29 February 2016

Review: The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time by Sharon GuskinSharon Guskin's The Forgetting Time explores reincarnation and what happens when a child remembers his previous life and how he died.

The plot: The novel centers on Janie, a single mother, and her four-year-old son, Noah, who has an unusually strong aversion to taking baths. He also suffers from nightmares, and most heartbreaking is when he wakes up crying, wanting to know when he can go home to his other mother. When he starts to make up stories at preschool, some involving guns, the teachers threaten to call family services, and Janie realizes she needs help.

Ex-psychology professor Jerry Anderson, a widower who's been given a devastating diagnosis of a degenerative cognitive disease, researches reincarnation. His specialty is cases in which a child retains memories of his or her last life. Noah will likely be his last chance to prove his theories, while helping the boy settle into the life ahead of him.

What I liked: Guskin infuses the plot with a hint of mystery and even suspense. Is Anderson there to help Janie and Noah or are his motivations purely selfish? Does Noah actually remember his last life, his mother, his brother, and even his favorite baseball team or does he have psychological problems? Is Janie the loving mother she seems to be? These questions kept me invested in the story. I felt bad for Noah and Janie, both of whom clearly needed help, and I was curious about Anderson's techniques.

What I didn't like: Interspersed throughout the novel are case stories of other people and their possible memories of a previous live. Although these excerpts come from a real book (by Jim B. Tucker), I admit I started to skim them so I could get back to the main story. In addition, the book ends with an epilogue, which, of course, gives us glimpse into the future. I'm not sure it added all that much to the story, and I would have been happy to have things end where there did in the last chapter.

Recommendation: Sharon Guskin's The Forgetting Time is one of those books that draws you in completely. I loved the premise and cared enough about Noah to read the book quickly so I could find out what happens. I like novels that make me think about broader questions and that explore alternative ways to explain the world around me. The Forgetting Time does both. Bonus: This is an Amy Einhorn book, which is pretty much a recommendation all in itself.

Published by Flatiron Books, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781250076427
Source: Review--audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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27 February 2016

Weekend Cooking: Cooked (Film Series)

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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Cooked: documentary series from Michael PollanDid you know that Michael Pollan (Food Rules, The Omnivore's Dilemma) has a new documentary series called Cooked airing on Netflix? Season 1 consists of four hour-long films and they are available for streaming now.

Cooked looks at one of the most human of activities: cooking food. In the first episode, "Fire" (the only one I've seen so far), Pollan examines humankind's close link with fire, not only as our most basic form of food prep but also our instinctual draw to sit around the fire and trade stories.

Besides talking to experts, such as an anthropologist and food scientist, Pollan talks with everyday people who are involved intimately with their food. We go to western Australia, where we see how one family engages in very traditional hunting and cooking. Then we go to the American South and learn about southern barbecue and watch a pit master at work. We also get a glimpse of backyard urban ingenuity for slow roasting meat in a makeshift oven. Along the way we also meet some pigs and their people.

Cooked, at least the episode I watched, is not meant to knock you over the head with politics or shocking stats. Instead, the film helps us connect to our food and the longstanding cultural traditions that make us who we are. The film gave me a few things to think about and made me incredibly glad I live in area with a half dozen farmers markets and many local food producers. Plus I enjoyed meeting the people Pollan talked to.

Tonight I'll be binge watching the other three episodes, titled (no surprise) "Water," "Air," and "Earth." The other films focus on different parts of the world and different parts of our diet. While "Fire" was meat-centric, the other episodes have segments on bread, cheese, chocolate, and vegetables.

Take a look at the trailer to get a feel for what you'll see.


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25 February 2016

Review & Giveaway: The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Immortals by Jordanna Max BrodskyWe all know that the gods walked the earth with humans in ancient Greece, but few realize they are among us still. Even in Manhattan.

In Jordanna Max Brodsky's The Immortals we meet the gods in the modern world. They live on, though not necessarily in their former glory, and the days of romping carefree on Mount Olympus are long gone.

This tense thriller focuses on Selene DiSilva (aka Artemis) and her personal mission to avenge women who have been victims of violent crime. As Selene investigates the murder of a university professor, she begins to suspect a deeper scheme, one that may involve some ex-Olympians. The solution to the crime will have far-reaching consequences, and Selene is forced to make some hard choices.

Brodsky's first in a new series excels in the tense plot and excellent world building and particularly in the re-imagined gods. In The Immortals we see how a few thousand years have affected the once mighty Greek pantheon. I liked being re-introduced to the myths and seeing the relationships among the gods from a new perspective.

The Immortals, a genre-bending tale geared to an adult audience, should find wide appeal, hooking mythology lovers, urban fantasy fans, and mystery/thriller readers alike.

Learn More

  • You can read the first chapter here.
  • You can learn more about the author by liking her on Facebook and following her on Twitter.
  • Follow all things The Immortals by searching for #OlympusBound.
  • Don't miss Brodsky's website, where you can find more information about the Greek Gods and see photos of many of the places mentioned in the book.
  • Oh and here's a short video, which tells you a little more about the plot.

The Giveaway
Thanks to the nice people at Orbit Books, I have a very cool giveaway for one of my readers with a USA mailing address. One of you will get not only a copy of the book The Immortals but a super goddess sweatshirt too. (Click the image to get a better look.) All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner on March 7 using a random number generator. Once the winner has been confirmed and I've passed his or her name and address along to the publisher, I'll erase all personal information from my computer.

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24 February 2016

Wordless Wednesday 382

Winter Evening, 2016


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23 February 2016

Today's Read & Giveaway: Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon

Review: Flight of Dreams by Ariel LawhonImagine what it would be like to fly across the ocean in the most luxurious airship ever built. For the ninety-seven people (passengers and crew) who climbed aboard the Hindenburg in early May 1937, the journey was pregnant with hope, fear, secrecy, freedom, and even love. Not one, however, could imagine that the journey would end in a fiery hell that would consume a third of them, without regard to age, sex, nationality, or prospects.

