Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre of book. Setting fictional (and some non-fictional) characters in story with a backdrop of chronoligc...moreHistorical fiction is probably my favorite genre of book. Setting fictional (and some non-fictional) characters in story with a backdrop of chronoligcal events takes quite a bit of imagination. As much as I think I know about a subject, these intimate peeks into these historical events add even more to my knowledge. Edwidge Danticat draws on not only her life, but stories relayed to her by family members, weaving stories of Haitian life into her fiction. The story of the 1937 Massacre ( has Ms.Danticat's usual elements of the mystical and the romantic. 'Farming of bones' refers to the work done by the Hatian cane workers, a back-breaking, thankless job, for which they are rewarded with ethnic genocide. The main character, Amabelle Desir, was rescued by the Dominican family for which she works, but loses her adopted home, her love and nearly her life to Dominican 'patriots' incited by Generalissimo Trujillo's ignorant prejudice. She is not the only one who suffers in this novel; indeed, it seems every character is marked by tragedy. It is said that history is recorded by the victors; in this history, there are no victors; both Haiti and the Dominican Republic still suffer today from a shared history they cannot escape. This is a fascinating book, which I am reading as a trio with In The Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Both authors are acknowledged by Ms. Danticat.(less)
I've long said: "I'll only cook for people who don't pay me", and after reading this book, I gave up any remaining aspirations of wanting to cook in a...moreI've long said: "I'll only cook for people who don't pay me", and after reading this book, I gave up any remaining aspirations of wanting to cook in a restaurant. I'd add to the quote that people don't want to know how sausages and laws are made, that they probably don't want to know what's going on behind those swinging doors at the restraurant as well. Anthony Bourdain prepares a wonderful story, warts (his own and others) and all.(less)
For all the benefits of technology, it has changed how we interact with each other in a harmful way. Robert Putnam, a Harvard professor, examines this...moreFor all the benefits of technology, it has changed how we interact with each other in a harmful way. Robert Putnam, a Harvard professor, examines this phenomenon in Bowling Alone. Americans' proclivity to join clubs that benefit the community plummeted with the coming of the internet age. Where we used to enjoy movies together in the theater, we now stay at home; where we used to bowl in leagues, which have disappeared. Even on the street, where we could once make eye contact or say a simple hello to people you passed, people are engaged with their smart phones or i-pods, everyone in their own silo. This in turn limits the building of what Putnam calls "social capital", intangible, unquantifiable things which help individuals in the community and ultimately help the community at large. Things which build social capital may be as simple as organizing a block party, shoveling snow for your neighbor. The most powerful illustration of the power of social capital is the story from which the title of the book is drawn. There are two men in Michigan, one in his 30s, one in his 60s, one an accountant, one a retired maintenance man, one white, one black. They have NOTHING in common, no paths that cross except ONE. They both belong to a bowling league. The extraordinary thing is through this connection, one found that the other needed a kidney, and volunteered to see if he could help is fellow bowler. The social capital built by the league was exchanged by these two men. Had they been bowling alone, their lives would not have intersected.(less)
While the story as a plot is compelling and different, the character development was not as strong, and this made the story less satisfying. Keri is t...moreWhile the story as a plot is compelling and different, the character development was not as strong, and this made the story less satisfying. Keri is the mother of 18-year old Trina, who suffers from bipolar disorder, making Trina violent and unpredictable. Keri finds that Trina can only be placed on a 72-hold, after which time she is released if she does not show signs that she will harm herself. Keri is determined to save her daughter and finds an illegal (and highly improbable) solution.
While I understand by any means necessary interventions and that a parent will do almost anything to save their child, the story ignores the fact that Keri has means and options. Additionally, while we are given a glimpse of the mental health system, Ms. Campbell leads one to believe there is no alternative option but the kidnapping of her child. I found it hard to believe that Keri would not have questioned her daughter's erratic behavior and educated herself about her daughter's diagnosis.
The one thing I will give this book credit for is discussing how mental health issues are handled by African American families. Hopefully the book will lead to more open discussion and prompt people to seek treatment and not hide in shame. (less)
I started to read the prequel to this, and couldn't get past the first chapter for fear of nightmares. Then I won tickets to see the premiere, and fel...moreI started to read the prequel to this, and couldn't get past the first chapter for fear of nightmares. Then I won tickets to see the premiere, and felt if I was going to sit in the theatre, I'd at least want to know what was coming. I read this book in 2 1/2 days, and probably would have done so even if I didn't have a deadline. I couldn't put it down. Thomas Harris weaves a character so brilliantly evil and unrepentant that the makers of Freddy Krueger and Michael Meyers should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, this was before Jeffrey Dahmer came along, and we met evil in the flesh and not in a novel (pun intendended).(less)
I suspect that this book was not complete before Ms. Butler died, and had she the chance, she would have refined it, either in this book, or in a seri...moreI suspect that this book was not complete before Ms. Butler died, and had she the chance, she would have refined it, either in this book, or in a series The ideas, as always are fresh, but there were some very uncomfortable moments for me as a reader. I am torn because I am a HUGE Octavia Butler fan, as well as a HUGE fan of vampire lore, but I found this book less than satisfying from both perspectives.(less)
This is one of my go-to books when I'm looking for recipes for baked goods. Sometimes there's a hint in there about a technique or an ingredient that...moreThis is one of my go-to books when I'm looking for recipes for baked goods. Sometimes there's a hint in there about a technique or an ingredient that makes the knowledge useful beyond that recipe. KAF tests and retests, tweaking each recipe as necessary.(less)
This book is one of my top 20 novels. I loved it so much that after borrowing it from the library and reading it, I sought and purchased a hard copy f...moreThis book is one of my top 20 novels. I loved it so much that after borrowing it from the library and reading it, I sought and purchased a hard copy for my own library. I read this novel before I read Eva Luna, and the reverse order did not detract from my enjoyment. Sensual and mesmerizing, the narrative surrounding the story reminded me of another favorite, Tales of the 1001 Nights. The stories are self contained, but like chocolate (or cheese for me), you will want another and another until the book is finished. I will put this on my 2009 re-read list.(less)
With several hundred cookbooks in my home. I think long and hard before adding another one to the shelves. Perfect Party Food is worth making room for...moreWith several hundred cookbooks in my home. I think long and hard before adding another one to the shelves. Perfect Party Food is worth making room for. The title of the book is misleading. The only thing that is consistently "party food" about this book is the size of the portions. Many recipes offer portions that will feed 10-12. The beauty of this book is the preparation; each recipe can be made ahead, to some extent, saving you time, and best of all, stress. I tried a few of the recipes in the book--I don't mind making extra, if I think I can freeze it, and found the instructions clear and concise; the tips were on the money every time. I was very surprised with the variety of recipes; instead of the typical dips, wings, etc., you will find recipes that are complex and tasty as well as easy to prepare because the process is broken down into manageable, do-ahead parts. For example, there are a bunch of tasty breads and dinner rolls, which would not normally be Party Food, because of the risings, but can be if you follow the steps. A favorite find was the killer recipe for Starbucks' Cranberry Bliss bars.(less)
Over the years I have read Mr. Trillin's writing in New Yorker magazine. His food writing reveals a completely different side. it's like bringing a ki...moreOver the years I have read Mr. Trillin's writing in New Yorker magazine. His food writing reveals a completely different side. it's like bringing a kid to a candy store. Here is someone who clearly loves food, and people who love food. His style reminds of Jeffrey Steingarten, a mix of confession and comic writing. While some of the stories are dated, many are timeless, such as the feast he brought onto a flight to Miami, . It helped that as a native New Yorker, I have visited many of the eateries, and so the book provided a retrospective into what some eateries were like a few years before I got around to visiting them. Mr. Trillin's enjoyment of food is infectious, and you cannot help but laugh out loud at some of the situations in which he finds himself.What also shines through, even though he is seemingly having fun at her expense, is his love of friends and family, but especially his wife, Alice.(less)
