30 April 2015

Interview and Giveaway: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz (Disney Descendants)

Descendants: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la CruzEarlier this week I was thrilled to be part of a group interview with the best-selling author Melissa de la Cruz, who was talking about her current project with Disney.

That's right, I said Disney! De la Cruz's new book, The Isle of the Lost (in stores on May 5), fills in the back story of this summer's Disney Chanel original TV movie Disney Descendants. There is so much to love about this book and the upcoming movie.

Here's what's happening in The Isle of the Lost. At the end of the every fairy tale, the evil character has been defeated and the good character gets a happily every after. But what happens to the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and the others? You may think they have died, but they were really banished to the Isle of the Lost, where they live in much reduced conditions and without their magic. What do they teach their children? How to be evil and how not to make the same mistakes--because someday the exile spell will be broken and all the characters will return to Auradon (the good kingdom) to wreak havoc once again.

The interview with de la Cruz. We all had thoughtful questions for Melissa de la Cruz, who graciously took time out of her day to talk to us. Come listen in on some of the highlights of the interview.

We all wanted to know whether de la Cruz was a fan of fairy tales:

I [am] a big, big fan of fairy tales. . . . I really had an early education in myth and fairy tales, and I've always loved them.
De la Cruz mentioned that she had a treasury of fairy tales from around the world, which she read and reread many times. Of course, then we wanted to know about her favorite fairy tale and her favorite Disney movie:
My favorite fairy tale, I think because it was so scary to me as a child, was "Hansel and Gretel," you know, abandoned by your parents and kind of given over to the witch.
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My favorite [movie]: I saw Cinderella when I was three years old. And it was the first Disney movie I'd ever seen. And it's always been my favorite. . . . I just think there's something really magical about that story. And I've always liked it. And, you know, the pettiness of the stepmother and the stepsisters just felt really realistic to me.
De la Cruz also told us that she's been a lifelong Disney fan and has seen all the classic movies multiple times, not only on her own but also with her young daughter.

The Isle of the Lost focuses mostly on the evil fairy tale characters and their children (the descendants). We asked de la Cruz several questions about the classic villains.
On Maleficent: Why do I think Maleficent is the most feared? I think she's probably the most powerful. I mean she did put an entire kingdom to sleep. When you look at the powers of the other villains, the evil stepmother is kind of mostly petty.
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On why we like evil characters: So it's kind of like we know them really well because we know what they want. And even though what they want isn't very good or noble, having that desire is very human and [also] that ambition.
And naturally, we wanted to know which of the evil descendants she liked the best:
I really felt really close to [all of] them. And Carlos [son of Cruella De Vil]: just really his journey because he's kind of shy. And he's kind of a geeky computer nerd. I really felt for him from the beginning. But . . . as I wrote him I also discovered he has a very sly sense of humor and a lot of survival instincts. . . . I think I really did get close to him. And I really enjoyed him growing up a little but still having that sense of humor.
De la Cruz also set part of her book in the land of Auradon, where all the good characters live. I found it interesting that the children of the good characters also had issues with their parents and that life wasn't always "happily ever after," even in a world of sunshine and light.
I think that was something that I really wanted to write about . . . that no matter who your parents are it's still really hard to live up to them, whether they're big, bad villains or, you know, a noble prince. He's the Beast, you know, and Queen Belle.

I mean . . . it's not that I was more sympathetic to Ben [Beast and Belle's son], but I really understood the plight of somebody who has so much privilege . . . the world is open to him. . . . But, he has very little life choices. . . . He's just as trapped as the villains on the island. So I really wanted to paint this picture of both of these kids on the Isle of the Lost and in Auradon as being really similar and, like you said, universal.
We asked de la Cruz about some of the issues involved with writing a prequel for a story that wasn't her own. Her first issue was the audience because it was her first middle-grade fantasy. She found it a challenge to find just right voice and tone.

To make sure the book matched the film, de la Cruz visited the movie set of Descendants to watch the filming, meet the characters, and see the costumes. All of which helped her with continuity between her story and the film. She noted,
It was a little bit more of a challenge [to write this book] because you are working with a world that's already been constructed. So, whatever you make up has to fit in that world.
Finally, she talked about what it was like to work with the Disney staff, who have a deep knowledge of their universe. For example, the animals (Cinderella's mice, the Dalmations) don't speak English in the movies, so for them to be talking characters in her book, de la Cruz had to write in a translator. She said,
You know, I think I didn't realize how big the [Disney] team is. . . . It was so interesting to see so many creative people working together. And they were really excited for the book.
Thanks so much to Melissa de la Cruz for taking the time to talk to us about her book The Isle of the Lost and her creative process. And thanks to Big Honcho Media for organizing the interview and inviting me to participate.

The Giveaway

Thanks to Disney Publishing, I'm able to offer one of my readers with a U.S. mailing address a fabulous The Isle of the Lost prize pack.

Here's what one lucky winner will receive: A copy of Melissa de la Cruz's book The Isle of the Lost, a super green tank top with the book title on it, a branded water bottle, temporary The Isle of the Lost tattoos, and a GadgetGrip smartphone home button sticker. (To get a better look at the prize pack, click the image to enlarge it.)

I've read the book and can recommend it to all Disney and fairy tale fans. I just love the idea of learning about the next generation of our favorite characters.

All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form (remember: U.S. mailing addresses only). I'll pick a winner via random number generator on May 11 and then pass his or her mailing address along to the publicists. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll erase all personal information from my computer.



  • To read an excerpt from The Isle of the Lost, visit the Disney movie site.
  • To lean more about the movie, visit the official Descendants site.
  • To learn more about Melissa de la Cruz, visit her website.
  • To follow the news across your social media sites, use and search for #DisneyDescendants.

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29 April 2015

Wordless Wednesday 339

White Violet, 2015

cbl © www.BethFishReads.com

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27 April 2015

Bullet Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasSarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses (in bookstores next week), is the first in a new fantasy series featuring a world in which faeries and humans co-exist more or less peacefully under a shaky treaty.

