The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This book is told in three different timelines, 1940s, 1960s, and 2011 England with four different narrators: Laurel (1960s + 2011) and Dorothy, Jamie, and Violet (1940s).

1960s

Greenacres

Laurel Nicolson is 16-years old. They are having a party for her little brother Gerald, but instead of going out to the yard to join them in the picnic, she stole away from her large family to the barn loft to read a play and dream about her motorcycle driving bad boy crush.

She decides to go in the treehouse as it is cooler and a better spot. She is sitting up there and spots her mom, Dorothy, holding her little brother and the special birthday cake cutting knife. When all of a sudden a man approaches her mother and brother. She can see her mother is upset, scared? She sets Gerald down as the man speaks to her, and then Laurel watches her mother stab the man, killing him.

The police are called and when questioned, both Laurel and Dorothy’s stories match up with self-defense and that ends the event. Laurel forgets all about it and when she turns 18, leaves the farm and heads to London to pursue acting.

2011

London and Greenacres

Laurel has become a successful actress and has never returned home. She’s stayed in touch and isn’t separated from her family, she just never returned to the farm. Now it is her mom’s 90th birthday, and the family is getting all together to celebrate. Dorothy has dementia and resides in a facility, so Laurel decides to stay at Greenacres.

onthefarm

While there the whole memory of the killing comes back to her. More questions arise when she looks through their mother trunks that were always off-limits growing up. Laurel realizes that she has no clue who her mother was, and sets out to find out who she was.

I thought I knew my mother, but I was wrong.

1940s

London

Dorothy Smitham has always wanted the finer things in life, to be more-have more. She falls in love with Jimmy Metcalfe, aspiring photographer. She wants to get married, but Jimmy wants to have a job, money, and a place. He goes to London and travels around photographing the city and World War II.

Dorothy follows him to London and starts renting an old closet in a boarding house (housing shortage) and searching for a job. Her friend’s father, a psychologist, gets her hired as a companion to a Lady.

There Dorothy gets the taste of the high life and becomes consumed with moving up. She has always loved nice things and now she lusts after it-doing all she can to be the one the lady leaves her money and wealth to. She cuts all her true friends and Jimmy, to make sure she is exactly what her employer wants.

Dorothy also becomes obsessed with the beautiful socialite across the street, Violet Jenkins. She meets her at a WAC meeting and does all she can to emulate her, and believes them to be friends.

But when Dorothy is betrayed and finds Violet to be at fault, she searches out Jimmy and has him join her in a plan to get back at Violet and get the money to run away and start a farm.

But things don’t according to plan. Violet and Jimmy fall in love and someone winds up dead. Will Laurel be able to handle the truth about her mother?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was really interesting, completely compelling, and had one fantastic twist of an ending.

For more books that take place during World War I, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Phantom of the Opera

Baked Tomatoes With Mozzarella & Parmesan

So I love tomatoes and cheese and the two mixed together! So when I came upon this recipe on Pinterest I knew it was for me.

This comes from The Cookie Rookie blog.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Roma Tomatoes Sliced
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup of Fresh Basil Chopped
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place tomato slices on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Top each tomato with a layer of parmesan and then a layer of mozzarella.
  4. Sprinkle chopped basil on top of each tomato.
  5. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  6. Bake 8-10 mins or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  7. Turn off oven and broil for 2-3 mins to brown cheese.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Thoughts After Cooking:

I loved these! Sooooo good. I devoured them before I could plate them-but at least I got one pic before they were all gone.

These were also easy to make and took very little time.

For more Pinterest recipes, go to 20 Minutes Cherry Tomatoes and Basil Angel Hair Pasta

For more recipes, go to Saucy Spider with Hairy Leg Sticks

Catnap

Catnap (Midnight Louie #1) by Carole Nelson Douglas

I picked this book up years ago at a library book sale as I love mysteries and I love cats, so when they are combined they are a serious winner!

This book is not only a noir-it is a chat noir! LOL

Midnight Louie is a giant, eighteen pound cat who roams the streets. He used to call the Crystal Palace Casino his home, but since the owner got married and had a baby-it isn’t really the place for him.

He’s a P.I. investigating crimes on the strip and finds himself at the convention center where the ABA, American Booksellers Association, is holding thier annul convention. As he peruses the book stalls, he discovers a dead body-stabbed by a knitting needle. Not wanting to be the one who is suspected for the murder, he decides to have someone else find the body.

