30 April 2012

Nine Books You Might Have Missed in April

I haven't written a must-read post in a long time and thought it was time to revive this feature. It's hard to believe April is over, but I'm looking forward to better weather and, of course, heading to New York (in just a few weeks!) for BookExpo America (BEA). Here are some great books you may have missed this month. Be sure to check out my Imprint Friday and Today's Imprint Read posts for more recommendations.

It'd Be Criminal to Miss These

Seth Greenland looks at blogging, politics, crime, and the contemporary American way of life in the dark, satirical The Angry Buddhist (Europa, 9781609450687). S. J. Parris's Sacrilege (Doubleday, 9780385535472) invites you to take a trip to 16th-century London where ex-monk Giordano Bruno gets entangled in a complex murder that may have it roots in medieval Canterbury. Cozy fans won't want to miss Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch (Viking, 9780670023417), a fun puzzle of a mystery complete with a diary, quirky characters, and a ghost.

Reunions, Reconciliations, Relationships

In Roberta Rich's historical novel The Midwife of Venice (Gallery, 9781451657470), Hannah Levi reluctantly agrees to help deliver a Christian baby, unknowingly setting off a chain of events that starts a family rivalry and threatens her plans of being reunited with her husband. Patrick Flanery's Absolution (Riverhead, 9781594488177) focuses on Clare Wald, who, like others in contemporary South Africa, is haunted by her memories of apartheid and her fear that it's too late for forgiveness. Sarah Pekkanen's skill at capturing the strength and importance of women's friendships shines in These Girls (Washington Square Press, 9781451612547), about three New York City roommates looking for satisfying careers and personal fulfillment.

Real-Life Musings

When Wenguang Huang was a boy in China, he slept next to his grandmother's (empty) coffin; in The Little Red Guard (Riverhead, 9781594488290) he talks about his family and the clash between old and new caused by Mao's Cultural Revolution. How have climate change and an increasing global population affected the essential nature of the food we eat? Josh Schonwald's The Taste of Tomorrow (Harper, 9780061804212) takes a look at the science of what we put on our plates. Attention all book nerds! Whether you're a reader, author, or editor you don't want to miss James W. Hall's fascinating Hit Lit: Cracking the Code of the Twentieth Century's Biggest Bestsellers (Random House, 9780812970951), a critical look at the key to popular success.

April may be over but it's not too late to run to your favorite bookstore and pick up one or two or all of these must-read titles.

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28 April 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review/Giveaway FoodTrients by Grace O

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


When I was asked if I wanted to review Grace O's FoodTrients cookbook, I was at first hesitant but then became curious enough to take a look at the book. Grace O was born into a culinary family in the Philippines and emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s. Combining her experience as a healthcare professional and as a cook, she identified a number of foods with beneficial elements--which she named FoodTrients--that seemed to help promote youthfulness and health.

The FoodTrients can be grouped into five main categories: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, disease-preventing, immunity-boosting, and mind- and body-enhancing foods. And Grace O explains the benefits of each important food element. She developed the recipes in her book so that each one provides several age-defying nutrients.

If you live in a big city or an area of the country with a large Asian population, you will likely be able to track down the bulk of the FoodTrients needed for the recipes. I, however, would be hard-pressed to find bitter melon, hemp milk, and moringa. In addition, a fair number of the recipes call for a dairy, soy, or peanut product, which means this book might not be the best for people with allergies.

On the other hand, if you can get the ingredients, the recipes look fairly easy to follow and the photographs are beautiful. Some, like the recipe I'm sharing today, are easy as can be; others require more steps, but the instructions are straightforward and most cooks would have no problem re-creating the dishes at home.

One odd thing was that Grace O notes "My recipes are made with whole foods. This means that I have used ingredients that are unprocessed and unrefined to maximize their nutritional benefits" (p. 16). Yet I spotted a recipe that called for canned mushrooms, another that uses canned cream of mushroom soup, and another that uses canned sausages. In addition she prefers Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend, which contains no trans-fats but does contain additives and a mix of oils. I think I'd rather have real butter, just less of it.

Vegetarian/Vegan alert: Vegetarians will have the most luck with the starters, salads, and desserts. Vegans will not find much to fit their diet; most of the vegetarian recipes call for eggs, dairy products, or honey.

The publicists generously provided me with the following recipe and photos. I think the salad sounds good and looks pretty.

Spinach and Grapefruit Salad
Serves 2

Spinach contains iron as well as age-defying antioxidants. Grapefruit is chock-full of vitamin C and potassium. You can use pink or white grapefruit in this salad, though pink grapefruit has the added benefit of lycopene. If you use whole segments of the grapefruit, you’ll also add fiber. The candied walnuts and dried apricots balance the acidity of the grapefruit and increase the antioxidants in this dish.
  • 1 bunch or 1 bag spinach leaves
  • 1 whole grapefruit, segmented
  • ¼ cup candied walnuts
  • ¼ cup dried apricots
  • Add Tangy Ginger Dressing (see recipe below) to taste.
1. Wash and stem the spinach leaves and place in a bowl.
2. Add the grapefruit, walnuts, and apricots.
3. Toss with Tangy Ginger Dressing to taste.
FoodTrients: Carotenoids, Fiber, Lutein, Lycopene, Omega-3s, Vitamin C

Tangy Ginger Dressing
Yield: about ¼ cup

Ginger gives this dressing its flavor as well as amazing anti-inflammatory benefits and pain-reducing effects. It also relaxes muscles, increases circulation, and aids digestion. Buy the whole gingerroot, then peel or cut off about an inch of the rough skin. Grate only as much ginger as you need, and put the root back into the refrigerator, ready to be peeled and grated for the next dish. Grace uses this dressing with her Green Tea Noodles with Edamame and over her Spinach and Grapefruit Salad. It works well with any mixed green salad.
  • 1 tablespoon grated gingerroot
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (seasoned rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Dash of ground pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well blended.
FoodTrients: Gingerol, Isoflavones

Giveaway: Thanks to the publicists I am pleased to offer one copy of Grace O's FoodTrients cookbook plus an apron to one of my readers (US/Canada mailing address only). To enter, fill out the form and I'll pick a winner on Saturday May 5 using a random-number generator. Good luck!

