Mstrust's Year of Swell Stuff- #2

Tämä viestiketju jatkaa tätä viestiketjua: Mstrust's Year of Swell Stuff.

Keskustelu2024 Category Challenge

Liity LibraryThingin jäseneksi, niin voit kirjoittaa viestin.

Mstrust's Year of Swell Stuff- #2

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 1, 12:43 pm

Welcome to my Category Challenge of Swell Stuff, which has about the loosest theme I could come up with. It's really just "stuff I like". As the year goes on, I imagine the category toppers will switch out.

I'm Jennifer and I live in Phoenix with husband Mike and frantic Boxer Coral. I'm in Vegas a lot because Mom lives there, and my sister, brother and nephew live in California, while my niece moved to Texas recently.
I write a weekly Substack called Autumn Lives Here that covers horror, true crime and Halloween all year long. I do book reviews, cocktail recipes, spooky travels, and weird true stories. I drop in an original short story sometimes too, and my story "Sitting Up with Granny" was featured in Season 5 of the Full Body Chills podcast.

Hosting duties: October's ScaredyKit will be Contemporary Horror.
I considered having a theme of slow things like molasses and turtles to depict what a slow reader I am, but then people would stop by just once a month to see if I'd made any progress and find that there had been little. I used to read a minimum of 100 books a year, but since I'm researching and writing so much now, my totals have gone way down. Drop in and say hi when you pass by.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 24, 11:44 am

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 24, 11:30 am

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 20, 11:31 am

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 3, 12:39 pm

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 17, 12:36 pm

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 12:08 pm

Hot Weather Reads

1. Wild- 4

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 6, 2:42 pm

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 20, 11:32 am

The adorable "powder puff" cactus

Cookbooks, Travel & Other Things

1. Killer Plants-3.5
2. Recipes from the World of H.P. Lovecraft- 4.5
3. The Mysteries- 3
4. I Must Be Dreaming- 3
5. Edible Houseplants-4
6. Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs & Juice-5
7. Mod Cocktails- 4

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 24, 1:20 pm

Finally: The Books I've Been Meaning To Get To

1. Starter Villain- 4
2. The Eyeball Collector- 4
3. Don't Point That Thing At Me-4
4. A Skeleton at the Helm-5

toukokuu 1, 1:32 pm

Next one's yours. Welcome!

toukokuu 1, 1:43 pm

Happy new thread! I like your pictures, especially the Anne Taintor -- she's hilarious.

toukokuu 1, 4:03 pm

Thanks, Christina! I adore Taintor. She always has the right snarkiness.

toukokuu 1, 10:30 pm

Happy new thread.

toukokuu 2, 5:44 am

Happy New Thread! We were just outside Tucson visiting friends a couple of weeks ago and went at this time of year so we could see some cacti blooming. Didn't see a powder puff and the saguaros were mostly in bud, but we did see some.

toukokuu 2, 7:14 am

Happy new thread!

toukokuu 2, 12:50 pm

Happy new thread!

toukokuu 2, 1:21 pm

>15 lowelibrary: Thank you!
>16 dudes22: Thanks! I have a prickly pear in my front yard that is covered in both fruit and beautiful yellow blooms that the bees love.
I didn't think you'd find a powder puff in the wild, but I looked up their habitat and they're native to North Central Mexico, so I guess they do grow wild. They look so dainty.
>17 MissWatson: Thanks!
>18 DeltaQueen50: Hello, Judy!

toukokuu 2, 1:24 pm

Here's something swell:

I've mentioned before that I love dried mango slices. Well, Langer's Mango Nectar, available at Costco, is very delicious and they remove those annoying mango strings that get caught in your teeth. It's just smooooth mango nectar.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 2, 1:54 pm

31. Famous Writers School: A Novel by Steven Carter

Wendell Newton advertises his writing course in the back of a literary magazine, stating that he will help aspiring writers through his structured lessons. He begins working with a small collection of writers, sending out assignments that are explained through personal stories, such as the time when he was a young soldier working as a secretary to a general and was able to blackmail his superior into giving him a European vacation. In turn, his students send him whatever writing they want to, such as the ex-model and stripper who writes about the people who become obsessed with her, which quickly includes Wendell. Or Linda, who sends Wendell essays about stalking him and breaking into his house. The only student who is actually writing fiction, a tense crime novel that he sends in chapters, is the one who receives Wendell's strangest replies. Over weeks of correspondence, we find Wendell to be shadier than his early professionalism let on.

