Literary Quote of the Month

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."... Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Sunday Salon and What Should I Read Now?

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the day of the week we kick back and relax, and virtually talk about the books we've found this week that we just HAVE to read! And I've found a few this week that made their way into my ever growing library and a few that are going right on that wish list… But how do we choose what we're going to read next? Are you ever influenced by what you just read?

The book club I started over 10 years ago is still going strong. We've added a member or two, lost a member, but the original 5 are still there (although one is in Florida, but she joins us via Skype). Originally I picked out the selections, but quickly decided everyone should get a chance to pick a book they want the group to read. This took the pressure off me in finding the "perfect" book every time and also opened up my reading to choices I would not have made. This month's book club selection was The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson. I had heard long ago that this was a good read, but just never got around to reading it. Although, when I first opened up the book I could not get into it. OMG, it was so boring it was a struggle to get through the first page. But then I have to remember that I just read an incredible suspense thriller. Was that the problem? Was the Erik Larson book so different in style that I just couldn't adjust? I think so, because after struggling with the book, I suddenly couldn't stop reading it and after finishing it this week I can enthusiastically say I really enjoyed it! So, how do we choose what we're going to read next? And do we need a breather before we start another book? I know quite a few people who pick up a book immediately after putting down a book. I'm not that way unless it's part of a trilogy or continuation. I need to enjoy "the moment" after finishing a book, especially a great book. And maybe taking that breather will help when changing "styles" of books. The Devil in The White City was certainly not a thriller, but how exciting it was to be in 19th century Chicago building the Worlds Fair and meeting all sorts of people like the guy who designed Central Park, or The Flat Iron Building, or made the first Ferris Wheel or even made Cracker Jack, not to mention meeting one of the world's most infamous serial killers that settled in Chicago while the fair was there. So, after taking a "breather", I've found some books that are vying for the next reading position…

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain… Transporting readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920s, Circling the Sun brings to life a fearless and captivating woman—Beryl Markham, a record-setting aviator caught up in a passionate love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who as Isak Dinesen wrote the classic memoir Out of Africa. Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships. Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly

Maybe this is because I just read a historical fiction book that this book appealed to me, but this has gotten so much great press that I have to read it. I also enjoy books with strong female protagonists and Beryl Markham seems to fit the bill with that too. But when I opened the first pages I felt like I was gently swept up in the arms of the book and placed in far off Kenya. The book telling its' story in such a manner that I was totally relaxed and listening intently. Some say this is going to be the "it" book in 2015, but we have  a long way to go before declaring that.

Night Sisters by Jennifer McMahon… Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper's kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel's past, something that ruined their friendship forever. Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock's next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

I loved Jennifer McMahon's book Dismantled! I also have read Island of Lost Girls for book club. She's a really good writer and always surprises me with her plot twists. I haven't picked her up in a while, but when I saw this book coming out, I could not resist. Sounds like it's going to be a fun read and has that signature plot twist that will make us go, "wow".

The President's Shadow by Brad Metzler… To most, it looks like Beecher White has an ordinary job.   A young staffer with the National Archives in Washington, D.C.,, he’s responsible for safekeeping the government’s most important documents…and, sometimes, its most closely-held secrets. But there are a powerful few who know his other role. Beecher is a member of the Culper Ring, a 200-year old secret society founded by George Washington and charged with protecting the Presidency. Now, the current occupant of the White House needs the Culper Ring’s help.  The alarming discovery of the buried arm has the President’s team in a rightful panic.  Who buried the arm? How did they get past White House security?  And most important:  what’s the message hidden in the arm’s closed fist? Indeed, the puzzle inside has a clear intended recipient, and it isn’t the President.  It’s Beecher, himself.
Beecher’s investigation will take him back to one of our country’s greatest secrets and point him towards the long, carefully-hidden truth about the most shocking history of all:  family history.

