12 August 2018

Off on an Adventure

Brugge photoHello friends,

I'm off to Bruges, Belgium, to attend a lace-making conference with my women friends.

Instead of trying to post ahead or soliciting my husband's help in keeping an eye on my blog, I've decided to take a break. I'll be back in late August with stories to tell and photos to share.

If you're looking for Weekend Cooking, please link up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen. Deb has graciously agreed to host the linkup on August 18 and 25. Thanks so much, Deb! She'll post at whatever time is convenient for her, so just keep on eye on her blog. And while you're there, check out all her fab book and food posts.

Hope your August is fun, productive, and healthy! See you soon.

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11 August 2018

Weekend Cooking: What to Eat and Drink in Belgium

What to eat in BelgiumBefore today is over, I'll have completed the first leg of my upcoming trip to Brugge. This won't be my first visit, and I sure hope it's not my last. The town is one of the prettiest I've been to.

There's more to Brugge than just a pretty face. It's one of the major lace centers of Europe, and in fact, lace is the raison d'etre for my trip. My friends and I will be attending a lace congress hosted by the local lace center.

Although we'll be based in Brugge we plan to travel around Belgium, cross the border to France, and maybe even spend a day in Luxembourg City. All the while, we'll be snapping photos and, of course, eating and drinking the local fare.

Here's what's on our to taste (or to taste again) list. We also plan to investigate some of the regional adult beverages.

French Fries: French fries should more properly be called Belgian fries, after their true point of origin. I especially love the fries from the guy who sets up a stand just below the Brugge bell tower in the main square. I, however, don't go completely native . . . keep that mayonnaise far, far away from me and my spuds.

What to eat in BelgiumChocolate: I'm simply not going to bother to get into an argument with you. Belgian chocolate (made there, not the imported stuff that might actually be made in the USA) is by far my favorite. Don't get me wrong, I won't turn down German or Dutch chocolate, but given a choice, I go Belgian all the way. My favorite chocolate in Brugge is Dumon. (photo from their website)

Mussels: You know the saying: One has to eat mussels in Brussels. In Belgium, they are generally steamed with fresh herbs, garlic, and wine and served with, of course, French fries on the side. One of my friends is a mussels freak, so I'm sure they will make several appearances on our table in Brugge and elsewhere.

Beef: Meatballs (usually a mix of beef and pork) in a sour cherry sauce is a simple, traditional Flemish dish. I don't know why I haven't tried this yet, but I plan to rectify this lapse in my culinary experience. I have, however enjoyed the Belgian beef stew, which is made with beer (naturally).

Rabbit: I adore rabbit (on my plate, that is), and Belgium is known for two particular rabbit dishes. One is rabbit with prunes and the other is rabbit with beer. I prefer the beer-infused stew, which is usually made with potatoes and mustard. YUM.

What to eat in BelgiumEel: Another regional dish is eel served in a green sauce. The sauce, if I recall correctly, is like a fresh herb and garlic puree. I'm not a huge eel fan because of all the bones, but one of my friends will order it at least once. It's a yummy dish, just fussy to eat.

Beer: Did you know there are more than 800 breweries in Belgium? It seems as if each town has at least one local beer that's worth trying. I'm partial to the darker, stronger beers, and stay away from the fruit beers. De Half Maan is one of the breweries in Brugge, known for it's Brugge Zot beer. I like the dubbel. (photo from their website)

Other sweets: Speculoos, ginger/spice cookies made in decorative molds, are popular in the Netherlands and Belgium. Although traditionally served at Christmas, they are now available year round. Waffles, of course!

Jenever: This gin-like spirit has a long history in Belgium. I first discovered Jenever in Brugge, but I have since learned there are regional variations across the Flemish region, from France to southern Belgium. We plan to visit the Jenever Museum and to do a serious tasting of the different varieties as we travel through the area. (Hey! somebody's gotta do it!)

Important Note: Because I'll be out of the country and my husband doesn't want to be responsible for maintaining my blog (and who can blame him?) Weekend Cooking will be hosted by Deb from Kahakai Kitchen on August 18 and August 25. She will be posting at her convenience, so just keep on eye on her blog. And while you're there, check out all her terrific book and food posts and don't forget to join in on her Souper Sunday linkup! Thanks so much, Deb, for giving Weekend Cooking a temporary home.
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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.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.
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10 August 2018

Vacation Reading; Or, What's on My Tablet

New books in August & September 2018Do you read when you're on vacation? I always have high hopes of quiet evenings or relaxing afternoons with my books, but in fact, I rarely read at all when I'm on an adventure.

Nevertheless, I simply cannot travel without a book or two (or twenty). Because, well, you never know, and I kind of panic at the thought of being stuck without something to read!

Truth is, I usually manage an audiobook or two when in the car or on a train. But even then my mind is not solidly on my book. After all, there are new things to see out the window.

Airplanes are a safer bet for audio or print reading, especially when traveling alone. I always hope a book, earbuds, or tablet tells the stranger sitting next to me to simply leave me alone. Alas, it doesn't always work.

In the old days, I would carefully choose two or three paperbacks, judging their weight and resigning myself to leaving them behind after I finished reading. Now, thanks to eBooks, smartphones, and tablets, I don't have to make those painful decisions. I can take ALL.THE.BOOKS!

So, even though I know I probably won't read a page, I downloaded a bunch of August and September eGalleys to my tablet. Because, yeah, I can't travel without a gazillion books! *insert hysterical laughter here*

Here's a peek at a few of the books I'm "packing" for vacation. I also have literary fiction and nonfiction on my tablet, but let's face it, I'm probably going to turn to escape reading.

Historical Fiction

  • Books for Vaction ReadingThe Air You Breath by Frances De Pointes Peebles (Riverhead, August): Set in Brazil and then America, starting in the 1930. The story of a childhood friendship that remains strong as the girls mature into women.
  • The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White (William Morrow, August): Set in the modern times and 1915. The story of three women and their link to the ill-fated RMS Lusitania.
  • The Last Hours by Minette Walters (Mira, August): Set in Dorsetshire in the mid-1300s. The story of a noble woman trying to protect her people from both the plague and the all-too-human murderer in their mist.
  • The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell (Berkley, September): Set in modern times and about 100 years ago in France. A freelance photography delves into the history of a fallen family and their once great estate.
Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Vaction reading in 2018Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger (Atria, September): Set in Minnesota; part of a series. In the latest Cork O'Connor mystery, the detective and his son investigate the circumstances that caused a private plane to crash, killing a U.S. Senator.
  • Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia (Emily Bestler, September): Set in Minnesota; a standalone. A language specialist at a psychiatric hospital is charged helping a new uncommunicative patient. A decade earlier the patient had disappeared with his father into the Boundary Waters; can she learn what happened?
  • Our House by Louise Candlish (Berkley, August): Set in London; a standalone. When a woman pulls up to the house she shares with her ex-husband, a new family is moving in. Her husband and children have disappeared and she is left alone to face the past and the secrets they so carefully kept.
  • A Willing Murder by Jude Deveraux (Mira, September): Set in Florida; a debut mystery from a romance author. A writer, her housemate, and her niece team together to solve a 20-year-old murder of a local mother and daughter. Could be the start of a new cozy series.
Speculative Fiction
  • Books to read on vacation 2018Melmoth by Sarah Perry (Custom House, October): A Gothic tale, set throughout the 20th century and across the globe, following a robed figure of fairy tales and legends who dooms all those who cross her path.
  • Rule by Ellen Goodlett (Little, Brown BYR, September): First in a duology. Three illegitimate daughters of a dying king are brought to court and told one will be heir to the throne. Each has secrets and different strengths, and only one can rule.
  • The Sea Queen by Linnea Hartsuyker (Harper, August): Set 6 years after The Half-Drowned King, we revisit the violent Viking world and Harald's continued quest to unit the Norsemen under his rule. Not technically a fantasy, but prophecies, tales, and gods abound.
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner (Redhook, September): Set in Ukraine and based on folk legends. Two sisters have a happy childhood until passing travelers seem to awaken dark forces. Magic, shape-shifting, and family secrets.

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08 August 2018

Wordless Wednesday 508

I'll Be Back in Bruges Soon


Click image for full effect. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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06 August 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: A Slow Reading Week

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts from Beth Fish ReadsWell this has been an embarrassing week for a book reviewer! I've listened to one -- yes ONE -- book all week. That's it.

I have an excuse of sorts: I'm trying to work ahead so I can take a trip with my girlfriends. Thus my life has been all about editing, freelance writing, packing, and otherwise losing my mind.

Oh and did I mention the poison ivy I got while weeding the other day? Oh yes. What a great airplane trip I'm going to have (scratch, scratch). Fortunately, the rash doesn't seem to be too bad, and I've been able to contain the itch with calamine lotion. STILL!

More about my upcoming trip in a later post. . . . In the meantime, here's what I listened to.

Age of War by Michael J. SullivanAge of War by Michael J. Sullivan (Del Rey, July 3), the third book in the Legends of the First Empire series, continues the story of the deep history of the universe introduced in the Riyria Revelations. Lost? Don't be. Sullivan has written three epic fantasy series, all set in the same world but not in the same time period. The first two series focused on the adventures of two thieves and how their seemingly insignificant lives in fact had an impact on far-reaching events. This third series goes back in time to reveal the pivotal events that changed a world and provided the foundation for the other books. I can't really say much about Age of War to those of you who haven't read any of Sullivan's books without giving away major spoilers. What I can say is this: Sullivan knows how to create believable characters that are easy to root for or to hate. Not everyone lives. Relationships don't always go the way you want them to. People grow and change. People make mistakes. There are dwarfs and elves and magic, but this isn't a children's story with wands and pointy hats. Age of War, as the title suggests, involves bloody battles and politics. Sacrifices are made, people are injured and killed, and few choices are black or white. I love, love, love these books and this entry did not disappoint. I also can't say enough good things about Tim Gerard Reynolds's performance of the audiobook (Recorded Books, 15 hr, 47 min). He gets the emotions, the pacing, the humor, and the personalities down perfectly.  (personal collection).

Bad Man by Dathan AuerbachBad Man by Dathan Auerbach (Doubleday, August 7): This novel, about the disappearance of a young boy from a grocery store, was pitched as being spooky. I don't do scary, but Mr. BFR does, so I accepted the ARC with the understanding that if anyone read the book in my house, it would be him. He did in fact read it, and here are some of his brief thoughts. First, he didn't think it was all that scary, though he liked the setup: Teenage Ben loses track of his three-year-old brother in a grocery store, and the toddler is never seen again. As his family falls apart, Ben, now twenty, is forced to work at the very store where his brother disappeared. There is a cast of creepy characters who all seem to be hiding something, and Ben has never stopped looking for his brother or feeling guilty. Mr. BFR was invested for most of the book, coming up with theories for the identity of the "bad man." Unfortunately, the Southern Gothic story didn't hold up at the end. He didn't buy some of the reveals and was frustrated by some unresolved issues. The book ends with an author's note that talks about the inspiration for this story. Mr. BFR says he wishes he had read the note before reading the book; it might have positively affected his reactions. Other reviewers had better luck, so you might want to give it a try.

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2018. All rights reserved.

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