Tuesday, September 22, 2015


lucy knisley
graphic novel/memoir
first second
published 2013

Lucy Knisley loves food.  The daughter of a chef and a gourmet, this talented young cartoonist comes by her obsession honestly.  In her forthright, thoughtful, and funny memoir, Lucy traces key episodes in her life thus far, framed by what she was eating at the time and lessons learned about food, cooking, and life.  Each chapter is bookended with an illustrated recipe - many of them treasured family dishes, and a few of them Lucy's original inventions.

Oh, oh, oh I loved this book.  Reading all of Knisley's memories of growing up and how they were tied to her memories of food.  From growing up in a small apartment in New York City with chefs and foodies, through her parents divorce, puberty, college and coming home she tells it all while weaving in a memory of pasta she had with her dad, or eating McDonald's much to her parents' horror.

The memories are sweet and honest, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, but always, always there was food.  Her recipes are tempting not only from the description, but the illustrations as well.  I especially loved her recounting of her meal at Alinea, especially just coming off of Bourdain's less than favorable opinion of the restaurant.  I finished the book wanted to eat cheese, pickles, farm fresh veggies and tacos and, well, everything!

medium raw

medium raw
anthony bourdain
published 2010

Medium Raw marks the return of the inimitable Anthony Bourdain, author of the blockbuster bestseller Kitchen Confidential and three-time Emmy Award-nominated host of No Reservations on TV's Travel Channel.  Bourdain calls his book, "A Blood Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook," and he is at his entertaining best as he takes aim at some of the biggest names in the foodie world, including David Chang, Alice Waters, the Top Chef winners and losers, and many more.  If Hunter S. Thompson had written a book about the restaurant business, it could have been Medium Raw.

I must begin my review by stating that I love Anthony Bourdain.  There is very little that he has done or said in his career that I didn't find true or amusing, or both.  And I think that Medium Raw is excellent.  He is honest, both about the people he thinks are wrong and about himself.  No one is safe from his critiques, but he isn't just spewing vitriol or haphazardly calling people douchebags.  There is a method to his madness.  He is equally negative and positive in his critiques and while he may think that Alice Waters should probably retire her gardens for schools idea he thinks her heart is in the right place.  When he names someone a villain he has a reason and a good one at that.

He does a quick 'where are they now' for the co-stars of Kitchen Confidential and it makes me want to go back and read it all over again.  He admits that there is no way he can hack it on the line anymore.  He talks a lot about starting his career moving away from the kitchen and in front of the camera.  He discusses why Food Network is evil and David Chang is brilliant and a maniac.  He validates that Top Chef really is the only cooking competition show on TV worth watching.  ;)  I loved every word.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

knit one, kill two

knit one, kill two
a knitting mystery #1
maggie sefton
berkley books
published 2005

For Kelly Flynn, coming back to Colorado for her aunt's funeral yields a disturbing suspicion: that her death wasn't the result of a burglary, but something more sinister.  After all, why would the sensible sixty-year-old borrow $20,000 just days before her death?  With the help of the knitting regulars at the House of Lambspun, Kelly's about to get a few lessons in creating a sumptuously colored scarf - and in luring a killer out of hiding.

This was a quick cozy mystery read that I found myself enjoying more than I had expected I would.  The characters aren't delved into too deeply and there is still much of Kelly's life that we don't know about.  The ending of the book kind of left you hanging.  The mystery was solved, but once the dust settles, what happened?  But the descriptions of the yarns and knitting had me itching to grab my needles and start again.  I loved that the book included two quick knitting patterns and a recipe for cinnamon rolls too!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

goodnight june

goodnight june
sarah jio
published 2014

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book!  This was one of those sweet beach reads that takes barely any time to read and you feel like you know where the story is going, but there are surprises here and there.