I'm usually not the political thriller type, but I did like Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (no, I never did read The DaVinci Code, although I did see the movie), and this is suppose to be similar in type of book… secret societies, long buried secrets and a race to find the truth before something happens to ruin the country. After reading Greg Isles and the first two books in the Natchez Burning trilogy,  and really loving the writing, I thought I'd try Brad Metzler. This just came out and piqued my interest. I'm stepping out of the box for this one, but think it will be worth it!

So there you have it, three very different styles. Historical fiction, mystery and political thriller. I think I'm going to take a brief breather and pick up Night Sisters first. I'll let you know how it goes. What have you found this week to read?! And do you need a breather after a good read? I'd love to hear all about it!

More great books coming next week…

Happy Reading… Suzanne

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Sunday Salon and Road Trip Reading

The month of July came and went with the blink of an eye. My reading in July was a bit sporadic... for two reasons. First, because I read a fantastic book that ruined my reading for a while. Do you know what I mean?! I was so into that story that when it was over nothing could hold my interest (The book was The Bone Tree by Greg Iles, and it is the second in a planned trilogy taking place in Natchez, Mississippi. And my review will be posted soon). And secondly, hubby and I went on a road trip to the lowcountry, to Charleston, SC...

Road trips are fun! For 2 weeks we drove the back roads, making our way to Charleston, SC from Connecticut and then making our way to other parts of the Carolina's and finally back to Connecticut. Charleston was beautiful! Heaped in history, beauty and culture, my reading changed from fiction to history. Plantations and beautiful gardens abound, but reminders of the War Between the States, or the Civil War as us Northerners refer to it, also dominate the culture of the city. In Charleston Harbor is Fort Sumter, site of the first shots fired in the war between the states, a war not over slavery, but of the South's independence and freedom from the high tariffs imposed by the federal government. Beautiful HUGE homes still line the streets of the historic section of Charleston, a reminder of the wealth generated by the cotton trade, as well as a section of homes painted in pastel colors referred to as Rainbow Row, that is rumored to have been painted that way so that drunken sailors could distinguish their home from others. Downtown, you can also find the Gullah making their beautiful
Sweetgrass baskets! Sweetgrass baskets are a traditional West African art form passed down from generation to generation for over 300 years. I was fortunate to be able to take one home with me, the sweet smell subtly filling my livingroom and reminding me of our trip.

Charleston is also the place of a horrible tragedy that happened June 17th when a 21 year old man, opened fired in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, after attending a bible study, and killed 9 people. He admittedly was trying to ignite a race war, but instead launched a modern day debate on the flying of the confederate flag, which has been associated with certain hate groups, but is also a symbol of heritage for the descendents of the men and women who gave their lives during a war against tyranny.

My trip also included food! Southern fried chicken, grits and deep fried pickles! Our travels landed us at Mary Lou's Kitchen for some authentic lowcountry food, which consisted of the most delicious fried chicken I've ever eaten, gumbo, and cornbread. And I also found some absolutely to die for Shrimp & Grits at Tommy Condon's Irish Bar. Although I've always liked Southern made grits, I think Shrimp & grits is the new "it" food, because every restauraunt has a version. Tommy Condon's consisted of Shrimp & grits with a creamy tomato parmesan sauce.

So, my Road Trip Reading consisted of reading about the War Between the States, Antebellum homes and architecture, the history behind Sweetgrass baskets, the history of Fort Sumter, lowcountry cooking and Magnolia Cemetery (yes, we made a special trip to this historic cemetery, filled with incredible headstones, beautiful landscaping and wonderful genealogy!)! Oops, I forgot to mention I also was reading road maps because you need to if you want to travel "unconventional" roads.

What do you do on vacation? Do you have time to open a book? Do you immerse yourself in the history of the places you'll be visiting? What was your favorite vacation spot this year? I'd love to hear all about it!

