Tag Archives: books

The Cuckoo’s Calling: JKR’s New Book

29 Dec

So I finished reading The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling Robert Galbraith a few weeks back.

If you remember the scandal that was when the news broke that Robert Galbraith = J.K. Rowling, then you’ll know that I just had to read this book. (Short story – her law firm tipped someone off that it was her, and then SCIENCE saved the day with linguistic analysis. Confronted, JKR confessed it was her.)

Science is awesome.

But back to JKR. I can understand why she used a pseudonym. If everyone knows it’s her – will they discount the book right away, because the author of Harry Potter can’t possibly write a serious crime novel? Or, will it become smashingly successful, just because she is the author of Harry Potter, and will thousands of fans buy the book only to be disappointed that it doesn’t contain magic?

I get it, JKR. I understand wanting to be judged based on your work, not who you are. To be able to start over, be anonymous, be someone else, be exactly who you want to be with no past and no baggage and no reputation and no nothing. It’s nice to think about. But not all of us real people have that luxury.

So the book. Overall, I liked it a lot. It had a bit of a slow start, but once I was a few chapters in, I couldn’t put it down. And no, I was not right about the ending (and I didn’t peek ahead!).

The Cuckoo’s Calling follows a private detective and his temp assistant, as they investigate the suicide (or is it murder…?) of a famous fashion model in London. The story is really quite captivating, to learn all the twists and turns and family dynamics and intrigue. The ending I predicted most certainly was not how the book ended, which made me enjoy it even more. Plus, JKR’s descriptions of all the characters is so on-point that they come to life on the pages. I hear she’s quite good at doing that in her other books too…

I would definitely recommend this to someone looking for a good, quick, interesting read.

Oh, I also recently read two James Patterson novels, and they were fabulously interesting and great beach reads. But Alex Cross didn’t solve the crime at the end. Fail, JP, fail.

Next on my list? I’m reading Hyperbole and a Half (for my non-serious book), and Wild (for those oh-so-serious moments in my life).

Book Review: The Dinner and Winter’s Bone

11 Sep

So I know I’m a bit late to the game on these books. But better late than never, right? Plus, my mom had downloaded these to her nook so I could rip them onto mine. Perfecto.

So I was on an epic week-long work trip, which included one 24-hour day. NY-MA-WA-NY, complete with a red-eye flight home. Lovely, right?

A friend recommended The Dinner by Herman Koch. She said it was a quick read, since the story takes place over the course of just one evening. During dinner. Creative title, right?

Let’s just say this isn’t a regular dinner. The story revolves around the candidate for prime minister and his brother, who decide that they need to go to dinner with their wives to discuss the “horrible things their children have been doing.”

Not to give it away…but let’s just say the brother is cray cray. Like seriously crazy. And not in the good “oh hey, lets go to a crazy family dinner where someone says something non-PC but its really funny and we all get a little loaded” crazy.

It was a quick read though. But probably not good for beach reading. Or any other occasion where you want something that will make you laugh.

Then I started Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell. You know, the book that made Jennifer Lawrence famous. After you read it, you’ll know that the title is also creative.

It’s winter, and she needs bones for something. But I won’t give it away.

I read through this book really quickly, once I finished the first few chapters. It is set in the Ozarks, and is full of characters, crazy family relationships, and backwoods Hatfields-McCoys style drama.

This one is worth picking up.

Does anyone have other book recommendations? My reading list right now is empty.

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Book Review: Rebecca Forster’s Witness Series

12 Aug

So I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Law & Order, so it should be no surprise that I love me some James Patterson/Alex Cross. But as I’m currently out of Alex Cross books (and no, I don’t see either Morgan Freeman OR Tyler Perry as a believable Alex Cross), I need some new summer beach reading.

Enter Rebecca Forster. I chance downloaded the first book in her “Witness” series to my iPad on my last work trip. #FreakingVictory.

I literally could not stop reading Hostile Witness

It has a bit of everything that I like, but mainly I liked that it was an entertaining read. And I didn’t have to think too hard. I flew through the novel, and couldn’t wait to download the next one.

The series centers on a lawyer in California and the crazy/complicated cases she takes on. It’s like, L&O had a baby with The Practice, and these books were what came about.

These books may not change your life, but its good summer reading if you like mysteries or thrillers.

Love is a Mix Tape: Book Review

11 Jul

So it’s been a while. Between work and summer and life, it’s been a bit hectic. Since June – I’ve been to Philly, Colorado, and Vegas for work. Which has its ups and downs…the downs being that I’m a bit busy.

