Showing Posts From: Reading

01 Oct, 2017

October 2017 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Reading

Welcome to October’s Foodies Read!

We had 15 posts linked up in August.  The winner of the giveaway for the month is Eliot’s Eats for her vintage cookbook review.

Here are the books that she will be able to choose from. Click the picture to go to the Goodreads summary.



New This Month

  • I’ve been shopping!  I ordered a whole bunch of new books to give out as prizes each month.  Stay tuned for the new selection.
  • On October 17, Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and The Bookish is all about Food Books.  This is a big link-up so hopefully we’ll see some new people finding out that they love books about food.
  • Looking for new cookbooks?  Here’s a list of some coming out this fall.
  • For the cozy mystery lovers, here is a list of new books in October.  There are quite a few foodie ones.



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30 Sep, 2017

September 2017 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

 This was a weird reading month for me.  I’d binge for a few days and then not pick up anything for a while. 

I read 14 books this month.



The books were:

  • Set in England, India, the United States, Turkmenistan, Canada, and an imaginary Caribbean Island
  • 3 audiobooks and 1 graphic novel

The authors were:

  •  11 unique female authors and 4 male authors
  •  1 South Asian woman, 3 white men, 5 white women, 1 Latina, 1 Japanese woman, 1 African- American woman, and 1 African-American man

Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

After doing so well last month, I didn’t add anything this month.



29 Sep, 2017

Victoria and Abdul

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Victoria and Abdul Victoria And Abdul: The True Story Of The Queens' Closest Confidant by Shrabani Basu
on April 1st 2010
Pages: 223
Narrator: Elizabeth Jasicki
Length: 11:09
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction
Published by History Press (SC)
Format: Audiobook
Source: Playster
Setting: England

The tall, handsome Abdul Karim was just twenty-four years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables during Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. An assistant clerk at Agra Central Jail, he suddenly found himself a personal attendant to the Empress of India herself. Within a year, he was established as a powerful figure at court, becoming the queen's teacher, or Munshi, and instructing her in Urdu and Indian affairs. Devastated by the death of John Brown, her Scottish gillie, the queen had at last found his replacement. But her intense and controversial relationship with the Munshi led to a near-revolt in the royal household. Victoria & Abdul examines how a young Indian Muslim came to play a central role at the heart of the Empire, and his influence over the queen at a time when independence movements in the sub-continent were growing in force. Yet, at its heart, it is a tender love story between an ordinary Indian and his elderly queen, a relationship that survived the best attempts to destroy it.


The central mystery in this story is Who Was Abdul Karim?  Was he a selfless aide and friend to Queen Victoria or was he an enterprising, self-promoting, dangerous con man like the people around her believed?  I think the answer is somewhere in the middle.

There is no question that he was a devoted servant of the Queen.  He gave her Urdu lessons every day for years.  He helped her answer her correspondence.  He did influence her to be very concerned about Muslims in India.  He also liked the trappings that came along with high status in the Royal Household.  He insisted on not being treated as just one of the nameless servants.  He would storm out of public events if he felt he was being slighted.  He would get newspapers to write articles about him.  He did suggest to the Queen that she give him and his family more and more honors.

This book did a wonderful job of getting into the mind of Queen Victoria through her writings.  You understand where she was coming from.  She loved Karim and his family.  She was hurt by her family’s and staff’s hatred of him.

I don’t think the book did as good of a job figuring out what was going on in Karim’s mind.  There are letters from him but he still felt like an enigma at the end of the book.  He was in a hard position.  There were several Indian servants but he was the only one in the closest inner circle to the Queen.  The Royal Family and the household were both incredibly racist and classist.  They hated him not only for being Indian but for not being an upper-class Indian.  How dare he assume he was their equal?

Put in that situation I can’t fault him for looking out for himself and his family.  The Queen was elderly and he knew that he would be dealt with harshly after her death.  He had to provide for his family while he could.  Did he push too hard?  Maybe.  It doesn’t excuse how he was treated though.

This is an infuriating read.  The racism is so overt.  Many letters from high British officials are included that just drip with disdain.

My only complaint about this book is that it is perhaps too detailed.  There are so many letters cited that they started to all run together.  But, I’d rather get too much information than not enough.

The narrator did a great job with all the voices required in this book – male, female, English, Indian, and Scottish.

There is a movie version of this book out now.  I’m interested to see what angle they take on this story.  Is it going to be a feel-good “Queen Victoria had a friend!” or is going to dive into the hatred from the people around her?  I’ll do a compare and contrast post after I get to see the movie.


About Shrabani Basu

Shrabani Basu graduated in History from St Stephen’s College, Delhi and completed her Masters from Delhi University. In 1983, she began her career as a trainee journalist in the bustling offices of The Times of India in Bombay.

