30 July 2010

REVIEW: Julia's Kitchen Wisdom by J. Child

Title:  Julia's Kitchen Wisdom
Author:  J. Child
Genre / Pages:  Nonfiction, Cooking / 160
Publication: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2009
Rating:  3rd shelf 
Source:  borrowed from Mom
lj's plot in one pot: Julia's "basic" methods for no fail "simple" cooking.

Hardy har har.  I love Julia Child, I really do.  I think her "Mastering the Art..." cookbooks belong in a museum, let alone in the kitchens of people everywhere.  However, let's not kid ourselves that ANY of this is simple or basic.  For pete's sake her recipe for making hard boiled eggs is almost a page long!  That being said, she is still adorable and her love affair with food is definitely admirable, if not contagious.

So this book is not the "cooking for dummies" that I thought it might be, but that is just a marketing problem.  Julia's little tips come alive in this book, you get the sense that you are once again little, watching t.v. in the rec room and have stumbled upon this hilariously large enthusiastic woman playing with geese carcass.  Her words are truly hers, and if you love her, you'll love this book.  

"[This book] is aimed at those who are tolerably familiar with culinary language..." p.ix 
For more Julia, check out the PBS website, here .

29 July 2010

BOOKS IN FILM: The Pillars of the Earth by K. Follett

Just a heads up to anyone who doesn't know...The Pillars of the Earth 6 part miniseries is airing on the movie network (click here for showtimes / schedules).

We've PVR'ed the first 2 episodes and I'm waiting until I have them all to watch in a huge marathon of awesomeness...Here's the trailer if you're not hooked yet :)

PS - Check out some of the casting!

Rufus Sewell as Tom Builder

Eddie Redmayne as Jack Jackson

Donald Sutherland as Bartholomew

Comments - Rufus is usually the bad guy...can we love him as Tom Builder?  Jack is way too handsome to be the awkward young man in the book.  And Donald??? Right on :)

27 July 2010

REVIEW: Hollywood Stories by S. Schochet

Title:  Hollywood Stories
Author:  S. Schochet
Genre / Pages:  Nonfiction, Short Stories / 312
Publication: Hollywood Stories Publishing, 2010
Rating:  bottom shelf  
Source:  Publisher Copy
lj's plot in one pot: A collection of tales about Hollywood's stars.

I was initially really excited to read this book...I am a big fan of celeb magazines, blogs, etc.  However, I couldn't really get into this book.  It might be because a lot of the stories are about movie and television stars from before my time, or it might be because the writing doesn't draw the reader in, or it might be the lack of connections/transitions.  

I did see later, that the "stories" are actually scripts from the Hollywood Stories One Minute Radio Feature and at that point, I realized why the transitions were absent.

Anyways, I have no doubt that the author is probably an excellent tour guide, and that the tour would be lots of fun, I just wouldn't recommend the book.

"...Gollum's garbled voice in The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers came from the sound a cat would make by coughing up a hairball...The personality was based on the actor's observations of heroin addicts." p.96

For the book's website, click here.

24 July 2010

REVIEW: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Title:  The Catcher in the Rye
Author:  J.D. Salinger
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, Young Adult / 224
Publication: Little, Brown and Company, 1991
Rating:  3rd shelf  
Source:  Chapters Indigo
lj's plot in one pot: A coming-of-age story featuring Holden Caufield, a troubled young man, trying to face his demons after his younger brother dies of leukemia.
Well, I know I said that I would put a hold on this one while I read some other pressing books...but, well it was such an easy read and I was just so eager to be done with it and my shame for not having read it before.
And do I feel the sense of accomplishment...or satisfaction?  Well not so much.  I didn't really enjoy the book all that much.  Obviously it is from another time, and so the language/terms/slang used often jarred me.  I also kept waiting for the climactic moment where things either change for Holden, or he at least perceives himself in a more realistic light.  It never happened...not in any sort of satisfying way.

This is my struggle with reading "classics".  I want to like them, I want to be able to appreciate them for what they are, but I usually have a really hard time getting into them.  I plowed through Salinger, because I had to, not because anything in the book made me want to.  

What do you think?  Are there classics that transcend time?  I don't doubt it, but I've yet to come across one - so please, give me suggestions.

"There's always a dumb horse race, and some dame breaking a a bottle over a ship, and some chimpanzee riding a goddam bicycle with pants on.  It wouldn't be the same at all.  You don't see what I mean at all" p.133

PS - I really want a red hunting hat :)

21 July 2010


Ooh!  Trashy celeb news in hardcover!  This glorious day's mail brought me bills, investment opportunities (yeah right) and a NEW BOOK!

So lately, I've been double-dipping (yes, I do that with food AND books)...I'm reading "The Passage" and to banish my shame for not having read it earlier, "The Catcher in the Rye". 

I have to say, so far, not really enjoying "The Catcher in the Rye" quite yet, although I've been warned that it is a slow starter.  Anyway, I'm going to put a pause on dear Holden for now to blast through "Hollywood Stories" by S. Schochet.  The author is a tour guide in Hollywood, and in this book he dishes about the truth you've never heard about your favourite celebs.  I have a sneaky feeling that this will be a super quick read.

