30 May 2016

6 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List (BEA)

6 Books to Add to Your Summer 2016 Reading ListDid you think I had moved past BookExpo America? I hope not because, although I've gushed about the Audies, shared my love of totes, and told you about new books in food and cooking, I still have more books to talk about.

Today is all about my summer reading list. Later this week, I'll share a few fall books I'm excited about. Even though I received some 2017(!) galleys, I think I'll wait before discussing those books.

Beach Reading

6 Books to Add to Your Summer 2016 Reading List • Invincible Summer by Alice Adams: Four college friends face the new century with college degrees and all the hopes and dreams of the life to come. After the optimism of their twenties has been tempered by the realities of their thirties, the friends reunite in an effort to capture the heady days of their more naive youth. Set in Europe. "Okay, here's one. If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?" (Little, Brown / June) • Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand: One dead celebrity chef + three widows + one small Nantucket cottage = one weekend of drama. Can the ex-wives guard their secrets and remain civil long enough to honor and mourn the man they all once loved? Classic Hilderbrand. "Deacon Thorpe is thirteen years old and still more a boy that a man when his father, Jack, tells Deacon they're taking a day trip out of the city, just the two of them." (Little, Brown / June)

Suspense and Mystery

6 Books to Add to Your Summer 2016 Reading List• The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware: This psychological thriller is set on a small cruise ship headed for the North Sea. Lo Blacklock, on board to write about the trip for a magazine, is enjoying the cushy assignment until one night she sees a woman being tossed overboard. But in the morning, no one is missing. What really happened? "In my dream, the girl was drifting far, far below the crashing waves and the cries of the gulls in the cold, sunless depths of the North Sea." (Gallery / July) • Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris: Jack and Grace have it all: plenty of money, good looks, and a solid place at high society's table. Their mutual devotion is something to be envied and admired . . . or is it? How come Grace is never seen out on her own? Why doesn't she ever say yes to lunch with the girls? Gripping suspense. "The champagne bottle knocks against the marble kitchen counter, making me jump." (St. Martin's Press / August)

Memoir: Country and Town

6 Books to Add to Your Summer 2016 Reading List• Raising Wild by Michael P. Branch: Life in the Nevada Great Basin Desert is not for everyone: poisonous animals and harsh weather are only two of the challenges. In this collection of essays, however, Branch lets us see the natural beauty of his home and how an intimate connection with the environment can strengthen ourselves, our families, and our friendships. Thoughtful reading. "It is true that on the day Eryn and I decided to have a kid we had been drinking quite a lot of gin." (Roost Books / August) • I'm Your Biggest Fan by Kate Coyne: On her journey from a young reporter for Page Six all the way up to executive editor of People magazine, Coyne has interviewed many of the major stars and celebrities. Not all of those encounters were pleasant, and some were down-right awkward, but few people have seen the rich and famous at their most authentic moments. Respectful, funny, and revealing. "Let's cut to the chase: Tom Cruise is insanely charismatic, so much so that you do feel as though you could maybe, kind of, possibly, convert to Scientology for him." (Hachette / June)

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28 May 2016

Weekend Cooking: For Grace (Documentary)

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.

Review: For Grace (documentary) I don't even know how to begin to describe Mark Helenowski and Kevin Pang's amazing documentary For Grace, which focuses on Chicago chef Curtis Duffy and his move from working for someone else to opening his own restaurant.

Duffy's goal in life is nothing less than being the best in the world. You might think someone with that kind of drive could be a bit of a jerk, but Duffy turns out to be someone I'd be honored to work for, even though with my skills and experience, I'd have to be something completely unglamorous in the back rooms of his three-star restaurant, Grace. The documentary doesn't make Duffy out to be a saint but shows us there's a lot to admire.

Random thoughts:
  • If you didn't already know it, the restaurant business is damned hard, especially for those at the top and striving to be at the top.
  • It's possible to find success even with the worst of beginnings, especially if there is just one person who truly believes in you.
  • Curtis Duffy's food is absolutely stunning.
  • If you can watch this film without crying, I don't even know what to think.
For Grace is not just another food documentary about another chef and another restaurant;  instead, the film plays like a box-office movie. It's strong emotionally and visually and is sensitively and beautifully filmed and edited. I give For Grace my highest recommendation. Do not miss this. For those of you in the United States and UK, take advantage of this holiday weekend and sit down and stream this documentary.

Bravo to Mark Helenowski, Kevin Pang, and Curtis Duffy.

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26 May 2016

Giveaway: Fodor's Guide to the Western National Parks & PRH Audiobooks

Fodor's Guides and Penguin Random House AudiobooksSchool is almost out and summer is just around the corner, which means it's time for a family vacation. If you live in North America, or are planning a trip here, there's no better way to enjoy your time off than by visiting the national parks of the western states and provinces.

Did you know there were more than thirty-six national parks in the western areas of the United States and Canada? Any one of them (or plan to visit several!) can provide you and your family with the adventure of a lifetime, whether you're into mountains or deserts or the sea.

So how do you go about picking a park, learning about the wildlife, choosing an outdoor activity, and finding a place to stay and eat? Fodor's Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West has you covered. This guide takes you from the most popular parks to the most remote and answers all your questions about what to do and see, what to pack, and how much money you can expect to spend.

Of course, you've heard of Banff and Yellowstone, but why not explore one of the lesser-known parks, such as Wind Cave National Park (in South Dakota), Lassen Volcanic National Park (in northern California), or Petrified Forest National Park (in Arizona). Are you craving a bigger adventure? Check out Fodor's suggested road-trip itineraries, Visit the Canadian Rockies parks over the course of eight days or see the Black Hills and Badlands on a six-day road trip.