Day One: 3 days, 6 hours, and 8 minutes until the explosion.
The Stewardess

"It's a bad idea, don't you think?" Emilie asks, standing inside the kitchen door, propping it open with her foot. "Striking a match in here? You could blow us all to oblivion."
Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon (Doubleday, 2016, chap. 1; uncorrected proofs)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: on board the Hindenburg, flying from Germany to the United States, 1937
  • Plot summary: A well-researched imagining of the final flight of the Hindenburg. In this novel, we meet the passengers and crew of ill-fated airship, as author Lawhon marries the facts with her imagination to build a plausible scenario to explain the cause of the explosion.
  • Genre: historical fiction
  • Characters: The book is told alternately through the eyes of several crew members (such as the stewardess, the cabin boy, and the navigator) as well as some of the passengers (including a mysterious American man and a German woman journalist). Lawhon combed through period sources and firsthand accounts of the flight and disaster to develop the characters' personalities and re-create life on board the beautiful ship.
  • Hindenburg disaster, in the public domain
  • General thoughts on the plot: Tension builds as we learn the backstory of each character and discover possible motives for sabotage, especially in relation to Nazi Germany. At the same time, we see mistakes, a little inattention, and some relaxing of the rules; could any of these be the trigger to disaster? Lawhorn plants clues to several possible endings, and when the horrible moment comes, it's almost impossible to put the book down until we see what happens and who survives. (click photo to enlarge)
  • Things to know: Although Lawhon took a few liberties with the facts and used her imagination (outlined in an author's note), the ultimate fate of the characters and the many vivid details are right out of history.
  • Recommendation: Flight of Dreams is perfect for historical fiction fans, history geeks, and readers who like suspense and a little mystery. I was fascinated with the workings of the ship and found several characters to root for. Put this on your reading list.
  • Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Random House Audio; 12 hr, 45 min) read by John Lee, the king of historical fiction. My full audio review will be published by AudioFile magazine, but the bottom line is this: don't hesitate to listen.
The Giveaway

Thanks to the nice people at Penguin Random House, I'm happy to be able to offer one of my readers with a U.S. mailing address a print copy of Ariel Lawhon's Flight of Dreams. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner, via a random number generator, on March 4. Once the winner has been confirmed and I've passed the name and address along to the publisher, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!

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22 February 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Reading Recommendations Plus a Le Tote Giveaway

This time of year, most of my reading consists of manuscripts. I'm currently busy editing the books you'll see at the stores in late summer to fall. I've been working a nice variety: historical fiction, contemporary fiction, food and drink, textbooks, and literary criticism. All interesting and fun to edit.

I'm recommending historical fiction: In my role as a SheKnows Expert, I recommend 11 books that will introduce you to interesting people and give you insight to past events and times. Click on through and be prepared to add to your reading wish list.

Reading with my ears. Audiobooks are always my friend, but these days, they're my salvation. I just finished Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson and read by Tavia Gilbert for a freelance assignment from AudioFile magazine. The short take is this: Don't miss it! Next up is The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee and read by Lisa Flanagan. This novel has gotten a lot of buzz, so I hope it lives up to the hype.


Print middle grade reads. I was planning on writing another middle grade roundup this winter, but time got away from me. I really enjoyed Chloe in India by Kate Darnton, which touches on themes of fitting in and respecting people for who they are instead of what they look like or or their cultural background. The Goblin's Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton has a fairy tale kind of feel to it and stars a slave boy with no name and two girls named Alice. Adults will likely figure out the story (because of its familiar elements), but I think middle grade boys and girls will have fun figuring out how the kids will solve the puzzle, save the kingdom, and free the boy.


Print adult books. Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra is an intriguing collection of linked stories set in Russia that focuses on the lives of a handful of people from the Soviet purges into modern times. Woven throughout are themes of art, family, survival, resourcefulness, friendship, love, and hope. Put this one on your list. The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian is a little bit mystery and a whole lot character study. I love stories that explore how a life can change completely in a single instant, and I always admire Bohjalian's ability to shed light on important issues (this time contemporary human trafficking). The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner is an amazing memoir of a woman who grew up in a polygamous community, sometimes in Mexico and sometimes just north of the border. Fascinating, sometimes difficult, and often eye-opening, this memoir is well written and emotionally strong.

Giveaways! I have two great book giveaways scheduled for this week, so come on back and enter them both. Today, however, I have a different kind of giveaway. The nice people over at Le Tote, a clothes and accessories rental program (see my review here), have given me three invitations for free trial totes! If you haven't ever tried Le Tote and you live in the 48 contiguous United States and want to give this rental program a try, then fill out the form for a chance to win one of the free totes (be sure to read my review or visit Le Tote so you understand the service). This is a quicky giveaway; I'll pick three winners on Friday via a random number generator. Once I provide your full name and email address to Le Tote, they'll help you set up your free trial, and I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!

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20 February 2016

Weekend Cooking: 6 Podcasts for Food Lovers

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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podcasts for food lovers from www.BethFishReads.comThis past week I was hanging out on Twitter, as I'm wont to do, and got into a conversation with Heather from Capricious Reader and Kerry from Entomology of a Bookworm about salads. Yes, we're like that. Anyway, that conversation went along several tangents and ended up at food-related podcasts. And thus this post was born. Thank you Heather and Kerry.

Truth be told, when I have time to listen to words, I usually turn to an audiobook. But sometimes, I just need a short foodie fix, and that's where podcasts come in. I never remember to listen to the book podcasts, even ones hosted by my friends. But there are six food podcasts I listen to on a pretty regular basis. So what does that say about me?

Just like the old David Letterman top ten lists, I present my top six foodie podcasts in reverse order of how often I listen. This isn't so much an indication of quality as it is my own quirky tastes.

All these podcasts are available for free, and the links lead to the podcasts' websites. In case you're wondering, I use the Casts app for listening on my phone, and I use iTunes for listening through my home Sonos speaker. (Rights to the logos remain with the podcast copyright holders.)

