11 September 2021

Weekend Cooking: 4 New Books for Food Lovers and Cooks

As many of you know, September is a big month for new book releases. That means I was blessed with a number of new cookbooks and food-related books to read and review. Here are four that crossed my desk. I haven't cooked out of any of them yet, but I wanted to put these titles on your radar. Thanks to the publishers for the review copies; my thoughts are entirely my own. All books come out this month.

Thoughts on Bourdain by Laurie WooleverBourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography by Laurie Woolever (Ecco): Woolever met Bourdain in about 2002 and eventually became his personal assistant, working closely with him for the last years of his life. After Bourdain's death, she wanted to preserve his memory, so she interviewed almost 100 people who knew him personally: family members, childhood friends, adult friends, and work colleagues of various sorts (from restaurants, publishing, and television). The book is arranged in rough chronological order and consists of short recollections from these individuals. Together their stories paint a fuller picture of who Anthony Bourdain was as a person. I've read only the first few chapters, but I find it fascinating.

Thoughts on Amber & Rye by Zuza ZakAmber & Rye: A Baltic Food Journey: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania by Zuza Zak (Interlink Books): The author of this cookbook was born in Poland but has lived in the UK since she was eight years old. Wanting to know more about her heritage, Zak traveled with her partner and young daughter to discover the culinary treasures of the Baltic region. The cookbook is divided by meal, as expected, but also includes a chapter on fermented and preserved foods. You’ll find beautiful photographs throughout and several features that serve as a travelogue. Each recipe is introduced with a personal story or a note about its history. Many of the recipes call for fish or meats, but vegetarians and vegans will find a number of suitable and well-marked recipes. Zak notes that she is able to find the ingredients in large supermarkets and Polish markets near her UK home, but many of us will have trouble finding all of them. To be honest, I was more interested in reading this book than I was inspired to cook from it. Note, however, that I did mark a poppy seed fudge recipe and a couple of the cocktails. I learned a lot about the region and its food and history. Zak also has a website.

Thoughts on Life Is What You Bake It by Vallery LomasLife Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top by Vallery Lomas (Clarkson Potter). Have you hear of Lomas? Hers is an interesting story. As the first line of the book says, she left her “job as an attorney to become a baker.” It paid off, since Lomas not only created a successful food blog but won the fourth season of The Great American Baking Show. The cookbook starts out with Lomas’s story, including details about her experience on The Great American Baking Show. From there, we get into the recipes for delicious sweet bakes of all kinds--breakfast treats, pies, cakes, French specialties, and bread and biscuits. Things I love: The photographs of the finished dishes, the many tips and tricks and hints for becoming a better baker, how clear and easy the instructions are, and the personal stories throughout. What I didn’t like: Um . . . no cons here! This is a book I’ll bake from often. Highly recommended.

Thoughts on Flavors of the Sun by Christine Sahadi WhelanFlavors of the Sun by Christine Sahadi Whelan (Chronicle): I was attracted to this cookbook because of the subtitle: “The Sahadi’s Guide to Understanding, Buying, and Using Middle Eastern Ingredients.” First, if you don’t know, Sahadi’s is a Brooklyn food emporium, which has been in business over 100 years. You can find all kinds of specialty food items in the store and in the catalog. One of the purposes of this cookbook is to provide recipes and tips for using the spices and ingredients you may have bought to make a single dish. Whelan wants to help you find ways to incorporate these ingredients into “your everyday repertoire.” Each chapter beings with a description of a handful of ingredients that share a common feature (bright, spiced, sweet, etc.) and then provides recipes for using them. Some of the recipes are distinctly Middle Eastern (Beef and Lentil Bowl with Tahini Dressing) and others are all-American (Harissa Mac & Cheese), and all look fantastic. Besides recipes for using ingredients like pomegranate molasses, za’atar, and berbere, you’ll find charts titled “Ten More Ways to Use [ingredient],” which give you quick tips and ideas, like using ras el hanout as a dry rub for lamb. The recipes themselves look incredibly appealing, and I have a ton marked to try. I also need to explore the menus provided at the end of the cookbook, which offer suggestions for holidays, picnics, tea, and game days. Highly recommended. And if you don’t have one of the ingredients, you can always order it from Sahadi’s!

