February 5, 2016

I could never be a Cheesemonger

I like food. In point of fact, I looooove food. I'm always suspicious of people who aren't interested in branching out and trying new dishes. What kind of a person doesn't want to explore what fabulous foods might be out there that they haven't discovered? (I even keep trying bananas despite my utter loathing of the horrid things.)Therefore, it wasn't a huge leap to pick up Lucy Knisley's (yes, it's her again) book entitled Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. Lucy has lived the kind of foodie life that most of us can only dream (or read) about. Her mom was a caterer, her dad is a connoisseur of exquisite dishes, and she seems to have been surrounded by chefs of all kinds throughout her life. (I even learned there is a job entitled Cheesemonger which might be the best factoid ever.) This book wasn't all narrative though. In fact, my favorites were the added on bits: Recipes, food facts, and at the very end were actual photographs of her and her journey with food. Warning: Will make you hungry.

Please enjoy a few of my favorites:


  




**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

February 2, 2016

Privileged youths enjoy summer OR Angst, angst, ANGST

I kept hearing about We Were Liars by E. Lockhart from the various book reviewers on YouTube that I obsessively follow so I finally caved and checked it out from the library. I'm very glad that I did. It was marketed as a young adult novel with a twist ending so shocking that you'd feel compelled to lie about it to all of your friends (after enthusiastically recommending it to them). I'd have to agree with that. (Note: I'm not usually the type of person that can suss out the ending of a book or film from clues at the beginning.) It wasn't until page 196 (out of 225 pages) that I figured out the big WHOA moment (and lost my mind completely). The book focuses on a group of teenagers who are living the kind of privileged life that you only see in books and films. They spend their summers on a little island owned by their grandfather. (I must point out one of the main characters is just a friend who is lucky enough to be included. This is important to the plot.) We are seeing everything through the eyes of Cadence who is the oldest of the grandchildren and the story starts when she is 17. However, the narrative keeps folding back upon itself to the summer when they were all fifteen. I found it somewhat difficult living inside of her head as she wasn't the most likable character...those were few and far between actually. The world that they inhabit is bizarrely fantastical but the storyline is believable. That strange dichotomy is what makes this book so excellent. I found myself turning the pages hoping that the unreality would somehow resolve itself into something understandable. My biggest issue was that the ending was rather abrupt and I feel it didn't do justice to the rest of the book. BUT if you're looking for drama x1000 with a super surprise ending then you can't go wrong with We Were Liars.


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

January 29, 2016

Traveling with the elderly

I'm continuing to work my way through Lucy Knisley's body of work. I just finished her most recent book, Displacement: A Travelogue, and much like An Age of License it was a deliciously quick, fun read with a lot of heart. The other travelogue that she wrote was all about self-discovery as she went on a trip as a (mostly) carefree twenty-something. Displacement was drastically different. In this book, she went on a trip with her elderly grandparents. Her grandfather is incontinent and hard of hearing. Her grandmother has dementia. She's stuck on a cruise ship with them. (It sounds like a trailer for a film when I write it out like that.) Interspersed throughout her narrative of their time on-board are snippets from a book her grandfather wrote several years before about his time in the war. (Those are especially poignant and made up some of my favorite parts.) She is struck by how much they have deteriorated in the time since she saw them last but it's not all doom and gloom.There is beauty also and a sense of happiness that she can spend this time with them. It's a beautiful little book.


Here are a few excerpts:
Phyllis is Lucy's grandmother.
                 
This reminds me of my relationship with my dad's parents.

And this just amused me.

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

January 26, 2016

My first feminist novel OR Why I'm a fan of Gloria Steinem now

I can't believe that I haven't read any feminist novels before now. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem has truly been an eye-opening experience. It's about her travels around the world and how she helped to fight injustice in multiple arenas such as gender inequality and racism just to name a few. It's packed with short stories about the people she's met, the obstacles she's conquered, and the continued optimism she has for the future. There was a lot that resonated with me. Certain snippets such as "making puns instead of plans, choosing spontaneity over certainty" made me think of my mom. Mentions of Gloria's relationship with her father and his understanding and acceptance of her also reminded me of my mom. There were poignant passages about the nature of humanity that filled me with hope. Such gems as "ordinary people are smart, smart people are ordinary, decisions are best made by the people affected by them, and human beings have an almost infinite capacity for adapting to the expectations around us" are sprinkled throughout.  I felt somewhat ashamed that such simple concepts hadn't occurred to me before. For example, "White people should have sued for being culturally deprived in a white ghetto. When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses." Reading that, it seems obvious. I have many more passages I'd like to quote (I marked seven in total) but I really think everyone should read this one themselves. If you want to feel inspired and/or learn more about the humanist movement this is most definitely the book for you. Bonus: Pictures from Gloria's past at the start of each new section which I really appreciated. :-)


