I like learning about a new cuisine through cookbooks first, rather than just exploring recipes online, to get a better sense of common ingredients anI like learning about a new cuisine through cookbooks first, rather than just exploring recipes online, to get a better sense of common ingredients and which dishes are served at which sorts of meals, etc. It was difficult to find many Haitian cookbooks, but this one was so good I'm not sure I'd bother with others.
The author is Puerto Rican and began exploring Haitian food through her husband and his family so these are definitely home cooking dishes, not fancy hotel food for tourists. I like the snippets of stories that go with the recipes and everything I've cooked from it so far has been delicious.
I may find myself going through this cookbook dish by dish, which I can't say for many of the ones I own. We've already found ourselves going back to some from that first meal for birthdays and other special occasions.
There are a few more complicated dishes, but the explanations are very clear and they're generally the traditional special occasion ones. Many are pretty economical as well, though there are a few recipes I doubt I'll be able to do in Chicago just because I don't have access to conch or local ingredients like djon djon mushrooms. I like that there are often alternative options for the quick & easy (use canned goods) or traditional (start with dry beans from scratch, etc.) methods. ...more
I should have been asleep hours ago, but this one took such a delightful series of twists that I was completely drawn into it and lost all track of tiI should have been asleep hours ago, but this one took such a delightful series of twists that I was completely drawn into it and lost all track of time. This surprised me, because halfway through I was sure this was going to be an almost direct copy of the Charity Girl plot.
Well, it was. But SO much better, I'll have to amend that review to note this one should be substituted every time. A much wider cast of characters complicate the plot delighfully and the occasional bouts of cant dialogue are placed in the mouths of more appropriate characters than the heroes. This one hardly counts as a romance - the main pairing is delightfully ordinary for the most part, but sensible enough to appreciate the humor in the nonsense she places all around them.
If Anne Elliot were allowed to have rollicking adventures instead of being forced to care for her sister's children or her father's consequence, I think she would have found her way among people like these with just as much aplomb. Of course for the time period none of that would be allowed, so this book follows the adventures of a overly titled young man who needs to establish his own independence.
Which is also quite similar to the plot of The Corinthian, but again I think I like the plotting here even better for the breadth of the cast and the lovely tangle she weaves them all into before setting it all free with a few quick twists, like the Jacob's Ladder string game. :)...more
Heyer wrote mostly historical romances, but also some detective/thriller novels. This is a fun mix of both, like Northanger Abbey crossed with The TurHeyer wrote mostly historical romances, but also some detective/thriller novels. This is a fun mix of both, like Northanger Abbey crossed with The Turn of the Screw. Like both those stories, it features a young woman without many resources in a house that seems to have something frightening going on under the surface.
Unlike both of those stories, the heroine is blessed with commonsense, social graces, and a decent amount of intuition. Still, her position in life leaves her vulnerable and she's well aware of it. Like Hitchcock's bomb in a restaurant, the heroine's admirable qualities and growing awareness of the situation give this a nice creepy suspense that isn't common in romance novels like this.
The psychology behind the story may be somewhat accurate to the perceptions of the time period - Heyer doesn't attempt to introduce any modern explanations, though she may imply them in the action. Still, as much as I enjoyed the way she plotted the novel, the final denouement is troubling as a "happy ending" written in a more modern era....more
This was enjoyable - complete nonsense, but fun nonsense. It's definitely an exaggerated version of many of her other plots I've read, like she's paroThis was enjoyable - complete nonsense, but fun nonsense. It's definitely an exaggerated version of many of her other plots I've read, like she's parodying herself. Or the fiction of the time? It's not quite clear. For parody from this period I'd much rather read Jane Austen's juvenilia or Shamela for the proper contemporary flavor and bite.
On the other hand, it sort of seems like she lifted the sillier plot elements of Fanny Burney and Samuel Richardson and Maria Edgeworth, et al and decided to try to create a hero and heroine that would behave like the villains from that period.
Of course her characters aren't acting out of their best impulses when they're manipulating and abusing each other, but both of them enjoy the battle. And since they are clearly the hero and heroine they have reasonably pure motives and it all comes out without damaging any innocent parties.
I sort of adore genre parodies, so I think I may find this one grows on me once I get over the initial absurdity of the plot. ...more
I love meta-retellings of fairy tales and this is one of the best approaches to that, besides the hilarous Diana Wynne Jones' series that began with TI love meta-retellings of fairy tales and this is one of the best approaches to that, besides the hilarous Diana Wynne Jones' series that began with Tough Guide to Fantasyland and was followed by Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin.
Taking a step back from the individual tales, this volume focuses on the role of fairy godmothers - how they come to their powers, how they learn about their place in the world, how much they are allowed to intervene to lead to the proper endings, and what sort of options they have to achieve a satisfactory ending for themselves without being tempted to the dark side.
