31 May 2011

What I am reading: May 2011

  1. The Fright of the Iguana (2007)by Linda O. Johnston: 5th in Johnston's series about Kendra Ballantyne, a lawyer and pet-sitter (explained in the series set up). Enjoyable and fluffy genre mystery that starts with the pet-napping of two of her charges and encompasses the murder of another pet-sitter. More development in her personal relationships as well. Would have preferred that it be thicker, it felt as if it were a bridging book and not enough development occurred, but that's because I'm not reading this type of book as much, I think. (DTM)
  2. Tapped Out (2007) by Natalie M. Roberts: The second in a mystery series starring Jenny Partridge, a dance instructor, choreographer and studio owner in Utah. I liked it. (DTM)
  3. Death Rides the Surf (2007) by Nora Charles (actually Noreen Wald): 5th in the Kate Kennedy series, whose protagonist moved to Florida with her husband only to lose him while signing the contract for the purchase of their condo. Fast and shallow read, but the writing has improved from the last that I read.
  4. Every Last Drop (2008) by Charlie Huston: Fourth in the five part Joe Pitt series. I enjoyed the first, Already Dead, some time ago and was happy to see this Orbit imprint while at Eastercon. Noir "vampire" (victim of the Vampyr virus) Joe Pitt returns from exile off the Island (Manhattan). While entangled in the gang-style politics of the different "vampire" factions, attempting to bargain for his freedom to return, he discovers the rotten foundations of the matrix of his hidden society. Like all noir detectives, his external hardness hides a more idealistic interior and he is not willing to keep his knowledge hidden. The next book should be a doozy. And this time I won't wait to find it when in the UK: I've just ordered books 3 and 5 and expect them next week.
  5. Some Like it Hot-Buttered (2007)by Jeffrey Cohen: Light genre mystery.Elliot Freed, protagonist, has his book destroyed when turned into a movie, but realizes his dream of owning a movie theatre (showing classic comedies) with the proceeds. During Young Frankenstein, a customer doesn't laugh.That could only be possible if he were dead, of course, and the plot continues from there. Fluffy, ok read.
  6. Kings of the North (2011) by Elizabeth Moon: A very satisfying second novel in the Paladin's Legacy series, as the focus turns to Kieri and his deepening understanding of his duties, a new relationship and the political ramifications.
  7. Half the Blood of Brooklyn (2007) by Charlie Huston: I did indeed get the other novels (as mentioned above) and found them just as absorbing. Reading this, the third of five, was very helpful in filling in some of the gaps and an interesting read in itself.
  8. My Dead Body (2009) by Charlie Huston: The culmination of the Joe Pitt series. Whew. I almost feel that these five books should really have been three, because the last one moved so relentlessly into this... but I guess they were sized as genre crime novels, in the 300 page range. Well worth reading.

20 May 2011

The Rapture

I flew to NY on the 20th, on the way upstate to see my parents and then back down to go to BookExpo. It was a long trip, made easier because I was travelling alone.
While I was waiting for the shuttle at JFK, I used the rest room and saw this scene: a pair of shoes abandoned in the Women's Bathroom.

I wondered if the Rapture had come a day early?

15 May 2011

Mother's Day

Today was the first day the girls have ever "made" Mother's Day without my husband actually putting it together. We woke to loud clanking sounds and the girls running in to tell us not to get up.
I particularly liked how they had set the table, with Zebra having a place and and audience of kuscheltiere. Notice how they set my plate with my inhaler and a bee (to signify sweetness and because T2 had made me a bee card)? They also decorated our breakfast eggs with appropriate sentiments (and the correct egg decorating pens) and only one of those was not hard-boiled.

After breakfast, we loaded up the bikes and wended our way through the many closed streets (there was some sort of road race) to the Huttenweg, where we biked and explored the forest.

09 May 2011


After we flew back from Birmingham and Eastercon, we packed up the girls and the bikes for our annual trip to the Keukenhof.

We generally stay in Leiden, which is relatively close and at a hotel which has a great pool for the kids. This time there were horses and ponies (a dam and foal of each) and the girls really enjoyed petting them.

Once we were at the Keukenhof, we did our regular wandering about and enjoying. this time, I allowed T2 to slip in the water while we were hopping across the stones and we then needed to spend quite some time with the German in the Men's room drying her pants and shoes: we bought some Dutch shoe house shoes for the children and T2 spent the rest of the time wandering around in them. T1 chose a pair in a Tulip pattern and I stared at them for a long time, wondering whether I should get myself a pair.

I asked the German, he said" If you like" and T1 said, "Go ahead, get it".

I didn't and now I regret it. Next time! The flowers were in better form than last year: one of the interesting aspects of always going on Easter vacation is that since Pesach/Easter is a movable holiday, the blooms we see vary quite a bit. We were too early for the strawberries, though, which I was sorry for. Seems odd that even though we have had some record heat, the strawberries are a bit behind in their normal season.

07 May 2011

Soup in a Can

Really, lentil soup is easy enough to make. But I have been searching for a soup that I can keep on the shelf for emergencies, one without hidden pig elements and one without hidden MSG/MNG to make me ill and this is the first I have found. It's not as good as my own, but it is decent (when I add a lot of cayenne pepper). This has not been easy to find, during 3+ years in Germany and I am glad to have found it.

Next up is a chicken soup from the same producer. I'm pretty pleased and I hope the taste is half-way decent.

06 May 2011

Decluttering my Parents-in-Law's house

While we were in the UK over Easter weekend, the girls were at my in-laws, always something they look forward to.
When we got back, my father-in-law asked if we could take a box that we had forgotten in his Kellar. I was a bit surprised that we had anything there, because we occupy the attic and we are generally very good at keeping our things out of their way and tidied up.
Once I saw the box, I was pretty happy: this is some pretty fabulous wine, brought over in our container from the US and quite unavailable here. (My father-inlaw assures me the box was stored on its side.) If the picture is magnified, it might be possible to see a few bottles of Opus One that I shipped to myself from when I was doing a drive through the Napa area in 1995, as well as some Grgich Hills from the same time and a bit later.

We haven't opened any yet, but I expect that we will in June and I hope to plan an evening around each bottle.

I was glad to help declutter the in-laws' house and the bottles are now neatly tucked away in our wine rack, clutter no more.

01 May 2011

Werder Baumblütenfest

It's absolutely incredible how many posts I started and left hanging. This is just one of them.

The Werder Baumblütenfest is quite close to Berlin and I had been meaning to get to it ever since reading about it on another expat's blog. With over 500,000 visitors during its nine days, it is one of the largest "Folk Festivals" in Germany. We loaded up our bikes and sallied forth.

On the published "trail" we stopped at several locations and tasted the fruit wines: I particularly enjoyed the Johannesbeeren (current wine, both red and black). Each stop had wine for purchase in supplied or self-supplied containers and some type of food on offer (cake and Wurst being the usual), while some had play areas.

But as a relative non-drinker and hater of crowds, I am not the target audience (really, I am not for any crowded venue). I enjoyed looking at the flowers, but a second in the (very loud) city centre sent us out onto a bike trail where we actually enjoyed our day, stopping at a hilltop Kneipe to give the girls an Apfelschorle while we had a water and a platter of bread and cheese (the Germans were knocking back the Wurst and the wine as well). We enjoyed the view and the exercise and went home after a nice ride, enjoying a look at the local wine region.