Terse and to the point!

No zombies. No vampires. No angels. No self-help. No horror.



2018 Books
  1. Code Girls -- NEW21 HISTORY4
  2. The Foundling --re-read
  3. Faro's Daughter -- re-read
  4. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler --NEW20
  5. Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red -- NEW19
  6. The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons -- NEW18
  7. The Secret of Chimneys -- NEW17
  8. Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness -- NEW16
  9. Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Traveler -- NEW15
  10. Monday the Rabbi Took Off --NEW14
  11. The LIghthouse Keeper -- NEW13
  12. The Great Train Robbery --re-read
  13. The Great Courses: Food -- NEW12 HISTORY3
  14. Cosmos -- NEW11  SCIENCE2
  15. Amadeus -- NEW10
  16. The Far Country -- re-read
  17. False Colours -- re-read
  18. Even Money - re-read
  19. Enquiry -- re-read
  20. Driving Force -- re-read
  21. Dick Francis's Bloodlines -- re-read
  22. The Great Courses: Redefining Reality -- NEW9
  23. The Pun Also Rises -- NEW8
  24. M. Butterfly -- NEW7
  25. A Hologram for the King --NEW6  
  26. The Fountain of Paradise --NEW5
  27. Fire and Rain -- NEW4 -- HISTORY2
  28. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night --NEW3
  29. Consider the Fork -- NEW2   HISTORY1
  30. Consciousness and the Brain: -- NEW1  SCIENCE1 DNF
3 Stars
Mme Ramotswe Wannabe
Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness - Kristin Kalbli, David Casarett

It wasn't awful, just a pale imitation of an already successful premise. Alexander McCall Smith has already has this franchise nailed down tight--physician turned author, exotic locale, lady detective. 

1 Stars
Already This Story Is...
The Lighthouse Keeper - Cynthia Ellingsen, Kate Rudd

pissing me off. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Seventy-five years after a claim is paid, an insurance company cannot change its mind and tell the descendents that they have to repay the money. Statue of limitations and a whole bunch more. Plots like this drive me up a wall; I am just not willing to suspend disbelief here. However, since I paid for the damned book (at least it was on sale), I am going to ignore this bit of ignorance and keep reading, for a little bit longer, until the stupidity of it drives me away completely. 


Finished. Moving on. I wanted to find out whodunit so I kept with it but the rest of the story was just of no interest to me. 

4 Stars
Well Done, Dr. Crichton
The Great Train Robbery - Michael Crichton, Michael Kitchen

As a teenager, I read a number of Crichton's books but, so far, this is the only one I have wanted to go back and read again. If you want an action-packed story, you won't be happy with Crichton's style here. Along with a highly fictionalized version of the Great Train Robbery of 1855 (aka The Great Gold Robbery), there is a lot of background material woven into the telling of the tale. Michael Kitchen's gravelly voice was perfect for the narration. 

Most Enjoyable
Food: A Cultural Culinary History - Ken Albala

I am enjoying listening to this series of lectures so much that I don't want to stop to listen to the couple of chapters of Cosmos that I just promised myself I would intersperse with my other reading. I'm enjoying it so much that I can almost forgive this college professor his frequent mispronunciation of words like "arbiter." It is not "AR-bite-er. 


Food is essential to our being (without it we died) yet when we study history in the classroom, we rarely approach events in anything but political terms, so it is very interesting (and myth-busting) to approach our past from the point of view of what was being hunted, gathered, cultivated, traded and consumed. Please don't think that this is just a fluffy series of lectures; it is well grounded in events and contemporary original texts.


BTW, this may also be about food and eating but it is nothing like Consider the Fork, which I also read recently. They compliment one another.

4 Stars
Catching Up?
Cosmos - Carl Sagan, Seth MacFarlane, LeVar Burton, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan

I never watched the series when it was on PBS so when the audiobook was in an Audible sale pile, I snapped it up and now I am finally getting around to listening to it. And I am having trouble with it. LeVar Burton is narrating and his cadence is driving me nuts; it is kind of like a bad Carl Sagan imitation or as one review put it "Jordi LaForge channeling James Kirk." So far, I am committed to finishing it but it will be a few chapters interspersed with other books. Oh, well.


Finished it. I would mark it as interesting and informative but dated and preachy in places. Still, based solely on content and ignore the negative effect of the narrator, I'm giving this four stars for what was in it's day ground breaking content. 

2017 Books---- 194 and counting....
  1. Devil's Cub -- re-read
  2. Decider --re-read
  3. Dead Heat --re-read
  4. Dead Cert - re-read
  5. The Danger -- re-read
  6. Crossfire -- re-read
  7. Cottilion -- re-read
  8. The Corinthian -- re-read  [TIED LAST YEAR]
  9. The Convenient Marriage -- re-read
  10. Come to Grief -- re-read
  11. A Civil Contract -- re-read
  12. The Chequer Board --re-read 
  13. What the F -- re-read
  14. 1421 --re-read
  15. Write It When I'm Gone -- re-read
  16. The Thin Man -- re-read
  17. Sacred Treasure, the Cairo Genizah --re-read 
  18. The Masqueraders --re-read -- 
  19. Charity Girl -- re-read
  20. The Breaking Wave -- re-read
  21. Break In -- re-read
  22. Bolt -- re-read --
  23. Blood Sport -- re-read
  24. Black Sheep -- re-read 
  25. The Black Moth -- re-read
  26. Beyond the Black Stump  -- re-read
  27. Behold, Here's Poison -- re-read
  28. Bath Tangle -- re-read
  29. Banker -- re-read
  30. Arabella --re-read
  31. April Lady -- re-read
  32. A Man Called Ove -- re-read
  33. Murder on the Orient Express -- re-read 
  34. Tragedy of Z -- NEW69
  35. Sourdough -- NEW68
  36. The Year of the Hare -- NEW67
  37. Engines of Change -- re-read
  38. Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast News -- re-read
  39. They Do It with Mirrors --re-read
  40. Splendid Solution -- re-read
  41. The Secret Adversary -- re-read
  42. The Remains of the Day -- re-read
  43. Prisioners of Georgraphy -- NEW66  HISTORY15
  44. Hickory Dickory Dock -- re-read
  45. The Good Thief's Guide to Amsterdam -- re-read
  46. Magyk -- NEW65
  47. Safe Passage -- NEW64  HISTORY14
  48. Einstein -- re-read
  49. Drama -- re-read
  50. Packing for Mars -- NEW63 SCIENCE6
  51. Evans Above -- NEW62
  52. Death on the Nile -- re-read
  53. Alexander Hamilton --re-read
  54. And Then There Where None -- re-read
  55. The Sirens of Titan -- NEW61
  56. Secretariat -- NEW60 HISTORY13
  57. My Favorite Universe --NEW59  SCIENCE5
  58. American Ulysses -- NEW58  HISTORY12
  59. Gulp -- re-read [book club read]  SCIENCE4
  60. After the Funeral -- re-read
  61. Rocket Men -- re-read  HISTORY SCIENCE
  62. The Day of the Jackel --re-read
  63. 13 Things that Don't Make Sense -- NEW57 SCIENCE3
  64. The Stranger -- re-read 
  65. Murder Most Frothy -- NEW56
  66. 4:50 from Paddington --NEW55
  67. A Man of Some Repute -- NEW54
  68. Latte Trouble -- NEW53
  69. 10 Lb. Penalty --re-read
  70. Whip Hand -- re-read
  71. Venetia -- re-read
  72. The Unknown Ajax  -- re-read
  73. The Unfinished Clue -- re-read
  74. Twice Shy -- re-read
  75. Trustee From the Toolroom --re-read
  76. Trial Run -- re-read
  77. The Toll Gate --re-read
  78. To the Hilt -- re-read
  79. These Old Shades --re-read
  80. The Talisman Ring -- re-read
  81. Sylvester -- re-read
  82. Great Courses: The Mysterious Etruscans --NEW52 HISTORY11
  83. Great Courses: A Skeptic's Gide to American History --NEW51 HISTORY10
  84. Great Courses: Privacy, Property and Free Speech --NEW50
  85. Great Courses: History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration -- NEW49 HISTORY9
  86. Great Courses: An Economic History of the World Since 1400 --  NEW48 HISTORY8
  87. Persons of Interest -- NEW47
  88. The Portrait of Dorian Gray -- re-read
  89. Great Courses: Cycles of American Political Thought -- NEW46 HISTORY7
  90. The Invention of Nature --NEW45 SCIENCE 2
  91. Great Courses: Cultural Literacy for Religion NEW44
