Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Filling In The Blanks

Or, what do you do in between books in a series?

A couple of years ago I found myself in the middle of a Sherlock Holmes binge. If binge is what it could be called. Frankly, I’m not sure.

The problem is not new. It is also rather simple. Simplistic? <sigh> The problem is what do you do when you are in between books in the series you follow. You’ve read all the books by your regular authors, you are up to date, you are ready for the next adventure, but… The next book won’t be out for months yet.

To quote Charlie Brown, “Aaaarrrrrrrrgh!”

I’ve been blessed this past year or so to find a couple of new authors and series that have captured my imagination. When I look back at my book list I’m astounded – One series in particular has over 20 books.

On the other hand, I’ve dropped one author of a long running series who seems to have either given up or just gone off the rails. I honestly don’t know. I’ve another author, also of a long running series, who usually produces a book every 3 years or so but for reasons beyond explanation (or at least made public) this last offering took 7 years to appear. I have it, but I’ll be honest and tell you I haven’t opened it.

So, how have I managed to survive the time in between? I’ve re-read (re-listened, actually) to quite a few books in a series. I’ve looked for new authors. I’ve revisited classics. I’ve gritted my teeth and pulled up my library list from Audible to see what I haven’t listened to lately. 🙂

Speaking of Audible.com, I am extremely grateful for their Audible Plus Catalog. (If you want details, check out their website.) In addition to the credits I purchase every month, I have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of books to tickle my fancy. Remember that series I mentioned … the one with the 20 books? Found it in the Audible Plus Catalog. 😀

Over the years I’ve had several authors who made my ‘Hardback List’. They were the ones I didn’t wait until the new books made it to paperback, I got them as hardbacks. Sadly, those authors have passed away. I have many, if not all, of their books on audio, so I can indulge as I choose. I can’t complain as I get to visit with old friends every times I pick up one of those wonderful books.

In the meantime, I’m doing my best to explore and find new authors. I look for different times, timelines, subject matter, you name it. It really is like wandering through the local book shop to see what catches my eye and my imagination.

Don’t Forget Those Readers!

One other thing I’ve been doing is following my favorite readers. For audio book fans, the readers can make or break the book. Here are a few of my favorites:

The amazing Jim Dale gained fame voicing the Harry Potter books. I love listening to his work! Stephen Fry is not only an excellent reader but has produced several fascinating books on a variety of topics that he has also read. Well worth checking out. Scott Brick is an excruciatingly busy reader! I find him reading many adventure books by different authors.

Simon Prebble is a long time favorite. His distinctive voice and excellent vocalization takes any work up a level. Davina Porter is one of the most interesting readers I’ve encountered. She manages not only a large number of characters but also a variety of accents and languages with apparent ease. Barbara Rosenblat is the reason I started reading what turned out to be one of my favorite series. Her work is impeccable.

I’m glad to say that I have a few items on my Pre-Order List to look forward to. Maybe relieved would be a better word? Let’s just say I’ve got things to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ve taken the time to go back and revisit authors and series to make sure I’ve not missed anything.

On to the next adventure!

Musings

There’s Something To Be Said About

Seeing how the holidays are celebrated in other countries.

I grew up in the middle of Middle America. While many of our friends and neighbors came from other parts of the country, they brought their ‘old country’ traditions with them when they moved nearby. The same way my family did when they moved into the area. Those ‘old country’ traditions became the ‘old family traditions’ that were carried forward every year but somehow without the connections to the old country as they had with older generations.

Like the old story about the young woman who wanted to make Grandma’s Perfect Roast but had difficulty finding all the right ingredients and that all important pan. For years it was stressed that the pan was extremely important. After several frustrating searches, the young lady finally called Grandma and asked about the recipe. Turned out the pan wasn’t all that important after all; it was simply what Grandma had on hand way back when she first made the recipe and it was what she used every time she made it. It was the right size for the roast.

There is something magical about visiting other countries and seeing how they do, or don’t, celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, ‘visiting’ doesn’t necessarily mean travel, you can visit from your armchair in the comfort of your home, too. But taking the time to see the decorations, listen to the music, watch the processions, experience the food and drink (and here you could get really creative and try some recipes), all of this takes you out of the same old, same old that we often find ourselves experiencing in the midst of the Holiday Hoopla.

Thinking about food, it is interesting to discover where some of our favorite foods came from. They might be passed down in the family, but the origins could be quite surprising.

There’s nothing wrong with doing the same things every year, but if you want to take it up a notch or simply renew your joy of the season, it might be worth the effort to check out what other folks are doing.

