The Tell-Tale Purr

“The Tell-Tale Purr” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

If you haven’t figured it out this is a play on the famous short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allen Poe. It really is ingenious, even borrowing lines from the original story but infusing it with a few other things…namely cats.

Our narrator is someone who likes having money and hates almost everything and everybody. One person he especially dislikes is his grandma who he has to be nice to as she has a ton of money and he stands to inherit, just as long as he stays sucking up to her.

One day at a dinner party he gets a most marvelous idea of how to bump his grandma off without being suspected of murder. She has a weak heart and is absolutely terrified of cats. Scared to death of them, they being the perfect thing to end her. He could use their cries to scare her into a heart attack, but how?

Hmmm…?

The elevator! Grandma just has one installed, and on a stormy night when power cuts out she could be trapped in there, him playing recordings of cats which should induce a heart attack.

So the plan is put into action, mean yowling cats are caught and recorded until he has a horrifying symphony.

Dinner comes when such weather is horrible. He leaves as normal and returns in secret-turning off the power, trapping grandma, and playing his merciless tune to terrify her.

But things do not turn out as expected.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Thoughts After Reading:

Oh, such an amazing read. So good and such a great twist of an ending. AMAZING!

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Haven’t We Met Before?

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to The Man Next Door

For more cat-centered mysteries, go to Crazy, VA

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

Advertisements

Eggless Cookie Dough

So first off:

Now on to the recipe:

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I was in the mood for something sweet-like cookies, but I didn’t want to bake as it is too hot.

So I started searching for an eggless cookie dough recipe that I could just eat instead. I found this one on Like Mother Like Daughter. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsps of Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsps of Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsps of Sugar
  • 1/4 Tsps of Vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp of Milk
  • 1/8 Tsp of Salt
  • 6 Tbsps of Flour
  • 1/4 Cup of Milk Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Microwave your flour for 30 seconds to 1 min to eliminate the risk of e.coli.
  2. In a small bowl, cream together butter and sugars until mixed.
  3. Add vanilla and milk, stir to combine.
  4. Add in salt and mix until combined.
  5. Enjoy.

Thoughts After Cooking:

I didn’t take a picture, sorry. Instead I ate it all up as it was super good.

It was delicious!

For more Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes, go to Chocolate Whoppers

For more summer recipes, go to Schooner’s Summertime-Only Strawberry-Raspberry Pie

For more cookie recipes, go to “The Best” Brownies

For more dessert recipes, go to Creamy Sour Cream Lemon Pie

The Shadow Garden

The Shadow Garden by Andrew Matthews

Thoughts Before Reading:

So I spotted this book when shelving and it immediately caught my eye as it looked like a spooky version of The Secret Garden. I just had to read it!

Plot Synopsis:

Matty Brand can see and speak the dead, a skill that runs in her family. Her mother asks her to keep it hidden, as others don’t understand it.

They tend to become one of these.

One day she is speaking to her dead father at his grave, spilling her worries on money and about her mother. She is overheard by a villager who speaks to the minister about it. The minister let’s them know that he’s been looking for a way to help them and has secured a job and new home for them at Tagram House.

Tagram House is run by a creepy man who cares for it while raising his ward. Matty can’t stand him as she senses the evil in him, evil that is further extended when she finds the spirit of two murdered children and that the the man running it is the cause of it!

Thoughts After Reading:

I could not get into this book. I found it incredibly boring.

For more children’s books, go to Garfield in The Case of the Mystery Mail

For more ghosts, go to Lowcountry Boil

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

I remember when this book first came out but for whatever reason it really didn’t catch my eye. Now of course when they started doing the TV show, I saw trailers EVERYWHERE! I then decided to check out what the book was about and was extremely intrigued.

I wanted to read it, but when I was prepared to check it out from the library, someone else did before me! Darn! Now I had to wait 28 days until they returned it.

But then they renewed it, so it was another 28 days.

Finally it was returned and I snatched it up like that. That night I went home and started reading it, and stayed up all night to finish it. I couldn’t put it down!

Pirriwee Public Elementary School is having their Parent’s Trivia Fundraiser Night, the theme being Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley. All parents are supposed to dress as Audrey or Elvis- from any film or point in their lives. When I read that I was like Heck ya, super cool! I would love to go to a party like that. Usually the parties are all the same-parent’s drink, answer trivia games, donate money, etc. But this time someone was murdered.

The police are trying to interview everyone but it is mess with the backbiting, gossip, etc-trying to figure out what really happened.

At the end of chapter one I was hooked, and every chapter had the same feel-I had to keep reading and I had to know who was murdered! Yes not only are you trying to figure out the killer but the murder victim as well.

