Posts Tagged 'reading'

March Update

I’m not exactly sure how, but March appears to have arrived.  And with March, Autumn has also arrived.  Just 7 days in and already mornings are darker, and colder. The weather is much more changeable, with rainy days alternating with fine days.  This morning we woke to the mountain dusted with its first sprinking of snow.  The girls had gone to bed in their summer jammies the night before… maybe for the last time this season, unless we have an unseasonably warm spell I guess! 

Of course autumn and winter are lovely times for year for knitters. Already I seem to have more ideas on what to knit, and am starting to put together a ‘knit list’ for the girls and I.  I do have a few finished items to photograph, so I’ll rope in DS tomorrow to get some pictures to share.

In the meantime I’ll show you my latest toy…

Yep ( my sister will likely be laughing now as she showed off her Nook to me at Christmas time…) I decided it was time I got with the information age and bought a Kindle.  It’s been a lot of fun getting used to it, and it has been fabulous so far.  I have read a number of books on it already, including some bought for very little.  Notably I bought, for the grand sum of 99c US a copy of The Works of L.M. Montgomery and have spent some weeks reading through old favourites: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, Rainbow Valley, and Rilla of Ingleside.  In fact I don’t know if I ever read the last of these novels, I didn’t recall at all the final book which is set during the first World War.  There are four more books in the collection to read, but I’ve put these aside for now. 

I’ve also read a few of the free books, most of them are short and easily read… After the Leaves Fall, Homespun Bride, Goodness Gracious Green, Just as I am, and Stuck in the Middle.  None of them are hugely recommended but neither are any of them awful.  Very light reading!

One book that came highly recommended to me was Room by Emma Donoghue.  A stunningly written book, I loved the language and viewpoint: it’s narrated by a five year old who has never been outside the room that he shares with his mother: never been outside, or seen the world outside his room. The characterisation of Jack is great – his development throughout the novel and looking back at how he became to be the unique character he is, is very insightful.  His Ma is also really well written, she and her actions really resonate.  It’s not a cheerful story, but it is well worth reading.  I can’t recommend this highly enough for both the quality of the writing, and the story. I’m delighted to hear that it has been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize – it’s certainly a quality piece of writing that deserves recognition.

Or if you want some light reading, I can recommend the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. It’s the first in a series that are available either on Kindle or the old fashioned paper copies.  The heroine, Hannah Swensen mixes cookie dough and runs of cookie/coffee shop as a job and dabbles in solving murders in her spare time. Filled with delectable sounding recipes, this is probably not recommended for people on diets… But for the interests of reporting in here, I felt it important to bake at least one of the recipes and report back!  I chose the Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies, and they were a huge success.

I wasn’t sure about putting the recipe here, but a quick online search showed me it’s already published online, so here goes (with thanks to About.com.

Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks melted)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 beaten eggs (beat with fork)
2 1/2 cups flour (not sifted)
2 cups crushed corn flakes
(crush them with your hands)
1 – 2 cups chocolate chips
Melt butter, add the sugars and stir. Add soda, salt, vanilla and beaten eggs. Mix well. Then add flour and stir it in. Add crushed corn flakes and chocolate chips and mix it all thoroughly.Form dough into walnut-sized balls with your fingers and place on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Press them down with a floured or greased fork in a crisscross pattern (the same method as peanut butter cookies).

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack until they’re completely cool. (The rack is important — it makes them crisp).  I made around 60 cookies from this size mix.  They didn’t last the week out. All gone.

I also tested the Pecan Chews recipe – and since I found that on Wikipedia, I’ll pop it on here too… But with a warning. Miss 4 told me that they were ‘bland’. It’s her new favorite word. I didn’t think they were bland. But I did need to add another half cup of flour to the recipe so it wasn’t so sticky.

Pecan Chews Hannah Swensen Cookie Recipe from Joanne Fluke’s book, “The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in middle of oven.

1 Cup butter 3 Cups brown sugar 4 eggs, beaten with a fork 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 3 tsp vanilla 2 Cups finely chopped pecans 4 Cups flour, unsifted

Melt butter. Add sugar and mix. Add eggs and mix. Add salt, soda and vanilla and mix. Add pecans and flour and mix thoroughly.

Roll into walnut-sized balls. If dough is too sticky, chill for an hour or so and try again. 12 cookies per sheet. Flatten balls with spatula. Bake at 350 for 10–12 minutes.

Cool for a minute or so on cookie sheet, then move to cooling racks. Don’t leave too long on cookie sheets after baking because these cookies will stick.

I halved this recipe, so got around 40 cookies. They also disappeared quick smart (I made the batches a week of so apart…) and I think everyone liked them. Or maybe they were just pleased to get a break from food with zuchinni and/or lemons in them. 