A satire of the snail mail writing schools of the past, the reader is plunged into slice-of-life stories from each character that may last a few paragraphs or ten pages. It may be a kidnapping, a romance, or a snotty reply from Wendell. Expertly woven together, it's both fun and remarkably well-written. I've never heard of this book or the author. I think I picked this up at the giant booksale one year. 4.5

toukokuu 3, 5:28 am

>21 mstrust: A BB for me, for sure! Happy new thread---love your cat pics!

toukokuu 3, 11:48 am

Thanks, Tess! Glad you found me!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 7, 10:43 am

It's a free week at Autumn Lives Here. We're making a gingersnap crisp and talking about crazy Lifetime movies. Drop in!

toukokuu 9, 1:33 pm

Happy new thread! Always entertaining!

toukokuu 9, 3:20 pm

Thanks, good to see you!

toukokuu 10, 11:33 am

32. The Rising of the Moon by Gladys Mitchell

Young brothers Simon and Keith live with their older brother Jack and his wife June, a couple who are barely staying together. Their village is shocked when a performer in a traveling circus is murdered, quickly followed by another dead woman and another. The brothers begin their own investigation into these Ripper murders because much of the evidence points to Jack, but Scotland Yard sends a detective, Mrs. Bradley, who is surprised to find two young boys who can be so helpful to the investigation.

This is my first finished Mitchell, as I attempted Death at the Opera first but didn't make it past the first chapter. Going into this one, I assumed that it being a British mystery published in 1945, taking place in a village with an elderly female detective, that it would have a passing resemblance to an Agatha Christie. It really doesn't, as this village is peopled with characters who are far more broken than what you'd find in Christie. Jack and June are constantly barking at each other, miserable but unable to part. Jack, Simon and Keith are all in love with their pretty lodger Christina, who is portrayed as both intelligent and kind, yet wrestles around on her bed with the two young boys and allows them to grope and kiss her. Keith is just eleven. Mitchell's village is populated with people who are sometimes sad, angry, or jealous, so this sets it apart from the polite mysteries usually found in this era. 3.5

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 11:55 am

Something swell! My sister sent me a Louie's Derby Cake from Mertz's this week. Created for the Kentucky Derby, Mertz's is in Louisville but ships through Goldbelly. It's a sturdy, yet fluffy, butter cake that has a bourbon soak and is covered in a pecan streusel and drizzled in chocolate. It's delicious, and I really like the bourbon that mixes with the buttery cake.
My only complaint is that it is delivered without cold packs. The chocolate was melted when it arrived, but a few hours in the fridge and it was fine.
Sorry the pic is blurry but there are surprisingly few pictures of this cake online.

toukokuu 10, 1:37 pm

>28 mstrust: That cake looks and sounds delicious!

toukokuu 10, 3:23 pm

It is! There isn't much of it left :-D

toukokuu 10, 6:11 pm

>27 mstrust: I've read at least eight books by Gladys Mitchell (not including some before LT). The Rising of the Moon and Tom Brown's Body are my favourites. The screeching Mrs Bradley can become wearing after a while.

toukokuu 11, 1:55 pm

Hi Jennifer, that cake looks amazing! I am also slowly working my way through the Gladys Mitchell mysteries and I am finding them quite varied. Some I like - some not so much. The Rising of the Moon sounds like a good one, my next one will be The Devil at Saxon Wall which is the 6th book in the series.

toukokuu 12, 11:06 am

>31 pamelad: >32 DeltaQueen50: I don't know how long I've had this particular Mitchell on the shelf, but probably around five years. It's one that I kept saying I'd get to because of the Ripper-like plot. Do you both find that she's writing a grittier version of the eras than Christie?
>32 DeltaQueen50: Hi Judy! I think I've decided that I quite like a bourbon soak.

toukokuu 12, 12:36 pm

>33 mstrust: Yes, I think Gladys Mitchell's books are much more grittier than Agatha Christie although I also find that some of her books work better than others. Although Christie always has a corpse or two, they are usually neat and tidy - no blood and gore to mess up the country house.

"Bourbon Soak" does have a nice ring to it!

toukokuu 12, 6:19 pm

>33 mstrust: Gladys Mitchell worked as a teacher throughout her writing career, so perhaps she had a more jaded view of humanity than Agatha Christie!

toukokuu 12, 6:47 pm

>34 DeltaQueen50: I put down Mitchell's Death at the Opera because it seemed so prim, with the teachers at a boarding school all atwitter because they were assigning themselves the roles to perform The Mikado. To be clear, they were going to perform the school musical, not the students.
I was thinking that a bourbon soak should be offered at spas!

>35 pamelad: Interesting! I know nothing about her, and had never heard her name until just a few years ago. Thanks!

Just noting that I bought Ring by Koji Suzuki today. And I saw three, THREE, different brands of pumpkin spice liqueurs at the store.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 14, 10:42 am

This week's Autumn Lives Here, we're making blood orange cocktails on our Picnic at Hanging Rock. Expect to get dirty.

toukokuu 18, 2:28 pm

33. Homesick For Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

A collection of short stories that focuses on strange people, or people who have lived safe lives but suddenly do something totally out of character. There are a few stories about widowers who are discovering that they had spent years living in their wife's shadow, while 'An Honest Woman' is about an older man who turns predatory when a young woman moves next door. 'The Weirdos' is hilariously told by a woman who is likely a sociopath, but a lazy unambitious one, and 'Slumming' is the story of a high school teacher who buys a summer cottage in a low-income river town that has been hit hard by the drug crisis. While describing the locals with disgust, she's unaware that she's quickly turning into one of them.
I've read My Year of Rest and Relaxation from the author and enjoy her strange plots, the characters who do the oddest things without a thought, but I have learned that Moshfegh clearly revels in writing absolutely disgusting passages meant to make the reader cringe. There are just a couple of stories here that don't have that trademark, but most do, and I don't know what to make of it, but to say that she's an excellent writer despite it. 4 stars

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 21, 10:03 am

This week at Autumn Lives Here, we're making zombie head chocolates and pretending summer doesn't exist. Also, let's buy everything from Vincent Price. He was so great at moving stock.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 24, 1:19 pm

34. A Skeleton at the Helm edited by John Richard Stephens

A collection of short stories and poems that marry tales of the sea with the spooky and deadly. The editor has an extensive introduction that explains piracy, phantom ships, funerals at sea, sea monsters and just about anything dangerous or disturbing that is rumored to happen at sea. It's a very interesting discussion on its own, but then the reader then gets the spooky sea stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Marion Crawford, Bram Stoker, and many others, but best of all, several from William Hope Hodgson. His stories are 'The Voice in the Night', 'The Thing in the Weeds' (in my Top Ten for story titles), and 'The Derelict', a story first published in 1912 that must have been read by the screenwriters of The Blob because the creature found aboard the seemingly abandoned ship is so similar.
This book has a fabric cover with an inset showing a skeleton pirate, which you'll find plenty of in the stories. The paper is thick with an aged appearance and there are some illustration and woodcuts throughout. Highly recommended if the subject interests you. 5 stars

toukokuu 24, 1:34 pm

Summer is not my season, I hate it, you all know that. The good things about it would be a very short list for me, but here's something swell:

Trader Joe's key lime pie returns. It's creamy and tangy, and I even eat the graham cracker crust, which I'd usually leave. I do look forward to this each year.

toukokuu 24, 2:35 pm

>41 mstrust: Thanks for the tip! I'll look for this next time I'm at TJ's.