Upside is that airplanes do give me quite a bit of time to read – and I just finished reading Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.

Anyone that knows me knows I am obsessed with mix tapes. I remember recording songs off the radio on the old school boom box that my sister and I shared…being very, very quiet so you don’t make noise that records onto the tape. Epic, right? Then it was mix cds, which I still refer to as mix tapes. Same goes for mp3 playlists. It’s always a mix tape.

Which is one of the reasons I first wanted to read this book. The subhead is “life and loss, one song at a time.” Chapter by chapter, each with its own cassette of songs in the intro, tells the story of Rob and his wife, who sadly passed away early in their marriage.

Reading the track listings is one of the best parts – the music goes from the late 80s to the early 90s. The story is told through Nirvana, the death of Kurt Cobain, Tupac and Biggie, R.E.M., Hanson, and plenty of other obscure bands that sound slightly familiar but in reality I’ve never heard of.

What I liked about this book was that it was funny and sweet, meaningful without being too sappy. And it wasn’t so sad that I couldn’t read it, but made me tear up just enough.

And Rob’s descriptions of the different kinds of mix tapes? Epically awesome. But I won’t ruin it. I’ll let you discover these on your own.

My next mix tape? Not sure what will be on it. But I keep a running list on my phone of songs I like and ones I need to put on a mix.

But the best mixes aren’t the ones I make. They are the ones I receive.

Happy listening.

Rules of Civility: Could. Not. Stop. Reading.

10 Apr

I just finished the best book. It was phenomenal. And I’m not just saying that because I am starved for pleasure reading and thus readasmanypagesaspossiblewhenevergiventhechance.

My latest amazing read was Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.

It was one part Great Gatsby, one part Gossip Girl, and one part Girls.

The story follows two girl friends trying to make it in NYC in the late 1930s. Throw in a chance meeting with a rich bachelor at a dive bar…and the story takes off from there.

It’s not so much a scandalous story as it is a real life story. It was like reading about my early twenties, only with more fabulous clothes and jazz clubs. And let’s be reasonable – what girl hasn’t been in the tripod situation before? We all know that two girls and one guy can never be just friends, especially when girl A likes the guy who likes girl B. It just doesn’t work.

But, we have all been there, and we have all been on both sides of it – it’s just the way life and relationships go.

And the main character? Katey Kontent? Love her. She navigates up the NYC social strata and has a fabulous time doing it, all in between her secretary job and fifteen-cent gin martinis. LOVE HER.

Read this book. No, seriously, read this book.

Book Review: Work Trip Reading

27 Mar

So I’ve been on the road for the last week for work. Which kept me away from doing things I like (i.e. writing on my blog) but it did give me some time to catch up on my reading.

I just finished Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman.

Being totally honest – this book isn’t anything mentally mind-blowing or life-changing. It’s more of a good thriller read – sort of like beach reading meets Richard Castle.

It’s set in a small town in the Adirondacks area of New York — and centers around Nora, whose husband kills himself in the opening pages of the book. Then there is an uncovered fishing hole, hidden basement rooms, the lurking police force…if you have ever been to a small mountain town, you should be starting to get creeped out…

The start of the book was a bit slow, but it picks up halfway through. I won’t give more of the story away, but I will say it has a few twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting.

It’s not as good as Gone Girl, but I would give it a solid B+.

Now, I just need a new work trip and a new book to read…

Book Reviews: My Vacation Reads

4 Feb

One of my favorite things about traveling is that it gives me the opportunity to read things. Things I actually want to read. Like books. Opposed to what I get to read all day long, which is white papers and research reports and creative briefs and excel spreadsheets.

Here’s the list I read through on the scuba trip.

  1. The Front Porch Prophet by Raymond L. Atkins — This one had a slow start, but I loved how the story unfolded. The story is about two childhood friends, one battling terminal cancer and the other battling his friend’s request to help end his life. The story is told in a mix of present day and flashbacks, and as much as it deals with a heavy topic, it was full of humor. 
  2. The Round House by Louise Erdrich — I honestly couldn’t put this down. There’s crime, Native American politics, friendship, and a really good ending, although not necessarily a happy one. Normally I read the end first, but this time I made myself wait, and it was worth it.
  3. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain — I have mixed feelings on this book. Mostly because it was hard to read to the end, but I wanted to find out what happens. It follows a young Iraq war veteran as he attends a Dallas Cowboys football game and the accompanying halftime show. This book will make you think.

Oh, and I also read Merry Christmas, Alex Cross. Not the best Alex Cross, but it was a good, quick read for on the plane.