The story goes back and forth between the police questioning what happened that night and the events from the beginning of the year to all that lead up to that fateful night.

I just had to know what happened, at one point when reading I found myself yelling at the book-“Who died!!! Who was killed?!!!” Moriarty was amazing at the suspense and keeping you going-and having you at a loss at which person was murdered.

So the book takes place in Australia, a fact I had to look up after I was confused with their slang. It actually reminded me of these books I read as a kid that I had the same reaction to, their slang was nothing like what we were saying. In fact the writing styles kind of remind me of this, they were The Year of Secret Assignments and The Murder of Bindy MackenzieI can’t remember who wrote them, it was Jaclyn M…Moriarty. Hey she’s an Australian writer with the same last name, I wonder of they are related (probably not but I’m going to look it up anyway). Oh my gosh, they are sisters! Wow…how funny! (To read more about them click here).

Okay, let’s get back to the review. Sorry for my little rabbit trail off to nowhere.

So all the events start off six months earlier, on the first day of school. Madeline MacKenzie is turning forty today. The day that her youngest daughter is starting school. The day that her ex-husbands’ daughter is starting school, the same school as her youngest daughter.

Madeline is loud, adorable, protective, and sweet. She may be blunt but if you are her friend she will mama bear protect you the same as her own children.

Her ex-husband, Nathan Carlson, left her when their daughter Abigail was just a baby. He refused to see her and send money, leaving Madeline to have to take care of everything, struggling as a single mom. She later met Fred MacKenzie and the two have two kids-Fred and Chloe, Chloe being the one starting school. Fred and Madeline do well, she works in a theater and he is a newspaper reporter. Everything was fine until Nathan came back into her life, remarried to crunchy-granola Bonnie and wanting to be “Dad” to Abigail. That isn’t even the worst part, Abigail loves being with her dad and loves Bonnie’s “green”, yoga lifestyle.

When Madeline is dropping her daughter off she gets involved in a skirmish with another person, yelling at them for almost causing an accident and trips on her brand new heels hurting her ankle. As she sits on the curb, a young mother helps her-Jane.

Jane Chapman is in her mid-twenties. She was going to college when her boyfriend she was mad about dumped her. Heartbroken, she went out with friends and had a one-night stand. She ended up getting pregnant in the encounter and dropped out of school to raise her son, Ziggy. She helps Madeline, who instantly befriends her-seeing in Jane what she went through in her own past, and invites Jane to join her and her friend Celeste for breakfast.

Celeste White is in her 30s, and has two twin boys also starting school. Celeste is breathtakingly beautiful, has an adoring husband, two perfect looking children, is extremely wealthy and has the perfect instagram life. She also immediately becomes Jane’s friend, not knowing why, but finding herself drawn to her.

Events are put into motion when they pick up their kids one girl accuses Ziggy of bullying. Immediately Madeline defends Jane and Ziggy and the grade becomes split between those that back the girl’s mom, Renata, and those that are backing Madeline.

But in this book the surface is not all that it seems. Who is father of Ziggy? Is Celeste’s life really perfect? Is there more to Bonnie than her mother earth mumbo jumbo? And is Ziggy really bullying other children, or is it someone else?

Hmm…

***Spoilers***

I LOVED this book. I just could not stop reading it it was sooooooooo good.

I loved how she dealt with abuse. So often people ask why doesn’t a person leave, and it isn’t as easy as one would think it is. There is a lot of damage being done to their psyche and they start to doubt themselves-I’m not as bad as those women or what about the kids? There is a lot more to it.

And how Jane was with the emotional abuse? After I left my husband and was dealing with the abuse he put on me her description could have been me right down the the high, tight, ponytail.

The only thing I didn’t like was when Abigail wants to sell her virginity in order to raise money/awareness for child prostitution, all the money going to Amnesty-and Celeste pretends to be an old man gifting an amount so large to keep her from actually doing it. I thought would have been more powerful if they had written to Amnesty and they wrote a letter back telling Abigail how stupid she was being. But I know why they did it, as it was a catalyst for the rocking ending.

The end was amazing! I didn’t see it coming. Just fantastic!

For more stand alone mysteries, go to He’s Gone

For more books with abuse themes, go to The Glass Forest

 

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

“The Best” Brownies

My niece wanted to make brownies one day, so I pulled out my copy of Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook. Last year I was given a hardcover one, which is great, but when I think about this cookbook I always go to the image of the paperback featured above. We used to always make things out of my mom’s old ’70s copy when I was growing up, all battered-stained, and well-loved.