The set up: After her father lost his money and social standing, nineteen-year-old Feyre does what she can to keep him and her older sisters fed and clothed. While out hunting deer one morning, she chances upon a gigantic wolf that is also stalking prey. Afraid for her life, Feyre kills the animal and then takes the pelt to sell at the market.

The consequences: Later that night, the door of Feyre's cottage is broken down and a horrible beast accuses her of killing a faery. Following the treaty between humans and fae, the beast gives her the choice of instant death or life among the faeries, never to return to human lands again. She picks life and finds herself a bird in a gilded cage: As long as she stays within the boundaries of the Court of Spring, she will come to no harm. Her abductor turns out to be Prince Tamlin, a shape-changing fae, who does indeed treat his human captive kindly.

The rest of the book: This first in series, introduces us to the deeper history and politics of the human and fae worlds. The high fae suffer from a condition that is draining their powers, the treaty that protects the humans from fae enslavement is getting weaker, and faeries from other lands are expanding their political ambitions. In the meantime, Feyre is beginning to bond with Prince Tamlin and the other members of his court, eventually seeing them as individuals instead of terrifying magical beings. As Feyre and Tamlin's relationship strengthens, they are each forced to make difficult decisions about their futures.

The characters: Feyre is a strong, well-rounded young woman who doesn't shy away from what must be done to protect those she loves. She is artistic, smart, and willing to learn. Tamlin, still a young man in fae terms, is struggling to help his people and to become his own person, separate and distinct from his violent father. I particularly liked the fact that Maas allows her characters to change and grow--even the minor characters learn from and adapt to changing circumstances. There are few cookie-cutter personalities.

More good: A Court of Thorns and Roses may be the first in a series, but it holds up well on its own. Maas gives us a lot of information about Feyre's world and hints at a deeper history and complex politics, yet the world building is interwoven among the action scenes or as part of Feyre's exploration of her new home in the fae lands. Thanks to the plot twists, many strong emotions, horrifying action scenes, and sweet romance, I read this novel all in one go.

The ending: My only real complaint has to do with the very end. An event takes place that I thought should have had much more impact. But this is a minor point, and I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series. Note that the novel doesn't end on a cliff-hanger, though it definitely points to several promising story arcs.

Recommendation: A Court of Thorns and Roses has more in common with epic fantasy than it does with the wizardy fantasies geared to younger readers. Although Maas doesn't exactly follow the line of reluctant hero, she draws on many elements of high fantasy, including a quest (of sorts), a long history, and an alternative world. I recommend the series to fans of adult fantasy. Note that Sarah J. Maas's work in this novel is more developed and stronger than her Throne of Glass books.

Published by Bloomsbury USA Children, 2015
ISBN-13: 9781619634442
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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25 April 2015

Weekend Cooking: Pork, Bean and Escarole Soup (from Cooking Light)

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. 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. For more information, see the welcome post.

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Cooking LIght May 2015This week I'm co-hosting a workshop for my fellow bobbin lacemakers (more on that in a future post--I hope). As a consequence, I was all about fast and easy dinners. Thanks to the current issue (May 2015) of Cooking Light, I was able to get a healthful dinner on the table in under a half hour.

There are so many great dinners in the "Speedy Recipe" feature in this magazine, I'm sure I'll be cooking from it for a while to come. Two of the winners were Quick Chicken Vegetable Curry (see my Pinterest board for my notes) and the following pork soup, which I cooked as is. (NOTE: the scan is from the magazine; all rights remain with Cooking Light.)

Pork, Bean, and Escarole Soup
serves 6
    copyright Cooking Light
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 cups chopped escarole (1 large head)
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Combine pork, rosemary, black pepper, salt, paprika, and red pepper in a bowl.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl. Add pork mixture; saute 2 minutes. Add onion and garlic; saute 4 minutes. Add stock, tomato paste, and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Mash half of beans in pan with a potato masher. Stir in escarole; cook 2 minutes or until wilted.

Ladle about 1-3/4 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

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23 April 2015

6 Books for Music Lovers: Reading on Topic

Reading on Topic: Music @ BethFishReads.comYou don't have to have to know how to play an instrument nor do you have to be able to carry a tune to enjoy and appreciate music. I know, because my musical abilities are pretty slim, yet music has been a big part of my life, as I'm sure it has been for you.

Today's Reading on Topic: Music takes us from pop to punk to rock n roll. We learn about the music business through fiction, memoir, biography, and sociology. There are books for teens and for adults. Crank up your speakers, loosen your vocal cords, and get ready to rock out.

The Sound Truth

Jerry Lee Lewis by Rick Bragg, Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon, The B-Side by Ben Yagoda
  • Rick Bragg conducted a number of interviews over two years to collect the foundational material for Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story (Harper, 2014, ISBN: 9780062078223). Lewis's story is more than a rags to riches to rags story of a rock star who indulged in life with abandon. Lewis was there at the start of rock and roll and saw it through to the next century, surviving despite his fall from grace, his many divorces, the death of children, too many drugs, and several car crashes. Bragg gives us insight into both an era and one of rock's greats.
  • In Girl in a Band (Dey Street, 2015, ISBN: 9780062295897), Kim Gordon reflects on her life in New York during the 1980s and 1990s and her journey from childhood through art, music, and fame to marriage, motherhood, and divorce. This well-written memoir (illustrated by many photos) features Gordon's years with Sonic Youth and includes stories of other musicians, but it is also a tale of feminism and the music industry. After reading this, you'll understand why Gordon has become a role model for younger generations.
  • Ben Yagoda's The B-Side (Riverhead, 2015, ISBN: 9781594488498) is based on meticulous research and dozens of interviews with twentieth-century songwriters and examines, as the subtitle says, "The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song." This very accessible study looks at music trends and how business, technology, media, and socioeconomic factors affect the making of pop music and the careers of songwriters from all genres. Music lovers shouldn't miss this easy-to-read take on the popular American music scene.
Musical Stories

