February and March reading

Looks like I’m doing two months worth of books this time.  Since I honestly don’t recall which one I read first, I’ll just put them in random order.  Up first:

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Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  I’m intrigued by books about being a chef.  Some days I think I could have been a proper chef and possibly missed my calling… but then I read this memoir.  Oh my goodness.  It became apparent that life behind the scenes in a restaurant would definitely NOT have suited me.  Still, I found it fun and interesting to read about the grind of daily life in the kitchen.  I may read more by this author.  This one was recommended to me by someone at work and I really did enjoy it.  I also recently DVR’d and watched Anthony Bourdain’s TV show – “The Taste”.  I imagined being one of the contestants on there and fully admit that the pressure would have done me in.  Fun to watch, however.

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One Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus.  This was an audio book that seemed never-ending!  The premise of the book sounded interesting….  The U.S. government, back in the late 1800’s, in order to promote better relations with certain Indian tribes, collected 1000 white women from jails who were willing to try marriage and life with “Indian savages” and give birth to half-white children.  Unfortunately, it was done in “diary style” – which usually drives me nuts. Her long letters to her family members who disowned her were WAY over-verbose.  The book moved along much too slowly and because of that, I found myself wishing it were over!  Of course this novel was totally fictional.  Even though it received good reviews, I simply can’t recommend it.

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed.  Here was an audio book that I just about quit listening to after the first disc!  I’m glad I hung in there as I eventually found it captivating.  There was a time (when I was much younger and had two good legs instead of one) when I thought it would be amazing to hike at least a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail… so it’s no wonder that I re-checked out this library book twice, to make sure I read it.  What turned me off at the beginning was her liberal use of the “F” word (I simply can never imagine a time when repeated use of that word adds anything of benefit to a book – or movie – or song – or whatever). I also was rather shocked at her description of her illegal drug use (IV Heroin) and her affinity for sex with lots of different guys, even while married to a guy she “loved”.  I asked myself – why should I listen to a book about a foul mouthed drug and sex addict??  I answered by reminding myself that I really was curious about her experiences on the P.C.T.  I’m glad I got past the bad parts of her personality and ended up enjoying her story of hiking from Southern California, all the way to the Columbia River.  Just sorry she didn’t hike the PCT in Washington, as I’d have enjoyed reading about that too.  Believe it or not, this book has been sold to a movie production company and Reese Witherspoon will play the part of the author.

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The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister.  I really enjoyed this Seattle author’s first book, The School of Essential Ingredients.  Yep, another cooking-baking-kitchen type book — or so I thought.  But this time around, it was more about interpersonal relationships, and little or no interspersion of cooking.  I was disappointed.  She brought back a few of the same characters from her previous book, but failed to develop their personalities much.  It was an “okay” book, not great, but enjoyable for the most part.

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The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  I first learned of this book from a great website where I find many new/interesting books – the Indie Next List.  It sounded compelling to me.  A true story, a son and his mother started their own personal two-person “book club” while she was battling pancreatic cancer.  He talks about the books they read, as well as how they bonded even closer as mother and son.  To be honest, there was a LOT of the book that was more of a memoir to his mother, touting her good works, impressive jobs, and political causes. I’ll admit I skipped over some of that, but in general, this was a very good book.  I can definitely recommend it.

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Home is the Sailor, by Patrick Taylor.  Even though this was a short story, it was by far my favorite read of the month.  I could read one book after another by Mr Taylor!!!  All set with the same delightful cast of characters in fictional Ballybucklebo Northern Ireland, this story was set shortly after the end of WWII when our favorite doctor, Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly returns from the Royal Navy and begins his solo GP practice in Ballybucklebo. I highly recommend all of the “Irish Doctor” series.  I also recommend listening to these books if you are so inclined.  I love the narrator (John Keating) and his way of denoting each character with a different – and very authentic – Irish voice.  LOVE LOVE LOVE these books, and I can’t get enough of them!! 🙂

As far as April reading, I have in my hot little hand – picked up today from our local library – the newest novel by Elizabeth Strout, author of one of my most favorite books, Olive Kitteridge. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this one will be another hit.  It’s titled: The Burgess Boys.  Stay tuned for my review!

January reading……

Well, here we are, nearly the end of the month, time for me to list the books I’ve read so far.  I must admit, a couple were started in December but finished in January, therefore they count as January books 🙂

A Midwife’s Story

midwifeThis book was written in 1985 or thereabouts and set in Pennsylvania Amish country.  I found it very interesting and could totally relate when the author described a typical hospital birth of the era, compared to a home birth.  I’m sure I’ve attended over 1000 deliveries with my total responsibility towards the infant, not the mother.  Honestly, I could write a book myself, recounting some the the unusual and sometimes horrifying things I’ve personally seen.   Maybe someday.  Anyway, this was a very good book if you are interested in midwifery and/or the Amish.  I’m intrigued with both!

A Homemade Life

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I like to think of myself as somewhat of a “foodie” although there are a few foods I will not go near – and true “foodies” better be ready to try anything!  This book was written in 2009  by the author of “Orangette” a food blog that is still in existence.  I really enjoyed how Ms Wizenberg managed to link different events and periods in her own life, with incredible sounding food!!  She also includes recipes, and that’s the big reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to pass this book along.  I don’t want to lose the recipes!  The setting is Oklahoma, Paris, and Seattle.  The author still lives in Seattle, recently had her first child, and owns two restaurants in the Ballard neighborhood of the city.  Great reading if you enjoy eating, cooking, and reading about food.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

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This was Philippa Gregory’s latest story in the LONG-ONGOING “Cousin’s war” series, describing the events surrounding the War of the Roses.  I love history and now I’ve read 4 books by this author on this subject.  I think I’ve got the story from pretty much everyone’s perspective available! This one was the view from Queen Anne, wife to King Richard III.  Time to move on, Ms Gregory, time for a new subject!  I listened to this book on audio CD, (13 CD’s, each over an hour) and it took me quite a while, but I stuck with it.  It was not exactly “riveting” subject matter, but since I do love history, I found it interesting.  Honestly, this author does an incredible job at research – and it shows…. but I do hope that the War of the Roses has finally come to an end!

The Persian Pickle Club

Persian Pickle Club

I think this may be the 4th novel I’ve read by Sandra Dallas.  I’d give this about 3 stars out of 5 – if I were giving it a rating.  It was good and I think it portrayed the dust bowl 1930’s in Kansas pretty well.  There are many references to quilting in this book, and while I’m not a quilter, I do love and admire a nice quilt!  The Persian Pickle club is the quilters guild in their little jerkwater town.  You get to know all the quilters and most of their families as well, so large amounts of names are bantered about in this rather small book.  Still it was pretty good, and I continue to like Ms Dallas, and will probably read more of hers.

Starting a new book today which will undoubtedly show up at the end of next month as part of February’s reading.  Wow, if all I had to do was read all day long, I’d be one very happy camper!! 🙂