26 September 2016

4 Adult Coloring Books You Won't Want to Miss

As the days grow shorter in the Northern Hemisphere and the temperatures cool, it will soon be time for more indoor activities, including adult coloring (while listening to an audiobook, of course!) And if you live south of the Equator, no fear . . . you can color out on your deck or porch or while sitting by the pool.

Here are four coloring book to get you started. (Click on the images to see them more clearly.)

4 Adult Coloring Books You Won't Want to MissJohanna Basford is known for her intricate, fanciful drawings, each of which is includes a treasure. In Magical Jungle, you'll find monkeys, butterflies, frogs, and more hidden in the leafy pages. Basford has been dubbed "the queen of coloring," and this book strengthens her reign. I particularly like the tiger face, which is one of the simpler coloring pages. (From Penguin Books, August 2016)

4 Adult Coloring Books You Won't Want to MissWendy Piersall has taken the idea of an adult coloring book to a new level with her Coloring Flower Mandala Postcards. The pullout pages are printed on sturdy card stock, which can be sent through the mail. One side has a lovely mandala for you to color in and other side has a space for the name and address, the stamp, and even a spot for some extra decoration. I know quite a few of you are in postcard or snail mail groups, and I think these pretty cards are a nice change from store bought. Don't do a lot of snail mail? Use these mandalas as gift cards, as thank-yous, as pretty little extras in lunch boxes, or to decorate your office instead of popping them in the mail. (From Ulysses Press, May 2016)

4 Adult Coloring Books You Won't Want to MissSometimes all those tiny spaces and intricate drawings can be intimidating, especially for people new to adult coloring. Creative Escape's Country Life coloring book takes a simpler approach. Each perforated page contains a rural scene depicting animals, vistas, forests, and farm life. Besides the black and white coloring pages, the book also shows examples of finished drawings. I really love this ocean scene (sorry for poor photo). (From Racehorse Publishing, September 2016)

4 Adult Coloring Books You Won't Want to MissAdult coloring reaches a new dimension with Daria Song's stories through art books. In The Night Voyage, a little girl falls asleep on the night before her birthday and dreams of adventures and presents and fanciful creatures. As with Song's other coloring books, the drawings are beautiful and spark one's imagination. Dare to dream! (From Crown Publishing, August 2016)

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24 September 2016

Weekend Cooking: The Barbara Pym Cookbook by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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The Barbara Pym Cookbook by Hilary Pym and Honor WyattA few weeks ago I mentioned that I will be hosting a Twitter book club meeting for Open Road Media. Their new club will have a different host each time, and I'm excited (and nervous!) about taking a turn.

The book I picked is Barbara Pym's No Tame Gazelle, and you can read about it in my earlier post. The eBook is on sale for $1.99, and it's a quick read, so you still have time to finish it by Wednesday, September 28. We'll be tweeting at 3pm Eastern Time (New York City time).

One reason I picked a Barbara Pym book is that her books are full of food references: the characters cook and bake and host parties or think about what they want for tea or Sunday dinner. No Tame Gazelle is no exception and includes some fun and funny food scenes.

Pym was so well known for her food that her sister Hilary Pym teamed up with Honor Wyatt to write The Barbara Pym Cookbook, which highlights the meals Pym wrote about in her novels. Some Tame Gazelle is mentioned several times in this slim collection, which shows how often the Bede sisters (protagonists of the story) thought about food and cooking.

Here are some of the recipes featured from Some Tame Gazelle
  • Simmered chicken: which is what Belinda Bebe supposes is served to "all new curates everywhere . . . when they come to supper for the first time."
  • Roast duck: which is annoying when it's part of the archdeacon's Sunday supper because it prompts him to preach an extra-long sermon so the duck has time cook; meanwhile, the Bebe sisters begin to worry that their roast beef, also in the oven during the service, will be overdone.
  • Cauliflower cheese: this is kind of like a savory pudding and is the key to a disastrous luncheon.
The recipe I decided to share with you is for a cake inspired by Belinda's musings about what she could bring to the archdeacon when his wife is out of town: "a cake, too, perhaps with coffee icing and filling and chopped nuts on the top."

Mocha Cake
  • 8 tablespoons (110 g) butter
  • 2/3 cup (110 g) castor or superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (110 g) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coffee flavoring
  • Butter icing
  • Coffee icing
  • 1 ounce (30 g) blanched almonds, toasted and chopped
Cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs, 1 at a time, breating well after each addition. Sift together flour and baking powder, and add to butter mixture. Add coffee flavoring and combine well. Preheat oven to 325F (170C). Butter a cake tin, dust with flour, pour in batter, and spread evenly. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes. When cooled completely, sandwich with butter icing and top with coffee icing. Decorate with toasted almonds.

NOTE: The book didn't give icing recipes. I haven't made this, but it sounds like a pound cake. I think we're supposed to cut the cake horizontally to make the layers.