That patsy just happens to be Templeton Barr, P.R. for the ABA conference.

Templeton Barr had a wonderful job at the Guthrie Theater and left it to follow her magician boyfriend to Las Vegas, Nevada. He disappeared, and Temple couldn’t get her job back-so she stayed in Vegas, working as a freelance P.R.

She is finishing up her work, worried sick about the disappearance of Scottish Fold cats, Baker & Taylor-mascots for the booksellers; when a guard tells her a cat has been spotted on the main floor. Templeton scurries down there to find Midnight Louie and the dead body.

It isn’t just any body, but Chester Royal, head of Pennyroyal Press-specializing in medical murder mysteries and thriller. He was a rude, crude, penny-pinching, misogynistic man who only cares about himself and making more money for himself. Suspects abound!

He was found with the knitting needle through the chest and the word “STET” on his body.

Templeton has a PR nightmare, but gets the idea to use Midnight Louie-detective cat angle-shielding the B&T cat disappearances and making the story a human interest piece on the front page.

She also finds herself caring for Midnight Louie, investigating the murder, and having to do a ransom drop to get the B&T cats back.

She goes to work investigating, but will curiosity kill this P.R. cat?

Hmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

It’s funny because I read this book over thirteen years ago and Baker & Taylor meant nothing to me, other than a side storyline. Now that I work in a library, as soon as I read Baker & Taylor I knew it meant the booksellers and I knew how important the cats are. Funny, isn’t it.

I thought it was an interesting mystery-especially the switching of chapters from Templeton’s view to Midnight Louie’s 1940s PI entries.

The mystery was a bit dry and hard to slog through in places. I also think how she figured it out was a bit jumping the shark-as a new character enters the story in the last few chapters that holds the “key” to discovering the truth.

I hate that. It always feels lazy to me or a last ditched effort to figure out a way to reach the conclusion instead of interweaving it throughput.

For more Noirvember, go to Wolverine Noir

For more cat mysteries, go to The Tell-Tale Purr

For more mysteries with Private Detectives, go to Lowcountry Boneyard

For more mysteries set in Las Vegas, go to Innocent in Las Vegas

For more books from a library book sale, go to The Key to Midnight

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Like this one! I borrowed the review from megafan-JaneAustenRunsMyLife

phantom of the opera underground lair water boat

Gaston Leroux studied to be a lawyer, but when his father died, he found himself a millionaire. He immediately quit school and went on a big spending/gambling spree losing everything.

tomorrowisanotherdaygonewiththewind

Afterwards, he began to work for a newspaper, doubling as a court reporter and a drama critic. As he toured the opera, ballets, plays, etc.; he heard different stories about what went on in the theaters, and it gave him an idea.

ooh!

With that he published The Phantom of the Opera as a serial from 1909-1910, being translated and published in English in 1911. The story is told from the viewpoint of an interviewer as he researches his subject and tries to tell the history of this Phantom.

Phantom of the Opera

Growing up I just loved this book so much. I used to check out the children’s version again and again; graduating to the unabridged when I grew older.

SadBookEndedfinishedover

Erik is a wanderer. After being hurt by so many he no longer considers him as having an nationality or family.

phantom-of-the-opera organ

His pain originates from when he was a child and his own parents were too disgusted to see his “true form.”

“When my own father never saw me and when my mother, so as not to see me, made me a present of my first mask.” (pg. 130)

Aw, man.

Aw, man.

He is so often used to being considered as death, that he has even prepared his room as such. All in black and even sleeps in a coffin. How sad is that? Poor guy!

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

But even in that ugliness and sadness there is beauty. He is a musical genius with a voice like no other.

“He heard a very captivating voice…Raoul had never heard anything more absolutely and heroically sweet, more gloriously insidious, more delicate, more powerful, in short, more irresistibly triumphant…nothing could describe the passion with which the voice sang…” (pg. 98)

Erik is very intelligent and has done many things before coming to the opera house and meeting Christine.

“You must not think, Raoul, that he [Erik] is simply a man who amuses himself by living underground. He does things that no man could do; he knows things which nobody in the world knows.” (pg. 135)

I mean he built THAT opera house and created numerous trap doors, spring sets, his own secret underground home. And that’s not the only thing he has created. He built palaces for Sultans and Kings; but always being betrayed by them as they want him dead so that they alone can posses his genius.

right in the feels broken heart

One day the Phantom comes upon Christine and decides to help assist her to become a fantastic singer.