Driftwood by Elizabeth Dutton, Driving the King by Ravi Howard, I'm Glad I did by Cynthia Weil
  • Driftwood (Skyhorse, 2014, ISBN: 9781629144993) by Elizabeth Dutton is about twenty-seven-year-old Clem Jasper, daughter of a famous rock musician who dies unexpectedly, leaving her a series of letters as part of her inheritance. The notes, which contain clues to her father's past and hint at secrets he was unable to reveal in person, lead Clem on an epic road trip through her native California. The novel addresses, grief, self-discovery, family, and the power of music.
  • Ravi Howard's Driving the King (Harper, 2015, ISBN: 9780060529611) is a fictional account of the famous singer Nat King Cole's relationship with his childhood friend and driver, Nat Weary. The story, set in the postwar years, is told through Weary's eyes and spotlights issues of race, class, and the entertainment industry. Although the novel takes liberties with the facts of Cole's life, Howard accurately evokes the issues faced by southern black musicians in the mid-twentieth century.
  • Written by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Cynthia Weil, I'm Glad I Did (Soho Teen, 2015, ISBN: 9781616953560) is set in 1963 Manhattan. Despite her parents' disapproval, sixteen-year-old JJ Green applies for and wins an internship with a Brill Building music publisher. Armed with talent and enthusiasm, JJ enters the dark, competitive world of the music industry. This young adult novel shows the unromantic side of the business, as JJ witnesses stiff competition, racism, and questionable ethics. Drawing on her own experiences, Weil paints a vivid picture of the underbelly of the music scene at the dawn of a new age.

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22 April 2015

Wordless Wednesday 338

Magnolia, 2015

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21 April 2015

Today's Read: Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes

Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth HaynesSuppose you were in charge of finding a teenage girl who went missing during a family vacation in Rhodes but failed to recover the girl or her body. Then, by chance, ten years later, you find her back in the UK and working in a brothel under an assumed name. Contrary to your expectations, neither the now young woman nor her family seem eager to see each other. DCI Louisa Smith isn't sure what to make of it. The book opens with the girl's story:

To begin with, nothing was certain except her own terror.

Darkness, and stifling heat, so hot that breathing felt like effort, sweat pouring off her so her skin itself became liquid and she thought she would simply melt into a hot puddle of nothing. She tried crying out, screaming, but she could barely hear her own voice above the roar of the engine, the sound of the wheels moving at speed on tarmac. All that did was give her a sore throat. Nobody could hear her.
Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes (HarperCollins / Harper, 2015, opening paragraph)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: UK (outside of London); Greece; Amsterdam
  • Circumstances: DCI Lou Smith is investigating a murder, an assault, and the abduction / discovery of Scarlett Rainsford. Because Scarlett is reluctant to tell her story to the police, Lou asks DS Sam Hollands (a specialist) to talk with the young woman. Meanwhile the DCI turns her attention to the other cases. As the investigations progress, Lou begins to think the three violent crimes may be related, but before Scarlett can reveal her secrets, she once again goes missing.
  • Characters: DCI Lousia Smith, DS Sam Hollands, and others in the police department; Scarlett Rainsford, her sister, and her parents; various victims and bad guys
  • Genre: mystery, thriller, police procedural
  • Topics & themes: family, human trafficking, relationships, women's issues, survival
  • What reviewers have said: Most reviewers comment on the taut, tense story, on the realistic (sometimes uncomfortably so) plot, and on the believable characters
  • Extras: The story is told from the alternating points of view of the three women (Lou, Sam, Scarlett). The author has experience as a civilian police analyst who worked with criminal behavior data; she wrote about the inspiration for this novel on her website. This is the second installment in a series featuring Lou Smith

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20 April 2015

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: The Spring Reading Edition

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts @ Beth Fish ReadsStacked-Up Book Thoughts are my random notes about books I've read, movies I've watched, books I'm looking forward to, and events I hope to get to.

The weather has finally broken here in central Pennsylvania and I've been spending a lot of time outside taking my camera for a walk or doing gardening or just enjoying the warmth.

That doesn't mean, however, I haven't been reading and writing. Here's what I've been up to.

Nonfiction You May Have Missed

Beth Fish Reads recommends nonfictionHere are four titles I recommended for Readerly magazine (for my mini reviews, click through to the magazine, where you'll also find additional timely book talk): The CSA Cookbook by Linda Ly (Voyageur Press, March 2015) will help you through your weekly vegetable boxes or navigate your local farmers' market. Cokie Roberts's Capital Dames is about how women in Washington, DC coped with the Civil War (Harper, April 2015). Alice Eve Cohen's The Year My Mother Came Back is an emotional memoir about mothers and daughters (Algonquin, March 2015). For mystery lovers, Matthew Parker's Goldeneye introduces us to Ian Fleming and his life in his beloved Jamaica (Pegasus, March 2015). If you aren't already subscribing to Readerly magazine, take a moment to sign up. The newsletter comes out every ten days and offers mini reviews, recommended reading, articles, interviews, and more.

Audiobooks to Get You through Spring

Audiobook Picks from Beth Fish Reads

I wrote a little bit about Mark Bittman's A Bone to Pick (Pam Krauss, May 2015) a couple of weeks ago for Weekend Cooking. For my full review of the audiobook edition of this insightful look at our food supply, check out AudioFile magazine. I'm currently listening to George Hodgman's Bettyville (Viking, March 2015), a memoir about caring for an aging parent, growing up gay in the Midwest, and struggling with love and self-acceptance. Next up is a book by one of my favorite authors: Kent Haruf's Our Souls at Night (Knopf, May 2015) returns us to Holt, Colorado, for one last time. It will be a bittersweet read because Haruf died in November at the relatively young age of seventy-one. If you haven't yet discovered his quiet, character-driven novels then you're in for some excellent reading or listening.

