30 November 2005

Reads & Listens, November 2005

From Hardtack to Home Fries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals by Barbara Haber
Draws on cookbooks and culinary references in diaries, journals, and memoirs to examine women's history in America. Compelling, but frequently too brief (each chapter could have given birth to its own book).

A Working Girl Can't Win by Deborah Garrison
Some gorgeous imagery. Poems are not "deep" or "metaphysical," but who says they have to be?

Apple Pie Perfect: 100 Delicious and Decidedly Different Recipes for America's Favorite Pie by Ken Haedrich
So far, I have baked the "Apple Rum Raisin" and the "Sugarless Apple Pie." Both recipes have been a success with the co-workers and family members I used as guinea pigs. Indeed, the apple rum raisin really knocked their socks off. This is a fairly straight forward and well written cookbook suitable, I think, for bakers and non-bakers alike. The introduction and guide to apples is informative without being boring and the text that accompanies each recipe is also quite good. I may have to buy a copy of this cookbook.

Apple Pie: An American Story by John T. Edge
Food writer tours America in a "quest to understand the meanings and the incarnations of this dish -- and, thus, America itself." Second book in a series and, if you like foodie travelogues, this may appeal.

Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat by Carolyn Wyman
Lots of good graphics, but the skimpy (and sometimes downright catty) text is a let down.

Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan
First book in The Black Magician Trilogy. If you've read a lot of fantasy, much of this book will seem familiar and trite. I could live with the lack of originality, if the story was more interesting or just faster paced, but it wasn't. But, while I don't expect to read the rest of the series, The Husband enjoyed Magician's Guild quite a lot and looks forward to reading The Novice.

Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger
Seriously, what the fuck?

I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women to Voteby Linda Arms White (illus. by Nancy Carpenter)
Fun, witty book.

The Best Cat in the World by Lesléa Newman (illus. by Ronald Himler)
Sweet and sad. I dare you to read this book without getting even a little choked up.

You & Yours by Naomi Shihab Nye
Author of Habibi and winner of The Isabella Gardner Poetry Award for 2005. Truly excellent poems.

Demon's Daughter by Emma Holly
Flesh out the plot a bit more and this might become a promising fantasy novel. Otherwise, this book doesn't seem to know what it is. Erotica? Romance? Mystery? Vampire story? All of the above and none of it done well?

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Girl is saved from execution by shady guy who makes her the (transgendered) Commander's poison taster. Girl gets involved in all sorts of magical and political doings. Saves world as she knows it. Falls in love. Packs for magic school. End of Book One. Mostly okay novel. Probably won't read the next book(s).

(Hello? Does everything need to be a series? Maybe, Robert Jordan and Stephen R. Donaldson just wore me out too early on, but it seems as if ... well ... if it can't be said in one book, it is unlikely to be said in three).

Fledgling by Octavia Butler (or, if you're Publisher's Weekly, "Olivia" Butler)
Now, I don't like vampire stories all that much, anyway, and I'm getting pretty tired of reading series (see above) so my dislike of this novel should probably be disregarded. I just never felt actively involved in the story or felt I knew any of the characters enough to care about them or continue on with the series. Also, kept noticing pesky printing errors (words dropped or the wrong spelling used) which just added to my general sense of irritation.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Girl dies. Wakes up on boat. Meets people. Eventually, realizes she is dead. Arrives in Elsewhere. Meets dead granny. Has series of adventures. Falls in love. Ages backwards. Is reborn. The end. The beginning?