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27 April 2012

Imprint Friday: Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Amy Einhorn Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Faith Bass Darling has lived in her family's home her entire 70 years. She is the richest person in the town (which was named after her Bass ancestors) and definitely one of the most eccentric. Although she's suffering from early dementia and hasn't prayed in decades, she knows that if God speaks to her directly, she'd better listen. Lynda Rutledge's debut novel, Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale, tells us what happens next.

On the last day of the millennium, sassy Faith Bass Darling decides to have a garage sale. Why is the richest lady in Bass, Texas, a recluse for twenty years, suddenly selling off her worldly possessions? As the townspeople grab up the heirlooms, and the antiques reveal their own secret stories, a cast of characters appears to witness the sale or try to stop it. Before the day is over, they’ll all examine their roles in the Bass family saga, as well as some of life’s most imponderable questions: Do our possessions possess us? What are we without our memories? Is there life after death or second chances here on earth? And is Faith really selling that Tiffany lamp for $1?
At first glance, Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale seems as if will be a quick Southern story populated with quirky characters, but the novel has unexpected complexities. Faith loves antiques and was lucky enough to have the money to feed her habit, but beneath her perfect home and privileged existence are heartache, resentment, and unfinished business. The entire plot unfolds over a 24-hour period, beginning on December 31, 1999, when Faith hears the voice of God telling her she will die before the start of the new millennium and ending at almost the stroke of midnight.

Is Faith really about to die, and if so is this to be physical death or a mental death? Or perhaps her desire to empty the house of all its goods for "whatever you can pay" is simply a sign of her worsening Alzheimer's. As her possessions find new homes and new lives, Faith revisits her past, thinking of her family and struggling to remember herself. Although the novel is colored by sad moments and the seriousness of deeper issues--dementia, family conflict, spiritual faith--Rutledge manages to avoid being maudlin by including well-placed spots of comic relief.

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale is the type of book that makes you assess your life and the people around you. It prompts you consider the purpose of holding grudges, the need for forgiveness, the difference between remembering and not letting go, and the desire to accumulate material goods. You'll also think about what makes life worth living and the effects of Alzheimer's disease, especially when it comes too early.

I'm not the only one who was won over by Faith Bass (click the links for the full reviews):
  • Kathy from Bermuda Onion's Weblog: "On the surface, it's a fairly light read but there’s a lot below the surface. I've had this book on my mind since I finished it and I really like the subtle way Rutledge deals with tough issues."
  • Heather from Raging Bibliomania: "It's an odd thing to be smiling through eyes bleary with tears, but this was what often happened while I was reading this book. If you're a reader with a love of finely honed literary novels, this is the book I would recommend to you. It is strikingly forceful yet oddly gentle, and I recommend it highly."
  • Kristen at BookNAround: "Told from multiple perspectives, the story reveals itself slowly, creating a perfect narrative tension. Both addled but still strong and imposing Faith and self-focused for her own emotional protection Claudia Jean are sympathetic characters and the reader roots for them both even when they seem to be at cross-purposes."
Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale is an Indie Next pick for May 2012. For more on author Lynda Rutledge, visit her blog and read an interview with her at The Reading Frenzy.

Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale at an Indie

Published by Putnam / Amy Einhorn Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780399157196

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26 April 2012

Thursday Tea: Le Road Trip by Vivian Swift

The Book: I've only just begun Vivan Swift's absolutely beautiful travel book Le Road Trip. Although the subtitle is A Traveler's Journal of Love and France, it is so much more than that.

First and foremost, although the focus of the book is a trip Swift and her husband took to France soon after marrying, you don't have to be someone who dreams of Paris or to have a travel companion to find plenty to hold your interest. As Swift herself says in the beginning, Le Road Trip is mostly about travel in general than about a specific vacation.

Swift starts with anticipating her trip and packing and then moves right into how she likes to spend a day in Paris (including dressing, eating, and shopping). Then she takes a break to talk about what she calls "reality checks": financial problems, national holidays, bad hotels, and so on. She also muses about the little things: waiting for trains, walking beaches, and noticing the play of light.

As I mentioned, I've just started reading this delightful book, but I can already unconditionally recommend it . . . to some of you. I am a person who likes to travel with only half-made plans. I do a ton of research ahead of time, but I have no set-in-iron schedule, except for plane tickets and a few strategic hotel reservations. I like adventure and discovery and I pack extremely light. And in these ways, I am very much like Swift.

Sadly, in another way I am in no way whatsoever like her. I cannot draw or paint. But if I could, I would spend my days turning my photos and memories into paintings like she did. The scan (click to enlarge) is from page 103 and doesn't really reproduce the beauty of her artwork or the pure pleasure it is to read and absorb the material in Le Road Trip.

In addition, I don't have the years of experience in France that she has. I find her down-to-earth attitude about a country she knows very well to be refreshing. I can't wait to finish reading. For more on Swift and her life as a world traveler and art expert, visit her website and read her blog.