On to more "conventional" reading next week! And of course some hot reading recommendations!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen... A Review

The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen...There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive. It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char. If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen is Smart and fresh, with writing that will capture your imagination and a protagonist that will wrap herself around your heart. I was on a sci-fi binge for a while and The Ark fit right in. I also love dystopian novels and again The Ark fits that category too. The story centers on Charlotte or Char, and her escape from the planet that will be destroyed without question. It's also a story of redemption, family, and survival as Char aims to escape from her prison and reunite with her family, even though her family has virtually abandoned her since she became a petty thief and delinquent. Will her well earned "skills" help her survive and find peace? You'll have to read The Ark to find out! I enjoyed it and read it as part of The Ark Book Tour sponsored by Pump Up Your Book! If you enjoy Dystopian and YA Sci-fi/fantasy with a strong female protagonist, you should enjoy it too!

Want to read the first Chapter?! Here's a link!

About Laura Liddell Nolen... Laura grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent an excellent childhood playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. The Ark is the direct result of those stories and a lifelong devotion to space-themed television. It received a Work in Progress Grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Laura has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Texas with her family.

Read more about Laura Liddell Nolen at her website,

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.. a Review

I read this book so fast that it wasn't just Natchez Burning, it was the pages of the book burning!

When I was checking out the new books coming out at the end of April, I stumbled upon The Bone Tree by Greg Iles. It sounded like just the thing I was in the mood for at the time… kind of a murder/police procedural with a gung ho ex-procecutor in the heart of the deep south. BUT, then I read that this was part of a trilogy and this was book 2. It's not always a sin to read books out of order, and The Bone Tree seemed as though it was dealing with new circumstances with the same characters, but ultimately I decided to read what was considered the first book in the trilogy, Natchez Burning. And I am so glad I did!… But first let's talk about Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

The setting for Natchez Burning is Natchez, Mississippi. The book opens in the 1960's, the era of the Ku Klux Klan, where 3 unsolved murders of black men, will remain in the mind of a young white man who grows up to be a journalist and spends his adult life trying to find justice for them.

Greg Iles delves deep to make this an incredible read. Not just for the way he writes about the historical time period, but for the way this book comes alive with such amazing characters that truly breath life into the story. As the pieces of the 50 year puzzle came together, I was literally on the edge of my seat and flipping those pages as fast as I could. It was exciting, frightening, and heart stopping. Good cops, bad cops, surprising twists, bad guys looking for redemption, a swamp you never want to be taken to… and a great start to a planned 3 book trilogy… my only "not so glowing" part of this review is that the ending was a bit monotonous. There are quite a few characters and as the story hit that pivotal moment when all hell breaks loose, it got a bit crowded with too many characters having major parts. But up until that point the book was superbly written. And just because it got a bit muddy at the end does not mean I would steer you away from reading this. READ THIS!

And now, why you need to read this book first and the trilogy in order… Because when I started book 2, The Bone Tree, it started off exactly where book one ended. And for the next 80 pages (give or take a few) the story rehashed the ending of book 1. Now if I had read book 2 first, I would have known what happened and how everything worked out without the thrill of the surprise. It almost seemed as though the first 2 books were really just a huge tome that the publishers had to cut off somewhere because who's going to read a 1700 page book, right?! The first book is about 875 pages and book 2 is about 800 pages. I am on page 89 of The Bone Tree (yes, I had to immediately start book 2 because I am hooked) and waiting for things to heat up again.

If you love murder mysteries, Natchez Burning is right up your alley. It is a kind of police procedural, but not as stringent as you would normally expect. The murders are ultimately revealed and solved as each character reveals their part it either the act or the hunting down of the people responsible.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins… A Review

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins… OMG! This has to be one of my absolute favorite reads so far this year! Murder, obsession, evil, jealousy, cruelty and heartbreaking at times, The Girl on The Train has what it takes to keep you turning those pages and let me tell you… the twist at the end will have your jaw drop! It is so deceptively simple in some ways, that as you are reading, suddenly the sun is setting, day turns into night and your eyes have not left the page. I wasn't furiously turning the pages, I was absentmindedly turning the pages because I was so engrossed in the story.