Since 1987, Basu has been the London correspondent of Ananda Bazar Patrika group –writing for “Sunday, Ananda Bazar Patrika, “and “The Telegraph.”

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobooks
  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in Europe
  • POC authors
27 Sep, 2017

The Joy of the Underappreciated Book

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

Do the books you read tend to be popular or unpopular?

I never thought about this until I found out how to check how many ratings a book had on Goodreads.  Then I realized how truly obscure my reading choices were.

Here’s how you can look at your Goodreads account.  Choose Settings at the top right of your Read page.  Select “num ratings.”

 Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 9.24.08 AM

The “Num Ratings” column will show up between Average Ratings and Date Published. Click on it to get your books arranged by rating numbers. Click on it again to get it starting with the lowest number.

I learned about this for a Top Ten Tuesday that wanted us to see what books we had read with less than 2000 ratings?  2000? I have close to 50 books under 100 ratings.

So why should you care?

These can be the undiscovered gems that are so much fun to promote.  If you inspire one person to read and rate a book it can make a huge difference to the author. 

There are some really great books here too.  I’ve realized that some of my absolute favorite authors are in this low number of ratings categories.  I thought they were famous because their books are so good.

Here are some favorites I’ve read recently and their way too low numbers of ratings.

Lydia San Andres – 15 and 16 ratings

These are historical romances that take place in the early 1900s on an imaginary Caribbean island. 

A Summer for Scandal – When Emilia Cruz agreed to accompany her sister to a boating party, she had no idea that the darling of the literary world would be in assistance—or that he would take such pleasure in disparaging the deliciously sinful serial she writes under a pseudonym. No one save her sister knows she’s the author and to be found out would mean certain scandal.

The Infamous Miss Rodriguez – Graciela Rodriguez is determined to break her engagement to Ciudad Real’s most eligible bachelor—even if it means ruining her reputation.  Vicente Aguirre has been hired by Graciela’s aunt to keep her wayward niece from damaging the family name along with her future. When her charms prove irresistible, will he fall for the infamous Miss Rodriguez?


“Famed Broadway producer Milo Short may be eighty-eight but that doesn’t stop him from going to the office every day. So when he steps out of his Upper West Side brownstone on one exceptionally hot morning, he’s not expecting to see the impossible: a woman from his life sixty years ago, cherry red lips, bright red hat, winking at him on a New York sidewalk, looking just as beautiful as she did back in 1934.

The sight causes him to suffer a stroke. And when he comes to, the renowned lyricist discovers he has lost the ability to communicate. Milo believes he must unravel his complicated history with Vivian Adair in order to win back his words. But he needs help—in the form of his granddaughter Eleanor—failed journalist and family misfit.”

Only 89 ratings?  This book deserves more than that.

Taylor Cipriano had everything figured out, back when she lived with her single mother in Miami. Now, she’s moved upstate for her junior year to live with her mom’s boyfriend and her soon-to-be-stepsister and is trying to figure out who she is out of the shadow of her best friend. When she meets Theo—quirky, cute, sensitive Theo—he seems like a great match…except he has a girlfriend. Josey, icy and oh-so-intimidating.

But Theo and Josey aren’t like anyone Taylor’s met before; Josey grew up in a polyamorous family, and the two of them have a history of letting a third person in to their relationship. It’s nothing Taylor’s ever considered before…but she really likes Theo.”

132 ratings.  This book was my first by this author and so far I’ve loved everything I’ve read of hers.

This series by M.C.A. Hogarth is so cute and sweet. 

Mindtouch  (252 ratings) – Seersana University is worlds-renowned for its xenopsychology program, producing the Alliance’s finest therapists, psychiatric nurses and alien researchers. When Jahir, one of the rare and reclusive Eldritch espers, arrives on campus, he’s unprepared for the challenges of a vast and multicultural society… but fortunately, second-year student Vasiht’h is willing to take him under his wing. Will the two win past their troubles and doubts and see the potential for a once-in-a-lifetime partnership?

Mindline (178 ratings) – At the advice of Vasiht’h, his first and truest friend, Jahir Seni Galare has accepted one of the most coveted residencies in xenotherapy, even though doing so has severed him from all the relationships he’s fostered since leaving his cloistered homeworld. But not all the simulations at school have prepared him for the reality of being an esper in a hospital large enough to serve the winter capital of the entire Alliance, and it’s not long before he’s questioning the wisdom of having left the university for the tumult of one of the largest port cities in the known worlds.”

Dreamhearth (50 ratings) – Jahir and Vasiht’h have earned their licenses as xenotherapists at last, and they have their hearts set on starting their practice in one of the Alliance’s most exciting and cosmopolitan destinations: a sector starbase. But dream therapy is a revolutionary treatment modality, and as esper practictioners they will have to work hard to win the trust of their community. Not only that, but they have a deadline: if they can’t prove themselves an asset to the starbase within six months, they’ll have to leave!


