Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

The Girl in the Green Raincoat: A Tess Monaghan Novel
by Laura Lippman
William Morrow Paperbacks, 2011

Publisher's summary:

In the third trimester of her pregnancy, Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan is under doctor's orders to remain immobile. Bored and restless, reduced to watching the world go by outside her window, she takes small comfort in the mundane events she observes... like the young woman in a green raincoat who walks her dog at the same time every day. Then one day the dog is running free and its owner is nowhere to be seen.

Certain that something is terribly wrong, and incapable of leaving well enough alone, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the dog walker's abrupt disappearance, even if she must do so from her own bedroom. But her inquisitiveness is about to fling open a dangerous Pandora's box of past crimes and troubling deaths . . . and she's not only putting her own life in jeopardy but also her unborn child's.

My thoughts:

After reading What the Dead Know  in 2011, Laura Lippman became one of my favorite mystery writers. Her latest book, The Girl in the Green Raincoat, was previously serialized in the New York Times and has been called a "masterful Hitchcockian thriller from one of the very best in the business".

I'm usually pretty compulsive when it comes to reading series in order, but had heard this novella can stand on its own. While that is certainly true, I would have appreciated it even more if I'd already 'known' Tess and understood her history.

Still, this was a very well-written mystery that makes me want to go back and start at the beginning (Baltimore Blues).

My rating:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Intro: Pride and Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession
of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. 
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his
first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds
of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property
of some one or other of their daughters."
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, one of my all-time favorite novels. The opening lines, arguably literature's most famous, never fail to delight me. It seems like the perfect time for (yet another) reread.... though I can only imagine what Jane might think of my current edition!

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Musing: The Return to "Normal"

We've been home for a week. The suitcases are back in the attic, the laundry is finally done, the mail has been sorted, and my google reader is empty. Twin B started second semester classes on Wednesday and Twin A returned to college yesterday. Today the house is a little quieter, a little emptier, and we are re-adjusting to "normal".

Thank you for all of the thoughtful comments on my Moving Forward post. I will continue to respond (on the blog) to those comments requiring an answer, but otherwise give myself permission to be inconsistent and respond to comments as time permits.

The weekend was a lot of fun. After watching Syracuse basketball's heartbreaking OT loss Saturday afternoon, several members of my book club attended a tasting and book signing event with "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" at a local restaurant. We read Josh's memoir, The Bucolic Plague, last fall and were thrilled at the prospect of meeting him. I purchased a copy of The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook and had both Josh and Brent sign it. More details coming on Saturday for Weekend Cooking.

On Sunday, we saw The Silver Linings Playbook (Jennifer Lawrence was amazing!) and had my family over for dinner. The day ended with Downton Abbey and the saddest hour of television... ever. No spoilers, but I'm still devastated.

As far as reading goes, there hasn't been much time, so I'm still on vacation books. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett is 1000 pages long, but a quick read. With just over one hundred pages to go, I hope to finish any day.

I'm listening to In the Woods by Tana French on my new iPhone (an early Christmas present to myself) and am enthralled! Why have I waited so long to read Tana French? The only problem is that I can't figure out how to get my iPhone to play through the car speakers, so I may have to burn the book to CD if I want to listen in the car.

I hope your week is off to a good start.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Turkey Stuffed Peppers

It's been more than a decade since I last made stuffed peppers - probably because my husband doesn't love them and at least one of the girls was going through a picky eating phase - but when this recipe for turkey stuffed peppers popped up on Pinterest (via, I knew it was time to try again.

Using a combination of red and orange peppers, wild rice, and choosing cilantro over parsley when given the option, I followed the recipe exactly as written. The rice was prepared ahead to cut down on prep time.

ready for the oven

Paired with a spinach salad, this was an easy meal, but slightly bland. It tasted better after adding some salt and pepper. The next time I may even splash on the hot sauce!

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has a food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up over the weekend.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Author Birthday: W. Somerset Maugham