6. Wine for Normal People (length = ~45 min; frequency = 3 times a month)
This show is a fun podcast that takes us to tasting rooms and vineyards and to gift shops and wine stores. Topic include everything wine related. The quality is sometimes a little off (think live, on-site recordings in tasting rooms), and host Elizabeth Schneider is known to veer off course, but the show is informative, lively, and definitely not snobby.

5. The Sporkful (length = ~20 min; frequency = weekly)
I love the tagline of this podcast hosted by Dan Pashman: "It's not for foodies, it's for eaters." The topics span the imagination from fun (eating popcorn at the theater) to serious (eating disorders) and everything in between. You'll hear from all kinds of guest, including food writers, comedians, and bloggers.

4. Eat Your Words (length = ~30 min; frequency = weekly)
If you're a cookbook and food writing freak, this podcast from the Heritage Radio Network is for you. The focus is all about food writers and their work, and the range of books is amazing: memoirs, cookbooks, farmers markets, and how-tos. It's a great way to meet all your favorite people in the food world and add to your TBR.

3. Spilled Milk (length = ~30 min; frequency = weekly)
You might recognize Molly Wizenberg from her blog and her memoirs, but you might not know she and Matthew Amster-Buron host a food-lovers' podcast. Here's how it works: each episode concentrates on a specific food, so we can learn all things, say crouton or cocoa nib or nacho. Good entertainment plus educational.

2. The Splendid Table (length = ~ 1 hr; frequency = weekly)
This podcast from American Public Radio is hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and covers a great variety of food topics. I enjoy the Road Food segment with Jane and Michael Stern, the investigations into ingredients, and the descriptions of recipes. Guest have included Melissa Clark, Michael Rulham, and Yotam Ottolenghi. Recipes available on the website.

1. Burnt Toast (length = ~30 min; frequency = two times a month)
This fabulous podcast comes from the wonderful Food52 people. The show covers all kinds of food issues from health and politics to food trends, cookbooks, and recipes. Their guest list is pretty amazing too: Nigella Lawson, Calvin Trillin, Ruth Reichl, and Oliver Strand. This is always informative and fun to listen to.

There are many other food-related podcasts that I'm curious about but haven't listened to. What are your favorites?

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18 February 2016

Review: Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

Review: Black Rabbit Hall by Eve ChaseI was attracted to Eve Chase's debut novel, Black Rabbit Hall, because the premise hit some of my can't-resist buttons: Gothic, rambling Cornish estate, dual time periods, and a bit of mystery. Plus I really loved the cover and the title (I'm kind of shallow like that).

The basic setup: The story of what happens at Black Rabbit Hall, a country home owned for several generations by the Alton family, is told from two perspectives, separated by about thirty years. In the late 1960s, fifteen-year-old Amber Alton introduces us to the magic of the estate, where her happy family is spending a school holiday. As a storm blows in off the ocean, we sense something foreboding.

In the twenty-first century, Lorna Dunaway and her fiance, Jon, are lost on a rainy afternoon, trying to find Pencraw Hall, a Cornish estate, recently billed as a wedding venue. Lorna's family often vacationed in Cornwall, and she's determined to get married there, in part to honor her recently deceased mother. When the couple finally find the house, they learn the locals refer to it as Black Rabbit Hall. Although Jon is leery and is ready to return to London, Lorna accepts an invitation from the elderly Mrs. Alton to come back alone and spend a weekend to familiarize herself with the house and grounds.

As the dark secrets of Black Rabbit Hall are revealed, so too are far-reaching consequences brought about by the actions of a selfish, evil woman.

Genre: literary fiction with Gothic tones, including a Cornish country house furnished with secrets

Themes: family, loss, mothers, siblings, being caught in the between places

Characters: Each person we meet within the walls of Black Rabbit Hall is emotionally authentic and easy to envision. The characters are complex and motivated by conflicting circumstances. I may have hated what some of them did, but I believed they acted consistently with their personalities, age, and situation.

General thoughts: Eve Chase's Black Rabbit Hall is wrought with atmosphere, tension, and enough mystery to keep us invested, even in the characters we dislike. I was able to imagine how special Black Rabbit Hall was to the young Amber and understood her devastation and confusion when her world collapsed. As Lorna is pulled to the house and its history, we feel the range of her reactions from curiosity to enchantment and then to horror and disbelief. I was as caught up in her journey as I was in Amber's.

A couple more things: (1) Black Rabbit Hall is not meant to have a big mystery with a huge reveal; instead, most of us will soon have an idea of where the story is going. On the other hand I doubt anyone will figure out all the details. And, as they say, the devil is in those details. (2) I usually really hate epilogues, but in this case it seems to work. I think Chase was right in jumping us ahead a few months to create the final scene. It was satisfying to have a clearer idea of where the characters were heading.

Thoughts on the Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 12 hr, 6 min), which was read by Nathalie Buscombe, Katie Scarfe, and Cassandra Campbell. No point being coy: The performances were excellent. Each narrator perfectly captured the novel's ambiance and nailed the characters' personalities. The smooth transitions between the readers kept me fully immersed in the story and on track for whose perspective (Amber's or Lorna's) was being presented. The narrators were equally adept at building the tension and drawing out the suspense. Even after I had figured out one of the principal plot points. I was still glued to every word.

I'm sure I would have loved Eve Chase's Black Rabbit Hall in print, but I'm grateful I chose the audiobook. It's one of my favorites of the year so far -- and will likely make my best-of list for 2016.

Published by Penguin Random House / Putnam, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780399174124
Source: Review--audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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17 February 2016

Wordless Wednesday 381

Marsh Preserve, 2016


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16 February 2016

BBAW 2016: Day 2: Getting to Know a Blogger (Interview)

I'm so happy that the wonderful women at The Estella Society have brought back Book Blogger Appreciation Week, first conceived and run by Amy of My Friend Amy in 2008.

Despite my support and enthusiasm, I'm currently swamped with work, so my participation will be limited. One thing I wanted to be sure to do, though, was sign up for the blogger interviews.

