The “Best” Green Bean Casserole

So I do not like green bean casseroles.

But we were doing this Sunday School Appreciation Dinner and they planned the menu to be fried chicken, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cornbread. The only thing I like in that is mashed potatoes, hold the gravy. But I was assigned to do the green bean casserole, so I was going to make it.

So I work until 6 and the dinner was at 6:30, so instead of doing the original recipe, I needed one to make in my crock-pot. I got this from Julia’s Eats and Treats.

Ingredients:

  • 4-14.5 oz Cans of Green Beans, Drained
  • 2-10.75 oz Cans of Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 Cup of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
  • 1/2 Tsp of Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp of Ground Black Pepper
  • 6 oz of French’s Fried Onions

Directions:

  1. Carefully mix everything, except the fried onions.
  2. Spread evenly in the crock pot.
  3. Set the slow cooker on low, cook 2-3 hours.
  4. Top with French Fried Onions before serving.

Thoughts After Reading:

So I didn’t eat it, I didn’t get a chance as it was gobbled up so quickly. Everyone gave me compliments, so while I didn’t taste it I would recommend it to all you out here.

For more casseroles, go to Slow Cooker Enchilada Casserole

For more crock-pot recipes, go to Slow-Cooker Bread

For more recipes, go to Eggless Cookie Dough

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Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

So I really enjoyed the book Gone Girl, and was interested in Flynn’s other works. I just hadn’t had a chance to read them.

Yeah, I have a giant to-read book list.

So the book is split into three parts: Libby Day in the present, and her mom and brother, Ben, in the past.

When Libby Day was seven, her mother and sisters were brutally murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. The murderer? Her Brother!?!!!

Libby managed to hide and escape the house, hiding in the snow. She lost part of her toes, but had her life-and gained PTSD.

People felt sorry for Libby and donated a lot of money to her, to help her. She has tried to work, but just can’t. Unfortunately, the money has started to run out and Libby is lost at what to do next.

She looks at her “fan mail” and sees an offer to true-crime group’s meeting. For a personal appearance they will give her a big chunk of money.

She calls the guy and sets up a meeting. They discuss it and Libby decides to come. It all turns out to be a big mistake. None of these people believe Ben did it. They all attack her and her testimony.

Jordan

Libby becomes so upset she leaves and doesn’t look back.

Afterwards, she starts thinking about it. There is no doubt in her mind that Ben did it, but maybe those guys will pay her to investigate it. To talk to people.

She goes back to the group and they are in. Soon Libby is asking questions, researching, and finding out things she had never realized or thought about. Could she have been wrong? Is Ben innocent?

Hmm…

In both the Mom’s and Ben’s chapters we travel back before the incident. Libby’s mom is trying to make ends meet. She married Michael Day and inherited the family farm. Michael turns out to be a jerk wad who does nothing. He leaves and things grow tighter and tighter in the household. She barely has enough to make pancakes. What will she do? How will they survive.

Ben hates his life. Ben hates being poor. He hates having nothing. He has a hot girlfriend but she and her “cousin” make fun of him when they are together. No way they are just “cousins”, they they are all on each other. He does like one thing, helping out in the elementary school and is crushing on an elementary age girl. Did he murder his family?

Thoughts After Reading

Gillian Flynn is a great author but this is a very dark, dark book-that name is on point.

Too dark for me, hold me

And I could not stand the parts where Ben is talking about the elementary girl’s body and breasts, I reached that part and I was done!

For more retrograde mysteries, go to I’ve Got You Under My Skin

For more not in a series books, go to Big Little Lies

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

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.