This book is fairly new so hopefully it will get more than 22 ratings.

News media brought the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”–the famous swirling gyre of plastic pollution in the ocean–into the public consciousness. But when Marcus Eriksen cofounded the 5 Gyres Institute with his wife, Anna Cummins, and set out to study the world’s oceans with hundreds of volunteers, they discovered a “plastic smog” of microscopic debris that permeates our oceans globally, defying simple clean-up efforts. What’s more, these microplastics and their toxic chemistry have seeped into the food chain, threatening marine life and humans alike.

Far from being a gloomy treatise on an environmental catastrophe, though, Junk Raft tells the exciting story of Eriksen and his team’s fight to solve the problem of plastic pollution. A scientist, activist, and inveterate adventurer, Eriksen is drawn to the sea by a desire to right an environmental injustice. Against long odds and common sense, he and his co-navigator, Joel Paschal, construct a “junk raft” made of plastic trash and set themselves adrift from Los Angeles to Hawaii, with no motor or support vessel, confronting perilous cyclones, food shortages, and a fast decaying raft.”

What underrated books do you love?

25 Sep, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Finished This Week

What Am I Reading?



A powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War II that illuminates the unsung heroism of women who risked their lives in the fight—a riveting saga of friendship, valor, sacrifice, and survival combining the grit and selflessness of Band of Brothers with the emotional resonance of The Nightingale.


New Books for Me This Week

Michele’s lack of focus in life hasn’t bothered her, until the day she finds herself with mounting credit card debt, unable to afford her rent, and without a job. While her meddling family questions how she can end up in this predicament, at the age of 29, and single to boot, Michele doesn’t want to admit the truth. All she wants to do is sew.

What Am I Listening To?


For Bill Fulton, being a soldier was his identity. He was called to protect and serve. So when the Army wanted to send him to Alaska, he went—they had never steered him wrong, after all.

After an involuntary medical discharge, Fulton was adrift until he started a military surplus store in Anchorage, where he also took on fugitive recovery missions. He was back on his feet, working with other badasses and misfits he considered brothers. He took pride in his business, with a wife and daughters at home. His life was happy and full.

But when a customer revealed he planned to attack a military recruiting station, Fulton had to make a choice: turn a blind eye and hope for the best or risk his safety, his reputation, and his business by establishing contact with his customers’ arch nemesis: the FBI.

He chose the latter, and his life changed forever.”

Loving this book.  I made my husband start to listen and he is very into it too.











19 Sep, 2017

Backlist Love

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

I love backlist books.

How do I define backlist?

  • Published more than one year before I read it

I looked at the books I have read so far this year.  On the day I did my count, I had read 156 books so far.  Of those books:

  • 34 were published in 2017
  • 10 were published in 2016 and less than a year before I read them
  • That’s only 28% of the books I read being new this year.  Honestly, that’s more than I would have thought.

Of those 44 recently published books:

  • 11 were nonfiction – I guess I like my facts fresh.
  • 10 were new books in series I like so I was looking for them

I’m always amazed at people who can write lists like “Top Books I’m Looking Forward To This Fall.”  I never have any idea what books are coming out.  There are still thousands in the library I haven’t read.

Reasons Why You Should Read More Backlist Books


1. Be Different!

Who wants to read the 42nd review of the newest hyped book?

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” –Haruki Murakami


2. Let people know what amazing books are already out there

“My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” –Abraham Lincoln


They may have missed it when it came out. This is especially true in the vast worlds of adult and genre fiction where most of the time there isn’t the hype that seems to exist in YA.

3. Save money, go to the library!

Did you see the 156 books by September stat above? There is no way I can afford to buy all those books. I wouldn’t want to anyway. Where would I keep them? I’m a library person.

What is the oldest non-classic book that you have read this year? 

Mine was The Cost of Sugar from 1987.

The Cost of SugarThe Cost of Sugar by Cynthia Mc Leod

I’ve also read some great books from 1994 and 1992.

I used to have a problem reading books that were written as contemporary novels years before I read them. If the technology or geopolitical references were out of date, I got frustrated. Then I realized that I could just think of them as very realistic historical fiction novels!

So go forth and find those forgotten gems!

18 Sep, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Finished This Week

What Am I Reading?

After having a purpose in my reading for the last few months with challenges, I found myself sort of drifting when trying to decide what to read.  I knew I was going to finish The Forest Lover on the road trip to the beach yesterday and needed something else to start.


I’ve had this book on my shelf for a long time.  I got it through a swap.  I’ve never read any of her books so I decided to give it a try. 


New Books for Me This Week



Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.

Or you’ll get what you wish for.“

This was recommended by a coworker and it was free on the Kindle app.


