22 July 2019

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: An Eclectic Reading Week

Happy hot Monday. I know I haven't written a review post in two weeks, but I just haven't been reading all that much. First was July 4, then I took another long weekend (off the grid and with friends), and then had to somehow get all my work done in between.

Oh, and in the meantime, I found a tick embedded in my arm and had to take antibiotics (hope we stopped any Lyme in its tracks) and my washing machine suddenly decided it wasn't going to move past the *fill* cycle. Fortunately, I was in the other room, and the ensuing flood (in my kitchen!) wasn't too horrible.

It took us a couple of hours to clean up the mess. Then we had to research a new washer and run around town trying to find someone who could deliver our top-choice machine this week. Success, and the new washer will be here Wednesday. In the meantime, we had tons of soaking wet dirty laundry (the stuff in the washer, plus the stuff on the floor waiting to go into the washer). It's all dry now and will be washed in a few days. Oh and did I mention it was almost 100F and we don't have central A/C?

Enough of that. No major damage (except to our wallet), so all is fine -- more or less.

Review of Age of Legend by Michael J. SullivanAge of Legend by Michael J. Sullivan (Grim Oak Press, July 9). This is the fourth book in the Legends of the First Empire series. In three related series, Sullivan has created a complex, believable world with fully realized characters and a consistent history. I absolutely adore his books, his ability to write a compelling plot with a good mix of action, character interactions, descriptive prose, and flowing dialogue. Sad things and rough things happen, but there's always a touch of humor to keep readers buoyed. In this entry, the war between the humans and elves continues. We see a glimmer of hope for resolution, but can we trust that the plan will end in success? One thing I really loved about Age of Legend is that the story revolves around one of the (up to this point) minor characters, so we get a little different perspective on the greater political, magical, and spiritual aspects of the changing world. What didn't I like? The book ended on a cliff-hanger! Argh!!! The good news is that next installment should be out before the year is over. I need to know what happens to some of my favorite characters. I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Recorded Books; 14 hr, 34 min), read by the fantabulous Tim Gerard Reynolds. Reynolds is THE voice of Sullivan's books and his characterizations are not to be missed. I can't say enough about his sense of pacing, his smooth delivery of the dialogue, his comedic timing . . . Reynolds has it all. (print copy and audiobook copy from my personal library)

Review of Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball by Laura Ellen AndersonAmelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball / Amelia Fang and the Unicorns of Glitteropolis by Laura Ellen Anderson (Delacorte BYR, July 30). I love middle grade fiction, though I'm normally drawn to books written for a tween audience. The Amelia Fang books are geared to somewhat younger readers, but I loved the premise and put them on my review list. Amelia is a young vampire who has a pet pumpkin. Her best friends are Florence Spudwick (a rare breed of Yeti) and Grimaldi Reaperton (a grim reaper in training). In Barbaric Ball Amelia has to be nice to the young prince of Nocturina, but Tangine isn't very nice back. The underlying message of the story is about friendship and how we shouldn't judge others' behavior until we know their background. In Unicorns, the four friends must travel to the terrifying land of light (with its unicorns and fairies) to try to set things right for Tangine and his family. The underlying message here is trying new things, being brave, and learning that different kinds of beings are scary only because we don't know their true nature. It's not all that sappy because there really are some bad guys in Glitteropolis.

Review of Amelia Fang and the Unicorns of Glitteropolis by Laura Ellen AndersonHere are some other things that make the Amelia Fang books such fun to read. First and foremost is Anderson's laugh-out-loud sense of humor. For example, in Amelia's dark world of vampires and goblins, insults are terms of endearment. In fact, Amelia's father lovingly calls his wife "Dearest belch-breath." Each book begins with a map and then black and white portraits of the main characters. Each portrait includes the character's likes and dislikes (Tangine hates an empty stomach). Throughout the chapter books, readers are treated to Anderson's expressive illustrations: We see the emotions on the character's faces, drawings of scenery, and busy action scenes. Anderson also uses different fonts to convey different types of text: noises, Florence's dialogue, notes, signs, and so on.