I have a bunch of ice cream cookbooks already. Perfect Scoop has quickly earned it's promotion from the ice cream shelf to the favorites shelf. To sta...moreI have a bunch of ice cream cookbooks already. Perfect Scoop has quickly earned it's promotion from the ice cream shelf to the favorites shelf. To start with the book has more than 100 recipes, and drop-dead gorgeous pictures of ice cream, aka, food porn. Add to that a wonderful assortment of interesting flavors, a top notch review of ingredients and their function in an ice cream recipe, plus tips and resources for hard-to-find ingredients, this book has delivered ultra-high quality frozen desserts every time I've tried it. The recipes range from basic to super sophisticated. David Lebovitz, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, now lives in Paris, and writes one of my favorite foodie blogs.. The first recipe I tried, borrowing this book from the library, was the Roasted Banana Ice Cream, and I was hooked, and that was the start of my worshiping David Lebovitz' genius. Who else could create a Candied Bacon Ice Cream that has that wonderful salty sweet frozen thing going on that I love about Butter (add your favorite nut here) ice cream? Perfect Scoop is indeed appropriately named.(less)
This was the toughest book for me to finish. It was recommended to me by several friends whose judgment in books reflected mine, but I kept putting it...moreThis was the toughest book for me to finish. It was recommended to me by several friends whose judgment in books reflected mine, but I kept putting it off. The novel's subject, female genital mutilation, cannot be sugar-coated, nor should it be. Alice Walker does a unbelievable job of kicking your apathetic butt into gear. You will be angry, unbelievably angry. Angry enough to figure out what you can do to stop this, frustrated that the practice is still going on and tolerated by societies wholly dominated by men. I am not an emotional reader, leaving teardrop stained pages, but I dare you to be unmoved by this story--whether you are male, female, black, brown, white, asian or latina. The pain and fear are palpable. Here is the hardest part: YOU MUST READ IT TO THE END. If you do, your reward will be learning how to possess the secret of joy no matter what.(less)
I don't believe you could spend thirty more productive minutes if you lived to be 100 years old. This book was initially developed for and by advertis...moreI don't believe you could spend thirty more productive minutes if you lived to be 100 years old. This book was initially developed for and by advertising minds who often believe they have sole claim to practical creativity. This method is applicable to creativity and problem solving in virtually every situation. Describing five simple steps, James Webb Young has crafted an easy-to learn, simple process that you can apply to spark creativity. You will have to put in some effort, and some of that work is mind numbing. One of the important points in the book is the case Mr. Webb makes for continuing your education. That education can be highly structured, like continuing education, or loosely structured, as in travel or simply stepping away from your computer to observe what is going on around you. What makes this book so very special is its brevity and simplicity. Einstein said "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler." You can find no better illustration of this than this book.(less)
It is rare when you read a piece of fiction so well written that you cannot discern what is fact from what is historical fiction. When speaking with o...moreIt is rare when you read a piece of fiction so well written that you cannot discern what is fact from what is historical fiction. When speaking with other readers of One Thousand White Women, this is the eerie experience we shared.
Jim Fergus takes an actual event and beautifully weaves a story about a group of women who volunteer to participate in a very unique cultural exchange-- brides for Cheyenne Indians. While the focus of the novel is May Dodd, each of the women is deftly described, and their unique and interesting personalities make One Thousand White Women a novel you simply cannot put down. How the women came to be in the program, and the relationship that grows among the white and Indian women is simultaneously funny, touching and terrifying.
Little Wolf, Chief of the Cheyenne, comes to Washington DC with an amazing proposition: to protect the future of the Cheyenne, and to reduce attacks on the white settlers pushing ever westward, he will trade 1,000 horses for 1,000 white women, who will marry Cheyenne. President Grant and all in the audience convey shock and outwardly reject this plan, but covertly solicit women from jails, asylums and other precarious life situations to participate in the program.
May Dodd having chosen a relationship with a man below her station, and birthed two children by him, is committed to an asylum by her family. With the help of an asylum employee, she enters into the program with a colorful assortment of women: Meggie and Susie Kelly, a pair of Irish twins, Phemie, a former slave, Gretchen, a Swiss girl, Helen Flight, an artist, Daisy Lovelace, a southern belle, and Narcissa White, and evangelical are some of the other brides. Mr. Fergus brings to this mix 'Dirty' Gertie, a muleskinner, and the Cheyenne women for a brilliant piece of storytelling.
The story often shows the double-dealing ways that irrevocably changed the lives of the indigenous Indian people. Perhaps because you know how the story ends for them, you will constantly ask yourself if this is a novel, but you will not likely question whether the book is an amazing read.(less)