26 July 2016

Today's Read: The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

The Singles Game by Lauren WeisbergerHow far would you go to make it to the top of your sport? Charlie Silver was ranked 23rd before an injury at Wimbledon sidelined her. Is she willing to put her entire life in the hands of a famous coach, in the hopes of upping her world standings?

It wasn't every day a middle-aged woman wearing a neat bun and a purple polyester suit directed you to lift your skirt. The woman's voice was clipped. British proper. All business.

After glancing at her coach, Marcy, Charlie lifted the edges of her pleated white skirt and waited.
The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger (Simon & Schuster, 2016, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: contemporary times; various places, on and off the tennis court
  • Circumstances: After recovering from an injury, Charlie Silver is determined to hit the women's single tennis circuit with all she's got and with the help of her new coach, Todd, known for his tough stance on training. Will diets, makeovers, high-profile PR, and court time take Charlie to the top of competitive tennis or to the depths of personal despair?
  • Genre: contemporary general fiction; summer escape reading; pre-Olympics read
  • Themes: finding out what's important in life; inside look at competitive/elite tennis
  • Characters: Charlotte (Charlie) Silver, professional tennis player; Marcy, her friend and original coach; Todd, her new coach; Marco, her love interest; various other people in Charlie's personal and professional life
  • Why I want to read it: I like to watch tennis, and between this month's Wimbledon tournament and the up-coming summer Olympics, I'm in the mood to pick up a novel set in the tennis world. The Singles Game looks like a fun way to learn more about the sport. Reviewers have commented on the good pacing, believable characters, fun romance, and interesting details about tennis.
  • Something to know: Author Weisberger also wrote The Devil Wears Prada

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25 July 2016

6 Books to Read This Summer (the 24in48 Edition)

This past weekend was the 24in48 Readathon (try to devote 24 hours to reading over the course of two days). I didn't track my reading stats, but I think I read about 8 hours a day over the weekend. I'm still (and ever) in the middle a few books, but here's what I finished.

6 Books to Read this SummerDave Goulson studies bees for a living--he's a biologist--and has a fascination with the natural world, from the smallest bugs to the largest mammals. In his second book, A Buzz in the Meadow, he invites us to the French countryside where he and his family have restored a rundown farm with the goal of providing a rich environment to a variety of plants wildlife. I love his intimate, conversational style and enjoyed seeing the farm from his point of view. More important, I liked learning about how easy it is to become a steward, protecting the often-forgotten species of insects and plants that inhabit our planet. (Picador, May 2016--paperback edition)

6 Books to Read this SummerFaith Erin Hicks's Nameless City is the first in a new graphic novel / comics series that stars an unlikely couple: a well-off young boy who has been sent to the city to become a warrior, although his true love is books, and a homeless girl who knows how to negotiate the city and who is tough, smart, and resourceful. The story has a medieval Asian feel and involves politics, class differences, and the winds of war. The story hints at a deep past and a changing future and sets the stage for the rest of the series.The artwork is engaging, and its earthy colors resonate with me. You can easily get a feel for the action and the facial expressions are clear, and full of emotion. (First Second, April 2016)

6 Books to Read this SummerI've been curious about Mona Awad's 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl not only because it won several awards but also because it received glowing praise from readers and bloggers. Perhaps I simply wasn't in the mood, but I had only a so-so reaction. There are certainly some emotionally intense and painful moments in the book as Elizabeth matures from teen to adult and struggles with her self-image and her relationships--with her mother, other women/girls, men/boys, store clerks, and others. In the end, though, I wanted something more, although I couldn't tell you what the more might be. It's a quick read and may resonate more deeply with you than it did with me. (Penguin Books, February 2016)

6 Books to Read this SummerAs many of you know, I love books in verse, so Sharon Creech's Moo was on my list. The story follows a young family that decides on a whim to move to Maine and start over when the parents lose their jobs after the big-city (New York?) newspaper they work for downsizes. The contrasts between city and country life are exemplified in how Reena and her little brother adjust to the freedom of being able to roam around outside without an adult. After their parents volunteer them to help an elderly woman take care of her cow, the siblings learn the less romantic side of rural living. Zora the cow has a mind of her own! I laughed out loud and I shed a few tears and I absolutely loved this book. ((HaperCollins, August 2016; Middle Grade)

6 Books to Read this SummerOver the weekend I decided to read a short story or two in between the bigger books and picked Bonnie Jo Campbell's Mothers, Tell Your Daughters to do the job. I haven't finished the collection, but the stories I've read so far are emotionally strong and revolve around women in tough situations and tough relationships: marriage, sex, family, jobs, abuse, death. I might not be like many of the women I read about but I could easily connect to their issues and choices (or lack thereof). Of course, I liked some pieces more than others, but can recommend the collection for those of you who like to read short stories. My approach, as I noted, is to read only one or two pieces at a time; I'll finish the book over the next day or so. (Norton, October 2015)

6 Books to Read this SummerOne of my most anticipated books of the summer was Jacqueline Woodson's Another Brooklyn, and I was not disappointed. This amazing novel starts in contemporary times and with a funeral but quickly takes us back to the 1970s and focuses on a Southern, motherless black family who relocated to Brooklyn. Woodson captures the time period--the changing neighborhood, the drugs, the violence, the few choices, the difficulties of being young and black and female and poor.  Female friendships, death, family, choices, trust, religion . . . this slip of a book gave me so much to think about. I am a bit older than August, the protagonist, but I remember the era. Despite the immense differences between August's life and mine, we still share the universal experiences of being female in America. (Amistad, August 2016)

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23 July 2016

Weekend Cooking: 4 Good Summer Recipes

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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Even though it has not gotten cooler, not even by a little bit, I'm back to cooking. All the great produce at the farmers markets are calling to me and I can't resist. Besides, we went camping last weekend, and after few days of eating all kinds of good, but not so good for you foods, I was ready to reset our diet.

