Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl

This book tickled me to the bottom of my foodie/cook/historian/mystery-lover/storie-within-a-story-fan/romantic heart. I've really enjoyed Ruth Reichl's memoirs, and her way of bringing her life vividly before the reader. In this, her first novel, much of the details that she perfected in her nonfiction also brings the scents and tastes of the story to life.

Billie has come to New York after her life on the West Coast proved too painful to stay there. As the new assistant to the editor Delicious!, a magazine for food lovers, cooks, and gastronomic adventurers, she thinks that perhaps she can find a new niche. Indeed, the magazine is filled with characters, as is her part-time job at a cheese shop. Life seems to be good, perhaps even great, though Billie, who has the ability to taste something and discern all the ingredients, and gives every indication of being a great cook herself, refuses to pick up a spatula, or a whisk, or anything that would necessitate cooking.

Then, suddenly, the magazine folds, the offices are stripped, and the only thing that remains is the "Delicious Guarantee", which since the inception of the publication,  has been the venue for readers to voice their complaints, problems, and dissatisfaction with recipes and articles published. Billie is retained as the sole employee, simply to deal with these calls and letters. In doing so, she stumbles upon a hidden room in the library of the old federal style house that used to be home to the magazine, and in that room stumbles upon one more surprise: WWII era letters from a young girl named Lulu to James Beard, who had written for the magazine.

It is these letters, and Lulu, that sealed the deal for me with this book. I learned all sorts of stuff about WWII cooking that I never heard before. (Milkweed pods taste like cheese? Who knew??) Billie heads off on a quest to find Lulu's letters, before the building is sold, and all is lost.

If Lulu isn't real, she should be. And did I mention there's a recipe for an incredible sounding ginger cake at the back of the book?

Many thanks to LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program and the publisher for sending this book along to me. This book is scheduled for publication May 6, 2014.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed, by Patrick Rothfuss

Deliciously disturbing. I loved it. Pay close attention to the little details, and when you find yourself wondering why the spikes are on the inside of the wall, you're almost there. As the sticker on the front of the copy I read said, "This shit is not for kids". (Thanks to Pat Rothfuss for writing such a great story, Harriet McDougal Rigney and Maria Simons for turning me on to these books, Ross Newberry for letting me read his copy while I was standing with him in line to have Pat Rothfuss sign our books [they were sold out of the this one and I had the second], and Nate Taylor, the only one of this group I haven't met, for the wonderful illustrations.)
Reading in line for the author to sign (JordanCon VI April, 2014

"This shit is not for kids -- seriously"