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Quizzical Monday 2

quizzical_monday

It’s time for another “Quizzical Monday”!

Question:

What novel are those last lines from?

Perhaps, so she liked to think, his career was biding its time, again like Grant’s in Galena; his latest note was post-marked from Hornell, N.Y., which is some distance from Geneva and a very small town; in any case, he is almost certainly in that section of the country, in one town or another.

To see the answer click on "Show" below.  As usual, there is nothing to be won, this is just for fun! Thanks for playing.

Answer SelectShow
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In my mailbox


Hosted by The Story Siren 

This week was quite a good week book-wise. I bought a few books for very little and got two books from Netgalley. 

I bought

My library had a book sale this week and I actually found a few books! If you read this blog regularly you will know that our library sucks. The book sales normally are a joke; the available books are mostly computer books that were already outdated at the time of publication, let alone when the library sells them off. Or they are books like the one called “How to avoid huge ships” the reviews of which will give you entertainment for days! If you haven’t read them, you should. Anyway, I am digressing, because this time they did have fiction books and some good ones to boot.

All books are in German, but for better understanding I am listing the English titles.

tochter der nachtwu1flying_scotsman 

 

For review

“Everything beautiful began after” by Simon van Booy from Netgalley. Everybody is raving about it and I must know why.

“Falling for me” by Anna David from Netgalley. This one sounded rather interesting.

everything beautifulfalling for me

  

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

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Weekend cooking: Super fast and easy cake

I found this wonderful baking book in the library the other day. As you might know I am neither a talented nor a passionate baker, but this book brought my baking spirit to (a theoretical) life. I must admit, I haven’t baked anything out of it yet, but I am planning to copy quite a few recipes. The book covers simple cakes to complicated, multi layered masterpieces and makes your mouth water. annikskuchen

It is called “Anniks göttliche Kuchen” (Annik’s divine cakes). Annik  Wecker is the wife of a well-known German musician and a baker who creates and produces cakes for bakeries and private customers.

As we are all pressed for time and busy with all sorts of things at home and at work I chose to introduce you to the simplest and fastest cake Annik knows. It is called “Puff pastry tarte with fruit” and looks and sounds delicious.

Puff pastry tarte with fruit

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of puff pastry from the cooling rack of your grocery store (270g)
  • 1 egg
  • 40g grated almonds
  • 500g fruit, cut into pieces or slices according to your taste
  • 80g sugar

Heat the oven to 200C. Roll the pastry onto your baking tray. Cut off a 1cm wide strip all around. Whisk an egg and brush it onto the edge. Put the cut off strips on top of the edge and brush with egg as well.

Cover the pastry inside with almonds evenly and place the fruit on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the fruit and the edge. Bake 25-30 minutes. 

Annik says it is easy to vary, make it round or cornered or in small pieces. You can use almost any sort of fruit you like. Sometimes she sprinkles crumbled amarettini on top of the fruit (plus the sugar) or a mix of sugar and cinnamon or coconut flakes or little slices of almonds…. the possibilities are endless. 

Enjoy! 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

becoming_marie_antoinetteBlurb:

Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?
Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.
Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

 


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x   Yes       No

For people who like: young archduchesses that need to be moulded into shape, royalty, 1st person’s POV


My thoughts: 

This is the first book in a trilogy and covers only a few years in Maria Antonia’s life. It is very detailed and talks about lots of little things in the everyday life of the family of Habsburg at the time. Since I am neither an expert on the Habsburger in general nor on Marie Antoinette specifically, I have no idea how accurate the story is, but it certainly is very entertaining.

It is told from Maria Antonia’s point of view and gives a lot of insight into what was going on in the girl’s head when she heard that she is to marry the dauphin of France, a boy she has never seen (and will not see until after their wedding has already taken place) and during the following years.

I was shocked to learn that the French would not allow her to bring even one trusted maid, they allowed almost no personal belongings and not even her pet into France. She was only 14 when she married Louis Auguste.  She was alone in a foreign country, all of a sudden the dauphine at a court of bootlickers and schemers, with nobody to talk to in her native German, nobody she knew, only speaking mediocre French! Wow!

The title of the book is more than fitting. Maria Antonia really had to *become” Marie Antoinette before she was considered suitable to marry her later husband. Not pretty enough, not smart enough, not educated enough, the teeth not straight enough….what else? She had to undergo considerable tutoring (mentally and physically) in order to please. And all according to the will of her mother Maria Theresia who, herself, refused to marry any other man than the one she loved! Double standards, anyone?

Throughout the story we read private letters between Maria Theresia and her ambassador in Versailles. This lets us peek into the mind of the woman behind the “marriage contract” and gives us an idea on how treacherous a path Marie Antoinette is walking. Not everything at the court of Versailles is what it seems to be – in fact, it is rather the opposite.

Now, for some necessary nitpicking (if you don’t speak German and have never heard of the Habsburger before you probably won’t care about those two little details):

  • Antonia’s family is the family of Habsburg. In the book they are referred to as the family of Hapsburg. I have never seen the name spelled like that before so I looked around and found an entry on wikipedia that the name sometimes is spelled that way. Don’t ask me why! “P” instead of “b” makes no difference in terms of ease of pronunciation. Then I  asked Birgit from The Book Garden, who is an Austrian, whether she has EVER seen the Habsburger as the Hapsburger. She hasn’t either. I wonder why Juliet Grey has chosen the uncommon version of the name. Seeing the name Hapsburg rubs every German speaking person the wrong way. If there are different versions of a name, shouldn’t one use the most common (and, in this case, original) one? Every time I saw the name Hapsburg in the story I flinched.
  • There are German words interspersed in conversations of people. That is ok, even though more often than not authors who are no native speakers sometimes make mistakes that spoil the reading fun.
    At one point Antonia is supposed to say “The butterfly is dead” in French. However, she is not very good at French, therefore mixes French and German up and ends up saying “Le papillon mort ist”. Sorry, but that makes no sense at all. In German, just as in French and English, the sentence structure would be subject – predicate – object, that means the correct (mixed up German-French) sentence would be “Le papillon ist mort”. No German speaker would ever put “ist” at the end of that specific sentence.
    I assume that somehow the generalisation that in German the verb always comes at the end has been taken too literally here.  There were a couple of more errors that just didn’t fit with the rest of the well researched story. I wish the author would have let a native speaker check the German because it was the only little flaw in the book. But little flaws like that annoy me. 

That being said, I loved the way the story flowed, there was not one moment of boredom or scenes I thought I could have done without. It was very enjoyable. The book ends at a point that makes perfect sense, still I was totally surprised that it came so quickly. I was reading and then all of a sudden I turned the page and – the end! For a moment I was shocked. Especially since a very important aspect in the private life of Marie Antoinette and her husband was still hanging in mid-air, and I was eager to find out how it would be resolved.

At the end of the book you will find an extensive list of books Juliet Grey used for her research, as well as some notes on writing “Becoming Marie Antoinette" and a glimpse into the beginning of the next book in the trilogy. “Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow” will be released in summer 2012. I can’t wait!

Product info and buy link :

Title Becoming Marie Antoinette
Author Juliet Grey
Publisher Ballantine Books
ISBN 978-0345523860
I got this book from Netgalley because I loved the cover and I know next to nothing about Marie Antoinette except for “Let them eat cake” and even that might not even have been her.
Buy link Buy Becoming Marie Antoinette
More info Interview with Juliet Grey about the book

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Want to know what others thought of this book? Have a look at:

TLC Blog tour of “Becoming Marie Antoinette”

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The crochet stitch bible by Betty Barnden

crochet_bible Blurb:

Author Betty Barnden shared her knowledge of needlecraft design with embroiderers in The Embroidery Stitch Bible–now she uses her expertise as a hand-knitter to bring readers The Crochet Stitch Bible. This is the book crochet enthusiasts have been waiting for. Hundreds of traditional and contemporary stitches are photographed and accompanied by detailed charts in this essential illustrated reference.