Fodor's Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West includes everything you need to plan your trip. You'll find such information as average temperatures, transportation options, lodging, and maps. Plus Fodor's offers great advice on year-round activities like horseback riding, hiking, skiing, and boating. The guide includes charts and lists so you can learn about the local birds, find the historic sites, enjoy the nightlife, and visit the nearby attractions.

One thing I really like is that Fodor's guides help you avoid unpleasant surprises. They rate the trails, activities, restaurants, and so forth by cost, appropriateness for families, strenuousness, and the like, so you can make sane, informed decisions ahead of time. Use the print guide along with the numerous national park resources found on FodorTravel website, and you'll be organized and ready to see it all.

Now that you're on your way to a great vacation, Listening Library reminds us to sweeten the deal with good family entertainment for car time, evenings in the lodge, and rainy afternoons. Audiobooks are a super way to keep everyone happy and entertained. Try a classic like Jack London's Call of the Wild (read by Jeff Daniels), a fun and funny story of family and friendship like Jennifer Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish (read by Georgette Perna), or a mysterious adventure like Chris Grabenstein's Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (read by Jesse Bernstein).

Do I have you all geared up for a fabulous family vacation? That's good because thanks to the nice people at Penguin Random House I can offer one of my readers (with a U.S.A. mailing address) a prize pack consisting of Fodor's Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West plus all three audiobooks!

All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via random number generator on June 3. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll delete all personal information from my computer. This is a seriously awesome prize pack, so I wish you good luck!

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25 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday 395

A Sure Sign of Summer, 2016

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24 May 2016

Today's Read: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann

Review: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine HeppermannWhat if you were a teenager who was doing well at parochial school and enjoying a decent social life but ended up pregnant? All your choices are difficult, and each comes with consequences. Addie has no doubt she made the correct decision, but she is not the same girl she was before.

Public School Kids Always Ask

How do you meet guys
if you go to an all-girls school? . . .

Even if we brushed with garlic toothpaste
we couldn't keep the vampires away.
Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (Greenwillow, 2016, p. 1, uncorrected ARC)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: modern times, Minneapolis
  • Circumstances: Addie, a cross-country track star, starts dating Nick, a nice guy who plays the bass in a band. Soon they give into their passions, resulting in Addie becoming pregnant. After taking a pregnancy test, she tells Nick and her parents she wants an abortion. Afterward, her views on school, track, and her old friends change, and she must figure out who is she now.
  • Characters: Addie, a student at a Catholic high school; Claire, her friend and track rival; Nick, her boyfriend; various other classmates; her parents; her track coach; her English teacher; Juliana, an older girl who used to go to Addie's school
  • Genre, audience, style: contemporary fiction; young adult with strong cross-over to adults; a novel in verse
  • Themes: coming of age, finding one's self, making choices and living with them, friendship, dating, young love, family, relevancy of Catholicism
  • Thoughts: Heppermann explores tough issues in a respectful, nonjudgmental way. The poems are short and address different aspects of Addie's life over the course of seven months as she transforms from a carefree teen to young woman with a revised self-image. Addie has no regrets, but she has definitely changed—for example, her life is no longer an open book: Who will she tell about her abortion? How can she explain her new attitude about running? What about her religious training? Does still want to date Nick?
  • Recommendation: I read this all in one go, finding it difficult to put the book down. Later, I went back and read the poems more slowly, fully absorbing the words. No matter where you fall on the issue of a woman's right to choose, Ask Me How I Got Here will make you think. I loved it and recommend it without hesitation. Note too this would be a wonderful book club selection for adults and teens.

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23 May 2016

The Totes of BEA 2016

Totes of BEA 2016 @ www.BethFishReads.comI probably shouldn't admit this in public, but I'm kind of a tote bag nerd. One of things I really enjoy at BEA (besides learning about new books and seeing friends) is finding and collecting the cool totes of the year. Totes are my favorite swag, and I put them to good use throughout the year--especially when traveling and shopping.

I tend to be attracted to the canvas bags (they're durable and washable), especially those with fun graphics or sayings. I'll collect a noncanvas tote if something draws me to it, like the Louise Penny audiobook tote, seen in the center of the photo at the left.

Every year I wish someone (not me) would run a best tote of the show contest. I always have one or two that make the top of my list.

One new trend at BEA 2016 was coloring totes! I plan to color the bags I collected with fabric pens, though I bet Sharpies would work too. Aren't they cool? (Click the images to see them full size and in sharper focus.)

Now for my top three totes of the show:

In third place is the gusseted canvas tote from Sounds True. I love the tote's shape and the cord handles. In second place is the very nice tote from Hachette Book Group. This one has a zippered outside pocket and a zipper closure at the top of the tote. Great features! But my vote for best tote of BEA 2016 is the pretty, gusseted tote from London Review of Books. I love the color and the way the words run up the sides of the bag. Although their booth was hidden in the far corner of the expo floor, the London Review of Books totes were found everywhere. So distinctive, and the blue really popped.

Of course, I didn't take every available tote, and I saw some really cute ones that other people were carrying. However, I really like each one I added to my collection. If you were at BEA, which totes did you love?

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21 May 2016

Weekend Cooking: 6 Books for Foodies and Cooks (BEA)

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.

6 books for food lovers and cooksAs many of you know, I was in Chicago last week for Book Expo America. Although I wandered the show floor with no particular agenda, I kept my eyes open for books that would be a good fit for future Weekend Cooking posts.

Here are a six books I picked up or heard about at BEA. Half fall into the category of food writing and the other half are cookbooks. All looked interesting to me and I hope to write full reviews in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, I'm sharing my quick impressions, so you can get a jump on preordering or requesting from your library. Hope you find two or three to add to your list.

