Thursday, September 28, 2017

In search of loving hands

Many, many years ago, my mother was crocheting an afghan. For one reason or another, she didn't finish it, but packed it up and tucked it into the back of her closet. Many years (see what I did there? I dropped a "many") later, I have the box again in the forefront of my mind and the floor of my own closet. I would love to finish it, but know that my hands aren't up to it, nor do we have a place for one more afghan in our home. I love the colors she chose: a sort of teal/seafoam green and white, only those two colors, but the squares are a variety of patterns. The squares are almost all completed and there's yarn for those that are missing. Even the hook she used is there. All it lacks are hands to complete it, a heart to love it, and a home to keep it. I would love to give this to someone who could do those things. I'd even send it to you, if you can help me out on postage.

Any takers?

Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made Into Pie by Mary-Frances Heck

I was really excited to get this book from Blogging for Books. That my enthusiasm wasn't sustained was more a factor of the dietary restrictions in my household than that of the book. (Two people: one with an allergy to wheat, the other with an allergy to eggs, and has dietary restrictions to dairy, garlic, and onions. Cooking for us is a real treat, she lied.)

Anyhow, there are some delicious looking recipes in here, that, unfortunately, are off limits to us. Others also look great, but require either substitutions of ingredients, or trips to specialty stores. I think the weakest section is the one for main courses, because the sweet potato is usually an ingredient in the dish, not the focus. Nevertheless, I shall persist, and try to adapt some of these to fit our quirky needs.

Thank you to Blogging for Books and the publishers for sending a copy my way.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Jane Austen Project: A Novel by Kathleen A. Flynn

I need to stop reading books that try and use Jane Austen as a character. They just don't work for me (with maybe only one exception). Yet despite that track record, I let this one seduce me because it had time travel as part of the plot-- and purposeful time travel from a far distant time in Earth's history. Maybe I was hopeful because if that was true, 45 and the illustrious leader of North Korea weren't successful in destroying life as we know it, and that Mother Nature was no longer on the warpath. I dunno, but whatever demon whispered to me to read this, I shouldn't have listened. Not that it was a bad book. It's just this subject never works for me. I like my Austen served straight up, no added speculations and circumstances. I did not rate this as I finally realized the previous sentence and stopped reading. It's not the author's fault. Honest.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I miss bread. Warm, yeasty, fragrant bread with that soft inside and hard crust that cracks when you bite into it. Bread with fresh butter melting into the pockets and crevices left from the baking. Bread that holds your sandwich fillings, whether it's slightly rare roast beef with a touch of horseradish or garden warm tomatoes and mayo, tucked in among tender lettuce leaf. Bread to sop up a stew with, wiping up the very last drop. An allergy to wheat means that bread, real bread, is no longer on my menu. My body can't process the stuff, and I swell like the Michelin  Man, and can weigh as much as 3 pounds heavier for eating half an English Muffin. But sometimes, that weight gain is worth it, like at The Mill in San Francisco, or if I were to come upon bread made by Lois Clary, from her magical and mysterious sourdough starter in Robin Sloan's Sourdough.
 Set in San Francisco (sallowing me to visit one of my favorite places without taking a 6 hour flight), Sourdough is filled with the real and the imaginary, exploring the world of foodies (as opposed to the also delightful Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by the same author, that delves into the world of book lovers.) One of the things I like about Sloan's book are the odd array of truths thrown into it (like the fact that there is a world-wideLois Club, that I might not have known about, had I not had a good friend named Lois when I was growing up.) It's a slim book, but a good one. And if I happen to look like Bibendum, from a wheat overload, I blame Robin Sloan.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

If music be the food of love...

 IIf you're thinking of sending birthday greetings in a couple of days, how about helping me update my playlist, and recommending a song you love instead. 

Let me know the Title/artist and I'll do the rest. Thanks. A playlist from suggestions made by friends makes my heart happy.

The best way to get your suggestion to me would be to put it here in the comments or email it to me. Other social media might work, but I'm erratic in checking it. (Please do not use the Messenger App. I don't have it.) 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cathedrals Of Glass A Planet Of Blood And Ice by A.J. Hartley

Well done, Mr Hartley. When night fell on Charleston, during Hurricane Irma's visit, and the electricity was out, I picked up my trusty iPad and crashed  into that strange, cold, and dangerous planet Valkrys, along with Sola and her shipmates. The irony of sitting in my 21st century home, curled up with an electronic device, reading about teens from a distant future, whose lives are pretty much spent in a society where the infonet provides all social interactions, and the world is climate controlled did not escape me. I, however, had more than nutritional supplements and protein bars to sustain me while I read. (I believe that even in heaven, I might be able to sip an aperitif and nibble dark chocolate whist I invest myself in a book.)

But back to the book. A group of teens, who have each broken the rules of Home, are sent to a futuristic sort of juvenile detention/rehab center on a nearby moon. Only, the autopilot directed ship deviates from course and crash-lands on a planet nearby that is uninhabited. Or is it?

