It’s Monday and I’m reading West of Sunset

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

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We had our first night out without the kids since… ok I don’t know since when!!! It might have been a year. Sad I know. But that’s what it is. Yes it was the Husband’s office thing, but it was at the St Regis in San Francisco, so it was someplace new and exciting. And pretty too! The in-laws are visiting from Singapore so we didn’t have to worry about the kids. Ok so I always worry about the kids, but they were in good hands.

The food was surprisingly pretty decent. A squash soup with pear and hazelnut agnolotti to start. A very lovely frisée salad with blue cheese. Then my halibut with arborio rice and a parsley sauce which was ok. The dessert was huckleberry blancmange, lemon sorbet which seemed more like two desserts. Or perhaps a dessert and a palate cleanser. Oh well. Pretty good food for a hotel function.

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And I got my Christmas present early! The Panasonic bread maker was on sale! I’ve made three loaves so far. A rapid rise bread that took just 2 hours from start to finish and produced a lovely light bread. A raisin bread which maybe could have used a few minutes less baking. I’ll have to see what I can do about that, perhaps force-stop the baking earlier. And a white sandwich bread which was quite lovely.

The recipes provided with the bread maker all call for dry milk powder. I didn’t have it on hand the first time I wanted to make it so I substituted the water for milk. I worried that it wouldn’t be right but it worked! I don’t know if this was what made the raisin bread overly crusty though!

While I adore making bread it isn’t the easiest thing to do with my schedule and the two kids. Remembering to give the bread enough time to rise is tricky and some of the bread recipes I use (from The Bread Bible) do require a bit of planning ahead. So this bread maker has been fantastic for us. I can get bread in two hours! The bread really should be left to cool completely before slicing though so that’s a bit more than two hours but I don’t have to keep an eye on the time anymore! Everything’s done for me! It’s the lazy girl’s answer to fresh bread. That is until the ingredients run out and I have to pop into the store for more….

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

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West of Sunset – Stewart O’Nan

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last three years of life are the focus of this book. I’m not exactly a big Fitzgerald fan but I quite like O’Nan so wanted to see what this latest was about.

 

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Little, Big – John Crowley

One of those ‘must-reads’ that have been sitting on my TBR list for too long. It was first published in 1981!

 

Life after life – Kate Atkinson

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I keep stopping to admire what she’s doing with the story. And to think back and avoid getting confused by everything. It is a fascinating concept. And I’m quite enjoying myself. I’m just reading this one a little slowly!

 

Listening:

Yeah so it’s been quite a Christmassy month! I’m usually not that keen on Christmas music but Wee Reader keeps asking for it! So I’ve been attempting to find less grating versions like classics by Bing Crosby.

Watching:

I’m still re-watching Gilmore Girls slowly. Always lots of fun but Lorelei often gets on my nerves so I can’t watch too many episodes at a time.

Eating:
I’ve had a rather ticklish throat these past few days so have held off on the chocolate. And am desperately craving that! But I am being good and eating some dried cherries.

Drinking:
Green tea.

Cooking:
Considering some beef or oxtail stew. Clay pot rice done in the rice cooker. Japchae or some other noodle dish. And spaghetti with salmon and kale. And some kind of soup…

Participating in:

A Month of Favorites! It’s been fun looking back at my year of reading in different ways. I’m looking forward to the rest of the topics.

 

Last week…

I read:

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The Woman Upstairs – Claire Messud

So I pretty much knew that the character was not a likable character and that was it. So I went into the story a bit hesitant. It didn’t help that it is a very angry book. It sure starts out full of rage. But I ended up really liking it. “Enjoying” seems a very wrong word for this novel. Such great writing. An elementary school teacher meets an adorable new student from France, Reza Shahid, befriends his enchanting artist mother unexpectedly and later his father. That’s a simplistic way of putting it I know, but the relationship she has with the family is a big part of this book. But it is a bit depressing, this book, to read of her almost-happiness, her desperation to be a part of this family, that obsessive voice through which the story is to. She is an unlikeable character, that is true, but Messud so very convincing in her creation of this character and plot that I was drawn into her world, and it is not a pretty one.

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(In a Sense) Lost and Found – Roman Muradov

I quite enjoyed the style and mood of the illustrations with its dark muted colours and fascinating font, but not the story. Innocence is a tangible object in this world and this girl has lost hers, or rather it has been stolen. That sounds like a great premise but it wasn’t played out as well as it could have been.

 

I posted:

#AMonthofFaves – Introduction!     

Read in November 2014     

#AMonthofFaves : 5 books that made me cry     

#AMonthofFaves : 10 favourite book covers!     

#AMonthofFaves – Favourites from other posts     

List of Lists      (I’m compiling whatever “best books of 2014” lists that catch my eye. Because my TBR list is not huge enough.)

What are you reading this week? 

 

 

 

 

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