What Am I Listening To?




I’m still listening to this one.  I’m not sure if I’ll be done before the movie comes out next weekend.









14 Sep, 2017

Book vs TV – Queen Sugar

/ posted in: Reading

Queen SugarQueen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

Queen Sugar is the story of a black single mother school teacher in California who inherits a sugar cane farm in Louisiana that her father mysteriously bought.  She heads to the farm with her teen daughter in tow to see what is going on.

Queen Sugar, the TV show, keeps character names and places but otherwise totally changes the story.  Now, normally, I’d be on the front lines with my pitchfork sharpened for this kind of book disrespect but I love this show.  It made changes that have allowed the show to look at many aspects of African-American life.  I’m not going to lie though.  I had to keep telling myself it was ok to change the book through the first episode and then I was hooked.



Charley – Instead of a barely scraping-by school teacher, Charley is the powerful manager-wife of an NBA superstar.  When he is caught up in a sex scandal at the same time as her father’s death, she heads to Louisiana to hide.

Micah – Charley’s teen daughter is now a son who has been sheltered from the realities of life as a black man by his parents’ wealth and fame.

Ralph Angel – He is the villain of the book.  I growled when he came on screen the first time.  He’s Charley’s brother and is much more nuanced on the show.  He is an ex-con raising his young son, Blue.

Nova – Charley’s older sister didn’t exist in the book.  I love her.  She’s a journalist-activist who practices traditional religion.

Aunt Vi – She is sort of a combination of a few characters in the book.  In the TV show she is holding the family together.

Hollywood – He’s changed the most.  In the book he was a poor Cajun handyman.  In the TV show he is black and is dating Aunt Vi.

Remy – Charley’s Cajun boyfriend in the book.  Now he’s a black farmer who is helping with her business.

The show has a whole lot more feelings than I generally like.  I don’t generally watch shows with a lot of angst.  But this one has me coming back. 

Has anyone else read the book and watched the show?  How have you dealt with all the changes?

13 Sep, 2017

#TheReadingQuest Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

I loved doing The Reading Quest.  I used a lot of TBR books that I may have ignored for longer to fill in a lot of board.


I started out as a mage.

One Word Title Stained +20 XP +20 HP
Book with Magic Valley of the Wolves +10 +24
Mythology Bride of the Water God +10 +9
Different World An Heir of Thorns and Steel +20 +35
First in Series Aya of Yop City +10 +5

Then I moved on to be a Knight.

Verb  Unmasking Miss Appleby  +10 Xp +36 HP
Weapon Give a Girl a Knife +10 EX +30 HP
Red  Nerd Do Well +10 XP +35 HP
TV/Movie Blue is the Warmest Color +10 XP +15 XP

After that came Rogue.

Face  Remember the Ladies +10 XP +32
Small Press      
<500 Ratings      

Side Quests

2 authors  All American Boys +20 XP +31 HP
Grind House of Spies +10 +51
Time Warp My Soul to Take +10 XP +35 HP
Open World  An Extraordinary Union +20 XP +26 HP
Expansion  Resisting Miss Merryweather +10 XP +15 HP
Mini-Game  Bride’s Story 2  +10 XP +8 HP
Animal Companion The Rabbi’s Cat +5 EX  +7 Hp

I am sad that so many of these books were translated from another language but I never made it to Bard to check that box.

I totaled all my points with bonus and social media etc. and had 300 XP and 414 Health Points.  That made me a level 6. 

This was a lot of fun.  I’m looking forward to the next game she puts out.

12 Sep, 2017

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards 2017

/ posted in: Bookish LifeReading

On September 7, 2017, I was able to attend the awards ceremony for the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards in Cleveland.


A post shared by (@dvmheather) on

Cleveland poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf established the book prizes in 1935, in honor of her father, John Anisfield, and husband, Eugene Wolf, to reflect her family’s passion for issues of social justice. Today it remains the only American book prize focusing on works that address racism and diversity. “

The list of winners by year is an excellent reading list for understanding the history of diversity in literature in the United States.

The winners this year were absolutely amazing.  I was especially glad to get to hear these speakers.

The chair of the jury is Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I love to watch all his documentaries.


The ceremony started with young Cleveland poet Con-Yai Smith powerfully reciting her poem “Cheetah.”



Poetry – Tyehimba Jess for Olio


Tyehimba Jess is the first African-American man to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. In his award acceptance speech he imagined what it must have felt like to own nothing but the words that come out of your mouth as a slave. Is that why spirituals and African-American music is so powerful?

