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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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Carolina Moon
Nora Roberts
A Most Unusual Governess
Amanda Grange

Kyraryker’s quotes


"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Squeeeeee!

Bride of a Stranger - Jennifer Blake

 

'Against the backdrop of old New Orleans and the antebellum South, Bride of a Stranger spins out a spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and murder.' 

Claire is too innocent to suspect that her marriage is a cruel farce, believing instead that the dangerous accidents that keep appearing in her path are just that accidents. She wedded Justin Leroux suddenly and silently. He was the tall dark stranger of her girlhood dreams, and had finally come to take her away.

 

She returns with him to Sans Songe, the Leroux family plantation in Louisiana. A near-fatal accident on the road to the plantation does not bode well for her future there. And indeed, many nasty surprises await her at the plantation itself. Voodoo magic, poisoned food, and a murder mystery force Claire into a stalemate.

 

She is helpless within the bosom of her frigid and isolating new family, while her husband has yet to come to her bed. He may even be hoping for her destruction, as she is drawn into an ever more tangled web of passion and intrigue.

 

In a harsh world where love means danger, Claire struggles just to survive.

 

I am so ridiculously excited to start this, Gothics can so wonderfully go off the rails sometimes.

Good but didn't quite click

The Fixer - HelenKay Dimon
“We need to talk about her. We need to have answers.” She did. Down to her soul. The guilt. The not knowing. Waking up every day thinking Tiffany could be one of those poor women chained to a bed somewhere in some sick bastard’s basement, unable to get out.
 
 
 
This had a bit of a different feel and texture than the usual romantic suspense/mystery, slower because this was about solving a decades old case but I enjoyed it for the most part because of the something new feel. 
 
Our hero is quite different from the over-saturated with take control alpha, he was a solid quiet, composed, with some anti-social coloring. I can't say I ever felt like I "knew" him because of this little bit of dry, little bit of aloofness but he was also refreshing. I really liked the heroine and how she meshed with him, they played off each other very well.  
 
“You still scare me a little.” She didn’t know why she admitted that, but it was absolutely true. There was no mistaking his smile now.
“The feeling is mutual.”
 
They had this slow dry heat thing that really worked but I just didn't get to see or completely feel them together because of the murder mystery components taking control of the story. The heroine is still searching for her cousin that went missing when she was a teenager and recently finding the hero's name in the case files leads her to him and has the hero being captivated against will for her and helping with the case.
 
“I got the impression you were attracted to me.”
“I’ll rein it in and say simply, yes.”
Her finger pressed into his wrist and his wild heartbeat thumped against her skin. She took that as a very good sign. “And if you didn’t rein it in this time?”
“The need to strip you naked and spread you out on that mattress is kicking my ass.” What was she even saying before that?
“Subtle.”
“There’s nothing subtle about how much I want you.”
 
They had chemistry but the hero ultimately remained too closed off in some ways for me, I felt walled off from him. The search for what happened to her cousin is crux of the story but it felt a little sluggish in the middle and had an ending that was fairly obvious and a bit announced and abruptly left. 
 
She could fight her own battles, but it was pretty sexy to have a guy who wanted to stand up and help.
 
Dimon's writing draws me (I like how she writes the dynamics between the hero and heroine) and I like her voice but there also seems to be a feeling of things not quite clicking; her procedural writing is great but maybe some of the emotional aspect is missing for me? Either way, I'll keep reading her and I'll keep going with this series as I've already read one in it and liked it. If you're looking for romantic suspense that has a little bit of a different feel to it, this could be a change of pace.
 
 
Her spirit reeled him in and drove him mad.
 
 
 
I had to include this quote because of how deep in my soul I have felt this way before:
Caroline had the whole balanced-life, good-person combination down. By comparison, Emery felt like an unmade bed.

Manic Cozy Mystery

An Affair to Dismember (Matchmaker Mysteries Book 1) - Elise Sax
 
Something was definitely fishy about Randy Terns’s death, and at least one of his children thought he deserved to be murdered.
 
Cozy mystery isn't a genre I usually spend a lot of time in but I've dabbled and the ones I've dabbled in, tend to have a "cozy" calm, mysterious but relaxing feel to them, not so here. 
 
The only time the heroine isn't on the go or jumping here and there, is when she is asleep, which doesn't last long. She's in town to take over her grandmother's matchmaking business but doesn't quite have the touch but doesn't matter since she only focuses on that for about 3% of the story. One of her neighbors was found dead in the kitchen and she thinks (?? I guess but she never seems totally sure even though she is running around trying to solve the "murder") he was murdered. 
 