“From that time onward, the voice and I became great friends.” (pg. 116)

They spend years together as the Phantom puts his all into teaching her and helping her. Then one day Christine spots Raoul and tells the phantom all about seeing him. And the voice disappears. Christine is anxious and scared. She knows she is nothing without him, she will shrivel up into a has-been.

1Star-Wars-Luke-NOOO-Not-my-father

The next day the Phantom comes and tells her he has to leave her.

“The voice was there, spoke to me with great sadness and told me plainly that, if I must bestow my heart on earth, there was nothing for the voice to do but go back to heaven.” (pg. 117)

You see, no threats. No harsh words. The Phantom would have simply backed off if she loved another. He would be heartbroken, but that would be the end of it. Except…

“I swore to the voice that you were no more than a brother to me nor ever would be and that my heart was incapable of any earthly love.” (pg. 117)

Ryan-Gosling-Oh-No-You-Didnt-Half-Nelson

You see that!!!! You see that!!! She purposely leads on the Phantom because she just wants to use him. She doesn’t love him, she doesn’t care for him, as she has stated before:

“[to Raoul] And that, dear, first revealed to me that I loved you.” (pg. 117)

you're evil

She knew, but she had a good thing and didn’t want to see it disappear. Now she tells Raoul that she “lied only because she thought she had no chance with Raoul.” But is that even the truth? She already admitted to playing the Phantom, she’s probably playing Raoul too. He’s rich and interested, and now she’s going to play the little helpless victim to catch him.

hate her

So you know what, I never feel sorry for her. She created this whole mess as she only cared about herself and not what her false declarations did to people. She almost kills hundreds because of her selfishness. I feel bad for the Phantom. Poor guy, who is completely crushed by her. He picked the wrong woman.

2578pstabbing

Then the Phantom carries her off underground into his home.

uh-no-gifuhno

Now I admit, his carrying her off wasn’t the right thing to do. He should have asked her instead of just carrying her like that. But what does he do next? He confesses that he isn’t an angel or teacher but that he is the Phantom of the Opera, its architect, etc.

“He [Erik] feels me with horror and I do not hate him. How can I hate him Raoul? Think of Erik at my feet…he accuses himself, he curses himself, he implores my forgiveness!…He loves me! He lays at my feet an immense and tragic love…He has carried me off for love!” (pg. 125)

iLoveyou

He treats her wonderfully. He respects her as a thing of beauty and doesn’t harm her or touch her. And when she is upset and wants to leave?

“And, when I stood up, Raoul, and told him that I could only despise him if he did not, then and there, give me my liberty…he offered it…” (pg. 125)

See he isn’t a crazy killer or psychotic (yet). He loves her and respects her wishes. She’s the viper, she’s evil as she chooses to stay there even though she doesn’t love him, she just wants to use him.

“For he sang. And I listened…and stayed!” (pg. 125)

She falls asleep and then wakes up in a whole different room, properly freaked. BUT then spots a note left to her by the Phantom.

“My dear Christine, you need have no concern as to your fate. You have no better nor more respectful friend in the world than myself.” (pg. 126)

He just let her alone, as he sees her as the kindest and most divine woman; respecting her. He also purchases tons of things for her in order to make the place truly home.

How sweet!

How sweet!

But Christine is not happy. She wants out. She is angry with the Phantom, even though he has given her everything! All she wants is to see his face as “no honest man would wear a mask.” But that is the one place Erik won’t give.

No thank youhowaboutno

Then Erik mentions how most of her time with him will be musical practice. She is angry as he wants her to stay five days, then he will let her go again as she will either love him (hope) or pity him. But Christine is now upset that he won’t let her go now, but hey he offered you before.

She cannot make up her mind.

She cannot make up her mind.

The real issue Christine has with the Phantom is his skull-like face. This is what breaks her and makes her horrified and disgusted. She can’t leave well enough alone, and asks him to play for her, plotting her deception. When he is too worked up in the music she snatches the mask off.

Phantomoftheopera1925unmasked

Now she thinks he is disgusting, and here is where he makes his first incredibly bad decision.

big mistake

He tells Christine that he can’t let her go. He knows that she sees him only as a monster, and if returned to the surface would tell others of the “monster”, causing them to be riled up, create a mob, and set out to kill him.

mob

Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

Christine, the little actress she is, starts playing to the areas he has been insecure. She tells him that he is genius, his music causes her to forget his looks. She even burns his mask to symbolize that she is “above” such things. In reality she is playing him  from every angle, earning his trust so that he is willing to believe she actually loves him and won’t harm him. Letting her go.

you're evil

Christine acts as if he is a true monster, but the Phantom has a compassionate heart. She asks if she can pretend to “be engaged”, playacting, with Raoul and the Phantom agrees.