Behind every story in this world, "The Tradition" is the guiding force that plots out the typical conclusions: but it is just as satisfied with tragedy as a happily ever, so the godmothers need to know the stories well enough to know what they can tweak to make it come out well in the end.
I especially enjoyed the thwarted fairy tales within the story - the godmothers who try to divert anything dramatic from happening at all, to keep to peace and quiet for the sake of the protagonists. ...more
I wasn't anticipating from the title that this would be one of her detective novels, since I've been working my way through her historical romances anI wasn't anticipating from the title that this would be one of her detective novels, since I've been working my way through her historical romances and the title sounded more like one of those.
The problem with this sort of detective novel is you have to establish a fairly large cast in order to have a victim and several suspects. Multiple people need to seem to be capable of murder or at least have some sort of motivation to get rid of the victim. And hopefully the reader won't be disappointed when they find out who the guilty party is and they're carted off to jail.
Well, I honestly didn't like anyone in the book all that much, so I wasn't terribly invested in who was going to go off to jail - or even anticipating who would be killed. The method of the kill was not hinted in a way that I thought we were supposed to be able to figure out as we read it, so that was not worth puzzling over. And the detective wasn't even charming enough to make me enjoy watching him work. Meh....more
Felt a bit like finger exercises - the author has written a lot of this stuff, but was just going through the motions here. It was reasonably entertaiFelt a bit like finger exercises - the author has written a lot of this stuff, but was just going through the motions here. It was reasonably entertaining, but I thought the pacing was slower than necessary and the plot ended up including more characters than she had time to make interesting. ...more
I don't think I'm the right audience for this book and I don't think I want to read anything else by this author after reading this. He assumes the auI don't think I'm the right audience for this book and I don't think I want to read anything else by this author after reading this. He assumes the audience knows about the things he cares about enough to care what he thinks of them: I don't - especially not when he talks about music or sports. Which I guess is his usual area of expertise.
He seems more interested in perceptions of villainy than in any idea of good and evil, which I find mostly boring. It leads to multiple retellings of many of his stories, which isn't a boring technique, but by the end I don't care about his conclusions anymore.
In a book that posits knowing a lot and not caring is the core formula for villainy, I find myself caring less for his arguments the more he explains them. I honestly don't know what that says about anything. I'm not sure if the book is muddled or it's just me.
I considered sitting down and writing out an outline of the book, noting what subject matter is in each chapter and what his arguments are about villainy for that subject. But I don't know what the point would be because I don't think he wants to talk about villainy the way I do.
I think I mostly want to read a very different book written on the same subject but using a completely different genre of stories, ones written to investigate virtue and villainy. I want to talk about authors and audiences' perceptions of stories, not media and public relations and reputation.
I want theology and psychology and art and, somewhere in there, a search for truth. It can have humor and cynicism and sarcasm - I like all of those. This book has clever writing and concepts I could use to frame interesting arguments about other material. But it isn't one I want to spend any more time with....more
I hardly have any grounds to complain about a character who spends most of her time talking on and on or focusing on how to improve her siblings livesI hardly have any grounds to complain about a character who spends most of her time talking on and on or focusing on how to improve her siblings lives whether they like it or not. But I do think this is another one of Heyer's novels that could have stood a bit more editing.
On the other hand, it's been funny contrasting this book with the other steampunk YA novel I was listening to: I think this might actually qualify as the first steampunk historical romance. It certainly involves a lot of hydraulics and steam engines and valves and so forth in the plot (mostly through the boundless enthusiasm of the younger sibling, but he's troublesome enough to include everyone else in his pet hobby).
I like her well enough - definitely recognized a great deal more of myself in her than in most of these novels. But I can't find her hero to be quite satisfactory enough. I think I like them a bit less self-satisfied and a bit less in obvious need of reformation to be decent human beings. I'll stick with Black Sheep for the most appealing Heyer hero I've found yet. Or perhaps The Foundling. ...more
This one is certainly a romp! So far one of my favorite things about Heyer is she frequently shows her hand fairly obviously in the first few chaptersThis one is certainly a romp! So far one of my favorite things about Heyer is she frequently shows her hand fairly obviously in the first few chapters, but leaves you guessing the whole way to see exactly how she'll pull off the ending.
This early display of her characters, designed to show their various strengths and weaknesses, relies on typical romance tropes as much as any fairy tale depictions of heroes, heroines, and evil stepsisters. But few fairy tales rely so much on barbed conversations and mischievous machinations to pull everything right in the end.
This book, more than any of the others I've read so far, gives the heroine powers almost equal to any authors to manipulate everyone to dance to exactly the tune that will make them happiest in the end, however torturous the route to that end. She's even generous enough to leave the most irritating and unkind characters happier than they deserve to be, as long as they agree not to irritate and abuse the central characters anymore. ...more