The Tea: We actually had a little snow this week. Fortunately, it didn't stick, but it did mean I could reach for a cup of hot tea. This week I turned to an old favorite: Stash Tea's English Breakfast tea, which the company describes this way: "We blend bright Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, malty Assam and smooth Nilgiri from India, and full-bodied Keemun from China. The result is a very distinctive, rich tea. It takes milk and sugar very well. This stimulating tea is the perfect morning wake-up drink." I was drinking it black and in the afternoon, but regardless, it's a BFR family favorite.

The Assessment: Umm, you know I love tea. I drink at least one cup almost every day. But for this book, tea isn't doing it. I'm going to have to switch to a little espresso or perhaps a nice Bordeaux because Swift visited many places in that part of France. Oh, I know what would taste wonderful if the weather warms up: a really good Norman cider (and I'm not talking about apple juice). Now I need to think about the proper food pairing: cheese? bread? pastries? a little salad? Ahhh to dream.

What About You? What would I find in your mug or glass? And do tell me what you're reading this week.

Buy Le Road Trip at an Indie, Powell's, Book Depository, or a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Thursday Tea was the brainchild of Anastasia at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog.
Published by Bloomsbury USA 2012
ISBN-13: 9781608195329
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)
FTC: I buy all teas myself, I am not a tea reviewer.

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25 April 2012

Wordless Wednesday 178

Ironwork (New York), 2011

Click image to enlarge; for more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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24 April 2012

Today's Read: Fifteen Digits by Nick Santora

A small team of men spend their days doing grunt work for the wealthy partners in a prestigious law firm. They don't have the kinds of jobs that require tailored suits; they don't need them to file, copy, and deliver the confidential files that make their way to the building's basement each day. They hate being at the lawyers' beck and call. Then one day someone convinces the men to start reading the documents that pass through their hands.

Jason Spade leaned across the table, over the half-finished Harp's and the untouched onion rings. In the crowded bar, between the blare of the Smithereens on the jukebox and the howl of drunk Irish electricians toasting some dead buddy, there was no need to whisper, but Jason Spade's was the kind of idea that demanded secretive tones. Even if whispers weren't required by the environment, they were called for by the very nature of what he was about to propose.

"The benefit of being invisible," Jason whispered, looking straight into Mauro's eyes, "is that people don't see you when you're robbing them blind . . . now, how 'bout you and I get rich, Rich?"

And with that simple question, a chain of events began that changed, destroyed, and ended lives. (p. 3)
Fifteen Digits by Nick Santora (Little, Brown / Mulholland Books, 2012; quote is from uncorrected proofs)

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23 April 2012

Review: Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen

In the late 1980s one of my favorite treats of the week was to read Anna Quindlen's New York Times column "Life in the Thirties." Although Quindlen and I were in different stages (I was in graduate school writing my dissertation and building my freelance career and she was the mother of two small boys with a prestigious job), I felt a deep connection with her through her observations and her outlook on life. Her column was much discussed among my women colleagues.

Quindlen (who is just a couple of years older than I am) and I are still in different places. This time because she has grown children, a big-city lifestyle, and a comfortable bank account. I'm now fairly small town, childless (by choice), and still building those savings. Nevertheless, her latest collection of essays, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, has only tightened our connection.

Written in the style I grew to love almost twenty-five years ago, Lots of Candles speaks particularly strongly to those of us quickly being forced to make friends with sixty. As Quindlen looks back on the collective experience of the baby boom women, she points out the many firsts we were witness to. Some of these were related to technology (first color televisions, first manned space flight, first home computers), but the truly defining firsts had to do with the women's movement and the opportunities--and stresses--that came with it.

On the positive side were the first woman on the Supreme Court and the first coeds in Ivy League schools. On the stress side were the first generation of super mothers and the first women to be sandwiched between our dependent (or semi-dependent) children and our aging parents.

In fifteen essays, Quindlen covers such issues as friendships, parenthood, marriage, materialism, mortality, aging, body image, and the future. She uses a personal voice and fluid style and has the knack to zero in on the heart of the topic at hand. I am but one of many women who not only will agree with most of what Quindlen says but will need to pick up the phone or crank up the email to share choice bits with our close women friends, our mothers, and our daughters or nieces.

The subtitle of the book is A Memoir, and I suppose it fits in that genre. What Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake really is, however, is a collection of musings, observations, and opinions of a smart, vibrant woman who generously lets us in on her thoughts.

About friends:
Perhaps only when we've made our peace with our own selves can we really be the kind of friends who listen, advise, but don't judge, or not too harshly. My friends now are more cheerleader than critic. They are as essential to my life as my work or my home, a kind of freely chosen family, connected by ties of affinity instead of ties of blood. (p. 28)
About surprise in our lives:
We are, after all, always a work in progress. There were things I hadn't done, didn't know, couldn't imagine at fifty that have all come true in the last decade. There must be such things in the decades to come as well. They arrive not because of the engraved invitations of careful planning but through happy happenstance, doodles on the to-do list of life. (p. 88)
About body image:
We women have such a strange relationship with our bodies nowadays, even stranger than it was when I was a girl. All of it takes place at the margins, between the Boston Marathon and all-you-can-eat buffets, between draconian diet plans and the Triple Quarter Pounder with cheese. Obesity and anorexia--you have to hand it to us Americans, we never do anything halfway. We have a culture that elevates women in advertisements who are contoured like thirteen-year-old boys, a culture that showcases actresses on television so undernourished that they look like bobblehead dolls. We've invented a new--and apparently desirable--class of clothes, size 0. A Harvard University study showed that up to two-thirds of underweight twelve-year-old girls considered themselves to be too fat. In other words, we have a culture that reflects contempt and antipathy toward a realistic female body, which is just another form of hating women.

