Category Archives: Book Reviews

Winter Reads

I am a massive devourer of books – if it weren’t for my wonderful library, I’d be destitute and having to hide my compulsion from my husband (he of the newspaper and golf magazines). So since the chilly fingers of winter are starting to grab the back of my neck, it’s the right time of year so start thinking cozy, which to me means what will complement my cup of tea and bed socks? I have a reading list which includes some old favorites and some new experiences. My reading style is to give a book the fall asleep test – if I fall asleep three nights in a row without caring where I’m up to, I stop reading, but if it holds me awake or if I remember exactly where I am in the story, I keep going. Here’s hoping!

Hot on the heels of his first in the series (Wool), Hugh Howey’s new book promises to re-insert me in to the amazing underground world of the future and prequel the gripping and all encompassing first book. I like a series that shifts backwards because you are already familiar with the characters, so it’s the story that takes front seat. I’m also fascinated to know how this all began – was it a cataclysmic event that put people under the ground? Why hasn’t there been an uprising for all the silos?
This book tracks the journey of Paul Farmer as he brings medical help to those who need them most in Haiti. I came across this book from a TeD talk and am looking forward to being inspired. I also have a lot of family in the medical business, my father may be taking on a post in East Timor in the new year, so I want to get a feel for the altruism and sacrifice involved.
I love a book that tries to give a version of an answer to a big question – what if we could do it all over again? And again? This book follows the lives of Ursula Todd through the 20th century and how she deals with being born over and over in to different lives. Will she use her powers for good or self interest?
Anne Tyler is always a lock for an indulgent read, her prose is spot on and her stories, while sometimes a bit singular, are full of rich predictable narrative so easy to follow and a joy to come home to. The story begins with the main character Dorothy coming back to life after her death in an accident, written from the point of view of Aaron, the grieving husband. Only it seems nobody else has noticed anything strange – is it just him or is this a miracle?
The prodigal son returns! And so does Jodi Piccoult! Always a page turner and a heart squeezer, Jodi’s latest is going to be another in depth look at a family in crisis, this time with the absent father on life support, the estranged son returning home to say goodbye and the daughter who isn’t ready to let it all go.
I’m a huge fan and user of kiva.org so am looking forward to a story behind the loans – the people who are on the receiving end of my (and others) microfinance $25 loans. Told through the eyes of Bob, I’m hoping it’s as funny and heartfelt as his other work.
So that’s what I’m looking forward to curling up with – how about you? Any suggestions?
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Food – Smitten Kitchen

I tend to get a little bit obsessive over specific websites. With food, it can go from obsessive to something far more rapturous, like I’m amassing my personal holy trinity and rearranging depending on whose recipes work best. Deb Perlman is the writer of smittenkitchen – a blog full of amazing photography and easily relatable and cookable recipes. And I haven’t ever had a cooking fail while following her recipes (unlike some who should spend less time on styling a finished dish for the camera and more on telling me what to freaking do!).

The problem, of course, with becoming obsessed about American bloggers is that when I do get all excited about their book coming out, I inevitably get annoyed when it arrives in my hot little hands and all the measurements are in pounds and ounces. Not that the conversion is hard, but when I’m putting something in to a fry pan  I don’t also want to be juggling the conversion app on my phone to be sure the proportions are right.

Deb has been kind to us non-Americans and put out a second version of her book in metric measurements (available from bookdepository.co.uk) and wow, I’m really glad she has. Every page is not only a joy to read, but I know that I won’t be juggling while cooking so it’s a safety feature too! The book has also doubled in size as I’ve marked nearly every page to try – wholemeal raspberry ricotta scones, sugar snap salad with miso dressing, chicken and egg mayonnaise toasties with lemon aioli and fennel, sesame spiced turkey meatballs with smashed chickpea salad, buttered popcorn cookies, chocolate hazelnut crepe cake… have I got you wondering? I’ve made so many things from smittenkitchen in the past few years, it’s always a go to for whatever I’m planning to make (I’ll use Deb’s recipes over most other sites) or inspiration for when I cant think what to make.

And her photography always makes me hungry. I still can’t believe she makes everything in a kitchen that looks a third the size of mine.

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