What I'm Currently Reading


Spring 2015 titles from Beth Fish ReadsI'm almost done with Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses (Bloomsbury USA, May 2015). This is a super start to a new fantasy series about the Fey and humans. Sarah McCoy's dual-time-period The Mapmaker's Children (Crown, May 2015) introduces us to two women: one who lives in modern times and one who takes us back to nineteenth-century America, abolition, and the Underground Railroad. Tia and Tamera Mowry's Twintuition: Double Vision (HaperCollins, April 2015) is the first in a middle grade series about preteen identical twins who discover they have ESP just in time to help their mother get out of a sticky situation. Melissa de la Cruz's The Isle of the Lost is the start of her new Descendants series, perfect for middle grade fantasy lovers. Reviews of these titles will be up on the blog soon(ish).

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, have your caught spring fever yet? For everyone, what's on your reading list?

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18 April 2015

Weekend Cooking: The Tucci Table by Stanley Tucci and Felicity Blunt

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. 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. For more information, see the welcome post.

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The Tucci Table by Stanley Tucci and Felicity BluntI don't know about you, but my usual reaction to a celebrity cookbook is to run the other way. I want to tell the actor, newscaster, author, athlete to just stick with what she knows best and leave the cooking to the experts.

Stanley Tucci, however, is one of the exceptions. He has a true passion and talent for cooking. I loved his television wine show, Vine Talk, and his first cookbook, The Tucci Cookbook, received rave reviews. Plus, he played Julia Child's husband, Paul, in the movie Julie and Julia. Who could resist?

When I received an eGalley of The Tucci Table last fall, I couldn't wait to dig in, and over the winter, I cooked many dishes from this book. The Tucci Table is one of those sources I've been turning to often because the dishes are not at all difficult to put together and are so well suited to everyday life.

From Tucci Table by Stanely TucciThe recipes in Stanley Tucci's new cookbook--written with his wife, Felicity Blunt--are more than just family friendly. They are, in fact, the recipes the Tuccis actually make for their family and friends. I love knowing that a cookbook is a compilation of honest-to-God tried and true recipes.

The flavors are universal, and the ingredients are familiar and easy to obtain. The suggested equipment and pantry items are so basic that I bet you already have them all. Thus the recipes are grounded and appealing. Nothing is Hollywood fancy, although I wouldn't hesitate to serve any of the dishes to guests.

You'll find recipes as simple as celery salad and as complicated as, um, well, nothing is really complicated (except I rarely make my own noodles). I love the soup recipes (the tomato soup is awesome), the snacks (easy sausage rolls, anyone?), and especially the pasta dishes. The steak with herbs, pork chops with mustard, and chicken wings are all fabulous--perfect for winter by the fire or in summer on the deck.

From Tucci Table by Stanely TucciMost of the recipes are accompanied by absolutely gorgeous photos, and each one is introduced with a personal story. The tips are from the Tucci family and reflect real-life kitchen experience (such as Tucci's method for washing leeks), which means they are truly useful.

After cooking from Stanely Tucci's The Tucci Table, I can wholeheartedly recommend this cookbook. Experienced cooks will find new favorite go-to recipes, many perfect for weekday dinners. Younger cooks will be able wow their friends and family with a whole new set of easy, fresh, and delicious meals. Buy or borrow without hesitation.

If you like Ina Garten's cookbooks, you'll like Stanley Tucci's. I'm also recommending The Tucci Table as an awesome gift for recent college graduates or for those settling into their first house or apartment.

Note on the photos and lack of recipe: The photos were scanned from the The Tucci Table and used here in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder. Because I have a galley of the book, I'm hesitant to share a recipe, although I've had 100 percent success. For a video see the Simon & Schuster website and for a pasta recipe, check out the ABC website.

Published by Simon & Schuster / Gallery Books, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781476738567
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


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17 April 2015

Review: Camelot (Fables 20) by Bill Willingham

Camelot (Fables 20) by Bill WillinghamCamelot, volume 20 of Bill Willingham's Fables series, set us up for the grand finale of the entire story arc and the Fable characters' ultimate quest of good over evil. Although this volume has a transitional feel, the plot lines and character development all move forward, hinting at what's to come.

Rose Red: The main focus of  Camelot is on Rose Red's embracing of the mantel of hope and her resurrection of the Arthurian round table, with new knights who have new causes. The foundational ideal is second chances, which has the unfortunate side effect of causing a rift between Rose and her sister, Snow White.

The Wolf family: The Wolfs must cope with their various crises, and some of the best scenes of the book involve one or the other of this family. As in Snow White (which I reviewed yesterday), these are still emotional and changing times for the family.

Geppetto: In a short piece about the Geppetto, we learn that the old woodcarver still has a few tricks up his sleeve. We'll have to wait to see if he uses them for good or ill.

Camelot art and general thoughts: The artist for the majority of volume 20 is Mark Buckingham, who really excelled here, particularly in the panels that depicted the after/next life. Super work. Although this volume acts as a bridge to the end of the series, it returns to the classic Willingham humor and epic storytelling. If you've made it this far into Fables, you'll want to read this volume carefully, so you'll be ready for the end. This isn't my favorite Fables volume, but I think it's an important installment.

Final story: Camelot ends with a two-part story called "The Boys in the Band." The members of Boy Blue's old band take it on the road, ending up in an alternative Scotland, where they have some action-packed adventures. The story is drawn by Steve Leialoha, who took a somewhat minimalist approach. The darkly inked panels work well for the tale, which hints at some of what's to come in the final two Fables volumes.

published by DC Comics / Vertigo, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781401245160
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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16 April 2015

Review: Cubs in Toyland and Snow White by Bill Willingham

Cubs in Toyland: Fables 18 by Bill WillinghamAs the brilliant Fables series by Bill Willingham winds down to its end (only two more volumes left, one in May and one this summer), I'm catching up with the last three already-published volumes. Today I cover Fables 18 and 19, and tomorrow I focus on Fables 20. Then I'll be caught up, left to wait for the next issue.

If you are new to Fables or want to know about the spin-offs and other related series, you absolutely must read Kelly's awesome guide. The latest edition can be found over at Book Bloggers International (click the link), and you'll want to bookmark the post because you'll return to it a lot.

Here are my thoughts on Cubs in Toyland (#18) and Snow White (#19). A number of things happen in these volumes, some of which tell us the ultimate fates of characters who have been around from the very beginning.

  • The Cubs: Three cubs play big parts in these volumes. Therese learns that it isn't always great to get what you wish for but if you accept the consequences of your actions you can sometimes find a way to make amends. Darien learns what it means to be the pack leader. Ghost provides help when it's most needed.
  • Bufkin: When we last saw him, Bufkin--the unwinged flying monkey--was in great trouble. Thanks to his fellow Ozians, he escapes death but doesn't necessarily escape danger. He and his friends have many heroic adventures until they settle in for their final years.
  • Bigby and Snow: Wow! A lot happens to our favorite couple, and I can't really talk about any of it without revealing major spoilers. Their story appears in Snow White, although we learn some interesting things about Bigby at the end of Cubs in Toyland. I hate to be so vague, but you'll thank me later for staying silent.
  • Snow White: Fables 19 by Bill WillinghamGeneral thoughts on Bufkin: I haven't been a huge fan of Bufkin, but I ended up pleased with the direction his life took. I was surprised by the humor, action, and even love included in his story arc. Shawn McManus drew the chapters focused on Bufkin. He used bright colors, and I thought he was especially good at rendering facial expressions. Well done!
  • General thoughts on the Wolf family: So many emotions in these chapters, and I couldn't get enough of them. What a roller coaster ride--plus Snow White ends on a bit of cliff hanger. Argh! But I loved how the final panels circled around to pick up the loose threads of Cubs in Toyland. The Wolf family story was drawn by Mark Buckingham, who is my favorite Fables illustrator. He draws an awesome Bigby.
  • Other stuff: In these two volumes, we learn more of Mrs. Sprat (now known as Leigh Duglas), Geppetto, and Beast (as in Beauty and the). We also discover something surprising about Leigh's former sword master. All of this promises to affect the future of the main characters and maybe of Fabletown itself.
Have I mentioned how sad I'm going to be when the final book comes out in July? Fortunately, I haven't yet read all the spin-offs, so I can stay with the Fable characters a little longer.

Both published by DC Comics / Vertigo
Cubs in Toyland, 2013, ISBN-13: 9781401237691
Snow White, 2014, ISBN-13: 9781401242480
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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15 April 2015

Wordless Wednesday 337

Spring Skies, 2015


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14 April 2015

Today's Read: Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew

Born with Teeth by Kate MulgrewImagine that it's the early 1970s and you have moved from America's heartland to the big city to learn to be an actor. Now suppose that you got your first major part when you were barely twenty years old. How would you cope with fame?

I started out in a green house with a red door in a small town, where mysteries abounded. Immediately after issuing me into the world, my mother took me to this house and put me in a shoebox, which she placed on the dining room table so that one and all might come and gaze upon my perfect miniature beauty. Hands like starfish, to hear her tell it, grave but ravishing cornflower-blue eyes, and, most remarkable of all, a set of baby teeth. Two pearls on top and two, nonpareil, on the bottom. Shakespeare, my mother said, would have a field day. The neighborhood ladies were not impressed and stood there in silent judgment with arms crossed over pregnant stomachs. It wasn’t good form to crow about your child’s beauty.
Born with Teeth: A Memoir by Kate Mulgrew (Hachette / Little, Brown, 2015, opening paragraph)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Iowa, New York City, Hollywood, Ireland, Europe
  • Circumstances: In her fascinating memoir, actress Kate Mulgrew tells her story from her Iowa childhood through to her work on Star Trek: Voyager.
  • People: Kate Mulgrew, her immediate family, her husbands, her children, her lovers, her closest friends, and various other significant people
  • Genre: memoir
  • What she talks about: Mulgrew is incredibly frank about her successes, her friendships and loves, and her family. but she also reveals the deepest, darkest moments of her life. She is forthcoming about the importance of her career and the difficulties she had juggling work, motherhood, marriage, and men. We are given plenty of stories, but Mulgrew doesn't hang out other people's dirty laundry
  • General thoughts: Loved the style of the book and the way Mulgrew tells a story. She lets us see her many sides: funny, sad, frustrated, practical, and reckless. Although she discusses her career (up to Star Trek), the memoir's focus is mostly on her private life, some difficult decisions she made, and her hope for a happy future. Engaging without being gossipy.
  • Audiobook: Mulgrew narrates the audiobook herself (Hachette Audio; 9 hr, 26 min). I thought she did a fabulous job and would recommend the audio edition without reservation. (My review will be published by AudioFile magazine.) Note that audiobook comes with a PDF containing the many photos that illustrate the book.
For a sample of the audiobook and of Mulgrew's writing, click on the play button in the widget below.

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13 April 2015

Review: Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

Natchez Burning by Greg IlesEven before Natchez Burning was nominated for multiple awards, there was a lot of buzz about Greg Iles's return to his mystery / thriller series set in the Deep South. Although Iles has written about fifteen books, this is my first time with him.

Natchez Burning is the fourth in a series starring Penn Cage, who is a mystery writer, prosecuting attorney, and now mayor. Despite some references to earlier cases, I didn't feel lost starting the series here. On the other hand, I have no doubt that readers who have read all the Penn Cage books will have a deeper connection to the characters, the city of Natchez, and the situations described in the book. Note that Natchez Burning is the first in a planned trilogy within the Penn Cage universe.