toukokuu 24, 6:53 pm

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 26, 5:56 pm

35. Throttle by Joe Hill and Stephen King

This novella/long short story was inspired by Richard Matheson's Duel. Here, King and Hill have a biker gang called The Tribe who have just committed a double homicide over drug money. Led by Vince and made up of Vietnam vets, including Lemmy from Motorhead recreated here as an American, The Tribe has never gotten into murder or meth, but Vince was persuaded by his son, the newest member of the gang. Now they are riding the backroads of Arizona trying to put distance between themselves and the crime scene, but the semi barreling down the highway with them is the more immediate problem. 4 stars
This is available on Kindle.

toukokuu 27, 10:35 am

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 28, 10:43 am

This week at Autumn Lives Here, I have a whole buncha little known horror gems, and the pointless murder of Dr. Bartels.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 1, 12:07 pm

36. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

A memoir of Strayed's largely solo hike along California's Pacific Crest Trail, which she began in the Mojave Desert, skipped the unpassable snow in the High Sierras, picking it up north of the mountains and continuing to the edge of Washington. Along the way, she met fellow hikers that she traveled and camped with for short periods, gaining much needed knowledge about how to survive this hike that she was unprepared for, having bought boots that were too small and destroyed her feet, and packing so much that she carried a pack that was too heavy.
Throughout the thousands of miles, she recalls memories of her abusive childhood, her recently ended marriage and her ex-husband, the death of her mother, her drug use, and if that isn't hard enough, a horrifying couple of pages that cover the family's neglect of their horses, which resulted in the ham-fisted euthanizing of one. I admit she lost my sympathy for her thirst and torn-up feet. I continued reading because it's an interesting, well written first-hand account of the hike, the people, and the hardships. 4 stars

kesäkuu 3, 10:11 am

I liked the King book. I love key lime pie and make it a several times a year, usually in the summer, which is my favorite season!

kesäkuu 3, 10:11 am

Tämä käyttäjä on poistettu roskaamisen vuoksi.

kesäkuu 3, 11:13 am

>48 Tess_W: I love key lime pie too, but I know that if I make one or buy it, I'll be stuck with the whole thing because Mike won't touch it. Or lemon meringue. He must be crazy.

kesäkuu 3, 9:08 pm

>50 mstrust: Definitely cray-cray! I love to make lemon meringue pie in the summer. So tart!

kesäkuu 4, 12:30 pm

I like a tart lemon or lime dessert. The man was drinking mushroom coffee this morning but won't eat a citrus pie. *eye roll*

kesäkuu 4, 12:30 pm

Just a heads up to my Autumn Lives Here readers, you may not see the new post for several days as my drafts are disappearing from Substack. Poof, gone like the wind when I try to post them!
I have a tech guy that I'm trying to get hold of, but since I'm leaving for Vegas very soon, it may be days before I can address this.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 5, 12:00 am

After fighting with it all day, the new Autumn Lives Here is up! It's my 2nd anniversary.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 12, 1:15 pm

37. The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay

Art comes up with the Pallbearers Club in high school as a way for him, an introvert with scoliosis, to pad his college applications. Through their weekly visits to the funeral home to witness services, he meets Mercy, a woman who introduces Art to punk music. Little by little, Art builds up the idea that Mercy is a vampire. Or a long-dead witch. Or it maybe it's all the meds he's on because of his back pain.
The plot sounds like a horror and I believe it's listed as one. Look at that creepy cover. But this is actually a coming of age memoir with brief creepy interludes. You'll find a lot more talk about the local music scene and scoliosis, Art's school years and his severe acne. The dialogue is sometimes so clunky that it's remarkably unrealistic and it seems like the author was working through an 'obscure word of the day' calendar. It's less than 300 pages but took me so long to get through because it repeatedly bored me to sleep after a few pages.
I've read several works by Tremblay now and he's 50/50 for me, with his earlier stuff being more to my taste. 2.5

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 15, 1:52 pm

38. Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs & Juice by Toni Tipton-Martin