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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09 September 2021

What I Read in August 2021

It's been a hot minute since I last wrote about what I've been reading and what's on my reading radar. Today, I'm sharing what I read in August.

I struggled a bit last month and had trouble becoming totally invested in the books I chose. The books are presented here in the order in which I read them; I've also posted these thoughts on Goodreads. Here's hoping September treats me better!

Thanks to the publishers and/or Libro.fm for review copies (digital, print, and/or audio).

August Book Reviews from Beth Fish Reads

The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican (Grand Central Publishing): Hourican focused on the Guinness sisters as a way to examine the post-World War I years in England and the changing rules and social life of the privileged in both Ireland and England. Because this is historical fiction based on real people, other famous individuals of the era make appearances (such as the Mitford sisters). The time span is from 1918 to 1930 and is told through the eyes of a fictional character, a poorish cousin who comes to live with the sisters and be their companion. The author examines the elaborate rules of courting and having a season, the education of girls, women's changing opportunities, marriage, sisters, politics, labor, and the effects of the stock market crash. Worth the read. The audiobook is read by Roisin Rankin, who uses light, believable accents and captures the emotions and moods of the fictional cousin and the sisters.

Noyln by Michael J. Sullivan (Grim Oak Press): I just can't get enough of Sullivan and the universe he has created. I love the characters, the way the different series are linked, the world building, the action, the heartbreak, and the relationships. This book begins a new series that takes place after the "age of" books. I loved meeting new characters, visiting with a few familiar friends, and hearing how others became the stuff of legend. I can't recommend these books more highly for readers who like sagas, fantasy, great characters, and solid plotting. Note that if you're new to Sullivan, you can start at the beginning of any of the series and not be lost. I read the books in order of publication date, but you could also read chronologically, starting with the Age series. If you're an audiobook fan, you'll be happy to learn that Tim Gerard Reynolds is back as narrator. Truly, no one else could possibly be the voice for Sullivan's work. I bought both an audiobook copy and a print copy.

Home Waters by John N. Maclean (Custom House): This is more than the story of a family; it's a tribute to Montana, especially the big waters and the men who influenced both John and his father, Norman Maclean, the author of the novella "A River Runs Through It." In this well-crafted memoir, John tells the true story behind his father's fictionalized account of the Reverend Maclean and his sons, Norman and Paul. He also introduces us to his mother's family, the Burnses. John looks back at his family's history and recounts how he learned to fly fish, how five generations of Macleans have maintained the cabin built by his grandfather on the shores of Seeley Lake, and how Montana itself--with its wildness, waters, and beauty, shaped them all. For fans of his father's famous story, John writes about how the book came to be published by the University of Chicago Press, the factual account of his uncle Paul's death, and behind-the-scenes glimpses at how the movie was made. A beautiful book. For my thoughts on the audiobook, please see my review for AudioFile Magazine.

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarity (Holt): This story of a missing sixty-something woman set in contemporary Sydney has some of the hallmarks of Moriarty's earlier work. The book starts with the disappearance of Joy Delaney on Valentine's Day 2020. Then the story looks into to the past, starting with the day about 6 months earlier that Joy and her husband answer their door to a young woman, clearly hurt and in distress. The present and past are revealed by introducing us to the four grown Delaney children and their father. We learn about their youth, their family dynamics, their relationships, their ambitions, and their connection to the sport of tennis. While the mystery of Joy's disappearance (a murder? a kidnapping? a running away?) and who may have been responsible is at the core of the novel, this is really the story of a family. For me, this was only okay. I didn't really connect to any of the characters and never got caught up in finding out what happened to Joy. The audiobook was read by Caroline Lee, who has narrated several of Liane Moriarty's books. Her performance was very good in terms of characterizations and expressive delivery.

Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker (Tor Teen): I really wanted to love this book, but it didn't hold my interest in either print or audiobook format. It took forever for the action to pick up, though we know quite early on that this will be a quest / journey type of story. And even when that quest starts, the drama wasn't really there for me. The author drummed home & overemphasized some of the bigger issues of the story instead of allowing us to experience and feel them along with the characters. I quit reading at about 56% in. The book has gotten good reviews and praise from both print/professional sources and consumer/social media reviewers. I'm in the minority.

All's Well by Mona Awad (Simon & Schuster): I picked this up because the audiobook is read by Sophie Amoss, who is one of my go-to audiobook performers. I should have known better, however, because I had mixed feelings about Awad's previous two novels (13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl & Bunny). Awad excels at creating strange situations and unique characters. Miranda, the main character in All's Well, is an actor-turned-drama professor who has been in horrible pain after sustaining an injury that ended her acting career. The plot revolves around pain, Miranda's relationship with her students, a little magical realism ... and I just couldn't take it anymore! I DNF'd at about halfway. Sophie Amoss was *brilliant* -- she absolutely understands where Awad is going and is the perfect narrator for the book. I doubt I'll give Awad another chance, no matter who is performing her next novel.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead): Hawkins's latest thriller / mystery starts with the murder of a young man who lived in a shabby narrowboat. The larger concern of who killed Daniel and why is revealed through the stories of nosy neighbors, relatives, a one-night stand, and others. Everyone has something to hide or has survived a previous traumatic event. Family relationships are strained at best. Too many unbelievable connections and coincidences and too many characters with too many problems bog down the plot. For my thoughts on the audiobook, see AudioFile Magazine.

The Turnout by Megan Abbott (Putnam): I love Megan Abbott's work and I danced well into my 30s, so I had high hopes going into this thriller centered around two sisters who inherited a well-respected dance school from their mother. Sisters Marie and Dara Durant and Dara's husband, Charlie, grew up together and, in fact, lived together in the Durant family home until a few months before the story opens, when Marie moved out to live in a room above the dance school. It's fall, just weeks before the annual Nutcracker performance, when disaster strikes: there's a major fire in one of the practice studios. Enter a smooth-talking contractor who infiltrates the trio's lives, eventually threatening to expose their secrets and destroy all they hold dear.

The descriptions of the dance studio, the rehearsals, the jealousies, and the competition ring true. The relationship among Marie, Dara, and Charlie was formed when they were still children, all living with the Durant parents and all dancing under the tutelage of the girls' mother. The contractor is creepy and sleazy. It isn't easy to tell who is bad and who is good; you wonder whom to trust. The novel has the bones of a good thriller and held my attention, but I don't think is Abbott's strongest work. The tension gets derailed by too much description and I found it hard to root for any of the characters. The audiobook is read by Cassandra Campbell, who captures the characters' feelings and voices.

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (William Morrow): Set in north London, the story is told from the viewpoints of two very different people. As they get to know each other over their newly discovered love of reading, they provide mutual support and stability at a much needed time. Seventeen-year-old Aleisha takes a summer job at the library only as a means to help her overworked brother and to bring extra money to the household while their mother is experiencing a particularly bad bout of depression. Mukesh turns to reading as a way to keep his connection to beloved late-wife and to forge a connection with one of his grandchildren. When Mukesh gets his first library card, he asks Aleisha for a book recommendation. She doesn't have one until she discovers a reading list tucked inside a returned library book. As the pair reads each of the books on the list, they discover how much reading has to offer and how important it is to let others into one's life. Sweet without being cloying; escape with some good messages. Recommended. The audiobook is performed by Tara Divina, Sagar Arya, and Paul Panting -- there are no weak links here; each narrator delivered on expression, characterizations, and emotions.