What's going on? Penn Cage's worst nightmare comes true when his father--a revered and much-loved physician--is accused of murdering a black woman who was once his nurse and rumored lover. Never mind that Viola was dying of cancer and that Dr. Tom Cage hadn't seen her in almost forty years, witnesses could place the doctor at her house the night she died of an apparent adrenaline overdose. Meanwhile, Viola's death also stirs up a local civil rights investigative reporter, a hate-crime syndicate, and many old wounds and personal rivalries. Can Penn clear his father's name before his father is sent to jail?

What I liked: Iles created a multilayered story that exposes some of the ugliness of the Jim Crow South and the still-unresolved racial divide. Although the bulk of the novel takes place in modern times, there are references to the postwar years, Korea, and the tumultuous 1960s. The description of the hate crimes and the people who instigated them are not for the weak-stomached. Iles tells it like it is/was. The characters and the emotional connections between them are realistic, and the complex political, ethical, and philosophical issues left me with a lot to think about.

What I didn't like: Iles packs quite a bit of story in this novel, and much of the background is given in long speeches in which one character is telling another about some important past event. There are also a number of passages in which characters are remembering their youth, so that readers can grasp the complexity of the situation or understand the motives or true beliefs of the individual in question. After awhile, however, I just craved more firsthand action instead the long recollections.

The ending: I got my wish for a lot of action here. The last quarter or so of Natchez Burning is pretty gripping: murders, potential killings, red herrings, people on the run, people getting captured . . . much to keep my interest. On the other hand, the ending doesn't resolve many issues, and we're left hanging as to the consequences of the final scenes. Iles has two more books planned for this story (book two is coming out this month), but I would have liked to have had a bit more resolution here.

Recommendations: I have mixed feelings about Natchez Burning. On the one hand, Greg Iles is a solid writer who is tackling important and difficult issues about hate and prejudice that still exist, even in the twenty-first century. On the other hand, I thought the book dragged in places and I didn't love the changes in point of view (third person to first person and back again). In the end, I'd give this book a solid three stars, meaning that it's worth reading, despite its flaws. Note that I do plan to read the other two books in the series because I've come to care about Penn Cage and his family. (See my thoughts on the audiobook, which could have affected my reactions to the novel.)

Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Harper Audio; 35 hr, 53 min) read by David Ledoux, who put in a nice performance. His pacing was spot-on and his characterizations were solid. I don't know the subtleties of Southern accents, but I thought Ledoux's accents were fine. Sometimes, however, a great narration cannot compensate for the problems in a novel. I ended up listening to this book on double time, just to get through some of the scenes in which the characters are remembering the past (see above). If I had read Natchez Burning in print, I would likely skimmed some of these parts. So again, I have a mixed recommendation: good performance, but you might want to up the speed on your player.

Here is Greg Iles, talking about Natchez Burning and the planned trilogy.


Published by HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780062311078
Source: Review (audio & eBook) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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11 April 2015

Weekend Cooking: Thoughts on Mark Bittman, Real Food, & Home Cooking

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. 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. For more information, see the welcome post.

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A Bone to Pick by Mark BittmanMark Bittman, cookbook author and New York Times columnist, has a definite viewpoint when it comes to how and what Americans eat. I happen to agree with most (all?) of what he has to say, so I try not to miss his articles when they appear on the Times Op-Ed page.

A Bone to Pick, available in bookstores on May 5, is a collection of Bittman's op-ed pieces, written over the last five years or so. His principal focus is on the connection between food and health and on issues of food safety, federal laws concerning food production and labeling, and agribusiness. He also talks a lot about real food and home cooking (a la Michael Pollan).

While I was listening to the audiobook edition of A Bone to Pick, I was struck over and over again by Bittman's lament about how younger people (not all of you, of course) don't really know how to cook. Is it the demise of home-ec in high schools? Or is it the power of fast-food advertising? (Bittman has things to say about this.)

cbl © www.BethFishReads.comRegardless of the cause, the idea made a strong impression on me because I was in the middle of my busiest season, and yet in the six weeks I worked every single day, I think we had take-out only three times and almost no processed foods.

I don't say this to be holier than thou or to brag. Instead I'm interested in starting a conversation.

First, I think I need to point out how I'm likely different from you:
  • I work at home.
  • I don't have to feed children.
  • My husband is easygoing about what time we eat.
  • I have been cooking for many years.
All of these facts are significant. Especially not having kids, which can fundamentally change the game. Working at home is big because I can get dinner started and then return to work. Experience and ease in the kitchen are also huge because I don't find the whole cooking dinner thing to be stressful. I know I can throw something together . . . perhaps made possible by Mr. BFR's total acceptance of whatever I serve.

Although I didn't bother take photographs (the photos are from random meals in my files), I decided to track our dinners for a week to see how much real food I served and to get an idea of what we eat when I'm crazy busy.
  • Sunday: grilled salmon, tossed salad, braised endive
  • Monday: roasted chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, tossed salad
  • Tuesday: leftovers
  • Wednesday: pasta with a light tomato sauce, asparagus, tossed salad
  • Thursday: lentil soup with broccoli rabe and various other veggies
  • Friday: leftovers
  • Saturday: risotto with asparagus
cbl © www.BethFishReads.comThe only processed foods were the canned diced tomatoes and whole-grain pasta. Other than that, everything was fresh or homemade (even the salad dressing). Using the pressure cooker, I was able to get the lentils and risotto made fairly quickly and painlessly. And roasting is pretty much totally hands-off. Also, these are all dishes I've made so many times that I don't have to use a recipe.

So what do you think? Could you have a week like this? Am I nuts? What if you moved the roasted chicken to the weekend?