The interviews are a fantastic way to get to know other bloggers, so make a point of clicking on over to The Estella Society to find more Q&As with your fellow book enthusiasts. But first stick around to meet Curtis.

Curtis blogs over at Convergence Book Reviews, where he shares his thoughts on what's he's reading and talks about some book events he's attended. Listen in while he and I visit. Oh, and don't forget to head on over to Convergence Book Reviews to see my answers to his questions.

Me: The first thing I noticed when I visited your blog is that we overlap on very few books. You read a lot of M/M romance, and I haven't read any. What two books would you recommend to someone new to the genre?

Curtis: There are some really great writers in the genre, who I think sometimes get overlooked because it’s seen as a niche and the books don’t often make it to the mainstream. If I had to choose two books, I’d start with Greenwode by J. Tullos Hennig. It’s an incredibly rich retelling of the Robin Hood story, which is a story I’ve always enjoyed in its many variations. It’s definitely one of my favorite books I’ve read. The second I’d recommend would probably be The River Leith by Leta Blake. It’s about an amateur boxer who suffers a brain injury and loses three years of his memories—including all memories of his boyfriend and taking him back to a time when he hadn’t thought loving a man was a possibility. It’s a well-written, emotional, and inspiring story.
Me: Wow, both those books sound amazing. I was just saying the other day how much I like retellings, so the first book is likely a good match for me. The second book sounds emotionally powerful. Your blog is solidly about the books, which is a good thing. But can you tell us what else you like to do besides read?
Curtis: I’m an avid fan of the arts, especially music and theatre, and I find time to be active both as a patron and volunteer in my local community. I’m a freelance proofreader, currently contracted with two fiction publishers, and I also spend some of my online time as a co-chair of the Volunteers & Recruiting Committee of the Organization for Transformative Works, a non-profit organization that strives to provide access to and preserve fanworks and fan culture.
Me: I didn't realize you were a fellow freelancer—that's a fun connection between us. How cool that you're active in the arts community. Now, of course, I have to know what prompted you to start a book blog.
Curtis: I’ve always been an avid reader, and I often have people come to me for book recommendations. I found that it would be not only an opportunity for me to share some of my thoughts on books more broadly, but it could also be a catalyst to help me stay on top of my reading goals. The authors and publishers that I’ve been able to engage with as a result of starting the blog have served as an added benefit that helps keep me going.
Me: I too love the interaction with other book people. Now if only I were better at meeting my reading goals. I see that you went to the Gay Romance Northwest Meetup last year. Can you tell us where and when will it be held this year? Any advice for a first-time attendee?
Curtis: Gay Romance Northwest will be held on Saturday, September 24 in Seattle. It’s a day-long gathering of authors, editors, publishers, bloggers, reviewers, and readers with a connection to LGBTQ fiction and romance. My recommendation to a first-time attendee would be to plan to stay for the whole day. Things usually get started in the morning and go into the night, but there is just so much to offer. The schedule usually includes panels for current and aspiring writers, reader discussions, sessions exploring the state and future of the genre, a book fair/author meet-and-greet, and a celebratory event to end out the day. Attendees also typically leave with some great author swag and free books generously provided by authors and publishers.
Me: This sounds like a fantastic event for all kinds of book lovers. Seattle is too far for me to travel, but I hope those of you in the Northwest seriously consider attending. My last question is this: You've decided not to post one- and two-star reviews, a decision lots of book bloggers make. Do you tend to skip negative reviews when you read other blogs? How do you feel about people writing posts about books they gave up on (DNFs)?
Curtis: I don’t really have a strong opinion on people posting negative or DNF reviews on their blogs, and if I see one, I don’t necessarily just skip past it. The reason I decided not to post one- or two-star reviews is the I see my blog as a place to recommend books. Recognizing that I’m probably not recommending a one- or two-star review, I prefer to focus my energy on sharing the books I really enjoyed. Everyone has their own approach, and it’s often through seeing a variety of opinions that people can really find what might be of interest.
Me: I totally understand the idea of wanting to be a source for recommendations. I agree too that a variety of opinions is important. I enjoy reading negative reviews, if they're respectfully written.

I hope you added Convergence Book Reviews to you blog reader and had fun getting to know Curtis. I'm all about expanding my horizons, and it's great to know I that I now have a reliable source for recommended M/M romance. Plus the two books he suggested in the interview have already made it to my wish list.

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15 February 2016

Review: The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley

Review: Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis RidleyDo you know who Jeanne Baret was? I didn't until 2010, when I received a review copy of Glynis Ridley's well-researched biography, The Discovery of Jeanne Baret. The subtitle of book pretty much acts as a summary: "A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe."

If I didn't already know the answer, I'd ask why we never learned about Baret in school, despite her voyage with Louis-Antoine de Bougainville and her collection of thousands of plant specimens from around the world. In any case, we can be grateful to Ridley for bringing Baret's story to a wide audience.

Jeanne Baret was a French herbalist who was hired by botanist Philibert Commerson to teach him about the medicinal properties of plants. The pair fell in love, although Commerson was already married. Soon after his wife died, Commerson was offered a chance join Bougainville's 1766 around-the-world expedition, studying, exploring, and collecting plant life wherever the ships anchored. Commerson couldn't possibly do all the work himself, but the only person qualified to be his assistant was Baret.

Women were forbidden on board French naval ships, so Baret bound her breasts, dressed as a boy, and joined the crew to help Commerson with his scientific work. Baret's story, however, is about much more than a cross-dressing woman bucking the system. The biography describes the ardors of life at sea and the incredible fear and isolation Baret endured while hiding her identity from the ships' three hundred sailors.

Ridley relied on diaries, ship logs, contemporary biographies, and historical documents to tease out Baret's story. I was especially disturbed by differing accounts of the circumstances under which the crew discovered Baret was really a woman. In one account, the revelation is almost humorous, but in others it's downright horrific. What really happened and how did Baret manage to continue to live in close quarters will all those men once her secret was exposed?