I do have a couple more books I’ve read since I last posted about reading here, but I can’t think what they were right now – so I’ll check my bookshelf and fill you in more later.

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I’ve been…

Time traveling lately.

 

Given that I’m not a science-fiction fan, I find the concept of time travel as presented in these novels as quite acceptable. And it makes me question my statement that I prefer my books believeable.  Especially when you consider how many cars Stephanie Plum has blown up or destroyed over the years… I think I prefer my fiction to have the ring of truth to it. But, I don’t think that it’s likely I will start avoiding standing stones at certain times of the year, or accepting explanations from stark naked men I see on the street that blame time travel for their condition…

My lovely sisters read Diana Gabaldon’s novels before I did – in fact I read the first of them about 5 years ago now, and took a small stack with me when I travelled away on a school camp, thus infecting a colleage with the desire to read them too.  Yes, I have to confess, it was the teacher reading by torchlight after hours on that camp. And, given we were sleeping on a marae, I was setting a very bad example for the girls as we all slept together on matresses in one big room. 

An Echo in the Bone is vintage Gabaldon. Nothing unexpected about this novel – it has strong plot lines, multiple stories happening at once, and a assumption that you remember who each character is without going over and over their histories (unlike some other authors I could name).  There is war, time travel, twists and turns, losses and gains, a stranger or two, and of course some interesting medical treatments.  I enjoyed this book – it’s not a fast read at all, it took me over a week to read, but coming home to familiar characters who are treated with respect by an author is always fun.

Audrey Niffenigger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife has recently been made into a movie, so in the hopes I might get to see it, I re-read this too.  Chances are I won’t get to = I think the last ‘grown up movie’ I saw might have been the recent(ish) adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – before Miss 3 was born!!  Somehow movie-going has slipped off the agenda over the years.  It’s nice to re-read a book several years after you last read it, so that you can’t remember all the intricacies of the storyline.  This is a delight to read, an amazing first novel, and I am hoping to put Niiffenigger’s new novel on my Christmas wish-list, with the confirmation that she is a solid writer – it’s not just about the story. I love the structure of this novel, the gradual unfolding of information to the reader, and to each of the characters too.  It’s funny how you can want to stay up at night to read, when you already know how  the book ends. But I wanted to, and I did.  Lots of fun – I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for more things that I’ve been doing – I have to distract you all from asking how my knitting is going!!

Blogtober 7th: My reading list

Picture 3188

You might find it difficult to believe that in addition to knitting obsessively, I’m also an obsessive reader.  One of my favourite childhood memories is of going to the library and filling our bags with as many books as we were allowed (I think it was either 20 or 30) and then getting to swap with my sister for her selection before we returned them. I am fairly sure that we must have exhausted the non-fiction section of our local library for each age group long before we were old enough to move to the next one.  Now our family go either weekly or fortnightly on Sundays to the local library for our fix. Well, Miss 1 goes to boogie in the cool lights and give us both the run-around. I optimistically browse the pathetic knitting selection (yes, those 1980s patterns *might* come back in style, but no, I am not going to knit them) before I hit the non-fiction section.

And my reading taste? Wide!  I love a good mystery, love to read a laugh out loud funny novel, adore literary fiction, and have read more Chick Lit than I’d admit to. Especially since the girls’ arrival, when reading time has been relegated to bedtime and while feeding.

Oh, and study.  The two University papers I am studying have massive reading lists of mostly dense text. One is on literary theorists, and the second is on trauma, memory and haunting in literature, mostly focusing on PTSD, theories of memory (think Freud, Lacan et al) traumatic events and grief. So, when it comes to personal reading, I like the lite version at the moment!

So, on Saturday when I saw a new Marian Keyes novel had been released, I couldn’t resist.  Keyes, while tackling serious social issues, writes with a light touch, giving the audience a sympathy with her characters and the situations they find themselves in. That said, Brightest Star in the Sky is not her best work, in my opinion (I’m stuck now trying to think which I think *is* her best). Usually she has characters from previous novels appear in her new one – they are somehow linked. This wasn’t the case with this one. And, without giving too much away about the plot of this novel, the mystical element isn’t one I appreciate much in my non-fiction. I prefer realistic plot devices- the very thing that stopped me reading Diana Gabaldon for a long time (of course, her new novel is on my to-buy list too). So, that was an instant turn-off for me. However, this is still a good read. You find yourself beginning to care for the cast of characters as you learn more about them and their histories that have brought them to this point in their lives.

So, I think this is one to borrow from the library rather than one to buy for yourself. It certainly helped me to while away some rainy days.


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