 Is it possible to eat real food, made at home, every night? It is for me, but what's it like for those of you who commute to work or who have young children or who need to juggle their kids' after-school activities? Can you do it? Do you even want to try? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Note: My audiobook review of this title will be published by AudioFile magazine.
Published by Crown / Pam Krauss Books, May 5, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780804186544
Source: Review (audio) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


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09 April 2015

6 Cozy Spring Mysteries: A Round-Up

Now that my busy season has ended (Yay!) and April showers have begun (mixed feelings), I'm looking forward to indulging in some cozy mysteries, one of my go-to genres for comfort and escape.

I'm featuring two Penguin Random House imprints today: Berkley Prime Crime and Obsidian, and all six books are out this month. Let the rains come! I'm ready to spend a few lazy afternoons meeting some great amateur sleuths and trying to figure out who done it.

Demise in Denim by Duffy Brown, Shadow of a Spout by Amanda Cooper, Death Come Quickly by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Demise in Denim is the fourth installment in Duffy Brown's popular Consignment Shop series set in Savannah Georgia. Our hero is Reagan Summerside, who runs a consignment shop out of the first floor of her historic Victorian house. In this mystery, Reagan must help the lawyer she claims to hate beat a murder rap. Reviewers comment on the likeable characters, twisty plot, and fun romance. (Berkley, ISBN: 9780425274705)
  • The star of Amanda Cooper's Teapot Collector mysteries is Sophie Taylor, a chef who leaves the big city to work in her grandmother's tea room in Gracious Grove, New York. In Shadow of a Spout, the second in the series, Sophie's grandmother is accused of murder while attending a teapot collectors' convention. Tea, sweets, and antiques add charm to this light mystery. (Berkley, ISBN: 9780425265246)
  • Susan Wittig Albert's twenty-third China Bayles mystery, Death Come Quickly, was published last year, but is now out in paperback. The protagonist is a lawyer-turned-herbalist living in Pecan Springs, Texas. When a friend of hers is mugged and killed, China wonders if her late-friend, a filmmaker, was about to shed light on a cold-case murder. China must solve both crimes, with the help of a lawyer friend, before she becomes the next victim (Berkley, ISBN: 9780425255636)
The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco by Laura DiSilverio, Wicked Stitch by Amanda Lee, Buy a Whisker by Sofie Ryan
  • If you're looking for a first in series, give Laura DiSilverio's The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco a try. When she's not running her event-planning business Amy-Faye Johnson is enjoying life in the small town of Heaven, Colorado, and reading books with her fellow Readaholics. When one of the women in the book club turns up dead, Amy-Faye is on the case. Quirky characters and a close-knit group of friends make this a fun mystery. (Obsidian, ISBN: 9780451470836)
  • The seventh installment of Amanda Lee's Embroidery series takes us to a Renaissance Faire, where our hero, Mary Singer, finds herself in a tangle of trouble. In Wicked Stitch, Marcy, who owns a needlework shop in Tallulah Falls, Oregon, is dismayed when she sees that her enemy in thread has the booth next to hers. But things really heat up when the knitter is found strangled and Marcy becomes the prime suspect. Reviewers note the good humor and well-paced plot of this hobby-themed cozy. (Obsidian, ISBN: 9780451467409)
  • Buy a Whisker is the second book in the Second Chance Cat series by Sofie Ryan. Sarah Grayson and her cat, Elvis, are focused on running their secondhand goods store in North Harbor, Maine, until the townsfolk begin talking about a waterfront development. When a woman who has been resisting change is found murdered in her bakery, Sarah turns her attention to solving the crime, getting some help from her friends. This mystery has it all: super friendships, a lie-detecting cat, and a hint of love. (Obsidian, ISBN: 9780451419958)

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07 April 2015

Wordless Wednesday 336

After the Rain, 2015

cbl © www.BethFishReads.com

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Gone Visiting

Today I'm visiting the collaborative blog Book Bloggers International to help celebrate their month-long immersion in the world of comics and graphic novels.

Head on over to check out my thoughts on the C-Word (probably not what you're thinking): Fear of the C-Word.

Once you're there, be sure to read the guest posts from last week and bookmark the site for future articles, reviews, and fun posts about comics and graphic novels. I'm afraid my wish list is going to explode.

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06 April 2015

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Queen of the Tearling by Erika JohansenLast summer, everyone was all a-buzz about the first volume in a new fantasy series by Erika Johansen. I had every good intention to either read or listen to The Queen of the Tearling right away, but life or other books or work or something got in the way.

A few weeks ago, I received a finished copy of the paperback edition, with its pretty red cover. When I tweeted about the book, so many people in my feed told me how much they loved it, I decided to get right to it. Especially because the second book in the Tearling series is coming out in early summer.

Here are my thoughts in a bullet review.

What happens: Nineteen-year-old Kelsea Raleigh Glynn has been raised in isolation by foster parents. All she really knows about herself is that her mother was a queen and that she is to inherit the throne some day. When that day comes, Kelsea is turned over to the Queen's Guard and is taken to New London and the castle keep. Full of book learning and high ideals, Kelsea must win over her guard and her kingdom, make changes, appease her uncle (who has served as regent), and protect her citizens. The first change she implements, however, has broad-reaching and potentially disastrous results.

Time period, genre, and such: Although The Queen of the Tearling is billed as a fantasy, it's really a mix of alternate history, dystopian, and yes, fantasy wrapped up in a kind of coming-of-age story. I really don't know how else to describe it. The time is the twenty-fourth century, and Kelsea's country, somewhere in what was once Europe, has lost most of its technology. There are no computers, electricity, or even advanced medicine. Three hundred years earlier, the poor and disgruntled climbed into boats and left America to find a new life. Stories of life before the Crossing abound, but in the Tearling and in the neighboring country of Mortmesne, technology is once again at the level of the Dark Ages. There is, however, magic, but we don't yet know who controls it and whether it is good or evil.