In addition I had mixed feelings about Commerson and his complicated personal and professional relationship with Baret. Did he really love her or did he use her? I'm still working that out.

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret introduces us to a brave, resourceful, and intelligent woman who paid an incredible personal price to pursue her science. I was fascinated by the story of her decision to accompany Commerson, her survival at sea, and her eventual return to France. Although Glynis Ridley verges on historical fiction in her biography, the factual account of Jeanne Baret's journey is well worth reading.

A note on the audiobook: Although I've had a copy of The Discovery of Jeanne Baret for about six years, I didn't read it until I was offered the chance to listen to the audiobook for a freelance assignment. The unabridged audio edition (Audible Studios; 9 hr, 37 min) is read by Gabriella Cavallero, who was easy to understand and had a believable French accent, although my overall take on her performance was fairly neutral. My full audio review will be available through AudioFile magazine.

Published by Crown, 2010
ISBN-13: 9780307463524
Source: Review--audio & print (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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13 February 2016

Weekend Cooking: More on Meal Planning

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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adventures in meal planning @ www.BethFishReads.comI've written about my conversion to meal planning before, including a few lessons learned, but I haven't talked about some of my favorite resources and the details of my plan.

Setting up & basic plan: Although we rarely repeat a meal (I'm kind of crazy like that), I do follow the same basic structure each week, which helps me home in on creating our weekly dinner plan. Everyone is different, but for us, I plan 1 fish, 2 meat/chicken, and 3 vegetarian meals each week. I leave one day open for leftovers or for going out.

Except for the fish, which we eat the day we buy it, I don't assign any of the dinners a particular night, which allows us flexibility according to our moods or schedule.

Broad outline: I usually start by having an idea of what I want to eat or cook. Initially, these are broad categories, like soup, Mexican, curry, or on the grill. Once I've got a vague sense of what I think I want to cook, I start the recipe hunt to find the specific meals.

What's 4 Dinner from www.BakedBree.comRecipe sources: Besides my cookbooks, my favorite places to find recipes are magazines and trusted bloggers (like you!). If that fails, I do a general Internet or Pinterest search.

Whoa, wait! Magazines? Yes, magazines. I subscribe to a magazine service called Texture, where I find the majority of the new recipes I try. If you don't want to pay for a service, check out your local library. Most libraries in the United States offer Zinio, which allows you free online access to all kinds of magazines, including cooking magazines.

Final steps: After I have found my recipes, I write them in on the very cool What's 4 Dinner planner page shown here. (You can download your own from Baked Bree by clicking on the link, which will also take you to Bree's meal planning post, which includes some her favorite resources for getting started.) Then I print out or copy all my recipes, and fill out the grocery list. Finally, I clip the recipes to the planning page and hang the stack on my refrigerator for easy access. (I just ignore the days of the week; I'm too lazy to make my own form)

Example: Last week, my broad categories were Super Bowl Sunday snack dinner, fish, pasta, chili, curry, and beans. We ended up having chicken wings as part of the Super Bowl dinner, grilled salmon with roasted broccoli, Brussels sprouts and leek pasta with a salad, beef chili with French fries, root vegetable curry stew with a salad (see photo), and black beans and rice and salad. Note that when I made my broad categories, I didn't know which meals would be vegetarian; I let my recipe search dictate that.

During the week: If a dinner turns out not to be one we'd like to repeat, I toss the recipe. If it's a winner, I try to find a copy online to pin to my tried and liked Pinterest board, noting any changes I made. If I can't find a copy online, then I insert the printout into one of my recipe notebooks so I can find it again.

Bonus: I used to throw out my planner page at the end of the week, but I've been inspired by Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity, and I've started saving them so I can track our 2016 dinners. I loved seeing Trish's stats from last year and can't wait to make my own pie charts.

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12 February 2016

Reading on Topic: 7 Novels Rooted in the Classics

Reading on Topic: 7 new novels with classic rootsI'm endlessly attracted to books that take a new look at an old story, whether a fairy-tale retelling or a reworking of a favorite classic.

Today's Reading on Topic features seven books on my reading list that have literary roots. All but one is or soon will be available in paperback, but note that two haven't been released yet. Each one focuses on a beloved female character (or person), from the adventurous Alice to the reclusive Emily. Have you read any of these?

A Classic Pair

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin tells the story of Alice Liddell, who was befriended by author Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll. This novel, told in a flashback by an elderly Alice, introduces us to the girl and then the woman, who was forever haunted by both her fictional self in Wonderland and her relationship with Carroll. (Bantam paperback, 2010). Ana of California by Andi Teran is a retelling of Anne of Green Gables, transplanted to the West Coast and modern times. Fresh from the Los Angeles foster care system, worldly wise Ana is determined to make a go of it on a small  farm owned by a bother and sister. Although based on the classic, Teran's novel explores issues faced by today's teens and is peppered with contemporary cultural references. (Penguin paperback, 2015).

A Poet's Life

Miss Emily by Nuala O'Connor shines the spotlight on the private life of the reclusive Emily Dickinson. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of a fictional household maid, Ada, and the poet herself. The pair form a friendship of sorts, and their opposite personalities offer an interesting contrast. (Penguin paperback, 2015). Amherst by William Nicholson takes a different path for uncovering the real Emily Dickinson. In this novel a modern-day screenwriter visits Amherst to research a project about Mabel Todd (one of Emily's champions) and her relationship with Austin, the poet's brother. We learn as much about the private Dickinson and her poems as we do about Mabel. (Simon & Schuster paperback, February 2016).