. . . It's a story everything around us tell us, and, worse, it's a story young women hear as they're growing to adulthood. The invisible negligible disappearing woman, the cultural ideal just at a time when women are becoming more powerful and participatory in the world. No mystery to that equation. And speaking of equations, zero is nothing. (pp. 96-97)
The unabridged audio edition (Random House Audio), was read by Anna Quindlen herself. For a more personal and intimate experience I recommend giving the audiobook a try. My full audiobook review will be available on the AudioFile magazine website.

Buy Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Random House / April 24, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781400069347
Source: Review, print and audio (see review policy)
Rating: A-
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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World Book Night Giveaway: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

As most of you know, today is World Book Night, the motto of which is Spreading the Love of Reading Person to Person. To help celebrate this great event, HaperCollins Publishers has given me the chance to host a giveaway.

The book I'm giving away is A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving’s seventh novel. I'm a huge John Irving fan, although I haven't yet read this book, just out in a new paperback edition as well as in eBook form.

Here's the publisher's summary:

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.
Doesn't that sound like a must-read?

About the Author: John Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times—winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. In 1992, Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The Giveaway:
This giveaway is open to anyone with a US mailing address. To enter, simply fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via a random number generator on May 2.

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21 April 2012

Weekend Cooking: Review: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


I have a feeling I'm going to be drummed out of cookbook town by my blogging friends. I bought The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell on the recommendation of several Weekend Cooking participants. I'm sorry to say that this will not be a well-used, much-loved addition to my collection.

I bought what is called the "Keepsake Edition," and here was my first problem. It includes a glued-in six-page insert in which you are to add your own recipes. First, I don't want to add my own recipes to the cookbook, and second, the insert is stiff and it quickly ripped the page it was glued to, forcing me to try to carefully detach it from the book. I admit, this made me cranky.

The book starts out with an introduction by the authors, explaining what they mean by "heirloom" and how their cooking and eating habits changed when they moved out of the city. The recipes are divided by season, and each page includes a section for you to add your own kitchen notes. I like that idea! I also like the seasonality of the book because I like to buy what's fresh, either in the store or at the farmers' market.

The mix of recipes is pleasing, and I thought the inclusion of recipes for interesting non-alcoholic drinks (such as a cucumber cooler and a spiced tea) was a great idea. Unfortunately, a number of the recipes included hard-to-get ingredients. Not necessarily unusual items, but things that are not common in my part of the country. Here are some examples: goat's milk yogurt, Blaak cheese, and ancho powder. I know I can easily make substitutions for any ingredient that's not readily available, but it makes me less inclined to reach for The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook.

The biggest problem I have this cookbook, which was not a problem my friends had, is that I don't feel inspired when I flip through it. I saw recipes that looked good with easy-to-follow instructions. The flavors range from gourmet to comfort, and every recipe looks doable. But for some reason I didn't linger over the pages, imagining the dishes on my table. Was it my mood? I don't know. I want to list a few recipes to give you an idea of what's in the book:
  • Linguini with peas and garlic scapes (but it calls for chopped fresh lavender)
  • Tomato bread salad with cannelli beans and goat feta cheese (looks pretty and easy to make)
  • Broccoli-Cheddar soup (yum)
  • Mulled cider (with warm spices and a bit of orange)
  • Beer-braised beef with onion dumplings (winter comfort food)
  • Roast chicken with potatoes and rosemary (simple but good)
  • Spiced carrot cake (complete with cream cheese frosting)
They all sound good, don't they? I think my problem might be that although some recipes call for lavender or goat's milk yogurt they really aren't all that different from my normal fare. I have long since stopped using a recipe to roast a chicken with herbs, for example. Perhaps I'll revisit this book again in a few months, when the farmers' market is bursting with vegetables, to see if I change my mind.

Vegetarian/vegan alert: Vegetarians will find enough recipes to make it worth their while to either own the cookbook or to check it out from the library. Vegans will have a tough time because almost every recipe calls for honey, butter, eggs, or dairy. Even the poached figs include cheese.

Despite the rave reviews (including several starred professional reviews and thumbs up from bloggers), I suggest looking through Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell's cookbook before spending your money.

Buy The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by Sterling Epicure, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781402787096
Rating: B-
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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20 April 2012

Imprint Friday: The Cove by Ron Rash

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Ecco books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

I'll admit it right up front: I know Ron Rash is an award-winning author but I hadn't read any of his work until I picked up The Cove, published just last week. The next thing I have to say is this: Now I want to read every word Rash has written; all the praise and honors are sincerely deserved. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina during World War I, The Cove is a haunting story of prejudice and fear, family and love.

Here's the publisher's summary:

Deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander, and even the light fears to travel. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe—just as they know that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin.

Then it happens—a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. Laurel finds him in the woods, nearly stung to death by yellow jackets, and nurses him back to health. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel's heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known.

But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything—and danger is closer than they know. Though the war in Europe is near its end, patriotic fervor flourishes thanks to the likes of Chauncey Feith, an ambitious young army recruiter who stokes fear and outrage throughout the county. In a time of uncertainty, when fear and ignorance reign, Laurel and Walter will discover that love may not be enough to protect them.