So these brownies do not photograph well, but I have to agree that they are pretty much the “best” brownies you will make.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Vegetable Oil or Melted Butter
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Unsifted All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup of Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Chopped Nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Blend oil, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add eggs, beat well with spoon.
  3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to egg mixture until well blended.
  4. Stir in nuts, if adding them.
  5. Spread in greased 9-inch square pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degree F for 20-25 minutes or until brownies begins to pull away from the edges of the pan.
  7. Cool in pan.
  8. Frost if desired; cut into squares.
  9. Makes about 16 brownies.

Thoughts After Reading:

We made these for ourselves and a potluck and they were gone like that! I was lucky enough to get one!

As I said they might photograph gorgeously, but they are fantastic!

For more “bar cookies”, go to Lemon Bars

For more cookies, go to Braided Candy Canes

For more dessert, go to Creamy Sour Cream Lemon Pie

Crash Landing!

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

How will I collect them all?

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review Elizabeth was kidnapped. Since then Elizabeth (who always lectures Jessica) cheated on her boyfriend with Nicolas Morrow, Tricia Martin’s sister had some trouble, Roger turned out to be Bruce Patman’s cousin and a millionaire, Caroline had a fake boyfriend, Bruce and Regina got together but Regina had to leave for Switzerland, and Jessica and Lila fought over a two-timing guy who turned out to be a drug dealer and threatened Jessica’s life.

Quite a lot. So here we are onto the next book:

Crash Landing! (Sweet Valley High #20) by Francine Pascal & Kate William

Remember in Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) Enid reconnected with old boyfriend and pen pal George Warren. Well, since then—George has been stepping out on her with her pal Robin, a cheerleader.

Ugh cheerleaders.

But we aren’t supposed to hate Robin, we are supposed to feel bad because they are in “love”. They meet in pilot’s class and “fell” in “true love”. Sorry for the snark, I’ve been reading the blog Snark Valley and it must have been rubbing off on me.

Elizabeth had caught them and made them promise to tell Enid and Allen (Robin’s boyfriend) the truth. George agrees to do so after they go on their first flight. But all goes wrong and they end up crashing in Secca Lake.

George is okay with a bump, but Enid loses her ability to walk and has to use a wheelchair. They are investigating the crash, but George knows it is all his fault as if he was more experienced he would have handled it.

So the mystery is-What caused the plane to crash? Will George date Enid even though he is no longer in “love”? And what about poor Robin?

It’s like a soap opera.

Usually I do a little synopsis that they provide, but my copy of this is a hardcover and doesn’t have one.

I know, right?

So Jessica has hated Enid since she chose her sister over her, but in this when she discovers that Robin and George were cheating-she totally becomes Team Enid and has all the girls freeze Robin and George out.

“…Jessica really did feel sorry for Enid. She had never thought much of George Warren one way or another-but now she was prepared to see him as a villain”.

I can just see him as a regular guy, then in the next scene wearing a handlebar mustache and top hat to show his evilness…sorry-the snark is just overflowing. 

Low Jessica, very low.

Now some may say this is hypocritical, but at this point in the series she has only had one boyfriend, Bruce Patman, (who cheated on her-maybe that’s why she takes it to heart). She has never cheated as she was never in a serious relationship-she does later-but at this time not a hypocrite. Elizabeth is as she is always cheating on Todd. She always “owes” people a date or some stupid justification.

Anyways, George decides to stay with Enid as she saved his life and lost the ability to walk. No George, no. Don’t do it.

Even though I’m actually in love with another!

This is probably why I love Lifetime movies and such. These books trained me.

Hmmm…?

George breaks up with Robin, of which when people see his car out front think he is meeting her for a tete-a-tete. Robin becomes so blue she goes off her diet and starts consuming everything.

Enid has to go through surgery and they have no clue what will happen, will she be able to walk or lose her ability forever?

Robin kind of annoyed me, coming from someone who struggled with anorexia I don’t think they dealt with her emotional issues the right way-in how she starts becoming anorexic and develops emotional eating issues.

The writers

Robin reaches out to “Everyone’s Best Friend and Always There to Help” Elizabeth Wakefield, but Liz totally disses her. Man you are awful. How dare you say you are a friend and not even care to listen at all.

Liz has a dinner party for herself, Enid, George, and Todd. It is super awkward as George is finding it harder and harder to pretend to care about her romantically when he doesn’t, and Enid is clinging to him tighter and tighter. It makes me think in Couples Retreat when the counselor is talking to Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell.

Don’t leave!!!

