Friday, October 21, 2016

Literary Friday: Gretel and the Dark

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I hope your week has been productive and wonderful.  Recently I read another great book: Gretel in the Dark by Eliza Granville.

From Goodreads:

A dark, distinctive and addictively compelling novel set in fin-de-siècle Vienna and Nazi Germany—with a dizzying final twist.

Vienna, 1899. Josef Breuer—celebrated psychoanalyst—is about to encounter his strangest case yet. Found by the lunatic asylum, thin, head shaved, she claims to have no name, no feelings—to be, in fact, not even human. Intrigued, Breuer determines to fathom the roots of her disturbance.

Years later, in Germany, we meet Krysta. Krysta’s Papa is busy working in the infirmary with the ‘animal people,’ so little Krysta plays alone, lost in the stories of Hansel and Gretel, the Pied Piper, and more. And when everything changes and the world around her becomes as frightening as any fairy tale, Krysta finds her imagination holds powers beyond what she could have ever guessed. . . .

Eliza Granville has had a life-long fascination with the enduring quality of fairytales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and the Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich.

My Review:

This novel is one of the best debuts I've ever read.  Its structure is a little complicated as there are two narratives woven together within the context of a fairytale.  The turn of the century narrative in Vienna has magical realism elements.  Lillie is found by Dr. Breuer's servant Benjamin and brought to Breuer's home.  She's in pitiful shape when she arrives: She's naked, bald, and mute.  As Lillie overcomes her selective mutism she confides to Dr. Breuer that she isn't human, and her mission is to kill.  Her words do not match her beauty; Both Breuer and Benjamin are enchanted.  The mysterious appearance of butterflies at the Breuer home adds to the magical realism atmosphere and mood, and their symbolism represents the co-narrative set in Nazi Germany.  Benjamin is my favorite character in the book because he sees the world as it is and maintains his honesty.

In the Nazi Germany narrative Krysta's character isn't likable.  I sympathize with her nanny Greet (her mother has passed) because Krysta is such a little pill.  She tells Krysta many stories and fairytales in order to give her a moral education.  When Krysta and her father move away to an insidious complex that houses "animals" not "humans," Krysta draws from Greet's stories to try and make sense of her circumstances because everyone in her world creates false narratives.  Fairytales provide her construct for survival.

Beautifully written, Gretel and the Dark is as the title says: dark!  I find Granville's premise about the Nazi's use of fairytales as propaganda both interesting and insidious.  I highly recommend this book in spite of the disturbing narratives which merge in a surprising twist.  Eliza Granville is an author I will continue to read because her voice is unique and exceptional!

Below is a video with an excerpt from the beginning of the book.  It exemplifies the fairytale atmosphere and narrative style of the novel.  I hope you enjoy it!

I'm adding this book to the list because it certainly has gothic elements!

Have you read any good books lately?  Please share in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Happy Birthday, Shanley Belle!

Yesterday Shanley Belle celebrated her 24th birthday!  She had a twelve-hour day because she worked and had class until 7:30, but after class she came home to a small family birthday party.  The theme: The Chicago Cubs!  We watched game 4 of the NLCS.  The Cubbies defeated the Dodgers 10-2:  Shanley Belle had a very happy birthday indeed!

I made the big gift bag filled with Cubbies-themed gifts from materials I found at Paper Source.

The cake is from Edgar's Bakery.

I used flowers in Cubbies colors.

I chose this runner for the blue and red Cubbies colors in it.

The puppies wore their Cubbies jerseys for the party.  They will be cubbies for Halloween:  Mustang Sally will be Miguel Montero, Finlay will be Javier Baez, and Lily will be Addison Russell.

Happy Birthday, Shanley Belle!  I hope you enjoyed your little party, and Go Cubbies for Game 5 tonight!


NOTE:  Nothing on the table is that new except for the blue vase.

Table runner, gingham napkins:  Pier 1
Salt and Pepper Shaker Set:  MacKenzie-Childs Aurora pattern from the Taylor Collection
Votives:  Leaf 'n Petal
Red vase:  Cheap plastic thing from the grocery store (flowers came in it and I saved it for the color!)
Blue ceramic vase:  Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic
Square white cake platter:  Williams Sonoma
Blue and white dessert plates:  Anthropologie

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Happy Wednesday, My Lovelies!  It's the middle of the week, and I thought I'd share a fantastic pancake recipe for you to try this weekend.  I had these at a local restaurant, and after a couple of trials {and mostly} errors, I'm happy with the recipe results below.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

2 cups pancake mix (I used The Fresh Market's Buttermilk Pancake Mix)
1 egg
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon butter extract (optional)
2 tablespoons melted butter
For serving:
Fresh Blueberries
Lemon Curd


Mix all ingredients together.  Heat griddle and/or pan according to pancake mix instructions.
Serve with lemon curd and blueberries.

