Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Halloween Edition

A rainbow over Fort Myers Beach 

Hello, friends. It's been a wild week in southwest Florida with strong storms, covid boosters, real estate happenings, and our continuing lower-level renovation project. We had two brief storms last week that packed a lot of lightning, high winds, and rain. The second one managed to knock out the cable box and take down a dying gumbo limbo tree in our backyard. Thankfully it fell away from the house and the landscaper can remove it this week. The cable company will come tomorrow to see about the box.

In good news, I was able to get a covid booster early in the week - a Pfizer, following my two Moderna doses. I had a reaction similar to my second Moderna (fever, chills, etc.) but was fine within 24 hours. We also listed out condo last week and have had quite a few showings already. Fingers crossed...

On the reading front, I finished a book earlier in the week and am loving my current audiobook. I'll choose a new print book today.

Recent reading//

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

I've read several immigrant stories, both fiction and nonfiction, this year. It's such a timely topic. This memoir was a read/listen combination, with the audio version read by author. Qian Julie Wang, along with her mother, left China for NYC in the early 1990s when she was seven years old. They were joining her father, who had arrived a few years earlier. 

It is a sad story about an undocumented child coming of age in a big city, while facing hunger, poverty, and racism. However, compared to other books about immigrants I've read in 2021, this is on the gentler side... especially when compared to Infinite Country.  

Books, reading, and libraries played an important role in Wang's life. Her love of the written word added an uplifting aspect to an otherwise bleak existence and certainly increased my enjoyment of this memoir. Wang, now in her 30s, went on to attend Swarthmore College and Yale Law School. She had considered writing a memoir for years and finally tackled the project during the pandemic.

Current Listening//

narrated by the author

I am loving this audiobook and will likely finish later today. For now,  just let me say this is pretty much perfection!

On the blog//        The RIP Wrap-Up

The week ahead//

Are you ready? Nonfiction November kicks off tomorrow! I probably won't have a post up until midweek, but am already into my nonfiction reading. Find all the details here.

For the rest of this week, we'll be dealing with the issues from last week - storm damage, real estate, and renovations. We'll have a break from all that today as we bring a Halloween pizza party to my FIL. Do you have special Halloween plans?

How was your week? What are you reading today?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The RIP Wrap-Up


As Readers Imbibing in Peril winds down for the sixteenth(!) time and my attention turns toward Nonfiction November, it's time for an RIP  reading wrap-up. This year I read three books for the event, instead of the usual one or two. Surprisingly, they are the same three books listed in my introductory post. I've been blogging since 2008 and am pretty sure this is the first time I've composed a reading list for anything  and then proceeded to read everything on it! Here's what I read:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

As you can see, all three books turned out to be winners. How was your RIP reading this year?

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sanibel Sunday: October 24, 2021


Hello, friends. It's a rainy Sunday morning here in SW Florida, and I'm kind of hoping it continues all day - a perfect excuse to lounge on the couch and read! I'd love to finish my current book this afternoon. We spent a lot of time working on the condo last week... several projects, both indoors and out, to get it ready to put on the market.

Some good news to share - my husband got his Covid booster yesterday and he didn't experience any side effects at all. The pharmacist encouraged him to have me sign up for one, too, even though I'm not 65. Seems like there's more than enough to go around down here...

Recent reading//

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

This was a great read - classic Franzen! The first installment of a planned trilogy, it's set in the Chicago suburbs of the early 1970s and dives deep into the psyche of each member of the Hildebrandt family. The ending isn't exactly a cliff-hanger, but I was definitely left wanting more. Fingers crossed I don't have to wait ten years.

Franzen's writing is as sharp as ever, but perhaps a little less pointed and more compassionate toward his characters. Could he be mellowing? From a literary perspective, this is easily the best novel I've read all year and will surely end up on my list of favorites in December.

Finally, this is a long book - nearly 600 pages - so I made it a read/listen combination. The 25-hour audio version narrated by David Pittu, is excellent. 

Current reading//

Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang 

This recent Read with Jenna pick is a touching memoir about growing up undocumented in Brooklyn in the 1990s. Another read/listen combination, the author narrates the audio herself. I'm planning to finish it this afternoon.

In the kitchen//

Nothing really new in the kitchen... I stuck with recipes in the regular rotation. My FIL requested Katie Workman's Chocolate Banana Cake, so that was this week's treat. The recipe calls for three large ripe bananas but the ones I had were on the small side, so I used five. It turned out even better than usual!

Last night I made Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil from Damn Delicious. This has made regular appearances on our dinner table for a few years and is one of my husband's favorites. Most andouille sausage is too spicy for me, so I substitute turkey kielbasa.

I also made Taste of Home's Quick Buttermilk Cornbread to go with the shrimp boil. I chose the recipe because I needed to use up the buttermilk. It turned out to be much sweeter than my normal recipe... delicious, but I'll stick with the old standby.