The group, both diverse and somewhat dysfunctional, with each member declared deviant for unsocial behaviors, must learn to interact, as well as survive. And soon enough, they learn there is danger beyond the frigid planet for them, both outside the ship and inside as well.

Science fiction and thriller, this book gripped me. I only stopped to sleep, and in the morning to find a way to make coffee without electricity. (Luckily, I'm a little handier, and a bit more knowledgeable and prepared than Sola and her shipmates, so that went well.) Don't be fooled by a YA label. This book was a good read. As usual, AJ Hartley does not disappoint.

From the Publisher:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Steeplejack and co-author of Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows with Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge, comes a "smart, gripping and atmospheric" science fiction thriller—the Cathedrals of Glass saga…

“Deviance is unattractive and jeopardizes all we hold dear…”

Ten teenagers broke behavioral law. Sentenced to be reeducated on the moon of Jerem, they were placed in stasis on the automated ship Phetteron for their six day journey. They never reached their destination.

“Home looks after its own…”

Thrown off course by a computer malfunction, the Phetteron is damaged in an asteroid belt and crash lands on the uninhabited ice planet of Valkrys. Having spent their lives in temperature controlled environments, consuming nutrient supplements, and interacting with people mostly through the infonet, the teens are unprepared to depend on each other to face the harsh, hostile, and hellish landscape. Home will send a rescue party long before their meager supplies run out.

“No contrary positions are viable…”

Sola was a roamer. She wandered the city after curfew, reveling in the freedom of being disconnected from the techgrid and embracing the joy of physical activity. For those actions, Home declared her deviant. But on Valkrys, her deviance is an asset that may be the teens’ only hope for survival.

As Sola explores their strange new world, she discovers that she and her shipmates are linked by something more frightening than their subversive behaviors—and uncovers a truth about the planet the authorities at Home wanted buried.

Valkrys is not uninhabited. And what lives there is predatory…
SaveSave

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

I knew I'd want something entertaining and slightly mind-distracting to read during Hurricane Irma, and grabbed this off the shelf, mostly for the high ratings and promise of an different sort of love story.(When I first picked up the book looked like Irma was going to make landfall here. It didn't, but we got quite the tropical storm, with some absolutely stellar flooding, thanks to the trifecta of the storm's winds/rain, storm surge, and high tide.) The book both fulfilled and failed my needs. It was interesting, but in no way mindless, opening a dialogue as to what is appropriate in today's world for ages in relationships. For millennium, it's been okay for ancient men to marry near infants, but even in 2017, there is a negative stigma attached to older women dating younger men. (Momentary applause and hat tip to Brigitte Macron, and her husband, Emmanuel. )

So, here's a story where a 39 year old mother takes her 12 year old daughter to see a boy band, and said mother ends up in a steamy relationship with the lead singer. Steaminess aside (and there is some steam in there, lots of fingers, mouths, and other boy and girl bits) Robinne Lee does tackle some of the issues of divergent age in a relationship. It helps that the guy is both mature intellectually and emotionally, and that the gal has not been sitting on the couch eating chips and slugging back beer, but even so, the problems and concerns the characters have are realistic-- one that even chic, beautiful gallery owners and stunningly handsome boy band musicians might have. Add in the public factor of his chosen career, and the emotional maturity of boy band followers, and the thick plottens, so to speak.  It's unconventional, all the way through, even the end.

Not a bad read for a stormy day, when your building is completely surrounded by water, the power is out, and the winds are howling.

From the publisher:
When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.

Friday, September 8, 2017

How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas

Quite the quirky book, about a quirky boy, who is the odd duck in a quirky intellectual family. I think that part of the reason I didn't engage fully in the book is that I kept forgetting the narrator (eleven year old Isidore, called Dory by his family, when he really longs to be called Izzie) was a boy. Things would happen, and I'd assume the teller was female, and then be brought back suddenly.  It has its moments of humor, mostly brought about by the frailty of human nature, and explored some bleak experiences with a candid hand.  All in all, I liked the book, but just can't join in on the "I loved it" bandwagon.

Many thanks to the publisher and Blogging for books for sending me this copy.


Isidore Mazal is eleven years old, the youngest of six siblings living in a small French town. He doesn't quite fit in. Berenice, Aurore, and Leonard are on track to have doctorates by age twenty-four. Jeremie performs with a symphony, and Simone, older than Isidore by eighteen months, expects a great career as a novelist--she's already put Isidore to work on her biography. The only time they leave their rooms is to gather on the old, stained couch and dissect prime-time television dramas in light of Aristotle's Poetics.

Isidore has never skipped a grade or written a dissertation. But he notices things the others don't, and asks questions they fear to ask. So when tragedy strikes the Mazal family, Isidore is the only one to recognize how everyone is struggling with their grief, and perhaps the only one who can help them if he doesn't run away from home first.

Isidore's unstinting empathy, combined with his simmering anger, makes for a complex character study, in which the elegiac and comedic build toward a heartbreaking conclusion. With How to Behave in a Crowd, Camille Bordas immerses readers in the interior life of a boy puzzled by adulthood and beginning to realize that the adults around him are just as lost.