If you watch Cook's Country on PBS, you're familiar with Tipton-Martin's spots on food history. Here, she relays the history of alcoholic libations in the African-American community, providing the background and recipes for varieties of alcohol and the cocktails that have long ties to the community, such as homemade ginger beer and sorrel, and the use of ingredients such as coconut and hibiscus. You'll find classic recipes here, but the author often provides a second recipe, like making a non-alcoholic version or a fruity version.
Throughout the book, the author discusses the history of African-American bartenders and African-American cookbooks.
This is a beautifully done book on heavy paper with full page photos. It's a good choice as a bartender's guide because of it's mix of classic and lesser known cocktails, with the history behind them. 5 stars

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 17, 12:35 pm

39. The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain

Matt Cordell is a Bowery drunk sitting in the park when an old friend finds him and begs for help. Until a few years ago, Cordell had been a good private detective, but then he lost his wife and his license and is spending his life in a stupor until the old friend drags him to his tailoring shop and they discover the business partner dead. All the evidence is pointing to the man Cordell was trying to shake off. Because Cordell is involved in a murder now, he has to prove that the evidence is a red herring.
First published in 1958, this is a pulpy gumshoe detective story, and a good one. There's jazz music, snarling police and every woman Cordell meets throws herself at him. 4 stars

I read this for this month's MysteryKit.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 17, 12:59 pm

40. Fancy AF Cocktails by Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval

It wasn't until I started reading the cocktail backstories that I learned that the authors are from the Vanderpump Rules show, which I've never seen so their names meant nothing to me. But this is a fun cocktail book full of original recipes and a few classics. The most unusual ones are definitely in the "Trashy" section, because they cocktails call for things like packets of McDonald's bbq sauce or a Bloody Mary that uses fast food ketchup packets. All the cocktails are beautifully photographed, many pics are pretty funny, and most of the recipes look like something I'd try. 4 stars

Carrot Mule Variation

2 oz vodka
3/4 oz carrot juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 c ginger beer

In a copper mug, add the vodka and juices and stir. Fill the mug with crushed or pebble ice, then add the ginger beer. Garnish with a baby carrot.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 18, 11:10 am

Autumn Lives Here is back from break with the story of RadiThor, the energy drink that contained real radium!

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 20, 11:21 am

41. The Black Slide by J.W. Ocker

Ten year-old Griffin and his classmates are surprised when the plastic slide on the playground is suddenly replaced by a black slide that looks like it's made of leather. No one will use it, but Griffin is forced to by the class bully, and comes out with a broken arm and lacerations and the trauma of the bizarre ride. After that, Griffin's classmates seem hypnotized by the slide, but when they go down, they never come out. When his best friend begins to descend into the black slide, Griffin goes with her and they discover the horrible world all the kids are being held in and used as experiments.

Ocker is one of my favorites, but this book, targeted at 8-12 year-olds, is way too violent for children. Griffin is physically abused by his father and the school bully, where significant damage is done, then he enters an underworld that is all about physical pain being inflicted on children. The descriptions are graphic. I can't imagine what child would want to finish a book about another child suffering so unrelentingly. 2.5

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 20, 11:30 am

42. Mod Cocktails by Natalie Jacob

Nice photography in this book of revisions of classic cocktails from decades past, including tiki drinks. Many of these variations involve ingredients that have become more popular recently, such as ginger syrup. I made the "Army & Navy" recipe from this book and it was very good. This would be a good addition to a bar library as the ingredients lists don't get too long or complicated. 4 stars

Army & Navy

2 oz gin
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz Orgeat
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Luxardo cherries

Put the first three ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe glass and drop one cherry in. Float the bitters on top.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 24, 11:29 am

