'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone



Monday, February 8, 2016

The Bells of Old Bailey by Dorothy Bowers

Scotland Yard looks into the connection between five suicides in Long Greeting and Miss Tidy, the white-haired owner of the village teashop.

  'It was not until the fifth death in Long Greeting that Miss Tidy made up her mind to go to the police.'
 The owner of the Minerva, a combination hat, tea, and beauty shop, Miss Tidy is a tiny, white-haired lady whose Dresden-doll daintiness conceals a cold and calculating heart. As everyone in the village is quick to point out, she is not a person who inspires affection in others.
  Five people had died in Long Greeting and its environs in the past months, all by their own hands, and their deaths are the talk of the small village. Although Miss Tidy doesn't realize it until she makes her statement to the police, Detective-Inspector Raikes of Scotland Yard has already been called down to Long Greeting to work with the local constabulary, in particular Superintendent Lecky. The villagers don't take kindly at first to an outsider in their midst, but as poison-pen letters and then murder follow upon the inexplicable suicides, they gradually begin sharing their secrets with Raikes and Lecky, until finally the sharp-witted detectives are able to make some sense of the puzzling events.
  A superb example of the classic English village mystery, The Bells of Old Bailey is the last book Dorothy Bowers published. She died at the age of 46 of tuberculosis the following year, 1948, shortly after her induction into England's prestigious Detection Club.    (back book cover)

This was an excellent read! Many red herrings, very convincing ones too that make you uncertain when you think you have it all figured out. The village of Ravenchurch was a typical English village and it's Superintendent Lecky was loath to think any of 'his' people could do such terrible things. But in reality Ravenchurch became a pool of hateful, mean people!

Delicious secrets, blackmail, nymphomania (yes, in a 1947 book!) greed, hatred and murder. Two of the quirky characters were Mrs. Weaver the bookshop owner and Miss Beaton the mystery novelist, my favorite character of course!

Here's a quote from Mrs. Weaver when Inspector Raikes was trying to get information about Edith Drakes from her...
"Dear me, people are very indifferent, though I don't suppose they mean to be. 'Laugh, and the world laughs with you.' I am myself, if it come to that - seemingly indifferent, you know, though not callous. It comes not so much from not caring as from being unobservant. I just can't see what goes on under my nose. Books segregate one a good deal, I'm afraid. So I don't know that I can help much. Edith Drake spent a long time with my books, but she didn't confide in me."

Dear Anthony Trollope got a mention too...
  'Raikes studied her. "Such remarkable precision of habit makes for longevity." was his assurance. "And Mr. Greatorex? Is his practice as regular?"
  "Of course. That is the foundation of his success. He has a great respect for Anthony Trollope, who, he tells me, was very careful to observe a timetable of work and relaxation."

This is my second Dorothy Bowers mystery and I enjoyed it even better than the first. It's a shame it was her last. I have one more on my shelf to read. Rue Morgue republished several of her books. I adore Rue Morgue books!

This book counts for Bev's Scavenger Hunt 2016 Gold, published before 1960 and fulfills a skull on the cover. The dinger on the bell is a skull!

Peggy Ann



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gothic Fiction Reading Challenge 2016

I haven't really read much gothic since I was young, maybe one or two here and there. I saw Kay @ Kay's Reading Life was joining in a Gothic Reading Challenge and it whet my appetite for gothic! So I'm joining in too. Diana over @ Book of Secrets is hosting the challenge so if your interested run over there, check it out and sign up!

A lot of these books will qualify for Bev's Vintage Scavenger Hunt too! A bonus! I've picked up several gothic books lately so I'm looking forward to digging in! I might not get a lot read, but it will be fun and thats what reading is all about! I'll keep track of what I read here...



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trip to the Book Lovers Bookstore

Made a run up to Johnson City yesterday to the fabric store for fabric for curtains. On the way home I couldn't resist a stop in Book Lovers. I was all by myself and wouldn't have anyone breathing down my neck to lets get going! Found some good ones!

Elizabeth Cadell - Any Two Can Play

Alice Tilton (Phoebe Atwood Taylor) - The Left Leg, A Leonidas Witherall mystery

Elizabeth Ferrars - Fear the Light

Patricia Highsmith - A Suspicion of Mercy

Cyril Hare - With a Bare Bodkin

Jonathan Gash - The Judas Pair and The Gondola Scam

V.C. Clinton-Baddeley - Death's Bright Dart

Mary Roberts Rinehart- The Frightened Wife

L. R. Wright - A Touch of Panic and Kidnap






The day before we did some errands and stopped at a couple thrift stores and I got 3 books! One of them a Janet Caird gothic mystery. I was pretty pumped at that find!