 

 


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x  Yes      No      So so

For people who like: crochet, obviously.


My thoughts: 

This is a must have for every crochet lover who wants to know more stitches than just single crochet row after row after row. It is very clearly structured and easy to use.

In the beginning, there is a short history of crochet (something no crochet books can do without seemingly), an explanation of various stitches and a few instructions on, for example, how to change colors or sew separate pieces together.

I particularly liked that all stitch patterns are shown in small thumbnails on a few pages at first to quickly flick through. Then, on the according page you find the pattern explained in detail accompanied by a symbol chart (which I always prefer).

The pattern categories cover the whole range from basic, filet, lace, trim, puff stitches to Tunisian crochet, and many more. It also offers patterns for various shapes, like clover, triangle, ammonite or Celtic octagon. If you can’t find a stitch pattern in this book, you are a hopeless case.

Product info and buy link :

Title The crochet stitch bible
Author Betty Barnden
Publisher Krause Publications
ISBN 978-0873497176
I got this book from the library
Buy link Buy The Crochet Stitch Bible
More info The buy link to Amazon also lets you look inside

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Starting from Happy by Patricia Marx

starting_from_happyBlurb:

While waiting in line for apple pie at a party, Imogene Gilfeather, a lingerie designer who does not understand the reason for romance, meets Wally Yez, a scientist whose business card says “An Answer for Everything.” Imogene is told that Wally is the perfect guy. (“Perfect,” she replies, “is not my type.”) He is told that her company, Featherware, manufactures intimates (that gets his attention). Unfazed by Imogene’s indifference (who needs love when you have a career, friends, and an undemanding affair with a married man?), Wally resolves to win her over. E-mails turn into late-night phone calls; one date turns into two and then into more. Thus begins the most absurd and amusingly unbalanced relationship to grace the pages of a novel.


In a nutshell:

I liked it:     so so

For people who: have a short attention span, like sketch comedy, are looking for a fun read, don’t take things seriously.


My thoughts: 

This was an unusual novel. I liked the general concept of short chapters, something I imagined to be similar to the vignettes of “The Time Traveller’s Wife”. The numbered “chaplettes”, however, turned out to be much, much shorter, so short in fact that they sometimes only consisted of two words (the longest was a bit less than a page if I remember correctly). This might make for a quick read, but they never kept my attention for very long. When you read a book with proper chapters, you might say to yourself “I finish this chapter before I turn the light off”. Here, finishing the “chapter” takes you a few seconds to a minute. Somehow I could never get into a reading flow. I read a few chaplettes and my interest would fade, I never got into the story.

The story itself was a good idea, but I never saw either the attraction between Wally and Imogene or how their relationship developed. Somehow, even though Imogene was not in the least interested in either Wally or a relationship in general, it went from meeting at a party to going out to having hour-long phone calls, and I have no idea how. Also it was absolutely inconceivable what Wally actually saw in Imogene, why he thought that she was the perfect woman for him, that she was *his* woman. She seemed indifferent to him at best. Where was the romance?

Then there was the humour. It was supposed to be amusing, unfortunately it wasn’t, it was forcedly funny. To the point that I thought that it is just too much and, on top of it, getting old. The sort of humour that might be funny in an episode of Saturday Night Live, but not in a 250+ pages novel, at least not to me.

Another thing that I didn’t particularly care for was the fact that Patricia Marx continuously points out to the reader that she is just another bystander and has not much more clue as to what is going on than the reader himself. There are so many references to “Patty” that you get to think she must be a character in the book! I didn’t like that. I like my writers omniscient and preferably invisible.

Interspersed across the book are a number of illustrations by the author. Unfortunately my e-reader (Sony PRS-505) didn’t show them, so I could look at them only on my PC which somehow spoilt the experience. I am sure that looking at them while reading the according chaplette would have been much more fun.

If you are looking for romance, keep away from this. If you want a funny, comedy-like, casual read with over the top humour that doesn’t hold your attention for hours on end, then go for it.

Product info and buy link :

Title Starting from happy
Author Patricia Marx
Publisher Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781439101285
I got this book from Simon & Schuster’s galley grab program
Buy link Buy Starting from Happy: A Novel on amazon
More info Patricia Marx’ page at Simon & Schuster with book trailer for “Starting from happy”

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Book Hooked Blog thought the same as I did about this one.  

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Quizzical Monday

quizzical_monday

I am starting a new weekly feature today. It is called “Quizzical Monday” and consists of only one bookish question that needs answering. There is nothing to be won, it’s only for fun, fame and glory.

One of the reasons I came up with this is that I found this great little plugin called Easy spoiler that enables you to post, hide and show a spoiler within your blog post. Apart from spoilers in books, I needed an excuse to install it and, voilà, Quizzical Monday was born! Plus, I love quizzes in general, of course. 

If you want to play and give it a go before peeking, just leave your answer in the comments. 

Question:

What is the name of the book that Jane Austen finished as a 15 year old girl?

To see the answer click on "Show" below.  

 

Answer SelectShow

 

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Locations: Unesco world heritage Bamberg

A few pictures from a short trip to the town of Bamberg, an UNESCO world heritage site. Bamberg is one of the loveliest town I know. Not only has it a great cathedral, medieval and Renaissance architecture galore, tons of restaurants (some of them tourist traps) and nice shops, it also offers a great variety of small cafes where you can sit outside and watch the world go by (one of my favourite pastimes).

bamberg1

The building at the top is a bakery now. The building with the green shutters is the “Schlenkerla”, a restaurant first mentioned in 1405.

bamberg2

We bought those “Hörnla” (Franconian dialect for “Hörnchen” (“small horn”, i.e. croissant) in a bakery that sells them since 1427.

bamberg3

The river here is the Regnitz. There is a row of lovely houses right at the river’s edge. People have their patios bordering the water and even have boats looking like gondolas in front so they can hop into their boat and go on the river.

bamberg4

At the top a store selling Bamberg lace in a small street with specialty shops. A few doors down is “Hemmingway’s Bodega”. As you can see, the owner either has noticed the small spelling mistake and crossed it out (or it was a joke to begin with or his own name is Hemmingway and he was sick of being asked what the second “m” was about). When you look inside you see a b/w image of Che Guevara in the back.

Have you been to any interesting places recently?

Credits: Blog photo templates from Pugly Pixel.

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Weekend cooking: 50+ recipes to help

I don’t know whether you have heard about this cookbook already or not. “50+ favorite bloggers – 50+ favorite recipes” is a collection of favorite recipes from bloggers that looks pretty awesome, sounds delicious and is for a good cause. 100% of the proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, and the price for the book is a real 50+ recipesbargain.

The book costs $10 as an e-book or $10 + postage as a printed book, not much at all. When I think about all the delicious dishes that I heard about through my weekend cooking fellow bloggers I think this cookbook would be a very good investment.

You can have a look at all the pages of the book at Papercoterie, where you can also order the print edition (I am sorry to say I haven’t figured out how, though. The shop’s buying system eludes me). The e-book can be bought at a separate website called “recipes to help“ built specifically for that purpose. Recipes include for example “indoor s’mores”, “peach cobbler muffins”, “the perfect cream cheese frosting” (you might remember my cry for help some time ago), “stuffed French toast filling” and many many more.

Check it out!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

Cookbook image from recipes to help.