This lyrical, heart-rending tale, as mesmerizing as its award-winning predecessor Serena, shows once again this masterful novelist at the height of his powers.
I was so taken with The Cove, I barely know where to begin to tell you about it. A truly great novel is more than believable characters, a vivid setting, and a well-crafted plot. When an author can create a mood, a world that draws you in so completely you feel almost as if you were in a dream state, that's a book you'll remember for years to come. Although I've loved many books, only a few have created that feeling for me, and three took place in the southern Appalachians: Gap Creek, Cold Mountain, and now The Cove.

There are many kinds of prejudice besides those based on race, religion, and gender. The citizens of Mars Hill have turned against the Sheltons because Laurel was born with a port wine birthmark. The townspeople blame every bit of bad luck on the girl, who clearly has the ability to cast powerful curses. At the same time Chauncey fuels the flames of hatred for all things Hun, from the professor of German at the local college to the librarian who allows German-language books to remain in the stacks. He even questions the circumstances that earned Hank his Purple Heart, after all the combat veteran is a Shelton. Aren't other local boys more deserving of honors?

Against this backdrop, Laurel and Hank yearn for basic human needs: love, family, friendship, and happiness. With the help of sympathetic neighbors and the mute Walter, the siblings begin to see some hope for a better future. But it's with increasing dread that we watch as Laurel and Hank begin to believe and dream. Rash has lured us in, and we can't let go of the bait.

And now for some other opinions (click on the links for the full reviews):
  • Melissa Maerz, writing for Entertainment Weekly: "[I]t's clear that The Cove isn't just an elegant work of literary fiction, written in a voice that's hauntingly simple and Southern; it's also a riveting mystery."
  • Nancy at A Musing Reviews: "It is not a fast paced novel yet I could not put the book down. The writing is beautiful, the story intriguing and metaphorical."
  • Kirkus Reviews: "What might have been trite and formulaic is anything but in Rash’s fifth novel, a dark tale of Appalachian superstition and jingoism so good it gives you chills."
The Cove was an Indie Next pick for April 2012. For more on Ron Rash, see his author page on the publisher's website.

Beth Fish Reads is proud to showcase Ecco books as a featured imprint on this blog. For more information about Ecco, please read the introductory note from Vice President / Associate Publisher Rachel Bressler, posted here on July 15, 2011. Find your next great read by clicking on Ecco in the scroll-down topics/labels list in my sidebar and by visiting Ecco books on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

The Cove at Powell's
The Cove at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by HarperCollins / Ecco, April 2012
ISBN-13: 9780061804199

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19 April 2012

Review: The Healing by Jonathan Odell

Every once in a while you run across a book that offers a different perspective on an old subject. Jonathan Odell's The Healing is just such a book. Although not particularly long at 350 pages, the novel covers a good deal of ground and brings to light a number of important issues.

Granada Satterfield was born a slave but found her way to "Freedomland" through the help and teachings of Polly Shine, a healer of her people. In the 1930s, Gran Gran (as she's called now), still lives on the old Mississippi plantation, though her black neighbors rarely seek her medical advice anymore. Her isolation is broken when Violet, newly orphaned, is left on her doorstep, badly in need of healing. To win the young girl's trust, Gran Gran tells her stories of the months she spent with Polly Shine, learning to be a healer and a midwife while struggling with discovering her individuality. Only after the old woman and the child have shared their histories can the true healing take root.

Odell gives Gran Gran two voices: that of a capable, lonely adult in the twentieth century and that of a naive young slave in the years before the Civil War. Thus when Gran Gran talks about the time that Polly Shine was brought to the plantation and all the changes that ensued, it is from the perspective of a child, without benefit of hindsight. And in fact such dualities are recurrent throughout The Healing.

Besides the obvious contrasts between the comfortable lives of the house slaves and the total misery of the swamp slaves are more subtle differences in terms of self-identity and even physical health. Polly Shine was the first black healer any of the slaves on the Satterfield place had ever seen. Her power over the white master was utterly overwhelming to her people. The idea that a black person--and woman at that--could make demands and have them met (for medicines, for a hospital cabin) was almost incomprehensible, especially for the field hands.

For the house slaves, however, Polly was not a godsend. Those who worked in the big house felt blessed, barely recognizing the fact they had little control over their own lives. After all, the mistress and master confided in them and fed them well. Some dared believe they were friends with the white folk. Polly's presence was like a mirror, reflecting back their true subservience and dependency.

For twelve-year-old Granada, Polly Shine was the hammer that shattered her world. The parentless girl was forced to assess her changing situation all on her own. And as most adolescents, Granada could not see the bigger picture, could not understand the possibilities of the future.

Although the principal theme of The Healing is the meaning of freedom, Odell also captures the psychological effects of slavery, the yearning to belong somewhere, and need for self-respect. You'll think about dignity, insanity, education, medicine, folk knowledge, prejudice, and the importance of remembering. You'll ache to tell the girl Granada the things she'll understand only when she's Gran Gran and only after she revisits the pivotal moments of her life through the stories she shares with Violet.

Odell's flawed and believable characters will find permanent places in your heart and mind. The impact of Gran Gran's story is difficult to write about without giving away the surprises and the unfolding of the plot. The Healing is unique in the group of historical novels about the transition from slavery to freedom. Polly Shine is a character everyone must meet.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Random House Audio; 13 hr, 15 min), narrated by Adenrele Ojo. Not only is Ojo's performance unforgettable but the author's note at the end is a special treat. My review of the audiobook will be available on the AudioFile magazine website.

In the following video Jonathan Odell talks about what influenced him to write the novel.

