A memoir about a woman who has lived a lonely, broken life and now in her early 40s, rescues a horse and learns about acceptance, trust, love and happ...moreA memoir about a woman who has lived a lonely, broken life and now in her early 40s, rescues a horse and learns about acceptance, trust, love and happines(less)
I read Chicken With Plums in one sitting the other day and was unfortunately rather disappointed. That's not to say that the book isn't crafted well,...moreI read Chicken With Plums in one sitting the other day and was unfortunately rather disappointed. That's not to say that the book isn't crafted well, because it is. The drawings carefully depict the strong emotions that run through this short story and the author expertly weaves flashbacks as well as projections to the future into the story that only enhance the depth and breadth of the emotions that run through its core. My disappointment with this book, however, comes not from the author's story telling, but solely from its content--it's an angry story that left me not pitying or empathizing with the main character, but rather annoyed that he took so long in his life to even address his unhappiness and then when he finally decides to do something about it, he decides to wallow in self pity and anger and wish himself to death.
Chicken With Plums is a brief memoir-type graphic novel about the author's great-uncle, Nasser Ali-Kahn and takes place in Tehran in 1958. Nasser was a somewhat ill-tempered child who found joy in creating music and eventually became an accomplished tar-player. He was in love once, but forbidden to marry the girl because he was deemed not worthy enough and later married a different girl who was clearly infatuated with Nasser. Now in mid-life, Nasser is a distraught, angry, resentful and bitter man, emotions which are then exacerbated when his beloved tar is broken. He wallows in these bitter emotions until he sees and feels nothing but bitterness and self-pity. He behaves horribly to everyone around him--people in his neighborhood, his wife, his children--saying and doing mean and selfish things. He never even tries to redeem himself. Not the kind of person I like to read about. I would have like to see Nasser learn something from his misfortune and mistakes in life instead of just behaving like a selfish jerk. I have to remind myself that this is a nonfiction piece, so understandably Satrapi is merely relaying a true story about a real individual and in truth, not everyone is capable of turning their life around after a major heartbreak. Still, this book left me yearning to read something more compelling and satisfying.
This is the second cookbook from Ree Drummond, also popularly known as "The Pioneer Woman." If you're not familiar with Ree and her Pioneer Woman webs...moreThis is the second cookbook from Ree Drummond, also popularly known as "The Pioneer Woman." If you're not familiar with Ree and her Pioneer Woman website [where have you been?!], she was a city girl living the fast paced life when on her way from L.A. to Chicago, made a pit stop in her hometown in Oklahoma where she met a cowboy, fell in love, had babies and now lives happily ever after on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma! No really! That's what happened. You can read all about her sweet story in her memoir titled The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels--a Love Story or just visit her website and read all about her there. Anyway, while living on an fairly isolated ranch in the middle of Oklahoma, busy raising four children, tending their home, cooking for the ranch hands, etc.. Ree started a blog where she posted photographs of and wrote anecdotes about ranch life, her family, gardening, photography and of course, cooking. Her popularity grew exponentially and she's now practically a household name. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but A LOT of people all over the country know who she is. And that's the dish on Ree Drummond, "The Pioneer Woman."
Ree has a wonderfully friendly way about her narration that shines through on both her website and in this cookbook. It's a comfortable friendliness that makes you feel as though you're sharing recipes and daily anecdotes about your families with a close friend. She has a fun sense of humor and an appreciation for hard work, good food and the love of family and friends and it all shows in her cookbooks and on her website.
As for the recipes, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From My Frontier focuses a lot more on the food (including many detailed step by step photos) and a bit less on Ree's family and life on the ranch compared to her first cookbook. If you already read her website and or have read her first cookbook, you probably already feel as though you know Ree and you'll enjoy getting right into the kitchen and cooking up some of her mouthwatering recipes. It IS a cookbook, after all. If you're not familiar with Ree, don't worry. You're still going to love Ree's recipes and end up wishing YOU lived on a cattle ranch. Or maybe not that last part..
Initially I bookmarked only one recipe to make from this cookbook, but after flipping through it again, I found a few more. Like Ree's first cookbook, there are a lot of recipes in this one that I won't likely prepare because the foods are fried or contain a lot of cheese and cream. Unless you're burning tons of calories wrestling cattle every day, these recipes are too high in calories for every day meals. Perhaps I'd make an exception for some of the desserts such as Billie's Italian Cream Cake, the Coffee Cream Cake or even the Knock You Naked Brownies. Mmmm.. The one recipe that I definitely want to try is the Peach-Basil Ice Cream Topping. A bit unusual, I know, but it sounds ultra refreshing, summery and delicious. Other recipes that I've bookmarked are Restaurant-Style Salsa, Steakhouse Pizza, Thai Chicken Pizza, Fig-Prosciutto Pizza and Carnitas Pizza. Can you tell I like pizza?
