29 April 2003

Reads & Listens, April 2003


A Man, a Can, a Plan: 50 Great Guy Meals Even You Can Make by David Joachim
Tried three recipes from this book and while, yes, they were fast to prepare, the results weren't that great. The "50s-Style Creamed Chicken" was too much like college cafeteria food. I couldn't get the cream cheese to combine with the tuna very well for "Fish in a Blanket" so I ran it through the Kitchenaid which resulted in a disturbingly smooth texture (results looked like a hairball). The "Game-Day Stew" came out best, but because the veggies were canned they turned out very mushy. In several instances, fresh (or less "prepared") ingredients were cheaper than the canned ones and, I expect, tastier.

Girl in a Cage by Jane Yolen & Robert Harris
Quite wonderful historical young adult novel.

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
I keep reading reviews for this book that compare it to The Handmaid's Tale which, I think, does this book a great disservice. It's a very good novel and one I kept thinking about long after I'd finished, but it has little in common with Handmaid's or 1984 (which "Publisher's Weekly" groups it with). It's a book about surviving and redefining your world in order to survive. Go read it. If it has to be grouped with other famous Lit 101 text, then group it with Lord of the Flies. Better yet, let it stand alone.

Barbed Wire: A Political History by Olivier Razac
"Olivier Razac uncovers the hidden history of barbed wire for the first time." That's what the book jacket says, anyway, but I found most of the material in this book to be quite familar. As always, I am "The Girl Who Reads Too Much."

The Case of the Not-So-Nice Nurse: A Nancy Clue Mystery by Mabel Maney
I've been wanting to read the Nancy Clue books ever since I read Maney's Bond spoof Kiss the Girls and Make Them Spy. Unfortunately, it took a good year of searching before I could get my hot little hands on this book. Was it worth the wait? Oh, yes. Funny, clever, and oh-so-camp. No way in hell anyone is borrowing my copy.

The Case Of The Good-For-Nothing Girlfriend: A Nancy Clue Mystery by Mabel Maney
One of the most amusing books I've read in ages. "'I'm okay, Miss Gertz,' Cherry calmed the frantic woman. 'Except for the rope burns on my arms, there was no harm done.' Lucky for her, she had had the foresight to pack rope-burn salve."

Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan
While the title kept putting me in mind of Fay Weldon's The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, this novel is in no way similar to it. Revenge is, at best, a sweet and moderately amusing look at life post marriage. There are no real surprises in this novel. I suppose, in that aspect, it's more like real-life. The characters behave, mostly, as real people would. Which means that sometimes the book was a bit boring. Sweet, moderately amusing, but a bit boring. Very British.

Gender Shock: Exploding the Myths of Male & Female by Phyllis Burke
Interesting look into "Gender Identity Disorder" -- a disorder we have all encountered at one point or another in our lives. Yes, all of us. Even you. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where gender, sexuality, and biology weren't all lumped in together? Wouldn't it? Well?

The Cat Who Covered The World: The Adventures of Henrietta & Her Foreign Correspondent by Christopher S. Wren
A sweet and funny read. Recommended to all cat people.

Everything & The Moon by Julia Quinn
Completely unbelievable, but fun.

Scandal by Heather Cullman
Completely unbelievable, pointlessly verbose, and not a lot of fun at all.

Further Observations of Lady Whistledown by Julia Quinn et al
The first story was fairly amusing, but it was all downhill from there. Maybe, I've just ingested too much romance, but all the stories seemed reallllly familar.