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Show Us Your Books – November 2017

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books, where I briefly recap what I’ve read since last time, giving you a sneak peek of what I might be reviewing on the blog next. What’s really exciting about this month’s edition is that there were a lot of books I was really into. It was a good month 🙂 Let’s take a quick look!

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, December 12, 2017.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

Last Month’s Edition

 

Engrossing Reads

The Rules of Magic – This prequel was one of the books I was really excited about this month. I read and post about Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic in anticipation, and I scooped this one up from the library the first day it was available (thank you, waitlists!). I adored this much more than I thought I would. You can read my review here and check out a delicious recipe for Tipsy Chocolate Cake while you’re at it.

The Word Exchange – This debut novel by Alena Graedon combines our dependence on technology and the importance of language in a dystopian way that’s truly haunting. We read this for one of my book clubs, and even though we met almost two weeks ago, I still think about it almost every day. Admittedly, it started out a little slow, but just two chapters in and I was hooked. Keep an eye out for my review later this month!

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance – I gushed about this book last week, and today it’s available to own! My post about Ruth Emmie Lang’s novel says a lot, so I encourage you to pop on over and read it here. I adored this imaginative story, and I know you will too. 🙂

They Both Die at the End – Since reading this novel, I’ve read some mixed reviews, but that doesn’t change how I felt about Adam Silvera’s young adult dystopian novel. Imagine a world where you knew exactly which day you would die but not how – on the morning of your death, you get a phone call with the warning and are instructed to make the most of it. That’s the premise behind this novel, and I devoured it in a single day. Even though the title is basically a spoiler, I appreciated that the ending wasn’t what I was expecting.

Passed the Time Just Fine

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green’s latest novel (also YA) was released to much fanfare. While I really enjoyed it, it wasn’t my favorite this month – it had a lot of stiff competition. I still like The Fault in Our Stars the best of all his work, and I can’t resist picking up a new John Green whenever one is released. This book takes on the important topic of mental health, and honestly, it’s executed expertly. Definitely worth a read.

Little Fires Everywhere – This is another novel that’s been getting a lot of attention since it’s recent release. Having enjoyed Celeste Ng’s previous book, I was absolutely looking forward to reading this one, which many people have said is better. For me, it was 3 stars (not a bad thing!). I liked getting immersed in the world of Shaker Heights that Ng described, and I thought the characters were very interesting. I just finished it this past weekend, and it’s possible that the more I think about it, the more I’ll like it. Another one I’d recommend – especially if you like keeping up with the latest in contemporary fiction.

Not Worth It

Nothing – way too many great reads this month! (But here’s looking at you, currently reading category…)

 

Did Not Finish

The Refrigerator Monologues – I was pretty excited about this book’s combination of feminism and superheroes. It was pretty short, and I thought I could power through, but I read about 25% of the book and still wasn’t feeling it. I had a lot of books I was really looking forward to in the TBR pile, so I just let this one go.

 

Currently Reading

The Power – I’m trying to save my judgments of this novel until the end, but I’m almost finished – last 100 pages to go! I will say that so far, I’m underwhelmed by Naomi Alderman’s dystopia. (Wow, I’ve read a lot of dystopia this month…) I was expecting amazing things, but I’ll admit I’ve put it down to read a few other books since starting it. I just picked it up again after finishing LFE and I’m determined to finish.

What did you read this month? Which books did you enjoy most? Least? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

 

of interest

Guest Post: Seven Book + Drink Pairings to Cozy Up With

Happy Fall! I’m Grace from A Literary Feast, here at The Hungry Bookworm as a happy guest writer. Megan and I discovered each other’s blogs a few weeks ago and felt an instant kinship. Food in literature isn’t the most prevalent topic on the Internet, but we both love writing about it! I’m so honored that she wanted to introduce my work to you, her readers. I hope you enjoy this post with these fall-perfect book and drink recommendations.

Any time of the year is a good time for reading. There’s just something about fall, though. Cooler evenings, rainy days, falling leaves… doesn’t it make you want to curl up by the fireside with a warm drink and a cozy read? Me too. That’s why I’m giving you a list of the coziest books and drink pairings to carry you well into the winter.

