Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mini-reviews - the only way to catch up!

It's time for some mini-reviews again, since I'm so far behind that it's getting embarassing!

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Loved it! :-) I really enjoy entertaining chick lit and this fit the bill. It had the extra plus of being very realistic - even though most of us would never admit it, the story could happen to us all. Rachel is a 30-something with a job she hates, no boyfriend and a best friend who seems to get whatever she wants and catch all the breaks. Until Rachel accidentally kisses her best friend's fiancee at a party. Where can they all go from there? I understand there's a movie of this out now, but from what I hear the book is a thousand times better!

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
I listed to this one on audio and thought it was ok. It's been described as a children's or YA The Time Traveller's Wife, but as a huge Audrey Niffenegger fan, I must say that I don't think they're in the same league. I liked the puzzle structure and I liked the story, but I wasn't 'wowed'. It was a quiet, interesting read for me. Maybe I'm just disappointed because I wanted to be 'wowed', I can't really put my finger on what in the book didn't work for me.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Lived it! Stephanie Plum is such a likeable character, no wonder this series is so popular! This is the first book of eight or nine now, I think, and so the one where we meet Stephanie and are told of her family background and assorted issues. The heroine is sassy, the writing is fun and often laugh-out-loud funny, what's not to like?

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison
Disappointing. I liked the premise - the main character, Anna, is one of the children evacuated from London during World War II - but I didn't really care for the execution. I found the characters flat and their motivations lacking. And to be honest, I thought that some of the attachments made in the story were rather creepy... I won't mention details of course, I don't do spoilers. :-) All in all, pretty much forgettable.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My search for bread

Since going gluten-free, many of my Saturdays are spent trying out bread recipes, in search for a bread that somehow resembles what I can no longer have.

So far, no joy.

I have tried this simple bread from Elana's Pantry, but it was really more like a nutty cake so, although tasty, not what I was looking for. Elana has since developed other bread recipes, including this one, which I will certainly be trying, but plans for more baking doesn't ease the disappointment of not having nice bread on a Sunday morning.

Yesterday, I made this bread, since I needed to use up some brown rice flour. It's decent, but too moist for me, wet really, and has a rice taste that just doesn't resemble bread. So it's a no, both on the texture and on the taste front.

I'll keep looking. Maybe one of these will be my bread salvation?

- one of these lovely sounding recipes from the Gluten-Free Girl
- or one of these from the Gluten-Free Goddess
- any others you'd like to point me to?

This post is linked to the September edition of Whip up Something New! (don't know what I'm talking about? - see here) and to Weekend Cooking over at Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

I've been reading this beautiful book this week and finished it last night so it's not entirely fair that it already gets its own post when books I read in April are still waiting, but hey, I guess life isn't fair, even if you're a book. :-)

I wanted to post my thought on The School of Essential Ingredients before the feeling of magic and beauty that it created in me goes away and I forget just how much I liked it.

And like it I did. The storyline is so simple - a woman, Lillian, who loves food and cooking and who understands that food is magic and can change lives - wants to share her skill with others, so she organizes a cooking class. On one Monday per month, eight people get together for an evening of cooking. They are all lost but they all somehow found their way to Lillian's kitchen, where their lives will change forever, where they will learn so much more than cooking.

The writing made me want to cook but it also made me want to be happy with small things, like a beautiful red tomato. Why stress yourself out with all this other stuff when there is so much beauty in the world?

This book combines two things I love a lot, food and magic, though the magic is 'magical realism', not Harry Potter. It reminds me of other authors I love, Sarah Addison Allen, Alice Hoffman, Joanne Harris.

A lovely book to be savored slowly and remembered forever.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Umm, too many books?

How many books bought is one day is too many? Is this too many?

How about this?

How about both of these piles put together? :-)

These are the books I picked up on my day out in Hay-on-Wye, a lovely village on the border between England and Wales, famous for its bookshops. Yes, it's a village full of bookshops! And I got to spend a day there on my own this year, which was fantastic. Well, it was fantastic until my backpack became ridiculously heavy and browsing - squatting and standing up with a huge load on my back - became more like excercise and less like fun. But hey, by then I had over 30 books added to my collection so I suppose it was time to go anyway. :-)

Here they are in list format, in case anyone wants to advise me on which ones to read next - I've already read Dating Big Bird by Laura Zigman (very funny!) and I'm currently reading The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley - I couldn't resist Flavia any longer. What should be next though?

Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman
Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
Cuban Heels by Emily Barr
Dating Big Bird by Laura Zigman
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Hector and the Secrets of Love by Francois Lelord
Holes by Louis Sachar
Ireland by Frank Delaney
The Keepers of Truth by Michael Collins
Lost Souls by Michael Collins
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
A Morbid Taste for Bones (Cadfael Chronicles 1) by Ellis Peters
Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Private Life by Jane Smiley
Queen Mum by Kate Long
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian
Suchi for Beginners by Marian Keyes
Things to Make and Mend by Ruth Thomas
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
Why not Catch-21? by Andrew Dexter
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

Friday, September 2, 2011

Whip up Something New in September

You may have noticed that there was no host for August. Hope you 've all continued whipping up delicious food - make sure you add them to September's linky.

Any volunteers for hosting in the coming months?

For information about this event, read this post. To participate, add the link to your recipe below!