Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chocolat


ChocolatChocolat

By:Joanne Harris
Genre: General Fiction
Rating:3.5 stars

Summary:
In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. 

My Thoughts: 
I first watched the movie on this one in my high school French class (It was in French and I wasn't too fluent yet so I didn't get too much from it except for the imagery.) I loved the imagery and well I love chocolate so this looked like a fun little read. I loved the characterizations of the different townspeople and the relationship between Vianne and her daughter Anouk. It was a little bit slow in the middle while the priest seemed to be doing the same thing over and over again, but overall I really liked this one. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

School of Essential Ingredients


The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients

By: Erica Bauermeister 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian's food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another.

My Thoughts:
I read this for the first time about 3 years ago and the story has stuck with me.  The language  is wonderful to read and rich and decadent like some of the dishes the students create. Each chapter focuses on a different member of the class, how they got to be there and the wonderful healing power which good food can offer.  Each character relates to different people, a mother who has lost her identity, a teenager who is still trying to figure out who they are and a man who is trying to get over the loss of his wife.

Overall I think it is a great first piece and foodie and non-foodie alike would enjoy it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Foodie Week!

Hey there everyone! This past little bit I have just happened to begin trying to expands my skills in the kitchen. Most likely this has been triggered by all of these foodie books I've been reading. So if you are looking for books to get you excited about food again that's what I am going to try and help with this week! And if you have any food books that you think are great let me know! I would love to check them out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

YA Wednesday - When the Bough Breaks


When the Bough BreaksWhen the Bough Breaks

By: Kay Lynn Mangum
Genre: LDS fiction
Rating 4.5 stars

Summary:
Rachel Fletcher thought that her biggest secret in high school would be her crush on Jason West, but after her father dies in a car wreck, one she thinks is her fault, all of that changes. She has to deal with the problems of a mother who is almost catatonic with depression and worse a brother who is turning into an alcoholic. As time passes and her mother remarries she has to add a new step-father and step-brother into the mix. Rachel's brother's addiction just gets worse. She wonders why God isn't helping out more, but God doesn't always help the way we think He should.


My Thoughts:
I love this book, and have read it several times. It's one that can be hard to read (especially the first time) but almost impossible to put down. Rachel is a quiet girl who prefers to spend her time writing poetry and working on her creative writing skills, she never asked for the problems of a lost father and an alcoholic brother. She has the typical questions of "why me?" I love how real Mangum can make her characters.

A criticism of LDS fiction is that it generally can't deal with the problems which face the world of today -drug and alcohol addictions and what not, this book proves that incorrect.  It illustrates beautifully what it's like to have a family member who is an addict and how people react to it. The whole plot of healing both for Rachel and her brother Ryan left me almost crying a time or two (I have only cried twice while reading) but not wanting to stop at all.


I would recommend this book to both YA and adults, and all religions, it is beautifully done. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Misc Monday - The Beginners Goodbye


The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye

By: Anne Tyler
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2 stars

Summary:
Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron spent his childhood fending off a mother and a sister who want to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, self-dependent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace.

My Thoughts:
I have read Anne Tyler before, I liked Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant but this book that I read wasn't written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. I didn't really like Aaron or Dorothy or really anyone else. I thought Aaron was unnecessarily harsh with everyone around him. There were parts of the novel where I wanted to smack him upside the head and shout "no you idiot, get over yourself and give some attention to someone besides yourself!" And Dorothy's visits...they seemed to really have no explanation or point. He talks about how other people saw her too but only in passing, I was waiting for an incident to go into further detail. And I didn't really feel like Aaron grew at all. He seemed to be the same all the way through until magically a couple of years after the fact he **spoiler**(highlight to see it) has married Peggy and has a little girl who he loves to play with at the park**spoiler done** really makes no sense to me. Also, he sounded 60 not the 36 he is supposed to be, the whole cast felt like a retirement community not like contemporaries. 

Overall, I would stick with Anne Tyler's older works and pass on this one. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attachments


AttachmentsAttachments

By: Rainbow Rowell
Genre:Romance
Rating: 4 (excessive language kept it from 5 stars)
Parental Guidance suggested for hard language


Summary:
Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.

My Thoughts:
It has been a long time since I have finished a book and just wanted to yell to the world (or at least type to them) that they must read it! But this book had me texting friends to get going on it before I was even done. 
Now, it is fluffy, (I have seen it described as "it's so fluffy I'm gonna die!" said of course in a Despicable Me voice)  and the email gimmick has been done before and failed miserably, but it is witty fluff that was very nicely done. Beth and Jennifer have these hilarious conversations that had me giggling through the whole thing, even though currently this is quite a painful thing for me to do (wisdom teeth..blech). That really is what made this story so wonderful for me, yes it was fun to see Lincoln go from this sad, empty life to a fun, fulfilling one, but it was the true friendship between the two women that have me loving it and setting it apart from other romances I have read.

Now is it somewhat creepy and stalkerish that he was reading their email? Well, in a word kinda... it is his job and the way it's portrayed doesn't have him come across as all that bad. He is a relatable guy who is dealing with the awkward position he's been put in.

There were a couple of curves at the end which were really quite nice. At one point I wasn't sure if it was going to end the way all romances end and I feel like I would have been satisfied if it hadn't. It was just written that well.

I feel like this is one of the few books I've read that will appeal equally to both men and women. It is a fun, quirky, lovable read - one that I will probably return to.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker: A NovelThe Dressmaker: A Novel

By: Kate Alcott
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Tess Collins wants more from her life than to be a maid in England, so when she is given the chance to cross over to America on the Titanic as the personal maid of the Lady Duff Gordon she jumps at the chance. Once on board thought she catches the eye of two men. One a Chicago millionaire and the other a sailor seemingly like the village boys she is trying to escape. On the fourth night of her journey however disaster strikes.
 
Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to her employers questionable actions during the tragedy. Others—including the gallant Midwestern tycoon—are not so lucky. 
 
On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic. Tess eventually must choose who to believe and who to trust.


My Comments:
Let me first say, I have never been much of a Titanic nut. I have never seen the movie and have never really had much interest in the story beyond Thomas Hardy's poem "Convergence of the Twain." So I came into this basically a blank slate. And I loved it. I loved her telling of everything from the decadence of the boat to the opulance of turn-of-the-century New York City. 

There are two very strong female leads, Pinky, a reporter who is trying to be the next Nelly Bly (for those of you who don't know who she is please check here, because she is really cool) and Tess who may be British by birth but she is American in almost every other aspect. Both of these women are hard working and will take what chances are offered them. I thought that Alcott did a great job with both of them and was fine that the narrative was split between the two.

There were a few questions that I wished were answered, a couple of character questions that I wish had been resolved. However on the whole I loved how the plot focused on the Senate hearings rather than the sinking itself. 

This was a great read and I recommend it highly to people who want to see what that world was like and want some insights into the Titanic.

In the Shadow of Lakecrest

In the Shadow of Lakecrest By: Elizabeth Blackwell Genre: Fiction, Historical, Gothic Rating: 3.5 stars Summary: The year is 1928. Kate...