30 August 2016

Today's Read: Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Review: Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye WatkinsCan you envision a future in which California must be evacuated because of drought? Would you stay or go? How would you cope with the encroaching desert sands? Luz and Ray live in that future and must decide how best to survive.

Punting the prairie dog into the library was a mistake. Luz Dunn knew that now, but it had been a long time since she'd seen a little live thing, and the beast had startled her. She'd woke near noon having dreamed a grand plan and intending to enact it: she would try on every dress in the house. They hung like plumage in the master closet, in every luscious color, each one unspeakably expensive--imagine the ones the starlet had taken with her!
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins (Riverhead, 2015, p. 3)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Southern California, in the not too distant future.
  • Circumstances: Luz and Ray, struggling to survive in drought-ridden California, are squatting in the house abandoned by a movie star. After meeting some creepy people when on a food scrounging mission, they begin to envision a different future for themselves in the still green east. The only trouble is the secrets they're hiding make it difficult for them to obtain evacuation passes. With the help of a dubious friend, they hatch a scheme to escape to the still verdant east.
  • Genre: adult dystopian
  • Themes: relationships, friendships, cults, environment, conspiracy theories, survival, parenthood
  • Characters: Luz, an ex-childhood actress; Ray, a military veteran, and Luz's boyfriend; Lonnie and his followers at a co-op along the coast; Levi and his followers at a desert community; various other people both along the coast and in the desert
  • Thoughts in general: I really wanted to love this book because I enjoy dystopian fiction and I liked Vaye Watkins's short story collection, Battleborn. Unfortunately, her novel fell flat for me. The premise was good and believable: California is already experiencing major drought, so it didn't take much imagination to extend that situation into the future. The setup was solid, and I was invested for the first 75 pages or so, but then the plot seemed to spin out of control.
  • What I didn't like: The characters' motivations were often murky, and their inner thoughts were either (I'm sorry to say) boring or in the WTF realm. I was frustrated by their choices. Despite this, I was committed enough until a point just past three-quarters of the way through when a character "magically" gets out of a predicament. Without spoilers, let me say this: at one point Ray has a major problem; a little while later he no longer has that problem, but we have no clue how he solved it. Really? You took me this far, at least tell me how he gets out of the bad situation. Sigh.
  • Recommendation: I cannot in good conscience recommend this book, even to die-hard adult dystopian lovers. I really should have DNF'd it, but by the time I hit my breaking point, I was too far along. However, note that Gold Fame Citrus has received ALL THE STARS: Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, and BookList, for example, sang the novel's praises. It was also a Book of the Month Club pick. I, however, didn't feel the love.
  • Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Penguin Audio; 10 hr, 27 min) read by Jorjeana Marie and MacLeod Andrews. Their performances were okay but could not compensate for the book's flaws. I truly have nothing else to say about the production; I'm just so mad at myself for not bailing on the book.

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29 August 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Is It Fall Yet?

Thoughts on Reading from Beth Fish ReadsYou know what makes me happy? Just a few more days left in August and the promise (I hope) of cooler weather. I'm so ready for the crisp mornings and comfortable evenings of fall.

Book Organizing Progress Report: I have finally gotten all my print books organized. I have stacks of books to give to my neighbors or to the senior center, and I've entered my entire print reading list into Libib.

I am glad I made the switch and have found only one flaw so far. The Libib database trails new books by about a month, so I won't be able to scan my October books for another week or so. I can, however, enter the data by hand, if I want.

I've decided to just accept this annoyance and add new books around the 15th of the month before they're published. Truth is, I rarely read ahead, so I think this will work. We'll see.

Next up are adding and culling my eBooks and audiobooks, which I'll tackle a little at time.

Yet Another App: Yeah, yeah, no one needs more social media sites for getting more book information. Or, well, do we? I've signed up for the Reco app, which is another way to record books and share the books I'm reading, have read, and want to read. This app doesn't allow you to upload your own creative photos (like Litsy), but there is a very cool list feature, which I'm going to play around with. Fits right into my "Reading on Topic" posts, which I really love to put together.

Hey, guess what? I'm @BethFishReads on the Reco app (surprised, aren't you?), so follow me there if you're so inclined. I'm still getting the hang of it, but I do know how to follow you back.

What I'm Reading and Listening To

Thoughts on Reading from Beth Fish Reads

My reading was pretty slow this past week because my focus was on other things. I've been listening to Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins and read by Jorjeana Marie and MacLeod Andrews, which is a kind of an adult dystopian story based on an all-too-believable premise: the droughting of America (like that verb I made up?). My review will be up this week.