FWIW, I still find it a bit … odd … that in Australia Christmas is in Summer. I know I’m not the only one, too. But I’d bet the Australians find it a bit odd that other folks celebrate during Winter. Come to think on it a bit, I grew up where it snowed and was cold during the holidays. Years later I moved to the West Coast. It was decidedly weird to have Thanksgiving Turkey and Christmas Roast when the weather was in the 70s.

Like so many things, it really is just what you are used to. 🙂

Happy Holidays!

Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: A Catalogue of Catastrophe

A Catalogue of Catastrophe by Jodi Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve had to re-listen to this several times because I knew I’d missed things. I’d be doing the same thing if I had a paper, or electronic, copy. There’s a lot to take in.

Once again, Jodi has taken us on a wild ride. Once again she has provided some astounding storylines. Once again she’s managed to blow my mind.

The biggest thing I came away with after reading/listening to this book: How does she keep it all straight?

This series, as well as the Time Police books, is so well crafted that you often don’t see what is right in front of you. I’m at the point of going back and revisiting all of the books. The nuggets are buried among the bits and pieces of other stories and plot lines.

This takes me back to my overall question: How does she keep it all straight?

If you have not been a visitor to St. Mary’s or the Time Police, what has kept you? If you have, how do you recover?



View all my reviews

Books · Media · Musings · TV

Why Do We…?

I’ve been pondering something lately. Have you ever thought about why we connect with certain shows, books, or characters? What compels us to keep up with series – be it TV, movies or books?

Some folks spend decades deeply involved while others can take it or leave it.

For instance, I’ve spent decades keeping up with a book series or two, only to walk away after all that time because, finally, something just…snapped. Either my patience with an author ran out or there was no real evolution or movement to keep me interested. Or both.

I’ve been a fan of a couple of TV series that moved into movies (or the reverse, come to think of it). During all the years of engagement, some more heavily involved than others, there have been things that kept me connected, interested, somewhat involved. One, in particular, has had a tremendous growth over the past couple of decades, resulting in some amazing expansion from the original kernel that started it all in the first place.

There are a couple of book series that have been moved into radio, TV, and movies over the years. Each iteration has been interesting. Some were carefully crafted to stay in keeping with the original works, others have veered in directions I’m sure the original author would never have imagined. Some worked, some didn’t.

At the end of the day, I’m still curious about why we stick around. I don’t believe the answer to the question is easy or simple. I think that each individual case is unique. Sometimes we outgrow an idea while other times the idea outgrows us. Sometimes the creator – or creators – can’t maintain the level of creativity that caught our attention to begin with. Sometimes we just really like spending time with characters in places that are familiar.

What do you think?

Cooking · Food

Cozy In The Kitchen

For decades I’ve been enjoying, indulging, learning, and basically having a great time watching TV cooks in their respective kitchen. I’ve learned a lot, enjoyed a lot, and come away with not only an appreciation of the tips and techniques they’ve shared, but in many cases grown a desire to have a seat at their table to sample the wonders they’ve created.

Who are these teachers?

  • Here is a partial list in no particular order:
  • Julia Child
  • Jacques Pepin
  • Lidia Bastianich
  • Rick Bayless
  • Mary Berry
  • Rachel Allen
  • Graham Kerr
  • The Hairy Bikers

These people, and many others, have taught me a lot about regional cuisine. They’ve shared their passion for the foods they love and create while inspiring me to try new things, incorporate techniques into my own food creation.

I have discovered that many of the series that these folks created are now available on many of the free streaming platforms available. They are wonderful to watch – some are not as old as you might think.

If you are looking for something new to watch, interested in learning more about a method or cuisine, I invite you to take a few minutes to run a search or two or three and find these folks on your TV. Enjoy!

Cooking · Food · Recipe of the Month

Revisiting the Fresh Apple Cake

If you need the directions to the Fresh Apple Cake, check out the printable below.

Fresh Apple Cake

This has become a fast favorite.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 12 people

Equipment

  • bundt pan Tube pan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts OR pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup raisins OR dried cranberries
  • 4 cups peeled, sliced OR shredded tart apples

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour bundt or tube pan.
  • OPTIONAL: soak raisins in 1 -2 tbsp of rum and set aside.
  • Prepare apples.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars and oil. Add eggs and vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, folding in the nuts, raisins, and apples.
  • Spoon into the prepared bundt or tube pan.
  • Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a cake plate.

Notes

You can change out the nuts or leave them out completely.
You have the option to replace the nuts with raisins and or dried cranberries.
Be sure to add the soaking liquid (rum) with the raisins.
You have the option of slicing, chopping, or shredding the apples.