 Read this book! Both a great murder mystery and literary fiction. Well written characters, a leading lady that you can empathize with, and a great story. If Hitchcock were to write murder mysteries, this would be it!

I give this 5+ Train Tickets! Hop aboard and enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Memoir Monday… Pieces of My Mother by Melissa Cistaro

Pieces of My Mother by Melissa Cistaro…
One summer, Melissa Cistaro's mother drove off without explanation Devastated, Melissa and her brothers were left to pick up the pieces, always tormented by the thought: Why did their mother abandon them?

Thirty-five years later, with children of her own, Melissa finds herself in Olympia, Washington, as her mother is dying. After decades of hiding her painful memories, she has just days to find out what happened that summer and confront the fear she could do the same to her kids. But Melissa never expects to stumble across a cache of letters her mother wrote to her but never sent, which could hold the answers she seeks.

Haunting yet ultimately uplifting, Pieces of My Mother chronicles one woman's quest to discover what drives a mother to walk away from the children she loves. Alternating between Melissa's tumultuous coming-of-age and her mother's final days, this captivating memoir reveals how our parents' choices impact our own and how we can survive those to forge our own paths.

Heartfelt. Sad. Wonderful writing. The story of Melissa coming to understand the woman who was her mother in painful memories and present day moments as Melissa comes to be with her mother as she lay dying at home. Finding unsent letters in a folder reveals to Melissa a woman who is more than just the mother who left her. The chapters alternate between "Then" and "Now", which in another writers hands may be confusing, but Melissa Cistaro navigates this territory wonderfully, and it seems to flow so naturally. If you enjoy memoirs, if you are a mother, if you have a mother, if you see a baby crying in her stroller and you just want to pick her up and hug her, you will enjoy this book. Reminds me a bit of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I was deeply moved at times and felt such empathy towards Melissa. Definitely a good read and a worth your time.

This book was released on May 5th by Sourcebooks, and is available from your favorite book seller! I received an eGalley of this book for my honest review.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Sunday Salon and Reading Anticipation (With Giveaways to Come…)!

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's the day of the week we virtually talk about that thing we love… READING! And finally, in Connecticut, we can step out of the house and not into a foot of snow! It's a beautiful sunny day here and it just makes me feel refreshed and ready for a new reading season! So let me ask you...

Do you get excited when you hear that a favorite author or series is coming out with a new book?! I do and so today I thought we'd talk about one such series that is wrapping up with the final chapter… Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy! And what's even more fun is that the publisher is celebrating as well with a giveaway! And to top that is, you can enter the giveaway and read a guest post by Deb, right here starting June 6th! Don't miss it, it's going to be a blast!

So what is the All Souls Trilogy?! Take one part Anne Rice mix that with the Twilight series and a good helping of historical fiction, and you have an idea what you're in for with the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. An enchanted manuscript, known as Ashmole 782, a reluctant witch and a sexy vampire…

A Discovery of Witches (Book 1)… "When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.

For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.

Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well."

Shadow of Night (Book 2)… "Book Two of the All Souls Trilogy plunges Diana and Matthew into  Elizabethan London, a world of spies and subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night.  The mission is to locate a witch to tutor  Diana and to find traces of Ashmole 782, but as the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different journey, one that takes them into heart of the 1,500 year old vampire’s shadowed history and secrets. For Matthew Clairmont, time travel is no simple matter; nor is Diana’s search for the key to understanding her legacy.

Shadow of Night brings us a rich and splendid tapestry of alchemy, magic, and history, taking us through the loop of time to deliver a deepening love story, a tale of blood, passion, and the knotted strands of the past."

The Book of Life (Book 3!)…  "After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago."

