandoori Chicken Kebobs

After seeing The Hundred Foot Journey, we were craving Indian food and this marinade of plain yogurt, fresh ginger, and several spices including turmeric and cumin sounded perfect. It was good, but not great. I wouldn't make it again.

My final verdict:
Three mediocre recipes. There are still several more I want to try but, given the track record, I think this one goes to the library. Besides, I need to make room for Ina Garten's new cookbook!

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.


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