What follows is a story that felt incredibly manic and held together with rubber bands and flimsy plot threads. Why does such a small town, I don't think they even have a 20 person police force (they don't have their own 911 call center) have a multi-million dollar new station? This is the first in the series but like my complaints about Angelfalls, you still have to craft story that provides depth in regards to characters and plot in book one. 
 
There is a love triangle but with one guy that barely is a pencil sketch  and the heroine only seems to like because he is hot and the other that seems like the clear future winner. I'm not quite sure what the heroine saw in the pencil sketch (besides good looks) and I'm not sure what either guy saw in the heroine. The murder mystery was convoluted as all get out and had a reveal dump at the end.  
 
This was so manic and jumbled I felt like I was lost in a bouncy castle. I don't think I'll be continuing on in the series, especially since I am not a fan of love triangles, they always seem to be dragged out way to long.
 
Bonus point for having Rottweilers in the story but point deduction for having them be growling frightening beasts. 
 
 
 

35%

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

I needed a couple plague free days but then I read three in a row to catch up and now my mind is drowning in sores and poop.

 

Syphilis

 

Let’s bring back syphilis because it makes people more creative."

 

This was an interesting chapter, how the syphilis epidemic mirrored the AIDs, with not wanting to talk about it, the condemnation of people who got it, and how pushing it the corners made it even more virulent. I liked how the author called out some historical figures (Abraham Lincoln!) for more than likely having it.

 

15 to 30 percent of people who don’t receive treatment, syphilis advances to the positively terrifying tertiary stage. Symptoms can include joint problems and serious headaches. Sufferers’irises can become inflamed, leading to vision problems and sometimes blindness. Others might experience tremors and seizures. Some can become partially paralyzed. Many also develop a condition called tabes dorsalis, which causes intense, shooting pain throughout the body as the nerves along the spinal cords degenerate. Neurosyphilis, when the disease invades the nervous system, can occur at any stage, though it’s most often associated with tertiary syphilis. It involves an inflammatory response in the brain that leads to the destruction of bundles of nerve fibers. In some cases, the symptoms of neurosyphilis are mild, like headaches. However, many patients experience mental problems, like bouts of mania, changes in personality, and severe dementia.

 

I thought the author did a better job of discussing the symptoms and giving us a better idea of what happens to the body and mind. I thought it was also interesting how she touched on the "suffering artist" thinking, the best creations come out of pain, kind of how some artists think drugs and alcohol are needed to reach their potential today.

 

Some of the wild cures were discussed, dangerously raising body temperature, arsenic, and malaria and what really works, penicillin, such the miracle drug. 

 

One of the interesting tidbits of this section was the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, a highly unethical study that I had vaguely heard about and seeing mentioned again, sent me off reading more about it. 

 

Tuberculosis

 

The disease is still around, it’s still contagious, and despite the fact that the vaccine costs approximately sixteen cents to produce, and $3.13 to buy, tuberculosis continues to ravage periphery countries. Millions of people worldwide die from tuberculosis every year—and it’s totally treatable.

 

This one was a little tough to read about because of how it still has a strong presence today. The romanticizing mentioned was incredibly sad, thinking about how women tried to unhealthily copy the look of suffers because the look was thought to be beautifully tragic. Women always pushed to conform to impossible beauty standards. 

 

It is very contagious. The bacterium is spread by droplets whenever sufferers cough or sneeze (or sing or laugh, for that matter). Those droplets are then inhaled by others. In some people, the bacterium remains latent for years.

 

Again, probably because it is a more modern disease, the author gave us more information the what and how. Highly contagious diseases like this seem so tragic to me because of people not knowing yet how it spreads and how they were sacrificial lambs for me. 

 

Between 1829 and 1845, 10 to 13 percent of white prisoners in large cities on the East Coast of the United States died of tuberculosis; the rate was even higher among black prisoners.

 

Indeed, about 4 million people were thought to have died from consumption in England and Wales alone between 1851 and 1910.

 

Not quite the Bubonic Plague or Small pox but still having an impact and the fact that people still die of it today when there is the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine, angers me and makes me feel grateful I was born where I was. 

 

Cholera 

 

It is spread through ingesting other people’s infected defecated matter.

 

As an old Oregon Trail enthusiast, I know all about cholera and its devastating effects. Clean water, clean water, clean water. Again, forever grateful for being born where I was. Available clean water is something I don't even think about or have to question. 

 

Once you have drunk it without even knowing it, the cholera bacterium settles in the small intestine. There, it begins reproducing and forms a toxin called CTX, which covers the walls of the small intestines. Now, the main purpose of the small intestine is to keep you hydrated; it absorbs water and then sends it on to other areas of the body. However, when its walls are coated with cholera bacteria, it instead begins expelling water. The result is a white-flaked, watery diarrhea that is referred to as “rice stool.”

 

Not fun to read about and god awful to live I imagine. This is one that can boggle the mind because, of course, you need clean water but I only know that because of the work of John Snow (I'm a GOT watcher, so this name was wild). Going by the rest of the format of the book, I thought it was interesting how much the author focused on Snow, it seemed a little off how she kind of laid into his lifestyle but I guess it works for us to get to "know" him. If one thing can be said about this author, it's that she is not afraid to color her writing with her opinions. 

 

 

Reading Update: 50%

The Fixer - HelenKay Dimon

"There was something about him sitting there, all proper and businesslike, that made her feel extra naughty.


This is good, with a truly anti-social, abrupt, dry (but w/ heat) hero and perfect forceful, wall breaking heroine but something about the overall story flow or structure isn't quite clicking for me."

Can't beat free

An Affair to Dismember (Matchmaker Mysteries Book 1) - Elise Sax

 

This isn't a certified Murder by Death (I couldn't find a review by her for it anyway) pick, I usually go to her for all my Cozy Mystery needs, but it was a Kindle Freebie. 

 

*It is certified! I found Murder's review over on GRs - Review

Shallow world building

Angelfall: 1 (Penryn and the End of Days) by Ee, Susan (2013) Paperback - Susan Mallery

 

 
Men with wings. Angels of the Apocalypse. Supernatural beings who’ve pulverized the modern world and killed millions, maybe even billions of people.

 

This is categorized as YA, which made me a little nervous but besides having a heroine, Penryn, who I think is supposed to be around 17yrs old and some causal, leaning towards immature talk, this read adultish.
 
Even the worst of the new street gangs leave the night to whatever creatures may roam the darkness in this new world.
 
The beginning had me pretty locked in, I'm always up for an apocalyptic story but as the story went on, I started to get frustrated with the lack of world building. This is only book 1 in a 3 book series but I'm growing a little tired of incomplete stories for the sake of stretching out to sell more books. This is all from the pov of the heroine, so we only know her side of things about the angels attack and a lot of the time she is awfully tight lipped about what happened. The angels seemed to have dropped down to earth one day and started blowing up cities but frankly, even that is vague. Did they attack all over the world? There is talk about humans (maybe) killing Gabriel, but was it at first sight or was there some communication?
 
Not even the angels know why they are here. 
 
Through some conversations with our heroine's companion Raffe, an angel she saved from being killed by other angels, we, again, vaguely get some intel from the angel's side of things but Raffe doesn't seem to know a whole heck of a lot either. This can work to create some mystery and excitement to read on in the series, to gain and learn the answers but it can also make the world building seem flimsy and lazy, keeping me from wanting to read on. 
 
 
My mind swirls with conflicting emotions. Who is the enemy in this room? Whose side am I on?
 
Since our heroine is so young, it felt a little awkward with the alluding to a building attraction between her and who is supposed to be a millennial old angel. She thinks his chest and face is hot, he seems to admire her fighting skills and towards the end of the book, thinks she looks hot in a tight dress, there wasn't much for me to go on with the hit you at the end supposed to be epic love loss. 
 
From the front, they look human, but from the back and the sides, they look utterly alien. Plump scorpion tails grow out of their tailbones to curl over their heads. They end in needlelike stingers, ready for piercing.
 
Most of the book is the heroine and angel traveling together and us readers getting a vague introduction to the world and characters. There is obviously something up with the heroine's mom but, again, vague. Towards the end, we get hit with some truly creepy described visuals and the dirty, grungy, and hungry apocalyptic world, starts to bleed into more of a horror show. The wall of children was some truly inspired horrific stuff. 
 
The author had a great way of writing scenes that gave me some fantastic visuals but the character depth and world building was lacking for me. Even though this is a series and I expect some questions to be left answered in the preceding, I need a solid foundation to want to carry the interest over to the next books; not completely sure that happened here. The visuals were good, having an agnostic angel was intriguing, but the attraction between the heroine and hero was awkward and the world building felt shallow.
 