Jane Eyre Lives On

Re Jane by Patrica Park reimagines the Jane Eyre story as starring a Korean American woman struggling to start a career in finance in New York. Taking a nanny job to make ends meet, our modern Jane faces cultural and class issues, the changed atmosphere of the post-9/11 world, and an unlikely romance. (Penguin paperback, April 2016) Reader, I Married Him, edited by Tracy Chevalier, is a collection of short stories by a fabulous mix of women authors, all inspired by the famous line from the classic tale. The stories are written from a variety of perspectives and touch on a range of themes found within the novel or in the contemporary author's imagination. (William Morrow paperback, March 2016) Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye is a very different reworking of the beloved novel. In this take, our heroine will stop at nothing (including murder) to get what is hers. As Jane Steele works her con, posing as a governess, she's inspired by the book she's reading--Jane Eyre. Layers within layers set in Victorian England. (Putnam hardcover, March 2016)

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10 February 2016

Wordless Wednesday 380

Silo, 2016


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09 February 2016

Today's Read: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel SavitWhat if you were seven years old in a war-torn land and suddenly found yourself all alone? Anna ended up on the sidewalk outside the apothecary shop near her apartment in Krakow. The year was 1939, and she had only a vague notion of the war her father had talked about.

When Anna Lania woke on the morning of the sixth of November in the year 1939—her seventh—there were several things that she did not know:

Anna did not know that the chief of the Gestapo in Occupied Poland had by fiat compelled the rector of the Jagiellonian University to require the attendance of all professors (of whom her father was one) at a lecture and discussion on the direction of the Polish Academy under German Sovereignty, to take place at noon that day.

She did not know that, in the company of his colleagues, her father would be taken from lecture hall number 56, first to a prison in Krakow, where they lived, and subsequently to a number of other internment facilities across Poland, before finally being transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany.
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016, p. 1; uncorrected proofs)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Poland, Germany, Russia, 1939 to about 1944
  • Circumstances: After her father is taken away without warning, Anna falls in with a mysterious man she calls "Swallow Man." His strategy for survival is to keep moving, never be recognized, never make friends. He had no intention of taking Anna under his wing, but she proves useful to many of his schemes for crossing borders and avoiding arrest. A few years into their partnership, they take up with a Jewish musician, who irrevocably changes Anna and the Swallow Man's relationship. They do what they must to survive, but each one also tries to hold on to at least a piece of what he or she once was. 
  • Genre: literary fiction. Some might argue that this is historical fiction, which I guess is true because it's set during World War II.
  • Audience: For some unfathomable reason, Knopf is billing this for ages 12+. Um, no. This is a fully adult novel. I can't imagine that children, or even teens, would grasp all there is in this book.
  • Characters: Anna, a girl with no family or home; Swallow Man, who takes Anna with him on the road; Reb Hirschl, who escaped the ghetto with only his clarinet; various people and soldiers they meet on the road
  • What to say: I'm not at all sure how to discuss this beautifully written and many layered novel. The whole book has a dreamlike quality to it, befitting of Anna, who was unintentionally abandoned and who then lived in near isolation from the rest of the world. All she knows is what she learned from her father and Swallow Man. The dream is, however, periodically punctured by the bald face of reality, and each hole threatens to destroy Anna and Swallow Man's cape of invisibility. 
  • Book club alert: The only way I can write about this book without completely giving everything away is to tell you this is the ultimate book club pick. There is so much to talk about and think about. First there's Swallow Man: Who is he, why is he in permanent hiding, why does he take care of Anna, and why does he allow Reb Hirschl to come along? Anna: The slow erosion of her innocent vision of the world around her is heartbreaking, but she seems strong, especially as she absorbs Swallow Man's lessons. But, we ask, Is she a true survivor and can she remain safe? Then there's Reb Hirschl, a character I didn't like at all. Yet his presence and attitudes and decisions will prompt discussion, especially if you disagree with him on a few key points.
  • The end: Let's just say that I had to read it twice and then discuss it via email with my friend Jill of Rhapsody in Books. We mostly agreed about what happens to the characters at the end, but we saw things slightly differently. Besides the end, we discussed some of the bigger issues and implications about the characters and were definitely on similar tracks. Finally, we were solidly united in thinking this is in no way a children's book.
  • Recommendation: Gavriel Savit's Anna and the Swallow Man is one of the most affecting books I've read in a long time. I can't stop thinking about it and wanting to talk about it. I almost didn't read the novel because I'm getting a little burned out on World War II stories, but this is something completely different. I urge you to give it a try and then please let me know how you interpreted the ending.

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08 February 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Must-Read Books on My eReader

Recommended reading, winter 2016 from BethFishReads.comNew books! Who doesn't like to share the excitement? Whether I buy, borrow, or receive books for review, I love to tweet about the ones that are high on my want-to-read list.

The other day I realized that, although I'm good about spreading the love for the print books in my house, I fail to talk about my new eBooks. I regularly add eBooks to my collection, buying some, borrowing others from the library, and accepting others for review consideration. What's worse, though, is when it comes time to pick my next book to read, I often forget to check my eReader.

Cue brainstorm: Go public with my most-anticipated eBooks. Share, make a list, and get help prioritizing. If I pare down my choices, I might actually work my way through my eBooks. A woman can dream, right?

So, without further ado, here are a dozen eBooks (in alphabetical order) I'm looking forward to reading. All were/will be published in January and February 2016.

Amelia Earhart by W. C. Jameson (Taylor Trade Publishing): I've always been fascinated with Earhart's story and, of course, about what may have happened to her when her plane disappeared. This is a well-researched biography. • The Children's Home by Charles Lambert (Scribner): This novel is a kind of fantasy with fairy tale elements. The comparisons to some of my favorite authors caught my attention. • Dinning with the Famous and Infamous by Fiona Ross (Rowman & Littlefield): This looks fun and informative: a look at the eating habits of well-known authors, musicians, artists, actors, and more. Perfect for Weekend Cooking. • The Ex by Alafair Burke (Harper): This standalone legal thriller is high on my list. Burke is one of my go-to authors when I want well-written and gripping crime fiction.

Forked by Saru Jayaraman (Oxford University Press): Another title for Weekend Cooking. The unvarnished truth of what it's like to work in the restaurant business. Spoiler: Not all establishments respect their employees. • Good People by Robert Lopez (Bellevue Literary Press): I'm trying to incorporate more short stories into my rotation, and this collection has gotten a lot of buzz for its striking language. Looking forward to seeing for myself. • Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford (Harcourt Brace): Set in Yorkshire during WWII, this is a story of friendship, trust, and overcoming prejudices. The protagonists are young. • Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (Houghton Mifflin): I don't know much about this novel, except it's a Gothic tale about two women and takes place in two time periods. I'm definitely curious.

