23 October 2018

Today's Read: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

All about The Winters by Lisa GabrieleImagine falling madly in love with a very rich older man who was ready and willing to marry you. What would you do when your heady, joyful, breathless romance is visited by your soon-to-be husband's dead first wife and is slowly being poisoned by your new evil stepdaughter? These are the makings of a new retelling of Rebecca, set in Asherley, an isolated estate on Long Island in modern times.

Here's how the story starts:

Last night Rebekah tried to murder me again. It had been a while since I'd had that dream, not since we left Asherley, a place I called home for one winter and the bitterest part of spring, the dream only ever recurring when Max was gone and I'd find myself alone with Dani.
The Winters by Lisa Gabriele Way (Viking, October 16; page 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: modern times, mostly Long Island
  • Circumstances: New York senator Max Winter vacations in the Caymans where he meets a much younger and orphaned woman who is working at the foremost boat charter company of the islands. They have a hot romance, and before the vacation is over Max has proposed, and his unanamed fiancĂ©e moves into his luxurious estate on Long Island. She, understandably, feels out of her league; can't keep up with American politics; and is overshadowed by the many reminders of the first Mrs. Winters, Rebekah, who died in a terrible accident only 18 months earlier. Meanwhile, she has to cope with Max's many absences, which are made worse because his teenage daughter, Dani, is on a mission to derail her father's remarriage.
  • Genre: psychological thriller, Gothic mystery, classic retelling
  • Themes: secrets, lies, second marriages, crossing socioeconomic lines
  • Why I want to read this book: I really loved Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, and I almost always love retellings of the classics. This one has been getting pretty good reviews, so my expectations are high.
  • More about the book and the author: The publisher has a good interview with Lisa Gabrielle, in which the author talks about her inspirations, the setting, politics, and her background. The Author Stories podcast has an informative interview as well. If you're in a book club, don't miss the reader's guide to The Winters.
  • Acknowledgments: thanks to Viking for a finished copy of Lisa Gabriele's The Winters.

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20 October 2018

Weekend Cooking: Korean Home Cooking by Sohui Kim

Review of Sohui Kim's Korean Home Cooking I've been pretty busy this month with work, which always cuts into my kitchen time. Regardless, I couldn't wait to start exploring Sohui Kim's Korean Home Cooking (Abrams, Oct. 16) cookbook. I discovered Korean food when I worked in Hawaii, and I've missed it ever since I moved east.

It's a sad thing, but I don't live near a good Korean restaurant What's more, I developed a late-in-life peanut allergy, so I'm now a little nervous to order Asian food out. The idea that I could learn to make my own Korean dishes (and thus control the ingredients) has made me a happy camper.

Korean Home Cooking is the second cookbook I've received this season as part of the Abrams Dinner Party (click the link to learn more) and it's available in stores now.

I love the design of this cookbook, from the full-color photographs of every finished dish to the fun, stylish fonts (see the cover). The index is well thought out too. Each recipe is listed by its Korean name as well as its English name and can also be found via its main ingredient. I'm so glad I don't have to remember that the Crispy Sweet-and-Sour Fried Shrimp recipe I wanted to try is called Kkanpoong Saewoo. Phew!

Review of Sohui Kim's Korean Home Cooking Other great features of Korean Home Cooking:

  • Descriptions of Korean ingredients, complete with photographs.
  • Help with basic Korean cooking skills, also with photographs.
  • Notes, tips, and/or step-by-step how-tos for many of the recipes.
  • Serving suggestions plus recommended go-withs.
  • Clear instructions that are easy to follow.
  • Ingredients listed in both imperial and metric units.
I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for me find most of the ingredients at my usual supermarket (Wegman's). Some of the seafood is more difficult for me, but there are plenty of non-fish recipes in Korean Home Cooking.

I'm particularly interested in learning how to make my own kimchi, and Sohui Kim offers several variations on the basic Napa cabbage style, such as radish and garlic chive kimchi. The recipes look pretty easy, and some are ready to eat in as little as two days.

The recipes most likely to be seen on my table are the vegetable salads, baby back ribs, and several of the beef recipes, some of the tofu dishes, and Korean versions of sushi and tempura. Oh and the dumplings, kimchi fried rice, and, well, you get the idea. Vegetarians will find quite a lot in this book as will fish lovers. There aren't too many desserts in Korean Home Cooking, but I don't think you'll miss them.

Sohui Kim's Korean Home Cooking is a great addition to your kitchen bookshelves, whether you're familiar with the dishes or are just learning.

Review of Sohui Kim's Korean Home Cooking The two dishes I've made so far were delicious. The first was a summer squash salad and the other was marinated grilled beef (like a stir-fry). My squash is shown in the photo to the left. It's called Charred Summer Squash Salad or Gu Oon Hobak Muchim. Basically you cook the squash in a cast-iron skillet until crisp-tender, then mix it with spices and a Korean hot sauce. We liked it at room temperature the first night better than cold the next day for lunch.

The Grilled Sirloin (Bulgogi) was outstanding. We loved this dish. I served it with rice, though there were other serving suggestions in the book. When I went to cook it, I didn't drain the meat well, so the marinade created a bit of sauce. Oh, man, was this good.

The other great thing about the Bulgogi is that all the messy and time-consuming work can be done ahead of time, which makes this the perfect weeknight meal or even a do-head company dinner. Note too, that I cut the recipe in half, because there are only two of us. We ate the leftovers for lunch. As I uploaded my photo of the finished dish, I realized I forgot to fry the onions in the last step. Ooops. It was still good.

The recipe given here is as it appears in Korean Home Cooking, except I'm including only imperial measures.

Bulgogi (grilled sirloin)
serves 6 to 8
  • Review of Sohui Kim's Korean Home Cooking 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup grated onion
  • 2/3 cup grated Asian pear
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds sirloin, sliced as thinly as possible against the grain
  • canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 bunch scallions cut into 1-inch strips
1. In a zip-top bag or nonreactive storage container, mix together the soy sauce, sugar, grated onion, pear, garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and black pepper. Add the sliced sirloin and marinate it for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator. [I let it marinate 6 hours in the refrigerator.]

2. Heat a skillet or grill pan over high heat. Coat the bottom with a little canola oil, just enough so the beef won't stick, then add the meat in a single layer, without crowding the pan; you don't want the meat to steam. (You'll likely have to do this in batches.)

3. Cook the meat until it is charred on side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then flip and cook it to your desired degree of doneness--about 1 minute more for rare, 2 to 3 minutes for medium or well done. (Koreans prefer it well done.)

4. When the meat is done, set it aside on a serving platter and add the onions and scallions to the pan. Cook until they are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes, then add them to the serving platter. Serve immediately.
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Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.
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18 October 2018

Review and Giveaway: The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider

Review and giveaway of The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn HeiderDo you love Halloween and Halloween reading as much as I do? I'm not a huge fan of spooky, but spooky mixed with humor and geared to middle grade readers is a little hard to resist. So when Disney Book Group gave me the opportunity to read a copy of Mary Winn Heider's The Mortification of Fovea Munson, I didn't hesitate.

Here's what it's all about. Despite her protests, 12-year-old Fovea ends up agreeing to work at the front desk of her parents' research lab. All she has to do is greet people, accept packages, and keep the sales people away.

Sounds okay, except this is no ordinary facility. Behind the employees-only blue doors, scientists conducted their experiments on . . . dead bodies. Yes, Fovea's parents had a cadaver lab. Fovea didn't want to know what happened beyond the front lobby.

Although she has to put up with morbid jokes from her classmates, Fovea's situation is not all that bad. Until one day, when she thinks she's alone, she hears people talking inside the lab. Against her better judgment, she takes a peek, and sees three talking heads . . . literally. Three heads, no bodies, having a bickering conversation. Yikes!

From there Fovea's summer begins to spin out of control. A search for a missing specimen, messed-up orders, a blackmailing bad guy, a goofy grandmother, and an erstwhile friend add to the spooky good fun. The story is told from Fovea's perspective, and her humor and spunk shine through.

Despite the setting and the talking (& singing!) body-less heads, there is more humor and madcap adventure then there is scary. Heider's The Mortification of Fovea Munson is definitely middle grade appropriate and the puns and escapades will have the whole family either groaning or laughing.

Thanks again to Disney Book Group for the chance to get to know Fovea (though I received a review copy of the novel, my thoughts are my honest opinion).

The Giveaway

review and giveaway of The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn HeiderIf you're looking to get into the Halloween mood, search no more. Thanks to Disney Book Group, I'm able to offer one my readers (with a USA mailing address) a fabulous bookish Halloween prize pack.

Not only will one of you get a copy of Mary Winn Heider's The Mortification of Fovea Munson but you'll also get three more great books from the Disney Book Group (I've read two of them, so I know they're good).
  • First is the graphic novel eidition Melissa de la Cruz's The Isle of the Lost adapted by Robert Venditti and illustrated by Kat Fajardo. This is a fun story starring the children of famous fairy tale characters. 
  • Next is Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming Staircase, which is the first in a series set in a haunted London. In these stories, ghost-seeing teens solve mysteries and help save the city. 
  • Finally is Alexandra Bracken's The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding, which is about a boy who thinks he's the only ordinary member of his family. Then one day he discovers the demon living within him.
Check out the fabulous book covers:

Review and giveaway of The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider

All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win all four books is to have a USA mailing address and to fill out the following form. On October 24, I'll pick a winner using a random number generator. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll send his or her address along to the publisher, who will send out the prize pack. At that time, I'll also erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!

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17 October 2018

Wordless Wednesday 514

Lille, France, 2018


Click image to see the details. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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15 October 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Reading across the Genres

4 short book reviews from Beth Fish ReadsFirst, for my friends in Florida and the South -- I'm hoping you are safe and that you have electricity and that you spared the worst of the hurricane.

For the rest of you north of the Equator, I hope you are enjoying the fall weather. I'm thrilled I can pull out my sweaters and long-sleeved shirts. I'm so ready for cooler temperatures and afternoon tea. I still have a window or two cracked during the day, but it's definitely cold out there!