I don't know where I was at the beginning of this trilogy, but I'm a good ways into book 1, A Discovery of Witches, and I am hooked! From the very beginning when I found myself in an old dusty library with Diana Bishop I did not want to come out! For a reader, who wouldn't love a story set among old dusty books. And even though Diana is a witch (she's a reluctant witch), this book doesn't seem to rely on that as its sole plot, there just feels like so much more substance to this story. More of a historical fiction feel with a bit of spice. So, if you haven't read this series you need to catch up! The Kindle version is only $2.99 right now for  A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1) and $4.99 for Shadow of Night: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 2). Book 3, The Book of Life comes out July 15th by Penguin Group, so you and I both have time to read up to the final chapter in the series.

I am lucky though, because I just received this series in the mail courtesy of Penguin Books! And I can't wait to share my thoughts after reading each book. But from the looks of it, I'm going to be liking this series A LOT! And I'm going to love participating in the celebration so some of my Chick with Books readers can win some cool stuff! OK… it's back to the books for me! You come back this week to learn more about those great giveaways!

Happy reading… Suzanne

Saturday, May 9, 2015

What's Cooking on Your Reading List?

Cookbooks and Reading...

There are certain times of the year when I have an overwhelming urge to try new recipes, read cookbooks and try new foods. In the winter that translates to comfort food, but in the summer it's all different types of food. Cookbooks are a guide to trying new foods and recipes. But are cookbooks your typical reading? Yes and no. I think sometimes we just forget that cookbooks are books. We blindly open the pages and leaf through the recipes we find, glance at the stories that make up the other pages of the book and get to business. But what fun it is to actually READ it! How many cookbooks have you actually read?! I was able to sample some great cookbooks with some eGalleys thanks to a some generous publishers over the past few months.  Here's some great "cooking book" finds...

Mastering Pasta b Marc Vetri…  Award-winning chef Marc Vetri wanted to write his first book about pasta. Instead, he wrote two other acclaimed cookbooks and continued researching pasta for ten more years. Now, the respected master of Italian cuisine finally shares his vast knowledge of pasta, gnocchi, and risotto in this inspiring, informative primer featuring expert tips and techniques, and more than 100 recipes.

Vetri's personal stories of travel and culinary discovery in Italy appear alongside his easy-to-follow, detailed explanations of how to make and enjoy fresh handmade pasta. Whether you're a home cook or a professional, you'll learn how to make more than thirty different types of pasta dough, from versatile egg yolk dough, to extruded semolina dough, to a variety of flavored pastas—and form them into shapes both familiar and unique. In dishes ranging from classic to innovative, Vetri shares his coveted recipes for stuffed pastas, baked pastas, and pasta sauces. He also shows you how to make light-as-air gnocchi and the perfect dish of risotto. 

Loaded with useful information, including the best way to cook and sauce pasta, suggestions for substituting pasta shapes, and advance preparation and storage notes, Mastering Pasta offers you all of the wisdom of a pro. For cooks who want to take their knowledge to the next level, Vetri delves deep into the science of various types of flour to explain pasta's uniquely satisfying texture and how to craft the very best pasta by hand or with a machine. Mastering Pasta is the definitive work on the subject and the only book you will ever need to serve outstanding pasta dishes in your own kitchen. 

What did I think? Fresh pasta, even the thought of it makes my mouth water. Have you ever had fresh pasta? There's a certain kind of lightness, texture and taste. There is no mistaking fresh pasta and here, in Mastering Pasta, author Marc Vetri not only shares with us the how to make this wonderful staple, with chapters on hand forming certain pastas, or making sheet pasta, and stuffed pasta, along with amazing sauces, but the history and make-up of what goes into pasta. This is definitely one to have on the shelf! Mouth watering and thought provoking! Easy access to everything is by way of Table of Contents and a great Index. 5 bowls of pasta for this one!
The James Beard Cookbook… Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the best basic cookbooks in America,” The James Beard Cookbook remains as indispensable to home cooks today as it was when it was first published over fifty years ago. James Beard transformed the way we cook and eat, teaching us how to do everything from bread baking to making the perfect Parisian omelet.