Platinum Doll by Anne Girard (Mira): This is irresistible historical fiction about Hollywood in the 1920s. It focuses on the story of Jean Harlow's rise to stardom, her sacrifices and ambition. • Sara Lost and Found by Virginia Castleman (Aladdin): A novel based on true events. Two young sisters are suddenly orphaned and put into the family services system. It's a story of family, survival, and courage. • A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard (Scribner): A memoir from a man who spent ten years as a paramedic / emergency responder in the city of Atlanta. He talks about how his life was changed by his work and the people he helped. • Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard (William Morrow): A tale of friendship, love, and emotional surrender by one of my favorite authors. This novel looks like a winner.

Have you read any of these? Which one would you read first?

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06 February 2016

Weekend Cooking: A Trio of New 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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The Kitchen Journal @ www.BethFishReads.comAs most of you know, I'm a freelance book editor in my real life, but what you may not know is that editing work runs in cycles. February and March are traditionally very, very busy months for me, as I'm involved with helping prepare the books you'll enjoy next fall.

My cooking during this time relies heavily on the pressure cooker and slow cooker: two appliances that earn their weight in gold. I've been a fan of the pressure cooker for many years but only recently obtained an electric model. I feel comfortable with it already, mostly because I've used it a couple times a week since I've gotten it. I'm planning a post comparing my electric and stovetop pressure cookers, but for now I'll say that, despite a few limitations, I really love the ease of the electric.

Anyway, knowing that for the next eight weeks or so, dinners will be mainly tried-and-true easy dishes, this week I made three new recipes. I consider each one a success. I made some changes, as I'll point out, but I think you could make them just as written. These recipes are pinned to my Recipes: Tried and Liked board, so you can find them easily. (Note: all photos come from the pins.)

First up was Fennel Gratin with Walnut-Thyme Breadcrumbs from Bon Appetit magazine, which I served along with grilled salmon. We really loved the flavor of this, especially with the fish. Although I rarely cook with heavy cream, I indulged for a change and was happy with the results. The only problem was that it made too much for the two of us to eat in one sitting, and neither of us loved the way it reheated. Next time, I'll cut the recipe in half or make sure we have company.

The Black Bean & Kale Tortilla Soup is a Rachel Ray recipe. The accompanying photograph makes this look like a salad, but really, it's soup; apparently the photographer went wild when styling this pic. I used chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, and of the suggested soup toppings, we used scallions, radishes, limes, and Cheddar cheese. Oh, and I simplified the tortilla part. Rachel Ray has you slice corn tortillas, salt them, and then bake until crisp. I simply crushed some premade white corn tortilla chips; I didn't feel the need to make my own.

Finally, I made Hungarian Beef Stew, which is an Ellie Krieger recipe and appeared in Cooking Light magazine. I didn't change anything about this recipe, except I cooked it in my new electric pressure cooker. But I'm sure that it would taste just as awesome if it were made in the oven as the recipe suggests. Next time, if I make it in the pressure cooker, I'll use about a cup less liquid because nothing is boiled off during the cooking process. This was also great reheated the next day. For those who want to know how I made this under pressure: I followed steps 1 and 2 using the Instant Pot's saute setting, then I put everything else in (including veggies) and cooked at high pressure for 14 minutes. Then I turned the cooker off and let it release pressure naturally for 15 minutes, after which I turned the valve to release all the remaining pressure instantly.

What new dishes did you make this week?

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04 February 2016

Review: Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Review: Juniors by Kaui Hart HemmingsIt's been many years since I lived in Hawaii, but the islands still have a place in my heart. I know much has changed over the years, but I can usually find moments of recognition when I read novels set in present-day Oahu. Kaui Hart Hemmings's Juniors is no exception, and I found a lot to love in this story about a teenager trying to find her place in the world.

What happens? Lea Lane, part Hawaiian, has spent a lot of time visiting family in Oahu but grew up as a California girl. In the middle of her junior year in high school, her mother, a middling actress, takes a job that relocates them to Hawaii. Although she has a few friends there, Lea is unprepared for the social pressures of going to a prestigious private school and never feels she really fits in. It only gets worse when she and her mother move into the guest house on the grounds of a family friend's estate: the children are among the cool kids and their parents travel in high society. The more Lea gets to know the West family (the friendly landlords), the more confused she becomes about what she wants from herself and from life.

The opening: I loved the opening scene of Juniors, in which Lea is participating in an exercise in truth and self-awareness with her classmates at school. It's a brilliant way to be introduced to Lea and her life before moving to the estate.

Authenticity: Few outsiders see the real Hawaii. You really have to live and work there to get a glimpse of the layer floating beneath the Aloha spirit. I hardly profess to be an expert, but I can attest to the truth that making a home in the islands is a totally different experience from vacationing there. Hemmings is brilliant at revealing what the tourists don't see, including the complex social and cultural ramifications of one's ancestry.

In addition, Hemmings really nails family issues and parent-child relationships (also perfectly depicted in her The Descendents). We see two different situations in Juniors: Lea and her mother were always two against the world until they move to the West estate. Under the influence of their friends, they each make poor decisions, threatening to destroy their closeness irrevocably. The Wests give their children all the freedoms that maintain the family image, but offer them little more than that. Whitney and Will have learned the importance of a good facade, but do their parents see them for who they are?

Finally, few authors can capture the teenage / high school experience as well as Hemmings. Lea is faced with real-life situations, such as figuring out the sincerity of newfound friendships, discovering alcohol, wondering about having sex, coping with not being invited to a party, and wanting to be cool but still wanting to be herself. Lea's emotions, desires, and confusion are immediately recognizable, and you'll understand her inner turmoil, even if your teenage issues were a little different from hers.