Invisible Years by Daphne Geismar (David R. Godine; my personal collection): An important and moving true story of the fate of an extended family during the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. Told via letters, interviews, photographs, and more, this is an incredible book. Sometimes emotionally difficult to read. This family story is made all the more important as eyewitnesses to the horrors of the Holocaust are aging and dying. It's nonfiction books like this that keep the true history alive and help prevent revisionist accounts.

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21 August 2021

Weekend Cooking: Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya Hussain

Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussainHi all. Before you read on, note that this is the second half of a conversation about and review of Nadiya Hussain’s new cookbook Nadiya Bakes (Clarkson Potter). To see the first part of the conversation I had with Weekend Cooking host, Marg, be sure to visit her blog, The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader.

Now that you've read the start of our conversation, let me begin by telling you how excited I was to learn that Nadiya had a new cookbook coming out this summer. I’m grateful to Clarkson Potter for providing me with a digital review copy. I loved the book so much, I bought myself the hardcover.

I had to laugh at Marg’s reaction to my last question. I totally agree with her: almost every recipe looks appealing.

Me: I was curious, however, if it would be easy for Marg to find the called-for ingredients in her part of Australia.

Marg: Because there are so many recipes in this book that are a mix of cultures, some of the ingredients are a bit tricky to find in our major supermarkets. There are, however, a lot of smaller grocery stores which specialise in international ingredients and so there’s every likelihood you can find it with a little effort.

As an example, last weekend we decided to make Filo Cream Parcels, which is Nadiya’s version of a Lebanese dessert. One of the ingredients was called Orange Blossom Water. My husband did the shopping last weekend, so he looked for this ingredient at the major supermarket and couldn’t find it, then he tried another type of store where they have some unusual ingredients, and then went to the Indian grocery store.

We were watching the TV series where she shows you how to make this recipe, and she says add a splash of orange blossom water. I am not sure he was impressed that he had to go to so much effort to find an ingredient that we only used a dash of!! And now, I need to find some other recipes to use it in as I have a nearly full bottle of the stuff in the cupboard!

Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussainMe: Most of us want to know what it’s like to use a cookbook, so when you baked out of the book, did you find the instructions easy to follow? Was there enough information so you knew how to serve or store the dish?

Marg: So far, everything I have made has worked out quite well, especially the Chocolate Caramel Flan, so the instructions are definitely pretty easy to follow. I do find there were quite a few recipes where you need a lot of bowls. Do one step, then in another bowl do this, and so on. As for storage, I am not sure that this is something I have thought about. For some bakes I don’t have to worry about this question. For others I do. Depends if my son tries it and likes it or not. For the filo parcels it suggested that they needed to be eaten within a day of making them, but we decided against trying to see that as a challenge and just stored them in the fridge. They still tasted delicious even if the filo wasn’t as crispy.

Me: Yeah, I know what you mean about not worrying about following the serve and store suggestions exactly; I'm the same way. But I was really happy that Nadiya provided storage information for the Coffee Meringue Bark recipe (see below). In this case I paid attention, and the bark held up really well despite the summer heat and humidity.

Marg: How did you like the format of the book, and have you seen any of the associated Netflix series?

Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussainMe: I really like the great variety of “bakes” in this cookbook. When I first heard the title, I was expecting all desserts, but I was pleased to see a variety of savory bakes as well. And I love that Nadiya introduces each recipe with a note that explains her personal connection to the dish and how she tweaked it. The photos are gorgeous and I also appreciate that each recipe includes estimated prep time.

I have watched almost half of her latest Netflix series—also called Nadiya Bakes—and plan to bake along with her this fall. It’s been fun to get to know other bakers through that show. I also really liked her series Time to Eat, which is all about feeding your family in real life when you don’t have time to spend all day on just one dessert or dish. I haven’t yet looked around YouTube to see if she has additional videos, but her personality shines on camera, and I always feel as if I were visiting with a friend.