“He said, ‘I trust you, Christine. M. de Chagny [Raoul] is in love with you and going abroad. Before he goes, I want him to be as happy as I am.” (pg. 134)

How can someone be unfeeling when they consider what their arch rival’s feelings?

How sweet!

How sweet!

Eventually, the Phantom figures out the truth, that this was all a set up and steals Christine away; that final act of betrayal being the straw that broke the camels back.

HurtMeHurtYouBack

I mean he really believed that someone had fallen in love with him.

“It is my wish…my wish to let her go; and she will come again…for she loves me!…All this will end in marriage…” (pg. 206)

He thinks his dream and true love is in his grasp!

“…Now I want to live like everybody else. I want a wife like everybody else and to take her out on Sundays. I have invented a mask that makes me look like anybody…All I have ever wanted was to be loved for myself…” (214)

The thing I really hate about the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is how the changed the relationship between Christine and the Phantom with her thinking of him as her father and making Raoul less of the pansy he was. But most of all they make the Phantom a total psycho and murderer. He doesn’t really kill people in the book, unless it is for self-preservation. We only witness three: two were out trying to get him, and the third he accidentally kills Raoul’s brother, who when searching for him falls into a trap. The Phantom really regrets having killed him too. Although he does bring the chandelier down, which injures and kills. How many, we don’t know.

Phantom of the Opera chandelier

He then gives Christina an option. She can choose Raoul and the Opera house will be blown up (as Erik has hidden dynamite under the floor when he built it) or she can choose him and save everyone. I have to admit that forcing her to choose marrying him was not right or what she should do, but people who have been betrayed often do not think logically but just want to heart the person who hurt them.

broken-heart-breakYouPatrick

But in the end he let’s Christine go, because she finally gave him the one thing he has most wanted: companionship and love:

“I tell you I kissed her just like that, on her forehead…and she did not draw back her forehead from my lips! (pg. 247)

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

Poor Erik!

“Poor, unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be “some one,” like everybody else. But he was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius or use it to play tricks with, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must pity the opera ghost.” (pg. 259)

Leave me alone so I can cry over the death of my fictional characters

 I think what resonates the most with this story is how relatable the Phantom was. Who of us hasn’t at one time hated how we looked?

anthony-michael-hall-brian-insecure-quotes-the breakfast club see myself don't like what i see insecure body image

Had our heart broken:

HeartbreakBuffy the Vampire slayer heartbroken Sad

Been betrayed by someone we thought cared about us?

you broke my heart silverstein

Or felt we hadn’t received the recognition we deserved?

StoryOfMyLifeSomeLikeItHotMarilynMonroe

What else can I say?

gotmask

Why yes I do!

For more ghosts, go to The Little Archies in The Secret of the Betsy Belle

For more posts borrowed from JaneAustenRunsMyLife, go to The Strength of Their Attachment

 

Saucy Spider with Hairy Leg Sticks

So I wanted to make sure you all had a Halloween-y recipe for whatever parties or events you may be having this year. My tia shared this recipe on facebook, and I decided I HAD to make it.

This recipe for how to make the spider comes from Woman’s Day and calls for 2 balls of pizza dough. I decided to make it myself and instead of trying the Sicilian pizza recipe, I got this pizza dough recipe from Bigger Bolder Baking’s 15-Minute Pizza Dough Recipe (No Yeast)

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Cups of Flour
  • 3 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons of Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

Pizza Dough Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a mixing bowl-combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Whisk until thoroughly combined and set aside.
  4. Combine the water and oil in a separate jug or cup.
  5. Slowly add the water and oil mixture to the flour mixture, holding back a little in case you don’t need it all.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, or your hands, mix until the dough is combined. It should be soft, but not sticky.
  7. Add a splash more water if you dough is dry.