 

Reading Update: 50%

Angelfall: 1 (Penryn and the End of Days) by Ee, Susan (2013) Paperback - Susan Mallery

 

“Angels are violent creatures.”

"So I noticed. I used to think they were all sweet and kind.”

“Why would you think that? Even in your Bible, we’re harbingers of doom, willing and able to destroy entire cities. Just because we sometimes warned one or two of you beforehand doesn’t make us altruistic.”

Warrior Angel over Bigfoot

Angelfall: 1 (Penryn and the End of Days) by Ee, Susan (2013) Paperback - Susan Mallery

 

The talking to I had to give myself to pick this book with warrior angels over the Bigfoot porn reads I know are out there, was very strong.

20%

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

Small Pox

 

Someone was hacking next to me today and I tried to hold my breath until I could run away from them. Reading about one plague a day is showing its consequences :/

 

A lone diseased Spaniard is believed to have introduced smallpox to the Incan society around 1525.

 

After being exposed to smallpox, the Aztec and Incan societies were devastated almost instantly. One year they were among the greatest civilizations in the world. The next year they basically didn’t exist.

 

Devastating. I thought the author did a better job with this section of the book, giving us a clearer understanding of the symptoms:

Once someone is infected they develop a fever—up to 104 degrees—which is sometimes accompanied by vomiting. Then they break out in a rash, which turns into bumpy pustules filled with clear liquid or pus. These later crust over and fall off, leaving pox marks on the skin.

and how it was combated: 

Variolation generally entailed finding someone suffering from smallpox, drawing blood or fluid from one of their pustules, and injecting it into an uninfected person.

 

Jenner called the technique vaccination, as vacca was the Latin word for “cow".

 

This is also the disease that we see reach into more of modern recorded history, so go figure :) The absolute devastation this caused is hard to read about, whole civilizations ended, with some help of Spaniards but still, makes you think about the edge we all rest on.

 

I enjoyed the more informative look into small pox, even though I already knew some it, milk maids saved the world!, but it was still kind of fun to see how people worked the problem and followed the trail from cow pox to vaccinations. I am also endlessly fascinated by immunity and how it can be passed on, which I thought the author did a good job simplifying and giving us a bare bones a to b explanation. 

 

Vaccinating most of the population protects the very young and vulnerable people of all ages who cannot be safely vaccinated.

 

If the author's sassy and sarcasm hit hard on Wakefield (wrote paper claiming vaccinations could cause autism) and in turn Jenny, I'm ok with that because paid for pseduo-science needs to be hit hard with the harm it can do.

 

Think of what it might have been like when 30 to 90 percent of your friends and family died, because that was the world before vaccines.

 

Vaccinations, they are needed and quite frankly, wanted by me.

Supernatural or psychotic break?

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller

 

it might not then be too fanciful to say that some houses are born bad.

 

Apparently, I do think it is too fanciful because I felt this book was way more of this,

 

I think we are only afraid of ourselves,” the doctor said slowly.

“No,” Luke said. “Of seeing ourselves clearly and without disguise.”

“Of knowing what we really want,” Theodora said.

 

Instead of getting eeked out by the supernatural trying to creep into the story, I was completely focused on Eleanor and what seemed like her emotional and psychological bid and try for freedom. She is introduced as the daughter that took care of her mother until the mother's death and now resides with her sister but still lacks autonomy and agency. When she gets a letter in the mail asking her to come stay at a house, what a more adjusted person would turn down, she jumps at, grasping at it in a sense of freedom to get away from her life. 

 

Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.

 

This ended up being one of the most important and emotional scenes to me. Eleanor wanting the girl to make a different choice than she did, choosing to live her life the way she wants to, something Eleanor hasn't done. I have a lot of questions about this story, lol, but a big one is later on Theodora is talking about Eleanor drinking from her cup of stars and Eleanor talking about missing it. So, my big question is, was this a clue to how Eleanor manifested scenes, was this actually a flashback to a moment in Eleanor's life where she pinpoints things went off track for her and on her journey to freedom, she recreates the scene and makes (the little girl not drinking out of the cup) a different choice? It seems like an important clue that Eleanor had a cup of stars and the little girl she "saw" did too. I don't know, maybe I missed something or am reaching. Thinking this way though, lead me more down the path of Hill House instances being or coming from Eleanor's head.

