31 October 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Getting Ready for November

November in booksI'm in total denial about it being November (tomorrow). How can this be? I really need at least 3 more weeks before we slide down the slope of the winter(ish) holidays.

Here are some random things I've been thinking about.

Not all books translate well into the audiobook format: I have audiobooks on the brain these days as I prepare for the Audio Publisher's Association webinar, airing live on Wednesday night (see below for information). As much as I love audiobooks, I had to bail on one last week because the book should have never been recorded.

Richard Louv Vitamin NWhat was it? Richard Louv's Vitamin N (published by Ecco last April). First let me say that this is a fantastic book, consisting of a ton of great ideas to get yourself and your family outside on a regular basis. Almost all the suggestions are free and take very little planning. Louv also provides useful resources: websites, societies, clubs, and more. I was given the chance to listen to the audiobook and thought I'd give it a try. Well, noooo. Narrator Barry Abrams is good, but no one in their right mind would listen to hours of a person reading a long list of activities, complete with URLs. Ugh. Do not hesitate to buy or borrow the book (it's terrific), just leave the audiobook alone.

I remember questioning the fact that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was made into an audiobook. I never listened to it, but I wonder how the narrator handled all the photographs. So that makes two sorts of books that I would avoid on audio: those meant to be used as resources and those that are highly visual. Any others to add to the list?

November in BooksLosing track of series: I just finished listening to N. K. Jemisin's The Obelisk Gate, which is the second installment in the very interesting Broken Earth series. I'm also in the middle of Gemina, the second in the Illuminae series and just started The Fate of the Tearling, the final in a trilogy. From this list, you would think I was really great with series, but you would be wrong. I have started so many series--mostly fantasy and mystery but also historical fiction and general fiction--that I never got around to finishing; heck, that I never even got around to reading book 2.

If you have any tips on how you keep track of your series, I could use some help. I know my problem is based on having to wait a year (or years) until the next book comes out. By then, I've totally forgotten where I am in the plot. I hope I'm not the only one who has trouble following a series through to the end.

Coming up this week: Besides the audiobook webinar, November kicks off a couple of events, two of which I'm promoting this week. First is Jewish Book Month. Tomorrow, I'm featuring a good book to start with and hope to have a list of some recommended books posted next week. November is also the ever-popular nonfiction month, and later this week, I'm going to post a list of some recent nonfiction titles that have caught my attention. If you're not normally a nonfiction reader or if you want to diversify your reading by checking out some books with Jewish themes, this is the month to try something new.

APA Bloggers WebinarAudio Publishers Association (APA) webinar: On Wednesday, November 2 (8:00 to 9:00 pm Eastern time), I'll be joining AudioFile Magazine editor-in-chief, Robin Whitten; assistant manager of operations & marketing for Hachette Audio, Mitch Kelly; and narrator Karen White for a webniar about reviewing audiobooks and spreading the love of listening across social media. We'll be giving tips for writing a good review, for working with audiobook publishers, for connecting with others on social media, and more.

Participants will also have access to resources, such how to request review copies of audiobook, where to buy or borrow audiobooks, and technical information about enhancing your blog posts. You'll also be able to connect with audiobook publishers who can help you get review copies, arrange interviews with narrators, and so on.

Although the focus is on blogging, the webinar also recognizes that audiobook lovers share their thoughts on a variety of platforms, like Goodreads, Litsy, and LibraryThing. Thus don't be put off if you don't blog, I think you'll still find the webinar useful.

If you can't make it to the live webinar, but are interested, you should sign up anyway. That way you'll be able to listen to the event at your convenience and have access to the resources. For more information, including the specific time of the webniar, click through to the APA's website.

Let me know what you think. And, as always, tell me what you're reading or listening to this week.

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29 October 2016

Weekend Cooking: Appetites Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain

Appetites Cookbook by Anthony BourdainWhen I reviewed Anthony Bourdain's second memoir, Medium Raw, I noted that the well-known chef seemed have mellowed a bit over the years, though he still had his cutting wit.

In Appetites Cookbook, Bourdain shows yet another side of his personality and his life. He presents a well-calculated (and still guarded) glimpse at his home life, his thoughts on being a later-in-life dad, and--more important perhaps--what he cooks in his home kitchen.

As he says in the introduction to the book, the vast majority of the recipes in this collection are down-to-earth, everyday fare. The man shown in Appetites is not the Anthony Bourdain of restaurant fame or of dare-to-eat-anything TV.

Of course, Bourdain's family recipes aren't quite what my family recipes are, and that's because he has traveled the world, is professionally trained and skilled, and lives in a city where all things culinary can be bought. So while I can make his roast leg of lamb and meatloaf as instructed, I'll have to substitute something like Rock Cornish game hens (?) for his roast quail with polenta.

Appetites Cookbook by Anthony BourdainThe recipes run the full scope from omelets, chicken salad, and black bean soup to Kuching-style laksa (spicy shrimp and noodles) and from lobster rolls and simple pastas to mutant quesadillas (with sausages and duck). There is a whole chapter devoted to American Thanksgiving, and the short dessert chapter made me laugh (I won't spoil things by telling you why).

Besides the recipes, I love the fun fonts and playful photographs that make Appetites Cookbook a pleasure to read and look through. Plus Bourdain puts his writing skills to good use, providing an entertaining introduction to the book and great stories to go with the recipes. You'll find out such things as his thoughts on the club sandwich and his strong feelings about hamburger buns. Warning: he uses adult language (so do I). I liked getting to know this other side of Anthony Bourdain, and I look forward to serving some of his family's favorite meals in my own kitchen.

Recommendation: Anthony Bourdain's Appetites Cookbook is not just for Bourdain fans, though it's a must-read for them. The recipe collection is for anyone who likes to cook for friends and family. I love the warmth and care that many of the recipes bring with them: whether a simple bodega sandwich or a fancier veal chop with wild mushrooms. From the heart-felt side of bad-boy Bourdain to perfectly cooked bacon and eggs, there's a lot to love in Appetites Cookbook.

Note: the scans and recipe are used in the context of this review; all rights remain with the original copyright holder: Anthony Bourdain.

The Grill Bitch's Bar Nuts
Appetites Cookbook by Anthony BourdainMakes 8 cups

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 5 pounds of mixed nuts
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are foamy and nearly stiff.

In another mixing bowl, combine the nuts, sugars, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt and toss to coat. Fold in the egg whites, tossing gently to make sure that all the nuts have been coated in egg white.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared sheet pans. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pans and stirring the nuts at the 15-minute mark. The nuts should be dry and crisp after 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.

Published by Ecco Books, 2016
ISBN-13: 9780062409959
Source: review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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

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27 October 2016

8 First Sentences: Which Book Would You Read Next?

I sometimes pick my next read based almost solely on the first line. Am the only one who does this? I bet not. Which of these books call to you after reading their opening sentence?

8 First Sentences: Which Book Would You Read Next?Chaos by Patricia Cornwell: "Beyond the brick wall bordering Harvard Yard, four tall chimneys and a gray slate roof with white-painted dormers peek through the branches of hardwood trees." (contemporary mystery; William Morrow; November 2016)

Girl in Disguise by Greer Macallister: "Like any Chicago tavern in deep summer, Joe Mulligan's stank." (historical mystery; Sourcebooks Landmark; March 2017)

The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke: "Will the defendant please rise?" (contemporary mystery; Simon & Schuster; November 2016)

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis: "The waters of Lake Wilhelm are dark and chilled." (contemporary suspense; Sourcebooks Landmark; January 2017)

8 First Sentences: Which Book Would You Read Next?Victoria by Daisy Goodwin: "A shaft of dawn light fell on the crack in the corner of the ceiling." (historical fiction; St. Martin's Press; November 2016)

The Homecoming by Stacie Ramey: "Standing on the high school's lacrosse field in the town I never thought I'd go back to, I wait for my turn to do the suicides." (contemporary fiction; Sourcebooks Fire; November 2016)

City of Mirrors by Melodie Johnson Howe: "Mother never owned a house." (contemporary mystery; Pegasus; 2013)

Genghis Khan and the Quest for God by Jack Weatherford: "The evening hours in a military camp belong to the revelry of the young soldiers, but the final dark hours before the sun rises belong to the old veterans, who silently stir the ashes of memory and await the light of day." (history; Viking; October 2016)

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26 October 2016

Wordless Wednesday 417

Fall Bloom, 2016

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24 October 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Reading Plans Gone Awry

Books to Read in OctoberWeekend Woots and Woes: Hope all of you who decided to participate in the Readathon had a wonderful time and have begun to recover. I had every intention of participating, but at the last minute decided to visit my mother instead.

That involved a road trip rather than a reading day, and because my husband thought it'd fun to join me, I didn't even get any audiobook listening done on Saturday. Oh well, gabbing with Mr. BFR and spending time with my mom were well worth missing my books.

In other news, I always bring work with me when I travel, and for the first time ever I left my laptop power cord at home. ARGH. How was I going to catch up with work and blogging? I tried a few borrowed cords, but ended up having to buy a replacement. Money I didn't want to spend, but now I have a backup with a variety of jack ends, so it should last me through a few more computers.

What I had planned to read: Here are a few of the print books I had on my Readathon pile:

  • Books to Read in OctoberGemina by Jay Kristoff (Knopf): I loved the first book in the Illuminae Files series so much I just had to preorder the new one so I'd get it right away. I love the graphics and the design of the books, and I've gotten invested in the characters' stories.
  • Coffin Road by Peter May (Quercus): I started this last week and am still reading. The Outer Hebrides setting is so vivid.
  • The Hidden Keys by Andre Alexis (Coach House): Five siblings are each given a clue to a large inheritance, leading to alliances and betrayals and a quest. I haven't started the novel, but it has promise.
  • Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson (Atheneum): Don't you just love the cover of this book (bottom center in the photo)? This is the final installment in Anderson's awesome Seeds of America trilogy.
  • Nicotine by Nell Zink (Ecco): As you know, I have a weakness for Ecco books, and the themes hinted at in the summary of this novel interest me: generational clashes (baby boomers vs. millennials), culture clashes (conventional vs. unique), and personal choices.
  • The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky (Liveright): I really liked Dermansky's book Bad Marie, so I readily accepted a review copy of her newest novel. The premise: Through grief and second chances, a woman finds herself on the path to better self-understanding.
Books to Read in OctoberWhat I'm listening to now: My current audiobook is Every Single Second by Trica Springstubb (Harper Audio), which is a coming-of-age story that encompasses a number of engaging contemporary issues (family, friendship, community). I'm always drawn to books that explore the idea of how fate can turn in a split second, and the teen protagonists learns that life doesn't always go as planned. Arielle DeLisle is believable as our young hero, and I really like her dynamic performance.

Here are the audiobooks I packed for my drive: Michael Connelly's A Darkness More Than Night, Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat, and John Sandford's Mad River. Alas the audiobooks remain in their plastic, their disks untouched. Perhaps I'll crack them open during our next trip.

What are you reading or hoping to read? What's in your audiobook queue?

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22 October 2016

Weekend Cooking: Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook

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: Ziggy Marley and Family CookbookBeing a long-time Reggae fan, I couldn't resist the chance to review the Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook. This great collection of recipes emphasizes organic, GMO-free ingredients and recipes that are family friendly and easy to make.

The first things I noticed about the cookbook were the thick matte paper, beautiful photos, earthy colors, and clean font. These features are the immediate hooks, but Marley's passion for good nutritious fare clinches the deal.

As you can imagine, Marley's culinary style is based in Jamaican tradition, but it has also been influenced by Rasta culture. More recently, Marley has found inspiration from his wife's Israeli-Iranian roots, which bring an international flare to the family's everyday dinner table.

The recipes range from a simple frittata to trendy smoothies and juices; from comforting grain salads to squash and leek soup and Caribbean coconut-flavored fish. Several dishes have caught my attention, especially among the soups and salads. I also have my eye on the roasted yam tart (made with puff pastry), spicy grilled jerked chicken, and especially the stout-infused ginger bread. All the recipes are geared toward family meals, though I doubt any guests would find room to complain if they were served such flavorful and nutritious food.

The Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook has a lot going for it, but here are some things to note:
  • The Marley family runs a company called Ziggy Marley Organics and a few recipes call for one of their products. The good news is that substitutions are always noted in the ingredient list.
  • Some of the recipe directions seem a little light on the details. This doesn't bother me, but more inexperienced cooks may wish for better guidance when it comes to judging whether a dish has finished cooking.
  • Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free people will find a lot to love, including gluten-free pancakes.
  • If you're landlocked, like I am, some of the fish dishes will be (excuse the pun) off the table.
  • Finally, I'm sorry Marley didn't contribute more stories to go with the recipes he included in the book. The chapter introductions offer hints, but not quite enough for me.
Recommendation: The Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook will appeal to a wide range of cooks, especially confident cooks who have access to fresh seafood. If you are cutting down on meat, this book will give you fresh ideas. On the other hand, despite the word family in the title, I bet whole wild red snapper would be a hard sell for most parents. Bottom line: Look through the book at the store or borrow it from the library before buying, just to make sure the recipes will suit your family and your skill level.

Here's a quick and easy fall salad to grace your holiday table or to take to a tailgating party. (Note: scan and recipe are used in the context of this review. All rights remain with the original copyright holders: Tuff Gong Worldwide.)

Fall Quinoa Salad
Serves 2 to 4; vegetarian, vegan, gluten free
  • Review: Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, drained and cooled
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, minced
  • 1 large bunch of mint, minced
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and serve chilled.

Notes from Beth Fish Reads: For my table and my tastes, I'd start with only half the mint and would most likely add some olive oil.

Published by Akahic Books, 2016
ISBN-13: 97816717754838
Source: review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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20 October 2016

Giveaway: Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud

Lockwood & Co. books by Jonathan StroudAre you ready for Halloween and the spooky time of year? Do you and your family like a little supernatural fun and young heroes saving the day? If so (with thanks to Disney-Hyperion), have I got the books for you: the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud.

I've only just started this creepy series about the hoard of ghosts, specters, and other evil spirits that has descended on London. Of course, everyone wants the city to be free of the otherworldly beings, but it seems that humanity can be saved only by the young, who have the power to see their foes.

Among the many ghost-busting agencies that have sprung up around the London, is Lockwood & Co., a completely youth-run operation manned by Lucy, Anthony, and George. The trio takes up a variety of spooky cases that are part exorcism, part mystery, and always creepy. The kids have to outsmart the ghouls and rival agencies, while they learn from their mistakes and their relationships grow and change.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion, you too can get to know the Lockwood gang through Jonathan Stroud's books. Here's a brief look at what they're all about:

  • In book 1, The Screaming Staircase (published in 2013), we meet our heroes as they are tapped to investigate a haunted house.
  • In book 2, The Whispering Skull (published in 2014), Lockwood & Co. comes into conflict with the rival Fittes agents while investigating a possible grave robbery.
  • In book 3, The Hollow Boy (published in 2015), the team gains a new member while they investigate a murder.
  • The newest book, which was just released, is The Creeping Shadow, which focuses on Lucy and her involvement with taming a legendary cannibal.
One thing I really love about Stroud is his sense of humor and how he uses it as a foil for the scary bits. To get a sense of both his style and the artwork that introduces each chapter, take a look at this scan of the first page of The Creeping Shadow (click the image to enlarge; to read the whole first chapter, click the link):

Lockwood & Co. books by Jonathan Stroud

To learn more about Jonathan Stroud and the Lockwood books, visit the official Lockwood website, follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram, and follow hashtag #LockwoodandCo on all your social media.

Giveaway Details

Lockwood & Co. books by Jonathan StroudThanks to Disney-Hyperion I can offer one of my readers with a USA mailing address the following awesome prize pack. Not only will the winner receive all four Lockwood & Co. books by Jonathan Stroud but he or she will also get this really cool pumpkin carving kit, complete with carving tools and a design book.

All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win this fantastic prize pack is to fill out the following form with your USA mailing address. I'll pick a winner using a random number generator on October 27. After the winner has been confirmed and the address has been passed along to Disney, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!

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19 October 2016

Wordless Wednesday 416

Looking Up, 2016

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18 October 2016

Today's Read: The Coffin Road by Peter May

What if you found yourself washed up on the beach of a northern island with no memory of how you got there? Now what would you think if you heard about a brutal murder and started wondering if you could be the killer? This is reality for a man who later calls himself Neal.

The first thing I am aware of is the taste of salt. It fills my mouth. Invasive. Pervasive. It dominates my being, smothering all other senses. Until the cold takes me. Sweeps me up and cradles me in its arms. Holding me so tightly I can't seem to move. Except for the shivering. A raging, uncontrollable shivering. And somewhere in my mind I know this is a good thing. My body trying to generate heat. If I wasn't shivering I would be dead.
Coffin Raod by Peter May (Quercus, 2016, p.1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Outer Hebrides and other areas of Scotland; contemporary times
  • Circumstances: Three converging story lines: (1) A man washes up on the beach with holes in his memory and is trying to figure out what happened, (2) a teenager doesn't believe her father's death was suicide and begins to investigate, (3) a homicide detective attempts to solve a murder on a remote island with a troubled past
  • Genre, audience, themes: adult, mystery / thriller, environmental issues
  • Characters: The man with the spotty memory and the people he meets on the Isle of Harris, including Sally, who claims to be his lover; Detective George Gunn and the people he meets in the Flannan Islands; Karen, a teenager in Edinburgh, her mother, and the people she encounters as she travels north
  • Thoughts: I've enjoyed other novels by Peter May and this one, with its seemingly unrelated story lines, remote setting, and hint at deeper issues really called to me. I love the way the island of Harris is as much a character as the people. I've barely begun the novel, but I'm already hooked.
  • Some things to know: Print sources and professional sites have already given Coffin Road starred reviews. This is a standalone novel, so you can start right here if you haven't yet read May. Be prepared to start planning your next vacation -- it will be a visit to the Outer Hebrides.

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17 October 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: What to Read and Listen to Now

Except for that stupid dental crown that broke last week and the temporary crown that fell off over the weekend (millions of dentist office visits!), life is finally back to what I call normal. That means I'm still working hard, but my evenings and weekends are once again mine. Yay!

I'm hoping for lots of pleasure reading to finish out the year (yikes! only ten weeks or so until New Year's). In the meantime, I was able to find a few moments to read and to listen to audiobooks, so all was not lost, though I feel like I'm somehow falling behind.

What I read last week

  • What to Read in OctoberA Wild Swan by Michael Cunningham is a collection of fairy tale retellings that combine traditional elements with contemporary details. These are dark, adult tales that show the universal and eternal themes of these centuries-old stories. I also loved the awesome black-and-white illustrations. (now in paperback from Picador USA, 9781250097309)
  • Agnes by Peter Stamm is a translation of the author's short debut novel. Although the book has the feel of an early work, this look at life imitating art (or is it art imitating life?) is worth your time. A Swiss nonfiction author meets a Chicago graduate student who wants him to write her story. (Other Press, 9781590518113)
What I listened to last week
  • Audiobooks for OctoberThe Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper is the story of two sisters and one special-needs girl, who has unusual talents. There was way too much foreshadowing in this book to make it a winner with me, though others have loved the themes of sisters, family, and motherhood. Narrators Andi Ardnt and Cassandra Campbell do good work here. For more, see AudioFile magazine. (Highbridge Audio; 9 hr, 20 min)
  • The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin is an audiobook I don't think I totally understood. It's the story of a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen who is stretching his wings to tell the truth through his journalism. Eduardo Ballerini is a pleasure to listen to, but I question the decision to forgo the use of a Chinese accent. For more, see AudioFile magazine. (Random House Audio; 6 hr, 37 min)
What I'm reading and listening to now
  • What to Read in OctoberThe Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz is a kind of take-off of Chaucer set in Medieval times and geared to a middle grade audience. It involves the French crown and the Church and their conflict with three children and a dog. I've just started this multicast audiobook from Listening Library, but I can already tell I'm going to be hooked. This is for pleasure reading, so a review will appear here soon.
  • The Guineveres by Sarah Doment is the story of four girls, all named Guinevere, who bond over shared names and their orphan status. We follow the girls as they juggle their Catholic upbringing with their more worldly desires. So far this is another huge winner from Amy Einhorn, who is now with Flatiron Books (9781250086617)
What are you reading or listening to? Anything I should add to my reading list?

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15 October 2016

Weekend Cooking: The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook by Natalie Eve Garrett

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.

The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook by Natalie Eve GarrettArt + favorite authors + food? Yes, please, count me in. Natalie Eve Garrett's The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook has my name written all over it.

This book is a feast for everyone, and I hardly know where to start describing it. It's a collection of personal stories and favorite recipes contributed by all sorts of authors and artists. The amazing line up of people, stories, and illustrations is a feast for your brain, eyes, and stomach.

First, you'll want to know who you'll find within the pages of The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook. Here are just some that you're sure to recognize: Joyce Carol Oats, Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman, Jane Smiley, Nelson DeMille, Ruth Reichl, Ruth Ozeki, T. C. Boyle, Lev Grosman, Aimee Bender, and April Gornik. I didn't count, but I'd guess there are close to 50 authors and artists represented in this book!

The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook by Natalie Eve GarrettThe Artists' and Writers' Cookbook is one to browse. Read a story here, try a recipe there. Keep it on the table next to your bed or favorite reading spot (like I did) and dip in when the mood strikes. The stories and recipes cover a wide range, from Daniel Wallace's "Love and Eggplant" to Christine Schutt's "Fancy Cake," Ruth Ozeki's "Meat," and Liza Lou's "Feminist Popcorn."

One essay that really caught my eye was Curtis Sittenfeld's "How to Master Food Allergies," which is about her experiences raising a daughter with serious life-threatening allergies. Love pretty much conquers all, and Sunbutter cookies help too.

The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook by Natalie Eve GarrettBesides the recipes for the exotic (goat) and comforting (huckleberry muffins), The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook is also beautiful to look at. Each contribution is accompanied by a colorful illustration by Amy Jean Porter (see the examples in the scans). So, truly, Garrett has put together a book that is easy to connect to on a number of levels.

Recommendation: Natalie Garrett's The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook is for readers, art lovers, foodies, cooks, and -- well -- all of us! Buy, borrow, or otherwise get a copy of this book. Perfect for holiday gift-giving and a lovely addition to your own bookshelves and kitchen.

Image credits: The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books.

Published by powerHouse Books, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781576877883
Source: review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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14 October 2016

8 Books for October; or What's on My eReader

Just a couple more days and my current crazy work schedule will settle down to what passes for normal around here. In the meantime I can dream of reading these October books that currently live on my eReader.

  • 8 Books for October; or What's on My eReaderBe Good, Be Real Crazy by Chelsey Philpot: A road trip novel involving a young girl and two brothers. A story of friendship, first love, and self-discovery. (HarperTeen, 9780062293725)
  • The Rift: Uprising by Amy S. Foster: Speculative fiction meets thriller in a story about a military-trained young woman who begins to ask whether the enemy is really all that bad. (Harper Voyager, 9780062443120)
  • Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin: In a post-epidemic world in which humans are damaged goods, a lonely young girl sets out to build herself a companion using biotechnology. (Greewillow, 9780062408884)
  • We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash: The tagline sold me: "Twin Peaks meets Pretty Little Liars." A strange mystery surrounding an apparent suicide. (Simon Pulse, 978148146200)
  • 8 Books for October; or What's on My eReaderBlood, Bullets, Bones by Bridget Heos: The science of forensics throughout history, but focused on modern technology. Illustrated and using examples from real crimes. (Balzer + Bray. 9780062387622)
  • Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand: The queen of the beach read concludes her popular winter holiday trilogy. Perfect escape reading to warm up your evenings. (Little, Brown, 9780316261173)
  • A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray: Set in 1906 Europe, a proper young woman accompanies her handsome employer in search of a missing duke. A new series by none other than Beatriz Williams. (Berkley, 9780425277072)
  • The Starlit Wood edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe: A collection of reimagined and new fairy tales by a host of familiar authors. Super black and white illustrations. (Saga Press, 9781481456128)

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12 October 2016

Wordless Wednesday 415

Dahlia, 2016

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11 October 2016

Today's Read: Truevine by Beth Macy

Truevine by Beth MacyWhat would you do if your children were snatched by the circus and forced to be displayed as part of what was then called the Freak Show? This is the true story of a mother's search for her sons after they were kidnapped by the circus.

The story seemed so crazy, many didn't believe it at first, black or white.