Saucy Spider Ingredients:

  • 2 Balls of Pizza Dough
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp of Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Large Pitted Black Olive
  • 2 Cups of Marinara Sauce

Spider Directions:

  1. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Make the spider by cutting one ball of dough in half.
  3. Shape one half into a 5-inch ball to make the spider body.
  4. Cut a 1 1/2 inch strip from the remaining half and shape into a 2 1/2 inch ball to make the head.
  5. Cut the remaining dough into 8 strips and roll each strip into a 6 inch rope to make the legs.
  6. Arrange the body, legs, and head on one of the prepared baking sheets to resemble a spider, gently pressing all of the pieces of dough together.
  7. Brush the spider with some of the egg.
  8. Sprinkle the legs 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese.
  9. Place 2 of the olive slices on the top of the head for eyes and 2 on the bottom for pincers.
  10. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 mins. (Cover the legs with foil if they brown too quickly).
  11. Meanwhile, make the spider leg sticks. Cut the remaining ball of dough into into 8 pieces.
  12. Roll each piece into a 3/4 inch thick rope.
  13. Cut each rope into various lengths.
  14. Taper one end of each piece and slightly bend the others to resemble legs.
  15. Place on the second baking sheet, brush with the remaining egg and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  16. Bake until golden brown-15-20 minutes.
  17. Meanwhile, warm marinara sauce.
  18. Using a knife, hollow out the body of the spider and fill with the warm sauce.
  19. Serve with the leg sticks.

The Pizza Dough:

The Spider Before Baking-I Didn’t Have Any Olives:

Spider After Baking:

Spider Body Filled:

Thoughts After Reading:

So the dough was okay, but too salty for me. I don’t think I would make it again. It also only made one ball of dough so I didn’t get any spider legs out of it.

The spider was so cute. I ended up making White Bean and Barley Soup with Tomatoes and Greens and filled my spider with it.

It was easy to make too, and I’m going to try and do it for a future party.

Soo good!

For more Halloween recipes, go to Pumpkin French Toast

For more pizza dough recipes, go to Pizza Siciliana

 

The Strength of Their Attachment

“The Strength of Their Attachment” from Rational Creatures by Sophia Rose

So here at MysteriousEats.wordpress.com I wouldn’t call us lazy, but if my older sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.com has already reviewed or posted something, we just copy and paste it minus the Austen-y things as we concentrate more on the mystery.

We all about that mystery.

So my sister blog reviewed a book Rational Creatures, short stories on different Jane Austen female characters from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Now most of these stories are not mysteries or have mysterious elements, so I just passed them by.

But the one that did interest me, was the Northanger Abbey short story by Sophia Rose…yes this one was a mystery!

So quick background copied from my sister blog:

“So for those who haven’t read it it- Catherine Morland seemed so average that no one would think she could ever be a heroine-but those people will be proven wrong. She loves to read, especially gothic stories and has an overactive imagination. She is gifted with a trip to Bath and ends up in her own romance suspense novel! A love triangle, an overbearing father, a mysterious death, a foreboding Abbey, and more! I love it and you all should read it if you haven’t!”

Plot Synopsis:

So at the end of Northanger Abbey, Catherine was sent home embarrassed-then Mr. Tilney came and professed his love, and all was happy. Right?

She has returned home to find her brother, James Morland, has disappeared.

He just disappeared.

After his fiancé Isabella threw James over, trying to snare a bigger fish, he became despondent. They have tried to contact him numerous times, but there are no answers to them. Even their aunt who resides in Oxford has had one of her grooms deliver a letter but nothing.

Catherine takes a moment to work out a plan and convinces her parents to let her go to Oxford and try a personal visit. Catherine prepares for the trip and that there is a stranger in the village asking questions about her brother.

Catherine gets there and it appears her fears were not unfounded. The porter has not seen James, but his mail has disappeared and some of things are gone with no one knowing where he has gone.

Hmmm…

Catherine grows more and more worried-nothing heard from James-nothing from her fiancé Mr. Tilney. What is going on with this men?

Hmmm…?

Catherine once again finds herself in a plot she’s only ever read about-dastardly plans, missing brother, missing fiancé, a viscount, goons after her-straight out of an adventure story. Will she be able to stop this plotter? Will she find her brother? What’s wrong with her fiancé?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was a great mystery. It was funny, suspenseful, and had a great resolution.

To read the full Rational Creatures review check out my sister blog

For more Jane Austen mysteries, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

For more short stories, go to The Idol House of Astarte

For more disappearances, go to Lowcountry Boneyard

For more Northanger Abbey, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more from JaneAustenRunsMyLife, go to Matcha Latte (Hot or Cold)

Psycho II

Psycho II (Psycho #2) by Robert Bloch

I bought this years ago at a used bookstore and as I love Psycho the movie. I couldn’t wait to read it but then…

Plot Summary:

So nuns are going to visit the asylum, because I guess they do that. It seems really odd to me, but whatever.

