Austenland By Shannon Hale

Is fantasy the opiate of women? Methinks for some maybe it is. This is a story of a young lady, Jane, who throws herself into every little relationship. Even if she only dates someone once he is the latest boyfriend. Her ‘ideal man’ is not only Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice but Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. A bequest from a great aunt sends her to an imaginary playground in England where she can not only dress up but be surrounded by others who are play acting from the period Austen wrote. After swearing off men, again, she decides to go on the non-refundable trip. How bad could it be? Moving from thinking this is fun to extremely odd and boring Jane begins to ‘find herself’. This is not full of self esteem, I am so worth it stuff but quite honest revelations and, I think, would make a great movie. Personally I would love the role of Mrs. Wattlesbrook who is the controller of the entire programme/holiday and is deliciously nasty in a very dignified way, of course. Put in a good word for me please.

A Fatal Grace – A Three Pines Mystery By Louise Penny

Ms. Penny is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. These delightful mysteries are set in French Quebec with a very down to earth Chief Inspector Gamache. This time he is returning to Three Pines to investigate another murder but looking forward to renewing acquaintances with the very diverse and eclectic folk in the town. The story has a somewhat macabre element and many little twists to confuse you – dare I say almost a la Ms. Christie. Intelligent crime writing is so fun to read! A spiteful and mean self published author is found dead and does anyone really miss her or even mourn her. Gamache will have to find out. Set around Christmas and the beginning of the New Year the temperatures are plummeting but the hospitality and friendship keep the town warm.

Pillsbury Baking

I don’t bake. Anyone who knows me knows this. But I love this cookbook. I have a ton of cookbooks but I generally ignore that end dessert section save for a few pie recipes. Pillsbury has changed that. This book has bread recipes, bars and even the dreaded cake section which I am going to attempt. The directions are easy to understand and even I feel I can make something delicious. Bring it on!

Before the Frost By Mankell Henning

For fans of Kurt Wallander mysteries this is definitely a keeper. His daughter Linda has now become a police officer and she is drawn into a case that is way too close to home. This book does some exploring of juvenile female friendships that have matured, which is interesting, as well as the secrets that are sometimes kept hidden from those closest to us. Wallander himself still has a prominent role in this book which is great as he is familiar territory to those who are used to reading Henning’s books. A religious sect and its leader are the centre of this story and their goal is to cleanse the world via some extreme and gruesome measures. One of Linda’s friends seems to have disappeared and the cases may be connected. The author is very frank with Linda’s character; she is a combination of her two parents and not always in a positive way. In this book she is beginning to see how she resembles her father and how she deals with people as well as stress.


This movie has an outstanding cast: Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti. The beginning is cheesy – do we really need to see so many close ups of Ms. Roberts leaning over, even though she does look fabulous. This is an old school espionage type movie which I usually love. They move around from Dubai, New York, Rome and London but the timelines were a little fuzzy – I understand this is a huge part of the movie but it is almost painful and not fun trying to figure out where we are in their relationship. I like the idea of not knowing which side anyone is on but, it moves way too slowly and is actually kind of boring. I really wasn’t entertained and was even a little frustrated at times with how slowly the whole thing moved. There are many twists and maybe even a surprise at the end. Wilkinson and Giamatti do great jobs as corporate executives with only profits on their minds but there is way too little of them in this flick.