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

January 22, 2016

Suddenly I'm obsessed with journalism and I blame James Spader

Remember when I read The 40s which was a collection of articles from The New Yorker? Remember how I talked about how this book came into my life because I read an article on the NYPL website that James Spader was currently reading it? Well, from that spawned an untapped obsession with journalism. To get my fix, I turned to My Ears Are Bent by Joseph Mitchell who was a longtime writer for the esteemed literary institution mentioned above. However, this collection of articles is from his time before when he wrote for The World-Telegram and The Herald Tribune. It's split into categories with such titles as Sports Section (self-explanatory), Drunks (all about the culture of speakeasies and saloons), Cheese-Cake (not what you'd think and maybe my favorite section), Come to Jesus (religion in NYC), and more. This is the kind of book that makes you want to go out and grab history books of this time period (1930-40s) so you can give more context to the snippets that Mitchell gifts the reader. I made notes on a few key people (Sally Rand, William Steig, and Joe Louis to name a few) so that I could look at their pictures. If you enjoy nonfiction, history, and New York in the 1930s then this is the book for you. Now excuse me, I've got a scoop that I need to explore.

Also, I'm changing up my posting schedule somewhat. I'm going to attempt to do two postings a week for the foreseeable future. I'm sticking with Friday and I'm adding in a Tuesday. This means that each post will be focused on one book (unless it's a series and I somehow manage to squeeze them all together into a masterpost). I'm pretty excited to be pushing myself this way (2+ books a week?!) and I hope you'll continue on this journey with me. :-)


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

January 19, 2016

Quick review: An Age of License

I finally opened up all of my little sticky tabs so that I could mark passages from the book I just finished. This is the first book that I've tabbed since I was in college. Therefore, it's reasonable to assume that this is one killer book, right? RIGHT. An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley was a curve ball that totally surprised me. Did I mention that this is a graphic novel? O_O Yes, I've once more gone into the breach and emerged triumphant. (I hope you imagined a fanfare playing while you read that.) It's about a trip she took in 2011 to Europe and the shenanigans that ensued. I enjoyed not only her drawing style but her approach to storytelling. I never felt lost among her drawings like I have in other graphic novels. Her drawing style really appealed to me. An Age of License is the story of a woman who found herself one of the remaining single women in her friend group who was at odds within herself with what she really wanted. I may have related somewhat...oh and the FOOD. She has other books out which are even more food focused so I'm definitely going to be getting my hands on those. Not only did this book make me reflect on my own life and how I approach it but it also made me want more. I can't even explain to you how excited I became when I looked up her biography and...well I don't want to give it away. ::maniacal laughter:: I think if you're into memoirs, coming-of-age stories, food biographies, and/or you're looking to try graphic novels this is a great choice. 10/10

Here are the pages that I marked:
I think I must be living in the L'Age Licence.
I TOTALLY get this.
This just amused me.

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **


January 15, 2016

In a sci-fi kind of mood

Are you the type of person that watches the film adaptation before you read the book so there are no 'spoilers'? Or do you prefer to go into the film after reading the book so that you already know what's supposed to happen? Do you even care if an upcoming film is adapted from a book? For my part, if I know ahead of time that a movie has been adapted from a book I will 100% read the book first. Of course, there have been many instances where I've watched a film and during the credits I discover that it was based on a book and I have to whip out my phone and add it to my TRL (unless I didn't like the film obviously).

I ask all of these questions because I just read The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey which is the first book in a trilogy (I know, I know another series) and also a film coming out in theaters on January 22nd. I saw the trailer, did a little research, and immediately added the book to my library holds list. I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED. The setting is contemporary America right after aliens have come to our world. They aren't your friendly E.T. characters either. The name of the book denotes the 'waves' of terror that the aliens inflict on the planet. The point of view flips between 4 characters as they navigate their new reality. The 'main' character is Cassie (why are all of these young adult series books about a girl who never knew she had the strength within to rise up and be the hero?) who is a fairly typical teenage girl and I don't think the book would work if she weren't able to believably carry the narrative. I don't want to tell you about the other 3 narrators because I think that would be too big of a spoiler. >:-) Suffice to say that the book is sure to keep you on your toes and if you're a fan of sci-fi/fantasy novels that center around aliens this is one that you should definitely check out. (I've already made a note to pick up the second in the series, The Infinite Sea.)

Following that, I delved into Philip K. Dick's, The Man in the High Castle, which was recently turned into a miniseries. I became intrigued because not only did the trailer look amazing but its focus is on a turning point in history which I'm very interested in (you'll know if you've been here a while). The second (or does this count as the third?) thing that decided me on picking this book up was that I hadn't read any of Philip's work before and he's known for his award winning sci-fi works. The basic premise is that instead of the Allies winning WWII, the Japanese and Germans won..and the outcome is about what you'd expect. I think the reason that he's been hailed as a master in sci-fi is that his imagination is astounding. Undoubtedly, I've read better books before but... You can't deny that a book about the alternate history of the planet after WWII which has within it a book about what would have happened had the opposite outcome of WWII occurred (i.e. the Allies winning) is pure genius.  Also, I hope you followed that sentence because I read it back about a zillion times and I'm not so sure I follow it. So in conclusion, if you want to read a truly meta work which encompasses a truly novel (ha ha ha) idea then check The Man in the High Castle out. If you're looking for Isaac Asimov level stuff...read Isaac Asimov.

**If you're interested in buying any of these books or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **