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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Book Review: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I don't remember the last time I stayed awake more than an hour past my bedtime to finish a book. I also don't remember the last book that made me cry. But Speak did both.

Wow, what a wonderful book. Young adult novels often are so powerful because they present difficult situations that teenagers might encounter or identify with, and Speak is predominantly about depression, ostracism, and sexual assault. Melinda starts out 9th grade at Merryweather High with no friends. In fact, everyone hates her. A few weeks earlier she had been to a end-of-summer party with her best friends and she called the cops. Not only was the party ruined, but several people were arrested. No one knows why Melinda did it, but they know it was her and it was supremely bitchy of her to do it.

The first week of school, Melinda does meet Heather, a new student, who is her only friend. At home, her parents don't really get along, her mother works way too hard at an unrewarding job, and they don't really seem to notice Melinda, except when the school calls about her failing grades. The only redeeming thing at school is her art class. The least redeemable thing is when she sees the senior boy from the party. Him.

Melinda withdraws. She speaks as little as possible without shutting up completely. Her former friends, even ones she'd had for years, shun her. She finds a safe place at school, she finds solace in her art project, and she simply works to get through the school year. Will she find her voice? Will she tell anyone what happened? Will they believe her? Will it change anything? Will she ever feel safe again?

Melinda is a strong, resiliant character. With little to no support from anyone outside of herself, she gets through a horrific incident that no one should have to endure. It's dreadful that no one stands up for her, no one recognizes her severe depression (they think she's just going through usual teenage angst), no one helps her, but that does happen to some people going through horrible things like this. And Melinda does show that one can get through trauma by oneself, if one has to.

Her pain was palpable and real. The high school environment felt very true. This book is a powerful and honest story that has been helpful to hundreds of teens over the years. My edition of the book had additional information from the author about teens that have contacted her over the year to say how much the book meant to them, and information about how to get help for sexual assault. I know that a lot of teens, especially ones who feel alone or hurt, turn to books for help and healing, and I am so glad Laurie Halse Anderson's book is there for them.

I read this book for Banned Books Week. It is sad that people want to hide teenagers from anything related to sex, particularly when it's all around them, and they need to know what to be prepared for and what could happen. Yes, sexual assault won't happen to most teens, but they will at least know someone who it happens to, and it's best to be understanding and prepared.

I bought this book at a Borders GOOB sale.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Book Review: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn

I really wanted to read this book when it first came out - fantastic title and I loved Annabelle on "Dinner and a Movie," but it somehow didn't happen. But for months now, whenever I volunteered at the library, this book practically jumped off the shelf at me so I decided to give it a go.

Annabelle and Jeff have been married for 13 years now - practically a lifetime in Hollywood - and they go through their meeting, courtship, wedding, and marriage along with its requisite bumps along the way, to show a warts-and-all version of a marriage and relationship that somehow works despite the odds. It's purportedly a marriage advice book, but it's not that at all - it's a pretty straight-forward memoir - except in that it made me very appreciative of my BF and made me realize wow, we really don't fight hardly at all. Compared to the raucous chaos that frequently is the Gurwich-Kahn marriage, our relationship is a placid lake.

I always have thought Annabelle was hilarious. Apparently her on-screen humor masks off-screen anxiety, craziness, and high-maintenance, which isn't to say that Jeff is a saint. Sports-obsessed, sex-obsessed, and easily overwhelmed, he nevertheless makes a perfect companion for Annabelle. They say there's a lid for every pot, and Annabelle and Jeff demonstrate that brilliantly. They particularly are there for each other after their son is born with multiple birth defects, and when each of them have professional stumbles. I like how open they are about their sex life which isn't ideal for either of them, but is still quite healthy 13 years in, and in many ways I think it could be the key to their longevity - they've made an effort to not become just roommates.

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up is very funny, very real, very honest, and very hopeful. If nothing else, it makes you think if these two crazy kids can stay together and still be in love and supporting each other after all these years, it's possible for anyone!

I checked this book out of the library.

Book Beginnings: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn

He Says:
"When I was twelve, my sixth-grade English class went on a field trip to see Franco Zeffirelli's film adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet."

Yikes, if Jeff got his ideas about relationships from R&J, I'd be afraid, very afraid if I were Annabelle. Seriously, I love her. She was so hilarious on Dinner and a Movie. If this book is half as funny, I'm in for a treat.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Editors are like Crash Davis

Last night I watched Bull Durham for the hundredth time and this time I was struck by a comparison -- the character of Crash Davis acts with Nuke Laloosh, just like a good editor does. He was brought in to mature the kid. He's supposed to teach him both how to be a better pitcher, but also to deal with obstacles he'll encounter, the media, and life in general.

The comparison between Crash and an editor, occurred to me when Nuke said, "What's this guy know about pitching? If he's so good how come he's been in the minors for the last ten years?" If an editor is lucky, they only run across that attitude a few times in their career. And for most of us, the answer is simple: because we want to be editors, not writers. The vast majority of us are not failed or wannabee editors (especially if we've been doing it for more than a few years. There certainly are some of those, but they tend to get weeded out in the editorial assistant, Assistant Editor, and Associate Editor stages.)

I was further convinced when Crash was giving Nuke advice on his scummy shower shoes. I was reminded how once I gave an author advice on a brand of shoe she should look for that is both fancy and comfortable for an upcoming wedding (Touch of Nina). Editors do obviously mostly give advice about writing ("the rose goes in the front"), and some of it is advice writers don't want to hear ("don't think; it can only hurt the ball club") but we most of the advice is necessary ("Christ, you don't need a quadrophonic Blaupunkt! What you need is a curveball!") And sometimes the advice isn't about writing at all ("He's just your father, man - he's as full of shit as anybody.") Editing is about getting the best out of someone else's talent. It's about still getting to go to the ballpark every day and get paid for it.

And let's not forget about Annie Savoy, too. Writers should get advice from multiple people, and they have different points of view, different strengths ("if anyone would know if you're pulling your hips, it's Annie,") and while their advice may occasionally conflict, if their goals are the same -- helping the writer -- then they ought to be able to play well together. And I believe that "the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of [Literature]."

“Waiting On” Wednesday: What the Nanny Saw


“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill


Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s the summer of 2008. For the past decade Nick and Bryony Skinner and their four children have ridden high on the economic boom, but their luck is about to run out. Suddenly, the privileged family finds itself at the center of a financial scandal:

Their Central London house is besieged by the press, Nick disappears, and Bryony and the children become virtual prisoners in their own home. And Ali, their trusted nanny, watches it all. As the babysitter, she brings a unique insider-outsider perspective to the family, seeing far more than even the family itself is capable of. But when a reporter with a personal connection to the story comes asking her for the inside scoop, will Ali remain loyal to the family who never saw her as anything other than the help? Or will she tell her side?

Written with Fiona Neill’s delicious humor and addictive style, What the Nanny Saw is a keenly observed, often comical chronicle of the urban wealthy elite, of parents who are often too busy to notice what is going on under their own noses, of children left to their own devices, and of a young nanny thrown into a role she doesn’t know how to play. It is a morality tale of our time, a tale of betrayal, the corrosive influence of too much money, and why good people sometimes do bad things.



Expected publication on August 2, 2012 by Riverhead Hardcover .

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn p. 19

"I had already married one guy who proposed on the night we met; why had I attracted another man who was seized by the same impulse? I wasn't sure whether Jeff was an incurable romantic or whether I should take out restraining orders."

That can be a fine line sometimes, can't it? I once has a guy follow me home from the subway and give me a rose. Stalking or a meet-cute? Considering that I lived more than a mile from the subway I went with the former and luckily moved shortly thereafter.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Up next:
Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Doomed Quest to Clean up Sin-loving New York by Richard Zacks
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Beginnings on Friday: Guns, Germs, and Steel

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme originally hosted by Katy from A Few More Pages but now hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader.

Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

"A suitable starting point from which to compare historical developments on the different continents is around 11,000 B.C. This date corresponds approximately to the beginnings of village life in a few parts of the world, the first undisputed peopling of the Americas, the end of the Pleistocene Era and last Ice Age, and the start of what geologists term the Recent Era. Plant and animal domestication began in at least one part of the world within a few thousand years of that date."

Wow, this book is going to cover a lot of ground!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Glitter and the Gold


“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Glitter and the Gold: The American Duchess--In Her Own Words by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan

Synopsis from the publisher:
A new edition of Consuela Vanderbilt Balsan's memoir—the story of the "real" Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey

Consuela Vanderbilt was young, beautiful, and heir to a vast fortune. She was also in love with an American suitor when her mother chose instead for her to marry an English Duke. She sailed to England as the Duchess of Marlborough in 1895 and took up residence in her new home—Blenheim Palace. She was the real American heiress who lived long before Downton Abbey’s Lady Grantham arrived.

Mme. Balsan is an unsnobbish and amused observer of the intricate hierarchy both upstairs and downstairs and a revealing witness to the glittering balls, huge weekend parties, and major state occasions she attended or hosted chronicling her encounters with every important figure of the day—from Queen Victoria, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas and the young Winston Churchill. This richly enjoyable memoir is a revealing portrait of a golden age now being celebrated every week behind the doors of Downton Abbey.

Expected publication on October 2, 2012 by St. Martin's Press.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays: Guns, Germs and Stee

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond p. 49

"Either: the Americas were first settled around 11,000 B.C. and quickly filled up with people. Or else: the first settlement occurred somewhat earlier (most advocates of pre-Clovis settlement would suggest by 15,000 or 20,000 years ago, possibly 30,000 years ago, and few would seriously claim earlier); but those pre-Clovis Settlers remained few in numbers or inconspicuous, or had little impact, until around 11,000 B.C."

I know this may sounds dry, but not in Mr. Diamond's hands. He makes the expansion of people around the globe a fascinating and very real concern. He also has an opinion about which of the two above options took place and I wouldn't want to be on the other side of one of his arguments!

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
George and Hilly: The Anatomy of a Relationship by George Gurley
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Up next:
Losing My Sister: A Memoir by Judy Goldman
One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing by Diane Ackerman
Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case by Debbie Nathan

Friday, September 14, 2012

Book Review: George & Hilly: The Anatomy of a Relationship by George Gurley

I remember when this book first came out, I thought it was right up my alley! But something put me off. Still, when I found a free copy at a book swap last weekend, it seemed like a no-brainer.

George Gurley is a nightlife reporter in Manhattan. His longtime girlfriend, Hilly, works in fashion. After three years and a massive fight, they figure that couples therapy is in order, and they start to see Dr. Selman.

Basically, George is an overgrown adolescent. He goes out clubbing all night (often until morning) and Hilly oddly ping-pongs beck and forth between being a capable professional business woman, and an infantalizing baby-talking enabler. At around 40, George doesn't bounce back from his binges like he once did, and with 2-day hangovers, he doesn't quite write like he used to either. Between the alcohol (and Hilly's no saint in that arena either), living like they're millionaires (Hilly owns more than a hundred pairs of Manolos and Jimmy Choos), and refusing to act like adults (Hilly thinks she is more mature, but I'm really not sure), they are both hot messes. In some ways I really was curious why they were together, and in other ways I thought they were perfect for each other - perfect train wrecks.

I also was very frustrated with them. They both indulge their every whim and the idea of actually not drinking a $20 bottle of wine every night and that going out to eat every night in places that cost well in excess of $100 for two people, is simply something they can't even conceptualize. While they're getting evicted from apartments and can't get a new one because of their terrible credit scores, I'm supposed to feel sorry for them. Instead, I think grow up and stop acting like babies! You don't need instant gratification of every high-priced, fancy notion, and so no, when you're whining about eating macaroni and cheese, I not only don't feel sorry for you, I don't believe you, because you were just staying in a $800/night room in Rome!

I found their psychiatrist eminently patient and understanding. They don't always find him so, but that's frequently because he calls them on their bullshit and doesn't buy their excuses.

In the end, I'm not suite sure what to think. I am glad they got help, I am glad they also eventually sought help for their financial issues (although they had to be forced into it) and have cut back on the drinking, but I find them pretty reprehensible human beings. Now I am not a person who has to like the protagonists of a book, but I had a very hard time finding any redeeming traits in either of them. I think if I were stuck on a subway car with them, after 15 minutes I'd get off and wait for the next subway, just to get away from them. It's not that I don't like them, I border on actively disliking them, which is bizarre for people I've never met.

That said, I found it a positive portrayal of therapy. The therapy really worked and they did both mature and learn and grow through the whole experience. I'm sure both George and Hilly's portrayals were colored by his negativity and his longing to always be the center of attention (Dr. Selman diagnosed him as an exhibitionist) but I could have done without the name dropping and excess. Although since George taped most everything (a detail oddly left out in the book and only noted on the back cover), I should assume more of this is actual quotations instead of remembered later.

And several editorial errors stood out at me. There were missing words in some sentences: "[You] need to learn how to read or take up the viola again." (8) And there was a conversation where untagged lines of dialogue didn't add up -- there was an odd line out. Either someone said two lines, which were in separate quotations lines and separate paragraphs, or a stranger popped into the room and said something in the middle but no one noticed. I can let one bit of sloppiness like that go, but not 4-5. Still few enough to be overlooked, but enough that I thought about getting my red pen.

Overall, a fast read, fairly entertaining, with a good message about therapy, but you either have to be really intrigued with the crazy people of Manhattan and be eager to watch a train wreck, or just have a very high tolerance for grown-ups behaving like children, or else it likely will turn you off. As it did me.

Book Beginnings: George & Hilly



Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

George & Hilly: The Anatomy of a Relationship by George Gurley

"I was nervous on the way to the doctor's office."

Well, naturally. I don't think there's a person on earth who doesn't feel nervous the first time they go to therapy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Hidden America


“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work by Jeanne Marie Laskas


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Five hundred feet underground, Jeanne Marie Laskas asked a coal miner named Smitty, “Do you think it’s weird that people know so little about you?” He replied, “I don’t think people know too much about the way the whole damn country works.”

Hidden America intends to fix that. Like John McPhee and Susan Orlean, Laskas dives deep into her subjects and emerges with character-driven narratives that are gripping, funny, and revelatory. In Hidden America, the stories are about the people who make our lives run every day—and yet we barely think of them.

Laskas spent weeks in an Ohio coal mine and on an Alaskan oil rig; in a Maine migrant labor camp, a Texas beef ranch, the air traffic control tower at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, a California landfill, an Arizona gun shop, the cab of a long-haul truck in Iowa, and the stadium of the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders. Cheerleaders? Yes. They, too, are hidden America, and you will be amazed by what Laskas tells you about them: hidden no longer.



Expected publication on September 13, 2012 by Putnam Adult.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson


I accidentally read book #3 in the Kerry Kilkannon series first. Oops! And, it definitely spoiled a few things from earlier books, although I might still try book #1 down the road. Luckily, with my terrible memory, if I give it some time, those spoilers will have leaked right out my ears.

Kerry Kilcannon has recently been elected President, and is pushing his biggest agenda item, gun control. His annulment is finalized, and so Lara is now officially his fiance, and the White House is happy to be planning the first Presidential wedding in nearly 100 years. Meanwhile, Lara's younger sister, Joan, finally admits that her husband has been abusing her and Kerry, a former domestic violence prosecutor, does what he can to keep Joan and her daughter safe, but if her husband gets his hands on a P-2, the handgun favored by criminals, and some "Eagle's Claw" bullets, designed to maximize wound damage, she might be in trouble.

What follows is primarily a legal thriller, involving a court case, a gun manufacturer, the U.S. Senate, an organization eerily similar to the NRA, and the President. It's a long book, but it reads quickly. I prefer my thrillers to be cerebral, and Richard North Patterson (not to be confused with James Patterson) certainly delivers. While you can be relatively sure what the outcome is going to be, you don't know how they're going to get there. Patterson keeps you on the edge of your seat and I kept turning the pages. A perfect book for the beach!

I borrowed this book from my father.

Teaser Tuesdays: Balance of Power

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson p. 21

"Joan's face was a study in confusion--by turns fearful, irresolute, resistant, and imploring. He searched within himself for the words to reach her and realized, against his bone-deep instinct to seal off the past, that they could not be the words of an observer."

It can be very hard to convince a person of something they don't want to hear, which is why Kerry Kilcannon decides to tell Joan, his fiancee's sister, why he truly understand what domestic abuse is.

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Up next:
The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of "Proper" English, from Shakespeare to South Park by Jack Lynch
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
The Other Mothers' Club: A Novel by Samantha Baker

Saturday, September 8, 2012

To Classic or Not to Classic?

While fall is beginning to set upon us, I have not yet begun to think of next year's Reading Challenges, but apparently other people are. So I heard about The Classics Challenge and was intrigued. After all, it's spread out over five years which seems more than reasonable. Except that the lowest level you can sign up for is 50, which is 10 a year! Again, it doesn't seem so bad, but then I thought I'd check how many classics I have been averaging in the last few years. Two. Sure, I read four last year but NONE in 2009 (that was the year that my book club's annual "classic" read was The Clan of the Cave Bear which I can't in good conscience add to my "Classics" list.)

So I'd love to do this challenge. But I won't. Why not? I have 30 classics books currently on my To Read list, and I also intend to reread several Jane Austens in the next few years (luckily The Classics Club does allow rereads) but I just can't imagine devoting 1/5 of my reading in the next 5 years to classics? But why not? They're obviously worthy and worthwhile. Why shouldn't I finally get around to all those classics I meant to read and never did?

Well, I am in the book industry. I am an independent editor, and it really is a part of my job to keep up with current books. It's very helpful for authors when I can suggest similar authors or books to theirs, so they can better position their book in marketing it, or know who to compare their book to when querying literary agents. It's important for me to keep abreast of trends in the publishing industry. I've even occasionally read a book I hated because it was so popular, I had to, for work, like The DaVinci Code (luckily I've been able to avoid Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey so far).

It's actually something I love about my book club. Sometimes an over-hyped book has really turned me off, because of the hype, but my book club forces me to read it and I end up liking it (turns out the hype was right!) like Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides or Atonement by Ian McEwan. My book club also keeps me reading books I really wouldn't normally such as Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Both are genres I do not ever read on my own, but I do need to read widely and across genres to truly understand publishing as a whole. (Some publishing people work in narrow niches such as romance or mysteries, and they don't need to be as widely read as a generalist like me.)

In fact, right now I am reading a book in a genre I don't normally: political thriller. But I am working on a manuscript in that genre, so I thought I'd refamiliarize myself with one of the masters, since it has been so long since I've read one. I want to be sure I'm familiar with the pacing, plotting conventions, and tropes.

So while yes, I do want to read more classics, I just can't stop reading current books. I think the most I could do would be five a year (I did read four last year, but two were children's.) I will make an effort to read more, but unfortunately, this is one challenge I won't be joining.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Book Beginnings: Balance of Power

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme originally hosted by Katy from A Few More Pages but now hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Balance of Power by Richard North Patterson

"Feeling the gun against the nape of her neck, Joan Bowden froze."

