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Reading/Watching/Baking List by Jayne for March and early April

My goodness, it’s been a long time since I wrote my last “what I’ve been reading/watching” post. I know I’ve been bad, bad, bad about this. So with no more excuses, here goes.

Reading

Lessons in Laughing Out Loud by Rowan Coleman

I’m not sure what the author was aiming for here. I started this thinking it would be a Chick Lit book with a heroine who is plus sized. The heroine is overweight but it’s because she eats too much, not because she’s large boned. I was getting the feeling that by the end of the book, she would slim down. I have no problems with that but this seemed like it would be the weight version of those books with an unattractive woman who merely needs to get contacts, let her hair loose and get a clothes makeover in order to dazzle. Also, by the 100 page mark the hero (yes, I skipped to the end and peeked) had appeared only once. I debated continuing – the heroine’s boss was a delightful bitch who stole every scene she was in – but it was just too depressing at this point what with the heroine whinging on about her weight and her problems and getting dumped on by everyone. DNF

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The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

This is a book which Jane sent me unsolicited so I had no expectations going into it. For me historical fiction is usually either spectacular or a clunking bomb. This one turned out to be a winner. The period details seemed correct, interesting and dropped into the narrative with a delicate touch. The characters are intriguing and I quickly came to care about them and their fates. This is a book I didn’t want to end. Full review posted this morning.

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The Return of Jonah Gray by Heather Cochran

Jonah Gray doesn’t actually go anywhere in this book. His “return” is his tax return as investigated by IRS agent Sasha Gardner. There’s a lot more to the book besides tax codes and deductions as Sasha has a lot going on in her life besides waiting to audit Jonah. Some is funny, some is bittersweet but I found myself riveted to the book and the bold chances Cochran takes with the plot. Full review to follow.

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Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

I’m only one chapter into this one and already I can tell it’s going to be very different from the usual Moore offering. Before I go any further, I think I need to brush up on my late 19th century artists especially Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec so that I can catch more of the subtle jokes that Moore has supposedly included.

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Master and God by Lindsey Davis

Davis is a long time favorite author of mine who’s written the wonderful Falco historical mysteries set during the Flavian dynasty in ancient Rome. With this book, she’s doing something slightly different from those and – I believe – more like her book “Course of Honour.” The story follows the lives of two people during the reigns of Titus and then Domitian – the second and third Emperors of a dynasty of only three. Gaius is a Praetorian Guard while Lucilla is a hairdresser to the powerful at court. Between them, they manage to be in on most of the important happenings going on and perhaps might find a romance at the end of it all. I’m only a third of the way in but so far it’s fascinating.

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Watching

Gavin and Stacey – a UK comedy about a young Englishman who corresponds with a young Welsh woman for 6 months before they finally meet and begin a romance in person. They hit it off so well, that by the end of the first season they’re already married. I watched this first season while it was still streamable from Netflix and now need to move the next seasons up in the queue. A surprise delight is Alison Steadman in the role of Gavin’s mum. New to me are Ruth Jones as Nessa and James Corden as Smithy – Gavin’s and Stacey’s BFFs who say they hate each other yet end up hot smexing each other every time they’re in the same city.

Burke and Hare – It has Simon Pegg plus Andie Serkis and is directed by John Landis. How could it go wrong? That’s what I’m asking. How on earth could this have been as bad as it was during the 30 minutes I suffered through? Not only was it not funny, it was unfunny meaning for me it tried and painfully failed.

Nurse Jackie – a dramedy about a NYC nurse played by Edie Falco. Jackie is a wisecracking old battle axe of a nurse who’s seen it all and isn’t impressed by hotshot young doctors. She’s a great mentor to new nurse Zoey, a loving mother to her two daughters, a true friend to Dr. O’Hara of the Jimmy Choos, a loving wife to her husband Kevin and has been sleeping with Eddie the ER pharmacist while popping pills on the side. Jackie’s got issues. Season three just became available at Netflix and I can’t wait to see how the intervention goes.

Chariots of Fire – I can’t believe I’d never watched this one either but honestly I hadn’t. And after finally seeing it, all I can say is that tastes certainly differ. This won an Oscar? Really? Because it about put me to sleep. File it under “would probably have enjoyed it more if I’d seen it back in the day.”

Baking

What else have I been up to? Making biscuits, that’s what. I’m a Southerner born and bred yet I blush to admit that I’d never once attempted making biscuits from scratch. That’s what older female relatives, church homecomings and Biscuitville are for. Nevertheless, after our post on Australianisms I decided to give it a go. Armed with a bag of White Lily all purpose flour and Alton Brown’s recipe I finally made my first batch of biscuits. They might not be the prettiest biscuits ever baked but mah Gawd they are good.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

14 Comments

  1. Karenmc
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 11:28:59

    Ditto for me on Chariots of Fire. I fell asleep in a very large, packed theater.