43. Art Hiding in New York by Lori Zimmer, illustrated by Maria Krasinski

An exploration of all the secret or overlooked artwork in NYC, along with a few very famous works that can be viewed for free because they are technically public art. In this category, you'll find Maxfield Parrish's "Old King Cole" artwork at the St. Regis. A lesser known art installation is found at the 34th Street subway station, a row of sensors that play musical instruments, or the sound of rain and birds when you stand in front of them.
Famous art locations are included, such as all the addresses of Andy Warhol's Factories. or Diane Arbus' apartment, but most of the artworks included can be sought out on the streets, in subway stations and hotel lobbies. It's a thick book, so not handy for carrying, but it does point out that art is everywhere in NYC, you just have to pay attention. Each entry has the backstory and an illustration. 4

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 24, 11:43 am

44. Kiss Me, Kill Me by Ann Rule

An anthology of her Crime Files, Rule recounts many true crime stories she wrote up over the years, some solved and some not. She discusses the detectives who worked each case. This one runs to nearly 400 pages and includes a section of photos. These tend to be forgotten or lesser-known cases from decades past. My one gripe is that she has changed the names of so many people involved, including some of the convicted murderers. Why? 4

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 25, 12:00 pm

This week at Autumn Lives Here is free. It's "Teen Idol", a short story that asks the question: how bad is bad enough?

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 27, 1:24 pm

45. The Last Kids on Earth: Zombie Parade by Max Brallier

Pre-teen Jack was left behind by his foster family when Earth's atmosphere was ripped open and all the monsters of space fell through. Now Jack lives in the family's huge treehouse, along with three other kids, the only humans that may be left. Not only do they have to fight to survive the monsters, but all the people who died are now flesh-eating zombies.
In this volume of the series, the kids find a monster named Thrull who is willing to help them out. They also discover what is shrieking all through the night, a piercing sound that creates the zombie parade. 3.5

kesäkuu 28, 12:43 am

>54 mstrust: Congrats!

kesäkuu 28, 10:38 am


kesäkuu 28, 12:58 pm

Do you like spicy and sweet together? Here's something swell:

Pick these up in markets that have large Hispanic sections, like 99 Ranch, or you might find them as you leave a Mexican restaurant. They are an authentic pineapple flavor with chili powder mixed in. It's sweet with a kick.

kesäkuu 30, 7:26 pm

I bought Haunted Hotels today.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 2, 10:42 am

This week's Autumn Lives Here:You're never too old to be terrifying.

heinäkuu 3, 12:38 pm

46. The Nightmare House by Sarah Allen

Ten year old Penny is living in terror, hearing and seeing The Fear Maker everywhere. Her grandmother was always the one who could calm her, when she lived at home with Penny and her parents, but she had to move into a care home because of health problems. Penny believes The Fear Maker is coming for her.
This is the second recently published children's book I've read in a few weeks in which the main character, a young child, is put in situations that seem way too intense for the age group the book is intended for. In The Black Slide (>60 mstrust:), it was non-stop physical pain, and here, Penny's constant terror of everything around her is present from the first page to the last. It actually comes off as mental illness, as if she's deep in schizophrenia. To have a child this frightened is oppressively bleak, and I have to wonder if any child would want to read this. Perhaps if the character's age was bumped up to the teens, an age that could handle the intensity. 3 stars

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 6, 2:42 pm

47. The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

Two buddies go on a fishing trip in a fairly isolated location in Ireland. They find the village locals a little odd but friendly, but both men can't shake a sense of something strange about the area. While exploring an old ruin, they find a diary, which becomes the majority of the story, as they read the words of the resident of the house. He recorded the terror of a passageway in the Earth opening up at the base of his house, allowing vicious creatures to invade our world.
The story delivers on chills, as the pig creatures are truly horrifying, but it's also likely that this book is the first instance of "cosmic horror" involving the planets and solar system and a millennium passing in the blink of an eye. It gets pretty deep. 4 stars

heinäkuu 7, 4:42 pm

>63 mstrust: Usually not like her!

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 8, 3:18 pm

Hard to understand why, but she must have had a reason. One that I don't get ;-D

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 9, 10:03 am

The newest Autumn Lives Here happens to dig into W.H. Hodgson and his very active life. We're also making a pumpkin pie cocktail and going over upcoming book releases.