Buy The Healing at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Random House / Nan A. Talese Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780385534673
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: A
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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18 April 2012

Wordless Wednesday 177

Diseased Wood, April 2012

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17 April 2012

Today's Imprint Read: Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn

How would you cope if you were five years old and living with a cruel, sadistic father (David) and a down-beaten, alcoholic mother (Eleanor)? As you can imagine, young Patrick Melrose has some rough years ahead. In a series of short novels, starting with Never Mind (1992) and ending with At Last (U.S. publication 2012), Edward St. Aubyn focuses on specific, significant moments in Patrick's life. These events reveal not only Patrick's struggles and triumphs but some of the less savory characteristics of the British upper class.

[T]o Eleanor, David had seemed so different from the tribe of minor English snobs and distant cousins who hung around, ready for an emergency, or for a weekend, full of memories that were not even their own, memories of the way their grandfathers had lived, which was not in fact how their grandfathers had lived. When she had met David, she thought that he was the first person who really understood her. Now he was the last person she would go to for understanding. It was hard to explain this change and she had tried to resist the temptation of thinking that he had been waiting all along for her money to subsidize his fantasies of how he deserved to live. Perhaps, on the contrary, it was her money that had cheapened him. He had stopped his medical practice soon after their marriage. At the beginning, there had been talk of using some of her money to start a home for alcoholics. In a sense they had succeeded. (p. 7)
Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn (from The Patrick Melrose Novels; Picador USA, 2012)

Quick Facts (Never Mind)
  • Setting: southern France, the family home
  • Circumstances: the day five-year-old Patrick loses his innocence
  • Characters: the Melroses (Eleanor, David, Patrick) and dinner guests
  • Themes: alcoholism, abuse, social class expectations, upper-class manners and behavior
  • Genre: fiction with a strong autobiographical element

Quick Facts (the series)

  • Setting: New York, England, France
  • Circumstances: Patrick as a child, as a young man, as a husband and father, as a son
  • Themes: addiction, recovery, family, adultery, parenthood, family saga
  • Genre: fiction (with a strong element of autobiography)
  • Awards: the fourth novel, Mother's Milk, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize
Want to Know More? The Patrick Melrose Novels is an anthology of the first four books in the series. Visit the Picador website to find the book summary, reviews, and a reading guide. To learn more about author Edward St. Aubyn visit his website and don't miss the articles published in the Telegraph and in the New York Times. For more on Picador and for news about events and great books, visit their website, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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16 April 2012

Review: Love's Everlasting Courage (Movie)

I haven't read The Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke, but I usually like a homesteading story set in the Great Plains. Thus when 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment offered me the chance to review the movie Love's Everlasting Courage, which was inspired by Oke's books, I thought I'd give it a chance.

The story is about a young family struggling to keep their farm during a prolonged drought. The bank is threatening to call in their loans, and so Ellen Davis goes to town to work as a seamstress, despite the misgivings of her husband, Clark. Meanwhile, Clark's parents come to visit so they can lend a hand and help watch young Missy. Before long, the Davis family must come to terms with a tragedy.

Love's Everlasting Courage first aired on the Hallmark Channel last fall. Although it's fairly predictable, the movie will hold your attention thanks to stars Wes Brown, Cheryl Ladd, and Bruce Boxleitner. The scenery is pretty and the characters are likeable, but this is not an intense or deep film. Instead, Love's Everlasting Courage is a family movie with strong themes of faith, love, and friendship.

Look for this on DVD in early May, just in time for Mother's Day.

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14 April 2012

Weekend Cooking: The Unoffical Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.


Are you a fan of the television show Mad Men? Nostalgic for all things early sixties? Interested in food history? Missing New York of a half century ago? If you said yes to any of those questions, then you'll want to check out Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin's The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men.

As you might expect, the cookbook is heavy on the cocktails; in fact, almost a third of the book is devoted to drinks. But what a fun section it is. Each cocktail is prefaced by a synopsis of the episode in which the drink appeared as well as, when appropriate, information about the bar or restaurant that served it. In addition, Gelman and Zheutlin recount the history of many of the mixed drinks.

The remainder of the cookbook is divided into appetizers, salads, main courses, and desserts and sweets. If you are of a certain age, then you'll remember these recipes from your childhood:
  • Stuffed celery
  • California dip
  • Wedge salad
  • Waldorf salad
  • Beef Wellington
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Pineapple upside-down cake
  • Popcorn balls
As with the cocktails, each of the food recipes is introduced by the Mad Men episode that featured the dish, the history of the dish, and a restaurant or chef profile. The cookbook also includes interesting boxes that cover all kinds of topics from specific ingredients to period cookbooks to party tips. The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is as much fun to read as it is to cook from.

I remember the days when my parents would be invited to cocktail parties and would dress up in evening clothes just to go to a gathering at a friend's house. Thank goodness by the time I was of age, formality had pretty much run its course. All those dresses that could be worn only once or twice because they had already been seen . . . Anyway, back to the cookbook.

The recipes are very doable for the home cook. I'm sure my mother has made pretty much every one of them at some point in her life. And I'm sure I've tasted them all. Thus what called to me were the cocktails. I didn't really need to try fettuccine Alfredo or chicken Kiev for the millionth time, so instead I turned to the section that was not part of my childhood taste memories: the booze.

Thanks goes to Mr. BFR who made the ultimate sacrifice to help me taste test two classic cocktails. What a guy!

Vodka Gimlet
1 drink
From "Meditations in an Emergency": season 2, episode 13
Courtesy of the 21 Club
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Rose's lime juice
Add vodka and Rose's lime juice to a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass or pour over ice on rocks.

The vodka gimlet (which we liked better) is on the left; the rusty nail is on the right (click images to enlarge). Yum!