Wow, that's quite a gripping start to this novel! Impossible to put the book down after that opener!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

“Waiting On” Wednesday: My Berlin Kitchen



“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes) by Luisa Weiss


Goodreads synopsis:

The Wednesday Chef cooks her heart out, finds her way home, and shares her recipes with us

It takes courage to turn your life upside down, especially when everyone is telling you how lucky you are. But sometimes what seems right can feel deeply wrong. My Berlin Kitchen tells the story of how one thoroughly confused, kitchen-mad perfectionist broke off her engagement to a handsome New Yorker, quit her dream job, and found her way to a new life, a new man, and a new home in Berlin—one recipe at a time.

Luisa Weiss grew up with a divided heart, shuttling back and forth between her father in Boston and her Italian mother in Berlin. She was always yearning for home—until she found a new home in the kitchen. Luisa started clipping recipes in college and was a cookbook editor in New York when she decided to bake, roast, and stew her way through her by then unwieldy collection over the course of one tumultuous year. The blog she wrote to document her adventures in (and out) of the kitchen, The Wednesday Chef, soon became a sensation. But she never stopped hankering for Berlin.

Luisa will seduce you with her stories of foraging for plums in abandoned orchards, battling with white asparagus at the tail end of the season, orchestrating a three-family Thanksgiving in Berlin, and mending her broken heart with batches (and batches) of impossible German Christmas cookies. Fans of her award-winning blog will know the happy ending, but anyone who enjoyed Julie and Julia will laugh and cheer and cook alongside Luisa as she takes us into her heart and tells us how she gave up everything only to find love waiting where she least expected it.



Expected publication on September 13, 2012 by Viking Adult.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: I Will Not Leave You Comfortless: A Memoir by Jeremy Jackson


I am a sucker for a good memoir as we know, and I absolutely love Jeremy Jackson's writing, so when I heard he had a memoir coming out, I was chomping at the bit for months to get my hands on a copy!

This is a memoir about Jeremy growing up in Western Missouri when he’s eleven, on a small farm (his parents both work; the farm is just for household consumption) with his two older sisters, and with his grandparents in the next town over. He's trying to navigate school and friendships and getting the coolest bike ever and girls and family. The story is fairly typical (which makes it very nostalgic for all readers, even ones who grew up in the suburbs of a neighboring state) but alongside all the ordinary things about 1984, Jeremy's grandmother doesn't feel well and has some strange and severe pains. While eleven-year-old Jeremy doesn't clue in to the ominous and alarming state of his grandmother until much later than the readers will, you almost hold you breath hoping he won't figure it out until later, to preserve a few more days of innocence.

The book is very sweet without being saccharine, lyrical without being writerly, evocative and comforting. Mr. Jackson is one of those terrific writers who can take things I normally don't like (lyrical writing, short choppy sentences that are often fragments, repetition) and yet make it all into a book I love. That takes a truly masterful writer. The book is quiet, not action-packed, and nonetheless it's a very fast read. I particularly liked one chapter towards the end where he acknowledged that he's not just the main character but he's also the author, writing a memoir, which necessarily is missing parts and has other bits glossed over, and he wonders if those missed parts serve a purpose, if the reader would understand certain things better or worse if he'd told us details sooner. It was a very interesting acknowledgement of the necessity of an unreliable narrator in all memoirs (or at least a narrator not interested in telling everything) and the difficulty of writing memoirs generally.

If you remember eating sweet corn in the summer and fishing in the creek and going camping with the Scouts and worrying if the girl you like will like you back, please take this lovely trip down memory lane. I promise, you won't regret it.

I got this book free from the publisher, thank you.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is now hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
I Will Not Leave You Comfortless: A Memoir by Jeremy Jackson
Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych E.R. by Julie Holland

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

Up next:
How to Mellify a Corpse: and Other Human Stories of Ancient Science and Superstition by Vicki León
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas G. Carr
Redwall by Brian Jacques