They are having a dance, I think in almost every book there is a dance or fancy party. I have to stop and say it gave me highly unrealistic views for how high school would be. At the dance it is super awkward and after watching George and Robin, Enid puts it together. But even though she knows he’s be cheating, she wants him and ignores it all.

Elizabeth hatches a plan to “save” Enid and wake her up and use her legs. She borrows Teddy Collins, Mr. Collins’ son, and will have him “drown” until Enid saves him. Only one giant problem with this, Elizabeth is sure that Enid will jump in and save Teddy, getting the use of her legs back. But what if Enid doesn’t save him? What if it isn’t the plan that awakens motion in her legs, but what if she instead has a heart attack as she can’t save Teddy and thinks he is really drowning? Or what if she tries to save him but doesn’t get the full use of her legs and drowns herself? I think Dr. Elizabeth should be sued for malpractice.

But of course it works, and Enid is saved and then she lets George go.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s B story is really sad. She and Lila are taking a gourmet cooking class-which Lila walks out on she was never one for doing “work”. Jessica excels at everything and has a real knack, but because she screws up once her family treats her like crap. In fact, her mom, dad, and sister are pretty awful and condescending to her in this. And then Elizabeth’s all holier-than-thou saying Jessica is awful for being mean and judgmental to Robin when she was the same like a few days earlier. When I read this series as a kid I always liked Elizabeth, but as an adult looking at her, she is full of baloney. Jessica may do some screwed up things, but at least she is honest about who she is. I really felt bad for her in this book-she definitely got the short end of the stick while Elizabeth is the golden child, meh.

Whatever…

No outfits in this one. So let’s move on

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these books is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

[Jessica] had just about enough of her family treating her badly all the time. And since her plan to impress them had been such a miserable failure, she was going to have to come up with some other way of changing their minds about her. Only I better think of something fast, she told herself, tears tricking down her cheeks as she threw herself onto her bed. Because I don’t think I can stand things the way they are around her for another minute!

Jessica embarks on a desperate course of action in Sweet Valley #21, RUNAWAY!

But we will not be reviewing that. The next will be #26 Hostage

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Kidnapped!

For more mystery reviews, go to The Glass Forest

Iron-Rich Black Bean Soup

My mom picked up this cookbook, Eating the Bible: Over 50 Delicious Recipes to Feed Your Body and Nourish Your Soul by Rena Rossner, and it is pretty interesting. Each recipe has a bible lesson/devotion.

This recipe interested me as I was diagnosed as iron deficient an tend to forget to take my [ills as they are disgusting!! I mean seriously, they taste like blood and the taste takes forever to leave your mouth. I feel like a vampire every time-and not in a cool way!

This one goes with the Iron Sharpens Iron scripture and Deuteronomy 8:9

Ingredients:

  • 1 Onion Chopped
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed or Minced
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 Tbsps of Oil
  • 2-15oz Cans of Black Beans, Undrained
  • 2.5 of Chicken Broth
  • 1-28oz Can of Stewed Tomatoes, Undrained
  • Sour Cream or Grated Cheddar Cheese for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Saute onion, garlic, and cumin in oil for 3-5 mins.
  2. Add black beans, chicken broth, and tomatoes.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
  4. Simmer 30 mins.
  5. Serve with Sour Cream or grated Cheddar Cheese.

Thoughts After Reading:

So when I first made this, I realized that I didn’t have any cumin. Now you can substitute chili powder for cumin, which I thought I had but I ended up accidentally grabbing my cayenne powder instead.

Yes it was a giant mistake:

Now I’m Mexican, I like my food nice and hot but this was too hot. I felt like I was eating lava! My skin and tongue felt like it was melting off. Sour cream didn’t help or milk-nothing.

I have a policy to eat all I make as I don’t want to waste food or money and I did. But I cried every second of it. That food was so painful.

I remade it with the proper ingredients and it was fantastic. I strongly recommend it!

For more soup recipes, go to Spinach Tortellini Soup

For more recipes, go to Earl Grey Infused Blueberry Smoothie

For more bible verses, go to The Butterfly and the Violin

The Glass Forest

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson

So I work at the library and I process the incoming books, getting them ready to go out on the shelves. I did this one and was so interested in it, but decided to wait until it came off the New Shelf.

The book starts in 1960 with Angie Glass, but flashes between her, Ruby in 1960, and Silja Glass in 1942-1960. The three stories intertwining.

Angie Glass has grown up Catholic in a large family, never leaving her hometown in Wisconsin. There she met the handsome, older, bartender and painter-Paul Glass. The two begin dating, and then when she is pregnant-get married.