  92. Great Courses: Industrial Revolution NEW43 HISTORY6
  93. Sprig Muslin -- re-read
  94. So Disdained -- re-read
  95. Smokescreen --re-read
  96. Shattered --re-read
  97. Second Wind --re-read
  98. Ruined City -- re-read
  99. Round the Bend -- re-read
  100. Risk -- re-read -
  101. The Reluctant Widow -- re-read
  102. Regency Buck -- re-read
  103. Reflex -- re-read
  104. Rat Race -- re-read
  105. The Rainbow and the Rose -- re-read
  106. The Quiet Gentleman -- re-read
  107. Proof -- re-read
  108. Pastoral --re-read
  109. An Old Captivity -- re-read
  110. Odds Against - re-read
  111. The Nonesuch -- re-read
  112. No Highway --re-read
  113. Nerve -- re-read
  114. The Masqueraders -- re-read
  115. Longshot -- re-read
  116. The Lonely Road --re-read
  117. The Relic Master --42NEW
  118. Louder Than Words -- 41NEW
  119. Notorious RBG -- 40NEW HISTORY5
  120. Landfall -- re-read
  121. Lady of Quality -- re-read
  122. Starman Jones -- 39NEW
  123. The Secrets of Wishtide -- 38NEW
  124. Hidden Figures -- 37NEW HISTORY4
  125. Nothing to Fear -- 36NEW HISTORY3
  126. Bad News -- 35NEW
  127. Mrs. Fortescue Steps Out --34NEW
  128. Great Courses: American Ideals: Founding a 'Republic of Virtue' --33NEW HISTORY
  129. Anansi Boys -- 32NEW
  130. The Great Decision --31NEW HISTORY2
  131. What The F -- 30NEW
  132. The Crime at Black Dudley -- 29NEW
  133. Great Courses: The Illiad of Homer --28NEW
  134. Cairnaerie --27NEW
  135. In the Wet -- re-read
  136. In the Frame --re-read
  137. The Illiad & The Odyssey -- 26NEW  Bucket List
  138. Great Courses: The Odyssey of Homer  -- 25NEW
  139. Hot Money -- re-read
  140. High Stakes --re-read
  141. Spaceman --24NEW SCIENCE1 HISTORY
  142. Tess of the d'Urbervilles -- 23NEW
  143. Luck and Judgement -- 22NEW
  144. The Jungle Book --21NEW
  145. The Grand Sophy -- re-read
  146. Words on the Move -- 20NEW
  147. Frederica -- re-read
  148. Friday's Child --re-read
  149. Double Whammy -- re-read
  150. The Foundling -- re-read
  151. Flying Finish -- re-read
  152. The Spaceship Next Door --19NEW
  153. Great Courses: From Plato to Post-Modernism -- 18NEW
  154. Great Courses: English Grammar Boot Camp -- 17NEW
  155. Faro Daughter -- re-read
  156. The Far Country -- re-read
  157. False Colours -- re-read
  158. Even Money -- re-read
  159. Enquiry -- re-read
  160. Driving Force -- re-read
  161. Bloodline -- re-read
  162. Devil's Cub --re-read 
  163. The White Cottage Mystery -- 16NEW
  164. The Eyre Affair -- 15NEW
  165. On What Grounds -- 14NEW
  166. But for the Grace -- 13NEW
  167. Great Courses: The High Middle Ages 12NEW HISTORY
  168. Decider -- re-read
  169. Dead Heat --re-read
  170. Dead Cert --re-read
  171. The Danger --re-read
  172. Crossfire --re-read
  173. Cotillion --re-read
  174. The Corinthian -- re-read 
  175. The Readers of Broken-Wheel Recommend -- 11NEW
  176. Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home -- 10NEW
  177. An Accidental Death --9NEW
  178. A Convenient Marriage --re-read
  179. Come to Grief -- re-read
  180. A Civil Contract -- re-read
  181. The Chequer Board -- re-read
  182. Charity Girl -- re-read
  183. The Breaking Wave --re-read
  184. Bret Farrar -- 9NEW
  185. Great Courses: Find Your Roots -- 8NEW
  186. Break In --re-read
  187. Great Courses: The Great Debate -- 7NEW HISTORY1
  188. Great Courses: 36 Books That Changed the World -- 6NEW
  189. Speaking American --5NEW
  190. You're Saying It Wrong --4NEW
  191. We are Legion (We are Bob) --3NEW
  192. Great Courses: English in America --2NEW
  193. Midnight Riot (aka A River in London) --1NEW
  194. Bolt -- re-read (continued from 2016)
16 Tasks for the Festive Season --11