Recommendations: Although Kaui Hart Hemmings's Juniors is billed as a young adult novel, it's really a contemporary story for anyone who has a teenager or was a teenager. This is not a story of teenage angst, there is no classic love triangle. Instead it's about a girl whose vision becomes clouded by possibilities and wannabes. We hope the fog lifts so she can find her way back home.

Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Listening Library, 8 hr, 55 min) read by Jorjeana Marie. Marie does a fantastic job channeling her inner teenager, hitting the cadences and emotions perfectly. I loved her expressiveness and characterizations and that she made it so easy for me to relate to and root for Lea. Highly recommended.

Published by Penguin Random House / Putnam Books, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780399173608
Source: Review--audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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03 February 2016

Wordless Wednesday 379

Winter Tracks, 2016


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02 February 2016

Today's Read & Giveaway: Darned If You Do by Monica Ferris

Darned If You Do by Monica FerrisHave you ever experienced a major storm? Unlike the big snows of last week, the residents of Excelsior, Minnesota, woke up to major damage caused by heavy rains and strong winds. Little did they know, however, that murder would follow on the coattails of Mother Nature.

Then an ancient elm, its inside long rotted and its roots' grip weakened by rain, groaned under the wind's blast, twisted, and fell. It had given welcome shade to Riordan's house for many summers, but now it slammed into the roof, breaking through the shingles to thrust sopping leaves and wet and broken limbs into Riordan's bedroom, waking him up at last.
Darned If You Do by Monica Ferris (Berkley Prime Crime, 2016, pp. 1-2)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Excelsior, Minnesota, modern times
  • Circumstances: When Tom Riordan, a known hoarder, is in the hospital recovering from being pinned to his bed by a fallen tree, his cousin Valentina comes to town to oversee the repairs to his house. While sorting through the mess, she is surprised to discover a number of valuable antiques. Unfortunately, Valentina is no stranger to the police, so when a murder occurs, she is tagged as suspect number one. Local shop owner Betsy Devonshire thinks the authorities have it wrong and agrees to help prove Valentina's innocence.
  • Genre: cozy mystery with a needlework theme
  • Characters: Betsy, owner of needlework shop; Connor, her boyfriend; her group of close friends dubbed "the Monday Bunch"; Tom, a hoarder; Valentina, Tom's out-of-town cousin; various police and townsfolk
  • The series: I read the first five or six books in Ferris's Needlecraft Mysteries, and enjoyed getting to know Betsy and her friends. I always liked the way they look out for each other and share their passion for their hobbies, including knitting, crocheting, embroidery, counted cross-stitch, and even bobbin lacemaking.
  • This installment: I liked revisiting Betsy and the gang, and didn't feel lost, even though this is the eighteenth book in the series. The murder itself was slow to come, but once it happened, the action moved away from Tom's house and his hoarding to solving the crime. I didn't think the mystery was all that difficult to figure out, but the characters and the town itself kept my interest. Plus, I'm a needlework enthusiast and like reading about characters' ongoing projects.
  • Recommendations: If you have a needlework hobby and/or enjoy light cozy mysteries, then don't hesitate to pick up Darned If You Do. Don't worry if you're new to the series, I think you'll be able to start right here, without feeling like you missed too much of the background.
  • Things to know: The paperback edition is being released this month; the hardcover was published last year. For all you crafty types, there is a crocheted lace pattern included at the end of the book.
The Giveaway

Thanks to the nice people at Penguin Random House, I'm happy to be able to offer one of my readers with a U.S. mailing address a copy of Monica Ferris's Darned If You Do. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner, via a random number generator, on February 12. Once the winner has been confirmed and I've passed the name and address along to the publisher, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!

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01 February 2016

Review: Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles

Review: Love in Lowercase by Francesc MirallesThoughts before Reading

  • After reading that Francesc Miralles's Love in Lowercase was being compared to The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano, which I really loved, and that it was being billed as "a romantic comedy for language lovers," I thought I'd give the novel a chance.
  • For some unplanned and unknown reason, I've been on a books-in-translation kick. Love in Lowercase fits right in; it was originally written and published in Spanish and was translated into English by Julie Wark.
What's it about?
  • Love in Lowercase is a sweet story about a young linguistics professor whose world is turned upside down thanks to a cat.
  • Samuel likes his quiet life--living alone, grading papers, and sticking to his routine. When a cat shows up at his apartment on New Year's Day, Samuel's immediate plan is to find its owners or arrange a permanent home for it. In the meantime, he feeds the cat. These actions set off a chain of events in which he meets his neighbors, rediscovers a childhood girlfriend, and rejuvenates his relationship with his sister.
Thoughts after Reading
  • Love in Lowercase is a charming story of loneliness, love, and friendship set in the beautiful city of Barcelona.
  • The novel is infused with a number of literary references; for example, Samuel names the cat Mishima (a favorite author of mine) and describes the hospital as Kafkaesque.
  • Not all novels survive translation, but the warmth and fun of Miralles's story are built on a universal foundation.
  • Samuel is insecure, quirky, and capable of surprising even himself. I was caught up in his transformation and his discovery of the many sides of love, friendship, and loyalty. As the Kirkus reviewer said, "Samuel, full of awkwardness and good intentions, is an easy protagonist to root for."
  • I love the overriding theme that it's never too late to open the door to the unexpected.
  • There is a subtheme of finding everyday magic.
  • This is a light, quick read for a lazy afternoon. The chapters are only a couple of pages long, so it's also perfect for commutes and travel.
  • Will this be the best book you'll read this year? Probably not, but it's bound to make you smile, and you'll have fun with the references to art, music, and books.
Warnings
  • After I formulated my own thoughts, I took a look at other reviews. I was surprised that some readers were not as enchanted as I was.
  • I think you have to be willing to just go with the flow. Yeah, in real life in the city you probably wouldn't develop an immediate trust with people you hardly know, but Love in Lovercase is meant to be fun, not realistic--like a rom-com on the silver screen.
Published by Penguin Random House / Penguin Books, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780143128212
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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