The Mortal Instrements

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (March 22, 2011)

Welcome to Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town's famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be. 

Product Description

Welcome to Walls of Water, North Carolina, a place where secrets run thicker than the town's famous fog.

Once upon a time, Willa Jackson's family owned the beautiful house on the top of the ridge. Now it symbolises her family's ruin and a legacy Willa longs to escape from.

Paxton Osgood also yearns to break free, especially from her parents' expectations, and the heartbreak of unrequited love. Desperate for a distraction, she decides to restore the empty mansion to its former glory.

But the discovery of a long-buried secret, a friendship that defies time, and a touch of magic, will transform both women's lives in ways they would never have expected.

Product Description [My Copy]

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.


A Letter from Author Sarah Addison Allen

She put a penny on her windowsill and cracked the window, because her grandmother once said that ghosts often forget they’re ghosts and will go after money, but if they get close enough to an open window, the night air will suck them out.
--Chapter Eight, The Peach Keeper

The original title of The Peach Keeper was God Eats Peaches, which I took from the old saying, “When God eats peaches, He saves the pit.” I had a cousin who would never throw away a peach pit based on that saying. She thought it was bad luck. My family is full of strange Southern superstitions. My great-aunt never liked for company to come in through one door and leave through another because she said that meant the preacher would visit.

How many of us grew up seeing our mothers throw a pinch of salt over their shoulders when salt was spilled? How many of us remember when our grandmothers whispered that a bird tapping on a window meant someone was going to die? We took these things on trembling faith as children, believing them to be real because everything was real back then. Everything had possibilities. So how do we explain, with our skeptical grown-up natures, why we still make an X in the air when a black cat passes. Why we still have to eat something in the morning before we will tell someone about our bad dreams. Why we still worry about umbrellas being opened indoors.

What is it about superstitions that stay with us, that encourage us to pass them on? Flights of fancy, maybe. Or nostalgia. Or maybe the power of the unknown is just that strong. We can’t help but think: What if it’s true? What if it just might be true? So we take an ounce of prevention instead of a pound of cure. We knock on wood and avoid ladders and never break mirrors. Just in case.

My Shelfari Review:

I just finished the book and I really loved it. I enjoyed every bit of it, the pace, the language, the feeling of the place and characters. As always Sarah enters my heart and stays. The Story is filled with mystery and passion for love and food. The original story is set 75 years ago from our day, it is about two best friends and how much they loved each other. The story is about a guy who was as hot as the devil and smelled as sweet as peaches, but was a con man. The story in our day is about a Princess (Paxton), a Freak (Sebastian), a Stick Man (Colin) and a Joker (Willa). And I was really happy to see Claire and Bay from Garden Spells pass in this book.

The Peach Keeper
Interesting Tidbits

My original title for The Peach Keeper was God Eats Peaches.

The town of Walls of Water is based on the many small towns of Transylvania County in Western North Carolina. This county has more waterfalls than any other place in the state and is known as The Land of Waterfalls. Incidentally, Western North Carolina is home to over a thousand waterfalls.

Despite the many coffee references in The Peach Keeper, I don't really like the taste of coffee -- although I do think it has the most amazing scent.

When I was writing The Peach Keeper, I knew the name Paxton Osgood sounded familiar. I Googled it and realized it's a name from the sit-comThe Golden Girls (Season 1, Episode 16 "The Truth Will Out"). I decided to keep the name as an homage to all those late nights writing with the TV on in the background.

The mysterious birds mentioned in The Peach Keeper are goldfinches, and I chose them based on this: "The American Goldfinch has a song that often repeats and sounds like 'Potato chip! Potato chip!'" I knew that this was my kind of bird. 

Think The Peach Keeper is just fiction? Think again...
What Your Coffee Says About You

by Maja Tarateta
Wine X Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 5.1

I'm in line at the café to order my usual "large coffee with skim," and every person in front of me says the same thing: "Large with skim," "Large with skim," "Large with skim"... As my turn approaches, I panickly wonder if I should change my order to a cappuccino, if only to alleviate the appearance of following the herd. But from my lips too spill forth, "Large with skim." I sigh, only partly with relief. As I look at the young women crowding the counter with their large skim coffees, a question arises to replace the dread in my head: is it possible that we all share some common personality trait that leads us to order the same coffeehouse beverage?

I now believe we do. In fact, I've put together this handy-dandy guide to what your favorite coffee drink reveals about you. Or what the coffee you order says about you on that particular day, if you're prone to change your choice. This is based on real science that I learned in the abnormal psych class I took my freshman year of college, and on seven years of anecdotal and observational evidence gleaned from habitually hanging in coffeehouses across the United States.