1 The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

As much as I adore the Anne of Green Gables series, I prefer to read it in the spring. (Don’t ask me why – maybe it goes back to my Spring Break binge-reads. We bookworms know how to party.) As a whole, though, I think that L.M. Montgomery’s books are so perfect for cozy fireside reading. If you haven’t read beyond Anne, you have so much to look forward to! I love The Story Girl for, yes, the stories, but also for the coming-of-age and turn-of-the-season themes. I haven’t met one her books that I don’t like, so here are a few more suggestions while we’re at it: Pat of Silver Bush, Emily of New Moon, Kilmeny of the Orchard, and Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side.

It’s been a few years since I read The Story Girl, but I remember two things that influenced my drink pairing: Felicity loved to cook and there was an orchard on their property. I’m sure she would enjoy a fancy fireside drink. To pair with The Story Girl, try this Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Cider from Tastes Better From Scratch. Can you just imagine how amazing your house will smell?

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” Although I can’t give you specific details because so much water has passed under the bridge since I read this book, I consider it one of the coziest books I have ever read. Everyone I know who has read it has felt that the book’s homing instinct is spot on. Written in letter form and celebrating the love of all things literary, this book will warm your heart on a chilly fall night.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is set in England on a small island. Islands are known for their fog, and England is known for its tea. I can’t think of a better drink to pair with this book than a warm London Fog. Although the directions aren’t proprietary, I chose this London Fog recipe by Yours Truly, G because of her custom infographic drawing. Super cute!

 

3 My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.

This is a book that I just reviewed on A Literary Feast, and it fits into this list perfectly. It’s not a thriller nor is it scary, but it is a delicious Gothic mystery that should be read by flickering light. Set primarily in an old manor in Cornwall, England, this story is narrated by 24-year-old Philip who is green, arrogant and stodgy beyond his years but also utterly confounded and besotted by the first female to reside there in decades. A female who, incidentally, may (or may not?) be the cause of his beloved guardian’s death. You’ll change your mind more than once!

The food in My Cousin Rachel is traditional Cornish fare. Apples are prevalent, and their cider is prized. Pair this charming book with a mug of perfect wassail. Here’s a Mulled Wine Wassail recipe with a light buzz from A Spicy Perspective (non-alcoholic version also available).

 

4 The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

To be honest, this is the first book that came to mind when I was thinking of “cozy books.” It’s also the first book I read by this author, although I have since devoured them all. Sugary sweet without being saccharine, Allen’s stories transport you into a world with a sprinkling of magic, where food goes beyond symbolic. Need I say more? You’ll leave this book wearing glasses a shade or two pinker in hue.

You can’t curl up by the fireside with a book called The Sugar Queen without adding some calories to your drink. With the picture of peppermints on the book cover, this book begs to be paired with a Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (this recipe from Creme de la Crumb).

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Call me names, but yes, I do insist on calling it by the original title.)

If I read Anne of Green Gables in the spring, fall is when the world of Harry Potter beckons. Fall heralds back-to-school, and what school is more exciting than Hogwarts? Harry Potter needs no introduction, but I am excited to say that this link leads to a new version of the first book. Or should I say “versions,” because there is one for each Hogwarts House, with different covers and illustrations and extra content specific to each! (I may have a problem. I already own one boxed set as well as a set on my Kindle and already have plans to buy the new fully illustrated ones. Have you seen them? Look here! They’re gorgeous.)

You must know where I’m going with this one: let’s drink some butterbeer! I’ve tried making it cold before, and it turned out to be really good! We’ll try a hot version this time. Creamy and butterscotchy – my mouth is watering already. Here’s a Hot Butterbeer recipe courtesy of Feast of Starlight.

 

6 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

A magical circus spun into existence by two dueling magicians. This book transports you into worlds of fancy among the highest stakes imaginable. You’ll have to think existentially at times, but never fear – the author weaves the plot seamlessly, and you’ll be as captivated as the members of the circus audience. If you love books that paint pictures in your mind, you will love the images that The Night Circus creates. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

What to drink with such a magical book? I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not going to do it. Whatever that crazy Unicorn Frappuccino thing was, that you can now find copycats for all over Pinterest, has to go AWAY. I get a sugar coma just looking at pictures. Such overkill. Blech. I have something else in mind. Here’s a hot drink that (hopefully) isn’t quite as sickeningly sweet, and looks like something that would be served at a fairytale night circus. I think Savor and Savvy has nailed it with this recipe for Pink Velvet Hot Chocolate.

 

7 Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

I saved my favorite for last. If you were to ask me what my favorite Disney movie, fairytale, or Broadway show was, I will mostly likely tell you that it’s Beauty and the Beast. Belle is the perfect heroine: bookish, brainy, and adventurous. And this book by Robin McKinley is my favorite version of the story. Before I had kids and my reading time shrank down to the size of a “poor, provincial town,” I reread this book every year without fail. Until I can resume that lovely tradition, I am passing it on to you! Be my guest.

For such a special book, let’s take the time to make a special drink. Give a nod to the book’s most familiar symbol with this Spiced Rose Latte from Brit and Co. You may have to plan ahead to have these ingredients on hand, but I think that the results will be well worth it! (Invite me over, too, because I would travel far for an evening of reading Beauty by the fireplace with a Spiced Rose Latte!)

 

Hopefully this list has offered a few ideas for a blissful evening in. If you liked this post, I’d love to invite you back to my blog, A Literary Feast, for more food-and-book combinations you may enjoy! And, please add your own favorite fireside reads (or beverages) to the comments below.

 

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Yummy Food Mentioned in Books

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

Usually the topics each week are very book-focused, but today’s is right up my alley! Combining food and books, we have Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned in Books – yay! It actually took me a little while to compose the list because I wanted to try to pick foods that are more integral to the story or iconic because of their inclusion within the book, rather than just something mentioned in passing (as is often the case with my typical posts). I think I did a pretty good job coming up with this list, but what do you think? Anything you would’ve added?

1. Raspberry Cordial from Anne of Green Gables: This is my second Top Ten Tuesday mention of Anne in a row (I told you she made an impression), but I think it’s apt. The scene in the book where Anne mistakenly gets her BFF Diana drunk off not-raspberry-cordial is one of the more memorable in the book, and I remember the scene very vividly from watching the mini-series when I was a kid too. Though the actual drink never gets drunk within the story, Marilla’s raspberry cordial is famous in Avonlea and apparently quite delicious. I’ve always wanted to try it.

2. Fizzy Lifting Drinks from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: This is the only food (or drink) I’m including where I can’t remember if I’ve actually read the book rather than seen the movie, but either way this scene is so iconic. As a kid, thinking that there might be a drink out there that lets you fly was the most amazing thing I could think of. It’s such a fun concept, definitely the most imaginative food on the list.

3. Pumpkin Pasties from the Harry Potter series: You show me something made with pumpkin, and I can guarantee it’ll be gone before you know it. Ever since I started reading this series (which somehow makes it onto almost all of my lists…), I have been itching to try a pumpkin pasty. If I could only take a ride on the Hogwarts Express, my dreams could come true. Writing this little blurb prompted me to see how doable it was to make them myself, so I found this wonderful post with recipes for them (two ways!) – excuse me, while I run to the kitchen.

4. Cinnamon Bread from Once Upon a River: This recipe for cinnamon bread was one of the first ones I made for the blog, after reading Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Michigan-based story for one of my book clubs. I remember the description of this bread being so vivid it made me hungry. It was a much-loved recipe, perfect for this time of year, so I should probably revisit it.

5. Boeuf Bourguignon from My Life in France: Picking just one food from Julia Child’s memoir wasn’t exactly easy, but this dish is so indicative of French cooking and whenever I hear or read about it, I instantly think of Julia. I knew it had to be the one. It’s also a dish I have yet to tackle, though every winter I think to myself I should give it a try. It’s not hard, just time-consuming. Maybe this will be the year that I break out my Mastering the Art of French Cooking and finally make it… maybe.

6. The Fat Burger from 11/22/63: This historical fiction/time travel story is one of my favorites, and it all starts with a questionably cheap burger in a diner. The secret to it’s price lies in a closet that leads back in time – to September 9, 1958, to be exact. It’s there that Jake starts his journey to rescue JFK from his impending November assassination. Though this book is really long, I was riveted when I read it forever ago and it went by much more quickly than I expected. The burgers sound really delicious, and wasn’t food better in the good ol’ days anyway?

7. Dumplings from The Joy Luck Club: When I got the opportunity to make dumplings because of this novel early on in my blogging career, I was super excited. They may not have turned out as well as I hoped, but that doesn’t mean the ones Amy Tan is referring to in The Joy Luck Club aren’t absolutely delicious. After all, they’re made by experts for their weekly Mahjong game.

8. Minny’s Fried Chicken from The Help: While Minny’s “special” chocolate cake is probably more entertaining and memorable, I opted for an actually edible option instead – the scene where Minny teaches Miss Celia to make fried chicken for her husband is touching and makes me hungry every time.

9. Potatoes from The Martian: Truly, the potatoes in The Martian are a matter of life-or-death, and while they may not be served in the most appetizing manner, due to the culinary limitations on Mars, they are so clearly an important part of this novel. Cook yourself some yummier potatoes – mashed with butter, baked with all the fixings, or cut into delightfully crisp and salty french fries – and thank your lucky stars you’re here on Earth instead.

10. Swedish Dream Cookies from My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry: These cookies are mentioned often in this wonderful Fredrik Backman novel, usually referred to as just “dreams.” Until I did the research, I wasn’t sure they were an actual thing, but it turns out they’re quite common in Sweden. I made them for a blog last year, and as it turns out, they’re as easy to make as they are delicious!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Show Us Your Books – October 2017

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books, where I briefly recap what I’ve read since last time and give you a sneak peak of what I might be reviewing on the blog next. Welcome! Let’s take a quick look at what I’ve read recently.

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, November 14, 2017.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who’ve linked up and get some book talk going!

Last Month’s Edition

 

Engrossing Reads

Sourdough – I didn’t hesitate to grab this book when it came out because a) it was from the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and b) it was about the world of food. When Lois unexpectedly gets stuck with a sourdough starter, she discovers a skill she didn’t know she had, and as the starter takes on a life of its own, her life is transformed as well. It was absolutely an engrossing read, quick and fun. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a bit of an escape, especially if you’re a foodie. 🙂

The Red Tent – This was recommended to me after I read Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, so I picked up a copy at the library book sale in the spring, and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. I finally picked it up, and I’m glad I did. I thought historical fiction taking place in biblical times – the main character, Dinah, and her family are literally in the Bible – would be hard to get through, but Diamant’s writing style is engaging from the start. The story she told was one of several very strong women, and I found myself enthralled.

Behind Her Eyes – As a thriller, this book almost automatically belongs in this category. It wasn’t my favorite, but it did keep me turning the page, and for the day and a half that I read it, I was engrossed. I stayed up late in an attempt to finish it Sunday, accidentally fell asleep and then woke up early to finish it on Monday morning. I did not see the ending coming; I thought it was set up well and cleverly done.

Passed the Time Just Fine

Exit West – This is at the top of the category this month because it was on the cusp for me, maybe a 3.5/4 star book. Almost a novella, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is the story of a young couple trapped in a turbulent country and their journey to safety. It was nominated for numerous awards and is probably obviously really well-written and clever in its devices.

East of Eden – After hanging out in my “Currently Reading” for the past two months, I finally finished John Steinbeck’s novel! I felt like it was a touch too much like reading for school and because it was so long, I got a little cranky about needing to finish it before moving on to something else, which didn’t earn it any love. That being said, the characters were extremely well-developed and I can see why people love it. For me, though, it was just fine.    

Bread & Wine – A new co-worker brought me this essay collection one day after learning how much I enjoyed reading and eating. A super quick read, I gobbled it up last weekend. It was full of wonderful stories about friendship, community, and of course, food. Almost every chapter included a recipe, and all of them sounded delicious.