Food Writing / Memoirs

6 books for food lovers and cooks
  • The Food & Wine of France by Edward Behr: This books consists of 32 essays, each one focusing on a different aspect of French cuisine, such as bread, salt, champagne, snails, cheese, and cake. Looks like a good one to read a chapter at a time. (Penguin Press, June)
  • Pancakes in Paris by Craig Carlson: The story of how the Connecticut-born author came to open an American-style diner in Paris, the city known for its haute cuisine. The style is fun, light, and conversational. (Sourcebooks, September)
  • Truffle Boy by Ian Purkayastha: After tasting his first truffle, this Arkansas native was so instantly a fan he made the fungus his business. Still in his 20s, he now sells one of the world's most expensive ingredients to the most famous chefs in New York City. (Hachette, August)

6 books for food lovers and cooks

  • Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft: Hello! It's a cookbook on bread and all its cousins (like babka and doughnuts). You knew I couldn't walk by this one. I have only a pamphlet, but I can already tell I'm going to love the cookbook. (Artisan, October)
  • Fast to the Table Freezer Cookbook by Becky Rosenthal: I'm a big fan of using my freezer and this book promises to have be full of tips and advice on both properly storing foods as well as cooking with them later. Can't wait to see the full cookbook. (Countryman Press, May)
  • Eat What You Love: Quick & Easy by Marlene Koch: This cookbook really caught my attention with its full-flavored and varied recipes all geared to good health. From a quick look through the book (and see the cover) I doubt I'm going to notice those missing calories. (Running Press, April)
I found other food and cooking books at BEA and made some new contacts, so it looks like I have a good start on my summer Weekend Cooking posts.

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19 May 2016

12 Books for Nonfiction Lovers (May 2016)

Although I'm a huge fan of fiction and will read almost any genre (but no horror, please), I have deep fondness for nonfiction. Since my elementary school days, biography, science, and history have made up a significant percentage of my reading life. Here are a dozen recommended titles, all coming out this month. Whether you're into medicine or Hollywood, you're sure to find something to add to your reading list.

Biology & Medicine

12 books for nonfiction lovers
  • In The Gene, Siddhartha Mukherjee explores the theories and mechanics of heredity from the ancient Greeks to the mapping of the human genome. What does it mean to be human -- on the genetic level -- and what are the ramifications of genetic engineering? Thought-provoking and easy to read. (Scribner).
  • The Age of Genomes by Steven Monroe Lipkin looks at our genetic makeup from a medical point of view, clearly explaining the good and evil aspects of current research into genetic testing and genetics-based cures for devastating diseases. What the potential long-term consequences of messing around with our genes? (Beacon Press)
  • Sean Carroll's The Big Picture can be summed by its subtitle: "On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself." This extremely accessible account explores our place in the greater context of the universe, from the stars to the smallest particles. (Dutton)
Memoir & Biography

12 books for nonfiction lovers
  • Could you be single (but dating) for an entire year? In Available, Matteson Perry tells what it's like, as he shares the foibles and fun and downside of serial dating in the 21st century, all while trying to maintain his nice-guy status. (Scribner).
  • Her Again by Michael Schulman takes a look at one of the most honored actors of our time. His perspective is to introduce us to a young Meryl Streep, from her New Jersey teen years, through college stage plays, and finally to her first Oscar. Well researched and respectful. (Harper)
  • Wendy E. Simmons is one adventurous traveler who rarely loses her sense of humor. The essays collected in My Holiday in North Korea describe it all, from weddings to hospitals and cities to countryside, providing a intimate view of West meets East. Amply illustrated by photographs. (Rosettabooks)
  • Shelley Emling's Setting the World on Fire transports us to medieval Italy, bringing the life of St. Catherine of Siena to modern attention. How did this daughter of a tradesman balance her feminist ideas against her devotion to the Church? Fascinating reading. (St. Martin's Press)
New & Old World History

12 books for nonfiction lovers
  • Nathaniel Philbrick is one of my go-to authors for early American History. His Valiant Ambition focuses on the relationship between two of the main players in the American Revolutionary War: George Washington and Benedict Arnold. This is a well-balanced account of the men's individual personalities and the choices they made during wartime. (Viking)
  • The Edge of the Empire by Bronwen Riley takes us across the ocean and into the past to discover the world of the Roman emperor Hadrian. We embark on a journey from Rome to the far northwestern territory known as Britannia, seeing the sights, eating the food, and soaking in the different cultures along the way. Travelogue and history all rolled into one. (Pegasus Books)
Anthropology & Archaeology

12 books for nonfiction lovers
  • Sebastian Junger's Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging explores the phenomenon of being a member of a small community, from precontact Native Americans to veterans of modern-day war. Junger asks, Why do we form stronger bonds during times of adversity than we do when all is well? Delving into history and the social sciences, he attempts to answer this and other questions about how humans form connections. (Twelve)
  • In The First Signs, Genevieve von Petzinger sets out to interpret the earliest human art--the paintings and carvings found in caves and at other prehistoric European sites. What exactly do those dots, hand prints, swirls, and geometric shapes mean? Even if archaeological research cannot determine the meanings with certainty, we can appreciate how such art connects us with our ancient ancestors. (Atria)
Squee-Worthy Extra

12 books for nonfiction loversMany of us are familiar with Neil Gaiman's fiction, including Coraline and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. You might not know, however, that Gaiman also writes essays, reviews, and speeches. The View from the Cheap Seats collects dozens of these short works, in which Gaiman explores a wide variety of topics and issues. You'll find pieces about writing, bookstores, and book awards. Others focus on people and books (including reviews). Gaiman talks about science fiction, fairy tales, and art. He muses about comics, film, and music. This is a must-read collection for fans and for anyone interested in a smart, well-thought-out perspective on a variety of contemporary issues. I've been dipping into this randomly, reading an essay here, a keynote speech there as my mood dictates. (William Morrow)

NOTE: These are the books at the top of my current nonfiction list. For more of my nonfiction picks, check out my stream on the Litsy app (for iPhone), where I'm BethFishReads.

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18 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday 394

Chicago, 2016

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17 May 2016

Today's Read: Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

All About Modern Lovers by Emma StraubWhat happens when college sweethearts begin to question their life choices a couple decades into their marriage? Can they find a future together, even as the past pops up to haunt them?

In June, the book club was at Zoe's house, which meant that Elizabeth had to carry her heavy ceramic bowl of spinach salad with walnuts and bits of crumbled goat cheese a grand total of half a block. She didn't even have to cross a street. None of the dozen women in the group had to travel far; that was the point. It was hard enough to coordinate schedules and read a novel (though only half the group ever finished anything) without asking people to get on the subway. Make plans with your real friends on your own time, drive your car across the borough to have dinner if  you want to, but this was the neighborhood. This was easy.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (Riverhead, 2016, opening sentences--uncorrected ARC)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: modern times, Brooklyn; 1980s, Ohio
  • Circumstances: When in college at Oberlin, Elizabeth, Andrew, Lydia, and Zoe were in a band. Lydia went on to have a solo career after recording a hit single of one of Elizabeth's songs. Now, years after Lydia died of a drug overdose, a Hollywood producer wants the rights to the song and the late-singer's life story. Meanwhile Elizabeth, Andrew, and their son and Zoe, Jane, and their daughter are all at turning points: midlife crises, rocky marriages, and children on the brink of adulthood. Will anyone survive the inevitable stresses as past and present collide?
  • Characters: Elizabeth, a real estate agent; Andrew, a trust fund child; Harry, their son; Zoe and Jane, restaurant owners; Ruby, their daughter; Lydia, dead at 27 and the only one who became famous; various others from the past and present
  • Genre & themes: contemporary literary fiction; explores marriage, parenthood, life choices, teenagers, and dealing with the past.
  • Reviews & recommendations: Modern Lovers is winning starred reviews from everywhere, including Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and the Library Journal. The book is said to be a realistic and relatable story about families and two generations on the edge of change. The restaurant angle adds an extra layer of appeal to foodies. Straub generally captures human nature perfectly, and her newest novel promises to meet all my high expectations.

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16 May 2016

Monday Morning: The Audies and BEA Friends in Photos

I will have a recap of my recent trip to Book Expo America 2016 in a few days, in the meantime . . .

. . . the absolute highlight this year didn't take place at the expo at all; instead it was the 2016 Audies Gala, held at the Alder Planetarium in Chicago. I was invited to the gala because I was the Audio Publishers Association's Book Blogger of the Year (I still can't quite believe it)! The event was everything I dreamed of, and the members of the APA couldn't have been more welcoming to me and my roomie/plus-one, Sheila from the very popular blog Book Journey.

(I took the photo of the planetarium, but the rest of the photos were by Sheila or the official Audies photographer.)

Yes, that's me and Paula Poundstone; she was the emcee of the awards ceremony and kept us laughing for the entire show. Next are the people I hung out with all week at the actual book part of BEA (photo credit also to Kim):

I already miss Florinda (The 3 R's Blog) and Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) and Sheila (Book Journey). Hey guys, where are we going for breakfast?

More about the books later in the week.

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14 May 2016

Weekend Cooking: Pen & Palate by Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen

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.

Review: Pen & Palate by Tram Nguyen and Lucy MadisonLucy Madison and Tram Nguyen have been friends since high school. Although on some levels they couldn't be more different, they have maintained a strong bond into their thirties, despite living halfway across the country from each other.

One of the threads that tie the two together is their love of food: eating it, cooking it, writing about it, painting it.  In Pen & Palate, a collection of essays illustrated by lovely watercolors, the friends share their thoughts on childhood, family, and friendship and most particularly navigating their twenties. They write about being broke, dating, bad apartments, living with roommates, and finding their place in the world. Throughout it all is their connection to food and cooking.

The essays alternate between Madison and Nguyen, and each one is accompanied by two or three recipes that fit the story. For example, a piece about a bungled attempt at deep-fat frying offers two recipes for fried chicken plus a delicious-sounding ice cream dessert. Two chapters on Thanksgiving offer recipes for tamales and tea-smoked duck (you'll have to read the essays to understand the connections).

Both Madison and Nguyen are good writers and their stories about entering adulthood and their enduring friendship are entertaining. The women are funny, smart, and easy to relate to, especially if you're a Millennial. I'm a little older than the target audience, but I still liked getting to know the two women.

The recipes range from trail mix and mushroom soup to vegetarian pho and fancy crab cakes. While the recipes add to the atmosphere of the personal stories, I don't imagine that I'll turn to Pen & Palate when it comes time to make dinner.

My favorite part of the book by far is Nguyen's art. I am in love with her charming watercolors (see scan). You should pick a copy just for them alone.

So what's my verdict? Check this one out of the library. Lucy Madison and Tram Nguyen's Pen & Palate is definitely worth reading, but I'm not sure it's worth shelf space. Although the book has been compared to Laurie Colwin's work, I'm not getting the same vibe, but that's likely because I'm not Millennial.

To get a better idea of what to expect, check out Madison and Nguyen's award-winning blog of the same name: Pen & Palate, where you can see Nguyen's paintings and get a feel for their recipes.

Note on the scan: The scan is used in the context of this review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder: Tram Nguyen.

Published by Grand Central Publishing, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781455535057
Source: Review: audiobook (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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12 May 2016

BEA Preview: Must-Read Books from HarperCollins 2016 (Part 2)

I hope you took note of the excellent books I featured on Monday. I also hope you didn't put your wallet away yet, because you're going to want so many of the books I talk about today. There's a reason HarperCollins is one of my favorite publishers: the variety of quality books they release each season is impressive.

I'm going to follow the same format I did on Monday: For each imprint, I've listed all the presented titles (with my own description). For my top pick, I've shown book cover and publisher's summary. You have a lot of good reading ahead!

Harper Perennial

  • Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan: A psychological thriller involving an English teacher who moonlights as an advice columnist. When a teen goes missing and a clue is sent to the newspaper, the teacher becomes involved in the rescue attempt.
  • The Infinite by Nicholas Mainieri: A coming-of-age story set in post-Katrina NOLA and the wilds of northern Mexico. Both a love story and a look at the violence of the drug cartels.
  • Not Just Jane by Shelley DeWees: The lives of seven woman authors from the early 1800s who, despite success, have faded from our collective memories. Biography.
  • The Waiting Room by Leah Kaminsky: Set in Haifa over the course of a single day, a young physician attempts to reconcile her inner and outer selves and her family's past and present while the city prepares for a possible terrorist attack.
Maranifesto by Caitlin MoranMaranifesto by Caitlin Moran: Although I loved the other books from this imprint, I just had to go with Moran for my top pick.
When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favorite pieces for her new book, she realized that they all shared a common theme—the same old problems and the same old ass-hats. Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do…

Introducing every piece and weaving her writing together into a brilliant, seamless narrative—just as she did in Moranthology—Caitlin combines the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book as she offers a characteristically fun and witty look at the news, celebrity culture, and society. Featuring strong and important pieces on poverty, the media, and class, Moranifesto also focuses on how socially engaged we’ve become as a society.

And of course, Caitlin is never afraid to address the big issues, such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats. Who else but Caitlin Moran—a true modern Renaissance woman—could deal with topics as pressing and diverse as the beauty of musicals, affordable housing, Daft Punk, and why the Internet is like a drunken toddler?

Covering everything from Hillary Clinton to UTIs, Caitlin’s manifesto is an engaging and mischievous rallying call for our times. 
Harper 360
  • After Anna by Alex Lake: A psychological thriller about a kidnapped girl and a custody battle between her parents. Sounds pretty gripping.
  • Who's That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane: Romantic comedy about a young woman who kissed the wrong guy and now must move past the social media attention.
Six Days in Leningrad by Paullina SimonsSix Days in Leningrad by Paullina Simons: this memoir calls to me for several reasons, not least of which is that my grandfather escaped Russia during the revolution.
The never-before-told story of the journey behind Paullina Simons’ most beloved novel, The Bronze Horseman, now in print for the first time.

From the author of the celebrated, internationally bestselling Bronze Horseman saga comes a glimpse into the private life of its much loved creator, and the real story behind the epic novels. Paullina Simons gives us a work of non-fiction as captivating and heart-wrenching as the lives of Tatiana and Alexander. Only a few chapters into writing her first story set in Russia, her mother country, Paullina Simons traveled to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) with her beloved Papa. What began as a research trip turned into six days that forever changed her life, the course of her family, and the novel that became The Bronze Horseman. After a quarter-century away from her native land, Paullina and her father found a world trapped in yesteryear, with crumbling stucco buildings, entire families living in seven-square-meter communal apartments, and barren fields bombed so badly that nothing would grow there even fifty years later. And yet there were the spectacular white nights, the warm hospitality of family friends and, of course, the pelmeni and caviar. At times poignant, at times inspiring and funny, this is both a fascinating glimpse into the inspiration behind the epic saga, and a touching story of a family’s history, a father and a daughter, and the fate of a nation.
Dey Street
  • The Fortress by Danielle Trussioni: This is a memoir that reads like a psychological thriller. The author writes about her marriage to a possessive man.
  • The Hostage's Daughter by Salome Anderson: The daughter of Terry Anderson, the journalist who was held hostage by Hezbollah for six years, talks about his return, her meeting him for the first time, and the complex after affects of his ordeal.
  • It's Okay to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort: A memoir of a love story cut short by illness. Grab a box of tissues and explore survival, grief, and finding the humor.
  • Sex Object by Jessica Valenti: This collection of essays focuses on feminism and what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century.
The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. SunsteinThe World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein: I think this is going to be a must-have for all Star Wars fans everywhere.
A deeply original celebration of George Lucas’s masterpiece as it relates to history, presidential politics, law, economics, fatherhood, and culture by Harvard legal scholar and former White House advisor

There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, The Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting with down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’ score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and what it has to say about why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about the freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines new light on the most beloved story of our time.
William Morrow Paperbacks
  • The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore: Set in Ireland about a hundred years ago, it's the story of three women who grow up on a family estate in happiness until The Troubles come to their door. First in a trilogy.
  • Girl Unbroken by Regina Calcattera: A second memoir for the author. This one focuses on her rescuing her younger sister from their alcoholic and abusive mother.
  • Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman: This is about a single mother who unexpectedly inherits a house--and its elderly inhabitant. Contemporary fiction with themes of made families, Alzheimer's, and women's friendships.
  • The Perfect Girl by Gilly McMillan: A psychological thriller involving a mother and daughter working on a second family but living with a secret, until one fateful day the secret is a revealed and someone is murdered. Takes place in twenty-four hours.
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny ColganThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan: Who can resist a story about a book matchmaker? Plus I enjoy Colgan's writing.
Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.
William Morrow Hardcover
  • The Bitch Is Back edited by Cathi Hanauer: This collection of essays by some of today's leading woman authors look at the varied experiences of being a woman in the modern world.
  • Forty Autumns by Nina Willner: The true story of a family divided by the Iron Curtain/Berlin Wall. How each side coped and their joyous reunion all those years later.
  • Monticello by Sally Cabot Gunning: Well-researched historical fiction about Thomas Jefferson's daughter Martha and her relationship with both her father and their plantation.
Hidden Figures by Margo Lee ShetterlyHidden Figures by Margo Lee Shetterly: The true story of the African American women who were critical for the success of our country's space program. Why is it that we've (I've) never heard of these smart, capable women before?
Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as “Human Computers,” calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws, these “colored computers,” as they were known, used slide rules, adding machines, and pencil and paper to support America’s fledgling aeronautics industry, and helped write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Drawing on the oral histories of scores of these “computers,” personal recollections, interviews with NASA executives and engineers, archival documents, correspondence, and reporting from the era, Hidden Figures recalls America’s greatest adventure and NASA’s groundbreaking successes through the experiences of five spunky, courageous, intelligent, determined, and patriotic women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine.

Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of scientific achievement and technological innovation with the intimate stories of five women whose work forever changed the world—and whose lives show how out of one of America’s most painful histories came one of its proudest moments.  
Note: Up next week are features of the books I discovered at BEA.

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11 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday 393

Playing with Symmetry

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09 May 2016

BEA Preview: Must-Read Books from HarperCollins 2016 (Part 1)

One of my favorite yearly events at Book Expo American (BEA) is heading off to HarperCollins's offices and learning about all the amazing books they have lined up for the summer and fall. Because BEA will be in Chicago this year, the good people at HarperCollins (thanks Jennifer Hart @BookClubGirl) decided to hold a video presentation instead.

I've divided my summary of that presentation into two parts. Today I'll talk about four imprints, and on Thursday I'll talk about the remaining five. No matter what your tastes, I think you're going to find many books to add to your reading wish list.

For each imprint, I've listed all the presented titles (with my own description). For my top pick, I've shown book cover and publisher's summary. Hold on to your wallet, you're going to be hitting the bookstore hard.


  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson: Set in the 1970s in Brooklyn, this book is told in retrospect as a young woman remembers past friendships and the optimism of youth and the events that dissolved both. A coming-of-age story.
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: A romantic encounter both divides and unites two families. The story spans fifty years and explores the connections among and between the two sets of children.
  • Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: The final installment of the fantasy trilogy featuring a strong, flawed, determined young woman and the courts of two realms.
  • Mercury by Margot Livesey: A midlife crisis story of how the stability of a marriage and family is threatened when a woman becomes obsessed with a Thoroughbred. Family secrets, a psychological thriller.
  • Moonglow by Michael Chabon: Part memoir, part family history, and part fiction, this story begins with a deathbed confession that unravels the veil hiding family secrets and history.
The Comet Seekers by Helen SedgwickThe Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick: A literary fiction / fantasy combination that was comped to Time Traveler's Wife. I'm so on board with this book.
A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic, that intertwines the past, present, and future of two lovers bound by the passing of great comets overhead and a coterie of remarkable ancestors

Róisín and François are immediately drawn to each other when they meet at a remote research base on the frozen ice sheets of Antarctica. At first glance, the pair could not be more different. Older by a few years, Róisín, a daughter of Ireland and a peripatetic astronomer, joins the science team to observe the fracturing of a comet overhead. François, the base’s chef, has just left his birthplace in Bayeux, France, for only the second time in his life. Yet devastating tragedy and the longing for a fresh start, which they share, as well as an indelible yet unknown bond that stretches back centuries, connect them to each other.

Helen Sedgwick carefully unfolds their surprisingly intertwined paths, moving forward and back through time to reveal how these lovers’ destinies have long been tied to one other by the skies—the arrival of comets great and small. In telling Róisín and François’s story, Sedgwick illuminates the lives of their ancestors, showing how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and how the way we choose to see the world can be as desolate or as beautiful as the comets themselves.

A beautiful, skillfully crafted, and emotionally perceptive novel that explores the choices we make, the connections we miss, and the ties that inextricably join our fates, The Comet Seekers reflects how the shifting cosmos unites us all through life, beyond death, and across the whole of time.
Ecco Books
  • Brighton by Michael Harvey: A crime thriller set in the Boston area. Two friends share a shady past, but one has moved on to become a famous journalist. But when his old buddy is accused of murder, he must face the past to save the future.
  • Darling Days by iO Tillet Wright: This memoir is set in New York's Lower East Side in a 1980s heroin-fueled punk community. The author explores the culture, mother-daughter relationships, and gender identity.
  • Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh: The politics, families, and economics involved in a small Pennsylvania town that's coping with the loss of the coal industry and the rising possibilities of "harvesting" natural gas. Environmental issues and class differences. 
  • The Muse by Jessie Burton: Two women, two time periods, two cities, and the one painting that binds them. Set in 1960s London and 1930s southern Spain.
  • Nicotine by Nell Zink: What happens when a recent business-school grad inherits her father's childhood home and discovers a squatter community. Generation and sociocultural clashes.
  • The Terranauts by T. C. Boyle: In 1994 in the Arizona desert, eight people volunteer to live inside a glass bubble to mimic life on another planet. Told from three perspectives, a thoughtful story with Boyle's trademark humor.
The Risen by Ron RashThe Risen by Ron Rash: I would read anything at all by Ron Rash and this novel sounds intense.
While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill meet the entrancing Ligeia. A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town until the fall, Ligeia will not only entrance the two brothers, but lure them into a struggle that reveals the hidden differences in their natures.

Drawn in by her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude, Eugene falls deeper under her spell. Ligeia introduces him to the thrills and pleasures of the counterculture movement, then in its headiest moment. But just as the movement’s youthful optimism turns dark elsewhere in the country that summer, so does Eugene and Ligeia’s brief romance. Eugene moves farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable.

Decades later, their relationship is still turbulent, and the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic.

When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget. The deeper he delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene’s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and offer salvation . . . or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?
  • A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean: This is the second book in the Scandal & Scoundrel series, which takes a modern-day celebrity scandal and sets it in regency times. In this one, our heroine poses nude for a private painting but must face the consequences when the painting is made public.
  • Into the Fire by Jeaniene Frost: This is the last installment in the very popular paranormal romance series featuring the very hot (cold?) Vlad the Vampire.
The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill ShalvisThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis: Puppies, kitties, romance and Christmas? Okay, this looks fun.
If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

. . . He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but how can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish--and let the mistletoe do its work . . .
Harper Voyager
  • Lost Gods by Brom: A beautifully illustrated dark fantasy involving a man who faces the terror of Purgatory to rescue his wife and unborn child.
  • The Rift Uprising by Amy Foster: The first in a new trilogy that unites action/adventure with science fiction and military thriller. Time travel and strong female lead.
The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth DurstThe Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst: Epic fantasy with all its magic and politics and great characters.
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
NOTE: Look for part two on Thursday!

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07 May 2016

Weekend Cooking: Pornburger by Mathew Ramsey

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.

Review: Pornburger by Matthew RamseyDo you like burgers? If so, you'll like Mathew Ramsey's new book Pornburgers. Many of the recipes and photos were first seen on his blog--called, of course, PornBurger--but the book contains new information and collects some of the best of his work all in one place.

The first part of the book is all about the photos and what Ramsey calls "the stack," which is made up of the things between the bun. On one page you'll see an amazing photo of an inventive burger, and on the next page you're given the ingredients of the stack, with cross-references to the recipes.

All of his burgers have punny names, some with a sexual innuendo. Here are a few that made me smile:
  • Bill U Murray Me?
  • Calicornication (see the scan)
  • Croque Van Damme
  • The Full Mounty
  • Porknado
Basically, Ramsey is all about the uninhibited burger. His no-holds-barred, no combo is unworthy of a try approach is fun to read about and inspiring, even if you're generally a classic burger fan. Oh and if beef isn't your thing, you'll also find pork, lamb, poultry, fish, and veggie burgers.

I think one of my favorite sandwiches is the very clever "Pop Tart" burger, which consists of beef, bacon jam, and a smoky sauce baked inside a crust that's shaped like a Pop Tart. Easy to eat, fun to serve, and not quite as big as Ramsey's stacks.

The last two-thirds of Pornburger contains the recipes. You'll find information on how to make the perfect burger, starting from grinding your own meat to cooking it to perfection. There are also recipes for sauces and spreads, sides and pickles, and a variety of homemade buns. Scattered throughout the book are tips and tricks as well as resources and Pornburger-worthy restaurants.

Recommendation: Personally, I don't see me eating a 6-inch-high burger stack, but I'm definitely interested in Mathew Ramsey's recipes. Pornburger contains a number of rubs for flavoring bacon, for example, and I love the idea of making my own condiments, such as all-American ketchup, shallot compote, and avocado crema. My own burger would likely be more like a "Half Mounty," but still good and still inspired by Ramsey.

Here is a scan of one of the burgers and the stack (from uncorrected proof); click the image to see it full size.

The following short video of Mathew Ramsey making a burger was shot by National Geographic.

Note on the scans: the images were used here in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holders: Ecco and Mathew Ramsey.

Published by Ecco, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780062408655
Source: Review: audiobook (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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05 May 2016

Review: Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

Review: Breaking Wild by Diane Les BecquetsDiane Les Becquets's Breaking Wild is a difficult novel to classify. It's a combination of mystery and outdoor adventure, but it's also a character study of two strong women.

What's it about? Amy Raye Latour, a lifelong hunter and outdoorswoman, goes missing in the Colorado mountains on the last day of elk season. Pru Hathaway, a law-enforcement ranger, is tagged to be part of the search and rescue team.

Structure & plot points: The novel is told from the alternating viewpoints of Pru and Amy Raye, though it is not clear what the ultimate outcome will be. Pru and her team explore a number of theories to explain Amy Raye's disappearance, including accident, runaway, animal attack, and murder. As authorities dig into Amy Raye's past, they expose her secrets. When the search is finally called off, Pru (and others) continue to wonder what became of Amy Raye.

Meanwhile, Amy Raye's life has narrowed to a single focus: survival. Her harrowing ordeal is described in vivid detail, bringing the fear, uncertainty, desperation, and self-analysis to the fore. Les Becquets wrote Amy Raye's chapters in such a way that I really didn't know whether she would ever be rescued (or would rescue herself). I was left guessing until the final chapters, and a sad or happy ending was equally possible.

What I liked: Several things about Breaking Wild kept me fully invested in the story. (1) The women themselves. They were both strong, complex, smart, and independent. (2) I loved the setting and how much the natural environment played a role in the novel. (3) I liked getting to know Pru's search and rescue dog, Kono. (4) I liked the uncertainty of Amy Raye's ultimate fate. (5) I liked the way the women were changed by their experiences--and that was not a spoiler.