 

No, she thought, I don’t like it here.

it’s awful and I don’t want to stay; but there was nowhere else to go, 

 

This story was so much more about the human condition to me than paranormal, which I think is kind of annoying, I don't want to I "read this wrong" but I think I missed some pleasure others got out of it. Theodora always represented what Eleanor envisioned as ideal and why she spent so much time with her and why her clothes were and room were attacked. But were they? The newcomers of the dr's wife and Arthur walk in the room and claim everything is fine. Talking about mass hysteria in the other Halloween Bingo book I am reading made me think that was what was happening at times, with Eleanor, Theodora, Luke, and the Dr. freaking each other out, remember, the newcomers never heard the loud noises from the night everyone was scared. The anticipation wave from the group seemed to be thinking this is a haunted house, waiting for something to happen, wanting something to happen to simply get it over with, and then creating things that were happening.The blood on the walls confuses me the most because Luke saw it first, probably the biggest argument towards paranormal for me. 

 

Peace, Eleanor thought concretely; what I want in all this world is peace, a quiet spot to lie and think, a quiet spot up among the flowers where I can dream and tell myself sweet stories.

 

Eleanor was just so incredibly tragic for me and I think building up to psychotic breakdown. Her trip towards freedom wasn't working out quite like she thought, she has the big rejection from Theodora and while she doesn't seem to be able to quite get along with people, she doesn't want to be alone, and she simply can't handle going back to her sisters. This story just really screamed American women around the '50-'60s, seeing autonomy but not having the foundation to get there and maybe even fear of what it would be like. One of my other favorite scenes was when Eleanor was talking with Luke and thinking about the questions people ask each other and how it is discussed about what people want others to know about them and what people want to tell others; more human condition stuff to me. I enjoyed the contrast too of Luke just being handed the house and women to an extent and just selfishly expecting it as his due; how women have to fight for things and men just naturally expect them issues going on here. 

 

I am really doing it, I am doing this all by myself, now, at last; this is me, I am really really really doing it by myself.

 

The ending was so sad for me and this line cuts with how attempted suicide and suicide (in letters) victims talk about making that final choice and feeling finally empowered that they have finally taken control. I know some people who think more along the lines of paranormal will think it was the house driving her to do this and I can definitely see an argument for that also but I see it more as the psychotic break crash. 

 

Walled up alive.” Eleanor began to laugh again at their stone faces. “Walled up alive,” she said. “I want to stay here.”

 

I saw Eleanor as making the choice to kill herself because she was too scared to go out and live life, even though she desperately wanted to. Her whole life living with her mother, probably an argument for co-dependency there and then semi-transferring the dependency to her sister and then failing in transferring it to Theodora.

 

I feel like I have more questions after I read the book, lol. Why didn't Eleanor remember Theodora for a few minutes there towards the end? This weird moment thinking about Theodora:

I would like to watch her dying, Eleanor thought, and smiled back and said, “Don’t be silly.”

The others experiencing some of the "hauntings" of the house, the creepy caregivers (but apparently the housekeeper was completely normal around the dr.'s wife), the planchette readings, and what did Theodora see during the picnic are all questions I don't have answers for. Maybe I need to give way for some paranormal. Overall though, this book was really only ever about the frightening ways our minds can control us.

15%

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

Dancing Plague

 

Their feet bled until you could see their bone.

 

Not an ideal situation to be in. This plague is probably the most confounding to me, I'm a proof, factual evidence person and the way the author presenting this one, leaves me baffled and intrigued. The author mentioned that some think mold might have been the cause but then says, she disagrees with that. She then kind of meanders around it being mass hysteria or psychological. I grasp the thinking behind mass hysteria but the descriptions of dancing to the point of death, have me thinking there had to be some source other than sadness or relief, which the author goes on to pseudo-claim, that would cause this kind of physicality. I know the human mind's strength is still not fully known but I still can't fully accept mass hysteria. 

 

Moreover witnesses consistently spoke of the victims as being entranced, seeing terrifying visions and behaving with wild, crazy abandon.

 

This is probably why I would be on team mold, some kind of hallucinogen from mold that seeped in through the feet sounds feasible. 

