Alias Grace

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Thoughts Before Reading:

I actually read this for a history class…

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I know, sweet right! It was a history of the novel class so we read novels and historical fiction novels throughout time.

So here I am posting my review from the class.

One of most fascinating and perplexing parts of Alias Grace is the way in which the author, Margaret Atwood, chooses to narrate the story. She scripts her tale in many different ways so we are given a multitude of views on the subject of whether Grace Marks is a murderess. Along with these assorted depictions, the way in which Grace expresses her story is also mind-bending.

Alias Grace is written in two narratives; first there is Grace revealing her actions in first person and second Dr. Simon Jordan who is told in third person. Along with these we are given letters from people involved in the case of petitioning for a pardon; the Reverend Enoch Verringer, trying to help Grace win her freedom, and Dr. Samuel Bannerling, trying to keep her in.

While the letters evoke the sensibilities of what people would have felt at the time, Dr. Jordan fulfills the reader’s point of view. As he eagerly attempts to get Grace to speak on what happened that night, and to shed more light on the events and characters, the reader hungrily awaits with him. For those who have not grown up in Canada and had never heard of the story before, they can hardly wait for Grace to tell her tale. Dr. Jordan also invokes the doubts and concerns the reader has about Grace, as they too wonder if she is telling the truth or “spinning a yarn”. His view told in third person, only reinforces the idea of his voyeurism into Grace’s life, and our, the reader’s, voyeurism into theirs.

Grace however, has the most interesting narrative style of all. We are told her story from her lips, but yet at the same time we are struck with the idea of not knowing everything about her. In most stories told in first person, one really learns who the character is; how they feel on subjects, are privy to their emotions, can see their deepest desires, and can easily comprehend whether the character is lying or telling the truth. However, in this case we never fully know who Grace is. She tells us many things about herself, but always remains cool and collected, never fully opening up.

In fact one never knows if what Grace tells the doctor or tells herself is fact or fiction. Grace states in the beginning how she learned to act in the way her keepers wanted her to, and that she knew how to give people the things they wanted to hear, (for example making up the dream for Dr. Jordan). That leaves us with the ever-looming question of “what really happened?”. Even when Grace relates the night of the murder, Atwood chose to have it told in Dr. Jordan’s third person view to continue to keep us in the dark. When Grace goes under a trance and manifests as “Mary Whitney” we are also shown that in the third person, and never told how much of the hypnotism was acting and how much real. Did Jeremiah tell her to act as if she was possessed by Mary’s spirit? Or did she come up with the idea of using Mary as her “Mrs. Bates”?

Besides the trouble of trying to shift around to seek the truth, Atwood chose to have Grace’s point of view written without correct punctuation, therefore causing us to never know what is actually spoken aloud and what only reverberates through her head. Did she tell Dr. Jordan everything she tells the reader she tells him, or is she lying to herself and the viewer? Interestingly enough, it almost seems as if Atwood made Grace aware of the reader’s presence, toying with telling us what she wants to, but still always guarded from revealing the whole truth.

Hmm…

This book was a highly entertaining psychological thriller, who’s narrations play within your mind as to what is truth and what are lies, along with what is insanity and what is lucidity; leaving the readers with a sense of never being able to have their questions answered. Atwood trifles with the reader’s mind, giving them breadcrumbs and a trail to follow to find the truth, but in the end leaving one as mixed up as ever as to what really transpired.

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to The Falling Machine

For more mysteries based on a real person, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more books from my history class, go to High Road to the Stake: A Tale of Witchcraft

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Andromeda Strain

For more book reviews, go to Midnight in Austenland

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London Fog Fauxccino

Thoughts Before Making:

As I just posted a review of a Jane Austen inspired mystery, the best thing to go with it is a tea post! I love tea, and one thing I started drinking this winter is London Fog lattes.

As it is getting HOT here, that is something I will no longer be able to have…at least that is what I thought until I stumbled on this recipe of London Fog Fauxccinos from Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS on Pinterest.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Earl Grey Tea Ice Cubes
  • 1 Cup of Homemade Almond Milk or Milk of Choice
  • 1 Tablespoon of Raw Honey or 8 Drops of Stevia
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • Whipped Cream (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender.
  2. Blend on high until smooth.
  3. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Thoughts After Making:

I didn’t really care for it, I couldn’t taste the tea at all. Maybe I did the ice cubes wrong? Maybe I should add more of the tea in it? I’m not sure. Maybe a mix of liquid tea with the ice cubes would be better. I’ll have to try again and see. Either way:

For more tea recipes, go to Aunt Neal’s Old-Fashioned Tea Cakes

For more drink recipes, go to Festive Pink Lemonade

For more pinterest recipes, go to Irish Blueberry Scones

Midnight in Austenland

So I wanted to write a post on this book, but my sister blog already did it. So I thought I would just reblog it on my site! Thanks sis for doing the work for me. 🙂

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Day 10) J is for Jane Austen: Choose a book based on, a sequel to, or a retelling of one of Jane Austen’s works

So I know I said I wasn’t going to review one of Austen’s works as that isn’t really fair as I talk about her books all the time.

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But I never said anything about a retelling!

Go on... Go on…

So I’m going to review my absolute favorite out of all the books I have read so far.

Austenland

Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2) by Shannon Hale

So I one day I was going through Goodreads and looking at if any authors I liked had published anything new. I really enjoyed reading Shannon Hale, and thought Austenland was pretty good except for a few things, so when I saw that she did a sequel I decided to check it out.

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I got the book and started reading it…but then I couldn’t…

View original post 3,821 more words

Chorizo Breakfast Burrito

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I love burritos and so does my husband. So as you can see, I make this a lot-or other versions of it. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Half a Mexican Chorizo Sausage
  • 2-4 Eggs
  • Milk
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Shredded Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cut the chorizo in half.
  2. Cook the chorizo through, about 5 mins.
  3. Drain grease out, but leave the chorizo.
  4. Crack eggs into a bowl and add a little milk. Whisk them together. Pour them in the pan with the chorizo.
  5. When eggs are finished, throw some cheese on top.
  6. Warm tortillas on the comal, when ready wrap up the eggs and serve.

Thoughts After Reading:

Delicious and fast, you should try it out.

For more Mexican recipes, go to Fajitas

For more recipes, go to Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta

 

Evil Eclairs

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Evil Eclairs (Donut Shop Mystery #4) by Jessica Beck

Lester Moorehead, the local  radio DJ is always complaining about something or somebody, and recently he has decided to take a shot at Suzanne Hart.

He has created a vendetta against donuts trying to get the shop and Suzanne shut down.

Suzanne and him get into a giant argument in which Suzanne says a few words in anger it would have been better of she had not said.

Especially when Lester is found dead, stuffed with one of Suzanne’s eclairs.

If Suzanne doesn’t figure out who the killer is, she might find herself being tried for the crime.

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was sooooo badly written.

I mean I’m serious about that, in fact I gave it one star.

It was a dumb premise, dumb plot, and I don’t know how these characters have kept their jobs/businesses as they are always going out solving crimes.

The person who ended up being the murderer was a stupid “twist'” and the reason Suzanne solved it made no sense at all.

Just a bad read all around.

For more Donut Shop Mystery reviews, go to Sinister Sprinkles

For more by Jessica Beck, go to Fatally Frosted

For more mystery reviews, go to The Andromeda Strain

Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta

Thoughts Before Cooking:

This first attracted me as it looked delicious and then when I saw how cheap Budget Bytes said it was, I was sold.

Only one issue, I don’t know where she is shopping but everything cost way more than what she said. I mean 1 onion for 25¢? 2 lbs of penne pasta for 89¢? 2 oz cream cheese for 48¢? Really?

Ingredients:

  • 1-15 oz can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 9 oz of fresh Spinach
  • 1/2 Teaspoons of Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoons of Dried Basil
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
  • 1 lb of Penne Pasta
  • 1/2 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1 Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 2 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup of Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  2. While waiting for the pasta, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with olive oil on medium heat until softened and transparent.
  3. Add diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some pepper to the skillet of onion and garlic.
  4. Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce.
  5. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has melted in and the sauce is creamy.
  6. Add half the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until melted in.
  7. Add remainder of the parmesan and whisk until melted in again.
  8. Add the spinach and gently stir it in, until it has wilted (about 3-5 mins).
  9. Add the pasta and stir until coated in the creamy sauce.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was okay. Not bad but not anything I look forward to making again.

For more pasta dishes, go to Creamy Parmesan Spaghetti

For more recipe reviews, go to Fajitas

The Andromeda Strain

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The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

Thoughts Before Reading:

I love Michael Crichton novels and have read almost every single one of his books. This was one of the few I hadn’t had a chance to and when I finally was ready to read it, I was so excited to add another one of his books to my collection.

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Plot Synopsis:

The United States has been shooting things into the atmosphere and a group of scientists come together with a plan. What to do if something should come into Earth from outer space? How could they prepare for it?

The plan is made, people chosen, and a facility picked; and then all forgotten. Years pass and then in a little town in Arizona, something falls out of the sky wrecking havoc.

The Thing from Another World (1951)

The people are called up and shipped out. When they examine the town only two survivors remain, a baby boy and a cancerous, alcoholic, chain smoker, eighty year old man.

WHAT!

What is this alien virus? Why didn’t these two contract it. Can the team stop it from spreading?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought this was okay, but not the best Michael Crichton novel.

I didn’t really like the end in which they leave it so open. I like his later work better.

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Mystery of Jessica Benson

For more science fiction, go to The Veldt

For more mystery reviews, go to Innocent in Las Vegas

Fajitas

Thoughts Before Cooking:

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I thought this would be the perfect time to share this recipe! It comes from McCormick

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breasts or Chicken Thighs Cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
  • Onion, Sliced
  • 1 Bell Pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • 1 Package of McCormick Fajita Mix
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Oil

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Add chicken; cook and stir 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet.
  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add onion and bell pepper; cook until soft, about3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Return chicken to skillet.
  5. Add water and Seasoning Mix; cook and stir 3 minutes or until heated through.
  6. Warm up tortillas on comal.
  7. Serve chicken and veggies together, with tortillas on the side.

Thoughts After Cooking:

They came out great and were easy to make.

For more Cinco de Mayo recipes, go to Crazy Cantina Chili

For more McCormick recipes, go to Italian Wedding Soup

For more holiday posts, go to Simple Charoset

For more recipes, go to One Pan Italian Sausage and Veggies

Innocent in Las Vegas

Innocent in Las Vegas (Tiffany Black Mysteries #1) by A. R. Winters

Tiffany is a single blackjack dealer that dreams of one day finding the perfect man and becoming a private investigator.

Tiffany has been working hard for license, but even though she isn’t fully licensed she gets a case from an old high school friend who is need of a P. I. as she is going on trial for the murder of her husband casino-mogul Ethan Becker.

Things look bleak for Tiffany’s friend, a stripper turned wife of millionaire, Mrs. Becker- especially as the gun that killed her husband was found in her house.

Tiffany starts investigating Ethan’s family and co-workers; but soon finds herself threatened, having to run from thugs, her house tossed and trashed, and needing an ex-Special Forces body guard.

Will Tiffany figure out who the real murder is and save her friend? Or will Tiffany’s first case be her only one?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was an okay mystery and didn’t think that Tiffany Black was a very good detective.

She knew nothing about investigating and was pretty naive about everything.

The end was quickly wrapped up and the love interest characters and her client were all one dimensional.

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to Iced

For more female private investigators, go to Secrets Can Kill

For more mystery reviews, go to The Mystery of Jessica Benson