Fiction – Peter Ho Davies for The Fortunes


The Fortunes is about four points of Asian-American experience in the United States from the building of the western railroads until today. Peter Ho Davies is British but has lived in the U.S. for 25 years. He is half-Welsh and half-Chinese. He talked about the importance of finding a feeling of belonging as an immigrant. He pointed out that as important as it was to him as a legal immigrant from a native English speaking country who is comfortably well off in his life, it will be even more important to refugees to find even scraps of belonging and acceptance here.

Fiction – Karan Mahajan for The Association of Small Bombs


The Association of Small Bombs was inspired by a bombing in a market in India near Karan Mahajan’s home when he was 12. After 9/11/2001, he had a lot of anger that he worked through by researching terrorism and the mindset of terrorists and victims. He discussed the importance of remembering that even when stupid things are going on, Americans still get a lot of things right. He is continually surprised by the generosity of Americans and by the fact that the government gets anything done in a timely manner (unlike what he experienced in India.)

Nonfiction – Margot Lee Shetterly for Hidden Figures


She talked about the importance of remembering history and being a role model for the people around you. She read a selection from Hidden Figures about how even if opportunities are available, the people most in need may not be in a position to hear about them.

Lifetime Achievement – Isabel Allende


Much has been said about the sad events in her life (political exile, death of her daughter) but she wants people to remember that there is also joy. Her parents are still alive at 101 and 97 years old. She is 75 and has a new boyfriend. She said that it felt stupid to call him a boyfriend when he is 74 so she is going to call him her new lover. She also pointed out the strangeness of having the “meet the parents” time when everyone is this age. Her step-father’s reaction to her new beau? “Another one?!”

If you’d like to see the whole ceremony, it is on YouTube.

11 Sep, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Finished This Week


What Am I Reading?

Now, in The Forest Lover, she traces the courageous life and career of Emily Carr, who more than Georgia O’Keeffe or Frida Kahlo.blazed a path for modern women artists. Overcoming the confines of Victorian culture, Carr became a major force in modern art by capturing an untamed British Columbia and its indigenous peoples just before industrialization changed them forever. From illegal potlatches in tribal communities to artists’ studios in pre-World War I Paris, Vreeland tells her story with gusto and suspense, giving us a glorious novel that will appeal to lovers of art, native cultures, and lush historical fiction.

Susan Vreeland recently died so I decided to read one of her books that I hadn’t read yet.

New Books for Me This Week



Ultra-private, ridiculously handsome Crown Prince Arthur has always gotten by on his charm. But that won’t be enough now that the Royal Family is about to be ousted from power once and for all. When Prince Arthur has to rely on the one woman in the kingdom who hates him most, he must learn that earning the love of a nation means first risking his heart.

Twenty-eight-year-old Tessa Sharpe, a.k.a. The Royal Watchdog, hates everything about Prince Arthur. As far as she’s concerned, he’s an arrogant, lazy leech on the kingdom of Avonia. When he shocks the nation by giving her the keys to the castle, Tessa has no choice but to accept and move in for two months. It’s lust at first sight, but there’s no way she can give in to her feelings—not if she wants to have a career or a shred of pride left when her time at the palace ends… “

This was free on Amazon right now.  I found it through Book Bub.


What Am I Listening To?




“Tall and handsome Abdul was just twenty-four years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Within a year, Abdul had grown to become a powerful figure at court, the Queen’s teacher, or Munshi, her counsel on Urdu and Indian affairs, and a friend close to the Queen’s heart. “I am so very fond of him.,” Queen Victoria would write in 1888, “He is so good and gentle and understanding….a real comfort to me.”

This marked the beginning of the most scandalous decade in Queen Victoria’s long reign. Devastated first by the death of Prince Albert in 1861 and then her personal servant John Brown in 1883, Queen Victoria quickly found joy in an intense and controversial relationship with her Munshi, who traveled everywhere with her, cooked her curries and cultivated her understanding of the Indian sub-continent–a region, as Empress of India, she was long intrigued by but could never visit. The royal household roiled with resentment, but their devotion grew in defiance of all expectation and the societal pressures of their time and class and lasted until the Queen’s death on January 22, 1901.”









06 Sep, 2017

Give a Girl a Knife

/ posted in: Reading Give a Girl a Knife Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen
on May 16th 2017
Pages: 320
Length: 10:09
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers
Format: Audiobook
Source: Playster
Setting: Minnesota/New York

A beautifully written food memoir chronicling one cook's journey from her rural Midwestern hometown to the intoxicating world of New York City fine dining and back again in search of her culinary roots.
Before Amy Thielen frantically plated rings of truffled potatoes in some of New York City s finest kitchens for chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten she grew up in a northern Minnesota town home to the nation s largest French fry factory, the headwaters of the fast food nation, with a mother whose generous cooking pulsed with joy, family drama, and an overabundance of butter.
Inspired by her grandmother s tales of cooking on the family farm, Thielen moves with her artist husband to the rustic, off-the-grid cabin he built in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads to the sensory madhouse of New York s top haute cuisine brigades. When she goes home, she comes face to face with her past, and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions, and that taste memory is the most important ingredient of all.