Serves 4 - 6

I made silver dollar pancakes.  The blueberries are large mutants, too.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Random Tuesday: The Good, The Bad, The Lovely, The Wicked, and The Creepy

Happy Random Tuesday, My Lovelies!  This post is a little long, but I haven't been posting a whole lot lately because I've been busy doing fun things....

The Good

Recently I had lunch with Ellen, Emily, and Jenna.  Jenna put together the {above} little Halloween surprises for us.  

I finally finished decorating the kitchen for Halloween.  Yay, me!

The Bad

These candy corn are s'mores flavored.  They are too good and if my daughter brings anymore of them home I'll cry.

I know I've posted about these before, but they truly are my guiltiest pleasure.  Luckily they're a bit rich so I can't eat many at once.

The Lovely

It's been difficult going into the classroom with Shelley off at college.  I finally totally cleaned it out and organized it.  I stored Shelley's high school stuff she won't need for college, and it's a much neater room for Shanley Belle and me to use.  

Look at the books I'll be reading and reviewing this fall!

The Ikea cart has books Shelley will need for college.  She can study in here when she visits on the weekends.

I'm using this work table and large desktop computer for blogging.  For now.  :)

Recently we visited Rome, Georgia for a horse show.

Berry College hosted the show, and it's one of the prettiest campuses in the world.

The Wicked

Recently I read Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier.  This is the first Lucy Stone Mystery I've ever read, and it isn't the cozy mystery I was expecting.

According to Goodreads:

With planning the town's annual Halloween Party, the drought wreaking havoc on her garden, and her brood of four children, Lucy Stone's got her hands full this fall. As the air turns crisp and the trees blaze red and gold in the tiny town of Tinker's Cove, Maine, a newcomer arrives who seems to suit the Halloween season. Diana Ravenscroft has just opened Solstice, a charming little shop featuring candles, crystals, jewelry, and psychic readings. But after an unnervingly accurate reading by Diana, Lucy starts to get more than a little spooked. 

Then there's the dead body Lucy finds, way up on one of the old logging roads behind her house. The deceased is identified as Malcolm Malebranche, a seemingly harmless magician who worked at children's birthday parties. When it turns out that Diana knew the murder victim, Ike Stoughton, a prominent local businessman, starts a campaign against Diana, blaming 'the witch' for everything from the unseasonal dry spell to his wife's illness and his pumpkins' lack of plumpness. But Lucy's not so sure that Ike himself is innocent. Still, as the town Halloween party approaches, Lucy's more concerned about the costume competition, pin-the-nose-on-the-pumpkin, and baking three dozen orange cupcakes and Beastly Bug cookies. But as the October moon rises, a killer plans a lethal celebration of his own and Lucy's the guest of honor.

My Review:

I'll keep this review brief because this post is long enough as it is!  ;P

I know that almost all cozy mysteries involve a murder, but this one is gruesome, and the prologue of the book depicts witches in a sexual pagan ritual.  The Witch Diana tries to get several of the local teenagers to join her coven without parental consent, and the citizens who dare question the motives of Diana and the other witches are called bigots and intolerant although they are right.  There is much explanation of the pagan religion, and the book is divided into five sections: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, and Spirit.  This is not my favorite cozy mystery, and if you've read any of Leslie Meier's other books I'd like for you to leave a comment and tell me about it.

The Creepy

This one is for Andrea.
She likes creepy monkeys  *giggles*

You mean like wipe it?  Like [with] a cloth?  

This post is long enough.  Come back tomorrow for a lovely breakfast recipe!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Monday, October 17, 2016

Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  I wanted to share with you our dining room decked-out for Halloween. But first, you must play the video below to add to your viewing pleasure!   ;P

These retro-inspired napkins made by Katie inspired this table.  The Halloween theme, colors, and flowers remind me of the Scooby Doo TV series, my favorite cartoon when I was a kid.

The haunted house where those meddling kids will solve the mystery.

I can't wait to make villain cupcakes (i.e. a mummy, witch, vampire, and phantom) and witch's brew for a special Halloween treat.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill