Friday, July 31, 2009

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Julie and Julia is a memoir about Julie Powell's quest to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. This is one of those books that I wanted to LOVE but just didn't. I think it was a combination of things that made me not really like this book.

I admit to being influenced by the movie previews -and I still think the movie looks like it should be great. Because of those previews, I expected to learn a bit about Julia Child and I really didn't. We are given short glimpses into the life of Julia but it's not enough. I wanted more about her fascinating life and less about Julie's. Yet, it's Julie's memoir, her project, and it should be about her.

I was also a bit turned off by the multitude of swear words. Now I'm no prude and I can ignore a bit of foul language, even laugh at it, but there was so much! I can't even share this with my mother because I think she'd be offended by it.

Then there was the food. Oh my. Here is where I give credit where credit is due. Julie, you are a very brave woman to cook some of that stuff. I am extremely picky about the meat I eat, and I certainly can't think about it when I'm eating it. There is no way I would EVER be able to make aspic from calves feet, kill a lobster, or cook brains. No way. Ever. If I were to pick a cookbook to do a similar project, it would have to be one called "Recipes for People who will Cook Only Certain Meat Without Having to Think About Where it Comes From." If anyone knows of that book, please let me know.

So between the lack of Julia info, the abundance of the "f" word, and the yucky food, the book just didn't meet my expectations.

Booking Through Thursday - July 31

btt button

What’s the funniest book you’ve read recently?

The funniest book I read this year was Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster. Her books always make me smile and laugh out loud. If you haven't read any of her books I really recommend them. You can't go wrong.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays - July 28

Today's teaser comes from Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I admit to picking it up because the movie looks good and it started with a "J" which I needed for the A to Z Challenge. It's not at all what I expected. I'll tell you all more when I review it in a few days. I'm almost done.

From page 166:

If I was going to follow Julia down this rabbit hole, I was going to enjoy it, by God - exhaustion, crustacean murder and all. Because not everybody gets a rabbit hole.

Musing Mondays - July 27

I'm a day late. Oops. Yesterday's topic was. . .

Do you have an account with an online book database site (LibraryThing, Shelfari, GoodReads)? If so, do you have a preference? Do you use it for - your own record keeping? finding new books to read? social networking?

I have accounts with GoodReads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. I confess that my favorite is Library Thing. I can't exactly pinpoint why but I found that keeping up with three websites all dedicated to the same thing is just too much. I found myself gravitating to LibraryThing. I like the Early Reviewers program, I enjoy the people I've met there, and I find the library easy to add to.

My library on there is a constant work in progress as books come and go. I try to keep track of what I've read and I do cross-post my blog reviews there. I also enjoy the forums and checking out what other people are reading. It's just a nice friendly place.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - July 16

Do you keep all your unread books together, like books in a waiting room? Or are they scattered throughout your shelves, mingling like party-goers waiting for the host to come along?

I have a bookshelf in my living room with five shelves. The top shelf is my very favorite books ever. I just like to be able to look at them. The second shelf holds my travel books but I'm really thinking they are going to have to move. . . The third and fourth shelf are my "To Be Read" books. They are groaning right now, bowed at the bottom and way too full. That's why I think my travel books have to go. The bottom shelf is my collection of picture books along with toys for my niece.

I have two more bookshelves in my bedroom. One is a short little thing. I've had it pretty much my entire life. It is currently holding more "TBR" books - but ones that I've had a really, really, really, long time and probably will never be read. I go through it every now and then and pull a few out to get rid of.

The larger bookshelf in my bedroom is where I just shove books that I want to keep. Most have been read and they probably should be gone through again. It's a mess. A catch - all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer

The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer took me by complete surprise. I anticipated a story about a proper young woman, working her way through life as a wet nurse. Well, that was her occupation but proper - maybe not. When I read novels based in Victorian England, I expect certain things. I expect characters with high morals, great expectations, and a fair bit of romance. I don't know why I expect that but I do.

The main character, and narrator, of The Wet Nurse's Tale is Susan Rose. She is hard working, chunky, and opinionated. You can hear her voice while reading and her character comes alive. She's quite the character. When her ordinary life takes a turn, the reader can see the determination in her spirit. She's a mother who would do whatever it takes to protect her child.

I wasn't sure what to think at the beginning of the book. I was a little worried that the book was going to be a bit too focused on breasts - as they were necessary for her occupation. I was distracted by short essays between chapters as I wasn't sure who or what the narrator was talking about at the beginning. There wasn't a great deal of story the first one hundred pages or so, more set up than anything. Once the main plot begins, it's a quick ride to the conclusion and it's a good ride. The novel is well written and the character will not leave me for a long while.

I recommend this book to those who like historical fiction and women's fiction. It is an adult book and due to language and mature subjects, it's not appropriate for young teens.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - July 14

Today's teaser is from The Late Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow. I am completely loving this book! I'm not sure what's happening in this teaser as I'm not quite to this point but I can't wait to find out!

From page 173:

The glass surrounding the shower was steamed--I couldn't see who'd entered. I did my Pyscho bit again at an eardrum-shattering decibel.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Musing Mondays - July 13

Musing Mondays (BIG) Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book covers…

We all know the old adage about not judging a book by it’s cover, but just how much sway does a book cover have when it comes to your choice of book – whether buying or borrowing? Are there any books you’ve bought based on the cover alone?

I admit that a cover can make or break a book for me. I shouldn't admit that but it's true. I was scanning the shelves at Borders the other day looking for a book that starts with the letter "J". I wasn't looking for anything in particular. As I scanned, I noticed that my eyes would immediately drift to the books with the lighter, brighter covers. Most would be classified as "chick-lit" or women's fiction. Interestingly, that's what I prefer to read.

A gorgeous cover will draw me in. It will at least get me to pick up a book and take a look at the subject, see if it's anything I want to read. I'm more apt to skip over a cover that is darker because that traditionally is a book that I'm not apt to want to read. That's not a hard fast rule of course but that's where my mind goes. I also seem to be able to spot books by authors that I am familiar with. I can pick out a Nora Roberts book from a mile away. (Ok, not a mile, but several feet. If I'm wearing my glasses or contacts.)

I don't think that judging a book by a cover is a bad thing in most cases. Publishers try very hard to get the cover right. It can make or break a book in my opinion. Look at the old bodice ripper romances . . . It's rare to see them anymore. People are still reading the books, but the covers are very different.

Interesting topic today!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant, is a story about rebellion and keeping the peace. An odd mix. The story centers around two women. Suora Zuana is a nun, and has been confined to the convent for over sixteen years. She has earned the position of Dispensary Mistress and also runs the infirmary. She is essentially the convent's doctor although that title would never be allowed her. Novice Serafina is a teenager, brought to the convent against her will. She is strong and willful. She is determined to leave the convent, wanting desperately to return to the man she loves. The two women forge a friendship that neither expected.

Sacred Hearts explores the politics of a sixteenth century Italian convent. The story takes place in a convent that is well respected and has great wealth. The convents would take the daughters of the wealthy and those with good names as they would receive a dowry, much as a groom would if she were to marry. The women were broken down into acceptance of their fate. Most would never leave the walls again.

I found the story to be completely enthralling and interesting. I know very little about convent life and I learned a great deal. The author took what could have been a preachy, dull story and turned it into one where the characters were important enough to want to know what would happen. Each of the nuns, whether they were old and infirm or young and spoiled, had secrets. Each had opinions that they were not allowed or encouraged to share. Each had desires, skills, talents, and gifts that they were only able to pursue with limits.

I highly recommend this book to fans of historical novels, women's literature, and to anyone who is interested in a life that few get to experience.