Book Review – The Cuckoo’s Calling (J.K. Rowling)

September 17th, 2013

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When it was revealed this past July that J.K. Rowling had written a detective fiction novel under the alter ego Robert Galbraith, I knew I had to read it ASAP!

I love the Harry Potter books so much, and will continue to reread them probably throughout my whole life. I think they’re an example of a story carefully and thoroughly planned out from beginning to end, satisfyingly complete in the midst of its complexity.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is a story of much less epic proportions. It is simpler, and you can sense that Rowling is allowing herself to relax and ease into a genre that is fun to write, and fun to write with a pseudonym, thus avoiding the hoopla and pressure.

It is the story of Lula Landry, a model who plunges to her death from her balcony to the result of mass media coverage.

Cormoran Strike is the detective hired to investigate, and the hero of this series (a sequel is due out in 2014). He is described as not handsome – with a look similar to a “young Beethoven who had taken to boxing”.

The book as a whole is tidy and methodical. Occasionally I felt that it was slightly tedious, as Strike meticulously works through interviews with the different people in Lula Landry’s life. But every time I felt that way, I was reminded that this style reflected Strike’s personality, a trait that I really enjoyed about him.

Strike’s character is organized in his detecting because his own life is in shambles. Because of relationship problems he is living in his office, which is awkward when his new temporary assistant Robin arrives.

I also enjoyed how Rowling, with the perception of a true writer, described the intricacies in the ways people relate to each other. For example, at one point Robin has to tell Strike that he buttoned his shirt wrong. He looks down and sees that a bit of hairy belly is exposed. He then resolves to be a bit cold to her for a day or two, to balance out the accidental intimacy of the patch of hairy belly. These are things that most of us would think and do subconsciously, but a truly amazing writer like Rowling notices and expresses.

Overall the book is a little dark, but not over-oppressive. The content would probably be considered PG-13 – there’s a lot of swearing.

I probably never would have guessed it was J.K. Rowling, but I’m sure I would have liked this novel regardless. I give it a B+ overall – I can’t wait to read the next installment!

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My 10 Favorite Nail Polish Colors

September 13th, 2013

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Hello! Happy Friday! I had a lot of fun writing today’s post, because I am just a liiiiittle obsessed with nail polish.

I’ve tried to think about how my fixation started. It could be because I was forbidden to wear it for several years when I worked as a barista. It could be that a little pop of color can brighten my outlook on the day, or because it’s a fairly inexpensive way to reflect each new season of the year. Or maybe it’s that it just makes me feel a little more put together. Whatever the reason, I’ve built a little collection and thought I would share my 10 favorite colors with you!

Admittedly, these colors are Spring/Summer oriented, but many of them will still be appropriate for later in the year, and especially for toes.

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First up – Peach Daiquiri by Essie. This was probably my favorite and most frequently worn color of the summer. It’s a bright coral shade that looks classic but also has that cheerful hint of orange that feels like summer and looks great with tan skin.

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Mint Candy Apple by Essie. I feel like mint has been such a trendy color the past year or two, and for good reason – it’s so refreshing.

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Lacey Lilac (270) by Sally Hansen. This “Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear” is a recent discovery and I love it SO MUCH. It lasts a lot longer than Essie, and it only costs $2.50!! I just wish they had more colors.

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Coral Reef by Sally Hansen. My only other color in this brand. It’s a slightly calmer version of Peach Daiquiri.

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Bikini So Teeny by Essie. Such a beautiful blue color – I’ll probably wear this during the winter too.

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Kiss Me On My Tulips by OPI. Another bright summer shade. This one has a little bit of a purple hue to it.

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In the Cab-ana by Essie. A vibrant, bluish turquoise color.

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Fruit Machine, by Butter London. I think this brand is way too expensive, but every now and then it goes on sale for $10 at Ulta. This is a very opaque baby pink.

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You’re Such a Budapest by OPI. One of my favorite colors of all time for sure…I love it so much!

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Watermelon by Essie. Similar to Peach Daiquiri, but with more of a pink undertone.

Thanks for letting me indulge in a little nail polish talk! I’m giving my nails an extended break from polish to strengthen them, so this was fun to write.

Any colors you’ve been loving lately?

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Apple Muffins

September 3rd, 2013

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It’s that time of year again! The calendars have flipped to September, Bath & Body Works is full to the brim with tempting pumpkiny candles, and kids are heading back to school.

This is actually my favorite time of the year, because it’s the moment in the calendar year that perfectly balances present beauty and future holiday fun – the weather outside has the golden hue of late summer, but fall brings the comforting return of structure and purposefulness. Then comes Thanksgiving and Christmastime!!

OK – enough rhapsodizing about the seasons! Naturally, this is the time when I really start to get the baking itch. I thought I would start things off this season with apple muffins.

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I found a recipe for Apple Pie Muffins off of Food.com. I made a few adjustments after reading through the comments. In the end, I wasn’t 100% happy with the results – the muffins were not quite the right texture and something was lacking in the taste.

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However, I thought I would still share the photos with you, because it has been such a long time since I’ve posted a proper baking post.

I don’t want to leave you empty handed though, so I will say that the original recipe is worth taking a look at, because people were losing their minds in the comments about how good these were! The recipe can be found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/the-best-apple-pie-muffins-ever-110506.

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I won’t give you the recipe with my adjustments since it was just average, but I will share with you three muffins I’ve made in the past that I would re-make in a heartbeat:

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Cappuccino Muffins (http://jessienextdoor.com/2012/06/29/cappuccino-muffins/ )

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (http://jessienextdoor.com/2011/10/09/banana-chocolate-chip-muffins/)

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…and Grandma’s Bran Muffins (http://jessienextdoor.com/2013/05/29/grandmas-bran-muffins/)

I highly recommend any of these three muffin recipes!

Are you getting started with autumn baking? I think pumpkin may be calling my name soon…

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70th Birthday Celebration

August 20th, 2013

This past weekend I had the honor of documenting a family’s joy as they had a 70th birthday celebration. I thought I would share a few of my favorite photos here!

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I hope you’re having a great week!

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Jessie's Kitchen Chronicles