My copy of the cookbook was published by Dutton in 1988. I bet I bought it the second it came out! I love Barbara Pym.

Even if you don't have a mocha cake in the house, I hope you decide to join in the book club discussion on Wednesday at 3pm. I think it will be fun. And if I'm the host, you know I'm going to be talking about food!

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22 September 2016

Movie & Giveaway: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train movieDid you read Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train? In this psychological thriller, a woman of questionable stability thinks she witnessed a crime while looking out the window of her commuter train. There is a lot more going on than just the possible crime, though. Rachel is coping a number of personal problems related to her recent divorce, too much alcohol, and her crumbling job. She is also a little too obsessed with a couple she sees from the train every day to and from work.

Because I enjoyed the book, I am more than a little curious about the movie The Girl on the Train, which is directed by Tate Taylor (who also directed The Help) and produced by Marc Platt (of Into the Woods fame). The movie opens in theaters on October 7.

The cast looks perfect for the story: The stars include Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, and Justin Theroux. The DreamWorks Pictures production is being released by Universal Pictures.

The Girl on the Train movieHere is the studio's summary:

The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel Watson's (Blunt) life post-divorce. Every day, she takes the train in to work in New York, and every day the train passes by her old house. The house she lived in with her husband, who still lives there, with his new wife and child (Ferguson and Theroux). As she attempts to not focus on her pain, she starts watching a couple who live a few houses down--Megan and Scott Hipwell (Bennett and Evans). She creates a wonderful dream life for them in her head, about how they are a perfect happy family. And then one day, as the train passes, she sees something shocking, filling her with rage. The next day, she wakes up with a horrible hangover, various wounds and bruises, and no memory of the night before. She has only a feeling: something bad happened. Then come the TV reports: Megan Hipwell is missing. Rachel becomes invested in the case and trying to find out what happened to Megan, where she is, and what exactly she herself was up to that same night Megan went missing.
I can tell you there are some good twists, creepy characters, and puzzles to figure out. The novel is sure to be super on the silver screen. Take a look at the trailer:


Get Social: To keep up with all the latest about the movie The Girl on the Train, be sure to follow #TheGirlOnTheTrain across your social media sites. Don't forget to visit the movie's website, like the film on Facebook, and follow along on Twitter and Instagram.

The Girl on the Train movieThe Giveaway: Thanks to Universal Pictures, I'm able offer one of my readers with a USA  mailing address a fabulous prize pack consisting of a $25 Fandango gift card for a night at the movies with The Girl on the Train PLUS a very cool Black Sling Bag, Luggage Tag, and Lip Balm. You won't want to miss this great opportunity to see the movie and score some awesome swag. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via random number generator on September 29. Once the winner has been verified, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!

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21 September 2016

Wordless Wednesday 412

Asters, 2016


Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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20 September 2016

Today's Read: We Are Unprepared by Med Little Reilly

We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly; featureWhen that fabled devastating storm to end all storms is about to hit your area, what would you do: work with your community to keep everyone safe, take a survivalist everyone-for-himself stand, turn to God for protection, or await government help? As it turns out Ash and his wife, Pia, pick different options:

We were driving east on Route 15 when the world first learned of the coming storms. Pia and I had just met with a fertility specialist in Burlington and we were both staring straight ahead at the road as we digested the information we'd received there. I didn't want to see a doctor about having babies. That was for people who were old or sick or in a rush, and we were none of those things. But it's true that we had sort of been trying on and off for a year, so with a little persuasion, I agreed to the appointment. Conceiving a child had become Pia's obsession in the preceding months, and her determination trumped my ambivalence.
We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly (MIRA Books, 2016, Chapter 1, ARC)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Isole, Vermont, in the not so distant future.
  • Circumstances: Ash and Pia had been living a very urban life in Brooklyn before deciding to move to Ash's native Vermont to live a quieter life and maybe start a family. They begin to settle in, meeting neighbors and townsfolk. But when the government predicts an impending super storm, the cracks in their marriage and their new community start to burst open.
  • Genre: adult, psychological study, not exactly dystopian
  • Themes: marriage, community, environmental issues, survival
  • Characters: Ash (the guy) and Pia, a thirty-something couple; August, a neighbor boy who seems to be alone; Maggie, a schoolteacher who befriends Ash; Peg, a scientist with an interest in the environment; various other community members, including survivalists, fundamental Christians, Yuppies, and farmers
  • Why I want to read this: Let's face it, storms in the East seem to be getting worse, and I'm curious how a small community and a couple will cope with a mega-storm. The novel promises to explore the personal and social ramifications of a natural disaster.
  • What some reviews have said: The plot is a little drawn out and some of the secondary characters are not very well developed. The story is told from Ash's point of view and in retrospect, so we know he survives. Also, apparently We Are Unprepared is more a psychological study than it is a treatise on climate change.
  • Something to know: Author Meg Little Reilly worked for the Obama administration as deputy associate director at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2016. All rights reserved.

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