But for a century, it was whispered and handed down in the segregated black communities of Roanoke, the regional city hub about thirty miles from Truevine. Worried parents would tell their children to stick together when they left home to see a circus, festival, or fair.
Truevine by Beth Macy (Hachette Book Group, Little, Brown, 2016, Chapter 1, ARC)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Truevine, VA and everywhere the circus went, early 1900s
  • Circumstances: The Muse brothers (six and nine years old) were African American albinos who, in 1899, were lured into the circus after a side-show scout told them their mother had died. Harriet, however, was very much alive and determined to rescue her boys no matter how long it took and how arduous the task.
  • Genre: nonfiction; investigative journalism
  • Themes: circus life, motherhood, kidnapping, brothers, Jim Crow South, sociocultural attitudes toward the disabled and different
  • Things to know: Beth Macy takes a broad focus: we learn about the brothers and what they endured in the circus, we follow their mother's search to find them, and we meet current family members. There is a photo insert in the book, some of which you can see in the following video.
  • Reviews: Most reviews have been very positive. In fact, Truevine is a finalist for the Kirkus 2016 Prize.

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10 October 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Talking about Genres

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Talking about GenresLet's talk about genres. Do you understand all the nuances among the genres and subgenres? If you do, you're about ten steps ahead of me.

Yes, of course, I know the broad differences between mystery and fantasy, between historical romance and science fiction. I can also distinguish a cozy mystery from a police procedural.

Where I start to falter is when I try to separate a thriller from a mystery or, for example, general fiction from woman's fiction from new adult fiction from literary fiction.

I stew over genres and subgenres for a number of reasons, but two are especially important to me. First, I like being accurate when I describe a book in a review or feature. Second, this information helps me make wise choices when I buy books, accept books for review consideration, and borrow books from the library.

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Talking about GenresI know I can find descriptions of genres and subgenres via an Internet search, but I wish I had a clear, intuitive sense. Just take the category of speculative fiction: I like dystopian but not science fiction, I like steampunk but not cyberpunk, and I like magic but not psychic stuff. I wish there were an easy way to find the Mira Grants and N. K. Jemisins while avoiding the Neal Stephensons and Ursula K. LeGuins, all writing what has been described as speculative fiction . . . or is that science fiction?

The grid shows six popular speculative fiction titles, but despite sharing a genre, only half of these will ever make it onto my bookshelves. I give a resounding yes to Outlander (time travel), Pure (dystopian), and Visions (urban fantasy?). But it's a huge no way (you can't make me read these) to Rosemary's Baby (horror), Ender's Game (science fiction), and One Hundred Years of Solitude (magical realism--I tried, it's just not for me).

If you search for definitions of subgenres, you'll find only partial consensus among websites. One thing this has taught me is not to make snap decisions based solely on a single genre description. For example, I would have never read any of J. D. Robb's In Death books if I hadn't realized they were thrillers (mysteries?) as much as they were science fiction or romance. And how about Outlander? Which genre would call to you: historical fiction, speculative fiction, romance, family saga?

Anyway, I have no real point to make here except genres are something I think about as I try to define the books I like and the books I don't like and make decisions about what to read next. How about you? Can you make clear distinctions among the subgenres?

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08 October 2016

Weekend Cooking: 6 Culinary Cozy Mysteries

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.

It's been a while since I did a round-up of Berkley Prime Crime cozy culinary mysteries, so I thought I share a half dozen new releases, each of which provides some fun escape reading. Plus, because the stories all involve food and drink, you'll find some recipes included with each book. Pour some tea (make sure it isn't poisoned!), make yourself comfortable, and get ready to meet some friendly foodie crime solvers.

6 Culinary Cozy Mysteries
  • Tangled up in Brew by Joyce Tremel: Max O'Hara brews the beer and her boyfriend, Jake, slings the burgers at their Pittsburgh-area brew pub. When they enter a local food and drink festival, a food critic takes a bad bite and ends up dead, leaving Jake as the prime suspect. Will the duo be able to find the real criminal before poor Jake is hauled off to jail? This is the 2nd in the Brewing up Trouble series.
  • Behind Chocolate Bars by Kathy Aarons: Women Power and chocolate goodness infuses this Halloween-themed cozy set in a small town in Maryland. Holiday prep at the chocolate shop is going well for business partners Michelle and Erica, until one of their teenage helpers is accused of murder. The kid may be troubled, but the friends are sure he's innocent of the crime; can they convince the cops? This is the 4th in the Chocolate Covered Mystery series.
  • Grilling the Subject by Daryl Wood Gerber: Hold on to your hats, the rodeo is coming to town! Cookbook store owner Jenna is looking forward to both the events and the food, but her plans are turned upside down after her father's neighbor is killed. Can Jenna remove her father from the suspect list and find the real killer before he or she strikes again? This is the 5th in the the Cookbook Nook series, which is set in California.
6 Culinary Cozy Mysteries
  • Cheddar Off Dead by Julia Buckley: Christmas in the city can be exciting, with the lights and the pretty store fronts. For Chicago caterer Lilah, it's also a busy season thanks to her clients' parties. Life is made more stressful after she witnesses the murder of a Santa--in a school parking lot, no less! Will she and cute detective Jay find the bad guy before Lilah becomes the next victim? This is the 2nd in the Undercover Dish series.
  • Dead to the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle: Who doesn't like a good cup of custom-roasted coffee? Claire has build a strong reputation as a coffee master, until her Washington, DC, coffeehouse becomes a crime scene, involving a murder and a possible political kidnapping. Can she and her NYPD boyfriend solve the case before Claire loses everything . . . including her life? This is the 15th in the Coffeehouse Mystery series.
  • Much Ado About Muffin by Victoria Hamilton: After leaving the city for rural upstate New York, you'd think Merry would never again see the yellow strips of crime tape, but you'd be wrong. The town's favorite muffin baker finds herself caught up in a murder case. Can she prove the postmistress is innocent of doing in a famous opera singer? This is the 4th in the Merry Muffin series.
For all of you in Canada and the United States, hope you're enjoying the long holiday weekend!