Here are a few of the recipes that were hits this week. I took the cake camping, but the other dishes were served with or as dinner. All come from either online sources or from magazines (which I get through that magazine app Texture, which I've talked about before). Rather than type out the recipes here, I've pinned them all to my Tried and Like board on Pinterest, that way you (and I) can find them when you're ready to give them a try.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cake: Every year the people we camp with count on me to bring a breakfast or snack cake. I pretty much always make an apple cake. But this year I had a zucchini I wanted to use up before we left, so I checked out the King Arthur Flour site. I made two of these dead-easy (and no-dairy) cakes, which remained moist and good for the whole weekend. Despite the chocolate, they were eaten at breakfast and throughout the day. I read the reviews of the recipe and decided to listen to the people who suggested cutting the amount of chocolate chips in half. I'm glad I did because the cake really didn't need more. I will be making this one again and again.

Tomato Gratin with Sweet Onion and Balsamic Vinegar: The tomatoes are just coming into season here in central Pennsylvania and I had a craving for a baked dish. I thought about making the slow-roasted toms from What Katie Ate but then saw this recipe on Pinterest, which I think is from Weight Watchers. I had everything in the house so I went with it. It was delicious hot served alongside grilled salmon and tasted good cold for lunch the next day. The recipe calls for either parsley or basil, and I used the basil.

Corn-and-Zucchini Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese: Hey, it's zucchini weather! Summer squash is plentiful and inexpensive right now, so, yeah, I bought some more. This Food & Wine recipe was delicious, and served as as our main dish for dinner during the week. The recipe says you are to freeze the goat cheese and then shave it, but I forgot to pop the cheese into the freezer, so I just crumbled it up and mixed it into the salad. This was supposed to be fast and easy. It was easy. It didn't take a ton of time, but it did take both of us and was a bit much on weeknight. Mr. BFR took care of grilling the veggies and I did the rest. I'd make this again on weekend, but it was too fussy for after work.

California Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs: I found this one over at the Food Network site. I wanted a cold dinner that required very little prep and this fit the bill. I followed the directions pretty closely, but I added a red bell pepper and a poblano pepper to the salad . . . just because. We had this last night, so I can't tell you if it held up for lunch today, but I have high hopes. This was pretty and perfect for a hot summer evening.

In case you're curious, tonight's dinner will be Gingered Vegetable Curry and Sunday's is Sloppy Joes with Honey and Spice "Pickles." Both came from my magazine app. If the dishes are keepers and I can find the recipes online, I'll add them to my Pinterest board next week. I plan to make both of these in my pressure cooker, so I don't heat up the kitchen too much. The curry will be served over brown rice and I have fresh garden beans to go with with the sandwiches.

Note on the photos: the cake photo is my own, but the others come from the recipe sources.

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22 July 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Odds & Ends

A personal note: Life has taken a crazy turn, and it seems as if I haven't had a free weekend for months on end. Not that anything bad is going on, we've traveled, we've camped, we've had holidays, we've socialized. I'm ready for a few days of just relaxing at home.

That isn't likely to happen until next weekend, but at least I have something to look forward too.

Last weekend was our annual camping trip with good friends. I loved getting a chance to catch up on gossip, congratulate new parents (and grandparents!), celebrate up-coming weddings, and enjoy being in the great outdoors.

Although not a lot of reading took place I spotted a handful of books: The City of Mirrors, Voyager (Diana Gabaldon), The Boys in the Boat, Woman in Cabin Ten, 11/22/63, and Flags of Our Father. I'm sure there were many more books, but I didn't notice . . . the beer and wine and good food and good people held my attention.

Listening and reading: I'm currently listening to The Bourbon Kings by J. R. Ward. It's a little soap-opera-y, but the audio is a good match for my current mood. It's a family saga that takes place in Kentucky: whisky, horses, and a whole lot of money. When I finish that one, I'll be back to listening to books for freelance reviews. I'm (as always) in the middle of a handful of print books, but The Hike by Drew Magary is at the top of my list. I started it Wednesday night and hope to have finished it by the time you read this. It's so weird -- but I mean that in a good way. A guy goes for a short hike in the woods and strange things happen. I'm not sure how this is all going to end up, but I have to find out!

Coming up: I've fallen behind with my reviews but plan to catch up with a series of quick takes, so look for those next week. I also have some themed lists in the works and a look at books you won't want to miss. As for the  weekend, I'll be working Saturday and Sunday mornings, but I do plan to participate in the 24in48 readathon as much as I can. It's not too late to sign up (I jumped in at 5pm last night!) and you don't need a blog to join in the fun. Click the link and check it out.

What are you reading (or listening to)? Anything I must add to my list?

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20 July 2016

Wordless Wednesday 403

Clouds at Dusk, 2016


Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2016. All rights reserved.

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