 

He thought the best treatment, if the condition was brought on by cursing, was to have the dancers make an image of themselves in wax (talented multitasking dancers!), project their thoughts onto the wax doll, and then set the figure on fire. If the disease was brought on by sexy thoughts or frivolity, the dancers should be kept in a dark room and fed only bread and water until they were too sad to have those thoughts anymore. If it was caused by a “corrupt imagination,” they should ingest opium (the basis for heroin) or alcohol.

 

These cures, I tell ya. The author accounts that people made pilgrimages to a mountain and were given red shoes to wear. Changing of shoes that maybe didn't have the mold or infection? This is where again, I wish the author moved from a more witty repertoire to more historical accounts, documentation, and current conclusions/thoughts. There were other dancing plagues recorded, how similar were their climates or environment? Anything gleaned from that?

 

course diseases occur independent of mental states, but it is also true that given enough stress, people’s internal miseries can manifest themselves physically.

 

I completely agree with this but in more of a grey way, I see limitations. The author talks about how people believed they were cured, so they were. When they were dancing to death? I don't know, I put more faith in the simple changing of shoes. 

 

So their minds simply closed down, and they refused to see anymore—refused to see any more death, any more torture, any more rape, any more starvation.

 

The author tries to validate her mass hysteria diagnosis with comparisons to trauma victims experiencing mass blindness. In those cases, we have a general root cause and they are not physically acting in a way, dancing until their bones came out of their feet, that directly leads to their death. It was too much of an apples and oranges comparison for me. I also thought it was completely unfair to compare the townspeople's response to bubonic plague towns. Not as encompassing and while the people dancing had to unnerving to a certain extent, not as psychologically destroying as pus covered children banging on windows for help. It seemed the author wanted to lighten or bring more hopeful tone after the doom and gloom of the bubonic plague. It is refreshing how the people of Strasburg responded but I would have liked more inclusion to how their society was structured to point out why it may have been easier for them to do so.

 

I'm too cynical to buy into the "power of friendship" healed all. I do think happier people have a greater chance at survival but that is tied into a whole bunch of things like happier people tend to take care of their bodies in a more healthy way, symptoms and causes are very interwoven. I think it also is a disservice and cruel to completely link emotion to not surviving a disease; I do think it plays a part but smaller than the author wants to give it credit for here.

 

I leave this section with a pretty good on fire comment:

It’s perfectly possible to be smarter than everyone else and still be polite and even deferential—women have been doing it for centuries.

 

65% Parts 2-4

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller

 

Well,” she asked, “how do you gentlemen like living in a haunted house?”

“It’s perfectly fine,” Luke said, “perfectly fine. It gives me an excuse to have a drink in the middle of the night."

 

Hill House is starting to produce some haunting...maybe, I'm not quite sure what is physically happening and what is psychologically happening. I find it really hard not to human condition this instead of sinking into the supernatural horror. Eleanor really draws me in with how she thinks and reacts to things. 

 

what a complete and separate thing I am, she thought, going from my red toes to the top of my head, individually an I, possessed of attributes belonging only to me. I have red shoes, she thought—that goes with being Eleanor; I dislike lobster and sleep on my left side and crack my knuckles when I am nervous and save buttons. I am holding a brandy glass which is mine because I am here and I am using it and I have a place in this room. I have red shoes and tomorrow I will wake up and I will still be here.

 

The layer of Eleanor escaping out from under her mother and sister, to some extent, with how she is discovering who she is and gaining the confidence to show it and be it, is a mixture of sad, angry, and hopeful. Thinking of when this is written, it makes me think of how women were gaining ground on autonomy. I'm probably going a whole different wild direction with this but the house feels more like a masked representation for society/cultural/family structures that are "haunting" Eleanor and how they could be all in her head or really affecting her. The scene where only Eleanor and Theodora hear the banging, while the men our out was interesting. I am also highly cognitive of the MeToo movement, which colors a lot of how I interpret and perceive things lately. Again, why reviews can only be subjective as so much pertains to the life experiences of the reader.

 

It’s embarrassing. To think about being afraid, I mean.”

“We’re all in it together, you know,” Theodora said.

“It’s worse if you try not to show it,” the doctor said.

 

We get to see all the characters interact in this part. I thought when they were all gathered around that the conversation seemed off, or unnatural. I don't know if it is simply a case of when this was written and how language and interactions differ but the flow just wasn't there for me.

 

I think,” he said, “that what we all want is facts. Something we can understand and put together.”

 

******

 

When Luke and I are called outside, and you two are kept imprisoned inside, doesn’t it begin to seem”—and his voice was very quiet—“doesn’t it begin to seem that the intention is, somehow, to separate us?”