Right now I’m reading Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchmann. But, I probably won’t finish it until I go on my next vacation. Which, with my work schedule…looks to be never.

What is on your reading list?

Friday Finds: Cookbooks I Love

29 Jun

Given that I’m a kitchen-cooking-appliance-tool-food junkie, I’m often asked questions about which is the best pasta maker (it depends on whether you want electric or a hand crank), what type of butter I buy (always purchase unsalted, you can always add salt in later), and what are people going to give me at my wedding, since I already own every kitchen gadget known to man (there is this green paper stuff called “cash,” as my mom says, it’s just as good as money).

But my favorite questions are always around what recipes I like and what cookbooks I own. Now, some people are all snobby and of the “I don’t cook from a recipe” persuasion, but they can go kick rocks. Cookbooks are great because the recipes have ALREADY BEEN TESTED and therefore there is less chance of YOUR FOOD SUCKING. Plus, a recipe is a great starting point and you can always change and spice it up however you like.

Here are five of my favorites. Open any one of these at my house and you’ll find the pages filled with notes, fingerprints, and turned corners marking whats really good.

  1. Dinosaur Bar-B-QueAlthough Dino has been spreading to posh areas like NYC, the restaurant was born and bred in Upstate NY. Their cookbook is filled with amazing recipes for sauces and spice rubs, plus the phenomenal dishes they are known for. My loves are the ginger green bean salad and the mac & cheese.
  2. The Glorious Pasta of ItalyIf I cooked from this book every day, my food life would be amazing. Sauces, pastas, casseroles, raviolis, italian grilling…just love this book. I suggest checking out the smoked mozz and eggplant twist on traditional baked ziti.
  3. The Joy of Cooking: If you don’t own this book, go buy it. Or, scour a good garage sale and you can probably find a copy. Mine cost me $1.00 at a church yard sale. JOC is a kitchen staple—each section gives you the basics of what you need to know on any topic, from baking to broiling to tin foil. My favorite recipe is the mac & cheese. (Yes, I might be slightly obsessed with anything that involves pasta and cheese…)
  4. The Big Book of Cupcakes: Betty Crocker really ups her game with this book. It has hundreds of creative recipe ideas for every possible occasion and holiday. Plus, it’s full of recipes hacks, each recipe has instructions on how to make it from scratch or how to doctor up a box of cake mix for the same effect. I’m partial to the peanut butter cupcakes.
  5. Everything Tastes Better with Bacon: I don’t think this book needs much more of an explanation. Every delicious recipe involves bacon, with recipes for breakfast foods, sauces, side dishes, main courses and desserts. (Yes, bacon desserts.) You can find this cookbook in my kitchen, my mom’s kitchen, my sister’s kitchen, my friends’ kitchens…it’s just that good. I love the bacon-vodka sauce and the bacon-spinach-parmesan mashed potatoes.

Happy Friday and happy weekend cooking!

What are you favorite recipes or cookbooks?

When you give a girl a party…

24 Jan

She’ll have to craft everything in sight.

Old book pages + gluesticks = victory.

Well…technically I’m throwing myself a party…although it’s really not for me…its more of an excuse to get together with friends and show off try out some DIY project’s I’ve been wanting to do. I keep calling these paper pinwheels, although they’re really not pinwheels, more like flowers.

Pretty easy to make, once I got the hang of it and got over the fact that I need to make MANY MANY book flowers before Saturday. The original idea comes from a Better Homes & Gardens post which can be found here.

First, you’ll need an old book. I grabbed a copy of White Noise that an ex-boyfriend had given me. (Just like the ex, this book needed to go…) While the BHG post recommends using a vintage book with thicker pages, I like the thinness of the paperback pages better–easier for making accordion folds.

Fold, trim, tie, glue!

You need two pages (or one page cut in half) to make the book flowers. After you make the accordian fold, you can trim the edges off to give it a more flower-y look. Then, tie the two halves together (this is where had serious #fails…) and glue the pages into a circle! Luckily, the book I choose had some interesting title pages, which is what gives the light/dark effect above.

After making about eight of these, I got smart accidentally discovered that if you fold one page over the other before tying with string, it cuts down on the glueing. The picture below shows what I mean.

And then I got smart...linking the edges together eliminates glueing.

Also, depending on where you are going to hang your book flowers, you may want to leave extra string on the ties.

As for me, I have 14 of these bad boys finished and many more to go! I’m planning on glueing buttons to the centers to complete the look. Wish me luck!

Ta-da!

One of the best parts of this endeavor was that I already had all the supplies I needed–so the project cost me $0. It’s eco-friendly and a great way to recycle books into something new.