Angie has never met Paul’s family-his mother and father being dead, and his only sibling-older brother Henry, wife Silja, and daughter Ruby-all live in Stonekill, NY.

At the wedding Angie felt a sort of jealousy about Ruby and Paul’s close relationship, but knows it is just because she feels left out. Henry and Silja barely speak to her.

A few months later, their baby Paul Jr., P.J. for short was born and the three have been leaving an idyllic life. That is until Ruby calls and tells them that her mother is gone and her father is dead.

The three fly out to Stonekill and to the amazing, modern, glass house built by Silja. Angie tries to be there for Ruby, but she is a strange bit of a thing that wants to stay mostly by herself. Paul deals with the police, funeral arrangements, etc. Angie spends most of her time in the house.

While cleaning, she starts to wonder at Silja’s “disappearance”, questioning her leaving behind her daughter and items necessary for running away. As she continues to search she discovers that she might not know the man she married.

Silja is a young girl in college, living in a Swedish commune in Brooklyn. She meets handsome Army private, Henry Glass, and falls so deeply in love. They are married, have one night together, and he is gone. He finds some time to come back, but all they do is meet in hotel rooms until he is shipped off to fight in WWII.

Silja gets pregnant and her mom helps her-encouraging her to stay in school and study, just in case Henry doesn’t come back. Ruby is born and Silja studies, while dreaming of when she will be a stay at home mother and wife and three will live all together, more children following.

Henry returns from war having been wounded “down there”. Things should have gotten better but Henry refuses to do anything. No more contact just sleeping in bed next to each other. He also refuses to work, with Silja having to pick up the slack.

This continues in their lives as they move to Stonekill, with Silja having to travel every day to work to provide for them and spend her nights alone as Ruby is usually heading to bed and Henry is off doing his thing. Henry does “projects” sometimes cooking, cleaning, repair work but nothing to help the household.

Instead he abuses her-financially by trying to control all her money, verbally, mentally, constantly being jealous. Silja enjoys her work as it allows her to be free from her husband. She tries to figure out a way to divorce, but Henry won’t let her go and if she tried going to court he would end up with the money and their child. What to do? Did she decide running away was the only answer? Would she leave her daughter to be with that demented man?

Ruby is blonde like her mother but takes after her father in her thin body and dark eyes. She spends a lot of time alone, not having any friends. She sneaks out every night and roams the woods, meeting up with a much older man by the name of Shepherd. Ruby knows more than what she is telling about what happened to her father and mother-but what happened?

Thoughts after reading

I loved it. I couldn’t put it down as I had to turn the page each one to find out what happened next.

I strongly recommend, read it!

Read it today!

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to He’s Gone

For more abusive relationships, go to The Wife Between Us

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

Earl Grey Infused Blueberry Smoothie

 

 

So we had an English mystery on Tuesday, we need a recipe to match. So I borrowed this from my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.com

If you like Jane Austen, check it out.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Teabags or 2 Tsp of Loose leaf Earl Grey Tea.
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of Oats (I use Quaker Oats)
  • 1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Cup of Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup

Directions:

  1. Microwave the milk, or warm in a pan.
  2. Steep the tea in the warm milk for 5 mins.
  3. After tea has steeped, allow milk to cool.
  4. When milk has cooled, put in blender.
  5. Add oats, blueberries, yogurt, and maple syrup.
  6. Blend until smooth.
  7. Serve.

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!!

 

IT WAS SOOOOOOO GOOOOOD!!!!!!!!!

 

It is one of the best smoothies I have ever, ever, ever had. It was soooo delicious I wished I had more.

For more Earl Grey Teago to Blueberry Earl Grey Tea Smoothie

For more smoothies, go to Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

For more drinks, go to Peanut Butter Banana Oat Smoothie

For more from my sister blog, JaneAustenRunsMyLife, go to Slow-Cooker Bread

 

Cover Her Face

Cover Her Face (An Adam Dalgliesh Mystery #1) by P. D. James

So I love Murder She Wrote. I have watched it a thousand times, never growing tired of Jessica Fletcher and her quick mind.

One thing she mentioned time and time again was how great P.D. James is. Now I have read only one of her book, Death Comes to Pemberley and couldn’t stand it so I did not see what Jessica’s hullabaloo was all about.

But I thought I would try her again…

Plot Synopsis:

The mystery is set in an old country manor of Martingale, run by the Maxie family, after WWII. We have Simon Maxie, patriarch who is very ill and on hospice at home. His wife Eleanor runs the home, doing the best she can on the little they have, and managing how to do so and pay the doctor’s bills.