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Book beginnings on Friday

becoming_marie_antoinette

Today’s book beginning is from “Becoming Marie Antoinette” by Juliet Grey. It is the first book in a trilogy about Marie Antoinette. “Becoming Marie Antoinette” is telling us how young Maria Antonia grew up in Vienna and what transformation she had to undergo in order to become the wife of the dauphin of France.

If you would like to know more, there is a video with an interview with Juliet Grey (pseudonym for Leslie Carroll) on the website of WCAX.

This is the beginning of “Becoming Marie Antoinette”…

Schönbrunn, May 1766

My mother liked to boast that numerous daughters were “sacrifices in politics”. I never dared to admit to Maman, who was Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, that the phrase terrified me more than she could know.

What is YOUR book beginning today?

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Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera, 7

kundera

“Eduard and God”

In order to get into the pants of his religious girlfriend Eduard pretends to believe in God. This has serious consequences for his career and it takes quite a bit of weaseling on his part to hopefully get out of trouble.

This is the last and, in my eyes, the best story of them all. It reminds me a bit of the first one “Nobody will laugh”, as it is also about a young man who gets entangled in his own web of lies.  The reasons for lying, however, differ greatly. Where in the first story the man starts lying because he does not want to hurt Mr. Zaturecky (as misguided as this may be), Eduard lies for base motives. He wants to shag his girlfriend. That is all there is to it. Little does he know that this small lie has serious consequences for his career.

Nobody describes the reasons behind people’s actions like Kundera. Everything Eduard does makes perfect sense and is so logical, you can’t find fault with him, well, at least I couldn’t. From the moment he starts lying to his girlfriend, to the scene in the office where he can’t admit to not believe in God, to the scene in the flat, to the scene in the weekend home of his brother, it is crystal clear that he couldn’t behave differently from how he did. Poor Eduard! And then there are people who say no man is forced to sleep with a woman! This story proves the opposite. I totally loved it.

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Now available: List of reviewed books

After the highly successful review-a-thon the thought to create a list with all the books reviewed didn’t sound quite so bad anymore. Somehow it is nice to see a complete list of books that I blogged about. And quite an eclectic mix it is, too….:)

First I was going to embed the Google spreadsheet on a page but the width was too wide, you would have had to scroll down AND right and that would not have been very practical. And it just didn’t look good.  So I decided to just link to the spreadsheet which is one click more but a lot more convenient to read. 

If you would like to have a look, click either here or go to the reviews page in the top menu.

 

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Needlework Tuesday: Socks and necklaces

socken

Two projects are on my agenda for the near future.

1. Crochet socks.

I have never crocheted socks before and am curious. I like the idea of homemade socks, but – as you probably know by now – I hate knitting in general, knitting with five needles is even worse. Crochet is a good alternative, but crocheted socks are not good for wearing outside. However, they might be a nice and cute accessory for lounging at home during winter.

I am using the yarn from my post from two weeks ago, but haven’t got much to show yet.

2. Crochet and beads necklace.

I found those earrings made from ribbon and pearls that are crocheted together. Normally I don’t do any delicate crochet anymore, but I sort of liked that combo of ribbon and beads. I wouldn’t wear earrings, but the piece might also make a nice pendant, don’t you think? Attach it to a not too long ribbon and you’re done!

Join us for Needlework Tuesday which is hosted by Heather from Books and Quilts.

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How to use the WLW Text Template plugin

A few days ago in my post for mini challenge 3 for the review-a-thon I mentioned the easy Text Template plug in for Windows Live Writer. If you are wondering how to use it or whether it is something you might find useful I thought I’d show you how easy it actually is.

I am starting with a simple sentence with a link that I want to add at the end of some of my posts. You can create whole pages with images and tables that way and use the templates over and over.

1. First you write your sentence with the link just like you would in any post.

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2. Go to –>View –>Source to look at the HTML code, highlight and copy it.

EDIT: In the newest version of LiveWriter this is a little different. You click on the source tab at the bottom of the page, highlight and copy your text. 

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3. Click on the Text Template Plug in in the right sidebar and select “Add new template”.

EDIT: In the newest version of Live Writer you go to the >Insert tab at the top and click on the "Text template" button of your plugin.  You continue with "Add new template". 

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4. Choose a title and a category. You can create a new category here or choose an existing one from the drop down menu. Then paste the copied html into the textbox.

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5. Click ok and save your template in the next window. You can just leave the file name as is and click “Save”.

That’s it! Next time you want that sentence in your post just click on “Text Template”, select your created template from the list and click “OK”. There it is!

You can do this with images also, of course. Just make sure the image is already uploaded, because you will need to enter the URL of the image. The code for that will then look like this (or similar, depending on the style of your image): <p><img src="URL of your image" >

Isn’t that really easy? Try it, it is a real time saver.

If you have any questions, let me know!

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In my mailbox

 

Hosted by The Story Siren 

 

I swapped

For review

  •  Becoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey.
    This title and cover caught my eye in the Goodreads newsletter and I thought it might be worth checking Netgalley for it. And imagine my smile when I saw it pop out to me right in the banner at the top!
  • The perfectly imperfect home by Deborah Needleman.
    The title caught my eye, there is no blurb, no nothing to indicate what exactly it is about. The subtitle “Essentials for decorating and living well” covers a wide field. I am curious.  

I got as gift

 

life_story becoming_marie_antoinette perfectly_imperfect_home notes_from_the_warsaw_ghetto

What was in YOUR mailbox recently?  Check out other In my mailbox participants here.

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Monster review-a-thon wrap up

Join us for our Review-a-thon!The review-a-thon is over, so I wanted to do a little recap to see what I got out of it.

What did I get accomplished?

 

Miscellaneous tasks:

  • I added the info where I got a book from and why to the product info table at the bottom of my reviews.
  • I created a “Review: To do” checklist.
  • The last reviews I posted I also cross-posted on GR and amazon.
  • I created a tutorial on how to use the WLW plugin “Text Template” which I will post shortly.
  • I didn’t create a reviewed books list but I am considering an embedded Google spreadsheet for that sometime in the future.
  • I created a Google spreadsheet for books to review with publication date etc. to keep better track.

Reviews:

During the review-a-thon

I am very happy with the outcome of the review-a-thon. Thanks to the Book Monsters for organizing it. If you were a participant, what did you get done?

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Weekend Cooking: Dinner for Busy Moms by Jeanne Muchnick

dinner_for_busy_moms Blurb:

How do you improve your family’s health and relationships, save money, and raise happier kids who get better grades and are less likely to do drugs? Family dinners! These easy strategies will get your family back to the table.


In a nutshell:

I liked it:     Yes       No    x  So so

For people who: want to get their family around the table to eat, but are totally clueless about anything even remotely cooking related. 


My thoughts: 

This book is for the absolute beginners. If you have cooked for a family for some time and have something that looks somewhat like a family life then you are probably already too advanced for it.

Let’s look at some of the things this book explains:

  • It describes the situation as it is in a majority of households
  • It describes the advantages of family meals
  • It gives tips on how to accomplish a family dinner
  • It offers tips what kids of all ages can do to help in the kitchen
  • It offers time saving tips
  • It suggests how to organize the pantry
  • It tells you how to construct a shopping list and how to shop
  • It helps you to plan weekly meals
  • It talks about must haves for the kitchen
  • It tells you how to deal with likes and dislikes of kids of all ages
  • It gives you sanity savers for yourself
  • It offers a few recipes & web resources
    In fact it tells you many things that the average reasonable person knows. I mean, come on, who doesn’t know that a home cooked meal around the dining table is healthier than having a TV-Dinner lounging on the couch while watching a cartoon?
    The manifold advantages of a freezer? Check. How to store seasoning? Check. Reading food labels before buying is recommended? Check. Cheaper stuff is in the lowest aisle? Check. Buying in bulk when on sale? Check. Using coupons? Check. I am not saying that this book is useless. Not at all. If you are a woman who just had her first kid, who has never cooked for more people than two, who only ever defrosted her dinner in the microwave, go ahead and read this book! It is a useful resource for how to organize your kitchen and your family meals. If you are an experienced mother, but still feel you are wasting hours or a fortune in your kitchen, likewise. If those criteria don’t apply, then don’t bother!
    The recipes are ok, but nothing too fantastic, the web resources might be useful now, but given the short lives of websites, the list might be outdated in six months. Both could have been left out without any regrets, I am sure.

 Product info and buy link :

Title Dinner for Busy Moms
Author Jeanne Muchnick
Publisher Plain White Press
ISBN 9781936005000
I got this book from Netgalley because I am – among others –  a busy mom
Buy link Buy Dinner for Busy Moms

 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads

 

 

 

 

 

 Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Review-a-thon mini challenge 6

Join us for our Review-a-thon!

Today is about organizing your bookshelves.

I don’t think I want to do that. If I started organizing our bookshelves I wouldn’t be done any time soon, and frankly, my three weeks of vacation are too precious to spend them organizing our books.

There is a post about our bookshelves with a picture of some of our books. There are more. I usually find the books I want (I created an additional shelf in the bedroom with books to read and review since) so I am getting by ok.

However, to go back to challenge 4, from reading a post at The Book Vixen I got an idea for an easy to implement reviewed books list with the help of an embedded Google spreadsheet. I have to think about that for a little while. I sort of like the idea.

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Book beginnings on Friday

starting_from_happy

I started reading “Starting from happy” by Patricia Marx quite some time ago, but it is a very unusual read. It consists of hundreds of short chaplettes that make it hard to get into any reading flow.

1. The first sentence goes like this:

It did not, as a matter of fact, start from happy for either of them.

2. There, that’s it.

3. Still not sure I like this book.

4. Probably not.

 

For more book beginnings on Friday, visit A few more pages!

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Review-a-thon mini challenge 5

Join us for our Review-a-thon!

Today’s challenge is about organizing upcoming reviews.

“Today, your mini-challenge is to work on organizing your upcoming reviews of books you haven’t read. Create an organizer… update… reorganize. The choice is yours. We’d like to see what you do to organize and how you think you’d improve it.”

Until today my reviewing habits were unorganized. I read books, I wrote a review, I posted the review when I felt like it.

After being such a slacker yesterday I felt I had to pull myself together today and come up with something re my organization.

In my Google calendar I entered days when there is a recurring post due (weekend cooking, needlework Tuesday etc.), but this has nothing to do with reviews per se, of course. Then I created a Google spreadsheet where I entered the books I need and want to review, where I got them from, their publication date and around when the review should be posted. The number of books I have received to review at any given time is small, I don’t like to inundate myself. So, I think this is as organized I will ever need to be.

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Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera, 6

kundera

"Dr. Havel After Twenty Years"

Dr. Havel from “Symposium” is back, considerably older and married to a gorgeous, young actress. His Casanova charms have faded a bit, the women don’t look at him that longingly any longer and he tries to come to terms with that while he drinks the waters in some sleepy resort.

Dr. Havel and his mid-life crisis is quite interesting. He suffers quite a bit, but is happy to be validated once more by the presence of his young and beautiful wife. The actress’ short presence in town has made him interesting again and the women are only too eager to please him once more. That is him taken care of.

The more fascinating character is the newspaper editor. He only comes to talk to Dr. Havel in order to get an interview with his wife (another disappointment for the doctor), but when he is being told what an expert in the erotic field Dr. Havel is, he is only too ready to make him his master. His willingness to ditch his girlfriend whom he loves because of some derisive comment from Dr. Havel part who was asked to “inspect and rate” her is hard to digest. All the more so because we know that the zero rating has nothing to do with the girl herself but Dr. Havel’s own bad mood. That the editor later seduces an older woman, again on the recommendation of his tutor who only played a joke on him by doing so, doesn’t come to a surprise anymore. This love, indeed, was laughable – in an uneasy way.

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Review-a-thon mini challenge 4

Join us for our Review-a-thon!

Today is about updating review lists.

“Create one… update… reorganize.”

Sounds like a nice plan, but, no!

I like review lists to maybe check whether someone has reviewed something that I have read also, without having anything specific in mind. Other than that I have no use for them.

I have a review category on the blog, plus everybody can use the search box to look for a specific author or book. Call me stubborn and incorrigible, but I think I will give this one a pass.

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The track of sand by Andrea Camilleri

track of sandBlurb:

Life-loving, pasta-inhaling Inspector Salvo Montalbano, the embattled Sicilian policeman, has much to worry about, from his growing bald spot to his ever-tottering relationship with the demanding Livia to the steadily more vicious crime he must confront, but even he is surprised to see a dead horse on the sand when he looks out his window one morning (admittedly, he had been dreaming about horses, though the horse he was riding was a woman). From this peculiar equine beginning, Montalbano soon finds himself embroiled in a puzzling case that involves horse stealing, race fixing, and murder. Along the way, of course, there is plenty of time for lunch, though Montalbano’s ability to concentrate on his food is impeded by two women who seem more than willing to fill the gap created by Livia’s absence.


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x   Yes       No

For people who like: Salvo Montalbano, Sicily, mysteries without many twists that have a lot of atmosphere


My thoughts: 

This is the 12th book in the Inspector Montalbano series. The books get their charm from the Sicilian atmosphere just as much as from Salvo Montalbano’s relationships with his colleagues and various women. This does not mean he is a womanizer, in fact, in this book we learn that he actually only ever had four “relationships”, two of which can be considered transient, plus Ingrid (the nature of that one puts it in its separate league). However, the current ones (Livia, Ingrid, Rachele) are complex and interwoven, the reader really never knows what the outcome will be.

In The track of sand Montalbano has to do with the High Society which leads him to some unusual encounters at a horse race that can be only described as bizarre. That evening ends in an unexpected and stereotypical way that can only be explained with his growing unease with age and his eternal arguments with Livia over the phone.

The sleuthing is done in passing again. Somehow Montalbano gets entangled by chance and is on the wrong track for a long time. His collaboration with his colleagues still is a pleasure to behold. They understand each other without many words and their interactions are always effective – even though sometimes some unexpected incidences throw a spanner in the works. A couple of hilarious conversations with Dr. Pasquano are thrown in for our entertainment.

This was again a delightful read. Especially for friends of mysteries without twists and turns at every corner, thrilling murders in every chapter, but instead with flair and interesting characters a must-read.

Product info and buy link :

Title The track of sand
Author Andrea Camilleri
Publisher Penguin
ISBN 978-0143117933
I got this book from my swap site because I love Montalbano.
Buy link Buy The Track of Sand
My amazon list The Inspector Montalbano series in chronological order

 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

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Review-a-thon mini challenge 3

Join us for our Review-a-thon!The third mini challenge is about setting up future review posts.

This is easy. I do that already regularly. I am using Live Writer to write for my blog and use this nice little plug in called WLW Text Template Plugin. It is extremely easy to use and a real time saver.

Whenever I start reading a book I want (or have) to review I immediately create a new post in Live Writer, add my review template and the title of the book so I won’t forget. When I have time I also add the blurb and the product info in the table at the bottom.

I think this is quite a practical and convenient way to prepare reviews. I can see the draft all the time and won’t forget. When I am ready for the review all I need to do is write up my thoughts on the book and I am done.

If you don’t know the plugin Text template but are interested in using it, check back here again soon. I am planning to post a short tutorial on how to use it in a few days.