With October comes a seasonal busy time for my work, and my personal reading time is crawling. I've gotten through only 4 books in two weeks. Oh well, the books will still be there waiting after I meet my deadlines.

Audiobook review of The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz ZafonThe Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Harper; September 18). This is the final installment in Zafon's Cemetery of Forgotten Books quartet. I listened to the first book (The Shadow of the Wind) when it first came out, before I was blogging, and that audiobook has remained one of my all-time favorites. I don't know why I didn't listen to the next two books, but I'm glad I gave Labyrinth of the Spirits a try. The plot follows Spanish secret police agent Alicia Gris as she attempts to complete her last mission before she returns to civilian life. The book is part thriller and part mystery and is set mostly in Barcelona. I barely remember the first book, but I didn't feel lost and I actually ended up recognizing the names of some of the characters. I liked the book, although I wasn't as blown away as I hoped. The tension was definitely there--as Alicia and her partner begin to uncover corruption stemming from the Franco regime, the danger increases--and I was invested in the outcome. I probably would have appreciated the book more if I had read the entire quartet; still I like the way Zafon conducted a kind of meta analysis as he tied up lose ends to the series. Narrator Daniel Weyman did a fine job reading the unabridged audiobook (HarperAudio; 27 hr, 55 min), which was a good thing, because this is a long audio. My only complaint was his British accent, which meant I had to keep reminding myself the book took place in Spain, not the UK. But all in all, his performance kept me invested. (For more on the audiobook; see AudioFile magazine.)

Audiobook review of Swing by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand HessSwing by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess (Blink, October 2). I've become fond of novels in verse and so was looking forward to reading Alexander's newest. This coming-of-age story is about two high school friends who share a love a baseball, though neither of them made the team; who are good students, though they can still have fun; and who are different enough to push each other and teach each other. Noah is currently obsessing over his other best friend, Sam (a girl), and wondering how he can cross the line from buddy to boyfriend. The only problem is that Sam has a boyfriend, and she likes the other guy a lot, even if he is a jock and a bit of a jerk. Walt, on the other hand, is determined to make the baseball team and practices almost every day. He's also a trivia buff and and jazz lover. This short novel, though, is no high school romp; it covers themes of friendship, young love, diversity and race (Noah is white; Walt is black), responsibility, and larger societal issues. Alexander himself reads the audiobook (Blink Audio; 4 hr, 8 min), and I think this was a brilliant choice. His characterizations were spot-on and his diction is clear. He infused his performance with measured emotion. Swing may break your heart, but you won't want to miss this in print or in audio. You'll be thinking about Noah and Walt long after you close the book. (For more on the audiobook; see AudioFile magazine.)

Audiobook review of On Sunset by Kathryn HarrisonOn Sunset by Kathryn Harrison (Doubleday, October 2). I didn't know what to expect when I started this memoir of growing up in the sixties in Los Angeles. Instead of a straightforward chronology, Harrison's approach is more of a love song to her eccentric grandparents, who provided her with a unique upbringing. Her grandmother came from a wealthy family of multicultural Jews in Singapore, and her grandfather was raised poor in London. Each became world travelers and had fairly full lives when they met late in life. Their one irresponsible daughter went the other direction, getting pregnant while still a teenager. Though her mother didn't live in the big house on Sunset Boulevard, Harrison saw her often and wasn't abandoned in the usual sense. Her memoir is mostly a collection of her grandparents' stories: eight-day train trips from the Orient to Paris, fur trapping in the wilds of Alaska, meeting a Russian prince, fighting in World War I, immigration, and learning to accept one's fate without losing one's past. I loved Harrison's voice and her grandparents' stories. Don't miss this one. I listened the unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 6 hr, 39 min) read by Rebecca Lowman, who beautifully blurred the line between author and performer. My only regret is that by listening I missed out on the photographs included in the book. I'll have to see if my library has a copy. (For more on the audiobook; see AudioFile magazine.)

Review of Jar City by Arnaldur IndridasonJar City by Arnaldur Indridason (Picador, 2006): When I was doing my big book culling the other week, I made a vow to myself to start reading from own shelves. We're all drawn to the new and shiny and sometimes forget those books we always meant to read. I learned about Indridason's Reykjavik police procedural series starring Inspector Erlendur when I was lucky enough to attend a BEA book blogger reception in Picador's offices; I left the party with the first couple of books in the series. Since then, I've collected all the Erlendur books to date. I thought it was about time I actually read them.

Oh boy have I missed out. I really like the setting, the mystery, and getting to know Erlendur and his family. Jar City starts with a murder that leads the inspector to revisit a cold case involving rape. Meanwhile, a bride disappears from her wedding reception and no one has heard from her and two elderly sisters were assaulted. Besides juggling multiple police cases, Erlendur (divorced) is dealing with a troubled daughter. Family issues, police department relationships, and the way rape victims are treated, all come into play. Indridason builds the tension and writes a tight story, and I really enjoyed getting a peek at life in Iceland. If you like mysteries set outside the United States or the UK, give this series a try. I'm already looking forward to the second book.

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2018. All rights reserved.

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