From The Writer's Almanac:
It's the birthday of W. Somerset Maugham (books by this author), born in Paris (1874). His father was in Paris as a lawyer for the British Embassy. When Maugham was eight years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. His father died of cancer two years later. The boy was sent back to England into the care of a cold and distant uncle, a vicar. Maugham was miserable at his school. He said later: "I wasn't even likeable as a boy. I was withdrawn and unhappy, and rejected most overtures of sympathy over my stuttering and shyness." Maugham became a doctor and practiced in the London slums. He was particularly moved by the women he encountered in the hospital, where he delivered babies; and he was shocked by his fellow doctors' callous approach to the poor. He wrote: "I saw how men died. I saw how they bore pain. I saw what hope looked like, fear and relief; I saw the dark lines that despair drew on a face; I saw courage and steadfastness. I saw faith shine in the eyes of those who trusted in what I could only think was an illusion and I saw the gallantry that made a man greet the prognosis of death with an ironic joke because he was too proud to let those about him see the terror of his soul." 
When he was 23, he published his first novel, Liza of Lambeth, about a working-class 18-year-old named Liza who has an affair with a 40-year-old married man named Jim, a father of nine. Jim's wife beats up Liza, who is pregnant, and who miscarries, and dies. The novel was a big success, and Maugham made enough money to quit medicine and become a full-time writer. For many years, he made his living as a playwright, but eventually he became one of the most popular novelists in Britain. His novels include Of Human Bondage (1915), The Moon and Sixpence (1919), Cakes and Ale (1930), and The Razor's Edge (1944). 
Somerset Maugham said, "To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life."

W. Somerset Maugham's The Painted Veil  will always be special to me. It was the first book reviewed on Lakeside Musing (I'm too embarrassed to link to the post) and also a favorite read of 2008. Although I keep meaning to read more of his work, it just hasn't happened yet. Of Human Bondage  is on my shelf and my Classics Club list, but I'm open to other recommendations. Have you read Maugham?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach

"Although I do not believe in love at first sight - not with a man, anyway - I do believe it's possible to fall instantly in love with a place. As soon as Marta and I emerged from a narrow lane and entered Ravello's pristine town square, I felt the ZING of Cupid's arrow hitting my heart. I was smitten instantly. But why Ravello? I wondered. Why hadn't I fallen for sparkling Amalfi or dazzling Positano? For some reason I found myself comparing the three towns to men. If Amalfi were a man, I thought,he'd be dressed by Calvin Klein and reading Tom Clancy. Positano would wear Armani and carry a book by John Le Carre. But if Ravello were a man - ah, Ravello!- he would be in chinos and a fresh white Oxford shirt with no tie, buried in a book by Graham Greene."  Page 229
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman
by Alice Steinbach

My book club discussed Without Reservations on a cold, snowy morning earlier this week. The book itself is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Alice Steinbach's account of a year-long European sabbatical taken to discover who she really was without her career and children, but our discussion quickly veered toward our own travel tales and aspirations. We all mostly enjoyed the book, but questioned whether her ultimate goal for the trip was realized.

I loved Steinbach's writing, especially the postcards of personal insight and inspiration mailed home (to herself) throughout the trip. They appear at the beginning of each chapter. I hope to read her later book, Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman, sometime this year.

My rating:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Moving Forward

I'm back... remember me?
Two weeks in Florida was the perfect way to begin 2013. Most of our time was spent in Sanibel, but we also visited The Everglades and Key West. I went for long walks on the beach, biked all over the island, and, of course, read a few books.

The trip was remarkable in many ways. First and foremost, it was the first time my husband has ever taken two consecutive weeks of vacation... and we have been married since 1985! It was also a family vacation without Daughter #1, who stayed behind in Manhattan for a new career opportunity. Further changes in family dynamics occurred when Twin A's boyfriend (an outstanding young man) joined us for the second week. Finally, we stayed at my father-in-law's condo as he prepares to move to a retirement community.

Given all of that, it sure feels like we are heading into a new phase of life.... and perhaps it's time for a new phase of blogging, too. Lakeside Musing has been around for four and a half years, and I don't know what 2013 has in store. In the past several weeks, I've learned of the demise of some favorite blogs - including one that inspired me to begin blogging, and another written by one of my first blogging friends. I've had plenty of time to think about how blogging should fit into my life (and I do want it to fit into my life), but with so many commitments, something has to give. Should it be reading, blogging, visiting other blogs, or commenting?

I have identified my primary blogging goal for 2013:
Read more; spend less time on the computer.

And have a few ideas on how to make it a reality:
Write shorter reviews. I enjoy writing Monday Mention posts and will adjust my review format to reflect this.

Rethink comment strategy. Several bloggers respond to comments via email instead of on their blogs and I'm considering this, too. I also wonder if I really need to respond to every comment. Any feedback would be very welcome. As far as commenting on other blogs, I simply cannot comment on all the posts I'd like. I will leave fewer comments and try not to feel guilty about it.

Change up my routine. I'd like to read in the morning and visit blogs later in the day. Who knows, I may even try scheduling posts!

I still have plenty of books to review, Christmas books to share, thoughts on my new kindle paperwhite, and a few photos from the trip. (Yes, we visited The Hemingway Home.)

It's time to get back to blogging. I've missed you all!

Friday, January 4, 2013

A New Year and a Short Break

And so 2013 begins... with a short blogging break. 
I'll be back in a couple of weeks.


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