Although I want to cling to summer, there is no denying, on the eve of the first day of autumn, that fall is upon us. It is my favorite season, but I always have a sense of melancholy when it begins, which is quickly quashed when the leaves start to change, I start to wear my favorite leather boots and tweedy jackets again, apples and apple cider are everywhere, and I contemplate whether I should have a pumpkin spice latte. I love fall flavors of both the sweet and savory varieties, and am just starting to see beautiful fall produce in the stores. I was perusing the produce at Trader Joe's recently and one the store employees enthusiastically recommended the ThomCord seedless grapes. These are some sort of grape hybrid, they are like dark concord grapes but were touted as "seedless." After trying them, while I enjoyed the rich grape flavor, richer and more intense than the usual grapes I buy, I would argue they were not really seedless. The seed in the middle was definitely smaller and less dense than the seeds in normal Concord grapes, so they were chewable, but chewing them is not that pleasant an experience. So I figured I would grind them up and use them in a drink. I found this cocktail by googling "concord grape cocktail" and found lots of raves for a cocktail from the NYC restaurant Gramercy Tavern. Oprah.com had a recipe for it and it was the perfect alternative use for these flavorful grapes, since they are pureed and strained before being added to the cocktail, so no chewing seeds! I consider this a slightly cooler, more alternative fall cocktail - everything is all about apples, pears, pumpkins as fall hits, the concord grape is a more under the radar seasonal pick. (Don't worry, I will be going full force into all those "conventional" fall flavors all season).
Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is another good e-reader choice. I kept reading about this book all spring and summer - a breakout hit that occupied the best seller lists and was generally considered the "it" book of the summer. Rather than wait for the paperback as is my normal practice, I downloaded the book late in the summer and read it, feverishly, over a couple of days. Since it was such a hot book, there is a lot of talk on the internet about the book and to some extent a bit of a mixed bag review-wise - some people really liked it and other thought it was a bit of a letdown. I was surprised by the negativity - I really liked the book - it was a great addictive summer read (though I admit the ending was not as stellar as the rest of the book) - though nothing more than that. One thing is for certain - this book, which paints the picture of a truly horrible, scary marriage of two truly horrible, scary people, made me wonder - what is underneath the surface in all the seemingly normal and happy marriages out there?
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness is the first book I have read electronically rather in paper form, which is my usual preference. I recently got an ipad but did not immediately switch over to reading on my ipad, because I am a traditionalist and like the feel of a book in my hands. In addition to being a traditionalist, I also sometimes have attention span trouble, I am easily distracted, especially when it comes to the internet, so I was worried that I would read a lot slower on the ipad because I would be constantly switching reading, checking facebook, and buying sweaters on J.Crew.com. I put these concerns aside with Shadow of Night, the second book in Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, because I simply could not wait to go to the store and buy the book, I was so excited for the book I wanted to read it as soon as it was released. For me, it was the perfect ipad choice, since I was engrossed in the book and was not distracted by other ipad features, mainly the internet! Regular readers of the blog may recall that earlier this year I reviewed the first book in the All Souls Trilogy, A Discovery of Witches. I loved the book, though admitted it was a tad on the cheesy romance side. I also loved Shadow of Night, and found that either I was used to the cheesiness or it had subsided a bit. The second book picks up just moments after the first book ends, with the two main characters, Mathew de Clermont (the vampire) and Diana Bishop (the witch) plunged back in time to Elizabethan England. The story picks up with Mathew and Diana searching for the mysterious Ashmole manuscript and struggling to manage their volatile love affair. As with the first book in the series, what is fun about Shadow of Night for me is the rich historical references and detail. Here, the book is set in the past and it is thrilling to read about a present day character getting to interact with historical figures like Christopher Marlowe. Second books in trilogies are often placeholders - we know that all the real action will be saved for the concluding book, but Shadow of Night was engrossing even if it did not advance the ball, suspense-wise, too much. More about the book and these currant buns after the jump.