The book is told in part through the letters that June finds and I just loved it.  But I didn't think the book would revolve so much around family and the relationships between sisters both blood and the sisters you choose to share your life with.  I actually could have done without the romance part of the story because I felt like June didn't really need to find someone right away.  That her staying in Seattle could be just for the bookstore and the life she needed to carve out for herself and not because she fell in love, but it was wonderful nonetheless.

I think maybe loving the book might have to do a bit with how it reminded me of You've Got Mail which is one of my favorite movies of all time.  A little children's bookstore struggling, part of so many memories.....good stuff.

obsession in death

obsession in death
in death #40
jd robb
gp putnam's sons
published 2015

Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media.  She - and her billionaire husband - are getting accustomed to being objects of attention, of gossip, of speculation.  But now Eve has become the object of one person's obsession.  Someone who finds her extraordinary and thinks about her every hour of every day.  Who believes the two of them have a special relationship.  Who would kill for her - again and again.

For a bit Obsession in Death dragged terribly for me.  She went over and over and over the crime scenes so many times I wanted to scream.  I don't know why this time it seemed like too much.  I didn't feel like she was doing anything different, but it was repetitive.  You see the crime when she sees it.  Then she talks it over with Peabody, then Roarke, then Mira then to her board, in her head, and on and on.  Like this description.

But then when I felt like this book was going to be my first JD Robb disappointment things got good.  I stayed up late into the night because I just couldn't put the book down.

With that being said, it took more than two thirds of the book for me to really get into it.  For the first time in the series I considered putting the book down and taking a break for a bit.  I guess in 40 books it's not that big of a deal for one to be a dud, but I was still bummed.


lunar chronicles #1
marissa meyer
feiwel & friends
published 2012

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Here is an exception to the rule.  Remember this because there are few of these.

I started to hear a lot of hype around this series (as I write this there are currently 3 novels, several novellas and another novel set to release later this year) and everyone was stark raving mad about how much they loved it.  I already owned Cinder (I think I got it one day when it was on sale for $2.99 or something), but hadn't read it yet because it just wasn't high on my radar.  When I started hearing more and more reader friends raving about it I was both curious and put off.  Generally when people all really love a book I end up disappointed in it.  Few exceptions occur (Twilight was the weird one off), but generally when people go nuts over a book I distance myself.

But many of the reader friends who loved it had similar loves as me so I thought, I have the book might as well give it a shot.  And it was good!  Cinder is a fun, complicated character and the story itself (a retelling of Cinderella - obviously) was much more complicated than I expected it to be so it held my interest quite well.

It was most certainly a book that kept me reading and enticed me enough to continue on with the series.  A nice mix of romance, teen angst, sci-fi and suspense.

Friday, July 17, 2015

flower net

flower net
red princess #1
lisa see
published 1997

The first body was found in ice: the U.S. ambassador's son, entombed in a frozen lake outside Beijing's Forbidden City. Thousands of miles away, in the heat-baked hold of a Chinese smuggling ship, another corpse is uncovered, this one a red Prince, a scion of China's political elite. Suspecting the deaths are linked, the American and Chinese governments pair ambitious attorney David Stark and brilliant detective Liu Hulan to uncover a killer and a conspiracy.

The only other book I've read by Lisa See is Snow Flower & The Secret Fan and I loved it!  I was looking for something to listen to while I did some work and saw she had a trilogy of crime novels.  Flower Net is the first, introducing Liu Hulan and David Stark who met in America when they were both working at the same firm.  I think.  I can't remember exactly!  I know they were in love once, but Liu gets word that her mother is sick and she returns to Beijing.  Family obligations have her remaining in Beijing, never returning to American and from what I could gather, never contacting David again until murders oceans apart appear connected and the two must work together.

The story itself was mostly interesting and I'm not sure if it was the narration of the book or the book itself that didn't enthrall me, but I wasn't in love with the book.  I'm pretty sure it was the narration.  And the strange background music that kept going on.  I think I'll try the next book in actual book form.

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