I'm finishing up The Emerald Lie by Ken Bruen in print, which I started a few weeks ago and put down for absolutely no reason. This is my first Bruen, but will not be my last. The series is Irish crime, with dark humor and a great main character. I need to start from the beginning.

I've also been reading Wonder Women by Sam Maggs. I like the short takes on interesting, innovative, smart women from all walks of life, many of whom have been lost to history: spies, scientists, explorers, and more. The book won't come out until October, but I couldn't wait to read it.

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27 August 2016

Weekend Cooking: Healing Foods

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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Banana, Peach, Coconut Ice PopsAs some of you know, Mr. BFR had surgery this past week (all went smoothly, and he's on the mend). As a consequence, I didn't really cook anything interesting.

We ate light early in the week: things like grilled salmon, a simple stir-fry, tuna fish sandwiches, and plenty of vegetables. I cooked ahead for the day of the operation and for Mr. BFR's early days of recovery.

I made chicken noodle soup, homemade applesauce, pound cake, and hummus and once home, scrambled eggs, toast with honey, and all kinds of comfort foods.

One thing he specifically requested was ice pops. Boy, am I glad I took the time to make them. After the dryness of the operating room, Mr. BFR's throat was scratchy and a little sore. He said the ice pops really helped.

I've made all kinds of frozen treats over the years, but recently we've been experimenting with coconut milk, which makes an excellent base. Sometimes I add a few tablespoons of whiskey, rum, or liqueur to the mix, but I didn't want to use alcohol -- not even a tiny bit. The postsurgery painkillers don't mix well with booze.

Here's what Mr. BFR asked for.

Banana, Peach, Coconut Ice Pops (original recipe from Beth Fish Reads)

Banana, Peach, Coconut Ice PopsNote that my molds hold 2 cups of liquid and make six ice pops. You may have to adjust the proportions to fit your model. If you don't have molds, do a web search for how to make them in paper cups.
  • 1 banana, cut up
  • 1 ripe peach, cut up (no need to peel)
  • 1/2 can (13.5-ounce can) coconut milk (we used regular, not low fat)
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
Place all the ingredients in a blender container and blend until fairly smooth. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze until hard, about 4 hours.

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26 August 2016

8 Short Book Reviews: Summer Picks and Pans

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris -- Despite knowing pretty much what was going to happen (though not how it was going to happen), I really liked this creepy book about the seemingly perfect couple. As I said on Litsy: Narrator Georgia Macguire did an excellent job with the slow-building tension. Sucked me right in and had me by the earbuds until the end. (Macmillian Audio)

Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joana Cannon -- I loved this book! A great quote on every page. This is a combo mystery / coming-of-age story set in England in the mid-1970s. Ten-year-old Grace and Tilly are determined to find out what happened to the neighbor lady, who disappeared without a trace. This is one of my favorites of the year. (Scribner)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead -- here's basically all I have to say: This book. It slayed me. Read it . . . now. Bahni Turpin was an amazing narrator; see my review in AudioFile. (Random House Audio)

Deadline by Mira Grant -- Book 2 in the Newsflesh series wasn't quite as good as the first one (Feed), mostly because it had a slow buildup. Nonetheless, I still got caught up in the conspiracy theory aspects of this zombie story and I love the way the 2040s aren't really all that different from today. Well, except, of course, for the zombies. The ending! Now I have to read Book 3. Narrators Chris Patton and Nell Geisslinger make a good team; kicking up the action and the emotions. (Hachette Audio)

Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon -- This Prohibition Era story of two women who love and want to mother the same young girl just didn't do it for me. I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters. If I hadn't been listening for a freelance assignment, I would have bailed. Basically, I was bored. Narrator Rebecca Lowman was unable to keep my attention. (Penguin Audio)

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena -- A good twisty thriller that I easily got caught up in, despite there being no one to really root for. I give this a solid 3 stars; worth the read. Kirsten Potter did a nice job keeping me invested and setting the pace. (Penguin Audio)

Still listening to: Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson and read by multiple narrators -- Not as good as the first book in the Remnant Chronicles (Kiss of Deception) because there isn't much going on. I'm just more than halfway done and no real progress has been made. Plus there's the issue of a lingering love triangle. ARGH. (Listening Library)

Still reading: I Will Send Rain by Rae Meadows -- I have only a few chapters left but life got in the way. Hope to finish this excellent novel tonight. Love the story of a family trying to survive the Depression and Dust Bowl summer of 1934. Beautifully written with vivid characters and easy-to-visualize setting. (Henry Holt)

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24 August 2016

Wordless Wednesday 408

Coneflower, 2016


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

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Copyright

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

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