Beard was the master of cooking techniques and preparation. In this comprehensive collection of simple, practical-yet-creative recipes, he shows us how to bring out the best in fresh vegetables, cook meat and chicken to perfection, and even properly boil water or an egg. From pasta to poultry, fish to fruit, and salads to sauces, this award-winning cookbook is a must-have for beginning cooks and expert chefs alike. Whether it is deviled pork chops or old-fashioned barbecue, there is not a meal in the American pantheon that Beard cannot teach us to master. 

Do you really read a cookbook?!
Why of course you can! And this classic tome has a wealth of cooking knowledge in-between the recipes! Did you know if you put an egg in bowl of cold water and it sinks, that means it's fresh? Or, did you know white veggies will stay whiter if you cover the pan? And adding a dash of lemon juice can help too.This is only the third revision of this classic cookbook, with a few recipes tweaked for modern times and the addition of a couple dozen new recipes. This is one of those cookbooks everyone should have on their shelf! It's a place for a beginner cook to start learning the basics and a place for the more advanced cook to come to to discover what are some of the things they could do to make their cooking advance to the next level. Great information and easy to follow recipes. Cooking terms, techniques, tools, recipes to build on. Love this cookbook! Loads of useful info and wonderful recipes. I may even have to get it in hardcover!
Whether a five-star chef or beginning home cook, any gourmand knows that recipes are far more than a set of instructions on how to make a dish. They are culture-keepers as well as culture-makers, both recording memories and fostering new ones.

Organized like a cookbook, Books that Cook is a collection of American literature written on the theme of food: from an invocation to a final toast, from starters to desserts. All food literatures are indebted to the form and purpose of cookbooks, and each section begins with an excerpt from an influential American cookbook, progressing chronologically from the late 1700s through the present day, including such favorites as American Cookery, the Joy of Cooking, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The literary works within each section are an extension of these cookbooks, while the cookbook excerpts in turn become pieces of literature—forms of storytelling and memory-making all their own.

Each section offers a delectable assortment of poetry, prose, and essays, and the selections all include at least one tempting recipe to entice readers to cook this book. Including writing from such notables as Maya Angelou, James Beard, Alice B. Toklas, Sherman Alexie, Nora Ephron, M.F.K. Fisher, and Alice Waters, among many others, Books that Cook reveals the range of ways authors incorporate recipes—whether the recipe flavors the story or the story serves to add spice to the recipe. Books that Cook is a collection to serve students and teachers of food studies as well as any epicure who enjoys a good meal alongside a good book.

Thoughts on this one… This was a hard book to digest at the beginning. I was expecting to read about cooking and food from a "literary" stand point, but having it all arranged like a cookbook became a bit tedious at times. I found myself flipping to different sections because I needed to enjoy reading it as apposed to "studying" it, which I almost felt like when I tried to read it in order. The bits of writing were wonderful, but approach this as a book of short stories instead of a literary cookbook and you'll enjoy it more. I think that I would have been able to enjoy doing that more if it were a physical book, so that I could turn the pages and browse better.

So, do you read cooking books? Read about food? Enjoy food writing? Share your Yummy reads so we all can savor them!

Friday, May 1, 2015

First Lines… The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktokski

"I open the window shade in my third-story attic bedroom anticipating my usual - somewhat obstructed- ocean vie and instead get an eyeful of Connor Malloy, sans shirt, on the roof of his parents' bungalow. Better than a mocha latte with two shots of espresso and whipped cream, as far as early morning eye-openers and guilty pleasures go. Or at least he use to be until last fall, the Big Mistake, and the big storm…" 
             ...The Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktokski

Are you starting to get ready for your summer reads?! Make sure you add this to the list! It's a perfect start for the summer and I loved it! It's YA, but really any girl over a certain age will enjoy this. It reminded me of Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. The writing was wonderful, it made me feel those first love flutters in my own stomach, and Lucy, our main character, will capture your heart with her heartfelt honesty. What can go wrong with the cutest guy on the planet spending the summer next door? Everything… The Summer After You and Me is coming out on Tuesday, May 5th! My full review coming this week too!
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