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  2. Darlynne
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 11:57:06

    I went to see Christopher Moore for the launch of Sacre Bleu in San Francisco. Hi-lar-ious. And one of the most generous and considerate authors I’ve ever met. He spent nearly five years researching this gorgeous book, and I keep putting it off, maybe to savor the anticipation.

    Baking, my second love. And even though I am completely freaked out by just how bad sugar is for us (no, no, not merely “not good” for us, but deeply, truly bad for us), I am compelled to bake for family and friends. Sticky caramel pecan buns, anyone?

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  3. DS
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 12:26:05

    Looking forward to “Master and God” audiobook. Davis’ web page suggests it is going to be something different.

    As for biscuits, my grandmother couldn’t make them without pouring bacon grease into the flour instead of any other type of shortening. She just opened the top of the bag of flour, poured in all the ingredients including buttermilk, then mixed them up in the flour bag until they were stiff enough to be pinched off and dropped in a cast iron skillet greased with some bacon rind. This was then baked in the oven.

    The amazing thing is that no one in the family ever died of heart attack or stroke.

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  4. tellulahdarling
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 14:32:18

    Love Gavin & Stacey! The comedy is so character based and beautifully crafted. That said, I found the final season jumped the shark a bit.

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  5. Lisa J
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 15:18:57

    @Darlynne: Yes, please on the sticky caramel pecan buns. I’ll bring the blueberry boy bait (an awesome blueberry cake) for the party.

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  6. Amy Kathryn
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 16:31:59

    @DS: I can top that one with my grandmother taking refrigerated biscuits and frying them in bacon grease on the stovetop. I think at some point these older, southern people have greased the arteries so much that nothing gets stuck.

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  7. Darlynne
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 16:57:57

    @DS: I would have loved your grandmother’s baking, no doubt. There isn’t too much on the table–or in life–that can’t be improved by the addition of a little bacon.

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  8. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 18:44:58

    @DS: @Amy Kathryn: @Darlynne: I think I would love to have eaten at your grandmothers’ houses. Yum! And the sticky caramel pecan buns sound delish too. And the blueberry cake…I’d have to run a marathon after all this!

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  9. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 18:47:17

    @Karenmc: My FF button was my friend while watching this. I did laugh at Lord Whosis’s butler putting full glasses of champagne on the hurdles his Lordship was practicing with.

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  10. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 18:49:08

    @tellulahdarling: Owie on the third season. But then a lot of shows seem to lose steam and falter by the third or fourth year. Still I’ll enjoy what comes before the jump.

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  11. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 18:52:49

    @Darlynne: I hope to get back to Sacre Bleu in the next week or so. The writing style seems vintage Moore, it’s just the subject that’s throwing me since it’s so different from what I’ve come to expect from him.

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  12. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 19:05:00

    @DS: Please report back on the Davis audiobook. I can tell you that the book has the POV of both Gaius and Lucilla – and briefly a fly! – plus an omniscient narrator detailing historical facts both past, present and future. There are also some phrases in italics which I think were unspoken thoughts of the characters – and zingingly funny. I amused myself by imagining the narrator’s sections in the voice of Stephen Fry, gleefully dishing up the inside scoop on Flavian Rome.

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  13. Susan
    May 01, 2012 @ 00:18:29

    Congrats on the biscuits. Biscuits don’t need to be pretty to taste good! Not biscuits, but my dad used to make us little round johnnycakes/corn pone that he’d pat down w/ his hand, leaving a distinctive print. They may have been imperfect, but those indentations were just right for the butter and/or honey. Thinking of his corn pone handprints always makes me smile.

    I think I’m becoming a cheapskate in my declining years. Midwife, Sacre Bleu, Jonah Grey are all on my wish list, hoping for the prices to drop. Sadly, many books are on my wish list, still unbought, for this very reason.

    Same thing with the Davis books. I’ve been waiting for more of them to come out as ebooks. Not all are out yet, and most of the ones that are cost $9.99. I enjoy historical mysteries, and like this time period, but I’ve got a limit on how many $9.99 ebooks I’m willing to spring for. Grrr.

    Oh, and I kinda understand what you mean about CoF. I watched it “back in the day” and loved it. I didn’t rewatch it until many years later and, although it had lost much of its luster, I still enjoyed it. But not sure that I would have liked it as much if it had been my first viewing. (Trivia–did you know that Dodi Fayed executive produced it?)

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  14. Jayne
    May 01, 2012 @ 12:48:52

    @Susan: I was slightly disappointed in myself that my first attempt at biscuits weren’t picture pretty but after taking the first bite, I got over that! And I love cornbread/pones. So super yummy.

    Honestly when I bought Jonah Gray, I went to ebay and found a used copy cheaply there. And forget rebuying the Falco series in eformat. I have my original paper copies and they do just fine for me.

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