Monthly Archives: December 2017


The holidays have taken our minds away from our reading. Busy with friends and families and other year-end tasks our minds are awhirl. Only a very few (how’s that for redundancy) responded to a recent blog about their reading plans in the New Year.

Forced inside today by a Winter Weather Advisory I must face up to taking down my Christmas decorations. Seems a good time to give a shout-out of THANKS to my much-loved granddaughter who decorated my fireplace mantel with some of my Santa collection. How I have enjoyed what she put together. I know Santa is not the heart of Christmas, but I have always loved Santa art of almost any kind, the more frivolous the better. Somehow it lifts my spirits.

I confess at first I was slightly disappointed she did not do the mantel as she has the last two years, with some fake greenery and lights. Turns out I liked the Santa display even better. My pictures certainly don’t do her display justice. Those small porcelain Santas are antique, from my mother’s side of the family; they have said Merry Christmas to many people for more years than I can count.

Wishing each of you a good last day of 2017. Along with the-not-so-great and worse, there is much to be grateful for. Make a gratitude list and you will be reminded. Even as a way to fight the horrors of grief, a gratitude list is worthy ammunition. Hugs to all.

Happy New Year Wishes come along tomorrow.


Do tell what books are sitting in your stack waiting. What books are rolling around in your head? What titles call to you from the library or the media and you can’t wait to get your hands on them. This is your post.

Reply to this post or on Facebook and I will add what you say to the Word Press readeatlive post.

The books pictured are just to get your juices flowing if they aren’t already! Please tell us what you hope to read in the new year or is already in hand with pages turning.



The Weight of Ink : novel
Author: Rachel Kadish
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
Genre: Historical fiction
Hardcover Edition: 560 pages
Source: Personal copy

This is a book with a beautiful dust jacket, so attractive that it played an important role in my decision to purchase the book. And then too, the subject matter seemed weighted with an intriguing tale.

This novel is the story of two women for whom intellectual pursuit is everything, or nearly so. In the year 2000 Helen Watt is a researcher nearing the end of her career and one who has seemingly had a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents dropped into her arms. The study of these documents, with the help of Aaron Levy an American graduate student, soon reveals that quite possibly they were scribed by a woman, though given the sex role constraints of the time, this would be thought impossible.

I began to read this book in late summer and soon put it aside to turn my reading attention elsewhere. The book was a dense and difficult read; it seemed perhaps a better time would come along to tackle it. But as the weeks passed, the character Helen Watt nagged at me and later in the fall I began again. I was captivated by the romance between a young Helen and Drot in a camp in Israel where volunteers and soldiers shared space though I never fully understood their tasks there. They were both people with deep feelings.

At the Thanksgiving holiday with a houseguest and then a trip to Oklahoma to visit family, I again put this book aside because of its heft, impossible to travel with. On Dec. 8 I began reading again. Now committed to Helen and her assistant Aaron and understanding something of their task with these historic documents, I was determined to better know Ester, the young woman from the seventeenth century who was willing to be an outcast, if only she could continue to work with the blind Rabbi on intellectual pursuits.

I relate this because the on-again-off-again reading was very likely part of the reason I found the book so difficult. In addition, I lacked prior knowledge of the restoration period in English history, and knew very little of Jewish history in that time and place. Yet both of the women were intriguing characters, attempting to break the bonds of their time period and still accomplish an important historical task and write about it.

The tale has a satisfying ending. Both woman and the character of Aaron are multi-dimensional people who are laser focused on their work. As expected this complicates their lives. Along with characters that make the reader feel deeply, this author has created suspense amid the rivalries of the academic world. Those of us who love to read historical fiction are often drawn to daily life in another time and place. As a reader I came to understand what it was like to live in the home of a seventeenth century rabbi in London and something about how things were in that household. Likewise I learned somewhat less about work in an important historical research library. This author has accomplished much with her convoluted tale and her excellent and sensitive prose.

Ink can be heavy on a page in a number of ways. In this novel that is certainly true. Complexity is not a bad thing. Both protagonists show great determination as they strive to unravel the mysteries before them. They are rewarded and so, I believe, will be any reader who shows like determination in completing this read.

This may be the challenging read you would like to take on in the new


Yes, I gave myself an early Christmas present this year. I never can resist one of Ree’s cookbooks, and I actually use them.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! does not include a holiday section, but here are some recipes in this new cookbook you may like for you holiday cooking through the New Year . Many are also available on the internet.

Pimento Cheese p. 67
Love this stuff and especially Ree’s recipe which is both beautiful, luscious, and oh, so festive!

Tortilla Pinwheels p.76
Red, White and Green paints your Christmas table!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup p. 104
This color is a holiday favorite whether we are talking food, or color schemes. What a great way to start a holiday meal or buffet.

Steak with Chimichurri p. 146
Best quality steak probably doesn’t need this festive and flavorful sauce, but how can it hurt? Pile up sliced steak next to a bowl of this bright green sauce and let your buffet guests serve themselves.