Mad Girl – I read this memoir for my office’s Diversity Book Club, chosen to spark conversation about mental health since the first week of October is Mental Health Awareness Week. The subject matter is so deeply personal to the author and her struggles come through the page. That being said, I didn’t think she crafted the most cohesive story and it was a bit of a chore to get through. I definitely appreciate it for telling a hard truth, but I’ve read other books on the subject that I’ve gotten more out of. Mad Girl falls somewhere between this category and Not Worth It.

The Kitchens of the Great Midwest – I didn’t hate this book, probably because of all the food references and occasional recipe, but I definitely didn’t love it. The blurb was extremely misleading (in my opinion), and so this book was not what I expected at all. I didn’t find it heartwarming, and I thought some of the connections between characters felt contrived and/or out of place, making some chapters weaker and less enjoyable than others. It should maybe be in the Not Worth It category, but the food-centric theme is keeping it up here.

 

Not Worth It & Did Not Finish

None this month!

 

Currently Reading

The Refrigerator Monologues – I haven’t gotten really into this yet, but I’m excited about to dive in. I first heard about it on an episode of All the Books (source of many of my book recommendations, as you’re probably aware), and I got excited about the combination of feminism and superheroes. It’s pretty short, so it should be a quick, fun and hopefully thought-provoking read.

What did you read this month? Which books did you enjoy most? Least? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Feature Characters Who Love Books

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

Today’s topic is a bit of a freebie, where we’re able to fill in the blank in Ten Books That Feature Characters ___________, so I’m going with a super bookish list here. Books about books are among my favorites, but sometimes there are characters that come along in other kinds of stories that love books as much as I do, and I wanted to recognize those wonderfully bookish characters in Ten Books That Feature Characters Who Love Books.

In no particular order, let’s begin:

1. Matilda from Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name: She is many children’s first exposure to how wonderful the world of books can be and how sometimes it can be a welcome escape. I think I actually saw the movie as a kid before I read the book, and since then I’ve also seen the Broadway musical, but the message remains the same – it’s okay to be different, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to, and of course, there’s nothing quite like a good book!

2. Hermoine from (do I even need to say it?) the Harry Potter series: Hermoine is synonymous with reading. She can often be found in the library, or at the very least, pouring over a large volume somewhere. Books are an important part of many of her adventures (thank you, magical bags!) and usually hold the answer to help her and her friends get out of a sticky situation.

3. Anne of L.M. Montgomery’s beloved series, Anne of Green Gables: Anne has always been one of my favorite characters. Like Matilda, she used stories and her imagination to get her through tough situations, and like Hermoine, she is a lover of learning. Anne is a precocious trouble-maker who is also utterly charming, and as a result, worked her way into the hearts of readers everywhere.

4. Jo from Little Women: Not only a reader, but a writer as well, Jo was modeled after Louisa May Alcott herself. She is “boyish” and strong-willed, eschewing the traditional trappings of young women of her time in order to pursue a literary career. Jo is one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer when I was a young girl.

5. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird: The daughter of a lawyer, Scout is intelligent with an inquisitive mind and reading comes as second nature to her. In fact, this wonderful quote is attributed to her: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” I mean, that pretty much sums it up.

6. Hazel from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: Hazel and Augustus’s relationship blossoms after they agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Her last wish is to meet her favorite author, whose novel she gave to Augustus, and much of the story takes place in pursuit of that dream.

7. Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife: Henry has a disorder that causes him to involuntarily travel through time, and his position as a librarian allows him a quiet place to disappear when he happens to. Not only does he work in a library, but Henry meets his wife Clare there for the first time, leading to one of my favorite love stories.  

8. All 6 main characters from The Jane Austen Book Club: This novel is full of Jane Austen fans and one newbie, who nevertheless dives into her novels wholeheartedly. This book makes me want to read Austen every time, and I love how deeply they feel about her novels.

9. AJ Fikry from The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: AJ Fikry owns a bookstore. He transforms many of the people into his town from non-readers into readers. The entire book is like a love letter to reading and he’s at the center of it.

10. Emilia from How to Find Love in a Bookshop: Another bookstore owner, Emilia Nightingale, rounds out my list. Like her father before her (also a wonderful bookish character), Emilia loves reading and spends much of the novel rescuing her father’s and their town’s beloved book haven.

Who are some of your favorite characters who love books?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.