Me: What surprised you about the cookbook?

Marg: I think the thing I like the most about the cookbook is that you can hear Nadiya’s voice in the writing. As you said, on the TV show, she comes across as being really authentic, talking about her family and culture. For example, in the recipe for Honeycomb Rolls, she is talking about making the honeycomb she says
To make the honeycomb, put the sugar in a large pan along with the golden syrup. This magical stuff expands really quickly, so you do need a decent sized pan. Have a baking tray lined and greased, ready for the honeycomb to be poured onto. Prep is key here—molten sugar allows no dilly-dallying.
I can hear her saying this!

I really wish that there was a picture of every recipe, but I do wish that of every cookbook. Having said that, I do think that the book itself is very nicely styled.

I also liked the mix of recipes between sweet and savoury, vegan, no bakes, complex and simpler recipes.

Me: Oh, yes, I agree about the mix of recipes. I think almost everyone will be inspired to make several.


I want to thank Marg for coming up with the idea for a joint review. This was a fun conversation to put together and I think we’ve given everyone a real feel for what Nadiya Bakes is all about.

I decided to share the recipe for Coffee Meringue Bark from Nadiya Bakes because it’s gluten free. It’s not vegan, but I think most of you will be able to fit this dessert into your eating plan.

I love meringue anyway, but the coffee flavor is outstanding in this bark. I also appreciate that it isn't too sweet and not at all filling. If you store the bark the way Nadiya suggests, it will last a good long time.

Coffee Meringue Bark
Makes 2 large sheets
Prep: 20 minutes
Review of Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya HussienCook 1 hour
  • Butter for greasing the baking sheets
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
Put the egg whites in a large grease-free bowl and have 1/2 cup (100g) sugar ready. Preheat the oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease.

Put the egg yolks in a small bowl along with the remaining 2 tablespoons (25g) of the sugar. Put the instant coffee in another small bowl with the hot water and mix. Add to the egg yolk mixture and set aside.

Using electric beaters or a stand mixer if you have one, begin whisking the egg whites until really foamy. As soon as they increase in volume, start adding the sugar a small spoonful at a time, whisking for at least 10 seconds between each addition. It's really important that all the sugar crystals dissolve so the bark doesn't leak. After each addition, stop and scrape down the sides to get any stray sugar crystals. Do this until you have stiff peaks that are glossy and shiny.

Now, beat the coffee and egg yolk mixture until it is glossy, shiny, and smooth and quadrupled in size. This mixture should be really thick, but not so stiff that it will not run off the beaters.

Divide the egg white mixture between the two sheets, spreading really thin to a 12-inch (30cm) square. Drizzle the coffee mixture all over the egg whites, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Bake for 1 hour, which will give it lots of time to dry out and create a really good snap. Once the time is up, let cool completely. As soon as it's totally cooled, snap into shards and pop into an airtight container where they will happily keep. Meringue bark loses its snap if left out on a humid day, so make sure to get into that airtight container once cool.

Note: Recipe and photos are shared in the context of review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder. The bark photo is my own.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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07 August 2021

Weekend Cooking: Art Boozel by Jennifer Croll

Review of Art Boozel by Jennifer CrollHappy Saturday, my friends. Today I have a mini review of a specialty cookbook and my meal plan for the week. Almost all of the recipes I picked this week were from cookbooks I received from a publisher, and reviews or mini reviews will come in the following weeks. Thanks to Chronicle Books for an ARC of the book I'm reviewing today.

Art Boozel by Jennifer Croll an illustrated by Kelly Shami (Chronicle Books, August 3): This is a fun and beautiful collection of cocktail recipes--as the subtitle says--inspired by relatively modern artists. Each recipe is accompanied by a colorful illustration of the featured artist (kind of pop art style, as shown on the book cover), a short biography of the artist, and an explanation of the cocktail inspiration. Artists range from Georgia O'Keefe and Gustav Klimt to Robert Mapplethorpe and Kehinde Wiley, with about four dozen others in between.