Vegetarians beware. Ree lives on a cattle ranch, so the recipes call for a lot of meat, eggs and dairy products and may not appeal to vegetarians, vegans or others with allergies and or a gluten-intolerance.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier is a must for fans of The Pioneer Woman and anyone else who loves tempting, home-cooked, comfort foods. (less)
Read in April 2012. I'd like to first clarify the title. The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook is so named because 'The Beekman' home and farm was establi...moreRead in April 2012. I'd like to first clarify the title. The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook is so named because 'The Beekman' home and farm was established in 1802 and the 'Heirloom' part of the title represents many of the 'heirloom' recipes that the authors have collected and sometimes re-created are based on recipes that have been passed on to them from family and friends over the years and generations. I think it's important to be upfront that the recipes themselves are not necessarily indicative of the turn of the 19th century, although one can rightfully imagine many of the seasonal ingredients called for in the cookbook are grown at The Beekman and other local, organic farms and backyard gardens throughout the country by the same, traditional growing methods that were used in 1802. I'd like to think so, anyway.
The Beekman 1802 is organized in my very favorite way--by season. It's the way I cook at home, based on the seasonal organic produce that comes in my co-op, which provides local produce as much as possible. The recipes showcase the best of seasonal produce in rural upstate New York, which is a little location specific but I think the items are still fruits and vegetables that can be found fresh in many farmer's markets during their peak season throughout the continental US. If not, you may be inspired to grow some yourself!
Most of the recipes are rather common, classic American fare--recipes that I have made on my own without recipes or from recipes that are very similar in other cookbooks or even current cooking magazines. Not that there's anything objectionable about that! However, if you are a fairly experienced home cook, chances are you already have a reliable version of these recipes in your repertoire. If you are a relative new comer to the world of home cooking, have recently joined a CSA or co-op, or you have your own vegetable garden, these recipes may appeal to you more and would actually make this cookbook an excellent starting point for your kitchen and cookbook collection.
If unique and inspirational recipes are more appealing to you, don't be discouraged. Dispersed among the many basic recipes are a few unique gems that stand out. Some of the recipes that I'd like to try:
Mint Lemon Cooler Homemade Lemonade with Lavender and Vanilla Corn Chowder Salad Quick Bread-and-Butter Pickles Butternut Squash-Filled Lasagna Rolls Harvest Beef Chili with Pumpkin and Beans Roast Pork Loin with Gingerbread Stuffing Orange Gingerbread
Overall I think this cookbook is a very nice basic seasonal cookbook that emphasizes fresh, seasonal produce, cheeses and meats that many readers and home cooks would enjoy. (less)
I've been reading Crazy Sexy Diet over the last couple of weeks and have to say that Kris Carr's verve for a healthy life is very contagious! Crazy Se...moreI've been reading Crazy Sexy Diet over the last couple of weeks and have to say that Kris Carr's verve for a healthy life is very contagious! Crazy Sexy Diet is a fabulously inspirational and instructional book on revamping your lifestyle choices for optimal health, happiness and overall vitality. It's loaded with invaluable information on food choices that will improve bodily functions, heal the body and prevent or inhibit the onset of disease. Crazy Sexy Diet is a must read for anyone looking to improve their health and absolutely indispensable for anyone struggling with any disease, including cancer. In fact, Kris Carr herself is a living testament to her own lifestyle philosophy. She was diagnosed with a rare, uncurable form of advanced cancer in 2003 and is here today, living a fuller life than ever before. From illness to activist, her journey is amazing--she's come such a long way and joyfully shares her life lessons with her readers so that we can freely reap the benefits of her newfound expertise. Don't miss this book. It might just contain the life lesson you've been looking for! (less)
Don't underestimate the power of this book on the merits that it is a graphic novel. While this book will be shelved in the young adult section of mos...moreDon't underestimate the power of this book on the merits that it is a graphic novel. While this book will be shelved in the young adult section of most libraries, I highly recommend it to readers of all ages and backgrounds. Many people are familiar with the story of Anne Frank and her family through her world renowned diary, and this graphic novel makes the perfect supplement, expanding on Anne's story with accurate historical facts.
This book delivers a serious historical and emotional punch as it provides detailed insight into the frightening and horrific time for thousands and thousands of innocent people who suffered unnecessary and intolerable injustices and deaths leading up to and including the years of The Holocaust. What an awful, heartbreaking time this was in the history of our world.