Deborah Maxie Riscoe’s husband died and she went back home with nothing. She and her brother Stephen are very, very close-creepily close.

Deborah, like her mother, make Martingale number one in their interests. Trying to protect their home and find a rich woman to marry Stephen and save the estate.

Stephen is doctor at the local hospital and very interested in girls. He seduces them and dumps them. The newest one he caught was Catherine Bowers, an old family friend and nurse at the hospital. She is convinced of his sincerity and that he will ask her to marry him officially, after his father dies.

Also in the house is Martha the old family cook and head servant, and Sally Jupp-unwed mother and child Jimmy. Sally was at the local home when she was brought into service at Martingale. She is a headstrong impertinent girl who doesn’t follow the rules.

Stephen has moved his vision from Catherine to Sally-enthralled by her fantastic mothering and eager to help the damsel in distress.

It all comes to a head after the Maxie’s annual picnic. All the players are there, including the head of the unwed mother’s home, Miss Liddel, and Deborah’s friend who’s deeply interested in her, Felix Hearnes.

That night at dinner Sally was more arrogant and egotistical. She informs everyone that Stephen proposed and she will be the new mistress at Martingale. When Miss Liddel tries to speak to her, Sally tells her to stay out of it unless she wants all that Sally knows to become common knowledge.

The next day Martha tries to reach Sally, but she doesn’t awaken and the door is barred. When they go to check on her they find her murdered!

Inspector Adam Dalgliesh is sent out to investigate. In a house full of tension-ridden people, which one strangled Sally?

Thoughts After Reading:

This might have been a good mystery except I couldn’t stand a single character. Each one of them was so unlikable that I could not stand this mystery. I do not want to read another one of her works.

For more P.D. James, go to Death Comes to Pemberley

For more mysteries, go to Kidnapped!

Haven’t We Met Before?

“Haven’t We Met Before” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

William Koenig was arrested for attempted murder of a young woman named Emily Winters. He chose her because in past life she was Kate Fallow and wanted to marry his past self Simon Guinness. When Koenig/Guinness refused she ended up murdering her husband, framing Koenig/Guinness and had him hanged.

Y’all know what that mans. Someone is going to end up DEAD!

Koenig tried to get his revenge but was foiled. Now he resides at the Haviland Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He is visited by Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Jack Carroll. Carroll believes that he is responsible for a string of unsolved murders and is trying to get him to confess.

Carroll os also dating Emily and is doubly interested in keeping Koenig behind bars.

Koenig is just baiting the two. He speaks to Carroll and the psychiatrists, but inside has plotted a way to get out and get Emily.

Koenig has murdered before. He won’t admit it to Carroll, he’s a very smart man, but he is responsible for the unsolved murders.

  • Fire in Rosedale that killed an elderly woman eight years ago? In Koenig’s eyes she was a witch from Salem who had him killed.
  • Murder of a cashier at the York Cinema in Mamaroneck five years ago? In Koenig’s eyes he was a 17th century pirate who set him adrift in 1603
  • Jeffrey Lane a real estate broker in Rye? In Koenig’s eyes his younger brother in Glasgow in 1790 who murdered him for the estate.

The time ends and Carroll concentrates on Emily. Emily lives in White Plains, housesitting and waitressing-putting her way through college. She actually had herself regressed and saw that she was Eliza Jackson Southern Belle during the Civil War. Carroll is deeply in love with her, but understands she’s busy and needs her space at times. He calls her, but doesn’t see her as she has a long day and wants to head home.

That night Koenig breaks out-strangles the guard, escapes in the orderly’s outfit, and is out a half hour before they even realize he is gone.

This time he gets to Emily before she can press the panic button to call the police. This time he will have her.

It is the end of the line, or is it? Eliza Jackson just might make an appearance-and she’s one tough Southerner.

Hmm…

Thoughts after Reading:

Was good but I’m not really into past lives mysteries. However, Clark always knows how to tell a tale and does it well.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to I’ve Got You Under My Skin

For more stories from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to The Man Next Door

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

Roasted Carrots

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I was going to a potluck and needed to make something, but had very little in my fridge-and no money as I was waiting for a new debit card and my work hours don’t work well with my bank’s hours.

I had just bought a huge bag of carrots, so I decided to look up a carrot recipe. I searched through google, and when I saw Ina Garten, I thought why not try it out as Barnes and Noble has been promoting her like crazy. It comes from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 12 Carrots
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1-1/4 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1/3 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Minced Fresh Dill or Parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole.
  3. Slice carrots diagonally in 1-1/2 inch thick slices. (The carrots will shrink when cooking, so make the slices big.)
  4. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 mins-until browned and tender.
  6. Toss the finished carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.

Thoughts After Reading:

So I took them to the potluck and they were all gobbled up instantly.

I know, I wanted seconds but there were none. So yeah, it was delicious and I highly recommend it.

And this also works for potatoes, but you do have to roast them longer.

For more Food Network recipesgo to Arugula Salad with Olive Oil, Lemon, and Parmesan Cheese

For more carrot recipes, go to Grilled Sausages, Potatoes, & Carrots with Salsa Verde

For more recipes, go to Spinach Tortellini Soup

Kidnapped!

Kidnapped! (Sweet Valley High #13) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

I’m going to find them and read them!

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

Wow…

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11.

Ooops…

So there is only one book between the last review and this one, and it turns out that Steven’s girlfriend has cancer and she dies. It is very sad, but it won’t be the end of it…unfortunately. But that a book for another day.

Not looking forward to that…

KIDNAPPED!

Elizabeth unfastened the chain lock as Carl became aware of what was happening.

“No!” he cried as he rose to prevent her escape. “Elizabeth, no!”

She unlocked the bolt and pulled on the door handle. It wouldn’t be long before she was free. But something was wrong. The door wouldn’t open! Elizabeth gasped as Carl seized her. He grabbed her under the arms and threw her onto the sofa with the force of a man possessed. His eyes now bright with anger, he came toward her.

This is it, though Elizabeth as she squeezed her eyes shut. This is the end.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Jessica and Elizabeth are candy stripers. Jessica only to meet Jeremy Frank, well-known handsome TV personality who had been laid up with a broken leg. While Elizabeth, of course, loves it. Tonight there is a party and Jessica is getting ready, while Elizabeth is still at the hospital and then going to tutor Max Dellon. Jessica has moved on to a new guy of her dreams, Nicholas Morrow who is everything she wants. Rich, handsome, etc.

Jessica waits, but at 8 she can’t do it no more-someone else might grab Nicolas-and has her friend Cara Walker pick her up-leaving a note for Elizabeth when she gets home. At the party Jessica meets the dreamboat, and Regina, his sister (who is deaf).

Meanwhile, in chapter 3, we see what happened to Elizabeth. Elizabeth stayed late at the hospital, and is hurrying to her car-hoping to hurry and get to Max’s. Next to her car is a junky creepy pedophile van, but Elizabeth doesn’t even notice. Really girl? As an adult it makes you wonder why something didn’t happen to her earlier.

She was grabbed, chloroformed, and kidnapped. And she is in a junky old place. Who took her?

Max is waiting for Elizabeth, but she is an hour late. That’s not Elizabeth at all. By 9:40, he knows something is up and decides to head to the hospital.

Todd is worried about Elizabeth, but Jessica makes up a lie as to where she is as she wants to focus on Nicholas.

Low Jessica, very low.

Elizabeth wakes up and finds herself alone, but then her kidnapper comes home. It is Carl, the janitor. Carl who asked her for help, Carl who she pitied, and now is a victim of his interests.

Help me! For God’s sake someone help me!”

Todd has had enough and calls Mr. Collins, who Jessica said Elizabeth was babysitting for. He finds out the truth and guns after Jessica. Jessica realizes the time and that Todd is right-

The Wakefields come home and see the note that Jessica left-growing worried about where Elizabeth is.

Where is she? How will they save her?

They discover her car and figure out something happened to Elizabeth at the hospital, or shortly after. When the police come into it, they start looking at Max.

Its up to the gang to track her down and clear his name.

On the case!

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading…yes it is campy, and predictable but I still really enjoyed it. I think that the suspense and drama was right on point. As a teen and an adult, it got me wanting to get to the conclusion to find out what happens next. And that opening scene, fantastic!

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what they wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

For the party when Jessica is trying to impress Nicholas Morrow

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

There was no way Elizabeth could mistake the look she saw in his eyes, a look that said, “You’re the one I want.” It made her feel awkward and uncomfortable. She had a strong suspicion that Nicholas hadn’t reacted this way with Jessica. And she dreaded what would happen when Jessica found out.

Will Elizabeth leave Todd for Nicholas? Find out in Sweet Valley #14, DECEPTIONS

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Too Good to Be True

For more mysteries on a kidnapping, go to Deadly Intent

For more mysteries about a sister disappearing, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries about a disappearance, go to He’s Gone

Spinach Tortellini Soup

So I’ve made a tortellini soup before, but after I did that Pinterest sent me some other recipes I’d be interested in. Such as this one.

