16 November 2017

7 Books for Speculative Fiction Fans

November is a great month for speculative fiction fans. Nothing is better than escaping to another world when pre-holiday stress gets to be too much. Here are seven recent and forthcoming fantasy and science-fiction books to ease you into the end-of-year shopping and socializing frenzy.

  • 7 Books for Speculative Fiction FansArtemis by Andy Weir (Crown, Nov. 14): The first city on the moon is dominated by the rich and richer, so what's a lowly porter to do? Jazz supplements her resources by smuggling and taking odd (illegal) jobs, one of which exposes her to information that threatens her life and could change the power structure of the lunar settlement.
  • City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager, Nov. 14): In the Ottoman Empire, family-less street urchins must get by as best they can, and Nahri earns her keep by reading fortunes, healing the sick, and indulging in a little thievery. She has plans for a better future, until she unwittingly awakens a djinn and discovers she can't escape her past or her fate.
  • The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories by Charlaine Harris (Ace, Nov. 21): Whether you're a fan of the original books or met Sookie through the HBO's True Blood, you'll love revisiting Bon Temps, LA, for more fun with your favorite not-quite-human friends. The ten stories are gathered into a single volume for the first time.
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee (Orbit, Nov. 7): In an alternative Chinese world, jade is the key to magical abilities, and families vie for control, especially after the development of a power-enhancing drug. This adult fantasy involves clan wars, family loyalty, and life outside the law. Kirkus made comparisons to the Godfather books.
  • 7 Books for Speculative Fiction FansOtherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller (Delacorte, Oct. 31): Billed as a kind of Westworld for teens, this science-fiction thriller explores the future of full-experience gaming, in which players believe they face no limits or consequences. Instead of the Wild West, expect familiar fantasy elements, such as dragons and wizards.
  • This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada (Simon Pulse, Nov. 7): When a devastating plague hits a high-tech future world, a teenage gene hacker races to find, understand, and produce her late-father's potential vaccine. The lines between friends and enemies, truth and fiction blur in this action-adventure science fiction tale.
  • The Wild Book by Juan Villoro (Restless Books, Nov. 14): Who can resist a story in which books (literary) come alive, moving on their own and stealing from each other. This coming-of-age story for middle grade readers is set in Mexico and will appeal to book lovers and fans of magical realism.

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15 November 2017

Wordless Wednesday 472

Fall Reflections, 2017

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14 November 2017

Today's Read: A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashey Hay

Review: A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley HayWhen you move to new digs, do you wonder about the people who lived there before you? As Lucy Kiss is settling her young family into their new house, Elsie Gormley is trying to let go of the place that holds most of her fondest memories.

It was early on a winter's morning when she fell—the shortest day of 2010, the woman on the radio said. From where Elsie lay, quite still and curled comfortably on the thick green carpet between the sofa and the sideboard, she could see how the sun coming in through the back door made a triangle on the kitchen floor. The light caught the pattern on the linoleum and touched the little nests of dust that her broom had missed under the lip of the kitchen cupboards.
A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay (Atria / Simon & Schuster, 2017, opening lines; eARC)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Brisbane, Australia; modern times
  • Circumstances: Two women making new starts: Lucy is getting used to being a stay-at-home mom, being a homeowner, and living in a new city. Elsie is adjusting to assisted living and the loss of the house in which she raised her children. As each woman copes with changing circumstances, their stories begin to interweave.
  • Characters: Lucy Kiss and her husband and infant son; Elsie Gormley and her late-husband and grown twins.
  • Genre: literary fiction, women's fiction
  • Themes: family, motherhood, marriage, making a lasting life, coping with change
  • Why I want to read this novel: The answer to my opening question, for me, is yes. Every time I've moved, I've wondered about the people who lived in my home before me, especially if they've left something behind to give me a clue. I enjoy character studies and am looking forward to meeting Lucy and Elsie. I also like the idea that the two women are at opposite ends of their adult family life, yet are facing similar issues, such as loss of independence and changing self-images.
  • What reviews have said: Kirkus: "slow-moving, yet profound." Publishers Weekly: "a rich dual character study." Australian Book Review: "holds powerful truths, simply told."

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11 November 2017

Weekend Cooking: In Search of Israeli Cuisine (Film)

Review: In Search of Israeli CusineI had other plans for today's post, but after I stumbled across this documentary about Israeli food, I decided I didn't want to wait to share it with you. (Available on Netflix and Amazon)

In Search of Israeli Cusine, written and directed by Roger Sherman, follows award-winning chef Michael Solomonov (of Philadelphia's Zahav restaurant) on a journey through Israel to discover the defining flavors and dishes in that country's kitchens.

Let's start with the basic question of the film: What exactly is Israeli food? The word I remember most from the movie is complex. To say the country's food is global is a bit of an understatement. The cuisine has been influenced by thousands of years of indigenous peoples and cultures, by twentieth-century immigration, and by modern-day newcomers. The resulting dishes aren't what one would consider to be fusion, but something wholly different.

For such a small geographic area, Israel is a land of great diversity, from desert, to coastline, to lush hillsides and cold mountains, and each region has its own ingredients and traditions. In addition, you cannot talk about any aspect of Israel without taking politics and religion.

Review: In Search of Israeli CusineAs other reviewers have noted, In Search of Israeli Cuisine doesn't give us a definite answer, but through Solomonov's adventures and interviews, we discover the incredible variety of foods to be found throughout Israel. We visit cheese caves, wineries, tomato farms, fruit orchards, olive presses, and fishing villages. We learn the differences between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and how cultural and religious traditions affect the food choices in those cities.

I particularly liked meeting the people, including growers / producers, chefs, food writers, and merchants. I was surprised to learn that religious dietary laws are not particularly strict and that politics and cultural issues can have a strong affect on the fate of restaurants. I hadn't realized that Israel was on the cutting edge of a new kind of global cuisine.

In some ways, Israel is not all that different from other immigrant countries: People bring with them the traditional foods of their homelands. Yet in America, cooking the dishes from home can be comforting, whereas in Israel in the mid-twentieth century, foods from Europe were a reminder of hardships, war, and persecution. Still, it's difficult to shed the culinary expectations set in one's childhood. Thus Israelis have a unique perspective on their country's cuisine or lack thereof.

Review: In Search of Israeli CusineMichael Solomonov has a relaxed, natural screen presence, which makes the film easy to watch. He doesn't have the slick, broad vocabulary of a Food Network star, and--frankly--I find that refreshing. We aren't subjected to a drawn-out assessment of each dish; instead Solmonov often gives us just a simple, "That's delicious."

The filming of In Search of Israeli Cuisine was nicely done, showing us the scenery, the food, and the people with equal attention.

Even though the search may have left more questions than answers, I can recommend In Search of Israeli Cuisine to anyone interested in how a country or region comes to be identified with a particular palette of flavors. Politics, religion, immigration, environment, and culture all play a part in defining the dishes coming out of Israeli kitchens. Here's the trailer:

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.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.

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08 November 2017

Wordless Wednesday 471

November Grasses (from the archives)

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