It is time for Hanukkah!

Square 8.

Eight Days

Eight photos 





The task is:  Light nine candles around the room (SAFELY) and post a picture. I know what the task says but unfortunately, it doesn't work that way around here. 


Now we're done:



Last but one:


Sixth night plus our annual latke party, so, tonight it is 2 pictures (and two tasks). Foods fried in oil are the tradition for this holiday--fried potato fritters for some and jelly-filled doughnuts for others:





Halfway done plus one:


Halfway done:


Third night:



 Second night:



First night:



Most households light just one hanukkiyah. We light one for each person in the family-- the two of us, our three children and, now this year, a 6th one for the new addition, our grandson. 

16 Tasks for the Festive Season --12

Never thought I would get this far.


Tasks for World Peace Day: Cook something involving olives or olive oil. Share the results and/or recipe with us.


Each year at Hanukkah, we fry potato latkes (aka, potato pancakes). I fry mine in a mixture of oils one of which is olive oil. 



The house was jumping this afternoon. My daughter, her husband and newborn were here to celebrate along with two of her BFFs and their children plus some of our friends--and it was anything but tranquil. Can't wait till next year.


My recipe is simple: potatoes, eggs and where other people use flour as a binder, I use a package of potato pancake mix. Don't ask me how many of each because I make it up as I go along; it is a very forgiving recipe. Shred the potatoes in a cuisinart, mix the ingredients in a large bowl and fry them by the spoonful in hot oil. Drain on paper towels before serving with:  applesauce, sour cream. cinnamon, or anything else that sounds appealing.


WooHoo!! Another Half Price Sale on Audible
A Hologram for the King - Dave Eggers, Dion Graham Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 7 - Harry Kemelman, George Guidall The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics - John Pollack, Pete Larkin M. Butterfly - David Henry Hwang, L.A. Theatre Works, Margaret Atwood, Tony Wong, John Lithgow, David Dukes

My 2018 TBR is slowly but surely filling up thanks to all of the sales that Audible is having. Any time I can get a book for less than the cost of a credit, I consider it a good price. So, today I went through my wish-list picking off a few titles that appealed.



2018 TBR Continues to Grow
The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World - Randall E. Stross, Grover Gardner Meditations - Duncan Steen, Marcus Aurelius Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 5 - Harry Kemelman, George Guidall The Lighthouse Keeper - Cynthia Ellingsen, Kate Rudd The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Jeff Woodman, Mark Haddon Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist - Dorothy Gilman, Barbara Rosenblat Monday the Rabbi Took Off: A Rabbi Small Mystery, Book 4 - Harry Kemelman, George Guidall Amadeus - Peter Shaffer, L.A. Theatre Works Cosmos - Carl Sagan, Seth MacFarlane, LeVar Burton, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan

WOW! I am going to have a lot of fun reading in January and February! Nine books here and a few more that I have already mentioned. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! -- Well, except on the days we are traveling. 



16 Tasks for the Festive Season --4

Square 5


UPDATE:  Task complete. Grandson has arrived. Grandparents are over the moon with joy. Mother and baby doing well. 




Tasks for Advent: ...OR– “Advent” means “he is coming.” Tell us: What in the immediate or near future are you most looking forward to? (This can be a book release, or a tech gadget, or an event … whatever you next expect to make you really happy.)



My friends, this task is without a doubt a complete "NO BRAINER." 

Having finally reconciled myself to the fact that, after so many years of trying, there would be no grand-child, my daughter announced on Mother's Day that they were reaching the end of the first trimester and due at the beginning of December. We are busily preparing for the birth, scheduled for just two weeks from today. 





From the Audible Sale Pile
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space - Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery - Sam Kean, Henry Leyva Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970 - David Browne, Sean Runnette Redefining Reality:The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science - Steven Gimbel

I've been shopping the sales again and working up quite a TBR for January. 


Today's Daily Deal
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat - Bee Wilson, Alison Larkin

I'm not even sure why I bought it exactly but it got good reviews, so I took the plunge. My 2018 pile of new reads is developing nicely.

16 Tasks for the Festive Season --10

Square 3: St. Martin's Day -- make a batch of gingerbread men,




Well, I don't make gingerbread men but I do make a mean ginger snap cookie and I whipped up a batch this afternoon for Thanksgiving dessert. Of course, I forgot all about this task until just now, so I don't have any pictures of the process and the finished produce is wrapped for the night, so proof of the pudding is going to have to wait until I can snap a picture of them.  In the meantime, here is the recipe (from Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking)


Recipe notes. Bake for 18-20 min at 325°F. I don't grease the pan. I do not put marshmallow or icing on them--the don't need the extra sugar.  (For those in the US, I get my spices from Penzey's; their freshness makes a real difference.)


16 Tasks for the Festive Season --3

I finally sat down with the complete list and marked off the tasks that were in my bailiwick. Here is my next contribution, for Square 4.




Post your favourite turkey-day recipe:


Here are two recipes that have been on our Thanksgiving table for the past 50 years. Mom worked, so she found recipes that she could make ahead and freeze.



Both are cooked in 2-qt casserole dishes (that go from freezer-to oven (after defrosting!) to table).



Mrs. Breit's Rice Casserle


1- large yellow onion—diced

2/3-- stick of butter

1 -- large can of mushroom stems and pieces (drained)

2 cups -- Uncle Ben's converted rice (not instant rice)

3 1/3 – boiling water with 2T Chicken Bouillon granules or 6 cubes (taste test to make sure that it strong enough)



Pre-heat oven 350°. In a large frying pan, saute the diced onion in the butter until golden. Add the rice and stir until it is coated. Add the mushrooms and stir. Scrape rice and mushrooms into the casserole and add the bouillon.


Cover and bake for 1 hour.

Cool before freezing (I like to stir it up before I freeze it because sometimes the mushrooms float up to the top) . To re-heat, defrost completely (1-2 days in the fridge, take out morning of to finish defrosting), add ¼ cup water, cover and bake for 1 hour at 350°.


(Serves 6 people per cup of rice but for Turkey-day, with all the other starches on the table, 2 cups serves 20 people). (To clean the casserole, fill it with water and vinegar and let it stand over night).



Sweet Potato Puff



(Prepared in a food processor)


1 large can plus one small can of Bruce's Yams –drained

1 small can crushed pineapple with the juice (I use the unsweeten packed in its own juice)

dash of salt

orange juice



Process the yams in a food processor until very, very smooth. Transfer to a big bowl. Add the crushed pineapple and dash or two of salt. Stir well. Add orange juice (start with ¼ cup, you don't want it too liquid-y, just “nice and smooth.”)


Place in the casserole, smooth the top and cover with marshmallows ( if you are using the big ones, allow some space between them and make sure that they are below the rim of the casserole as the marshmallows will puff.)


Cover to freeze. Defrost 1-2 days in the fridge. Take out morning of to finish defrosting. Bake uncovered at for 1 hour at 350° having placed the casserole on something to catch the marshmallow overflow (hard to clean burned sugar out of the oven).




Update! Just finished his and her sweet potato puffs--although without the marshmallows, there is no "puff."