Buy The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook at an Indie, at Powell's, at Book Depository, or at bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs
Published by BenBella Books / Smart Pop, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781936661411
Rating: B
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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13 April 2012

Imprint Friday: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Amy Einhorn Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

You might not recognize the author of today's featured title by her name, Jenny Lawson, but I bet you recognize her online persona: The Bloggess, both the name of her very popular and successful blog and her Twitter handle. I have always loved Lawson's sense of humor, so I knew I had to read her new book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir).

Here's the publisher's summary:

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father (a professional taxidermist who created dead-animal hand puppets) and a childhood of wearing winter shoes made out of used bread sacks. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

Lawson's long-suffering husband and sweet daughter are the perfect comedic foils to her absurdities, and help her to uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments--the ones we want to pretend never happened--are the very same moments that make us the people we are today.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened is a poignantly disturbing, yet darkly hysterical tome for every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud. Like laughing at a funeral, this book is both irreverent and impossible to hold back once you get started.
You might be like me: As soon as someone tells me a book or a movie is laugh-out-loud funny, I'm immediately on guard and sure that I'll not be doing any guffawing. Jenny Lawson, however, is the exception. It's difficult for me to believe anyone could get through her memoir without truly laughing.

No matter how insane you think your own life has been, I bet Lawson has you beat. As I said in my review for the SheKnows Book Lounge, "Whether she's scaring the vultures off her half-buried dog, learning throw-cushion etiquette at her mother-in-law's, or arguing with her husband via sticky notes, Lawson's sharp, self-directed wit is contagious." You might be tempted to think (more than once) that there's very little true in the "mostly true" part of the memoir, but Lawson anticipated this reaction and has provided photographic proof, including a snapshot to go along with this:
Half of a squirrel arrived in the mail today. It was the front part, almost down to the belly button, and it was mounted on a tiny wooden plaque.

It was odd. Both because I was not expecting any squirrel parts and because the squirrel was dressed in full cowboy regalia. (p. 289)
There's more to the story, but I'll let you read it yourself.

In more than 30 short chapters, Lawson talks about her childhood, her husband, motherhood, and her work in human resources. Fans of The Bloggess blog need not fear that Lawson is covering old ground; almost all of Let's Pretend This Never Happened contains never-before-revealed (mostly true) events.

Here are some other opinions (click on the links for the full review):
  • Mandy from the Well-Read Wife: "If I were the type of book blog that had a ratings system, I would give her ten million gold stars and one humanely deceased, taxidermied unicorn head mounted on a purple plaque. That’s how much I loved this memoir."
  • Jennifer Miner writing from Moms LA: "You’ll laugh, you’ll snort, you’ll want to write The Bloggess a fan letter. One thing you won’t do is regret buying Jenny’s book. It’s great."
  • Jess from Don't Mind the Mess: "When I read this book, it was like making a good friend. Don’t you love that experience?"
To learn more about Jenny Lawson, start reading The Bloggess, follow her on Twitter, or like her Facebook page. Lawson has given a number of interviews, including one with Booktopia.

Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.

Let's Pretend This Never Happened at an Indie

Published by Putnam / Amy Einhorn Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780399159015

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12 April 2012

Now and Then: Nonfiction Audiobook Recommendations

A little-known fact about me: I love listening to nonfiction. In fact, I may prefer listening to biography and history than reading it. Audiobook nonfiction, however, comes with a negative: What about the maps and photos and other visuals often included in the print edition? I solve that problem by checking the book out of the library or buying it. I'm lucky because my father enjoys nonfiction, so I simply pass the print book to him when I'm done with the audio. The next best solution is to look for maps and photos online.

Whether you're new to nonfiction on audio or are looking for your next great listen, take a look at my suggestions. I can wholeheartedly recommend the following titles.

Earbud-Worthy Biography

One of my favorite books from 2011 was the Robert K. Massie's Catherine the Great. As I said in my review in December 2011, Massie "draws a complex portrait of the often-misunderstood empress. Relying on primary sources (including Catherine's diaries and letters) and firsthand accounts, Massie unveils the personal and private sides of one of Russia's strongest leaders." Catherine lived during a time of great transition—revolutions, the Enlightenment, and new technology were changing the face of the world—making her story both complex and compelling.

The unabridged audio edition (Random House Audio; 23 hr, 52 min) is read by Mark Deakins, whose pacing and inflections are well matched to Massie's prose. Listeners will appreciate Deakins's subtle changes in inflection to signal quotations and extracts. In addition, he handles the pronunciation of Russian, Latin, French, and German with ease. Catherine the Great is a highly readable biography that's made even more accessible with Deakins behind the mic.

Henry VII is suddenly becoming popular. The founder of the Tudor dynasty, who is has been called the uniter of England, is often overlooked in favor of his more famous descendants. Thomas Penn's Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England tells us the true story of the man who won a kingdom. Penn presents a well-rounded picture of Henry VII, who was a person of great contrasts. Although he could be cleverly shrewd, he also had bouts of obsessive craziness, instilling fear in even his most loyal subjects. Henry's rule was fraught with so much political scheming, acquisition of money, and manipulation of power, it's easy to forget Winter King is nonfiction.

The unabridged audio edition (Blackstone Audio, 14 hr, 34 min) is read by Simon Vance. Vance's expressive reading and careful pacing keep listeners fully engaged with Penn's well-researched biography. He varies his pitch and tone to differentiate between text and quotations and smoothly transitions among the several languages (English, Latin, and Spanish, in particular) found in the text. Vance's narration of Winter King is not to be missed.