Norman of course is still crazy and murders a nun-commenting all the while about how he wonders of nuns shave down there and legs, etc. Uh…why?

That is mostly how I feel about this book, why? Why, what does this have to do with plot?

He steals a van, which is later found burned with a burned body in it-believed to be Norman. His doctor, Dr. Adam Claiborne, doesn’t think he is dead and goes to Hollywood. They plan to make a movie about Norman, and Dr. Claiborne thinks he is headed that way and goes that way too.

The actor playing Norman, Paul Morgan, thinks that if Norman has been dressing like his mom, he must be gay. He dresses up and goes undercover at a Hollywood gay brothel. Strange

There are two actresses Jan and Connie. Connie isn’t pretty enough to be a star, but does become a star in  porn film.

And then Norman goes killing and stabbing.

Thoughts After Reading:

This was awful! So dumb!  The movie is waaaay better, I would rather watch that than read this anytime.

For more Psycho, go to Psycho

For more books that take place in Hollywood, go to The Woman in the Movie Star Dress

For more psychopaths, go to The Itsy Bitsy Spider

20 Minutes Cherry Tomatoes and Basil Angel Hair Pasta

So I typically post on Fridays, occasionally Saturday of something comes up. Unfortunately, this weekend was one of those times when I fell behind, so I’m posting Sunday instead.

I LOVE basil, tomatoes, and pasta: so this recipe was perfect for me! This recipe comes from Oh Sweet Basil and I found it originally on pinterest.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of Angel Hair Pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 5 Large Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 Cup of Loosely Packed Basil, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 a Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Parmesan Cheese, plus more for garnish

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add in pasta and cook until al dente, or until pasta is slightly undercooked.
  3. Drain pasta in a colander, but reserve the pasta water.
  4. While pasta is cooking, add garlic and olive oil to a large skillet.
  5. Cook until garlic is soft, about two mins.
  6. Add tomatoes and salt and cook for another two mins.
  7. Add 1/2 Cup of the pasta water and cook until water boils.
  8. Simmer for five mins, the tomatoes should be starting to burst.
  9. If they haven’t, gently push on them with the back of a wooden spoon, you only want them about half to burst.
  10. Add pasta and cook for another two mins.
  11. Turn the heat off, add basil, and parmesan cheese.
  12. Toss to coat.
  13. If needed, add more pasta water.
  14. Season to taste and add parmesan cheese to taste.

Thoughts After Reading:

This was delicious and cooked so fast. I LOVED it!

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Baked Garlic Parmesan Fries

For more pasta recipes, go to Angel Hair Pasta With Zucchini and Tomatoes

For more angel hair pasta recipes, go to Creamy Parmesan Spaghetti

The Idol House of Astarte

From my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

So last month I reviewed the first of The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems.

I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday!

“The Idol House of Astarte” from The Tuesday Club Murders (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie

Plot Synopsis:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marple’s home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know they answer to: The Tuesday Night Club. 

Next to share a mystery is Dr. Pender:

Dr. Pender is the reverend and says he only has one story to share. The story takes place on the edges of Dartmoor, the property was beautiful but had been on the market a very long time.

Hmm…

It was eventually purchased by Sir Richard Haydon, an old friend of Dr. Pender. It had been years since they had seen each other, but they reconnected and he invited Dr. Pender down to Silent Grove, as his recently purchased property was now named.

At the party was Richard, his cousin Elliot Hayden, Lady Mannerling, her daughter Violet Mannerling, Captain Rogers, Mrs. Rogers, Dr. Symonds, and a beautiful, society woman Miss Diana Ashley.

Richard was extremely attracted to Diana, and Dr. Pender saw that this whole party was a setup-a setup to bring her down and woo her.

The house was solid Devonshire granite on the moor with weatherbeaten Tors. There were also relics of the Stone Age which Richard likes as his hobby was antiquarian matters.

The moors.

They are walking around the grounds, but Dr. Pender doesn’t like it. Something feels off.

Richard notices it and tells him the grounds used to be the Grove of Astarte-otherwise known as Ishtar or Ashtoreth. In the middle of a clearing is a stone summer house, which Haydon calls The Idol House of Astarte-The Goddess of the Moon.