Recommendation: The combination of mystery, adventure, and thriller works well in Breaking Wild. The novel rings true in the outdoor scenes as well as for the women's actions and inner thoughts. Although Breaking Wild will not make my top-ten list for 2016, I enjoyed it and think it would appeal to those of you who like thrillers, adventure stories, and/or books about strong women.

Things to know: Kirkus gave Breaking Wild a starred review. Diane Les Becquets is herself an experienced hunter and loves the outdoors, which brings a firsthand authenticity to her novel. Read the NPR interview for more insight.

Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Recorded Books; 8 hr, 40 min), which is read by Therese Plummer and Saskia Maarleveld. Their voices were well matched and their performances were okay. My full audiobook review will be published by AudioFile magazine.

Published by Berkley, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780425283783
Source: Review: audiobook (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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04 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday 392

Forget-Me-Not (for my dad), 2016

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03 May 2016

Today's Read and Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo: Book One by Rick Riordan

Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick RiordanImagine you are an all-powerful Greek god. You fly across the sky in your chariot, warming the earth with the sun. You drink wine, you play music, and you are immortal. Now think how you would feel if you were suddenly a regular human, stripped of your godliness. Poor Apollo is about to find out--firsthand.

My name is Apollo. I used to be a god.

In my four thousand six hundred and twelve years, I have done many things. I inflicted a plague on the Greeks who besieged Troy. I blessed Babe Ruth with three home runs in game four of the 1926 World Series. I visited my wrath upon Britney Spears at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.

But in all my immortal life, I never before crash-landed in a Dumpster.
The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion, 2016, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: modern times, New York City, Camp Half-Blood, and beyond
  • Circumstances: Apollo, god of the sun, renown musician and archer, guardian of the Oracle at Delphi, is on the outs with his father, Zeus. As punishment, Apollo is transformed into a teenage boy, without any godly powers. If he has any hope of surviving and getting back in his father's good graces, he'll need a little help from his friends, especially from Percy Jackson.
  • Genre & audience: middle grade fantasy with deep roots in mythology.
  • Characters: Apollo, the god turned boy; Percy Jackson, a demi-god and son of Poseidon; Meg McCaffrey, a demi-god who befriends Apollow but who also needs help; familiar characters from the Percy Jackson universe and new people, gods, and creatures
  • Thoughts: There are no ARCs (at least not for me), so I don't know much about the book. But if the excerpt is anything to go on, The Trials of Apollo promises to be full of Riordan magic.
  • If you need more: You can download a very fun activity kit; follow Rick Riordan on Twitter; and search your social media sites for #TrialsofApollo (the official hashtag). 

The Giveaway

Giveaway: The Trials of Apollo by Rick RiordanTo celebrate today's publication of The Trials of Apollo, Disney-Hyperion is releasing five special editions, each with a unique extra, available only at specific retailers (see the scan; click to enlarge). The special inserts are a letter from Apollo to Zeus, an illustrated map, a bumper sticker; a bookmark, and a poster. Each is available only at the indicated store.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion I can offer one of my readers (with a USA mailing address) a copy of one of these special editions. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via a random number generator on May 16. Once the winner has been confirmed and his or her address has been passed along to the publisher, I'll delete all personal information from my computer. Which exclusive edition the winner will receive is a surprise! Good luck!

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02 May 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: How I Spend My Time

Life suddenly got crazy -- but all for fun reasons. Mid-April to Mid-May is full of birthdays, a lace workshop, a visit with my mom, and then, of course BookExpo America, which is in Chicago this year.

Regardless, I'm managing to read and listen to books, to watch a little television, to do some yard work, and to take my (almost) daily walks. What I'm having trouble with is finding the time to attend to my blog properly. Sooooo, posts will be a bit light until after BEA. I'll have my weekly photograph and Weekend Cooking and at least one giveaway (tomorrow). I'll see what else I can muster up in the meantime.

What I'm listening to: I've listened to and reviewed three books for AudioFile magazine and one just for myself. Sweetbitter is a novel that takes places in a Manhattan restaurant and is A-MAZE-ING. I'll be reviewing it here for a Weekend Cooking post later in May. Breaking Wild is a combination mystery and outdoor adventure that features two strong women -- one who is lost in the Colorado mountains and one who is a park ranger trying to find her. I love Lian Hearn and am sooooo happy she has new series. All four books in this fantasy / historical fiction series will be out this year. And I finally have Raven King on my phone. I'm listening every second I have. Oh so good.

What I'm watching: My top two current television shows right now are Outlander and Game of Thrones. I'm addicted to both. Yes, yes, neither follows the books exactly (well, GoT has now moved beyond the books), but I don't care! Do all the actors look like I expected the characters to look like? Not necessarily. Do I care? Only a tiny bit. I'm thrilled that these two book series have been brought to life. We're also currently streaming The Good Wife (we're still on season 1) and catching up with the last season of Justified. We have Better Call Saul on our list but I'm not sure season 2 will be available for streaming so, we'll likely drop it.

What I did this weekend: I make bobbin lace, and this past weekend I finished a piece that I've been working on for a long time. I was trying to figure out how many hours it took to complete this motif, but I don't really remember. Maybe 150? Maybe more. This is a Dutch bobbin lace called Withof, which has many modern elements and uses very fine thread. Anyway, click the image to enlarge it, if you're curious. I'm not sure what I'm going to make next. I may pick a fairly traditional lace (more similar to what you think of as wedding or lingerie lace) or I may make another motif in the same type of lace I just finished. I need to look through some pattern books and see what calls to me. By the way: Making lace is prime audiobook listening time!

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