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam last summer and was profoundly moved as I toured the Secret Annex and learned about the life and plight of Anne Frank and her family. Again, reading this biographical novel added new layers of knowledge and emotion to my trip to Amsterdam that I won't likely ever forget. (less)
The title and subtitle of this book explains largely what this book is about, but to elaborate just a bit, it is a memoir co...more*** 3.5 out of 5 stars***
The title and subtitle of this book explains largely what this book is about, but to elaborate just a bit, it is a memoir co written by three friends who have found themselves at the same cross road of life and how they proceed to make at least one of their wishes come true---to be a mother and everything else that happens to them during their journey to motherhood. Carey, Beth and Pam are all successful journalists, each with a string of failed relationships behind them and now in their late thirties, feel very strongly about pursuing motherhood as a single parent. Carey is the first to start on the road to motherhood by purchasing eight vials of sperm from an anonymous sperm donor. But just as Carey prepares for insemination, she meets someone and is soon pregnant. The vials then get passed to Beth who has finally put a difficult divorce behind her, but she, too, meets a man who might just be the one and also gets pregnant. Finally the vials get passed to Pam, the romantic of the three women who is always on the lookout for true love, but is not willing to let the chance at motherhood pass her by before she's too old to conceive. Happily, she, too, finds love in the nick of time. This is a very simplistic overview of what these three women go through in their unconventional pursuit of motherhood. They experience uncertainties in their relationships, challenges with balancing their jobs with their pursuit of motherhood, as well as heart wrenching losses and deep felt sorrow that will be a part of them forever, but in the end this memoir tells the story of how three women found true love and motherhood perhaps later than most women, and maybe in a different order, but not at all too late to live "happily ever after."
The chapters rotate between narrations from Carey, Beth and Pam pretty much in chronological order as they each pursue their ultimate goal of becoming a mother. They share pertinent anecdotes about their careers, living arrangements, their extended families and of course their mutual friendships. They also share their past relationship failures, the experiences and challenges of their current relationships, terrible losses and tremendous joys that make the journey to love and parenthood worth every emotional scar we ever bear.
The writing in this memoir flows very easily, and Carey, Beth and Pam include a lot of conversations they've had with friends, family, lovers and other significant people in their lives, and that dialogue helps the book read like a story and not just a string of events, the latter of which could easily lead to boredom with a memoir. While reading the first few chapters, I admit that I felt quite removed from the women's situations, largely because my life path was so different and I couldn't quite relate to being 40-ish years old, a wealthy career woman, single with no love interests on the horizon and no child of my own in my heart. However, the more chapters I read in this memoir, the more absorbed I became in these woman's lives, the more I empathized with their situations and the more I grasped onto the hope that they would not only become mothers, but also find permanent love in a healthy marriage.
One of "issues" that I have with this book --and it's not even really an issue, but more of an observation-- is that Carey, Beth and Pam were all financially well off and could easily afford to pursue the medical avenues of getting pregnant on their own as well as the child care expenses after the baby's arrival. It just doesn't seem realistic that there is a large demographic of 40-ish women out there who can afford such lifestyles and the freedom to pursue single motherhood like these women did.
Also, Carey, Beth and Pam's stories were so similar and their narration voices so similar that at times I had a difficult time keeping track of whose story I was reading and I found myself flipping around a few pages to jog my memory.
Ultimately, I found Three Wishes to be a thought provoking and very personal look into the lives of these three modern women who were so determined to have children of their own. They survived many difficult situations, made life altering decisions and learned to live with those decisions, and above all they were very lucky to have had their three wishes come true.
In closing, I'd like to end my review with my favorite quote from the memoir. It is a quote from Pam, the final recipient of the donor vials around the time she decides with certainty to pursue having a child on her own. I think this passage captures the essence of what each of these three women feel and why they were so incredibly determined to become mothers. I think I would have felt the same if I were in their place.
"Finally, at thirty-seven years old, I confronted myself. I considered what I could not live without and immediately knew it was a child. That for me, life would have a far lesser purpose if I could not be a mother. I once read that the ancient Egyptians described childless women as "mothers of the missing ones," and that imagery wrenched me to the core. I could almost feel an ache in my bones for the child who would be missing to me." --Pam [p. 108](less)
This non fiction graphic novel documents the horrific effects of Hurricane Katrina on six different New Orleanians who survived the storm. The novel f...moreThis non fiction graphic novel documents the horrific effects of Hurricane Katrina on six different New Orleanians who survived the storm. The novel follows events in these people's lives from hours prior to the storm through the difficult aftermath. The stories are frightening and startling in their revelations to what people actually experienced--not just the catastrophic destruction of property, but also the disturbing truths of how the survivors suffered while waiting for assistance and most importantly, how they forged on with their lives. (less)