Diana wants to have a wild orgy party, out in the moonlight in the sacred grove. To dress up fancy and celebrate. Nobody else likes it, but Diana.

That night they decide to dress up in Fancy Dress, and all dress up. Rev. Pender is a monk, Richard a Phoenician sailor, his cousin Elliot a Brigand Chief, Lady Mannerling a hospice nurse, her daughter Violet Mannerling a Circassian slave, Captain Rogers and Mrs. Rogers were Neolithic hut dwellers, Dr. Symonds a chef, and Miss Diana the “unknown”

After dinner they all go outside. After a while they realize that Diana is missing.

Violet Mannerling says that she saw her go to the idol house, so they head over there. When they get there they spot her in gauze with two crescent moons coming out of her hair.

I am the priestess of Astarte,’ she [Diana] crooned. ‘Beware how you approach me, for I hold death in my hand.”

Richard goes up to her, he tells her she is beautiful but wants her to stop.

“Stop,’ she [Diana] cried. ‘One step nearer and I will smite you with the magic of Astarte.”

Richard laughed and went closer, when something strange happened. He stumbled and fell. And he did not rise.

Okay, stop playing.

On closer examination, by Elliot, it appears Richard is dead! Afterwards, Elliot looks at his hands-weird.

They examine Richard, and it appears he was stabbed by a long thin dagger, but they could not find one. Diana faints, believing she is at fault, and all go back to the house.

Elliot decides to go back to the grove. The police come and at seven o’clock, they realize Elliot never returned. They then find him stabbed!

When questioned, Elliot says that he was at the Idol House and felt something was watching him. He then felt a cold wind, and tuned around and saw a small figure of the goddess. The figure seemed to grow larger and larger-then he blacked out.

Is someone trying to kill the Haydon? Or is it supernatural?

Thoughts After Reading:

This one wasn’t my favorite out of the series, but it was still very well written. I kind of knew the ending but I wasn’t sure how it was done.

Hmm…

For more on The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Tuesday Club Murders

For more Miss Marple books, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Secret Adversary

For more short stories, go to The Man with the Twisted Lip

Baked Garlic Parmesan Fries

So sorry to be posting to late, but here we go. I found this on pinterest and you know me, I’m always looking for potato recipes! It is from The 36th Avenue by Kleinworth & Co.

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 Medium Russet Potatoes-cleaned and cut into fry sized pieces.
  • 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Granulated Garlic
  • 1-2 Tsp of Salt
  • 1 Tbsp of Parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking oil.
  3. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Spread out the coated potatoes on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake 15 mins.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn over the fries.
  7. Return to the oven for another 20-30 mins or until they are crispy and brown on the outside.
  8. Remove and sprinkle with salt.
  9. Serve immediately.

Thoughts After Cooking:

These were delicious and easy to make. So good!

Don’t try to take any from me.

For more pinterest recipes, go to Amish Baked Oatmeal

For more fries recipes, go to Oven-Crispy Creole Seasoned French Fries

For more potato recipes, go to Easy Northumberland Pan Haggerty

The Funhouse

The Funhouse by Dean Koontz

So here is another book from my Dean Koontz phase.

We all had one!

So Koontz wrote the screenplay for the movie The Funhouse, but they changed it from what wrote and he really didn’t like the changes.

That’s not what I wrote!

Later he wrote a novel based on the original screenplay, his original ideas, this book.

1955

Ellen Straker was raised in a strict Catholic home and ran away with a carnie, Conrad, to get away.

But life was worse with Conrad. He’s abusive, cruel, rude, etc. And to make things even more awful-she gave birth to a thing. A monster. A clawed, inhuman, and strange evil creature.

Ellen gets drunk  one night and works up the courage to destroy the thing. She goes to smother him, and he attacks her-cutting her hand up.

But she ultimately does the deed. Ellen takes off while Conrad pledges his revenge on her and her future children.

1980

So years have passed and Ellen remarried and had two kids -Amy and Joey.

Like her mother, Ellen has become a fanatic-even more so than her own mother. And just like her mother, her daughter can’t stand how her mother acts and how confining she is.

Amy also is hating on her boyfriend-Jerry. Mostly she is upset because of her hormones. Yep, it turns out she is pregnant.

Jerry dumps her, telling her that it is her problem, and he’s probably not even the father. What a major jerk!

But that’s the least of her problems. The carnival is back in town and Conrad is looking for her. He’ been looking for years and ready to get his revenge to murder Ellen’s children.

He uses a gift of free tickets to Amy and Joey. The two  go with their friends to the carnival and take a trip to the funhouse..of death.

Thoughts After Reading:

So it was not a book I’d find myself reading over and over again. It wasn’t as good as his later works, but that’s to be expected as it is from his earlier writing years. I felt kinda meh-didn’t hate it and didn’t love it.

Meh…

For more by Dean Koontz, go to The Key to Midnight

For more not in a series mysteries, go to We’ll Meet Again

Egg and Spinach Hummus Toast

So I was on facebook one day and scrolling through my newsfeed and spotted this recipe from Sabra. It looked delicious so I had to try it.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons of Hummus (I actually use Athenos, I think it is the best hummus)
  • 2 Slices of Sourdough or Your Bread of Choice
  • 1/2 Cup of Fresh Spinach
  • 1 Teaspoon of Chopped Garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Hard boil the eggs however you like. (I prefer to do 12 mins, but it is up to you.)
  2. Toast bread to desired doneness and set aside.
  3. Place spinach in microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. Add optional chopped garlic to spinach and toss.
  5. Spread hummus over toasted bread.
  6. Place spinach on top of hummus.
  7. Peel hardboiled eggs and slice in half.
  8. Place egg halves on the spinach.
  9. Add red pepper flakes if you desire and top with salt & pepper.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was delicious. A wonderful and healthy breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner.

For more egg recipes, go to Hillshire Farm Crustless Quiche

For more hummus recipes, go to Cucumber Hummus Sandwich

For more breakfast dishes, go to Amish Baked Oatmeal

We’ll Meet Again

We’ll Meet Again by Mary Higgins Clark

Dr. Gary Lasch was a prominent doctor who married the  beautiful and intelligent Molly. They were living a good life-money, power, high in society. Gary was rising higher and higher.

Then the two got in a big fight when Molly discovered he was cheating on her! She ran off to Cape Cod to be alone.

One day, Edna Barry, housekeeper, comes to work on the house and discovers Dr. Lasch dead-having been brained in the head. She also finds Molly upstairs, covered in Gary’s blood.

Molly is completely out of it-and when questioned has no memory.

They call 9-1-1 and the police investigate. The evidence against Molly is staggering, so much that her lawyer plea-bargains a manslaughter charge to avoid a murder conviction.

Six years later, Molly is let out, and in the midst of reporters declares her innocence and that she will do all she can to prove it.

One of those reporters is Molly’s old classmate, Fran Simmons-who’s boss demanded she get on this story. She approaches Molly, who agrees to be the star/story of her first true crime segment, a sort of pre-Under Suspicion.

Fran starts investigating, and Molly’s memory starts coming back to her. People start getting nervous.

The two other doctors that were in the HMO have a lot a secrets they don’t want unearthed, the nurse that was having an affair with Gary changed her name and is hiding, Edna the housekeeper is nervous and trying to keep her son from talking to Molly, etc.

Or is it Molly, could she have been the killer?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was an amazing mystery. It had a great story and there was an amazing twist. I thought the killer was one person but then was blown away at the conclusion.

I recommend it!

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to The Tell-Tale Purr

For more mysteries in retrospect, go to Dark Places

For more amnesia, go to The Secret Adversary

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to The Key to Midnight

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal Smoothie

Thoughts Before Cooking:

Do any of you have Something Extra Raley’s Rewards? I do and I love it. Every three months you receive coupons to do with stuff you had bought; and for your birthday get a free cupcake, free box of cake mix, and a free birthday card.

FREE!!

Every now and then they give you a freebie item, and I got a free container of 1 lb of strawberries. I love starwberries, but they were very ripe and needed to be eaten ASAP. So what better way to do it then with a smoothie?

This comes from The Kitchen Paper.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Frozen Strawberries (I used fresh)
  • 1/2 Cup of Yogurt
  • 3/4 Cup of Milk
  • 1/2 Cup of Uncooked Oatmeal
  • 1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • Strawberry slices to top the smoothie (optional)
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Top with strawberry slices or whipped cream.
  3. Drink immediately.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was delicious! I highly recommend it!

For more smoothie recipes, go to Apple Pie Smoothie

For more drink recipes, go to Matcha Latte (Hot or Cold)

For more strawberry recipes, go to Strawberry Infused Water