I spent a good portion of this memoir wondering why I listen to books like this.  It is no secret that I like foodie books but why do I listen to books where the lovingly drawn out descriptions of the food make me think, “Oh my god, that sounds disgusting!”

I’m not sure I found an answer to that.  I guess that will be the lot of wanna-be vegans who listen to chef memoirs.  You’ve been warned if descriptions of organ meats and loving talk of bloody juices and fond rememberances of torturing live lobsters bother you.

Amy Thielen was an English major before becoming a chef and it shows in this memoir.  The writing is of a more literary quality than a lot of memoirs.

This book starts with the story of how she and her husband started to live a seasonal existence.  In the summer they were in their off-the-grid cabin in Minnesota with a huge garden and in the winter they lived in New York.  This part of the book ends with their decision to move back to Minnesota full time.

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 5.37.16 PM

The next part of the book goes back in time for a series of essays about events that take place before the first section. You never find out what happened after the move back from New York.  I had never heard of the author prior to reading this book so I wasn’t sure what happened besides writing this book.  I guess you are either expected to know that or expected to Google.

I was most fascinated by the story of her husband who actually managed to make a good living as a working artist in New York.  I thought that was a fairy tale.  The story of making a home in the woods was amazing to me.

The author narrates the audiobook which is normally a horrible decision but she did a very good job.  She infuses her story with a lot of emotion as she reads.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Audiobooks
  • Books Set in North America
  • Foodies Read 2017
05 Sep, 2017

Map, or Holy Cow I Like a Poetry Book!

/ posted in: Reading Map, or Holy Cow I Like a Poetry Book! Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wisława Szymborska, Clare Cavanagh, Stanisław Barańczak
on April 2015
Genres: Poetry
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library, Owned
Setting: Poland

A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection
One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. “If you want the world in a nutshell,” a Polish critic remarks, “try Szymborska.” But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew.
Carefully edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, the poems in Map trace Szymborska’s work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred and fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet’s last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English.Map is the first English publication of Szymborska’s work since the acclaimed Here, and it offers her devoted readers a welcome return to her “ironic elegance” (The New Yorker).


I am not a fan of poetry.  I think that is mostly because I am not a person who is in touch with my feelings or who wishes to have other people spilling their feelings all over me.  I read poetry and if I understand it at all I end up mostly thinking, “Ugh, no one cares about your feelings.”  I am Scrooge.

So why did I request this book of poetry?  It was Women in Translation month.  I heard about this collection somewhere on Twitter.  I’m always on the lookout for books from or about Poland that aren’t mired in World War II.  I’m 1/4 Polish and I want to learn more about it but it is hard to find anything that isn’t miserable.  Granted they’ve had more than their fair share of trouble but there has to be some literature that isn’t just depressing, doesn’t there?  Also, my library happened to have this book which I thought was a bit odd for some reason.

This collection starts in the 1940s and continues to the 2000s.  I’m not going to pretend that I understand every poem but I do get most of them.  A lot of them are about things that I haven’t seen written about in poetry before.  They span a range of emotion from happy to sad.

One of my favorites is about talking to an uppity French woman who is dismissive of Poland as just a place where it is cold.  The author spins a crazy fairy tale in her mind about freezing writers struggling against the elements while herding walruses but then realizes that she doesn’t have the French vocabulary to be insultingly sarcastic back to this woman so has to just say “Pas de tout (Not at all).”

This is a huge collection. I’ve renewed the book once but I’m not getting through it fast enough. To let you know how much I’m enjoying it I’ll say, I ordered a copy of myself. Yes, I bought a poetry book. I even thought about buying the hardcover because it seemed like it needed that kind of respect. Then my cheap side of my brain reasserted itself and I got the paperback.

I want the husband to read this too. He likes poetry. He’s into feelings. I’ll impress him by pretending to be classy and reading poetry.  We’ll sneak the walrus herders up on him. 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in Europe
04 Sep, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Finished This Week

I didn’t like Blue is the Warmest Color.  It would skip huge chunks of time in the story and I had a bunch of questions about those times.  Everything else was good. 

What Am I Reading?

The Reading Quest is helping me tackle a bunch of books I’ve owned for a while but haven’t read.  These are going to be A Book with a Red Cover and Book with Less than 500 Ratings on Goodreads.

New Books for Me This Week

This was a gift from my Secret Sister.

