Big Book Update
Once again I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted last! The time sure does go by quickly. We’ve been very busy with events every weekend since the end of March and that, combined with the end of Winter semester and the upcoming beginning of Summer semester, has kept me away from the computer. Plus, I’ve been working on a scroll here and there and sewing a new dress for the Spring Crown Tournament that’s in a little less than two weeks – more on those activities later!
But, that hasn’t stopped my reading – very little does! So here’s what I’ve been absorbing while on the elliptical in the AM:
Back in April, I had the second book in the second Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier – Seer of Sevenwaters. This follows the story of Sibeal, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, destined to become a Druid for her ability to commune with the world of the spirits and gods. All her plans are thrown for a loop when a shipwreck tosses ashore a young man who cannot remember his past or even his own name. Adventure, questing, heroic sacrifice, and of course romance follow as Sibeal works to help the young man heal and remember. I enjoyed this book as I have Marillier’s other work, but I did find myself thinking that maybe these should be in the romance section rather than science fiction. This last set has seemed to trend a little more towards the romantic rather than mythological as the previous books did. At any rate, still a good read!
For the start of May, I had Trickster’s Point by William Kent Krueger, the latest in his series of mysteries set in the small town of Aurora, Minnesota and involving former sheriff Cork O’Connor and his family. Krueger’s works are always absorbing for me and the stories are tightly written with characters that are clearly individuals in the author’s imagination – they have life and personality to themselves. This book follows Cork as he is accused of murdering a longtime friend (sort of) in a mystery that reaches back to Cork’s earliest days in Aurora following the death of his own father.
I followed that with the last Sevenwaters book, Flame of Sevenwaters. This one gives us the story of Maeve, younger sister of Sibeal, who was badly burned in a childhood accident and has lived away from the family for the past ten years. Maeve’s injuries have left her unable to use her hands, so she relies on the assistance of her devoted maid and friend. Maeve also has an uncanny way with animals and helps to raise and gentle Swift, a foal of her uncle’s stable, who has a volatile personality. When Swift is due to be sent to Sevenwaters and given as a gift to a neighboring chieftain, Maeve accompanies him despite her misgivings at seeing her family after having been gone so long. Once again, adventure ensues as the spirit world intrudes on Sevenwaters and snatches Swift and Maeve’s young brother Finbar away from everyday life. Ultimately, Maeve finds the lost ones, and love, and begins to make her new place in the world with the rest of her Sevenwaters family. Again, this ends up with a little romantic flair, though not as much as the previous book, and the mythological element is a little stronger.
Back to the modern world was The Temple Mount Code by Charles Brokaw. Here we find Brokaw’s hero, linguist Thomas Lourds, embroiled in a quest to find a supposed lost Koran that is sought by many parties – Israel, Iran, the US, and certainly Lourds himself for its linguistic value. The story romps from China to Israel to Iran and back again as Lourds stumbles his way from point to point, trying to decipher the mystery and find the secret book. I won’t say these books are great literature by any means, but they are a fun read. If you want something to take on vacation for some non-intellectual pleasure, check out Charles Brokaw!
Last year, I found a recipe for Pumpkin-Gingersnap ice cream (I think I posted that here) that was easy to make and fabulously tasty. In looking for other “Philadelphia-style” recipes – ones that are not egg-based – I found a couple of references to Jeni Britton, an ice cream maker in Columbus, Ohio. If I were a food writer, I’d probably be using words like “artisinal” and “handcrafting” to describe Jeni’s process, but I’m not so I won’t. Basically, Jeni Britton started making ice cream in her home kitchen and has parlayed that into a mini-empire of small-batch production at a variety of shops around Ohio, still mostly in Columbus. Rave reviews all around, and her recipes are Philadelphia-style. Lately the commercial offerings have not been inspiring me, so I got Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home from the library to get some of the specifics. The recipes certainly look fantastic, though I haven’t tried any yet. I may have to pick up the book to keep for myself if I don’t just make copies of the recipes that most interest me (Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk, anyone? Toasted Rice with Coconut and Black Tea?).
Finally, last week I finished The Black House by Peter May. I’ve read a couple of his books before – mysteries set in China and focusing on the unlikely relationship between an American forensic anthropologist and a Chinese detective. This book is set on the Isle of Lewis, part of the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. Fin Macloed, originally from the island though long removed, is sent back because a murder there seems to correspond to a similar murder he’d been investigating. Fin’s return to his hometown is bittersweet (of course) and ends somewhat tragically. The story is dark but captivating and I see that this is actually the first in a trilogy – I’ll have to make sure the library gets the others on the shelves…