I read Bev's (@ My Reader's Block) review of No. 9 Belmont Square a while back and thought it sounded good so was thrilled to happen on a copy.

And one more book arrived at my house via mail this last week...



I've been wanting to read this series since I got to meet Eric while in Scotland. He met up with us at the big Edinburgh book sale and then we all went for coffee. Katrina @ Pining for the West and her husband are friends of Eric's.


Peggy Ann

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Smothered Pork Chops

I found a Smothered Pork Chops recipe for the crockpot on Pinterest. It was a little more time consuming than you usually want for a 'throw it in the crockpot and walk away type recipe', but let me tell you it was worth the extra steps!!

Smothered Pork Chops

Ingredients:

4 -6 bone-in pork chops, about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick seasoned with salt and pepper on each side
5 slices bacon chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2  yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
3  minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons water 
2 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper.

Cook bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain,  store it in the fridge until later.

There should be about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, just eyeball it. If it doesn’t look like there’s enough, add a little canola or vegetable oil and increase the heat to high. If there’s more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, drain some off until you’re left with 2 tablespoons.

Add the pork chops to the pan and cook for two to three minutes per side, until they are nicely browned.

Transfer the browned pork chops to the slow cooker.

Add a small amount of oil to the pan if there is no remaining fat/oil, about a teaspoon.

Add the onions, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. brown sugar and 1/4 cup water and cook until the onions are translucent.

Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of pork chop on the bottom of the pan.

Add in garlic and thyme and cook for another minute.

Pour this mixture over the pork chops.

To the skillet combine chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar and bring to a boil.

Pour over pork chops and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until the pork chops are tender.

Carefully remove the pork chops from the slow cooker and transfer to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.

Pour the liquid from the slow cooker through a fine mesh strainer into a large saucepan.

Place the solids in a blender, and add in 1 cup of the liquid from the saucepan. Blend on high until smooth.

Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and heat to medium high heat.

In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons water with 1-2 tablespoon corn starch. Pour this mixture into the sauce pan cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and is bubbly.

Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pork chop a top cooked rice or egg noodles, spoon gravy over the pork chop sprinkle with reserved bacon bits and fresh parsley

Recipe adapted from two sources...

I didn't taken any pictures so you'll have to go over to their sites and look at theirs!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Found Gold @ the Charity Shop

We took a drive up to Morristown to Home Depot the other day. We just needed to get out of the house for awhile. We picked up paint and a few odds and ends to finish up the last two bedrooms, ate supper out and stopped in at a couple of charity shops we passed. One is called Karm and it is the cleanest, best organized I've ever been in. I think there are several of them in the East TN area. Anyway, I had just had a terrible fright the day before...

I had carried a big bag with a comforter set in it into Walmart with me to match it with paint. I also had my purse, both on the same arm. I usually always carry a shoulder strap one so I have it over my body and won't 'lose' it in the store. Had my wallet stolen once and that did it! But not this time. I had changed purses and was using a soft, small Sak purse I hadn't used in ages, tiny strap. I sat it down, with the big bag full of comforter, on the floor by my feet while I looked at doormats. I needed both hands to dig down in the pile. When I got the mat I wanted I grabbed the white bag and not my purse! I noticed it wasn't on my arm within 5 mins. and ran back retracing my steps - NO PURSE! Darn I had just got my driver's license too.. I had quite a lot of cash in it too, a big no-no. I raced to the service desk knowing in my heart of hearts I could kiss that money goodbye. While we waited for them to check the camera footage in that aisle here came a big burly manager carrying my tiny purse. I hugged him! A nice older lady brought it to him he said. Everything was still inside!! How blessed can you get! Of course Bossman was so angry with me!!!! Needless to say I had a migraine by the end of the day. So all that to say...

With purses on my brain, I sashayed over to the purses at the charity shop first thing (like I need another one!) and there was this gorgeous BIG shoulder strap crossover that I couldn't possibly lose, right?! It was like absolutely brand new! Soft, leathery, lots of room for my book, iPad... It was only $12.97 so I said what the heck and bought it. Never heard of the brand before so when I got home I looked it up and was I surprised to see it is a very expensive brand!  Izzy and Ali.  Looking at the purses on their website, the size purse I got for  $13 would have cost me around $169 new!! Don't those kinds of things just make your week! Almost as good as finding that hard to find old book in a dusty used bookstore!





How about you, any good finds lately?

Peggy Ann

Friday, January 29, 2016

My Mountains

Just some pics of the mountains from my front window. It looks different everyday. I find myself stopping many times throughout the day to take a peek at them. I'll try to get some gorgeous sunset ones for you!



These top two have snow on them


This is the sun peeking up over them.


Bare mountains with low clouds

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