Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book 51- Fly Away Home

When Sylvie Woodruff was in college and when she met Richard she was a wild bohemian girl. Now in her mid 50s she's a politicians wife: put together, elegant, perfect, and stand behind your man sort of woman. Who just found out, in a very public way, that her politician husband Richard screwed a woman.

Sylvie goes into hiding at her family summer home while she tries to decide what she wants to do with her life and her marriage.

Her daughters are as different as night and day. Dianna the doctor has it all but feels her life is terrible and in the midst of it all, she takes a leave of absence from work and goes to the beach house with her mother. The other daughter, Lizzie, is the family screw up who's been in and out of rehab. She's trying to get her life right this time, but she makes a new type of mistake and she too flees to the beach house to be with her mother.

None of these women were close to each other, but now they all come together, each with her own struggle, and try to find a way to survive, and they are all brought closer together.

This was a well written story (who could've used a better editor because I found 4 glaring errors) but it was predictable. It became a pretty traditional romance novel combined with chick lit. It's good for a beach read, but wait for it to come out in softcover. I was so disappointed because I wanted something more. I loved author Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes and felt it had a dash of the unpredictable and wish she would be more daring in her writing again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Book 50- Garlic and Sapphires

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise is about former New York Times restaurant critic's adventures in reviewing. It's also about her evolution as a reviewer and the great lengths she went to get get fair treatment rather than the royal treatment reserved for critics and kings. Though in one instance, she received better treatment than a king.

She donned disguises and took friends, family members, and colleagues to eat in the best of the best that NYC has to offer. During this time in her life as being the most important food person in... well, the world, she also went through a personal evolution and realized this wasn't the sort of writer she wanted to be. It also wasn't the sort of "eater" she wanted to be.

Author and former NYTimes critic Ruth Reichl is not the editor in chief of Gourmet magazine.

This is obviously a memoir and try as I might reviewing someone's life doesn't seem right. So basically I can say it was entertaining but still sort of sad. It's sad that such "fancy" and "exclusive" restaurants give crappy treatment and cheat the food to the poor and unknowns who visit their establishments. It was nice for someone like Reichl to go through what she did to give honest reviews. The anecdotes she shared about her son Nicky were some of my favorite parts of this non-fiction story.

I like that she enclosed recipes within her her book, of her favorite foods to fix, since she really loves to cook.

I still liked Julie and Julia and I Loved I Lost I Made Spaghetti better!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book 49- Spiced

Spiced: A pastry chef's true stories of trials by fire, after hours exploits, and what goes on in the kitchen by Dalia Jurgensen is a memoir of her early years as a pastry chef. And it basically is what she said it is: what goes on in the kitchen during and after hours. It's not scathing nor is it raunchy, but just a factual account of her pastry making experiences.

I did enjoy this book when I read it but as I sit here writing the review and summation, I can't think of any reason it stands out that made me REALLY like it, or even, any special details to share about it. Again, it's certainly part of a genre I enjoy reading: women, food, cooking. She tells her story in a pleasant voice, and she also doesn't take herself too seriously. Almost, but not quite.

Actually, she really deviates from what I like best about the "memoir by a woman about her life turned to cooking" stories- the humor, the love, the humor. She was sort of funny, but it didn't seem as real as some of the other books in the genre. Again, it was a pleasant enough of a read but nothing that makes me jump and down for having read it. One other thing was missing as well: recipes. She talked about all these wonderful desserts she created and it was a memoir so recipes, or at least PHOTOS of her creations would've been just lovely.

I guess I didn't like it so much after all. I hope her pastry is better than her book.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book 48- Sizzling 16

Bounty Hunter extraordinaire Stephanie Plum is back and this time she's hunting for her slimy, sexual deviant boss and cousin Vinnie. Vinnie who owns the bond office has been kidnapped and if Steph wants to keep Rex in hamster pellets she needs to find him. Even though having him killed by his bookie's goons doesn't seem all that unappealing, Steph is from the Berg, in Trenton, where the family rules. And since Vinnie is family...

But finding Vinnie is tougher than it seems. But with reformed ho' Lula as her sidekick and with Connie the Italian mobster's daughter office manager in tow, the three women find Vinnie. Then lose Vinnie. Then get him back and lose him again...

Between the typical Ranger and Steph sexual tension, the Mooner, some Hobbits, Cluck In A Bucket, Grandma Mauzer's typical spectacle at the funeral home, some car wrecks, and some other crazy FTAs that Steph has to catch, we have a rollicking good time story with plenty of giggles and some interesting "action."

I love these books. I would love them more if Steph would have more Ranger sex. And I think this one is better than the last few, though this is the 16th in the series so it's nice to see a bit of "freshness" in Evanovich's writing.

And I did break my stride of 'women, food, memoirs' because I LOVE this series and was dying for it to be released!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I didn't like it

So I decided I was going to read a bunch of books with the theme of women, cooking, food and memoirs. I think I should be more specific. I should've said I want to read about women who love to cook so they do cook. Sometimes they go to school to cook and other times they cook for fun and pleasure. I also like that the cooking is tied to their lives, to love, to fun stuff, to laughs and tears.

I ordered a bunch of books from the library with what I thought was going to be what I wanted. the first book I read was fiction but I really liked it. I knew it was fiction when I ordered it but I did like it. The second one was a memoir, non-fiction called Spoon Fed: How 8 Cooks Saved My Life. This is not what I was wanting to read at all. I guess the author liked to cook but she's actually a food journalist. So she writes about food like articles as well as restaurant reviews. This particular book wasn't about her love of cooking influenced her life.

It was about a bunch of people who did food stuff that she admired. And it was boring. Each chapter read like a mini bio of these 8 folks with a small blip about how much she admired these people.

I didn't finish this book. I read about 80 pages and stopped. I feel bad when I don't finish a book. I also think if I've read about a third then I should finish it but I just couldn't. I was finding about 300 other things to do than read this book. So I gave up and returned it to the library. It's the first book of the year- I think- that I started and didn't finish.

Now on to the next one...