The week ahead//

We'll continue getting the condo ready to list, hope the contractor shows up to work on the downstairs here at the house... and maybe I'll start reading Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

Seen on my walk - two pileated woodpeckers!

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sanibel Sunday: October 17, 2021

It's a sunny Sunday morning in Florida... I'm back from my walk, sipping my second cup of coffee, and anticipating a low-key day. We've spent a lot of time with my BIL and his family over the past week. It had been almost two years since we'd seen the nephews, so we've enjoyed catching up with their lives and careers. Tonight we'll have one more dinner together before they head home tomorrow.

Current reading//

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

I'm nearing the end of this nearly 600-page novel and loving it! Franzen is such a talented writer and his latest novel is the first of a planned trilogy. I'm definitely down for the next two... and already hoping the wait won't be too long.

On the blog//

In the kitchen//

The winner in the kitchen last week was Abruzzo Summer Minestrone from the Food Network. It calls for a variety of summer veggies, but I'm sure you could use whatever you have on hand. The only substitution I made was baby spinach for the Swiss chard, and I added it at the end as the soup was removed from the heat. The recipe calls for 16 oz. tomato and sausage pasta sauce. I used the entire jar of Classico with sausage - delicious!

There were some beautiful Honeycrisp apples at the store last week, so I made our favorite Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake. I've shared this recipe before, but it's worth mentioning again... a fall classic around here!


I don't remember who mentioned The Chair recently, but we watched the six-episode first season on Netflix and enjoyed it quite a bit. Sandra Oh stars as the newly-appointed (and first female) chair of the English Department at Pembroke University. I'm hoping for a second season.

Later today//
After finishing this post, I'll peruse the newspapers, catch up on blog reading, and spend some more time with Jonathan Franzen. Later this afternoon we'll have my BIL and SIL over for dinner. If I get ambitious, I may even bake something for dessert.

How was your week? What have you been reading lately?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Nonfiction November is Almost Here!

Good news, fellow readers... Nonfiction November starts in just a couple of weeks! This year there are five hosts and five weeks of blog prompts:

Week 1: (November 1-5) – Your Year in Nonfiction with Rennie at What’s Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

Week 2: (November 8-12) – Book Pairing  with Katie at Doing Dewey: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story. 

Week 3: (November 15-19) – Be/Ask/Become the Expert with Veronica at The Thousand Book Project: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert). 

Week 4: (November 22-26) – Stranger Than Fiction with Christopher at Plucked from the Stacks: This week we’re focusing on all the great nonfiction books that *almost* don’t seem real. A sports biography involving overcoming massive obstacles, a profile on a bizarre scam, a look into the natural wonders in our world—basically, if it makes your jaw drop, you can highlight it for this week’s topic.

Week 5: (November 29-December 3) — New to My TBR with Jaymi at The OC Book Girl: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book! 

I love this event and have participated for years. This week I'm starting to get my book list together... and have already found that there are way too many choices! One thing I've always appreciated about Nonfiction November is that you can participate at whatever level your schedule allows, one week or all five. Nonfiction reviews can be posted at any time and linked with current week's host. 

Do you ever read nonfiction? Will you be participating in Nonfiction November?

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sanibel Sunday: October 10, 2021

Hello from sunny Florida! We are finally unpacked and organized, and we have a schedule for finishing the downstairs renovation. That's definitely progress. We made time to watch a couple of gorgeous sunsets on the beach, and enjoyed a meal on the patio of a favorite restaurant.

I also managed to finish two books. Both were short, but they provided some much-needed reading momentum. Overall, a good week.

Recent Reading//

Parnassus On Wheels by Christopher Morley
narrated by Nadia May

This old-fashioned, feel-good story will be appreciated by book lovers everywhere! Written in 1917, the publisher's brief summary says it all: 

Parnassus on Wheels is the story of a marvelous man, small in stature, wiry as a cat, yet Olympic in personality. Roger Mifflin is part pixie, part sage, part noble savage, and all God's creature. With his traveling book wagon, named Parnassus, he moves through the New England countryside of 1915 on an itinerant mission of enlightenment. Mifflin's delight in books and authors (if not publishers) is infectious. With his singular philosophy and bright eyes, he comes to represent the heart and soul of the book world.

A roaring good adventure yarn spiced with fiery roadside brawls, ...heroic escapes from death, and a rare love story, Roger Mifflin's story shows how bookselling can be one of the world's highest callings: dispelling ignorance while causing constant delight.

The audio is only 3 1/2 hours and is included free with an audible plus membership. I found it to be a truly delightful listen and was pleased to learn it is part of a two-book series. The Haunted Bookshop is now on my list.

