Tuesday, February 27, 2007

First things first, the La Fouace aux Noix was wonderful. I have to tinker with it next time I bake, but it was a loaf of walnutty, yeasty goodness!

Now for more books from Dianne:

  1. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld -- Chick lit goes to boarding school. A beach read.
  2. Hotel Babylon by Anonymous and Imogen Edwards-Jones -- Any book by anonymous leaves me suspect. This was supposed to be an "insider's look" at the operations of a luxury hotel in England. Fascinating, but went nowhere fast. I have to admit, though, the next time I checked into a hotel after reading this book, I had novel flashbacks. Another beach read.
  3. Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc -- A journalism student follows a family from the Bronx for eleven years. She chronicles the drugs, sex, love, death and poverty that encompasses this tangled web of a family. Do not read looking for a feel good ending, or a feel good middle or even a feel good beginning. This is an intense piece of work. Do not be afraid of it either. It is a book that will come back to you over and over, in the most unexpected of places. Let me know if you read this one. I really, really, really would love to hear what you think.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I love bread! I love the way bread smells, the way it tastes, the way it feels when I touch it. I love to bake bread. Fruit breads, whole wheat, sourdough, squishy wonderbread . . . I love it all. Bread rocks and if it weren't for all those nasty carbohydrates, this woman would live on bread alone. That said, I just finished a book about bread baking called The Baker's Apprentice by Judith Ryan Hendricks. Apparently, it is a sequel to a book called Bread Alone, but I haven't read that one. This book is good, not great. A nice diversion. What I did like about it is the main character is a bread baker and there are lovely descriptions of her product and a few recipes interspersed in the text. I have the La Fouace aux Noix or hearth bread with walnuts in the oven baking right now. I will let you all know how it turns out. The dough didn't rise very well, so it could be a brick in the aforementioned hearth. We'll have to see.
The next book I have for you is also a nice diversionary read, albeit pretty predictable. Elizabeth Berg's The Year of Pleasures is the story of Betta, a retired children's book author, whose husband passes away and leaves her the instruction to sell their home and go find a place to start over that is off the beaten path. She does and this book is about the year that follows his death. She ends up in a small town with it's usual cast of characters: the fellow widow, the quirky radio show host, the single mom and her adorable son. Berg is a lovely author, I truly enjoyed her book Open House, and this book is just as enjoyable. Some accurate descriptions of grief, albeit a tad melodramatic and the whole thing wraps up a bit too neatly. A good book for it's niche.

As ever, let me know what you think of these books if you have read them and if you have any suggestions. . . please share!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Back from Quebec and have four FABULOUS books for you to check out:
    1. The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant -- The latest book by the author of The Red Tent is about the demise of a cold New England hamlet (I have always wanted to use the word "hamlet" in a sentence.) and the rebirth of it's people through the town's death. Spellbinding.
    2. London is the Best City in America by Laura Dave -- I picked this one up from the library on the merit of the title alone. What an interesting look at relationship that is so not the usual relationship book. Highly recommended.
    3. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri -- Magical. It gave me a new perspective on the immigrant experience without descending into the victim perspective so common in that genre of novel lately. So beautifully written, so wistful and melancholy. This is for sure on a must read list for anyone who is looking for an excellent book. I think this would also lend itself well for a book club.
    4. The Master Butcher's Singing Club by Louise Erdrich -- Wow. This is one of those novels that I wait for, without knowing that I am waiting for it. Mystical but not wierd. Beautiful and sad and heartwrenching. Thank you Kelly Schoenberg for lending this one to me. I will be thinking about this book for a very long time after closing the cover. Read this book.