 

I can't help but think there is something off with the doctor. You have him at turns spouting calm, analytical thinking only to have him seemingly wanting to ramp up the spookiness or anxiety to covertly induce fear. 

 

Although, this was a nice line from him (aka the author):

It was said that the older sister was crossed in love,” the doctor agreed, “although that is said of almost any lady who prefers, for whatever reason, to live alone.

 

Theodora is a nice contrast to Eleanor and I like how they play off of each other. Luke is just kind of there right now and the caretakers are nice and ambiguously creepy, lol. 

 

I'm probably not as eeked out as I should be, because of focusing so much on Eleanor's self-discovery and journey for autonomy, and I don't know if I completely buy into the house being truly haunted or certain humans wanting it to appear that way. I don't know, this is probably why horror works better for me with movies and tv shows. Written word has me analyzing in a way visuals don't, maybe because more context is provided? 

 

This gave me a little promise to experiencing the eek:

is this what they mean by cold chills going up and down your back? Because it is not pleasant; it starts in your stomach and goes in waves around and up and down again like something alive. Like something alive. Yes. Like something alive.

 

Also,

Theodora looked up at her gravely. “I have a hunch,” she said, “that you ought to go home, Eleanor.”

 

With Theodora supposedly having some psychic ability, I'm wondering if she is feeling or knows more than she is letting on. Curious to see if haunting ramps up or more questions about psychological fears creating.

 

 

 

 

Menu Monday

Hope everyone had a safe and fun Labor Day Weekend!

 

 

Blackened Chicken Avocado Berry Salad

 

 

Sneaking in salads before it gets cold and soup becomes the go to. I left out the cucumbers on this one but definitely don't skip out on making the dressing, it combined with the fruit and meat so wonderfully. Easy to make and while the bf side-eyed all the fruit going into the bowl, he ended up liking it. He also skipped out on the dressing and used ranch. And added bacon bits. 

 

 

Grapefruit Avocado Salad

 

 

This is more of a side salad, my turkey burger was trying to sneak into the picture. This has some wackadoodle combos happening, I mean avocado, grapefruit, and lime?? I was unsure of the vinaigrette but the alchemy ended up making a great refreshing salad. Cutting the grapefruit was the most time consuming but if I wasn't taking a picture, I would have been way more lazy about it. Fantastic summer salad.

 

 

Easy Overnight Cinnamon Rolls for Two 

 

 

I can't remember a time I worked with yeast (newbie cook, remember) so I was kind of nervous but just buying the packets makes it super easy. My yeast didn't exactly foam up the way they were talking about, I even threw out the first batch I tried because I thought maybe I had made the liquid too warm. There were some bubbles and a little yeast/bread smell from the second batch though and that seemed to be good, as you can see the rolls came out fine. So don't worry if you don't get the foam they talk about. This makes four and they are medium to large size rolls, I'd say just eating one and making this for four people would be good. The icing was yummy but I would half the recipe next time as it made a ton. I started these in the morning and had them for a night time snack, obviously time consuming with the waiting around time. These were actually kind of fun to make and you'll end up feeling super cool for having created them, I did anyway. They looked just like cinnamon rolls! I mean, I know, but I felt like a super heroine for a few hours. Bf said they were the best cinnamon rolls he'd ever had :)  Probably the only fresh ones he has ever had but I'll take it! Make these if you have the time, A+

 

 

Blackened Tilapia Taco Bowls

 

 

This took about 45 mins, most of the time is for the rice to cook. I made the cilantro lime rice recipe they had and highly recommend it. You add orange juice and lime zest (wackadoodle!) which frightened me a bit but, again, the alchemy works. The spice is kicking on the tilapia but once it gets in the bow with everything, it tones down and is great. I added avocado, some kale/broccoli/cabbage salad mix, shredded colby cheddar cheese, and salsa. This went straight to my Made and Liked board, will be having it again. Filling and yummy.

 

 

Frosted Raspberry Lemonade

 

 

This, unfortunately, is the big loser of the group. The vanilla extract they have you add killed the taste for me, don't know if simply too much or needed to be left out completely. I had three to four sips before I gave up and dumped it down the sink. Do not recommend. lol.