“Growing up in an orphanage prepared Amelia Cooke for the high-stakes role of a female lobbyist surrounded by the egos of the 1887 Congress, a time before women had the right to vote. Her success in the isolating male arena comes from using the tactics she’s learned from those who oppressed her. So when she’s hired by the National Women’s Suffrage Association to help pass a proposed constitutional amendment granting women’s voting rights, Amelia feels empowered to at last win a place for herself and give all women a voice in the world. What she doesn’t foresee is the charismatic and calculating Senator Edward Stillman who threatens to ruin her hard-earned reputation and end her career.

This was my Kindle First selection this month.

“In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation.

Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend: an obscure, middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs. His name is Christian Dior.”

This is free on Amazon right now.  I found it through Book Bub.

“Eva Hanover – a brilliant career, a gorgeous brownstone in Brooklyn, and a sexy husband. Or, at least, she thinks so. In a wink of an eye, Eva’s husband leaves her. She loses the brownstone and her career. With only the clothes on her back, she flees cold New York for the sunnier climate of Key Largo.



What Am I Listening To?


I have a little less than 2 hours left in this one.











31 Aug, 2017

August 2017 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

This was a good reading month.  I read a lot of Women in Translation and I used The Reading Quest challenge to really tackle some books that I’ve had on my TBR for a while.

I read 22 books this month.

My Women in Translation Month reading

Other Fiction


The books were:

  • Set in France, Iceland, The Ivory Coast, Poland, Japan, Turkmenistan, Sweden, Suriname, England, Italy, Algeria, and fantasy places.  I just realized that none of the fiction was set in the U.S.
  • The nonfiction was set in Minnesota/New York, Massachusetts, and the Pacific Ocean
  • 2 audiobooks and 5 graphic novels

The authors were:

  •  16 unique female authors and 3 male authors
  •  9 white women, 3 white men, 1 South Asian woman, 2 Japanese women, 1 Korean woman, 1 Latina, and 2 black women

Women In Translation Month – an August event


I loved focusing on translations. I read a lot of graphic novels because I could get more in that way.


There are many combinations I could have marked but this one gave me 2 bingos.  I read books originally in French, Polish, Icelandic, Swedish, Dutch, Korean, and Japanese. 

We’re halfway through The Reading Quest.  I’ve finished the Mage path and am working on Knight.  I just have to read a book with a red cover to finish that.  I’ve done four side quests in the center of the board too.






Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

I added Poland, Iceland, The Ivory Coast, and Suriname this month!



 I made a thing! I decided to use all the National Day of Random Things holidays to make a photo challenge for myself. Anyone can play along.


30 Aug, 2017

Book Title Tag

/ posted in: Reading

I saw this tag on Shannon’s blog at It Starts at Midnight.  It seemed like a fun one to try.

Title that is the Story of Your Life

Nerd Do WellNerd Do Well by Simon Pegg





Title that describes your perfect weekend

Summers at Castle AuburnSummers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderfully peaceful place?  I haven’t read the book yet so that may not be true at all but it sounds like it.




Title that describes an adventure you’d like to go on

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

I’d like to go find unicorns and friendly dragons.



Title that is a name you’d give your child

Son of a TricksterSon of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

I wouldn’t be happy if I suddenly had a child.  There would have had to have been some trickery involved.



Title that is your ideal job

The Marriage Bureau for Rich PeopleThe Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

You can meddle and get paid for it.



Title that is a place you’d like to visit

The Witch's MarketThe Witch’s Market by Mingmei Yip

There are the best markets in books but I never find these in real life.



Title that describes your love life

Don't Tell My MotherDon’t Tell My Mother by Brigitte Bautista





Questions you ask yourself

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White HouseWho Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco


Obviously not the White House part.


Kingdom you want to rule

Carousel Seas (Archers Beach, #3)Carousel Seas by Sharon Lee

Riding carousel horses around in the ocean is what would happen in my kingdom.  Ignore the monsters on the cover.  We aren’t having those.




Title you’d name your band

Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid, #4)Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire

Apocalypse is one of those words that I always have to spell three times before I get it right.  Marketing would be tricky because of that.




Title that describes where you live

Heroine AddictionHeroine Addiction by Jennifer Matarese

I wish this described it instead of the heroin and other drug problems we have around here.

29 Aug, 2017

TV Adaptations

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

I love TV adaptations of books as much as I hate movie adaptations.  Obviously, a TV adaptation is required to have the time to get absolutely EVERY DETAIL from the book in.

Here are some upcoming book to TV adaptations that I’m excited about.

Good Omens

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett

You may find this over-dramatic but occasionally I think sadly back to the time when it was announced that Terry Gilliam was going to direct a movie version of this Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman book.  The plot revolves around the angel and demon left in charge of Earth who decide to work together to prevent the rise of the Antichrist because Earth is a cushy job and they don’t want to lose it.  Jonny Depp and Robin Williams were going to be the leads.  I think of this as the biggest missed opportunity ever.