This originally comes from Umami Girl.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced Small
  • 2 Large Carrots, Diced Small
  • 2 Large Celery Sticks, Diced Small
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 8 Cups of Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock
  • 5 oz Baby Spinach
  • 9 oz Tortellini
  • 1/4 Cup of Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Black Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, and salt. Stir to coat with oil.
  3. Cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.
  4. Stir in stock, bringing to a boil.
  5. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, until veggies are tender.
  6. Remove lid and add spinach and tortellini.
  7. Cook according to pasta package directions.
  8. Take off the heat stir in parsley and black pepper.
  9. Ladle into bowls and serve with cheese.

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was pretty good. The tortellini I used was dried so it had a different taste than the refrigerated, kinda dry actually. But still good. I really enjoyed it and found it to be healthy and tasty.

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Slow Cooker Enchilada Casserole

For more soup recipes, go to One-Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

For more tortellini soup, go to Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach

Murder on Ice

Murder on Ice (The Nancy Drew Files #3) by Carolyn Keene

Background Information:

It’s been a couple of months since we reviewed one of these mysteries, so let me do a bit of background information.

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high school, amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate.

She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Another thing this book series does, is that since it is a “case file” there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodoneit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

So enough review:

THE CASEFind the midnight prowler who’s causing a string of nasty “accidents” at Webb Cove Ski Lodge-even if it means ruining a romantic vacation with Ned

CONTACT: Liz Whitcomb, owner of the lodge. She wants Nancy’s help-but has she got something to hide?

SUSPECTS: 

  • Luke Ericsen, the lodge’s ski instructor. He’s a man with a mysterious-and maybe murderous-past.
  • Michael Price, a handsome, helpful stranger. He saved Nancy from a serious accident. Is he being a white knight? Or does he have a darker motive?
  • Gunther, a cheerful German student enjoying an American vacation. He came to the lodge for fun-or could he be there for revenge?

COMPLICATIONS: George Fayne has fallen for Luke Ericsen-with the blindness of first love. How can Nancy tell her Luke could be a killer? Then a blizzard cuts the lodge off from the rest of the world, and the prowler strikes again. Ned, George, and Nancy find their lives on the line!

So Nancy was supposed to have a vacation in Deadly Intent but that didn’t work out-so here they are again. This time Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned are heading to the Web Cove Ski Lodge for a relaxing ski vacation.

You really think it will be that easy?

Nancy needs this vacation as Ned is growing tired of all their time being devoted to mysteries instead of each other.

But the vacation doesn’t last long, as they are signing in Bess makes a joke about Nancy, Nancy Drew, Notorious Girl Detective. Liz, the owner of the ski lodge asks Nancy to help her by investigating the strange things that have been occurring.

On the case!

A man was seen peeking in the windows, the kitchen lock was messed with, angry violent calls asking for a John, and snow tracks around after 2:00 am. Liz has no clue why anyone would want to break in.

They meet the others staying there, Gunther-there with a group and latches onto beautiful Bess. Then there is Luke, a snob, the ski instructor. He is pretty good, but it looks like his injured leg kept him from the olympics.

The next day they are ready for skiing. Luke is a safety-nazi, he tells Nancy not to use the ski lift until he’s checked it. Before he does he goes to show Ned his skis, as Ned is interested in buying them. He and Ned go off, but Nancy doesn’t want to wait. She uses the the tow line, that only Luke uses, but the line has been cut and she falls.

She is saved by a blonde stranger and Luke. But after Luke denies seeing the other guy.

That’s not the only thing that goes strange-Luke’s skis that he plans on selling, end up being sabotaged while Ned was using them-Ned being injured.

Then Ned and Nancy use Luke’s car without his knowledge, but the lines are cut and they barely manage to get safely out when it blows up.

To make things worse a blizzard comes and they are trapped in a ski lodge with a murderer. Will they be able to figure it out and stop him, or will he claim another victim.

Thoughts After Reading:

This is one of my least favorite stories. Nancy is so convinced Luke is the killer when EVERYTHING points to someone being after him! It was not very good at all. But you know, every series has one bump in the road.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

Working undercover for a hot new teen magazine, Nancy’s assignment is to protect the publisher…from murder.

She’s also trying to save her relationship with Ned. He’s tired of taking a backseat to every case that comes along, and he’s met a girl more interested in him than in mysteries.

Nancy must risk losing her love-and her life-in SMILE AND SAY MURDER–Case #4 in The Nancy Drew Files™.

For more on The Nancy Drew Files, go to Deadly Intent

For more Nancy Drew, go to The Demon of River Heights

For more Carolyn Keene, go to Secrets Can Kill