Monday, September 15, 2014

Back of the House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant by Scott Haas

Haas is a food writer AND a clinical psychologist. He spends about two years in the kitchen of Craigie on Main, a restaurant in Boston, following around Chef Tony Maw. He finds answers to questions like: What does it take to be a chef? What does it take to lead a kitchen? Who are the people behind the scenes in the kitchen? And what makes a kitchen work well?

Back of the House really gave me a good look at what goes on back there while we wait for our food to arrive. I found Back of the House to be slow in some parts, and it took me quite awhile to finish the book.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg

Wizenberg writes the blog, Orangette, and I have given her first memoir, A Homemade Life, to many friends as gifts. In fact, I gave a copy to everyone who helped in any way at my wedding! It was a sweet memoir full of accessible recipes (the Lemon Yogurt Cake is one of my standbys). All that to say, I was very excited that Wizenberg wrote another book! And then....I read it. It was disappointing.

The subtitle is misleading. Delancey, the name of the pizzeria that Wizenberg and her husband open up in Seattle, is not about A Man or A Woman or about A Marriage. It's really just about A Restaurant. So if you want a primer about what it takes to start a restaurant from scratch, Delancey is your book because that is what this is. I missed the Wizenberg from A Homemade Life in which she shared her personality, heart, and warmth. All of that was missing from Delancey.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian is my book club's choice for November. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of science fiction, but I really enjoyed The Martian!

A crew of six astronauts hastily evacuates Mars when a dust storm arrives. During the evacuation, Mark appears to be killed, so the rest of the crew leaves without him. But he's still alive and now he's stranded on Mars! He is not going to give up though and begins to figure out a way to re-establish communication with NASA and a way to keep himself alive.

Right from the beginning, Mark is a very amiable character with a fun sense of humor. The book starts off with his log entry from Sol 6: "I'm pretty much f*****."

There is technical stuff in here but the drama really drew me in. Make sure you have some room in your schedule to settle down with this book, because you will not want to put it down.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Zusak also wrote The Book Thief which I liked very much. I am still undecided about whether I liked The Book Thief or I Am the Messenger better. It's okay. That means that they were both good!

Ed Kennedy is a young guy who works as a cabdriver and lives with his smelly dog, Doorman. He's in love with his best friend, and his mom seems to hate him.

One day he unintentionally stops a bank robbery...and then he starts receiving mysterious clues about people that need his help. Who is sending him on these caring missions?

A thoughtful and fun book. (Warning: it's also a bit crude in some parts.) It has a much bigger message than what I expected.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior

I recently visited some friends and their brand-new baby boy (three weeks old!) and while I was holding the baby, I asked the dad how he (the father) was doing. He said, "I honestly don't know how I feel." I appreciated his honesty and told him so! I also told my friends, "Your son has the cutest face I've ever seen!" And dad replied, "That's why I don't think he's ours." Hehehehe.

Anyway, onto the book. Parenting books usually address how parenting styles can affect the emotions, behaviors, and values of little ones. All Joy and No Fun looks at a different question: What is the effect of having kids on parents? Senior walks us through how marriages are affected, and then through each developmental stage and its effects on mothers and fathers. She uses research, case studies, and interviews to illustrate her points.

I found this book to be engaging and a good look into how parenting affects marriage relationships, professional life, personal identity, and social life. I did get a bit bogged down about 1/3 through but I did end up finishing it. Not really sure who I would recommend this to...people expecting a child?? Hum...people who already have children?? Not sure...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin

Widower A.J. Fikry lives on Alice Island where he runs a bookstore. He's a grump. One day, a baby is mysteriously left in his bookstore, and this marks a new beginning for A.J.

I liked the literary references in the story and the mini-book reviews by A.J. interspersed throughout the book. However, the story was better at the beginning and fizzled on its way out and this was disappointing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cadence, a member of a wealthy yet broken old-money East Coast family, spends each summer on her grandfather's private island. Life isn't perfect no matter how hard the family tries to make it seem.

That's about all I can write without giving too much of the plot away.

I raced through this book in a day, but was actually left feeling unsatisfied. Everything seemed a bit thin.

A so-so fast read. I think you can do better.