But now, now, it has been announced that there will be a TV adaptation with David Tennant playing Crowley the demon.  I wanted to squeal when I heard but I couldn’t because other people were sleeping.

Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I reread this series a lot.  It is comfort food for me.  That makes me a little nervous about the adaptation that is in the works at Bad Wolf studios in Wales.  Don’t screw it up.  The author, Deborah Harkness, is very involved so hopefully it will be ok. The first book takes place in Oxford so it should be pretty.

This is a world of witches, daemons, and vampires.  A medieval scholar who has suppressed her witch heritage is drawn into conflict when the library gives her access to a book that has been hidden for centuries.

Who Fears Death

Who Fears DeathWho Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Anyone who has been around here a while knows that I love me some Nnedi Okorafor and that Who Fears Death was my first book of hers.  I love it but I don’t know if this was the one I’d have chosen to adapt.  She has others that seem more TV-friendly.

This is a post-apocalyptic story about racism and sexism in a brutal world in the African desert.  There are magical battles but also a lot of rape and violence.

I am looking forward to depiction of the tribe that lives in the middle of the sandstorm.  I love them!
good omens


Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

I actually have mixed feelings about this one.  I feel like I totally missed the takeaway of Octavia Butler’s series.  What I got from it was that humans are horrible and probably need to be exterminated.  Apparently she meant it as a ode to humans triumphing over slavery.  Pretty big difference of opinion there. 

Because of that I feel like this adaptation will probably just frustrate me as the humans go around being absolutely hateful and we are supposed to root for them.  Am I the only person who read this series that feels this way?

28 Aug, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

I’m back.  I was AWOL last week because of the husband’s hospital drama.  He’s home now and feeling a bit better but without a whole lot of answers.

Finished This Week

What Am I Reading?

I’ve been having a hard time settling into any books.  This is doing the best job of holding my attention so far. I picked it because it was a book with a verb in the title for The Reading Quest and it was on my ipad. 

“On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.

Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.”

It is a Regency romance with faeries!

What Am I Listening To?


I picked this one to see what all the fuss was about.  I’m loving it.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.“








17 Aug, 2017

Ocean Adventures – Junk Raft and The Soul of an Octopus

/ posted in: Reading Ocean Adventures – Junk Raft and The Soul of an Octopus The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
on May 12th 2015
Pages: 261
Genres: Nonfiction
Published by Atria Books
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
Source: Library, Playster
Setting: Massachusetts

Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?
The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.


I love octopuses.  I think they are fascinating.  I’ve never had the chance to meet one though like this author did.  She got to know three octopuses over the course of a few years.  It was amazing to hear about the ways their physiology lets them interact with the world. They can taste with their skin, camouflage even though they are color blind, and work through complex puzzles.

She also lets you get to know the people working behind the scenes in the aquarium who love these animals.

This book is wonderful for anyone who is interested in finding out more about these animals.  I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

Ocean Adventures – Junk Raft and The Soul of an Octopus Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution by Marcus Eriksen
on July 4th 2017
Pages: 216
Length: 8:05
Published by Beacon Press
Setting: Pacific Ocean

News media brought the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch"--the famous swirling gyre of plastic pollution in the ocean--into the public consciousness. But when Marcus Eriksen cofounded the 5 Gyres Institute with his wife, Anna Cummins, and set out to study the world's oceans with hundreds of volunteers, they discovered a "plastic smog" of microscopic debris that permeates our oceans globally, defying simple clean-up efforts. What's more, these microplastics and their toxic chemistry have seeped into the food chain, threatening marine life and humans alike.
Far from being a gloomy treatise on an environmental catastrophe, though, Junk Raft tells the exciting story of Eriksen and his team's fight to solve the problem of plastic pollution. A scientist, activist, and inveterate adventurer, Eriksen is drawn to the sea by a desire to right an environmental injustice. Against long odds and common sense, he and his co-navigator, Joel Paschal, construct a "junk raft" made of plastic trash and set themselves adrift from Los Angeles to Hawaii, with no motor or support vessel, confronting perilous cyclones, food shortages, and a fast decaying raft.


Plastic pollution in the ocean is a huge problem but it doesn’t manifest in exactly the ways that it has been portrayed in the press.  Most of the ocean is polluted with microparticles of plastic that make any clean up operation almost impossible.  The author’s goal is to require companies to take on more of the burden for reusing or recycling plastics they produce.  Now they are freed from responsibility by requiring consumers to recycle if they don’t want the plastic going into a landfill.

This book used the framework of the several month journey on Junk to tell the story of the Earth’s plastic pollution problem.  It is full of ideas for making the problem better but there needs to be buy in from a lot of people to make it happen.

The stories in the book are scary.  So much damage is being done through human carelessness.  Getting the word out about what needs to be done is important.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Books Set in North America