*Doggie butt in the picture if you look closely though :)

 

 

Sweet Potato Broccoli Chicken Bake

 

 

Left out the onions and added some lemon pepper seasoning to the chicken. This was pretty easy to make, especially since I cheated and bought the bag broccoli and bagged pre-cut sweet potatoes. Holiday weekend, y'all. A little under an hour to make. Light, tasty, and easy. 

 

Any good cook-out dishes to share?

10%

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

Bubonic Plague

(Everyone's favorite ;)

 

The Florentine Marchionne di Coppo Stefani said that the pits looked like lasagna.

 

It is incomprehensible to me the sheer amount of death this plague caused.

 

If the plague spread to the lungs and became pneumonic, it could be transmitted from person to person through an infected cough. The plague would kill somewhere between 20 and 50 million people in the fourteenth century, or approximately 30 percent of Europe’s population.

 

30 percent. 3. 0. percent. Reading this section I almost teared up, the lack of knowledge along with fear and society crumbling around you must have been horrific.

 

There are stories about how common it was for people to leave bread and water at a sick relative’s bedside, tell them they were going out to fetch supplies, and then abandoning them. The dying could be seen through the city plaintively rapping at their windows, hoping someone would come to ease their suffering.

 

******

 

De Mussis describes the streets ringing with the cries of dying children who had been locked out of their homes,

 

******

 

Second, no one wanted to force their children into the streets. No one wanted to leave them to die alone. They did so only because doing otherwise would doom them also.

 

When I think of world ending disasters, sickness is a big one (I blame The Stand) for me and think of how today's society would withstand this. The thing about this plague is how devastating psychologically it must have been. 

 

Terror over the devastating disease and a lack of scientific knowledge, as well as some people’s truly evil tendency to prey upon people’s fears, resulted in safeguards that seem ludicrous today.

 

******

 

I realize that “Do No Harm” is the first rule of medicine, but “Don’t apply human shit to an open wound” seems like a good second one. Oh, and bloodletting didn’t help, either.

 

There will be no escaping poop in this book, will there? The author talks about cures banded about during the time, drinking urine, wine, and pus from the infected. Sign me up for wine! Again, because of the knowledge I have, it makes you want to scream at the people to simply practice hygiene but I guess thanks? to the bubonic plague (and shout-out to Nostradamus) I know that now. This section and plague seemed to focus more on society fear than structure.

 

Most people died within four days of exhibiting the first symptoms, and many died within twenty-four hours.

 

******

 

The 10 percent of those who recovered from the plague generally had robust and healthy immune system.

 

Here is where I wish the author had expanded, besides healthy immune systems, is there any known reason some survived or not, talking about genetic/dna wise? What about people who never contracted it? I would have liked more discussion on this aspect.

 

The World Health Organization reports that in 2013 there were 783 cases worldwide; 126 people died.

 

Fortunately, today the disease is generally treated with the antibiotic streptomycin and is curable so long as it is caught early.

 

Wasn't there someone in CO who got the bubonic plague a couple years ago? It is incredibly eerie to me that this still lingers around but knowing there is an antibiotic makes it better. I guess. The framework is obviously better now, if something like this hits again but (The Stand!) I can't help fear-mongering myself over it. Although, with my weak ass self, I'd be the first to go, you all have fun with the bodies in the street and the rape gangs.

 

Who's making Nostradamus'' magic rose pills for the group to try?

;)

Reading Update: Part 1

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller

 

silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

 

Part 1 was a great introduction to Eleanor and getting me to become connected with her.

 

Without ever wanting to become reserved and shy, she had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words.

 

The horror hasn't really started up yet, as she has just arrived at the house, but there is a sense of anticipated dread as I know this is a horror story. What I have really gotten from this is how freaking sad, not only some of the circumstances of Eleanor's life, but the true message of how we can let others control or steal our shine in favor of fitting in.

 

Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.

 

This kind of sets it up, especially with Eleanor "stealing" the car, that Eleanor has felt her life passing her by and this is her step and moment into gaining control and power, thus providing reason for why she might head into something someone else would clearly see as dangerous. I could probably think of other ways to gain autonomy but who knows, maybe haunted houses are the way to go. The line about the house and people walking alone and then Eleanor seemingly walking alone in life could maybe foreshadow a connection between the two.

 

A couple glimpses of the other characters but Eleanor is clearly the star.

 

The house was vile. She shivered and thought, the words coming freely into her mind, Hill House is vile, it is diseased; get away from here at once.

 

I'm guessing part 2 is about to get more haunt-y