Why I love Kelsea: Hold on to your hats, Kelsea is like no other heroine of young adult fantasy, dystopian, or alternate history you've ever met. First, she is not drop-dead gorgeous. In fact, she is rather plain, knows it, and isn't overly bothered by it. Second, although she is learning to use a knife and sword, she is not a master with these weapons. Third, she is focused on the job at hand: ruling her kingdom in the best way possible. Fourth, she is curious, willing to learn, and self-confident enough to admit that she doesn't know everything. Fifth, although she definitely notices guys, there is no love story (not yet, anyway). Whenever she finds her mind turning toward a cute man, she reprimands herself, pulling her attention back to her duties. She is strong yet vulnerable and is confused and scared by the magical powers that have suddenly become available to her. She also has a bad temper, which she works hard to curb.

Other characters: The men of the guard, the women Kelsea brings to court, and the other people who are important to the plot have definite personalities, hidden histories, and complex emotions. Very few people are flat or difficult to envision.

Plot notes: Not for the faint of heart: there are battle scenes, knifings, arguments, betrayals, and recklessness. There are also moments of loyalty and sacrifice. Johansen doesn't lay everything out in the first book, so we have plenty more to discover, and it's not clear exactly how Kelsea is going to defeat her enemies. We get a good sense of the Tearling, often through Kelsea's eyes as she learns about New London, the Keep, and life outside the forest in which she was raised.

Audiobook: Katherine Kellgren reads the unabridged audiobook (Harper Audio; 14 hr, 30 min) with great enthusiasm and emotion. For the first few minutes, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the narration, but Kellgren grew on me, and I loved how she enhanced the action and drama of the story.  Her pacing was excellent and so were her characterizations, both male and female. If you opt for the audiobook, I do recommend giving it about a half hour. As I said, the beginning of Kellgren's performance was a bit off-putting, but I soon found myself entranced.

Recommendation: Erika Johansen's The Queen of the Tearling breaks new ground in young adult fiction. It's refreshing to find a smart, focused female heroine who is down to earth and very human. Read this novel soon, so you're ready for the second book in the series--The Invasion of the Tearling--which comes out in June.


Published by HarperCollins / Harper Paperbacks, April 2015
ISBN-13: 9780062290380
Source: Review (audio, print) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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04 April 2015

Weekend Cooking: Le Chef (movie)

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. 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. For more information, see the welcome post.

_______
Le Chef (film)When I'm swamped with work, one of my stress-reducers is to watch a light movie. It's even better if the movie calls to my foodie side.

The French film Le Chef, directed by Daniel Cohen, was the perfect remedy for this spring's crazy editing schedule.

Young Jacky Bonnet (Michaël Youn) dreams of being a cutting-edge chef but can't hold down a job in a restaurant. He has definite ideas and isn't afraid to make radical changes. The problem is that his bosses don't appreciate Jacky's unsolicited advice.

Meanwhile world-renown chef Alexandre Lagarde (Jean Reno) is worried about losing his job despite running a three-star restaurant. His backer wants him to move away from classic cuisine and instead embrace the high-tech foods of the twenty-first century.

When Alexandre and Jacky meet, neither of them will ever be the same again.

Le Chef is an entertaining, feel-good movie with lots of amazing food scenes. This movie is less about the restaurant business and more a story of unlikely buddies with little romance to boot. The acting is great and the humor is well paced. Yes, you'll likely be able to guess the ending, but who really cares when you're having this much fun and seeing so many incredible-looking meals.

Put Le Chef on your streaming list and be prepared to feel some kitchen inspiration. Bon Appetit.


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02 April 2015

Reading on Topic: 3 Books for Dog Lovers

Although the Beth Fish Reads household is currently petless (sad face), we both grew up in families of dog lovers and have a soft spot in our hearts for four-legged companions.

All three books in today's Reading On Topic: Dogs are perfect for animal lovers. The first might turn you into an animal rights activist, and the others will make you smile and maybe even cry a little. In any case, you'll want to add all of them to your reading list.

A Matter of Breeding by Michael BrandowA Matter of Breeding by Michael Brandow (Beacon Press, 2015, ISBN: 9780807033432). This is a well-crafted exposé on how kennel clubs, dog shows, and status-seeking humans have caused much pain and suffering for their dog companions--all in the name of purity of breed. Journalist turned dog-care professional, Brandow relies on a combination of research and personal experience to demonstrate how breeding for "desirable" traits has led to numerous medical problems for the dogs in question. For example, some breeds have chronic breathing problems, congenitally weak bones, and even digestive issues. Written in an easy-to-read style, A Matter of Breeding is an important book for every dog lover.

Good Dog edited by David DibenedettoGood Dog edited by David Dibenedetto (HarperWave, 2014, ISBN: 9780062242358). Editor Dibenedetto put together a collection of beautifully written short pieces about man's best friend, all of which first appeared in the "Good Dog" column of Garden & Gun magazine. All kinds of authors--from novelist Jill McCorkle to humorist Roy Blount Jr and journalist T. Edward Nickens--contributed their recollections of working dogs, rescue dogs, and family companions. Humor, love, and respect radiate from these personal stories of people and their pets. Some of my favorites are the stories of the role dogs played in bringing couples together and the sweet recollections of favorite childhood pets. Put Good Dog on your bedside table and read these moving tales (tails?) one or two at a time.

Dog Crazy by Meg DonohueDog Crazy by Meg Donohue (William Morrow, 2015, ISBN: 9780062331038). Author Meg Donohue makes no secret of her love of furry friendship in her newest novel. This story is about Maggie Brennan, who works as a pet bereavement counselor and volunteers as a dog rescuer, and focuses on how important our pets are in our daily lives and how their love can heal the most troubled soul. The deep emotions surrounding the loss of a much-loved dog are lightened with humor, romance, and a mystery. I haven't yet read this novel, but the reviews of Dog Crazy assure me that despite the potential for tears, the story is ultimately uplifting. This sounds like the perfect read for a lazy Saturday afternoon, especially with a cup of tea and a beloved dog or two curled up at your side. (And I can't help but love the cover!)

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2017. All rights reserved.

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