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07 October 2016

Sound Recommendations: 3 Fantasies for Fall Listening

If you follow me on Litsy, then you already know I've been listening up a storm these days. Here are three fantasies that came to me through my earbuds.

3 Fantasies for Fall ListeningN. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season belongs in that category called: Why the heck didn't I listen to this one sooner? On the other hand, perhaps my timing is perfect seeing as book 2 is already available. I almost passed this by because I heard it described as science fiction, which doesn't always sit well with me. And, yeah, okay, it does have sci-fi elements, but there is also fantasy, deep history, a unique world, and interesting beings, some of whom eat stones and others who can control energy (called orogenes). The story is told in three linked threads: a young girl who is taken from her home so her gifts for manipulating energy can be trained by the government; a young adult who is ordered to breed with a man who is one of the strongest orogenes; and a slightly older woman who is in search of her daughter who was kidnapped. How their stories intertwine and what they have to do with the future of earth lured me in, but the deeper themes -- such as prejudice, gender roles, parenting, and government authority -- and the unique universe are what completely won me over. Audiobook: Narrator Robin Miles does a brilliant job with the wide range of emotions and excellent pacing. One of Miles's talents is her ability to fade into the background, so the performance immerses you in the story seamlessly. I found it very difficult to turn off the book. (Hachette Audio; 15 hr, 31 min)

3 Fantasies for Fall Listening Frostborn by Lou Anders is the first in the Thrones & Bones series, geared to a middle grade audience. This world consists of giants, dragons, trolls, humans, and other beings and seems to have a kind of Scandinavian feel to it. There are good guys and bad guys and family issues and friendships and a little magic. In the human realm, the ability to play board games, including one called Thrones & Bones, is a highly regarded skill and one of our young heroes wants to leave his family farm to become a game player. In the giant realm, a young girl is having trouble fitting in because her mother was human and others tease her for her mixed heritage. There is good humor and a promise of action and adventure. I can't tell you more because I had to bail on the audiobook. I think younger listeners would really enjoy Fabio Tassone's narration, but for me it was too over the top, too theatrical. I could have lived with that, but Tassone's performance didn't allow me to form my own opinions; his voice heavily signaled emotional cues, such as this is funny, this is scary, and this is sad. While I enjoy and, in fact, appreciate an expressive performance, I want to decide for myself when it's time to laugh. I'm going to pick this book up again in print. (Listening Library; 8 hr, 40 min)

3 Fantasies for Fall ListeningKendare Blake's Three Dark Crowns takes place in an island nation, hidden by the mists from the mainland (which is what the people call the rest of the world). Every generation the reigning queen gives birth to triplet girls, who each shine in a particular form of deep magic. When the sisters are about six, they are separated and raised by foster families who can help the girls develop their unique skills. On their sixteenth birthdays, the triplets are reunited in ceremony that sets them on the path to murder; only one of the girls will survive to become the next queen. I loved this world and the stories of these sisters, each with her own talent (controlling the elements, poisons, and nature). The girls are raised to accept their fate, but they don't all have the same attitude. One seems to be reluctant to kill; two think their powers aren't strong enough; one tries to run away. They all have friends (boys and girls), mentors, and some kind of relationship with the ruling church and powerful families. There is quite a lot to like here and a couple of surprises (some of which you may figure out early, but that won't hurt the story). Audiobook: Narrator Amy Landon kept my attention throughout with her thoughtful characterizations, nice pacing, and sensitive level of drama. My only issue with the audiobook is that sometimes it took me a moment to register that the point of view had switched to a different sister. But this was minor, and I can still recommend the audiobook without hesitation. (Harper Audio; 9 hr, 52 min)

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05 October 2016

Wordless Wednesday 414

Fall blooms, 2016

Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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03 October 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: What I'm Reading Now

What I'm reading nowWhat's happening with me: Hello, my friends. In case you were wondering, the publishing industry is robust and active. At least it is my little world. I've been busier lately than I have been since before the 2008 downturn.

This, of course, is a really, really good thing for me . . . and for all of us. What it's not a good thing for is my commenting on your blogs. I am so beat at night that when I get around to doing some blog hopping on my tablet, I'm just too lazy to use the on-screen keyboard to let you know I've been around.

You may have also noticed a lot of round-ups on Beth Fish Reads and not so many reviews. I am still reading, and I have several audiobook and print/eBook reviews to write. However, by the time dinner's over, the last thing I want to do is to head back into my office to sit in front of the computer yet again.

I have no intention of letting this blog go, but I'm struggling with time issues and need to rethink my blogging strategy. I might switch to writing blog posts over the weekend or I may decide on lunchtime writing. In any case, blogging after work (what I've done for eight years) isn't really working this fall.

What I read in September: Audiobooks are my friend! (You already knew that.) I listened to 93.5 hours of audiobooks in September, even with my busy work schedule. I didn't do a lot of print reading, but that's okay.

  • The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin: a fantasy
  • Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton: a memoir
  • Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jeffries: historical fiction
  • Blackout by Mira Grant: dystopian
  • The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies: literary fiction (set in four time periods)
  • Real Food, Fake Food by Larry Olmstead: nonfiction
  • Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt: literary fiction (set around 1970)
  • Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym: literary fiction
What I'm reading now

What I'm reading now:
  • I bailed on Thrones & Bones: Frostborn by Lou Anders. The audio was a little too enthusiastic for me and I just wasn't hooked by the idea that board games held significance in that world. I may come back it later.
  • I'm listening to Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. Okay, this one captured my attention. Three sisters (triplets), each with different magical abilities and all in line for the throne. Only one can remain alive to rule.
  • I've just started The Guineveres by Sarah Domet. I wanted to read this because (1) It's an Amy Einhorn book (Flatiron), (2) I like the premise of four orphans, all named Guinevere, who become friends and dream of a brighter future, and (3) the writing is beautiful.
  • The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick, which I started reading way back in June before life got crazy. I'm going to finish it this month: ice, comets, nonchronological plot, the bond of a deep relationship.
What's at the top of your reading list?

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01 October 2016

Weekend Cooking: Budget Bytes by Beth Moncel

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: Budget Bytes by Beth MoncelAs you've likely figured out by now, I love to cook and I love to use fresh, good-quality ingredients. On the other hand, I'm often astounded by our grocery bills. It's just the two of us, we eat meat only three times a week, and still our bills are ridiculous.

What do families do? Especially those of you with teenagers.

Anyway, I am often on the look-out for ideas that fit my Campaign tastes but that will push me into a beer budget. Enter Beth Moncel, whose cookbook and blog, Budget Bytes, are focused on just this issue.

I'm still exploring Moncel's blog, but I've been devouring the tips in her cookbook, which start with her six principles of sticking to a budget. Some of these I've learned on my own--like using ingredients wisely and remembering to take advantage of the freezer. But some of Moncel's shopping tips are new: I didn't know, for example, that curry powders and pastes are often less expensive in Asian and Indian markets than they are in the grocery store.

Many of us here at Weekend Cooking have logged a lot of hours in our kitchens, and so I need to say that the focus audience of Budget Bytes is younger, more inexperienced cooks. At the same time, however, even an old hand like me found some fresh ideas. Besides, basic, easy recipes are perfect for everyday meals after a long day at work, and I'm always happy to cut that supermarket bill down to size.

So what are the recipes like? You might be surprised that I'm particularly interested in the breakfast chapter, which includes several make-ahead meals. Wouldn't it be great to streamline a busy morning?

At the heart of Budget Bytes are the main-meal recipes, most of which are freezer friendly. New cooks and young people watching their finances can rejoice: Moncel has proven the point that easy plus inexpensive doesn't equal boring. She has recipes for Southwest taquitos, Asian-inspired chicken sliders, Greek salads, and down-home barley soup.

All of the recipes are within the skill level of new(ish) cooks, and together the recipes offer a good starting point for anyone trying to eat well and save money. Note too that Budget Bytes includes a nice percentage of vegetarian and vegan recipes, most of which do not rely on soy products.

Each recipe is flagged by cost ($, $$, $$$) and by whether it can be frozen. Moncel also gives us useful cooking and buying tips.

Recommendations: Beth Moncel's Budget Bytes not only has delicious doable recipes but is also a solid resource for helping us make smarter choices at the store and for figuring out what dishes can be frozen. In fact, Budget Bytes has now become my favorite new cook/first apartment cookbook for friends and family. Hummm, Christmas isn't all that far away, is it?

Quick Salsa
Makes 3 cups
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 medium jalapeno, stemmed & seeded
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole or diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves only, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 medium lime, plus more as needed
In the bowl of food processor combine the garlic, onion, and jalapeno. Pulse the mixture until the ingredients are finely chopped.

Add the canned tomatoes and their juices, the cilantro, salt, sugar, olive oil, and lime juice and pulse the mixture until it reaches the desired consistency (longer for a smooth salsa, or less for a chunkier salsa). Taste and add additional salt, cilantro, or lime juice until the flavor is to your liking.

Published by Penguin Random House, Avery, 2014
ISBN-13: 9781583335307
Source: review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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



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