On the Ocean Blue

You can hardly be unaware that this month marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking. As you compile your commemorative reading list, don't forget Richard Davenport-Hines's Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From. Davenport-Hines takes a unique approach, focusing on the people connected to the ship: the financiers, riveters, and sailors as well as all classes of passengers and crew. We learn how these individuals handled themselves from their first encounter with the Titanic as well as on the night of the sinking and in the days after the disaster. This is a fascinating and very personal look at the great ocean liner, from its birth to its death.

The unbridged audio edition (Harper Audio, 11 hr, 18 min) is read by veteran narrator Robin Sachs. Sachs's approach is to step back just a bit to allow listeners to form their own reactions to the interlinked stories of the people whose lives converged on the decks of the Titanic. Whether recounting the experiences of the second-class passengers, revealing the contents of the late John Jacob Astor's pockets, or discussing the training of the liner's sailors, Sach pulls listeners into the book. Don't miss Voyagers of the Titanic's fresh perspective, which includes little-known and newly discovered facts.

What do you know about the Atlantic Ocean? Probably not as much as you think you do. Simon Winchester's Atlantic offers both a historical overview and a more intimate look at the sea that has been a major player in Western civilization for millennia. As I mentioned in my January 2011 review, "The book covers quite a bit of material, but the organization of the text keeps the reader engaged. Rather than follow a strictly chronological path, Winchester breaks the ocean's story into different aspects." Thus each chapter is devoted to a single topic: fishing, trade, and the people who live on the ocean's shores, for example. Indeed, Atlantic lives up to its subtitle: Great Sea Battles Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories.

The unabridged audio edition (Harper Audio; 14 h, 30 m) is read by Simon Winchester himself. It can be a risky thing to choose a book read by its author, but Winchester's voice is clear and easy to listen to. His enthusiasm for the Atlantic is evident, but he in no way goes over the line to the dramatic. At the same time, he's a natural with pacing and expression, drawing listeners into the fascinating story of the great ocean. Winchester's Atlantic includes an enthralling mix of topics.

If there's interest I'll consider making this a sporadic feature. I've listened to quite a lot of nonfiction (in a variety of genres) over the years and am happy to share the memorable titles.

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11 April 2012

Wordless Wednesday 176

Tulip, 2012

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10 April 2012

Review: Paris in Love by Eloisa James

Just two weeks after her mother died of cancer, Elosia James was herself diagnosed with cancer. Although her cancer was treatable and not life threatening, James took her illness and surgery as a wake-up call to get more out of life. Rather than take a spiritual path, James decided she wanted to live in Paris.

Fortunately, both she and her husband were eligible for a sabbatical year from their university professorships, which made the adventure possible. To make the plan more affordable, they sold their house and cars and got rid of a lot of their possessions. After renting an apartment via the Internet, they set off, with their kids, to France.

Paris in Love is classified as a memoir, but it's really more like a combination of personal journal and travel writing. Despite the word cancer, James did not write an inspirational memoir, although it might inspire you to travel someplace wonderful. Instead James shares small observations about the sights and sounds of Paris interspersed with longer stories of the family's daily life and discoveries.

Although it took the children some time to adjust to so much newness--school, city, country, home--Eloisa and Alessandro seem to have readily soaked up the Parisian life. By the time you finish reading Paris in Love, you too will want to move to the City of Lights. In the embedded video, James shares some quotes from her memoir. Here are some others that caught my eye:

Around seven o'clock, the autumn light turns clear and bluish, the color of skim milk. All the waiters lean on the doors of their restaurants smoking, waiting for customers. (p. 45)

The French walk slowly. They amble down the street, meet friends and spend two minutes kissing, then plant themselves, chatting as if the day were created for this moment. My husband and I walk like New Yorkers: fast, dodging obstacles, glancing at windows, going places. It's taken a few months . . . but I now keep thinking: Where am I going that's so urgent, when all these French people don't agree? (p. 51)

Parisian life is small and quiet. I pack the children off to school and then think greedily about how many hours I have before they come home. I have come to the conclusion that silence and time are the most precious commodities. (pp. 123-124)
Not every day is wonderful, and James freely writes about the negatives. In the end, though, it's her short, yet beautifully expressed, observations of life in Paris that will linger with readers.

Buy Paris in Love at Powell's, at an Indie, at Book Depository, or at a bookstore near you. These links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Random House 2012
ISBN-13: 9781400069569
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: B+
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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09 April 2012

Imprint Extra: Giveaway of Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham

A couple of weeks ago I was raving about Lyndsay Faye's The Gods of Gotham. I noted that "Faye brilliantly captures the heart and soul of the seedier and more dangerous side of New York in the 1840s."

But don't just take my word for it. Among the many critics singing Faye's praise is NPR's Maureen Corrigan, who calls The Gods of Gotham the "worthiest successor yet to Caleb Carr's The Alienist." (You can read the full review in "Two Books That Delight in New York City's Dirt.")

Giveaway: Because I loved Faye's novel and think it would appeal to wide range of readers, I'm thrilled to be able to offer one of my readers a signed copy of The Gods of Gotham. This isn't just any signed copy: Lyndsay Faye and the generous folks at Amy Einhorn Books have offered to have the book personally inscribed. That's right, you can ask Faye to inscribe to you or to anyone you'd like. (Hint: It'd make a great Mother's or Father's Day gift or graduation gift.)

This giveaway is open to anyone with a U.S. or Canadian mailing address (no P.O. boxes). Just fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner on April 15 via a random number generator.

Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.

The Gods of Gotham at an Indie

Published by Putnam / Amy Einhorn Books, 2012
ISBN-13: 9780399158377

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