Tag Archives: Abby

Mr. Peanut Sneaks Up On You…

At first you think the novel Mr. Peanut is going to be this simple tale about a man who fantasizes about killing his wife…and who may or may not have gone through with it. But then the author, Adam Ross, throws in all these other characters and their disturbed lives. All of a sudden you are trying to keep up with multiple inner monologues from some extremely lonely characters, and puzzling over what the storylines’ connections might be.

Personally, I enjoy novels with deeply troubled characters, and I want to know everything about them. Mr. Peanut definitely delivers in this respect: Ross is an expert at putting his readers at the center of the characters’ brains and then spinning them around in circles for a few hundred pages. He makes you wish you could jump into the novel and warn the female characters about what’s coming next, and it’s all the more deliciously terrifying to read because you can’t. You can only watch, helplessly, as the characters’ marriages dissolve.

Ross draws one character and storyline from real life: Dr. Sam Sheppard, whose own murder trial inspired the television show The Fugitive (later made into two films, one of which you can get at your library). It is fascinating to watch Ross’s version of Sheppard as he falls from grace. The reader learns so much about who he was and how his life turned completely rotten. And even though you know how that plotline will end, you still almost want to shut your eyes in horror at the most terrifying parts.

But don’t! Mr. Peanut is worth keeping your eyes wide open.


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Baking power

I am an avid reader of cookbooks.  I am not a good cook.  It is rare that I even turn on my stove.  It is my oven that I think about while sitting at the customer services desk checking material in and out.  There is a stillness and clarity of mind that goes along with the measuring out of flour and the blending of egg and butter. 

I am a fan of simple recipes.  It is important that the majority of ingredients are things you already have in your kitchen.  Here are some of my favorites.

  • Last night I baked Macaroon Angel Cakes (page 267) from the book Best of the Bake-Off Collection: Pillsbury’s Best 1000 RecipesThis is a large textbook-like cookbook.  The Angel Cakes could more accurately be described as coconut angel food cake in cupcake form.  They are delicious.
  • Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is the most useful book I have ever come across.  His recipe for Brownies (page 717) put any store bought brownies to shame.  The recipe is ridiculously simple and totally worth the possible store trip for the unsweetened chocolate.  Make these, trust me.
  • Martha Stewart’s book Cupcakes is filled with simple and inventive crowd-pleasing recipes.  I especially enjoyed the recipe for Snickerdoodle cupcakes.  They call for some sort of fancy frosting that I can’t get involved with (Martha and her piping and fondant sculpting).  I find that any cupcake can be enhanced with a simple cream cheese frosting.
  • In the winter I like to bake bread.  It is not as scary as it may seem to create a good loaf at home.  Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads is a great start.  The first recipe in the book is called “Your First Loaf.”  Your roommates and/or family members will not let you make this just once.

The beautiful thing is that all of these cookbooks may be taken out of your local library for free.  I love the idea that there is a world full of recipes out there that is always available. 


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