Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review--The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful story, and a difficult one, of good people who sometimes make bad choices, and the consequences of their actions. It's not an easy read and pulls at the reader's emotions. The metaphor of the lighthouse illuminating the dark and offering safety at a cost of loneliness and isolation is well used, and the details are fittingly relevant.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review--Cloud Atlas

Cloud AtlasCloud Atlas by David Mitchell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked Cloud Atlas very much. The layering and intertwined tales left me awash with admiration for the author, and I'm sure this novel will be discussed for years to come. In the end, I couldn't give it five stars because I felt the resolution was too nebulous. Bringing it back to the beginning made a point about corruption and consequences, but I've been a science fiction reader for too long not to expect more.

Nonetheless, it's an excellent and engrossing novel and well deserving of the praise it's received.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Smuggler's Bride 50% off! Enjoy it during persimmon season

I was at the farmers market yesterday, and it was overflowing with ripe, orange persimmons. Persimmons played a role in Smuggler's Bride, as kidnapped heiress Julia Delarue cooked her way into the good graces of smuggler Rand Washburn: 
“I have to hunt and fish to keep food on the table,” Rand said. “I can’t be spendin’ all day doin’ women’s work!”
“If it is women’s work, it is not work this woman ever did. At the estate where I lived there were laundresses who did the cleaning for the entire household. I can cook better than you can, but it seems to me that if you have experience doing laundry, then you can continue to do a better job than I would. Not to mention that if I am spending all my time doing laundry I won’t have time to make the pork pie I was planning for dinner. With persimmon cake for dessert.”
There was something wrong with this logic, Rand knew it, but he couldn’t come up with a good argument. It became even harder to think about it when Julia waltzed past him into the house carrying a plate and leaving behind an aroma of griddle cakes, syrup, and woman.

Julia's Persimmon Cake

Preheat oven to 325F

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 cup persimmon pulp--approx. six small very ripe Florida persimmons
½ cup chopped pecans

To get persimmon pulp: Take very ripe persimmons, cut in half, scoop pulp out. Remove pithy seed area, pulse a few times in food processor.

1. cream sugar and margarine, add eggs, add dry ingredients, pulp and nuts.

2. pour mixture into standard loaf pan (grease and flour pan, if not nonstick model), bake 1.25 hours. Let cool ten minutes, remove from pan.

Freezes well. You can also try baking it at 350F for 1 hour, depending on your oven.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Review--Mr. and Mrs. Madison's War

Mr. and Mrs. Madison's War: America's First Couple and the Second War of IndependenceMr. and Mrs. Madison's War: America's First Couple and the Second War of Independence by Hugh Howard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent portrait of Washington's first "power couple", the Madisons. Dolly gets her due as a woman who helped shape Washington society, and a model for what First Ladies became in later years--partners who helped their husbands navigate the rocky politics of the nation's capitol and made a positive impression on the American people, and foreign dignitaries and world leaders as well.

It's especially relevant during this anniversary of the War of 1812, and the description of the British invasion and burning of the capitol was extremely detailed and informative.

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