The Amelia Fang books star a girl vampire, but she has female and male friends of different creatures, making it easy for all kinds of readers to find plenty to love in these stories. I'm looking forward to the next books in the series. (Thanks to the publisher for finished review copies)

Review of Burn the Ice by Kevin AlexanderBurn the Ice by Kevin Alexander (Penguin Press, July 9). In this well-researched book, Alexander takes a look at the American foodie boom, especially in the early twenty-first century. He looks at the role of social media, the "spicing" of American foods, the rise of celebrity chefs, important food cities, the rediscovery of cocktails, the #metoo movement, the #blacklivesmatter movement, NOLA and Katrina, and much more. To tell this story, Alexander focuses on a handful of important restaurant chefs and their establishments: how they came to cooking, what they brought to the scene, and where they set up shop. Some of them you may have heard of--like Tom Colicchio from Gramercy Tavern and Top Chef--and others are much less well known--like Anja Mitra and his wife, Emily, who brought Indian food to the Bay Area. Some people we meet in depth, like Portland's Gabriel Rucker, and others are given short bursts of background info (Guy Fieri and Ree Drummand). I was particularly interested in the history of hot chicken and the story of Indian food in California, both of which reflect on business competition, different levels of personal ambition, and what happens when diners and chefs sense a trend. Be warned: Burn the Ice jumps around a bit and doesn't hold back on adult language. Alexander's examination of the rise and fall of the new millennium's food scene will be most appealing to those of us who are interested in food movements and the interplay between the food world, the economy, and cultural trends. My review of the audiobook edition will be available via AudioFile magazine.


Mae Travels 7/22/19, 7:07 AM  

After reading your brief review, I checked the amazon.com page for more info... I'm wondering: does everything really have to be a revolution? Was social change and change in restaurant foodways from 2006 onward really that drastic? Or is there a publisher's view that every decade makes its own revolution and change is constant? And maybe not that disruptive every time?

just wondering.... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 7/22/19, 7:40 AM  

I'm terribly sorry to hear about all your troubles---exploding washer and its ramifications, the scary tick, the heat. I hope things calm down this week for you.

Burn the Ice sounds, at least on the surface, as if it might be a book I'd enjoy. I was no fan of Kitchen Confidential, however; reading that book turned me away from ever being interested in working in a professional kitchen. I suspect that Burn the Ice may have some similar stories.

Here's to a good week for you!

bermudaonion 7/22/19, 8:25 AM  

Ugh, what a rough couple of weeks for you.

I'm looking forward to the Amelia Fang books but I'm not sure about Burn the Ice - it sounds like it lacks focus to me.

Amanda 7/22/19, 8:27 AM  

I"m sorry to hear about the negative adventure - I've had too many of those over the last few years and I feel incredible empathy pains foryou. I hope it all wraps up well and without any further misadventures!! And that you're temps go down soon. No central a/c in that heat is miserable!

rhapsodyinbooks 7/22/19, 8:42 AM  

I just read a review in today's Washington Post of "Burn the Ice" that echoes and expands upon (having more space) what you wrote. I love food history books - can't wait to read this one!

Susie | Novel Visits 7/22/19, 10:25 AM  

You have been busy! It's no wonder you haven't had time for blogging. I hope things stay more calm for you now.

The Amelia Fang books look cute and I'm going to keep them in mind for when my grandkids get a little older. Burn the Ice is also of interest to me, but I think I'll save it for Nonfiction November.

shelleyrae @ book'd out 7/22/19, 11:02 AM  

I guess the heat had an upside for you then, allowing your floor and clothes to dry out quickly. ;)

Wishing you a great reading week, stay cool!

Kathy Martin 7/22/19, 2:31 PM  

Goodness! How exciting (if exciting stands for awful)! I researched washers a while ago because my brother doesn't like the one that was in the house when we bought it. Neither of us wants to spend the money if we don't have to, though. What did you choose? Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Vicki 7/22/19, 4:02 PM  

You've sure had a lot happen lately! Good thing you found the tick and heard the washer!

Burn the Ice sounds good.

Yvonne 7/22/19, 4:43 PM  

Wow you've had quite a few things going on with you. I hope everything is back on track with you now. Good luck with the new washer.

Sue Jackson 7/22/19, 6:50 PM  

Wow, what a week you had! So glad to hear that you noticed the tick embedded and got antibiotics - so few ticks are even noticed. My son and I have both battled chronic Lyme (plus 2 other tick infections for him), so we know what can happen. Glad you are on top of it :)

Oooh - thanks for another great fantasy suggestion for my son! He loves Sullivan's The Riyria Chronicles, so I've written down this other series as well - his birthday is next month!

Enjoy your books this week - and stay cool!


2019 Big Book Summer Challenge

pussreboots 7/22/19, 7:15 PM  

Burning the Ice looks interesting. My weekly updates

Greg 7/22/19, 11:12 PM  

Oh no- sorry to hear about the tick! And the washing machine. Those ticks though- it's so aggravating how they're everywhere now and it seems like we can't even go outside without having to check for them! I hope you don't have any trouble with it.

That cover for Age of Legend is amazing. All the books in that series have such cool covers.

Laurel-Rain Snow 7/23/19, 9:19 AM  

Oh, no, about the tick and the washing machine! My son and DIL both got Lyme disease from ticks...so glad you didn't.

Enjoy your week, and thanks for visiting my blog.

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