Regular coffee, black: you're a very direct, no-nonsense kinda person. You prefer to experience life in its truest form. You care less about fads and more about integrity.

Regular coffee, light (that's sugar and cream, for those of you outside New York City): you're a dreamer whose feet don't touch the (coffee) ground(s). You believe people are generally good. You seek beauty and a bright (sweet?) side to every situation.

Espresso, short (ristretto): you're very headstrong; a clear thinker who knows what you want and goes for it. Some people say you rush into things, but you've got a plan and won't be swayed.

Espresso, long (lungo): same as above but you take a little longer to get what you want.

Grande decaf coffee: the head says, "Go out and get 'em!" The body doesn't respond. You often feel torn between doing what you want and what others want of you. If you take your decaf with sugar and cream, the head doesn't even say, "Go get 'em!" The head says, "Relax, be cool, things will go your way..." The body says, "Okay."

Latte: you sometimes feel like Peter Pan -- you long to return to your simpler childhood days, when a fun time meant picking out your Trapper Keeper for the next school year.

Cappuccino: if you consume this drink in the morning, you're an authentic person who likes to relax and enjoy all the ups and downs life tosses your way. If you down this after dinner, you strive for truth, which sometimes eludes you and gets distorted along the way. For a life change, switch to espresso or regular coffee after your evening meal.

Chai latte: you often feel reticent to decide. Stay or go? Do or die? Coffee or tea? It's all too much for you! You find yourself carefully tiptoeing across life's tightrope, trying not to be swayed one way or another, but taking the middle road to keep yourself and those around you happy. You try to stay neutral, especially when it comes to dinner table discussions between Grandpa Joe and Uncle Bob.

Hot chocolate: there's something missing in your life that leads you to seek warm, delectable chocolate sweetness in a cup. The Aztecs, after all, considered chocolate an aphrodisiac and an aid to spiritual development. If you order your hot choc with whipped cream, you're really in trouble!

Any drink made with skim milk (or "no foam"): you feel better about yourself if you deny yourself even the simple pleasure of creamy milk or a foam-coated upper lip. But there's still hope for you...unless you opt for artificial sweetener, too.

Hopefully this study will enable café goers to alter their lives simply by their beverage choices. It's also my desire that these theories will help people begin to understand each other, at least while in line at the café. When the pushy bow-tied broker before you orders a skinny no-foam latte, you'll now know what lurks in his deep unconscious. You'll know his psyche's secrets. And be privy to his private shortcomings.

And here's a fun game called The Oracle of Starbucks. Just plug in your favorite drink and it will tell you what that order means.

Rachel's Coffee Snacks
The Peach Keeper Recipes Oatmeal Cookies with Coffee Icing
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant or old-fashioned)
Whip butter until smooth. Stir in sugar and mix well. Stir in vanilla and eggs and mix well. Sift together flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. Stir in oats. Drop onto cookie sheet by teaspoonfuls. They spread a good bit so leave plenty of room. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.
Coffee Icing
Mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons black coffee and mix until smooth. You may need to add more liquid to make glaze spreadable.

Double Chocolate Espresso Brownies
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
14 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup espresso or strongly brewed French roast coffee, cooled
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (this can be optional)
6 ounces premium Swiss dark or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
Coat a 13" x 9" pan with cooking spray. Line pan with aluminum foil, allowing ends to hang over short sides of pan. Tuck overlapping ends under rim on short sides. Coat foil with cooking spray; set pan aside.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Place chopped semisweet chocolate in a large bowl; set aside.
Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients in a saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar and butter melt and mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat, and pour over chopped chocolate in bowl; let stand 2 minutes (do not stir).
Beat mixture at low speed of an electric mixer until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture; beat at medium speed until well blended. Stir in vanilla, walnuts, and dark chocolate.
Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake at 325° for 45 to 48 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cover brownies with overlapping foil; chill at least 2 hours.
Carefully invert brownies from pan, using overlapping foil as handles; remove foil. Invert brownies again onto a cutting board; cut into squares or diamonds.
(From Christmas with Southern Living 2000)

Trail Mix with Chocolate-Covered Coffee Beans
1 cup mix of mixed nuts, any variety
1/4 cup mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
1/4 cup dried mixed berries (cranberries, cherries, & blueberries)
1/4 cup Reese's Pieces
1/4 cup chocolate-covered coffee beans
(add more berries for a sweeter mix)

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