Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Library Loot: February 29 to March 6

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Have you made a decision to give something up for Lent? In theory, I have given up requesting books from the library catalogue (unless they are the next book in a series I am reading) and also requesting books from places like Netgalley and Edelweiss! Notice I said in theory. I may have requested a picture book a few minutes ago for reasons that will become clear later in the post, but other than that I have been trying to stay strong!

Claire has Mr Linky this week so head over to her blog to leave the link to your Library Loot post!

A Breath of French Air by H E Bates - This is the second book in the Darling Buds of May series. Like the last one, I had to get this one via interlibrary loan. Somewhat strangely, when I googled for an image of this book cover, it also bought up the cover of a picture book called The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse which I think was one of my favourite picture books (if I am not getting my mouse stories mixed up!). Expect to see that book in my Library Loot in the next post!

The Stolen Princess by Anne Gracie - I did something very unusual for me - I started reading a series at book number 5. The only reason I did this was that Anne Gracie was the special guest at my book club on Friday night and this, along with A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson, was her choice of her books. Now I am going to go back and read book 1 of the series.

A Rose for the Anzac Boys by Jackie French - This would qualifiy for several challenges for this year, namely Aussie Author Challenge, Australian Women Writers Challenge and War Through the Generations.

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear - The next Maisie Dobbs book!

Destiny by Carly Phillips - The next book in the Serendipity series set in contemporary Serendipity, small town USA.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bookish Quotes: Liar Bird by Lisa Walker

I am currently reading Liar Bird by Lisa Walker. I am not 100% sure how I would characterise it in terms of genre, but I am leaning towards the catch-all women's fiction or even chick lit. Whatever you want to call it, there is no way you could mistake the setting for anything other than Aussie.

My Bookish Quote/Teaser Tuesday comes from the page 5 so right at the beginning of the book when we are just getting to know the main character, Cassandra. Her perfect life is just about to fall apart in a big way.

I knew I had about ten minutes, maybe twenty - plenty of time. My feet sank into the hand-woven Turkish carpet as I padded to the meditation room. Pulling out my tattered copy of The Annotated Alice, I opened it randomly, closed my eyes and pressed my find to the page. "You don't know much," said the Duchess, "and that's a fact."

I nodded - so true. Spot on, in fact.

Why Alice in Wonderland? I know it's not what most thirty-year-old PR executives read. Well, we all have our means of coping. Some people are into Oprah; others, Buddha; and some - well, me - rely on Alice. I first discovered the wisdom of Alice at the age of eight...

What follows after this quote is a whole passage about how Cassie found the book and how much she treasured it, but it was too long to type it all out!

I can't imagine using a book like Alice in Wonderland as guidance for life, can you?

Before I finish this post, I thought I would share a video about the native Australian Lyrebird that this book obviously has taken inspiration from in terms of the title at least. This bird has the amazing ability to be able to mimic all sort of noises - other bird species, construction tools, cars, humans and more!

This video was all about Chook who was the male lyrebird at the Adelaide Zoo. He died recently at the grand old age of 32.

In addition to the mimicry, they can put on a very impressive display with their tails to help protect their territory. An all round amazing Australian native animal.

There has been an appearance of one lyrebird in the book so far, along with some other rare wildlife!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Rogue by any Other Name by Sarah Maclean

Last year I discovered the writing of Sarah MacLean. I read her first trilogy in quick succession, and when I heard that this book was on Netgalley I jumped at the chance to get to read this one. This means that the only book I haven't read of hers is The Season, her YA novel. Give me time though because I will get to it!

This book is the beginning of a new series for MacLean, although it is slightly connected to the original trilogy because the heroine of this book was engaged to the Duke of Leighton who was the hero in one of the previous books. It is only a slight connection, but it is something that I like to be aware of when I read connected books.

Whilst the Marquess of Bourne should be a member of the higher echelons of the ton, he isn't. Ten years ago he lost everything that was precious to him in a game of cards. The only things that he had left were a coin in his pocket, the title and the entailed land that came with it. Ever since, he has plotted revenge on the man who wrecked his life and took his ancestral home, Falconwell.

That man, who happens to be the father of his childhood friend Tommy, has now passed Falconwell on to another childhood friend's father, who in turn has added it to the dowry for his daughter, Lady Penelope Marbury, a young lady who was formerly engaged but has since been left on the shelf. Whilst Penelope is holding out for adventure and love, her parents are determined that she should be married sooner rather than later.

The first clue that Penelope has of what is going to happen is when her friend Tommy proposes to her. When she asks him why now his answer is rather enigmatically to protect her. Penelope has no clue what this means

Bourne is a man who has been running a gambling hell for the last ten years. His desire for revenge and his chosen line of work has served to make him somewhat hard emotionally, to the point that no one other than his partners know him at all, and even they don't often refer to him by name. They do however take the opportunity to point out exactly what he is doing wrong in his relationship and tease him mercilessly!

A chance encounter at night leads to a rapid engagement and marriage between Bourne and Penelope, but not before she manages to wrest a promise from him - in order to provide her younger sisters with suitable husbands (which means being introduced into society properly), Bourne must again return to society.

Bourne wants to protect her from his wickedness so he tries to stay away from Penelope, but struggles to do so, and Penelope tries to find Michael, the boy who used to be one of her best friends hidden inside the shell of the man that is left behind.

One of the best thing in this book is the series of letters that are in the book. In them Penelope writes to her friend Michael firstly while they are young, then when he goes to university. Initially, she gets responses, but after his scandal breaks the responses diminish until it is a one sided conversation.

When Bourne gets the chance to get his revenge once and for all, there will be collateral damage. The question is how far is he willing to go to get his revenge and what will the cost be for him.

I really enjoyed the set up for this series, and I can't wait to read the next book.

Rating 4/5

A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.

A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.

Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them . . . even her heart

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Quiche anyone?

While Grace fumbled through some cookbooks tucked away on the corner of the counter, I clicked through the radio stations until Grace's mom said, "Stop right there!" when I got to some rather funky-sounding pop station.. She stood, holding a box. "I think my work here is done. Have fun, kids. I'll be back .... sometime."

Grace barely seemed to notice her leaving. She gestured at me. "Isabel, eggs and cheese and mild are in the fridge. Sam, we need to make plain old piecrusts. Would you preheat the oven to two-thirty and get us some pans?"

Isabel was staring inside the fridge. "There's, like, eight thousand kinds of cheese in here. It all looks the same to me."

"You do the oven, let Sam get the cheese and stuff. He knows food," Grace said. She was standing on her tiptoes to get flour out of an overhead cupboard; it stretched her body gorgeously and made me want in the worst way to touch the bare skin exposed on her lower back. But then she heaved the flour down and I'd missed my chance, so I traded places with Isabel, grabbed some sharp cheddar and eggs and mild, and threw it all on the counter.

Grace was already involved with cutting shortening and flour in a bowl by the time I'd finished cracking eggs and whisk in some mayonnaise. The kitchen was suddenly full of activity, as if we were legion.

"What the hell is this?" Isabel demanded, staring at a package Grace had handed her.

Grace snorted with laughter. "It's a mushroom."

"It looks like it came out of a cow's rear end."

"I'd like that cow," Grace said leaning past Isabel to slap some butter into a saucepan. "Its butt would be worth a million. Saute those in there for a few minutes til they're nice and yummy."

"How long?"

"Till they're yummy," I repeated.

"You heard the boy," Grace said. She reached out a hand. "Pan!"

"Help her," I told Isabel. "I'll take care of yummy since you can't."

"I'm already yummy," muttered Isabel. She handed two pans to Grace, and Grace deftly unfolded the pie pastry - magic - into the bottom of each. She began to show Isabel how to crimp the edges. The entire process seemed very well-worn; I got the idea that Grace could've done this whole thing a lot faster without me and Isabel in her way.

Isabel caught me smiling at the sight of the two of them crimping piecrusts. "What are you smiling at? Look at your mushrooms!"

I rescued the mushrooms in time and added the spinach that Grace pushed into my hands.

"My mascara." Isabel's voice rose above the increasing clamour, and I looked to see her and Grace laughing and crying while cutting onions. The the little onions' powerful odour hit my nose and burned my eyes, too.

I offered my saute pan to them. "Throw them in here. It'll kill it a bit."

Isabel scraped them of a cutting board into the pan and Grace slapped my butt with a flour-covered hand. I craned my neck, trying to see if she'd left a print, while Grace rubbed her hand in leftover flour to get better coverage and tried again.

The main reason why this section caught my attention and I thought that it would be a Weekend Cooking post is because the little chef (who is suddenly taller than me and so therefore I might need to rename) learnt how to make quiche last year at school. This is one of the recipes that he has since made a few times at home too. We tend to use puff pastry rather than shortcrust, but that's okay.

There is a certain irony in the fact that he likes quiche enough to make numerous times. Even when he was a toddler kid, he was always happy to eat quiche, but he absolutely refuses to eat any other type of eggs. Won't eat boiled, fried, scrambled eggs or any other kind of eggs. Even if the eggs are hidden (say in a potato salad or something) he knows they are there and won't eat it but quiche is fine

When he makes quiche, he uses the eggs and some milk to make the egg mixture. I am not going to be the one to tell him that is exactly how I make omelette (which he refuses to try), even down to the same kinds of fillings that he puts in the quiche - ham, cheese mushrooms etc.(maybe not mushrooms that look like they came out of a cow's behind though).

Unfortunately, given that he is now 13 and still won't do it, I suspect that he just will never learn to appreciate eggs. I wonder what would happen if I made a quiche exactly the same way and just called it an egg and ham pie?

Weekend Cooking 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. For more information, see the welcome post.