Citrus Salad with Vinaigrette p. 236
The colors and flavors, especially if you can find blood oranges are just right for the holidays. Use Bulgarian feta if you can find it and you are more than ready to enjoy this addition to any holiday meal.

No-Bake White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake p. 352
Fresh and light and the color is right!

More about this cookbook in an upcoming blog. It contains some beautiful and detailed pictures of the Merc in Pawhuska. But on this blog you’ll have to make do with my pictures instead. They will inspire you, all the same. Hope you can visit soon! And try one of these recipes. The citrus salad is truly beautiful and makes my mouth water1


This is a great season to take a loved one or anyone along with you to visit this splendid bakery and café. Ellen’s has expanded, more seating, longer hours, now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the same great baked goods. They have gift cards, too.

The place is pretty much packed on this day around noon.

I stopped there this week to see the new environment, open about three weeks. Same great service. I stopped long enough for a cup of their lobster bisque, so special. I brought a dessert for a special holiday dinner and some dinner rolls; along with a favorite muffin, apricot almond, and a raspberry croissant I couldn’t resist.

The special dessert, a small chocolate chip cheesecake, was best ever. The dinner rolls won unanimous praise from all the eaters at my holiday meal. All my treats were beyond delicious.

Here’s Ellen herself serving her customers.

Check the place out at the website, peruse the menu and just generally salivate. I’m going back very soon!


Thanksgiving week my daughter and I took my visiting brother to try the food at Al Ameer at its Dearborn Heights location on Ford Road. We had a fantastic lunch experience and the food…absolutely outstanding!

This Lebanese restaurant is the recipient of the James Beard America’s Classics Award. You think you know good hummus, try it here. What did we eat: two of us had our favorite chicken shwarma sandwich and fatoush salad. My brother tried moujadara, lentils and rice cooked in olive oil topped with caramelized onions. He is now back in Minnesota trying to recreate this dish. I must check on his progress.

As with any food tradition, excellence is in the taste. At Al Ameer the food is lovingly prepared to perfection and the service is kind, helpful and timely. There are dishes prepared especially for sharing, the atmosphere is friendly and if you are familiar with Lebanese food, all your favorites are here: fried kibbeh, tawook, kabob, kafta, falafel and monstrous salads. The puffed pita is hot and irresistible. Baba Ghannoush is another favorite. Servings are very generous. I could go on and on.

If you are not familiar with this food, I urge you to find a restaurant in your area and give it a try. Check out the internet to learn more about it. Maybe I will be able to provide a more informative piece on this food in the future. The Detroit area is filled with top-notch Middle Eastern food, but you can find it across the country. It’s worth the search to find a restaurant that prepares it well.

Check out the website for more info and enticing pictures.

And again, a big thank you to the Dearborn Heights location for an outstanding dining experience. My brother was suitably impressed!


1. Clean, easy-to-read graphics. These days many magazines are so full of pictures and crazy style print on different colors, the reader has difficulty figuring out what to read, and then, to actually read it. This magazine is a pleasant and inviting change.
2. Inviting content. Here are stories you want to read. And the content is varied. In this issue, e. g. decorating you home for the holidays, Christmas candy and brunch treats, a visit to Chip and Jo’s vacation rental, and a story about a husband and wife musical duo.

3. Tasteful ads, often from companies you want to know more about.
4. Articles are in-depth enough to give the reader information of general interest. I love the simple layout and feature on Festive Greens including how to work with them and how to care for them.
5. Photographs are first-rate and enticing. Whoopie Pies look wonderfully beautiful and delicious along with an easy-to-read recipe. I couldn’t stop staring at the Chocolate Bundt Cake. Photos truly transported me to the Hillcrest Estate in Waco Texas.

These are only selected highlights. There is so much more!

So far I love this publication! What about you?


What kind of boring world would we live and love in if we all agreed on the best books. Best Book Lists for 2017 are starting to appear.

One reader’s take-away from a current well-known list….


The Dry by Jane Harper.
This is a dazzling page-turner of a novel, little noticed. The fiction is great. It’s a thriller set in a parched part of rural Australia. Enter the title in the search box and read more about this one if you like.

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan.
Book Comments on this one appeared earlier this year on this blog. Just type the title in the search box if you’d like to know more. Here’s what the professional reviewer said,” You don’t read this book; you breathe it.” I totally agree.

Camino Island by John Grisham.
Set in Florida this is a must read, especially if you enjoy a good mystery, and quite possibly this is one of Grisham’s best.


Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Biance Bosker.
Reviewed on this blog, just type the title in the search box if you want to hear more about this one.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
This rather uneven novel by a celebrated writer was commented on in this blog.

Grant by Ron Chernow
You need to be a history buff. It is very hefty.

No book read by this blogger appearing on this particular list is a complete waste of time.


Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah Gerard.
Based on the summary, this collection from different writers may not be all fun and games.

The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life by Lauren Markham.
Inside the complicated lives of unaccompanied alien children.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
She is a beautiful writer, but this is another study of sadness and broken lives.