Review of Art Boozel by Jennifer CrollThe beginning of the cookbook consists of chapters for cocktail equipment, glassware, ingredients, and homemade syrups. The rest of the book features spreads showcasing each artist and that artist's cocktail.

What do I love? The illustrations, the information about the artists, and the cocktail flavors. What didn't work? That before making many of the cocktails you have to first make a special syrup or track down a special ingredient (like edible flowers and edible gold dust). When we have a cocktail, it's usually spur of the moment, so we don't feel like going through a lot of steps.

I did find one cocktail--the Roy Lichtenstein--that called for ingredients we had on hand. The drink is made from fresh citrus juices, vodka, Cointreau, soda water, and simple syrup and is absolutely delicious. Recommended for fancy cocktail lovers and art lovers. Art Boozel by Jennifer Croll would make a terrific holiday gift.

This Week's Meal Plan

  • Grilled salmon with grilled zucchini
  • Marinated bean and lettuce salad with tomato pie (those from the Philadelphia area may know what this is)
  • Classic beef stew
  • Cod and kale saute
  • Grilled pork tenderloin with yellow wax beans
  • Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a salad

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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02 August 2021

What I Read in July: Brief Thoughts

July was a super reading month for me. I read or listened to 13 books and almost all of them were winners. Here are my brief (sometimes very brief) thoughts (also posted on GoodReads).

All titles are currently available unless otherwise noted. Thanks to the publishers and/or Libro.fm for review copies (digital, print, and/or audio).

Book to read summer 2021

Across the Airless Wilds: The Lunar Rover and the Triumph of the Final Moon Landings by Earl Swift (Custom House): Interesting history of the development of the lunar rovers. Swift introduces us to the people and technology and explains the importance of the rovers for furthering our understanding of the moon. Memorable moments include the various proposed designs, the testing of the rovers, and the accounts of the rovers in use on the moon. The audiobook was nicely performed by Adam Verner, who kept my attention throughout. Note that the audiobook does not come with a PDF of the photos, which is too bad--the visuals in the book really help bring the text to life.

Exit Strategy, Network Effect, & Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells (Tor.Com): I continue to love this series about a (mostly) IA security unit who has essentially become his own boss. His thoughts on other types of units and on humans makes me smile. Good action, too.

People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn (Norton -- out in September): Dara Horn speaks the truth. I swear I underlined or highlighted most of this book. For many people, what she writes about the history of antisemitism, current violence against Jews in America, historical violence against Jews around the world, memorial museums around the world, and the general arc of the vast majority of World War II novels will be eye-opening. This is an important book that deserves great attention and discussion.

The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter (Hanover Square Press -- out in September): Set in Idaho at the very end of the true lumberjacking era and during Prohibition, this is a coming-of-age story, a snapshot of the past, and the story of a family. I loved Ritter's writing with its vivid descriptions, fully developed characters, great balance between action and reflection. This is going on my top ten of the year list. Loved this so much, I preordered a finished copy for my permanent collection. Also, if you're into audiobooks, note that Ritter is the narrator and he does a fabulous job with expression and pacing. And the audiobook contains a bonus song (which has ties to the plot).

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy (Flatiron -- out tomorrow): On the surface, it's the story of a woman who moves to northern Scotland to head a team of scientists attempting to reintroduce wolves to the area. There are conflicts with the local farmers. On the deeper levels, it's a story of sisters (twins) and domestic violence against women. I love McConaghy's style and her ability to create a mood and take me inside the heads of her characters. This is a powerful book that will stick with me for a long time. Audiobook fans: Saskia Maarleveld does a fine job with the narration, though her accents could have been stronger and more distinct.

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam (Scribner): This was only meh for me, but I wanted to like it because I liked the premise. A brilliant coder (female) and an alternative spiritual consultant (male) marry in haste and together with their best friend (male) start a social media app that helps users create rituals to celebrate or honor the important moments of their lives and connect to like-minded others. How does success affect their relationship and what issues does Asha (the main character) face? Unfortunately, the outcome was heavily signaled and, in the long run, I couldn't quite tell if Asha ended up being a feminist or if her ultimate rise in business was actually the result of her husband “giving” it to her. My reaction to the book may also be influenced by the narrator, Tanha Dil, whose delivery was choppy and somewhat flat. My full audiobook thoughts will be available through AudioFile Magazine.

Appleseed by Matt Bell (Custom House): I really enjoyed this book which takes place in three time periods: late 1700s North America/United States, the not-so-distant future, and the far future. The three stories are told in rotating chapters and seem to have a uniting theme of humans' interaction with the environment. But as you read, further connections are revealed -- not in big twists or information dumps, but subtly and in a way that allows each reader to draw conclusions in their own time. Very nicely done. Lots of things to think about here in terms of climate change and technology. I suspect this will be one of those polarizing books -- you'll either love it or not at all. Audiobook: Mark Bramhall is the narrator. He's one of my favs, and he didn't let me down here.

Made in Korea by Sarah Suk (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers): Note that I didn't finish this. I liked the premise of this rom-com and the teenage characters, most of whom are Korean Americans, but I got distracted and never came back. I hope to pick this up again soon, as this is a light, fun read. I listened to the audiobook read by Raymond J. Lee and Joy Osmanski, both of whom are engaging and pick up on their character's personality.

Midnight, Water City by Chris McKinney (Soho Crime): Set in the future when Earth is pretty much destroyed by climate change, but technology has managed to keep people alive. A veteran police detective is invited to visit one of his best friends and erst-while boss--when he arrives at her underwater "penthouse," he discovers she's been murdered. This woman is famous, often considered the savior of the planet because she was the only person who figured out how to divert the path of an asteroid headed straight to Earth. The main character has a couple of unique traits (which I'll leave for you to discover) that make his investigation especially interesting. Lots of side themes of friendship, power, technology, politics, climate change, and families. I'm so glad this is the start of a trilogy -- I want more! Audiobook fans: Richard Ferrone is the narrator, and he really nails the noir, first-person style of the book.

Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them by Siân Evans (St. Martins Press -- out next week): In this book, Evans explores the ways transatlantic sea voyages changed women's lives --from Victorian times through to the age of air travel. The book introduces us to a variety of women (some we meet in more detail than others) and explains how their lives were affected by their time onboard. Some women went to sea for work, others sailed to help with various war efforts, some were immigrants, others were traveling for pleasure or business. Some were rich; others were poor. Some were seeking independence; others were looking for blackmail targets, husbands, or adventure. All the stories are tied into feminist or women's issues and concerns, and while most are about everyday life, some are connected to major moments in history. I listened to the audiobook read by Jilly Bond, who did an okay job. She was slightly over the top when reading quoted material, but otherwise I liked her performance. I wish the audiobook came with a PDF, because the print book contains photos, which I think would have really enhanced the listening experience.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (Tor.Com): I'm not sure how I missed this series, but if the other books are as good as this first one, I'm in for the ride. This is a unique portal fantasy, in which the characters have each found a doorway into an alternative world. Each child enters his or her own world (for the most part, tho there can be some overlap) and stays for what feels like years, but in Earth terms they've been gone only a short time (days, weeks). The children's parents think their kids were kidnapped or that they ran away and have been traumatized. The lucky kids catch the attention of the head mistress of a special boarding school, which is supposed to help these "wayward" children. In reality it's a place where the kids can finish high school while living with others who have also walked through a magical door. This first book involves a mystery (not sure if the others do too), introduces us to the school, and to a group of characters that we may or may not see again. The characters seem to be diverse and are very relatable. Now to get a hold of book 2!

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2020. All rights reserved.



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