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten

The second book in the" Elderly Lady" series was released last week and it was so good to catch up with Maud, the 88-year-old serial killer! Again, the book is small-scale hardback consisting of several short stories. It opens with Maud embarking on a grand trip. The first few stories are memories, or Maud's musings, while the last two are longer and occur in the present. I loved reading about how Maud chooses to structure her golden years, but think you really need to read the first book, An Elderly Lady is Up To No Good, to fully appreciate this one. I'm hoping for a third book soon.

Current Reading//

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

The library came through! I was able to borrow this book the day it released and yesterday the audio version arrived via Overdrive. This is classic Franzen... the writing is just so good, the characters are the real thing. They are people from our hometowns; we probably knew them in high school. I can't wait to read more. And the audio version narrated by David Pittu is a pleasure to listen to on my morning walks, too. 

A Question//   

Have you seen anything about Nonfiction November? Is it happening this year? I haven't been around much lately and may have missed the announcement. I love that event!

Sunday Evening Update: Deb from Readerbuzz  sent a message to one of the hosts of Nonfiction November, Rennie of What's Nonfiction, asking about this year's event. Here is her reply:

Thanks for reaching out!

We’re a little late in getting an announcement out this year because some new hosts were being brought on board and took a bit more planning. But it’s happening :) and good timing - check back at my blog for the announcement tomorrow. Happy to hear people are already looking forward to it!

In the kitchen// 

It's great to be back in my own kitchen again! I  haven't been able to do this section of my weekly post for a while and it feels like I accumulated a lot  of new recipes over the summer. Now the trick is to try them all! 

First up was this Maple Brown Sugar Baked Oatmeal from Greens & Chocolate. It's much lower in sugar than another recipe I tried and tastes so good... try it topped with raspberries and a splash of skim milk. 

It's still pasta salad season in Florida and this Pesto Pasta Caprese is filled with flavors I love. I couldn't find the recipe online, so here is a photo of it instead. 

For main dishes, these two seafood recipes turned out really well. The Grilled Swordfish with a delicious lemon and herb marinade (from Katie Workman) was spiced up with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. We also enjoyed Skinnytaste's Asian Farro Medley with Salmon, but the next time I will dial back the sambal chili paste. This was the first time I''ve used sambal oelek and probably should have tried some first... very spicy! 

The week ahead// 

My BIL and his family have flown in for the week and are staying at the condo. They'll be spending some time with my FIL, but I'm sure we'll see plenty of them, too. Work will hopefully resume on our downstairs renovation. There isn't much more to do, but we will need that space for the holidays. And, of course, I'll continue to work my way through's long, but so good!

That's it for my week. How was yours? What are you reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

What Happened to September??


It's Sunday, October 3... What happened to September?? It certainly got away from me. We returned to Florida early due to my FIL's health concerns but, thankfully, things are stable again. While in NY, we celebrated my mother's birthday and were able to catch up with a couple of friends. Unfortunately, my hair appointment was cancelled due to a Covid outbreak at the salon (so glad I was scheduled after  the discovery!) and I decided against a mani/pedi, too. I'm growing increasingly frustrated with this lingering pandemic, especially since there are such effective measures to prevent the spread.

It probably goes without saying that September was not a great reading month for me. Once we left CT, my reading time evaporated. I only managed to read two books all month.

September Reading//

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

It's been nearly twenty years since I last read this classic and RIP seemed like a good opportunity to pick it up again. I decided to make it a  read/listen combination this time around and chose the audio version narrated by Thandiwe Newton. While the plot basics stayed with me over the years, many of the finer details had been forgotten. I enjoyed rediscovering several elements of the story, and adding audio to the mix definitely enhanced my overall experience.

Also in September, Novel Pairings podcast offered a two-part discussion which helped me think about the novel from a fresh perspective. It felt like true Jane Eyre  immersion last month... and I loved it! 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

After enjoying Lucy Foley's The Guest List  last summer, I wanted to read  something from her backlist for RIP.  In The Hunting Party,  a group of college friends, now in their 30s, travels to a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands to celebrate the New Year. Unfortunately, someone turns up dead. The story is told from alternating perspectives and the reader doesn't even learn who is dead until well into the second half of the book. Toward the end, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! I enjoyed this book even more than The Guest List  and look forward to the author's next novel coming sometime in 2022.

Current Listening//

by Christopher Morley, narrated by Nadia May

Another classic, this bookish novel is short, humorous, and the audio is included in my audible plus membership. I'll finish it on my walk tomorrow morning.

Current Reading//

I'll start something in print tomorrow... hopefully one of the new releases I'm dying to get my hands on.

October Reading Possibilities//

A slew of new novels by favorite authors will be released this month. We'll see how I do with library holds, but I'm sure there will at least one trip to the bookstore this month! 

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten  (10/5)
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen (10/5)
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (10/19)

The Week Ahead//

Today my SIL is coming over for dinner and tomorrow we have appointments for flu shots. There's still a little more unpacking and organizing left... and a lot of yard work to do, but I'm looking forward to more reading and blogging time ahead. 

How was your September? What was your favorite book of the month?


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