Here is a link to find out more about "Hollywood Stories", although I think you get the gist of it by the title.  http://www.hollywoodstories.com/

Full disclosure - this book was received from publisher

PS  Have you checked out goodreads.com yet?  It is an awesome site to keep track of your books; which to read, make notes as you progress through your books, and most importantly talk to others about books!  Very helpful site for bibliophiles like me ;)

17 July 2010

REVIEW: The Shadow of the Wind by C.R. Zafon

Title:  The Shadow of the Wind
Author:  C.R. Zafon
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, Mystery / 487
Publication: Penguin Books, 2005
Rating:  4th shelf  
Source:  Chapters Indigo
lj's plot in one pot: in 1945 Barcelona, Daniel finds love, intrigue, passion and murder when he chooses "The Shadow of the Wind" from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

This book surprised me.  About a year ago, I was in Chapters and for whatever reason was actually talking to someone who worked there (that's another story) and they recommended this book.  I must have been in a buying mood, because I bought it, and yet it sat on my shelf for almost a year before I picked it up to read. 

That being said, it was quite good.  The author's style was hard to get used to at first, his prose is very flowery and round-abouty, so it took forever for the plot to really pick up.  Once it did, it never let up!  Seriously, it took me 3 days of reading to get 150 pages, and then 2 days to finish!  When I got used to the author's writing style, I began to enjoy his metaphors and uncommon adjectives...I lost my page marker, but I distinctly remember him describing an elderly character as having "a face with such decrepitude".  It's not everyday that you hear that word, but it's fantastic.  

The plot wavers back and forth between a mystery and a love story, but more so, I believe this book to be an ode to literature in all its forms - and for that reason I loved it. I couldn't choose just one favourite excerpt, so here are my top two:
"A lineup of ladies with their virtue for rent and a lot of mileage on the clock greeted us with smiles that would only have excited a student of dentistry" p.477
"The art of reading is slowly dying...it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind" p.484

If interested, visit the author's website here,  (click on The Shadow of the Wind link to find lots of interesting info)

13 July 2010


So a fellow bookish friend and I decided that we might go for tea together (why doesn't that sound as good as going for coffee???) and that we might go to the place that's attached to a major bookstore (you know the one).

Yours truly couldn't help herself and what started with one ended up being four...I kept hearing more and more about this Mortal Instruments series, and saw it, and then the rest followed suit.  Lots of people have been recommending "The Passage" to me (both online and in real life), and well...I'm ashamed I haven't read "The Catcher in the Rye" so it must be done now before more people know my shameful secret.  Holy moly me oh my, I can't wait to dive into these!  First, must finish "The Shadow of the Wind" (which, by the way is going swimmingly). I'll leave you to enjoy this beautiful weather with my fav quote thus far... 

"Man...heats up like a lightbulb: red hot in the twinkling of an eye and cold again in a flash. The female, on the other hand - and this is pure science - heats up like an iron. Slowly, over a low heat, like tasty stew. But then, once she has heated up, there's no stopping her." p.132

09 July 2010

REVIEW: The Hunger Games by S. Collins

Title:  The Hunger Games
Author:  S. Collins
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, Young Adult / 374
Publication: Scholastic, 2010
Rating:  4th shelf  
Source:  Chapters Indigo

lj's plot in one pot: In a post-apocalyptic/vanity-crazed/Mad Maxian world, the readers follow Katniss, a girl from one of the 12 sectors that must battle to the death against 1 boy and 1 girl from each sector in the aptly named, "Hunger Games".

As far as Young Adult (YA) books go, this one was pretty awesome.  The heroine in the novel, Katniss, is strong and bright and above all, a survivor.  The "Hunger Games" are a brutal way for the government (the Capitol) to maintain control over the people of Panem.  It is a bit science fictiony, but no more so than it's partners in the YA genre (i.e. Twilight).

The plot kept me guessing (more or less) and I was pleasantly surprised at the way Collins wraps up this novel - the first of the trilogy (which I can't wait to read the following books, "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay").  As far as reading this with Junior/Intermediate students...well, I'm still on the fence.  It is pretty graphically violent and there is definitely some questionable content.   But all in all I really enjoyed this book.  The writing wasn't 'dumbed down' like a lot of YA books I've read, nor was there a super obvious moral to learn.  I think this one is a YA classic in the making.  Enjoy!

"Whenever my father sang, all the birds in the area would fall silent and listen.  His voice was that beautiful, high and clear and so filled with life it made you want to laugh and cry at the same time.  I could never bring myself to continue the practice after he was gone." p.43

Click here for the Hunger Games website, and here for the author's website.

06 July 2010

REVIEW: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by S. Larsson

Title:  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Author:  S. Larsson
Genre / Pages:  Fiction,  Mystery/ 841
Publication: Penguin Group Canada, 2009
Rating:  2nd shelf  
Source:  Borrowed from a friend
lj's plot in one pot: A deeply troubled (tattooed) girl and a disgraced journalist join forces to battle fraud and murder.

Meh...I was lent this from a family friend, and well all I can say is that I finished it.  For the first fifth of this (rather lengthy - see previous post) book, I felt like I was listening to an elderly man telling me half remembered stories of his youth.  It took FOREVER to get started.  Once the plot truly began, I could begin to enjoy this bookThe author creates interesting, but more importantly, real characters.  I felt as though I've met people like the main characters in my life.  I question the title of the book, as the infamous girl play (in my mind) a minor role.  

My problem with the book was that although I cared about one (smallish) aspect of the novel, I really didn't need to know what happened with regards to any love interest, certain plot aspects (Wennerstrom).  Once I finally neared the end, I was surprised and disappointed that the very plot lines that I had skimmed through in the beginning of the book, were going to be used to wrap the book up!  All this being said, the book is definitely unique and different and it is this uniqueness that pushed it up from my bottom shelf.

You can find the author's website here